Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Research Future Employers

Employers want to hire students who can articulate why they want to work for their organization.  Fortunately, there are many resources to help you learn about employers.  For more information on how to do this, please follow the link to the article from Student Lawyer called, Getting the Backstory: Tips for Employer Background Research, by Markeisha J. Miner. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Etiquette for Professional Holiday Parties

by Sabrina M. Johnson
LCS Grad Fellow

You are attending Holiday Parties and you will want to make sure that you are there to enjoy yourself and strengthen your professional network. While you are thinking about which events to attend, you should also be thinking about how you will present yourself. This applies for organizational holiday events, as well as an office party.

There are still holiday events going on that you can attend. Please click here for the list.
  1. Find out if you need to RSVP to the event. If you do respond that you are going to the event, you need to go. Also make sure if this is an event where you can bring others, (for example a spouse or date.) Do not bring a guest if it’s not that kind of party. If you are going to bring someone make sure you know how they are going to act because they are a reflection of you.
  2. Remember this is a professional event and dress appropriately. You want to be remembered for all of the right reasons. If you need help with something you can wear to work and then the party afterwards - search “From Desk to Dinner.” Also, check the event information and it might say if you need a jacket, or other attire. 
  3. Mind your cocktails. Alcohol is the biggest problem at holiday events. Many suggest a 2 drink maximum for an event. This is still a professional event and alcohol has a tendency to make it difficult to control conduct, inappropriate behavior should be avoided even if you are not drinking. (i.e., gossip, inappropriate jokes, etc.) 
  4. Eat before you go. The food should not be your focal point at the event. It’s important to be mingling and talking with others. Also, keep in mind if you haven’t eaten, alcoholic beverages will affect you differently and could lead to non-professional behavior.
  5. Be Festive and Mingle. Keep the conversation light and casual. Ask open-ended questions, like “what are your plans for the holiday season?” Show everyone why it’s so great to have you around. Stay away from conversations that you don’t want to be associated with, like gossip or inappropriate jokes. 
  6. Introduce yourself. This is a great way to get recognition. Avoid extended conversations, and don’t come off as strangely over-eager. People want to do business with people they like. Build your friendship base. 
  7. Pay attention to the time you arrive and when you leave. “Making an appearance” can be insulting at some functions. You also want to avoid staying too late and keeping the party going. 
  8. Say thank you. This is a good way for recognition. Send a thank you to those who coordinated the party and let them know their effort in the party planning was appreciated.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

How Does Proposition 47 Affect You?

by Sabrina M. Johnson, LCS Graduate Fellow

Proposition 47 - Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties. Initiative Statute
  • Requires misdemeanor sentence instead of felony for certain drug possession offenses. 
  • Requires misdemeanor sentence instead of felony for the following crimes when amount involved is $950 or less: petty theft, receiving stolen property, and forging/writing bad checks. 
  • Allows felony sentence for these offenses if person has previous conviction for crimes such as rape, murder, or child molestation or is registered sex offender. 
  • Requires resentencing for persons serving felony sentences for these offenses unless court finds unreasonable public safety risk. 
  • Applies savings to mental health and drug treatment programs, K–12 schools, and crime victims. 
Official Title and Summary, prepared by the Attorney General 

Passage of Proposition 47 in the last election significantly changes how criminal cases are and will be handled statewide, with rippling effects in immigration and family law. It is also expected to cause a hiring surge in prosecutor and public defender offices statewide.

To help our students and graduates keep abreast of Proposition 47’s implementation, we at LCS recommend watching this free video, while earning free, self-study CLE units.

Monday, December 1, 2014

From State Bar Section to Yosemite: How One Student Earned a Free Trip to an Environmental Law Conference

by Catherine Rucker

Cathy Rucker is a fourth-year law student at Golden Gate University School of Law. She plans to take the February 2015 Bar Exam and to earn an LLM in Environmental Law.  

The California Bar “sections” are professional groups that are linked to the California State Bar. There are 16 sections in a variety of practice areas, such as Business Law, Criminal Law, Family Law, Intellectual Property, and Labor & Employment. Each section has an annual fee, ranging from $75 to $95. However, through the enrollment form, law students can access “up to three free one-year memberships.”

After I joined the Environmental Law Section and entered the members-only website, I read about the section’s annual conference in Yosemite. I noticed that the Remy Moose Manley LLP environmental law firm in Sacramento offers several scholarships for the conference. Most of the scholarships cover the cost of the registration. However, the firm offers five full scholarships that cover registration, three nights at the Tenaya Lodge, and travel expenses.

In my scholarship application, I explained that I had served as a Student Writer for the GGU Environmental Law Journal and that I had worked at the GGU Environmental Law and Justice Clinic. Because I had participated in these environmental law activities, I was selected to receive one of the five full scholarships.

