Archive for December, 2014

Congratulations BC Law on new role running Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy!

An announcement from our friends at BC Law:

Rappaport Foundation Makes $7.5 million gift to BC Law to Fund Center

Boston College Law School has been selected as the new home for the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy. The Center is funded by a $7.53 million gift from the Phyllis & Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation.The gift is the largest in the school’s history, and it will support both the Rappaport Center and the Jerome Lyle Rappaport Visiting Professorship in Law and Public Policy at BC Law.

The Center comprises the long-running Rappaport Fellows Program, which provides 12 paid summer internships to Greater Boston-area law students interested in public service, and the Rappaport Distinguished Public Policy Series, which will conduct scholarly research and host lectures, debates and roundtable discussions on public policy issues with the region’s leading policy makers and thought leaders. The Center will be led by Professor Michael Cassidy, who has held positions in public service ranging from Chief of the Criminal Bureau in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to membership on the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission.

“This is a landmark moment for our law school,” said BC Law Dean Vincent Rougeau. “We were chosen by the Rappaport Foundation in part because of our track record in training public policy leaders locally and nationally. Our mission aligns closely with the Center’s aspirations and the leadership that Professor Cassidy will offer instilled great confidence in the donors. The Rappaport Center will give an even greater focus to what have always been important components of a BC Law education–serious discussion and study of law and public policy issues, and the training of thoughtful, ethical, and innovative public servants and leaders.”

The Center will open in the spring of 2015. For more, see BC Law Magazine Online.


You Need a Montage: Final Scene

Sam Halpert, 2014 – 2015 PSJD Fellow

Penguin is Ready!

Okay, grasshoppers. Over the last month, we’ve tackled your resumes and your cover letters. We’ve mastered the art of building, contacting, and maintaining your mentor-and-peer network. We’ve also developed a strategy for talking about work at a party without putting the room to sleep. Our holiday job search training montage is almost complete! The hardest stuff–the things I’ve needed to think through with an expert like Christina–is behind us.

But we’re not done yet. Over the winter break, in addition to putting this series’ advice into practice, remember that we have a few more outstanding holiday job search tips for you to consider. The ones that are left are pretty self-explanatory. You’ll just need to get out and get them done!

  1. Professionalize your online presence. Try Googling yourself. Remember, you’re not safe simply because many people share your name. Employers will have your resume, so see what comes up when you search for yourself using your name and also student groups on your resume, the name of your school, etc. Also look at your social media (employees of prospective employers may be part of your network). Clean up your image where you think you need to. (Ask a career counselor if you’re not sure what image you need to project in these semi-public spaces.)
  2. Visit the courthouse. It’s a great way to expose yourself to a legal work environment, and you might even get a chance to build your network.
  3. Volunteer with a legal aid office. Look through PSJD employer profiles if you’re stumped. See whether you can find someone doing work in your area who needs a hand (often organizations solicit volunteers on their websites).
  4. Write an article, or research a topic. Even if you don’t find a place to publish your ideas, it’s still a great excuse to talk to lawyers who do work you’re interested in. If you have an idea related to topics we cover on PSJD (e.g. a profile piece on what your upper-class friends think they’ve learned one year out from graduation), write to PSJD–we may be interested in publishing your work here on the blog.
  5. Join a bar organization. If you don’t know what practice areas you’d like to follow yet, consider asking your informational meeting network to help you decide.
  6. Update your professional references. The end of the year is a great time to check back in with the people who’ve offered to be your reference in the past. Let them know what you’re up to and at least give them a general sense of where your job search is taking you now. Also, evaluate your references. Are they still relevant for the types of legal positions you’re now seeking? If not, determine who else could potentially be a reference and make that connection. (This task has gone much more smoothly for me with the skills and tools I practiced during the informational meeting portion of the series.)

One more thing: Don’t forget to take a well-earned rest! Hopefully, contemplating these tasks isn’t as daunting as it seemed when we proposed them over Thanksgiving. If you can manage a restful break while still tackling even some of the ideas on this list, you’ll be ready to impress employers in the New Year.

