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March 31, 2006

Be Ready for 'That' Call: Your phone interview

Here are some suggestions that will help you be prepared when answering the phone when employers call you.

1) Check your voice-mail message. Is it professional?
2) If you share a phone, remind family, friends, and/or roommates that you are expecting employers to call and ask them to take a message for you.
3) Have pen and paper ready before answering. Get contact names, correct spellings, e-mail addresses, driving directions, and note the day/time of the interview.
4) Have your resume, cover letter, transcripts, and writing sample handy so you can talk about them.

5) Answer the phone if possible. This will save employers and you valuable time.
6) If an employer leaves a message, call him or her back the same day!
7) Avoid distractions and focus on the caller.

Bottom Line: Be Prepared!

Following up on your networking meetings

Because networking contacts are like blind dates (no baby name or china pattern selection), you need to follow up to build the relationships.

In your first meeting you may have gotten some advice or some insight into the person's personal interests or concerns. Your follow-up relates to what you learned.

Advice -- report back. Did you take the advice? What was the result?
Interests or concerns -- follow up with a relevant note, an article or link.

Once you begin this kind of relationship, you might use a contact as a sounding board to test information that might sound correct -- or might not. For instance, during a Spring Break Shadows program, a 1L "learned" that only 2Ls and 3Ls get the really good externships. However, after speaking to us in the CPDC, he learned that during the 1L summer, virtually ALL of the externs are 1Ls, hence the "good" externships (however they are defined) go to 1Ls.

Ask questions that your networking contact can answer

Instead of "what advice do you have for me," your networking questions should be targetted and specific.

"I am an LLM considering OPT before returning to my home country. Because I can go home and go right to work, do you see any value for me or for my future employer if I were to work here?"

"I am a 1L interested in business law and am considering getting an MBA. Would you advise doing this now, or should I wait until I am out in practice?"

"With my long-standing interest in transactional work, do you see value for me in a judicial externship or judicial clerkship after graduation?"

Each of these questions gives your networking contact an opportunity to EXPOUND. You may know the answer, or think that you know the answer. No matter. You are always picking up a new perspective, and your networking contact will think that you are brilliant if you smile and shake your head in agreement.

March 30, 2006

Is a high Multistate score enough to pass the MN bar exam?

FROM THE MN Board of Law Examiners website...

Students have recently asked whether an examinee who achieves a high Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) score on the Minnesota Bar Exam will automatically pass the entire exam without regard to his or her essay and MPT scores.

The answer is "no." No matter how high a score an examinee achieves on the MBE, the examinee will not pass unless the examinee achieves enough points on the essays and performance question portion of the exam so that the combined total score meets or exceeds 260. Because Minnesota uses a "compensatory" method for combining scores, a relatively low score achieved on one part of the exam can be compensated for by achieving a higher score on the other part of the exam. However, an examinee must take both portions of the exam and must score points on both the MBE and the essay portions of the exam in order to meet or exceed a score of 260 and pass the examination.

If you have questions regarding the bar exam, please review with Board's "From Diploma to License" brochure found at http://www.ble.state.mn.us/from_diploma_to_license.html

For more information about the MN bar exam, go to:

March 28, 2006

Failure to file income tax can torpedo your background check

From emaill to the CPDC from the Department of Justice:

From time to time, the [DOJ] Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management receives inquiries relating to pre-employment background checks. There seems to be some confusion among law students relating to when they are required to file federal income tax returns. Some students who are due tax refunds may mistakenly believe that they are not required to file an income tax return or that they have three years to file. We note that failure to file a timely income tax return can result in disqualification from employment. This problem can be avoided by careful review of available information specifying who is required to file a tax return. Please note that the filing requirement provisions differ from those provisions dealing with claiming refunds.

March 24, 2006

Working in the Shadow of a Giant in Your Field...

