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Alison Monahan

Legal Careers


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Is Your Job Application Telling the Right Story?

Wednesday April 23, 2014

I help lots of law students with their job application materials, and there's a common problem I see over and over again:

  • The story they're telling just isn't very compelling.

In many cases, "the story" is all about the applicant -- NOT about what the applicant can do for the employer.

In some cases, "the story" just doesn't make sense. (Why are you applying for a public interest job when all of your work experience is in finance, or vice versa?)

If you're hunting for a legal job, take a minute to really think about what story you're telling.

This post might help: How to Craft a Compelling Narrative for Your Legal Job Hunt.

Legal Career Content from Around the Web

Friday April 18, 2014
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="127" caption="Stone/Miguel Navarro/Getty Images"]Legal Careeer Links from the Web[/caption]

Each week, I come across tons of great legal career content on the web, which I think you might enjoy.

Here are a few useful links from the week of April 18th:

Enjoy! Have a great weekend.

Greetings from NALP 2014!

Friday April 11, 2014

In the world of legal careers, there's no organization more wide-reaching than NALP, the National Association of Legal Professionals. I'm here at the NALP Annual Education conference in Seattle, with thousands of legal recruiters, law school career services folks, law firm recruiting and associate development coordinators, and a variety of vendors offering everything from moving services to residency-style matching for law firms and law students. To call it overwhelming is an understatement!

If you'd like to follow along, you can follow the #NALP14 hashtag on Twitter. There's lots of great info there, and you'll encounter many fantastic people you might want to follow going forward.

For fun, here's a photo of me and my business partner, just before our presentation on Mentoring and Empowering Law Student Entrepreneurs.

Alison Monahan and Lee Burgess presenting at NALP 2014.

We were excited to see so many innovative law school representatives in the room! Stay tuned for profiles of some interesting programs that are starting around the country to help law students launch their legal careers in an entrepreneurial manner. From startup incubators to social enterprise, there's a ton of cool stuff going on in law schools today, all of which is direly needed.

Have you heard about innovative law school programs? Drop a note in the comments!

3 Law School Trends That May Surprise You

Wednesday June 12, 2013

A steady drop in law school applications indicates that many would-be law students are choosing to forgo an expensive legal education in favor of another career path.

As law schools adapt to a changing market, they are devising new and innovative approaches to legal education in an attempt to recruit students and stay on top of the wave of reform sweeping the nation's law schools.  Some of these changes may surprise you.

Below are a few recent trends in law school education:

1. Sample Classes - Not sure if law school is right for you? William & Mary has announced a new program in which non-lawyers can get a taste of law school life through online learning and a three-day on-campus program. This innovative "try before you buy" program is designed to help students decide if they want to attend law school before they commit to incurring large student loan debt.

2. Shortened Programs - Accelerated law school programs have been around a few years but more law schools are joining the ranks of legal institutions offering an alternative to the traditional three-year curriculum. Most recently, Cooley Law School announced a new "three-year plus" program that will shorten the path to a law degree by allowing students to take law school courses in their final year of college. According to the school, "Participating students will save a full year of tuition, room, board and books, and this will make law school more accessible and more affordable." Stetson University College of Law recently unveiled a similar program.

3. Tuition Freezes - Sharp declines in law school enrollment have prompted some law schools to freeze tuition in order to make law school more affordable. The University of Akron Law School, Barry University Law School and UMass School of Law are three schools that have announced tuition freezes for the upcoming school year.

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5 Cover Letter Secrets

Tuesday June 11, 2013

Cover letters are a crucial job search tool. They can help you stand out from the crowd and secure an interview.

Many cover letters could stand improvement. Common issues are cover letters that do not target the specific job, simply rehash the resume, ramble on too long or are clearly cut-and-paste masterpieces. Below are five golden rules to help you craft an effective cover letter:

1. Be specific - Your cover letter should target the job you are seeking and include specific experience and accomplishments that tie into the job ad.

2. Be proactive - It is wise to include a call to action at the end of your letter and follow up.

3. Be original - Your cover letter should not be dull or formulaic. Let your unique personality shine through.

4. Be compelling - Most busy employers skim cover letters. Start your letter with a strong, compelling lead that will hook the reader and encourage them to read the entire letter.

5. Be succinct - Your cover letter should be brief, concise, compelling and to the point. It should never exceed one page.

For more information on writing a great cover letter, review the resources below.

Cover Letter Resources:

Law School Applications Hit All-Time Low

Monday June 10, 2013

For the third consecutive year, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) has reported a double digit dip in the percentage of individuals applying to law school in the U.S., prompting some schools to cut the size of their entering classes.

The drop in applications follows one of the nation's most difficult job markets for attorneys. The economic crisis, which began in 2008 (also known as the "Great Recession"), prompted layoffs, hiring freezes and curtailed recruitment in law firms of all sizes. At the same time, law school enrollment steadily increased. Enrollment hit "a 10-year high of 52,500 in fall 2010 -- leading to the lowest levels of employment for new graduates since 1996, a growing proportion of them carrying loans of $120,000 or more, " according to the Washington Post.

