Monday, September 26, 2016

Acting Professionally Matters

Acting Professionally Matters

By Courtney Brown 
Graduate Fellow 
Law Career Development 

As law students and attorneys, we meet new people every day at school, in the court-house, and when we are invited to meetings and events. It is important to always put your best foot forward and act professionally, especially knowing that first impressions are what people are going to remember. Below is the Tip of the Week from the Culture and Manners Institute discussing etiquette outside of the workplace: 

At a university's vendor training meeting, the tables were arranged in a u-shape. Across from me was another vendor, wearing flip flops, which displayed a tattoo on her foot… of the mascot of the university’s biggest rival

If you had to pick between two vendors, all things being equal, would you select the one that's just not that into you? 

Some etiquette rules for meetings outside your workplace: 

Dress up out of respect for the people you are visiting. Whether you show up in a suit, business casual or a company uniform, wear clean, pressed clothing. Upgrade your footwear from flip-flops: cover up those painted toenails or hairy, Hobbit-like feet. 

Arrive in a timely fashion, not fashionably late.

Be kind to the security guards, assistants and anyone else you meet on the way in and on the way out. Their good opinion carries weight. They are part of your progress. 

When you arrive at the meeting room, wait until your host tells you where to sit. Whenever you are introduced to someone, stand up to greet that person. 

Don't bring outside beverages into the meeting. Especially with an interview, don't carry in your carry-out coffee that you picked up on the way. 

Focus on the business at hand. No texting under the table. If you need to keep your cell phone on for emergencies, just let the others in the meeting know. 

If you behave professionally in meetings, you will have many happy returns.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Burnout: What Is It and What Can You Do About It

By Courtney Brown
Graduate Fellow
Law Career Development  

The legal profession is filled with high-achievers who often have a real passion for the work they are doing. This leads to "working exceptionally long hours, taking on exceedingly heavy workloads, and putting enormous pressure on themselves to excel”, which puts lawyers at high risk for burnout.

What is Burnout?
 "Burnout" was the term coined by Herbert Freudenberger, an American psychologist, in the 1970s. Although, it is not a medical diagnosis, the term is frequently used, especially in the legal profession. According to the Mayo Clinic,  “[j]ob burnout is a special type of job stress—a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

Burnout is not simply caused by working too many hours or working too hard. It occurs when the deadlines and demands of a job exceed the rewards, recognition, and the person's ability to cope with the stress caused by the job.

What Are the Symptoms of Burnout?
"There are three main areas of symptoms that are considered to be signs of burnout syndrome:
  •  Emotional exhaustion: People feel drained and exhausted, overloaded, tired and low, and do not have enough energy. Physical problems include stomach pains and digestion problems.
  • Alienation from (job-related) activities: People find their jobs increasingly negative and frustrating. They may develop a cynical attitude towards their work environment and their colleagues. They may, at the same time, increasingly distance themselves emotionally, and disengage themselves from their work.
  • Reduced performance: Burnout mainly affects everyday tasks at work, at home or when caring for family members. People with burnout are very negative about their activities, find it hard to concentrate, are listless and lack creativity.”
How to Prevent Burnout?
Many techniques used to prevent burnout involve decreasing workload or taking time off of work to relax. Unfortunately for lawyers whose salaries depend on billable hours, these techniques tend to lead to more stress. However, there are some techniques that can be used by lawyers to prevent burnout which will not have a damaging impact on their income:

      Find or Create More Meaning
It is important to check to see whether your values conflict with your work. For many lawyers, the meaning of their work is already there, they just need to focus on the importance of their work.  If you can’t find meaning in the work you are doing, try to create meaning by taking on a pro bono case or shift your practice to serve a cause you care about.

      Let Go of Perfection
As lawyers, we have perfectionist tendencies. Although these tendencies may be important when representing a client, it is important to know when nearly perfect is necessary and when it isn’t.

      Build Awareness
It is important to learn to recognize the signs that you are taking on too much. These signs could be headaches, anger, or something else. When these signs appear, you should identify what is causing the stress so that you can find a solution.

      Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time
After about 90 minutes of focusing, we get inefficient and less effective. It is good to take a break after those 90 minutes and recharge, such as taking a walk or checking personal email.

