November 26, 2018

How to Make a Resumé That Will Land a Law Job

Tips for your legal resumé. What to put on a resumé for a summer associate, law clerk, or first-year associate position. Law clerk resumé tips. Summer associate resumé example. First year associate resumé sample. Working for law resumé. Skills and verbs for legal resumé. Law school resume advice and samples. 1L resume. 2L resume. 3L resume. Law grad resume. law school advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

This is the story of a girl, who had finals coming up but also was stressing about her summer clerking applications. Haha sorry I had to, but really I fell y'all that this time of the year is stressful AF. But that's why I'm here :) So before my externship my 3L year ended, I met with our company's corporate recruiter and learned a lot, which I'm here to share with you! Today I'm passing on what I learned about resumé tips that you can use whether you're applying for a pre-law legal job, a 1L/2L summer clerking position, or a post-grad real-girl job. So let's talk about resumés!

Related: Law school application/transfer resumé advice 

On the left is my resumé before I worked with our recruiter. It's not bad because I'd worked with career services to get it to this point, but if you look at the one of the right which the recruiter helped me do, you'll notice it's a lot better. (side note, if you're wondering why my ODR job isn't on my old resumé, it accidentally got deleted a long time ago and this is an old resumé so I didn't bother to fix it lol)
How to Make a Resumé That Will Land a Law Job. Tips for your legal resumé. What to put on a resumé for a summer associate, law clerk, or first-year associate position. Law clerk resumé tips. Summer associate resumé example. First year associate resumé sample. Working for law resumé. Skills and verbs for legal resumé. Law school resume advice and samples. 1L resume. 2L resume. 3L resume. Law grad resume. law school advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.comHow to Make a Resumé That Will Land a Law Job. Tips for your legal resumé. What to put on a resumé for a summer associate, law clerk, or first-year associate position. Law clerk resumé tips. Summer associate resumé example. First year associate resumé sample. Working for law resumé. Skills and verbs for legal resumé. Law school resume advice and samples. 1L resume. 2L resume. 3L resume. Law grad resume. law school advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com


Bullet points

Both resumés have bullet points, but my "after" resumé utilizes them much more! The first bullet point describes the area in which I have experience, and the lower bullet point describes more in detail what experience I have in that area. This helps whoever is reviewing your resumé because they get a lot of relevant information quickly. The recruiter was very honest with me and explained that he does not read every detail in a resumé. In fact, he doesn't even finish the bullet points often. So a practically full sentence won't give them as much info as a quick take-away. For example, if you had 30 seconds to look over my resumé, you'd know I have experience in contract, real estate, employment, insurance, litigation, research, and drafting. Whereas before, in 30 seconds all you'd know is that I have experience in the verbs I used. 

Verbs are still good so your career services isn't wrong! It's just that everyone has similar experience so that shouldn't be what you lead with. Save the verbs for the second half of the bullet point and use the first to grab their attention and show them how you are a perfect fit for the job because your first set of bullet points describe exactly the type of law they want to hire you for. 

As personal proof, I am now a workers' comp lawyer. It's easy to see that my boss scanned over the contract/real estate/employment bullets and that the insurance bullet caught his eye and made him pause because workers' comp is a niche of insurance. And boom what do you know just so happened to be listed under that bullet. I realize most of y'all won't have such a variety of experience because in-house really is unique, but you can see in my previous jobs I was still able to break down the type of work I did. 

Experience

Wording can be a hardest thing to come up with because you can remember that you had a job, but can't remember what all you did for that job. Here's a pro tip: steal working for job postings that you're applying (or applied) for! That's literally where I got all of the wording for my Interstate internship is that I just stole what they had listed as the duties of the job in the posting for their summer internship position. Just get on LinkedIn or LawCrossing and search for [X law] associate position and steal their wording. This is extra helpful for you because again, you want your resumé to mirror their job posting so that you look like their ideal candidate. 

In the future, it helps to keep a running list of the work you're doing. I did this for my last two jobs in two ways— 1) about every week or so I would just add a bullet point to my resumé, and 2) I kept a conflicts log. For the bullet points, I would just write down stuff like worked on X project, did Y to help Z and eventually had like 50 bullet points for my job that I could group together and condense. If want to keep your resumé pretty, you can either do this in a separate word document or even do it on your LinkedIn section and just not include names. As for a conflicts log, you really should have one. Here is the template that I use, and I keep mine on Google Drive so that I can update it on my work computer but still access it from my personal computer after I leave my job or just if I'm working on my resumé on a weekend. After my internship, I was able to go back and be like oh yeah I forgot I worked on X project involving Y person/company. Just trust me, you will forget most of what you do right after you do it since you're doing so much, so just keep track of it, k?

