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.

Conversation - Getting it Started

The holidays are the perfect time to shift your focus from studying to networking. Use your newly-found free time to reconnect with contacts and start building new relationships. 

But making small talk can be difficult. What do we talk about? How do we start? Natalie Weakly, image consultant at Signature Style, shares her tips on how to get conversations started:

The social whirlwind that is the holiday season is upon us. Parties with friends, work events, time with family, and a dozen other reasons to step up your conversationalist game. I LOVE a good party. I love meeting new people, learning new things, hearing interesting tidbits about people’s lives, discussing what’s happening in the world, and learning random trivia I am certain I will need to know sometime. But we don’t get to any of the good stuff unless we start the conversation.

We’re all guilty of falling into the trap of just talking with the people we already know at a party. Here are some tips to help you get the conversation started with someone new. You never know who you’ll meet!

Have a few Go-To Questions in Your Back Pocket

Before you head out think of a few go-to questions you can use to spark conversation. Maybe what books have you read recently, movies you’ve seen, recent travels, favorite gift you’ve given/received (tis the season after all!). Having a few conversation topics in mind can help you be more relaxed if you get nervous and of course can lead to some interesting conversation!

Read the Headlines

Even if you don’t have time to read the whole article, check out a few headlines before you head out for the evening. The headlines give you just enough information to participate in discussion and give you great content for asking questions. “I just saw something about XYZ! What do you think about it? or Do you know more about it?”

A great cheat sheet for current events is The Skimm.  It’s a great, easily digestible
rundown of current events with a bit of personality thrown in for good measure.


A great introduction can really spark conversation between the parties you are introducing. If you are introducing yourself add how you met the host or what department you work in for corporate functions or even a random tidbit about yourself. That extra piece of information is what both parties can use to get the ball rolling.

The Best Question

“Where are you from originally?” I learned about this question in a networking class several years ago and it is quite possibly the best networking advice I’ve ever received. You can learn so much about a person and have great follow-up questions with their answer to this question.

Use these at your next event to get the conversation started. Tell me how it goes! Next week, tips on how to keep the conversation going…

Friday, October 31, 2014

Alumni Spotlight: Sireesha Chirala '13

Meet Assistant Attorney General, Sireesha Chirala '13. Sireesha works in the Environmental Protection Division at the Office of the Attorney General in Austin, Texas and was kind enough to answer a few questions about her job search and career path. She practices civil litigation and environmental law and represents the State of Texas in environmental enforcement matters involving violations of State waste, air, and water laws.

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

At the end of my 3L year, I secured a law clerk position in the Environmental Protection Division at the AG’s office and applied for the UHLC’s Graduate Fellowship program. After graduating and taking the bar, I moved to Austin and completed my fellowship. I tried to develop a relationship with as many lawyers in the division as I could, found some amazing mentors, and worked hard to impress the attorneys who gave me assignments. About a month after I passed the bar, a position opened up in my division. Since I had already been there for three months (I stayed past the official time period for the fellowship) and made a positive impression on the attorneys, I was interviewed with the endorsements and support of almost everyone in the division. I was in the right place at the right time.

Describe what led you to pursue your current position/practice area:

I was drawn to environmental law in law school. I took several classes in this area, wrote my journal comment on this topic, and tried to intern at places where I could develop the skills and experience necessary to start my legal career as an environmental lawyer. Through my internships, I also realized that I wanted to work in the public sector.

I knew that the practice area I wanted to specialize in was smaller and very competitive and that typically a law license is required to be hired in the public sector. But I decided I would give it a shot. Because of the successes that my friends who graduated the years before me had in obtaining positions through their UHLC Graduate Fellowships, I decided that a fellowship would be the best option. The fellowship allowed me to work at the place I wanted to work without the employer (or me) having to worry about pay.

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

Definitely my judicial internships. Potential employers always asked me about my judicial internships. Working for judges is an incredible experience and really links together what we study in law school with the practice of law. I was able to see how judges view cases and pleadings; interact with judges on a day-to-day basis; observe a lot of different practice styles, hearings, trials, and courtroom procedures; and hone my legal research and writing skills. My judicial internships have proven invaluable as a new lawyer.

Another thing that was helpful in my job search was the variety in my internship experiences. After 1L year, I interned or did research for a professor every semester and summer. As a result, I worked in the public and private sector and in criminal and civil law. This made choosing a practice area to specialize in, and basically my career path, a lot easier.

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

Try hard not to compare yourself to other people. It is almost impossible not to do it because of the nature of law school, but you will find the job/career path that is right for you if you pay attention to yourself instead of measuring yourself against others. Most of my friends went into the private sector, but I knew that I wanted to work for the government. Instead of following suit, I followed my interests and luckily, found my dream job.

I also think that varied internships are incredibly important because of the relationships you build with other lawyers from a broad spectrum of practice areas, the work experience you can discuss in interviews, and the exposure to the practice of law that comes with it. So intern or research with different professors while you are in school and if your schedule allows it.
And remember, it’s not a matter of if you’ll find a job; it’s a matter of when.

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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Resource Roundtable: Practice Area Overviews

Still unsure of which practice areas might be a good fit for you? The Career Development Office has Practice Area Overviews – quick, one-pagers with descriptions of various practice areas, the type of work involved, and recommended classes. You can find these in the Career Resource Library, under the “resources” tab in Symplicity. 

If you’re looking for more detailed information about the various practice areas, ask your counselor if you can borrow The Official Guide to Legal Specialties by Lisa Abrams. You’ll get a more in-depth look at what it's like to practice law in 30 major specialty areas, including appellate practice, entertainment, immigration, international, tax, and telecommunications. This book gives you the insights and expertise of top practitioners – the issues they tackle every day, the people and clients they work with, what they find rewarding about their work, and what classes or work experience you need to follow in their footsteps. Over 120 government, public interest, corporate, and private attorneys are featured.