Will an LL.M. help my legal career

by A. Harrison Barnes on January 22, 2015


Q: Will an LL.M. help my legal career?

A: An LL.M. degree is very helpful, and sometimes required, for international students who already possess a law degree from their country of origin but want to practice law in the United States. For example, in California, law students who received their legal education outside of the United States must establish their eligibility to take the California bar by showing they have successfully completed the equivalent of two years of undergraduate studies and four years of legal studies in the United States. If the student received his/her legal education from a country that does not utilize the common law of England as its basis of jurisprudence, then the student will only receive credit for the undergraduate requirement and not receive any credit for the legal studies requirement. Some international students find that having an LL.M. from the United States is a very helpful way to increase their marketability.

For U.S.-educated attorneys, an LL.M. degree is most valuable for those who are interested in certain practice areas such as tax or trusts and estates. In these cases, an LL.M. in Tax from a prestigious university such as Georgetown or NYU is very helpful and will give you a definite edge over the competition. Otherwise, obtaining an LL.M. from a more prestigious school simply in order to enhance your academic credentials and help you get a job may not be the wisest of choices.

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Why Didn’t I Get the Job?

by A. Harrison Barnes on January 8, 2015

Each and every day, there are hundreds of attorneys asking themselves the same question: Why wasn’t I hired?…I thought I was well-qualified and answered all of their questions. Maybe so. However, there lies a plethora of reasons why one may not be the right candidate. Other candidates, for example, could have more experience and successfully demonstrated to the firm that he/she was the best fit for the position. While that may be so, you should take note of the following red flags that can hinder your job search.

While this cannot be stressed enough, a flawless resume and cover letter are a must in your pursuit of landing that ideal position. All of your contact information should be current. In most cases, this document should rarely exceed one page. Most importantly, there should be as little or no employment gaps within your work history. This will inevitably catch the hiring authority’s eye and prompt you to explain the reasons for this. Moreover, having five different positions in seven years will also do the same. If these were clerkships, etc. this is understood; however, if you have jumped from firm to firm, be prepared to answer why.

The interviewing process is not just an hour or two of your time; you need to research the firm thoroughly, be well-prepared with detailed questions and, in turn, have well-thought out answers. Your answers should be consistent and reflected within your resume .It is also important to demonstrate some of your noteworthy qualities (i.e., strong work ethic, pay close attention to detail) during the interview. Furthermore, always have a list of several references on hand, as this will ultimately be asked from you. For the most part, these should include professional relationships, preferably from your most recent employers.

While you may find it hard to resist saying negative things about your previous employer, don’t! This will only reflect negatively on you. Of course, there were flaws at your last position; this is why you are currently interviewing. By turning these negatives into positives, this will only make you a stronger candidate in the long run. There are several ways to communicate these circumstances during the interviewing process and this will ultimately shed positive light into the depth of your character and desire to succeed. One’s ability to convey difficult situations as a stepping stone and not an obstacle will allow the employer to gain a much deeper perspective into your ambition and willingness to overcome any impediment along the way.

Finding your ideal position is certainly not an easy task. Being well-prepared cannot be over-emphasized enough. Your job search can be overwhelming at times, and you must continue to have confidence in yourself first and foremost. By doing so, this will inevitably make you a stronger candidate. From a flawless resume to a firm handshake, you must cover all the bases to make sure you’ll hit that homerun!

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Taking a Pay Cut: Is it Worth it?

by A. Harrison Barnes on December 17, 2014

Q: I’m thinking of making a move to another firm that will give me a drop in pay, but I feel it will be less stressful. In your experience, is a 20% pay cut worth it if I end up happier?

A: There is no good general answer to this question since the answer will vary for each person depending on his or her specific situation, and several different personal factors. For example, some people place such a high value on prestige and money that they are willing to sacrifice anything in order to achieve great success in these areas. For these people, taking a pay cut simply to work less hours would not be worth it. However, I have spoken to many candidates who have been more than willing to take a pay cut in order to have a better lifestyle and spend more time with family and friends. In fact, I myself did exactly that, and have absolutely no regrets about my decision to do so. As the saying goes, “money can’t buy happiness” and more often than not, people find this to be true.

