Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Keeping up with the Email Hustle and Bustle, Part II

By Lynnette F. Baclig, Esq.
Graduate Fellow
Law Career Development
"Which one are you?  There are two types of people in the world: those with hundreds of unread messages, and those who can’t relax until their inboxes are cleared out.”  Inbox Zero vs. Inbox 5,000: A Unified Theory, Atlantic.  

According to Muppet Theory, based on The Muppet Show and Sesame Street characters, people are either Chaos Muppets or Order Muppets.  Chaos Muppets “are out-of-control, emotional, volatile.”  Whereas, Order Muppets “tend to be neurotic, highly regimented, averse to surprises and may sport monstrously large eyebrows.”  Interestingly, Justice Stephen Breyer is described to have Chaos Muppet traits whereas Chief Justice John Roberts is described to hold Order Muppet traits.  As relevant to email correspondence, Chaos Muppets such as Cookie Monster and Ernie will probably lose your email due to their impulsive and disorganized nature whereas Order Muppets such as Kermit the Frog, Bert or Count von Count will not lose track of an email due to their obsessive character traits.  Regardless of where you fall on the philosophical Muppet character spectrum, as an aspiring attorney, you must stay on top of your inboxes as highlighted in Part I of this blog postOn the bright side, both Chaos and Order Muppets can easily manage their inboxes in three simple ways: (1) calendaring time throughout the day to check emails; (2) triaging emails as they come; and (3) responding diligently when necessary. 


This is easier said than done, but nonetheless setting blocks of time throughout the day to manage emails establishes peace in your hectic day and keeps you in focus.  Cami McLaren, from Above the Law, suggests there is a new paradigm for attorneys’ time management where “it is not one in which you work faster, but where you make better and smarter choices.”  McLaren challenges us to change our way of thinking about how we manage our time apart from the patterns and habits we developed in our academic and professional lives.  For example, rather than “stopping every 20 to 30 minutes (or every four to five minutes) to check your email,”  it is more productive to “check your email less frequently” by calendaring 30 to 45-minute blocks throughout the day.  Perhaps you can do this in the morning, afternoon and late evening.  However, during those times you should devote your time and focus on only checking, responding and triaging emails and after the time is up, spend the rest of the day ignoring your inbox.  McLaren reasons that calendaring your email routine actually frees up more time because:
First, when you check your email at a specific time, that is all you are doing; your brain is not distracted, but is focused solely on your email. By the same token, during other parts of the day, you are not distracted by your email and are more efficient at each task. Second, you are not wasting precious minutes throughout the day constantly transitioning from one thing to another. 

Setting up a daily routine to check emails during specific times throughout the day seems counterintuitive, especially since we are bombarded with constant notifications from our smart phones and computers (where you can hear it, see it, and even feel it!).  Consider turning off those alerts (this could easily be applied to text messages as well) so that you can remain focused on the tasks at hand.  Why should we immediately succumb to our attention-seeking notification alerts when it’s not going anywhere?  (The phone can ring if the message is that important.)  If you absolutely feel you can’t live without checking those alerts as they come, perhaps check it every hour as a five-minute mental break.  Law students should start implementing McLaren’s model not only in managing emails but also in the academic study of law and ultimately in the practice of law.  (See more of McLaren’s New Paradigm.)  


Set up a user-friendly filing system to organize your email the moment they arrive.  Rather than opening up an email and then letting it sit in your inbox, move it or label it under a specific category, or even commit to deleting it.  This can be done by utilizing your email’s folders or “labels” tool if using Google. 

