Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Screening Interviews: 8 Ways to Waste Them

Screening interview candidates have just 20 minutes to make a good impression between “hello” and “goodbye.” Those minutes can be the longest in your life or they can flash by in an instant.

You can make the best of the time, or you can waste every minute with one or more of these eight little horrors:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Introvert's Guide to Networking

by Lisa Petrilli

I learned the critical importance of networking, and discovered my natural aversion to it, early in my career. I was a new college graduate working in the strategic planning division of a $10 billion company, and our business unit had been invited to a retirement party for one of the top executives. The gentleman retiring was someone I'd looked up to during my brief tenure, and I wanted him to know he'd made an impact on me.

While I wanted to attend the party, as an introvert I usually avoided these types of events because they made me uncomfortable. Knowing there would be a lot of senior executives at this party made me even more fearful. In the end, I tamped down my fears and went. When I arrived I found a relatively empty room save for the executive's friends and close colleagues. That night, because of the small turnout, I had the pleasure and advantage of engaging in one-on-one conversations with some of the company's top executives, an experience that would prove crucially important in advancing my career.

That evening I learned the importance of networking and realized I had to figure out how to engage in business events in ways that were comfortable for me. I went on to discover an array of strategies introverts can use, ultimately writing "The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership". Because I figured out how to embrace networking I found myself in the plum role of leading one of the highest visibility company teams as a new marketing manager at the age of 26, and representing the company at a United Nations conference in Geneva. I went on to run a $750 million business and negotiate pharmaceutical contracts with top global companies, all in a way that worked effectively with my introverted preferences.

Here's what worked for me:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tweet Your Way to a New Job

By Amy Levin-Epstein
Recently I spoke to industry experts about how to maintain your Facebook page and LinkedIn profile so as to enhance, and not derail, your career. But can you tweet your way to a new job? The answer is yes -- if you use your 140 characters wisely. I've asked eight career experts for their best Twitter job search tips, as well as for specific sample tweets. You can tweak the eight basic templates below for your industry and desired position.

Twitter helped me get a new job: 4 success stories
5 ways Twitter can ruin your career
Job seekers: new tech tools you should know about

Note that some of these templates may be tweeted en masse to your (hopefully industry-targeted) network. But others should be sent directly to the corporate Twitter handle of your dream company, or to individuals there, suggests Tony Morrison, vice president of business development at Cachinko. "This builds an open channel of communication," Morrison says. One last suggestion: only post on Twitter what you would say face-to-face to your current boss, if you have a job.

Click here to continue to article.

Monday, February 13, 2012

NALP’s Public Interest Employment Snapshot Report: New Data Offer a View of the Public Service

Reprinted from NALP Bulletin, February 2012

by Mark Goldfarb

Those students and recent alumni seeking positions in the public service sector face a challenging environment. Strained state budgets, a slashing of federal Legal Services Corporation funding and poor returns on Interest On Lawyer Trust Accounts have led to reduced legal services funding for the indigent. (Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts, or IOLTA, is a program that allows lawyers who handle nominal or short-term client funds to place these funds in pooled, interest-bearing accounts. The interest earned on these accounts is remitted to the state IOLTA program for charitable purposes.) At the same time, the number of individuals eligible for these services has increased as foreclosure,  unemployment, and underemployment rates remain elevated.

In the past few years, federal hiring and stimulus funds provided a slight buoy to an otherwise difficult public service market. This too, however, has waned in recent months as Congress and the President have cut funding to the Legal Services Corporation by almost 15% and have frozen or cut spending at most federal agencies.  

Against this backdrop, the NALP Public Service Section endeavors to provide NALP members with more quantitative information on hiring trends and to learn firsthand from employers about the skills and qualifications they seek in job candidates.  

We hope that this will allow NALP members to provide more informed guidance to students and alumni trying to navigate the public interest job search. Toward this end, in September we collected data from employers on recent summer and postgraduate hiring, hiring expectations for the near future, anticipated “growth areas” in public interest practice, as well as information on what job seekers can do to be standout candidates. 

This is the second annual report, which is available in its entirety at www.nalp.org/publicservice. This article highlights some of the main quantitative and qualitative findings. 

A By-the-Numbers Look at Public Service Hiring

We surveyed public service employers of all types and received 623 responses, over 200 more than last year, from legal services providers, public defenders, prosecutors, federal agencies, and others. The majority of responses came from civil legal services providers and other nonprofit law offices.

Responses were geographically distributed as follows: 23% from the Northeast, 14% from the Midwest, 43% from the South, and 20% from the West. As the beginning of this article might suggest, public service employers are not yet back to hiring at pre-recession levels. For summer 2011 internship positions, the percentage of paid and unpaid opportunities remained relatively constant as compared to summer 2010. Over 25% of employers reported that they accommodated paid law students for the summer, while 79.8% reported accommodating unpaid law students. This trend looks to continue as approximately 75% of employers anticipate taking on about the same number of paid and unpaid law students for the summer of 2012. That said, there may be a slight uptick in unpaid opportunities as 10% of employers anticipate accepting more unpaid interns in the coming year.

