Friday, July 11, 2008

Taking a stab at networking

The worst part of job hunting for me is that I do not have a network here. We have been moving so much that I have lost touch with many folks. But now that we know that we want to settle here, I am making the effort to "network" which is just a fancy way of saying "meeting people."

1. Join the ABA and your local chapter. You are then can use the websites with abandon. You will be able to find out information about different fields of law. Plus the Bar Associations have sections for these different fields of law. Pay attention to who is on the board.

2. Do something that you are interested in. Yes, it takes time, but do it any way. For instance, I joined 2 organizations. You will not make contacts immediately but it shows that you are interested in the area, are an interesting multi-dimensional person.

3. Talk to attorneys. As many as you possibly can. Make appointments. DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB. The point is to find out more about the law. And the role you will eventually play. And the work itself.

4. Talk to other students. And don't just bitch about school. Get to know your colleagues. I found out that I am always talking about law school and I was actually boring myself to death. Just imagine what I was doing to everyone around me. Now that I realize that, I am making an effort to ask everyone what they are doing outside of law school, what their lives were like prior to law school, etc. And I have found out some interesting things.

5. Finally, if your friends talk about their friends that are in the law, ask to be introduced or ask if you can contact the friend.

Well, that's all for now. Oh, one more thing. Go to your career service office and ask for names of alumni that would be open to being contacted. They might just be useful.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Before the next post on Career

I got a comment on the last post. So why is it that Career Service offices seems to only work for the top 10 to 25%? Is it really their fault or is it that this business is truly only geared to the top 10 to 25%? The question that employers and career service people should be asking is whether grades are a predictor of success.

So are grades a predictor of success in the legal field? I am curious to find this out. Does anyone know of studies that have examined this in any quantifiable way?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Online tools for researching law firms

Many of you may already know about these. But I am still putting these things together as a guide for myself as well.

1. The firm's own website. What it will tell you and what you should know: the total number of attorneys. From that list, unless the firm is huge, find out who does what you want to do. Who were there clients? What cases have they recently been a part of? Then find out about the clients and what the firm has helped them with. This goes back to the spreadsheet...put most of this info in the spreadsheet. Also, check out the firm's mission or vision. Sometimes that can tell you a lot about what that firm is like. For instance, if it says something like we pride ourselves in our customers knowing that they can always depend on us, you know damn well you are going to be working every time a client says jump (nights, weekends, the wee hours of the morning). Also look at the newsletters if they have any. This gives a sense of how long it takes to get to partner. It also can tell you how many laterals they take.

2. Martindale Hubbell ( lists firm information. However, this is a service firms pay for, so many small and mid-sized firms may not have any information on the site. It's okay, but don't expect more than educational background and their rating system.

3. Google, directed search. I have found that by using Google I can often find cases that the attorneys have worked on, briefs they have written and other things of interest. It's kind of scary how much I can find on a person, really. The firms often get written up in the local newspapers, which also helps in putting together a firm profile. For instance, I found one of the firms I was interested in had a huge partner exodus about 5 years ago. Using all other resources, I would not know that. I know I can't ask about that in an interview, but I plan to ask around it when meeting with other attorneys. Lexis and Westlaw can also give you a lot of information about the firms, either cases or news articles. Some attorneys also continue to write articles for law reviews.

4. Legal news magazines, like the ABA Journal, are great sources. Do not overlook the local chapters. They will have more information on local law firms.

5. If your career services office sucks (i.e. is basically for those fortunate few) you have to start as soon as possible developing your own "career services" portfolio. Become familiar with all of the online tools you can use. Then use them!

NEXT TIME: Connecting, networking, getting your face out there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Researching firms

There are a number of ways to research a law firm. I have started by making a large spreadsheet. The headings are something like the following

Name of firm Number of offices What Cities Number of Attorneys by Office Hiring partner Recruitment attorney Attorneys from Alma Mater (law school) AM (undergrad) AM (grad school)

After every attorney column, there are headings with Contact/email or phone Date of contact sent Scheduled a meet (y/n) Follow up

This and more information can be obtained directly from most law firms websites. If the law firm does not have a website there are directories of attorneys. I have not gotten that far yet.

I plan to be obsessive-compulsive about this. I will have a job for next year and next summer. Grrr.

NEXT POST: Using online tools to their maximum advantage.