Friday, June 27, 2008

Those US News Rankings

An interesting article recently appeared on the US News & World Report website regarding potential changes in the way the magazine computes its rankings of law schools. Read them, and then we will follow up.

"The first idea is that U.S. News should count both full-time and part-time entering student admission data for median LSAT scores and median undergraduate grade-point averages in calculating the school's ranking. U.S. News's current law school ranking methodology counts only full-time entering student data. Many people have told us that some law schools operate part-time J.D. programs for the purpose of enrolling students who have far lower LSAT and undergrad GPAs than the students admitted to the full-time program in order to boost their admission data reported to U.S. News and the ABA. In other words, many contend that these aren't truly separate part-time programs but merely a vehicle to raise a law school's LSAT and undergrad GPA for its U.S. News ranking. We have used only full-time program data because we believed that the part-time law programs were truly separate from the full-time ones. That no longer appears to be the case at many law schools. So, it can be argued that it is better analytically to compare the LSAT and undergrad GPAs of the entire entering class at all schools rather than just the full-time program data.

Another idea was proposed in the 1998 report "The Validity of the U.S. News and World Report Rankings of ABA Law Schools" commissioned by the Association of American Law Schools. The proposal calls for U.S. News to compute our bar passage rate component (school's bar pass rate/jurisdiction's bar passage rate) using only the data of first-time takers who are graduates of American Bar Association-accredited schools. Currently, our "jurisdiction's bar passage rate" uses the rate of all first-time test takers from a state regardless of the ABA accreditation of their law schools. This distinction is perhaps most meaningful for the state of California, which has a large number of non-ABA-accredited schools. Many people say the non-ABA students are causing the California pass rate to be lower than if calculated just from first-time test takers from ABA-accredited schools. Because we rank only ABA-accredited schools, it makes sense that we should compare only ABA graduates when doing the bar passage rate analysis. If U.S. News implements this idea, the method would be used for all states."

These changes would be mere tinkerings that would produce only slight changes in the rankings. US News is financially compelled to change the formula that computes the ranks year after year to help sell magazines. After all, if the rankings stayed the same from year to year, no one would need to buy a new magazine.

In addition, discussions of these kinds of changes make it appear that the rankings are based upon objective criteria. The truth is, however, that the greatest portion of a law school's rank is determined by the subjective opinions of what less than about two thousand federal judges, law school academics, and big firm lawyers think about all of the law schools in the country. You tell me, where do you think big firm lawyers, judges, and professors went to law school?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Diversity Job Fairs

Vault and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) will be hosting the 3rd Annual Legal Diversity Career Fairs this August in New Orleans, New York, and San Francisco.

All students and alumni are welcome to attend the fairs, which will include over 100 top legal employers from law firms, corporate counsels, not for profit organizations, and government agencies actively looking to hire diverse and talented candidates.

In addition to the career fairs, complimentary breakfast and lunch sessions will feature keynote speakers discussing diversity best practice and breakout sessions led by industry experts will cover topics including:

· interviewing preparation and techniques

· planning and advancing your legal career

· exploring new legal opportunities and practice areas

· finding a mentor

· making the most of a summer associateship

· determining the offer right

· joining a bar association

· networking do’s and don’ts

There are no fees associated with participation in this event.

For additional details on the events, go here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The ABA Tries to
Figure Out What's Hot and What's Not

About twice a year, if it is lucky, the ABA gets a marketing firm to try and predict the hot and not-so-hot trends in the legal profession. The latest report was produced in December 2007 and the ABA recently disseminated it to all law school deans. This reporter was able to obtain a copy of the ABA report, a link to which is under "CSO Resource Materials" along the blogroll to the right, and a few of the report's conclusions are below. Remember, this purports to shed light on trends on a large scale (although the reference to Phoenix as being the sole "hot" city in the United States is kind of funny), and local market conditions could easily establish that the report's conclusions are misleading.

* Hot areas of practice: Intellectual Property, Immigration, Labor & Employment, Corporate Investigations, Complex Litigation, Global Warming, Domestic Relations/Family Law, Pro Bono, Estate Planning & Administration, Elder Law, and Animal Law.

* Hot Geographical Markets: China; Dubai of United Arab Emirates; Spain; and Phoenix, AZ.

* Getting Hot: Mediation, Libel, Foreclosures, Art Theft & Fraud, Bankruptcy, Insurance Coverage and Post-arbitration Litigation.

* Cooling Off: Structured Finance/Securitization and Mergers & Acquisitions.

* Cold: Medical Malpractice and Workers Compensation.

So, there you have it. Are you a believer?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Factoid: Profile of an In-House Attorney

A colleague in Minnesota recently dug up these interesting facts from a few years ago about in-house attorneys. Those who aspire to in-house practice but think small firm practice is not what you want to do should take particular note.