FOR MID-LEVEL LATERALS If you are being recruited to work for a top-shelf practice with a superb local/regional/national/international reputation, be glad that someone thinks highly of you. Then explore the track record of these Giants in the Field to see whether or how they have helped mid-levels and junior partners develop their own practices. Would this be a career-limiter or a launching pad? Could you spend your professional life working for this firm in the Shadow of the Giant? Could you develop a high-level, marketable expertise that could launch you to the place where you could cast your own Shadow?

What plan does this firm have for generational transfer of culture, clients and cash? As a mid-level associate you should know the questions to ask and have no fear of asking them.

March 23, 2006

Managing Your 'Internet' Image

Take a look at the headlines below that have been published just this month regarding various issues with blogging, Friendster, Facebook, and MySpace. Just as you present how professional you are in your cover letters, resumes, and interviews consider your 'Internet Image' as well. What will potential employers see when using one of these social networking tools?

Note that I used a Google News search using these keywords: Employers + 'blogging', 'Friendster', 'Facebook', and 'MySpace'.

“You Are What You Post?
Business Week - Mar 22, 2006

“Bosses Google potential employees?
Monsters and Critics.com, UK - Mar 20, 2006

“Facebook displays questionable activities?
RU Daily Targum (subscription) - New Brunswick, NJ, USA Mar 23, 2006

Click below for more.

“No Secrets?
Pioneer Press, MN - Mar 10, 2006

“Students misbehaving could pay price for posting photos online?
Seattle Post Intelligencer – USA Mar 23, 2006

“Facebook helps some schools catch students?
Daily Pennsylvanian, PA - Mar 22, 2006

“Employers, Administrators Also Reading ‘Facebook’ Entries?
Black College Wire, District of Columbia - Mar 12, 2006

“Online profile could haunt you?
Tampa Bay's 10, FL - Mar 17, 2006

Before you hit "send..."

Re-read your cover letter before you hit "send." An employer just called to check on the accuracy of a job posting because a student's cover letter had ended with "I am very interested in your Minneapolis office." The firm exists in two time zones -- neither of which is Central -- and the candidacy is at zero because of this editing lapse.

March 22, 2006

Take a Breath Before Sending Your E-Documents

Before sending your application materials electronically to a potential employer, consider the following in order to make a great first impression:

* Is your e-mail and cover letter addressed to the correct person or correct department? Remember it is always best to address your documents to a person instead of using 'To Whom It May Concern'. This rule applies to 'hard copy' application materials as well.

* Is your e-mail address professional?
** Using your university address is appropriate.
** Using a work e-mail account is not.
** Using free e-mail providers is appropriate.
** Using a questionable userid such as 'superstud@yahoo.com' or 'hotbabe@gmail.com' is not nor is 'eagertoworkforyourfirm@hotmail.com' or "iamawesome@aol.com'. Also consider listening to your own voicemail greeting. Is it appropriate?
** Using something like 'johnsmith@aol.com' is appropriate.

* Are you using an active, professional voice? Watch your use of slang, jargon, and over use of contractions. Also refrain from using emoticons. :-)

* Are you sending what is requested? If instructions are not clear as to what documents to send, be confident in providing a cover letter and resume: both as attachments. Note that .pdf files ensure that the format at the receiving end will remain intact.

* And of course, have you checked for errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence construction, etc.? How about omitted words?

Remember that these documents are examples of your ability to write clearly, concisely, and accurately. So take your time before hitting 'send'.

Developing Cultural Competence

Developing an understanding of various cultures is becoming increasingly important in the workplace because, according to the latest U.S. Census reports, one in every three Americans belongs to a racial or ethnic minority group (1). Building a deeper awareness and appreciation of others' beliefs, values, and attitudes will lead to effective client/customer relationships inside and outside of the country as well as provide you with different perspectives on how to approach issues or problems. Here are a couple suggestions on how to improve your cultural competence:

1) Develop cultural sensitivity. Be alert to possible cultural differences when interacting with people from a different country. Take the initiative to introduce yourself to people who are from other cultures.

