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December 2013 Archives

Top 3 Twisted Quotes From Federal Judges in 2013

Federal judges have been known to wax poetic on a topic, and even go on long rants about the process, which can make for some pretty ironic reading.

So, in the spirit of the year's end, here are the top three most twisted things to come out of the Article III courts in 2013:

Why Haven't We All Moved to Detroit Yet?

Two words: buy low.

With many of us law graduates carrying over $100k in debt, home ownership may seem like a pipe dream. And in many parts of the country, there are no jobs.

If you're going to be unemployed, why not do so in a place where houses cost $500 (plus property tax)? Even if you can't find law-related employment, a job as a barista would cover the property tax and cost of restorations.

Seriously folks: let's do it. Mass migration.

The End of 2013 Is Nigh: 10 Inspirational Quotes for Attorneys

With 2013 coming to a close, you may be reflecting upon your dreams and disappointments, your ambitions and your inertia. Nothing nourishes such reflection quite like inspirational quotes.

Here are 10 inspirational quotes for attorneys and law students:

5 Tips for Law School Applications Over Winter Break

The delight of many law school hopefuls is working on law school applications while friends and family are busy having actual winter and holiday fun.

Don't let application blues set in. To help you finish your law school applications over winter break, check out these five tips:

Are We About to Get a Peek at the Impact of Affirmative Action?

Professor Richard Sander of the University of California Los Angeles calls it the "mismatch theory." He's written a law review article, a book, and an article for The Atlantic about the subject -- how affirmative action supposedly sets up minorities to fail by placing them in schools that are too rigorous for them to handle.

His study, unsurprisingly, was not met with open arms. Critics complained that he lacked sufficient data to make the conclusions asserted. His response was to go to the one place that has all the data he'd ever need: the California State Bar.

Except they said no. Until the California Supreme Court, last week, said yes.

Buyers' Remorse: 40% of Young Wis. Lawyers Regret Law School

If you could go back in time, before the bar, before the case books, before the LSAT, would you make the same decision?

More than 40 percent of your cohorts wouldn't. And that's just one of many findings of a report by a State Bar of Wisconsin task force. Other (obvious) findings included recent graduates earning far less than they expected when they went in to school, being so far in debt that they feel like they'll never escape it, and more than a third admitting that they have considered changing professions (though only approximately 1 percent actually did).

What's the solution? The task force has a few ideas, and while the recommendations are well-intentioned, (spoiler alert) they are highly unlikely to make a difference.

It's mid-December. You've received your glowing performance review, and you've already spent your bonus. Your workload may have slowed (just a tad -- let's not get crazy, this is still BigLaw we're talking about), and this is a great time to start thinking about wrapping up 2013 and getting ready for 2014. Here are the top five things you should do for year-end preparation.

1. Set Goals

Take some time to reflect on your work for 2013, and take into consideration the feedback you received during your performance review. Select areas that need further development, and think about what you can do to improve in the new year. Whether it's better research or more concise writing, set some goals to reach in the new year. Just make sure that they are realistic (i.e., achievable) and that you think about the steps along the way needed to reach the result you want.

If you thought law school was really just one big vocabulary lesson, then you're not alone. You don't leave law school with many practical tips, merely the language of law. You can talk the talk, but can't quite walk the walk.

Here's an example: Welcome to the world of BigLaw, where you have corner offices, company cars and rainmakers. Rain what? Rain who? Hold up, you thought you'd be in the legal industry, not forecasting weather trends. Before you run for your umbrellas, read on.

Let's Take a Closer Look at the ABA's Law School Enrollment Data

Yesterday, the ABA Section of Legal Education released another in a long line of law school demand-damning statistics: for the fall of 2013, the 202 ABA-approved JD programs enrolled 39,675 full-time and part-time students, a precipitous drop of 11 percent (from 44,481) year-over year, and calamitous drop of 24 percent from the historically-bloated fall 2010 numbers (52,488).

