Thought For The Day

Fires can’t be made with dead embers, nor can enthusiasm be stirred by spiritless men. Enthusiasm in our daily work lightens effort and turns even labor into pleasant tasks.

James Baldwin

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Is Being Waitlisted for Law School Your Problem?

It is that time of year again.  Prospective students have applied to law schools, and some are being waitlisted.  That can be both a hopeful and a frustrating experience, depending on the school and the applicant’s expectations, and there is a certain amount of protocol you should know to handle the situation wisely and adeptly.  “Storming the Bastille” and sending the waitlisting school reams of additional paperwork and electronic files — evidencing your credentials and acceptance worthiness — may not be the best idea.

So, what it the best way to handle being waitlisted?  Fortunately, this question has been asked and answered many times, but this may be your first encounter with it.  In that case, I recommend the following article to you.

“Waitlisted by Law Schools?  5 Tips on Maximizing Your Chances of Getting In” appeared on the Above the Law blog recently, and it contains some pretty good guidance on issues like Supplemental Essays or Materials, Letters of Continued Interest, Additional Recommendations, and more fundamental issues like the importance of taking time off before entering law school and considerations in the transfer decision.

Although you may think that you have the answers on these issues, don’t be surprised to find that you may be a little off-base.  At the very least, it is a good read to sharpen your focus as you go through the agonizing waiting period.  It can take most of the summer to get accepted off a law school waitlist, and the temptation is to do something to get the attention of the admissions dean and the admissions committee.  Not so fast!  Or, if you do go that route, make sure that you are following a prudent path that may actually result in success.  Resist the temptation for gimmicks, and try to put yourself in the positions of the decision-makers.  How would your proposed acceptance tactic “play in Peoria” so to speak?

My favorite part of the Above the Law article addresses the subject of additional recommendations.  Much of the advice was based on an interview with a former admissions dean at a very prestigious law school.  Here are some things from that interview to consider before requesting an additional letter of recommendation:

  • Assess your application “holistically” to identify weaknesses and reasons that you were waitlisted.  Think about adding a letter of recommendation that can bolster your application on that particular issue;
  • Try to figure out what your other recommenders have said about you and use that information to calculate the likelihood that another letter from that same person would be helpful; and
  • In asking for the additional recommendation, make if very clear what you need the proposed writer to say on your behalf.  If the proposed writer is reluctant to say that, you need to know it and find someone else to help you out.

As you can see, it takes a lot of thought.  This is no time for impetuous action.  Read the article, factor in your particular circumstances, and make an informed decision.

Waiting is difficult.  But patience is a virtue.








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Thought For The Day

It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to make sure that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.

George Horace Lorimer

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Thought For The Day

Remember Boston!  Strength, courage and resolve.  Lessons for us all.

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Values- Based Leadership is a Good Fit For Women Lawyers

You know that leadership is one of my favorite themes.  When you develop leadership that is “values based,” it is a home run in almost every case.   Values-Based Leadership (VBL) is a leadership philosophy that goes beyond evaluating success by prestige, personal wealth and power. It is founded on identifying what matters to you, what you stand for and what is most important in your life. Knowing your values and determining your purpose from those values makes decisions about life and leadership easier.

Why are values important?  You need to know your values so that they can guide your sense of purpose.  Without purpose we may as well be ships lost at sea.  So, the logical place to start is with your values.  What are yours?  Or, more fundamentally, what is a “value” at all?  You may think that you know, but you also may need a refresher course.

Values are the things that we find important and respectable as individuals, what is at the essence of who and what we are, and what gives us purpose. Values are different from ethics and morals.  Each person’s values are unique to that person, and most people have between five to seven core values each.  Examples of values are adventure, growth and risk taking, sensitivity to the feelings of others, trustworthiness, innovation and security.   True values are those that guide us in our personal lives as well as our professional lives.  The sense of purpose that we get from knowing our values makes us good leaders.  (Unless, of course, those core values are dark and evil, and that is an entirely different matter!)

When we align our behavior with our values on a daily basis, we have more energy and present as more authentic because we are leading from what’s important to us.  And, make no mistake, those who you are leading know the difference.  They can spot a phony a mile away.  As long as your motives are good, they care less about your particular values and more about how you authentically portray those values.  We all like to follow a leader we admire because it makes us feel good about our choice, good about ourselves, and good about our mission.

You need to purposefully remind yourself of your values, and, you need to evaluate big decisions, like job offers, promotions and work-life dilemmas, with those same values in mind.  To be a good leader of others, you need to be a good leader of yourself.

