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December 29, 2008

9 signs that something is wrong at work


1. You get no work You have heretofore received substantive projects. Now you are being asked to write CLE materials and to do 50-state surveys. It is imperative that you check your status with your supervisors.

a. This could have nothing to do with the quality of your work: it may be that there is no work, but the partners value you and want to keep you employed until business picks up.

b. It could have everything to do with the perceived quality of your work, and the firm is getting ready to fire you. There may be “blind' ads for your job in local legal publications right now.

c. Check in with the CPDC with a specific description of what you perceive is going on at work. We can help you decode, decipher, and, if necessary, design a useful departure strategy.

2. You get feedback and you ignore it The best way to annoy your employer is to ignore constructive feedback on your projects. This is a precursor to #1(b).

a. The most consistent criticism from law clerks and new lawyers is “We get no feedback." If you expect a 10-minute sit-down with a fully-marked-up document for each assignment that you turn in while working in a busy public or private law office, you will be disappointed. Over and over again.

b. During the Summers of 2006 and 2007, employers reported an increasing number of students who ignored specific criticism of their work and who declined to make the changes suggested by their supervisors. Both Law School and Employer professionals note that except for Incidents Involving Alcohol, that this is the fastest way to get from “New Summer Associate" to “Not Getting An Offer." Perhaps as the economy was beginning to turn, ignoring constructive criticism was no a highly-reported problem in 2008.

c. Employers point out that (1) Often, you know that you are doing “ok" at work if no one is yelling at you; (2) “Attaboy" and “Attagirl" are often the most feedback that you can expect from busy lawyers; (3) Conversations in the hallway that mention your good work are precious currency in busy law offices.

d. Employers are designing well-crafted and expensive Professional Development Programs and your enthusiastic participation is a key to your future. At one firm where the PD work isn’t “mandatory," but invitations come from Very Senior Partners, lack of participation has consequences. Fourth year associates were complaining that they didn’t get to take depositions. The PD Partner pointed out that more junior associates who had taken deposition training, were, indeed, getting to take depositions. “Why," she asked, “would we tap you for a deposition, when you’d shown no interest?"

3. You are asked to do the same thing several times When you are asked to turn down your music or to stop drinking more than once, you are marked for life, and not in a good way. This produces the same result as 2(b).

4. You are asked to do something that you believe to be unethical or illegal You should document the request and send a clarifying (not attacking) memo to the person who asked to you do the task. If you have misunderstood the assignment, you will then be on the correct path. If you are correct, then you have choices and none of them are easy: contact the employer’s “ethics partner" or “ethics attorney," contact the Bar Association Ethics Hotline, contact a law professor or the CPDC, and/or quit. If (when) you quit, make sure that your memo is in your employee file and that you have retained a copy.


5. Partners whose doors have always been open, now work behind closed doors This could be a sign of new and very confidential work, or it could be a sign that the partners are working on a deal to merge with another firm or to leave the firm altogether. [Reality check: One, but not all, might be working out the confidential details of his or her divorce.]

6. Partners whose out-of-office activities have been public (or at least not “secret") are “sneaking" out to meetings. Same as #5.

7. Your employer's 800 pound gorilla client or industry (more than 5% of the revenue) has had public reversals which will lead to dissolution, indictment or other distress guaranteed to disrupt or destroy the revenue stream.

8. The plant watering person has been fired. This is sign that the firm is about to close its doors.

December 22, 2008

New NY State Bar Exam Rules

New NY State Bar Exam Rules

The New York State Board of Law Examiners recently revised certain rules, policies, and deadlines that are effective immediately and will impact graduates planning to take the February or July 2009 New York State Bar Examination.

Go here to view the new rules.

Thanks to our friends at Touro Law School.

December 19, 2008

Managing your career in turbulent times -- 3 experts opine

The ABA Law Practice Management Section posted "Managing Your Career in Turbulent Times" by Kathleen Brady (a former NALP President), Rachelle J. Canter, Ph.D., and Marcia Pennington Shannon. Worth reading. Thank you, NALPNow!

December 17, 2008

Advice for 1Ls from Bryan Cave's Lynne Traverse

From lawjobs.com -- Advice for 1Ls who are scared to death...