Education

You'll notice that my education section went from top of the page to almost last of the page. Why? Because if you're applying to a summer internship position, people are going to assume you're in school and if you're applying to a post-Bar job, they'll assume you've graduated. So in the balancing test between experience and education, your job is going to prefer experience first (because remember they don't read the whole thing on the first take). I also didn't list the years I graduated because I found out that most people who have been out of law school for a while drop the year and I didn't want this to age me and scream that I just graduated and am totally inexperienced in life.

If this is your first legal job and you don't have any relevant experience, then yeah definitely put your education first. How you can fill this up is by putting your GPA, rank (only if it's top 50% or better), scholarships you've earned, relevant classes you've taken, your involvement, etc. I'd go to career services to help you fill this up the best way possible. But really you do a lot in law school so it's easy to find things to add to this. For example, at my school all 1L's had to participate in a moot court. It was mandatory and I didn't make it past the first round but you bet I threw it in there when I was looking for jobs because at least it's something relevant. 


Achievements

For this section, I combined my "activities and interests" section with my "involvement" section because I was running out of room. If you don't have a ton of experience or education bragging points to talk about, this is a trick to take up more space so you don't have a half-empty page (although 3/4 full is still okay so don't feel like you need to add too much fluff). Here's the trick here— put something relatable and interesting! 

At first I was nervous to sound like a millennial by saying that I have a blog, but at each interview I've had since putting it there it has been brought up! It's great because they just ask in general what I blog about and I get to talk about how I started the blog (shows personal growth), how I help y'all (shows I'm caring), and how I managed it while in law school (shows time-management skills). But the best part is that it breaks up the interview from the standard what law school did you go to and what did you do and makes you stick out in your mind so that later they can be like yeah I liked that girl who had the blog thing. Remember that you're going up against a group of people whose resumés look identical to yours, so you have to find a way for them to remember you. 

Here's the thing... if you say you love to cook but actually don't and they ask you about it, you'll won't have that much to say. If you don't currently have any hobbies, it's fine to say "teaching myself to cook" and then make a commitment to try out a new recipe each week or say "training for a 5K" and then sign up for a 5K and start running. If you don't have a hobby by now, I really can't encourage you enough to try to find one because it is so helpful to have a distraction from law school sometimes. But a word of caution: don't lie here! I put watching football not because I thought oh a guy will probably be interviewing me and guys like football so I'll throw this in here. I actually do love watching my college play football and when one of my interviewers told me she went to OU (which is in the Big 12), we were able to talk about times when our schools have played each other. If I had lied, that would've been super obvious when she brought it up!

Lastly, this is a selfish reason of why you should be doing pro bono! I actually got my job at the ODR office because the work I had been doing for my pro bono was exactly in line with the work I ended up doing! During the interview, I was able to chat with my boss about stories of things I've done and then he started to be like oh well I've actually been thinking about doing X project for a few years now and since you've done this before maybe now is the perfect time to start on it. That is the exactly what you want in an interview— for the employer to be thinking of how they can use you and how you already fit the position they're looking to fill!


Last tips

Use tables to make everything even and symmetrical on your resumé. Just remove the gridlines when you're done and everything is all nice and neat. This is actually a lot easier than trying to always tab something out when instead you can just put it in a little table box and adjust it to be either left-aligned or right-aligned.

Long lines break up information better. You'll notice that my after resumé looks a lot easier on the eyes because the lines under each of my headings goes all the way across. Remember, you want to make it ridiculously easy for your employer to find information. So if they're just concerned about my grades, they can quickly find it because I've made the headings pop out even more for their convenience. Again, you can easily do this by using the tables to your advantage and leaving a gridline on top of your next section. 

If you're running out of room, try to make your contact information all fit on one line; if you need to fill up space, break up contact information. And again, remember you can add your involvement in a separate section to add information. Oh and after you graduate, change your email to your personal email because you never know how long you'll have access to your school email after graduation and also a school email address screams that you just graduated.