Are pre-law students becoming wise to the "law school scam" of $200,000 for a worthless degree? (We know, professor, the "esq." suffix makes up for it in "cultural cachet" for us first-generation college and law grads.)

Or is this simply an "ebb" in demand caused by a few years of over-enrollment?

5 Types of New Year's Resolutions for the Young Attorney

Resolutions are crap, right? Who actually follows through on those things?

Me. I do. Five out of ten, so far.

Goal-setting is important. With an eighty-hour work week, it can be hard to see anything past the next day's motions, the next week's hearings, and the next client's drama. Resolutions are your reminder of the long game.

Maybe you knock them all out. Maybe you only follow through on a few. But having that list, written on a large poster somewhere where you'll see it every day, provides a constant reminder of what you're striving for and of the big picture.

Here are a few types of resolutions to consider:

As a lowly summer or first-year associate, one of the things you will definitely be tasked to do is write a memo. And while you wrote a legal memo in your legal writing class, you can be sure that writing one at your fancy BigLaw firm will be nothing like your law school homework assignment.

Getting an assignment to write a memo should not send you screaming home trying to dig up your legal writing book to figure out what the hell goes into a memo. Here are seven steps to writing a great first legal memorandum:

As a law student you probably kept a rough tally in your head of the ridiculous amount of time you spent in the library (it's been over 15 years and I still remember), so you'd think keeping track of your time at work would be easier. Not so.

Keeping track of billable hours is a task in and of itself, and without a plan, you are headed for trouble. After all, without an accurate tally of the hours you're billing, how are you going to get that hefty bonus at the end of the year? Here are five easy steps to keeping track of your billable time.

Invitation to the holiday office party? Check. Perfect outfit for said holiday office party? Check. Awesome gifts for your coworkers? Uh-oh, haven't gotten that far.

Don't worry, we've taken all the thinking out of gift giving for you coworkers -- just follow these three easy tips.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to drunk driving is: Don't. Do. It.

If you, like many others, think you can have a drink or two at the holiday office party before hopping into your car, you may want to invest in a DUI app. These are not guaranteed tests, but they may illuminate how drunk you actually are, and keep you off the road.

State Drive Sober Apps

Some states have created free apps to estimate your blood alcohol level and give you a determination of whether it's ok to drive. States like Kentucky, Georgia and Wisconsin have an app -- just search under "Drive Sober." Since the states have a huge interest in keeping drunk drivers off the road, these apps are all free.

Last week we went over the three big don'ts of holiday office parties, and while we gave some helpful advice on what not to wear (i.e., ugly Christmas sweaters and too much cleavage), we thought it might be helpful for some tips on what to wear.

Here are some suggestions for what to wear to your holiday party for both guys and gals.

Does This BigLaw Social Media Policy Go Too Far?

Employers need social media policies. After all, pretty much everyone is on a social network today, even my luddite stepfather, who refuses to carry a cell phone, yet has Google+ and LinkedIn profiles. And the combination of social media, search engines, and blogs writing about lawyers makes it easy to find and magnify the biggest blunders lawyers make online.

It's no surprise then that BigLaw firms, such as Milbank, have social media policies. And while Above the Law's Joe Patrice compares the firm's policy to the PATRIOT Act, we'll have to respectfully disagree.

In fact, the policy's provisions seem relatively reasonable.

Indie Law Schools Facing Debt Rating Issues; Legal Jobs Decline

It's not a happy Monday for our nation's law schools. The news, across the board, appears to be negative, both in terms of schools' financials and their graduates' job prospects.

Back in October, we reported that Standard and Poor's was close to downgrading Brooklyn Law School's debt rating. It seems they aren't the only law school in trouble, however. According to the Wall Street Journal, a new report from Standard and Poor's offers a grim outlook for standalone law schools, with at least one school reaching "junk bond" status.

