Thursday, June 1, 2017

Funding Your Legal Education, Part II

By Rena Sera, Esq.
Rena is a 2016 GGU Law alumna who just passed the bar and is joining a probate law firm in Walnut Creek.  During law school, Rena was awarded competitive scholarships during her third year of law school from the FBANC, AABA, APABA-SV and California Bar Foundation.  Rena also received several scholarships from GGU School of Law. 

What Should You Do When Applying for a Scholarship or Writing Contest?

·         Don’t procrastinate!

It is sometimes very tempting to wait until the last minute to start on that application. You have way too much reading to do in law school already. But much like how you should not procrastinate on that appellate brief for your appellate advocacy class, you should resist the urge to procrastinate on that scholarship application. Why? Because your procrastination will likely lead you to have a weaker application.

·         Reach out to someone who has won the scholarship or contest.

See if anyone from GGU has won the scholarship or contest before. Previous winners can provide you with insight on what the interview was like or what they wrote about. If you don’t personally know the winner, see if a career counselor can connect you.

·         Have someone review your application and personal statement before submitting it.

Too often, we think proofreading our own work is enough. However, the reality is that sometimes we are not as critical of our own work as an outsider would be. Thus, if you have a friend, professor, or someone else you trust review your application and personal statement, it is more likely that they will catch a spelling or grammatical error. Additionally, they will give you feedback on the impact of your personal statement on the reader.

·         Submit your application in a timely manner!

I cannot stress this point enough. Treat it like a motion or pleading that needs to be submitted to the court. If your application is submitted late, it is very likely that it will not be reviewed by the scholarship committee. In order to avoid late submissions, pay attention to deadlines and DON’T PROCRASTINATE!

How Can You Increase Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship?

·         Be yourself.

During my 3L year, I won four different scholarships. Many of my friends asked me what I did to win these scholarships when there were so many others who applied. I think the key is to be yourself and stick to your own personal brand. Highlight what makes you unique. When I was a new law student, I didn’t know what it meant to build my own personal brand. However, as I progressed through law school, I learned that building your own personal brand meant learning about who you are, what makes you unique, and what it is you want to do with your law degree. Your own personal experiences are different from the law student next to you and likely impacted your decision to go to law school. Highlight a few of those experiences in your application and explain how those experiences affected you and made you the way you are. This will make your application more personal and the scholarship committee will gain a better understanding of who you are.

·         Get to know the members of the organization.

Just as it is important for the scholarship committee to get to know you through your application and personal statement, it is also important for the committee to put a face to your name. Many local bar associations award scholarships to students who are active in their organizations. Becoming active in the organization means joining the organization as a student member, attending the organization’s events, and networking with their members. Mingle with their members at their events and build friendships. The more members who can vouch for you, the more likely you are to get the scholarship.

What If You Didn’t Win the Scholarship You Applied For?

If you end up not winning the scholarship you applied for, don’t fret. By taking the time to put yourself out there and by networking with members of the local bar associations, you have built up your professional network. Reach out to those whom you’ve met and ask them if they’re willing to be your mentor. Lawyers are more than happy to mentor law students and young lawyers and show you the ropes as you navigate through law school, bar preparation, and the first few years of practice.

If You Did Win the Scholarship You Applied For, What’s Next?

If you were fortunate enough to win a scholarship, congratulations! However, after you win the scholarship, don’t stop what you were doing before. Keep up with the relationships that you have built. Keep attending those bar association events. Keep meeting with the lawyers you have met. Continue building and nurturing your professional network. Continue making a name for yourself. Don’t make the members of the organization that awarded you the scholarship feel like you were only active when you needed the scholarship. Additionally, when you begin seeking a post-bar position or even an attorney position, check to see if anyone you met during your quest for a scholarship can connect you to someone who is seeking a post-bar clerk or an attorney. Since they already know who you are, they are more likely to help you out and vouch for you in your job search.


I hope that these tips help you as you apply for scholarships. Don’t forget to use all of the resources available to you, including GGU’s law career services or financial aid office. Good luck!

See Funding Your Legal Education, Part I.

