Friday, October 29, 2010

Why the Legal Job Market is Changing

by William D. Henderson, professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law—Bloomington and director, Law Firms Working Group, for The National Jurist magazine

 The law firm world that we have all known is changing. Fueled by new economic realities. Law firms are beginning to adapt to a new reality. And that makes it hard for law students to understand the part they care about the most — the entry-level hiring market.

As someone who spends a large amount of time studying the history and structure of the legal services industry, I might have some useful insight on the vagaries of the current job market, including how things might change in the future.

Here are three relevant observations:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Professional Development Series Highlights: Professionalism & Etiquette

Greg Danklef, BYU HR Professional Development Specialist

Survey of 10,000 Carnegie Institute of Technology Grads
◦ 15% of success came from technical skills, 85% from the ability to deal with people
Five year study of Purdue Grads
◦ Graduates with strong interpersonal skills made 35% more $ than those with low ratings; grades made only 3% difference
Stanford Research Institute Study
◦ 12% of effective leadership based on knowledge and vision; 88% is dealing with people

Manners Matter

Your overall goal with good manners is to make yourself and others comfortable.
Don't stand out for the wrong reasons.

Eating with Others

Remember, in a mealtime interview, the least important thing you do is eat.
A good host/ess will signal when it is time to sit down, until then, engage in small talk with those near you.
Wait until all at the table have been served before eating, unless invited by the host/ess to begin.
Pace your eating to the slowest eater at the table.
Don't ask for a "to-go" box at a banquet.
Remember, the most important thing you'll be doing is talking with people not eating.  If you don't get enough to eat, there's always McDonald's on the way home.
If offered coffee or wine, a simple "No, thank you," is all that's necessary.
Respond to RSVPs in a timely manner.

Meeting, Greeting, and Social Events

Don't worry about whether or not a stranger wants to get to know you, it's enough that you want to get to know them.
When invited out for cocktails or to the bar, make sure and accept sometimes, and enjoy your Diet Coke (or whatever)--it's important to socialize with co-workers
Be confident, not overbearing--stay aware that conversation is like a tennis match: sometimes it's your turn, sometimes it's mine.
Have a few safe conversation starters in mind to get things started: "Where did you go to law school?" "What are some of your hobbies?" "Seen any good movies lately? read any great books, etc."
Social skills get easier with practice.
Remember: your purpose is to make others comfortable.

Other Considerations

First week at work
Listen carefully
Always take paper and pen to every meeting with your mentor, coworkers, partners, etc.
Go out of your way to get acquainted with coworkers.
Volunteer for tasks rather than wait to be asked.
Use Ms. not Mrs.

Email Etiquette
Keep it short and professional, avoid being too casual.
Think twice before sending.
Humor and sarcasm don't translate well in emails.

Phone Etiquette
Return calls promptly.
Get to the point.
Be friendly.

My Reality Check Bounced, Jason Dorsey
The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette by Nancy Tuckerman
Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie

Tips for Navigating Panel Interviews

by Amy Lindgren, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

If you think regular job interviews are stressful, you likely find panel interviews even more challenging. Everything in the process seems magnified — more pairs of eyes on you, more people asking questions and more folks to impress with your witty repartee. This is quantifiably more difficult to pull off with multiple people around a conference table.
Disregarding the job candidate's discomfort, I often wonder about the overall effectiveness of the process. Last week a job seeker told me that she had experienced a panel with nine interviewers. Nine? At some point you can stop calling it a panel and label it an inquisition.

Friday, October 22, 2010

More Legal Resume Tips

by Amanda Ellis, The 6Ps of the Big 3

The fourth #LawJobChat featured Jessica Silverstein (@AttysCounsel), President of Attorney’s Counsel, answering questions about legal resumes.  Note that several features on a resume are subjective — or, as Jessica tweeted, “resumes are so personal, I’m not surprised everyone has an opinion.” As you’ll see in the transcript, different participants (we had 35 contributors during this chat!) had different thoughts about certain resume features. I hope the discussion provides you with a variety of ideas from which to choose when drafting or polishing your resume.