21% of in-house counsel are sole practitioners (they are the sole attorney in their office).

Departments of two to five attorneys comprise about 38% of the in-house population.

Approximately 85% of in-house lawyers practice in departments of fewer than 20 lawyers.

In other words, the skills you learn in small firm practice are going to be valuable to you as an in-house attorney.


Professor Jonathan Ezor of Touro Law Center posted a comment to this blog entry that deserves to be shared here. Thanks, Professor Ezor!

ProfJonathan said...

Having been the sole in-house attorney at three different companies, I concur that large firm experience isn't necessary. Some things that are necessary, though, are:

1) A willingness to say "yes" whenever possible instead of the automatic cautious "no" typical of outside counsel. This was echoed by the general counsel of CA the other afternoon at a lunch talk at Touro; if the in-house counsel won't offer workable solutions, he or she will be ignored or at least not seen as part of the team. Also, as with parenting, saving "no" for the critical times makes it more effective.

2) An understanding of the operations of the company. Being able to match risk assessment to business goals is key to in-house success.

3) A clear delineation between who the client is (namely, the company) and the businesspeople to whom you report. There are situations where what is in the best interest of the company is different from what the executive wants to do. An attorney who confuses those can end up in trouble or even in jail (see, e.g., Enron).

You should not, though, assume that in-house positions are necessarily more stable than those in a law firm. An in-house position is to some degree like investing your entire portfolio in a single stock--you're betting on the strength of one client rather than many. In-house attorneys, as much as they save their employers huge amounts of money, are ultimately overhead (costs) rather than profit centers, and when companies try to cut overhead in the short term, the lawyer(s) may be included in the cuts.

I'd be happy to share my experiences with anyone who is curious about the differences between in-house and law firm positions. {Prof. Jonathan Ezor}

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"E-mail Etiquette Matters"

In its June 2008 issue, the New York Law Journal Magazine includes an article entitled "E-mail Etiquette Matters," by Gil Feder, a partner at Reed Smith and the director of the firm's summer associate program, and Sabrina Franconeri, training coordinator for the firm's "University."

Let's be frank. Most practicing attorneys are stunned, stunned, by the e-mail and other electronic communication practices of interns and new attorneys. The most frequent complaints we hear are the casual nature of the communications and spelling/grammar mistakes. Mr. Feder and Ms. Franconeri offer several sound tips on how interns and new lawyers can help make sure their e-mail communications are being received in the positive and winning spirit which we only can assume they have been sent.

1. Always consider that your e-mail may become a public document through some intrusive discovery request. Always consider that what you write in a business email may be plastered on the front page of the New York Times. Keep it professional at all times.

2. Always make sure your subject line reasonably and adequately describes the body of your e-mail. Business e-mails are not surprise parties. The subject line should focus a reader's attention on what's to come.

3. Proofread every message (more than once). Do not rely on spell check. There is no such thing as a "trail" lawyer. Make sure the layout, font, and structure make the e-mail easy to read.

4. Be brief and to the point. Some communications should not be made by email (unless you are instructed to do so). Rather, the written memorandum or a face-to-face communication might be more appropriate if the subject matter would make the email too long or wordy.

5. Include the original message thread when making a reply. Do not delete any portion of the chain of emails.

6. Be cautious when using abbreviations and acronyms as not all your readers may be familiar with them. Avoid smiley faces and other emoticons.

7. Do not use offensive or biased language (see Point Number 1).

8. Be careful when using the "Reply to All" button. Clicking this button when you mean only to reply to one person can cause unmitigated disasters.

9. Be careful with large attachments. Depending on the recipient's computer, a large attachment may slow a computer down or be incompatible. Ask permission to send a large attachment.

10. Never respond to an emotionally-laden email immediately. Cool off a little. Let the email percolate in your head. Then sit down and compose a considered and measured response. Do not use all capitals or all lower case, or worse, the dreaded ComBinAtiOn.

Bottom line: be smart with your email use. Ask your Career Services Office counselor for advice if you have any questions about e-mail etiquette.

Aiming for Solo Practice?

Starting your own firm right after law school is a large and treacherous undertaking. Let's face it, law school does not teach you everything you need to know to open your own firm, so, if you insist that this is your path to practice, it is wise to get advice and guidance from bar association committees and sections that support solo and very small firm practice.

The American Bar Association is holding its annual meeting in New York City on Friday, August 8. The ABA's Section on General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division, is hosting four interesting programs on that day, including a program on the need to know issues of setting up and organizing your own firm.

(Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

NYC Bar Hosts
Summer Associate/Intern Reception

The City Bar's Annual Summer Associate/Legal Intern Reception is coming up on June 26th. Please click here for details including registration.