2) Respect all workers and cultures. Simple respect for others and their cultures is foundational.

3) Minimize cultural bloopers. Carefully study and observe persons from another culture. Learn their norms, beliefs, values, and attitudes, and learn from your mistakes.

4) Participate in cultural training. Cross-cultural training is offered by community education providers, through formal courses at the university, and informally by various international clubs and organizations. Also consider investigating applicable volunteer opportunities in a culture other than your own.

Here are some additional resources that will add you in your cross-cultural training:

Culturelink Network
Getting Through Customs
Kwintessential Language and Culture Specialists

Ref: Human Relations for Career and Personal Success by Andrew J. DuBrin

March 21, 2006

Transferrable skills & spin: Will I be trapped in something I hate?

Risk averse law students are sometimes reluctant to take a job because they aren't particularly interested in a practice or fear that they will be forever trapped in something they hate. Fret not. Your skills are transferrable with a little bit of spin. For example:

For Prosecution Although my school-year clerking experience is in a public defender's office, the criminal law practice skills I have acquired should easily transfer to a prosecution setting. ... I respect and admire the lawyers I worked with, but it is clear to me that my interests and instincts are better suited to prosecution.

For Commercial Litigation My school-year clerking has been in a busy family law practice. The client service, research and file management skills that I acquired should easily transfer to a more general commercial litigation practice. ... After working with extremely dedicated and talented lawyers who will remain excellent role models, it is clear to me that my interests and skills are more suited to a general commercial practice.

March 19, 2006

Summer "Vacation" for Law Clerks

Q: I have accepted a summer law clerk position that I'm excited about, but there has been no mention of summer vacation. I want to take some time off and want to know if there is a standard vacation for law clerks?
A. The idea is that you are there to work for the duration of what the employer considers "summer," and that most of your time off would come either before you start or before you return to school. You may be able to negotiate a few days off during your "summer," but it should be minimal, and you should not expect to be paid. There is no “standard? vacation time, but there are some general guidelines.

(1) Whether "summer" is six, eight, 12 weeks or more, your goal is to work to make a good impression to generate a permanent offer, to earn some money and get some experience, and, at the very least, to get a good reference.

(2) If you have specific plans (weddings, previously scheduled trips, etc.) announce them as early as possible so that your new colleagues can schedule around your absence. If you anticipate a lengthy absence during the middle of the summer, tell a prospective employer before you accept the offer. It may be possible to plan around your three-week trip to Tibet with enough lead time, but asking in June for three weeks off in July is both rude and unprofessional. Being perceived as either could defeat the goals of #1.

(3) Do not expect to be paid for your time off. There are some firms that will give summer clerks a day or two of paid leave during the summer, but few, if any, announce it in advance.

March 17, 2006

Culture 2: Twelve questions provide a lens to view your work

Here is a list of questions to consider whether you are currently working or are seeking work. They are often called the Q12 and were developed by The Gallup Organization. Buckingham and Coffman (authors of the book First Break All the Rules) believe "measuring the strength of a workplace can be simplified to twelve questions...They measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees."

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment that I need in order to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the past seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission or purpose of my company make me feel that my job is important?
9. Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work?
11. In the past six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
12. This past year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Selecting and Prepping Your References

You will be asked to provide a list of references and their contact information either at an interview or shortly thereafter. It is best to think strategically when deciding whom to place on that list. You will want to select people who can represent you well from the following perspectives: Academic | Professional | Personal. They could be faculty members, past or present employers, colleagues , friends or friends of the family who you respect. This mix will provide potential employers insight into what your skills and abilities are as well as what it will be like working with you.

Remember, it is extremely important that you ensure your references know that you will be putting their name on your list. Imagine how frustrating it is to be caught off guard by someone who is seeking professional and personal information. First, ask if you can use him or her as a reference. You must get their permission. Also ask someone who can speak to your strengths and abilities. Second, provide your references a copy of your resume. This will help them speak accurately about you in context of your background. Next, send them a copy of the job posting for which you are applying and let them know where you are submitting your resume. And finally, keep your references up-to-date as you progress. They are all pulling for you and want you to succeed.

