Monday, September 12, 2016
Interesting research has been done on overconfidence in business leadership (see, e.g., here, here, and here) and political behavior (see, e.g., here and here). I periodically consult the literature in this area for use in my work. It is fascinating and often helpful.
In my continuing career development advice to law students, and as a member of our faculty appointments committee at UT Law this year, however, I recently have come to notice and be concerned about overconfidence in job searches. Specifically, I see law students who, in testing out a new confidence in their knowledge and skills, overdo it a bit and over-claim or come across as unduly self-important. I also see faculty candidates who have registered for the Association of American Law Schools Faculty Appointments Register (FAR) puff and oversell--using the comment areas to make cringe-worthy self-aggrandizing statements about their teaching or scholarly background or abilities.
Most of us prefer to associate with confident people. Confidence in a leader or colleague is an attractive trait--one that we associate with strong governance and high levels of performance. Confidence wins appointments, elections, and jobs. Yet overconfidence, if recognized, is unattractive and often means lost opportunities.
Overconfidence is common. Don Moore, a faculty member at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, notes this in a recent blog post on Overconfidence in Politics.
I study overconfidence among all sorts of people, from business leaders and politicians to college students and office workers. And my research shows that most people are vulnerable to overconfidence. We are excessively confident that we know the truth and have correctly seen the right path forward to prosperity, economic growth and moral standing. Research results consistently show that people express far more faith in the quality of their judgment than it actually warrants. . . .
How do those of us who advise law students enable them to be confident and show confidence without becoming overconfident--or projecting overconfidence? In his post on résumés and interviews two years ago, co-blogger Haskell Murray advised students to avoid overstating their accomplishments.
Lawyers, perhaps more than other professionals, will call you out on any overstated items on your resume. While I have met plenty of arrogant lawyers, and perhaps was one, arrogance isn’t going to win you many supporters in the interview. Avoid vague self-congratulations (e.g., “provided excellent customer service.”). Stick to the specific, verifiable facts (e.g., “voted employee of the month in April 2012” or “responsible for a 35% increase in revenue from my clients.”).
I totally agree. I also made a related point regarding the written word in my post on cover letters back in January.
. . . I see a significant number of cover letters that use strident adjectives and adverbs to help make their points. The sentences in these letters tend to smack of over-claiming. Also, in many cases, these adjectives and adverbs represent poor substitutes for well-chosen . . . stories. Most employers are likely to be more favorably disposed to the documentation of specific facts substantiating an applicant's suitability for an open position than they would be to sentences consisting of self-selected (and sometimes over-blown) characterizations of the applicant's suitability for that position.
But I have learned that the line between confidence and overconfidence, as important as it is in the job search process, can be a thin one. And decisions about how to confidently--but not overconfidently--communicate with contacts, mentors, and prospective employers (among others) often must be made on one's own and quickly. So, my bottom line advice to students is to focus generally in all communications, oral and written, on being other-regarding. This article written by a Forbes Contributor makes some great observations and offers tips along those lines. And if you can ask a trusted mentor to help you prepare for common questions or review the text of emails or letters, that's great.
What else? You tell me. I am not confident that I know more . . . . :>)
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program is looking to fill two clinical instructor positions (one with a focus on facilitation and political dialogue) for July 2017.
Details about the positions are available here.
Friday, September 9, 2016
As many of you already know, I regularly advise students (as so many of us do) on career planning and job searches. This advice extends to communications in connection with career planning and job searches. And I have blogged about all this. I have posted in the past, for example, on networking letters (my post is here) and cover letters, for example (my most recent post is here).
Yesterday, I got an email message from a student with a great question related to all this. Here is the question: "What would you recommend as the subject line of an email to a contact you have been referred to by someone else?" Nice. Here's what I ended up writing back, in pertinent part.
. . . Email titles are tricky.
The first thing I would do is ask if the person making the connection can e-introduce you with an email message and copy you in. I have done that many times. My script usually goes something like this:
[X], e-meet [Y]. As I explained to you earlier today, [Y] is the [title & affiliation].
[Y], [X] is a [year] at UT Law who is considering [career goal]. [X] is especially interested in working with [specific practice interest]. S/he has M/W/F time free in her/his academic schedule this fall, and she/he would love to find a targeted internship involving all or part of that time. I thought you might be able to help me identify opportunities for [X}. So, I offered to introduce you to each other by email in the hopes that you could help [X] find something suitable.