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8 Things Not to Include on Your Resume

by A. Harrison Barnes on December 4, 2014

When it comes to your job search, your resume is very important.  Here are 8 things you should not include:

  1. Personal Information: Employers should never know from your resume if you are married or single.
  2. Religious affiliations: This information can work against you, no matter how great your credentials are.
  3. Political affiliations: The same logic applies here.
  4. Photographs: Some employers are not legally able to consider a photo in determining whether to grant an interview, so often those employers will not even consider a resume that is submitted with a picture.
  5. Information about high school education: If you have graduated college, employers will assume you have graduated high school.
  6. Negative information: Remember, the purpose of your resume is to market yourself to potential employers.
  7. Low GPA: The same logic applies here – if the information makes your application less attractive, leave it out.
  8. Use of personal pronouns:  A resume should be written in third person. It is marketing material, not a personal letter.

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An Advocate for Attorneys and Law Students to Get Jobs

by A. Harrison Barnes on November 20, 2014

In terms of helping attorneys get jobs, one of the more effective means for doing so is by approaching the specific types of employers you would like to work for (whether or not they are soliciting applications) directly through a focused campaign. Sporadically applying to jobs on job posting boards, classified advertisements, and through recruiters can work — but for many attorneys it can take a great deal of time and does not work for even the best attorneys. I formerly practiced law with a major New York City-based law firm and knew several attorneys with stellar qualifications who sporadically applied to jobs through recruiters, classified ads, and job posting boards for years. You probably know attorneys who have been doing this for a long time as well.

The “apply now and then” means of going about a job search (which is a common strategy for most attorneys) cannot possibly give you the type of market coverage (and corresponding offers) that you are capable of getting—or ensure you get a position in a timely manner. No matter how good a recruiting firm is–not all firms use recruiters, and not all recruiters have all the jobs. No matter how good a job board is–no job board has all the jobs and you will be competing with every attorney with an email account. Statistics also indicate that the vast majority of legal positions in the United States are filled by unsolicited and self-initiated contact attorneys initiate with employers. Incredibly, however, most attorneys never take the step of actually performing an aggressive self-initiated and targeted job search campaign to employers not soliciting applications. Even the National Association of Law Placement is clear that most attorneys get position by approaching employers who do not solicit their resume.

The problem with contacting employers on your own is that it is a tremendous amount of work and something few practicing attorneys have the time to do. In addition, an attorney’s time is valuable. The amount of work required to build a comprehensive list of employers and hiring contacts within each city is profound. Not all firms list themselves in Martindale, we estimate that less than 1% of the law firms in the United States are in the NALP Guide and–even assuming you had a comprehensive list of information–picking up the phone to make hundreds of phone calls to identify who to approach within each hiring organization is a ridiculous amount of work. Not to mention the cost of printing, the possibility for typos in the contact information and loading all that information into a database to print all those cover letters and envelopes.

In my opinion, the most effective way to get a legal position is by using a company called Legal Authority (www.legalauthority.com). Legal Authority probably assists more attorneys get positions than any single organization in the United States and what they do is nearly foolproof.

Legal Authority (working closely with you) will review and revise your resume and cover letter, and then laser print cover letters and envelopes addressed to the hiring contacts in the specific types of legal employers you are interested in. Legal Authority maintains the largest database of legal hiring contacts of any company in the world: There are over 40 attorneys and researchers working at Legal Authority, and the company operates 24 hours a day updating a database of more than 750,000 hiring contacts. There is probably a 99.9% chance that the next legal hiring organization you go to work for is already in Legal Authority’s database. How you get to these legal employers is up to you, but using Legal Authority will ensure you do find these employers. I strongly encourage you to review Legal Authority’s website at www.legalauthority.com.

