Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Your Second Summer Job Search

A law student's second summer is an important one. While some might see it as the last summer to hit the beach, others will recognize it as a time when an employer will be able to see you for a concentrated period of time before you graduate. This summer is most likely your last big chance to shine on a full-time basis for an employer.

Your second summer job search is much different than your first summer search. Last year, the focus was on solid research and writing experience. Practice areas took a back seat, as the universe of employers who hire first-year students is smaller.

This time around is much different. The focus is on building your resume with experience with an employer who practices the kind of law you want to practice. Your job search this summer, therefore, might take a little more time and will take a little more effort that last year.

First, you need to ask yourself a few questions to make this hiring season effective. For what kind of employer do I see myself working after graduation? Firm? Government office? Public interest organization? What kind of law do I see myself practicing? Real estate? Criminal? Civil litigation? Entertainment? Is this the kind of law that I can generally practice right out of law school? Real Estate? Yes. Civil litigation? Yes. Entertainment? Hmmmm. If not, what kind of experience would be useful in order to transition into that field down the road? Contract work?

If you don't know the kind of law you want to practice after graduation (many do not), all is not lost. The key then is to select a job that gives you experience and skills transferable to various practice areas. Focus on general practice jobs instead of jobs in a particularly obscure practice area niche.

The next thing to do is to to actively go about your search in a planned, methodical way. Set aside a time of day to conduct your job search responsibilities, including looking on the CSO website and looking for employers on and (targeted mailings to employers for summer jobs should go out some time in March). Make it a point to apply to employers on a regular basis, and pace yourself. And don't forget to search for opportunities in other ways, by contacting former employers and letting them know you are looking, and through informational interviewing. Speak with a CSO counselor to talk about any of these options.

Your resume(s) and cover letter(s) need to be perfect. Many students have different versions of their documents that emphasize different skills and practice areas. Thus, if you both drafted litigation documents and reviewed contracts for a former employer, you may want to emphasize drafting in the version of your documents that that go to litigation employers, and emphasize contract work for more transactional prospective employers. In any case, have your documents reviewed by a CSO counselor and then meticulously proofread them.

The traditional spring recruiting season extends from late February through May, June, and July. Do not think that the best jobs come along first, leaving slim pickings later in the season. On the contrary, great jobs appear throughout the spring, and it is only an employer's decision as to when to post a job that determines when you see it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Real World

Did you ever get the feeling that you are learning the law well enough as you travel through your law school career, but that other aspects of being a lawyer may not be sinking in? For example, how exactly should you respond to a client when he is yelling at the top of his lungs over a lost motion that he paid you a lot of money to make? Or, what should you do when a judge threatens to hold your client (or you!) in contempt? Well, do we have a program for you.

The Career Services Office, the Office for Clinical Programs, and the Suffolk County Bar Association have teamed up to bring to you a series of five round-table discussions about real world lawyering. This series, called The Real World, will be held every Wednesday through mid-March, and will include seasoned lawyers who will discuss the challenges of real-world practice. No casebooks! No citations! Just the business, ethical, and interpersonal realities of dealing with tough judges, difficult adversaries, and demanding clients.

The first session, this Wednesday, February 28, from 4:45 - 6:15 p.m. in Room 312, is entitled, "You May Want to Sit Down: Giving Clients Bad News," with Susan Lebow, Esq., a partner with Sarisohn, Sarisohn, Carner, Lebow, Braun, & Schiebler, in Commack, where she directs the firm's matrimonial and family law practice. Ms. Lebow has served as Chairperson of the Suffolk County Ethics Commission and and an officer of the Board of Trustees of Suffolk Community College. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and as Chair of the Suffolk County Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics & Civility. She is also founder of the Suffolk County Victims Information Bureau (VIBES), which advocates for victims of abuse and rape.

Future programs, all from 4:45 - 6:15, are as follows:

@*!%#%*!: Dealing with Incompetent Adversaries!
March 7, Alumni Boardroom

What do I do Now?: Managing Difficult Judges
March 14, Room 312

Oh, No, Not Again: Working with Difficult Clients
Barry Warren, Esq.
March 21, Alumni Boardroom

Leather or Lace?: Confrontation & Courtesy
Harvey Besunder, Esq. & John Bracken, Esq.
March 28, Room 312

Women & the Law

It seems that we are always giving students a harangue about joining local bar associations and signing up for committees to establish an interest in particular practice areas and to meet lawyers who may prove to be valuable contacts in the future. Well, here is a golden opportunity to attend a great committee meeting.

