Ed. note: This is the first installment in a new series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, for the benefit of newly arrived (or soon-to-arrive) first-year associates, we have some advice from Ross Guberman on writing for the toughest audience they’ll ever face.
With the help of many clients, I recently surveyed thousands of law-firm partners about the writing skills they want to see associates develop.
Across the country and across practice areas, partners agree on what they’d like to change about associate drafts. I’ve organized their responses according to my Four Steps to Standout Legal Writing. I’ve also included a fifth category that covers usage and mechanics.
A few sample responses follow.
Step One: Concision
Partners say they spend too much time cutting clutter and other distractions from associate drafts. Anything that interrupts the message — wordy phrases, jargon, legalese, redundancy, blather, hyperbole — is a candidate for the chopping block.
Today, the ATL Career Center launches its latest feature: a Pre-Law section, featuring ratings, inside info, and expert advice on law schools, LSAT prep, and the application process. Check it out here.
While law school applications continue to decline and legal jobs are scarce, the business of discouraging people from going to law school is positively booming. There is a mountain of data which would seemingly dissuade anyone from taking on massive debt only to then leap into the clogged toilet of this job market. (And yet, see this compelling analysis that now is actually a great time to apply to law school, especially for lower scoring applicants.)
But what about future law students — are the 0Ls getting these gloomy memos? And how is it shaping their choices?
Recently, in collaboration with our friends at Blueprint Test Prep, we conducted a survey of BluePrint’s summer students studying for the October 2012 LSAT. We had nearly 600 respondents. Our goal was to get a snapshot of these 0Ls’ perception of the legal landscape, including the realities of financing a law school education and the current state of the legal job market.
After the jump, see some of what we could glean from the 0L mind, including a striking disconnect between the “job market” and a “career path”….
All across the country, law students and law firms are gearing up for on-campus interviewing. If you are seeking to advance your legal career or trying to figure out where to work, check out Above the Law’s new Career Center, which contains a wealth of resources to help you with your job search.
On Friday, we pointed you to our brand-new ATL Law Firm Directory. The Directory contains ratings for over 70 law firms, based on responses from over 6,000 attorneys. Our individual firm profiles break down the employers using a number of metrics, and based on your surveys we’ve been able to give each of the firms a letter grade (curved around a “B,” which should be familiar to most law grads). The profiles are dynamic, reflecting both publicly available information and user responses, so if you feel like your firm is getting an unwarranted grade, the profile page will lead you right to the survey, where you can tell us what you think.
We’re also interested in hearing about how the summer associate experience has been this year. We invite you to take our summer associate survey.
Our effort to expand the career-related resources for our readers is just getting started. We’ll soon be launching a page dedicated to lawyers in the lateral market, as well as resources for those in other career paths outside of Biglaw. As more people fill out surveys, we’ll be able to construct profiles for more firms. And yes, eventually we will have letter grades for law schools as well as law firms — and that won’t be controversial at all!
The Career Center will grow and evolve over time, and we welcome your suggestions for adding to and improving it. If you have recommendations, questions, or concerns, you can reach the Career Center team by email: email@example.com.
It’s an exciting time here at Above the Law, and we hope you’ll take advantage of these new offerings. In today’s fast-moving and challenging world, information is king — and we want you to have access to all of it.
Looking to rock your law school exams without even trying? Good luck with that. Unless you are a part of the small minority that can take an exam with little preparation and a couple shots of tequila, you will have to do some work to do well throughout your law school career. While reading all your assignments, briefing all relevant cases, and kissing up to all your law professors may help your grades a little, there is still no guarantee that all that extra work will earn you the top grades you are gunning for.
There is a strategy to doing well in law school. Most importantly, know that there is no one strategy that works for everybody. You know how you like to study, and you know what works best for you. That being said, the recruiting professionals at Lateral Link have compiled a list of tips below that worked for them and the attorneys they have placed at top firms around the world….
As we pointed out in Part 1 and Part 2 on looking for another job, three of the biggest suggestions for conducting a job search without getting caught include keeping the job search entirely out office, knowing where your resume is going, and networking on the down-low.
In this last post, we offer our last tip on conducting a stealth job search…
As we pointed out in last week’s post on looking for another job, job seekers should be cautious about the job-search process, even if they only want to test the waters.
While many attorneys fear getting caught by their employer for searching for a new job, there are things one can do to keep the risk of being caught as minimal as possible. Keep in mind, there is no foolproof plan, but you might be able to leave your job without burning any bridges along the way by sticking to some of our tips. Aside from the previously mentioned suggestions of keeping your job search out of office and knowing where your resume is going, we offer you this tips on conducting a stealth job search…
There will be a point in your legal career when you decide to look for another job — and for the majority of lawyers, there will be many of those points. Whether you are ready to leave your current job, or just want to test the waters, job seekers should be cautious about the search process. Unfortunately, many attorneys would rather remain unhappy in their current jobs than search for a new job for fear of getting caught by their employer.
Even though there is no foolproof plan, and there is always a risk of getting caught before securing a new position, below are some tips on how you can conduct an effective job search while keeping the search under wraps from your current employer. In this Career Center post, the first of three, Lateral Link offers tips on how you can conduct a stealth job search….
You’ve heard the comments time and time again — a judicial clerkship is a great opportunity you should pursue if given the chance. Besides the prestige of the position, clerkships offer law school graduates a rare glimpse inside the chambers of the country’s brilliant and respected jurists.
While the writing and researching experience is invaluable, there are additional opportunities law clerks should look into before their clerkship ends. Now on to the tips….
As the market continues to grow with applicants across various practice areas, qualified or not, it’s more important than ever for your résumé to stand out, especially from the competition.
This week, Lateral Link Director Amy Savage gives her tips on developing a convincing résumé, because the look of your résumé can be one factor in getting interviews at firms or companies you’re passionate to work for….
Networking in law school usually conjures up the image of students desperately trying to hand out their résumés to a room full of uninterested attorneys. But networking doesn’t have to be that awkward, and it isn’t only limited to finding a job.
Networking is simply about connecting with people, and if your goal is to have a flourishing career as a lawyer, start building your network and acquiring networking skills now. If you haven’t realized it yet, your law school offers numerous resources at your fingertips. Not sure where to start? Read on for Lateral Link’s top three tips on how to effectively build your network as a law student…
We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
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.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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The traditional job application and interview process can be impersonal, and applicants often struggle to present themselves as more than just the sum of their GPAs, alma maters, and previous work history. ATL has partnered with ViewYou to help job seekers overcome this challenge. ViewYou NOW Profiles offer a unique way for job seekers to make a personal, memorable connection with prospective employers: introduction videos. These videos allow job candidates to display their personalities, interpersonal skills, and professional interests, creating an eDossier to brand themselves to potential employers all over the world. Check it out today!