Monday, December 31, 2012

Public Service Legal Careers Website & User Guide (PSJD)

If you are interested in a career in Public Service, you'll want to take advantage of the resource:

Find jobs, access great resources on all types of public service jobs, get advice on public service resumes, set up job alerts, etc.

For a brief overview of the site and getting started with a user account, see the user guide here:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Law School Regrets

I graduated from law school 30 years ago. When speaking to law students about how to find a job today, I mostly cover the basics. But I draw on my own experiences, too, and offer one bit of advice rarely provided by most career counselors. I arrived at this advice when, to prepare my presentation, I asked myself: “Knowing what I now know about legal careers after all these years, would I have done anything differently when I attended law school?”

It’s not that I wish I had studied harder and obtained better grades. Even if I had studied harder, that was no guarantee my grades would have improved. No, I was looking for some aspect of my behavior where I had more control over the end result. It did not take me long to think of the answer.
What I wish I had done differently was make more friends.
Make ’Em Before You Need ’Em
Certainly, I had my share of good friends, a few of whom I stay in contact with after all these years. However, looking back, I made no intentional effort to meet as many of my classmates as I could. Most of my good friends were those who shared my classes the first year, and as a second- and third-year student, I still sat with them. Even at parties, I still talked to the same people. Like most of my classmates, I rarely took the initiative to meet others. In retrospect, that was a big mistake.

There is a popular saying that you should always try to “make friends before you need them.” When it comes to law school, you have just three years to make friends. Even as a student, you might already need them. Good friends come in handy when you need a study partner, or when you’re a little short on cash and just need someone to buy you a drink.
Full article here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Not to Do After Receiving an Offer


I’ve often compared recruiting to dating; there are so many similarities that it’s hard not to do so. Like dating, both parties (recruiter and candidate) want to present themselves in the best light and be equally attractive to each other. In the beginning, each party is likely seeing other people and the promise of exclusivity is not yet there. With each phone call, email, and interview, a relationship is built; with all of these actions leading to the culmination of the courtship: a long-term commitment, a proposal of marriage or from a recruiting standpoint, the extension of a job offer.
But here is where things can get sticky. For some candidates, they’ve waited for this moment and will accept the opportunity on the spot! Other candidates will have a harder time because maybe they’re a bit unsure. With the latter individuals in mind, here are my suggestions on what NOT to do once you receive a job offer.

Don’t Pretend to Consider an Offer

I get it, interviewing with only one company is extremely risky. You want to be in a position where you’re entertaining multiple offers; this is the ideal position for the graduating college senior. But this ideal position is a tricky one because although you’ve received an offer, what if it’s from the company that’s not your first choice?

My best advice, consider the offer. Don’t just pretend to consider it. Your recruiter will know if you’re just going through the motions waiting for a better offer to come in. Instead examine all the elements and determine if you were to receive no other offers, would you be happy accepting the one that’s in front of you?

Full article here.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Job Hunting During the Holidays - Great Tips for Getting Ahead

1. Build your online network over the holidays. Reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances is natural at this time of year, so reach out to them on LinkedIn (LNKD) and Facebook (FB), and get caught up with what they're doing these days. Touch base with any recruiters you may know, as well.

2. Volunteer. Many nonprofits need extra help during the holidays, and lending a hand can lead to new relationships that will help your job search. Just as important, notes career coach Nan S. Russell, "It feels great to make a difference. It ignites your self-esteem and reminds you of what's going right in your life."

3. Send cards to companies where you've interviewed. To remind hiring managers that you're still interested in working with them, executive coach Camille Roberts suggests sending a holiday card, and maybe even a small gift like a little box of chocolates, along with a note. "Ask if there are any openings where you might be a better fit" than the job you previously applied for, she says.

Full article here.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tips from a Legal Recruiter on Finding a 1L Summer Job

by Angela Kopolovich

Finding a 1L Summer Job

During your first few months of law school, the National Association for Law Placement (aka NALP, you’ve heard of them already right?) has paternalistically lovingly kept you from worrying about what you will do this coming summer.

Now, just as everyone is recovering from their tryptophan-induced comas, the clock strikes December, and your cushy cocoon is suddenly shaken by the realization that you’ll have to start looking for your first legal job.
The process can be stressful, but if you properly manage the things that are within your control, you’ll be way ahead of most other 1Ls scrambling in the spring.