December 15, 2008

Film Profiling Walter "Fritz" Mondale Premiers Dec. 17

Contacts: Cynthia Huff, (612) 625-6691, huffx070@umn.edu

Ryan Mathre, University News Service, (612) 625-0552, mathre@umn.edu

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL ( 12/12/2008 ) -- A new feature-length documentary exploring the life and legacy of former Vice President Walter Mondale (University of Minnesota Law School Class of 1956) will have its broadcast premiere on Twin Cities Public Television (tpt), at 7 p.m, on Dec. 17.

"FRITZ: The Walter Mondale Story" documents Mr. Mondale's genuine concern for helping people and his life as a true public servant. In addition to vice president, he served as a U.S. senator, an ambassador to Japan and a dedicated advocate for civil rights, workers' rights and environmental issues.

"This film is telling a story for years to come about why you should stand up for your ideals. While it might take 20, 30, or 40 years to come to fruition, it's important to do, and it's important to dedicate your life to public service," said Ted Mondale, Walter's oldest son."

"Mondale's daughter, Eleanor Mondale, narrates "FRITZ", which includes family home videos, recently declassified papers from the vice presidential years and archival footage from tpt, WCCO-television, the KSTP-television news archive at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) and other sources.

The Mondale family, students, colleagues, President Jimmy Carter, Sen. Geraldine Ferraro, Gov. Arne Carlson and Vice President Al Gore are interviewed. Reflecting on Mondale's transformation of the role of vice president, Gore said, "You can divide every vice president in American history into two categories: pre-Walter Mondale and post-Walter Mondale."

Award-winning Minnesota filmmaker Melody Gilbert directed the documentary, which was produced by Jan Selby. An original score was also written for the film by Chan Poling. Gilbert says she was inspired by Mondale's fight for civil rights and human rights over the years and decided to pursue his profile when she realized that no one had made such a film.

The film will become part of the permanent Mondale archives at MHS. "Preserving it is important," said Director of MHS Moving Pictures Film Festival Randal Dietrich. "Mondale not only helped shape world events and crucial cultural initiatives like the civil rights movement, but he also embodies the ideals of public service that were so prevalent in that generation."

"This film is named after me," said Mondale, "but it's really a film about Minnesota -- our values, the causes I've fought for, my family, what I learned here, the joys and blessings of public service. Service, decency and caring about the community -- that's the Minnesota story."

"FRITZ" will also be shown at 7 p.m. on Dec. 26 on tpt- channel 2 and statewide on Dec. 27 on tpt-17. In Jan. 2009 it will be available on Comcast On Demand, and DVD copies will be distributed to libraries and schools around the state. To purchase a DVD and learn more about "FRITZ" visit www.mondalefilm.org.

December 12, 2008

2008-2009 National Summer Funding Resources

Please visit 2008-2009 National Summer Funding Resources for an updated listing of National Summer Funding Resources for your summer internships.

As always, please contact the CPDC for more information.

December 11, 2008

ABA Center for Pro Bono Announces Medical Legal Partnerships Pro Bono Support Project

A Notice from the ABA

The American Bar Association Center for Pro Bono is pleased to announce a new innovative project -- Medical Legal Partnerships Pro Bono Support Project -- to coordinate an ABA-based national medical-legal partnership pro bono support initiative. The Project will expand the current landscape of Medical-Legal Partnerships by increasing the targeted patient populations, and it will provide support to existing medical–legal partnerships by developing a national support center. Moreover, the Project will work to actively engage the private bar as a consistent provider of legal services in the hospital and clinic settings.

For further information or to view the Medical-Legal Partnerships: Pro Bono as a Healing Art website, click here.

What Not to Wear: Dressing at Holiday Receptions

What Not to Wear: Dressing at Holiday Receptions

So, you have set up an informational interview over winter break or have gotten an invite to a holiday reception or other networking event. Great! But now you are wondering "what should I wear to a holiday reception or for a networking meeting?"

If you are meeting an alumni or another contact in his or her office, wear a suit. Remember this is a business meeting. If you are invited to a holiday reception and the invitation doesn't specify dress, remember this is a business reception, not a holiday cocktail party so wear a suit. No cocktail dresses or tuxedos! Just wear your best suit, hose if you are a woman, a tie if you are a man, shine your shoes, and impress the employers with your personality!

