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Friday, April 11, 2014

"Clear the Mechanism" -- Concentration is the Key to Study Success

Are Yankee fans truly this obnoxious? Truly you, jest! :-)


In my Twitter profile, I note that I like to draw parallels between life and baseball. I thought that I would include a scene from an old Kevin Costner movie ("For the Love of the Money") where his character -- a veteran pitcher contemplating retirement -- is able to focus completely on his job and actually "clear"  out all distracting noises.



Such is the focus needed for a law student as he/she prepares for this upcoming round of  finals. Study and concentration are the keys to mastering the material, then preforming well on the exam. How does one accomplish concentration?

  • Regularity - study at the same times and in the same places. Be consistent in everything that you do. Have a regular schedule. Work better in the library? . . Then work there all the time. At home? . . . The same goes. Familiarity is the key to comfort in your study patterns!
  • "Clear the Mechanism" - have concentrated periods of time away from your social media devices. Study and Facebook wanderings do not mix. Head phones work? Use them, by all means. Whatever works. Quiet is the key.
  • No End of the Year Distractions! -- This is law school time. . . One final push. . . . Do not let a job, non law school friends or anything else distract you from your final push at the end of the year. This is your time to put it all together and shine.








From this time forward -- until the semester ends, "clear the mechanism" concentrate, study hard and succeed in your final exams! 




P.S If you are one of the few that works well with noise and distractions, far be it for me to change that pattern. . If it ain't broke, don't fix it.









Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Need a Resume Boost? . . Take a CLE

As I've indicated on many occasions here, and on Twitter, I am a big proponent of students participating in both substantive and social activities in a local bar association.  Cliche though it may be. . "if you want to fish, go where the fish are" certainly applies to law students vis-a-vis local bar association participation.

One way that a law student can benefit from a local bar association is by the taking of a "practice area specific" Continuing Legal Education program. . . . How's that work? . . .

. . .Say, that you have always had an interest in Environmental Law (just using this as an example. Substitute your area of interest here) and would love to get an internship in that area either this coming summer, or the next. But, you have never taken a course in this area, or those courses are not yet open to you at the moment.  What can you do to become "resume ready?"

Look around to your local bar associations (both city and state) to see if there is a CLE available in Environmental Law (if you are lucky, the bar association in your jurisdiction will not charge a fee to students for enrolling. If they do, you bit the bullet and pay). Take the course, then put it into the "Education" heading of your resume. Now you have the experience that you need. Plus, it will set up your cover letter perfectly:

 
..... as you can see from my resume, I have a distinct interest in Environmental Law and have already taken a substantive course in this area. . . . 


If I'm an employer reading  that letter and reviewing the attached resume, I see a law student who has gone above and beyond what is required. . I would want to hire such a student!

Maybe it doesn't always work out like that, however, students still needs to think "out of the box" and figure out ways to distinguish and separate themselves from other students.

- - - -  - - -  -


It's not only the substantive programming, but the socializing that would also be important to law students. Go to the meetings of the Environmental Law group. When the bar has an "event" say a golf outing, why not volunteer to help drive the carts, set up and "man" (or woman) a stand. How about being a caddie? You might even be able to finance your way through law school, right?  . . take a look and see how it's done:





Then again, probably not. 

But the real point is that -- through participation and activity in a local bar association -- and its many events, a law student can also put him/herself in proximity to the very lawyers that can either provide a summer job experience, or know someone who can. 


Keep the bar association in mind, to sharpen your resume through CLE participation, or to get the "lay of the land" for your next job. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Lonliness of the Long Distance Solo Practitioner: Staying "Connected"

Part II of the "long distance runner" series

The first of the "Long Distance Runner" blog articles The Loneliness of the Long Distance Law Student: Do Study Groups Work Or Not - Your Call was a discussion regarding whether law students should go "solo" in their studying while in law school. In this article, I give you my thoughts on what is needed to take on the practice of law as a solo practitioner. 

The current hiring "crisis" has seen more law student graduates going the solo route because they have been unable to find employment, even after having passed the bar. With loans to pay and the longing to get into the fray, graduates have turned to opening their own offices in growing numbers.However, I don't want to focus on the client side (and how to increase), but on the . . well, "loneliness" side of being a solo practitioner.

