Saturday, August 27, 2011
The Young Lawyers Board of the Legal Intelligencer has encouraged supervising lawyers to keep an eye on young lawyers who are working too hard and endangering their physical and emotional health:
We ask employers and law firms, supervisors and senior attorneys to consider a few questions: Are you monitoring the workload of your employees? How do your employees track and account for their time worked each month? If the monthly hours are entered via software, or even by hand, does the employyer have a work-flow coordinator reviewing these monthly hour-sheets for time management?
We imagine that most employers notice when a junior attorney has had an uncommonly light month; but do the employers notice the uncommonly high months? For those employers using a billable-hour format, how often do you review your employees' hourly totals? Monthly? Quarterly? Annually? Are you reviewing the totals often enough, and with enough context, to appreciate trends? Will your processes detect the chronically overtaxed attorney?
This editorial is worth your time. Is your law school community looking out for students who are working too hard?
Here are the details:
American University, Washington College of Law is seeking applications for Practitioners-in-Residence for academic years 2012-13 and beyond in a number of our in-house clinics. American University’s in-house, “live-client” Clinical Program, comprising ten (10) in-house clinics and serving approximately 240 students per year, is respected for its leadership in scholarship, development of clinical methodology, contributions to increasing access to justice for under-served clients and breadth of offerings.
At this time, we anticipate having openings in the following in-house clinics: international human rights clinic; domestic violence clinic; immigrant justice clinic; and disability rights law clinic.
The Practitioner-in-Residence Program is designed to train lawyers or entry-level clinicians interested in becoming clinical teachers in the practice and theory of clinical legal education. Many graduates of the Practitioners-in-Residence program have gone on to tenure-track teaching positions at other law schools. This is a term position. Practitioners can serve in these positions for up to three (3) years. Practitioners supervise student casework, co-teach weekly clinic seminars and case rounds, and engage in course planning and preparation with the clinic’s tenured faculty. They also teach a course outside of the clinical curriculum. The Practitioner-in-Residence Program provides full-year training in clinical theory and methodology and a writing workshop designed to assist Practitioners in the development of their clinical and doctrinal scholarship.
Minimum qualifications include a JD degree, outstanding academic record, three years’ experience as a lawyer and membership in a state bar. Salary and benefits are competitive. American University is an EEO\AA employer committed to a diverse faculty, staff and student body.
Applications consisting of a curriculum vitae and cover letter should be e-mailed to Professor Michael Carroll, Chair, Faculty Appointments Committee, [email protected], with copies to Professor Brenda V. Smith, Acting Director of the Clinical Program, [email protected].
Companies used to depend on elite law firms to train new lawyers they could bring in-house years down the road.
Now, some are just doing it themselves, hiring directly from law-school campuses rather than recruiting lawyers who had previously spent a few years at a major firm. These companies are growing weary of paying high hourly rates for inexperienced law-firm associates.
Hewlett-Packard Co. was one of the first known companies to bypass law firms in recruiting new lawyers.
"I think it's the wave of the future," said Michael Holston, H-P's general counsel.
With the downturn in the economy, some law firms were sharply downsizing their student hiring, and this created an opportunity for H-P to go directly to the law schools instead, he said.
Billing for work by junior lawyers at law firms has long been a major profit center for law firms. The average hourly rate for a non-partner associate lawyer at a law firm rose to $378 in the second quarter, from $338 three years earlier, according to data from Peer Monitor, a unit of Thomson Reuters. The current average hourly rate for first-year associates at law firms is $283, it says.
In the past, a lawyer coming to work at Pfizer was usually one who had been practicing law for at least seven years at a law firm. But the pharmaceutical company, which employs an estimated 300 attorneys in its in-house legal department, recently recruited three third-year law students from Harvard Law School and Yale Law School, as part of a pilot program that it plans to repeat this fall.
