In a disruptive age, it's less and less smart forse lawyers and law students to only look to their standard networks for jobs and new business. Those high-level contacts could lose their positions, have their influence decline, retire, be sidelined by scandal, switch careers, and/or come to dislike you.
In addition, those players tend to stereotype you. After all, they know you from way back. If an opportunity comes up to work on X project with Y, they have you pigeon-holed as not having that expertise and/or the right personality fit.
Not that those kinds of connections should be ignored. However, light years ago in May 1973, graduate student Mark S. Granovetter told the world that many of the good jobs and professional opportunities came through a very different type of relationship. He called those "weak ties." Many ambitious professionals still haven't paid attention to the findings of Granovetter's research.
The Maggies and Joes who check out your groceries in the supermarket in Greenwich, Connecticut probably know more about what's opening up in your industry than your superiors and colleagues. That's because they have access to information sources your regular network doesn't.
Offhandedly, customer Jill grouses that she's interviewed four divorce lawyers and doesn't feel comfortable with any.
Shopper Peter confides how busy he will be next month because the law firm will be screening new applicants.
Husband of former in-house attorney Laura complains his wife is so depressed since she lost her job. That means there could be an opening.
In addition, weak ties are unlikely to rule you out as not the ideal fit. For example, they don't understand your business enough to assume it won't handle a divorce. They perceive you in very different ways than do those who have known you since law school. In the supermarket you come across as affable, not aloof. Therefore, they would recommend you to their nervous neighbor who needs a contract lawyer with a caring "bedside manner."
Here is the research paper Granovetter published in the American Journal of Sociology.
In operating my communications boutique, I have been able to develop a fresh niche in educational issues and expand the type of client from business to academic. That happened through a weak tie in Canada who knew a professor of English as a Second Language who needed ghostwriting assistance. That atypical relationship developed because she asked me to discourage her son from majoring in a certain discipline because of the poor employment prospects.