For those law students intent on receiving paid public service summer employment, it would be best to point them toward local prosecutors and state government opportunities as those groups tended to hire the most paid law students per employer.

This is especially true considering that the other significant source of paid internships in the past, federal agencies, will likely hire fewer paid interns than last year.

As for postgraduate employment, the numbers are not encouraging. This year the survey divided  postgraduate employment for 2011 graduates into two categories: permanent staff attorney positions and fellowships. Of those surveyed, 16.6% reported hiring 2011 graduates for permanent staff attorney positions, while 21.7% reported hiring recent graduates for fellowship positions. This data suggest that a greater percentage of employers are taking on new hires through fellowships. But in terms of aggregate numbers, it’s still likely that regular attorney hiring is bringing in more new attorneys.

Overall, these statistics appear on a par with last year’s survey, which found that 31% of employers hired 2010 graduates for permanent and/or fellowship positions.

Many employers seem to be getting through resource shortages by accepting unpaid attorneys. Indeed, more than 21.8% of respondents “hired” recent graduates on an unpaid basis.

As to layoffs, 16.1% of respondents reported laying off attorneys in 2010-2011, with the majority coming from civil legal aid and state attorneys’ general offices. With respect to 2012, employers are not forecasting growth in hiring.

Looking to the Future: Where Do Employers Forecast Job Growth?

The survey asked employers about practice areas that are likely to grow in the near future. Much like last year, elder, housing, and health care law topped the list. In addition, many reported that employment law is strong and that family law and the need for Spanish-speaking attorneys will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

The problem with forecasting in the public interest sphere, however, is that funding for services does not necessarily match the need for services. In particular, some attorneys expressed concerns about whether they would continue to receive additional resources for foreclosure work that still comprises a significant portion of their caseload.

What Do Employers Wish to See from Job Candidates?

The survey also gathered advice about the types of experiences our students should be pursuing along with any additional job search tips survey participants would offer to job seekers. The advice is not surprising. In terms of helpful experience, the overwhelming majority of employers desire experience directly relevant to their specialty or area of law. Many employers specifically seek clinical experience, and some explained that this preference is based on their perception that students receive better supervision in a clinical setting. Short of that, legal aid and public defenders want attorneys who have worked with low-income individuals, and, if a student is pursuing prosecution or public defense, he or she should take all the standard criminal law courses and participate in mock trial.

As far as job search tips, many employers highly recommend that students learn Spanish or other languages prevalent in a particular community, and suggested that a summer language-intensive program abroad might even be more beneficial than a summer legal internship experience. In addition, legal aid organizations are really looking for well-tailored cover letters that demonstrate a student’s interest, understanding, and passion for the organization and what it does. Lastly, employers suggest that recent graduates gain experience by volunteering or seeking employment in rural areas.

The survey, unfortunately, does not point to any bright spots in the near future. However, we hope that it offers you a more data-driven picture of the public service employment market and offers you a few tips that you can pass on to your students and alumni.

Mark Goldfarb is a Career Advisor at the University of Iowa College of Law. This article was submitted on behalf of the NALP Public Service Section.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Non-Traditional Legal Careers In and Around the Courts

by Amanda DiPolvere, Cara Mitnick, and Lorri Olan
Reprinted from NALP Bulletin, February 2012.

As the job market tightens, JD candidates and attorneys are seeking employment opportunities off  the beaten path. While judicial clerkships are typical post-graduate alternatives, additional opportunities exist in and around the courts in practice and non-practice roles. Although many positions require experience, in some cases a JD can substitute for experience. This article explores some of the opportunities available. 

Court Administrators/Court Executives are the unsung heroes who “keep the lights on” so judges and their law clerks can administer justice. Like law firm or law school administrators, court administrators are responsible for facilities management, hiring and training staff, maintaining the court’s calendar, managing dockets, and many other administrative functions.

Lawyers with administrative experience may be strong candidates for positions calling for staff management, labor relations, and interdepartmental oversight. Labor and employment law or human resources experience can be relevant, as court administrators may monitor productivity or effectiveness of court staff and resolve disputes. Some courts require administrators to serve as liaisons to other governmental departments or agencies, making prior experience in government organizations useful.

Further, administering budgets and determining best administrative practices require attention to detail and analytical skills, which tend to be lawyers’ strengths.

High-level administrative positions often call for development or oversight of institutional efforts like guardian ad litem programs, child support or protection initiatives, interpreter programs, and special drug courts. Attorneys or law students with experience shepherding clients through these programs would be excellent job candidates. Depending on the size of the jurisdiction and the court, senior administrative annual salaries may range from $75,000 to well over $100,000. To find these positions, job seekers should review state judiciary or U.S. courts websites.

Pro Se Law Clerks at the federal level provide assistance related to pro se prisoner petitions and complaints. These clerks provide substantive legal analysis of pleadings, research case law, draft  orders and opinions for judicial review, and recommend dispositions of motions and cases. In addition, they screen incoming petitions and complaints for procedural compliance and help clerks’ offices resolve case management issues.

A recent posting for a pro se clerk in the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts called for law
school graduates (top quarter or law review preferred) with analytical skills and one year of
post-graduation legal or legal administrative experience.