[Y], I know that you are always busy. If this request is unduly burdensome, I fully understand. Just let us know. But if you have a little bit of time to make some suggestions to me and [X] on this, I hope that you will do so.
Best to all,
If that doesn't work, we're back to you sending the email on your own. You may want to ask the person who gave you the connection if it's OK to copy him or her on the message you send, btw. I think that adds credibility and can have other advantages, too.
As with many things, the answer to your question about recommended email subject lines is "it depends." More specifically, it depends on the precise content, the context, and your style. Sometimes, and this is consistent with my style, I will entitle an email like this--one to a stranger with whom I have some affinity--by referring to this affinity relationship in some way. So, if the person is, e.g., an alum of UT Law, I might entitle the message: "Greetings from the UT College of Law." If the only affinity is the mutual friendship, a similar approach might lead to a title like: "E-introduction with Regards from Joan Heminway."
Do those kinds of suggestions resonate with you? Let me know. We can consider this the start of a conversation . . . .
I am not wholly satisfied with this response. The first suggested subject line may be too generic (even though I have used it in the past) and the second sounds a bit formal for most students. Maybe the second one is better cast this way: "E-introduction (and Warm Regards from Joan Heminway)." At any rate, your ideas are most welcomed. As I noted in my response to the student, I think this is an ongoing conversation . . . .
Thursday, September 8, 2016
I recently received the following information regarding two positions at The Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance. Many readers, I assume, will be familiar with their co-sponsored excellent blog, The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.
The Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance invites applications for the position of Executive Director. Together with the Faculty Director and others, the Executive Director of the Program works on building, developing, and managing the full range of activities of the Program. Under the Faculty Director’s oversight, the Executive Director manages the wide range of the Program’s operations; collaborates with major corporations, law firms, investors, advisers, and other organizations; participates in developing and directing conferences and other events for the Program; and manages the administration and personnel of the program, including fellows, research assistants, and staff. The Executive Director also collaborates with constituent groups and other professionals; participates in fundraising activities; interacts with donors and visitors; and takes on other management roles within the Program as needed. The Executive Director is involved in overseeing the Program’s website and other media outreach efforts, as well as the Program’s blog, the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation.
Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Candidates should have a J.D. or another graduate degree in law, policy, or social science, and 3+ years of experience in a relevant field of law or policy. This is a full-time term appointment.Start date is flexible. Additional information on the Executive Director position, as well as detailed instructions on how to apply, is available through ASPIRE.
The Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance invites applications for Post-Graduate Academic Fellows. Candidates should be interested in spending two or three years at Harvard Law School in preparation for a career in academia or policy research, and should have a J.D., LL.M. or S.J.D. from a U.S. law school (or expect to have completed most of the requirements for such a degree by the time they commence their fellowship). During the term of their appointment, Post-Graduate Academic Fellows work on research and corporate governance activities of the Program, depending on their interests and Program needs. Fellows may also work on their own research and publishing, and some former Fellows of the Program now teach in leading law schools in the U.S. and abroad.
Applications are considered on a rolling basis. Interested candidates should submit a CV, list of references, law school grades, and a writing sample and cover letter to the coordinator of the Program, Ms. Jordan Figueroa, email@example.com. The cover letter should describe the candidate’s experience, reasons for seeking the position, career plans, and the kinds of Program projects and activities in which they would like to be involved. The position includes Harvard University benefits and a competitive fellowship salary. Start date is flexible.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Increasing business demands are prompting companies to expand into new products and markets. Businesses also are engaging in mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures; issuing securities; and performing other transactions associated with business growth, which results in larger corporate teams. Many companies have a need for additional in-house legal professionals who are readily available to help manage mounting financial and industry-related regulations. Moreover, corporate legal departments often prefer to handle more routine legal work in-house and retain the services of outside counsel for specialized legal work.
Real estate, IP, health care and compliance were also mentioned along with the noted strong growth in litigation. The full report/study is available here: Download Legal_2016_job_salary_guide.
Monday, August 15, 2016
As many of you know, I often like to post on issues relating to advising students (witness my cover letter posts, the most recent of which can be found here). I also like to post from time to time on issues relating to fashion and the law (e.g., this post). And sometimes, I fuse the two in a single post. This post is one of those fusion posts.
