Saturday, May 19, 2012

Behavioral tips for preventing office burn-out

The ubiquity of electronic media in our professional lives has significantly ratcheted-up everyone's stress level and increasingly makes us feel overwhelmed by our work. It's a recipe for burn-out unless each of us finds a way to better manage the demands on our time by establishing appropriate boundaries. For many, that's not going to be easy. Indeed, there are some circumstances, like preparing for trial, where it may not be possible at all. But to the extent you can cordon-off just a little quiet time each day, away from incessant electronic and social media demands, it's key to maintaining your mental health.

And here are some concrete tips for helping you do just that courtesy of the Harvard Business Journal blog:

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time

Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?

It's not just the number of hours we're working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.

What we've lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It's like an itch we can't resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.

Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you're taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you're driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn't?

The biggest cost — assuming you don't crash — is to your productivity. In part, that's a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you're partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it's because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you're increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.

But most insidiously, it's because if you're always doing something, you're relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.

. . . .

1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you'll be. When you're done, take at least a few minutes to renew.

2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don't, you'll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that's relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.

3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you're off, you're truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you'll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.

A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When you're engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When you're renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone.

Everything in moderation. You can also read about managerial tips for helping to boost productivity by helping employees reduce multitasking behavior if you click here.


May 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Careers in E-Discovery

Technology continues to beget new careers. From the Student Lawyer, here is an article on the new field of e-discovery review. Here is an excerpt:

 Project Availability

An ideal document reviewer is available to take on intense projects. A typical project is one to one-and-a-half months long and requires working full time or more at a project center or at the client’s location between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., and sometimes on weekends as a deadline looms. Attorneys on these types of reviews typically do not have an active law practice. Being on site is especially important for receiving project updates and any changes in the case or the review guidelines.

Document Review Experience

Attorneys with experience with one or more review tools (e.g., Summation, Concordance, Applied Discovery) are increasingly in demand for projects, which can move along faster if reviewers only need a quick refresher in the software. Experienced reviewers can sometimes choose which projects they’d like to join. Attorneys who can temporarily live in other cities can work in markets that pay higher hourly rates than those in their home city. Those who can review and translate documents in foreign languages, such as Japanese or Chinese, are in even greater demand in terms of hourly rate, especially in markets like New York City or Washington, D.C.


May 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Great advice on overcoming the fear of public speaking (and other things too)

Thanks to Attorney@Work for this really good tip on how to overcome one's fear of public speaking. It boils down to reminding oneself that everyone in the audience wants you to do well; they're pulling for you and don't want you to flub it. It's advice that really works and can be applied to a host of scenarios. In my own case, after I've taught a class that didn't go especially well or the times when I've lost confidence in my ability to reach the students, I've found that reminding myself that they really want the class to succeed - they want me to help them learn - has pulled me out of whatever temporary slump I was in at the time. So take it from both Ruth Carter at Attorney@Work and me; this is a tip that works.

The Best Public Speaking Advice

I have had the pleasure of being a public performer for 22 years, as a gymnast, a classically trained singer, a flash mob performer and, more recently, a speaker on legal topics. Despite all of my experience, I still get nervous. Before most performances you will find me pacing backstage asking myself, “Why is this fun for me?”

The Advice That Changed Everything

My nerves used to get to me. Sometimes I would get so nervous that I would shake, and I would be so worried about being nervous that it would hurt my performance. And then I got the advice that changed everything. I was at a student singing recital at Oregon State University when one of my classmates told me, “Remember, everyone wants you to do well.”

That advice changed my life and the way I approached performing. It completely shifted my focus away from how nervous I was to putting on a good show for the audience. It became all about my audience and not about how I felt standing in front of them. That advice made me realize the audience is there for an experience, and it’s my job to provide it.

You can continue reading Ms. Carter's column here.


May 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Minnesota Profs: Review Online Open Source Texts for $500.

The University of Minnesota is try to promote good open source texts, which will cut student costs:

Minnesota launched an online catalog of open-source books last month and will pay its professors $500 each time they post an evaluation of one of those books. (Faculty members elsewhere are welcome to post their own reviews, but they won’t be compensated.) Minnesota professors who have already adopted open-source texts will also receive $500, with all of the money coming from donor funds.

