More! Law students here are more tips for discovering your dream legal job

Match a booming legal area with your background and interests.

Match a booming legal area with your background and interests.

This post is the second part to reinforce the idea that before you can have a chance of obtaining your dream legal job, it helps to understand what that concept of “the dream legal job” means for you.  Check out this link for additional tips on how to go about that process.

Image courtesy of posterize/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Law students check out these tips for discovering your dream legal job

As a first step, do the work necessary to discover your dream legal job.

As a first step, do the work necessary to discover your dream legal job.

Before you can have a chance of obtaining your dream legal job, it helps to understand what that concept of “the dream legal job” means for you.  Check out this link for tips on how to go about that process.

Image courtesy of conmac/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

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Building a legal network on a budget (for law students)

Keep in mind that networking should focus primarily on forming relationships and secondarily on acquiring a job.

Keep in mind that networking should focus primarily on forming relationships and secondarily on acquiring a job.

LegalJob’s guest blogger Jenny Maxey provides some networking nuggets below for law students.  Jenny is the author of Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank, which will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on November 17, 2014.  To find out more information, visit www.JennyLMaxey.com.

Attempting to build a network can be costly – new suits, reception or conference fees, professional group membership dues, and even transportation to get to the events can all add up. When you’re a student and especially as a new law grad, no or low income can make networking a challenge. However, the fiercely competitive legal job market demands having a network secured. The old adage of who you know is more important than what you know isn’t wrong, and, although the legal profession requires both, during a recession the “who” becomes critical.

The easiest and most optimal plan to network on a budget includes a significant job from the summer after your first year, continuing through a part-time job for your entire second and third years. Not only will this reduce your likely level of debt, it will prove invaluable for building a professional knowledge, credibility, and network. However, as many summer associate programs have lowered their class sizes, this plan isn’t always achievable.

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Effective communication with partners

LegalJob was recently asked whether it is appropriate to ask a partner for an explanation for some of his decisions regarding how much of his billable time was written off or discounted.

Example of having a partner mind-set, being firm centric, and making others look good.

Example of having a partner mind-set, being firm centric, and making others look good.

This is a thoughtful question and the advice ties together at least three of the best practices discussed in Making Partner:  i) having a partner mind-set, ii) being firm/partner/client centric, and iii) making others look good.

LegalJob believes it is very appropriate to have the conversation as long as the associate has the awareness to be sensitive about overstepping.  So much of this communication depends on how you frame the issue and your tone.

To achieve best results and avoid a defensive or adversarial posture from the partner, LegalJob suggests the following steps/method of proceeding:

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Keys to associate success — part two

Take ownership, be soft and measured, and keep a full plate while communicating time commitments.

Take ownership, be soft and measured, and keep a full plate while communicating time commitments.

This post is the second of a two-part series providing practical tips for becoming a rising star.  Below are some suggestions for:  (i) taking ownership, (ii) using a soft and measured approach and tone, and (iii) managing time effectively.  These principles are discussed in further detail in Making Partner.

1)         Taking ownership

a)  Demonstrate with your words that you believe each issue is indeed your problem as opposed to the partner’s/firm’s problem or the client’s problem.

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Keys to associate success — part one

Succeed by understanding what is expected and making thoughtful recommendations.

Succeed by understanding what is expected and making thoughtful recommendations.

This post is the first of a two-part series providing practical tips for becoming a rising star. Two important steps in this order are to: (i) understand what is expected; and (ii) provide a thoughtful recommendation (after performing the research and analysis required).  Both of these principles are discussed in further detail in Making Partner.

1)         Understand what is expected

Understanding expectations is a big part of meeting them. In order to help make sure you understand what is expected, ask questions to confirm that you understand your task and, equally important, that you understand the preferences of the partner assigning the project. Consider taking the following steps when receiving the assignment, working on the assignment, and presenting conclusions: Read More…

Advice for aspiring law students

Articulate your preliminary plan, including how you intend to give back to the school.

Articulate your preliminary plan, including how you intend to give back to the school.

This post provides advice for getting into law school and for maximizing your chances of obtaining a legal job upon graduation. The bottom line is that in addition to top LSAT scores, grades, and schools, you can distinguish yourself in the application process by a) demonstrating that you are focused such that you are likely to be one of those students with several job prospects upon graduation; and b) emphasizing your strong desire to give back to the school that provides you the opportunity. Below are four specific steps to take with advice on how to accomplish each step.

1)         Come up with a preliminary plan of what you will do with the law degree.

a)         What area of law do you intend to practice?

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The business of law

One great way to distinguish yourself from peers and to attract and have clients for life is to understand the business of your client, as discussed in Making Partner.  Here are five ways to do that:

  • Read all of client’s big documents. If client is a publicly traded company, read the annual and quarterly reports filed with SEC and the latest prospectus. These documents contain valuable information about the company, the business challenges it faces, and its strategies for dealing with them. If the client is a privately owned company, read a recent Offering Memorandum that it used to attract venture capital investment or the client’s recent comprehensive business plan.
  • Read all of the competitors’ big documents. Learn who your client’s strongest competitors are and review their disclosure documents. Comparing your client’s disclosures to those of its competitors will provide lots of information about your client’s industry, the different strategies implemented by the various players, and the hot button industry issues.
  • Review the client’s web presence. Find out what the client says about itself on its own website, blogs, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. This task may be good, productive work for an intern who may have the time and technical know-how to surf the net and find lots of relevant information that cannot be found through merely typing in a search term in Google. Instruct the intern to check websites of competitors, industry websites, and anything else related to client’s business or industry.
  • Read the trade press. Learn which trade associations your client belongs to and subscribe to the associations’ publications to get a sense of where things are going in the industry. Go to trade association conferences as well.
  • Visit the client. Ask the client if you could spend a non-billable day or two at their office in an effort to better understand their business. Go see how the products are actually made and sold. Get your hands dirty. Ask questions. Meet with the workers. Learn the different personalities of managers and subordinates alike.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Four keys to effective networking

 

Provide value and then tell people what you want, what you can do, and how they can help.

Provide value and then tell people what you want, what you offer, and how they might help.

There is plenty of good information out there on networking.  This link adds to the discussion and the advice found in Making Partner by elaborating on four keys to effective networking, namely:  first seek to provide value to the person with whom you are networking, then help people help you by being specific about what you want, what you offer, and how they might help. 

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Having the long view

Have the long view --- take time to improve your writing, speaking, and substantive skills and learn the business of the client.

Have the long view — take time to improve your writing, speaking, and substantive skills, and learn the business of the client.

LegalJob was asked about what it takes to be a successful attorney.  This post focuses on one important quality that should help toward that pursuit — having the long view mindset.  In other words, do not look for the short-term payoff in the things you do for yourself or for others because it is not likely that there will be one.  For example, you may have to invest many years working on your writing and speaking skills before you can carry the confidence of a so-called expert in your field.  The investment in yourself is worth it even though the acknowledgement from the world or your colleagues may be delayed.  Below are three tangible steps to take toward being successful in the law with the long view in mind:

  • Brush up on your writing and speaking skills at every opportunity.
    • Write articles in journals covering your area of law.  Write articles in industry publications.  Write memos to the client.  Write status memos to partners.  Consider turning long e-mails into memos.  Ask for specific feedback on writing projects.
    • Take writing classes.  Hire a coach.  Enroll in a program.
    • Speak at bar events either as a panelist or a moderator.  Speak at client industry events.  Make presentations at firm lunches.
    • Take speaking courses.  Hire a coach.  Enroll in a program (i.e., Dale Carnegie course).

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