U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development Legal Honors Program Information Session

Wednesday, August 26 * 12:00-1:00 p.m. * Room 301

The U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development Office of General Counsel is hiring for its 2016-2017 Legal Honors Program.  Current 3D, 4E & 4P must apply by September 4, 2015.  If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, plan to attend this program featuring Sarah Pietragallo, Esq., who will be able to answer questions about the position and the application process.  Lunch will be provided.  RSVP welcomed, but not required, via DuqLawConnect – Events tab.

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Communicate Professionalism in Interviews

By Mary Crane (www.marycrane.com)
August 2015 Newsletter

Every professional services organization seeks candidates who have a firm grasp of one term: professionalism. Recruiters openly tell me that they only hire candidates who look like a professional, sound like a professional, and most importantly, demonstrate professionalism in their behaviors and attitudes.

With this in mind, job candidates and recruiters should focus on the following:

Dress the Part
Dressing the part is a cinch. In most cases, a nicely tailored navy blue suit, with a white shirt or blouse, and a tie for the gentlemen works perfectly. Virtually everyone—tall and short, thin and not so thin—looks like a gazillion dollars in an interview outfit of this nature. Besides, every political consulting firm in the county has tested this “uniform” with focus groups, and they consistently find that it communicates competence and trustworthiness.

Ladies, you have a little more discretion than your male counterparts. To the extent you opt for an outfit other than a navy blue suit, make sure that your attire does not detract from the key messages you wish to convey throughout your interview. Choose conservative over flamboyant.

Sound the Part
Sounding professional can be a bit more challenging. To succeed, focus on three big concepts:

Concentrate. Many students spend their lives texting and tweeting, something you must not do during an interview. Please do not take your smartphone into an interview. If you expect an emergency message—and I do mean a genuine emergency—carry your phone with you, turn it to vibrate, and slip it into your suit coat pocket or a portfolio. At the very beginning of your interview, explain the situation to your interviewer and then concentrate on each question you receive.

Communicate confidence. Avoid verbal mistakes that can make you appear less than secure in your own abilities, including: speaking too quickly; speaking too quietly; and discounting your own comments. In the latter case, know that whenever you start a sentence with, “This probably isn’t important, but …,” you have discounted any words that immediately follow.

Avoid space fillers. When they don’t know what to say next, lots of job candidates use space fillers, including “uh,” “ah,” “you know,” or “like.” As soon as you hear a couple of these creep into your language, stop, look directly at your interviewer, and say, “This is important. Please give me a moment to gather my thoughts.” Then do just that. Think about what you wish to say and then express yourself succinctly.

Prove Your ProfessionalismInvariably, an interviewer will say, “Tell me something about yourself.” This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you already possess attitudes that embody professionalism. To the extent you can reference specific behaviors that demonstrate your professionalism, be prepared to share these.

Following are five key professional attitudes and behaviors that most employers seek:

Preparedness. Employers seek workers who are prepared to tackle tasks from Day One. You can demonstrate your commitment to preparedness by discussing how you currently participate in several study groups in order to avoid last minute cramming for exams. If you worked during the summer, explain how you learned to set aside time each weekend to prepare for the upcoming week. By the way, show your commitment to preparedness by carrying several extra copies of your résumé with you to each interview … just in case an interviewer misplaces your paperwork.

Initiative. Employers seek workers who look for opportunities to solve problems without being asked. If you’ve returned from a summer job, discuss how you constantly stayed on the lookout for opportunities where you could contribute, from never leaving a copy machine without paper to offering to come into the office over the weekend to assist a document review team. If you have not entered the work world yet, talk about a time where you took initiative on a school project.

Feedback. Employers have zero interest in all the positive feedback that you’ve received throughout your life. They are deeply interested in the constructive feedback that you’ve received, and more importantly, how you responded to that feedback. An interviewer learns about your commitment to growth when you explain, “I was told my writing skills could use some improvement. So I immediately met with a recruiter and asked about retaining a writing coach. Within two weeks, my supervisor sent several emails with positive feedback indicating that I had shown improvement.”

Client service. Every professional services provider knows that providing superlative client service is fundamental to success. To the extent you’ve worked in a service industry—even if your employment was limited to waiting tables—explain your commitment to client service. For example, you could say, “I learned that it didn’t matter whether or not the chef thought some item should be served medium rare. If my customer wanted his steak ‘well done,’ I insisted on it.”

