From the monthly archives:

October 2013

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J.D./MBA Programs and Your Legal Career

by A. Harrison Barnes on October 31, 2013

The law school that I am thinking of attending offers a joint J.D./MBA program that I could theoretically finish in the same time it would take me to get my J.D. Should I take this opportunity? How would this increase my chances of getting a law firm job, since this is what I am sure I want to do?

Adding an MBA to your list of academic accomplishments can only benefit you in the long run, no matter what you eventually choose to do with your life or legal career. Since you seem to have decided that joining a law firm is what you want to do in the near future, there are several benefits to having an MBA when entering law firm life.

First, given the type of training that occurs, in our opinion it would be quite wise if an MBA were an actual requirement for getting a law degree. This is due to the fact that the practice of law is so closely related to business and few attorneys appear to realize this. In fact, attorneys traditionally are known in the business community as some of the worst businessmen. Being an attorney has numerous components that involve business such as marketing, the value of your time, hiring and firing, renting office space, managing payroll and numerous cost-benefit type calculations. While traditionally law was portrayed as something that was not a business, you should make no mistake about one central fact: The law is a business.

If you start your career in a law firm position, you may one day become a partner and be responsible for many of the day-to-day business decisions associated with the running of the law firm. Even if you do not choose to remain with a law firm, you may one day open your own practice. The training an MBA provides will help you navigate the waters in terms of running your own law firm. Your own law firm, incidentally, would be a small business.

A second aspect to consider in getting an MBA is how it could teach you to think in a different way. MBAs are known as “bean counters” for a reason. As a general rule, MBAs tend to be very risk averse and good at pointing out the risks inherent in any business situation. In fact, many entrepreneurs that have hired MBAs report that they are continually told by MBAs to simply shut down their businesses! This type of risk averse behavior is exactly what most lawyers do with clients on a daily basis. While we are, in fact, having some fun with the above statements, the generalities they express are on point and some of the better attorneys we have known have been MBAs.

Third, you may consider getting an MBA if you are interested in corporate work. Beyond the practical training and the training in the “MBA thought process”, an MBA will also teach you a great deal about the inner workings of the financial system and about many of the types of companies you are likely to do work for as a corporate attorney.

Fourth, even if you decide not to do corporate work, an MBA is not a liability. Since the majority of law schools with joint programs heavily favor the J.D. degree when constructing the curriculum, the amount of legal education will be on par with that of any other student who is just focusing on the law. Additionally, any extra knowledge that you can bring to the table, even if it is not directly applicable, is going to make you a more attractive candidate.

Fifth, if you eventually decide that practicing law is not for you, having an MBA is probably the only other degree that instantly grants you access to the kind of high-paying professional jobs that lawyers enjoy. Make no mistake about it: numerous attorneys leave the practice of law each year. You may be dead-set on being an attorney right now, but things change and many people who go into the law eventually come to rethink their decision. An MBA is a great thing to be able to fall back on.

The only con – and it potentially is a big one – is that some law firms may interpret getting these two degrees, which really represent two diverse career paths, as indecision in what you want out of your future. If a firm thinks that you are applying to them simply to get a feel for what working in a law firm is like before you make the jump to corporate life, they may be less willing to hire you. If there is one thing that law firms value, perhaps above all else, it is a singleness of purpose when it comes to careers and what attorneys are willing to give back to the firm. With that said, there are many firms who are not nearly as concerned with this, but the stodgier, more traditional firms may not understand your motivations.


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Who Can Legal Authority Help?

by A. Harrison Barnes on October 24, 2013

Who can benefit from Legal Authority?

-Associates at AmLaw 100 law firms who went to top 10 law schools.
-Partners at large law firms with a lot of portable business.
-Partners at large law firms with no business.
-Partners at AmLaw 100 law firms who went to top 10 law schools.
-Law students looking for a summer job.
-Associates at AmLaw 100 law firms who went to any law school.
-Associates at midsized law firms who went to Yale Law School.
-Law students looking for a permanent job.
-Partners at midsized law firms who went to any law school.
-Associates at small law firms.
-Partners at small law firms.
-In-house counsel at small corporations looking to work in another corporation.
-Associates in small, midsized, and large law firms looking for a position in a small, midsized, or large corporation.
-Partners in small, midsized, and large law firms looking for a position in a small, midsize, or large corporation.
-Government attorneys looking for a position in a law firm.
-Government attorneys looking for a position in a corporation.

The fact is simple: Every attorney can benefit from using Legal Authority. There is no particular Legal Authority client. All Legal Authority clients share one common trait: They want to get the best job possible, with the organization they are most comfortable with from an economic, opportunity, and cultural standpoint.

While Legal Authority can help law students and recent graduates obtain their first jobs, it’s also a practical service used by partners and general counsels at prestigious worldwide firms and corporations. Legal Authority is, quite simply, the most effective legal job search company in existence. The reason our service is used by so many attorneys from so many different levels of the profession is due to the fact that it enables attorneys to get an “instant snapshot” of the market and immediate interviews with employers where a good business case exists for hiring them.

Legal Authority helps anyone in the legal profession find work by using targeted mailing. It’s been estimated that more than 85% of legal positions are obtained by directly contacting law firms. Many firms, for example, do not advertise their open positions and/or cannot afford the fees that recruiters charge. To obtain work there, you must contact them directly and let them know you’re available. But first, you must find out who and where they are. And that’s exactly what Legal Authority provides.

