As a new summer associate, you must have heard many a horror story about your predecessors, including tales of fashion disasters. For example, do you remember the boozy Milbank SA who supposedly showed up to events wearing an Olympic jumpsuit? How about the girl who wanted to march around her firm with a $9,000 Birkin bag? As this year’s summers descend upon Biglaw firms across the country, we thought that we might be able to offer you some assistance to prevent you from committing comparable crimes of fashion.
To accomplish this feat, we’ve teamed up with none other than Anna Akbari, the “thinking person’s stylist,” to help you make it through the summer. You don’t want to wind up as a bullet point on Weil Gotshal’s“unacceptable” list….
It’s not often that one associates high fashion with female lawyers. And if such an association is to be made, it usually comes in the form of an Elle Woods / Legally Blonde joke. Instead, one is quick to conjure visions of boxy ’80s power suits with shoulder pads thick enough to warrant a cringe.
You’d think that with the sheer number of fashion sense for the workplace seminars, women would have stopped making the faux pas of dressing like they were anywhere but at a David E. Kelley-created law firm — but apparently, you’d be wrong.
So let us spell it out for all of our lovely lady lawyers, as the Wall Street Journal so eloquently did last night: “The power suit is over.” These days, power looks for women contain frills, ruffles, and even hints of (gasp!) pink.
While the power suit may be a fashion no-no, is it acceptable to wear these emerging trends to work?
It’s fitting that we recently devoted space in these pages to a paralegal’s lament. This week, the last week in April, is Administrative Professionals Week. It’s a secular holiday devoted to recognizing the work of secretaries, legal assistants, receptionists, paralegals, and other administrative support personnel.
And today is the culmination of the week: Administrative Professionals’ Day. As Elie wrote a few years ago, today is “the official day on which you need to make a financial display of appreciation… but people are supposed to be nice to their secretaries for the entire year week.”
Lawyers, it’s not too late to get your assistant a card or a gift. If you’re on the West Coast, stop at a gift shop on your way into the office. If you’re on the East Coast, step out during your lunch break.
Let’s take this opportunity to reflect on the contributions of administrative professionals….
Maybe it is because I have been reading the comments or my reviews, but lately, I have reevaluated my work history. Five years after graduating from law school, I could be “associate general counsel” at some company, or maybe even “income partner” or “junior partner” at a small law firm. Or, if I worked hard enough and dreamed big enough, I could be a Public Information Director. I, however, am none of those things.
Why not? I have followed most of the generic tips out there. I “do good work.” After a few missteps, I now “dress for the job I want, not the job I have.” I got “five passports, I’m never going to jail.” Oops, maybe that last one was not a career tip. Moving on…
So why am I in career purgatory and my colleague from law school, Jimmy NoBalls, is a partner? (Note: his name has been changed for my amusement). I found the answer in a very well-crafted article on Corporette, Battling Burnout. Tip No. 6 reads as follows:
Whatever you do, at least the very least, fake interest in your current job (as the Men’s Health article also advised). Arrive on time. Be sociable. Look as professional as possible. Smile.
This tip explained everything. The difference between Jimmy and me is not talent, skill, experience, or anything else substantive. No, Jimmy was faking it. I, on the other hand, wear my disdain like a t-shirt (which coincidentally reads, “I work at your cr**py small firm, and all I got was this crummy t-shirt”).
Most of our readers know this about me already, but in case you didn’t, I was a sorority girl in college (hardy har har, but I wasn’t an Omega Mu). I joined Kappa Alpha Theta during my freshman year at Lehigh, and I had some of the best times of my life as a result. And no, when I was pledging, the sisters didn’t circle my fat with a marker (there weren’t enough markers).
Anyway, being a member of a Greek life organization brought me a lot of fun times and awesome opportunities when I was in college. I learned how to funnel, and I turned into one of the best flip cup players around. I got to be my sorority’s pledgemaster one year, and I was in charge of recruitment the next. I accomplished a lot of great things in my sorority leadership positions, and you better believe I listed them on my résumé.
The reason I bring this up today is because a future law student is wondering whether she should list her Greek affiliation and leadership roles on her résumé when applying to law school….
* It’s really hot outside. It’s so hot that the Amistad has started offering free boat rides back to Africa. I don’t know what you are supposed to wear to your office on days like this. Just be smart and don’t wear white. [Corporette]
* Leave it to the New York Post to make Sonia Sotomayor’s court performance a sidebar to a story about her theories for cooking chicken. [New York Post]
* I’m so done with the NFL lockout. Either they get it together, or I have more time to figure out if Brady Hoke is the savior. I care not. [Blackbook Legal]
* Lawyerly Lairs: 19th Century Edition. [UrbanTurf]
* Another Galleon Group member has been sentenced. And this one used to be attractive. [Dealbreaker]
* Look, I like porn as much as the next guy, but this guy was a sick f***. I’m not sure he deserved to be in jail, but I’m not thrilled that he’s out. [Pink Slipped/Forbes]
* Even family-friendly Easter treats have been molested by the TSA.* [ABA Journal]
* The woman who falsely accused the Duke Lacrosse players has been charged with murdering her boyfriend. And so Karma has provided the perfect opportunity to show this lady what a “rush to judgment” actually feels like.* [Huffington Post]
* How much should you spend on Administrative Assistants’ Day? It depends, how much does it cost to tell your secretary “nice rack” without getting in trouble these days?* [Corporette]
* DieHard (the battery) sues DieHard (the male desensitizing spray to stave off ejaculations) over use of the name “DieHard.” Apparently, some men were confused and tried to jump start their cars after using the spray.* [Legal Blog Watch]
* New York State quickly backed off its plan to “legislate fun” by regulating games like kickball and tag when a solider stepped through a time portal and warned legislators that in the future we all turn into pussies who get our asses kicked by the French.* [Fox News]
* A law firm was sued for prematurely revealing the winners of a reality TV show, but I expect the suit to be thrown out because everybody knows there are no winners when it comes to reality TV.* [ABA Journal]
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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 six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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