"We need the services of first years and we need to train a generation of lawyers who know how to respond to what clients need," said Amy Schulman, Pfizer Inc. general counsel. She says she also believes the approach will help enhance its relations with outside law firms. Pfizer pays its domestic law firms largely through flat-fee arrangements.
H-P, which previously hired lawyers with five to seven years of experience, began to recruit at law schools in 2009. It will dispatch H-P lawyers from now through this fall to 13 law schools to select about six third-year law students for full-time in-house positions, in Palo Alto, Calif., and Plano, Texas.
The technology company, which has an in-house legal department of 450 to 500 lawyers globally, said it intends to "cross-train" its recent law grads in conjunction with some of its law firms, including Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
The recruits work in entry-level litigation, intellectual property, corporate and commercial law matters exclusively for H-P, Mr. Holston said.
"We like to think that you can do anything at Hewlett Packard that you're going to do at a law firm, except that you're not going to get the same in courtroom trial experience," he said.
There is one downside: Fresh law-school grads who join H-P, for instance, earn $115,000 per year, plus a $15,000 signing bonus. That salary is about $45,000 less than the salary paid to first-year associates at major New York law firms.
Such company programs are considered radical by many other general counsels. The function of a company's legal division is to serve the business, not train future lawyers, they say.
Partners at law firms believe the corporate recruiting programs can be useful, but only to a limited extent.
In a business downturn, a company's foray into legal training is also vulnerable.
Citigroup Inc. in 2009 suspended what it had dubbed the "CitiSelect" initiative "due to the economic environment," according to a spokeswoman, though there are still some participants recruited in previous years.
The program, started in 2006 and aimed at hiring second-year law students, operated much like a typical big-law firm summer associates program, except the students spent half the summer at Citigroup and half their time at law firms. After completing their third year and passing the bar, the participants worked briefly at the firms then would join Citigroup as full-time junior lawyers.
The law firms didn't bill Citigroup for the work the CitiSelect associates would do. They worked on matters not only for Citigroup, but for the firms' other clients as well.
The CitiSelect junior lawyers received pay in line with the $160,000 annually paid to new junior lawyers at major law firms, plus upfront bonuses of roughly $35,000.
Some law school students, facing a challenging labor market, said jobs at top law firms are no longer the obvious choice.
"I expected to go to a law firm. That's the traditional path," said Dargie Anderson Bowersock, a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law, who spent the summers of 2008 and 2009 working at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Skadden told her and other summer associates in 2009, that due to the recession, it had to defer their start dates. In October 2009, she decided to interview with H-P. She joined its corporate group in October 2010.
Bethany Foster, a recent Yale Law School graduate who will begin working in September for Pfizer, said she had "very little luck" as a third-year student last year when she interviewed with several law firms. But then Pfizer interviewed her and hired her. Now, it will pay her salary for two years.
A spokesman said her compensation would be "competitive" with that of associates at major law firms.
After working at Pfizer in New York for six months, she will move over to a law firm, in her case, Ropes & Gray LLP, for six months to work on Pfizer matters. She will also split the next year between Pfizer and Ropes & Gray. If she performs well, she will be able to choose whether to stay in-house or join Ropes & Gray—contingent on the hiring needs of each.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Hacking isn’t just for thievery anymore. At Corporate Counsel, attorney Douglas Wood writes:
But there is something more sinister lurking in the hacking ecosphere that corporate counsel need to understand and address. Hacking is no longer just for purposes of data thievery or identity theft. It's now a popular form of online recreation. One of the most alarming trends is hacking for the simple purpose of shutting down corporate sites not for pecuniary gain, but because of ideological or otherwise selfish views, particularly when social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can marshal the support of millions of like-minded hackers in nanoseconds. It all makes it virtually impossible to detect an attack until it is well underway, if not successfully completed.
In his article, Wood discusses how to create a crisis team to deal with these attacks.
