« November 2007 | Main | September 2008 »

August 2008 Archives

August 8, 2008

Young Lawyers Section Fall Program - And You're Invited

Save the Date!!!

Young Lawyers Section Fall Meeting
Friday, October 24-Saturday October 25, 2008
The Bar Center
Albany, NY

Come join your friends and colleagues for the 2008 Fall Meeting of the Young Lawyers Section in Albany, NY at the Bar Center of the New York State Bar Association. The program, Everything Law School Forgot to Teach You!, will be held Friday, October 24 and Saturday, October 25, 2008.

MCLE topics will include:

- E-Filing and the Internet
- “He Said – She Said,” Domestic Violence Courts and Orders of Protection
- Basics of Land Use Planning and Zoning
- Commencing a Family Court Action
- Starting Your Own Private Practice
- Risk Management for the Private Practitioner
- Balancing Life in the Practice of Law
- How to Conduct a Successful Interview of a Prospective New Client
- Is This Thing On? Talking to the Press – On and Off the Record
- Marketing Yourself Within and Without the Firm
- “Ch-Ching” - Settlement Negotiations in the P.I. Case
- How to Handle Traffic Tickets and DWI Cases

Earn your valuable MCLE credits during the day and network with members of your section at a Friday night reception at the Bar Center followed by dinner at the legendary Albany restaurant, Jack’s Oyster House. Saturday night, join your colleagues for a dinner you won’t forget in the Adirondack Hall of the New York State Museum.

Watch for registration and program materials in the coming months. For more information, feel free to email: yls@nysba.org.

August 11, 2008

Law Student Liaison

Hello all. My name is Ian and I am beginning my second year of law school at Suffolk University Law School. I am writing this blog as part of my summer internship at the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”). This blog will consist of my experiences going through law school; ranging from certain classes and professors, work on a law journal, trying to get a job, and networking opportunities and events through NYSBA.

Although I will be going into more detail in upcoming blogs on the events this summer, here is a little background on me to get this blog started:

I graduated from SUNY Potsdam in 2006 and took a year off to take the LSATs and apply to schools. I entered the Suffolk Law graduating class of 2010 as one of 350+ students and began the grueling process of a 1L. (This blog won’t focus much on my first year experience but I might from time to time refer to my first year when describing certain events in the future to give more substance to that particular event.)

This past summer I interned at a small law firm in Glens Falls NY which eventually led me to my internship with NYSBA. During my summer I participated in a closed writing competition to become a member of one of the 5 Honor boards at Suffolk Law. I managed to get onto Suffolk’s Transnational Law Review. Classes begin for me next Monday the 18th.

August 12, 2008

Applying for my first legal job.

Getting into law school and then getting a job is all about building your resume. What you do as a 1L will eventually snow ball into your second and third year, and finally your first real job. The basic progression of getting a job out of law school, going backwards in time, goes as follows:

Employers of law school graduates look to see (along with grades) what the applicant did his summer after his second year of law school; and the employer of the second year summer associate looks to see what the applicant did his summer after the first year; employers of first year law students will basically consider grades and the school you are attending.

Needles to say, those who obtain some kind of legal job or internship the summer after their first year increase their chances tremendously in getting a legal job the summer after and so forth.

It is recommended to students that in order to get a good head start, your job search should begin right after midterms. I, being the go getter that I am, listened somewhat to this advice, and begin my job search during the winter break after midterms. Despite my eagerness to get a job, my approach was somewhat lackadaisical. Prior to law school, I had developed a small group of contacts consisting of family friends, alumni from my fraternity, and past internships that I had participated in while enrolled at SUNY Potsdam. I thought my networking abilities would pay off, but after a number of emails and desperate phone calls, it was a couple of weeks before finals and I still did not have a job for the summer.

The hardest part for me was that I was going to law school in Boston, which has a great legal community, but I was trying to get a job at home, in upstate New York, which does not have the opportunities that a big city like New York or Boston has to offer. So, in desperation I turned to the phone book. I got the address of every law firm I could find in the Capital District (Albany, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Glens Falls, etc…), and mailed out my resume and a generic cover letter to every one (over 75 firms received my resume). It wasn’t until the day of my last final, and after at least 20 rejection letters, that I finally received an email from an attorney in Glens Falls that said he was interested in my resume and would like to offer me an interview. I immediately emailed him back accepting the interview and thanking him for his consideration.

The interview went as well as expected. He asked me about my time in law school, we went over my resume, and then vaguely talked about what the firm was looking for in a legal intern and how I could fulfill their expectations. This was very vague however, I was their first legal intern and they were not sure on what they needed, what I could do, or if they could pay me. (Just a heads up, most jobs that law students get the summer after their first year are not paying jobs, and depending on the firm you could be working part-time or overtime.)

A week later I was offered the job. I was not promised any compensation. However, I was told that depending on my work product they would consider a stipend. I was more than grateful. Going into this process I knew the chances of getting paid were very slim and I was just happy to have finally been offered a job. The stress of having to find a job for the summer was finally lifted, now all I had to do was get through it.