Funding Your Legal Education, Part I

By Rena Sera, Esq.
Rena is a 2016 GGU Law alumna who just passed the bar and is joining a probate law firm in Walnut Creek.  During law school, Rena was awarded competitive scholarships during her third year of law school from the FBANC, AABA, APABA-SV and California Bar Foundation.  Rena also received several scholarships from GGU School of Law.  

Congratulations on your admission to law school! Chances are, you are like millions of others who need help financing their law school education. Sure, you can get student loans. But student loans can easily add up and you will have to pay them back after you graduate. So, how else can you finance your law school education? One word: scholarships.

Scholarships are a good supplement to student loans because you never have to pay them back, they help you build your personal brand and they expand your professional network. During my law school career, I received scholarships from GGU School of Law and outside organizations. Because of these scholarship opportunities, I was able to expand my professional network and gain great mentors who now show me the ropes on how to be a great lawyer. Hopefully, the tips below can help you find and secure scholarships

Where Can You Find Scholarship Opportunities?

·         GGU Law Career Development Newsletters and the GGU Financial Aid Website

GGU’s Law Career Development Department lists scholarships in their monthly and weekly newsletters. Also, GGU’s financial aid office lists scholarship opportunities on their website: Their lists include scholarships offered by the law school as well as scholarships offered by outside sources.

·         Check With Local Bar Associations

There are a lot of bar associations that cater to many different causes, practices, ethnicities, etc. These local bar associations usually offer scholarship opportunities. Some of the bar associations who offer scholarships are:

Filipino Bar Association of Northern California (multiple scholarships offered)

Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (multiple scholarships offered including a summer internship grant)

Vietnamese American Bar Association of Northern California (one scholarship offered)

South Asian Bar Association of Northern California (two fellowships offered)

California Bar Foundation (multiple scholarships offered to incoming 1L students and multiple scholarships offered to 3L students)

Asian Pacific American Bar Association-Silicon Valley (multiple scholarships offered)

Asian American Criminal Trial Lawyers Association (one scholarship offered)

Women Lawyers of Alameda County (one scholarship offered)

Iranian American Bar Association (multiple scholarships offered)

Mexican American Bar Association (multiple scholarships offered)

Latina Lawyers Bar Association (one scholarship and bar stipend offered)

Korean American Bar Association of Northern California (one scholarship offered)

·         Enter Legal Writing Contests

There are many legal writing contests out there and GGU will include these opportunities in their newsletters. Sure, they may seem like a lot of work, and your chances of winning may seem slim. However, it never hurts to try AND if you win, it usually means your writing will be published. Some of the writing contests are below:

Robert T. Matsui Annual Writing Contest

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Apply For Your Dream Job Even Though You’re Underqualified

By Lynnette Baclig
Graduate Fellow
Law Career Development

You passed the bar!  Congratulations!  Now what?  Still looking for work as an attorney?  This post may help you land a job that you’re underqualified for.  If you are actively seeking work, you may notice that most employers seek qualified attorneys who have two to five years of experience in a particular practice area or skill.  You might find a job that matches all of your qualifications, but not quite since you lack experience in that practice area for the requisite number of years.  This is especially true if your career is only beginning.

JuliaMalacoff of Glassdoor suggests that you should still apply for jobs that you are underqualified for when your qualifications match 75% to 90% of what the job requires.  Also, still apply when you’re unequivocally certain that you have the capacity to jump into your new role with ease.  It also helps when you can persuasively articulate why you’re the ideal candidate as opposed to another applicant who is more seasoned for the job. 

Knowing someone who is in the firm or organization is the easiest way to get noticed.  In those cases, hiring committees may overlook that you lack certain qualifications because they are familiar with your work, work ethic and personality or someone they trust can assure them that you’re capable of doing the job well.  Make connections with attorneys throughout law school either through interning, volunteering or networking in the specific practice area(s) that interest you. 