Ok, you get it - wear a suit. But what if the person you are meeting or the event details say "feel free to wear business casual?" Keep in mind that "business casual" can vary from employer to employer and sometimes even person to person. Wearing khakis, a button down, and a sport coat may be "business casual" for one employer while cords and a sweater may be "business casual" for another. As such, trying to dress "business casual" can be difficult for potential candidates and visitors to the employer. Your best bet - you guessed it - wear a suit!

Just because someone says you can dress "business casual" doesn't mean you have to. You are better off wearing a suit the first time you meet with an employer or contact or attend a networking event and being able to gauge what might be appropriate "business causal" for next time. No employer, contact, or alumni is going to look poorly upon you for feeling that they were important enough to wear a suit for!

If you have questions regarding what is appropriate dress for different events in the legal community please feel free to stop by the Career & Professional Development Center to chat with our counselors!

* Thanks to our friends at Case for this posting.

December 10, 2008

New podcast series: Student debt relief

Equal Justice Works and American University’s Washington College of Law have teamed up to launch an all-new podcast: The Student Debt Relief Series.

The first episode, “How to Figure Out if You Benefit from the College Cost Reduction & Access Act - and How Much?? is available now. Listen to the episode (below) or visit the main page to stream, download or subscribe to the series. You can also download the corresponding Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employment Checklist.

Student Debt Relief Series: Episode One

Running time: 20 min.

(From the Equal Justice Works Blog)

100 Multistate Bar Exam Questions AND ANSWERS - $26.00

As a careful reader of BAR EXAMINER, the journal of the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, I note that the National Council of Bar Examiners has provided a handy tool for bar candidates.

For $26, you get online access to 100 Multistate questions with answers annotated by actual bar exam drafters. "Purchasing this item gives you a subscription for online access to the exam, for unlimited trials, expiring one year after the date of purchase. You can take the exam in either timed or untimed sittings, and you will receive feedback on your answers, including annotations and a customized score report. As this product is only available online, you will not receive any materials by mail."

Working with search firms

Q from email: I was contacted by a representative of A SEARCH FIRM. They help laterals/clerks apply to certain firms. The service is free for me. If I end up obtaining a job through the service, the firm has to pay SEARCH FIRM. Notably, if the company applies for me, I do not write my own cover letter. The cover letter is instead written by my representative, which is akin to a letter of recommendation.

Always the skeptic, I was wondering what you thought of such an arrangement? Can my use of such a placement service negatively reflect on my application? Can it positively reflect on my application?

A: As a former headhunter for lawyers (6+ years before joining the Law School), I have the following advice for you:

1. Remember that a search firm fee adds between 20 and 35% of your first year salary to your first year cost to the employer; AND
2. This economy is a tough one, and grads at your level (some practice and some clerking) are not necessarily in premium demand.

Should you use a search firm:

1. Make sure that you have absolute moral certainty about where your resume is being sent BECAUSE YOU HAVE GIVEN WRITTEN permission for your credentials to be presented;

2. Review the documents sent on your behalf. The search firm will, indeed, write the presentation memo, which is not your own cover letter. In the best of all possible worlds, the presentation memo reflects that the search consultant has gotten to know you on a more than superficial level and is able to present more about you THAT IS RELEVANT to the firm and to the practice group for which you may be considered. When I say “more about you,? I mean more than your GPA, clerkship and law review status.

3. The best search consultants present a very small number of candidates for each opening because they know their clients well and they have gotten to know a great deal about their candidates. It is folly to prevaricate or gild the lily when working with a search firm because the consultant’s representation of you needs to be in sync with who you really are. [This does not mean that you are completely frank about your interest in working for a firm long enough to pay off your loans before you go to something altogether different from law.] The candidate who shows up and demonstrates that he or she is entirely different from the persona presented to the search consultant will be dropped like a hot potato by the search firm, and may not be well-received by the employer.

4. Should you be presented by a search firm (with your permission), the referral by contract may last between six months and a year. Any other route into the firm will not work for you because the search firm’s referral takes priority over a pal or networking contact having passed on your resume. Firms would prefer not to pay these fees and they really, really hate headhunter fights. When working with more than one search firm, should your docs be sent by both, most of the time neither will make the placement because the firm will say “A pox on both of your exorbitant bills!? and hire someone else.

