Friday, March 27, 2015

Houston Area Networking Events

There are so many opportunities for UHLC students to become more active in the Houston legal community and start building their networks and support systems. The more active you are, the easier the job search! The best way we've heard this described is in the book Building Career Connections: Networking Tools for Law Students and New Lawyers by Donna Gerson:

Networking is the means by which most law students will find employment, particularly full-time employment following graduation.  On-campus interviews, which reward top grades and high academic achievement, account for a minuscule percentage of jobs.  Most law students find jobs either through networking or self-initiated contact with prospective employers, often a combination of the two.

Networking will help you discover the hidden job market and learn about work opportunities that may never be published.  A large percentage of available jobs are not advertised; instead they are filled by word-of-mouth.  Even those jobs that are advertised are often filled with a candidate who somehow made a personal connection with the employer.  As a result, those who are “in the know” and are connected to a network of contacts who know about their skills and interests will be in a position to benefit when their contacts learn about an opening through the informational grapevine.

We've put together a list, by no means exhaustive, of several networking events and CLEs hosted in the upcoming weeks. If you have any questions about the mechanics of networking and how follow up and maintain relationships, don't hesitate to contact your counselor in the CDO. 

When: Wednesday, April 1, 2015 | 12:00pm-1:00pm
Where: The Houston Club, One Shell Plaza, 49th floor
What: “Objection!” Presented by the Honorable Dan Hinde.  
Additional Information: RSVP by March 24, 2015

When: Thursday, April 2, 2015 | 11:00am-5:00pm
Where: Thurgood Marshall School of Law, 3100 Cleburne Street, Houston, TX 77004
What: 2015 Rising Tide Four Part Series - The Mechanics of Trial From Voir Dire To Judgment. This program will take you from start to finish of a trial, it is geared for the lawyer that has never tried a case, as well as those of us that just like to pick up a few new ideas.  You will want to attend all four sessions and we promises you will leave each session with more knowledge of the courtroom process.  The first session will cover Opening and Voir Dire from different techniques.  We will be in a courtroom setting with a judge and jury present. The second session is on Evidence, the third Experts and the final session will be Closing Argument and Charge Conference.  You will complete this program with a full Trial Notebook, which you can use in your next trial.
Additional Information: This is a Members Only CLE, so join HTLA today and come to this great program for FREE, if are a member bring a new member and it is FREE to you as well as the new member.

When: Thursday, April 2, 2015 | 7:00am-9:00am
Where: IHS Offices, Rio Grande/Red Room, 5333 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77056 (Parking available in the IHS parking garage)
What: The Impact of the Oil Price on Oil & Gas Careers: How to Weather the Storm. Current price trends have many new graduates and young professionals in the oil & gas industry worried about their prospects for building a successful career in the business. In this talk, David Vaucher, a Director in the Energy practice of management consultancy Alvarez & Marsal, will make the case that while the short term outlook is for more turbulence, the long-term picture should be much better.
Additional Information: Registration is complimentary for members and students. Non-member registration is $10.

When: Wednesday, April 8, 2015 |  11:30am-1:30pm
Where: JP Morgan Chase Auditorium, 601 Travis, Houston, TX 77002 (entrance at corner of Texas and Travis)
What: Join the Houston Chapter for a luncheon program titled, FERC Audits & Enforcement: The What, When & How. This panel, featuring Suzanne Clevenger (Vinson & Elkins), Jerald Hess (DLA Piper), Sabrina Dugal Walia (Vinson & Elkins) and Deanna Reitman (DLA Piper) as the moderator will provide insight into the FERC Audit process and practical tips for managing a FERC Audit.  
Additional Information: Register by April 3, 2015

When: Monday, April 13, 2015 | 12:00pm-1:00pm
Where: Magnolia Hotel, 1100 Texas Ave.
What: Civil rights and discrimination under Texas Law presented by Thomas M. Anderson, Chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission's Civil Rights Division.
Additional Information: RSVP by April 7, 2015

When: Wednesday April 15, 2015 | 12:00pm-1:00pm
Where: Locke Lord LLP, JP Morgan Chase Tower, 600 Travis
What: "Oil and Gas Conveyances" presented by Ted Borrego

When: Thursday, April 16, 2015 | 7:30am-8:30am
Where: Wortham Tower Cafeteria, 2727 Allen Pkwy at Waugh
What: "History of Buffalo Bayou from Memorial Park to Allens Landing" presented by Louis Aulbach.