See full article here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quick Tip: Your Facebook Profile Through Another’s Eyes

Navigating Facebook’s privacy settings and friend lists can be a challenge. Whether you’re looking for clients, networking with your peers, or simply staying in touch with friends and relatives, it’s important to know exactly what you’re sharing on Facebook. Thankfully, Facebook includes a simple tool that lets you check just that: how your profile looks to your friends (and to the public).
  1. To start, navigate to your Facebook timeline by clicking on your name at the top of the page.
  2. Locate the Settings menu just below your cover image, click on the arrow, and choose “View As…”
  3. You’ll now see your profile as it appears to the public. To check how your profile appears to a specific friend, enter their name in the upper left hand corner of the page.
  4. You should now be seeing your timeline through your friend’s eyes. Use this to determine what changes you may need to make to friends lists and privacy settings.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Refresher Course in Etiquette (Hosts & Guests)

Does the thought of a business lunch terrify you—even just a little bit? Do you have visions of making an etiquette faux pas at your biggest client’s dinner function? Does the well-set table look more like a minefield than a relationship-building arena?

Take a deep breath, relax, and listen up. It may be a new world out there with vastly changed rules for doing business, but when it comes to table etiquette, old-fashioned manners and common sense still rule. For the other sticky questions, there is PJ McGuire, founder of Modet, a Chicago-based consulting company specializing in modern business etiquette and protocols, social interaction skills and executive coaching.

From her perspective, good etiquette can help create a positive impression on clients and colleagues while poor etiquette can harm your image, lead to embarrassing situations and even scupper a business deal. “Etiquette is part of your professional presence and can reflect how you want to be perceived,” she says. For those who need to brush up—and frankly, who doesn’t?—here are her top suggestions.

