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November 2013 Archives

It's that time when we taken inventory of our life, and give thanks for all the wonderful people and opportunities we have in our lives. Since we're in a festive mood here at FindLaw, here are some of the reasons we are thankful this Thanksgiving ...

Craigslist Ad Breaks Our Hearts; Advice for the Unemployed

In 405 words, a talented writer, and a frustrated, unemployed recent graduate engages in a bit of catharsis, and summarizes, quite aptly, the feelings of every person who has gone to law school with dreams of a decently-paying career, yet graduated into the world of working for low or no pay for the Saul Goodmans of the industry. He does so in the form of a craigslist classified ad (SFW version).

We get it. We've been there.

Right now, it's like you spent $100,000 to learn calligraphy the week before movable type was invented. It's a crushing, hopeless feeling that will only be alleviated when you find a long-term career. Meanwhile, with each passing day of mooching off of your girlfriend, parents, friends, or family, another piece of your soul dies.

If you took the bar exam this past summer, then you have probably found out if you passed the bar exam. And, while others are jumping for joy, there are invariably some, who are not celebrating. It's time to break old study habits and change the game plan, because clearly (and I don't mean to be harsh), the current strategy did not work.

So, here are five tried and true tips that worked for me (ahem, I passed the bar in three states first time around). Sure, everyone is different, but I truly believe anyone can pass the bar exam. It's all in the approach ...

Earlier this week, my distinguished colleague Mr. Peacock noted that most of you law students will be spending your Thanksgiving break writing outlines. His adept observation inspired me to give you some tips on how to spend your time efficiently, writing the best legal study outlines ever.

Law Grad Connected to Murder of Doctor, a Mental Health Reminder

A recent law graduate has been named as the only suspect tied to the death of a doctor. Ted Hoffstrom, 30, allegedly murdered Dr. Stephen Larson over the weekend in his home, WCCO-TV reports. Hoffstrom also died himself in the incident.

Larson was a 74-year-old obstetrician who had delivered Hoffstrom. Hoffstrom, who was born prematurely and endured mental and physical ailments because of it, had always allegedly traced his issues to his delivery.

Another 'Fix' Law School Proposal: Bar Prep in Third Year?

Seriously, this is becoming a new hobby: find and criticize proposals to "fix" law schools. (Don't ask about my ideas. With apologies to the South, it would somewhat resemble Sherman's March to the Sea, razing diploma mill schools, cutting seats everywhere else, and eliminating any ABA-sponsored tenure requirements to cut costs and tuition.)

Today's proposal? Lets make third-year useful again by incorporating bar exam prep classes into the curriculum. It's not a bad idea -- it's just mostly pointless.

The past few years the entire legal market has been suffering, but a new study that will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, shows us that the hardest legal nut to crack may be that of law professor.

Granted, most people who attend law school don't want to go on to become law professors, but for those who do, the paper's findings are disturbing. Though well qualified, the most important factor in hiring will be the law school that the applicant herself graduated from.

"Master of Disaster" Resigns from SCOTUS After State Disbarments

The dominos continue to fall in the wake of famed tort law pioneer and "Master of Disaster" Stanley Chesley's career-ending unreasonable fee scandal. Months after being disbarred in Kentucky, and resigning from the Ohio state bar, Chesley voluntarily resigned from the United States Supreme Court's rolls.

It all started with a fee paid out in mass class action Fen-Phen litigation. Chesley walked away with $20 million of a $200 million settlement. His fellow attorneys were convicted of criminal charges for bilking even more. In the end, the 440 members of the class received only $74 million, instead of the $135 million due.

Thanksgiving Break? Nope. You're Going to be Outlining.

Some choose to outline religiously. Others don't. If you're a 1L, however, your best bet is to stick with the tried-and-true methods, at least until you burn out in the beginning of your second year of law school.

That means, it's outlining time. (And no, we're not suffering under the delusion that you are one of those good students that have been outlining all along. Thank goodness for Thanksgiving "Break," right?) Ha. No.

In 2001, The New York Times interviewed 21 female attorneys at Debevoise & Plimpton. Seventeen women were incoming first-year associates, two women were from the 1991 class of associates (three of 24 women remained), and two others were from the 1981 class of associates (only two of the original 13 remained). The women spoke of their "great expectations" -- whether they expected to make partner, and gender differences in the workplace.