For more information regarding references and recommendations, visit the CPDC's CareerFiles

March 16, 2006

Culture: Offices are different. How can you tell them apart?

No two organizations operate the same and understanding what the culture is in a specific workplace is an important part of any job search. In addition to assessing your skills and abilities, organizations will be looking to see if you are a good fit with the culture. As a job seeker, it is equally important that you attempt to learn about the culture of the firm or office for which you may be working. Cummings and Worley, in their book Organization Development and Change, define corporate culture as a "pattern of values, beliefs, and expectations shared by organization members." In other words: "It's the way we do things here." Or, the 'modus operandi'.

Click below for some things to consider as you assess an organization's culture:

Why do the employees like working for this organization? * What are the traditions? * How do people dress? * What is the structure of the organization? * What expectations are placed on employees? * How do associates and partners treat each other? Treat support staff? Clients? * How is the business run? * What is the organization's mission and are they true to that mission? * What do they value? * What are their short- and long-term goals? * What is the image (value proposition) of the organization? * What work behavior is valued? * Company policies? * How is performance evaluated? * How are people motivated? Supervised? Compensated?

This is just a start and there are many ways to acquire this information: Internet research (the organization's website, NALP form, Google, etc.), news articles, informational interviews, the CPDC, just to name a few.

Remember, however, in addition to learning about a potential employer's 'corporate culture', it is equally important to understand and be able to articulate to them your own "values, beliefs, and expectations" and how they match with the organization. The CPDC can assist you in answering these questions.

March 15, 2006

How to "sort of" undermine the power of your ideas

At a recent panel discussion, one of the speakers used "sort of" as a comma and an adjective. While he is certainly an intelligent person, this speech pattern undermined the power of his ideas. When he tried to say "I met with excellent lawyers" and said "I met with sort of excellent lawyers," it was jarring. As a presenter, you are doomed when the audience stops paying attention to your message and starts counting your "ums," "and-uhs" and "sort ofs." Ask your friends for an honest audit of your speech and then get a tape recorder and practice.

March 14, 2006

The five stages of relationships with support staff

From "Good News" to "Goodbye" in five easy steps.

Legal assistants, administrators and other support staffers who populate the offices you are about to enter are just as important to you as the clients you will serve. You will work together, day-in and day-out, to serve your clients' needs and solve your clients' problems. If you are lucky, you will work with a talented staff that has worked together for a long time or, at the very least, that has some institutional memory both for clients and for the firm or agency itself. These relationships can make or break your career.

Stage One: Your first day On your first day (and this includes your first interview), people are predisposed to think well of you and they are prepared to like you, to help you, and to invest in your success. They don't know you yet.

Read more in CareerFiles http://www.law.umn.edu/uploads/images/3020/fivestages2006.pdf

March 13, 2006

Applying by email (2): Request read/delivery receipt

Because you can never know when you might be spamblocked, when you email a job application directly to an employer (not through Symplicity), go to your email's OPTIONS setting and request a Read and Delivery receipt.

Always ask "Why is this job available?"

Always ask why the job is available, and if it’s because someone left recently, politely inquire about the history of the position. One of our grads left a terrific job at another state’s attorney general’s office for a small firm doing what was for him the right mix of civil rights and employment law. What he didn’t know – and didn’t find out for a few weeks – was that there had been 11 associates in his position in the previous five years. He’d ended up working for a seriously loony lawyer with major professionalism (read “being investigated for corruption?) issues.

Some alternative careers...

