Friday, December 16, 2011

Fortune strikes: I have my first job as a lawyer

Over the last two and a half years, I've used this blog to write about some of the more difficult aspects of law school. For example, I've written about the difficulty of first-year exams, the dreariness of the 2L funk, and the lousy job market for 3Ls. I could add to the negative streak by discussing the disappointment I felt upon seeing my fall semester grades, which fell below my expectations. But that's not going to happen. Not today. In fact, I'm going to break the traditional law student code of being self-effacing and modest among one's colleagues. The reason: I have a job. That's right, I'm going to be paid to be a lawyer when I graduate next year. I'm going to be a practicing attorney, with an office, business cards, actual clients, and terrifying and stressful court appearances. I couldn't be happier.
I'll be a rookie associate with Jones Ward PLC, the firm where I've been a law clerk for the last year. Even better, I believe deeply in the firm's mission. We sue big companies that hurt people, in mass tort cases that involve everything from defective medical devices and prescription drugs to the BP Oil Spill and the Toyota crash cases. We also represent people injured in everyday car crashes, slip and falls and other injuries. I'll be thrown into the fire in July right after the bar exam, and I'm so excited I want to scream about it from the rooftops, or at least in a blog post. The point, however, is this: law school can be an incredibly humbling and difficult experience, but the end result, at least for me, has been the best career decision of my life. To be sure, there have been struggles, and the journey is far from over. But with perseverance, lots of networking, and a small amount of good fortune, it seems to be paying off. I'm hoping to write more in the coming months about the employment prospects of our graduating class, which seems to be a topic of, well, great interest. If you have your own story to share (positive or otherwise), feel free to message me at Have a great holiday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Click, Click, Submit: How to Become a Legal Scholar in Less Than Ten Minutes

As I get closer to graduation in May, it's becoming more and more obvious that ....

     A. Even after two clerkships, an externship, and a volunteer job at a legal clinic, I still have very little experience in the law.

     B. The importance of networking with lawyers and other members of the legal community cannot be underestimated.

     C. With just five months to go before graduation, I need to find ways to leverage my forthcoming J.D. and make it look as impressive as possible.

     D. All of the Above.

The answer, of course, is D. And if law school has taught me anything over the last three years (in addition to answering all questions with "it depends") it is to find creative solutions to problems, which brings me to my Discovery of the Day: how to become an instant legal scholar using SSRN, the Social Science Research Network. Most students go to law school to become lawyers, not scholars. Why not be both? You can create an account using SSRN and use it to publish that obscure 25-page tome that you cranked out for your writing requirement. Assuming you've already written the thing, the publishing process only takes about ten minutes (your submission has to meet certain requirements, which you can read about here).

I credit Dean Jim Chen with the SSRN idea. This morning, I posted an abstract for a law review note I finished a few weeks ago. One of the cool things about SSRN is that you can share writing that has not yet been published in hard copy. Chen, for example, just posted an early version of a forthcoming article titled "A Degree of Practical Wisdom: The Ratio of Educational Debt to Income as a Basic Measurement of Law School Graduates’ Economic Viability." You can read the abstract by clicking here, or check out the full version by clicking on the "download" link at the top of the page. As soon as my exams are over, I'm planning to post the 42-page monster of a law review note that I wrote last year about medical marijuana and the military. The Veterans Health Administration, a key source for the note, still has not responded to my year-old FOIA request, and last year's journal editors ultimately rejected the note for publication (less than half of all notes are actually accepted). Now, however, it's going to see the light of day, and I'll be a published (sort of) legal scholar two times over. 

In the coming months, I'm going to write more about networking and job hunting. Got your own nifty idea? Post it in the comments field below, or email me at