Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Law Student’s Guide to Hiring Negotiations

It can be such a thrill to receive an offer for a summer clerkship or a permanent associate’s position.  How would you respond to the offer?  What questions would you ask?  Below are a few tips to guide you in your hiring discussion and negotiations.  Remember that these are general rules and that there are always exceptions for individual circumstances. 

1.  Convey how pleased you are to receive the offer, but rather than accepting on the spot, you should kindly let the employer know that you would like a little time to consider the offer and establish a time frame for when you will get back with them.  For example, you might ask if you can let them know within a week.  This allows you to think through the decision, talk it over with friends or family, or even to consult with one of our Career Counselors.

2.  Have a list of questions prepared if there is information critical to your decision.  For example, would you be assigned to work with a particular partner or team in the firm?  What would be your billable goal for the year?  Not every firm gives associates such a goal, but if they do, it would be helpful to know up front what will be expected of you.  What is the partnership track?  Are partners admitted as equity or non-equity? 

3.  In terms of finances, the firm should make a concrete offer for a specific amount.  In the current economy, it usually is not negotiable, although if you have an offer from another firm, sometimes you can play off of that.  But in doing so, you run the risk of alienating the people with whom you may be working for the rest of your life, so tread lightly.  Firms can get a bad taste in their mouth for an associate who seems overly focused on money.  I highly recommend that you confer with a Career Counselor if you plan to make a counter-offer or to negotiate for a higher salary.  Some firms will pay for bar study/prep fees or for moving expenses, although it is becoming less common in the current market.  Nonetheless, if the firm does not offer either of those, it is acceptable to inquire as to whether either is available.  Firms are often more willing to pay small bonuses of that nature rather than establishing a precedent for a higher starting associate salary.

4.  Think about the long haul.  It is easy to focus on the starting salary, but it is even more important to think about your earning potential in the future as a senior associate, and particularly as a partner.  What do you know about the firm and its compensation structure for partners?  Are there various tiers for partners, such as equity and non-equity?  How stable is the firm’s client base and earning potential?

5.  Thank the firm for its offer and for the invitation to join their firm.  Good, old-fashioned manners never go out of style.

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Job Postings for the Dade County Area

Like many other bar associations, the Dade County Bar Association’s website includes job postings in their “Career Center.”  These listings include a Bankruptcy Associate position in Orlando, a litigation attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, an Associate in Plantation, Florida, and an Associate in Tampa, just to name a few.  To review current job postings, visit the Dade County Bar Association Career Center.    To learn more about the Miami area legal community, browse the Dade County Bar Association’s Website.  You will find photos from recent events, committees by practice areas, and a calendar of events.

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Filed under Alternative Career Job Postings, Job Searches, Miami

Know Your Market: The Supply and Demand Factor

What does economics have to to do with finding a legal job?  Everything!  In determining where you want to practice, perhaps the most important factors are supply and demand.  Does the local legal market need another attorney?  Are any firms in the area hiring?  If so, in what practice areas?  Is there saturation or have there been recent legal layoffs?  How is the local economy faring in general?  These are all important factors you must consider before you commit to any legal market.  And according to a study by Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc., nearly every jurisdiction except for Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Washington, D.C. has an oversupply of lawyers right now.  What does this mean for you?  It means that to find a legal job in an area that does not have great demand for attorneys, you will probably need to work harder, it will take longer, and your starting salary may be less.  It also means that more than ever, you need to work one-on-one with a career counselor from your first year forward to ensure that you are ahead of the pack in your job search efforts.  Contact Career Services for a counseling appointment in our office or via phone.

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Filed under Job Searches, Salary and Employment Trends

Why Small Firms Rule!

Research recently reported by NALP indicates that aggregate starting private practice salaries fell an astonishing 20% for the 2010 class.  “This downward shift in starting salaries is not, for the most part, because individual legal employers were paying new graduates less than they paid them in the past,” NALP Executive Director James Leipold explained in a recent press release.  Rather, he attribures the fall to the fact that graduates found fewer jobs with large, high-paying law firms and many more found jobs with the smallest law firms.  Based on this statistic, you would be better served to focus your job search efforts on small firms with 1 to 10 lawyers rather than medium to large firms since small firms are the ones hiring.  Moreover, although they generally pay less than larger firms, small firms sometimes offer a better work-life balance.  If you are determined to ultimately work in a large firm environment, you can start in a small firm, gain critical experience and develop a reputation for expertise in your practice area, which will make you marketable as a lateral hire for a large firm.

