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September 30, 2006

CLE (Continuing Legal Education) answers a BIG question

Curious about what it's like to be The Lawyer representing clients in the office and/or in court? Can't quite fathom what a banking regulator, divorce lawyer or real estate finance practitioner might do all day?

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) provides the answer, and it's free to students. CLE is required in all but a handful of states, and you can find programs for virtually all practices and both Ethics and Law Practice Management live and on the web.

WHO PRESENTS CLE? In addition to commercial providers, some sponsors are international, national, state and local bar associations and their sections; specialty bars (MN Intellectual Property Association, Minnesota Women Lawyers), U of MN Institutes and the U of MN alumni association.

WHERE CAN I FIND CLE? Live CLE can be at a bar association office, in the Law School or at events (dinners with speakers on legal subjects). Some public and private employers provide CLE for their attorneys through in-house training programs Commercial providers, bar associations and law schools also offer CLE webcasts.

1. To learn about practice from people who are doing the work. Because so much of law school is theoretical, you can use CLE to supplement theory with exposure to practical problems.

2. To explore areas that interest you before you use up three credits or commit to an employer to do work about which you may know virtually nothing. This may be the ultimate 'try before you buy."

3. To prep for your summer or post-JD employment. If you know what you will do in your first job, why not supplement what you have learned in school, in Clinic or in your previous employment? Your employers will be impressed that you have invested your own time in your career.

4. To meet lawyers. If you go to live CLE, you will meet lawyers, who traditionally swarm law students who are smart enough to identify themselves at the doughnut breaks.

CLE is free for law students. Sometimes, if you want to use the materials for the duration of the program, you will be asked to trade you ID for the documents. For commercial providers, call to let the organizers know that you are coming so that they can make sure that you have a seat.

To learn more, go to https://inside.law.umn.edu/uploads/hU/No/hUNoDGgHAV7T5szLv1yvhQ/CLEforstudentsandalums.pdf

September 14, 2006

References -- Who to ask, how to ask and what to ask for...

Based on in-person and email FAQs:

1. Your recommenders should be people who know you and know your work. Many legal employers want to hear from professors, so it is impossible to overstate the importance of class participation and conversations with professors outside of class. Don't even think about getting to the end of three years of law school with no one to ask for a reference.

2. What about a recommendation from an employer? Again, this should be someone who knows you and knows your work. The direct supervisor who regularly reviewed your work trumps the Czar of the Summer Program you barely met.

3. Is there are form that they can fill out? Recommenders can deposit generic letters of rec in many undergraduate career centers. Legal employers who ask for letters want to hear from someone who knows you and understands the specific position for which you are applying. Generic won't do.

4. Must recommenders always write letters? No. In fact, other than in the application for judicial clerkships, written letters of rec are rarely required. Most employers checking references will ask you for a list of names with contact information. You should always add a tag line, describing your relationship and indicating what the recommender will be able to discuss. (Prof. Jones was my Torts Professor and he supervised my journal article.)

5. How do I ask? In person? By email? By phone? If the person is in the building or is someone with whom you work, drop by the office with a copy of your resume and the job description in hand. Be prepared to explain why you want the job and to suggest what the recommender might discuss. Your perspectives on the work that you did for this person may be vastly different: be specific about what was meaningful to you. For others, combine phone and email. You'll want the phone or voice mail to allow the person to hear the sincerity of your request; you'll need to follow up with a your resume and the job description. If, in fact, the employer needs a letter, don't forget to include the employer's address.

For more information, including more tips and a sample of a list of recommenders, go to CAREERFILES http://www.law.umn.edu/cso/careerfilestudents.html and [control F] search for REFERENCES.