From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:
Recently, a professor in a business discipline (I'm making some changes to protect the guilty) had his students work in teams to develop questions for a survey to be given to other students on the campus. One of the teams—yup, more than one university student was responsible for the following, found it A-OK, just peachy—focused its combined learning and came up with this question: "On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree), do you feel that dyeing your hair purple helps your self of steam?"
The business professor pointed out their error, and the team of students corrected it before the survey was administered. But I wonder whether he and they were right to do so. I wonder whether these university students had acted knowingly, aware that their version of the term would be the one recognized and understood by their peers, that while their would-be survey respondents would be hypersensitive to the import of "self," they would very likely not recognize, let alone understand, the word "esteem." I wonder if, by changing the wording to what should be understood by a university student from what is understood by a university student—as proven by the fact that a team of such students, working together, came up with the original phrasing—they might not have rendered responses to that survey question invalid. Besides the happy thought that these students produced that error knowingly, another less positive but perhaps at least hopeful possibility is that it was a Freudian slip, that they are subliminally aware that their own consciously felt and expressed academic self-confidence and self-esteem has little or no basis in fact, and "self of steam" was an unconscious acknowledgment of that and maybe even one of those famous "cries for help" we hear about from psychologists and defense attorneys.
But, no. Neither of those explanations will wash, I fear. I think "self of steam" is an accidentally perfect mistake. Technically, it's a mondegreen, a misheard or misapprehended oral expression. The term was coined in 1954 in Harper's magazine by the writer Sylvia Wright, who for years thought the folk-song lyric "laid him on the green" was actually "Lady Mondegreen." This is a phenomenon frequently encountered with song lyrics—supply your own Bob Dylan joke here—as I can confirm from personal experience: There is a rock song whose lyrics praise "my woman from Tokyo," and for years I thought that was "my woman can talk to you," which I still maintain, for reasons I won't go into here, is the better lyric. But I digress.
The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment study for 2009 revealed that, in a group of 34 developed countries, American students ranked 17th in science knowledge and ability and 25th in math, although—and let's have a big cheer here—14th in reading. But they waved the big foam-hand finger at No. 1 in self-confidence. For professors, of course, this is old news. I doubt there's a single one of us who has not encountered, and continues to encounter with depressing frequency and volume, students who perform below college standards yet confront us with anger or tears or both and the claim that they "always" get A's, that we are being unreasonable at best, and at worst that the low grades they are earning are vindictive because we don't like them. That we can and do provide them with evidence that they have earned these low grades too often means nothing to them because they know they're better than the evidence shows.
How do they "know" this? They know this because teachers, parents, and pretty much every other element of society—that "village" Hillary Clinton touted—has told them so. When D or C or even B students claim to have always been given A's, often they aren't lying. The family psychologist and parenting-advice columnist John Rosemond recently responded to a behavioral question from a young child's mother by saying, "Children don't know what they truly need. They only know what they want, and they believe that what they want they deserve to have, and no one has a right to deny them. That belief defines a child, in fact; therefore, lots of the children in question are much older than 21. It takes some people a long time to grow up."
Continue reading here.
There's been a lot of press in the past year about the need to add business training to the plethora of skills new law grads need in today's job market. My co-blogger Professor Hackerson has suggested that law schools provide basic training on the use of spreadsheets and presentation software like PowerPoint (a great skill to know for persuading juries and wooing potential new clients). She's not alone in calling on law schools to do more in this regard. At least one firm isn't waiting around and has decided instead to send its associates to B-school for some formal post-law school training.
As a law student or recent grad, you may be wondering whether you've got what it takes to lead your practice toward a successful niche or to become a client rainmaker. If not, is there anything you can do to develop those skills? To that end, check out this short questionnaire from the Lawyerist to help you assess your entrepreneurial spirit (and by inference, what you can do to improve it):
Here’s a short quiz, based on information from The Entrepreneurs Guild (yes, thankfully, there is such an animal), that will allow you to assess your own entrepreneurial tendencies.
The Entrepreneurial Attorney Quiz: Agree or Disagree?