The project is meant to address two faculty critiques of open-source texts: they are hard to locate and they are of indeterminate quality. By building up a peer-reviewed collection of textbooks, available to instructors anywhere, Minnesota officials hope to provide some of the same quality control that historically has come from publishers of traditional textbooks.

Here’s the article from Inside Higher Ed.


May 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BigLaw partner may have lost job over unprofessional emails sent to opposing counsel

After a series of angry, threatening emails from a BigLaw partner to opposing counsel in connection with the scheduling of some depos, it appears that the offending attorney has been forced to resign from his firm.  Among the invectives directed at opposing counsel, the former partner called him a "pussy, " a "pansy," an "ignorant slut and gutless attorney" and then threatened to shove his boot so so far up the attorney's, um, butt "that he'll be talking out it." Once the string of emails surfaced publicly, the firm announced that the offending partner was no longer employer there and his bio has been removed from the firm's website. You can get all the lurid details over at Above the Law by clicking here but for now, here's a taste of the exchange that led to the apparent ouster of this overly aggressive litigation partner:


May 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1)

All federal courts now accept electronic filing

It's now official according to a press released posted at

All Federal Courts Now Accepting Electronic Filing

May 17, 2012

The DC-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has begun accepting electronic filings via the judiciary’s Case Management-Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system, joining every other federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy court in doing so.

CM/ECF provides courts enhanced and updated docket management. It allows courts to maintain case documents in electronic form. And it gives each court the option of permitting case documents – pleadings, motions, petitions – to be filed with the court over the Internet. Implementation of that option began a decade ago, and now is complete.

You can learn more about CM/ECF here.

Hat tip to Legal Research Plus.


May 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Student Debt Owed by Senior Citizens ($36 Billion)

From a posting by Professor Frank Donoghue: 

That is, as far as I know, a one of a kind incident, but a broader and nearly as troubling trend has recently been documented by the Washington Post. An article published on April 1 by Ylan Q. Mui, discloses some remarkable information. We all know the magic number when it comes to student-loan debt: $1-trillion nationwide. But Mui notes that “new research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans 60 and older still owe about $36-billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.”


May 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Lexis Hub – Resources for Law Students

The Lexis Hub is a Facebook site that provides FREE job search, bar exam, and summer associate resources for law students. 

“The Lexis Hub helps you transition from law school to law practice. We are your premier resource for career advice, career guidance, job search insights and practice tips for new attorneys, associates and law students. Register today to customize your page, interact by sharing your comments, and set news alerts!”

It looks like a resource worth exploring.


May 17, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A "best practices" guide for digital communication

Thanks to Legal Research Plus (a blog by the legal research instructors at Stanford) for the tip. A private consulting firm, GovDelivery, that advises governments worldwide, include the U.S., has just released a "best practices" guide for email and other digital communications. You can access the full guide here. The following is from the company's press release:

GovDelivery, the leading provider of government-to-citizen communications solutions, announces availability of its first comprehensive guide to best practices for digital communications, highlighting the critical role of email within an integrated communications strategy. Titled "Public Sector Digital Communication Management Best Practices: The Critical Role of Email," the guide shares proven best practices for the most effective use of email, based on results from more than 500 government organizations, including many of the largest in the world.

The guide provides government organizations with a framework and specific steps for realizing value through digital communications in order to have a significant impact on a public sector organization's ability to achieve its mission. It focuses on the central role of email, because, while all digital channels can play a role in improving communication, email is the foundation of digital outreach. A report published by the Pew internet and American Life Project indicated that 92% of adult online users use email, and numerous studies show that email is the central hub of online communication for many internet users.

Digital communication channels create new ways to address the chronic challenge of improving communication with the public while meeting higher expectations and new complexities. This guide helps agencies improve and simplify communications and is organized around three main principles: effectiveness, efficiency and engagement. It uses real case studies to detail specific strategies and tactics that can be implemented immediately to maximize direct connections with citizens and other stakeholders.

