December Obsessions

/

Obsession — An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.”
-Oxford’s English Dictionary



Wow, I was really bad about posting in December and I actually had the whole month planned out as well, with articles about how to spend your Christmas break and what to get law students for Christmas.  But I guess I took my advice on how to spend Christmas break way too literally with the whole do nothing thing.  But I thought I'd post one last time for 2017 about what I fell in love with during the month of December during my short break from blogging. (Spoiler Alert: A lot of these were Christmas presents I received from my family and friends.)

1. Nordstrom.  Through my blog, you probably have learned a lot about things that I've never done or things I haven't done in awhile.  One of those things was shopping at Nordstrom.  My mom used to shop there when I was younger but I personally had never purchased anything there before.  However, this year opened my eyes to the wonder that is Nordstrom.  I always get pajamas from my parents as a Christmas Eve present and this year, I picked out Kate Spade pjs, and they're silky and don't make me overheat under my twenty blankets on my bed.  My mom also bought me this pair of booties (and she bought herself a very similar pair) and this backrest pillow because I've never had one and it’ll make reading on my bed way more comfortable.   We also got something for my dad from Nordstrom so it's safe to say it's now my favorite store!

2.  Bose SoundLink Revolve Portable Bluetooth Speaker.  This was really my surprise gift this year.  My mom had asked me if I wanted a speaker for my apartment, and I wasn't really sure if I'd have a use for one since I already have an older iHome.  She bought me this one anyway because it's Bluetooth capable, has great sound quality, and she was planning on keeping it if I didn't like it.  However, in the past week that I've had it, I'm really enjoying using it for watching Netflix and YouTube on my phone in addition to music since the sound quality is amazing.  Maybe I'll have to get her her own next year for Christmas since she loves mine so much (don't worry, she got spoiled with Williams Sonoma gifts this year!).

3.  Prada Candy Perfume.  I got this perfume as a gift from a family friend, and let me tell you, it smells delicious!  It's more of a sweet perfume, but not sickly sweet with hints of vanilla and musk.  I also find that the scent stays all day and doesn't transform into a weird smell after wearing it throughout the day.  I would definitely recommend getting a rollerball too if you don't go through perfume very quickly. 

4.  Fuller House Season 3 Part 2.  As I said in my September Obsessions, I absolutely love Full House and its sequel Fuller House.  I actually am really enjoying the storylines this season as the OG squad is figuring out their love lives, work, and other personal issues.  It might be just my opinion, but I don't think the show would be as good if Michelle had returned in the sequel.  The dynamics between DJ, Steph, and Kimmy are perfect, and Michelle would have thrown in an extra character who didn't need to be there.

5.  A Wonderful 2017!  I can't believe it's already the end of 2017, it seems like this year really flew by.  I've completed half of law school already, had a great summer internship, and had a fantastic time writing posts for this little blog of mine.  I got to spend a lot of time with my family and close friends this year, which is so important to me.  


So there you have it, my mini recap of what I got for Christmas and my favs during December! Have a safe and heathy New Year!! 

Building a Professional Network

/

NetworkA usually informally interconnected group or association of persons (such as friends or professional colleagues).
-Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary



When I started this professional development series, I had envisioned devoting an entire month to certain types of posts, but finals got in the way of that plan.  However, I promise I’ll be more on top of it once finals are done!  So without further ado, here is the next installment in this series about creating a professional network.

What is a Professional Network?

A professional network essentially consists of the professionals you know in a particular field.  It can be made up of professors, internship supervisors, family, friends, some person you met in the elevator, etc.  Really, there’s no limit to who you can include in a professional network.  If you have LinkedIn, it basically consists of your connections.

Benefits of Having a Professional Network

Personally, I know I have heard about building a professional network ever since I started college.  But once I started my law school journey, I truly discovered the value of identifying people to include in your professional network.  I actually got my internship last summer through my professional network.  I’ve also gotten the opportunity to discuss the legal field and obtain valuable advice about law school through my professional network.  Professionals are always willing to talk to law students about what they do and what they look for in future employees.  Even if that person doesn’t do exactly what you’re interested in, they likely know someone else who does that and can help you out.

