Friday, July 22, 2011

Want to Work at a Smaller Law Firm? Some Tips for Your Job Search

By Valerie Katz

Last week, I received an email from a recent graduate who is in the midst of a small firm job search. She is having trouble focusing her search because there are so many small law firms and so few resources (or so she thought) about how to find all the various firms. She wrote:
Every lawyer I speak to, whether a friend, in an interview, or informational interview, has an inconsistent network. The one small firm lawyer I know has referred me to solo practitioners and Biglaw attorneys, but not other small firms. Career services offices mainly work with big firms, not too many small firms. There are few small firm positions posted on job boards, but I know that most small firms fill open positions by word of mouth.

She asked me where to look to find and network with attorneys at the many small firms in her city. She signed it “Seeking Small Firm.” I decided that her nom de plume was so awesome, I had to help.

To me, the hardest decision for a new lawyer undergoing a job search is to determine what type of environment is right for the newbie. By this, I mean whether you want to work at Biglaw, a small firm, a public interest organization, a government organization, etc. Seeking had made that important decision, and decided that she wanted to work at a small firm.

So, for her, the search process can be completed in 6 simple steps (in the sense that any job search these days is “simple”).


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Make Allies of Court Staff (or Else)

by Andy Mergendahl

Court staff are crucial to any litigator’s success. Making their jobs easier and their workplace more pleasant will pay you big dividends. Making them fell insulted or frustrated will cost you big-time.


While most lawyers understand how court staff fit into the legal system, far too many lawyers fail to realize how a lawyer’s reputation with staff can affect the quality and results of his work. Court employees are usually an experienced, tightly-knit group who are seemingly always the target of budget cuts. While most have never written a scholarly essay on jurisprudence, they understand the law and how it functions far better than many lawyers, and they have many opportunities to help or hinder a lawyer’s efforts. I spent almost four years as a judicial clerk, and I was continually stunned by how many lawyers were intensely disliked by staff—and for good reasons.

Click here to continue to article.

Monday, July 18, 2011

August 1 - Washington D.C. Law Society Chapter Hosting Lunch

Students & recent alumni in Washington DC area are invited to the DC Chapter, Law Society Annual Luncheon on August 1, 2011.

Monday, August 1st at Noon
Arent Fox, 1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC
Speaker: Bill Atkin, Associate General Counsel for the LDS Church is making a special presentation about the Church’s international legal affairs & importance of religious liberty.

RSVP in Symplicity by July 26th.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Job Search Strategy Tip - Keeping Your Resume Current

By MariLee Allred

One of the first steps in a successful job search is having a current, updated resume ready to go at all times.

In a recent Career Services survey of current law students, 46% of responders indicated they did not have a current resume in Symplicity. Additionally 41% of responding students have not had their resume reviewed by a career counselor.

Regardless of your current employment position (seeking, not seeking, currently employed, etc.) it is important to have your resume updated and ready to go at a moment's notice.

Why is it important to have a current resume?

You never know when someone is going to ask for your resume.  You may be talking with a law school alumnus at an event and they might say, "Send me your resume. I'll pass it around for you."  Or, a former employer may call you and say, "Email me your resume.  We have an opening I think you'd be a good fit for." Or, perhaps you're on a call with an alumnus for an informational interview.  They might say, "Email me your resume right now and I'll take a look at it while we're talking."

I recently had an experience where two former employers called me the same week with job opportunities they were looking to fill immediately.  One of these former employers I worked for nearly twenty years ago.  Because of the continued relationship I have maintained with these employers over the years, they thought of me as a potential candidate and asked for current copies of my resume.  Because I keep my resume current, I didn't have to scramble to get my resume to them quickly.

Having a current resume has also come in handy during informal interviews for community service and volunteering for a professional organization volunteer position.

Keep your resume current throughout your career, not just when you're looking for a job

It's good practice to keep your resume up to date throughout your professional career, rather than try and update it when someone asks for it.  The easiest way to do this is to update it whenever there's a change to your experience, new job duties, participation in a new club or important community service, you have an article published, etc. Keeping your resume current will also greatly reduce the chance that you will add in typos or make other mistakes that you might if you're in a hurry.

It order to be ready for any potential job opportunity, I would highly recommend you upload and keep your resume current both on your computer and in Symplicity.  If you opt in to the resume book in Symplicity, ANY employer who has Symplicity access to our law school can search through resumes for potential hires.  Additionally, you may find a job posting in Symplicity that has a short deadline.  Having your application materials ready to go will make the process much less painless.

