Alternative Careers – Investigator for Workplace Complaints

Please welcome Joanna Sattler, Law School Toolbox tutor, to discuss her alternative legal career as a workplace investigator.

I’m the child of no fewer than three lawyers (if you count my stepmother, that is). All three practiced law upon graduating from law school and pursued “traditional” legal careers (two at large firms, the third in-house). As such, I had a certain view of what lawyers did and a (fairly) certain path I planned to pursue: work at a large law firm after graduating and then, maybe, try to work in-house. (At the time, I didn’t realize I could go in-house straight from law school; I truly thought there was one path and one path only!)

A planner by nature, I followed my plan. I worked hard in law school. I summered at a large firm and received an offer of post-graduation employment. Although I didn’t take that job (I didn’t love the firm’s satellite office in the city where I planned to live), I took another firm job soon after passing the California bar.

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Perfecting Professionalism at a Summer Internship

Perfecting Professionalism at a Summer InternshipPlease welcome back guest writer Jaclyn Wishnia to discuss how to maintain a professional demeanor at your summer internship.

Law students are expected to maintain a steady level of professionalism regardless of the venue. In class, you are held to a higher standard by both your professors and peers; for extracurriculars, you are urged to communicate as well as uphold your responsibilities in a respectful manner; and of course, at work, your behavior has the potential to make or break your future legal career. Thus, it should go without saying that how you present yourself during a summer legal internship matters.

Despite the title, a summer legal internship is more akin to a job than what you may have experienced at a college internship. Whether you have a full-time or part-time internship this summer, strive to be professional; especially if you are heading into your 3L year. Want to ensure you have the basics of professionalism covered? Continue reading for some tips pertaining to various areas of work where you should be exhibiting professionalism and perfecting it.

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The Challenges for Women in In-House Legal Roles

Challenges of being a woman and an in-house attorneyThis week our guest writer, an in-house attorney, discusses the unique challenges of being a woman attorney in an in-house legal role and how she has dealt with these challenges.

Even as more women graduate from law school than ever before, carving out a successful legal career as a woman can be an extremely challenging undertaking. A recent report showed that women make up just 35 percent of lawyers at law firms. There are few comprehensive studies about the overall percentage of women in in-house roles, but one statistic paints a stark picture: as of 2015, just 22% of Fortune 500 companies had a woman in the top legal position.

An in-house legal career offers some enticing advantages over the traditional law firm track. Compared to their counterparts at law firms, in-house lawyers generally enjoy an improved work-life balance, have more leadership opportunities, aren’t under pressure to bring in new clients, and are free from the billable hour (and all of the paperwork that goes with it). But even with these perks, there are many challenges faced by women in in-house legal departments. If you’re considering taking an in-house legal position, here’s what you can do to confront these challenges head-on. [Read more…]

Collaboration vs. Competition

Collaboration vs. CompetitionPlease welcome guest writer, Whitney Weatherly, to discuss how to balance the competitive legal world with the need for collaboration and working together.

A student recently requested my help with something, and I declined, deferring to a colleague who specializes in the type of help that she needed. It was a positive interaction, though, and I told one of my coworkers about it. She suggested that I could have done the work, but I insisted that I was right to decline. In a way, my coworker was right. With training, I probably could provide the help that the student needed. But would that have been the best way to serve her and my company?

We live in a world where people are too apt to claim expertise for fear of appearing weak or inadequate. As lawyers and law students, our culture seems to reward all-around experts rather than people who are willing to acknowledge their limitations, defer to the superior knowledge of others, and collaborate when appropriate. It’s time to think about the spectrum between competition and collaboration, and how attorneys can move the industry standard in a way that fosters information sharing for the benefit of clients. [Read more…]

How to Go In-House Straight from Law School

MotivationToday’s guest writer discusses how you can make the jump from law school to an in-house position without stopping at a law firm first!

If you’ve been following news coverage of the legal job market lately, you may be aware of a new development in legal hiring. In recent years, more and more companies have been willing to hire early-career attorneys to work in their in-house legal departments who are either new graduates or have just a few years’ experience. Gone are the days when landing an in-house position requires several years of prior law firm practice. So how can law students take advantage of this emerging trend and best prepare themselves to go in-house immediately or shortly after graduation? [Read more…]

5 Ways to Prepare for a Job Fair

5 Ways to Prepare for a Job FairPlease welcome back guest writer John Passmore, an assistant managing legal editor in Houston, Texas, to offer advice on how to get ready for a job fair. These can be great opportunities to find positions from 1L summer employment all the way through post grad positions.

