Monthly Archives: August 2011

Alternative Career Spotlight: Law Firm Marketing

Ever thought of using your law degree to get into law firm marketing?  Most large and mid-size law firms have a marketing person or an entire marketing department.  Let’s explore!

Sample job responsibilities include:

  • Developing the firm’s brand and marketing materials
  • Counseling attorneys on issues related to business development, client retention, and cross-marketing to existing clients
  • Overseeing the firm’s communication with the public including press releases, attorney articles, electronic news alerts, and other marketing communication materials
  • Improving the firm’s visibility to the public
  • Researching, identifying and producing targeted client prospect lists
  • Coordinating and implementing internal and external events
  • Developing and monitoring marketing budgets
  • Researching regional and national industry trends

Sample Job Titles:

  • Marketing Specialist
  • Marketing Manager / Marketing Coordinator
  • Business Development Manager
  • Client Relations Manager
  • Marketing Technology Specialist
  • Proposal Coordinator

Sample Experience Requirements:

  •  Excellent writing, editing, communication (oral and written), interpersonal and analytical skills
  • Undergraduate degree in English, Journalism, Communications, Marketing, Business or a related field
  • Business development and client management knowledge
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Computer proficiency including a knowledge of Word, PowerPoint, Excel
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Ability to organize and prioritize multiple projects
  • Knowledge of law firm practice areas

Want to find out more information about this career?  Want to know how you can position yourself for this career?  Come meet with a CSD counselor!

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Filed under Alternative Career Descriptions, Exploring Alternative Legal Careers

Additional Networking Resources at CSD

Hopefully you are convinced that you need to be out there networking!  If you still are not comfortable trying it, don’t worry – you won’t be until you do try it.  But, come by the Career Services Department and check out some of these great resources for more information on networking:

  • How to Work a Room, The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing in Person and Online by Susan RoAne
  • What Do I Say Next?  By Susan RoAne

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How to Start a Networking Conversation

The biggest obstacle most people face in networking is getting the other person to start talking!  Once you get the conversation started, it usually flows from there.  The great part about being a student is that once you meet a practicing attorney and they find out you are a student who is interested in anything about them – their practice area, their geographic area, their career path, whatever! – they are usually willing to do all the talking from there!  This is great for you because you can (1) meet a new contact, and (2) hopefully learn something that will be valuable in determining your career path.

So it is helpful to always have some “fall-back” questions ready that you can ask whenever you want to get the conversation started.  (Don’t forget, an impromptu networking opportunity may be waiting for you in line at Starbucks!).  After you have found out what the person does and where he or she works, here are some suggestions to get the conversation rolling:

  • What is your typical work day like?
  • How much variety is there in your work?
  • What experience did you have to get your job?
  • What professional organizations do you belong to?
  • What do you see as the major issues / trends in the field today?
  • What do you wish you had known about your position / this field before you started?
  • What do you like (or dislike) about your position / this field?
  • What classes do you recommend I take during law school?
  • What recommendations do you have for me regarding a job search strategy?
  • Is there anyone else you recommend I talk to about this position / field / geographic location?  May I tell them you referred me?

Now get out there and START MAKING CONNECTIONS!

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So Networking is Effective….But I Hate Networking

The last time we discussed networking, we looked at why networking is more effective than responding to job postings (click here if you missed that post).  I expect that after reading that post, many of you thought, “Okay, so networking is effective, but I can’t network / hate networking / am not going to do it” – or something to that effect, but with more expletives. 

As a former networking hater, I totally get it!  I spent many years hating networking like a kid hates shots.  But friends, I am here to tell you that you will not advance professionally if you do not embrace networking.  Let me repeat – you will not advance professionally if you do not embrace networking.

So you might as well start practicing now, while you are still in the relatively safe environment of school, rather than once you are tossed out into the coldness of the “real world.”  And I think once you have started, you will find out that networking is actually pretty easy, especially since it something that you already do on a more informal basis every day.