I started my law practice rather late in my career. I had already been (in this order): an Assistant District attorney; an associate in a Wall Street law firm; an associate in a high volume Washington, D.C. Insurance Defense firm; an Assistant with the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division and finally an associate with a DuPont Circle,Washington, DC boutique Criminal Law firm before I went solo.

When I started my firm, I shared office space with a dear friend who, as a very successful personal injury attorney, spent little time in the office. Since I was quite familiar with the first commandment of being a solo practitioner: Thou shall keep your "nut' low. . .. very low. . I had no secretary, paralegal, I was truly "solo."  Therefore, for most of the day, I had his entire office all to myself. It was a dream come true -- or was it?

I was alone, very alone. . . all day long . . alone.

At first I thought that this was great. I could meet with new clients in solitude and never have any distractions. But I soon learned that collegiality and camaraderie is a very important part of the legal profession. When I was an ADA and a prosecutor with DOJ, all I had to do to get feedback or ideas on one of my cases was to simply slip into another attorneys office, grab a chair and start chatting. I always left the office a better lawyer with more information that I had when I entered. Same thing when I worked in a big law firm.

No lawyer can practice law as an island. 

Always stay keyed into your legal community as a solo:

  • Remain Active in Bar Organizations: both state and local. Also, remain active in specialty bars. One of the best experiences that I had as a solo practitioner was to part of The Hispanic Bar of Maryland. It was here that I was able to meet all the judges in the county in see them out of the courtroom in different social settings . .everything from social gathers to actually interviewing with the organization to gain support as they sought their judgeships. Priceless. .
  • Hone Your Lawyer Skills - through CLE's (here's that bar association "thing" again), and organizations like Inns of Court where you can participate in "moot court" competitions with the very judges that you see on a daily basis - and don't forget the morning or lunch "brow bag lunches" that will keep you on your toes with the latest legal trends in your county and state;
  • Continue to Run Cases By Colleagues -- in my view, this is invaluable. If you can longer -- as a solo-- run into a colleagues office next door, then pick up the phone, walk down the hall. . whatever it takes. I remember that the best way as a solo that I had to discuss cases and bounce ideas off colleagues was while I was in court . . waiting for the call of the docket. That's a great time for lawyers to socialize and yes, gossip. So take advantage and use this time wisely;
  • Visit the Websites of local and state bars on a regular basis - a great way to keep up on events in your practicing area;
  • Have an online legal research tool -- I could never afford Lexis-Nexis or other major online legal research service, but a solo can always find an inexpensive version that will give you exactly what you need (as a criminal lawyer, I really only need the state opinions. I would pay a little extra if I needed a federal case, but it was never too much). You can also find the same services at your bar libraries, often for free. 
  • Participate in local and state related Community Service Events - I would always do the "legal advise" events that would usually be on a weekend at the local courts. I even did a telephone advise forum for a local television station. A good way to meet lawyers and perhaps clients.
  • Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer - did I say that volunteering was a good way to stay connected to lawyers (and new clients!) when you are a solo.

You can choose to be be a solo practitioner. . but never choose to do it. . alone!







Thursday, January 9, 2014

Here Come Your Law School Grades: "Stay Calm and Carry On"


The moment of truth has either arrived, or will  shortly. . . . Grades. 

Law students have worked from August through December to show their professors that they have mastered the course material. Some had previewed their success (or lack thereof) with a mid term, others  have had only one shot at it -- the final exam. . .  The "one and done" event for all students. The moment of truth is arriving. . The clock is ticking. . .

(. . . yeah, yeah, you get it. I need to stop the melodrama, right? )

Let me impart some thoughts for consideration, depending on how the grade thing turns out for you: 