Continue to article.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Full-contact Networking

from Networking is a Contact Sport, a new book by Joe Sweeney, president of the Wisconsin Sports Authority, and founder of a sports marketing agency that specializes in assisting and representing coaches and athletes

10 points for effective networking:

1. Be clear about your objectives and outcomes.

2. Do your research.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask.

4. Get comfortable with traveling outside your comfort zone.

5. Try, try, try — and then try again in a creative way.

6. Do your best to connect the dots.

7. Seek out in-person contact — there’s no substitute for the personal touch.

8. Take 100 percent responsibility for your networking.

9. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

10. Present an offer to help others before you ask for anything.

Joe also has advice for networking to find a job, especially timely advice in this economic climate.
He shares insights on networking personality styles, identifying traits on both sides of a networking relationship. He shows you how to choose the best approach to connect productively with many kinds of people. “Business is not about managing money,” Joe says. “It’s about managing relationships and personalities.”

“When you truly give to others without any expectations or strings attached, you will receive much more than you ever could have expected," Joe Sweeney

Friday, October 15, 2010

Legal Resume Tips

from The 6Ps of the Big 3, Getting Hired Using Social Networking, Amanda Ellis.
This was a discussion on Twitter (#LawJobChat) that featured featured Jessica Silverstein (@AttysCounsel), President of Attorney’s Counsel, answering questions about legal resumes.

Non-Legal Experience

•Include non-legal jobs (even part time positions) if the skills are marketable and space permits on the resume.

•Definitely include non-legal professional experience if relevant to desired job (i.e., worked five years as accountant and interested in tax law positions).

•Clinic experience goes under “Legal Experience.”

Non-Essential Sections

•Adding an “Interests” section is debatable – don’t waste space by adding it if you have more relevant information to share. If you include “interests,” make sure they are unique and differentiate you (i.e., ranked tennis player, jazz vocalist).

•No Objective section … ever.

•A Summary section can be helpful for someone switching practice areas.

Buzz Words to Describe Student Research Assistant Position

•Think about the subject you researched and use words that describe what you did.

•Specify which resources you used to perform the research.

•Good Example (DO): Researched class action certification and collective actions in California using Lexis, BNA, & decisions reported on PACER (thanks, @yalechk).

•Bad Example (DON’T): Research assistant to Professor X–research into civil procedure issues (thanks, @yalechk)

•More buzz words for research: analyzed, compiled, condensed, digested, synthesized (thanks, @j_lavalley). But, use cautiously–don’t want resume to be a thesaurus!

When to Remove Summer Clerkship/Summer Associate Positions

•Consider removing summer positions after you have 5-7 years of experience practicing as an attorney.

•If you still need good firm names on your resume, consider keeping the names of those firms and dates and titles.

Verb Tense

•If you are PRESENTLY working, verb tense should be PRESENT tense.

•Descriptions for OLD jobs (i.e., jobs with an end date) should be PAST tense.

URLs on Resume

•NEVER include your Facebook URL or website link.

•@AttysCounsel: General rule, no to LinkedIn and Twitter links as well because employers will find those anyway but this is one of those areas where “it depends.” For example, I recommend lawyers/law students include LinkedIn links on their resumes, if their LinkedIn profiles are robust and contain helpful information not on their resume (i.e., writing samples or explanations about a particular position).

•@mjsq shared a good tip: if you email your resume to an employer and your email signature contains the URLs, no need to include them on resume, too.

•Include links to blogs if subject matter is appropriate to share to potential employers. As @j_lavalley noted, blogs are “publications” and have their own Bluebook cite format.

•During this part of the chat, @AttysCounsel referenced the recent (9/10/10) opinion by the New York State Bar Association regarding using social networking sites to gather information for clients in pending litigation. Thanks to @yalechk for finding and sharing this opinion during the chat. Click here to view the opinion.

•And, @j_lavalley shared a link about vendor-neutral citation rules. Click here to view the rules.

Three Common Characteristics of “Best” Resumes

•No formatting errors.

