Greedy Associates - The FindLaw Legal Lifestyle and Career Blog

July 2014 Archives

Kaplan Polls Students on the Devil's Dilemma: Ranking or Cost?

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.

ExamSoft Crashes: Lessons, Tweets From #Barmageddon (aka #Barghazi)

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.

How to Land Your Next Law Firm Job: Impress an In-House Recruiter

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.

Blog Comes Back to Haunt Federal Judicial Candidate Stephen Bough

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.

How to Write a Group Brief and Live to Tell the Tale

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.

#DearFindLaw: Private Investigators, Last Minute Bar Review

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.

Trends in Law School Apps: Top Still Top, Bottom Still Feedin'

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?

Black Suits Are For Funerals and Parties? Now You Tell Me!

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?

What Does the ABA Proposal for an LSAT Waiver Mean? Dual Degrees

Hate the LSAT? If this American Bar Association proposal goes through, you maybe able to sneak into law school without taking the ubiquitous exam.

But don't get too excited: the waiver only applies to a very narrow group of students -- those with high scores on other standardized entrance exams, who are at the top of their class, and/or those who are aiming to go to their undergraduate institution's law school -- in other words, a tiny sliver of prospective students.

Somewhere in New Jersey, Rutgers-Camden officials are shaking their heads in frustration, however. One wonders how much their six-year pilot program and censure have to do with the current proposal.

Kickstarter for Law School Tuition and a Documentary? LOL

There are so many hilarious things about this, that I don't even know where to begin.

Curtis Fox, a magna cum laude graduate of Winston-Salem State University with a BA degree in Political Science, a concentration in Public Administration and a Business Administration minor, has a dream of going to law school. (Strike one. Kidding.) His Kickstarter says that he is starting law school in the fall (though it doesn't say where).

Fox he wants your help. His crowdfunding campaign seeks money for a documentary about the costs of law school, plus some of the money will be used for matriculation.

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

Welcome to our second edition of what is now my favorite advice column ever -- #DearFindLaw. A colleague of mine has a sister that is now a summer associate at BigLaw, and she passed on a sibling's question.

The summer associate knew that she wanted to clerk after law school, so she didn't know how to deal with an offer from her law firm, in the event that she got one. She thought she might want to return to the firm after the clerkship, but wasn't sure. What should she do? How should she decline an offer?

Christine Lagarde has been head of the International Monetary Fund for three years now, and The Washington Post sat down to interview her about her work thus far. As we were reading, and watching, her interview, one thing became tremendously clear: we have a girl crush on Christine Lagarde. As my editor aptly noted, and I agree: "anyone who runs the IMF and carries a Kelly bag is a-ok with me."

Before she was Managing Director of the IMF, Lagarde was an attorney at Baker & McKenzie, where she later "became the Chairman of the Global Executive Committee of Baker & McKenzie in 1999, and subsequently Chairman of the Global Strategic Committee in 2004."

As law associates, we can learn a lot from her experiences rising through the ranks of BigLaw. Let's take a look at where she stands on issues ranging from leadership, and women.

Iowa's Debating No Bar Exam for In State Grads; What About UBE?

The bar exam was the most stressful time of my entire life. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, except ... I went through the suck, most lawyers go through the suck, and YOU TOO SHOULD GO THROUGH THE SUCK! It's a rite of passage, a filter to remove the barely literate and the incomprehensibly lazy, especially in states with ridiculously high passage rates, like Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.

Proponents of the move argue that it will help grads avoid four months of stress (boo hoo) and accrued student loan interest, but here's a better idea, one that Iowa is also considering, but nobody is talking about: adopt the Uniform Bar Exam, especially since, as Iowans may already know, they are basically using it anyway.

LeBron's Lessons for Laterals: Burning Bridges, Mending Fences

Was there ever a more idiotic idea than "The Decision"? Four years ago, LeBron James went on an ego-inflating tour de free agency, letting teams across the country woo him with cap space, exciting teammates, and chances for championships. In the end, he made a completely defensible basketball decision, to join up with two other superstars on the Miami Heat, which led to four finals trips and two trophies, in four years.

But "The Decision," a one-hour television special on ESPN where he announced that he'd leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, was one of the biggest PR disasters in history. Fans burned his jerseys in the street, the team's owner wrote an open letter criticizing LeBron, and it seemed the relationship between the man and his people was irreparably destroyed.

And then last week, he returned to Cleveland, with the city and team welcoming him with open arms. How? And how does this relate to your own career moves?

Apparently, here is what all the wanna-be 1L's are thinking right now: "Summer, summer, summertime." Fewer are taking tests, and more are hitting the beach, or the snooze button. New reports show that the number of students who sat for the June 2014 LSAT was at a 14-year low. Seems like students don't think a law degree is sufficient to practice law, let alone do anything else.

Let's take a look at what's behind the numbers, and any potential ramifications.

