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January 30, 2009

Tricky (But Fun) Interview Experience

Here is a message I'd like to pass on reflecting one of our student's interviewing experience last year.


Here are some of the tricky interview questions I experienced yesterday down at [law firm X]:

Say that you have been a lawyer hear for 40 years or so and you die. Your obituary reads in the paper, “____________ (your name) died yesterday. He was an attorney at Firm X and …? How would you finish that sentence, or how would you want that sentence to be finished.

The interviewer also handed me my transcript and told me to pretend he was my father. Convince him that, based on this transcript, he should continue to pay for my law school tuition. He went class by class and I had to explain the courses and the grades and why they are important. The backdrop to almost every question was, why wasn’t this an A+ like contracts (half sarcastically I think, I couldn’t tell).

Both of these questions were in the same 30 minute interview. The interviewer was pretty laid back despite the unconventional questions. Definitely a unique interview experience. I hope this helps."

Remember - the interview is a conversation where you are to a) promote your skills experience, talents, b) show how you fit - what it's like to work with you, and c) show why you want to work for them.


January 27, 2009

Create an unofficial transcript

Follow these directions from the Registrar.

January 26, 2009

Where can I get a fingerprint card for my bar application?

Go to the Minneapolis Crime Lab for your fingerprint card.

Summer 2009 Sublets and the NALP Apartment Exchange

As summer 2009 approaches, students who plan to leave Minnesota and who may be in need of sublets, should check out NALP's Apartment Exchange.

ALSO, local law firms will be seeking sublets for their incoming summer associates. (See below)

SUMMER SUBLETS NEEDED: Faegre & Benson LLP is seeking furnished apartments in or near downtown Minneapolis for the summer months. For more information, or to submit an ad to rent or sublet your apartment, please contact Trisha Verhasselt, Recruiting Coordinator, at tverhasselt@faegre.com or (612) 766-8952.

January 25, 2009

Career Management in Troubled Times

Much excellent advice has come from career development offices, expensive career consultants, Wise Trusted Advisers, blogs with information and blogs with no supporting data whatsoever. There is no magic bullet for survival in troubled times, and the old advice remains the best -- with one new addition (see #3):

1. SELF ASSESSMENT: understand your goals; identify your skills; tally your interests; assess your financial situation.

a. Create Plans A, B & C with supporting documents for each plan. Your plans must connect to practice areas that are viable in this economy and be vectored toward employers whose hiring criteria match your credentials. Do not imagine that employers who would not have interviewed you as a 2L will have radically altered their hiring criteria. Work related to the troubled economy is expanding (bankruptcy, employment), and now is a good time to consider the work that gets done regardless of the state of the economy. Wills & trusts, workers' compensation, general civil litigation and personal injury practices come to mind.

b. Volunteer in settings where you might make vocationally useful connections -- this should connect you to organizations and causes for which you have genuine feeling. Soulless volunteering is the epitome of "cheesy," and you will have taken valuable time to put yourself in a bad light;

c. Write something that is vocationally useful and send it to practitioners who can use the information. Either dust off and revise classwork, write something new or take non-confidential material from your employment and rework it. Create a document from which you can extract three or four Useful Bullet Points for a busy practitioner. Send email with a compelling subject line and a message that shows that you know what the lawyer does and that you hope that the Four Useful Bullet points and the doc might be of interest. Note that you would be delighted to discuss the topic. To whom do you send this? Lawyers and other professionals who are engaged in work that is interesting to you and who might benefit from your writing are your legitimate targets.

3. FIND OR CREATE A JOB SEARCH STRATEGY GROUP: Some folks can dutifully manage a job search on their own, diligently sending out resumes, scheduling networking meetings and following up every lead, but most people need some support. A weekly meeting in which you and your colleagues report in, share your experiences and hold yourselves accountable can be very useful. In a troubled economy, there is no shame in unemployment, and committing time to share information and encouragement is smart. The CPDC will launch a drop-in evening alumni group in February.

4. PERSONAL PROTECTION FOR THE UNHAPPY-BUT-EMPLOYED: Under no circumstances should you share your unhappiness, disgruntlement, distaste or distress with anyone with whom you work. If a layoff is to come, the first to go are the ones who are understood to be eager to leave. Use your out-of-office contacts to develop a departure strategy: your career or alumni office, professional contacts, personal contacts, your Trusted Advisers from your life. While your assistant may be a sterling individual and a Gem in the Tiara of Your Professional Life, remember that she needs her job at least as much as you need yours. Don't do anything to damage her job or job prospects.

January 23, 2009

Being Active in Your Job Search

A thorough job search requires you to be involved, active, and informed at each step in the process. If you’re still seeking summer and permanent employment, the Career & Professional Development Center (CPDC) hopes you spent some time during Winter Break networking with attorneys and setting forth your continuing job search strategy. If you have not been into the CPDC recently to discuss and update this strategy, please make an appointment early this semester.

Keep in mind that in order to be thorough and complete with your job search, you should conduct a search using varied strategies. Many student rely solely on job postings via Symplicity or other online resource to secure employment. Note that many (if not most) employers that do not have the time or resources to reach out for candidates. What else should you be doing? We recommend the following:

1) Research the types of opportunities available and make a decision about what type of opportunity you are most interested in. Are you interested in law firm work, public interest and government work, in-house positions, etc.? Think about the issues and classes that have interested you most and talk with attorneys who currently practice in these areas. Feel free to meet with your counselor in the CPDC to talk about different types of legal jobs and to consult the practice-area specific resources available in the CPDC.