While there are obviously shades of grey, for the purpose of this quiz just see if you mostly ”agree” or “disagree” with the following statements:
- I’m great at and enjoy networking.
- I’m optimistic about positive, successful results.
- I need to do it my way.
- Results derive primarily from my own behavior and actions.
- I thrive on innovation.
- The most important thing is achieving the goal.
- I have a plan, and work my plan.
- I’m comfortable with change, ambiguity and uncertainty.
- I’m self-motivated.
- I’m a risk-taker.
In early 2010, the Guild reviewed and categorized the first 10 pages of Google search results for “Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs.” The first 38 articles yielded an unwieldy 318 unique characteristics. Helpfully, the Guild distilled those to the 18 most frequently cited. If you found that you mostly disagreed with the quiz questions above, you should look at this list of the top ranked and rated traits and skills of successful entrepreneurs, and then explore ways to become more comfortable with the behaviors of an entrepreneur. It makes a difference.
You can read more here.
It's "Let's Go Jets" not "Lets Go Jets."
Maybe these misprints will become collector's items via eBay. In the meantime, here's the story about how it happened courtesy of the Business Insider:
Old Navy just launched a new line of sports apparel, targeting fans of the NFL and major college sports teams.
Unfortunately, some of their t-shirt writers may have to go back to school.
It seems that some of the college clothing may be missing an important apostrophe on the phrase "Let's Go!!"
We don't know if any Old Navy stores have actually sold these mistaken shirts yet or if its ... err ... it's only a problem on the website.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Is teaching part-time evening students different than teaching day students? Check out Teaching After Dark: Part-Time Evening Students and the First-Year Legal Research and Writing Classroom by Bonny L. Tavares and Rebecca Lee Scalio.
On August 23, my friend and colleague Arnie Cohen passed on. Arnie was ahead of his time. In the 1970s, he saw the value of simulation courses and created a course in Mergers and Acquisitions in which students assumed various roles in a complex transactional deal and played those roles out for the length of the course. For the last few years, he also taught an e-commerce course. Although he wrote some standard-style books in his field, bankruptcy and secured transactions, he was one of the first to experiment with electronic books.
In his private life, Arnie was definitely a proud family man. In his professional life, he always put his students first.
3 Geeks and a Law Blog posted a press release confirming that Bloomberg is buying BNA.
“Bloomberg and BNA today announced that they have entered into an agreement for Bloomberg to acquire all of the outstanding shares of BNA for $39.50 per share in a cash tender offer followed by a merger for a total purchase price of approximately $990 million. The transaction is expected to close in 2011.
BNA, which is wholly owned by current and former employees, provides important legal, tax and regulatory research and analysis and would become a stand-alone subsidiary of Bloomberg."
Full press release posted here.
Online Guides to the Bluebook
Cornell Legal Information Institute – Introduction to Basic Citation
Suffolk University Law School Bluebook Guide – tips and FAQs
Georgetown Law Library – Bluebook Guide - Includes a table to quickly reference where to find rules for citing to specific sources.
LexisNexis Interactive Citation Workstation for the Bluebook (available on LexisNexis): These interactive exercises cover the citation of cases, statutes and legislative resources, administrative resources, secondary materials and more.
CiteStation (available on Westlaw’s TWEN system): This series of interactive citation exercises teach legal citation using practical legal documents.
Visit your reference librarian to learn more about these learning tools.
The Judge Paul Pressler School of Law in Shreveport will be the state's fifth when it opens. But for now, the opening has been pushed back a year. From the National Law Journal:
The Judge Paul Pressler School of Law was slated to open in fall 2012 when the plans were announced last year. Now, administrators say the school won't open until fall 2013. The delay will give the school time to renovate its 158,000 square-foot building, a former federal courthouse that has been vacant for close to 12 years. The building must undergo an asbestos removal. It also will give the school more time to recruit students, founding dean J. Michael Johnson told The Town Talk, a newspaper in Alexandria, La.
