From the monthly archives:

September 2013

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The more you tweet in your defense

by A. Harrison Barnes on September 26, 2013

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Tips for the Legal Informational Interview

by writer on September 26, 2013

The legal world has experienced its ups and downs since the recession hit and those currently in law school continue to debate whether or not their decision to attend was worth it. Recent law grads and those who are scheduled to graduate within the coming months, should consider scheduling and attending informational interviews to help in their search for a job.

An informational interview has a much different feel compared to a job interview because for the most part, you should be asking most of the questions. If you are considering going on informational interviews with attorneys, make sure you are well prepared before sitting down and taking up anyone’s time.

The first thing you need to do is find people working in the legal practice area you are interested in by talking with faculty members, friends, classmates and maybe even family members. After you put together your list you can begin contacting via phone, email or mail those who you wish to meet. In your correspondence make sure that you let the contact know that you are not asking about a job or asking for a job. Instead, you want to learn more about the practice and what that specific attorney does on a daily basis.

Once you have been able to schedule a meeting, make sure that you are prepared even though this is not a job interview. Do some research on the attorney and the firm where he or she works. Find out their background by reading their bio on the firm’s website so that you can impress with all that you know. Letting your personality shine through during an information interview could help you in the future if the attorney knows of a job opening in the area or at his or her firm.

During the interview, make sure you discuss some of the following items with the attorney:

  • How the attorney made his or her decision to enter into their specific practice.
  • How long the attorney has been working in their area of law.
  • What the attorney likes most about the practice and what the biggest dislikes are.
  • What the attorney does daily in terms of job responsibilities.
  • The qualifications needed by law grads who wish to enter the specific legal practice.

If you feel that you have created a good report with the attorney, you might want to even ask if he or she could look over your resume and give it a critique so you can improve upon what you already have. Ask the attorney for any referrals he or she can offer for you to speak with further about scheduling any more informational interviews about the practice or other practices.

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Depending on their size, they are also companion dogs

by A. Harrison Barnes on September 25, 2013

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by A. Harrison Barnes on September 24, 2013

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Simple, Yet Effective, Tips for a Law Grad Job Search

by writer on September 23, 2013

We have all read the stories in the news about how disappointing the market for legal jobs is right now for recent law school graduates. Well, no matter the market, you can make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd by employing the following tips for your legal job search. These tips are very simple to put into action but they are effective enough to help you land a job in the legal industry.

Create Resumes and Cover Letters for Each Job Application

This is a tip that can be used when searching for jobs in any industry but is vital in the legal industry. Thousands of legal job applicants send out mass resumes and cover letters to prospective employers simply by changing the address on the paperwork and who the cover letter is written for from job-to-job. An excellent way to get noticed is to tailor each resume and cover letter specifically for each job you submit them so you come across with a personal touch. This method could be much more effective than mass-mailing 50 sets of resume/cover letters each week because the ones you send out are centered more on the job(s) in which you applied.

Keep Record of All Applications Submitted

When applying for a legal job, it is in your best interest to keep a record of all the applications you have submitted from day one following graduation. This will help you prevent sending duplicate applications in, which takes up your precious time, and helps you remember which employers you have heard from via phone, email or letter. Keep a spreadsheet of the applications you have submitted and update the spreadsheet whenever you contact the company/firm or when they contact you.

Network, Network, Network

This category must be important since we repeated it three times in the headline. Many young attorneys do not enjoy networking but this is one of the most important aspects of a legal job search that you can use today. Join local bar associations and specialty associations in your area aside from the state bar association to meet lawyers and potential employers.

Another aspect of networking is the informational interview. You should schedule as many informational interviews as possible in your locale or within your practice area. These interviews will provide you with not only the opportunity to meet lawyers in the field but also information about the specific job you would like to work in at some point. Then, when the time comes, you will know exactly what is needed when applying for the position.

Set Goals

A job search does not always yield results immediately, which is why it is important to set various goals along the way. These goals should include a set number of resume/cover letter combos you would like to submit each week, a set number of informational interviews to attend each month or what time of day and for how long you will be searching for jobs. For example, send out 10 resume/cover letter combos per week, attend five interviews per month and search for jobs every evening from 5-7 PM.

If you are able to use all of these methods, your legal job search will be much more effective and you will be more organized in your search as well.