The Women & the Law Committee of the Suffolk County Bar Association will host an open committee meeting on March 13, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. at the home of the Association at 560 Wheeler Road in Happauge. The roundtable discussion with be on "Gender Equality in the Law," and the guest speaker will be Annamaria Donovan, Esq., a practicing attorney, adjunct professor at Stony Brook, and a participant in the Oxford University Conference on Gender Equality.

All are invited and there is no charge to attend, although an RSVP to Judge Hertha C. Trotto is appreciated. Please contact her at (631) 853-7418.

Monday, February 26, 2007

CSO to Host International Law Speaker

Are you interested in international law, and would you like to know how to obtain internships and post-graduate employment in this exciting practice area?

On Wednesday, March 15, 2007, from 12:30 - 1:30 p.m., in Room 410, CSO will host Matthew Wilson, Professor Law at Temple University, who will speak on opportunities in international law.

Professor Wilson is a resident law professor and Associate Dean overseeing the law program at Temple University, Japan Campus. He also serves as General Counsel of the Tokyo campus handling corporate, intellectual property, employment, and other matters. Professor Wilson draws upon over fifteen years international experience in legal and corporate matters involving Asia. He amassed this experience through his legal and professional activities in Japan, the United States, the Philippines, and the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Prior to joining Temple, Professor Wilson engaged in private international law practice as an attorney at Akerman Senterfitt, a major full-service Florida-based law firm, and as former general counsel for a telecommunications firm. As legal counsel to domestic and multinational corporations, Professor Wilson's legal activities have encompassed complex commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation and transactions, as well as cross-border and general corporate matters. He also has extensive experience working in Japan for a large electronics manufacturer, hydrological and meteorological instruments maker, and a multinational medical devices company.

Professor Wilson teaches courses on Japanese and comparative law, international litigation and transnational dispute resolution, civil procedure, corporate law, and electronic commerce law. He speaks frequently in Japan and the United States on transnational and U.S. legal matters and has appeared on primetime Japanese network television as a legal expert on multiple occasions. Professor Wilson has also guest lectured about the practice of international law at over seventy U.S. law schools. He is also an active advisor to the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren) regarding proposed judicial reforms and the implementation of jury trials in Japan in 2009.

Marketing Yourself to
Small and Mid-Size Law Firms

Here’s a story. On my very first day working as an associate for a solo practitioner, my boss left a message on my desk instructing me to appear in a housing court part that day to seek an adjournment of a bench trial. My firm was defending a landlord against charges that his apartment buildings were not code compliant. Unbeknownst to me, however, the court had previously informed all parties that there would be no further adjournments of the trial. In addition, as if nothing else could go wrong, my client had decided to take a vacation out of the country that week.

I appeared in court as directed, and when I naively stood up to make my application, the judge politely but firmly said, “Sit down, Mr. Gilbert. I know you are only the messenger, but this case is going to trial.” I objected – client not here, blah, blah, blah, ineffective assistance of counsel, blah, blah, blah - but the court held firm. The housing authority made an opening statement, I reserved the right to make my opening at a later time, and my adversary called his first witness to the stand. I have a vivid recollection of the judge turning to me at some point and saying, “Mr. Gilbert, your witness.” Uh...yeah… right….

Although my first-day-on-the-job experience was rather severe, life with small and mid-size law firms can be unpredictably exciting and challenging. And when these firms hire student law clerks and new associates, they look for people who can think on their feet, roll with the punches, and research and draft documents on the fly, all while making a good impression with a client.

Accordingly, when marketing yourself to small and mid-size law firms, it is important that your resume and cover letter stress the particular skills that these law firms value. Have you met with clients? Have you attended co-counsel meetings or settlement discussions with adversaries? Did a judge ever ask you to quickly research a case that came up when he or she was on the bench? Your documents should be tailored and crafted to reveal to any prospective employer that you can handle these kinds of responsibilities, and more. Please meet with a CSO counselor to make sure you are putting your best foot forward when you apply for a job with this kind of employer.

In addition, an interview with a small to mid-size law firm is singularly important. During your entire interview, the employer is sizing you up, picturing you talking with a client or standing before a judge. The employer is deciding whether you have the confidence and fortitude to handle new and unpredictable assignments or whether you will wilt under the onslaught. You should not forgo an interview prep session with a CSO counselor before each and every interview you have with this and every other kind of employer.