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Filed under Salary and Employment Trends

Symplicity Offers More Than Local Job Postings

Interested in an associate’s position with an insurance defense firm in West Palm Beach?  Or a corporate associate position with a regional law firm out of Ft. Lauderdale?  How about an associate’s position at a firm as far away as New York or Kansas, or as close as Orlando or Atlanta?  Symplicity has job postings from law firms in many different states.  As a general rule of thumb, you should check it at least once a week for any new postings in which you might be interested.  Browing the postings also helps you get a feel for average pay and the practice areas in which firms are hiring so that you can focus your job search in those key areas.  If you have difficulty accessing Symplicity, contact our office at careerservices@fcsl.edu.

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Filed under Alternative Career Job Postings, Job Searches

Find Job Postings on Bar Sites!

Bar Associations are fabulous resources for job postings in many areas, particularly in larger cites.  Most are organized based upon the county or city in which they are located, so you can find them online through a simple search using the county or city name and the words “bar association.”  For example, if you are interested in the Atlanta area, check out the site for the DeKalb County Bar Association.  To the right of the menu bar, you will find the “Career Center,” where you can search for jobs, sign up for job posting alerts, or post your resume. 

To start your search for bar associations in your target area, make a list of the counties and cities in the region in which you are interested, and search for each of their websites.  Then peruse any job postings, which may be listed under classifieds or careers.  If you don’t see any, pick up the phone and call the bar association to ask them how most legal employers in the area advertize positions!

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Filed under Alternative Career Job Postings, Job Searches

Slight Majority of 2010 Law School Graduates Employed At Law Firms

Each year, salary and employment trends of recent law graduates are analyzed in Jobs & JDs:  Employment and Salaries of New Law Graduates.  Through NALP, we recently received a peek at the 2010 statistics, which reveal that a slight majority of employed graduates obtained their first job at a law firm.  Also, jobs in small firms outnumbered those in firms of more than 100 lawyers for the first time since 1997.  In addition, the percentage of law students hanging their own shingle for a solo practice increased.   What does this information mean for you?  It continues to be a very competitive market, but law firms are still the legal employer of choice for recent graduates.  For the best result, focus your efforts on small firms.  Schedule an individual appointment with a Career Services Counselor to review your application materials and to plan your job search strategy to maximize your marketability.  

The full report of Jobs & JDs will be available in August, and we will have a copy in our office.  So stop by in the Fall to learn more detailed information on the types of employment and salaries obtained by law school graduates in 2010, including the following:

  • what types of jobs graduates found and where they found them;
  • what members of the Class were earning;
  • how earnings varied with geographic location and job type;
  • what sizes of law firms employed the most graduates;
  • which states offered the most job opportunities; and
  • how women and minorities in the Class fared.

In the meantime, you can read the full text of the Selected Findings released by NALP, which provides a detailed summary of the statistics.

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Filed under Salary and Employment Trends

Elements of a Social Media Strategy

First, consider the purpose of the particular social media platform.  Is it for professional or personal use?  Who is your target audience?  For personal use, Facebook is most popular.  For professional purposes, LinkedIn is the medium of choice.  When possible, limit yourself to those two.  Twitter is an option, but can be a minefield prone to accidental tweets, as demonstrated in recent politics. 

Next, choose your profile photo wisely.  For LinkedIn, a professional close-up headshot is preferable.  For Facebook, the photograph can be more informal, as long as you are appropriately attired and not engaging in any questionable acts.  Follow this same rule of thumb for all photos posted to your Facebook account, not just the profile shot.  As for the information in your profile, be selective in what you reveal.  If you would not want a potential employer to know certain information about you, you should not include it on Facebook.  Despite your privacy settings, employers often find ways to view your online posts, perhaps by having a mutual acquaintance who is a friend of yours pull up the page for them.  And remember that “digital dirt” can follow you for decades.   So keep it clean online! 

By following this simple social media strategy, you can optimize your marketability to law firms.  To get started, review your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts today and remove any unsuitable information.

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Welcoming departments to new building, moot court success

I hope your summer is going well. I have a couple of pieces of exciting news this morning.

First, I am pleased to advise you that we have completed the move to the new space at Oak Grove Plaza. Financial Aid, Admissions, Registrar, Finance, Human Resources and Advancement are now located in that building. The Bookstore will move to Oak Grove later in the summer. This week all of the departments are open for business but are going to be unpacking and getting settled in. Security will be in the lobby to provide directions to the various offices. Signage will be installed very soon.

As you are all aware, the move of the above departments allows us some opportunities for renovation and expansion of the Baypine building. That work is underway and will continue throughout the summer. Please excuse the noise and minor disruption during the process. Ultimately we will have greatly expanded study space in the library and elsewhere, more space for the Legal Clinic and Academic Success, space for the newly created Student Research Bureau, and additional offices for faculty.

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Filed under Mid Summer Toast and Coffee