Fast-forward 12 years later, and the Times caught up with some of the women interviewed in 2001. The result is an Op-Doc (the NYT's abbreviation for "opinionated documentary") called "Great Expectations for Female Lawyers," which features some of the women originally highlighted in the 2001 article. As they reflect on their answers, you can see that some have a bit of regret, or perhaps nostalgia for long-gone naivete. As someone who entered BigLaw in New York City around the same time (2000), I found this piece especially moving, and a necessary watch for any female BigLaw associate.

Take five minutes to stop billing and watch -- but if you can't for now, here are my favorite take-aways. It all comes down to the choices you make.

How to Prepare Yourself for Bar Results: A Checklist

How do you prepare for bar results? The test was awful and the wait was possibly worse, but now that states are rolling out their pass lists, the day you get your bar results might be its own kind of dreadful.

It doesn't have to be, though, future barrister.

While many states have already released their bar exam pass lists, one of the most monstrous states for bar exam takers, California, has not yet done so. So for those of you still waiting for bar results, here's a checklist to help you prepare:

When Should You Go to Law School? A Few Things to Consider

When should you go to law school? We may have not-so-subtly suggested a thousand times that perhaps you just shouldn't, but of course we haven't forgotten about those of you who are still dead-set on pursuing a legal career.

Perhaps you're a fresh-faced, straight-out-of-undergrad future barrister, eager to get your Elle Woods on right away. Or perhaps you're at a crossroads, and are waiting for the right moment to change course and go back to school.

However you've arrived at this point in your life, here are a few considerations to help you decide when to go to law school:

Are 85 Percent of Law Schools Really Losing Money?

Well, we wouldn't be surprised.

We've covered declining applications and demand. We've seen that very few schools are actually cutting seats to compensate. (In fact, some have actually added seats.) And we all know how desperate schools are to maintain their rankings.

How do you maintain your ranking? Bribery, through scholarships (maintaining high admissions standards is key), and faculty salaries (academic reputation counts too).

More scholarships, and more salaries, with less revenue means: red. It also makes a blogger's estimate, that 80 to 85 percent of schools are losing money, completely believable.

Sen. Ted Cruz Was 'That Guy' Back in Law School

Ted Cruz is a polarizing figure, misunderstood by many, but a profile of the conservative Texas senator from his Harvard Law School days paints a clear portrait of someone we all know: the gunner.

From raising his hand constantly in class, to setting his eyes on a Supreme Court clerkship before school even started, his path seemed to be that of the gunner -- one who is destined to either do great things, or become the impotent small-town prosecutor that presses for decades in prison for jaywalking.

He's now Senator Ted Cruz and a potential presidential candidate. What was he like back then?

Where is the Best Place for a Young Law Grad to Live?

Maybe you've failed the bar exam ... multiple times. Or you passed the bar, but after getting laid off from a $30,000/year job, you've realized that the state of legal affairs in your state leaves little hope for the future. Maybe you're a third-year law student, with few job prospects, and you're trying to figure out where to set up your refrigerator box for a few months of post-grad homelessness.

You've got a lot of factors to consider when choosing your future state. Do you want to aim for the Bible Belt, or live amongst hipsters in Seattle? Do you have any family in that state from which you can mooch off of for a few weeks, months years? And, of course, there are the important considerations:

If you're a 3L, then the last year of law school can seem like a waste of time ... that is, unless you are applying for a clerkship. Then, it feels like you never have enough time. Take it from someone who spent weekends printing out cover letters and resumes, and sending them to district and circuit courts from New York to Guam.

I did get a clerkship, and it was the best legal job I've ever had (sorry FindLaw -- you're a close second). The experience you get clerking is irreplaceable, and probably the most insightful of your legal education, and later career.

Since Above the Law recently posted about clerkship application timing and deadlines, I was inspired to share some tips on how you can add clerkship to your resume.

Do you ever feel like you're dying a slow death toiling away as an associate underling at BigLaw? Don't worry, that's how you're supposed to feel (we wish we were kidding).

BigLaw may be known for BigBucks, but it's also known for nothing short of misery. Sometimes it's not just the looming specter of billable hours that makes you miserable, sometimes it's the people you work with. Here are some ways to deal with annoying coworkers.