When: Friday, April 17, 2015 | 8:00am-9:00am
Where: Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, 711 Louisiana, 23rd Floor
What: My other hometown. A panel of Dallas lawyers will present on the differences of practicing in Dallas County and Harris County

When: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 | 11:30am-1:00pm
Where: Tony's Restaurant, 3755 Richmond Ave.
What: How the Process Works Inside the Social Security Hearing Office.

When: Thursday, April 28, 2015 | 12:00pm-1:00pm
What: Utica oil and gas developments and legal issues presented by John K. Keller of Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease LLP.
Additional Information: RSVP by April 23, 2015

When: Thursday, April 28, 2015 | 6:00pm-7:30pm
Where: St. Arnold's Brewery, 2000 Lyons Avenue
What: Background checks and social media
Additional Information: Pre-registration required online at

Friday, March 6, 2015

What Not to Wear to an Interview: Top 20 Wardrobe Malfunctions

We've been busy in the CDO helping students practice their interview skills via mock interviews. If you haven't taken advantage of this service yet, make an appointment for a mock interview with your counselor here.

We also remind our students that your appearance is part of your overall first impression and you want the interviewer to remember you for what you said, not what you were wearing. So in that vein, we wanted to share this great article from with some common interview attire mistakes.

What is the worst outfit ever worn to a job interview? For a career services director at the University of Chicago, it was the applicant who sported a Madras tie as a belt and a patterned cotton hat. Other contenders, according to a survey of hiring managers, include candidates with dirty fingernails, micro-miniskirts, t-shirts with offensive slogans and even bare feet! 

No one needs 'Queer Eye's' Carson Kressley to tell them that wearing shoes to an interview is a good idea, but could you be guilty of one of these top 20 fashion faux pas?

1. Carrying a backpack or fannypack instead of a briefcase or portfolio: Some image consultants suggest women ditch their purse, too!

2. Sunglasses on top of your head or headphones around your neck: Be sure to remove all your "transit gear" and tuck it in your briefcase before entering the lobby.

3. Too-short skirts: Forget what some of those gals on 'The Apprentice' are wearing. Your skirt should cover your thighs when you are seated. *Although skirt suits are always recommended for the ladies, if you do choose to wear a pant suit make sure to avoid skinny and/or ankle pants. 

4. The wrong tie: Ties should be made of silk, no less than three and a quarter inches wide with a conservative pattern. Image consultants say the best colors are red or burgundy.

5. Overly bright or large-patterned clothing: With the possible exception of creative fields like advertising or computer programming, it's best to stick with navy, black or gray.

6. Heavy makeup on women (or any makeup on a man)

7. Earrings on men: In fact, men should avoid wearing any jewelry unless it is a wedding ring, class ring or metal watch.

8. More than one set of earrings on women

9. Facial piercings, tongue jewelry or visible tattoos

10. Ill-fitting clothes. Few people can wear things straight off the rack. Spending a little extra to have your garments tailored is a worthwhile investment.

11. Long fingernails, especially with bright or specialty polishes. Nails should look clean and be trimmed to a length that doesn't leave an observer wondering how you keep from stabbing yourself.

12. Unnatural hair colors or styles. Remember, Donald Trump was a billionaire well before he began wearing a comb-over. If you're balding, try a close-cropped cut like Bruce Willis or Matt Lauer.