Many of us intuitively understand that clothing affects not only the perceptions others have of us but also the perceptions we have of ourselves. Some of us may even have done research to unearth evidence that these intuitions have some empirical traction. But can what you wear affect your performance? Research provides some evidence that it can.
Researchers at Northwestern University have identified a "systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes" that they term "unclothed cognition." Their research, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2012, found that the attentiveness of the subjects was higher when wearing a lab coat than it was when they were not wearing a lab coat or were wearing a lab coat described as a painter's coat. The research was fairly widely reported at the time. Although the study explored the effects of wearing a lab coat, one can see how the results may also hold for people wearing other performance-linked clothing, like athletic wear or other professional clothing, including business suits. (A subsequent study on the cognitive effects of business suits can be found here. More general commentary is available here and elsewhere.)
Admittedly, the results of these studies and others like them are qualified and the research in this field is at an early stage. Having said that, as our students start interviewing for jobs and engaging in clinical practice and other experiential learning in the new semester, the possible effect of clothing on performance may be a relevant footnote for them. I admit that I am not a fan of dress codes, as a general rule. However, I may mention these studies to my students so that they can use the information in their decision-making, if they so choose.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
From an e-mail I received:
The University of Richmond School of Law seeks to fill two entry-level tenure-track positions for the 2017-2018 academic year, including one in corporate/transactional law. Candidates should have outstanding academic credentials and show superb promise for top-notch scholarship and teaching. The University of Richmond, an equal opportunity employer, is committed to developing a diverse workforce and student body and to supporting an inclusive campus community. Applications from candidates who will contribute to these goals are strongly encouraged.
Inquiries and requests for additional information may be directed to Professor Jessica Erickson, Chair of Faculty Appointments, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Do you value diversity? At California Western School of Law, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our student body. This year, around 50% of our incoming students are from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. We are committed to having a faculty that reflects our student body and our community.
Do you want to influence legal education at an established but innovative law school? California Western recently celebrated its 90th anniversary - but we have never been stale or ordinary. We were on the forefront of innovative, experiential education three decades ago. As a result, our graduates have a reputation for being uniquely practice-ready. California Western continues to rethink the status quo in legal education – balancing a rigorous practical education with cutting edge scholarship and community service.
Who are you? We are seeking candidates with an entrepreneurial spirit who are eager to put their own stamp on a law school with an expanding faculty and many growth opportunities.
What do you want to teach? We can prioritize your teaching preferences regardless of subject matter.
Where do you want to live? California Western is in downtown San Diego, California, literally overlooking the Pacific Ocean. A city of breathtaking beauty, we have perfect weather, miles of beaches, and nearby mountains. We are a family-friendly, diverse city with small city traffic and walkable neighborhoods.
If you are excited about teaching a diverse student body, shaping the next iteration of an innovative and successful law school, and living in “America’s Finest City,” we want to hear from you.
Candidates should email their materials by September 30, 2016 to Professor Ken Klein at email@example.com. Candidates are encouraged to submit a statement to our Appointments Committee addressing how they can contribute to the goal of creating a diverse faculty.
Monday, August 1, 2016
The University of Nebraska College of Law is hiring, and business law is one of their areas of interest. See the ad below:
The UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA COLLEGE OF LAW invites applications for entry-level and lateral
candidates for one or more tenure-track or tenured faculty positions. Our needs include courses related
• Business Law (e.g., Business Associations; Corporate Finance, Corporate Governance, Insurance Law,
Bankruptcy, Corporate Restructuring, Nonprofit Organizations, Risk Management / Compliance, or White
• Criminal Law (e.g., Federal Criminal Law or White Collar Crime, Criminal Procedure 2, Post-Conviction
Remedies, or Criminal Sentencing);
• Health Care (e.g., Federal Regulation of Health Care Providers, Health Care Finance, Torts,
Administrative Law, Medical Malpractice, Privacy Law, Law and Medicine, Public Health Law, Bioethics
and the Law, and the Law of Provider and Patient);
• Litigation Skills and Related Courses (e.g., Trial Advocacy, Civil Rights Litigation, Pretrial Litigation or
other litigation skills courses, Conflicts of Laws);
• Family Law;
• Education Law; and
• Election Law.