Strategic Policy Analyst, Executive Director, Project Manager, Director of Planned Giving, Actuarial Consultant, Admissions Recruiter, Adoption Agency Director, Alderman, Bailiff, Board of Tax Appeals, Career Services, Child Support Enforcement, City Planning Department, Congressional Staff, Consumer Advocate, Dean of Students, Defense Logistics, Election Board, Employee Benefits Consultant, Editor, Environmental Consultant, FBI, Federal Reserve Bank, Financial Analyst, Freedom Forum, Health Policy Analyst, Human Resources, Immigrant Rights Counselor, Inmate Services, Lobbyist, Mediator, Minority Affairs Specialist, NAFTA Consultant, Nature Conservancy Associate Director, Police-Barrio Relations, Pre-Trial Services, Press Secretary, Public Works Department, Real Estate Development, Refugee Resettlement, School District Administration, Sports Management and Tax Foreclosures.

Read Deborah Aaron's What Can You Do With A Law Degree? , Alternative Careers for Lawyers by Hillary Mantis, Breaking Traditions: Work Alternatives for Lawyers (ABA Section of Law Practice Management), and the NALP Alternative Careers Committee Publications which include Searching for an Alternative: A Law Students Guide to Finding Non-Legal Jobs.

When a networking contact isn't in your field...

Q – Some of my parents friends have offered to “help? me in my job search. If I don’t want to do the work that they do, should I talk to them anyway?

A – Unless the work that they do is murder-for-hire, talk to them. By not having the chat, you run the risk of causing hurt feelings that might bite you back years from now. The trick is to craft questions that get to the heart of what you can learn from an experienced lawyer in a half hour meeting or during lunch. For example:

1. Dad’s pal is the senior partner at the largest firm in the galaxy and you don’t want to work in such a place. Ask this senior, experienced person (a) what characteristics are most important in successful lawyers; and (b) how does he continue to enhance his ability to serve clients well.

2. Mom’s best friend is now the head of a division in your home state’s attorney general’s office, and you don’t want to work in the public sector. You want to ask this senior, experienced manager (a) what characteristics are most important in successful lawyers; (b) in these tight budget times, how does she continue to enhance her staff’s ability to serve its public constituents; and (c) what characteristics should you be looking for in a supervisor.

Don't let your job search be "void for vagueness"

Your classmates, friends and family, and casual acquaintances are your Personal Job Search Team, and as Team Leader you must provide the tools they need to succeed (on your behalf, of course.) One key tool is a short list of practice areas or job settings that you want to explore. Tell them that you would be happy to do employment law, construction law or business litigation. When one of your Team is at a dinner, at the gym or at church or synagogue seated next to an employment lawyer she can say “I have a friend who is interested in employment law, can he call you?? Without the short list, your team is clueless, and your search is void for vagueness.

Get hired by harnessing the power of your speech!

Your goal in an interview is to help someone see you as a colleague in the office next door. Paint a picture of someone who can be given an assignment and then be counted on to tell a clear and coherent story when asked about the project. How? Do this with your body language – sit up straight, uncross your arms, look your interviewer in the eye – and harness the power of your speech.

Your voice If you even suspect that your voice is screechy, whiney or somehow annoying or unclear, get a tape recorder and LISTEN. Many tonal problems can be resolved by improving your breathing techniques. If you have questions – ask us.

Your diction Don’t mumble.

Your language If you use “I was like,? “I’m like,? or the killer-combo “I was like, you know? you undercut the power of your speech.

“The plaintiff was negligent because ... “
instead of...
“Like the plaintiff was, you know, negligent...?

Your answers Avoid one-word answers unless the question is “Have you been indicted recently?? Use your answers as opportunities to tell your interviewer about your goals, your successes, and your strengths. In Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams, Kimm Walton urges you to go into each interview with three things about yourself that you want an interviewer to know. Then, she says, don’t leave the interview without making your points.

Student Practice Rules -- MN and elsewhere

Under Minnesota’s Student Practice Rules, after completing a year at an ABA-accredited law school, students who work for public agencies (prosecutors, public defenders, legal services offices) and private practitioners with public law contracts (prosecution or defense) can make court appearances under the supervision of an attorney. Other states have different rules, which can have an impact on the nature of your first summer public law office work, making the difference between a summer of court appearances and a summer of legal research.