So good luck, and let us know how it goes! If you find anything you’ve read here particularly helpful or you run into unexpected challenges, we’d love to hear about it. Write to us at, and you may see your triumphs or your concerns addressed in future editions of PSJDblog.

Happy holidays!


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – December 19, 2015

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Holidays everyone!  We finish up our series on job search strategies for the winter break on the PSJD Blog.  Check it out and share with your friends.  The Digest will be taking a hiatus for the holidays.  We will return in January with news to get your year started right.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • RI legal services non-profit to suspend services;
  • CT legal aid agency marks 50 years;
  • Marquette law clinic to offer free legal services to start-ups;
  • Vancouver nearly doubles indigent defense fund;
  • DC Bar Foundation awards $319,000 in loan repayment assistance;
  • Ontario appoints lead for new Aboriginal Justice Division;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants:  William P. Quigley;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

December 11, 2014 -“The Rhode Island Center for Law and Public Policy will suspend most of its operations on Dec. 23, its president and founder said in a statement Thursday.  The nonprofit, public-interest, civil-legal-services corporation, founded in 2008, will continue its Medical Legal Partnership Program at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, founder and president Geoffrey A. Schoos said.  The center, which provides legal services for underserved, low-income residents, is seeking additional funding to reopen its programs.”(Providence Journal)

December 11, 2014 – It would be unheard of today, but 50 years ago when New Haven Legal Assistance Association was launched,  it was called a “socio-economic experiment,” and “the bar association felt that legal-aid lawyers were not worthy of being members.”  “A lot has changed since the early days of NHLAA. The so-called research project as it was once referred is now a staple in the legal community. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and former first lady and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton are among the noteworthy legal minds that got their start at NHLAA.”  Read more about their great work here.  Congratulations, and here’s to many more years of serving your community.
(Connecticut Law Tribune) (free registration required)

December 13, 2014 – “In a move that could bolster the region’s innovation efforts, Marquette University is launching a clinic that will provide free legal services to start-ups and entrepreneurs.  The first such clinic in the area, it will provide services to aspiring companies ranging from high-tech start-ups to mom-and-pop grocery stores, said Nathan Hammons, a full-time faculty member and the clinic’s director.  Marquette’s Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic supports the vision for entrepreneurship and innovation that Michael Lovell, the school’s recently installed president, has laid out for the campus community. But it also will fill a gap in the region’s emerging start-up scene, observers said.”  “The Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic will open in January in a limited capacity and be fully operational by fall 2015, Parlow said. The clinic is being funded by donations to the law school’s annual fund.”  (Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)

December 15, 2014 – “The Vancouver City Council on Monday approved a new indigent defense contract for 2015 worth nearly $1.1 million, approximately twice what it spent this year.  The additional expense, which was included in the approved 2015-16 budget, enables the city to meet legal standards set by the Washington Supreme Court to help ensure that indigent defendants receive adequate representation.”  (The Columbian)

December 17, 2014 – “The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) announced the recipients of its two loan repayment assistance programs (LRAP) for FY15. More than $319,000 was awarded to 69 civil legal services lawyers, who provide direct civil legal services to low-income, underserved DC residents. They will receive an interest-free loan from DCBF to help pay their monthly student loan payments from January to December 2015, at which time these interest-free loans will be forgiven.” (DC Bar Foundation)

December 17, 2014 – “Following an extensive recruitment campaign, Kimberly Murray has been selected to lead the newly created Aboriginal Justice Division at the Ministry of the Attorney General.  This new division was recommended by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci in his report, First Nations Representation on Ontario Juries.  Ms. Murray, who is a member of the Kanehsatake Mohawk Nation, was called to the Ontario Bar in 1995. Over the past 20 years, she has gained considerable experience in the field of Aboriginal law as a legal counsel, and as a leader who has the ability to build collaborative relationships and bring about transformational change.”  (Ontario Newsroom)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: William P. Quigley, a professor at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Father Robert Drinan Award. The annual award is presented to one law professor a year by the American Association of Law School’s section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities and recognizes educators working toward increasing access to justice.  Read more about this award and his great works here.  Congratulations!