•Clear statement of accomplishment–not just a description.

•Focus on target position.

If you have additional questions for Jessica, you may contact her at:

Save the date for the next #LawJobChat – October 28 at 9pm Eastern!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pathways to Jobs with Private Public Interest Law Firms

excerpts from an article by Rob Perkins and Carolyn Goodwin, NALP Bulletin, October 2010

Why Should Public Interest Focused Law Students Consider Working for a Private Public Interest Law Firm?

Similar to government/nonprofit organizations, private public interest firms offer students the opportunity to utilize their law degree as a tool to advocate for the public interest. According to the lawyers we interviewed, there are generally three advantages to working for a private public interest firm. First, private firms offer lawyers the opportunity to earn a higher salary. A second advantage is the freedom to determine which cases you want to accept. Many nonprofit agencies are grant-driven and therefore subject to restrictions on the types of cases they can accept. Third, private firms frequently have more office resources than their nonprofit

In addition, because these firms are often small, lawyers can get significant experience early on in their legal careers. One attorney we spoke with explained that within the first few months of her job she had already conducted numerous depositions and was writing substantive federal court discovery motions.

On the other hand, private public interest lawyers acknowledge there can also be disadvantages. Private
law firms are businesses. When evaluating a case for representation, a private firm must consider how the case will affect its bottom line —and thus may need to decline a case that has merit but nevertheless will drain the firm’s resources.

With regard to a law student’s long-term career goals, since private public interest lawyers quickly get great substantive experience, they can effectively transition into nonprofit/government positions, policy positions, or other private sector jobs (including opening their own private public interest firm).

How Do Students Identify and Research Private Public Interest Law Firms?

Students seeking positions in private public interest firms should first determine which issues they want to work on and where they want to work.

Once students determine the nature of the work and the geographic region in which they want to work, it is relatively easy to identify the firms.

The best resource available is the Private Public Interest Guide (Private Public Interest and Plaintiff's Firm Guide published by the Center for Public Interest Law at Columbia Law School and the Bernard Koteen Office of Public Interest Advising at Harvard Law School).  The Guide contains a directory of private public interest firms, categorized by state.

In addition, many private public interest law firms are listed on PSLawNet (

Students should also meet and network with private public interest lawyers through local bar associations,
specialty bar associations, and local chapters of national bar associations, such as the National Lawyers Guild. Many of these bar associations provide membership directories that students can use to identify firms. Additionally, students should speak with public interest practitioners in the area where they want to practice as they will know the private firms engaged in public interest work.

How Do Students Get Jobs with Private Public Interest Law Firms?

Private public interest firms evaluate applicants utilizing criteria that are very similar to those employed by government and nonprofit agencies. Demonstrated commitment to public interest is essential.

One difference is that private law firms prefer to hire lawyers with experience. For law students seeking an entry-level job with a private public interest firm, it is essential to gain relevant practical experience through summer internships, clinics, externships, and pro bono work. Many private firms place a premium on clerkships and will not consider a recent graduate unless she or he completed a clerkship.  With regard to timing, there is no bad time to send a cover letter and résumé since firms cannot always anticipate their hiring needs in advance. It is, of course, best if the student has a relationship with the firm or a contact who can recommend them. It is also important that students follow up with the firms periodically to reinforce their interest and check on hiring needs.

Students should also be aware that private public interest firms often hire new lawyers to fulfill a specific contract assignment, and these short-term positions can lead to full-time jobs.

Working in a private public interest firm is another exciting option to explore with public interest focused students. We hope this article helps you to guide the discussion.

Rob Perkins is Assistant Director for Judicial Clerkship and Public Interest Advising and Carolyn Goodwin is Associate Director for Government and Public Interest Advising in the Boston University Law School Office of Career Development and Public Service.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why it’s Important to Write Right in the Legal Profession – And 5 Common Writing Pitfalls to Avoid

by Brenda Bernstein, The Essay Expert 

This past September, a federal judge in Florida denied a lawyer’s motion (without prejudice, so he can re-file the motion) stating that it was “riddled with unprofessional grammatical and typographical errors that nearly render the entire motion incomprehensible.”