Whether it is an internship fair your first semester of law school or a job fair your last semester, such events present a high stakes speed-dating-like opportunity to meet with potential employers. These events are made tougher because they inevitably fall during a hectic law school week, on a crazy law school day. Finding the time to actually prepare for a job fair that carries no GPA weight may seem like a waste of time, but some upfront effort could pay big dividends in the long run. A little preparation can make you stand out among your peers. Here are a few ideas for putting your best foot forward: [Read more…]

Working at a Smaller Firm

Working at a small law firmToday, we welcome back Shirlene Armstrong, guest writer and now rising second-year law student to share her experience working at a small law firm this summer.

In law school, your down time is dedicated to studying, living, and breathing the law. As such, law student’s summers are dedicated to the same. Thus, the summers between your 1L and 2L years and 2L and 3L years should be dedicated to some type of legal work. Normally, rising 2Ls land an internship with a judge, work in at a Prosecutor’s office, or have some other type of internship in the legal field. Some rising 3Ls land coveted “Summer Associate” positions and work as a young associate at a firm. Other 3Ls continue their positions at their old firms or jobs, take classes, work in a legal clinic, or do legal work in some other form. As a rising 2L, I was fortunate enough to land a paid position with a firm for the summer. [Read more…]

As a Summer Associate, Should You Burn the Midnight Oil or Have Another Drink?

Summer associates burning the midnight oilToday we welcome Christen Morgan, guest writer and foreclosure attorney, to talk about how to juggle work and social events at your summer associate job.

Before beginning your summer associate position, you knew what to expect. Your law school mentors already warned you about the long nights you would spend in the office just trying to understand an assignment. They also warned you about the nights that you may forego sleep, and instead opt to complete the assignment that the partner dropped on your desk right before you left work for that day. So when you began feeling overwhelmed your second week in, you weren’t surprised, but, despite knowing about this pressure beforehand, you panicked and resorted to the only response you knew, “burning the midnight oil.” You began turning down offers to hang out with law school friends. Even worse you began to avoid the many social events offered by your firm, as if they were actually optional (Hint: they may appear to be optional but they really aren’t). Overworking one’s self is undoubtedly a favorite pastime of the average law student and, although this reaction may have proven successful in the past, in all honesty, it may be hurting your chances to receive a full-time offer from your current position.

Overworking yourself and staying long hours at the firm may be inefficient and negatively impacting your productivity. Additionally, working long hours and overexerting yourself may be communicating that you’re horrible with time management. I assure you this is not a good look to the hiring partners – especially when you begin flaking on social events that they’ve put together just to get to know you better. So before deciding to skip out on the next happy hour social, consider the following:

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Bouncing Back from Rejection

rejection confidence

Today, we’re excited to welcome back Gabriella Martin, 2L guest writer, to talk about the inevitable and always unpleasant rejection and how to recover without breaking your stride.

Rejection sucks. Honestly, I don’t think there will ever come a time where you get rejected—from a job, a date, whatever—and your first thought will be, “Huh, I’m so glad that happened.” Yes, you may get there eventually, but when you first hear that, “thanks, but no thanks,” you feel upset and, to some degree, unsteady. Why? [Read more…]

What’s Your Brand?

Interview stand out personal brand

Please welcome back Keri Clapp, professor and tutor for the Law School Toolbox and Bar Exam Toolbox, to discuss establishing, developing, and promoting your personal brand in a competitive legal environment.

Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts? Lexis or WestLaw? Washington Post or Wall Street Journal? You probably have a quick response to each of these questions based on not just on specific experiences, but also on how you identify the brand of each of these products.

Take coffee, for example. Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts both sell coffee, but have distinct and differentiated brand attributes. These successful businesses have spent a lot of time and money deciding on their target customer profile; their marketing efforts—from packaging to product to location—are primarily directed to what that customer base will appreciate. This type of strategy doesn’t get derailed because some people will get coffee at home or at the gas station convenience store; a well-differentiated brand does not try to be all things to all people.

In a competitive legal market, spending some time creating and marketing your personal brand is a strong move. What qualities do you want to project when you meet someone? What attributes do you want to jump out on your resume? In sum, what do you want people to associate with you when they hear your name? [Read more…]