Networking = Building Relationships.  If you want to avoid the scenario in the above cartoon, you have to get rid of the concept that networking is about “getting something.”  People can sense when you are just talking to them to see what you can get from them.  Instead, you want to focus on building relationships – finding out about what a person does professionally, how they got there, where they see themselves going, what they enjoy doing in their free time.  Does that sound a bit like what you are already doing when you are making new friends?  It should, because it’s the exact same thing – just on a professional level!

In Wednesday’s blog we will discuss how to get over that initial awkward hurdle of starting a networking conversation!

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Filed under Getting the Non-Traditional Job

Why Networking is More Effective Than Responding to Postings

I think we can all agree that responding to job postings is a pretty easy and safe way to find open positions and apply for them.  But how many job postings have you applied to and had absolutely no response?  Tens?  Hundreds?  Maybe even thousands, depending on how long you have been job hunting.

While responding to job postings definitely has a place in your alternative career search, it should just be one component, not the sole focus.  The reality is that the majority of jobs (a rough statistic is 80% of jobs) are found through personal contacts!

Why do the vast majority of jobs come through personal contacts?  Two main reasons are (1) ease and (2) known quality.  While it is easy for an employer to post a listing for a position, it is time consuming (and therefore costs big $$$) to spend countless hours poring over STACKS of resumes.  Further, a hiring manager tends to feel like a candidate recommended by a trusted employee – or better yet, who the hiring manager actually knows – is a known “quality” person.  Therefore, given the choice between two people with similar backgrounds and experience, one of whom the hiring manager has met for thirty minutes in a formal interview and one of whom the hiring manager interacts with regularly on a volunteer committee (for example), the known person will almost always get the job.  

While networking is not a quick-fix job search solution, it is effective and can often lead to higher quality job positions.  Even if you are not searching for a job right now, one day in the future you probably will be.  So start networking today!

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Alternative Legal Career v. Non-Traditional Legal Career

So you have heard the terms ‘alternative legal career’ and ‘non-traditional legal career,’ but what is the difference?  In everyday parlance, there isn’t a difference.  These terms are usually used interchangeably to refer to someone with a JD who is not practicing as an attorney in a law firm or government setting. 

While there isn’t a strict definition attached to either of these terms, I tend to distinguish them based on whether the job requires the person be licensed to practice law (although I still tend to use the terms interchangeably).  I think of alternative legal careers as those careers that do not require a person be licensed to practice law, but legal training and skills are a benefit in that position.  We reviewed a sampling of those types of careers in yesterday’s blog (found here).  On the other hand, I think of non-traditional legal careers as those careers that require a person be licensed to practice law, but the person is not practicing law in a “traditional” setting. 

What are some examples of non-traditional legal careers?  How about:

  1. In-House Counsel – While working as an attorney in a law firm or the government is considered a “traditional” legal career, being employed by a company is considered “non-traditional.”  Depending on the size and type of corporation there are many possible in-house counsel positions, including general counsel, assistant general counsel, deputy counsel, legal counsel, corporate counsel, employment counsel, and litigation counsel – just to name a few!
  2. Compliance Counsel – Compliance counsel are also typically employed by a company, but are usually distinct from in-house counsel.  Compliance counsel oversee the company’s compliance with a particular Act or regulation.  There are many different areas of concentration for a compliance counsel, for example banking, securities, insurance, health-care, ADA, environmental, wage and hour, and ethics.
  3. Judges – There are many different types of judges including trial court judges, appellate court judges, magistrate judges, and administrative law judges. 
  4. Legislative Counsel – Work environments for legislative counsel can range from departments in the government to non-profit organizations.  Legislative counsel are responsible for policy analysis as well as drafting, interpreting, and applying legislation.

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Filed under Alternative Career Descriptions, Exploring Alternative Legal Careers, Exploring Non-Traditional Legal Jobs

So What Can I Do with My JD?

