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September 26, 2008

Is Public Interest Law Right for You?

Is Public Interest Law Right for You?

By Jennifer Wimberly, program associate at the Florida Bar Foundation in Orlando, Florida.

"If you went to law school because you wanted to “help people? when you graduated, there’s a good chance that public interest law is the right career choice for you. However, there are several important points to consider before you accept a public interest job.

How comfortable are you with regular client contact? More importantly, how comfortable are you with having regular contact with low-income clients? Most public interest law clients have incomes at or below the Federal Poverty Level. For 2007 that meant a single mother with two children had a total monthly income of $1430.

If you are interested in legislative or policy work and you are not interested in hands-on client work and litigation, you need to find out exactly what your duties will be before you accept a public interest law job. Look for a job where you will be regularly conducting research and writing memos on public policy issues. Otherwise you may find yourself miserable in a job where you must regularly meet with indigent clients and maintain an active litigation caseload." The entire article is located at http://www.abanet.org/yld/tyl/sept08/wimberly.html

September 18, 2008

OCI and Students Holding Offers

NALP Part V and Students Holding Offers (message from NALP)

Q. What is the maximum number of offers that a law student can hold at any one time?
A. As stated in the NALP Principles and Standards Part V.A.3, "A student should not hold open more than five offers of employment at any one time. For each offer received that places a student over the offer limit, the student should, within one week of receipt of the excess offer, release an offer." This guideline applies at any point in time during the recruitment season. Interpretation 3 provides additional guidance for law student candidates interviewing in more than one market.

NALP's Part V Task Force is working on a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the new interim timing guidelines. These FAQs (which will continue to grow), along with other resources such as the Interpretations and recent Bulletin articles, are available at http://www.nalp.org/partv/

September 17, 2008

Clerking: It's not too late

Claudia Melo of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law provides the following: Clerking: It's not too late


September 8, 2008

Tight timelines for considering offers

Bryan Cave's Lynne Traverse never fails to provide sound advice.

September 1, 2008

Keeping a Job Search Under the Radar

The most difficult time to look for a full time job is when you have one...How do you conduct a job search and keep it under the radar? Marci Alboher from the NY Times has some answers.

Working overseas after graduation

From the NALP Career Professional List Serve:

Mon dieu! I am working with a 3L who fell in love with a handsome French law student while studying abroad her 1L summer. She'd like to live and work in France when she graduates so that she can be with her amour. Has anyone counseled a student in a similar situation and if so, do you have any information or advice? This student's true interests lie in the public sector and not the big firm arena, although she is certainly willing to be flexible. It is a serious relationship. . . They have talked about marriage although they are not ready to make that commitment now.

From Andrew Chapin, Director of Public Interest Scholars and Counseling Public Interest Resource Center, Fordham University School of Law

There is little reason for a French enterprise or organization to hire and train a US trained JD graduate.

Internships are relatively plentiful and relatively easy to obtain and, I believe that they give a false impression of post JD international opportunity.

The student might strongly consider getting into an exchange program as soon as possible to actually be in the city she desires so that she can seek out opportunities and build network there. It is probably preferable to spend her third year of law school in France. She must, of course, be fluent in French.

The State Department is one of the few entities that hires for foreign placement but they will not guarantee a placement where desired. France is highly coveted and more likely to go to those with seniority. For your student it may be too unlikely to be worth pursuing....one can't accept conditionally.

Public interest organizations with US connections or groups that are based in the US and have work in France might be other targets, but these openings are few, hard to find, and very competitive.

Private sector employers sometimes (meaning rarely) will place an entry level JDs abroad but that is usually because that's where the person is from AND the organization has a business need there, AND they know and LOVE the applicant.

I do have one student who worked at a firm her during her 2L summer and after graduation was placed in London office so she could be with her husband.

She had no other UK connection. In my 15 years doing this I have never seen that happen before or since. Because of that student, I don’t say "it will never happen," but it is a tiny and not particularly representative sample of post-JD opportunities.

She should investigate teaching law or working in some capacity at a law school. Schools may have more interest in a JD and more flexibility for getting work permits than other organizations.

My advice: the first step is to get employed there in ANY kind of position. Of course this poses challenges for later career options, especially if she then wants to return to USA.

Business casual: fraught with peril

One of the perks of having an email address attached to your employer -- as opposed to .edu or gmail or hotmail -- is that you will have access to law360 -- a very interesting and useful set of sites. Without benefit of a non-.edu address, I asked nicely and Lianne Coble of portfoliomedia.com provided the following ...


For Associates, Business Casual Holds Traps

by Shannon Henson

Law360, New York (August 27, 2008) -- As new associates try to make sense of their law firm's vaguely worded dress policy – if they are handed a policy at all – they should keep two simple concepts in mind: Get noticed for your work, not your dress, and dress for the job you want, not the one you have.