Minimum Required Qualifications: J.D Degree or Equivalent, Superior Academic Record, Demonstrated
Interest in Relevant Substantive Areas. Title of Asst/Assoc/or Full Professor will be based on
qualifications of applicant. Please fill out the University application, which can be found at
http://employment.unl.edu/postings/50660, and upload a CV, a cover letter, and a list of references.
General information about the Law College is available at http://law.unl.edu/. The University of Nebraska-
Lincoln is committed to a pluralistic campus community through affirmative action, equal opportunity,
work-life balance, and dual careers. See http://www.unl.edu/equity/notice-nondiscrimination Review of
applications will begin on August 25, 2016 and will continue until the position is filled. If you have
questions, please contact Associate Dean Eric Berger, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee,
University of Nebraska College of Law, Lincoln, NE 68583-0902, or send an email to
Friday, July 29, 2016
As in past years, I will maintain lists of law professor openings in the business areas (excluding commercial law-only posts) and legal studies professor openings outside of law schools. If your school has an opening that you would like posted, feel free to contact me.
The law professor openings list uses the PrawfsBlawg spreadsheet, if an alternate link is not provided. Positions added after today will include the date added.
Law School Professor Positions (Business Law Areas)
- Boston University
- California Western (8/10/16)
- Pace University
- Suffolk University (IP & Entrepreneurship Clinic) (8/18/16)
- University of Alabama (8/18/16)
- University of California, Berkeley (8/10/16)
- University of California, Hastings
- University of Florida (9/1/16)
- University of Georgia
- University of Nebraska
- University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- University of Richmond
- University of Tennessee
- Washington University, St. Louis (Law & Economics)
- William & Mary (8/18/16)
Legal Studies Professor Positions (Outside of Law Schools, Mostly in Business Schools)
- Bentley University
- Bryant University
- Duquense University (VAP or instructor)
- Georgia Southern University (8/18/16)
- Indiana University, Kelley School of Business
- Ithaca College
- Marist College
- Pepperdine University
- Texas State University (8/10/16)
- University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School (Business Ethics)
- University of Wisconsin, Whitewater (lecturer)
- Western Michigan University
Friday, July 22, 2016
Following on Joan's excellent post about networking letters, I wanted to share a few words about thank you letters.
- Level 1 — Email saying thanks for the time and insight.
- Level 2 — Level 1 + this is how your insight impacted my life.
- Level 3 — Handwritten thank you note.
- Level 4 — Level 3 + a small gift.
This seems right, and Kyle's entire post is well worth reading at the link above.
A mere thank you e-mail usually isn't worth much, but it is better than nothing (unless the thank you is typo-riddled, and then it might be worse than nothing). The e-mail is worth more if the author recounts meaningful specifics from your conversation or picks up on a way that he/she might be of assistance.
The handwritten note has made a comeback after interviews, but I don't think it has had the same resurgence after networking/advice meetings. This is a shame because generally the interviewer is just doing his or her job, while the person who is honoring your networking/advice request is usually the one bestowing a true gift. Due to the relative rarity, I think handwritten notes are even more appreciated after a networking/advice meeting than after an interview. For handwritten notes, I think it is worth investing in personalized stationery and trying to remember to send the notes right away so that the delay is not elongated.
As to small gifts, those obviously would not be appropriate after an interview, but might be a really nice touch after a networking/advice meeting. If any readers have good thoughts on appropriate small gifts, please share in the comments or over email. I have always had a hard time thinking of these kinds of gifts. Wine seems like a common choice, but it could be risky unless you know the person drinks alcohol.
Finally, this recent article in the Harvard Business Review entitled Stop Making Gratitude All About You struck a chord. The author suggests praising the recipient rather than just describing how the recipient benefited you or made you felt. Of course, praise should be sincere and can be overdone, but I think the author is onto something.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
David Zaring, who is a professor at Wharton, has the details over at the Conglomerate.
Wharton is open to JD-only, PHD-only, or JD/PHD candidates for this position.
Applications can be submitted here and the application deadline is November 1, 2016.
Monday, July 18, 2016
As an adjunct to my posts (here and here) on law placement cover letters, I commend to you this blog post on networking letters, correspondence that seeks to establish a career or job-related connection--maybe even a longer-term relationship--rather than apply for a specific position. Truth be told, in some form or another, four of the five tips in the post also apply to job-seeking cover letters. The outlier? Tip #2: "Don't ask for an interview or a job."