Values-Based Leadership seems to be a good fit for women lawyers.  It is the type of introspective thinking that women gravitate toward, and it is very useful in learning how to work on teams and find solutions among divergent opinions.  Understanding your own values and those of others — and what makes each of you “tick” — is an important tool in both your personal and professional lives.

For more on Values Based Leadership, see this article and those that follow in the series from Anne Loehr & Associates: Developing Authentic and Transformational Leadership.

Good luck in getting in touch with your values and your purpose.  Let it lead you and others where you want to go.

Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law Students, Lifestyle, Practice Advice, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | Comment

Thought For The Day

Always be a first-rate version of yourself and not a second-rate version of someone else.

Judy Garland

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Thought For The Day

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate, is strength undefeatable.

Helen Keller

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Is There Some Good News In the Job Market For Young Lawyers?

It is the time of year when many soon-to-be law graduates are looking for jobs, and the market is still recovering from the Great Recession.  It is easy to get discouraged, and I hear that from many of you.  I do not try to diminish those feelings, but I do try to help you keep the faith and look forward with the proper proportions of realism and optimism.

I can hear you now, asking what there is to be optimistic about in this dismal picture.  In response, I would tell you that it is not all bad news and that I truly believe that hiring, employment opportunities, and the future of law practice are on the road to improvement.  But, it is a slow process, and that, understandably, makes us all anxious and worried.

I research this a lot, and a recent article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye.  That article, “Hiring of Law Grads Improves for Some” reported some improvement in hiring, mostly as the result of successful summer associate positions.  As the writer pointed out, according to figures released last week by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), things are beginning to look up for the current law school graduation class and recent classes because of the recovering summer associate programs.

The most recent NALP employment data shows an increase in those figures from 2012, when 90% of summer associates got offers from the firms where they had “summered.” About 92% of law students, who worked as summer associates in 2013, received job offers, a figure nearly as high as it was before the financial crisis.  And it is a significant improvement from 2009, when many firms slashed jobs, and the summer offer rate hit a 20-year low. “This is a huge change from the stark offer rate of only 69% measured in 2009,” says a 23-page report by the group, which polled 123 law schools and 389 law firms.  In 2007, before the effects of the financial crisis on the legal profession, the offer rate was about 93%.  Summer associate class sizes remain smaller than they were back in the boom years, however, so the overall number of job offers hasn’t returned to pre-recession heights.

And, of course, only a select few law students get the coveted summer associate positions, and things look gloomier for third-year law students who lack that experience and are looking for jobs.  Only 16% of the firms the NALP surveyed reported trying to recruit third-year students who hadn’t previously worked for them, down from 19% of respondents in 2012 and 53% in 2006. 

So, the good news is that the recovery has to start somewhere, as it has in the summer associate arena, and the hope is that it then will spread to other areas of hiring.  Your challenge is to keep the faith through the tough times.  Remember that the recession has affected most people in this country, with the exception of the uber wealthy.  Most of your parents experienced losses in their 401Ks, which they had counted on to support them in retirement, and many of them lost businesses or other opportunities that affected their future security.  That is the nature of a recession, and there is nothing good about it.  Fortunately, however, we know that history is cyclical, so we all need to muddle through as best we can for a little longer.

There also is a lot of talk about outsourcing and robots doing legal functions and affecting hiring opportunities, but I remain doubtful about the efficacy of those methods over time.  However, if the need for junior lawyers to perform the outsourced functions is eliminated, maybe there will be more interesting work available for young lawyers in firms as technology creates more subject matters and legal functions.

This point was made at a conference I attended on the future of law practice, and it is worth some thought.  That conference, sponsored by The Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law, included expert panelists and speakers on subjects of trends for restructuring law firms and creation of new classes of lawyers, which could lead to some more interesting work earlier in law careers.  One observation was that the creation of more mid-level non-partnership tracks may be very appealing to some lawyers, who want to practice law but do not want the demanding hours and responsibilities associated with partnership in a big law firm.  Those same new practice levels also could enhance the mentoring opportunities for lower level lawyers, which are not available today when lower and mid-level associates all compete for the same few positions in upper level tracks.

And, perhaps most important, maybe the current job situation, which has created increased creativity and demand for entrepreneurship, will lead more young lawyers to pursue professional goals with rewards far greater than extremely high salaries.  That would be very nice, especially if those same people also can figure out ways to pay back their student loan debt at some time before they retire.  That, of course, is the rub.

For now, keep working hard and keep the faith.  It is all we can do unless we want to give into short-sightedness and despair.  Neither is worth it, and neither is worthy of you.

Career Counselors, Law Firm Managers, Law School Educators, Law Students, Pre-law, Young Lawyer | 2 Comments