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by A. Harrison Barnes on September 22, 2013

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Children and Working in a Law Firm as an Attorney

by A. Harrison Barnes on September 19, 2013

I am currently working in a mid-sized firm and am on track to become partner. Being a fairly new firm, there is no maternity leave and part-time policy in place. I am considering having a child, but still want to be considered for partner, while at the same time pioneering the path for a good maternity policy. Do you think I’ll be able to achieve this, and, if so, how do I go about it?

Dear Victoria,

Thank you for your letter. In response, I sincerely hope that you will be able to achieve your goals of having a child, remaining on the partnership path, and pioneering a strong firm maternity and/or part-time policy. The key to success in this area is to: (1) become informed as to the State and Federal laws in this area and (2) approach a firm representative with whom you feel comfortable, aiming for an open and positive line of communication.

First, you mentioned that your firm is a “new” firm. This is a benefit to you. You and the partnership and/or human resources department can work together to establish a solid and protective maternity policy. Before beginning, become informed. It is important to know your rights in this regard. The Family Medical Leave Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act are two federal laws which protect your rights. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects against sex discrimination, treating pregnancy, pregnancy-related illness, and childbirth on an equal level with other medical matters. At last check, such law held that an employer with at least 15 employees could not fire or refuse to hire/promote a woman because she was pregnant and also could not force a woman to take a mandatory leave.

Benefits (such as seniority) also were required to remain “as is”. Similarly, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) permits an employee to take as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for certain events, including pregnancy. Certain criteria apply, however, in order to fall under this Act, such as, at last check: at least 50 or more people need to be employed by the company. There are other criteria as well–of which you should become informed. Notwithstanding the aforementioned federal protections, state and local laws can often vary dramatically. Before beginning any discussions with your partnership or human resources department, you should educate yourself on how such matters are handled in the Atlanta area.

Once you are legally informed as to your rights, the first line in achieving success with any goal in firm life is an OPEN LINE OF COMMUNICATION with the established partnership–or those charged with making firm policy. Approaching a partner, or human resources person, with whom you feel comfortable discussing your personal life is a solid first step. [Note: Women are not obligated to disclose personal goals regarding having/adopting children and it is against the law for an employer to ask you questions in this regard.] Inquire as to your firm’s intentions on the matter of maternity leave; delve into its opinion regarding the foregoing federal laws and applicable state rules. If you are experiencing some resistance, mention the financial benefits of having a maternity policy in place-such as lower turnover rates and higher morale. A firm without a strong maternity policy cannot hope to attract or recruit female employees and will likely be looked upon as “behind the times” or something less than an “equal opportunity” employer. To this end, remaining on the partnership track is also imperative–a firm without female partners who have children sends a bad message to clients, as well as new recruits.

As for your secondary concern addressing a part-time policy, this is often a more difficult road to pursue. Traditionally, firms are very hesitant to adopt part-time policies due to cost considerations (benefit payments outweighing work production), fear of abuse by employees, and general concern that attorneys will fall behind, knowledge-wise, in their class. Having said this, firms who have adopted such policies are looked upon as progressive and women-friendly, in particular.

Again, do your research. Before approaching the partnership, call the human resource offices of other local firms of similar size. Find out if they have a part-time policy in place. Ask them if they might send you a copy of their part-time guidelines. You would be surprised how helpful other firms can be in this regard. KNOW THE MARKET before approaching the partnership/human resources. Once you have done your local due diligence, let your firm know how their policies, or lack thereof, compare with other like firms. Competition is the motivating factor behind every law firm; everyone wants to be the best. Use this to your advantage in negotiating a solid policy. You may wish to not only suggest guidelines for such a policy, but also that admittance to such policy be determined on a “case-by-case” basis-as a case-by-case scenario often puts a partnership at ease. Hence, employees will feel confident that a policy is in place, and the partnership will feel confident that it has discretion as to who is allowed to join the “part-time” ranks.

In conclusion, do I think you will be able to achieve your goal? Yes! Like any good attorney, do your research and come prepared to the discussion table with facts, suggestions and ideas to make your firm a top player in Atlanta.

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Making the Switch from Corporate to Litigation?

by A. Harrison Barnes on September 17, 2013

Given recent economic conditions, many Legal Authority clients choose to make the switch from corporate to litigation each week. While this is not always the best choice if you believe that you are particularly suited to doing corporate work, it is an option that Legal Authority clients have chosen with increasing frequency. Conversely, a couple of years ago many attorneys were choosing to make the switch from litigation to corporate. To give you a sense of the mechanics involved with making a switch, we have profiled a recent Legal Authority client who successfully made the switch.