Oh, you might be wondering what happened to me in court. Well, each time I was scheduled to cross-examine a witness, I requested that I be given the right to recall the witness at a later time for cross-examination, which the court granted. After a morning of this, the court adjourned for the day, but not without apologizing for having to put me through it all and telling me that I did a good job under the circumstances. The entire experience prepared me to be ready for almost anything in court (and my boss heard it from me when I next saw him).

by Brett Gilbert, Assistant Dean

Are you ready for your close-up?

Interviews can make or break a job offer. You must be at your absolute best at every interview.

Please make an appointment to see a CSO counselor before an interview. We can go over the kinds of questions legal employers might ask you, and we can talk about how best to highlight your skills and experience.

Remember, there are no small interviews. Make each one count.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

New York Senate 2007-2008 Fellowships

Are you interested in New York State legislative work?

The New York Senate 2007-2008 Graduate/Post-Graduate/ Mid-Career Fellowships application deadline is Friday, April 13, 2007. There are generally 14 fellowships awarded each year. Applicants must be U. S. citizens.

Roth Fellowships are open to either graduate/graduating students; Biggane Fellowships are open to mid-career applicants who have attained the age of 35 at the time of application.

Enrollment in the 2007-2008 Fellowship cycle begins Thursday, September 13, 2007, and continues fulltime through Wednesday, July 16, 2008.

The Grant in Stipend for Study Purposes is $32,000.

International Trademark Association

We are big believers in student and alum membership in trade and bar associations geared to particular practice areas.

Since 1878, members of the International Trademark Association (INTA) have shared a common interest in the protection and development of trademarks and trademark law. Student membership in the INTA is $25 per year, and a student member receives the following benefits:

* Online access to the INTA Bulletin and the Trademark Reporter journal;

* Free use of INTA's online membership-only information, including searchable trademark-specific online publications and other resources;

* Discounts on print publications;

* The Academic Course on International Trademark Law, where students receive an overview of trademark law and practice in countries around the world;

* Substantially discounted attendance to INTA events, including the annual meeting;

* Access to INTA's job bank and membership directory.

Check out the INTA, and speak with a CSO counselor to talk about how best to highlight your membership on your resume and cover letter.

Cue the kitten with the lime on its head . . .

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Career Planning for Evening Students

As an evening student, you may feel like there are not enough hours in the day to do all you have to do. We understand that balancing full- or part-time work, family and friends, community service activities, recreational activities, and school is not an easy task. The fact that you do it, and do it well, says a lot about your perseverance, strength, and skills.

Along with everything else on your plate, you should make time to evaluate your legal career objectives and begin implementing a career strategy. We have found that the sooner you implement a Personal Career Plan, a plan which you and your counselor work on together, the greater the likelihood of success in finding a fulfilling legal career upon graduation.

For those of you who have non-legal jobs, the first question you should ask yourself as you evaluate your career objectives is whether to leave your current position in pursuit of legal experience, or whether to keep your position and seek alternative ways to gain legal experience. For many, this is a very difficult decision, as you presently may be in a well-paying position with responsibilities that are challenging and satisfying.

Sometimes, a legal position you take while in law school will be lower paying, may have reduced fringe benefits (health insurance, life insurance, etc.), and may give you less responsibility than your current position. Keeping the non-legal job may keep the paycheck higher, but it may reduce your marketability when you graduate. Taking a legal job now may mean taking a pay cut short erm, but it will increase your options upon graduation.

We have found that a good balance between these competing considerations is to attempt to make a transition from non-legal to legal employment at the beginning of your third year. In that way, you will have two years of legal experience, just as full-time students have that opportunity (since they do not generally work during their first year of law school).

However, such a transition will prove impossible for some. In that case, other avenues to gain legal experience must be explored with a counselor. Here are a few ways evening students can develop practical legal experience:

Examine Your Skills: Evaluate your skills, experiences, and expertise in your current non-legal position that may be transferable to the practice of law.

Law-Related Projects in your Present Position: Your employer may have a legal department that may be willing to assign you a short-term project involving legal research or writing. If your company does not have a legal department, consider whether there are other ways you could participate in legal-related projects, such as contract review or due diligence. Contact the person in your company in charge of legal matters to discuss this possibility.

Bar Association Activities: Become an active member of the Suffolk County, Nassau County, New York City, or other bar association in the geographic area in which you are interested in practicing (see links for these bar associations on page one). As an active committee member, you can network and work collaboratively with attorneys.

Volunteer/Pro Bono: One excellent way to obtain legal experience is through volunteering with a public service organization or government agency.

Law Journal and/or Publish: Writing a law-related article reflects your research and writing abilities. Write publishable papers on subjects that interest you, especially in areas that you want to specialize in later. Legal employers will recognize the time and commitment that goes into writing an article. You should also consider: Moot Court, serving as a Research Assistant, participating in clinical programs and/or externships, networking, conducting informational interviews, attending career panels, and joining student organizations.