  • If you have done well. . . I mean really well. . . like Law Review well. . .  I congratulate you!  Well done! As for your study patterns -- "if it ain't broke, don't fix." The one thing that I would advise students to consider if their sole focus to date has been on grades, is to expand their horizons now and consider joining law school groups, clinics, moot court, and making contact with  real lawyers by participating in bar association events and CLE's . . Spread your wings and start to appear well rounded during your law school career. . . That's what you are going to do when you are in practice, right?  
  •  You did "well" but not up to your previous academic standards. . First, normalize your breathing and start with the positive. . . . You did well. . . . you did well. As with any job and work venture, there is a period of adjustment. That is certainly the case for 1Ls starting law school. If your grades are "alright" in your view, but do not compare with what you have done in the past, then remember that the adjustment period is now over and it's now your time to "soar." Consider some "tweaks" to your study habits and patterns, but just know that you are really on your way. Be more positive than negative. Much of law school, in my view, is about attitude. Stay positive and know that, at the end of the year, your GPA should be getting back to what you are used to. That is your goal.
  •    You did not do well. Period. . . Do not, under any circumstances, become despondent. No meltdowns. No bad and/or harmful thoughts (no melodrama here, I just know that this is serious business). You can do this -- remember, you got into law school. Many administrator, friends, family (not to mention your own internal feelings) thought that you could do this -- and for most, that's true. Time for some self-reflection: What went wrong? Was it my study habits and motivation? Was I truly disciplined? Did I really want this? Did I work hard enough? . . . Talk with your professors in the courses in which you did not do well. . Review the exam. . What happened? . . Was it your writing? Analytical skills? . . Multiple choice selections?    . . Get a new plan in place for the second semester. One that includes study pattern changes (i.e. if you were studying alone, see if you can get into a study group, or have a regular partner). Change your course outlining pattens and routine for weekday and weekend study? As exams approach, are you doing practice exams? How about more after hour face time with professors and teaching aids?  Mix it up? What needs changing? You can do this.
  • Finally, I hate to go here, but I must. For a very small population, law school is just not the place to be. Do not hang your head. You made a noble effort and should be commended. Consider cutting your losses -- don't continue racking up bills if this is simply not your cup of tea.  
So there you have. stay true to who you are -- no matter which of the bullet points applies to you. Every journey is exciting with many ups and downs. Remember this after it is all over and you are standing before the judge to get sworn in and start your career. 

Is there another group in which you came in that doesn't appear above? Please comment and let me know.

Carpe Diem!

Monday, January 6, 2014

"You're Out of Order!" . . Civility Starts in Law School





 "Civility" basically means being polite. In court, it is a little more than that --it is a requirement. ABA Model Rules, Rule of Professional Conduct 3.5 states that lawyers may not "engage in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal," with related commentary saying that lawyers and judges alike can "preserve professional integrity by patient firmness no less effectively than by belligerence or theatrics."

All well and good, but what does civility look like in a "competitive" profession like lawyering? The problem with our profession in general, and being a trial lawyer, specifically, is that it is very much like being a professional athlete -- you get hired (re-hired) if you WIN! . . . Talk about pressure. How can I be civil and cordial in a profession where clients expect you to look like a pit bull?

Recently, one of my blog posts contained some "funny" anecdotes about lawyers being "bad" ( Litigation: It Doesn't Always Go As Planned ) to make a point about how a trial/discovery doesn't always go as planned. However, the article does not condone the actions of some of the lawyers. Civility (and the current lack of it in our legal system) is serious business and, in my view, a reflection of society as a whole.

Speaking of analogies to professional athletes,  when I was in high school (and college, too), I was fortunate to have played some serious competitive tennis. After graduation from college, I continued to play competitive "club" tennis that took me to many tournaments throughout the East Coast. From time to time, I played against Australians. I loved playing the Aussies -- win or lose.I always found them to be extremely tough competitors who always left it all on the court. Afterwards however, win or lose, they were usually  quite magnanimous and often would have a "Foster's"  with you. .

They were in my view, BOTH competitors and class acts.  Something that's worth striving for as a practicing attorney.

While I can't ever remember having a Foster's with my adversary as a trial lawyer, I did have many friends who were on the "dark side" (that's the "other" side, from wherever you are now!)  and frequently socialized with them outside of court. I always tried to be cordial and professional -- to the point that it once cost me a very big client who thought that I was a bit too "chummy" with the prosecutor in his case when I was a criminal defense lawyer. This particular client didn't believe that -- like the Australians on the tennis court -- lawyers could be cordial with the very same lawyers that they saw on the other side in court (hey, it was his case -- he could do whatever he wanted to. That is the right of every client!).

P.S. the new attorney that he hired fared worse when it came to "plea time" in his totally un-winnable case than I would have, given the deal that I was working on with the prosecutor at the time of my dismissal.

. . . . Where am I going here?