Mark*, a 2001 graduate of a top five law school, had little more than a year of experience as a corporate attorney with a major US law firm’s Silicon Valley office (the office closed in 2003). Mark’s circumstance was particularly dire because he (1) was a corporate attorney, and (2) had failed the California Bar Exam–not once, but twice. Mark’s law firm had the same policy as many other major law firms have: If you fail the bar exam more than once, you must leave the firm.

While Mark’s circumstance was unique, the situation in his particular legal market and practice area was not. In addition to having assisted numerous other associates from top Silicon Valley law firms land new jobs, Legal Authority was also already quite familiar with the events that were occurring inside Mark’s own law firm because we had already assisted numerous corporate associates from the same class at the same firm as Mark switch firms within the past several months. Indeed, we had even assisted a partner from the same firm move who informed us that he believed the firm’s office was in danger of closing. While we had assisted these individuals locate corporate or in-house positions, Mark’s situation was something that we believed required a far different approach.

Prior to contacting Legal Authority, Mark conducted his job search for a few hours every day, trying numerous methods for getting a position. Mark scanned online job boards, contacted recruiters, and asked his law school for alumni contacts. By January of 2003 — more than 7 months after being let go — Mark had not received a single interview. After unsuccessfully trying to get a job through a preeminent San Francisco recruiter, the same recruiting firm recommended that Mark contact Legal Authority.

Despite all of the gloom, there were some positives to Mark’s prospects by January of 2003. Fortunately, Mark ultimately did pass the bar on his third attempt. In addition, Mark graduated in the top 50 percent of his law school class. Having seen many of his fellow associates get laid off (several at his own firm were even let go while he was studying for the Bar Exam his third time), Mark was not entirely committed to doing corporate work. In fact, Mark had become so disillusioned with corporate practice, that he was not sure he even wanted to practice law at all. Nevertheless, Mark believed he owed it to himself to push forward. With almost $100,000 in student loans from law school, and a family to support, Mark felt a need to continue working as an attorney.

Mark was initially skeptical about using a service like Legal Authority, according to Legal Authority Employment Advocate Melissa Zelada. Melissa, herself an attorney, had to spend a great deal of time with Mark educating him about Legal Authority and discussing his job search. According to Melissa, “Mark’s search was complicated by the fact that he really stood no chance of getting a corporate position. Not having the bar and competing with scores of other corporate attorneys who had not been fired for failing the bar twice made his prospects very dire. In addition, Mark was conducting his search in one of the worst areas of the United States from an employment perspective. Mark believed that if a firm did not advertise a position or hire a recruiter to track down a candidate for an opening, they were not worth contacting.”

Melissa also knew that Mark’s search was not going to be an easy one: “Here was a super candidate who had both found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and had not passed the bar after two attempts. He was also in the virtual epicenter of the economic downturn. He was a junior corporate associate and had not worked in over six months. I knew that Legal Authority could help Mark despite his situation.”

Melissa and Mark spent over two hours on the phone strategizing options. Mark accepted the idea that it would be in his best interest to move out of corporate law and into a practice area that was currently more in demand and would be more stable, like litigation. As a summer associate at both a major New York and Silicon Valley law firm, Mark had been exposed to enough litigation work that Melissa knew that Legal Authority’s Resume and Cover Letter Division would be able to do an excellent job both highlighting his litigation skills and helping Mark make a plausible case that he really wanted to do litigation work. In addition, Mark spent one year as a litigation paralegal prior to enrolling in law school, and had enjoyed the litigation work there.

“When I was a first and second year student in law school, all anyone was talking about was corporate, corporate, corporate,” Mark told Legal Authority, “Everyone knew that being a corporate associate could be a ticket to a super in-house position and stock options. When I was a corporate associate, I gradually came to realize that being a litigator was probably more suited to my personality. To me, corporate attorneys were just too uptight.”

While it may not sound all that significant, making the change from corporate to litigation was a major career decision for Mark. Melissa also felt there was a lot of strength in providing Mark with a rationale to do litigation work and that his decision was justified in his own mind. According to Melissa, “Mark wanted a job. He could have applied to scores of firms in the Bay Area for a corporate position and gotten another one-most likely at a firm of less than 20 attorneys that would not have cared about the Bar Exam, but it would have nevertheless been difficult with his particular circumstance. When I sensed he did not really enjoy corporate anyway, it was somewhat refreshing because I knew he would have a lot of choice in the litigation realm.”

