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#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

Today's #DearFindLaw advice column is all about junk in the trunk, aka hauling your crap to class. A reader asks us for recommendations for backpacks, an important consideration considering the size and quantity of expensive casebooks law students will be hauling back-and-forth to class, not to mention your irreplaceable notes stored on your expensive laptop.

And speaking of casebooks, another reader wants our advice on procuring casebooks: buy or rent, finding cheaper casebooks, and getting casebooks before your financial aid checks clear.

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

What's more important for prospective law students, a school's rank or its cost?

Test-prep company Kaplan's latest pre-law survey tosses out the following hypo: Your mailbox is stuffed with acceptance letters and financial aid offers, three of which are particularly compelling: a top-tier school that is being stingy with scholarship funds, a mid-tier school on a discount, and a free ride (and maybe a pony) if you go to your local lower-tier joint (the legendary third-tier toilet or "TTT").

Prestige or paper? Penny wise or pound foolish? Profit potential with risky debt or a life philosophy of mediocrity?

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

In most states, each day's bar exam responses have to be uploaded each night by a predetermined deadline. Miss that deadline, and you're completely and utterly [expletived]. Now, imagine how much you'd freak out if you tried to upload your exam, but you received an error message and your exam disappeared off of your computer.

And the ExamSoft tech support line was busy.

And the company was tweeting instructions on how to manually upload responses, a procedure that didn't actually work, according to Above the Law's tipsters.

Yeah. You really don't need this crap, especially on day one of the biggest test of your entire life.

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

You're a young associate looking to make a lateral move. Maybe you've reached out to another firm, or another firm has reached out to you. Either way, your first point of contact is going to be The Recruiter (that is, the in-house recruiter, who's different from the outside recruiter). It's important to impress the hiring partners, for sure, but the in-house recruiter has more influence on the hiring partners than you might think.

If you want to land at the firm of your dreams, here are three things to keep in mind as you interact with the all-important in-house recruiter:

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

We've all heard the now conventional wisdom about watching what you post online, especially when you post under your real name. A candidate for the federal bench, Kansas City attorney Stephen Bough, is living out that life lesson right now after the Senate Judiciary Committee brought up his blogging past during a confirmation hearing.

The best part? Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, quoted a comment posted under Bough's name stating, "You and the 3 other folks who read this blog will agree I shouldn't be a judge."

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

It's going to happen sooner or later, if it hasn't already: you've been asked to write a brief with other people. In a big law firm, this could mean multiple layers of associates, senior associates, partners, managing partners, senior partners -- well, suffice it to say, there are a lot of people involved in the process.

Don't panic even if you are working with multiple people, each with different schedules, writing styles, writing habits, and different temperaments -- we're here to help. Here is your goal: Come out of writing the group brief with the same number of collegial co-workers you had going in, clothes unbloodied, and your sanity intact.

Now, here is how to reach that goal:

Going solo out of school? Spend more time developing practice skills and leave the marketing work for the experts.

It's Friday @FindLawLP and we got perhaps the most random question we could've imagined, regarding the use of private detectives in legal practice. In other oddities, with less than a week until the bar exam, we've had a flood of panic-stricken test takers flooding to our site.

Bar exam and private dicks. That's what's on tap for #DearFindLaw, our weekly advice column for young attorneys, procrastinating bar examinees, and apparently, private detectives. And if you have a question for next week's column, you can find me on Twitter @PeacockEsq.

Being the neurotic law student you are, you've probably already started thinking about OCI even though it is still July. Considering the state of the legal market in the past few years, that's a good thing. Also given the market, we OCI starts up, we would suggest applying to as many law firms as the OCI process will allow. Then, after you have all your offers (and hopefully you will have at least one, and even better, a few to choose from), you'll need to decide which firm is right for you. And, just how exactly are you supposed to do that?

While there are many factors that go into deciding which firm's offer you should accept such as niche practices, or industry-specific standing, one of the main factors that will determine how happy and how far you will get at the firm may be one of the most important factors: firm culture.

When did the legal industry's decline begin, in 2009 or so? Though that was a long five years ago, the shockwave from the industry took a while to hit law schools -- we saw some decline in demand after the bloated Class of 2010 entered school, but the numbers didn't hit true historic lows until recently.

That's why now, when we're almost indisputably on a new path, it's especially interesting to see where students are looking, education-wise. Though LSATs are down, and applications are down, and class sizes are down, not every school is cutting back, nor does every school need to.

What are the trends in law school demand, as measured by applications? Who are the thrivers and survivors?

I remember it clearly: during a 1L career center presentation, our presenter told us that "black or navy suits" were the appropriate choice for job interviews. Being the broke student that I was, I raised my hand to inquire about charcoal, as the only suit in my close was a recent Goodwill acquisition: a charcoal, two button, single-breasted ensemble.

"Charcoal is a bit edgy," I remember him saying, "But it'll do in a pinch."

A year later, after I gained the freshman/1L fifteen, I bought a black suit. Oddly enough, that was right around the same time my job prospects started to dwindle. Some might say economic collapse, I say "black suit." In fact, the history of my law school, including the recent precipitous drop in the rankings due, in large part, to job numbers, could be traced back to that one, single piece of advice: "black or navy suit."

Because apparently, black suits are for funerals, parties, and Johnny Cash. Who knew?