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May 16, 2005

Getting Ready for Hong Kong

Sorry for the radio silence over the last few days. I'm getting my stuff together to go to Hong Kong. The trip is the hardest of hard deadlines, and before I leave on Friday, I have to:

  • Hand in clerkship information
  • Finish the research and pro-bono projects I put off until after exams
  • Go to a Westlaw course today
  • Purchase some sunglasses, casual clothing, and maybe even splurge and get some sandals before I head off to Hong Kong

Also, this is my last chance to see friends and loved ones before I head off. So it'll be a busy week, and updates might be scarce. On the other hand, I should have internet access in my apartment when I'm in Hong Kong, so you'll hear from me more regularly there.

May 11, 2005

Blogging a Summer Job

Ambivalent Imbroglio asks about the propriety of blogging one's summer job. Unfortunately, before I could adequately express my feelings about this, Prof. Brad Wendel at the Legal Ethics Forum beat me to it:

From the perspective of a risk-averse professional responsibility teacher, the answer is clear: No, no, no.

No kidding, though of course I'm no professor. As Wendel points out, mentioning anything about work risks being branded as having "poor judgment." Besides, it falls afoul of my own rule of not mentioning other people--well, at least non-bloggers--without their explicit permission.

Like Heidi, I'm in the habit of naming what city I'm working in but not the firm. Last summer I didn't mention a thing about work. (Well, I think I said it was "interesting," which I'm pretty certain doesn't violate Rule 1.6 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct.)

Fortunately, I doubt I'll have any shortage of things to write about. I've just read over what I'd put together in Tokyo last summer, and despite a lack of work coverage, I think it functions well as a travel diary. This year I'll be splitting my summer between Hong Kong, a city I don't know at all, and London, a city I know as well as any other, if not better. I guess you should expect a few more pictures, and a couple of "clueless foreigner" stories as I get used to Hong Kong. If anyone has a list of top ten things to make sure I do while in the Fragrant Harbour, please leave a comment.

UPDATE: Sorry about that... for some reason, the title didn't show up the first time. I've corrected that now.

November 08, 2004

Strangest Rejection Letter of All

I suppose I should feel very, very rejected.

I just received a rejection letter from a firm that I met with while I was in Tokyo. I didn't interview with them at EIP, and so obviously I didn't get a callback. But at this point--when I can only be holding two offers anyway--they felt the need to tell me that they wouldn't be offering me employment this summer.

At least they took the time to care, I suppose.

Update: In case anyone is wondering, this is a joke. I just found it ironic that someone sent a rejection letter out this late in the game.

October 28, 2004

Guilt, Lunch, and Other Firm Concerns

From Anonymous Lawyer:

Someone accepted an offer today. Next summer's class is starting to shape up. I hate the people who take forever to decide, and make us send them cookies, or brownies, or t-shirts. Those things shouldn't make a difference.

I've yet to settle on a firm. All I can say is, I really hope none of the firms I'm looking at do send brownies, t-shirts, or whatever. AL's right: it shouldn't make a difference in the decision, and for most students it probably doesn't. What it does make a difference in is the amount of guilt one feels calling up the firm to say you took a different offer.

Throughout this interview season, I've visited most of my firms in the morning, which means that after meeting some associates and partners I'm generally assigned a young associate to accompany to lunch. Don't get me wrong--these have been very, very enjoyable lunches, and I've genuinely enjoyed meeting the people I've interviewed with. But particularly at some of the larger firms, the cost of the lunch has dwarfed my standard weekly lunch budget by factors of four or five.

I can understand the purposes of the lunch interview. On the one hand, the interviewee is more likely to trust an associate's view of the firm if given outside of the building. The associate can make certain that the interviewee doesn't drink from the finger-bowl, pick his nose at the table, or otherwise display humiliating tendencies in public. And of course, there are some secondary benefits: the associate gets to have a nice lunch on the firm, and the interviewee can (presumably) look forward to doing one or two such lunches in the future over the course of their employment.

None of this, however, requires a very expensive lunch. Certainly three figures for a table of two would be far more than necessary. And indeed, too nice a lunch brings its own worries: this is, after all, their client's money they're spending, and their associates time (both in what's spent with me, and what the associate will have to bill to make up the difference in profits). We lawyers are fairly exchangeable commodities, and shouldn't justify that much investment in capture. Besides, if you're about to sell your soul to someone, do you really want them to have spent that much on it before they take possession of the goods?