Super Music Bonus! Happy Holidays!


Job’o’th’Week (Experienced Edition)–Save the Beaches with the Surfrider Foundation

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

So far, the experienced edition of the Job’o’the’Week has focused on great opportunities for attorneys at the top of their fields to push themselves. This week we’re looking at a position that will likely represent a turning point for a formerly entry-level attorney. If you land a job like Surfrider Foundation’s Legal Associate position, you’ve arrived. Any environmental lawyers out there who have put in their time at entry level positions or racked up enough clerkship or fellowship years might consider this position as their first “experienced”-level job.

Surfrider is looking for a full time employee with at least three years of experience and a strong commitment to protecting coastal areas. You can read all about it in the full job post on PSJD. Applications are due on January 5th.


Job’o’th’Week (Entry-Level Edition)–EEOC Hiring Trial Attorneys in Many Places [CLOSES TOMORROW]

Help Wanted Photo: Brenda Gottsabend – CC License

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has many openings for Civil Rights Trial Attorneys with bar certification and at least one year of professional legal experience with litigation. (If you’ve done litigation in a clinic, ask your career advisor whether you can count that experience on your application.) If you’re interested, you’ll need to act fast. The deadline for applications is 11:59pm TOMORROW.

The job post on PSJD is here, but to since you’ll need to apply through USAJobs anyway here are the direct links:

Two vacancies in Las Vegas NV:

Five vacancies in Phoenix AZ, St. Louis MO, Buffalo NY, and New York NY:


From die-ins to tangible change: how law schools and students are responding to Ferguson

Elizabeth Gyori
Program Assistant, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School

Law school communities protest police brutality in front of symbols of their legal expertise. [Reprinted with permission.]Law school communities protest police brutality in front of symbols of their legal expertise. [Reprinted with permission.]

Law students have lain in tense, reflective silence while holding signs that read, “Black Lives Matter.” They’ve chanted, “No justice. No peace. No racist police!” while blocking traffic. They’ve acted as legal observers, demanded inclusion at their schools, and called for long-term, systemic change. Many law schools have erupted in protest, activism and internal soul-searching after a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American, in Ferguson, Missouri.

The Michael Brown case has become symbolic of rampant police brutality against communities of color in the United States and sparked an outpouring of anger and protests across the country. This movement against police abuse gained momentum after another grand jury declined to indict white police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, an unarmed African-American, on Staten Island. Because many see these cases as failures of the criminal justice system, the voices of law schools, students, faculty and staff, who have spoken out against police abuse and institutionalized racism in light of recent events in a plethora of ways, are an especially significant part of this movement.


Fordham Law School contingent at Millions March in NYC, 13 Dec 2014 Fordham Law School contingent at Millions March in NYC, 13 Dec 2014 [Reprinted with permission.]

From Berkeley to New Haven, law students have organized protests in solidarity with national protests after the grand jury verdicts. Over 200 law students, faculty and staff participated in a die-in at UC Berkeley School of Law on December 10, in which about 40 people laid down in front of the law school for 15 and a half minutes. Eleven minutes symbolized the number of times Eric Garner gasped, “I can’t breathe,” while in a chokehold. Four and a half minutes symbolized the number of hours Michael Brown’s body was left in the street after he was shot dead. Similarly, over 500 members of Yale Law School led a die-in, lying in the street for four and a half minutes in New Haven on December 5.

Students, faculty and staff have also joined national and community protests for justice, both as representatives of their institutions or groups and as individuals. In New York, members of many law schools, including Brooklyn, Cardozo, Columbia, Fordham, New York and Touro, marched in the Millions March on December 13. In general, the recent protests have been noticeably youthful, and law students have been visibly present at the various actions.