"It's still possible to open it in 2012 if we rush it, but we all looked around as said, 'Why would we rush it?' " Johnson said.
Louisiana College is still raising money for the law school. Administrators hope to raise nearly $23 million and said they have collected about one third of that amount thus far.
Louisiana College has about 1,500 students and is based in Pineville, La. It is owned by the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and the law school's curriculum will have a Christian focus. Johnson has held a variety of positions with the Alliance Defense Fund, which seeks to "defend religious liberty."
The law school is named for Paul Pressler III, a former Texas Court of Appeals judge who helped lead the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention during the 1970s. He is a director of Christian radio broadcasting and publishing company Salem Communications Corp.
From National Jurist Magazine:
Brooklyn Law School recently announced the formation of the Trade Secrets Institute, a project to provide high-quality objective coverage of important trade secrets cases, legislation and regulation from around the world.
The Institute is an initiative of the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law, and is funded by a grant form the Mai Foundation. It aims to serve lawyers, policy makers, and business people through a comprehensive website with up to date coverage of documents, briefs, motions and timelines of cases as well as current and pending laws and regulations.
Other components of the Institute include a new Trade Secrets Workshop and fellowship opportunities for two students who will be responsible for updating the database.
In addition to key faculty, the Institute will be overseen by an Advisory Board of attorneys with expertise in intellectual property and trade secrets who can consult and advise faculty and mentor the student fellows.
These are positions teaching legal writing and research. You can apply beginning September 1. From the HLS website:
Harvard Law School First-Year Legal Research and Writing Program Climenko FellowshipsWe have completed selections for the 2011-13 term. We will begin considering applications again on September 1, 2011 for the 2012-14 term. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis. Interested candidates are encouraged to submit their materials as early as possible after September 1.
Harvard Law School invites applications for appointments as Climenko Fellows in its First-Year Legal Research and Writing Program. Climenko Fellows are promising legal scholars with high academic achievements and a strong interest in teaching. The Fellows will teach the Program and devote themselves to scholarship in preparation for entry into the teaching market. The Law School anticipates hiring at least six Climenko Fellows for the 2012-14 term.
Each Fellow will teach one section of 40 first-year students in a Program whose content is coordinated by the Director of the Program. The emphasis of the Program is on writing workshops and one-on-one critique of student work. Each Fellow will be assigned three student assistants to assist in the workshops and work individually with students.
While the workload will vary throughout the year, it is assumed that on a yearly basis, a substantial amount of a Fellow's time will be available for work on scholarship. The Program undertakes to facilitate participation in faculty workshops relating to the Fellow's field of interest and to facilitate mentoring relationships with faculty working in the field. Occasionally, a Climenko Fellow may have an opportunity to teach or co-teach a seminar or small course in the second year of the fellowship, depending on the needs of the academic program and the status of the Fellow's own scholarship. Salary will be approximately $60,000 in each year of the Fellowship, with additional funding for research.
A J.D. degree and a superior academic record are required. For additional information about the first-year writing course click here. To apply, submit a cover letter, your resume and law school transcript, two or three letters of recommendation, and one scholarly writing sample. Either your cover letter or separate research agenda should discuss in detail the research project(s) you intend to undertake as a Climenko Fellow. Submit materials in hard copy only to:
Susannah Barton Tobin, J.D., M.Phil.Contact:
First-Year Legal Research and Writing Program
Harvard Law School
Griswold 1 North
1525 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
As everyone knows who has read a legal blog the last couple of weeks, "LawProf" (Paul Campos) has created a blog that excoriates law schools and the legal teaching profession. While he has made some valid points, his hyperbole and total disrespect for his hard-working colleagues has brought a great deal of justified criticism to his blog.