If you are serious about getting an attorney position, you owe it to yourself to at least speak with Legal Authority and hear what they can do to assist you. Legal Authority offers a free no cost or obligation consultation where they will tell you how many employers match your interests in the area(s) you want to work, and will advise you on changes you can make to your resume to make it more effective.

One of the most important attributes any attorney can have is the ability to advocate. Legal Authority will make you your own advocate by, in effect, allowing you to do the type of work recruiters do on your own while providing you with (1) an effective and revised cover letter and resume and (2) personalized letters to every specific employer you tell them you would be interested in working for in any area of the United States, Europe or Asia.

This strategy is effective and works: Legal Authority assists hundreds of attorneys each month has been used by top partners in major United States law firms, General Counsels of important corporations, associates in small and large firms, and even law students. Legal Authority can assist you too.

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The Art of Networking

by A. Harrison Barnes on November 12, 2014

In almost every facet of one’s life, networking plays an important role in attaining one’s goals; sharpening this skill can be vital in your job search.Networking is what you make of it-there are no boundaries, no limits and no short-cuts.Networking has the ability to create opportunity, especially where one would not think to look.Developing these skills is definitely a recommended approach in landing your ideal position.

With the growing number of legal positions becoming harder to identify via the standard means of job searching, using the tool of networking can allow you to uncover positions that one would not ordinarily find advertised or accessible to the mass public.The ability to sell yourself through your resume is just one step in this process; moreover, the way you approach your job search is equally important as well.

This is where Legal Authority and its services may prove to be the well-needed addition through this long journey.It’s time to cross over to those new boundaries and explore every avenue; by doing so, you will allow yourself the satisfaction of knowing you have done everything in your power to reach the next level.

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It’s All About Who You Know (And Who Knows You)

by A. Harrison Barnes on November 4, 2014

You are in line to enter a club, and the group ahead of you gets a hearty welcome from the maître d’ and is seated at a table in the front by the stage. When your turn arrives, you are greeted indifferently and seated in the back by the bathrooms. Your companion turns to you and says, “They must know someone.” You hear about a former colleague who just has taken a fantastic job with a great title and even better pay. Your former colleague is now light years ahead of you on the career path. You think, “She must know someone.”

In both scenarios, you are right! It is all about who you know (and who knows you).

The idea of networking is as scary as public speaking to most people. But a network is nothing more than a circle of friends.

Family and Friends

We all have a personal network of family and friends. Some of our friends we consider really close, practically family. Some of our friends are merely acquaintances whom we see maybe once a year, and some are colleagues with whom we have lunch. Our family members are similar in that we may be very close to some and less close to others.

Your family and friends are the people you call to:

  • get advice from
  • complain to
  • confirm your thought processes
  • ask for referrals
  • just chat

Your personal network gives you access to the people known to the people you know AND to the people they know AND then to the people they know AND then to–you get the idea. If you need a recommendation for a caterer for your parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, your Aunt Barbara may have a friend who just threw a party for her parents (which was soooo beautiful, according to Aunt Barbara); and she can recommend her caterer. You may now get special treatment because you were referred to that business by Aunt Barbara’s friend.

Your personal network need not be limited to your family and friends. Just think about all the other people you come in contact with in your daily life. Your dentist, your doctor, are all part of your network and can give you referrals.

It works the same way in the world of work. While you may have access to some great work advice and maybe even some business contacts through your personal family/friends network, you still need a business/career network.

Business and Career Colleagues

The building of your career network should start no later than college; for many, it starts in high school or earlier. People are the lifeblood of your network. The more people you know, the more information you have; and the more people and information you have access to over time, the more successful your network.

All of these people can and should be part of your network:

  • people you went to school with
  • people you work with
  • people you meet at conferences or seminars
  • people you meet at social gatherings
  • people who support the same organizations that you do

Are you getting the idea that it can be anyone and everyone you meet? You’re right.

