Friday, December 12, 2014

Alumni Spotlight: Aaron Blair '14

Aaron graduated from UHLC in May 2014 and is currently employed as both an Independent Landman with Tiger Stripe Resources, LLC and a Law Clerk with Landrith, Lehrbass & Suazo, LLP. In both of these positions, he is gaining the experience necessary to pursue his goal of becoming a title attorney. He took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us:

1. How did you obtain your first job out of law school? Probably through a mixture of luck and persistence. What’s the saying? 99% perspiration? That’s about right! I reached out to everyone I knew, from family to friends to classmates, and created my own network. I never sent cold resumes; instead, I always had someone vouching for me wherever I applied. I attended as many networking events as possible and made it a priority to engage with people face-to-face. I regularly set up informational interviews over breakfast or lunch to learn more about promising companies and firms. After meeting someone new, I followed up with an email or phone call to start building a relationship with that person.

2. Describe what led you to your current position. Believe it or not, I ended up at one of my current jobs by attending a Dane Cook comedy event! An attorney from one of the firms where I summered invited me to the show, and we built a rapport from there. When this attorney started his own law firm, he immediately brought me on. I came to Tiger Stripe via a more traditional path, that is, through the dedication and excellent work of the UHLC Career Development Office staff.

3. What experiences/internships did you have that you found to be helpful or beneficial in your job search and career thus far? Experience in my field of choice provided me with a significant advantage during the job hunt. For almost two years, I worked part-time under title attorneys while I was in school. It was about half-way through my law school career that I decided to focus on energy law. Before that, I filled my summers with internships in everything from estate planning to in-house work at an energy company. Getting my feet wet in a variety of areas and working under the attorneys in those fields helped me determine the right path for my career. If you’re interested in an area of the law, get out there and try it!

4. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to current law students? I imagine you’re all tired of hearing it, but focus on your grades – they are so important. Make sure you seize opportunities that will allow you to stand out. If no opportunities come knocking at your door, make your own. Get involved with a journal or other organizations on campus, such as mock trial and moot court. Figure out ways to get experience, either through internships or writing in your practice area. Build relationships. Amidst all of the studying, take the time to get to know your classmates, teachers, bosses, and co-workers. Most importantly of all, blaze your own trail. Don’t worry about how everyone else is doing it, or “how it’s done.” Assess your talents, skills, and interests, and follow a path that’s entirely your own. Be true to yourself, and your career will enrich your life.

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Make the Most of Your Winter Break

Mary Crane, an author of several successful books aimed at helping people start, build, and maintain their careers via their professional and people skills, shares her tips for making the most of the holiday season:

The upcoming winter break provides tons of opportunities for you to reconnect with contacts you’ve made throughout the previous year. Think strategically and use the next several weeks to build and expand your networks.
  1. By early December, you will be hunkered down in final exam mode. Use the day after Thanksgiving to send holiday wishes to any professionals you encountered during the previous 12 months. For more casual acquaintances, feel free to send your wishes via email. In the case of a prospective employer, past employer, or alumni of the school, consider sending a holiday card with a brief personal note. That personal communication will help you become memorable.
  2. Many offices experience their quietest time of year between Christmas and New Years. Key decision-makers, who have chosen to stay in town, may have more time than normal to meet with students interested in a particular entity. Take a risk this holiday season. Make a list of the school’s alumni who you would most like to meet and email a meeting request. Don’t give up until you’ve succeeded in scheduling at least one meeting.
  3. If you plan to return to a city where you worked as a summer associate or intern, use the upcoming break to reconnect face to face with contacts you previously established. A quick coffee or lunch allows you to reconfirm your interest in an employer.
  4. In addition to meeting with prospective employers, start building your professional network. Use the winter break to reconnect with peers, college classmates and the like. And don’t forget to connect with the parents of your friends, who may become important members of your network, too.
  5. Spend some focused time during the winter break setting SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-limited) goals for 2015. Ask yourself: Who do I need to know? Who can help me make a connection with a potential employer? How should I best reach out to that person? When? What do I wish to ask of that person? Remember, you will never accomplish a goal that you don’t set.