Monday, December 3, 2012

2012 What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal World

For more than two decades now, Bob Denney has shared his firm’s savvy observations of the most important business trends in the practice of law—not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world—via his “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” reports. Attorney at Work is honored to be first to share his 2012 report in its entirety.
Like our previous “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Profession” reports, this year’s is based on information we compile throughout the year, not just from clients but also from many other sources, including discussions with firms’ management and other leaders in the profession. As always, some of our findings are obvious. Others are not, but we feel they may be significant. What is most important to recognize is that, more than ever before, the outlook for individual firms will vary depending on size, practice area, strategic focus and geographic markets. The result is a montage of a profession that is in a state of flux and will continue to be so, not just in 2013 but for years to come.
Practice Areas
  • Energy. At many firms throughout the U.S., but particularly in Texas, Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. Oil and gas are the main drivers, while air and water quality continue to be environmental issues.
  • Health Care. Most of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) goes into effect January 14, 2013, but there are still questions about certain issues. A major one for employers, their advisors, most states and even the federal government is setting up the exchanges and whether some employers will drop insurance altogether.
  • Sports Law. Not really a separate area, though, because it can involve various practice areas such as M&A, Labor and Employment, Intellectual Property and Advertising.
  • Intellectual Property. Patent applications have increased since the America Invents Act (AIA) passed last year, converting the patent system from a “first to invent” to a “first inventor to file” system.
  • Patent Litigation. There has been substantial increase in the formation of non-practicing entities (NPEs), often referred to as “patent trolls,” which buy portfolios of patents and then bring suits against companies that appear to be infringing on them. As a result of the AIA, the courts now play the primary role in determining damages. Furthermore, the Justice Department has just started examining whether NPEs may be disrupting competition in high-tech markets.
  • Banking. The Dodd-Frank Act impacts all banks, whether or not they are large enough to require examination by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Most of the laws needed to implement the act have yet to be implemented.
  • Regulatory. Federal as well as state. It will impact many industries besides banking.
  • Labor & Employment. Wage & Hour and whistleblower suits continue to increase and collective bargaining continues to be a hot issue. In addition, the NLRB has begun enforcing areas that also affect non-union employees. This includes issuing new guidelines on social media policies.
  • Online Gaming. There is a growing movement at the federal level and in some states such as New Jersey toward legalizing Internet gambling, the high-growth sector of the gaming industry.
  • Litigation. In BigLaw firms it has probably declined more than any major practice area this year. However, it is still hot in most litigation firms and also in MidLaw and SmallLaw firms because of their lower rates.
  • Financial Services. Other than banking. IPOs are cold.
  • Bankruptcy. But this could heat up if the economy doesn’t show more strength.
  • Mergers & Acquisitions. But this could heat up if the economy does show more strength.
  • Real Estate. But this may get warm because the still-low prices on distressed commercial properties are attracting investors. The residential market may also be getting warm since home prices have been inching up and sales increases in many states are in the double digits.
Geographic Markets
  • Shanghai. Covington & Burling and Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton are two of the U.S. firms that have opened offices there this year.
  • Seoul. The result of the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement, effective last March.
  • Germany. For U.S. and Magic Circle firms, too. It has the largest population and strongest economy in the EU, although there are many strong German firms so competition is fierce.
  • Houston. High oil prices and a boom in drilling continue to attract firms from elsewhere.
  • Ohio, West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. Because of the shale boom.
  • Nashville. It may be the fastest growing business center in the South.
Marketing and Business Development
  • Client BD Teams. Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff continues to innovate. COO/CFO John Banks teams up with a member of the BD department in meetings with clients to discuss budgets, predictability and other client issues.
Other Trends and Issues
  • Bigger Role for In-House Lawyers. Responsibilities are expanding and pay is increasing for GCs, particularly in big companies in highly regulated industries. GCs also continue to keep more work in-house and are building up compliance teams to identify corruption and other issues before regulators do.
  • Back-Office Cost Cutting. Big firms continue to learn from their large corporate clients and are either outsourcing certain functions or moving billing, human resources and other support functions to less-expensive locations such as Lexington, Ky., and Rochester, N.Y.
  • Shrinking Partner Offices. Ten years ago, the average partner office was 600 square feet. Now, according to Studley, Inc., the average is down to 225 square feet.
  • Partner Compensation. The spread from highest-to-lowest has increased dramatically and is now up to 20:1 or even more in some BigLaw firms. One of the drivers is the bonuses and guaranteed compensation being given to lateral entries. However, this is causing not only dissatisfaction among the “homegrown” partners, but also financial problems for some firms. Haven’t they heard about Dewey & LeBoeuf?
  • Non-lawyer Investment in U.S. Firms. This will become a red hot issue. It is generating growing debate as Jacoby & Myers attempts to revive its suit against New York’s rule prohibiting it, and the ABA mulls presenting an option for consideration by its House of Delegates next year—at the earliest! For background, as well as the pros and cons of this issue, see my article in the December Law Firm Partnership & Benefits Report.
  • Capital. Last summer Greenberg Traurig issued a call for additional capital from equity partners, the first in over 10 years. CEO Richard Rosenbaum stated the action was taken to add to the firm’s “equity cushion” due to the “current uncertainty in U.S. and global markets.” Most law firms are under-capitalized. If they are going to survive and achieve their growth goals, they may need outside investors.
  • Law School Class Sizes. Due to the continuing poor job market for graduates, more than 60 of 202 accredited law schools cut the size of their 2012 entering classes.
  • Law School Applications. Estimated to drop at least 14 percent this fall.
  • Law School Curricula. Some schools continue to reduce the number of traditional courses and introduce more practical skills courses, such as the University of Houston’s course on corporate compliance. In a related step, Boston College of Law has created a new position: faculty director of experiential learning.
