alumni

New Attorneys Will Benefit from a Mentor

Passing the bar makes every new attorney think they are ready to hit the ground running and filing Supreme Court appeals their first year of practice. Whether you are planning on starting your own solo practice or are starting work at a big firm, make a conscious effort to find attorney(s) who are willing to mentor you as a new attorney. Good mentors are invaluable as you can bounce ideas off them and they can give you tips on how to overcome some common pitfalls a young attorney is sure to face.

But if you’re just starting out, you may be wondering just how you’re supposed to find a legal mentor. After all, legal mentors do not grow on trees. Here are three tips to find a mentor:

  1. Check in with the law school and former classmates. At no point in your life will you be surrounded by as many people involved in the legal field than when you were at law school. Check in with classmates who may have started a law practice, especially those who were a year or two above you. Also, you can ask law professors and your career advisor for suggestions. Alumni are often willing to work with other alumni.
  2. Contact your local bar association. Many bar associations have a section devoted to junior attorneys, and they may pair up juniors with more senior members. These sections are often split among practice areas, so you may be able to find a mentor directly in the area you work in. In North Carolina, membership in the Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association is open to all NCBA members who are under 36 years of age and all lawyers within their first three years of practice. Membership in the YLD is free and automatic upon membership in the NCBA.
  3. Approach someone you admire. At some point, you may read an article about a lawyer you aspired to be like. You should try calling or emailing that attorney. Everyone loves flattery, and even the busiest of attorneys may take some time out of their day to talk to their biggest fan. It doesn’t hurt to try, and the worst that can happen is that the person you approach says “no” or ignores you.

There are viable legal mentors everywhere. You just have to take the initiative to find one. If you need any assistance in how to start searching for a mentor, contact your career advisor today and they will help point you in the right direction.

The Key to Unlocking USAJobs.gov

The clearinghouse for job opportunities with the government.

USAJobs.gov is the clearinghouse for job opportunities with the government.

If you are interested in government jobs, you might already know that USAJobs.gov is the clearinghouse for job opportunities with the government. Listings on the site include student and non-student jobs which makes it a good resource for temporary summer positions and permanent positions.

Janice Johnson, a Wake Forest Law 2L, had first-hand experience with using USAJobs during her extensive career prior to attending law school. After completing her undergraduate studies in Boston, Janice worked in Europe and with the U.S. Department of State. In this blog post, Janice offers her advice and personal tips on how to navigate the USAJobs web site and ultimately land a government job.

Tactics on How Best to Start

USAJobs has countless agencies, departments, and sectors that you may not even have thought about or knew existed. Interested in energy law? There are energy specialists in each agency, not just in the Department of Energy. As a rule of thumb: start big. It’s also wise to start by picking your geographic preference and then just browsing the listings for that area. You should also be attentive to jobs that are not categorized as attorney positions, but where your law degree will give you an advantage and/or help you meet the other position requirements.

When It’s Time to Apply

In order to apply for any job on USAJobs, you will first need to have available your complete, thorough work and volunteer history. From the time you click “Apply for this Position,” you will be prompted to the site’s resume builder. A time-consuming ordeal, yes, but once you use the resume builder, you will be able to save the resume profile in the system, so it will be easy to apply to future jobs.

Important Application Tips

Use the keywords in the job description when filling out the resume builder. There is a meticulously designed computer program that scans through the resumes on USAJobs and ranks resumes on several different factors such as keywords. These keywords will get matched in the computer system, making you a better match for the job than those applicants who do not use keywords from the description. For example, if the position is looking for drafting experience, be sure you have the word “drafting” in your resume profile.

Also, think broadly when it comes capturing your years of experience for certain listings. For example, let’s say the position in which you are applying is asking for a number of years of leadership experience. Leadership experience can include things such as cheerleading coaching, retail management experience, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leadership, etc. So if you’re comfortable talking about it in an interview, then use it.

If there is a requirement or an option to add a cover letter or transcript, be sure you upload those documents. Always cater your cover letter to each job just like you would if applying to a law firm or any other employer. A carefully crafted cover letter can be the difference between your getting an interview or being passed aside. And don’t worry about your resume being too long. The government is okay with long resumes as they would rather know too much, than not enough.

Word of Mouth & Networking Bonuses

You can’t discount the potential value of knowing someone within government agencies whether it’s a friend, former classmate, family member, or colleague. Personal connections still work and knowing someone can make a huge impact on your application status and getting called in for an interview. Connections can put in a good word for you, despite the HR department having to go through the whole stack of resumes. News regarding upcoming positions also travel via word of mouth, often before they are even posted on USAJobs.gov so knowing someone in the department or agency can give you advance time to gather all of the necessary application materials.

After Applying

After applying and interviewing, you may receive an offer (YAY!). Just note that there will still be a security clearance and credit check you will need to pass. Your job offer will be for conditional hiring only, contingent on this background check. The length of the security clearance process varies and sometimes the process can take up to a full year to complete. This is why many summer internships open up in November so that they can close out in December to allow enough time to complete the full process. At this time, the government is okay with credit card debt such as retail store cards and personal credit cards. However, any delinquent debt, especially student loan debt, will likely delay the clearance process.