Grit. A whole body of research coming out of the University of Pennsylvania indicates that the best indicator of success is grit. It turns out that good old perseverance is more critical to long-term achievement than IQ or GPA. So tell an interviewer about a time when you showed resilience in the face of long odds. By the way, if you want to know just how gritty you are, visit Professor Angela Duckworth’s website.

Copyright © 2015 Mary Crane & Associates.
(Permission granted to share this article with law students. 8/18/15.)

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Invitation to ALL 2015 Graduates from the Women’s Bar Association

Surviving the Bar Exam Reception

The Women’s Bar Association invites you to celebrate and unwind at the Blue Line Grille – Uptown (outdoor patio -upper level) on Thursday, August 27th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Your first drink is on the WBA. Complimentary appetizers will be provided. This is a great opportunity to network with some of the rising and established stars of the Pittsburgh legal community. The Blue Line Grille is located on Fifth Avenue across from Consol Energy Center. Please RSVP to Stephanie Jones at jonesy13pa@gmail.com, preferably by Monday, August 24th.

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OCI Interviewing Advice

(Originally posted August 8, 2014.)
OCI Interviewing Advice from a 3L

By Lindsay S. Fouse
Third Year Day Student

2014 Summer Associate, Clark Hill

As we begin to prepare for OCIs, think about three things:

First, be able to answer exactly what makes you different from all of the other applicants. Your answer should be sincere, specific, and personalized. Be mindful of the fact that if you get the job, that answer will be put to the test—so be honest.

Second, in the interview, be someone that the interviewer and his or her firm would want as a colleague. Nod when they say something, smile and be pleasant, and appear engaged and interested to be interviewing with their firm because that matters to them—that you are genuinely happy to have the opportunity to get to know them.

Third, have four pre-written, go-to answers that run the gamut. For example, inevitably, you will be asked about what you did this past summer (i.e. if you wrote for a judge- be able to explain one interesting thing that you worked on), what you are involved in at Duquesne Law (i.e. clubs, organizations, research or teaching assistant positions, jobs, journals), what are your interests outside of school (i.e. hobbies, family, sports), what are qualities/attributes that would serve you well in the field of law and what about your personality fits the culture and mission of the respective law firm. I find that if you have those down to a tee, regardless of the question, you can in some way, shape, or form tailor all of your answers to safely get back to those go-tos, and to really have a successful interview.

Some food for thought—the toughest questions that I have been asked at an OCI:

1)    Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?

2)    If you don’t get hired by this firm, what will you do?

3)    Tell us about your style of leadership.

4)    What do you do for fun?

5)    Tell us about a recent mistake that you have made.

6)    What’s the worst question you can think of to ask me?

7)    What constitutes “success” in your mind?

8)    What type of people would you have trouble working with?

9)    Describe yourself in one word.

10) What are some of the most imaginative and creative things that you have done in a job?

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Student Debt Webinar & Free E-Book

Two great resources are available for students & alumni from Equal Justice Works:

*Free Webinar on Thursday, July 23

Equal Justice Works’ free student debt webinars provide you with the help you need to manage your student debt and control your career and financial future. They include in-depth information about programs like income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. We also include updates on the Obama Administration’s proposal to cap Public Service Loan Forgiveness at the undergraduate loan limit (currently $57,500) and the House Republican budget proposal to eliminate the program.

Our next webinar, JDs in Debt: What Law Students & Lawyers Need to Know about Managing Student Loans & Earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness, will be held Thursday, July 23, 2015 3 PM EDT.

*Free Student Debt E-book

Don’t forget to download our free student debt e-book, Take Control of Your Future: A Guide to Managing Your Student Debt, the most comprehensive guide to managing student debt for lawyers and law students.

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Law Practice Today – The Diversity Issue

The July edition of the ABA’s Law Practice Today is available.  Be sure to check out this month’s articles, including:

Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities

Insights from a New Law Pioneer

Women Counsel Working Together



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OCI Preparation & Reminders

OCI Interview Skills – Part 1 – Featuring Legal Recruiters
Tuesday, August 4
5:00-6:00 p.m.
Room 208

This program will feature Jacki Herzog (L’07), Legal Recruitment Manager at Clark Hill PLC, and Jennifer Ross, Senior Manager of Legal Recruiting at Reed Smith, LLP. Ms. Herzog and Ms. Ross have a wealth of experience with the interviewing process and will offer law students some insight into a law firm’s expectations during the interviewing and recruiting processes. While this program will be focused on OCI preparation, the information shared should be relevant to most interviewing situations.

OCI Interview Skills – Part 2 – Advice from 3L’s
Tuesday, August 4
6:15-7:00 p.m.
Student Lounge

Students who are currently working as summer associates and who participated in OCI last year have been invited to talk with 2L students about their experiences. Refreshments will be provided.