As with most controversial legal issues, law schools have sought to foster dialogue about Ferguson and racial disparity in the US through forums and other events. Lewis and Clark Law School held two open forums on the shootings and grand jury verdicts. At The University of Washington School of Law, over 200 people attended a discussion led by Seattle Defense Attorney Jeffrey Robinson on Ferguson, policing in communities of color, and the criminal justice system. Many schools will host follow-up events in the spring on the issues Ferguson has brought to surface.


Law schools and students are uniquely positioned to legally address the situation in Ferguson and surrounding issues. Recognizing this, student organizations like chapters of the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) have sprung into action. The National BLSA developed an activism toolkit on organizing strategies, possible campaigns and students’ rights when protesting.

Law students are “the ones who can affect change because it is the lawyers who will essentially change the law,” Kim Brimm, National Director of Public Relations for the NBLSA, said. “Some of us will become senators, and some of us will become governors, and councilmen, so it definitely starts with us.”

True to Ms. Brimm’s words, individual BLSA chapters have already started. In the wake of recent events, law students have begun working within their local communities to address police brutality and racial disparities. Harvard’s BLSA has been working with Professor Ronald Sullivan to draft model local cameras-on-cops legislation. The group also hosted a conference on police relations in Boston and Cambridge, which over 200 community members attended. The conference featured a “Know Your Rights” workshop and a dialogue with Boston and Cambridge police, which was “really, really powerful,” McKenzie Morris, president of Harvard’s BLSA, said.

In Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania School of Law’s BLSA has been working with the American Civil Liberties Union on two projects on stop-and-frisk and civil access forfeiture. In partnership with the local organization Disproportionate Minority Contact, they also hope to launch a program next spring that will educate local law enforcement on adolescent psychology and facilitate dialogues between police officers and students in largely minority and disadvantaged schools, Dorian Simmons, President of UPenn’s BLSA, said.

Northwestern Law School's #handsupdontshoot solidarity action [Reprinted with permission.] Northwestern Law School’s #handsupdontshoot solidarity action [Reprinted with permission.]

Other law school communities have taken public stances on more national stages. To raise awareness and show solidarity, a wide array of student groups and some law school communities released statements condemning the non-indictments and calling for meaningful reform. A statement by members of Fordham Law School, which garnered over 350 signatures, expresses support for “thoughtful reforms such as demilitarization of our nation’s police forces and shifting the focus of enforcement away from tactics that have disparate racial impact.” An open letter to President Obama and Attorney General Holder, which was drafted by Harvard Law School’s BLSA, garnered over 1,000 signatures – almost half of the law school. The letter calls for action against a system that devalues black lives, including through the use of body-worn cameras by police, and the prosecution of police officers who have killed unarmed minorities.

Several schools and student groups have also engaged in media campaigns, including Northwestern, Harvard, UCLA, and Fordham law schools. They participated in the #handsupdontshoot campaign by taking photos in front of their law school signs with their hands raised. This fall, the Harvard’s BLSA even launched their own media campaign, featuring similar photos of students.


One of the most distinct ways that law students have engaged in recent actions is through legal observing, in which neutral individuals monitor and document the activities of demonstrators and their interactions with law enforcement at the request of organizers. When the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee (FLDC), an organization providing legal support to the Ferguson community, issued a call to action for law students, many responded by volunteering as legal observers, while others provided research support. Nicholas Klaus, a 3L at Wayne State University School of Law and Co-Student National Vice President of the NLG, made two trips to Ferguson in October and November, traveling with two fellow classmates in November. “I felt like I had a duty to go,” Klaus said. “I felt like there was a call to do something. I was in a position to do the work. It’s what I came to law school to do, and so, we went.”

Watching and documenting demonstrators’ interactions with police, Klaus observed (and experienced) police use of pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets against protestors during his trips, which may prove important in defense of criminal charges brought against protestors and in affirmative litigation against such police practices.