Because his blog has already received a great deal of commentary, I want to focus on one point–his lack of respect for his colleagues. He attacks law teachers both on their teaching and their scholarship. To begin with, the legal education profession is very much like other professions and law teachers are just like other individuals in society. The problems in legal education are very similar to those in other professions, such as medicine, engineering, and teaching, the costs of education are too high and in the current economy there are too few jobs for everyone. Law professors, too, are like other individuals in society–some are hard-working, some are lazy, some are good teachers, some are bad ones. In other words, I do not think that one can view legal education as being any worse than other professions and law teachers as being any worse than other professionals.
It is hard to criticize law professors for what administrations are doing, regardless of what Law Prof says on his blog. (Orin Kerr has also raised this issue.) Law professors do not generally control budgets, tuition, or scholarships. It is hard for faculty members to work for changes, especially if you are not a tenured faculty member. Also, the reason for administrations is so that law faculty can teach and do scholarship. In defense of deans, however, they have their own problems in light of the poor economy of the last two years.
While LawProf may have dropped out of legal scholarship over the last few years, the majority of professors in the legal academy are producing significant scholarship. I know a few professors at the law schools I have taught at who almost stopped producing scholarship when they attained tenure, but these professors don’t represent the majority of law professors. Mr. Campos you can easily find the lazy scholars through their resumes on line or SSRN pages, please don’t attack the entire profession because of a few rotten apples.
The same is true of teaching. The vast majority of law professors are dedicated teachers. They prepare for class, they meet with students, they even answer e-mails in the middle of the night. Most law professors are very concerned about their students. They want to see their students do well in law school and in the legal profession. One of the most gratifying things about being a law professor is seeing a student succeed–to see a student improve over the semester, to see the student write a well-thought out brief, to see a student do well on an exam, to see a student get a good job. I also think that it hurts most of us when a student fails.
I also believe that you overstate the case concerning law professor salaries. Most law professors could make more as lawyers. Most of us went into law teaching because we love to teach, we love interacting with young people, and we love learning and scholarship.
I also believe that you have ignored part of the legal teaching profession–those who are not tenure track and who teach important courses like legal writing, clinics, and other legal skills courses. These teachers do not generally make nearly the same salaries as tenured law professors, yet they go to work everyday and teach law students with a great deal of dedication and enthusiasm. In fact, these professors usually interact with students much more than other professors.
In sum, while some of your criticisms of legal education are valid, you will never accomplish anything with your hyperbole and attacks on dedicated colleagues. There are a lot of us who are already working to change legal education, but we are doing so with facts and constructive alternatives.
A few weeks ago, I wrote that, although many lawyers today could not find work, there was still a severe lawyer shortage for the poor. There is an article in the New York Times on this subject. The article states:
Half of the people who seek help from legal aid offices are already turned away. Some offices are so understaffed that they must engage in triage, so that in, say, domestic abuse cases, they will only assist someone seeking a restraining order against a violent partner if that person is in immediate danger of being hurt again.
The article also states:
There is plenty the government, the legal profession and others can do to improve this shameful state of affairs. With the economic downturn, only around two-thirds of law school graduates in 2010 got jobs for which a law degree is required, the lowest rate since 1996. That leaves the other third — close to 15,000 lawyers — who, with financial support from government and the legal profession, could be using their legal expertise to help some of those who need representation.
As the article argues, we need to match these out-of-work lawyers with the needs of the poor for legal services. Perhaps some of the merit scholarships that are currently being given out by law schools could be redirected to those who promise to go into public law positions.
Reseach Tips III
Secondary sources are commentary on the law. They are useful for background reading and finding cases, and you can cite them to courts as persuasive authority in many instances.
Encyclopedias: C.J.S. and Am.Jur.2d.
Uses: Very useful for background reading. Contain "black letter" law. Usually do not contain criticism of the law and suggestions for changes in the law. Can be used as case finders (in the footnotes), but they don’t cite to all relevant cases. Can be used as persuasive authority, particularly to show what the general law is.
How to find articles: Index–There are several volumes of indexes shelved after the main volumes. Use as you would any index. There is also a detailed table of contents at the beginning of each article that helps you find specific subtopics.