Just as your friendships move along the spectrum from casual to “I wish we were sisters,” your business/career network relationships will also range from non-essential to vital. And, just as with friends, people may drop in and out of your network.

Maintaining Your Network

Just as you have to develop and maintain your family and friends’ network over the life of those relationships, the same is true of your career/business network. Your family and friends expect a certain level of communication on your part in order to maintain the connection. Some of this will be in-person visits. Some will be by phone or the annual holiday newsletter. However you do it, there is an ongoing communication between you and your family and friends. You have to let them get to know you.

You need to do the same for your business/career network. Keep in touch with people from school that you like and respect. Keep them current on your career changes, and keep yourself current on their career changes.

As you meet people throughout your working life, maintain a detailed contacts database with information you gather over time about their careers, families, interests, and anything else that gives you a connection to them.

People maintain their networks in a variety of ways, such as:

  • sending birthday cards/gifts
  • sending articles of interest
  • meeting for lunch, dinner, and/or drinks
  • attending sporting or arts events
  • calling occasionally to chat

For some people in your network, you may do all of these things and more! For others, it may be a once-a-year holiday card and phone call. Remember two things: First, your contact should always be sincere and well thought out in terms of who this person is and your relationship to him/her; and second, the idea is to keep the lines of communications open so when you really need to talk to that person, your call will be taken.

Other Peoples’ Networks

You’ve started your network and have been maintaining it, and one day someone calls you to see if you have any information about a job at your company. It is now time for you to realize that in creating your network, you have become part of the networks of the people in your network. It is important that you provide some “value” to the person calling you because you will expect the same if you call that person. Depending on who the person is and how important he/she is to you within your own network and career goals, you may provide different information. This is okay. If the person is a fairly casual member of your network whom you do not know very well, you may refer him/her to the human resources department and give him/her the name of the person to call and permission to mention your name. If the person is very important to your network, you may ask for his/her resume and personally deliver it to the person making the hiring decisions and give your personal recommendation.

Remember, you will also be ranked within the networks of others and may get different levels of assistance. This is why it is so important to devote time and energy to building and maintaining your networks. What you get out of your network is only as good as what you put into your network.

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Networking and Your Job Search

by J.J. on October 30, 2014

Networking and Your Job Search

Are you an attorney or law student who has just started your job search or is interested in transitioning to a new job? If you are, then don’t forget to include networking as part of your job search.

Some attorneys and law students feel that networking is not beneficial to their job search and career. However, networking is actually one of the most important and effective ways to land a job. It is also a skill that will help you long after you’ve obtained your new job (i.e., it will help you acquire and maintain relationships with clients). Other attorneys and law students feel that they just don’t have time to network. However, you should make time to network. After all, it is a great way to make connections that could possibly open up new opportunities and allow you to learn more about your areas of interest.

Preparing for Networking

Before you begin networking, you should think about what type of people you want to network with. Also, you should think about what type of job you’re interested in. Prepare answers to questions about your career and your interests. Also, make sure that you have business cards, resumes, cover letters, and references prepared. You want to be present yourself in a professional manner, and you want to be ready when the potential opportunity presents itself.

Ways to Network

1. One of the easiest ways to network is through local city, county, and state bar associations. If you are a law student, you can join the student membership section of the Bar association. Typically the different bar associations have meetings, seminars, and other gatherings where you can meet attorneys and other legal professionals in your areas of interest.

2. Another easy way to network is through your law school. Law schools have many social events and legal seminars that bring an array of legal professionals together. Additionally, ask your law school’s career counselor for a list of alumni who work in fields that interest you. While you’re at it check out the alumni from your undergraduate college too.

3. Also, don’t forget to network through those you interact with everyday, such as your friends, colleagues, and classmates. You’d be surprise of how resourceful your close associates can be.