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to say to the Anonymous Lawyer that the emotion cuts both ways. He doesn't like those of us who are weighing our options "making us send brownies." Some of us feel guilty for receiving them. All in all, I wonder if the brownie companies aren't making out like bandits in this equation.

September 09, 2004

"Torrential Rains"?

Oh, worth noting that when I (and many of my fellow classmates) tried to head to midtown for their interviews today, they encountered one of those inconveniences that don't make for very pleasant adventures: the 1/9 line of the New York subway shut down by 'torrential rains.'

All I can say is that a lot of cabbies made a lot of money this morning, some of it mine. Still, other people were stuck in subway cars or left waiting for even longer in the rain than I. I'll just count it lucky that I wasn't unacceptably late for the interview.

July 25, 2004

EIP Website

Is any other CLS 1L having trouble with the EIP website? It doesn't seem to want to remember my bids. When I get to the stage that I want to rank them, it seems to forget anything I've ever put down and return a blank page.

Since the deadline is tonight at about 3AM my time, this isn't good news.

Update: I've figured out a long and convoluted way to get it to save a bid. (Basically, bid for all your 'A' firms first, then the 'B's, etc.) But the process is monumentally slow, and would be even if the site didn't time out four out of five times. The guys who built this, did they ever hear of load-balancing?

Update II: For those who are interested, I've taken some screenshots of the various problems with this system, and will be posting a site critique in the next few days. Basically the site is poorly designed not designed with efficiency in mind and requires way too much server time to do the simplest things.

Update III: Hmm... curiously, my resume is still listed on the site as 'converting', even though it's been doing so for over two hours. (I went to dinner.) I'd like to believe that the sheer brilliance of the resume dazzled the server into submission, but I'm thinking the process is broken. This does not bode well. If anyone finds a way around this--short of sending the resume in directly, which I've done--please post in the comments.

July 23, 2004

Knew I Was Missing Something...

Oh dear. Y'know, it's a pretty bad sign that I've reached this point in my legal academic career and still don't have anything more than my moot court brief that I'd want to use as a writing sample. Whilst I've done a lot of good legal work over the summer, none of it involved the writing of particularly complex memoranda that distills into interview material.

Any suggestions?

July 22, 2004

EIP

My fellow CLS classmate Serious Law Student has been blogging up a storm about the Early Interview Program, and I'll leave it to her to describe the ins and outs of the process. (Basically, we have to choose 30 employers to 'bid' for, and Career Services will set up a whole load of interviews.) For those of you who are rising 1Ls, here's the one thing you have to know about the process at this point: it's responsible for the compression of law school into a single job-relevant year.

Most people will end up employed by whichever firm chooses them--or, optimistically, they choose--for employment after their second year. This decision is made during the first term of the second year, after interviews that take place starting in August.

Some people will think it's strange that I'm even bothering to publicize this, but I'm sure there will be rising 1Ls out there who don't know this. I didn't when I started. The conclusion is obvious: many of your final employers will only ever see your first year grades. This is the origin of 90% of 1L stress. (Number not scientifically verified.)

I have no idea who came up with this system, although I've heard many people when describing it express a wish that they could shake his hand. With a doberman.

Over the last few days I've been indulging in a rather elegant firm-choosing strategy. Sure, I've done a fair amount of NALP/Vault/etc. research on each firm. But I'm actually judging them the same way I've learned about almost all my previous employers: reputation. Simply put, I've sent out a lot of emails, talked to a lot of contacts, and listened hard to what they said.

A lot of the time, what they've said has jibed with my own views from firm dinners. At some of these I've found myself speaking mostly to students, whilst the partners' eyes sparkled with the more laddish gentleman. These firms are probably lovely for a certain demographic--played rugby in college, knows who the leader of the American League East is--but sadly aren't for me. On the other hand, once or twice I've met partners who had my kind of focus, or who had travelled erratically, or had some crazy life experience that you couldn't stop them from sharing. These folks impressed me greatly, and I've looked closer into their firms. Mostly, I've liked what I found.

