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May 2014 Archives

BigLaw Still Sucks for Black People, Who Never Make Partner

It's not really news, but it is worth noting: BigLaw partnership is still lacking in diversity, to put it mildly. How bad is the problem? According to a recent study, only 1.9 percent of partners are black in BigLaw, a percentage that hasn't changed in five years. For black women, it's an astonishingly low 0.6 percent.

Like we said, with the statistics static over the last few years, pale partnership is not exactly news, but the lack of progress does beg the question: what's the holdup?

For many, working as a summer associate at BigLaw may be the first time working in a corporate environment. Even if it isn't an associate's first time in a corporate environment, there's an art to navigating your way through corporate hierarchy -- and it doesn't mean just looking to the top.

If you really want to know what goes on in a company, look to support staff. Here are some tips for interacting with support staff.

5 Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone Who Just Failed the Bar

A friend of a friend just failed the bar ... again. This concerned friend asked: what do you say to this person?

Nothing. If anything, offer a brief "if you need anything, let me know" condolence. Otherwise, they've got a lot of thinking and eventually studying to do, and nothing you can say will help.

In fact, we can think of way more things that you really shouldn't say, even if your heart is in the right place.

If you are among the lucky summer associates to snag a gig at BigLaw, then one of the things you've probably heard about are the over-the-top events that you get to attend. Granted, the events are not as over-the-top as they once were, but you can still bet on some entertaining after-hours work events.

If you've never attended an after-hours work event, we're going to clue you in on the three things you need to navigate one successfully.

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and as the unofficial start to summer, that means one thing -- getting ready for the beach. And while we lawyers spend a great deal of time reading at work, many of us like to read when we're "off duty" as well.

So as you squish your toes in the sand, and lean back in your lounge chair with a pina colada in one hand, here are our top ten summer books that you should be holding in your other hand.

Ah, graduation speeches. There's so much ado made about who will speak at law school graduation, but then, when it comes down to it, do people really listen?

Hopefully, yes. But in case you do not have the patience to sit through these inspiring speeches, we thought we'd give you a breakdown of some notable 2014 law school graduation commencement addresses, and see what future lawyers should take away.

Last week we responded to Slate's article bashing the notion that you can do anything with a law degree. We disagreed, and noted that while it is our opinion you can do anything with a law degree, it shouldn't be the sole, or main, reason you decide to go to law school.

To prove that you can, in fact, do just about anything with a law degree, we decided to give you a list of 101 things that you could do with your J.D. (because 99 was simply not enough). If this list proves anything, the starting point is to follow your passion and the rest falls into place.

In no particular order ...

LSAC Removes Asterisk for Tests Administered With Accommodations

The Law School Admissions Counsel has forever treated disabled students, who requested testing accommodations on the Law School Admissions Test, in a manner that many would argue was unfair: they'd grant the requested accommodation (once sufficient proof was proffered), but the agency would also flag the score to notify schools that it was taken under non-standard conditions.

In essence, it was a scarlet letter or an asterisk for disabled students -- they could score well on the test, but the LSAC was screaming "special circumstances" to schools, almost making it seem like the student didn't deserve the score that he or she earned. Now, under the terms of a nationwide settlement in a suit brought by disabled students, the LSAC has agreed to stop flagging scores, and to reduce the burden of proof required to obtain accommodations.

5 (Or More) Blog Posts That Will Help You Survive Bar Review

At least until 2015, the bar exam is the bar exam. What's left to say that hasn't been said before? Very little, which is why we're not trying to top our previous brilliant forays into tips for not having a stroke during bar review season. (Tip #1? Stop snorting caffeine pills.)

That being said, our previous surviving the [bar] times posts have focused on singular aspects of the experience (cram sessions, stress management, scheduling, etc.). Here is your all-in-one guide to the Big Freaking Test (BFT).

National Memo Day is a thing. But really, it should be called the National Day of Mystery because the origins of the "national" day are unknown.

We're not really sure why memoranda need their own national day of recognition, but since we're lawyers, and writing and reading memoranda take up a bit of our day, we thought we'd give you a roundup of our best memo-related posts.

Here are our top memo-related posts this National Memo Day.

It's Graduation Season: Do You Know What Your Future Is?

Commencement. It's the end of something, but it's also the beginning of your future.

Yes, typing that just made me throw up a little, but it's true: no more casebooks, no more studying ... oh wait, the bar exam. Well, once you pass the bar, no more casebooks ... oh wait, practicing law.

Sorry about that. Besides a whole lot of reading, what does your post-graduation future have in store?

Last week I read an article about lawyers being the most sleep-deprived in CorporateCounsel and had one thought: tell me something I don't know.

While I didn't pull all-nighters in law school, there were definitely some long nights. It starts in law school and only gets worse when you begin practicing. Between the 12+ hour days, and being on call all weekend, I never had bags and dark circles under my eyes that compared to the ones I had while a second-year associate at BigLaw in New York.

A Slate article that went up earlier today officially has the interwebs going nuts. The premise of the article? Bashing the notion that "You can do anything with a law degree." As someone who went to law school because I love to argue, and as lawyers are wont to do, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Saksa.

Oh, and then there's the fact that my J.D. has been a selling point in every non-legal job I've ever had. So there. But seriously folks ...

Fordham Law Pulls Off Hilarious IT Prank on Last Day of Finals

Last April, we advocated pranking employees as a means of teaching IT security. The idea is simple: send a spoof email, based on the attacks hackers use, but instead of sending a virus, you attach a warning telling your employees not to be so darn gullible.