My take on the relevance of the other four tips for job placement cover letters is as follows:
- Respect your reader's time. Always a good idea when you are asking for anything. Do not demand. Ask graciously. But also be careful not to fall over yourself in being respectful. It's just not attractive. It's usually sufficient to use a pair of sentences like these after making an "ask" to show your respect: "I know that you have a busy schedule. Accordingly, if this request is unduly burdensome, please just let me know."
- Sell your strengths. This is important and seems obvious. But folks still miss this prompt! Why would someone want to meet with a person they don't know well or at all unless the person was interesting to them in some respect? As readers may recall, I recommend using the PAR method in sharing professional and personal strengths--using a short, pointed narrative, rather than merely describing knowledge, experience, or skills with adjectives and adverbs.
- Consider the timing of your letter. I just had a request from a student on this very issue--when to get back in touch with folks he had positive connections with last year who asked him to "stay in touch" about his permanent job search. These questions (as to timing) are highly contextual and can be tough to navigate. I recommend consulting with multiple people to get their views about particularly sticky timing questions. For example, with respect to my student, the timing of/participation of the firms in on-campus interviews plays a role. So, I recommended that he also consult with folks in our Career Services office.
- Stick to it. The advice the blog post author (Miriam Salpeter) gives here is dead-on right. Key sentence: "You don't want to stalk the person, but it's okay to touch base a few times before you consider the door closed." Again, I advise using advisors from various "walks" to help determine what crosses the line. It's very important to those consultations that the letter writer keep accurate and complete records of contacts with the proposed letter recipient and others in the same workplace that can be shared with the consultants so that they can best advise.
As another interview season is on the horizon (although interviewing never seems to stop these days, does it?), some of this advice may come in handy for folks soon. I also recommend in this regard, btw, Haskell Murray's great post on resumes and interviews. I cite to it in my initial cover letter post, but I want to note its value again here.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
I am stealing Haskell's thunder on this one (at his suggestion) to promote this position at Marist College. Little known facts (other than for folks, like Haskell, who know my family well): my daughter is a Marist Red Fox (that's the school's mascot) having graduated from there with a degree in Media Studies. It's a lovely small liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, NY. And its new President is David N. Yellen, the former Dean and Professor of Law (criminal law expert) at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Here are key points from the position announcement (linked to from the first sentence below):
Duties and Responsibilities:
This tenure track position will involve teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses (including online courses) and maintaining a high level of professional activity through research and service in the candidate’s area of emphasis
Candidates must have a commitment to excellence in teaching and research and should have a JD degree and previous experience teaching legal related and business law courses in a School of Management and/or Business. Professional experience as a practitioner is also desirable.
Required Applicant Documents:
Resume, Cover Letter, References
Position Open Date:
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Today, the following business law professor position at Pepperdine University's Seaver College was brought to my attention. Further information is available here and below.
Assistant Professor of Business Law
The business administration division of Pepperdine University seeks a candidate with a terminal degree in law for a tenure-track position in business law. Candidates are expected to complete all requirements for the JD before the date of appointment, which is August 1, 2017. A documented research interest in law is required and teaching experience is preferred. The expected courses taught would be undergraduate classes in business law and international business. The flexibility to teach occasionally in another field is preferred.
The business program at Seaver College, is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). USA Today ranked Seaver's business program as the 7th best undergraduate business program in the country. We have approximately 775 undergraduate students in the Business Administration Division. Despite the large number of majors, our classes are small (rarely more than 25 students) and our faculty is collegial and collaborative. The division offers Bachelor of Science degree programs in accounting, business administration, and international business, and a contract major in finance. Degree programs are offered on a full-time, residential basis at the campus in Malibu, California. Seaver College has an enrollment of approximately 3,200 students. Please visit our website for more information.
Pepperdine University was established in 1937 by Mr. George Pepperdine, a Christian businessman, who stressed the desirability of a complete education built on a Christian value system. The institution is committed to the ideals of the founder. Successful candidates also must demonstrate an active commitment to Pepperdine's Christian mission and tradition. Located near Los Angeles in Southern California, Pepperdine University is especially interested in candidates who can contribute through their teaching, research and service to the diversity and excellence of the University and our surrounding community.