Lessons learned:

1) There is no such thing as a free lunch; anything that is worth something (in your professional life and more) is going to take some hard work. If I was going to get a good job after law school I was going to have to work very hard to get job while still in law school.

2) No matter how many rejection letters you receive or how many firms ignore you completely, if you are persistent, you will eventually find something.

August 13, 2008

My Job

I worked at a small general practice firm that handled a majority of family law and criminal cases with a few real estate transactions and civil suits. My responsibilities and duties as a legal intern varied from writing memorandums of law and doing basic legal research to shadowing different attorneys in the courtrooms and conferences. I was a little nervous at first when the head of the firm, my boss, told me that I was going to be partaking in a lot of legal writing, but he assured me that being thrown right into the mix was the best way of learning and the firm was happy to answer any questions I had. They basically treated me like a summer associate, constantly handing me work to finish that on more than one occasion piled up to the point where I had to turn it down.

Working at the firm was a great experience. It was a small firm with only 5 attorneys, so the atmosphere was very relaxed. There were days when it got a little hectic but overall everybody seemed happy to work there and most of the time the office was empty by 5 pm.

My first assignment was to do research for a family court appeal regarding the custody rights of an 8 year old boy. I give a lot of credit to the attorneys that practice family law. My experience with the cases handled by the firm has definitely influenced me into considering practicing any type of law other than family law. The cases and clients get very emotional and somewhat depressing and I could see myself getting too emotionally attached to one case or another. It was hard to discern between a hard working mother who has just had a bad run of luck and a dead beat parent who could not and would not take care of her children. Depending on who the client was, it would not matter either way, because you have to represent the best interests of your client and not the other parties whether the other party is the child or not.

Besides the dismal family law cases, I also worked on a couple criminal cases, which involved a motion to reduce a sentence and a conference with the DA, who I got to reduce a sentence from a large fine and community service, with possible jail time to an ACOD. An ACOD is an acquittal in contemplation of dismissal. Basically, if the person doesn’t get in trouble for a period of six months the charge is taken off their record, so it was a big accomplishment for me. I also wrote a couple memorandums of law which, after they were read over and edited by my boss, were submitted to the court

If you haven’t worked in a law firm before, regardless of the size, you will be quite surprised coming out of your first year of law school. First year classes are for the most part doctrinal and are based mainly on theory. This is far from actual practice, where the cases, to the extent I found, were pretty one-sided, and if you were on the short side you had to convince the other side it was cheaper to settle or argue a procedural error. Despite the drastic contrast between the real world and law school, I found it is easy to make the transition. My legal practice skills class was the most helpful. Basic skills in research and legal writing are the main tools needed for a summer internship and ultimately a career in the law.

The job also had some perks. My boss would, on more than occasion, take me out to lunch or for drinks after work. I was also invited to many local business mixers where I was able to network and meet people in other firms and different businesses. I was also connected with the New York Bar Association at the 70th anniversary of its Young Lawyers Section …

August 14, 2008

70th Anniversary

I was invited to accompany my boss and a younger associate down to New York City to attend the 70th Anniversary of the Young Lawyers Section of the New York Bar Association. The event was being held at the Katra Lounge in downtown Manhattan. I traveled down to NYC with a younger associate of the firm and met everybody at the Lounge on Friday, June 6.

My boss is the chair-elect of the Young Lawyers Section, and as part of the job has contacts with every newly-admitted member of the Bar, all the other members of the Section as well as the Staff of the New York State Bar Association. Needless to say, the networking possibilities for a law student wishing to eventually practice in New York are phenomenal.

Throughout the night I was introduced to many lawyers from around New York, and from a variety of practices and firms. I collected numerous cards and phone numbers and shook a lot of hands. It was a very rewarding experience. My boss then introduced me to Megan O’Toole who is the Manger of Member Services for NYSBA. That night she offered me a paying internship position at the NYSBA office in Albany. Of course, I accepted the job. Besides the great possibilities of networking with the right people, now I had a job that would pay as well.

The rest of the night went very well. The drinks were free and there was a lot of food constantly being brought around. All in all it was a great night and it opened up many doors for me.

August 15, 2008

Writing onto a Law Journal

Although I fought through every minute of it, writing onto a law journal could be one of the best things you can do for your career.

I’m not sure how the writing competitions for law journals are handled in other law schools, but Suffolk Law had two different competitions; an open competition (open to everybody), and a closed competition (eligible only to those in the top 25% of the class and anyone awarded best brief or best oral argument).

The trick was that you could only enter into one of the competitions for each law journal. The open competition started the Friday after the last final and the closed competition started a couple weeks after grades were released. So, if you wanted to write onto a journal you had to either start the open competition the first weekend after a month of finals or cross your fingers and hope you did well on your exams.

Like most law students I was not completely confident on the outcome of my exams. So, I picked up the packet for the open competition and leafed through it. Going through the 50+ page packet, I realized if I were to attempt this academic feat, not only would I have to gear back up into school mode after one month of straight studying and test taking but in the same time, I would have to move out of my apartment, go back home, and prepare for the interview with the firm in Glens Falls. I decided that the open competition was not for me and prayed that I would make the cut with my grades.