With many student chapters of the NLG conducting observer trainings, legal observing by law students has also been prominent at community protests. Legal observing “allows people who would otherwise be pretty moderate to be a part of the movement without actually having to participate,” said Meredith Osborne, Co-Chair of University of Michigan Law School’s NLG chapter. “They can kind of be this ‘neutral observer,’ but in reality they know that they are there on behalf of the organizers.”

As protests continue, so does the need for observers. Osborne and her NLG chapter have been acting as legal observers for demonstrations in the Ann Arbor area since the summer and plan to conduct observer trainings every semester in light of an increase in interest from students.


Nothing is more local for law students than their own law schools communities. Student coalitions at Georgetown, Columbia, and Harvard law schools have called on their own schools to become more inclusive of minority students and to address racism on campus. “As students of color on campus, we feel very isolated,” said a 2L African-American Coalition member at Georgetown who asked to remain anonymous. “The Coalition basically formed out of a feeling that we needed to do more, and get the university to really listen to what our needs are and what our problems are with the way the people of color are treated on campus.”

Generally, each coalition is demanding institutional support for students affected by recent events, a public statement by their respective administrations on Ferguson, exam extensions on an individual basis, and continuing initiatives to address diversity on campus, including diversity training. Schools have begun to respond to these demands, with all three schools beginning dialogues with the coalitions and Columbia Law School granting exam extensions.

In this time of reflection, some law schools have implemented or are considering new programs addressing diversity and racial disparity in the justice system. For example, Columbia Law School launched an online forum on police accountability, complete with fact sheets on the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases written by faculty, for interested students who want more information for informed conversations with family and friends. The school is also considering small group discussions on the issues surrounding Ferguson and a parallel orientation or year-long program for 1Ls on how race, gender, poverty and social exclusion intersect with the law, said Ellen Chapnick, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives at Columbia Law School.


Activism around and the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner has opened a space for public conversations addressing police brutality, racism and failures of the justice system in the US. Law school communities are seizing this moment of opportunity to explore innovative and creative ways to frame these dialogues and push for justice in Ferguson and beyond.


You Need a Montage: Social Networking Scene

Okay, grasshoppers. Welcome to the fourth week of our holiday job search training montage. So far, we’ve revamped our resumes, reconsidered our cover letters, and mastered the process of arranging informational meetings, step by step by step. If you’ve kept pace, you’re probably pretty exhausted (especially if you’ve been dealing with final exams and papers as well). The good news is that at this point, the worst is behind you. This week, we have just a few more holiday job search tips to unpack before we’re ready to make the most of our winter vacation.

Today, we’re going to look at holiday job search tips #2 and #3 together: crafting a pitch and networking at holiday parties. It’s likely that you’ve already begun to receive invitations to various holiday parties—if you haven’t already attended a few. These mixers are a great way to interact with people in a more informal way. The part I often struggle with, though, is communicating on issues I deeply care about without bringing an inappropriately serious atmosphere to the party. After a conversation with Christina, though, I have a new strategy for mixing business with pleasure—and a well-crafted “pitch” is part of it.

Working on Your Pitch

There is a wealth of advice out there for creating a good “pitch” or “elevator speech.” Basically, it’s a clear, concise, memorable and appealing statement of (1) who you are and (2) what you do. Many sources (see, e.g., Above the Law) think you’re likely to get 30 seconds to capture your conversation partner’s attention. Christina thinks you’re better off aiming for only 10 or 15. Regardless of how long you decide to make it, the key is to practice it—try it out on classmates, colleagues, and career advisors. (You can also visit your career advisor if you’re having trouble coming up with one in the first place.)

Delivering Your Pitch

A note for those who don’t like barging into conversations: I hate walking into conversations cold, but sometimes you don’t really have a choice. If you find yourself running solo at a networking event, try to set a small, realistic goal for yourself, something like, “I will talk to two people before I leave,” or “I will stay for 40 minutes.” You may also want to break the ice by starting with someone else you notice hanging around the edges, unsure of how to open.