Applicants should apply at apply.interfolio.com/35896. A background check will be required as a condition of employment.
For more information, please contact the chair of the search committee:
Keith Whitney (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Chair, Recruiting Committee
Business Administration Division
Seaver College, Pepperdine University
24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Hello, everyone - I'm passing this along in case any of our readers have an interest, or know anyone who might have an interest. And if anyone needs convincing as to why they should spend a semester or a year in New Orleans, email me privately and allow me to extol the city's virtues.
Tulane Law School is currently accepting applications for a visiting tax professor for either the Fall of 2016 or for the entire 2016-2017 Academic Year. Visitors would be expected to teach basic Income Tax and other tax related courses. Applicants at any career stage are encouraged. To apply, please submit a CV along with a statement of interest and any supporting documentation. Applications and questions may be directed to Vice Dean Ronald J. Scalise Jr. at email@example.com. Tulane University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to excellence through diversity. All eligible candidates are invited to apply.
Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Some readers may be interested in the position listed below. Georgia Institute of Technology, Scheller College of Business has a strong faculty and is a recognized leader in the sustainability area.
Managing Director, Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business
(Professor of the Practice or Academic Professional)
The Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Georgia seeks applications or nominations for an academic appointment as the Managing Director, Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business (ACSB). The Center is part of the Scheller College of Business, which was ranked #1 in the US and #8 globally in the 2015 Corporate Knights Better World MBA Rankings. The College is a dynamic environment with a commitment to sustainability embedded in its strategic plan and faculty members across many disciplines who have sustainable business interests. The Managing Director will have the opportunity to shape and steer the growth of the Center’s activities and impact, as the Center recently received a long-term gift doubling its operational budget from the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. The Managing Director will also have the opportunity to partner with the Georgia Tech Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain (CSLS), an institute-wide undergraduate education initiative that is developing learning and co-curricular opportunities designed to help our students combine their academic and career interests with their desire to create sustainable communities.
More information follows after the break.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
The Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University seeks to hire a resident academic fellow to begin in September or October 2016 for a 12-month or one-academic-year term, with the possibility of renewal for a second year. The fellow will pursue his or her own independent research, as well as work closely with Stanford Law School faculty on a range of projects related to corporate governance, securities regulation, vehicles for public and private investment, and financial market reform. The ideal candidate has excellent academic credentials and experience in relevant fields of practice. The position is particularly well suited to a practicing attorney, with either a litigation or transactional background, seeking a transition to academia, or a post-doctoral economics or finance student with interests in corporate governance. More information can be found at https://stanfordcareers.stanford.edu/job-search?jobId=70496.
Monday, March 28, 2016
There's been a lot of bad press lately about contract lawyers. Between legal actions for overtime pay and articles in bar publications and elsewhere, it's easy to conclude that all of these warriors in the legal workforce are overworked and underpaid in this post-financial-crisis world.
Yet, I just had a corporate general counsel in my Advanced Business Associations class last week who regularly uses contract counsel and, based on his description, those he works with seem to be a relatively contented lot. He has gone ahead and hired a few of them (although he notes that some prefer independent contractor status for its flexibility). So, I wonder whether many of us make the same mistake with the press on contract lawyers that we do with the press on law schools: generalizing a description and drawing conclusions from limited, nonscientific data (i.e., one-sided or narrowly drawn press reports). For one thing, most of what I read focuses on contract lawyers performing e-discovery reviews or rote due diligence. I know that there are more varied assignments out there (even if those two areas represent most of the territory).
I do know former students who, for a variety of reasons, have worked as contract lawyers after graduation or during a career interruption. In most cases, this has been intended as and has been in fact a temporary position. But (although I do not stay in touch with everyone after graduation) I am sure that some have ended up staying in contract lawyering longer than they had planned . . . or wanted. Still, I have not heard about any abusive behavior or unusually long hours. I have heard complaints about the routine and unstimulating nature of much of the work.
What information do you have about contract lawyers? Are they a uniformly mistreated lot because employers--especially maybe Big Law and other large firms--take advantage of them and view them only as low-cost, low-quality providers of legal services? How often do those who use contract lawyer services hire the lawyers in as employees? How many contract lawyers continue in that role for more than two years? Let me know what you know.