My prayers were answered. Managing some how to scarcely make it into the top 20% of my class I was eligible to enter the closed competition for all five Honor Boards (in order of what I wanted to be invited to: Law Review, Moot Court, Transnational Law Review, Journal of High Technology, and Journal of Health and Biomedical Law).

I took a trip to Boston, visited some friends and picked up the closed competition packet. This time the packet was a little thinner and much less intimidating. After quickly leafing through it, I decided that it was somewhat manageable. The competition asked for a case comment. This meant I had to write a well-written, organized, thought-provoking paper discussing the merits of a certain case. The packet laid out the structure under which the paper was to be written, the acceptable number of sentences per paragraph, the acceptable number of paragraphs per section and the acceptable number of pages of footnotes. I find it much easier when I am confined when writing because it allows me to write as much as I want and then like a cookie cutter, cut out only what is required. This reassures me that I am on the right track and I have filled the specific requirements.

The case-in-chief was ConnectU LCC v. Zuckerberg, 522 F.3d 82 (1st Cir., 2008). The case was a fight over the rights to Facebook.com (pretty exciting/interesting), the appeal however was over the procedural issue of the “time-of-filing” rule (not so much). Despite the boring procedure part, the case itself read pretty easily and I spotted the major issues the first time through. I was pretty confident going into to paper that I would be able to finish in time.

I took the two weeks allotted for the competition off from work and began researching the case. My job was to describe the facts of the case, provide a history of whatever legal issue was most important, detail the courts holding, and then write some sort of analysis on the holding. If only it was that easy. When writing a law journal entry, almost every sentence must have a corresponding footnote with legal authority. So for every page that I wrote there were two more pages of footnotes. I had to cite to a minimum of 10 primary sources (statutes and case law) and eight secondary sources (other law journals and treatises). This was the hardest part of the paper. I was researching and adding secondary sources up to the last hour that the paper was due, citing to whatever seemed like it would fit.

After the two week battle with my computer and secondary sources, I submitted my paper with 30 minutes to spare. Every journal reviews your submission and then if, based on whatever criteria they use, they like your paper, you will recieve an invitation to the board. The papers were due the 26th of July, and on Sunday, August 10th you were notified, by a phone call, if you were accepted to any of the journals.

On Sunday, August 10 around 2:35:34 pm, I received a phone call from the Editor of the Suffolk Transnational Law Review. He offered me invitations to the Transnational Law Review, Journal of High Technology, and Journal of Health and Biomedical Law. Knowing only that the Transnational Law Review was considered more prestigious than the other two, I chose that one.

Although unaware of what exactly I will be doing I am more excited than ever to be on it. For one thing, on campus interviews start in September and being on a law journal is a pre-requisite for obtaining interviews with the big firms. Second, the legal writing and research experience I will gain while working on the journal will be invaluable. I know it will be an extremely large amount of work but I know it will pay off.

August 16, 2008

My Job at NYSBA

My job with NYSBA at first consisted of creating a law school resources to be added to the official NYSBA Web site (which you are on right now if you are reading my blog). I only worked at NYSBA on Fridays, so I could work at the firm the majority of my week. This allowed me to make enough money to have fun on the weekends, but still gain the experience of working at firm that I needed.

I had never worked on a Web site before. However, the program they used to create www.nysba.org was relatively easy to use. The reason I was asked to help was that they needed the perspective of a law student in creating this site. I was able to bring the questions I had throughout the process of deciding to go to law school on to how to study for final exams and incorporate them into the types of resources I thought would be helpful to have.

I gathered different resources off the web from different law school pages, government sites, and private sites that offered relevant information. The final result being the Law Student Resource Center at www.nysba.org/studentcenter.

After the basis of the site was created, I was then asked to create this blog. Having never blogged before, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to try it out and even something I could brag about in an interview. So far, working with NYSBA has been a great opportunity with even more possible benefits.

August 17, 2008

The Boat Cruise

Image

On Thursday July 17th, as part of my work both at the firm and NYSBA, I was invited to a NYSBA boat cruise around Manhattan. This was by far the best event I have gone to this summer. It was basically a small cruise ship filled with lawyers, free drinks and food. It was set up so that every Section of NYSBA could promote themselves to other members and prospective members of the Bar.

There was a lot of networking going on and I was able to extensively add to my business card collection, plus put in some quality time with the bosses. I met the chairs of a number of Sections, as well as the current President of NYSBA, Bernice K. Leber.

The journey started at Pier 61 on Chelsea Piers. Aboard the Spirit of New York, we traveled down the Hudson and up the East River under the Brooklyn Bridge and past the waterfalls. As we sailed passed the Statue of Liberty, totally by coincidence and great timing, we were greeted with a brilliant fireworks show.

There wasn’t one person that wasn’t having a good time. Even after I got off the boat I shared a seat with a woman on a local transit bus who said she had an amazing time. After a few stops she handed me her business card and told me to email her my resume and she would definitely help me out. Another Great Time in the City.

About August 2008

This page contains all entries posted to Law Students in August 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2007 is the previous archive.

September 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.