"The public's expectations and access to information from all levels of government has radically changed how government needs to communicate," said Scott Burns, CEO and co-founder of GovDelivery. "A range of media outlets and traditional outreach channels have been replaced by a complex mix of digital channels ranging from email to social media. We're excited to leverage our experience working with more than 500 federal, state, local and international governments over the last decade to help government communicators make the best use of email and all digital communications channels to drive mission-critical results. GovDelivery estimates that agencies following these best practices can increase their digital outreach by 100% to 500% or more within 24 months."


May 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another law school starts a solo practice "incubator" project

A few law schools have started so-called "incubator" projects whereby the school provides new grads with office space, a mentor and perhaps some support staff to help them launch their own solo practices without having to go at it alone (here, here and here). Now Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego has joined the club by creating an incubator project of its own. From The National Law Journal:

Recent graduates of Thomas Jefferson School of Law who want to launch solo practices will soon have some extra support from their alma mater.

The school is the latest to start a solo incubator — a post-graduation program intended to provide affordable office space and mentoring from law faculty and alumni to help graduates gain experience and learn how to run their own practices.

The City University of New York School of Law was the first to create such a program in 2007, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and Pace Law School have followed.

"We don't take part in their law offices, but we'll provide mentorship and support," said Thomas Jefferson professor Luz Herrera, who is spearheading the initiative. "We'll also have a listserve that will put them in contact with more experienced attorneys."

The school will start taking applications for the program in July, and expects to have between six and eight participants initially. They will spend between 12 and 18 months in the incubator. Assisting them will be MBA students at San Diego State University, who will research the solo practitioner market in the city to help identify unmet legal needs and suggest prices for their services, Herrera said.

New solos must realize that their competition comes from do-it-yourself providers such as LegalZoom, and not from other law firms, she said.

Fred Rooney, who developed CUNY's solo incubator, traveled to San Diego to help Herrera and other Thomas Jefferson faculty to help develop to the program. He said he has been fielding requests from many law schools for information and ideas.

"As more solo incubators are conceptualized by law schools, each one is going to be unique," Rooney said. "I think the Thomas Jefferson model is going to emphasize cross-border matters," given that San Diego's close proximity to the Mexican border.

Thomas Jefferson will start a solo practice concentration within its curriculum next fall to prepare students who want to go that route. The school has asked local bar associations and practicing attorneys to submit proposals for what that curriculum should cover, Herrera said. The preliminary plan calls for a series of practicing attorneys to lecture on topics ranging from how to market yourself to how to maintain good relationships with opposing counsel.


May 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wash U. To Offer Overseas L.L.M. Program Completely Online

The law school of Washington University announced Tuesday that it would offer, entirely online, a master’s degree in United States law intended for lawyers practicing overseas, in partnership with 2tor, an education technology company.

Legal education has been slow to move to online classes, and the new master’s program is perhaps the earliest partnership between a top-tier law school and a commercial enterprise.

“We don’t know where the students are going to come from exactly, but we believe there is demand abroad for an online program with the same quality that we deliver in St. Louis, accessible to people who can’t uproot their lives to come to the United States,” said Kent D. Syverud, the dean of the law school, which currently offers students on campus a Master of Law degree, or LL.M., in United States law for foreign lawyers. “It’s not designed to prepare students for the bar exam.”

The ABA does not permit law schools to run J.D. programs entirely online. However, it imposes no such requirement on L.L.M. programs.  Change is in the wind. Here is the article from the N.Y. Times.


May 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Google’s New Knowledge Graph

This post from ABC News provides some information about Google’s newest search tool (launched today) – Knowledge Graph. 

“Google's new Knowledge Graph is a new search tool that will begin rolling out starting today. It's meant to help you find search results faster. When you now search for a popular or well-known person, place or thing, you'll get a box to the right of the results explaining more about your search term.

For instance, search for "Frank Lloyd Wright" today and the first link might be to Wikipedia. But now, to the right of that result you'll see some of that Wikipedia or other sourced information right on the search page, including a short summary of who Wright was, his birth date, etc. You'll also get related searches. If Wright were still living and a Google+ user, you'd also get his Google+ profile link.”

Here is a link to a post from the Google Blog with more information.

Happy researching!


May 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gary Simson on Teaching Seminars

I believe that seminars still have a place in legal education.  However, they need to be carefully structured, and the professor needs to give the seminar students individual attention in writing papers.