Holiday Networking Events

The holidays can be a great time to connect with the legal community and start building your support system. So, this week we're sharing some basic networking tips from the Culture and Manners Institute:

At a networking event, very rarely will someone take you by the arm and say, "Let me introduce you to the most fabulous people in the room."  Networking takes effort on your part (there is a reason "working" is the root word here). If you see someone standing alone, introduce yourself.  "Hello, my name is (first name, last name)."  The person who introduces himself/herself is more memorable than someone who hangs back and waits to be introduced. When the person offers his/her name, say, "How do you do, (name)?"

When you see a group of people talking, stand outside the group until you hear a lull in the conversation, then step forward and introduce yourself. To keep a conversation going, ask questions of the other person.  People will appreciate you when you take an interest in them. Be the person people want to know from the start. Make eye contact with people in the room and not with your cell phone. 
Smile -- this shows you are open to communication. Dress so people respect you... not inspect you.  If you show too much skin (you too, Mr. Saggy Britches), the right people will avoid you and the wrong people won't.

Take these tips and put them to use at some the many networking opportunities over the holiday season, a few are highlighted here: 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Brennan’s, 3300 Smith Street, Houston, TX

Wednesday, December 3, 2014|5:30 PM-7:30 PM
Irma's Southwest Grill, 1314 Texas St., Houston, TX

Thursday, December 4, 2014|6:00 PM-9:00 PM
Brennan’s, 3300 Smith Street, Houston, TX

Sunday, December 7, 2014|11:30 AM-2:00 PM
Brennan’s, 3300 Smith Street, Houston, TX

HBA Event 20th Annual Holiday Reception Honoring the Judiciary
Tuesday, December 9, 2014 |5:00 PM-8:00 PM
Downtown Houston Club, 1100 Caroline St., Houston, TX

Animal Law Section Annual Holiday Party
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
BlackFinn American Grille, 1910 Bagby St.

Asian American Bar Association of Houston Holiday Party
Saturday, December 13, 2014|11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
El Tiempo Cantina, 3130 Richmond Avenue, Houston, TX 77098

Houston Intellectual Property Law Association Annual Holiday Party
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Tony’s, 3755 Richmond Avenue (between Wesleyan and Edloe), Houston, TX

Houston Young Lawyers Association Holiday Party
Wednesday, December 17, 2014| 7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
The Grove, 1611 Lamar St., Houston, TX

Joint Annual Holiday Party - The Hispanic Bar Association of Houston and The Mexican American Bar Association of Houston
Thursday, December 18, 2014|6:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Founders Ballroom at The Royal Sonesta Hotel 2222 West Loop South, Houston, Texas 
R.S.V.P. by Wednesday, December 9, 2014 to

Friday, November 21, 2014

How To Dress Like A Leader In Any Work Environment

We all know that interview attire requires dark suits and conservative accessories, but business casual can be much more confusing. The definition of business casual can depend on several factors including the industry, size of the company, number of employees, amount of interaction between employees and customers, geography, climate, culture, and average age of the workforce. So once you have a job, the best advice is take your cues from your fellow coworkers. 

Until then, use the graphic created by Business Insider and Sylvie di Giusto, founder of Executive Image Consulting, to make sure you're dressed appropriately for any networking event or reception that you attend. "Executive Casual" best describes business casual in the legal industry. See the article and the helpful graphic here

Friday, November 14, 2014

Resource Roundtable - Take Control of Your Future: A Guide to Managing Your Student Debt

We’re excited to announce that Equal Justice Works’ student debt e-book, Take Control of Your Future: A Guide to Managing Your Student Debt, is now available free online. Take Control of Your Future is a comprehensive guide to managing student debt, with chapters on understanding student loans and loan consolidation, planning before borrowing, income-driven repayment plans and a step-by-step guide to earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Equal Justice Works also provides monthly student debt webinars. This month, the webinar will be on Tuesday,November 25, 2014 from 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM EST. This is a great opportunity to ask questions. They'll also have an updated on what is happening in Congress regarding the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and any legislation that might affect Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

The mission of Equal Justice Works is to create a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. Equal Justice Works provides a continuum of programs that begin with incoming law school students and extend into later careers in the profession. We provide the nation’s leading public interest law fellowship program and offer more postgraduate, full-time legal positions in public service than any other organization.