How to Recover From Burnout?
If you are feeling exhausted and unmotivated, and think you may be experiencing burnout, there are ways to recover:

Take a Break
Some people decide it is necessary to step down from their jobs. Others decide to arrange an extended vacation or sabbatical. If a long absence is not possible, try to take at least 3-5 days away from the office so that you can think about your priorities and goals.

Focus on Diet and Exercise 
      It is important to take time to eat good food and get your body moving. It will make you feel better, allow you to think clearly about your future, and prevent illness.

      Find a Hobby to Invest In
Having variety in your life will keep your life from getting boring. It is so easy to become laser-focused on your career and allow your life to become nothing but work. You may feel more motivated in your actual work, when you are investing time in a hobby you find joy in.

      Help Others
Whether it is finding someone to mentor or becoming involved in a charity that you have a passion for, helping others will help you understand the meaning of your life.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

10 Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Law Interview

By Matt Lee
Tenge Law Firm, LLC

The law is a cutthroat profession. Every newly-minted lawyer will be jostling for a position in the best law firms, and just the same, these top law firms will only be choosing the best. Now a lot of your competitors will more or less have the same educational background and work experience as you, so how do you make sure that you’re the one who clinches the interview? 

Colorado firm Tenge Law recently published a helpful infographic which lists crucial points on how to ace a law interview. Below is a rundown of some common mistakes mentioned in the infographic that any law interviewee should always be mindful of. 

Image result for not arriving on time1. Not arriving on time 
 Keep in mind that you will be taking up the interviewer’s time, and it’s always possible that there are other candidates he needs to accommodate. Show your eagerness and respect by arriving at least 10 to 15 minutes early.

2. Not dressing up professionally 
It’s undeniable that appearances make a big impact especially on people who are not familiar with you. You have a limited time in which to impress the interviewer, so make every second that you are looked at, count. Dark suits in black, gray, or navy with minimal jewelry work best, and make sure everything about you is neat and clean. 

3. Not being polite and friendly
Always be pleasant and respectful, especially once you set foot anywhere near the firm’s premises. You’ll never know who you might be interacting with, and with social media, they can either spread a good, or bad word about you quickly. 4. Handing badly-written resume - The person who will be reviewing your CV will most likely be busy going through others as well, so make yours as concise as possible. List down only the most notable of your achievements related to your chosen career, anything else could even be detrimental. 

5. Not reviewing potential questions
This can be the most difficult part as there are no real “correct” answers to questions such as: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Tell me more about your resume. Tell me more about some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how you solved them. These questions allow the interviewer to get an insight on your attitude and how your mind works. It’s subjective, and your best bet would be, to tell the truth, but phrase your answers in a positive and optimistic tone. 

 6. Not asking the interviewer any questions
During the interview, you should be working to build rapport with your interviewer, and you can have a better chance when you’re allowed to ask questions. Show your eagerness by asking specific questions about the firm, especially details that are difficult to get by research alone. 

7. Not doing background research on the firm 
Never ever be caught off-guard not knowing about the firm you want to work at. Do research as early as the first moment you consider applying at a particular law office, your knowledge about their organization will show how much you want to be a part of them. 

8. Not doing a follow-up 
It’s not often that candidates in law offices get hired on the spot. Law firms often prefer to call back after they’ve carefully considered several candidates, so it is very important that you send a thank you note a day after the interview, and a follow up 1-2 weeks after, to keep the links of communication fresh. 

9. Putting another firm or lawyer in a bad light
Always observe professional courtesy. Nobody wants an employee who talks behind their back, and this is most especially true in the legal profession where image and confidentiality are taken very seriously. 

10. Being unsure or arrogant 
Make sure to project an air of confidence in a positive, non-condescending manner. Remember that confidence does not equate to being cocky, but don’t be too timid and self-effacing either. Get rid of awkward hesitations and speak in a calm and straightforward manner. 

The infographic also includes statistics on outcomes of callback invitations to and interviews of Class 2017 for Summer 2016 positions, which provides valuable insight into the current level of competition new lawyers will be facing. 

Law Career Development recently hosted a mock interview event here at GGU to help students overcome their anxiety for Summer Job Fair Interviews. If you are interviewing anywhere and require tips and strategies on acing interviews,make an appointment with our LCD counselors. To make an appointment, simply visit LCDonline ,call 415-442-6625 or email .