If any of the above situations apply to you, definitely apply for that position even though your qualifications don’t match perfectly with what the hiring committees are seeking.  In short, if you have demonstrated an interest or passion in a specific practice area, do not hesitate to apply for your dream job even if you’re slightly underqualified.  But, as always, meet with a career counselor at Law Career Development for specific advice. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Build a Professional Wardrobe, Part IV

By Lynnette Baclig
Graduate Fellow
Law Career Development  


Looking for good quality attire that fits properly can be a challenge when you’re on a budget. Ordinarily, fully customizable posh suits can come with a lavish price tag.  Do not fret!  There are plenty of retail stores and organizations that provide professional attire for less.  You can also find more information on where to shop for discount professional clothes by reading “How to Dress Professionally on a Budget.”   (These recommendations are from alumni.)

¾     Nordstrom Rack: This is a clearance outlet retail store offering significant discounts on original department store apparel coming from Nordstrom.  Nordstrom Rack also provides in store affordable alterations and tailoring services.  (See pricelist here.)
¾     Nordstrom: This is a luxury department store.  Even though Nordstrom’s prices can get costly, its annual anniversary sale and half-yearly sale are quite reasonable, especially for quality attire.  Nordstrom also has reasonable alterations and tailoring programs here; offering free alterations on full priced items and yearly $100 alteration credit for Nordstrom card members.  
¾     Dress for Success San Francisco: This organization provides free professional attire to unemployed women who are looking for employment or who are participating in an internship program.  To access their services, make an appointment with GGU’s Law Career Development.  Then, LCD can complete and send a referral form to the organization.  After the organization receives the referral form, someone will directly call you to set up an appointment.  You will meet with a personal shopper from the organization to help you find professional attire complete with a suit or separates and accessories (handbag, jewelry, and shoes).  The organization further helps you build a working wardrobe once your employment is secured.  For more information visit their website here.

Build a Professional Wardrobe, Part III

By Lynnette Baclig
Graduate Fellow
Law Career Development  


What is business casual?
Business casual is less formal than business wear.  If you’re unsure about what’s appropriate, it’s always best to be slightly overdressed than slightly underdressed.While in the workplace, the point of business casual is to dress comfortably while maintaining a professional image.  You can get away with showing more of your creative side and personality so long as your outfit adheres to your office’s dress code and culture.  Initially, you want to dress more conservative until you can observe the office environment.  If you’re still unsure, mimic what your colleagues wear on the job. 

Business causal is also appropriate for networking events.  These events are often more fun because there is often food or drinks involved.  It’s acceptable to show your sense of style and personality, but you still want to portray yourself professionally.

The Look
You can also break your formal suits into separates for more options going to formal business wear to business casual.  Especially when you invest in neutral color suits.  It becomes more versatile with other fun patterned tops or sweaters.

For Women
The possibilities are endless!  Women can play around with ruffles, prints, and unexpected cuts while remaining polished.  You can mix your formal business wear with a blouse, cardigan, jacket, or sweater in a variety of colors and prints if you need to “dress down” your look.  Wear a work dress so long as it is not too tight, too short, or overly revealing in general.  Sleeveless looks are generally too casual in a legal setting, but toss on a cardigan and you’ll likely be fine.

For Men
Men can get away with not wearing a tie or a jacket.  However, if you’re unsure it never hurts to wear one.  For business causal wear, a pair of solid navy, grey or even charcoal dress pants with a dress shirt neatly tucked into it is a perfect choice to begin with.  Although not required, a blazer, sports jacket or even a sweater are appropriate to finish your outfit.  Furthermore, tennis shoes or athletic shoes are not appropriate, but dark shoes with a matching belt are appropriate.


Lastly, accessories are a great way to distinguish you from the pack.  Accessories also convey that you respect the details while adding a pop of color and personality.  But, proceed with caution; your accessories should not appear overly distracting in a way that it undermines your performance, especially when you’re required to wear formal business wear.

Up next: "Build a Wardrobe, Part IV" Where to Find the Right Fit For the Right Price.

Part I - Build a Professional Wardrobe.
Part II - Staple Pieces For Business Formal - The Power Suit.