The judge highlighted the following problems, among others:

• Incorrect use of apostrophes.

• Typographical errors (using the word “this” instead of “thus” and the word “full” instead of “for”).

• Incorrect placement of periods and commas outside of quotation marks.

• Wrong word use (using the phrase the plaintiff “had attended on filing” this action, instead of saying the plaintiff had “intended” to file an action).

• One very long sentence.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Continue to full article.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rejection . . . and Turning It Into Job Opportunities, Part 2

from Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Alayne Walton

7. What you tell yourself about employers after you're rejected is really, really important. In short: get over it and get on with it. As is true in every aspect in your life, the way you characterize something determines how you feel about it. You can't control the first thought that pops into your head . . . but you can reconfigure it immediately into something useful. You can tell yourself, "Okay, these rejections suck. I didn't want them. But I will get a job. There are plenty of ways to find employers, and all I need is one job. No matter what hasn't worked for me . . . something will."

A. Keep rejection in perspective. It's just words. Being told "no" is never pleasant. But don't roll it over and over in your mind and turn it into something it's not. When you get rejected, do what you can to forget about it as soon as possible. Do something every day. Doing nothing creates anxiety; it makes you feel you have no choices. Even if you think nothing will work, try anyway. Remember: no mattter what, you're going to get a job. Everybody gets a job. This is a temporary hiccup on your career path. That's all.

B. Avoid conducting a post mortem on rejections by demanding reasons from employers. If you continually apply for jobs that your credentials say ought to be coming your way, there's something else going on. There's something in your letter, your resume, your interviewing, or your party patter. Talk to your Career Services office. It's a time-effective way to get your career back on track, without wondering after every interview why you didn't get the job.

C. Don't generalize a few employers who reject you into the entire legal market.

D. Don't reject yourself. Don't let a couple, or even a bunch, of rejections make you denigrate yourself and what you have to offer.

8. Don't overlook practical reasons for rejections. Sometimes when you get rejected, it's because there's something crucial that the employer just can't live without. If the employer has professional needs you just can't meet--you just can't blame them for rejecting you.

9. Not getting a job through on-campus interviews is meaningless. OCI season is a tiny fraction of what's out there. It represents the tiny minority of employers large and institutional enough to know how many people they're going to need far in advance--and can spare the personnel necessary to participate in the interview process. There are hundreds of ways to get to employers through ways other than on-campus interviews.

10. The hidden benefits of rejection.

A. Many times, you'll get rejected from jobs you would have hated.

B. Rejection forces you to hone your job search skills.

C. Rejection opens you to opportunities you wouldn't have had otherwise.

11.  There are certain jobs you can only get by tolerating gobs of rejection--and they tend to be the most glamours jobs.  If you want a job that everyone else you know also wants, then that means you're going to have to outlast them.  When you're after something ultra-competative, put rejections in perspective by keeping your eye on the prize.

12.  If you're seriously bummed out, take a vacation from job searching.  Gather information and do things that make you feel good about yourself and your prospects.   There are dozens of activities that aren't overtly job seeking.  Informational interviews, attending bar association functions and CLEs, and dozens more . . . they all position you to get valuable advice and insights, without ever asking for a job or risk being rejected.  These kinds of activities are a great way to stay connected without putting yourself in a vulnerable position. 

13.  The only way to get revenge on employers who reject you is to go on and succeed in spite of their rejection.  There's not just one job that's going to make you happy.  No one employer controls your future.  Thre are hundreds of jobs that'll make you happy, and there are hundreds of ways to get those jobs.  Who knows what fate has in store for you?  I guarantee you it's not a lifetime of rejection.  It's just a necessary bump in the road.  Get over it--and get on with it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rejection . . . and Turning It Into Job Opportunities, Part I

from Guerrilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Alayne Walton

1.  Don't horribilize rejection. You have no idea how close you might have been to getting the job.  When you get rejected, don't assume there's something wrong with you.  When you get rejected, you might have been "thisclose" to getting the job.  When you get rejected, remember this:  all rejection says is that at one moment in time, for some reason--and it's probably a reason entirely out of your control--you didn't show this particular employer what they needed to see in order to make you an offer.