If you plan to attend either program, please RSVP on DuqLawConnect (Events tab) so that an accurate amount of handouts are available. RSVP’s are encouraged, but not required.
For answers to Frequently Asked Questions about OCI check the July 2 post on this site.
Reminder – The first application deadlines for the Fall On-Campus Interview Program are Monday, July 27, 2015, at 12:00 noon.

Please contact Maria Comas at comas@duq.edu or 412-396-6279 if you have any questions about the Fall Recruitment Program.

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Student Invitation to the ACBA WLD Business Development Summit

The Career Services Office is providing registration for three (3) students to attend
the ACBA Women in the Law’s 3rd Annual Business Development Summit
to be held on July 23, 2015.

Business development is a critical element to being a successful lawyer, regardless of where you are in your career (junior, mid-career or senior attorney) or where you are practicing (law firm, in-house, non-profit or government).

But what are the characteristics that make a successful rainmaker? Research shows that the characteristics of rainmakers are quantifiable and not bound by gender. This half-day program will explore the research and provide practical tools for developing the important traits that will lead you to success.

The 3rd Annual Summit IGE/WLD Business Development Summit for Women attorneys will feature a keynote address by Patricia K. Gillette, Esq., a panel discussion with successful business developers from law firms and in-house, and facilitated breakout sessions designed to help you better understand and hone these traits so that you can incorporate them into your own business development efforts to create and grow your book of business. The half-day of dynamic programming will conclude with a networking lunch.

The program will be held on Thursday, July 23, 2015, at the Marriott City Center (near Consol Energy Center) from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Registration and continental breakfast begin at 8:30 a.m.  Students must be able to attend the entire program.

In order to be considered for a registration, please send an email to Maria Comas at comas@duq.edu by Monday, July 13, and explain why you think you should be chosen to attend this event. If you have any questions, please contact comas@duq.edu or 412-396-6279.

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Frequently Asked Questions – On-Campus Interviewing

In response to students’ questions about the on-campus interview program, the Career Services Office (CSO) created this “Frequently Asked Questions” post.  Of course, students with additional questions are encouraged to contact the CSO.

Is someone in the CSO available to review my application materials?
Yes.  Students should forward documents (in Word format) to the CSO for review.  Documents should be forwarded to Maria Comas at comas@duq.edu.  Due to increased requests to review materials during the summer, please allow one week for the review of your materials.

It is important to ask someone to review your materials before you submit them.  Another person is likely to see typos and other errors that you have overlooked because you have lived with the documents for so long.

The CSO will not review writing samples for content, so students should contact the professor or attorney involved with the writing sample with questions about content.  Students intending to submit documents written while serving as an intern, law clerk, volunteer or similar position must get permission to use such documents as writing samples, either with or without redactions.

How can I research firms and employers?
The firm’s website is the natural place to start your research, but you must do more.  Talk with other students who work at the firm or have interviewed with the firm in the past.  Some students submit Summer Employment Surveys to the CSO, and we keep them on file in the office.  Ask the CSO to identify students who are willing to talk with current students going through the interview process.  Thankfully, many Duquesne Law students will make themselves available to answer questions for the benefit of those that follow them.

You can use the tools on Lexis and Westlaw to get an in depth look at the types of cases the firm handles.  Before you tell a firm that you have been interested in the practice of health law since you were 10 years old, find out how many cases involving health law the firm actually handles.  This not only will prevent you from including incorrect information in your cover letter or an embarrassing situation during an interview, it also allows you to show the employer that you have looked beyond their website while preparing your application materials.

You can use the NALP Directory of Legal Employers to research many large firms that provide detailed information to NALP for inclusion in this on-line directory.  You also can use Chambers Associates to discover information about some large firms.  (Follow the link to both on the left menu bar).

Many firms have social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  If you use any of these social media outlets, follow the firms of interest to you so you can read updates that they post.  The CSO does not recommend that you seek LinkedIn connections with individual attorneys or recruiters at the firms, however.  As a potential interview candidate, these individual connections should not be pursued.  However, if someone at the firm invites you to connect with them, it is appropriate to accept their invitation.  Be sure you have professional appearances on any of these sites.  Check the E-Guides on E-Professionalism under the Career Resources tab for more information.

