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Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Tips for Job Hunting Over Winter Break

Whether you are seeking your summer internship or looking for post-graduate employment, the winter break is a good time to organize your job search campaign. 

1. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Be sure to add any clinic experience or leadership activities you participated in this past semester. For help on updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, you can download the
Resume Tips handout and the LinkedIn for Law Students Guide by visiting Symplicity > Job Search Handouts > Document Library section and doing a keyword search using the name of the document. The Career Services Office will be available to review resumes and cover letters starting January 6. 

2. Set up an informational interview. Use this time to research alums or other attorneys in your practice area and city of choice and set up an informational interview. Use the Contact Alumni tab in Symplicity or the LinkedIn Alumni search to find attorneys to contact in order to set up an interview either in person or on the phone. Also download the CSO Informational Interview Guide which is a helpful resource that will walk you through the process.

3. Reconnect with old contacts and establish new ones. The holidays are a perfect time to connect with former employers and colleagues in order to wish them well and update them on your academic and career progress. This article provides great networking tips for the holidays.  Use holiday parties to update old friends, relatives, and neighbors with your interests and where you would like to practice. You never know who has valuable contacts that could lead to opportunities.

4. Apply to jobs and research potential employers to contact directly. Use Symplicity to search for jobs by going to the “Job Postings” tab and selecting “CSO JobNet”.  Search through other websites listed on our
Job Search Resources handout and utilize our handout Targeting Small to Medium-Sized Law Firms using Martindale to do a targeted search for firms and organizations in your geographic area and field of interest. 

5. Relax. Focus on a little rest and relaxation so that you will feel rejuvenated upon your return next semester: sleep in, catch up on your favorite TV shows, do some non-law school related reading, and spend quality time with your family and friends.

Have a happy and productive winter break, from your friends in the Career Services Office!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

7 Career Questions with Labor & Employment In-House Counsel, Mike Winters ‘05

By Mo Chanmugham, Esq.

One of the best ways to figure out what type of law you want to practice is to speak to a professional in the field to find out what a day in the life of a lawyer is really like. This week we are grateful for 2005 alum Mike Winters, Corporate Counsel, Labor and Employment/Compliance Analyst at Wayne J. Griffin Electric, Inc. for taking the time to answer 7 Career Questions.

  1. What interested you in this area of law?
    Shortly after graduation, a friend asked me to be a volunteer juror for him at an MCLE course on trial practice. At the end of the day, the Superior Court judge teaching the course offered some career advice to us. He suggested that we incorporate employment law into our careers as it was a growing, changing, and unfailingly interesting field of law. Over time, many factors have guided me to this practice, but his advice has rung true.  
  2. In your role, what are your duties and responsibilities?
    There are many, including advising the company on applicable legal updates, ensuring that our practices comply with new and existing laws alike, managing litigation/outside counsel, lending assistance to all departments in the company. One of the great things about working in-house is that each day is unique. 
  3. What do you enjoy about your line of work?
    There are many things I enjoy, but some that jump out would be the variety and my team. There are new challenges each week, which means I am always growing and developing my knowledge and skills. I find it very rewarding that my work, with Human Resources and others, allows the company to avoid potential litigation and other legal matters that would be costly distractions from the company’s real objectives.
  4. What do you find challenging about your line of work?
    The transition from working in a law firm to being an in-house counsel can be a challenge. As an associate in a law firm, there is a road map to follow, at least to some degree. You have a certain number of cases at a given time, and each case has a procedural trajectory from complaint, charge or demand letter through trial or settlement. Moving in-house, you are managing outside counsel and perhaps handling administrative claims, but your time is also divided among many other responsibilities. You are wearing many “hats” and “success” can have different meanings. It is a challenge, but one that I enjoy.
  5. What skills and experience are most valued in this area of law?
    Knowledge of the laws and procedures are always of great value. But beyond that, particularly for employment law, I would say the ability to listen and understand another person’s perspective. When I was in private practice, the mediation of an employment claim often revealed new characteristics of the claim. I was always interested to learn the root cause of the conflict. Often times, I would hear that the real “problem” was not directly related to the specific cause(s) of action.
  6. How did you get your first job after law school?
    By keeping positive. Landing an entry-level legal job was a challenge in 2005, and I know that today it is no different. Due to some unique circumstances, I was still job hunting even after being sworn in. But through contacts and perseverance, I found myself working for a small law firm in Boston. I worked hard and represented our clients well. We had a diverse case load, so I was always learning. With only three lawyers in the firm, I was fortunate enough to regularly appear in court and even win a jury trial in my first year.
  7. What advice would you give your 1L self about how to create a successful legal career?
    Be your best wherever you are at any stage in your career. You will face both personal and professional challenges. But if you work hard and find a way to succeed where you are, you will find there is no one path to where you want to be.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How to Figure Out What You Want to do In Law School

By Mo Chanmugham, Esq.

Congratulations, you made it to law school! You are on your way to creating a great career for yourself. You know you want to do something meaningful with your life, you know you want to help people, and you know you want an interesting and challenging job. Then out of nowhere someone asks you that dreaded question, “What type of law do you want to practice?” and you freeze up like a statue. Why is it so hard to answer this question?

Lack of Clarity Leads to Indecision

Most first year law students enter law school with a desire to “be a lawyer” but very few actually know what kind of law they want to practice after they graduate. The reason is because while the idea of a lawyer is familiar to most of society, what lawyers actually do on a daily basis is not. Add to that mystery, the myriad of practice areas, types of employers, and legal issues one could get involved with and the average law student is left feeling overwhelmed with having to make a choice.

Turn Your Big Decision into a Small One

If you’re interested in everything from criminal law to corporate law and you are not sure what you want to do, one way to help make your decision is to break it down into smaller chunks. By focusing on the smaller decisions you will be able to piece together an answer that addresses the big question.

Build a Decision Tree

Within each practice area there is a decision tree of options that can take you down several different career paths based on the types of issues that you care about, the industry that interests you, the types of employers you want work for, and the types of clients who you want to help.

For example, someone interested in the area of Intellectual Property may want to work in the entertainment industry, at a law firm, helping a music publishing company license the copyright to their collection of songs or they may want to work in-house at a life sciences company, as a patent associate, filing patent applications.   
  • Intellectual Property ---> Practice Area 
    • Entertainment Industry ---> Industry  
      • Law Firm ---> Type of Employer 
        • Music Publisher ---> Type of Client
          • Licensing of Music ---> Type of Legal Issue (Copyright)

  • Intellectual Property ---> Practice Area  
    • Life Sciences ---> Industry  
      • Corporation ---> Type of Employer
        • Corporation ---> Type of Client
          • Filing Patent Applications ---> Type of Legal Issue (Patents)
As you can see, to say that you are interested in Intellectual Property is just scratching the surface of what you need to know in order to find the right job for you. A student interested in the entertainment issues within IP is probably not going to also be interested in the science aspects of IP and vice versa.

Connect the Dots
Your goal with a decision tree is to go from your academic understating of a particular area of law and connect it to what it looks like in the real world. By creating a decision tree using these five categories (Practice Area, Industry, Type of Employer, Type of Client, and Type of Legal Issue) you can quickly connect the dots between school and work life. This clarity will allow you to have more effective conversations with alumni and lawyers that you meet during your job search.