Thursday, February 19, 2015

Advice to New/Young Attorneys

They say that experience is the best teacher.  I like to learn from the experience and advice of more experienced attorneys so that I can avoid making mistakes in the first place.  Check out this article written by experienced attorney offering her advice to young attorneys. I agree with a lot of her advice, including avoiding "clear the throat" language as my boss calls it.  Also it is important to meet deadline and inform your boss and clients if you do not think you will meet a deadline.  I have also found it is important to communicate and update your clients regularly so that aware that you are working on their questions.  Do not be afraid to ask for help and get clarification if you do not understand an assignment. It is better to ask and feel dumb than go down the wrong path and waste time. Lastly, I have learned that its important to have a good attitude.  Not every assignment will be exciting, but everything you do reflects on your work ethic and makes you a  more enjoyable coworker! Your boss will remember your attitude when it comes to handing out new assignments and during performance evaluations.

Friday, January 18, 2013

First Job out of Law School

Your first job after law school may not be your dream job.  I think it is important to focus on the is a job.  I encourage you to be broad in your search and even consider non-legal, but law-related positions, such applying for positions in state or federal goverment,  public policy or non-profit organizations, local legislature or lobbying firms, or businesses with compliance or contract departments. You can use these jobs to get work experience, while you network and apply for the type of job that you really want.  Newly minted law graduates are competing with lawyers with more experience and in this economy, the employers have the advantage. However, as a law graduate or a newly licensed attorney, you are much more competetive in non-legal positions.  I even know some lawyers who have decided to stay in non-legal jobs, because there was more opportunity for advancement than working as an attorney. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Student Loan Debate: Should You Pay Off Those Loans Early?

For those of you who have successfully landed and kept a job, let me say congratulations!  It could be any job at all, not necessarily a legal job. You have a job and you can pay your bills. For those of you who have not found a steady job, I still encourage you keep reading, because I think the principles of budgeting and living within your means is important no matter what your situation.
Before you decide whether you want to pay off your loans early, you need to know what is going in and out of your bank account. The first thing you need to do once you have a steady job is to set up a budget. My husband and I use and I highly recommend it. You input all of your bank accounts, student loans, credit cards, ect and then you set up budgets for all of your expenses. There is even a app so you can track your budget on the go. The most important thing is to account for every dollar that you spend and that you don't spend more than you earn. Here is a video on how to set up a budget in Mint.
My husband and I went to a Dave Ramsey seminar and he has some great advice on how to budget. Before going to this seminar, we did not budget; we did not track our spending. We had no idea how much money was going out every month and we definitely did not have an emergency savings. We learned that if do not control your money; your money will control you. So we took control! Following his 7 Baby Steps, we were able to set up an emergency savings account, pay off our car, a credit card, and save for a vacation all within a 16 month period We still ate out and went shopping, but we did it mindfully and within our allotted budget. Now our only debt is our student loans and our mortgage. So we are faced with the question with whether to pay down some of the smaller loans off early or save up for another goal.
As a side note, if you haven't already, make sure your student loans are set up to be automatically taken out of your bank account each month. Most lenders offer a percentage reduction when you sign up or after a few months. This will definitely save you money in the long run. Also if you ever lose your job or have to take extended time off (for injury or maternity leave), you might want to sign up for a temporary 6-month deferment. I recommend trying to still make interest payments, but if you can't just know that you will pay capitalized interest once your loans come off of deferment.
My husband and I are still researching our options at this point. We don't necessarily want to make higher student loan payments at the sacrifice of some of our other goals. We also will not add additional debt and will save up for future high cost purchases. For instance, we will save up to pay for a used car rather than taking out a loan. However, it might make sense to pay off some of the smaller loans, like the Perkins loans that are not consolidated with our other loans. I know Dave Ramsey doesn't like any debt, so he might recommend that we use the snowball method and pay the smallest loan and then continue to pay apply this method until all our student loans are paid off.
Whether you choose to pay your student loans off early is a personal decision. However, as I mentioned before, you will not even have the ability to make this decision if you do not live within your means. I think the best and easiest way to live within your means is to establish a budget and stick to it. Once you take control of your money, you are on your way to a less stressful financial
Here are a couple of other articles on the subject
Listen to an attorney and his wife who paid off $145,000 worth of debt, most of it consistenting of student loans in 3 years.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The 90%