I say this only because like Serious, I find that the statistical information in Vault or NALP (two directories of lawyers, for those not savvying the lingo) is ambiguous at best, and the descriptions... well, let's just say I'd hate to be the staff writer forced to look through the Britannica-sized volume that is NALP and told I must find some new way to say, "Our firm values diversity of race, sex, and orientation, whilst attempting to achieve the proper balance between life, work, and of course our commitment to pro bono..."

June 09, 2004

Ironing

Both Ambimb and Heidi weigh in on the subject of ironing shirts, and since I'm once again gainfully employed and wearing them daily, I figure I'll make my voice known. Even if you hate ironed shirts, read to the end, because it'll be useful to you.

First, unlike my two friends, I actually enjoy ironed shirts, and rather enjoy ironing. There's something meditative about the process of gradually straightening out a shirt, particularly if it's just out of the drier and not that wrinkled anyway. In any case, I do my ironing in front of the TV, so it provides me with an excuse to chill my brain out without feeling guilty that I'm not studying, cleaning, writing letters, etc.

I'm quite fond of French cuffs, but French cuffs on an unironed shirt look silly. More to the point, pressed shirts provide a signalling device: while not all careful, thoughful people who pay attention to details will have pressed shirts, most people who consistently take good care of their business appearance will be the kind who pay attention to details. (At least, this is a bit of common folk wisdom, though I always heard it more with respect to shoes than shirts: if you want to spot a careful person, check the shine on the shoes.)

Anyway, for those like Ambimb--and to a lesser extent Heidi, though my experience with women's clothes is slight and thus should be approached with caution--here are some ways to cut down on your ironing time. These are pretty basic, but some people don't know them, so I hope they're useful.

a) Take your shirts directly out of the drier, preferably in the last minute of the cycle--don't let them sit after the drier's stopped. This will prevent a lot of small and annoying creases.

b) If you can stand using Bounce, or some similar drier-based fabric softener, it prevents a lot of creases.

c) Some shirt brands now advertise 'wrinkle-free' shirts. This is baloney, but if you follow the care instructions they will come out of the drier significantly less wrinkled, and require less ironing. (No use if you've already bought your shirts, of course.)

d) Three-piece suits cover a multitude of sins and oversights in ironing.

e) Finally, one trick that's useful if you've got a shirt that's only mildly wrinkled, and fairly uncreased. Hang it overnight, and in the morning, take it into the bathroom with you as you're showering. Close the bathroom door and, as the steam collects, many of the wrinkles will fall out, or at least become less noticeable. This works remarkably well in hotels during business travel, when your shirts are likely slightly worse for wear from having been in a hanging bag.

Of course, it's not like I can talk. I'm not doing any ironing for the next two months, due to the relative cheapness of Tokyo dry cleaners coupled with the complete uselessness of shelling out for an iron and ironing board for my two month stay.

June 01, 2004

Clueless in Tokyo

There's something about Tokyo that can reduce the most confident--heck, even the most arrogant--visitor to a shaking pile of uncertain jelly. Ever since I arrived yesterday, I've been having the strangest cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, this isn't anything new for me: I've lived in Japan before, and while my language skills have declined somewhat, I can still make my way around town, and generally make myself known. But all the small details that I used to have mastered are gone.

For instance, take the art of the introduction. It took me a very long time during my first visit to get the whole Japanese introduction system down pat: who bows, how low, what you say, and most importantly, when you stop bowing, since I have a tendency to just keep going. Over the last few days I've probably been through thirty introductions, and I'm back to the gawky-kid stage. The problem is, I can almost be the gawky kid right now, and I've stumbled no few of them.

On the other hand, I spent the morning away from the office (most of which I can't really talk about), waiting for my luggage to arrive from the airport delivery service, and ran into a pleasant surprise. Although I'm sure the Clerk will disagree in his normal curmudgeonly fashion, the lower tendency for Japanese to sue means that the coffee that I purchased at McDonalds this morning was the proper temperature: hot. And while it might seem strange to have eaten my first breakfast in a foreign land in a McDonalds, let me remind you of two major differences between McDonalds in Tokyo and New York: the former are both clean and capable of serving food hot.

Anyway, I've settled into an apartment in Ikebukuro, and if I can find some free wireless access points and have time over the weekend, I'll be putting up a photoblog, which with any luck will fill with my pictures of my summer here. In the meantime, I'll have to go: my time at this internet cafe is almost...