Meanwhile, the cause of the collapse -- decreased demand resulting from a lack of jobs for graduates, may not be improving in the near future. According to the Department of Labor's most recent report, after a steady period of recovery, the legal sector lost 1,100 jobs in November, the second straight month of decline.

On Dating Other Law Students: Things to Consider

Should you date other law students? While many of you may have entered law school at the point in your lives where you're lucky enough to already be with a committed, loving partner, there are also the (somewhat vast, at times) majority of law students who are, how do we put this ... sorely single?

It's not uncommon for folks who work or go to school together to end up dating, but, law school is an especially particular animal when it comes to dating and love. With that said, here are some things to consider:

Greedy associates rejoice! It's that time of year when annual bonuses are announced, and hopefully, you're getting one. Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP has announced that its junior attorneys will be receiving bonuses ranging from $10,000 to $60,000, depending on associate class, according to The Wall Street Journal. While some are lamenting the fact that bonuses are the same, there are others who are just happy to be employed and getting a bonus, according to Above the Law.

We're betting whether you're satisfied or not with your bonus, it will probably be spent before you even receive it. If you're at a loss for how to spend your bonus, let us give you a few suggestions.

Holiday office parties are notorious for obnoxious, inappropriate behavior. We remember the days when we were greedy associates, hearing about all the scandals that happened at the previous years' office party. Believe us, you don't want to become part of the holiday office party lore at your firm.

But look, you've got billables, so to help you out, we've narrowed it down to just three "don'ts." Here are three things you should avoid at all cost to prevent becoming part of the holiday office party legends:

Gearing Up For Finals? Here Are Some Tips

Ah, law school finals. There are few people who dread the month of December more than law students -- for most of us, it means the holiday season, a time for food, family, and festivities. For law students, it means a grueling month of exam period that may or may not dictate how the rest of their career will pan out (not to be dramatic or anything, but those of you aspiring to go into BigLaw know what we're referring to).

So, with that said, it's crucial that you are properly geared up to handle finals. Here are some tips:

Rutgers Camden Gets Fined, Censured by ABA for LSAT Violations

The LSAT doesn't predict much, does it? We all know somebody who bombed the LSAT, then proceeded to dominate their classes after barely being let in off the wait-list. Sure, someone who scores in the 120s probably will fail miserably at law school, and at the bar exam, but can you really blame a school for looking for a different measuring stick?

Rutgers School of Law at Camden did just that, and now, it'll cost them $25,000. The school has also been publicly censured by the ABA Accreditation Committee (oh no!) and will have to place a censure notice on their website for at least a year (egad!).

'White Flight' Hitting Nation's Lesser Law Schools?

Okay, class sizes are down slightly. Applications are down more than slightly. The market is correcting for the lack of employment opportunities for law graduates. This is something that we can all be happy about, right?

But who is avoiding law school? Apparently, per a recent study, it's white applicants who are eschewing a legal education, at least outside of the top tier schools. And while that means there is a more diversity (again, outside of the top tier schools), is this actually a good thing?

In a recent study, University of Dayton law professor Susan Wawrose asked legal employers what they looked for in new graduates. The results were surprising, notes The Wall Street Journal. Rather than seeking graduates with great practical skills, employers were more interested in "the softer skills, like work ethic, collegiality and a sense of individual responsibility."

Based on these new findings, here are five ways that you can be a great associate.

The Argument Resurfaces: Buy Low on Law School?

Earlier this year, I suggested that it might be a good time to "buy low" on law school. After all, with plummeting demand caused by abysmal post-graduate employment rates, coupled with schools' refusal to cut class sizes significantly and obsession with rankings, it's an applicants' market -- especially if you have "good" LSAT and GPA numbers.

Then again, what good is a degree without a job?

Since then, we've gotten a few more stats and trends, and it seems that the job market could be headed for correction, and optimistically, that correction could happen as early as the Class of 2017 -- the students who are applying right now.