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April 19, 2006

What are they REALLY looking for? An Associate Evaluation Form

For an unambiguous look at what a legal employer really looks for, go to CAREERFILES and check out a law firm's associate evaluation form.


It's not just your own blog or MySpace entry that you need to monitor...

Email from a student who interviewed recently with a large federal agency...

[Unnamed agency] is truly "big brother." My friend has a blog where he posted some stories from our recent Vegas trip (and there is no way they could have found it with a simple Google search of my name). At the end of the interview they showed me that they had printed out the blog.

It was quite a surprise (at least the stories weren't that bad, and they certainly weren't criminal). I was really embarrassed by the fact they found them though, but they assured me they wouldn't affect whether I was hired (mostly because I didn't write them), they just wanted to point out that I need to be careful if I worked there. It taught me a real lesson. I have to be very careful about what might be posted on the internet that has my name somewhere on it.

April 13, 2006

Should I put my future job or clerkship on my resume now?

If you have a commitment from an employer to hire you, put that job onto your resume now. This includes summer or pemanent jobs arranged in the fall or spring semester and clerkships for 3Ls arranged in the fall. Examples:


The Hon. James Johnson, U.S. District Court for the District of [state], City, ST
Judicial Law Clerk (2007 term)

University of Minnesota Law School Legal Writing Program, Minneapolis, MN
Legal Writing Instructor (Fall 2006)

April 12, 2006

Paths to Professionalism: brought to you by U of MN Alumni

Some members of the Class of 1998 wanted to share advice with future law students based on their summer clerking experiences. What began as a document with 10 items, has grown to include 97 specific stories and strategies that will make your transition from school to work as smooth and painless as possible.

Sections include Public Behavior, Public Behavior Includes the Internet, Ethics & Icky Situations, Billing & Recordkeeping, You & Your Employer, Work & Work Product, Your Secretary (aka Legal Admin Assistant) and the Rest of the Staff, and Your Career & Career Path.

Who or what is "of counsel?"

In addition to being an expensive but worthwhile magazine for top legal managers which is available in the CPDC in my office, Of Counsel is a term of art used to describe some people who work at law firms.

In the "old days," Of Counsel described the elderly partner who came to the office for two days a week to work for his few remaining clients while his secretary balanced his checkbook. No more. Of Counsel can mean anything, including:

A senior attorney still practicing part time;
A senior and more-or-less retired partner whose expertise is valued and who continues to assist the practice;
A lateral candidate who is in the process of developing clients and building a practice;
A way-station for senior associates before they make partner;
A title for senior associates who are off the partnership track but whose expertise is valued by the firm; and/or
A law or other faculty member who is affiliated with the firm and who provides practice expertise or consulting.

April 8, 2006

From Lawyer to Administrator: Careers in Higher Ed

NALP provides a wealth of information to students and lawyers. If you are interested in higher ed admin, check this out:http://nalp.org/assets/222_fromlawyertoadministrator.pdf

April 6, 2006

Navigating Relationships in the Legal Workplace

When law students leave the walls of the Law School and enter the legal workplace, they will interact with a host of constituencies -- supervising attorneys, colleagues, support staff, clients, etc. As part of the Professionalism 101 course, the CPDC has created a document to help you determine what to expect in these relationships and how to avoid some of the potential pitfalls. For the full table, please click the following link:


We hope you will find it a useful tool as you prepare to journey forth for your summer or permanent employment.

April 5, 2006

How do I follow up on an application? Email from a 1L

I have been asking some 3L’s what the best thing to do is after sending in an application to an employer, and I’ve got very mixed answers.

They are correct: it depends.

I was wondering specifically about calling then after sending it. Do you believe that it is necessary/helpful/unhelpful calling an employer after sending in an app?

You need not call after sending an application to make sure that it has been received. You should, on the other hand, feel free to call a week to 10 days after the deadline to inquire “Where are you in the hiring process?? Why? Because you want to get a sense of the employer’s timeline: are they starting to interview? Will the process be delayed because the managing partner is in a trial?

Does it matter if the job is posted on Symplicity or another electronic site or if I have written an unsolicited application?

If you are sending an unsolicited application, you might try reframing your application as a networking contact. E-mail or call the person who might hire you (as opposed to the recruiting administrator who will manage the hiring process in a large organization) and ask for a meeting to learn about the firm, agency or practice. Make yourself a networker – energetic, optimistic and curious.

If calling is a good idea, is it acceptable to leave a message? (if not, is there a preferable time of the day to call?)

Using voicemail is an EXCELLENT idea. Make sure to speak slowly and repeat your phone number. One of the most annoying conversations you might ever have is with someone who insists that she tried to call you all last week but alas – she never left a message. How could you have ever known that she was trying to reach you? Telepathy is not a job search tool.

Who is the best person to try to contact (especially for small/medium firms)?

At a small or medium firm, one without an office manager, your best bet is to contact the assistant to the person to whom you applied. If you are politely curious and nice, she (most likely) might give you a sense of how large the stack of resumes might be, where the firm is in the hiring process, and whether her boss would be amenable to a networking meeting.

Most importantly what should I say (a rough script might help)?

If you are checking on the status of the search:
“My name is John Jones. I am a first year student at the University of Minnesota Law School who sent an application for the law clerk position that Mr. Smith posted at my school last week. Could you let me know where you are in the hiring process??

If you are calling to set up a networking meeting with a person to whom you have written an unsolicited resume:
“My name is John Jones. I am a first year law student at the University of Minnesota Law School interested in litigation practice. I have learned that you, too, attended [the U of MN, my undergraduate school, my high school] and I hope that you might be able to take a few minutes to talk to me about your practice and what I might do to prepare to be a litigator.

Finally long after sending the app should you call?

Call a week to 10 days after the job posting closes. For an unsolicited resume that you are reframing into networking, also wait a week to 10 days.

April 4, 2006

How to torpedo your promising RA application

A person who is collecting resumes for an RA position wrote to the CPDC saying "I thought you should know what I'm receiving...":

--No subject line on the e-mail transmitting the application materials. How do I know this e-mail isn't spam?

--Automatic e-mails through Symplicity that don't attach any of the required application materials beyond the resume, and then I've gotten no response to my follow-up e-mail requesting those materials.

--Poor grammar and punctuation in the e-mail transmitting the application materials.

The email continues...It may be "just" an RA position, but students should still use proper application etiquette. Am I wrong? Am I being overly picky? I thought this feedback might be helpful to pass along to the students..."


There is no such thing as "Just" an RA position. Our faculty members have a continuing obligation to publish, which creates an ongoing opportunity for students to engage with them on cutting edge research and to create the bonds of life-long mentorships and references. Would you really want to short-circuit these chances on a careless email? I think not.