On Twitter, I have been known to say that "if you're a snarky law student, chances are you will "grow up" to be a snarky lawyer. . . . Patterns of behavior are learned in law school and are rarely forgotten. Accordingly, start learning about professionalism and civility in law school. You'll have it down pat by the time you pass the bar exam. So why not practice civility in law school? How?


Some thoughts on civility in law school:





  • Law students have done "zero" to this point in their legal careers. Don't cop an attitude and act like you have; 


  • Curb the "sense of entitlement" stuff  (see, prior bullet point). Be grateful in all that happens to you;


  • Respond to emails in a timely fashion (especially if from law school professors and administrators (see first bullet point again). It's not like Facebook. . it's time to be professional;


  • If you make an appointment, keep it. If you can't, contact the person BEFORE the starting time of the meeting (a particular pet peeve of mine, if you can't tell);


  • Don't . . don't talk about a fellow student with whom you have a gripe to a professor or administrator before speaking to the student him/herself about the problem. I see this all the time with students working in organizations when there is a professor sponsor;


  • Do not write and/or appropriate anything without rendering due credit for it during your time in law school (it's called plagiarism). Even be careful if someone else gives you "permission" to copy. Ask: Does it pass the "smell" test? . . . This goes well beyond being rude, it is a dark mark on your professional integrity. This one will surely come back to do considerable harm to your legal career should you do as a lawyer;


  • Do not fabricate an excuse for not having done something to get out the consequences for inaction. -- remember that “lying” will get easier and easier when you become a lawyer -- so much so that you will eventually not even know that you are doing it. If you play "fast and loose" with a judge, it will come back to "bite" you and your professional reputation. .. . I've seen it too many times


  • Always be “fair” in your dealings with your law school colleagues. Never do an “end around” to place yourself unfairly in a better position (you'll know it when you see it). By the way, your law school colleagues may very well be of great assistance to you in looking for a job in the future. They will become part of your network . . . you never know!


  • Never belittle, get personal, or use profanity against anyone. Always show respect for others. You're not a better lawyer if you demonstrate a better use of profanities than your adversary. Oh, and please forget how lawyers are portrayed on television and in the movies! Most every TV lawyer would face bar counsel if their shenanigans were played out in the "real" legal world;


  • Do what you say you are going to do. Be a person of your word. (again, the line where civility crosses professionalism). That includes completely assignments in a timely fashion. If you don’t do things in a timely manner in law school, you will  most certainly become a lawyer that misses discovery deadlines, or  -- in the worse case – misses a statute of limitations deadline (the kiss of death for any lawyer);
---------------------

 Your professional reputation starts the moment that you first walk into your law school building. Starting to work on civility while in law school may be the very thing to keep your future law practice in order, rather than seeing it get "out of order" very quickly




P.S. Good movie, if you haven't seen!


 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Greetings With a Couple of Tips




Hey, time to get up from that desk, take a shower now and go home -- it's over (first semester). . 
. . .Need something to do (or at least think about over the break, check out this prior post Winter Break Need Not Be A Time Of Inactivity. 
 
    For those of you already in the practice of law - a lawyer's life never comes to a complete halt for any holiday season -- Top 7 Tips for Getting Ahead During the Holidays.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! and a Happy New Year to all readers (just think of all the possibilities and opportunities for success for you in 2014!)

See you next year!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Litigation: It Doesn't Always Go As Planned - Plan On It



Jim Carrey in "Liar, Liar"


When counseling law students about what areas of practice to enter, or at least consider, the conversation always leads to personality and whether or not the student has ever thought about being a litigator. We will then generally discuss what courses need to be taken and what internships to consider.

Litigation (like JAG) is not for all. However, for someone like me, who was a classroom teacher for eight years prior to going to law school, there was nothing more that I really wanted to do but be in a courtroom. It is indeed like a melodrama. . A play that is acted out to an audience -- the jury. It is rough and tumble and, in the case of criminal law, deadly serious.You will hear in your law school clinics and internships that litigation is all about "preparation."

However,  there is one "take away" that all law students need to know. No matter how meticulously one plans for what is supposed to happen in a courtroom, remember that it rarely goes as planned -- and further remember that if your trial "goes South"  --- there may be a few laughs that go with it. Often at your own expense. So stay loose and have a good deprecating sense of humor (something few trial lawyers seem to have).