First, set up several folders each under a specific category.  The categories are determined by the action required upon receipt.  For instance, a folder can be one of the following:  email requiring a response or task; email requiring no action; email requiring no action BUT contains information you need to keep, in other words, an archive folder.  For emails requiring a response or task either respond to it right away if time permits, or move it to a “To-Do” folder.  This is your “action” folder that acts as an informal To-Do list.  The “To-Do” folder acts as a reminder of emails that require your attention but not necessarily right away.  Upon receipt quickly make the judgment about your time restraints and if responding might take more than 2 minutes, move email to the “To-Do” folder and get back to it during one of your set block times to check emails.  Then, once completed move to the appropriate archive folder.  For emails that take less than 2 minutes to respond to, don’t forget to archive it in the appropriate folder as well.  Additionally, for emails requiring no action and also contain information you don’t need to keep, simply delete.  This can be applied to newsletters with no pertinent information, spam or junk mail, or email advertisements.  However, for emails requiring no action, but contain information you need to keep, archive it rather than deleting it.  This applies to newsletters and the like, but mainly applies to instances when you’re absolutely done with an email and no longer need to attend to it.  You can set up a general archive folder or set up a more detailed system.  This more detailed system can be categorized broadly such as “Law School Fall Semester” or “Law Research” or “Coupons”; or it can be as specific such as “Property Law” or “SFDA’s Office” or “Maui Vacation Plans.”  You can even create subfolders under a folder or under another subfolder and so on.    

Ultimately, the goal of email triage is to keep your inbox empty, which can make us more organized and as a result less stressed!  Also, when you need to get back to that email, you’ll know exactly where to find it.


As discussed above, if a response to an email could take less than 2 minutes or so, do not put it off.  Send a brief and quick, concise response so that you can archive it and get one more email out of the way.  Also, if you don’t have the time to send a quick response, move it to your “To-Do” folder and get back to it later. 

On another note, sometimes it’s best to quickly acknowledge that you received an email, especially when the email is specifically addressed to you (unlike when you are CC’d on an email, which does not call for a quick response).  Quick responses can be as easy as: “thanks” or “will do.”  This lets the sender know that you received the email and the sender will less likely send you another email with the same content.

In conclusion, do not underestimate the power of emails in your future legal career.  Technology and online communication will continue to run our lives, so embrace it, don’t fight it!  Moreover, neither Chaos Muppet nor Order Muppet is better than the other.  Regardless of which character traits you fall on the Muppet spectrum “[r]emember the old rule of thumb: Too many Order Muppets means no cookies for anyone.”  Be kind to yourself.  Now that you have all the tools to manage your inbox, have fun with it!  Once you’ve developed the habit of effective email management, you’ll be far ahead of the game in your law practice.  Ready, set, go!

Additional Reading:  Effective Email Strategies for Law Students and Lawyers by Susanne Aronowitz, previous GGU Associate Dean for Law Career Development.

Keeping up with the Email Hustle and Bustle, Part I

By Lynnette F. Baclig, Esq.
Graduate Fellow
Law Career Development

As the fall semester quickly approaches, law students will soon find themselves back to law school and back to the grind.  It’s back to juggling the role of being a law student while adulting; simply put, it’s back to the law school hustle.  This also means keeping up with the endless email hustle and bustle!

No law student should lose sight of the contents appearing in their inbox.  Part of becoming a professional, in particular becoming an attorney, is practicing effective communication.  Since email is the most used form of communication for lawyers, law students should start developing effective email management.  Managing your inbox is paying extra close attention and diligently responding to correspondence, especially when receiving an email from law school professors, supervisors, law school administrators, and even Law Career Development.  Students should always pay close attention to each email even if at first glance it may seem irrelevant.  It would be a shame to miss out on an opportunity and relevant information due to hasty email management.  More often than not, students imprudently skim through emails and as a result are at risk of becoming uninformed on pertinent information.  Rule 3-110 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California, suggests that an attorney who acts incompetently to perform legal services can be subject to discipline.  What’s more, law students are constantly being assessed of their good moral character and fitness to practice law.  Any “bad behavior” as a result of being uninformed or lacking communication skills can be construed as incompetence and could find its way to moral character investigators, which could prevent a student’s acceptance to the state bar.  Therefore, it is essential to not miss out on emails containing important information to prevent rejection from the state bar and to stay on top of career opportunities.

Next blog post, Keeping up with the Email Hustle and Bustle, Part II discusses how to stay on top of incoming emails.

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.

Keeping up with the Email Hustle and Bustle, Part II

By Lynnette F. Baclig, Esq. Graduate Fellow Law Career Development "Which one are you?  There are two types of people in the world:...