The entire USAJobs application process can be a long one. Fortunately, the system’s email notifications do help inform you on whether you will proceed to the next step or if your application has not been accepted. Whatever you do, do not get discouraged! Apply. Then apply again, even if it’s the same job you applied to before. Human resources will not notice that you’ve applied 8 times, nor would it make a difference in your hiring. There is no limit to how many times you can apply to a position. Perhaps you might have been ranked lower before and now you have more experience under your belt so be sure you are updating and adding new experiences often to your USAJobs profile. Your efforts will eventually be rewarded for all your time and hard work!

A Candid Interview with Alumnus Vlad Vidaeff

Vlad Vidaeff, Wake Forest University JD/MBA ('13)

Vlad Vidaeff
JD/MBA (’13)
Wake Forest University

We recently spoke with Mr. Vlad Vidaeff, a 2013 JD/MBA graduate of Wake Forest University, about his unique career path and journey to success. His extensive resume includes co-founding the retail company 20 Pirouettes and acting as the Social Media Manager at the REFUGE Group. Mr. Vidaeff has also been involved with multiple business endeavors in Texas, New York, and North Carolina. In this interview, you will find out how he uses his legal background in a business setting, what his day-to-day work involves, and how other business-minded students can pursue a similar career track with a JD.

Biography

Vlad Vidaeff was born in New York.  After moving around quite a bit growing up, he spent most of his childhood in Boston before moving to Houston in 8th grade. He attended high school in Texas and subsequently pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan.  Straight out of college, Vlad began the JD/MBA program at Wake Forest University.  After graduating in 2013, he returned to Houston and accepted a marketing position at eCardio.  Vlad spent almost a year with the company before starting his own company, 20 Pirouettes, with a business partner.  Now that most of the grunt work is out of the way, Vlad has recently accepted a marketing manager role with The REFUGE Group.  The REFUGE Group is a full-service advertising agency located in Houston.  In his free time, Vlad enjoys exercising, watching sports, and watching movies and TV shows.

What is your job title?

I am the Co-founder of 20 Pirouettes and the Social Media Manager at The REFUGE Group.

What do you do at your position?

While my position at The REFUGE Group is interesting, I think my role at 20 Pirouettes is the job where I more directly use my legal background.  Starting my own business was a lot more work than I could have ever imagined but also one that gives me a great sense of satisfaction.  There were many tasks that had to be completed before going public: writing a business plan, registering the business as a legal entity, filing for trademark protection with the USPTO, applying for a federal tax ID and any permits needed, etc.  Being a licensed attorney was invaluable in handling the legal and tax aspects to my business, areas that often make entrepreneurs uncomfortable.  Since we are a retail business that sells hand-made jewelry made out of precious gemstones and crystals, another huge focus of our business is marketing/promotions.

What’s the typical day like?

As we are not yet public, each day brings new tasks and challenges.  We are hoping to have our website up and running by the end of April.  But to give you an idea of some of the major activities we’ve been working on over the past couple of months, here are some examples.  We have worked with an advertising agency on creating a logo for the brand.  Since we are an online business, we have bought our shipping materials in bulk and designed some promotional flyers to be included with each package.  A major task facing 20 Pirouettes in the next month will be taking photos of our products with a professional photographer so they can then be uploaded to our website.  There are a ton of small responsibilities here and there that I won’t go into detail to bore you!

How did you got to this position in your career?

I feel like I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and having the opportunity to attempt to build a brand from the ground up is something I really enjoy.  My business partner and I had discussed opening a business for many years but the timing was never right.  I was busy in school and was living out-of-state.  Moving back to Houston and then leaving eCardio gave me the extra free time I needed to help get things off the ground.  Starting your own business is all about having an idea, whether it is a product or service, and having the courage to dive in and make your dreams come true!

What recommendations do you have for students who want to be in your field?

While my path has not been the traditional one that most law students follow, I believe my legal education has been a great tool in my field.  Do not be frightened to take a non-traditional path as there are many avenues to success and by going to law school, you have developed many transferrable skills. Having strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are essential to being a successful entrepreneur.  Moreover, having an attention to detail is also important as you are making major decisions frequently and cannot afford to make mistakes due to carelessness.  I had the added benefit of gaining a business education in addition to my JD, so I would recommend that students interested in entrepreneurship read books or take online courses in entrepreneurship, marketing, and finance.

Are there any specific courses you would recommend students take in order to be more marketable for a position like yours?

Legal courses that are business-related would be most helpful.  Some of the most valuable courses that I took include contracts, business organizations, intellectual property, and business drafting.

Image of Martindale attorney search field with State/Province & Law School: Wake Forest highlighted

Martindale – A Great Alumni Search Tool

As many law students already know, contacting alumni is a great means to further your career, especially when it comes to networking; however, it is still a piece to the larger job search puzzle as a whole. A student should still feel obligated to make a genuine connection before leveraging an alumni connection for any possible job opportunities or informational interviews. Don’t assume that simply knowing or contacting Wake Forest Law School alumni at a business or firm will give you a definite advantage. It is important to keep in mind that a job search is still a delicate process and alumni contacts are not built overnight.