You have heard of the 99% Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Similarly, in law school there should be a 90% movement. Ninety percent of you will not be in the top 10% of you class!   It is important to focus on studying and learning, especially during 1L year.   However, you also need to work on your job seeking skills or else you will find yourself in the last year of law school with only a few months to get a job and no ability to know how to do so. 
You also must be active participants in the process, be aware of your resources, and start your search early.  Many students do not access their career services office.  It is a myth that career services offices only help the top 10%. Career services offer valuable skills in how to write a law resume, network, and prepare for an interview.  These services are probably underutilized in most law schools.  They cannot help you if they do not see you and aren’t aware of your needs.   Your career services office can also set you up with alumni who are practice in your area of interest.
The other issue is that no matter how prepared you are, there are more graduates than there are openings.   Additionally with lay-offs and reorganizations, young attorneys are competing with more experienced ones.  With this in mind, as law students, you should be more aware of your options and take time to learn what you need to do to get a job.   I would also recommend that you take advantage of opportunities to get more hands-on experiences in law school.  You can work for a local legal services organization, do an externship during the second or third year of law school, or participate in a clinic if your law school offers that option.   These types of experiences will provide you will valuable practical experience, while not only building your skills, but your confidence as your approach the job market. You will be able to tell potential employers of all the skills that you can add to their organization.
If you are in the 90%, you need to start your own occupy movement.  But instead of occupying wall street, you need occupy career services, occupy the offices of your alumni networks, and occupy local legal services organizations.  Do anything you can to get a leg up on the competition, so that you don’t find yourself occupying your parent’s basement!  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Warning from a Lawyer about Going to Law School

One of my law school alumni friends just posted on Facebook that potential and current law students need to be aware of the status of the legal market. She says that the legal market has yet to recover and she doesn't think it will bounce back for at least another 5 years.  The law firm that she works at had two openings and over 2,000 people applied! They received applications from every tier- Ivy-league on down! She also stated that law schools report any work after graduation as employment for their statistics. So you will be considered "employed," even if you are working part-time at Starbucks.

If you are going to go to law school in this economy, I also recommend that you  know what you are getting into, borrow the least that you can, and even save up before hand. I also think that you should be flexible with marketing the utility of your law degree in other areas.  Lawyers can be a great asset in government , private, and non-profit organizations as policy analysts, compliance officers, administrative law judges, contracts specialists, and ethics officers just to name a few.

Lastly, I encourage you to pursue your passion, not your paycheck.  Determine a budget, live within your means, and you can make your paycheck work for you. Then go after the jobs that you want, not just ones that you think you should have.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Break is Almost Over- It is Time to Order Your Books!

It is about time to order your law school textbooks. Save yourself time and money by ordering them online on Amazon. This is where I used to order my books after I realized how much money I saved over buying them at the school bookstore.  Just grab your class syllabus, search for your textbooks online by the book's title, author, or ISBN. You can also order supplements that you might need when preparing your outlines or to help you catch up when you do not have time to read for class. Amazon also has free two-day shipping for students when you sign up for Amazon Student.  Also you can make some money on any books you are not planning on keeping when you sell them via Amazon's textbook buy back program.  Now through February 4th, 2012 when you buy $50 in new textbooks you can get $5 in MP3s.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!! What are your goals or resolutions for this new year? For law students, is it to do better this upcoming semester or to maintain your grades?  Or maybe you would like to improve your  writing or networking skills?  If you are a journal, your goal might be to get published (I recommend choosing a good advisor) Lawyers, maybe your goal is to improve your leadership skills, get more involved in the legal community or to better communicate with your clients and colleagues?    Whatever your goals might be, make a plan of action so that you can hold yourself accountable.  This is a new year!  You get another bite of the apple!  Good luck with all your goals this year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Lawyer Who Clips Coupons

Have you heard of the extreme couponing craze?  I am a lawyer who likes to clip coupons.  I love finding a sale and then matching it with a coupon and getting the item for a low price or sometimes even for free! I cut coupons from the newspaper, get coupons from my parents, print coupons online and follow several blogs that identify deals.  I do not have a huge stock pile, nor do I buy unhealthy food, but I am able to save at least $50 a month with coupons. And I am not alone. I have other attorney friends who like to coupon. It does take time to organize my coupons. I got a little expanding file to organize them and I go through the newspaper, blogs, grocery ads on a regular basis to try to find the best deals.  Often I pay little or nothing for staples such as milk, eggs, even vegetables.It is not for everybody, but as for me, I just do not like paying full price if I don't have to!

Here is a caveat. There is NO way I would have had time to do this in law school.  But I remember spending a lot of money on groceries in law school. Couponing would have helped me save money back then. But now I coupon and I try to do it strategically.  Using coupons saves money if you use them on items that you would buy anyway.  I think those of you who are law students could save some money by using coupons, but it can take a lot of time and you have better things to do with your time.  However,  if you have graduated from law school and do not have a job yet, couponing might be for you. Even if you are an attorney, you might want to make time to do it.  You could use your savings to make extra payments to your loans or save up for something that you want.

Below are buttons from a couple of the blogs that I subscribe to. You can check them out for more couponing tips.  Maybe do some couponing over Christmas break to create a small stockpile for when you go back to law school next year!

    Living Rich With Coupons

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Living Life with No Regrets

I do not regret going to law school. I would not be the woman I am today if it weren't for what I learned and experienced during those three arduous and memorable years. There were many invaluable things that I learned in law school, but I just wanted to discuss three things I learned during my tenure as a law student. You might also check out my very first post describing ten things I learned in law school.