How to Start and Build a Professional Network

During first semester of law school, my school requires us to start a networking spreadsheet.  On this spreadsheet, you collect names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, etc. of professionals you know and meet.  To begin this spreadsheet, I started with a number of attorneys and other professionals in the legal field I knew prior to law school.  Honestly, I had a lot of connections even from high school so don’t think about your professional network as just people you meet in the context of law school.  In my “professional network,” I have connected with a lot of parents of people I went to school with and even some of my undergraduate professors who have connections to the law.  I also try to connect with these people on LinkedIn so make sure your page is looking professional!

Building your network can definitely be a little daunting when you’re first starting out.  Law schools always have professionals coming in and speaking to students about what they do.  Whenever I go to panel events, I try to find a connection with at least one of the speakers and talk to them after the event.  After I talk to them, I always ask for their business card in case I think of any follow up questions after the event.  Additionally, law school professors are a great resource for networking.  They’ve seen many students sit in their classrooms and a lot of the professors will definitely help you connect with any alum that work in a field that you are interested in.

What are your tips for creating a network you can look to for internships or career advice?

November Obsessions

/

Obsession — An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.”
-Oxford’s English Dictionary


November seemed to go way quicker than any other month this year.  Probably because I only actually had two and a half full weeks of class this month and my school’s finals period officially starts tomorrow!  So here are my obsessions for November!

1.  A Bad Moms Christmas.  I absolutely loved the original Bad Moms movie, it was funny and super entertaining.  When I found out that a sequel was in the works and it was debuting a weekend I had to be home, I basically forced my mom to go see it with me (jk she actually wanted to see it just as much as I did).  If you’ve seen the original, this movie falls in line perfectly, but just focuses on the mom’s moms and Christmas!  It was super funny and totally got me in the Christmas mood, even if I saw it the first weekend of November.  Also, Justin Hartley spends half of the movie with his shirt off so that’s a major plus!

2.  Brazi Bites Brazilian CheeseBread.  I know, I know, more food, but honestly I love these things!  Shark Tank featured this brand on one of its episodes a few years ago, but I just recently found out about these.  Essentially, they’re bread bites that have a lot of cheese is them and they’re naturally gluten free.  I’ve gone through about three bags of these this month so they definitely have my stamp of approval.

3.  Will & Grace.  If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you might know that I recently rewatched all of PLL because I never watched the last few seasons.  I finally finished watching it after what seemed like forever and needed a new show to binge.  I wanted something funny and settled on Will and Grace since its reboot just started airing.  I’m really enjoying watching it and love the dynamics between the characters.  If you’ve never seen it, the show focuses on Grace and her gay best friend, Will, as they navigate life in New York City.  Of course, chaos ensues in every episode but it turns out well in the end.  My fav characters are probably Jack and Karen; they are so hilarious and have the funniest relationship.

4.  The Rooster Bar by John Grisham.  If you follow any news relating to law school in general, you’ve probably seen articles about for-profit law schools and how they’re losing their accreditation and funding.  This book focuses on what it labels “The Big Law School Scam,” relating to these types of schools.  It follows three friends as they take on the scam and drop out of law school during their last semester (I mean seriously, who would ever do that?).  Some of the book is unbelievable for someone actually in law school, but it does highlight some of the interesting issues regarding the current legal education system.  I’d definitely recommend reading this because it’s a quick read and really interesting for someone in law school to pick up.


5.  Spending Time with Family and Friends.  My favorite part of the holidays is getting to spend time with those I love, and this Thanksgiving was no different.  While I’d love to say I spent a lot of my time over break studying and prepping for finals, I’d be lying, although I did work on my outlines a little.  However, my favorite thing about break was that I got to see a lot of my family and my friends.  I was super excited to see my bestie who moved away from home for her adult job and my cousins.  I had a lot of fun with them, and it made the holiday amazing!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving break and good luck as finals approach!

