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

One issue that keeps coming up is the subject of midterms. Typically, it's been the case that law school classes -- particularly doctrinal 1L classes -- centered around a single final exam at the end of the semester.

This is unfair for a couple of reasons: basing an entire semester's performance on a single test on a single day, as well as the fact that 1Ls have never taken a "law school exam" before (though I'm sure Matt McGorry's character on "How to Get Away with Murder" -- you know, the one who "interned for Chief Justice Roberts" the summer before law school? -- has taken multiple practice exams already).

#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?

FindLaw Answers: Where Everybody Knows Your (Handle)

team cheer.jpgAh, Community

Whether misery loves company or happiness is meant to be shared, there is something about being part of a group, a team, a community of others that share experience which seems to provide a boost in challenging times.

Law Students, Associates, and Commiseration

And talk to a 1L, 2L, or 3L and you will likely find individuals bursting with experiences to share. Sure, being a law student can be exciting, but it can feel isolating at times. Mix in academic rigor with future uncertainty and looming debt, and you may find yourself brewing a stew that doesn't always seem like menu material. 

And while new associate-dom has the benefit of a J.D., it isn't necessarily the 'pass go and collect $200' card either. Understanding where you fit in a firm, company, or organization and what the typical expectations of someone in your shoes or stilettos are can take some getting used to.

Maybe that's why law students and new associates seek out active communities to join...on campus, in the field, and yes, right here online.

Online Legal Communities a la FindLaw


Knowing that you aren't going it alone, and that, in fact, you are joining a community of legal scholarship and practice is not only interesting, but even a little exhilarating.  The field of law is far more expansive than a single person and far more pervasive than a single case. Striving to understand it from multiple angles and through different lenses is what we as participants in the legal community can aim to achieve collectively.

So, these active online legal communities---pie in the sky, or do they actually exist?  Get out your vuvuzuelas, because you're closer than you think...

FindLaw Answers Question of the Day: Immigration Complications

Some of our most challenging queries on FindLaw Answers come from the Immigration Board. They can be complex because each set of facts is unique and involves international considerations while also implicating other fields of life and law.

Here, user Lupita_2009 describes her sticky situation and calls for help. Her scenario:

My boyfriend was arrested for first time domestic battery against me and was transferred to a judicial center, and they had told me he has a DUI from 5 years ago and also has an immigration hold.

Coming to terms with a relationship that has involved abuse is a major issue in itself; however for this user, it is only a part of her situation:

He has been in custody for 40 days. I wanted to know if there is a way the immigration hold could be removed because I am a US citizen and so is his 5 month old. We are not married, [but if we did get married], would this help in removing the immigration hold?

Time to put those Greedy smarts to use once again, and help a FindLaw Answers user approach a tricky legal question. This week, appropriately for the times, we feature a bankruptcy-related question.

One of the curious difficulties of initiating a bankruptcy petition is that it usually requires money. User jasontherock wants to file for bankruptcy, but has run into the money problem:

I have retained a bankruptcy attorney , but I have not yet paid them enough to start the process. I am on a payment basis and when I reach the required amount (in about a month) they will start the process.
Should we really be surprised to learn that a lot of people who want or need to file for bankruptcy find it difficult to pay an attorney to do that filing? Probably not. The problem for jasontherock is that, while he diligently saves up and pays his lawyers, the world marches on and his other creditors keep calling:
It's time once again to take a break from billing clients and put in a little pro bono effort.  Put your Greedy smarts to use and help the users of FindLaw Answers through the ever-disputed territory of landlord-tenant law.

Today we present pair of posts that really intrigued us.  Not so much for their legal substance, although there is a real legal question at issue here, but for their eerie similarity.  It certainly appears to us that a landlord and a (former) tenant have independently sought the help of the Answers community to resolve their dispute.  Read on and see if you agree.

First, we have a post from "sugarkitty," a landlord in Virginia, whose long-ago tenant moved away without bothering to collect her security deposit refund:

I had a tenant who vacated my property in early 2005 and refused to provide a forwarding address. I haven't heard from her in all this time but she called today demanding immediate return of her security deposit and threatening a lawsuit. After more than four years am I required to return it to her now?
We don't know too many tenants who don't want (or, frankly, need) their security deposits back after moving, so this is already an interesting story.  A later post by "blaize125" on the Real Estate board, though, made us take note:

Contracts meets consumer protection today in FindLaw Answers.  Put your Greedy smarts to use to help out user donnak69, who has a problem with an item she's sold:

Our dog had a litter of pups, which we sold.  One of the buyers has decided she doesn't want the puppy after having it for a week.  We don't want the puppy back. So far, the buyer has not paid any money.  Do we have to take the puppy back? or can we refuse?
Now, obviously, anyone who would want to return an adorable puppy is a heartless, soulless robot-person.  Nevertheless, donnak69 needs to know what her obligations are after the sale.  Do her prior representations to the buyer matter?  Is it a question of state law?  Does it matter if there's a written agreement?  Ponder these things, and click on over to this question thread to help out.
We have a theme for today's questions: many FindLaw Answers users have been hitting the Criminal Law board to ask about police searches of their cars.  Grab your favorite Fourth Amendment treatise (don't forget to get current with a quick read of Arizona v. Gant) and jump in:

Start with Answers user yallen, who wants to know whether the smell of marijuana constitutes probable cause for a search:

My boyfriend was recently pulled over (while I was in the car) and the police proceeded to search the car. I did not give them the authority to search. Well, they found drugs. The police report said he didn't signal a right turn, and the car smelled like marijuana.  Did the officer have sufficient probable cause to search the car by saying he smelled pot?

Got that one figured out?  Good, because here comes the Gant question.  (Hey, we warned you to look it over.)  User joej3839 wants to know the extent of Gant's restriction on searches incident to arrest:

Today's featured answer comes from the FindLaw Answers Family Law board, where user DroppedOnMyHead wants to know if there is anything she can do to avenge herself upon her erstwhile fiance, like sue him for breach of a promise to marry:

I know that suits of this nature have generally fallen out of favor and off the books of many states, as simply calling off an engagement/wedding is no longer the social reputation breaker it once was - but how about when serious financial detriment has been caused to the woman by a man's repeated promises to support, be there to assist in all ways,  and to take care of the woman? When he insists that the woman must put herself in his hands - sell her home, move, give up her job to be with him, etc. - does a woman have any legal recourse in most/any states anymore?

This time, regular Family Law contributor Ted_From_Texas suggested that if anything can help, it'll be contract law:
File today's question under "Law and Public Perception."  Many posters on the Employment board in FindLaw Answers have similar questions about breaks, overtime, and limitations on work hours.  Misinformation concerning these topics is all too common and spreads easily in workplaces everywhere, leading to questions like this one:

I've heard that there is an employment law that states your employer cannot legally ask you to be to work the next morning any sooner than 12 hours from the time that you leave work.  As in, if I work until 9:30 pm one night, I shouldn't be asked to be to work the next morning any earlier than 9:30 am.  Is this true?

Employment lawyers: we need your help!  Click over to FindLaw Answers and offer up your lawyerly knowledge to cut through the confusion.