Any time you update your resume, you will also want to send copies to any employers you've previously applied to.  This is a great tactic for keeping in touch with the firm and letting them know you're still interested in working for them.

I would also highly recommend that you have a career counselor review your resume.  We have seen hundreds of resumes throughout our careers and will often catch mistakes you won't.  Additionally, legal employers have very specific resume expectations.  We can help you format your resume to meet those expectations.

We are more than happy to review your resumes and other application documents.  You have but to ask. 

Ask the Experts

1L class (as well as externships)
Karen Andrews

2L class (as well as government, military, or public interest/service career paths)
MariLee Allred

3L class (as well as judicial clerkships and alternative careers)
Beth Hansen

LLMs or Alumni
Mary Hoagland


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Avoid These 10 Rookie Associate Mistakes


by Kendra Brodin

You’ve got a new associate position at a firm. First of all, congrats! That’s a big deal in this challenging legal market. But don’t get so excited that you screw it up by making some very typical new associate blunders in the first few days, weeks, or months on the job.

Working with lawyers and law firms, I get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to new associates and how they integrate themselves smoothly (or not so smoothly) into the law firm culture.

Based on my observations, here are ten of the most significant mistakes I see new associates making (though seasoned associates and partners could learn a few lessons here as well.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What's Hot and What's Not in Practice Areas (June 2011)

By Bob Denney

Twice a year, Bob Denney identifies the most important current trends in the business of practicing law, including what’s hot and not in specific practice areas.

Red Hot

  • Health Care. This industry was hot even before ObamaCare fanned the flames of reform. It involves many practice areas including regulatory, finance, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, labor and employment, and professional liability. This will be red hot permanently.
  • Energy. Oil and gas have been hot for several years. Although “alternate energy” has cooled somewhat, coal has heated up again. And, since the disaster in Japan, nuclear power has reawakened regulatory and financial concerns. This too will remain red hot.
  • Financial Services. Institutions are still trying to understand the scope of Dodd-Frank. Some larger firms have formed multidisciplinary teams to counsel clients in dealing with the new regulations, some of which are not yet defined. This will remain red hot for a while.
Click here to continue to full article.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Phone Phobia? Conquer Your Fear of Phoning



When I was an associate, the most prominent item on my desk was a big, black, ugly toad that sat on the front corner and stared at me expectantly all day, every day. Occasionally it would ring and I would be jerked from the safe haven of legal research and thrust into the paralyzing world of human interaction. Today, I see associates who hide in their little havens of email, texting, and Facebook and Twitter, and more senior lawyers who still hide behind “important” formal documents sent via courier.

Sure, these communications methods have their place. Texting or twittering works fine for your buddies, and email can be effective to focus conversations with coworkers and to transmit certain information to clients. Formal communications must, obviously, be formal. Notice, however, that each method maintains a barrier between you and the recipient. There is no human-to-human contact, where you can talk directly, touch (shake hands, pat on the back or, rarely, hug) and read all the nonverbal signals that enrich communication. And that’s a shame. Since face-to-face meetings are somewhat rare these days, there’s just one method left to fill the void: the dreaded telephone call.

Click here to continue to full article.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Tips to Rise Above Your Peers in This Still-Struggling Economy

Recent law school graduates hoping to see improvements in legal hiring had little to celebrate when the National Association for Law Placement released its June report, indicating the worst job market since 1996, when the legal profession was still recovering from the recession of the late 1980s.

For the lucky 87 percent that found employment nine months after graduation last year, keeping their jobs is top of mind. To help young lawyers better understand what they should and should not be doing on the job, Betsy Collins, a partner in the Mobile, Ala., office of Burr & Forman LLP, recently released a free podcast from the Section of Litigation, “Advice for Young Lawyers.”

Drawing from 25 years of law practice and from the sage advice given to her when she was starting out, Collins offers several practical strategies to help ensure a thriving career in this still-struggling economy.

Improve Your Chances of Moving Through the Recruiting Process


by Desiree Hack

Some students have the personal branding game all figured out and will have no trouble securing employment. For others, finding a position can be quite difficult. This post is designed to be an informative way to improve your chances of being moved through the recruiting process. You may be graduating and seeking full-time employment or have a few semesters left and looking for a summer internship. There are similarities in both scenarios, and although you may have heard some of these things before, you’d be surprised at some of the common mishaps I still see.

Click here to continue to article.