The Value of Pro Bono Service

/

Pro Bono Publico — A Latin term meaning for the public good.  It is the provision of services that are free to safeguard public interest.”
-Black’s Law Dictionary



So with the Thanksgiving holiday being last Thursday and today being Giving Tuesday, I thought the most appropriate installment of my professional development series would be to focus on pro bono service.  Doing pro bono service really helps me to be thankful for all of the blessings I’ve had and to take an opportunity to give back to others.  Since academically I enjoy more corporate and “cold” matters, like contracts, I find that doing pro bono service allows me to actually help people, rather than just focusing on money and other similar business issues.

What Is Pro Bono Service?

Pro Bono opportunities revolve around helping those who typically are not able to secure legal representation due to their economic circumstances.  That means a lot of pro bono clinics or opportunities require that the clients they serve fall under an income threshold; typically the federal poverty line.  Lawyers at clinics or even big law firms take on some of these cases without compensation.  While the clientele typically fall into a similar economic status, their issues are broad and all encompassing, from custody to criminal matters to small business issues.  I’ve seen almost everything during my pro bono opportunities and it’s definitely a great way to get exposure to a lot of different legal issues.

Getting Involved

Most law schools have a whole group dedicated to pro bono service.  Some opportunities might not be available to 1L students since you just started law school, but take advantage of the ones that are because they open doors to more opportunities you can participate in as a 2L and 3L.  There’s also a variety of types of pro bono opportunities for law students; however, you likely won’t be doing a lot of actual legal work since law students aren’t actually licensed to practice law.

The two main types of pro bono service are typically intake or reviewing pleadings.  Intake opportunities revolve around meeting with clients in order to help an organization understand the legal issues they are facing before the organization can decide if they can help.  I like these types of opportunities because you really get to meet with the people you are helping and get to hear about their stories.  It’s definitely an eye opener to see some of the issues I’ve never had to worry about before.  Another form of pro bono service can be in the form of reviewing a case’s pleadings and making recommendations on them to help out actual attorneys.  One of the most popular programs that fits into this category is the Innocence Project, where law student volunteers look through inmate’s files in order to make a recommendation on the viability of their innocence claim.  I’ve seen very successful cases from this project that actually resulted in an inmate’s release based on the work done by the Innocence Project.

Benefits of Pro Bono Service

As I mentioned before, pro bono service not only benefits those without a lot in society, but also the law students who participate in it.  Personally, I have found that having my involvement in pro bono on my resume as a great conversation piece.  Interviewers love to hear about what you do with your pro bono work and how it has enhanced your passion for the law.  Also, some schools, like mine, offer an award if you complete a certain number of pro bono hours while in law school.  Getting an award shouldn’t be the only reason why you do pro bono, but if you enjoy volunteering, then receiving this type of award is just the icing on the cake.

I also find participating in pro bono service is a great way to network with more experienced attorneys.  Since you need an actual licensed attorney to supervise your work, you can meet a variety of people if you participate during a lot of different events.  Attorneys love talking about what they do, especially with law students.  Finally, pro bono service gives you an opportunity to see how what you learned in law school fits into the real world.  Since clients come with all types of problems, you never know when your supervising attorney might look to you for your opinion based on what you’ve learned.

What kinds of pro bono service do you guys do at school?  I enjoy getting to interact with clients so I typically go for intake opportunities over ones that require more administrative and substantive work.

Cover Letters: First Intro to Future Employers

/



Cover Letter — A letter that is sent with something to explain the reason for it or to give more information about it.”
-Merriam Webster’s Dictionary



I’m back with part two of my professional development series, and today’s topic is cover letters!  To be honest, I actually don’t like writing cover letters at all.  Prior to law school, I had never written one and, to this day, I still get writer’s block when trying to write one.  So here’s my brief introduction on how to write a great cover letter!

Opening Formalities

This part might be self-explanatory, but it’s always good to know what exactly to include in this section.  First, I include my contact information in a header to my document to ensure it is offset from the text of my cover letter.  Next, I include the contact information of the person whose name is attached to the internship or job that I’m applying to, typically the school’s contact person for that employer.  The final piece of the opening formalities is to include a greeting.  To ensure formality, use “Dear Mr./Ms. ______:”.  In legal letters, a colon is the correct way to end a greeting, not a comma which I always used prior to coming to law school.