How can I distinguish myself in my cover letter?
As noted in the previous question, do your homework by learning as much about a firm or organization as possible.  When writing your letter, consider your audience.  Generally speaking, an employer wants to know how you can help them by furthering their business objectives and addressing the needs of their clients.  Cover letters are very often the most difficult document to prepare during the application process.  You must convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the job without rehashing everything on your resume or overstating your qualifications.  This art takes practice.  Consider “Cover Letters: 7 Steps to Creating a Great True First Impression” as you write (and re-write) your cover letters.  Check the Drafting a Cover Letter webinar, too, that’s available under the Career Resources tab.

Should I tailor my cover letters?
Yes.  Each letter should be tailored to the firm to which you are applying.  You should include the specific contact information for the firm in your letter (Name, Firm Name, Address) in the appropriate place in the letter.  You should address the letter to that contact (Dear Mr. or Ms. ____:).

You can find the contact information in the OCI listing; letters should be addressed to the person listed under “Contact Information.”  If the information is not available for some reason, always check the employer’s website for the information.  You should let the employer know why you are writing to them in particular.  This is where your research comes into play.

Where can I find sample legal resumes and cover letters?
The CSO Handbook includes a chapter about each of these subjects, as well as other topics such as interviewing skills and follow-up correspondence.  You can find The CSO Handbook on this site under the Career Resources tab and on DuqLawConnect (under the Resource tab).  When preparing your cover letter and resume, type your contact information in the document itself, rather than as a “header” in the document.  Employers have told us that they can’t always see your name and contact information when they view documents on their computer screen because headers are hidden.

How do I get an unofficial transcript from DORI?
The best way to get the transcript from DORI is to copy & paste it into a Word document.  Be sure to check the formatting of the new document to make sure information is properly aligned.  You can either save it as a pdf or convert it to a pdf when you upload it to DuqLawConnect.   While scanning the transcript may work, sometimes the scanned transcript results in a file that is too big to upload.  You are welcome to use the scanner in the CSO if needed, however.

What should I use as a writing sample?
Most students use an excerpt from their Legal Research & Writing appellate brief as their writing sample.  However, some students prefer to use something they drafted during a summer internship or law clerk position.  Students must have permission from their employer/supervisor to use a document prepared during an internship/work setting; the employer may require that sensitive information is redacted from the document before it can be used.  No matter the source of a writing sample, students should be prepared to answer questions about it during an interview, so be sure to select a writing sample that you are most comfortable with and that shows your writing abilities in the best light possible.

Unless otherwise specified, a writing sample should be 5-12 pages.  Students should consider creating a cover page for their writing sample where they can identify the document and indicate that it is, in fact, an excerpt from a larger document.

I participated in the Law Review write-on competition, and I don’t know my status yet.  How should I write this on my resume?
The Law Review editors are aware of the first OCI application deadline of July 27, and they are working towards notifying students about their status before the deadline so this information can be added to resumes accordingly.

Are OCI application materials sent to employers all at once or on a rolling basis?
Unless an employer requests otherwise, the CSO will not release any application materials to the employers before the application deadline.  After the deadline passes, every application received by the deadline will be sent to the employer for review.  If an employer asks to receive applications on a rolling basis, notification will be included in the OCI posting.

Can I make a change to a document after I submit a bid?
You can update your documents any time prior to the application deadline.  However, you must withdraw your bid, upload the revised document, and re-submit your bid.  These steps must be done before the application deadline.

Will the CSO forward late applications?
No.  Only materials submitted by the posted deadline will be forwarded to the employer.  Students who miss the application deadline must submit their materials to employers directly in order to be considered for an interview.

Does the CSO rank or screen applications?
No.  The CSO submits all materials submitted by the deadline.  The employer then reviews the application materials and provides the CSO with a list of students they would like to interview.  The CSO does not use any type of ranking, screening or lottery system for student interviews.

What does “Total Slots” mean on the OCI listing?
This indicates the number of candidates the employer intends to interview at the time they register for the On-Campus Interviewing Program.  The employer may end up interviewing more or less students, but they typically interview the number stated.

How will I know if I have been selected for an interview?
After receiving notification from the employer, students will receive an email from the CSO informing them if they have or have not been selected for an interview.

Are interview times assigned?
No.  Students who have been selected for an interview will receive an email notification informing them that they must go to DuqLawConnect to select an interview time.  The interview times determined by the employer will be listed accordingly, and times will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Will I know the names of the people interviewing me?
Most employers provide the names of the people (either attorneys and/or recruiters) planning to conduct the interviews.  However, it is not uncommon for a firm to contact the CSO prior to the interview with a change.  If time permits, the CSO notifies students of the change in interviewer.  Time does not always permit, though, if the change is last minute.