May 29, 2004

Onward!

At 7 AM tomorrow, I'm out of the house and on the road to Tokyo. Until I figure out how to get an internet connection (no blogging from the office, obviously), you may here very little from me. But stay tuned, I'm sure Japan will be worth writing about!

March 16, 2004

Strange indeed

Twice this week I've been contacted by New York firms looking for 1Ls to work in their Japanese offices. After innumerable rejection letters from firms over the last couple of months, I feel almost guilty saying to them, "I'm sorry, I've accepted a position at another firm for the summer. But please keep me in mind for next year."

I mean, I know they're not heartbroken, and they'll just go to the next name on the list. Still, I almost want to go interview just to make the nice voice on the other end of the line happy. Mostly, I try to mitigate this by pointing them to a colleague or two who might still be looking.

The whole thing is very irrational, but there you go.

March 05, 2004

"Much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose"

We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. Woodrow Wilson

Wilson spoke those words in an address about pre-war America, not about a 1L searching for jobs, but the feeling translates.

Continue reading ""Much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose"" »

February 29, 2004

Much News, But Not Now

There has been news on the job front, and it's good news, but since nothing is decided yet, I won't blog about it. Suffice it to say I'm happier than I was on Thursday night.

On Thursday night, of course, I was pretty happy. In an act of premature celebration about my summer job situation, I spent far too much money on access to a charity poker game. That said, my personal splurge resulted in a healthy donation to the Public Interest Law Foundation. Since a friend of mine recently chastised me quite strongly for mocking too-often their overwhelmingly liberal bent (I did notice with some surprise that they were willing to auction from the right-side of the podium) I'll let that aside and instead say I'm looking forward to a good game of poker, and I hope whoever's summer crusade I've funded thinks an occasional kind thought towards Republicans as a result.

Finally, my latest distraction from studying is designing and implementing a website for law school society that will remain unnamed for the moment. In order to keep this from being too large a commitment, I'm trying to implement the site with a content management system, so that the society board can update it without much of my help. I'll probably just use a hack of Moveabletype to spit out the code, as it already has plenty of useful plug-ins. But I'm tempted to use a new CMS called Textpattern. It's PHP-based, looks pretty secure, and does most of what I want.

It was first referred to me by someone who got the name wrong, and said I might be interested in using Textualism to implement my site. It's a shame this isn't the real name, since I was really looking forward to implementing a law school webpage that could legitimately say it was powered by Textualism.

February 10, 2004

Good News for the Job Season

My Onion horoscope for the week:
Economic trends are highly unpredictable, so don't be alarmed when your head's suddenly worth $10 million.

February 07, 2004

Things I Didn't Know

Note for future 1Ls applying for jobs: read the directions.

We had a big presentation last term which included the fact that we weren't allowed to write GPAs on our resumes. "Fair enough," I figured, "they want employers to make their initial selection based upon resumes and not GPA or class rank. We can send a transcript if the employer requests it. That makes some sense. Not sure if I disagree with it or not, but I can make heads or tails of it."

So I've sent out a bundle of resumes, sans any information on grades. Today I talked to Careers Services, who told me this was a mistake.

Apparently the policy is that you can't send out a GPA. You can, however, give a highly-skilled recruiter your transcript, with three letter grades that they can turn into a GPA whenever it suits them. Try as I might, I really can't find a justification behind that policy. I presume one exists, but it doesn't pop into my head.

Moral of the story: don't assume that something's so just because you figure it makes sense. Check with the folks who know the rules. (Which means, incidentally, don't take my word for it. I'm giving you the benefit of my mistakes.)

February 06, 2004

Variation on an Old Theme

Hi, fellow 1Ls. Disappointed at all the dings one gets from the hundred or so law firms we spammed with resumes? Here's a variation on an old internet joke that might brighten your day a bit:

BIGLAW LLP
666 Market Lane
New York, NY 10000

Dear BIGLAW Firm:

Thank you for your recent letter. In view of my summer employment needs, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me a summer position at this time.

I and my fellow students have had a very successful rejection collection program this winter. I assure you that it was a difficult decision, as I have been rejected by many high quality firms of talented lawyers such as your own. With such great interest, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

I am sorry that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time. I look forward to starting summer employment with you as soon as finals are finished, and invite you to reject me again for your 2005 summer associate program.