Click "continue reading" for states' requirements.

Arizona Evidence & Professional Responsibility

California Evidence; ABA or CA accredited school

Minnesota Completion of 2 semesters; ABA accredited school

Completion of 1/2 of law school credits; registration to take the bar exam or alternate registration and certification by your law school dean; ABA accredited school

S. Carolina Students may appear ONLY as part of a clinic

Vermont 2 semesters of law school

“Third Year Practice Rule? requires 4 semesters of study, Evidence, Criminal Law and Ethics; ABA accredited school

Wisconsin Evidence

Expand your job search with creativity & flexibility

A job search in an unpredictable market requires that candidates be creative and flexible. If, for example, you are fixed and focused on a career in Joint Ventures in Transportation Infrastructure in Southern Italy, now would be a good time to:

1. Add practice areas to the mix;
2. Add geographic areas to the mix;
3. Keeping the goal fixed in your mind, talk to us so that you can develop a list of jobs that could LEAD YOU to the goal; and
4. Identify people who have the job you want or have a job that could lead you to the job you want, and write or talk to them.

What might you write or say? I am a second year law student at the University of Minnesota Law School. I have been interested in transportation –- specifically trains – since I was a small child. I have studied transportation engineering and policy as an undergraduate, and I am focusing on administrative and international law courses while in Law School. I speak Italian fluently, have traveled to Italy often, and after admiring the Italian rail system for years, I hope to return to Italy and work for the administrative offices of the railroad. Given my US undergraduate training and legal education, what do I need to do to come to work for you?

Identify yourself, giving the person enough information about you for him or her to know why you are writing and what you bring to the table, and the ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT.

The Hiring "Year" -- more than 12 months

THE HIRING “YEAR?: More than One Type & Most with More than 12 Months

Large Firms/Major State & Federal Agency “Fall? -- Local Agency “Year?
Small Firm “Year? -- The Volunteer “Year?
Clerkship “Year? -- 1L “Year?

There is more than one “Hiring Year.? All but one contain more than 12 months and they all have their own characteristics and casts of characters. These “years? overlap, so there is absolutely no time when it’s “too late? to begin or revive a job search.

For more, go to CareerFiles http://www.law.umn.edu/uploads/images/3017/THE_HIRING_YEAR.pdf

March 12, 2006

International Students' Job Search Tips & Resources

Find Tips and Resources in CareerFiles

March 10, 2006

"Tell me about a time when..." -- 21st century employers' behavior based interviews

A resume will always remain the interviewer's first tool of information extraction, and you should be prepared to talk for one minute about everything that appears on yours. But wait! How you respond to 21st century behavior-based questions are now likely to be crucial to successful interviewing. Instead of "Tell me about yourself," employers are betting that "Tell me about a time when you solved a problem," will provide more useful clues to your potential fit with their organizations.

For more information and sample questions:

To see what NALP professionals have to say...

March 9, 2006

Why you would never put an OBJECTIVE on your resume

While this was not on an application for a legal job, it was written by a law grad (not from the U of MN, thank you very much).

My background has cultivated an aptitude to articulate solutions and reasoning in a concise and discernible format. I am searching for opportunities, outside the jurisprudential sphere, which demand these skills, preferably in a public relational context.?

If you don't see the problem, see me, ASAP.

Do you have an extra 100,000 hours?

100,000 hours = a compelling reason for ongoing self-assessment.

(the number of hours you expect to work and volunteer as a professional) X
(the number of weeks you expect to work each year) X
(the number of years you expect to work during your lifetime) X
= 100,000+ hours

Unless you married the person you were dating at 15, and never ate a food you couldn't pronounce, the decisions you make early in your life and career may not be valid three, five or 10 years after graduation.

You get an annual physical; your pets get annual shots; your car gets winterized. Why not create an annual check-up for yourself?