Dean Simson has recently posted a paper on teaching seminars, Teaching Seminars--Pedagogy and Potential.

Abstract: This essay by Mercer University’s law dean is one of various contributions by Mercer law faculty to a print symposium, Faculty Essays on Curricular Reform and Instructional Innovation, for which the law dean also wrote an introduction. With its national award-winning Woodruff Curriculum, Mercer has long been a leader in matters of law school curriculum and pedagogy, and the symposium draws on that rich heritage.

The essay describes in detail, and explains the various advantages of, the distinctive seminar format that the author has developed over the years. Based on the author’s experience using this format in a variety of seminars in different subject areas (e.g., the Fourteenth Amendment, freedom of religion, and education law), the essay also discusses the types of subject areas that lend themselves best to the author’s preferred format.

(Scott Fruehwald)

May 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Court suspends attorney for one year for using crude language with clerks

The Legal Profession blog has the story about an Arizona attorney who yelled at a couple of medical records clerks over the phone, telling one of them that she "nothing but a slut who worked for a copy service." That, other profanity-laced tirades and getting into a fight with a client led a judge to suspend the attorney for one year. An excerpt from the opinion:

Lawyers should always strive to treat others with dignity and respect. Rude attacking comments reflect poorly on a self-regulating profession. When making business calls, it is not necessary to give grammar lessons, but that is not a sanctionable offense. It does however demonstrate a pattern of insensitivity and intentional disregard of others and rules which [his] prior discipline had little impact upon. Worse and more aggressively to the point, it is inexcusable to make profane and insulting remarks. When followed by a pattern of neglect with respect to client matters, his conduct runs the gamut of minor to major transgressions and behavior that he has little apparent interest in controlling or addressing...


Individuals have absolute freedom to hold any number of views. Respondent clearly holds other[s] in extreme low regard that he deems inconvenience him. He is entitled to hold that opinion. However, Respondent brandishes his opinion as a battering ram, intentionally offending people. This Panel does not believe these are "slips of the tongue" or inadvertant. Respondent is intentional in his conduct and bull whips people by his words with a zeal. While in private life he may be as rude, offensive and demeaning as he chooses, in his professional life he may not hide behind his First Amendment rights to ignore his sworn responsibilities.


May 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Does Poisoning Your Spouse’s Lover Make You a Terrorist?

A woman who tried to poison her husband's lover with toxic chemicals was properly convicted of violating a federal antiterrorism law designed to broadly implement a global chemical-weapons treaty, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled May 3 (United States v. Bond, 3d Cir., No. 08-2677, 5/3/12). 

The court characterized the decision to use a chemical weapons law to deal with a jilted spouse's attempted revenge on her rival as a “puzzling use of the federal government's power.” However, it stressed that the prosecution was permissible under the plain wording of the statute, which makes it a crime to “receive, stockpile, retain, own, possess, use, or threaten to use” a chemical weapon. 

No comment is necessary. Here’s the story.

May 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 14, 2012

LegalZoom to go public; plans include creating a network of lawyers to dispense legal advice

Let's go for the Bill Henderson trifecta of ominous news (here and here) regarding the structural changes taking place in the legal services industry. He's got another important post over at the Legal Whiteboard concerning LegalZoom's plan for an IPO.  LegalZoom, as just about everyone knows, sells boilerplate legal forms but has been very careful to avoid the appearance of offering legal advice (though that hasn't stopped a few local bar associations from litigating the issue - here and here). In that sense, LegalZoom hasn't yet been a direct threat to lawyers, typically small firms and solos, who make part of their living advising clients on routine legal matters like simple wills and helping them to incorporate. Although according to the IPO materials, last year LegalZoom was responsible for more than 20% of the limited liability companies formed in California. Yikes.

But going forward, LegalZoom does indeed plan to offer legal advice through a network of affiliated lawyers it will create.  No doubt lawyers in the network will have to work for cut-rate prices and those who don't join will be under tremendous pressure to match LegalZoom's prices. None of this will have an impact on clients with complex legal problems that require a more sophisticated approach, representation in criminal matters and other trial work.  But if your current practice depends at least in part on helping clients with any of the routine legal matters where LegalZoom plans to compete, LegalZoom is going to eat your lunch. Like it or not, "the Wal-Mart effect" is coming to the legal services industry.