Save your resumé as a PDF. This helps you so that when your interviewer opens up your resumé they don't see the little boxes denoting the edge of your resumé. In my case it helped because my information just kept always being two lines over a page-long, I didn't want a 2-page resumé with just two lines on the second page, I didn't have two lines that I was willing to cut, and I couldn't make the font size smaller while keeping it readable. So I had to use the narrow margins setting. In a PDF, the margins were saved so whoever opened it always saw it how I wanted it to, but in a word document, my resumé would open to their last-used margins which would be normal and make the spacing totally off. Plus, it just looks more professional as a PDF. I always have two copies saved, a word document that I can keep editing as I go and a PDF that is the actual resumé I send off.

Okay that's about all the typing my fingers can handle, and probably all the reading that your eyes can handle! So the end :) If you've received a helpful resumé tip from career services, a co-worker, mentor, or anyone else, I'd love to hear about it! 


let's be friends!



November 19, 2018

My First Week as a Lawyer

What to expect your first week as a practicing lawyer and what to expect when starting a new job at a law firm. Advice for first year associates. First day at law firm. What does a first year associate do. First law job. First year as a lawyer. What my first week as a baby lawyer was like and what it's like to work as a lawyer. How many hours a week does a lawyer work? Is being a lawyer like being in law school? Is being a lawyer harder than law school? What it's like to be a practicing attorney. How to prepare for your first day at a law firm. What to do with your first legal client. lawyer blog. first year associate blog | brazenandbrunette.com

Hello everyone! In case you missed it, I am now a licensed, practicing attorney!! Honestly it is such a sigh of relief to be able to say that. Law school graduation was great (post about that coming soon!), but I wouldn't allow myself to celebrate just yet. Even after I took the Bar, we all went out that night but that was all the celebration I allowed myself. Because all this summer, I knew that I truly hadn't accomplished my goals. I didn't let myself exhale that sigh of relief until everything was signed, sealed, and delivered. So now after literal months of holding it all in, I can finally say I'm an attorney!! It's just a good feeling to be filling out some mundane forms and get to put "lawyer" as my occupation instead of "student."

Okay enough rambling about that haha. I just haven't done a "diary" blog post in a while and life lately feels like a big enough event for me to live-blog about it. It figure it'll be fun for me to have in a decade to look back on, and nice for y'all to have to look forward to. Maybe this is a good time for y'all to be reading this post because I know finals are looming around, so take this as a reminder of the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a very long tunnel, but I promise it's worth it.

Related: How to establish your personal brand at your firm

My first impressions of being a lawyer

So my first day at the firm wasn't too off from what you'd expect. If you've seen Suits, a lot of my first day was like Mikes first day... meeting my coworkers, learning who helps me and who I'm to help, and learning how the firm operates. Basically, the first few hours of my day were pretty typical and not that exciting. But one thing that I've experienced at this job and my externship is that the best way for you to learn, is to do. AKA baptism by fire. 

Starting at a law firm is kinda a lot like starting law school. It's scary because you are suddenly very convinced that you're an absolute idiot, that you're destined to screw things up royally, and that someone really messed up when they let you in. But it's also very exciting because you're like holy shit I'm a lawyer (or law student)!! I'm here! I'm doing it!! I hope everyone who's ever talked shit on me sees my life event in their Facebook timeline so they know I'm actually doing something with my life haha. Basically yeah, a lot of conflicting emotions.

The good news is that my first day as a lawyer was much easier than my first day as a law student (so there's hope for you!!). Most lawyers hated the socratic method and they let that die after law school, so while your co-workers and boss might ask you questions to see what you're retaining, they're much more straight forward. I still get nervous when someone quizzes me on something, even if it's an easy question, because, just like law school, you put this pressure on yourself to not mess up. 

One hard thing about starting law school is that everyone around you is brand new to this too, so if you ask them questions, it's the blind leading the blind. Or worse, people make law school a competition so even if they know the answer, they won't help you. As a lawyer, you'll be surrounded by people who have been doing this for years so they can actually help you. And even better, it's in their best interest that they help you. Because if you screw up, it makes the whole firm look bad, and if the firm looks bad, then they look bad. I mean, obviously there's the chance that there will be other fresh-faced lawyers hired along with you or a petty coworker who doesn't want to help you, but overall you should have more people to turn to who can actually help you. 

And let's just get this out of the way- no, I don't work 9-5. I work 7:30-6 actually. And I have a work laptop at home for catching up on the weekends or evenings. That sounds like a lot, but for me the day actually really flies by because I'm so busy all day. And the working from home isn't necessarily mandatory, just like reviewing your outlines in October isn't necessarily mandatory. It's mostly just to help you in the long run because you're staying on top of your to-do list. And at least right now if I do work from home, it's just a quick little thing to get ready for the next day, so don't be too intimidated yet. It is a big adjustment because while I always felt busy in law school, it was my schedule. So if I truly wanted to say fuck this reading I'm going to go take a nap because I slept terribly last night, I could. But at a job, it's no longer your schedule. It's just another adjustment, like how you had to go from practically doing no work in college to working your ass off in law school. 

