Category Archives: Tips from the Practitioners

Tips from the Practitioners Series: Professional Etiquette in Civil Litigation

By Scott T. Redman, L’82
Law Office of Scott T. Redman

A crucial part of your effectiveness as a lawyer is your relationship with others in the litigation process. The most effective attorneys share the common trait of respect and cordiality.  A few tips to cultivate that reputation:

  1.  Almost always grant extensions of time.  Case resolution rarely if ever hinges on strict adherence to time deadlines.
  2. Always take the high road.   It will be remembered.
  3. Zealous representation with courtesy and civility is respected.
  4. Respect your office staff and court personnel who are critical to getting things done.

Your goal is to achieve the best possible and cost effective result for your client.  A reputation for courtesy and respect will foster that end and a solid foundation for a long and prosperous legal career.


This series is written by members of the Career/Employment Committee of the Duquesne Law Alumni Association with the intent to provide helpful job search tips and suggestions for students and alumni.

Comments Off on Tips from the Practitioners Series: Professional Etiquette in Civil Litigation

Filed under Tips from the Practitioners

Tips from the Practitioners Series: Small Firm Practice

By Kathleen Charlton, Evening ‘08
Partner at Charlton & Charlton Attorneys at Law

I have worked in small firms since graduating law school. I love the flexibility that it provides to me, as I have a young daughter. I have the ability to choose my hours. I can go home, cook dinner, and work after she goes to bed. I also like that I have the ability to choose the cases that I want to take. For me, the ability to choose my cases was a significant reason for choosing small firm practice.  I also love the client interaction that I have. The clients are solely my clients; I am responsible for everything in their cases. Although at times this can be stressful, it brings me a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. There is nothing more rewarding to me than when a client hugs me or sends me a personal “thank you” note.

This series is written by members of the Career/Employment Committee of the Duquesne Law Alumni Association with the intent to provide helpful job search tips and suggestions for students and alumni.

Comments Off on Tips from the Practitioners Series: Small Firm Practice

Filed under Tips from the Practitioners

Tips from the Practitioners Series: So Tell Me About Yourself

By Dodi Walker Gross, L’82
Partner at Reed Smith LLP

How should the question be answered in an interview?  Here are some suggestions.

  • Be prepared.
  • Describe what you are looking for – why you are interviewing for the job.
  • Explain your personal qualities that make you a perfect fit for the job.
  • Talk about relevant experience that shows consistency with the stated reason for interviewing and highlights the skills that you make a perfect fit.
  • Resist the temptation to talk about hobbies and sports, unless it illustrates how you handle difficult situations or other aspects of the job.
  • Highlight relevant aspects of your resume.
  • Don’t badmouth the prior employer.
  • If this is all you get to say in the interview, make sure you leave a positive impression with clear information.

This series is written by members of the Career/Employment Committee of the Duquesne Law Alumni Association with the intent to provide helpful job search tips and suggestions for students and alumni.

Comments Off on Tips from the Practitioners Series: So Tell Me About Yourself

Filed under Interviewing, Tips from the Practitioners

Tips from the Practitioners Series: Practice in a Large Firm

By Dodi Walker Gross, L’ 82
Partner at Reed Smith LLP

Well, what is a large firm?  It depends on the location of the firm and how many offices the firm has.  The Pittsburgh Business Times rankings in January 2013 showed the largest local multi-office firms had anywhere from 268 Pittsburgh lawyers (Reed Smith) to 66 Pittsburgh lawyers (Burns White).  Some pros and cons to consider about “Big Law Practice”:

Pros:
Lots of resources
Many smart lawyers with experiences across a broad range of practice areas
Can navigate your own path, with lots of options

Cons:
Figuring out the resources
Can be intimidating
Need to be a self-starter

This series is written by members of the Career/Employment Committee of the Duquesne Law Alumni Association with the intent to provide helpful job search tips and suggestions for students and alumni.

Comments Off on Tips from the Practitioners Series: Practice in a Large Firm

Filed under Resources, Tips from the Practitioners

Tips from the Practitioners Series: Mastering Networking

By Kathleen Charlton, L’ 08 (Evening Division)
Partner at Charlton & Charlton Attorneys At Law

Networking is an integral part of building your career. Regardless of whether you are practicing at a small firm or a large firm, you will be expected to generate clients. I found that the best way to network was simply by joining local organizations that I was interested in. The first place I started with was by joining the local bar association AND attending meetings and events. This is an easy way to meet people and to generate referrals from other attorneys. Also, joining a local charity helps you meet other professionals that may also become a source of referrals and help to get your name out in the community. I have also found that keeping in touch with your classmates is a great way to network, as your classmates may practice in other areas of the law. Taking these simple steps at the beginning of my career has helped me to expand my network of referrals and to bring in new clients.

This series is written by members of the Career/Employment Committee of the Duquesne Law Alumni Association with the intent to provide helpful job search tips and suggestions for students and alumni.

Comments Off on Tips from the Practitioners Series: Mastering Networking

Filed under Networking, Tips from the Practitioners

Tips from the Practitioners Series: What Not to Say in a Cover Letter and/or Resume

By: Kimberly S. Tague (L’04)
Strassburger, McKenna, Gutnick & Gefsky

The primary thing to remember about cover letters and resumes is that these submissions are most likely your first opportunity to impress a potential employer. The second thing to keep in mind is that the person receiving your resume and cover letter is likely receiving many, many, many of the same. Therefore, you should be sure to follow a few simple rules to give you a chance to clear the first hurdle in the job placement race.

First, proofread every word of your submission and then proofread it again. After you are absolutely confident there are no mistakes or typos, then have a friend proofread your submission and then find another friend to do the same. It seems self-evident, but it’s easy to make a mistake.

Second, tailor your resume and cover letter to the job for which you are applying. It is time consuming and tedious, but you need to take this step and avoid the temptation to copy and paste again and again. Yes, they can tell if you send a form letter and merely change the firm name. Your cover letter (and resume if you have any relevant experience) should identify why you are a good fit for the position you are seeking.

Third, avoid using any jargon, slang and especially emoticons. The legal profession is very formal so if you fail to present yourself as someone who is both well-spoken/written and mature, then you aren’t going to stand out in the applicant pool. Remember that
email should contain the same formality as a written letter.

Finally, don’t be informal in your greeting. Never send a letter to “Dear Chris,” or “Hi!”unless you know Chris and you know Chris well. Instead use “Dear Ms. or Mr. Chris So and So:” when addressing a potential employer (in email too). Only when the individual you are corresponding with indicates to you that it is ok to “call me Chris” should you lighten up on the formality. This applies to anyone you correspond with, whether or not she or he is an attorney.

Best of luck in your job searches!

This series is written by members of the Career/Employment Committee of the Duquesne Law Alumni Association with the intent to provide helpful job search tips and suggestions for students and alumni.

Comments Off on Tips from the Practitioners Series: What Not to Say in a Cover Letter and/or Resume

Filed under Tips from the Practitioners