Updating: By pocket part or new volume.
Treatises: In-depth treatment of a legal subject.
Uses: For background reading. Usually more detailed than encyclopedias. Usually contain criticism of the law and often suggestions for changing the law. Can be used as case finders (in the footnotes), but don’t cite to all relevant cases. Can be used as persuasive authority.
How to find and use: On-line card catalogue. Subject matter searches or keyword sources. Can also ask a librarian for the best treatise on a subject. Most treatises will contain an index and a detailed table of contents.
Updating: Pocket part or new volume. Not all treatises are updated. Check the copyright date.
Legal Periodicals: Mainly lead articles in law reviews.
Uses: For more detailed background reading. Usually very detailed. Contain criticism of the law and suggestions for changes in the law. Can be used as case finders; often very useful for finding cases on detailed subjects. Can be cited to the court as persuasive authority.
How to find periodical articles: 1) book periodical indexes; 2) on-line periodical indexes; 3) Lexis or Westlaw. (See attached for details in finding periodical articles in our library). You can shepardize a periodical article. If you put the cite into Shepards, it will list all articles that have cited that article.
Updating: Periodical Articles are not updated.
Related to the post below is this from Lateral Link via ATL:
How can you market your credentials and distinguish yourself amidst a sea of talented lawyers? Begin by assessing your strengths. The story does not end with grades or membership on a journal or the Law Review. For almost all employers, numbers, grades, journals and the like are only a point of reference. Hiring partners look for something else – - young lawyers who can do the job effectively. The following inter-related qualities are as or more important than any of the more traditional indicia of excellence:
While far too much has been written on the subject of assertiveness, there is no question that it is critical to being a successful lawyer. Do not confuse assertiveness with aggressiveness or obnoxiousness. Private and public employers need lawyers who instill confidence in clients and judges and respect in adversaries. Put yourself in the shoes of the older lawyer with an important client or important case. You want a lawyer who commands the confidence and respect of everyone with whom she deals. All the brainpower, writing ability, and high grades in the world are perfectly irrelevant if the young lawyer cannot deal effectively with the client, lawyer, or judge across the table. The assertiveness, enthusiasm, and directness which you project are critical to an employer’s evaluation of your potential. This is measured quickly and carefully during the first few minutes of an initial interview. The lawyer who is lively, interested, quick-witted, and confident is leagues ahead of a student with a higher GPA who is withdrawn, ill-at-ease, arrogant, or diffident.
2. Writing ability and speaking ability
These are the most important tools of the trade. A lawyer who cannot write well and speak effectively will fail —in the courtroom, with clients, and with adversaries. These skills are tough to evaluate in an interview and some employers will simply make assumptions based on journal/law review membership or participation in the moot court competition. Speaking ability cannot be formally tested during an interview, but a hiring partner will draw a conclusion about your likely effectiveness in this area based on how you handle yourself during the interview. How you stand, speak, sit, and react during the interview will be quite significant. A student who is comfortable, articulate, and both inquisitive and responsive will carry the day. Membership on a journal is one indication of a desire to write well — but standing on its own, it proves little. A fair number of employers will carefully evaluate writing samples. An excellent example of substantive legal writing can tip the scales in your favor. All references to clients should be masked or deleted to protect the privilege of your prior employer and, most importantly, you should ask your prior employer for authority to use it as a sample, even in the redacted form. If you have published an article in a journal, or written a complex brief for the moot court competition, you should not be bashful about bringing along copies to interviews and offering them to employers.
3. A capacity and enthusiasm for excellence and hard work
Does someone simply go to school and do little else or do they immerse themselves into the academic environment with meaningful activities? Simply joining several organizations is not impressive. What has an impact on employers is what you actually do — the major, responsible, challenging, and time-consuming projects you handled successfully.