Best regards,

A Law Student


February 04, 2004

Way Behind on the Job Search

Things are not looking promising for a job this summer. I've sent out quite a few resumes (though certainly not more than a hundred, so I seem to be on the low side), but I'm 0 for 2 interviews and I'm no closer than I was two weeks ago.

I wonder if you're absolutely unemployable if you don't have a 1L summer job lined up? I'm half tempted to take this last 'free' summer and go work in a coding shop again. But what it really means is that I should spend this evening redoubling my efforts.

February 03, 2004

Dim, Sultry, Flattering Light

Mike O'Sullivan at The Corp Law Blog worries that corporate lawyers are going to lose out in the recruiting race because hot-shot young law students are all going to watch The Practice and Law and Order, and decide that this is where the sexy hunks and 'slinky stick-thins' are.

Actually, I think that even 1Ls are a little more resistant to that kind of Hollywood-driven marketing than people give us credit for. I've found that while attending all the 1L receptions thrown by various law firms, it's pretty easy to tell the ones who were marketed well (their PR agency genuinely captured the ethos and identity of the firm and presented it honestly); the ones who were marketed badly (relentlessly on-message about whatever their PR agency suggested); and best of all, those that didn't seem 'marketed' at all. (I'm not naming names here for obvious reasons--I'm not an idiot, for one--but this isn't saying anything about law firms that isn't true about firms in any industry. Marketing is a very subtle art, and it's dead easy to get wrong. I also know enough from working at a web agency to know not to hold bad marketing against anyone.)

Still, my search for summer employment has been churning for a few weeks: false starts, a few interviews, no real bites. Maybe I should offer to put my evocative talents to use at a firm, finding a way to cast them in the 'dim, sultry, flattering light' that O'Sullivan so demands. I once blogged a whole week in the style of a Sam Spade novel--what could be more 'sultry' than that?

December 27, 2003

Interview tomorrow

My first legal interview is tomorrow, by telephone with a rather large law firm. It's been three years since I've actually had an interview, and I've never conducted one by phone.

On the plus side, the last time I was in a job interview, I was the interviewer, looking for my replacement at my last job. I'll have to see if experience on the other side of the table does me any good.

Giving The Devil His Due

Getting Ready for Hong Kong (1)
Tony the Pony wrote: Okay, the greedy & ambition of the ... [more]

Blogging a Summer Job (3)
lala wrote: Eat lots of Shanghainese soup dumpl... [more]

Strangest Rejection Letter of All (2)
The Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk wrote: One of you law student bloggers rea... [more]

Guilt, Lunch, and Other Firm Concerns (4)
Fr. Bill wrote: "their clients' money?" I'm not so... [more]

"Torrential Rains"? (5)
PG wrote: I felt very New Yorker-ish because ... [more]

EIP Website (16)
Frank wrote: good site, good short contents of... [more]

Knew I Was Missing Something... (9)
lostingotham wrote: I interviewed exclusively with New ... [more]

EIP (5)
Kaimi wrote: One word of caution about small, bo... [more]

Ironing (13)
A. Rickey wrote: PG: Yes, well, the advice rather a... [more]

Clueless in Tokyo (2)
Aaron Miller wrote: The NY Times Magazine had an articl... [more]

Onward! (2)
A. Rickey wrote: Oh, there are. (Where this is bein... [more]

Strange indeed (3)
JohnJacobs wrote: I've had the opposite experience. W... [more]

"Much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose" (0)
Much News, But Not Now (1)
Blue Deer wrote: Not necessary, Mark! Look at <a hre... [more]

Good News for the Job Season (0)
Things I Didn't Know (5)
David Mercer wrote: Heheh, you should keep in mind the ... [more]

Variation on an Old Theme (3)
kit wrote: Yeah. I didn't write a single law f... [more]

Way Behind on the Job Search (10)
asdf wrote: You're not completely done in if yo... [more]

Dim, Sultry, Flattering Light (5)
Tony the Pony wrote: Glad to see you're going to the rec... [more]

Interview tomorrow (4)
Bruce wrote: Buckle up, it's going to be a ride,... [more]

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