If you followed my reports from the Future of Legal Education conference, you’ll note that “experiential learning” was a big buzzword among those contemplating how to make their students more desirable to potential employers. Many law school deans and faculty touted their school’s experiential course offerings, ranging from traditional clinical courses to for-credit externships.
Many law students — especially ones staring at the terrible market for recent graduates — feel that these programs will help them get jobs. Why wouldn’t they? Traditional legal education doesn’t seem to be helping them, yet their law schools keep jacking up tuition.
This month, students at Georgetown University Law Center decided that GULC’s for-credit externship opportunities were not on par with the offerings at other peer institutions. The GULC Student Bar Association put together a proposal for the faculty that called for more resources to be put into the school’s experiential courses. The SBA also wanted more school credit given for externships. The proposal seems to be in keeping with what employers claim they want from law school graduates: better practical training, better understanding of client services, better legal problem solving. Isn’t that the wave of the future?
No, according to a very vocal minority of Georgetown faculty. The proposal touched off a serious debate on campus. And some professors have gotten into the fracas with heavy-hitting arguments against the proposal…
Can lawyers love one another? ATL Courtship Connection is our attempt to matchmake legal types. Initially, I had somesuccesses. But if you’re a regular reader of this column, you know that the lastfew have been the worst kind of first dates: not great, not disastrous, just kind of “eh.”
This column’s tale is similar. I set up two gay Biglaw attorneys who both named Justice Breyer as their favorite Supreme Court justice. Alas, a shared appreciation for SGB’s pragmatism did not lead to any liberal love.
Feeling discouraged, I sought out a professional. I reached out to Lisa Clampitt, a high-end matchmaker at VIP Life who started her Cupid career under the tutelage of Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, and founded the Matchmaking Institute here in New York. She manages the social calendars of 30 high-earning lawyers, doctors, financial analysts and entrepreneurs at any given time. She offered some insight on matchmaking those with JDs.
I asked her if her lawyer clients differ from her other high-earning bachelors:
Lawyers tend to have a strong analytic/cerebral element, which is helpful at the office but not necessarily in the dating world. Lawyers can bring skepticism and caution to a date that can sometimes be a little off-putting at first glance.
When setting up a lawyer, it is actually helpful to pick matches that have complementary characteristics that help to create balance. A more artistic and creative energy can be a great match for a more rational/analytical personality type.
What is your take on young associates taking pseudo-legal positions for the time being? I am strongly considering taking a job in DC (after all, it beat my current location, Chicago, in your brackets) with a federal agency. The position technically doesn’t require a J.D., though it will increase the pay. It is not ideal, but it is in my practice area. Also, the pay would be more than I have ever made, and the benefits, oh the glorious federal benefits.
My dream job would be a mid-sized boutique law firm. But (1) they generally aren’t hiring anyone right now, and (2) they specifically aren’t hiring me right now. Will no one want to touch me in a couple years because I will not have been in a firm and have been “inactive” for a couple years?
-Even Better Than the Real Thing
Dear Even Better Than the Real Thing,
Last week A few years ago, as I was rifling through my baby book looking to see if any of those damn $50 Israeli bonds had matured, I came across that classic nursery arts & crafts project, the “what I want to be when I grow up” booklet. It’s always hilarious to read things your young self once wrote, and I was curious to find out if early me could have possibly envisioned the wild success and embarrassing wealth that I currently enjoy as a weekly blogger for this site. Apparently early me didn’t dare to dream that big, as I had only hoped to become a ballerina and a model. The point of the story is that sometimes our early dreams are derailed, but they’re often replaced with a reality that is SO much better. You dream of a midsized firm, but I say, dream bigger: one day you could work at a 500+ attorney firm or, god willing, a mega firm….
Ed. Note: Our post on harsh rejection letters generated a lot of talk among people interested in applying to Small Law jobs. Donna Gerson — the author of Choosing Small, Choosing Smart — provided us with a list of tips that former-Biglaw associates should consider when applying to smaller firms.
I spend an enormous amount of time interviewing small firm practitioners throughout the U.S. and speaking to law students about the expectations small firm lawyers have when it comes to interviewing, hiring, and promotion.
The feedback from SOLOSEZ, the ABA’s solo and small firm mailing list, was on point. Take the time to write to an actual person at the firm and never use a “To Whom It May Concern” salutation. Mass mailings are the kiss of death and lawyers know when they’re getting a mail-merge monstrosity. Know what practice areas the firm engages in and write a cover letter that addresses one’s interest in those practice areas. An applicant’s cover letter ought to connect the dots for an employer and not simply recite one’s résumé. And – of course – job-seekers need to clean up their Internet presence. I cannot even begin to tell you some of the atrocious (and hilarious) stories I’ve heard over the years from legal employers about Facebook.
So what should former-Biglaw associates keep in mind when applying to Small Law?
What do you think the resale value on your law degree is? Earlier this year, a San Francisco lawyer put his degree up for sale on Craigslist and found out.
The Georgetown grad was miserable working for a large law firm in Silicon Valley. So he quit and posted his degree in the Craigslist “For Sale” section for “the bargain basement price of $59,250″ — the current value of his student loan balance — or best offer. He hoped to get rid of the piece of paper with “the amazing ability to keep you from doing what you really want to do in life, all in the name of purported prestige and financial success.”
Back in March, the best offer had come from a documentary filmmaker who offered to give the miserable lawyer $50 to “piss on the diploma and then set it on fire.”