  • Legal Education. The ABA has announced a task force to address the weak legal job market, the high cost of a legal education and the delivery of legal services. The task force is expected to conclude its work some time in 2014.
  • Courthouses Closing. Los Angeles just became the latest—and largest—city to announce it is closing some courthouses because of funding shortfalls.
  • “Deus ex Machina.” A steadily increasing number of state courts are utilizing digital technology to replace court reporters.
  • Billable Rates. Despite client pressure to reduce fees, according to a survey of about 550 firms by Valeo Partners, in the last year billable rates rose 3.4 percent for partners and 7.5 percent for associates.
  • Associate Starting Salaries. According to the National Association for Legal Placement, the median starting salary for law grads in the class of 2011 dropped 5 percent from 2010 and 17 percent from 2009. However, in BigLaw firms starting salaries remained at $160,000, while they ranged from $40,000 to $65,000 for new hires elsewhere.
  • Apprenticeships. A January 2012 article in The Wall Street Journal suggested that states ask graduates to serve one-year apprenticeships before they become eligible for admission to the bar. This deserves serious consideration. A graduate of medical school becomes a doctor but, in most states, must complete an internship or residency before receiving a license to practice. Why shouldn’t the legal profession have the same requirement?
  • Mergers. In the U.S. they increased during the first half of this year but then cooled down.
  • International Mergers and Alliances. They are red hot! Australian firms are particularly active. Freehills merged with U.K. firm Herbert Smith and Mallesons Stephen Jaques has merged with Beijing-based King & Wood. Middletons is in “advanced” merger talks with K&L Gates. Meanwhile France-based Salans is merging with SNR Denton. U.S. firms are also active. Fulbright & Jaworski is merging with U.K. firm Norton Rose, while Reed Smith has formalized a strategic alliance with Athens-based Papapolitis & Papapolitis.
  • Online Legal Services. California startup firm LawZam is the newest vendor to enter this growing market by offering consumers free video access to lawyers throughout the U.S.
  • E-Discovery Vendors. In recent years a few firms have formed e-discovery practice groups. Now Drinker Biddle & Reath has become one of the first to form an e-discovery subsidy to process data for clients.
  • Pricing Director. A new position, but more than 50 have been hired by BigLaw firms in the last 20 months. Toby Brown, Akin Gump’s first director of strategic pricing and analytics, described them as “the hot new hires of 2012.” According to Susan Hackett, CEO of Legal Executive Leadership, pricing directors help firms determine the cost and then the best price lawyers should quote clients for the profitable performance of their services.
  • Law Firm Bankruptcies. Austin firm Bertolino has become the second known firm to file for bankruptcy, following megafirm Dewey & LeBoeuf’ earlier this year. Several legal pundits say there will be more. Paul Lippe predicts at least 10 more AmLaw 250 firms will fail by the end of 2013, while Bruce MacEwen says it will also happen in the middle market.
  • More Shared Leadership. DLA Piper has named co-managing partners and co-chairmen of the firm’s U.S. operation. This continues the trend of co-leadership we first reported several years ago.
  • Project Management. At its annual Futures Conference, the College of Law Practice Management recognized Littler Mendelson and Seyfarth Shaw for their service delivery programs. However, on the whole, there appears to be far more talk about PM—by both firms and consultants—than action. It may be another case of “sound and fury….”
  • Associate Hiring. The cutback in hiring first-years continues. This will eventually create a generation gap that will affect future management and client responsibility succession.
  • Lateral Partners. Various surveys and reports indicate that firms will continue to recruit laterals because the firms’ number one strategy is to generate revenue, and the quickest path is to recruit partners with a substantial book of business. But we repeat the question asked above: Haven’t these firms heard about Dewey & LeBoeuf?
  • Integrating Laterals. Despite the continuing trend to hire laterals, few firms have programs to integrate them. This is true even in MidLaw and SmallLaw firms that do not hire first- or second-year associates but recruit third- and fourth-years.
  • Staff and Contract Attorneys. BigLaw and MidLaw firms continue to increase their percentage of staff and contract attorneys. In a few firms, certain contract attorneys are considered for equity partnership if they are in major, higher-revenue practice areas.
  • Mandatory Retirement. Because some senior partners want to–or need to–continue practicing, and also because of the NLRB’s suit several years ago, a number of firms have either dropped or are not enforcing their mandatory retirement policies. This is reducing the “generational turnover” needed for both management and client responsibility succession. In view of this, some firms are offering retirement incentives or asking more senior partners to submit a personal business plan that addresses both retirement and succession.
  • Gender Gap. It continues. According to the National Association of Women Lawyers, women still account for only 15 percent of equity partners, 26 percent of non-equity partners and 46 percent of associates.
  • Non-equity Partnership. The number of firms offering NEP may have declined a little. One reason could be the substantial retirement incentives a few have offered.
  • Pro Bono. New York recently became the first state to require law school graduates to perform 50 hours of pro bono work before they can be admitted to the bar. This benefits both the lawyers and their eventual employers, as well as the entire legal profession.
  • Backlash on Charges. In addition to their backlash on fees, clients are objecting to firms’ charges for such items as legal research, photocopying, faxes and lawyer meals. They regard these as normal overhead and part of the cost of doing business.
  • Non-lawyer Managers. For years, larger firms have had practice group administrators. Now a number of firms are hiring non-lawyers with business background to manage practice groups so the lawyers can focus on client work and relationships.
  • Emergency/Disaster Plans. As discussed in our November Legal Communique, Hurricane Sandy confirmed that law firms need to have disaster plans. Unfortunately, some did not and others found their plans were inadequate.
  • Pfizer Legal Alliance. It was initiated three years ago. Will it become a model?
  • Shrinking Market? Although MidLaw and SmallLaw firms are generally doing well, many BigLaw firms are confronted with flat or lower revenues, declines in partner billable hours and, despite cost-cutting initiatives, increasing expenses. Gretta Rusanow, a senior client advisor with Citi Private Bank’s law firm group, says, “There is a shrinking market for legal services.”
  • Our Perspective. Yes, many large clients will be keeping more legal work in-house, and both the number and type of alternative legal service providers will continue to increase. Our take on the total legal market, however, is that it will grow but will also become more segmented, with some of the less-innovative firms falling by the wayside.
Bob Denney is President of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., which provides strategic management and marketing counsel to law firms, companies and non-profit organizations throughout the United States. Previous Communiques as well as information about his firm’s services may be viewed at