Summer legal interns also may be interested in the Bar's calendar of upcoming programs:

The Annual City Bar Reception and Cocktail Party in Honor of Pride Week
Thursday, June 19th, 6:00 –8:00 pm
There is no fee but registration is necessary. Please register at
The Association hosts a reception and cocktail party celebrating NYC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Week 2008.

Summer Associate Annual Reception
Thursday, June 26th, 6:00 –8:00 pm
There is no fee but registration is necessary. Please email or call 212-382-6665.
The New York City Bar and the New York Law Journal host the annual welcoming cocktail reception in honor of summer associates. At the reception, which is exclusively for summer associates, mentors, and colleagues, guests will receive special City Bar gift bags and the chance to win New York CityPasses, tickets to Legally Blonde The Musical on Broadway, and more.

What it’s Like to Practice Law in New York City as a Woman?
Wednesday, July 23rd, 6:00
There is no fee but registration is necessary; please RSVP by July 12 to
Law students are invited to hear women lawyers with experience in government, public interest organizations, law firms and in-house law departments speak about issues that significantly affect women lawyers just entering the profession. Wine and cheese reception will follow.

Freedom of Expression at the Beijing Olympics
Thursday, July 24th, 6:00 – 7:30
There will be a panel followed by a reception (soft drinks, beer, wine, hors d’oeuvres). Please check our website,, for more information about the program.

NYC Networking Cruise for
Law Students and New Lawyers

The New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) President, Bernice K. Leber, and Young Lawyers Chair, Sherry Levin Wallach, cordially invite you to join NYSBA colleagues on

Thursday, July 17, 2008


The NYSBA / Spirit of New York Boat Cruise

Boarding Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cruise Time: 7:30 p.m — 10:30 p.m.

62, Chelsea Piers
West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011

All young attorneys, associates, junior partners, and law students are welcome to attend.

Join NYSBA leaders and representatives from NYSBA Sections in an enjoyable three hour cruise (Thurston and Lovie are bound to be there) and reception on the beautiful Spirit of New York. Enjoy hors d' oeuvres, an open bar, and a DJ, as well as a tour of memorable sites of the beautiful New York harbor, seen from a different perspective. This is a great opportunity to meet NYSBA Members and learn about ways you can get more involved with NYSBA Sections, and make an even greater difference in the legal profession.

This event is made possible by the generous support of these NYSBA Sections: Business Law, Commercial and Federal Litigation, General Practice, Intellectual Property, Real Property, Trial Lawyers, Trusts and Estates, and Young Lawyers Section.

Cost: FREE (normal value $75)

RSVP: Required by Tuesday, July 8th. or 518-487-5577.

Seating limited – respond today to ensure your place.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do You Like America's Heartland?

The 4th Annual Heartland Diversity Legal Job Fair (HDLJF) will be held August 22-23, 2008, in Kansas City, Missouri. Students who are interested in becoming part of Kansas City’s dynamic legal community should strongly consider attending this event. Students who will be returning to school in August and those who graduated in May are eligible to attend the job fair, as employers will be interviewing for both summer and post-graduate positions.

The HDLJF is the result of Kansas City's leading law firms, legal associations, and corporate legal departments coming together to encourage law students to practice law in Kansas City. The HDLJF is designed to expose law students of diverse backgrounds to both traditional and non-traditional legal employers. In addition, the event is a great way to learn more about living in this wonderful city.

The HDLJF will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center. It will kick off with an evening Welcome Reception on Friday, August 22nd. The Saturday schedule includes a continental breakfast, interviewing from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and a luncheon at which participants will be greeted and addressed by Charlie Harris, current President of The Missouri Bar.

Please register as soon as possible. Students who register before June 13 will be entered into a drawing to win either a Keurig single-cup gourmet coffee system or an iPod Nano. The final deadline for registering is July 1, 2008.

Students (and alums) can register on-line and find more information about the Job Fair here.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

New York County
District Attorney's Office:
Hiring for the Class of 2009

Any member of the class of 2009 who would like to apply to the New York County District Attorney's Office should read these documents carefully to know what exactly needs to be done to be considered for post-graduate ADA positions.

Please contact CSO if you have any questions.

(Click on the images to make them larger.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

New Deadline for Post-Graduate
Positions and Summer Internships
with the Department of Justice

September 2, 2008, is the new deadline for the US Department of Justice Attorney General's Honors Program and Summer Law Intern Program. The DOJ schedule has been modified as a result of the new NALP Timing Guidelines in effect this fall, and the DOJ is advertising more opportunities, new hiring offices, and earlier offers. Go here for details.

Transitioning from First-Year
to Summer Legal Work Series

Here is an interesting series of podcasts, produced by the Suffolk University Law School Legal Practice Skills Program, on making the transition from the first-year of law school to a summer job. Go here to review the series.

We have considered creating various podcast series because we think it is a great way to reach out to students. It involves a lot of work, however, in an otherwise busy day. Will students listen to them? Let us know (post a comment below).