4. Social networking sites are another great source for networking. It is the waive of the future. It allows you to display information about yourself and it allows you to learn about others. Some social sites many people are already members of are Myspace and Facebook. Myspace and Facebook are great for fun and social networking, but sites like Likedin and Lawlink.com are great for professional networking. Remember, when you become a member of these professional networking sites, to make sure all the information you display represents you in a professional manner. You don’t want to give the wrong impression.

Don’t Forget to Give Back

Once you’ve landed your job through networking, you should help others. Networking isn’t a one time event. It is a continual process. So, just like someone gave you a helping hand, you should give someone else a helping hand. Incidentally, by helping others, you will be building new relationships that could be beneficial to you in the future.

Remember, networking is a tool and skill that allows you to establish relationships where both you and your contacts benefit in some way. Just as the saying goes, “It’s not about what you know, but about who you know.” So, make sure you maximize your success by networking.

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Legal Authority Is Not for Everyone

by A. Harrison Barnes on October 9, 2014

Quite frankly, Legal Authority is not for everyone. And not everyone we speak with chooses to use Legal Authority. Legal Authority is the perfect example of the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”

For example, Legal Authority gives you the benefit of access to the largest database of legal employers in the world. Legal Authority actually GUARANTEES that they will reach every potential employer matching your interests. You are assigned your own personal attorney who will revise your resume and cover letter and provide you with as much personal attention as you require. A team of researchers will ensure that the hiring contacts inside each and every legal employer you are contacting are current before we even print a single letter for you.

An attorney will personally print and review each cover letter, resume, and envelope for you to ensure that they are perfectly formatted, that there are no typographical errors, and that you are making the best impression possible. We will then overnight mail these materials right to your front door. Included in these materials will be a list created especially for you containing the address and telephone number of each and every legal employer you are contacting so you can follow up with them.

After your targeted mailing, we will follow up with you to gauge your progress until you have found your perfect job. When you do begin receiving offers, we will be there to assist you in deciding which one to accept. In fact, throughout your relationship with Legal Authority, we will be here seven days a week to answer any questions you may have. We will literally be here for you seven days a week.

Obviously, a service like this is not for everyone and it is not something everyone can afford or can see the benefit in using. If you do not use Legal Authority, you could spend the next several months applying for attorney jobs in classified sections of legal newspapers, surfing Internet job posting boards, and maybe even researching the thousands of employers we investigate every day to make sure we have current and accurate information.

Or you can achieve everything this would accomplish — and much more — by choosing Legal Authority today. We don’t want to be dramatic and say, “If you do not use Legal Authority you will not find the perfect job.” We have found, however, that the people who choose to “think about it” are most often the same people who will still be looking for their perfect position a few months from now. By using Legal Authority, you will ensure that you (1) reach every employer matching your interests as quickly as possible, (2) get the best possible offer at the highest possible salary, and (3) find the best cultural “fit” for you. This is our job and something we can help you do!

Smart attorneys are naturally skeptical—and we sense you are. However, we’re afraid that you have passed up a very good opportunity to potentially make a meaningful difference in your career by not choosing Legal Authority for your job search. We are really hoping to make a significant difference in your future career prospects.

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What Legal Authority Does

by A. Harrison Barnes on September 18, 2014

Legal Authority assists more law students, at more law schools, get jobs than any other source.”

We’re How Attorneys Get Jobs

At Legal Authority, we are proud to say that our targeted mailing service helps more law students, recent law school graduates, and attorneys find employment than any other service in the world. Legal Authority was designed with you, the job seeker, in mind, and we are constantly evolving to meet every challenge that may be presented and present solutions to those hardest questions about your job search.

What Exactly Does Legal Authority Do?

Simply put, we grant you access to the largest legal employer database in the world. When you use Legal Authority, you will be interviewed by one of our attorneys who will take as long as it takes to understand exactly what you are seeking to do with your legal career. Legal Authority will perform searches for you based on your criteria (What practice areas interest you? What type of employer do you want to work for? Do you want a clerkship? How about in-house opportunities? Where do you want to live? What size firm would like to work for?), and develop a list that is targeted to your particular job search. We can even help you go abroad if you want to.