4. The capacity to work well with others
This highly subjective and intangible quality is terribly important to all employers. A lawyer who cannot work well with partners, associates, staff, judges, adversaries, and clients is a professional and economic risk to her or his firm. And, an initial judgment about this quality will be made during the on-campus interview.
5. How Important are Grades?
They are important, but they do not control your opportunity. If your academic record, like 90 percent of your classmates, has a blemish or two, do not despair. Hiring partners are looking for the best lawyers and those who will work well within their firm. That you had a low grade in one course (or two for that matter) will not be fatal to your career. The question is — how did you deal with this adversity. If the low grades were in one semester, did you improve in the second? Have you become active in extra-curricular activities, which demonstrate intellectual excellence?
Once you have an honest, complete inventory of your strengths and weaknesses you are ready to market your product. Johnson & Johnson survived the Tylenol murders because they faced problems and overcame them. Audi watched its market share collapse because it could not deal correctly with allegations about faulty acceleration. Perrier sales in the U.S. fell when it did a poor job of meeting rumors about contamination. Law students who deal with weaknesses in a constructive, pro active way will take a decisive first step toward convincing employers to look at their compensating strengths.
It's all about networking. Nothing earth-shattering about that bit of advice but perhaps this article from the Harvard Business Review will help reinforce just how critical word-of-mouth is to landing a job in an economy like this:
There is a gulf between our idealized picture of how jobs are filled, and a hard but often unstated reality: in any market, no matter how transparent on the surface, a large proportion of jobs are either not advertised or already have someone's name on them before the first interview.
There is a lack of research data on exactly how people find jobs, but a rule of thumb across international studies appears to be that on average about one-third of jobs are filled through word of mouth connections. The subjective evidence from developed markets is that, in many sectors, the proportion is much higher. It is widely believed in the UK, for example, that most new jobs are filled by small and medium enterprises who are more likely to fill jobs by word of mouth.
The unadvertised market has long been described as "hidden," and there are consultancies, websites and even apps which rather promise access — an absurd idea, because hidden jobs are not simply cataloged differently. In most cases they are not listed at all. Hidden jobs are filled, and found, using a very different mindset.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Dallas trial lawyer Quentin Brogdon offers seven myths about cross-examining witnesses. They first appeared as part of an article in the Texas Lawyer:
Myth No. 1: Only experienced lawyers can be effective cross-examiners. Experience is important, but preparation and a carefully formulated game plan can offset inexperience to a great degree.
Myth No. 2: The effective cross-examiner need not be caring or sensitive. Jurors usually identify more with the witness than the lawyer, and jurors more often than not expect the lawyer to be courteous and respectful. A lawyer who sheds basic humanity in the courtroom appropriately risks being viewed as manipulative and insincere.
Myth No. 3: Lawyers must conduct cross-examination in an extremely aggressive manner. Again, jurors more often than not expect the lawyer to be courteous and respectful. In addition, an overly aggressive cross-examination may cause the witness to turn the cross-examination into a contest in which the witness denies the cross-examiner even the most basic concessions. Some of the best cross-examinations are done with a carrot instead of with a stick.
Myth No. 4: The witness always must be destroyed during cross-examination. This approach leaves little room to obtain helpful concessions from the witness, and little room for the jurors to decide that the witness is mistaken or confused, as opposed to dishonest.
Myth No. 5: Cross-examinations should always yield dramatic results. Sometimes, the best approach, depending upon the witness, is no cross-examination or only a limited cross-examination.
Myth No. 6: Cross-examinations are an opportunity to debate with the witness. Often, going down this path only allows the cross-examiner to lose control of the witness and gives the witness an opportunity to expand further upon the harmful testimony.
Myth No. 7: Cross-examinations that appear on television and in the movies are realistic and appropriate models for the cross-examiner. Cross-examinations on film tend to be unrealistically argumentative, sarcastic exercises. Their only real importance to a cross-examiner may be that they help the examiner understand the jurors' expectations of cross-examination.
The full article is here