At the ELS conference, I observed that the practicing attorneys were excited to include law students. I realized that if students make the effort to join a section and to attend its events, then the attorney members are very willing to be supportive and to provide guidance. The students who avail themselves will get the benefits.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Parties - Let's Mingle

by Sabrina M. Johnson
LCS Graduate Fellow

Holiday Party season is upon us. This is a great way to meet new attorneys in a welcoming and casual environment. Enjoy the season and boast your network.

Click here to view a list of upcoming holiday season events!

Keeping these holiday party tips in mind will allow you to enjoy your time:
  1. Have an Entrance Plan. When you walk into a room, make sure you know where you are going. Head to the bar/food area or take a quick walk around the room. Having an initial plan helps alleviate anxiety and boost confidence. 
  2. Prepare to Talk. Be able to talk about yourself. This includes both your professional self and other interests. "How about those Giants?" I am willing to bet that the Giants are a hot topic of conversation in San Francisco this season. 
  3. Prepare to Listen. Listen to what others are saying, and use their name when appropriate. Active listening (eye contact and smiling) is an easy way to win over your audience. 
  4. Dress the Part. Your outfit is your first impression, and while people don't necessarily notice a good outfit, they definitely judge an inappropriate one. Make sure your festive holiday attire is still professional. Remember, you can never go wrong with slacks and a collared shirt. 
  5. Collect the Card. Casual conversations at holiday events tend to last 5 - 20 minutes. When you have a connection with someone or want to learn more, ask if you can follow-up with them at a later time. Be sure to get their business card. 
  6. Follow Up with the individuals you enjoyed speaking with to wish them a happy holiday, invite them to join your LinkedIn network or to schedule an informational interview.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pursuing a Career in Litigation

by Melanie McCormick, GGU 1L

Editor’s Note: Thank you to 1L Melanie McCormick for sharing her impressions of last week’s panel on Pursuing a Career In Litigation. If you missed the program, you can watch a video recording here. A special thank you to the ABA Section on Litigation for sponsoring the event. You can learn more about the Litigation Section here.

When you hear the word “Attorney,” it conjures for me an impassioned trial advocate emphatically arguing the guilt or innocence of their client, like that scene in A Few Good Men, where Lt. Dan Kaffee attacks Jack Nicholson’s Col. Jessup, “I want the truth!” The reality is that many attorneys do not practice in a courtroom (and many try to avoid it). Those that do, the real life litigators, do not resemble the crazed, you-can’t-handle-the-truth types. As was made very apparent at last week’s panel on “Pursuing a Career in Litigation,” real litigators are poised, calm, and clear. Their arguments are planned and organized. The panelists helped clarify a few things about the nature and philosophy of the world of litigation, and the path I, and other future litigators, need to go to reach it.

1. The Cover Letter

According to panelist Zesara Chan from Shartsis Friese LLP, attorneys looking for interns really do read our cover letters. A re-used cover letter lacks the personalization necessary to stand out. In contrast, a cover letter that shows that you have done your research on the employer makes a strong impression. Chan says she looks for a resume that shows a track record of achievement and hard work. The recruiting attorneys often sift through thousands of resumes and cover letters, and the panelists admitted to us that a typo can very easily remove someone from consideration.

2. The Interview

Again, do your research. GGU alumnus Robert L. “Buzz” Hines of Farella Braun-Martell LLP says that doing research on the company you are interviewing with provides the knowledge you need to be dynamic in an interview. It is the interviewee who can make that personal connection with the interviewer that will stand out. Zesara Chan says that she likes to ask unexpected questions. “I want to see the wheels turn,” says Chan, “something that will allow your multi-dimensional self to shine through.”

3. The Internship

As we all know, making a good impression is so important. Paul Henderson, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Safety from the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, says that he works with hundreds of interns a year. The interns that stand out to him are those who are independently responsible, and are always looking to do more than what is required. “Proactive engagement defines opportunities,” says Henderson. He recommends finding out who handles the long-term hiring and making sure they know who you are. “I had an intern that came and asked me the process of how to get hired two weeks before the end of his six month internship,” says Henderson, “I thought, you have been working here for almost six months, and you don’t know who is on the hiring committee?”

Robert Hines says, “You have clients inside the firm as well as outside the firm.” The other attorneys you work with should be treated similar to your billable clients. Each attorney has a specific work styles that should be noticed and considered.

Zesara Chan also advises students to “understand the assignment.” Every assignment given may have a different use, and understanding what the attorney is looking for will allow you to be more effective. 

4. High Impact Career Advice

Robert Hines encourages students to get involved in professional associations. “There are only 24 hours in a day, so spend as much time as you can with like-minded folks.” Associations like the ABA Litigation Section can be used to identify groups of people to whom you have a lot in common.