1. I learned to think and read critically

Law school taught me how to dissect what I read and think critically about the why something was written the way it was. I learned the significance of understanding the intent or reasons why something is written. This critical eye has served me well after law school. As a side note, sometimes I think lawyers write in "legalese" just so that we are the only ones that can interpret it! Even if you work in a non-legal position, the ability to clarify legal language is an important skill. I have used my legal skills to read and interpret statutes and write policy documents to make the law more understandable to a layperson.

2. I learned how to network and market myself.

Law school taught more about the importance of networking and provided me with several opportunities to network and learn how to "sell" myself. Studying is important, but many students fail to learn how to network and market themselves. Once you leave law school, your intelligence might get you the interview, but your personality and networking skills will get you the job. The ability to market yourself is a skill that must be practiced. Think of yourself as a walking advertisement for yourself... The way your present yourself to your classmates, professors, and potential employers shows them what they will expect from you. Also keep in mind what you put on your facebook or twitter account. How you display yourself online also advertises to others what kind of employee you might be. It might paint an inaccurate picture, but you might not even get a chance to prove someone wrong.

3. I learned to live a life with no (or few) regrets

So maybe I learned this lesson once I graduated, however I believe any experience you go through teaches you something and therefore is a valuable experience in itself.  I think it is unproductive to have regrets, unless they motivate you to make positive changes in your life. For instance, although I wish I had not listened to the financial aid office when they advised me to borrow the maximum amount I could, it taught the importance of making a reasonable budget and living within my means. Some lessons you learn the hard way, but those are the lessons that you tend not to forget.  I do not regret the three years I spent learning a new way of thinking, challenging myself academically, and being part of a profession that holds itself to a high standard.

I don't see how anyone who successfully graduates from law school would regret it. If you use time in law school well, you should have all the necessary skills to utilize your education, intelligence, and experiences to obtain a job. You might have to be creative, flexible, and persistent, but I believe you will ultimately be successful once you realize how you can make a positive and valuable contribution to a potential employer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Practice Networking Early and Often

It is never too early to work and foster your networking skills.  I recommend using your Christmas, Fall, and Spring breaks as an opportunity to go out into your city or to the city where you wish to work after law school and network.   Contact local law firrms or use your career services office to build a list of potential networks.  Once you complete that list, email the lawyers and try to set up an informational interview.  Try to attend as many networking events at your law school and practice your networking skills.  A friend recently recommended the book, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, which highlights the importance of building and maintaining relationships. This is a skill that every successful lawyers needs to have whether you work in the private or public sector. It is also a skill that you have to continue to practice (unless you are a natural social butterfly!)  But like my dad always said, "practice makes perfect!"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Finals are Coming Up, Are you Ready?

Finals are coming up!!!  So you probably don't have time to shop.... You should be studying.  I hope you used the long weekend to organize your outlines.  Start working on condensing those outlines and once you are done begin doing practice exams.  Go over them with your professor.  Pay attention in class because anything your professor tends to focus on or spend a lot of time emphasizing will most likely appear on the exam!

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Groupon Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals

Up to 90% off top rated local fun!
Groupon will be running special Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals this weekend from 12:01a on November 25th  through 11:59p on November 28th. The links won't go live until Friday, but just wanted to give you a heads up since these deals will go fast!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas Gift Idea for the Law Student Who Loves to Bake!

I have wanted an electric mixer for awhile and recently took advantage of a Costco deal, offering $50 instant rebate for a KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  (I got the red one!)  This lovely mixer would make a This makes a great gift for the law student who likes to bake or for your mom, girlfriend, or best friend. It would also make a lovely wedding gift.  What's more, Kitchenaid is currently offering a $30 cash back rebate plus a free magazine subscription to Food & Wine Magazine or Travel & Leisure Magazine.  I looked on the fine print and you can forgo the subscription and get a $12 refund instead! You just have to make a copy of the rebate form and send it to a different address.  So that means you can save a ton of dinero on this mixer.   If you don't have a Costco membership, you get the KitchenAid Mixer from Target or Amazon.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Helpful Resume and Job Interview Advice

This JMC Resumes, Ltd. offers several resources for resume writing and preparing for job interviews.  I took a look at the sample legal resume and I am tempted to revise my own resume so it can stand out.  For instance, they suggest that you include a career profile at the top of your resume to highlight your skills and accomplishments.  In addition, JMC Resumes is offering professional resumé and cover letter services for $85 (a $215 value). If you need some extra assistance to make your resume shine in the crowd or advice to prepare for an upcoming interview, you might want to check out this deal!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Small Business Saturday

The end of November is full of sales and shopping. First there is Black Friday, then there is Cyber Monday. But did you know about Small Business Saturday on November 26th?   It is a day dedicated to supporting the small businesses that fuel local economies and invigorate our communities. When you pledge to shop on Small Business Saturday, you will l have the chance to win one of 100 $25 American Express gift cards. Then you can use that gift card to support a local small business!