Experts speculate that the decrease in law school applications is a natural market adjustment to the glut of attorneys in the marketplace. A shrinking number of jobs, growing law school debt and other factors have encouraged many would-be lawyers to pursue other career avenues.

If you are considering law school, now is a good time to apply - the applicant pool is at an all-time low, creating less competition for those who do apply.

Related Articles:

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Telecommuting Tips

Friday March 8, 2013

In the aftermath of the work-from-home debate sparked by Yahoo's Marissa Meyer,  other companies like Best Buy are following suit and eliminating telecommuting perks.

Still, 20 to 30 million people currently work from home at least one day a week and 72% of employees say flexible work arrangements like telecommuting would cause them to choose one job over another.

Below are a few tips from Brad Karsh, President of JB Training Solutions and author of Manager 3.0: A Millennial's Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management, on how to make telecommuting work for everyone:

1. Managers:  Make time for regular feedback. Even in a remote work situation, feedback should be day-to-day, and it doesn't have to be formal.  This is your opportunity to set clear expectations and address anything about the remote work situation that is/isn't working.  Be open in discussing productivity if you think it's an issue.

2.  Telecommuters: Keep your team posted. To avoid the assumption that you are sitting on the couch catching up on Season 3 of Downton Abbey, be available to your team so they can depend on you for support and connection.  Send "FYI" updates to the team so everyone is in the loop.  Figure out how to anticipate the needs of your team - even from a distance.  Go above and beyond to honor the privilege of flexibility you've been given.

3.  Everyone: Make some face time. It's difficult to build a strong company culture when people don't see each other.  If possible, make face time with your co-workers at least once a week.  Meet for coffee, grab lunch, or go to the office for meetings.  As the Yahoo HR Department put it: "Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices."

More on Telecommuting:

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65+ Blog Topics for Lawyers

Monday March 4, 2013

"Content marketing" is a hot buzz phrase for 2013.  Lawyers are beginning to understand the importance of blogging and other forms of online marketing, including:

  • Newsletters
  • Press releases
  • White papers
  • Articles
  • Social media posts

These and other forms of online content can help lawyers - and other legal professionals - establish themselves as an authority on the web and gain a competitive edge.

What should you write about? One of the most common complaints I hear from attorneys is a lack of topic ideas.  This list of over 65 topics is a good place to start if you are short on ideas for your blog.

If you are a legal professional with a blog, add it to our blog directory so that others can learn about your site.

More About Blogging:

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Lawyers Rank Among the Top 20 Best-Paying Jobs for Women in 2013

Sunday March 3, 2013

The Equal Pay Act celebrates its 50-year anniversary this year.  However, females' pay still lags behind their male colleagues across most job functions. In fact, according to a new report released in February, the gender wage gap widened by slightly more than a percentage point in 2012--back to levels last seen eight years ago. Across the economy, females now earn 81 cents for every dollar earned by males.

Despite the continuing pay disparity between men and women, a recent list of the Top 20 Best-Paying Jobs for Women in 2013 by Forbes ranks women lawyers in the number 3 spot.

Women attorneys make up 33% of the profession, earning median yearly earnings of $85,000 and a median weekly salary of $1,636, according to Forbes.  Despite these healthy wages, women lawyers only earn 80% of the income earned by men.

The gender gap is particularly pronounced in leadership positions within the legal industry such as law firm partners and corporate general counsels.  However, women lawyers in the U.S. are making greater strides than women attorneys in many other countries. For example, a recent study of the pay gap at Britain's law firms shows that the average female lawyer is paid half the average bonus of men and only 76 percent of the average male attorney's salary.

Related Articles:

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Trends in the Legal Industry for 2013

Saturday March 2, 2013

In the past decade, the legal industry has undergone a radical transformation driven by increasingly sophisticated clients with changing needs and shrinking legal budgets.  Clients are now much more selective as to which law firm to retain for which type of work. As a result, a number of trends are  impacting the industry. A recent report by Huron Consulting Group highlights a few of these trends:

  1. Market Segmentation - Firms are stratifying into different market segments.  According to Huron, segments include:
    1. The Global Elite - International mega-firms
    2. Wall Street Firms - Powerful New York firms that have a limited presence outside the Big Apple.
    3. U.S.  Multi-Region Firms - Leaders within their home regions that have expanded into other regions within the U.S., either organically or through merger.
    4. Regional Firms - Firms that are recognized as leaders within a specific state or region (usually in secondary markets).
    5. Specialists - Firms focused on specific expertise and often have broad national reputations.
  2. Changing Legal Needs - Law firms are consolidating, partially because clients are choosing from a smaller list of firms to perform high value work. In turn, segmentation is due to greater firm focus and to businesses selecting specific types of firms for particular types and values of work.

  3. Mergers - After a prolonged quiet period, law firm merger activity in the U.S. is starting to pick up as firms scramble to remain competitive by adding scale and capability in key markets.

These key trends will continue to transform the law profession in the coming year.  Meahwhile, here are ten other trends shaping the legal industry.

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