Zesara Chan recommends that you “Build your Brand.” Craft how you want others to perceive you and then be consistent with the brand you have created. Chan decided she would ask at least one question at every meeting. This was a way for her, in a room full of male attorneys, to stand out and it successfully branded her in the firm as someone who was engaged and asked intelligent questions.

Paul Henderson developed his career by seeking any opportunity that would get him into a courtroom. He stated that by the time he was looking for a post-law school job, he had been inside a courtroom about 200 times. “I had a marked measurement of skill at communicating in a courtroom,” says Henderson. He recommends that you get to court and practice!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

TED to the Interview Rescue

by Sabrina M. Johnson
LCS Graduate Fellow
Photo courtesy of TED

Are you looking for something fun to include when preparing for your next interview? Try these TED talks, mentioned by Lily Zhang in “5 TED Talks to Watch Before Your Next Interview.” You can prepare for an interview in more ways than research about where you are interviewing, and practice questions. I love TED talks because they are short and usually interesting. I have practiced some of these techniques for interview preparation, and even while taking the bar to boost my confidence. In particular the now famous Wonder Woman pose from Amy Cuddy’s talk. I also found the talk, “How to Spot a Liar,” very informative about techniques that could be used during an interview to make sure that the interviewer is telling you the truth about what it is like to work there. Each talk can help you to identify areas that can be changed slightly to achieve a different result from your next interview. 
  1. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, by Amy Cuddy
  2. How to Speak So That People Want to Listen, by Julian Treasure
  3. Talk Nerdy to Me, by Melissa Marshall 
  4. How to Spot a Liar, by Pamela Meyer
  5. The Optimism Bias, by Tali Sharot

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review of "How to Succeed as a Freelance Attorney" by Marina Modlin Esq.

by Sabrina M. Johnson
LCS Graduate Fellow

How to Succeed As a Freelance Attorney
available at the LCS Library
You have graduated law school, hurdled the bar, and now it is time to work. The ability to find employment taking you in the direction you want to go can be a challenge. Some difficulties in finding employment range from not really knowing what you want to do, to not having enough experience to work in a particular area of law. A solution could be to work as a freelance attorney. A freelance attorney is an independent contractor, your client is a law firm, and you work on projects.

How to Succeed as a Freelance Attorney is conversational and easy to digest. In reading it, I found that I had a mindset that limited my employment options, and this book helped me to see other opportunities available in starting my legal career. Many graduates leave law school with this idea that there is a normal path to follow, and this thinking keeps new lawyers ‘inside the box’, but as Ms. Modlin has said, “freelancing is really a fantastic and very doable path that gives great results.”

One thing that helped to solidify the importance of what this book is about happened as I was leaving class in my LL.M. program. A fellow student was asking the adjunct professors how to find work. Part of their response was to do some freelance work to get experience and to get your name out there.

You should check out How to Succeed as a Freelance Attorney, there might be an opportunity that you have been overlooking that can bring you closer to your career goals. This book is available for check out in the LCS library.

Recently, Ms. Modlin was a guest blogger on Trebuchet and described her experience when she was a recent licensed attorney and student loan payments coming, in a post entitled, When I Hit Rock Bottom as a Young Lawyer.

Marina Modlin emigrated from Saint Petersburg, Russia. She received her B.A. from UC Davis, and her J.D. from Univ. of San Francisco. Immediately after passing the bar, Ms. Modlin founded Modlin Legal Services, Inc., a freelance practice, and grew it through referrals. By January 2010 she felt she had learned enough through her freelance practice to represent her own clients, and converted Modlin Legal to a full-service wills & trust firm with offices in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. In her spare time, Ms. Modlin loves to cycle, hike, and practice yoga.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Bare Basics of Networking Events

The following is reposted from the CEB blog, October 15, 2014. This is a post by Elizabeth G. Blust, who is a solo practitioner in San Diego. 
This material is reproduced from the CEBblog™, The Bare Basics of Networking Events ( copyright 2014 by the Regents of the University of California. Reproduced with permission of Continuing Education of the Bar - California. (For information about CEB publications, telephone toll free 1-800-CEB-3444 or visit our Web site,

