Job Searches

For the most part, I’ve just been happy that the lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law, over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics, exists. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about raising awareness of the disingenuous way law schools go about filling up their classes.

Of course, anytime somebody says “it’s not about winning or losing,” you can best believe that person expects to lose. I’ve been operating under the assumption that Anna Alaburda, the woman suing TJSL, would get her butt kicked all over the courthouse.

But maybe I am wrong to give up hope for a victory so quickly. Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal has managed to find a couple of lawyers who believe law schools could be in big trouble…

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A paralegal at work (via the Bureau of Labor Statistics page on paralegals).

One week ago, in our advice column, Pls Hndle Thx, Marin and Elie tackled the topic of paralegal education. The question presented: the usefulness of an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree in Paralegal Studies in securing gainful employment as a paralegal.

For the record, Pls Hndle Thx should not be viewed as a straight-up advice column. Rather, PHT represents Above the Law’s irreverent reinterpretation of the conventional advice column, and the “advice” offered therein should be taken with (more than) a grain of salt. Alas, judging from some of the reader comments and blogosphere reactions, Marin and Elie’s comments were taken seriously — and viewed as insulting to paralegals, which was definitely not their intent.

Based on the intense reaction (and traffic) to that controversial column, however, we learned that many people are interested in a more serious story about how educational credentials will affect the search for paralegal positions. Here it is….

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I’ve received a couple of e-mails from associates at large firms saying that these folks sit at their desks dreaming about having in-house jobs: One client instead of many competing for your time. More manageable workload. A broader range of work. Less stress. An opportunity to think strategically instead of wallowing in minutiae. No more billable hours. No more time sheets. Bliss!

Please, these correspondents ask, write a column explaining the tribulations of in-house counsel.

This is tricky. First, the in-house life is pretty good. I wouldn’t want to understate the advantages. Second, I don’t hide behind a cloak of anonymity when I publish these columns. If I faced any tribulations (and I don’t, of course), this wouldn’t be a wise forum in which to let loose. Third, my own personal experience doesn’t prove very much generally, and I hear a wide range of varied reactions from others who work in-house.

But I’ll give it a shot….

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I’ve always wondered what kind of salary contract lawyers make these days. Okay, not really, I kind of already know, because a lot of my friends are contract lawyers. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with the wonderful world of contract lawyering, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article yesterday, by Vanessa O’Connell, on the trials and tribulations of these lawyers-for-hire.

The Journal editors decided to give the piece a cutesy title by using a play on words: “Lawyers settle… for temp jobs.” Lawyers are supposed to be settling cases, and now they’re settling for temporary jobs. Oh, that’s so very witty.

What the WSJ folks might not have realized is that when you’re an unemployed new lawyer in this kind of economy, or even if you’re an older one, you don’t really have the option of “settling.” It’s depressing, but you kind of just accept the fact that this is the hand that you’ve been dealt.

But maybe there is a bright side to this situation after all. Maybe these contract attorneys are making serious bank in these temporary positions….

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I’m under the impression that many of our readers are looking for a new job, or at least thinking about it. Some of you are still in law school and haven’t lined something up yet. Others have been laid off by a firm and are trying to find a replacement gig. Still others are unhappy in their current situations, and are contemplating something better. But how many of you know what you’re looking for?

I mentioned earlier that I’ve given a lot of informational interviews in the past. I do believe that it’s the most effective and most overlooked job-search tool going. But I’m often struck by how many people I meet — especially law students — who already know what type of law they want to practice. I certainly didn’t when I was in school; I became an employment lawyer because an employment-law firm offered me a job. I marvel at 1Ls and 2Ls who already know what type of lawyer they want to be when they grow up.

Knowing this has its benefits: it can help you direct your career path. But it has its disadvantages, too. It can seriously limit your job opportunities.

Here’s how to handle that problem.…

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Did you know that there is a federal panel that reviews accreditation organizations? Did you know this panel makes recommendations to the Department of Education on how well the accreditation organization is doing its job? Did you know that there is a government panel that can actually address how the American Bar Association is doing its job of accrediting law schools?

The panel is called the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Now that I’ve told you its function, you will not be at all surprised that the ABA got smacked around a bit when it was brought up in front of the board.

Oh, don’t worry, the panel isn’t actually going to do anything to force the ABA to do a better job. This is government work we’re talking about.

But still, the ABA got a bit of a tongue lashing, so that’s something….

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Ladies: if you're in NYC, it's okay to go around like this.

* An update to an item from yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs — or, “a domestic dispute version of Spy vs. Spy.” [Not-So Private Parts / Forbes]

* And a response to yesterday’s controversial post about paralegals (and the educational credentials required for the position). [A Paralegal's Life]

* Are you a rising 3L looking for post-graduate employment at a law firm? Check out Waller Lansden’s innovative Schola2Juris program. [Schola2Juris via Am Law Daily]

* Here’s a subject that never gets old (we’ve discussed it before, and we’ll discuss it again): what not to wear as a summer associate. [Corporette]

* Ah, screw it — if you’re here in New York, ladies, just go topless. It’s legal! [Runnin' Scared / Village Voice]

45 Star Island Drive

* Billable Hours: The Movie. “This comedy follows one young lawyer as she is slowly driven crazy by monotonous work, obnoxious colleagues, and the constant buzzing of her BlackBerry.” [Billable Hours]

* Lawyerly Lairs: Roy Black, the high-profile Miami criminal defense attorney, buys a $7.1 million mansion. How many square feet does $7.1 million buy on Star Island? [Todd M. Glaser]

* Advice for PR folks: put some thought into addressing your bulk emails. Also, if you’re pitching us, read this tweet. [Constitutional Daily]

An old white male and his younger diverse peeps.

Law firm diversity matters. It matters to corporate clients, many of them public companies that want to demonstrate their commitment to diversity through their selection of vendors and service providers — which is what law firms are, at the end of the day. It matters to the law students and lawyers that firms are trying to recruit — which is the premise behind the data collection conducted by Building A Better Legal Profession.

So there should be keen interest in the latest edition of the American Lawyer’s Diversity Scorecard 2011, which the magazine just released. As Am Law explains, the Scorecard constitutes its annual ranking of large law firms by their percentage of minority attorneys and minority partners.

Let’s take a look at the top firms for diversity. Did your firm make the list?

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We’ve reached the end of our career advice webcast, We Know What You Should Do This Summer, in which a panel of experts provided career advice for this summer. The panel was sponsored by our friends at the Practical Law Company, which provides law students with free access to its excellent resources so they can succeed over the summer. Check out PLC’s law student home page to learn more.

Check out the last installment, as well as links to all of the prior segments, after the jump.

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A Final Note on Networking.

Okay, I’m using the term “lifts” very loosely. We all know that outsourcing is taking work that used to be done by very expensive associates based in America and giving to inexpensive workers based in India. The law firm saves money, the client saves money, and the only people who are harmed are recent graduates of U.S. law schools.

But could outsourcing companies be poised to give something back to American law school graduates? Outsourcing companies aren’t ever going to replace the many lost Biglaw jobs that are never coming back, but they could be giving rise to some new opportunities.

At this point, every little bit helps…

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