Consultants agreed that dressing in a post-dot-com world can be a confusing proposition, especially for young female lawyers who face more sartorial choices and are confronted with conflicting messages from their peer groups and other sources.

"A lot of associates are in the dark," said business communication trainer Gretchen Neels, the founder and president of Neels & Company Inc. "They receive mixed messages through the media, and they get into the actual job and are so busy trying to do a good job that the whole wardrobe thing falls through the cracks."

The determination of what is appropriate attire varies from law firm to law firm, with white shoe corporate-based firms likely desiring their attorneys to dress the most formally. However, most firms – like Clifford Chance – look for attorneys to adhere to a business casual look.

The firm's policy says that every employee should maintain a business-like and professional image in the office. Employees should wear "business casual attire that is tasteful and neat." Formal attire is required for client meetings.

Mike Kachel, a firm spokesman, said that Clifford Chance hasn't had problems with employees failing to adhere to the policy. Lawyers should certainly be ready "to suit up when appropriate, but we want it to be a comfortable place to work," he said.

Most law firms moved to business casual about a decade ago amid the rise of the dot-com companies.

"Firms were losing their talent to Internet companies, which were full-on casual," said Brian Dalton, law editor at Vault.com, a career information media company. "So in the late 90s, firms moved that way seemingly as a survival method."

Neels said that attorneys during the dot-com boom would go to meet with their technology company clients and "feel really out of place." Along with the shift came an office populace that wanted to be comfortable while working – especially when putting in such long hours at the office, Neels said.

But some attorneys drive right past the comfortable exit on the business casual freeway. "I had a firm that had to come out and say, 'No yoga or gym clothes,'" Neels said.

She also said that young professionals are too focused on what their friends and co-workers are wearing. "They say, 'I am going to wear Uggs because they are so super cool, and Patty and Donna have them too.' They don't think that those people two steps above them are saying, 'You have to be kidding me! What do they have on their feet?'"

Other potential clothing traps? Cleavage, the wearing of flip flops and the visibility of thong straps and "tramp stamps," or tattoos on the lower back, Neels said.

The policies of many law firms are vague at a time when many people aren't clear what constitutes business casual in the first place. The policies "tend to limit themselves to words like tasteful and appropriate," Dalton said.

Gail Madison, the director of the Madison School of Etiquette and Protocol, said that business casual is technically no tie and a polished loafer for men. For females, it's dress pants and a less formal blouse.

"But that's not what people think it is," Madison said. "It's still a nice shirt and dress pants, but a lot of people show up in jeans."

Neels said that many firms make the mistake of assuming that attorneys and employees know how they should dress. "If only I had a dollar for every time a senior partner said to me, 'She showed up in a low-cut blouse or she showed up in flip flops and should have known better.'"

Consultants agreed that women have a harder time with attire than men, mostly because they have so many more choices. The decision for women is simply more complex than whether to wear a tie or not.

Men "put on a shirt, pants and shoes," Neels said. "But with women there's capris, shorts, trousers, skirts, dresses ... When some people are overwhelmed with choices, they don't make the right ones."

For those who toe the line of permissibility, the costs may be subtle – including irritating the boss.

"I've heard that partners are complaining about associates looking slovenly and having no idea of the concept of appropriate attire," Dalton said. "They fret over what the clients will think, especially considering the rates they are paying."

Neels said that an inappropriately dressed employee will rarely get called on the carpet. Instead, a senior partner may not include that associate in a client meeting or ask him to accompany him to court. She said a boss wants someone he can be sure will be appropriately dressed.

"That person may not be the smartest or the brightest, but it's a whole lot easier and a whole lot safer," Neels said. "I think people miss out on opportunities because of their appearance and may not be aware of it."

The consultants agreed that young attorneys should want to be known for something other than what they wore to work last Friday.

"You want people to take you on your work product and intellect. Clothing shouldn't be part of the equation," Neels said. "You want to dress so that nobody notices."

Dalton said, "Don't try to express yourself sartorially. You're in the wrong business if that's what you want to do."

That doesn't mean that an associate shouldn't dress with her aspirations in mind. "You want to dress for the position you want to have," Madison said. "If you want to be a senior partner, dress that way. Perception is reality."

Thanks to Martha Capper of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP for providing the original link.

New PSLawNet Website Update

Just in case you missed this announcement. Here is news of the PSLawNet's improved website.

"We are writing to inform you that a new version of PSLawNet launched in July. It contains several upgrades for public interest job seekers, including enhanced search functionalities and the ability to flag and store job postings that interest you. The new PSLawNet also contains a greatly expanded career resource library with sample resumes/cover letters, information on an array of public interest career paths, and much more."