Following a two-year federal district court clerkship, attorney Monica Sullivan became a pro se clerk at the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California. Sullivan says she enjoys her work because of “the opportunity to tackle complex Constitutional law issues, and to draft recommendations and orders for all of the magistrate and district judges in the Southern District.”

Administrative Hearing Officers conduct hearings to make decisions or recommendations on disputes with respect to government programs or government-related matters. They can determine liability, sanctions, or penalties, or recommend the acceptance or rejection of claims or settlements.

Unlike a judge, a hearing officer is usually restricted to administrative matters, and the hearings are less formal than court trials.

In California, administrative hearing officers hear everything from traffic disputes to special education and disability benefit denial cases. Hearing officers can be attorneys in any stage of their career.

An administrative hearing program in San Diego has a few experienced attorney officers but often uses recent bar admittees as hearing officers to hear disputes about citations for vehicle or municipal code violations.

Magistrates are independent judicial officers who deal with criminal matters and conduct bail hearings, and issue arrest and search warrants and emergency protective and custody orders. In some states magistrates are called commissioners or referees.

Magistrates need a thorough understanding of the arrest process and an in-depth knowledge of criminal statutes and recent case law pertaining to the most frequently handled offenses. They conduct legal research and apply facts to relevant legal principles while making judicial, discretionary decisions. They work mostly with crime victims, law enforcement, and mental health professionals.

The job is not for the faint-hearted; magistrates must maintain order and decorum in highly charged, sensitive situations.

A magistrate’s hours, salary, and limited upward mobility may make the position undesirable for some. Since magistrates are available 24/7, they rotate shifts — in terms of both the hours and days they work—making schedules unpredictable and unusual. The average annual salary is about $40,000. Vacancies as chief magistrate, regional supervisor, or magistrate advisor are rare. Finally, lawyers who want to practice will be frustrated by the fact that magistrates are prohibited from engaging in pro bono work.

Bar admission, ethics, and professionalism regulation are important tasks and the breadth of these roles can vary greatly from state to state.

State Bar Examiner boards usually manage membership, continuing legal education, and publications.

They also oversee the bar examination and admissions process, which is an enormous job in populous states and can involve multiple testing locations and administrations. Because Bar Examiner boards are responsible for admitting new lawyers to the profession they are often regulated or administered by the state Supreme Court. Discipline administrators review complaints of misconduct against lawyers, investigate and prosecute the bar complaints, and recommend disciplinary action to the state Supreme Court. These bar discipline offices are either part of the state Supreme Court or a state agency that directly reports to the Supreme Court. Some states employ ethics counsel who answer lawyers’ ethics questions confidentially or who intervene in lawyer/client disputes.

In some cases, for example in New Jersey, the Office of Attorney Ethics is involved in any criminal matters in which an attorney is a defendant. The office also conducts hearings and reviews, and oversees the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection, which pays claims to clients who lost money due to dishonest attorney conduct.

Lawyers’ professionalism is a hot topic these days. Two initiatives of the Ohio Supreme Court’s
Commission of Professionalism are to educate judges on how to proactively manage issues of professionalism and to foster lawyer to lawyer mentoring. The Commission’s work benefits new
and experienced attorneys alike.

Attorneys who work in and around the courts are often deeply satisfied in their roles as administrators of justice. Their clients appreciate their services and they keep abreast of changes in the profession. Moreover, they help direct and form the future of law practice on a state and national basis.

Key Words and Job Titles to look for:

·         Bankruptcy Administrator

·         Board of Pardons

·         Counsel to Office of Judicial Administration

·         Deputy Clerk

·         Ethics Counsel

·         Family Law Facilitator

·         Financial and Procurement Specialist

·         Guardian ad litem Attorney

·         Human Resources

·         Jury Administrator

·         Law Librarian

·         Probate Investigator

·         Probation and Pretrial Services

·         Reporter of Decisions

Websites of Interest:

·         www.uscourts.gov/Careers.aspx — Jobs in federal courts

·         www.ncsc.org/Education-and-Careers/Jobs.aspx — National Center for State Courts

·         www.nacmnet.org/jobs/index.html —National Association for Court Management

·         www.beyond.com — Find Court Jobs at www.Beyond.com

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How to Remember Names (Really)


You’ve just been introduced, and halfway through the conversation you realize that, once again, you have no recall of this person’s name. While forgetting names is not the worst thing you can do socially, remembering names is one of the best. It eases social situations, sets you apart from the other bumbling schlubs, lets your companion know that they had a positive impact on you, and, face it, is just plain old good manners.

But let’s get real. Unless you have one of those photographic memories featured on so many TV crime shows, you’re going to have to work at it a little.

Etiquette maven and social skills coach PJ McGuire, owner of Chicago-based Modet, offers her top tips for remembering names.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

NYC Housing Option

If you are headed to NYC this summer and looking for housing, check out Educational Housing Services. Their all-inclusive student/intern housing includes 24-hour security, fully furnished rooms, fitness & laundry centers, a Student Life program & much more. Call 1-800-385-1689 or visit www.studenthousing.org for more info.