My first clients as a lawyer

On day one I got my first client and honestly I did not know what to do with this client. This particular case was passed down to me from another attorney because it was pretty low-profile and essentially I couldn't mess it up. That was relieving for me to hear because the entire time my first day I just kept hoping that I wouldn't be completely incompetent and make the partner question why he hired me. What everyone says is right, as a baby lawyer you really do know nothing.

Here's a quick list of a few things to do once you get a new client:

  1. Review their file. Figure out everything that has gone on up until today. Take notes on what you've learned so you can reference them later because you never know how long you'll have this client. Think of it like the facts part of your case brief. This might be billable hours so check with your firm about this.
  2. Call and introduce yourself to them. Give them your contact information and ask if they have any updates on their case. Again, make sure you know if this is billable or not because firms don't like it if you do something that qualifies as billable but you don't bill for it.
Billable hours is still something I'm getting used to because it's a weird concept for me. Like I definitely bill more per hour than I make per hour. But also, I work more in a day than I bill for. So even with a high billable rate, you still might not make your firm that much money in the beginning because most of your day is just learning how to function instead of doing billable hours. You also have to learn what is/isn't billable and how long do you bill for something. Just this week I called and tried to do step #2 above and they were like hey I'm driving can you just send me this in an email and so I had to find out, do I bill for the call or the email or both?? 

Back to the client... there's a lot more steps but I feel like after this it could really change depending on the kind of law you practice and how your firm operates. The easiest way to find the rest of the steps is just to ask the friendliest looking person what do you do once you get a new client??? This is exactly what I did and now I have a little checklist saved to my computer of 9 steps to do and in what order and what is/isn't billed for.

This is something I did at my last job and suggest that you do, too. I literally am writing a "how to be a lawyer at this firm" instruction manual to myself. Then when I forget what I'm supposed to do, I can reference this instead of bothering someone and solve my own problems. I also like it because it trains me to get in the habit of doing things the right way and making sure I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing and not leaving out a step on my checklist. And eventually when a new lawyer joins our firm down the line, I can just send him/her my little guide and help them out!

The hardest part of being a new lawyer

So far, the hardest part of my journey of being a new lawyer is just not knowing what's going on in a lot of situations. For example, this is my first ever real job so when I was told to pick out a new chair for my office, I didn't know what price range of chairs I should be looking at. Or I signed up for TSA pre-check since we travel a lot for my job, and didn't even think about how that would be something my firm would reimburse me for. 

Another struggle I've had is when people pop in to my office offering to answer any questions I might have, and I don't have any questions because at this point I'm so new I don't even know what I don't know yet. But then I get frustrated because I know it doesn't look good if I'm not asking questions and I'm not learning anything by not asking questions. However, I'm not allowing myself to stress out too much because I know within the next few months as I start to figure out what I'm doing, I'll have a lot more questions for my co-workers.

I'll be honest, it is hard finding a balance between I need to figure out how to do this on my own because I'm a grown-ass adult with a law license and it just took me 2 hours to find a word document that would've taken me 5 minutes if I've asked someone so I just wasted 1/4th of my day looking for a document... A very important lesson I learned at my last job is to try to do things on your own, but pay attention to how much time you're doing this and put a limit on yourself. It's better to try to do something on your own before you ask someone, but remember things are trickier with billable hours. So if you did waste 2 hours looking for a document, either you're going to have to bill your client for that and they're going to be pissed and think you're just running the bill up on them, or you're not going to bill your client and your boss is going to be pissed that you were wasting your time and therefor costing the firm billable hours.

Oh, this brings me to another point that I know you're all dying to know... No, your first job isn't going to expect you to know what you're doing. I mean obviously they expect you to be competent and learn quickly, but they knew when they hired you that you just graduated from law school and likely haven't even been licensed for long. I've had some great advice about how to approach your first law job: it doesn't matter if you make a million mistakes so long as you don't make the same mistake twice. So when you start to feel embarrassed because you have to keep asking for help on something, just remind yourself of that. I understand not wanting to be an annoying burden, so one thing I try to do is rotate through who I ask questions so that each person only gets like my every 10th question instead of every single question.
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