So you want to attend that networking event at the local bar association but you’ve never done this before? Not to worry. Here are five tips to help you survive that first trek into networking.
  1. Take a buddy. I remember walking into my first San Diego County Bar Association meeting back in September 2006. I have a photo from that night, and even though I was already in my 30s, I still looked like a deer in the headlights. In hindsight, I was glad to have attended with a friend; another student and I found ourselves walking to the Bar event together, so, although we hadn’t planned it, we had each other as we walked into the room. I recommend taking along a law school or work colleague because having a buddy can really help; first, we talked between ourselves and then people started coming over to us, which brings me to my next tip. 
  2. Arrive early to get a good spot. If you’re already in the room when other people arrive, they’ll come to you. They don’t want to stand around awkwardly any more than you do, so you’ll give them a place to go. Make eye contact. Smile. If you get to the event on the later side and have to enter a crowded room, it might be harder to break into the existing conversation circles. If there’s food, position yourself a few feet away from the end of the buffet, or near a popular food station. These areas have a bit more “turnover,” so people here are less likely already to be in a conversation with someone else. 
  3. Begin with small talk. If you happen to meet an attorney whose work you’re familiar with, feel free to launch right in with an introduction like: “Hi, I’m Elizabeth. I’m a law student/new attorney. I was really impressed with how you handled the Dinkins case last spring.” If you don’t know anything about the person—as will most often be the case—it’s perfectly acceptable to start with something like: “This food is really good.” If you’re young (like I wasn’t), you can probably get away with a self-deprecating remark about being a starving law student (although I used that one a few times anyway). Comments about the weather and the city (especially if you’re a recent transplant) are also OK. For a follow-up, ask what kind of law the other person practices, what the advantages are of joining the local bar association (or whatever organization is hosting the event), or what kinds of resources they would recommend to a new lawyer (full disclosure: I discovered the value of CEB materials by asking this question). 
  4. Have business cards and a pen. My law school had an arrangement with a local printer to provide us with nice cards, bearing the school’s crest, at a reasonable price. If you don’t have this option, you could buy sheets of perforated cards you run through your own printer. The self-printing option allows you to tailor the information for a specific event. I used to put a mini résumé on the back of my card, or list the areas of practice I wanted to learn more about. Don’t pack it too full, and don’t make it too glossy—you want some white space to write on. Which is why you’ll also want to have a pen handy. 
  5. Collect business cards. After chatting for a few moments, ask: “Do you have a business card?” Most people will, but if they don’t, you’ll have yours. And yours will have blank space where you can write their contact info. And then don’t forget to follow-up. If you had only a brief encounter, an email the next day is a suitable way to keep that connection going. If you spent half the evening talking with just one or two people, handwritten cards thanking them for their time will go a long way to cement you into their brains—and them into yours! 
If you’re not sure where to start, look for programs and networking events tailored to your needs, especially those advertised for law students or new lawyers. Keep in mind that these events aren’t job interviews; although you might be hoping for a connection that will lead to work, the real point is to get to know people and to let them get to know you. Try to relax and—I know this may seem impossible—enjoy yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be networking like a pro.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Social Media for Recent Graduates

by Sabrina M. Johnson
LCS Graduate Fellow

The job market is tough out there. It’s not just about getting the interview, but also leaving a lasting impression so employers want to work with you. Good, old fashioned in-person networking is still a great way to communicate your value to a prospective employer, but you can also use social media very effectively to enhance your presence outside of the interview room.

Throughout law school you received advice to make sure your online presence was professional, and to Google yourself to make sure you were presenting to future employers and clients the person you wanted them to see. Don’t stop there! You can use social media to enhance your professional persona by showing that you are aware of what is going on your chosen area of law.

Leverage your LinkedIn presence by joining groups that discuss your areas of interest. This can be defined by practice areas (such as estate planning or intellectual property), affinity group (such as women lawyers), or other defining characteristics. You can start by joining Golden Gate University Law’s group. Law Career Services has a couple of handouts, LinkedIn – Make it Work for You, and LinkedIn: Facebook for Lawyers that can assist you further in making your LinkedIn presence strong.

LinkedIn is not the only way to create a presence online. Recently the ABA hosted “Putting Social Media to Work For You,” a presentation through their Career Advice section. Presenters Nicole Black and Kevin O’Keefe discussed using blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other forms of social media to get your name out there, and to educate yourself on what is going on in your field of interest. Ms. Black shared an article, Tips on Standing Out in a Competitive Market, in which she discusses how to be active in searching for more than just job posts. Mr. O’Keefe uses his own blog, Real Lawyers Have Blogs, to share strategies on blogging and using social media to increase your online presence and be part of discussions.

This presentation was part of the Free Career Advice Series put on by the ABA Career Center. Every second Friday, there is an hour-long free webinar. The topic on November 14 is, “Choosing and Pursuing Alternative Careers.” One thing I enjoy about the presentations is that you can do them anywhere that you have internet access, and get access to information without the stress of “working the room.” The ABA’s Career Center has job postings, advice, and other materials, and it’s all free.

Social media is part of how you can enhance your networking skills and get to know attorneys. It can also be your gateway into what to discuss when you go to those live networking events and you are meeting new people.