  1. GETTING IN: Know your audience. Many of us reach for legal jargon because our work is complicated, and therefore difficult to describe succinctly and clearly without specialized language. If you’re speaking to someone without a legal background, impress them with clarity, not sophistication. For example:

    Conversation w/Legal Background

    Conversation w/o Legal Background

    “This summer, I’ve been surveying state court cases concerning tent cities, looking for homeless litigants’ novel arguments.” “I’ve been looking for new ways for homeless people who live in tent communities to protect their interests in court.”

    If you’re at a law-related event, or someone steers you toward a stranger with the introduction, “So-and-so’s a lawyer too!” (this happens), you at least know that the person you’re speaking with shares some kind of background with you. But you still might have to tailor your introduction further. For example, I was at a networking event during my 1L summer and a lawyer from a firm asked me what I was doing with my summer.  I told her, “I’m working for an organization that represents political prisoners in front of international tribunals.” Her response: “Oh, so you represent terrorists?” Our exchange never recovered. I should have front-loaded more information about how we vetted our potential clients. Whenever you can, try and find out about the person you’re speaking with before you open. You can ask the person who introduced you for more information, or simply start your conversation with a question.

  2. GETTING THROUGH: Keep it short throughout the conversation. This is often where I fall down. When people ask me what issue is most important to me (water affordability, by the way), I have a 20-30 second speech explaining why all prepared for them. But it’s a crazy issue that almost always leads my conversation partner to ask a follow-up question. The hardest thing (at least for me) is not to take a person’s interest in my work and run with it as far as I can. I want people to understand my issue, and I want to go into depth with them. Keeping responses short is hard, but it ensures you don’t go so far into a topic that your partner feels trapped or bored.
  3. GETTING OUT: Remember, there was a point to starting this exchange. You’re there to figure out if you want to make this person a part of your network. You should focus on this next step in the process, not on any end goal. (In other words, don’t turn social events into informational meetings). There are three ways these exchanges may go:
    1. If you’re enjoying the conversation on a professional level, ask if you could get their contact info so you can follow up with an informational meeting later.
    2. If the conversation isn’t going anywhere for you, make a graceful exit (not difficult if your conversation partner is also sticking to short, clear responses). Something like, “thanks, I really enjoyed speaking to you, but I should really [hit the buffet/find my friend/etc]. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you in the future.” should do the trick.
    3. If you’re enjoying the conversation on a personal level and you’re still reading, switch to a different advice column.

Alright, everybody. See you Friday for the final installment. Until then…

Wax on, wax off,


Class of 2015 Skadden Fellows from some familiar places.

The Skadden Foundation has announced its Class of 2015 Fellows.  Twenty-eight Fellows, hailing from 16 law schools will begin their projects next year.  Five schools had multiple fellowship awardees; Harvard (6); NYU (2); Stanford (2); Yale (4); and U Penn (3).  Fellows come from the other following schools:  Michigan State, Vanderbilt, University of Chicago, Chicago-Kent, Georgetown, Columbia, UC Irvine, Villanova, Loyola (LA), American University, and Suffolk.  The Fellows will work in 11 states, focusing on issues ranging from the wrongful denial of Medicaid claims for poor, disabled children in Texas to the barriers to housing, employment and education for low-income LGBTQ youth with criminal records in Illinois.

For comparison’s sake, here’s how previous Skadden Fellowship classes have looked:

  • 2014:  28 Fellows from 16 law schools;
  • 2013:  28 Fellows from 16 law schools;
  • 2012: 28 Fellows from 16 law schools;
  • 2011:  29 Fellows from 21 law schools;
  • 2010:  27 Fellows from 20 law schools;
  • 2009:  28 Fellows from 14 law schools.

Congratulations to the Class of 2015!  We look forward to the amazing work you will do!