Evening students need to make a special effort to consider how to gain legal experience before graduation. If you presently have a legal job, talk to a counselor to discuss if it is the right one for you to keep until graduation. If you do not have a legal job, consider making a transition at the end of your second year of law school. You need to stay in touch with your counselor to discuss these and other issues that arise during the course of your law school career.

International Law Web Resources

The American Society of International Law (ASIL)
HierosGamos International Law Directory
Cornell’s Foreign & International Law Sources on the Internet
The United Nations Website on International Law
The ABA Section on International Law
The New York State Bar Association International Law and Practice Section The Essential Facts

PSLawNet is an incredible job search resource that contains a comprehensive database of over 12,000 public interest organizations, public interest law firms, and government agencies located throughout the United States and the world. Touro Law Center subscribes to the service and, as a result, Touro students may access the database free of charge. Students log on to the PSLawNet website and self register to create their own profile.

The database has two search features: (1) “organization searches,” which yield lists of organizations and agencies that focus on a particular practice area in a particular state or city; and (2) “opportunity searches,” which yield current postings for summer and school-year internships, post-graduate jobs, and fellowships. In addition, the site contains numerous publications with career advice, summer funding sources, and a guide to federal legal employment opportunities.

We recommend starting with an organization search in order to find employers that practice the kind of law and are located in the geographical areas in which you are interested. You may search by practice area, type of job (internship, fellowship, attorney), type of employer (public interest organization, government agency, etc.), and city, state or metropolitan region. The list that is generated from your search will contain information about the organization and a contact person to whom to address a cover letter. You will also see a link for each employer’s website.

While an opportunity search will yield actual job postings, not all organizations actively post jobs. Rather, they wait for resumes to come to them. Accordingly, you should apply to an organization even if no active job listing is posted on the website.

Please see Tom Maligno or any counselor in the Career Services Office for more information about PSLawNet. All students, especially first-years, should know how to use this site.

Pursue Your Dreams, Manage Your Expectations

How many times does a person have to hear, “You can’t do that, don’t even bother” before he or she begins to believe it? Probably not as many times as we would like to think. In any event, it is not the kind of thing you should hear when you are planning your career, and you should not and will not hear it from a counselor at CSO.

Many students come to law school with dreams of a particular kind of legal career. Some of you may want a government career, others a career in a small to mid-size law firm on Long Island, some seek to open their own firm, others see themselves practicing in New York City at large law firms or with a different kind of employer, some seek to practice out of state entirely, while still others dream of being public interest lawyers. These dreams should be nurtured by our office through honest one-on-one discussions.

When you meet with one of us, we will talk with you to develop a plan to obtain your dream job. We will talk about how best to prepare yourself while in law school, and we will discuss the kinds of opportunities that are out there after you graduate. We will strive to leave you with a clear idea of what you have to do to get yourself in a good position to accomplish your goal.

Effective career counseling does not end there, however. While we will plan with you the most direct path to your dream job, we will also talk about expectations and how to manage them. Like a doctor explaining the likelihood of success of an operation, you should be able to plan your life based upon real- world facts. Therefore, once we plan the most direct path to your dream, we will talk about alternative roads to the same goal. This Plan B, Plan C, and maybe even Plan D will help you just in case Plan A does not work out. We should not take our eyes off the prize, but we will talk about different paths to obtain it. Anything less would be doing you a terrible disservice.

A Career Services Office can lose an otherwise good reputation by failing to recognize and nurture student career goals. It is not our mission to be the ones to tell you that you must settle for this or that opportunity. Rather, we should listen to you as you tell us what you want to do, and then we should plan together to get you there.

The planning that is required to develop multiple paths to your dream job cannot be completed overnight, however. While I and the people I work with can reach out to you, the decision to come in to speak with us remains with you. I believe that students should have at least one serious, one-on-one sit-down with a counselor every semester. Many students see us more frequently.

Look for some interesting CSO programming this semester, including “Class of 2007: Your Turn at Bat;” “Your Summer Job Search,” How to be an Effective Summer Intern,” “Resume and Cover Letter Workshops,” “Fall On-Campus Interviewing and Post-Graduate Judicial Clerkships,” and several more. We hold these programs because there is information you need to know in order to expand your opportunities and to increase your chance of success.

So, the next time you meet with a CSO counselor, be sure to express yourself about your dream job. We will work on Plan A through Plan D so you are prepared to get to your goal.