From Professor Henderson:

What is LegalZoom's long term play?  Based on the S-1 [a document filed in connection with the IPO], it is to use its trusted brand to build a network of "legal subscribers" who obtain legal advice from licensed attorneys.  As LegalZoom says,

We are not a law firm, and we do not provide legal advice. We provide self-help legal documents at our customers' specific direction and teneral information on legal issues generally encountered. Independent, licensed attorneys participate in our attorney network to provide services to our customers through our legal plans.

LegalZoom is seeking $120M for general corporate purposes.  Sheppard Mullin and Latham & Watkins are listed on the S-1 registration statement.  Think LegalZoom is no big deal?  If so, I would encourage you to read my previous post.

Rocket Lawyer, an online legal service provider that Google has heavily invested in, also plans to offer legal advice via the internet through a network of licensed attorneys who undoubtedly will be working for cut-rate prices


May 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Professor Henderson's ominous prediction: Legal service providers will replace many U.S. lawyers; several law schools will shrink and eventually close.

Over at the Legal Whiteboard, Professor Bill Henderson has looked at the data and concludes the number of traditional, domestic lawyer jobs stopped growing way back in 2004 and has been in decline since then.  On the other hand, legal service providers (cheaper alternatives to traditional law firms such as offshore contract attorneys) have been rapidly gaining market share and Professor Henderson predicts this trend will only increase.  The bottom line is ominous:

For lawyers and law professors, our cheese is being moved.  Over the last three years, I have given several dozen structural change talks.  Many lawyers tend to view it with skepticism or a desire to just run out the clock.  The law professors tend to treat it as just another academic workshop.  Regrettably, we have conditioned ourselves to believe that all ideas and data we discuss are just that -- academic.  In contrast, just this week, two general counsel of growing and important technology organizations told me -- largely in passing, not to make a point -- that Indian lawyers living in India are a regular part of their global work teams.

The longer we ignore this, the more foolish we will look.  Legal service vendors, again financed by the nonlawyers, are now in the process of taking over larger portions of the global supply chain; and thanks to technology and process, the work is destined to be lucrative.  Within a decade, a nonlawyer will be heralded in The American Lawyer for inventing a legal process.  And many U.S. law schools will shrink in size and eventually close.  Why? Because what we teach is increasingly disconnected from how law is being bought and managed by clients.  This is what structural change is eventually going to look like.

Prospective law students, current ones and law professors need to read the full post here.


May 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bill Henderson on Brian Tamanaha's New Book

Brian Tananaha's new book, Failing Law Schools, has not been published yet, but it already has garnered considerable discussion on legal blogs.  The latest is a review by Bill Henderson on the Legal White Board.   In the key paragraph, he writes,

"But for Tamanaha, some pesky journalists, angry students, and the ticking time-bomb of law students debt, I am confident that we law professors could coast along on our present track for another several decades.  As an insider, I can honestly testify that we believe--sincerely beheve [sic]--that we care about our students, the quality of their education, their debt loads, and their future job prospects.  But  looking at the same set of facts, history will draw its own conclusions. And Tamanaha, akin to a prosecutor arraying the evidence to prove intent, offers up a very compelling narrative that the dispassionate observer is likely to find convincing."

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S.  From the book description on Amazon:

"On the surface, law schools today are thriving. Enrollments are on the rise, and their resources are often the envy of every other university department. Law professors are among the highest paid and play key roles as public intellectuals, advisers, and government officials. Yet behind the flourishing facade, law schools are failing abjectly. Recent front-page stories have detailed widespread dubious practices, including false reporting of LSAT and GPA scores, misleading placement reports, and the fundamental failure to prepare graduates to enter the profession.

Addressing all these problems and more in a ringing critique is renowned legal scholar Brian Z. Tamanaha. Piece by piece, Tamanaha lays out the how and why of the crisis and the likely consequences if the current trend continues. The out-of-pocket cost of obtaining a law degree at many schools now approaches $200,000. The average law school graduate’s debt is around $100,000—the highest it has ever been—while the legal job market is the worst in decades, with the scarce jobs offering starting salaries well below what is needed to handle such a debt load. At the heart of the problem, Tamanaha argues, are the economic demands and competitive pressures on law schools—driven by competition over U.S. News and World Report ranking. When paired with a lack of regulatory oversight, the work environment of professors, the limited information available to prospective students, and loan-based tuition financing, the result is a system that is fundamentally unsustainable.

