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May 29, 2007

When we say "connect" -- a blueprint for connectivity

Because we believe that you will be leaders in your chosen fields, we think that there is no time like the present for you to connect to the people who are doing the work that you want to do. When we say “connect,? and throw out a handful of ideas in a short meeting, it is our shorthand for a Blueprint for Connectivity:

Whether the subject is something you have focused on for nine years or nine minutes, you must:

Learn some lingo

Locate your people

Connect to your future colleagues


1. A busy person will not welcome the following questions:

a. What is construction litigation?
b. What do prosecutors do?
c. Is patent prosecution related to criminal law?
d. What does health law cover?

2. Your job – before sending an email or picking up the phone – is to do some basic research so that you can ask an intelligent question which will persuade a busy person to take time out to talk to you. Your resources include:

a. NALP’s Guide to Legal Specialties
b. Subject and practice-specific websites
c. A syllabus for a class in the area
d. A hornbook
e. General and specialty newspapers and websites
f. Google – your friend

LOCATE YOUR PEOPLE #1 (work that is being done today)

1. Employers (who does the work?)
2. Faculty (who teaches in the area?)
---- Not just U of MN Law Faculty – any law faculty
---- Any faculty member from another discipline
3. Bar leadership and bar members (who has put the public on notice that they do this work?)
4. Authors of journal articles, news articles, books, etc. (who is thinking, writing and speaking on the subject?)
5 Lawyers who have litigated cases in the area, find through Westlaw or Lexis (who is doing the work right now?)
6. Professionals working in the area located through www.martindale.com

LOCATE YOUR PEOPLE #2 (work that isn’t being widely done today)

Challenge your research skills to find the people who are beginning to work on the subject. Find them on blogs and blog the subject yourself.


1. Ask a question that’s easy to answer “yes.?

a. “I am a first year law student and I am interested in construction litigation because xxxxx. May I meet with you for 30 minutes to ask some specific questions about the practice?"

b. “I am a first year law student and I am interested in construction litigation. I know that you chair the MSBA section, and I would like to introduce my self to you at the next section meeting."

May 23, 2007

Take good notes when you get an assignment

Steve Bernstein, the hiring partner for Fisher & Phillips LLP in Atlanta, shared ten tips for a successful summer with readers of Law Crossing.

For everyone who is working (either permanently or for the summer), a crucial piece of advice is to take good notes. He writes: " It may seem obvious, but those who fail to take comprehensive notes at the time of an assignment will often regret it. The fewer wheels you spin, the better."

This may present a generational challenge. If you have grown up with computers, you may not have well-developed handwriting -- not to mention shorthand -- skills. Because you won't be carrying a laptop around with you in the office, you'll need to carry note cards and a pen or pencil, and be prepared to use them at a moment's notice.

May 10, 2007

A cautionary tale of blog woe...

FROM MY EMAIL....This story last week should be a cautionary tale to law students who blog or who are involved in running message boards or participating on them. Executive summary: Penn 3L involved with notoriously vulgar pre-law message board gets his Edwards Angell offer revoked because of it. This was posted to a Wall Street Journal blog on May 3, 2007.


May 3, 2007

Clerking in the Virgin Islands?


[One of our NALP colleagues) clerked for the federal court in St. Thomas for two years and clerking is a great way to enter into the practice down there. (Check out the federal court web site:) There are only a couple of federal judges, but there are more Superior Court judges who hire law clerks every year. Check out http://www.visuperiorcourt.org/ (You will also also find the names of firms through martindale.com (http://martindale.com) however, put "Virgin Islands" as the country, NOT the US, even though it is a US territory, the firms are listed as international entities).

Some firms even hire summer associates. Sign up to take the Virgin Islands Bar. http://www.vibar.org/ . It is a surprisingly large and vibrant legal community in St. Thomas, and many opportunities for new lawyers.

May 1, 2007

Can my credit history cause employment problems?

Q&A from the NALP discussion list....

Question: I had a student report to me today that he was turned down for a position with the US Attorneys Office because his credit report came back with some "problems." Does anyone know the extent to which employers are using credit reports in their hiring process? Thanks.

Answer: Assuming that the credit history revealed major patterns of significant problems over time, it is consistent with what I've learned from friends who are in the US Attorney's Office.

Indeed, the credit report is very important to the government background check, whether candidate is seeking student or post-graduate employment. Government employers have found over time and experience that candidates who demonstrate significant and repeated difficulty managing debt (major over-extension or bankruptcy, repeated delinquencies) often have other issues lurking in the shadows -- not simply being broke.

In the most severe cases it can create concern about whether the candidates will be susceptible to undue influence or have problems that cause them to consistently misapply funds or live way beyond their means. At a less severe level, it can implicate questions of judgment, ability to meet obligations, follow rules, meet deadlines, etc.

They are not typically talking about the occasional single problem -- usually these issues arise where there is a major issue or series of issues suggesting a pattern. In fact, often candidates incorrectly assume that something like a DUI is a bigger deal when in fact the thing that may trip them up is the credit report......And keep in mind, the credit report may revealed more than the student was comfortable discussing (or admitting).