13. Short-sleeved shirts, even worse when worn with a tie

14. Fishnets, patterned hosiery or bare legs (no matter how tan you are). Women should stick with neutral color hosiery that complements their suit.

15. Men whose socks don't match their shoes, or whose socks are too short and leave a gap of flesh when they are seated

16. Rumpled or stained clothing: If interviewing late in the day, try to change to a fresh suit beforehand.

17. Scuffed or inappropriate footwear, including sneakers, stilettos, open-toed shoes and sandals

18. Strong aftershaves, perfumes or colognes: Many people are allergic to certain scents. For a subtle fragrance, use a good quality bath soap.

19. Belts and shoes that don't match: Shoes and belts should be made of leather or leather-like materials and the best colors for men are black or cordovan.

20. Telltale signs that your wearing a new suit. Remove all tags and extra buttons -- and remember to cut off the zigzag thread that keeps pockets and slits closed!

Don't be a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Plan and lay out what you're going to wear several days before the interview, so you'll have time to shop or get garments pressed and cleaned.Save "innovative" or revealing garb for the club (or your couch) and strive for crisp, clean and professional. Remember, you want the interviewer to be listening to what you're saying, not critiquing what you're wearing. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Resource Roundtable: Tips & Tools for Interview Prep

If you're busy applying and interviewing for spring law clerk, summer internship, or post-graduate positions, make sure to check out the Tips & Tools for Interview Prep Handout. It's an invaluable resource that will help you make the best first impression possible during your interview. This handout includes general tips, a list of typical interview questions, strategies to answer behavioral questions, and sample questions you may want to pose to employers.

If you have not received this from your counselor, feel free to email him/her or download it from the Career Resource Library via the "resources" tab in Symplicity.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Alumni Spotlight: Farrah Usmani '12

Farrah Usmani is an associate at Marcus & Colvin, LLP, a Nashville-based entertainment law firm. Through Marcus & Colvin, she acts as an of-counsel “bridge” to the New York and Los Angeles-based entertainment law firm, Carroll, Guido & Groffman, LLP.  Her practice focuses exclusively on entertainment transactions; more specifically, she represents music talent. Farrah has made amazing strides in just a few short years and shares her insight with us here:

How did you obtain your first job out of law school?

Two words best describe how I got my first job out of law school: relentless networking.  A year before graduation, I began identifying all the places I thought would provide me with the most ideal jumpstart for a career in entertainment.  I did this by reading trade publications, and making notes of law firms and companies that looked like they were geared toward expansion and innovation.  From there, I spent lots of time figuring out how to get my resume into the hands of the people already working at those companies.

I had the most success by shamelessly asking for informational interviews.  (Something I learned is that people are much more willing to give you advice when you're still a student, and not yet their competition).  For the most part, people are happy to help, and they enjoy the opportunity to reflect on their experiences.  Informational interviews are a great way to get your name out there in a relaxed and conversational environment.  Each time I met with someone, I’d ask to be kept in mind if any new positions opened in his/her legal department.

A month after graduation, it paid off.  I was offered a job at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of Hollywood's top talent agencies.  I worked for the Executive of Business & Legal Affairs in CAA’s Music Department for two years before I transitioned into private practice.

Describe what led you to your current position. 

CAA and my current law firm share several clients; each represents talent in a different facet of the music industry.  I was introduced to the partners of my current firm while working together on a deal for Kings of Leon.  The firm was expanding at the same time I was looking to move into private practice, so it was a very organic transition.

What experiences/internships did you have that you found to be helpful or beneficial in your job search and career thus far?