While you are researching each firm or organization, you should also research the interviewers.  Lexis and Westlaw provide tools to conduct searches about attorneys, as well as firms.

What should I wear to an interview?
You should wear conservative attire to interviews – this includes your suit, shirt, ties, shoes and jewelry – similar to what you were required to wear at the LRW Appellate Arguments.  Although a firm might have a “business casual” dress policy for its employees, you should wear a conservative suit to all interviews.    The CSO Handbook includes a chapter about interviewing skills, including professional dress attire.  You can find The CSO Handbook here under the Career Resources tab and on DuqLawConnect (under the Resource tab).

Where are initial screening interviews held?
Employers may choose to hold their initial screening interviews at the Law School or at the firm.  The location of the initial interview will be noted on the OCI listing.  Interviews to be held at the Law School will be held in Rooms 206 and 207 (make the left just after Room 204, before the stairway, to find the interview rooms.)

If the interview will be held at the firm, additional instructions may be sent to you from the CSO or the law firm recruiting office.  This may include details about parking, security check-in and where to report once inside a building.  Students should consider a test drive or walk to the firm location in order to give themselves ample travel time.  Firms conducting initial interviews at their offices are within a 10-minute walk from campus during normal traffic and weather conditions.

Where are call-back interviews held?
Call-back interviews most often are held at the law firm or organization.  Each firm conducts these interviews differently. These may include a panel of interviewers, multiple interviews with different individuals (1-on-1), group interviews with multiple attorneys and students and interviews during lunch.  Any interaction with the firm’s lawyers, recruiters or employees – from the time you enter the building to the time you leave a cocktail party –should be viewed as being part of the interview process.

How early should I arrive for an interview?
Regardless of the interview location, students should plan to arrive 10 minutes prior to their scheduled interview time.  While you are encouraged to give yourself ample time to walk or drive to the employer’s location, you should not check-in at the firm itself (e.g., the reception area, recruiter’s office, etc.) until 10 minutes prior to your interview.

Should I do a mock interview before the real interview takes place?
Yes.  The CSO’s formal mock interview with local attorneys takes place in the spring semester.  The CSO staff is available to conduct mock interviews by appointment by sending an email to comas@duq.edu.

Preparation is key.  While you don’t want to sound rehearsed, you should verbalize your answers to potential questions before the actual interview takes place so you can rework any answers you think sound awkward or otherwise not right.  While answering questions, remember that the interviewer is looking for someone who has the professional skills to do the job, who fits the job requirements and who wants the job.  Be engaged in the interview – be sure your nervousness doesn’t outshine your interest in the job and in the employer and take time to answer the questions asked of you.

Are resources available about interviewing skills?
Yes.  The CSO Resource Center includes many books and publications about interviewing skills.  The two most popular resources in recent years have been Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of Your Dreams by Kimm Walton and An Insider’s Guide to Interviewing: Insights from the Employer’s Perspective by NALP.  Multiple copies of Guerrilla Tactics are available for students to borrow from the CSO.  The CSO purchased enough copies of An Insider’s Guide for students to have their own copy of this informative booklet.  A complete listing of the items available in the CSO Resource Center can be found here under Career Resources or DuqLawConnect (under Resources), where you can also find The CSO Handbook that includes an Interviewing Skills chapter.

What else should I read as I prepare for interviews?
On a regular basis, you should read The National Law Journal (www.law.com), The Legal Intelligencer www.law.com/pa, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Law section published every Monday (www.postgazette.com), and the Pittsburgh Business Times (www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh).  Free copies of the Post-Gazette are available in the Student Lounge during the school year, and you can find the daily paper in the Center for Legal Information.  The CSO and Center for Legal Information have copies of the Pittsburgh Business Times available for review year-round.  Of course, if you are interested in another city or state, you should become familiar with the news in those areas.

Students are advised to become familiar with NALP’s “Student Professionalism During Interview Season: A Quick Guide to Your Ethical Responsibilities in the Offer and Decision Making Process” and “Open Letter To Law Students“.  Both of these publications offer valuable information about the interviewing process and timing guidelines that some firms follow.

Additional information about Fall Recruitment, including on-campus interviewing, can be found in the memo distributed via email on July 1, 2015.

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Summer Resume Updates

Students – Be sure to keep a list of your accomplishments thus far at your summer internships and law clerk jobs. If you haven’t started a list yet, why not start one today? You’ll be glad you did when it’s time to update your resume at the end of the summer! Consult the “Career Resources” section of this site for sample resumes or to watch our new resume webinar.

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