Cool Tools: Thermos Nissan 61 oz Insulated Bottle

Cool Tools: Thermos Nissan 61 oz Insulated Bottle  Now that I am drinking cups and cups of green tea, cayenne pepper, and honey every day, the idea of having a huge thermos upstairs by my desk seems like a great idea. Thanks, Cool Tools.

Available from Amazon.

Law School Applicants: Tips for Test Driving Legal Careers #2

Take the Two-part Test Drive
If you haven't done these before taking the LSAT, here are two tasks to complete before the first day of school: (1) Talk to several lawyers about what they do; and (2) Know why you are attending law school. 

1. Have smart, focused conversations with at least 10 lawyers about what they do every day.
To help formulate questions, understand these two aspects of lawyers' work
  • The essence of lawyers' work is simple. Most do just four things: read, write, talk on the phone, and go to meetings. Although the most easily dramatized legal career is “trial lawyer,” most lawyers go to court only to serve on jury duty.
  • Lawyers must pay attention to detail. It is not enough to say “Oops, I’m sorry,” if you miss a statute of limitations and your client loses his rights to life, liberty or property. If  you don't care where the comma goes or whether a sentence is grammatical and clear in its meaning, consider another occupation, please.
CAVEAT: Do not ask “What is a typical day like?” This is an impossible question to answer, and your goal is to get a lot of meaningful, useful, and specific information.

Questions to ask:
  1. Where does your work come from? Do you have any say in how much, how little or what kind of work you do?
  2. How much of your time is spent on client development in private practice? How does client development work? If you are in a public sector job, where do your clients come from? Walk-in? Court-appointed? Other referral?
  3. How do you balance work and family? Do you believe that work-life balance is a myth?
  4. If you are in a high-stress practice (which could be in any substantive area of law), how do you manage the emotional elements of providing client service? If you are in a practice where outcomes are often bad (public defender's clients often go to jail), what is it about your work that keeps you committed and focused?
  5. What do you wish that you had studied in law school?
  6. If you have faced an ethically challenging situation, how did you handle it? What do you do if you are asked by a client to advocate for a position that you oppose?
  7. Describe the relationships between and among your colleagues, your clients, other actors in client matters (judges, other lawyers, bankers, prosecutors, police, court personnel, etc.) How do you manage conflicts among them?
  8. What are the challenges that you face when identifying and solving your clients’ problems? How do you use outside experts? When you use an outside expert, how much do you need to know about what the expert knows? 
  9. What kind of technological infrastructure do you use in your practice?
  10.  How has technology changed the way you practice? What changes do you predict for the next 10 years?
  11. How do you manage, record, and get paid for your time?
If you ask questions like these, the person you are interviewing will tell you a lot more than what you have asked. Take good notes.

2.  Decide why you are going to law school. Define your reasons, articulate and own them.
  • If it is because “you are really good at arguing,” think again. The act of argument for its own sake is a dreadful characteristic in a lawyer who may put his enthusiasm for an argument ahead of his client’s interest.
  • If it is because everyone in your family is a lawyer, think carefully about what you have observed throughout your life. Ask yourself whether you are doing this for yourself or for someone else. How much control over your future are you willing to cede to that person?
  • If it is because there has been an expectation that you would go to graduate school to become a leadership professional (doctor, lawyer, business person), think about whether your preference might be for a second-line but equally-critically important profession (nurse, paralegal, administrator) or for something else entirely. If the choice has never been presented to you, consider it now. 
  • If it is because you want to do good and to help people, the sooner you are able to define the problem that you want to solve, identify the people you want to help, and to locate the organizations that are doing the work, the better off you will be. Find those people and organizations, connect with them, and begin to do the work as soon as possible. These connections and experience may lead directly to post JD employment.
  • If it is because you want to make a lot of money, think carefully about your career goals. While there are many lawyers earning very comfortable incomes, there is no guarantee that you will earn six figures at graduation or, depending on your career choice -- ever. Many students aspire to become Public Defenders and Legal Aid lawyers. Other than very senior managers, few have six-figure salaries, and none are at entry level. New graduate law firm salaries offer a window into early-career compensation.
  • If you don’t know why you want to go to law school, commit to figuring it out as soon as possible. It might give purpose to three years of law school and for some interesting parts of the rest of your life. 
Taking this two-part test drive may confirm your desire to go become a lawyer. It may, on the other hand, change your mind or help you focus on something else. You may, indeed, start law school as an "undecided," but this test drive will have kept you from being "uninformed." 