We'd like to think we had something to do with Fordham's epic spoof email prank on its student body, though to be fair, this is a pretty common trick for security firms. Plus, we wouldn't be so rude as to send out the fake virus during finals week, even if it was the last day.

Florida Prosecutor's Meth Arrest: Beware The Company You Keep

There are a lot of things you can learn from last week's arrest of Broward County Assistant State Attorney Molena Mompoint -- keep your plate tags up to date, don't volunteer unnecessary information. But the big one is this: beware of the company you keep.

Mompoint was stopped for driving a car with long-since expired tags and not using a turn signal. She ended up in cuffs, charged with methamphetamine possession, suspended without pay, and she's become a national headline.

Her defense? The drugs were left behind by her "attorney friends."

Here at FindLaw we pride ourselves on the smart, even scholarly advice we give to new law students as they embark on what may be their most difficult educational journey to date -- law school. We've given you our top study tips for the first year of law school, and even held a digital roundtable where FindLaw bloggers shared their favorite law school study supplements. And then of course, there was the controversial analogy of law school to boot camp.

If you thought you've heard it all, well, you're wrong. There's one tidbit we were saving for the second years -- read on for our secret tip.

For Mother's Day, FindLaw's Blog Team Salutes Our Mommas

Tupac had "Dear Momma." Kanye had "Hey Mama." Taylor Swift had "The Best Day."

What does the FindLaw blog team have? Only one of us is a musician, so we're going to rely on our words here. (Plus this Spotify playlist.)

To the mommas of FindLaw's bloggers and editors, we salute you:

Working in law is stressful -- why do you think so many attorneys are depressed, turn to alcohol, and in very sad circumstances even commit suicide? Before you get there, it's extremely important to learn how to manage stress. There's a reason they call stress the "silent killer."

I know what you're thinking, your typical go to stress relievers like a yoga class, massage or manicure are not an option when you're in the heat of the moment at work. Here are five easy ways to manage your stress, and avoid a meltdown at work that could end up costing you your job -- and adding to the stress.

Questioning Casebook Rentals? You're Asking the Wrong Question

Aspen Publishers ticked off a lot of people this week. The casebook publisher sent out an email to professors announcing it's new "CasebookConnect" program, a glorified casebook rental program that provides access to a digital version for life!

It was a terrible plan for many reasons. As Professor Blackman noted when he publicized the email, the license agreement would require students to return the books at the end of the year. Even if they didn't, it would end the used book market, as stores couldn't sell the books legally under such a program. It's basically book leasing. As for the benefits of "CasebookConnect," the digital edition, it's a joke -- nobody looks at their casebook after the class ends, unless they've run out of targets at the rifle range. (Yes, that was coincidentally an Aspen Property casebook.)

We recently went over everything a summer associate would need to know about getting the job done. This post looks at things from the other perspective -- that of a young associate already a full-time employee of the firm.

Most summer associates are assigned a junior associate who is essentially that summer associate's "big sister" or "big brother" at the firm. Whether you are assigned this position or not, you may still find yourself in the position of mentor.

If you do, here are three tips for being a great mentor to summer associates.

Clerks and Associates: Should You Snitch on an Overbilling Boss?

You work at a small law firm, either as a clerk or as an associate. Your boss employs multiple shady billing tactics, such as having you guesstimate how much time it would've taken him to review a stack of documents, then billing for that amount of time, while neglecting to actually do the work.

The amount of overbilling is significant. In one case, you estimate that he inflated a $150,000 bill to over $395,000.

What do you do?

The months of spring are a blur, aren't they dear law student? Your heads are buried in the books as you study for finals, and when you look up, it will be fall and you'll be sitting in a lecture hall again.

What about the summer?

Summer associate season is starting sooner than you think, so as you head in that direction, we've compiled a list of our best posts on everything you need to know about being a summer associate. It's tough enough being a newbie, so at least be a newbie in the know.

More Time than Money Associates? People Are Happy to Help

As an associate, you might find that you have more time than money. The money's great, but if you're stressed out and working yourself to death, it's not worth it. Luckily, there are many companies and individuals standing by, ready to happily take some of your money and give you back some time.

Do you, for some reason, not find grocery shopping a rewarding and engrossing activity? Do you blow off exercising because you're too tired -- even though you know it will give you more energy? Do you put off errands because you're too focused on work and don't have time?

If so, read on. Soon your problem will be solved.

The New York Times has released a new Op-Docs series to keep its audience enthralled -- "Verbatim." The series "transforms verbatim (word for word) legal transcripts into dramatic, and often comedic, performances."

The impetus for this series was a transcript of a deposition that was published on Tumblr. In the case, the Ohio Cuyahoga County Recorder's Office was being sued for charging $2 per page to photocopy public documents. What ensued was a debate that you would never, ever see on a court-room drama.

Here's why "Verbatim" is great entertainment for lawyers, and non-lawyers, alike.

Summer Associates -- 5 Tips to Turn Your Internship Into an Offer

Summer associate season is coming. It's a time to learn skills, meet new people and -- oh, forget that. You want to get an offer for after graduation.

Here are some tips to help make that happen. Not all firms will even have the ability to hire new associates, so make sure you don't accept a spot from a firm that's just going to string you along. Assuming that your firm will be making job offers, here are some things you can do to put you in a better position to get one of them. But no guarantees.