I often hear the question, “So, what can I do with my JD other than practice law?”  That is a very broad question!!  And the very broad answer is, “Almost* anything!”   

Deciding what kind of alternative legal career is right for you depends on a lot factors.  One of the biggest factors is your background – your undergraduate degree, any other graduate level degrees, and prior work experience.  It also depends on your interests, your goals, and your network of connections.

Further, what you can do with your JD can be thought of as a continuum – on one end, those jobs that are very closely related to being an attorney (think paralegal) and on the other end, those jobs where having a law degree helps develop your skills but is not required (think real estate developer). 

So what are some job examples along that continuum?

Closely related careers

  • Paralegal
  • Contract administrator
  • Law school librarian
  • Insurance claims examiner
  • Compliance officer
  • Dispute resolution professional
  • Clerk of court
  • Lobbyist
  • Undergraduate legal studies instructor
  • Grant writer
  • ADA coordinator
  • Director of law firm marketing
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Market research analyst
  • Journalist
  • Financial planner
  • Real estate agent

Indirectly related careers

These are just a very few examples of what you can do!  Since everyone is unique, it is a good idea to meet with a career counselor to find a field or area of alternative legal careers that is right for you. 

*Like any good attorney, everything must be prefaced!! 

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Know Yourself, Know Your Career

So you know that you don’t want to practice law, but you don’t know what you want to do?  The first step in any career exploration is to learn about yourself.  Being self-aware will allow you to articulate why you want a certain career and why you are qualified. 

There are many, many different self-assessment tests and indicators out there (many of which we will explore in this blog).  So, where do you start?  An easy, quick place to start is with an online personality test.  So try a few and begin exploring!  (Click on the links below to go to the test.)

  • Human Metrics – Free Jung typology personality test.  Provides a list of occupations most suitable for your personality type.
  • Keirsey – Free personality test.  Personalities are broken down into four tempermants.  Tempermants are further subdivided into subcategories. 
  • My Plan – Offers 4 career assessment tests to help you find out what your interests are and understand how they relate to choosing a career.  A complete report for all 4 reports is $19.95 or purchase individual reports for $7.95 – $9.95.

You can also make an appointment with Ginny Swartz in the Mental Health Counseling Department to take a comprehesive Myers-Briggs personality test.

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Have You Found Your Path? Will You Take It?

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
— exerpt taken from Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

Each person has a unique set of abilities, talents and passions.  I hope that this blog will help you to discover yours and use them in a way that helps to make your life richer – even if that means taking a different path than your law school classmates. 

In order to find your path, you need to know what makes you unique.  Have you done the self-analysis necessary to know what makes you unique?  (If not, don’t worry – in coming blog posts we’ll explore how to do this.) 

If you are unhappy in your chosen career, the feelings will be there whether you acknowlege them or not.  So you might as well deal with the mushy stuff now.  Discover what you love, what you hate, and what you can’t live without.  Find the difference between what you think you should want and what you actually want.  Learn how to make that vision you have become a reality.

There is not just one road to a fulfilling life.  You may have to take some twists, turns and re-routes to find it.  And what brought you fulfillment at one time in your life may, for whatever reason, no longer work for you.  No two paths will ever be the same.  So do not ever copy someone else’s; rather, learn from everyone’s and make your own.  And that will make all the difference!

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Launch of the Alternative Careers Blog!

WELCOME to the Alternative Legal Careers Blog!  The purpose of this blog is to explore the wide world of non-traditional legal careers. 

An alternative or non-traditional legal career is any career that someone with a JD can pursue other than a lawyer in a law firm, public interest or government setting.  That means all other careers out there!  WOW – that’s a lot to explore!! 

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any valuable information.  Here are some of the topics this blog will cover:

  • In-depth look at various non-traditional legal careers.
  • Exploring whether an alternative legal career is right for you.
  • Steps to identify and pursue the right alternative legal career for you.
  • Updates on FCSL’s resources to assist in your non-traditional career search.

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