Build a Professional Wardrobe, Part II

By Lynnette Baclig
Graduate Fellow
Law Career Development  


What is Business Formal?
Law school is designed to prepare you to become a professional.  While it might be easy to dress casual and comfortable for class, other legal settings are often more formal.  When out in the professional world – always err on the conservative side and stick to a fitted suit.  The legal profession is conservative, better to look the part.

The Power Suit
A power suit includes a matching jacket and dress pants or a dress skirt in neutral shades such as black, gray, or navy; the darker the suit, the more formal.  While building your professional closet, it is best to initially start with two suits, and three to five dress shirts that pair well with your suits.  

As a general rule, your clothing should be clean, pressed, and wrinkle free.  It is also important to maintain the condition of your shoes by frequently taking them to a cobbler or shoe cleaner once a year. 

Get the Right Fit
Suits should be close-fitting.  Fitted suits are more comfortable and give you a boost of confidence you need to perform stellar in any legal setting.  All suits and skirts should be tailored to fit close to the body, but not tight.  You should shop in the petite section or tall section if those sizes would fit you better.  This could also help you avoid spending on tailoring or alterations.  (See Part IV: Where to Find the Right Fit for the Right Price.)

For Women
Women can make the most out of a suit by purchasing dress pants and a skirt that coordinate with a jacket in a similar shade.  This breaks one suit into two.  With a buttoned-up conservative blouse, freshly pressed and always tucked in.  The neckline should not plunge to reveal too much.  Wear scuff free shoes with heals or flats in a neutral color.  They should be comfortable while remaining stylish and professional.  Also, close-toe heels ranging from 3 to 4 inches are preferred for formal business wear. 

Traditionally for women, skirt suits were formerly the rule. Now pant suits are more acceptable.  In the event that you opt for a skirt suit, remember you can’t go wrong by remaining conservative.  It should come to at least to the top of your knees.  Skirts should also be worn with sheer or seamless hosiery in a neutral color.

For Men
In addition to matching pants and jacket, men should wear a button-up collared shirt paired with a simple tie. Avoid distracting patterns and bright colors. You want to be remembered for your personality, skills, and qualifications, not for the brightly patterned shirt you wore to the interview.  Men should also wear polished shoes in either black or brown with a matching belt. Wrinkled ties and shirts or poorly fitting suits can convey that you don’t have good attention to detail. Make sure, whatever you wear, that it looks like you took the time to clean and press before you went out into the world.

Up next: "Build a Wardrobe, Part III" Staple Pieces For Business Casual – Mix Business Formal With Everyday Clothing.

Part I - Build a Professional Wardrobe.
Part IV - Where to Find the Right Fit For the Right Price. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Build a Professional Wardrobe, Part I

By Lynnette Baclig
Graduate Fellow
Law Career Development  

As a law student your main focus is likely attending class and spending long grueling hours in the library studying.  Perhaps, your appearance reflects an “I don’t care” attitude because your primary goal is to excel on your law school exams.  You neither have the time nor energy to consider what you’re wearing.  However, the way you dress affects how others perceive you.  Even within the law school community, you are being evaluated by your peers, professors, and even law school administrators.  Your reputation depends partly on your fashion choices.  It conveys your attitude and commitment to becoming a professional.  Also, dressing appropriately can help build your confidence and self-esteem.  So, why not dress to impress! 

In addition to dressing appropriately for class, you should be prepared to dress for off-campus professional experiences such as: an interview for an internship; first day on the job; court appearances; law school events; or even networking events within the legal community.  This can be a challenge because coming up with multiple professional outfits for different situations can get expensive on a limited budget as a law student.  How do you balance the need to “dress like a lawyer” with a bank account that says “you are still a student?”

Build a Professional Wardrobe, Part II to Part IV, discusses how to build a professional collection of quality attire for any business formal or business casual setting while keeping your financial limitations in mind.

Up Next:
Part II discusses business formal attire. 
Part III discusses business casual attire. 
Part IV discusses where to shop for less

Funding Your Legal Education, Part II

By Rena Sera, Esq. Rena is a 2016 GGU Law alumna who just passed the bar and is joining a probate law firm in Walnut Creek.  During l...