« May 2007 | Main | July 2007 »

June 28, 2007

How is your research received at work?

We are hearing from employers that some research memos are well-crafted, well-drafted, and well-reasoned, but that they come up short on source material which assigning attorneys believe to be critical to solving the problem.

When you get an assignment, ask "What resources would you consult?" Your supervisor is probably an expert, and he or she will not steer you wrong. Real-world research assignments are not "hide the ball" exercises -- the imperative is to solve the client's problem in the most effective and efficient way. Having law clerks and new attorneys wander on useless research journeys frustrates you and your supervisor, and does nothing for the client, who will not pay for your work.

If your supervisor has suggested that you might expand your research beyond Westlaw, Lexis and other electronic sources, check out the Law Library's selection of research pathfinders. In addition to pathfinders created by our Law Library Professionals, they have created a second list of other helpful resources.

There is a wide world outside of Lexis and Westlaw -- some of it is electronic and some exists on paper. All of it may be useful to you, and you ignore it all at your peril.

For other helpful tips, refer to the "Work and Work Product" section of Paths to Professionalism in CareerFiles on the CPDC website.

June 18, 2007

A Visit to the Air Force JAG’s School

I recently spent time at Maxwell Air Force Base, in Alabama, attending the Corps Career Services Officer Conference hosted by the Judge Advocate General (AFJAG). The purpose of the conference was to inform law school career service professionals about the training, recruiting, and the day-to-day life of an AFJAG member.

We had the opportunity to tour the city of Montgomery, the air base, AFJAG School, and the base legal department. There were many speakers varying in age, length in service, and deployment experience. We met with brand new JAGs who had just completed Commissioned Officer Training and their JAG training as well as with many seasoned professionals, one of whom was a Brigadier General. Topics of the sessions included the JAG, the armed services in general, recruiting and accessions, opportunities, and the realities of deployment.

I found the conference to be extremely helpful in learning about legal opportunities in the military. Of course, it's not for everyone, but if you are interested in learning more, feel free to contact me. As many of you know, I was in the Air Force for many years and would be happy to talk to you about my experience at the conference as well as my time in the military. http://www.jagusaf.hq.af.mil/

June 13, 2007

"Excellence in the Workplace: Legal & Life Skills" -- a student book review

Excellence in the Workplace: Legal & Life Skills
A West Nutshell By Kay Kavanagh & Paula Nailon, University of Arizona Law School
Reviewed by Amy Lowe, U of Minnesota, Class of 2008

From the law student to the newly hired (and everyone in between), this quick-reference has useful nuggets of wisdom for every aspiring legal professional. The authors answer questions many of us might be embarrassed to ask (how to overcome shyness in the professional sphere) or not even think to ask (at a reception or cocktail party, hold your beverage with you left hand to keep your right hand dry for handshakes). Each section also includes excerpts from student journals—although these occasionally border trite, many are insightful and applicable.

This book is best suited as reference material; even with the logical structure and clear writing, reading this book like a novel is bound to result in information-overload. However, readers should not only consult this book on a specific-need basis; in addition to the “a-ha? checklists (everything you need to know for your first day, first week, etc), some of the most valuable information is in the more abstract chapters.

As the authors state, “A great deal of early professional training and development is about becoming competent in certain areas and developing skills that you may now have little interest in developing.? Thus, the book’s tension between the concrete, practical tips (such as professional attire and personal budget) and the overwhelming attention to interpersonal skills and communication has a purpose—both are integral to the book’s overarching theme, which acknowledges the gap between legal education and legal practice, and offers tools to prepare for the inevitably steep learning curve that awaits us each after graduation.

So if you’ve ever wondered during a boring lecture or while pondering your astronomical loans, “Is law school really preparing me to be a practicing attorney?? this book provides a refreshingly honest answer: partially. More importantly, by first identifying areas law school does NOT necessarily prepare one for legal practice, the authors are able to provide experienced advice and a variety of references so that we can meet our futures with realistic expectations and confidence.

NOTE: This nutshell will be available in the Law School Bookstore in the fall.

June 5, 2007

Point of Information: State Court Clerkships in California

Periodically, we receive questions from students concerning the availability of judicial clerkships in other state courts around the country. For those of you interested in opportunities in California, following is some information from one of our counterparts at a California law school. If you have questions about clerkship opportunities, please be sure to check the CPDC judicial clerkship webpage for more information -- https://inside.law.umn.edu/cpdc/judicial-clerkships

To my knowledge, term clerkships are all but nonexistant in California state courts. Los Angeles has a few (check on the Los Angeles Superior Court website for information), and San Francisco usually recruits in the spring for a research position. Otherwise, the courts use career staff attorneys. Some will take fairly junior attorneys, but the competition from experienced attorneys seeking such jobs is strong.