2) Research specific organizations. Use the Martindale-Hubbell Directory, use the NALP Directory, use PSLawnet, and use the Government Honors and Internship Handbook. Consult the employer files in Symplicity and learn about places where past students have worked. Talk with professors who are experts in the areas of law that interest you to find out what they know about organizations that work in that area of the law.

3) Make sure your research is organized, deliberate, and useful to you. Keep a written list of the organizations that interest you, along with contact information, names of alumni who currently work there, website links, and a brief description of why you are interested in the organization.

4) Consult the organization’s website to see if there is application information available. If so, follow the application instructions. If not, contact the organization directly. You can call and ask whether the organization take law students on for the summer (or whether the organization is currently doing permanent hiring) and, if so, how you should apply. You may also choose to compose a formal cover letter to send directly to the employer with your resume inquiring whether any summer or permanent positions are available. (If you choose to mail or email a letter and resume, be sure to follow-up about two weeks after sending the materials!)

5) If you are conducting an out-of-state job search, consider joining the local bar association to begin obtaining networking contacts. Think about planning trip to your destination city, perhaps during Spring Break, and let networking contacts and potential employers know now that you will be in town and would appreciate the opportunity to meet with them.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, whether you are a 1L or 2L seeking summer employment or a 3L seeking permanent employment, now is the time to be connecting with attorneys and faculty and to get your materials out there. If you’re unsure about your career search time line or what next steps to take, come visit your counselor in at the CPDC to talk about the unique elements of your job search.


This posting is modified from an article dated 1/15/09 written by our generous friends at Case.

January 22, 2009

"You know" can torpedo your promising public career: ask Caroline Kennedy

Withering and relentless criticism of her use of “you know? probably wasn’t the only reason that Caroline Kennedy withdrew her bid for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat, but it shows that neither wealth nor political lineage can protect ideas when speech patterns undercut their power.

This should put to rest any doubt that “I’m like, you know? can torpedo a career which requires any sort of public speaking.

January 21, 2009

Interview questions

You will find the answers to many of your interviewing questions in CAREERFILES on the CPDC website:

Interviews and Negotiations
Answering the Hard Questions
Behavioral Interviews (NALP Bulletin 1/2005, w/permission)
Callback & Year-Round In-Office Interviews are the SAME
The Confidential Job Search: How to apply for a job without blowing your cover
How to shoot yourself in the foot during an interview
Interview Questions From Private Employers
Interview Questions From Public Employers
Interview Questions Candidates May Ask of Public & Private Employers
Mock Interviews: Why do them?
NALP's Letter to Law Students [About the Interview Process]
Negotiating with small firms
Telephone Interviews for the 21st Century
Second Career Law Student Concerns

January 8, 2009

Law Clerk Hiring Plan for 2009


* The hiring of law clerks will be done no sooner than the Fall of the third year of law school.

* Law schools and law faculty members will discourage potential applicants from submitting applications that will be received before the second day after Labor Day of their third year of law school. The law schools will do nothing to facilitate the release of official transcripts and will discourage faculty members from sending letters of reference that will be received before the second day after Labor Day of the third year of law school, and they will discourage faculty from making calls on behalf of the law clerk applicants before that date.

For complete information, see http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/lawclerk.nsf/Home?OpenForm

January 6, 2009

10 Resolutions for Job-Seeking Success

10 Resolutions for Job-Seeking Success

William A. Chamberlain
The National Law Journal
January 06, 2009

"We often start off the New Year with a host of resolutions which, though well-intentioned, in practice, may hardly outlast the winter snows. This year, however, the economic news has given both job seekers and the nervous employed added incentive. Like Clarence in "It's a Wonderful Life" or one of Dickens' ghosts, the news has led us to contemplate the future -- and it is a scary sight. The economic picture has never looked so dreary for those of us in the current working-age population. Layoffs continue apace, some law firms appear shaky and even the most profitable are looking to freeze salaries and trim bonuses.

Despite this glum news, there is much that job seekers can do. New Year's paired symbols of Father Time and the New Year's baby remind us of the swift passage of time. We must slough off the lethargy of too much holiday cheer and get moving. Here are 10 New Year's resolutions to get you started whether you are in the market or want to be prepared for an uncertain economic future."

For the entire article, click the title above.


January 5, 2009

Pro Bono -- training not "cost" in bad economic times

From NY Lawyer – if you aren’t “registered,? fret not because it’s free.

January 3, 2009

Minnesota State Bar Association

The Minnesota State Bar Association provides a variety of ways for law students to become
involved in the legal community, including the following meetings and events. Join one of our
34 Sections for a meeting, Continuing Legal Education seminar (CLE) or networking event
today! Don’t let your first conversation with an attorney be at an interview. For more
information about the MSBA or any of the upcoming events, please contact Elyse Farnsworth at efarnsworth@mnbar.org or 612-278-6343. Please visit us at www.mnbar.org.

Click here for the January calendar.

New Year's Work Resolutions for Junior Associates

An interesting article regarding associate professional development:

New Year's Work Resolutions for Junior Associates

Kathryn C. Newman
Special to Law.com
January 05, 2009

"Most of us begin the New Year with a handful of resolutions. Doesn't your career deserve the same attention as your waistline?

This January, I recommend that you spend a few hours setting resolutions and goals for your own professional development. Associates who commit to reflecting on their careers, skills and needs, to writing these goals down, and tracking their progress, are far more likely to achieve these goals, and have higher job satisfaction."

Click the title above for the entire article.