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November 30, 2006

What do Partners really want?

Legal Writing is so important that there are consultants around the country who earn thousands of dollars teaching new (and not-so-new) lawyers how to do it.

Ross Guberman of Legal Writing Pro, surveyed his clients and the results of his "What do Partners want" survey is at http://www.legalwritingpro.com/articles/partner-survey.html

If you take the time in Law School to hone your research and writing skills, your future employers will see you as superstars.

In-House Counsel Must Be Licensed in Minnesota

In case you had question about this, find the rule at


and a link to In House-Counsel and Unauthorized Practice from Bench & Bar at http://www.ble.state.mn.us/In_House_Counsel_article.pdf

November 26, 2006

Turning a "connection" into a "reference"

How NOT to do it:

Email From Kimm Walton, the Job Goddess: There was a student I talked to at one school who attended a black-tie awards dinner and sat next to an alum who was a stranger to her. After their dinner conversation she asked him to be a reference for her. She was offended when he said no, and asked me "Why was he so cold?"

This student (not from the U of Minnesota) had no idea about the difference between a "connection" and a "reference." In her defense, with myfriendsterspace.com offering the opportunity to amass hundred of "friends" in cyberspace with to share life's most intimate details, these nuances might have escaped her notice.

A connection may say:

1. "In our single meeting, she was well-behaved and used the correct fork."

2. "When we met in my office once, her questions were very well phrased."

3. "Throughout our limited email correspondence, she has refrained from using the smiley face."

A reference, may say "I am delighted to serve as a reference because...:

"of the splendid contribution she made during class and in follow-up discussions with her and her classmates."

"of the persistance she showed in after-class discussions as she was determined to understand the material and to learn to apply it outside of class..."

"her approach to being a student member of the Bar Committee that I chair was thoroughly professional and her contributions were thoughtful and substantial...."

"of her contributions as a research assistant to my most recent article..."

A "connection" is like a blind date -- not the person you would ask to bear your children or with whom you would pick china patterns on the actual blind date.
The "reference" stage of your relationship comes later -- soonish if you are diligent and create opportunities to grow the relationship, later or never if you don't work at it. Here is some perspective:

Because you are not "known," you are limited in what you might ask your connection to do on your behalf. As always, only ask questions to which the answer might be "yes."

1. Ask for a meeting or a time for an extended phone call.

2. Ask for advice. Advice is free and has no strings attached. Ask about the practice, the employer, the city or state, the career path. What classes should I take? What do you wish you had taken in law school that might have helped you do your work? I can take classes outside of the Law School -- can you think of anything that might help me become a skilled practitioner? Are you active in the Bar Association? How has bar association work helped you?

After asking for advice, you may begin to build a relationship -- which runs two ways. When you have taken some of the advice, report back in a thoughtful way. In your meeting (in person or by phone), you should have learned something about what might be important to your connection. When you learn something that she might think is important, call or send an email.

When you think that the "connection" knows enough about you to offer a recommendation that would be useful, go ahead and ask!

November 17, 2006

Judicial Externship or Judicial Clerkship?


1. JUDICIAL CLERKSHIP The post-JD job with the judge is a Judicial Clerkship. You apply for federal and most state trial court clerkships in your third year, and for some state appellate clerkships in spring of second year. There is virtually unanimous agreement among lawyers who have had clerkships that their clerkships were the best jobs of their careers.

2. JUDICIAL EXTERNSHIP The while-you're-in-school gig with a judge is, in U of MN vocabulary, a Judicial Externship. You may do an externship for free (arrange it yourself) or for either two or three credits in the summer or during the school year.

While virtually everyone loves an externship, the students who do them in the summer, when they can spend either two or three whole days each week in chambers, love them even more -- because they can feel as if they are part of the chamber, instead of dropping by between classes.

Prof. Chomsky arranges externships in the Metro Area for students who register for summer school (and during the school year). If you want to extern for credit outside of the Metro, or if you have a "Family Friend or Mentor Judge" who will agree to host you, see Prof. Chomsky's so that you can get the paperwork describing the judge's responsibilities. You will want to make sure that the judge has the document before making the decision to accept you.

Click here for more information on judicial externships.

November 15, 2006

How not to network: Rule #45,788

Rule # 45,788: What do you do with a list of names? Talk to the people whose names are on the list.

A current 3L suggested that if students are to use the CPDC "What did you do last summer?" list that they understand what its purpose is and how they should use it.

"I--along with many of my classmates--have been contacted by 1L's and 2L's who want us to blindly recommend them for jobs at our firms without ever having met us or even discussed why our firms interest them.