It's that time of year ... you should be getting your bar exam results soon. If you live in New York, then you already know if you passed, but those in California have to wait until November 22nd to find out their results.

It's funny how it works. After the exam you're just relieved to be done, then you get on with your life, and just as things approach normal you remember -- the date for the exam results is coming soon -- and the stress starts to build all over again.

So on that fateful day, what should you do after you find out your bar exam results?

Skype Interview Coming Up? 5 Reminders

Are you ready for your next Skype interview? These days, interviews conducted over video conferencing technology are just as common as phone or in-person interviews. You may be interviewing for a job a few towns away, or even across the country, or the interviewer is out of town. Either way, it not only saves travel expenses, but it just makes more sense to conduct an interview over the computer.

While you may think you're fully prepared for your next Skype interview, don't forget that there are certain nuances that come with this type of interview that you may not experience otherwise with regular interviews. With that said, here are 5 things to keep in mind before you walk (or log) into your next Skype interview.

What's Going to Kill You? If Not Work, Is it the Loneliness?

Sedentary lifestyle. Obesity. Alcoholism. Heart attacks.

Death is lurking, my friends, and for lawyers living stressful lives, with too much work, too many hours, too massive a debt load, and  too little free time for exercise, healthy eating, and a social life, many of us are racing towards our deaths like idiots on crotch rockets.

But surprisingly, it might not be the booze or the fried chicken that kills you. It could be the loneliness.

Hilarious Lawyer Offers $1,000 Scholarship to Stay Away from Law

What's the biggest regret of my life? That's a tough one.

However, it wasn't the decision to go to law school. Most of my student loan debt was from University of California at Davis. (Got to pay off the pepper-spraying cops somehow, right?) But for many regretful recent law grads, they'll all scream in unison to pre-law students: STAY THE [EXPLETIVE] AWAY!

They're not being protectionist (at least, not completely). They speak from experience. They know, after graduation comes, well, pretty much nothing for most grads. One lawyer, from an earlier era, understands the plight. He's now offering a $1,000 scholarship to do anything but law.

We Tried That Exercise Ball as an Office Chair Thing. Meh.

Rumor has it that using an exercise ball instead of a regular office chair brings a number of health benefits. In addition to forcing your core muscles to work constantly to maintain stability, it also burns calories and helps your posture. Such benefits would almost make up for looking like the office weirdo.

Those are the rumored benefits, anyway. Out of sheer boredom, and as part of my post-law school fitness obsession, I figured what the heck: worst case scenario, I do mad crunches between slamming protein and creatine shakes in my cubicle.

Workplace Styles and Tips for 'Movember' and No Shave November

Movember: a made-up month (see also Rocktober); alternatively, a men's health awareness movement that takes place in November, which involves growing mustaches as a sign of awareness and solidarity (see also, the closely related No Shave November).

Welcome to the greatest month of the year, gentlemen. Yes, yes, we know: both Movember and No Shave November started on Friday, but for those who were still unconscious from Halloween, you have a few days' worth of scruff built-up either way. (And if you start late, just hold over into December -- we won't tell.)

How does one properly observe this all-important month, while not looking like a hobo or jeopardizing your all-important job? Here are a few tips:

Earlier this year we gave the guys some advice on business casual dress, so we thought it was only fair to share some tips for the ladies. Generally, you'll want to follow your bosses' lead, and always err on the side of over-dressing. As Oscar Wilde said, "You can never be overdressed or overeducated."

The most important thing to remember is the "business" in business casual. Here are more detailed tips on how to walk the fine line of business casual dress.

Slide in Law School Demand Continues; LSAT Takers Down 45 Percent

Good news! If you're applying to law school, you're probably going to be facing even less competition. We've now seen a few years of sliding demand, with fewer applicants and lowering admissions standards at our nation's far-too-many schools. Of course, schools were probably hoping, wishing, and praying that demand had hit rock bottom, and that a recovery was coming.

No such luck, it seems. According to data provided by the Law School Admissions Counsel (LSAC) to The Wall Street Journal, the number of LSATs administered in October is down 45 percent since October 2009. Of course, that was the "oh crap, a recession, let's wait it out in law school," spike in LSATs and law school applications, but other numbers show that it's more than a statistical oddity.