That would have been a serious markdown on the $100,000 degree. We checked back in with him this week and found out that a slightly better offer came along…
* Former Biglaw partners under an (ash) cloud: Andrew Rimmington, formerly of Dorsey & Whitney, and Michael McFall, formerly of McDermott Will & Emery, are standing trial in London for alleged insider trading. [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
* Not a Hollywood ending: Michael Douglas’s son is heading to prison for five years. [Gawker]
If you’re one of the six million people who have read this post about Apple’s next iPhone, you may already be familiar with the outline of this story. According to Gizmodo, an Apple engineer allegedly left his prototype iPhone on a bar stool in Redwood City. A random stranger picked it up, realized it was a next-generation iPhone, and then got in touch with Gawker, which has made it clear in the past that it’s willing to pay big money for advance peeks at Apple products.
So this random person — who Gizmodo is being careful not to name — then sold the iPhone to Gizmodo for $5,000. Ever since getting a MacBook Pro, we understand the worship at the shrine of Apple a little better, but still, the excitement about the new iPhone is beyond us. It appears that the major advancement is that there will be a camera on the front, so that you can video-chat with someone on your phone Star Trek-style.
The super-sercretive company wasn’t happy about the phone going rogue. Charles Arthur at the Guardian asked whether the site’s editors had violated California state law by buying stolen property. But Gizmodo isn’t worried about that:
(Our legal team told us that in California the law states, “If it is lost, the owner has three years to reclaim or title passes to the owner of the premises where the property was found. The person who found it had the duty to report it.” Which, actually, the guys who found it tried to do, but were pretty much ignored by Apple. )
Apple’s general counsel Bruce Sewell sent Gizmodo a letter requesting the return of the secret iPhone, and Gizmodo plans to comply.
Well, that confirms that the secret iPhone is a real iPhone. What are the legal implications for the trade secrets made public?
Justice Clarence Thomas — who tends to hire clerks from a wide range of law schools, including some schools far outside the so-called “T14″ — has had to defend himself against (unfounded) allegations that his clerks are “TTT” (an epithet so ridiculous it always makes us laugh). At the same time, because he’s the justice tasked with going to Capitol Hill to beg for money to testify in support of the SCOTUS budget request, he also has to defend the Court against charges of elitism in law clerk hiring, leveled by grandstanding lawmakers.
Hiring law clerks from Ivy League law schools: damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
For this coming Term, October Term 2010, Justice Thomas has steered his chambers back in the direction of elitism. All of his clerks for OT 2010 hail from top schools.
Last week, we mentioned that D.C. lawyer Chris Chan was going to be featured on My First Place, on HGTV. The episode aired last Thursday — and, for those of you who missed it, it will re-air on Tuesday, May 11.
Here’s a brief blurb, from HGTV, about the episode:
For Chris Chan, buying a home in Chinatown would allow him to stay close to work in Washington D.C. and also stay connected to his heritage in a neighborhood he grew to love as a renter. After a long search in this expensive city and some tough negotiating, he finally gets a good deal on his dream condo. But surprise lending restrictions on new construction bring everything to a halt. For months, the only thing Chris can do is wait and wonder whether he’ll ever get to close on his first place.
We chatted with Chan, a patent prosecutor and litigator at Finnegan, about his experience appearing on television….
Last fall, we gave props to Sullivan & Cromwell for making a high number of women partners — four out of five, or 80 percent. If you consider only U.S.-based partners, S&C had a new partner class that was 100 percent female. (Tax partner Eric Wang is based in London.)
The economy may be looking up, at least for the women lawyers in the 2010 new partner classes. According to a survey released today by the Project for Attorney Retention (PAR), law firms made significant advances in retaining and promoting their women lawyers: 23 firms made new partner classes that were 50% or more female, and 34% of the new partners are female, compared to 28% of the new partners in 2009.
Not all of the news was good, however: 14 firms had all-male classes.
If you are considering a virtual law practice, you know that many of today’s solo firms started that way. But why are established, multi-attorney law firms going virtual?
Many small firms are successfully moving part—or even all—of their practice to a virtual setting. This even includes multi-jurisdictional practice spanning several states and practice areas, although solo and small partnerships are still the largest adopters of virtual law.
Can you do the same? The new article Mobile in Practice, Virtual by Design from author Jared Correia, Esq., explores how mobile technology bring real-life benefits to a small law firm. Read this new article—the next in Thomson Reuters’ Independent Thinking series for small firms—to explore how a mobile practice:
Reduces malpractice risk
Enables you to gather the best attorneys to fit the firm, regardless of each person’s geographic location
Leverages mobile devices and cloud technology to enable on-the-spot client and prospect communication
Transitioning in-house is something many (if not most) firm lawyers find themselves considering at some point. For many, it’s the first step in their career that isn’t simply a function of picking the best option available based on a ranking system.
Unknown territory feels high-risk, and can have the effect of steering many of us towards the well-greased channels into large, established companies.
For those who may be open to something more entrepreneurial, there is far less information available. No recruiter is calling every week with offers and details.
In sponsorship with Betterment, ATL and David Lat will moderate a panel about life in-house and we’ll hear from GCs at Birchbox, Gawker Media, Squarespace, Bonobos, and Betterment. Drinks, snacks, networking, and a great time guaranteed. Invite your colleagues, but RSVP fast, as space is limited.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.