While you will probably find that you are quite content with how your life and career are progressing, you may find that the sources of your unhappiness are well within your power to change once you've identified them.

Minnesota's student practice rule survives graduation!

Minnesota's Student Practice Rule (SPR) gives you a powerful tool to use to worm your way into potential employment after graduation. Why? If you take and pass the first bar exam after graduation, SPR Certification lasts until until you are sworn in. (Student Practice Rule 1.03) This means that you can continue to work for your public interest organization or your public law office -- showing up every day, doing terrific work, and being the one the employer should think of first when there is money to hire a new lawyer.

Certification is terminated on the first day of the first bar exam after graduation if you DON'T take the exam. In the unlikely event that a U of MN student should fail, certification is terminated when you receive notice that you failed the bar. In addition, certification terminates if you are a student on academic probation.

March 8, 2006

The Supreme Court's Decision on the Solomon Amendment: What's Next?

This past Monday, March 6, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in FAIR v. Rumsfeld, the litigation initiated by a coalition of law schools opposed to the federal legislation commonly known as the Solomon Amendment. For those of you unfamiliar with the statute, the Solomon Amendment requires universities receiving a host of federal funds to provide equal access to military recruiters in their facilities or otherwise face financial penalties. In its decision in FAIR, the Court rejected the law schools' claims that the Solomon Amendment unconsitutionally infringed on the law schools' First Amendment rights, since most schools are forced by the statue to provide access in violation of their own policies forbidding the use of their facilities to engage in discriminatory hiring (in this case, discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students interested in working for the military.)

While I leave it to members of the law faculty here and elsewhere to parse the language of Chief Justice Roberts' opinion, I would like to re-emphasize what has not changed as a result of the Court's decision. Without question, the military's hiring policies violate the Law School's stated policy against discrimination in hiring. Any other employer who would engage in such practices against any of our students would not be permitted to use the services of the CPDC. Nevertheless, as in the past, we are compelled by the federal legislation to provide equal access to recruiters from the military branches for the purposes of recruiting law students. That said, the Chief Justice's opinion clearly allows members of the Law School community, including the administration, to demonstrate their opposition to these hiring practices. We will continue to post disclaimer language on our announcements concerning military recruitment on campus and will be working with the Law School's Solomon Amendment Amelioration Committee to determine if there is a need to strengthen the language used. In addition, we will be working with the Committee to provide other amelioration steps in opposition to the coerced use of our facilities for the purposes of hiring in violation of the Law School's own policies.

We welcome your responses and thoughts. Please contact either Susan Gainen or me directly. In addition, we encourage you to contact Professor Beverly Balos, chair of the Solomon Amendment Amelioration Committee, with your suggestions regarding amelioration activities here on campus. For more information, please check the SolomonResponse.org website.

Considering alternative careers -- take the bar, anyway

Even if you are committed to life as a non-practicing lawyer, seriously consider taking a bar exam. From now until forever, the first thing that someone will ask in an interview is "where did you take the bar exam?" or "why didn't you take the bar exam?" Worse yet, they will look at your resume and ask "Are you a lawyer?" Opt out of the bar and you saddle yourself with the need to take valuable interview time or cover letter space to explain. That time and space will be better served if you can take 30 seconds or 2 sentences to explain just how lucky the employer is to get a law-trained person -- even if it is an alternative career setting. (NOTE To Those Considering Higher Ed -- being a non-lawyer JD among PHds is paints a second class citizen target on your back.)

And your answer in the interview -- however heartfelt -- will distract from your candidacy for what may be the job of your dreams. You can take and pass a bar exam and then decide not to be admitted, or, better yet, be admitted, and then put your license in a status like limbo (in most states it means "didn't do my CLE").

The bottom line is that you never care more about the bar exam than when you are graduating from law school. Taking the MN bar may be a pain, but your likelihood of passing is extraordinarily high, and taking the exam with your pals is safe time in safe space.

March 7, 2006

Applying by email (1): What does the message look like?