5. Having said that, search firm fees are a fact of life. Depending on the city or cities in which you have interest, your credentials and genuine interest in the city may make the fee more palatable to the Executive committee.

December 6, 2008

Manage Stress During a Job Search

Manage Stress During a Job Search

(Adopted from an article by Mary Jeanne Vincent)

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest
we take between two deep breaths.? – Etty Hillesum

Reducing and managing stress is one of the keys to a successful search. Too much stress and you appear desperate. Not enough and people question your motivation. Only you can decide how much stress is the right amount! Here are seven steps you can take to significantly lower stress, improve your effectiveness, and ultimately shorten your job hunt.

1. Have a realistic understanding of how long a job search takes. Many job seekers have an unrealistic time frame for finding their next job. It always takes longer than you think. When you don’t have a realistic expectation for how long it can take it is easy to feel stressed out.

2. Develop a job search action plan. Map out where you want to go and how you are going to get there. Set specific daily and weekly goals; then develop a contingency plan for when Plan A doesn’t work. Once your plan is in place and you are emotionally prepared – take action!

3. Reduce unnecessary expenses immediately. Minimizing financial responsibilities and maximizing financial resources will significantly reduce stress. This is not the time to go stress shopping. The greater your financial resources the more flexibility you have to accept the right job offer rather than grabbing the first one that comes along.

4. Think of your job search as a job. Consider putting specific job search activities on your calendar and treat them like a job.

5. Spend time on the right activities. Do spend time developing high quality marketing materials – like a résumé, cover letter, and reference list; networking with friends and colleagues who can connect you to the right people or opportunities; and following up with potential employers. Don’t spend hours on the internet searching job boards for the ‘right’ job. Instead use the internet to research organizations, gain information about specific industries, and network with people who can assist with your search.

6. Evaluate your progress on a weekly basis. Stay on top of your search so that you can tell immediately if your search starts to stall and take steps to get it back on track. Assess what is working – do more of it. Determine what isn’t working and revise your approach. If you are still stuck consider working with a career coach.

7. Take time to refresh your mind, body, and soul. Looking for a job, especially when you don’t have one, is something you carry around 24/7. Remind yourself to set regular office hours and knock off at a reasonable hour. That includes taking time off on the weekends. Take a walk, go to the gym, escape with a good book, or have coffee with a friend.

New Free ABA Publication Offers Success Strategies for Women Lawyers of Color and Law Firms

New Free ABA Publication Offers Success Strategies for Women Lawyers of Color and Law Firms

(This posting is from a NALP bulletin article)

Building on its 2006 research study, Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms, the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession has published a new 16-page report entitled From Visible Invisibility to Visibly Successful: Success Strategies for Law Firms and Women of Color in Law Firms . Based on a qualitative scan of policies, programs, and strategies undertaken by firms as well as on confidential one-on-one interviews and informal dialogues with women of color partners in national law firms, this new report suggests key success strategies both for firms and for individual women lawyers of color. The report can be accessed as a free PDF from a link on the ABA Commission on Women's homepage (www.abanet.org/women) or by going directly to www.abanet.org/women/woc/VisiblySuccessful.pdf. (The 2006 research study, Visible Invisibility , is available from the NALP Bookstore at a cost of $40 plus shipping for members or $50 for nonmembers.)

December 2, 2008

Four Organizations Launch Online Resource for Victims of Disasters, Legal Aid Lawyers, and Volunteers

From the NALP Public Service Section

National Disaster Legal Aid Website

The new National Disaster Legal Aid www.disasterlegalaid.org website serves as a national clearinghouse for legal information and resources to persons affected by disasters, legal aid lawyers providing representation, and volunteer attorneys wishing to assist others.

The goals of this new permanent disaster website are to:

1) Serve as a centralized national resource for legal aid and pro bono attorneys across the country on legal issues related to all types of disasters;

2) Recruit and help mobilize pro bono attorneys in the aftermath of a disaster, and

3) Provide accurate and timely information on legal issues, related to disasters, to the low income public affected by disasters.