Finally, you are free to change your mind. The reasons that you articulate before your first Torts class may be swept away by something that you learn, a professor who inspires you, an event that changes your life or changes the world, new bits of technology, and new and interesting problems that arise every day.

Good luck!


1.   "If you had it to do over again, would you still go to law school?" 
2.   "Does your career make you happy and, if not, what about it doesn't meet your expectations from when you went to law school?" 

Law School Applicants: Tips for Test Driving Legal Careers #1

With LSAT in the air and law school application season in high gear, it ought to be time to test drive law school.

Disclosure: For the first 10 years that I worked in law school career services, I asked 1Ls "When did you decided to come to law school and how did you make the decision?" After that, I added "When, if at all, have you decided to become a lawyer?" By 2008, close to 20 percent said "not yet." I often asked "How many lawyers did you talk to before deciding to come to law school?" An astonishing number said "One or none."

It is one thing to be undecided about becoming a lawyer; it is quite another thing to be uninformed about the legal profession. Law school is not cheap, and three years is a long time to be vectored toward an activity about which you know little or nothing.

With everyone having a stake in the outcomes -- satisfying law school experience and a satisfactory employment outcome -- students, parents, and students' other supporters ought to consider a law-career test drive. 

Buying a Car or Embarking on a Career?

Few would think of buying a car without a test drive. Why, then, could it be a bad idea to talk to more than one lawyer before applying to law school? With more research devoted to buying a car than to exploring an industry with multiple career paths, the randomness of the outcomes should surprise no one.

You Would Test Drive a Car  
Would you buy a car if the driver’s seat were uncomfortable or if you couldn't see out the back window (as I couldn't see out the back window of a 1977 Camero when I was selling them). You would have a check-list with miles-per-gallon, type of fuel, number of passengers, type and size of tires, trunk capacity, type of sound system, and length and scope of the warranty. Does this brand have a good quality reputation? Does this model have quirks that may make it difficult and expensive to fix? Does it fit your personality AND your budget? Will it fit into your garage? You might want to take a good look at the car’s color, too.

No Outsourcing of Career Test Drives 
Sophisticated industry and career exploration should go hand-in-hand with taking the LSAT, and it cannot be outsourced to commercial guides, information-seeking parents, or law school gossip websites. 

Students who arm themselves with GPAs and LSAT scores and no additional research, often end up as miserable 3Ls or depressed third year lawyers. The reckless combination of no self-assessment, no concrete ideas about what lawyers do all day, and no commitment to actually practicing law is a recipe for distress, disaster, and depression.

Instead of discovering whether someone might actually want to be a lawyer, students and their parents devote a lot of energy to parsing two-and-three-year old employment statistics as if they held any predictive value for an employment market four years in the future. Interesting data? Perhaps. Predictive of the future of legal employment? With what crystal ball?  Predictive for an individual’s future? In what universe might this be possible?

Optimism is not enough
Whether test scores are off the charts or comfortably in the middle, a student’s optimism and the high esteem in which her family holds her are not enough to assure success in law school and later in life. Truth to tell, outside of top 10% academic performance, there is no agreement about what “law school success” really means. Good grades alone guarantee nothing. 

Top 10% can be a peculiar and unpredictable status. Although it has often been equated with a “right” to employment (which is often code for “job in a large law firm”), there is no direct correlation between high grades and ultimate success as defined by making it through the interview process, working eight years as an associate, and, finally, making partner.

Lawyers Thrive in Different Environments
Individuals may be ill-suited or completely uninterested in law firm work.Their goals may be wildly different from what they might achieve in law firms, and they may thrive in other settings: public service including Legal Aid, prosecution, public defense, JAG or other government service, small and solo practice, corporate or non-traditional career paths. 

Is there a general predictor of post-JD success or achievement? There is no breath, blood or genetic test that can predict any kind of post-JD-real-world accomplishment. Nonetheless, prospective law students armed with information about what law-trained people do in a variety of settings may make the first concrete steps onto their individual career paths.

Tomorrow: The two-part test drive.

E-Discovery and Compliance Risks Posed by the iPad

Pink Plastic Diary With A Lock:
the last place where
 information was secure
Many thanks to Barbara Klas of Merill Corp. for forwarding this compelling blog post by John Martin at

Martin rings several bells to sound alarm about potential issues for employers who permit corporate use of personal I-Pads.

Just when IT professionals had managed to connect home and office computers, sync smart phones with everything else, and make it possible to work in a secure cloud, the I-Pad's unique architecture presents new challenges and great risk that will need sophisticated management.

Note to law-trained computer geeks: you may want to consider forensic data management as a great career move.

E-Discovery and Compliance Risks Posed by the iPad:

'via Blog this'