There is no harm in reaching out to somebody to say hello or even ask to grab a cup of coffee together if you are in town. But if you want to approach an alumnus, you’re better off seeking advice as opposed to assuming the ‘we’re from the same school; hire me’ will work in gaining you a position within their firm/organization. Instead, try a simple introduction where you disclose that you are considering a specific summer experience and just ask if he or she has any advice about the industry or location in general. You could also request an informational interview or even a job shadowing opportunity if they have the free time. A great way to put this plan into action (instead of the often harsh, basic cold call) would be to meet an alum through a mutual contact, career advisor, alumni office, or via a regular alumni association networking event and start up a relationship from there.

Ok so now you have a strategy of how to communicate. So where are all the Wake Forest Law alums? One helpful tool that includes a majority of Wake Forest Law alumni is the Martindale database. You can access this database easily online through their website www.martindale.com. Once you are at the web site, click on the Advanced Search link under the People tab at the very top of the web page in the red section. From the ‘Advanced Search for Lawyers, Law Firms & Organizations’ page, you can fill out any necessary search criteria to narrow your alumni search.

Want to practice law or obtain a summer position in the Baltimore, Maryland metro area? Simply select Maryland from the State/Province drop-down menu and type “Wake Forest” in the Law School text box. Now click the Search button. (pictured above) Viola! You now have 59 Wake Forest Law alumni to choose from. Narrow your search even more by selecting your desired practice area or city on the left hand side of the screen under ‘Narrow results by’. Also, if you would like to identify Wake Forest Alums that are working in government agencies, conduct a search as outlined above and if there is a Government Agency category on the left on the results page, you will be able to narrow those results by selecting a particular Government Agency in which you are interested.

Many of the contact details in the search results will also feature phone numbers as well as a link to the contact’s company web site. Click the ‘View Website’ link to research their organization or firm in greater detail as well as give you a feel for the type of work they do. And nine times out of ten, the person in which you are trying to contact will also have a biography on the company web page, filling you in on their work history and achievements all the way back to Wake Forest.

If sending emails is your preferred means of driving your networking efforts, you can most often find email addresses for each alumni contact on their firm or company’s web site under a company directory or attorney drop down menu list. A downloadable vCard may also be available so that you can keep all their contact information, including their email address, on hand for future reference. Here is a sample email to use as a guideline when emailing alumni:

Dear Mr./Ms. ____________,
I found your name and contact information on Martindale’s online directory when searching for Wake Forest Alumni in the Baltimore, MD area. I am a first year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law, and I am interested in immigration law. I would greatly appreciate any advice or information you could offer me about the field. Would it be possible to set up a time to speak with you sometime next week via telephone?

Ready, set, go? If you want to iron out a plan about contacting Wake Forest Law alumni, be sure to make an appointment with your career advisor and give them an idea of your targeted geographic location and practice area. This will give your advisor the information they need to help you obtain important tips and advice on connecting and communicating prior to making your initial contact with Wake Forest Law alumni. With the right approach, you will gain experience in networking which will give you important, lifelong connections that will aid your career well into the future.

WFU Law Networking Reception in Washington, D.C.

Students are invited to attend the Wake Forest School of Law D.C. Reception, to be held during Fall Break in Washington D.C.

Don’t miss this opportunity to network with D.C. alumni and other attorneys practicing in the area!

Details:

Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.

Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar available

Bar Code Restaurant, Bar, Lounge
1101 17th Street NW
(Entrance Located on L Street)
Washington, DC 20036-4704

Register online by visiting http://alumni.law.wfu.edu/contact/alumni-reception-registration/
by October 17

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.

2010 Lavender Law Career Fair & Conference

The 2010 Lavender Law Career Fair & Conference will be held August 26-28th at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, FL. Over 1,000 practicing attorneys, scholars, law students, members of the judiciary and other legal professionals year are expected to attend this year’s event which will feature career, networking, and continuing legal education opportunities tailored for the LGBT legal community.

Register: Early registration to attend the 2010 Lavender Law Career Fair and Conference ends July 31st. Attendees are encouraged to register as soon as possible to take advantage of the discounted rates. For more information or to register for the 2010 Lavender Law Career Fair & Conference, please visit Registration.

IMPACT Career Fair for Law Students and Attorneys with Disabilities

6th Annual IMPACT Career Fair for Law Students and Attorneys with Disabilities
FRIDAY AUGUST 13, 2010 10:00am – 6:00pm
Sheraton Crystal City Hotel – Arlington, VA (Near National Airport)

This event is open to Fall 2010 returning law students, and graduates nationwide.  Students & graduates may register online at http://www.law.arizona.edu/Career/Impact/studentregistrationintro.cfm.  The deadline for students to register is Sunday July 11, 2010.  See the IMPACT website for details and to view registered employers (employers have until July 8, 2010 to register).

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“.