To those looking for their first job, Legal Authority is an invaluable tool to help you reach the employers you won’t find in the want ads or on job boards. To established attorneys, Legal Authority helps you evaluate the market, to see “what else is out there.”

We start with the world’s most comprehensive legal database, consisting of more than half a million legal employers throughout the US and 150 other countries. Our experts sort through and narrow down those employers, using the criteria you select (by location, by practice, by size of firm, etc.). Finally, you’re left with a list of potential employers who specifically match the requirements you’re looking for. You get a tailor-made list of contacts waiting to receive your resume.

Legal Authority: No matter where you’re at in your career, we can help you.


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Thinking About Government Employment?

by A. Harrison Barnes on October 10, 2013

At Legal Authority, we believe that for many attorneys there is no better job than working for the Federal or State Government. One of our Employment Advocates used to work for the United States Department of Justice and, the way he tells it, after 5:15 p.m. each evening you could fire a canon down the hall because everyone had gone for the day. In addition, as he tells it, there were several attorneys who would actually show up for day after day, month after month and literally do nothing. In all seriousness, though, there are some major advantages to choosing a career with the Government.

First, government positions are most often secure. Many government attorneys practice their entire careers with the government and face little prospect of a layoff regardless of bad economic winds. It is also extremely difficult to be fired as a government attorney, because government jobs are generally there to stay regardless of the status of the economy.

Second, government attorneys are often quite collegial with one another, and there is a fraternity of sorts amongst them because they are not competing to bill hours. Government attorneys often become quite close and it is not uncommon for them to work side by side for two to three decades. Without the massive economic and billing pressures of a law firm, or the economic uncertainty of many in-house positions, government attorneys are not competing with each other as aggressively and become close friends.

Third, the work government attorneys do is often immensely interesting. For example, you may be working on the type of high-profile litigation you might see only once or twice (or perhaps never) in a law firm career. Additionally, many government attorneys often spend at least one day a week in court. Government attorneys who do not do litigation may be involved in important policy work that has a national impact.

Fourth, given the importance of the work they do, many government attorneys receive training and get a skill set that actually continues their advancement in private employers’ eyes. Throughout the United States there are numerous partners in important law firms who received a decade or more of training as prosecutors before returning to the private sector.

Fifth, being a government attorney can potentially lead to an excellent career in a higher government post. A large number of federal judges started out as prosecutors at the state and federal level. A large number of important cabinet positions in both federal and state governments are filled by government attorneys each year.

Almost always, the healthcare and retirement benefits that government attorneys receive often far eclipse what one could expect in private practice. Many government attorneys end their careers with sizable retirement benefits which do not require them to change their style of life at all.

At the end of the day, many attorneys choose not to work for the government. One of the most common reasons attorneys do not choose government work is because of perceived financial concerns. Nevertheless, many government attorneys do make over $100,000 a year and live comfortably. There may not be new Porsches in most of their futures, but money is not the major motivation for most government attorneys. Many government attorneys simply enjoy practicing law with like-minded individuals in a relatively secure environment.

Government attorneys often enjoy much better lifestyles than other attorneys. With more time and energy left for family and leisure activities, government attorneys reap the kind of less tangible benefits that can make a tremendous difference in career satisfaction. In the end, the result is happiness.

Surprisingly, government opportunities are not often requested by Legal Authority clients. When you consider the super lives many government attorneys lead and how interesting the work is, this is surprising. While the searches we generally conduct for government attorneys are often less extensive than the law firm or in-house searches, government searches are often our most satisfying because we know the attorney is likely to land a position they are happy with — which is what it is all about in the end.


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How to Grab Your First Legal Job

by writer on October 3, 2013

Despite the declining number of legal jobs in the industry, students are still enrolling at law schools across the country, which means that these students need to search for legal jobs prior to and after graduation. Finding a job in the legal industry can be a daunting task, but hopefully the tips outlined in this article can help those searching for their first legal job relax and eventually sign a contract.

Concentrate on School and Then the Job Search

If you are still in law school, make sure you maintain your focus on academics and treat the job search as a secondary task. When students begin focusing more on the job search they could see their grades suffer, which will hurt their search for a job in the end. For the most part, employers hire workers who are ready to begin full-time positions immediately, not one year later. This is another reason why school should still be your number one priority right now.

Take Multiple Bar Exams

An excellent way to increase your odds at landing that first legal job is to take the bar exam in multiple states. This will add to the number of jobs you can apply for, thus increasing your odds at being hired for a job. For example, if you are a New Jersey resident, take the bar exam in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and even New York. You will be able to market yourself much better to law firms if you are licensed to practice in multiple states, especially if those firms have clients in various states.

Post-Graduation: Job Search Full-Time

Once you have graduated from law school you can turn your legal job search into a full-time event even if you have a full-time non-legal job. Many students want to sit back and relax following seven hard years of work, but anything longer than a short vacation can hurt your chances of landing that first legal job. Put in full-time hours when searching for jobs so you leave no stone unturned during the process. The more hours you put into the search, the more you will get out of it.


Students are force fed this word from day one of their first year in college and it keeps coming up all through law school. Networking is very important these days and it has been proven effective by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data from the BLS shows that roughly 70 percent of all jobs are found using networking. That statistic pretty much says it all.