Learn how to "dodge and weave" and expect the unexpected when you enter a court room. Here are a few examples from my wacky life in court:

(1) "SIT DOWN, IT'S NOT YOUR TURN YET"

Here it was. The moment had finally arrived! I had finished law school; passed the bar; completed my training course with the Kings County (Brooklyn, NY) DA's Office. I was now ready to do my first misdemeanor trial!  I had prepared as I was told -- interviewed all the witnesses, written out all my questions and my closing argument (write it out and work backwards -- you'll only know what you need to prove and how to get the witnesses to testify, if you've already written out what you want them to say, right?) 

At the last minute, the defense filed a Motion in Limine on an Identification issue. Paperwork was submitted and the motion went for a hearing a week before the trial was scheduled to start.

I was ready. . Boy, was I READY. I was going to blow the defense lawyer out of the water with my brief and argument. I had practiced my technique before a mirror the night before (like just what hand gestures and facial expressions to use at any given moment: . . .  my "disbelief," "Come On, Now" looks, and my all time favorite look -- the "You've Got to Be Kidding Me!!(with apologies to John McEnroe) look.

The hearing got underway. There was a judge who must have been seventy-five if he was a day, on the bench. He just sat there -- not saying a word -- for at least seven minutes. Well, I got a little full of myself and decided to stand up and start my argument.

Suddenly, the judge came to life and blurted out --with absolutely no compassion for a young knucklehead Assistant District Attorney -- "Sit Down, It's Not Your Turn Yet!" . I looked around the courtroom. The defense lawyer had all he could do not to burst out laughing.

"Yes, Your Honor."  I smiled and sat back down. You can see that I still remember that day, many years later.

P.S. We did win the motion and the trial. . You knew that I had to get that in, didn't you?

(2) HERE'S YOUR "OPEN DISCOVERY, JERK!"

After leaving the D.A's Office, I joined a Wall Street Insurance Defense firm across the river in Manhattan.

It was a great place to work as the firm had Toyota as a top client and did the bulk of its Products Liability work. .Younger associates would always be selected to go to motions hearings and lesser depositions.

It was at such a deposition  that two of the five lawyers participating got into a hot disagreement regarding a discovery document. One of the attorneys was suggesting that he was about to call the judge because the other had not turned over all relevant documents and was, in fact, withholding documents. The accusation enraged the accused lawyer who sat at the other end of a long conference table from his accusing adversary.

Subsequent to this initial outburst, the accused lawyer, with one smooth  motion, sent his briefcase down the length of the conference table. (think bartender sending a beer down the length of a bar to costumer at other end).

"Here, you want to see what I have in my briefcase. . you want discovery. . Well here it is!' 

In one of life's great moments, the accusing attorney had picked that moment to turn away and have a conversation with another lawyer at the table.  He looked back at the last minute, but it was too late. The briefcase hit him square in the chest as he sat in a swivel conference room chair, knocking him, head over heels, to the floor of the room, papers flying around everywhere. I was sitting next to the floored lawyer and had to turn quickly to look out of the window so as not to burst out laughing in his face. . Class act that I was.

My definition of "open discovery."

(3)  "YOUR HONOR, MY WITNESS IS INDEED A ROCKET SCIENTIST!"

In all my years as a criminal and personal injury lawyer, I have had all types of witness: the good, the bad, the ugly, the hostile, the less-than-forthcoming, the "I have to drag it out of him/her" witness.

But one one shining day, I tried a personal injury case and was able to turn the old adage, "Well, he ain't no, rocket scientist!" on its head. . . One of my witnesses -- a guy who had simply been walking down the street and saw my client "T-boned" in an intersection accident -- was actually WAS  a Rocket Scientist for NASA. .

It was, only after a rigorous cross-examination by the insurance company lawyer, that I was able to stand up, look the judge (a friend of mine) in the eye and say, tongue firmly planted in cheek: "Judge, he's a rocket scientist ya gotta believe him!"

I don't know, many this is one of those "you had to be there" situations but all three of us: judge, plaintiff and defense counsel were bent over laughing to tears.

 - - -

Is there a point to these anecdotes (many more, but we'll stop at three)? Well, a law student is told from their first day in law school that to be a successful litigator, one has to prepare, prepare and then prepare some more. Even after the law student graduates and goes to a firm or starts trying cases, he/she is told the same.