More click below for the rest of this posting.

The National Disaster Legal Aid website currently consists of three main sections:

For People Who Need Help

State by state links and information on how to receive assistance with a number of legal and non-legal problems, including finding a legal aid or pro bono lawyer, locating emergency and temporary housing, filing insurance claims, and understanding their legal rights and what they can do to protect them.

For Legal Aid Attorneys

Links and information on legal services disaster materials, including Morrison and Forrester Helping Handbooks, American Bar Association's Bar Leader Toolkit, Florida Legal Assistance Disaster Manual, and Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law: Disaster Relief Manual, among others. Updates from FEMA and directives to LSC-funded programs are included as well.

For Pro Bono Volunteers

Information for lawyers and other legal professionals who want to offer pro bono assistance to persons affected by disasters.

In addition, the site hosts general relevant news to the public interest legal community on disaster legal services as well as RSS feeds from relevant government agencies as available.

Built on the successful partnership and experience of the Katrina Legal Aid Resource Center, the National Disaster Legal Aid website has been launched and maintained by the American Bar Association, Legal Services Corporation, National Legal Aid & Defender Association and Pro Bono Net.

All four partner organizations are adding new content frequently to the website. The site also has an online form where the community can submit and share helpful content with peers.

For more information, please contact John C. Eidleman at LSC 202-295-1640, eidlemaj@lsc.gov

Don't Let This Post Stress You Out: Failing the Bar Exam

Just in case you're in this predicament, check out this posting from the 'On Being a Black Lawyer" site:

How Do I Recover From Failing My Bar Exam?

This posting offers good advice for everyone in this situation.


Options for Reducing Student Loan Debt for Those Choosing Public Service Careers

Check out this Washington Post article regarding public service careers and debt:

Options for Reducing Student Loan Debt for Those Choosing Public Service Careers

Extract: "The good news is that in 2007, Congress recognized that there were so many students [interested]... it passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act. There were two programs established by this act that [students] should look into, two advisers I contacted said.

The first is the income-based repayment plan, which allows lower-income graduates with a lot of debt to reduce their monthly payments. Depending on a graduate's income and level of debt, the program, which goes into effect July 1, could limit his or her annual educational loan debt repayment to 15 percent of discretionary income, said Peter Mazareas, vice chairman of the College Savings Foundation, a Washington-based advocacy association.

The second is the public service loan forgiveness plan, in which the federal government will forgive the remaining debt of borrowers who make 120 loan payments while working full time in public-service jobs. The graduate must have a Federal Direct Stafford, PLUS, graduate PLUS or Federal Direct Consolidation loan."

Holiday strategies for law students and lawyers

If you have a job that you like:

* Be thankful.
* Be actively working to increase your knowledge base to make yourself the "go to" person in your practice group and among your professional colleagues outside of your employer.
* Be sure that you understand your employer's business model and business strategies (and this goes double for public employees who -- through no fault of your own -- may be on the chopping block in the new year).
* Connect with colleagues in bar associations, alumni and community groups.

If you have a job that you don't like:

* Be grateful to be employed while you begin to structure a job search.
* Be actively analyzing what it is that's making you unhappy -- the substance of your work, your colleagues, the amount of time that you are spending at work or thinking about work, something else in your life? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies here. Finding a new job in a city that makes you unhappy won't solve your problem if the location is, indeed, your problem.
* Be aggressive about talking to friends, family, professional colleagues (other than your employer) and your career office about your job search to make sure that your strategies are sound and that your tactics are productive.

If you are in school:

* Be studying for finals until your exams are over. For 1Ls -- December 1 was yesterday and doing well on finals has the potential to be more productive than throwing together a resume for a job that you weren't keen enough on in early November to have taken the time to do it right.
* Be actively engaged with your family and friends during the winter break.
* Be diligent about attending holiday parties and events sponsored by legal employers and bar associations.
* Be sure to tell everyone you know that you are looking for work.

Finally, spend as little time as possible fretting about the world's economy. You, personally, can't fix it, so worrying about it is a bit like worry about impending earthquakes, blizzards and tornadoes. What you can do is make yourself an expert on something that is both interesting to you and monetizable today -- which is a conversation for another day.

When in doubt, call the CPDC.