You Need A Montage: Informational Meetings Scene III (Following Through and Following Up)

Sam Halpert, PSJD Fellow 2014 – 2015
Christina Jackson, Director of Public Interest Initiatives and Fellowships
(with thanks to the professional development teams at UC Berkeley, Washington and Lee, and Seattle University Law Schools)

Okay, grasshoppers. Last month, I confessed my job search skills are weak and committed to questing with you to learn from PSJD’s resident career development guru Christina Jackson. Since then, we’ve re-made our resumes and cover letters. This week, we’ve begun the real work, for to master the art of informational meetings we must remake ourselves.

Creating a Strategy for Informational Meetings (Tip 5)

It’s been a busy week, on Monday, we covered the first step in our strategy—identifying contacts. Wednesday, we talked about reaching out to request a meeting. If you haven’t worked through those posts already, go back and make sure you’re up to speed before starting on this one.

Ready? Okay. You’ve identified your network of meeting candidates and you’ve made your initial contacts. Now, we need to talk about what it takes to get good insights from a meeting, make a successful connection with the person you speak with, and make that connection stick. (I’ve done many informational meetings, but I haven’t had the benefit of trying it with a game plan like this, so I don’t have examples for you. We’ll just have to go through this process together.) After reading this post, you should be able to prepare a strategy for the informational meetings you’re planning with your contacts and for following up with those contacts after your meeting happens.

NB: Don’t forget to check out the Google Drive spreadsheet tool I’m using to organize my own informational meeting efforts. I’m planning to log meetings in the “Log Interactions” sheet. The final sheet, “Long-Time, No-See” is to help me keep track of when I need to follow up with my contacts.

Part III: Following Through and Following Up

    1. More research! Your contacts don’t want to tell you things you could have learned from their website. Although you looked into your contact’s background before reaching out, you’ll need to be even more prepared when the two of you speak. Once a person agrees to meet with you, begin by refreshing your research on that person and that person’s organization. Also include any relevant information you may have learned during other informational meetings–are other people in your network connected to the person you plan to interview.  This research is helpful because it will ensure that you’re able to…
    2. Plan specific questions. Your contact will expect you to set the agenda and use his or her time effectively. You have the primary burden to keep the conversation going. Make sure you know what information you’re hoping to learn so you can ask appropriate questions. (Christina and her network of career development professionals have prepared a list of sample questions for us to tailor to specific circumstances.) Good research should make the conversation easier to direct and control, but allow for the possibility of a surprise. You should be ready to go off-book if you hear something interesting and unexpected.
    1. Follow job interview etiquette. Arrive 5-10 minutes early, wear business attire, and turn off your cell phone.
    2. Act like an interviewer. Remember, an informational meeting is like a job interview in reverse. That means that you get to be the one who shows up with research notes, and the one who takes notes during the meeting.
    3. Keep the focus (mostly) on your contact. Again, in this situation you’re the interviewer. The meeting should be directed by your information needs, but the subject should be your contact and the work he or she does. Still, your contact will implicitly understand that you would probably be open to positions he or she knows of, so be sure to introduce yourself and your credentials in a way that leaves the contact with a good memory of you. You should also always bring a copy of your resume, but don’t hand it over unless your contact asks, or unless you think their experience could help you improve the document.
    4. Be aware of time. Don’t take more time than you asked for, unless the contact expressly offers to let the conversation run over. Also, make the most of your time–stay engaged and professional even if you determine before the interview is over that the field you’re discussing isn’t for you.
    5. Network. Your last question should always ask whom you might speak with to learn more.
    1. SAME DAY/NEXT DAY: Write (thank you) notes for them, and (regular) notes for yourself. Send a thank you note (letter or email) to your contact, and also to anyone else who helped you set up the meeting. Also take the time to analyze your meetings. Reevaluate your interest in the career you discussed, based on what you learned. (Your career development office can help you make sense of your thoughts at this point.)
    2. NEAR FUTURE: Follow up on leads you received from the meeting–reach out to any contacts the person suggested and check out any resources the person mentioned.
    3. ONGOING: Keep contacts apprised of your career development activities. This is the part that most unsettles me. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people. But, ideally, the people I’ve been meeting with are going to become my colleagues. Making a good impression is only significant if it’s also a lasting one. This is where the spreadsheet tool will hopefully keep me on track. I’m not certain exactly how frequently I want to check in with people (Christina says that within reason it’s a matter of personal preference), so the tool will let me set an interval of months and show me which contacts haven’t heard from me in awhile.