That is very true. But remember that a lawyer can not control the outcome of a trial. Notwithstanding any amount of preparation. Remember that no matter how much you prepare for a trial -- it usually never goes as planned. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to flex and adapt to whatever is thrown your way.

Being able to do that is the mark of a great litigator. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Does Bucky *Bleeping* Dent Have to Do With Law School?





 Let's face it -- law school is a grueling three year marathon. It's full of much blood, sweat, and tears. Ups and downs. Stress and hard work. No time for too much of the "personal." Much sacrifice. . . Get the picture?

When it's all said and done and you walk out of your law school building for the last time, I believe that a student needs to take with him/her at least one (hopefully many more!) "classic memorable moment" that will, in future years, bring a big smile if not a huge guffaw. Now, this moment need not have anything at all to do with the academic rigors of the law school experience. I'm talking about just a funny, wacky memory that warms the heart. Law school graduate: Got one already? . . . Law students: . . . . working on one?

I do believe that most of us who went (or are currently) going to law school have or will have such a moment. At least I hope so. The purpose of such a memory will, hopefully, be to put the three year grind into perspective. A memory to soothe and help deflect all the other memories of the grueling aspects of law school.  . .Something that would allow you to say. .  "oh it was really bad. . but I remember that one time when. . . "  

Please indulge me as I share my memorable law school moment:

. . . My 1L year began in the Fall of 1978. I had left a high school teaching career and, in late August of that year, was sucked in the bowels of the Georgetown University Law Center into the frightening world of the Socratic Method and academic competition that I had never experienced in my academic career. It was a far cry from teaching "Romeo & Juliet" to seventeen year-olds as I was dodging spitballs in the process, as I had been doing up to that time. 

I struggled along like everybody else at the beginning and was looking late that Fall for some escape that would provide me with periodic respites from the daily grind. . . 

. . . For me, Major League Baseball provided the answer. 

Those of you how follow me, know that I am quite the baseball fan. I soon found out that at Georgetown -- given it's national brand -- there were law students from all parts of the U.S. along with international students as well. Many from the New York and New England areas. Yes, Yankee and Red Sox fans galore!

So the plot thickened in one of sports most intense rivalries -- Yankees/Red Sox -- as the teams fought there way through the "dog days" of summer. Wouldn't you know it, as we were trying to get the hang of law school, on October 2, 1978, both teams headed for a one game playoff to determine who would move on into the Championship Series. Wow! That was a game everyone wanted to see.

Here's the problem:

In those days, most every major sports event in the world was NOT seen at night. The game was scheduled to collide directly with my Property Class with Professor Robert S. Schoshinski (he's still there now! . . Amazing!). Now, if one is a 1L, the thought of missing class -- especially something as "heavy-duty" as Property would never cross one's mind (am I right, 1Ls???). . You simply had to go to class, right? So, what was any red-blooded law student to do? . . Easy, kill two birds with one stone!

In those ancient times, the large lecture halls at Georgetown all contained fully operable television sets, mounted above the seats, throughout each room. . . Why? . . . Internet? . . . What's that? . . Television sets were used to view cassette CLE programs. That's how I did my bar prep sessions. That's about it. There was absolutely nothing that would prompt us to even notice the televisions in the first semester of our 1L year. . . But wait. . .

Professor Shoshinski was a masterful teacher. Very meticulous, thorough and rather soft-spoken. He called on students with our names on index cards that he held in his hand as he lectured and paced the podium. . . I would call him a "professor's professor."

On that beautiful fall October 2, he entered the classroom and  greeted us in his usual professional manner and started the lecture.. .

Unbeknownst to him, some of the more rabid baseball fan law students (hey, don't look at me!) had turned on at least four of the television sets throughout the classroom - sound muted. Thankfully the usual class "gunners" were in on the plot and (to this day I don't know how we were able to pull it off) the class never let on that the game was on as Professor Shoshinski lectured. The fact that the professor could only see but the backs of the sets didn't hurt in allowing us to actually pull this off! .

The game was already been well in progress when the class started. It was late in the game by now. The top of the 7th inning and it was looking pretty grim for Yankee fans -- Yanks down 2-0. My world was falling in as Professor Schoshinski continued to speak of things like "the lack of the right to present possession or enjoyment of property" along with "land vested subject to divestment" and stuff like that. .