2. Is there a job lurking in that rejection . . . ?  Rejection doesn't necessarily mean "no."  It doesn't mean you'll never get a job or even this particular job.  All rejection says is that at one moment in time, for some reason--and it's probably a reason entirely out of your control--you didn't show this particular employer what they needed to see in order to make you an offer.  It has no predictive value.

    A.  The magic words that turn a rejection into job possibilities:  "If your needs change . . . ."  It's very important that if you try this strategy, you use the right tone in recontacting the employer.  What you're striving for, as in every aspect of your job search, is humble confidence.  The feeling you want to engender is, "Gee, maybe we made a mistake about him/her," not, "Thank goodness we dodged that bullet."
         Smart human trick:  3rd year law student, one of two finalists for a job he really wants.  The other candidate gets the job.  He writes an letter to the employer saying, "I am disappointed I'm not going to be working with you, but I understand your decision.  I want you to know that I'm still very interested in your firm, and the sense that I would be a good fit was only enhanced during my interviews there.  If your needs change, I hope you will reconsider me."

   B.  If you feel you really hit it off with the employer on a callback (or some of the people with whom you interviewed) but you didn't get an offer . . . . they just might be the key to a great job somewhere else.  Turn the rejection into an informational interview.  Getting rejected in that situation doesn't mean that your instincts are all wrong, that you thought you got along with people who really didn't like you.  They may be just as disappointed you didn't get the job as you are.  Get in touch with (either by email or voice mail) the person you really hit it off with, and say this:  "I'm disappointed I'm not going to be working with you, but I really enjoyed talking with you and I respect your advice.  Can you suggest to me other people I should be talking to, other things I should be doing?"  Then call and talk to them in person.

  C.  If they say, "Keep in touch with us," or "Contact us again next year," or something like that, then do it.  Students often ask me, 'Well, gee, aren't they just being polite?'  Nope, trust me.  They don't feel the need to be polite.  If someone doesn't want you to contact them again, they can say, 'Thanks and good luck!' and leave it at that.  If they invite further action, take it.

  D.  If they say, "No, thanks, but you should contact X at X," do it!  Sometimes an employer, in rejecting you, will put you on to another employer.  They are putting their reputation at stake by giving you a referral.  Don't take that lightly.  Contact their recommendatino and then make sure you thank them.

  E.  "Not now," doesn't mean "not ever."  Persistence pays off.  Remember, when you are applying for jobs, you're asking employers to consider you in one small silver of time.  It may well be that jobs open up outside of that time frame . . . or it may be that in being persistent, in trying again, you show employers a quality they really respect.

3.  When you get rejections, don't imbue employers with magic powers they don't have.  When you get rejected, it's way too easy to attribute magical powers of insight to employers.  You are a much more interesting, complex, dynamic human being than you can get across in the hiring process.  Don't give employers the power to convince you that you can't get a job, because they don't have that power over you if you don't give it to them. 

4.  Don't look to employers to validate you.  If you're looking to employers to put the stamp of approval on your career choice, don't.  Your law degree is valuable for a million reasons, no matter what you do with it.

5.  A rejection that's really rude is not a reflection of you.  It's a reflection on them.  If an employer rejects you rudely, remember three things:  First, it's not about you.  It's about them.  Second, remember that you'll have many chances to prove them wrong.  Go on and be a brilliant success.  And finally: resolve that when you're a lawyer, you'll never, ever treat a law student that way!

6. Vent appropriately. When you get rejected, I'm not suggesting that you just plaster on a fake smile and soldier on uninterrupted. I'ts important to vent. But it's even more important to vent appropriately. Do not memorialize your feelings about the employer in an e-mail, an IM, or on your blog, website, or any social networking site. That stuff lives forever. It's important to remember that circumstances change. You never know when those people will show up in your life again.