During my 2L year, I wrote my seminar paper on privacy torts (7310 SEM: Advanced Torts); specifically, my topic addressed rights of publicity as applied to celebrity estates.  Taking this class opened a lot of doors for me.  While doing my research, I contacted a woman in Beverly Hills who is an expert in the field of celebrity rights management to see if she’d give me some insight about the topic.  This phone call turned into my first entertainment law internship.  Needless to say, I spent my 2L summer in L.A., which was a huge resume builder.  Choosing coursework that strategically demonstrated my interest in entertainment law, while not being afraid to take an internship outside of my home market was very helpful and beneficial in pitching myself to employers after graduation.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to current law students?

Network, network, network! Use your resources as a student to connect with professionals in your desired field, and ask as many questions as you can.  Take chances, and be willing to look outside your comfort zone for the right opportunity.

If you'd like to connect with Farrah to learn more about her career path, talk to your counselor in the Career Development Office.

Friday, January 16, 2015

How to Answer the ‘What is Your Greatest Weakness?’ Question

Interviewing is an art and the more you practice, the better you get. As you start to interview with employers for spring or summer internships, remember to consider doing a mock interview with your counselor in the CDO. Bidding for our Spring Mock Interview Program is going on right now (via the "recruiting" tab in Symplicity), however, students can schedule a mock with the counselor throughout the year. 

In the spirit of interview season, we bring you this great article on how to answer the "what is your greatest weakness" question written by Breda Hegarty, Pre-Employment Trainer in Business in the Community Ireland, supporting people with barriers to gain employment and author of the blog

When I am preparing people for interview one of the most common questions they want to know the answer to is “What is your greatest weakness?” This is a question that many people dread and hope that the employer just won’t ask, however in order to deal with this question in the best way it is much better to be prepared. This question is not supposed to be an ambush, however if we answer it incorrectly we can end up trapping ourselves. Before the interview it is always a good idea to imagine what could be the toughest questions they could ask and then prepare for them.


Think about why the employer is asking this question. Take note that the key reason why an employer asks this question is to see if you are self aware. Once you are aware of your weakness then you have to power to be able to improve it. 

Firstly the Don’ts

Don’t try to turn your weakness into a positive e.g. "I am a perfectionist” or “I work too hard”
The employer will not think that you are a genius for coming up with such a clever answer. An HR manager from a large transport firm that I met with recently said that he hates when people give this answer as he knows it is learned off and untrue and it then makes him doubt the validity of every other answer.

Don’t say that you don’t have any weaknesses. This can sound quite arrogant and shows a lack of self awareness.

Don’t say anything that will negatively affect your chances of getting the job e.g. “I can be lazy at times” “I have trouble getting up in the mornings” “I get annoyed with difficult customers” “ I don’t like it if my boss is too pushy”.

Anything that can majorly affect our ability to carry out the role or deal with colleagues, management and customers in a positive way will lead the employer to hire someone else.


Answer this question as if it has been asked in this way: “If you could improve one aspect of yourself what would that be and how are you currently working on it?”

Be honest but not too honest. Try to find an area that you are trying to improve but if it is a major part of the role then come up with a different answer, for example a teacher couldn't give the answer that they dislike public speaking, however this could be a fine answer for a computer programmer, or when applying for an administration job, you could mention that your weakness is taking a leadership role, as you are not likely to have to do this as part of your role. However it would be a poor choice to mention that you are disorganized or have poor typing skills as they are usually required for the role.

When answering the question follow this formula: start by talking about what your good at then, mention something that you would like to improve, and finally mention how you are improving it.

Focus more on what you are doing to improve this weakness and how you improved it in the past rather than on the weakness itself.


“I am a very thorough, meticulous and careful person, sometimes it can take me a long time to make decisions, I need to weigh up all the options and pour over the details before making a decision. I am trying to get better at working out what decisions should be made quickly and which ones require more time”

“I can be very persistent and determined so if there is a problem or something I can’t figure out, I tend to stay focused on it until I overcome it. This can take a lot of my time away from other tasks. I am trying to get better at asking my co-workers for advice or help with something if I am stuck on it for a while, as I know in the long run that this will be more efficient and beneficial”