“The most common means of obtaining a job was a letter or other ‘self initiated contact’ with the employer.”

-National Association of Law Placement

Legal Authority’s professional writers will review and revise your resume and create a cover letter for you that is tailored and created from scratch specifically for you. You will work with the writer — as a counselor, guide, and expert — to come up with a letter and resume that are perfect for you.

After we have a final resume and cover letter, Legal Authority will prepare a package of resumes, cover letters and envelopes, addressed to the hiring contact person inside each specific employer (not “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Partner”), with your return address and name on them. We Federal Express the package to you, and all you have to do is sign each letter, stuff each envelope, and put a stamp on each envelope.

Can I Do What Legal Authority Does Myself?

True. You could get subscriptions to over 50 legal directories, make over 500,000 inquiries per year, hire over 40 people to update your database 24 hours a day, hire a crew of attorneys to counsel and advise you of the most appropriate employers to apply to, hire a crew of professional writers to review and revise your resume and cover letter, and spend far in excess of $1,000,000 (just to maintain a database each year). This is what we do at Legal Authority. Because thousands of law students use our service, the cost is profoundly cheaper than it would be if you were to do the work yourself. Theoretically, this is something you could do yourself.

We speak with attorneys on a daily basis who believe they can do all of the work themselves. A lot of law students think they are smarter than us or somehow have everything figured out. Legal Authority is an expert at finding jobs for law students. It’s what we do all day, every day.

Most of the law students who use Legal Authority are spending far in excess of $100,000 to attend law school for three years. Presumably, one of the reasons for going to law school is to get the best job possible. Conversely, most law students who use Legal Authority spend less than $500 for our service. In most instances, the cost of using Legal Authority is around $2.00 per employer we help you contact and our search can be as expansive or as narrow as you choose. When you consider that thousands of law students each year get summer and permanent jobs paying several times more per week than our service costs, not using Legal Authority could be expensive.

“Legal Authority is, quite simply, the most effective way for law students to get the precise legal job they are seeking. Your first attorney job is already in our database.”

It is no secret that following the crowd and trying to find a job through your Career Services Office, networking, or applying sporadically to jobs on posting boards can be “hit or miss”. You can compete with every other student, at every other law school, trying the same tired old methods, going after the same job listings, or you can take action and call Legal Authority. Legal Authority is the only way to find and apply to every single employer that might be interested in you.

At Legal Authority, we have the resources to help more students find jobs than any other single organization we are aware of in the United States.

Our database contains contacts for virtually every law firm, corporation, and public interest organization in the United States (we can even help you go abroad). We will review and revise your resume and help you apply to any employer you choose—anywhere. Our service is also extremely inexpensive. Contact Legal Authority today and let our Attorney Employment Advocates speak with you about your job search and how we can get you your first job.

A Different Kind of Company

Legal Authority is different. We are specialists in getting attorneys and law students jobs. It is the only thing we do. Once you make the decision to work with Legal Authority, we will serve you with the enthusiasm, integrity and insight you are entitled to. We are proud to make that promise to each of the law students who work with Legal Authority.

Law students who have used Legal Authority know that we take our jobs extremely seriously. We are truly passionate about our work. It is not uncommon for many of our Employment Advocates and researchers to work as many as 16 hours a day, all week long. Sound familiar? As an organization founded by high-level attorneys, we know what it takes to succeed. Our firm has earned its reputation for decisive thinking and vigorous action. Legal Authority clients appreciate our honesty and upfront approach to assisting them with their job search. They realize that we live in a winner-takes-all environment where the stakes are always high.

Our goal is to help start careers that will lead to meaningful lives for our clients. We always give the law students who use Legal Authority an honest assessment of their prospects.

“With meaningful experience in virtually every facet of the legal industry, Legal Authority brings an unrivaled level of understanding to the job search requirements of law students.”

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