Introductory Paragraph

This is probably one of the shortest parts of a cover letter.  In this paragraph, introduce yourself and why you’re writing.  I usually just say my year and the position you’re applying for.  A short and sweet intro is perfect.

Middle Paragraph

This paragraph is the most important paragraph in your entire cover letter.  It explains why you would be a good fit for the position you’re applying to.  You can list specific areas you focus on and specific things you’ve done within that area of law.  Also, it’s nice to point out how you’re connected with an employer if you think it will make you stand out from the pile of applicants.  It’s a chance for you to show your personality since employers are judging you on what you write and not on your actual personality in real life.  Take this opportunity to show that you are actually passionate about a specific subject or even a pro bono opportunity that you’ve done that relates to the position.

Closing Paragraph and Formalities

Like the opening paragraph, the closing paragraph is also quite short.  In this section, just wrap up your letter and express your interest in meeting them in the future.  It’s also nice to express your thanks for a hiring committee to take time out of their days to consider you as a candidate.  Finally, conclude with a salutation and your name.  If you’re handing a physical copy of this to someone, leave some space to sign your name (in blue pen!) before typing your name.

I hope this was helpful to understand how to write a basic cover letter!  Below is a sample cover letter (it’s based heavily on the one I use for applying).  Good luck with applying!


Polishing Your Legal Resume

/



Resume — The presentation in a formal document or form of a person’s employment history and skills they possess.” 
-Oxford’s English Dictionary



I’ve been really inspired to do a monthly theme for my posts, and this month, I decided on the theme of professional development.  My first post is on what I consider to probably be one of the most important things a law student has, your legal resume!  I’ve had an ever changing resume draft since high school; however, a professional resume needs to highlight the skills you can bring to a potential employer.  Read on for tips on how to perfect your resume!

Contact Information

The first thing on your resume should be your contact information to ensure that interviewers and hiring committees know how to contact you.  Personally, I suggest utilizing your law school email to maintain a professional feel.  Don’t use an email you made in the fifth grade (we all have them, and they’re all embarrassing).  Additionally, if your permanent address is different than where you live at law school, definitely include both, especially if you’re looking for a position near your hometown.  Also, put a phone number where you’ll reliably pick up or have a voicemail connected to ensure you receive any messages from potential employers.

Education

The first section in your resume should be related to your educational background, starting with your law school.  Included in your law school section should be your GPA, rank, and any activities you’re involved with at law school.  For college, the same information is included; however, your major, minor, and any honors should be included.  If you wrote a thesis during your years in college, include its name in your college section.  Personally, most interviewers don’t ask me about my thesis, but that’s likely because mine was about chemistry.  This section takes up a large section of a resume, but it’s important information employers like to see.

Experience

Besides your contact information, this actually is probably one of the most important sections of a resume.  It showcases the work you have done that will help you in the job you applied for.  Your employment should be listed most recent to least.  If you currently have more than one job, list the one that started more recently first.  More important than where you worked is listing accomplishments that set you apart.  I typically like to have two bullet points listing out my experience, except for some jobs that are self-explanatory, like tour guide during college.  As you gain more experience, those jobs that aren’t as relevant can be removed from your resume.  One thing to remember while you’re writing about your experience is to really showcase what you did; using verbs really helps in this.

Skills and Interests

I think of this last section as being a way to showcase your personality.  I include that I run a law school blog on mine, and you’d be surprised how many times this comes up in an interview.  Really, I find this section to show companies that you have interests outside of law school and that you don’t spend all of your time studying.

A last word of advice is to make sure you proofread your resume with a fine tooth comb.  Since a resume is the first thing that an employer sees, it needs to be perfect.  Things I ensure are perfect are the periods at the end of your sentences, spelling, and grammar.  Have another person look over your resume to spot any mistakes you might have missed when you reviewed it.

What other themes would you like to see in the coming months?  I have some ideas, but would love to hear what you guys would like to read!
Blondegalese is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Back to Top