Melissa and Mark believed that the best strategy was to follow his heart and go for a litigation position. In the San Francisco legal market, like virtually every legal market, far more firms do litigation work than corporate work. Finally, the corporate market at the time was in horrible shape. Mark ultimately decided to approach 300 large and medium-sized law firms with litigation departments to secure his litigation position.

Mark and resume specialist Christopher Dacus worked on several versions of his resume and cover letter with Legal Authority. Dacus, who received his Master’s Degree in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, had counseled hundreds of attorneys in his time as a professional writer. According to Dacus, the largest challenge with Mark’s cover letter was that Mark really needed a job and would basically take any position offered, and he needed to portray strength while not appearing desperate.

According to Chris, “Mark didn’t want to put all his eggs in one basket. Essentially, he was hoping that a corporate position would open up for him if the litigation strategy failed. When I am working with our clients at Legal Authority, I am always cognizant that my goal is to ensure that they get a job.”

Mark’s final cover letter and resume reflected that he had litigation and corporate experience. While the cover letter emphasized Mark’s litigation interest but also mentioned his corporate experience in enough detail that employers would see it.

Mark received his Airborne Express package from Legal Authority on a Saturday. On Sunday he signed his cover letters and mailed them on Monday. What happened next surprised Mark. By Wednesday, Mark had received 5 interviews. While 4 of the 5 interviews were with medium sized firms, the fifth interview was with the San Francisco office of a major New York City-based law firm. By Friday, Mark had received 11 interviews, and by the middle of the following week he had received 16 interviews.

Mark called Melissa the day he received his first interviews. Two weeks later, he called Melissa again to tell her he had accepted a litigation position with a mid-sized San Francisco firm — at a salary identical to his former one. And what happened with the San Francisco office of the major New York law firm? Mark was quite clear: “When I got my call back after my screening interview, I stalled and ultimately never went back. I do not think I am ever going to want to work for a big firm again. Who needs that? I expect to be a partner in five years at my present firm. If there is anything I would recommend to attorneys searching for a job it is this: Don’t use Legal Authority as a last resort. I could have been employed more than 6 months ago if I had used Legal Authority in the first place.”

*Names have been changed to maintain privacy, but this is a 100% true success story.

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by A. Harrison Barnes on September 16, 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson to escape FA action over injury-time ‘insult’ remark

Sir Alex Ferguson will escape any FA action over his best canada goose jacket for women post-match comments after Manchester United’s defeat by Leeds United in the FA Cup at Old Trafford yesterday. Although he was more annoyed with his own side’s performance, he also criticised the best canada goose authentic canada goose jacket sale coat for skiing referee, Chris Foy, for the amount of injury time he added on to the berlin film festival ends canada goose jacket sponsorship amid second half.

Foy added five minutes but Ferguson said it was an “insult” cg, leading to suggestions that the FA might enforce the two-match touchline ban that was suspended until the end of next season following his verbal attack on Alan Wiley in October.

However, the FA does not believe Ferguson’s comments crossed the boundaries of acceptability, meaning he will face no charge, one of the few pieces of good news to emerge from the first FA Cup third-round defeat in his 23 best canada goose jacket review years as United manager.

Mark canada goose coat 1000 bulbs garland Hughes, the former Manchester City manager, will not face FA action over comments he made about the referee Mark Clattenburg after his former team’s match at Bolton Wanderers last month.

Clattenburg sent off Craig Bellamy in the second half after giving him a second yellow card canada goose coat 1000 calorie a day meal plan for an alleged dive and sources at City claim that canada goose coat 1000 calorie diets the referee had turned to one of the club’s physios before the second half began and asked him: “How do you work with Craig Bellamy all week?”

Hughes called the red card “laughable” and said: can someone check if this canada goose outlet website is authentic “I don’t appreciate when referees are going out in the second half and are passing comments on who they like and who they don’t like in my team, which he did to my support staff. He might have been having a laugh and a joke, but if that’s in his head then possibly that might … I’ve got can i put my canada goose jacket in the dryer to be careful here because we’re talking about integrity.”

Hughes responded to a request from the FA to explain his comments and will not face disciplinary action.

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