QUESTION: I’m applying electronically for some fellowships and internships. I’m attaching all the documents electronically, but I was wondering precisely what to write in the body of the email. Should it be a word-for-word repeat of the cover letter? Or a briefer version of a cover letter? Or simply a note saying “Please find my materials, attached.??

ANSWER: Include enough information so that the reader knows who you are, for which position you are applying, and which documents you have attached. Also, include a phone number so that you can be reached in case the electronic submission has failed.

SUBJECT LINE: [the name of the job for which you are applying]

EMAIL BODY: I am a [first] year student at the U of Minnesota applying for the [name of job]. As instructed, I have attached [name the documents]. If the transmission was unsuccessful or if you need additional information, please contact me at [phone number.]

Justices uphold military recruiting on campuses

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that universities that accept federal money must allow military recruiters on campus, even if they oppose the Pentagon's policy barring people who are openly homosexual from serving. Minnesota Daily

The decision was unanimous to uphold the Solomon Amendment, as the fund-blocking provision had become known. This was a setback, although hardly unexpected, to a coalition of law schools that had brought the constitutional challenge. The schools had sought to deny military recruiters access to job fairs and other placement activities, citing the policy of the institutions' governing body, the American Association of Law Schools. Since 1991, the AALS has required adherence to a nondiscrimination policy on sexual orientation as a condition of membership.

Although military recruiters are allowed in the Law School, signs stating the school’s stance on the Solomon debate are posted outside rooms used for recruitment.

March 5, 2006

Managing "networking" expectations (1)

Put yourself in the position of the stranger you call for a "networking" opportunity. With Minnesota alums, assume that you will talk to a nice and helpful person. (The grad may be busy and ask you to call back next week -- do it.) But here -- at the corner of Introduction & Expectation -- is the place where new networkers get frustrated. After getting up the courage to call a stranger, they want a job NOW, forgetting that they wouldn't talk about baby names on a blind date, and that networking is similar. In all networking settings, ask questions to which the answer can be "yes." "Will you get me a job?" is not one of those questions. Try these approaches:

1. "I know from http://www.martindale.com/that you are a plaintiff's employment lawyer. Do you have 10 minutes to talk to me about the market and the practice in [your city]?" "Would you suggest that I join the local ATLA chapter as a student?" These are targeted, focused questions that respect the alum's practice and show that you know something about it.

2. "I know ... that you are in a bankruptcy practice. I am interested in debtor work, and I wonder if you might look at my resume and give me a quick heads up on the best debtor firms in your city?" Again, targeted and focused.

3. "I know ... that you are in a business litigation practice in [your small city.] Do you have 10 mintues to talk to me about whether I should approach employers in your city looking to specialize in litigation, or should I present a more general business interest to prospective employers who might need eitther litigation or corporate attorneys?"

For more information and suggestions about networking, go to CareerFiles and Networking Scripts and Information Interviews http://www.law.umn.edu/cso/careerfilestudents.html and Kimm Walton's Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams.

Phone interviews for the 21st century

Phone interviews will combine traditional and behavioral questions. Your answers and the sound of your voice are all you have, so breathe deeply, sit up straight and check CAREERFILES for evaluation criteria from an alum whose firm used phone-only screening interviews.


Managing "networking" expectations (2)

Unless your "networking" contact is a long-time friend of the family who has known you since you were three, she can't become Your Instant Advocate. What she can become is a resource. She can answer questions about her job, her industry, her career path, her advice for someone who wants her job, and her ideas about the future of her job and industry. She can tell you how to apply to her employer, but in your first meeting you can't ask her for a personal recommendation. AFTER you develop a relationship of trust, when you have convinced her that should she introduce you to a friend or colleague that you won't embarrass her, THEN you may be directed to use her name. Unlike the line in TORT's West Bank Story, "Speed Dating is not like Speed Networking."

March 2, 2006

Spell check -- no substitute for actually reading the document