You'd think that a safe haven from discrimination and harassment would be a law school of all places -- but we've seen throughout history that's simply not the case. The latest in law school hall of shame stories comes out of Case Western Reserve Law and its flirtatious (and to some creepy) former Dean Lawrence Mitchell.

Mitchell's alleged actions led to a situation in which the school, and another professor tried to do the right thing, and ended up in litigation. This week, the parties announced that they had come to a settlement agreement, reports The ABA Journal. Now, everyone can get back to teaching law.

#DearFindLaw: Starting a Firm, Dorms or Off-Campus?

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

Welcome folks to the inaugural edition of #DearFindLaw, an advice column for young attorneys, law students, and pre-lawyers. Every Friday, you ask the questions (tweet us @FindLawLP, or hit us up on Facebook), and one of our writers will respond. It's like Loveline, but less funny, and with less sexually transmitted diseases (at least for now -- the questions are up to you).

What's on today's docket? A reader writes in from abroad, asking about whether he, along with a fellow young colleague, should start a law firm. And another reader asks: when moving to a law school across the country, should you go for the dorms or an apartment?

World Cup fever has swept up Americans, even if we stubbornly refer to the game of football as soccer. And with Germany and Argentina going head-to-head on Sunday, we thought now would be as good a time as any to reflect on what young attorneys could learn from World Cup 2014.

So here we go with four lessons for young attorneys from World Cup 2014.

Unemployed Or In a Rut? Play the Odds by Taking The Uniform Bar Exam

One of my friends, years into his legal career, is still doing doc review in New York. Another one is working for a small firm in Southern California and hates his debt-ridden life. You see, in the major legal markets, there are still very few jobs, even for those of us with a couple of years' worth of experience. And for recent grads? Forget it -- there's nothing entry-level in the major markets.

Maybe it's time to rethink geography. When I graduated, I figured homeless on a beach beat sleeping on frozen streets, but maybe, just maybe, aiming for a crowded marketplace isn't the best move. In fact, why not aim for, say, fourteen marketplaces? This is the appeal of the Uniform Bar Exam: one test, one score, with portability to more than 20 states.

2 Public Defenders Fired Over Anti-Palestinian Facebook Posts

Ah, Facebook. Ten years after its inception and we still haven't learned: The site is only good for posting pictures of babies and "Remember the 90s" listicles. Seriously folks, nobody cares about your political views, terrible music taste (guilty), or disgusting racism. If you wouldn't yell, "____ people are _____" in the office, or in public, then you shouldn't put it on Facebook either.

Two assistant public defenders in Broward County, Florida, just learned that lesson after posting anti-Palestinian hate speech on Facebook. Fortunately, their much more enlightened boss quickly moved to terminate the two attorneys, citing the fact that, ya know, public defenders shouldn't be spouting hate speech while working in a diverse office serving diverse clients.

That time of year is coming -- OCI -- that's on-campus interview season for the newbies. And for many participating in the process, OCI is the foundation of your job search and career trajectory. It's not make or break, but it definitely sets the tone.

The key to success in law school -- and OCI -- is preparation. It's never too early to start, so we thought we'd let you in on an OCI prep event for our New York greedy associates. For everyone else, we have a roundup of FindLaw's best OCI advice.

Cooley Law School's Defamation Suit Dismissal Upheld by 6th Cir.

It's been a busy summer for the Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, with cut campuses, layoffs, and today, lost litigation.

What was the law school litigating? Oh, just some defamation claims brought against two lawyers that were trying to sue the school over allegedly inflated employment statistics. Way back in 2011, we reported on the school's efforts to silence their litigious critics through a defamation action. Those efforts failed when a district court found that Cooley was a limited purpose public figure for purposes of discussing the value of a law school degree.

Now, the Sixth Circuit has chimed in and affirmed the dismissal.

'Second Best' Law School in the Country Cuts 1L Class at One Campus

No, silly, not that second best law school in the country. No, we're talking about the school that once ranked itself as the second-best in the entire country, in part due to the number of chairs in its library (1,058 as of 2011).

We're talking about the school that sponsored a minor league baseball stadium (Go Lugnuts!). We're talking about the school that lost 40.6 percent of its 1L enrollment since the 2010-2011 school year. We're talking about one of five schools that was recently given a negative credit rating by Standard and Poor's.

And finally, we're talking about a law school that just cut its entire 1L class from one of its five campuses. If you guessed we are discussing the prestigious Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, you get a cookie.

Small Piece of Advice for Associates: Be Coachable

One of my friends is on a recreational volleyball team, a team that isn't very good. They have a couple of good athletes, a lot of mediocrity, and one guy that really, really annoys his teammates. Why? Every time they suggest an adjustment, such as moving closer to the net, he seems receptive but returns to his flawed play immediately. He's uncoachable.

Another friend has a similar situation: someone she hired, and now supervises, is one of those people that is repeatedly corrected, yet seems to be incapable of adjusting and fixing her constant minor errors. She's apparently a great co-worker, but just isn't detail oriented or coachable.

If you want to be a standout associate, one way to do so is to simply be coachable: seek feedback and actually act on it.