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Government Hiring is Down, But There is a Glimmer of Hope

This recent post from the PSLawNet blog discusses the most recent hiring statistics from federal government honors programs.  While the numbers are troubling, it’s important to focus on the good news – there are federal agencies with new or reinstated honors programs:

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a new federal agency devoted to safeguarding the economic strength and vitality of America’s families.  The Louis D. Brandeis Attorney Honors program is a two-year fellowship that gives graduates an opportunity to participate in enforcement actions under consumer financial and fair-lending laws, participate in court proceedings defending Bureau rules and regulations, provide analysis for fair-lending compliance examinations, and develop policy.  The application deadline for the 2012 program was October 5, 2011, and will probably be in early October 2012 for the 2013 program.
  • The new Department of Energy Honors Program is a 6-12 month rotation during which graduates are assigned to individual Assistant General Counsel offices.  The offices offer a wide variety of legal practice areas including environmental law, legislation and regulation, litigation and enforcement, international law, procurement, intellectual property and others.  Honors Attorneys may be eligible to compete for permanent positions in DOE after passing the bar exam.  The deadline for the 2013 program will likely be late September 2012.
  • The Federal Communications Commission’s Attorney Honors Program is a two-year program during which attorneys participate in various aspects of federal administrative practice as they relate to the FCC’s oversight of television, radio, cable, wireless, wireline, satellite, and other communications services and facilities. Attorneys at the FCC draft decisions in adjudicatory and rulemaking matters, work with internal and external constituencies to resolve complex policy issues before the agency, participate in international negotiations, represent the FCC in dealings with other government agencies, Congress and the private sector, and defend FCC decisions in the federal courts.  All Honors Program participants will work at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, DC and will be assigned to one of the agency’s bureaus. At the end of the two-year program, Honors Program attorneys will be eligible for consideration for continued employment at the FCC. The deadline for the 2013 program will likely be late September 2012.

The PSLawNet blog post also offers some valuable advice on making yourself competitive for these government positions – tips include showing a commitment to public service, enthusiasm, and a demonstrated interest in the agency’s area of law. Foreign language skills and experience in the agency’s area of law (including internships) are also a plus.

How do you show these things?  By doing volunteer work, participating in community service activities, and taking part in events that demonstrate your commitment to a particular issue or cause.  In addition, attend conferences and take classes in the particular area of law that interests you.  If you are interested in working for the government, there is still a lot you can do to make yourself a competitive candidate, and it starts with being aware of what that agency is looking for.

Law firms using new interview techniques

During the economic downtown, some firms have begun to use new interview techniques to assess candidates.  There has been discussion of identifying core competencies and utilizing more behavioral interview questions.  Check out this recent article by Vivia Chen about the firm McKenna Long & Aldridge who has begun using psychological testing in the interview process.  The lesson for students: take the time to fully prepare for your interviews!  This means not only researching the employer, but also spending time up front doing the necessary self-assessment to be fully aware of your own values, skills, and interests.

Increase in Behavioral Interviewing by Law Firms

There is a renewed emphasis on behavioral interviewing in law firm hiring this year.  Check out an article by Gina Passarella that appears today in The Legal Intelligencer  discussing this very topic.

Show Off Your 'Emotional Intelligence' During the Legal Recruiting Process

In the July 20th issue of the New York Law Journal, Alison Bernard and Niki Kopsidas discuss a concept that is getting more and more attention from legal employers – “Emotional Intelligence”.  In a tight job market, legal employers are looking for ways to determine which candidates will not only excel in the academic practice of law, but who also possess the “soft skills” necessary to build strong client relationships.  Read their article to learn more about “EI”, and how students can demonstrate it in the interview process and develop it while in law school.

Building Your Reputation As A Young Lawyer

Building and maintaining a positive public image is very important for young lawyers.  In the July 14th issue of the New York Law Journal, consultants Michelle Samuels and Shannon K. Stevens offered great tips to help attorneys get started on the right path.  Read their article.

Legal Market update from BLS

On July 6th The American Lawyer reported on the latest legal sector employment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Full article copied below: Continue reading »

Stay Safe (and Private) on Facebook

In recent years it has become commonplace for legal employers to google job candidates and check out their online social media presence.  As job-seekers, students should take care to monitor their online reputation.  But even after graduation, lawyers must continue this vigilance and take care to present a professional image both in person and online.  For Facebook users, here is a helpful article from The New York Times on “5 Steps to Stay Safe (and Private) on Facebook“.

It's Never Too Early To Raise Your Profile As A Lawyer

Young lawyers oftentimes feel they don’t have time for “networking, raising their profile and creating a personal brand”, but in an article today in The Legal Intelligencer Debra L. Bruce notes that these activities “can help you keep your job, get a new job and develop business.”  Read her article to find out why you should strive to be more visible in the community and get some great examples of methods that work.

Positioning Yourself to Get the Job

The January 4, 2010 issue of the Winston-Salem Journal featured an article highlighting the importance of feedback in the job search process.  The following useful ”job-hunting strategies” were also provided:
• Ask friends or acquaintances who manage and hire people to offer constructive criticism of your cover letter and resume.
• Ask those same friends to do a practice interview with you, providing “tough love” feedback.
• Apply immediately — with a tailored cover letter and resume – to attractive jobs; search for friends and colleagues who could act as referrals within the organization.
• Be selective about sending resumes rather than scatter-shooting.
• Be specific about the type of work and organizations that you find most interesting.
• Plan to network 80 percent of the time and use the Internet 20 percent.
• Be willing to explore opportunities outside your profession that match up with your job skills.
• Examine your real financial needs so as to be more open to opportunities that may pay less than what you want.
• Be willing to take a lower-paying job if it can serve as a steppingstone to another job inside or outside the company.
• Stay with your current job, rather than job searching full time, since many employers are more attracted to applicants who are employed.

Read the full article here.

How to Enhance Your Chances for a Successful Job Search Even in a Difficult Economy

In the December 15 issue of The Legal Intelligencer, Alyssa Dragnich suggests concrete actions law graduates can take to enhance their chances for a successful job search even in a difficult economy.  Although her article is directed towards recent law graduates, her advice is applicable to any law student or graduate seeking employment.  Read her article.