“While we all are eager to recommend UMN students, we need to at least be sure that we are recommending someone who can carry on a conversation! All that would be required is to agree to meet for lunch or coffee, but most students who have used the list do not want to do even that.�

He urged us to remind students that “3L's with job offers have a surprising amount of influence in their firm's hiring decisions.�

And, this is the Kiss of Death use of that document, “I've also had one student drop my name at my firm without telling me. When the firm asked me about him, all I could say was that I didn't even know he was applying.�

LESSONS # 45,788 and 45,789:

45,788: You wouldn’t expect a blind date to pick your children’s names and china patterns, so should you not expect someone who doesn’t know you to recommend you for an interview or for employment.

45,789: Never, ever use someone’s name as a reference without specifically asking for permission. You have embarrassed a person who in the future might have been a good reference or professional pal. You look stupid. And the “non-referring reference� will remember you forever, and not in a good way.

November 14, 2006

Performance Matters: Prepping for Performance Reviews

Mary Crane is a consultant who is well known to NALP professionals. She urges everyone to be prepared. Read her take on performance reviews at:


November 13, 2006

Your website and blog are the equivalent of your locker at work

Don't be surprised when an employer asks you about the blog or website which you have helpfully listed on your resume.

Delete questionable or suggestive material. You may be applying to employers who routinely counsel their clients have their employees take down risque material from the locker room walls. Your blog or website are the equivalent of your locker room wall. You have invited scrutiny, and you will never know when it costs you an interview or an offer.

Teaching fellowships as entry to law teaching

Here is a short list of teaching fellowships that may be of interest to grads considering a career change:http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2006/11/teaching_fellow.html

November 6, 2006

Online Applications Need a Personal Touch Be Choosy About Your Targets, And Tailor That Résumé

FROM A NALP email...

By Susan Kreimer
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 5, 2006; K01


No more licking and sticking envelopes, no more lingering in long post office lines. Applying for a job has become as simple as making a few quick clicks online.

But is this really a plus for job seekers? That depends on whether you send out a mass e-mail or tailor your tactics, career advisers say.

"In the D.C. area, recruiters tend to want to make an apples-to-apples match between the job announcements they have and the résumés they're screening," said Shira Harrington, senior recruiting consultant at Positions Inc. in the District, which places administrative support staff members and mid- to senior-level management.

"You can think, 'I'll throw spaghetti against the wall and hope that it sticks,' " she added. "Remember that everyone is trying to do the same thing, so your résumé can more easily get lost in the shuffle. If everybody does their part to target their résumé, then recruiters will have more time to get back to individual people."

Some job hunters dislike the impersonality of the process. "I am much less inclined to fully pursue a job that I have to apply online for than one where the majority of interaction is done in person," said Nemuri Melchizedek, 23, an engineer who lives and works in Alexandria.

But how do you make the best of online applications?

The first step is narrowing your targets. If you intend to stay in the region, start with a map of where you live, put a pin in the center and draw a circle around how far you're willing to commute, suggested Mark Mehler, principal of CareerXroads, a recruiting-technology consulting firm in Kendall Park, N.J.

Then identify the Web sites of companies that have operations within that distance. Mehler suggested checking with local chambers of commerce to determine the companies in the area.

Don't expect your online application to get a lot of immediate attention. In one study Mehler's company conducted, 20 volunteers applied for jobs as a fictitious character whose résumé listed duties such as "reviewing all toy selections for the VP's children at holiday time." Most companies sent only generic replies.

"Most résumés are never read by humans," he said.

So don't count on an e-résumé alone to snag a job. "Employee referrals are approximately one-third of all corporate hires," Mehler said. "Find a friend. Ask the mailman who works there."

Before responding to any ad you find online, check out an organization's Web site even if there isn't a link to it in the job posting, said Patricia A. Frame, founder of Strategies for Human Resources, a consultancy in Alexandria.

The information you glean should help you decide whether to apply, she said. If you do, make the subject line of your e-mail clear. Far too many job seekers list "résumé." For ads that don't specify what to put in the subject line, use the job title for fastest consideration -- simple but effective, Frame advised. If you're being referred by someone, include the person's name on that line. Tailor your pitch to each job. Don't just insert a new contact name into the salutation each time.

And be selective. Avoid mass e-mailings, experts caution.

"Every time I advertise for a specific position, the same five people respond within the first five minutes," said Laura Gassner Otting, president of Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group in Boston, which places workers in the Washington area.

These applicants weren't qualified when she initially read their résumés. And even if they're qualified by now, instant name recognition sends them into her reject pile right away.

>From a recruiter's perspective, online postings generate "a lot more quantity," Otting said. "You don't necessarily get more quality."

To stand out in the crowd, "take some time to reflect, do some homework, read an annual report, visit a Web site," she said. Then, "write a cover letter that says why you are right for this job at this time."