Growing concern with the crisis in legal education has led to high-profile coverage in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and many observers expect it soon will be the focus of congressional scrutiny. Bringing to the table his years of experience from within the legal academy, Tamanaha has provided the perfect resource for assessing what’s wrong with law schools and figuring out how to fix them."

May 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can Lawyers Bash Another Lawyer in a Blog?

In New York, the answer is yes, if your statements are truthful.Here is the interesting question:

May a lawyer host or participate in an internet blog established as a forum for lawyersto recount their experiences in dealing with an adversary whose past professional conduct is considered by them to have been unethical, harassing or abusive?

Here is the answer:

Blogging about an adversary's over-the-top conduct is not unethical so long as the criticism is factually accurate, the New York state bar's ethics committee has advised (New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics, Op. 912).

The committee concluded that a lawyer's truthful public criticism of another member of the bar does not amount to conduct harmful to the administration of justice. However, the opinion urges lawyers to be civil in blogging about the antics of other attorneys, and reminds lawyers that truly serious misconduct must be reported to disciplinary authorities.

Good. I’ll sleep more soundly tonight.  Here is coverage from U.S. Law Week online, and here is the ethics committee’s opinion


May 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Got a job interview? Here's an unusual gambit that might increase your chances.

When it comes to finding a job as a lawyer, these are desperate times which call for, if not desperate measures, at least some unconventional ones.  This particular tip comes to us from Vivia Chen, the astute author of The Careerist column at  As Ms. Chen tells us, while the interviewing tip that follows below has produced excellent results for some, individual mileage may vary so proceed with caution. Don't say you weren't warned.

Interview Tips that You Won't Get from Your Career Counseling Office

I'm warning you because I'm about to pass on an interviewing technique that's a bit out there. I'd like to take credit, but this one comes from Maseena Ziegler, a contributor at Forbes.

Recounting a time in her twenties when she'd "packed in dozens of job interviews in the manner of a serial dater" (sounds like early interview week, no?), Ziegler describes how she'd conclude the meeting:

I’d look at the interviewer square on and let the moment hang in the air, to the point where his eyes would dart nervously or he would start to slowly close the notebook in his hands, assuming I had no questions. Then I’d ask, in a measured tone with just the right mix of seriousness and lightness, “If you didn’t offer me this job, what would the reason be?”

I must say I love her ballsiness (sorry, that's really the best word)! Even better, it worked beautifully:

As I’ve only now discovered to both my surprise and chagrin, this question is one of the riskiest and quite possibly one of the most disconcerting to ask an interviewer. Yet every single time I asked it at the end of the interview, I ended up with a job offer.

Now, how could asking that kind of unexpected (maybe rude) question work in favor of the interviewee? First, it seems to change the power dynamics. "My interviewer [would] either squirm and smile nervously, or grin widely in response to being unsettled or intrigued by my forthrightness," says Ziegler.

It might also be an efficient way to address "a red flag or a shortcoming in your skills and experience," says Ziegler. "And if you articulate your response logically and succinctly, you could potentially turn around the interviewer’s perceptions and land yourself a job."

But could this interview strategy work in the corporate world? It certainly seems to breach the rules of corporate etiquette, where you're expected to make some bland summary of your skills, thank the interviewer, shake hands, and disappear. Ziegler says that the finance professionals that she contacted were horrified by her technique.

I'm all for being offbeat, but I'm not impractical. So I would ask that kind of impertinent question only in certain situations—like when you have nothing to lose. If you feel your chances of getting a coveted job are iffy at best (or you just want to have some fun), why not go for it?

Going rogue during interviews can work. For example, I remember a woman in law school who got a job with a stellar, stuffy Wall Street firm even though her grades were as prosaic as mine. What did she do? Well, she plopped herself in the interview chair and said, "I know your firm doesn't usually hire people with my grades, but let me tell you why you should hire me." By the end of her 20-minute slot, she had the hiring partner eating out of her hand.

Continue reading here.


May 13, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)