That’s all I have for now. With the pace of this series, I haven’t been able to run ahead this time and try out a meeting for you all before writing this post. So good luck to you as we all leap into this together.

Wax on, wax off,


PSJD Public Interest News Digest – December 12, 2014

by Christina Jackson, NALP Director of Public Service Initiatives & Fellowships

Happy Friday!  We continue our series on job search strategies for the winter break on the PSJD Blog.  Check it out and share with your friends.

Here are the week’s headlines:

  • LGBT law clinic Legal G launches in FL;
  • Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians donates funds to help homeless;
  • Iowa Legal Aid champions attorney fee for the poor;
  • Spotlight on Public Service Servants: Ellen Greenlee;
  • Super Music Bonus!

The summaries:

December 6, 2014 -Tavernier lawyers Bernadette Restivo, Elena Vigil-Farinas and Jessica Reilly have launched Legal G-Aid, a nonprofit aimed at helping low-income people with LGBT-related legal issues. “It registered with the state Nov. 4 — Election Day — and officially launched at a kickoff event Friday in Key West.” “The basis for the nonprofit, according to Restivo, is the costs associated with LGBT-related legal issues.”  “Restivo is seeking the help of others to serve on Legal G-Aid’s board and attorneys who are willing to work pro bono or at a “greatly reduced” hourly rate to help with LGBT legal issues. She said she has interest from people in other counties in starting their own Legal G-Aid chapters.”(KeysInfoNet)

December 8, 2014 – “To bolster the Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County’s efforts to reduce homelessness through its effective programs, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians donated $10,000 on Monday to the organization’s fundraising campaign.  The Legal Aid Foundation’s vision is to provide equal access to justice for all; removing victims of domestic violence permanently from harm’s way, preventing homelessness, helping seniors live with dignity and independence, and providing a legal safety net for low-income residents of Santa Barbara County.”  (NoozHawk)

December 10, 2014 – Iowa Legal Aid has championed a proposal to require most Iowa attorneys to pay a yearly $100 fee to support its budget.  “The proposal has divided Iowa lawyers and has brought in more than 130 pages worth of public comments to the state Supreme Court. Lines are drawn between attorneys who believe they have a special duty to help the poor get access to courtrooms and those who argue a mandatory fee is essentially forced charity or an unfair tax on lawyers.”  “A $100 mandatory fee could potentially raise $903,400 of an estimated $1.8 million needed to boost the number of staff attorneys, according to the report from Supreme Court staff. Currently, eight other states require attorneys to pay similar fees, including Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. The Iowa high court is also considering whether the fee could be paid on a voluntary basis.”  Comments will be accepted until January 5, 2015.  (The Des Moines Register)

Spotlight on Outstanding Public Servants: “Ellen Greenlee, who has been the chief defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia for the past 25 years, has announced she will be stepping down this spring.  According to a statement from the association’s board of directors emailed Tuesday, Greenlee will be retiring as the chief public defender March 1, 2015. Greenlee has worked at the association for 40 years, and spent 25 as chief defender, the statement said.”  “Her exemplary career has truly been a light in all-too-often dark corners of the criminal justice system and we join in celebrating her accomplishments and well-earned retirement,” said David Rudovsky, president of the association’s board of directors, in the statement. “On behalf of the board, and we know we speak for many in the Philadelphia criminal justice community, we express our deepest thanks to Ellen for her extraordinary leadership and service of the Defender Association.”  We congratulate Ms. Greenlee on an outstanding career, and thank you for your service.  (The Legal Intelligencer)

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