What was he talking about? We needed some base runners -- period! My Red Sox law school colleagues all had smirks on their faces and were saying things like: "spring interest THAT, sucker!" 

. . . Suddenly in the seventh inning, with Professor Schoshinski in mid-sentence, the following happened::






In that one precious moment, the classroom erupted! All the Yankee fans in the classroom stood up and yelled out a collected "YEAH!!" as Red Sox fans put their hands to their head. Post Script on the action: The Yankees eventually won the game 5-4 and went on the win baseball's championship that year!

Professor Shoshinski?? . . He calmly stepped down from the podium and looked at one to the T.V.'s to see the Yankees in full celebration on the screen. He looked stoically all around the classsroom at the complete pandemonium that was now our 1L Property Class. Without speaking a word, he walked back to the podium, swooped up his books and elegantly walked out the the classroom with all the savoir faire of James Bond in a tuxedo, strolling through an international gambling casino, cigarette dangling from his lip. 

I did pass Property ("B", I think). I might have not really enjoyed the subject matter, but feel that "Scho" was a great professor, and a forgiving one at that. He never mentioned to the class and, more importantly, the law school Administration, what law student knuckleheads did to watch a playoff game ( I said, don't look at me! I had NOTHING to do with any of that. I swear!)

One of my truly great law school memories! . . . . What's yours???

P.S. I do wish that SOMEBODY ... ANYBODY who was in that class with me on that day would read this and contact me! . . err you too, Professor Schoskinski! . .. All in a normal law school day.  


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Winter Break Need Not Be A Time of Inactivity

As I write, exams here have just started and will continue through December 13. There are students even here in our Career Services Office NOW in the act of taking exams in our interview rooms. . SHHH


 . . . Once exams are through, I know that students need a little "downtime" simply to recover during the Winter Break. However, perhaps this may a great time to get a head start in resume building that many students never consider:

OPTION ONE: VOLUNTEER WITH AN EMPLOYER:
 
 . . . What about seeking out an employer (public interest or private) and simply doing some volunteer work through the end of December and your return to law school in January? While other students are sleeping, watching football, visiting with friends, talking about law school (the good, the bad, and the ugly), you are gaining some valuable practical experience, making networking contacts, and adding to the "Legal Experience" section of your resume. 

If you would like to consider this option, why not start with your Career Services Office to see if there are any specific programs and/or employers that you could contact (also speak with the head of your Externship Program Studies, if your school has one, to see who you might be able to contact). You can also "just do it" and go out and look for employers through Symplicity, Goggle -- think local to where you will be located during the break.

OPTION TWO: TAKE A CLE THROUGH A LOCAL BAR ORGANIZATION

All too often, I have students who are very much interested in an area of practice but have yet to take a course, or have not had any practical experience in a practice area of interest.. Why not see if a local bar organization is have a CLE course during the Winter Break and take the course. Guess what? . . When you complete the course, a student can then put that experience  in "Education Section" of his/her resume and add to the breath and scope to their legal experiences You have set up in your cover letter the sentence that states" . . . as you can see from my resume, I am very much interested in Family Law. . " and point specifically to the CLE course that you took during the Winter Break. In my view, that would make the student even more marketable for a 2014 summer internship. Remember that many bar related CLE's are free to law students. Why not check it out?

OPTION THREE: READ A GOOD BOOK

If either of the above actions are not practical, for whatever reason, why not read a book that might help you in your law school career. . Yes, I do have a suggestion. Try: "Law School LowDown" by Ian Scott, Esq.

Ian speaks to all students, wherever they are in the law school process: taking LSATs, applying to law school, 1L,2L, 3L years, summer internships, working in Big Law, along with many other topics.

That's my reading recommendation, if you have your own, go with that!  Whatever works for you. 

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But here's the thing about the Winter Break: Be smart, be active, be pro-active. You can always fit in recreation time. But know that law school is a marathon race and that the rewards go to the students who were always thinking strategically along the way as to how to place themselves in the group of elite runners who consistently win. Always strive to make yourself better!

If you'd like, please tell me what you did on your "Winter Vacation"! Your teacher wants to know!