Archive for March, 2007

Job Search — Panel of Success

Perhaps one of the big stressors of school is how to seek and find employment.  I was asked to be part of a five student panel on strategies on finding a job.  The following are what I thought were good take-aways from the panel.

Network – Unless you’re the best of your class, most people don’t get picked up without being recommended or known to the hiring person.  You can do this through pro bono (volunteer) work, trade events, temporary jobs, friends and classmates.  Go, attend, and mix!  Check out linkedin, where you can use your friends and colleages to get you places you didn’t know you could get.

Do something different – It’s all about making yourself stand out, whether its through a recommendation or activites.  If  you want to do business law, take a finance class.  If you want to do entertainment law, take a flim class.  If you want to work in high tech, take an IT or Engineering class.  John (a member of the panel) said that he went to Guatamala for the summer to improve his Spanish.  The point is that you need to be more than school.  Also, be aware that your answer about why you chose to do your something different can imply that your interviewer isn’t as competent as they should be (ie — answering that an MBA really understands business implies that your interviewer might not understand business — a better answer is to say that you can acquire that knowledge through experience or class, and you chose the class route).

Do the important standard stuff – If you’re in law school, that means to try and get on a journal.  It means that you should attempt to have decent grades.  Excelling in the common gives your interviewer ways to compare you to the pack.  Often times the standard stuff is just a cutoff and not a deal-maker (ie you might need only good grades, and stellar grades doesn’t buy much).

Get experience – This can be through a job or volunteer work or unpaid internships.  Your interviewer would generally rather hire someone that has an idea of what’s going on rather than someone at ground zero.  It also says that someone else trusted you enough to accept your work, even if unpaid.

Be professional – Dress for the part.  It is almost always easier to dress down than up.  Do your research on the company.  Ask questions about their goals and where they want to be in five years.  You want to look available but not desperate for the job.  Don’t brown-nose.  Be confident in your answers (when asked what you want to do, don’t say that you might want to do something or something else … your mind can change).

Work differently – If your school has on campus interviews, do them.  But, also discover who is not on that list and go see if you can interview with them.  Your chances are better with those you discover because you’re not competing with everyone in your class.  Go to out of state job fairs.  See if your career services can connect you with out of state career fairs.  You will be inherently different than the other applicants because you will be from somewhere else.  Let diversity work in your favor.

I heard a funny saying about law school:  Law school is like a pie eating contest with the winner getting more pie.  Big Firms and Corporations are not for everyone.  Sometimes the intangible benefits of working at a small firm are better suited to you.

Patent Clerking on the Cheap — Free Tools

I figure that more than one of us clerks has been asked to research on the cheap for one of our boss’s clients.  I wanted to share a list of the tools that I find useful and why.  Not only could these tools be useful to the patent clerks out there, but I figure the general public might find it interesting on how to do research on the cheap.

Remember that the goal of this kind of research is not to “leave no stone unturned,” it is to find the few items that support your point.  If you really want to “leave no stone unturned,” you’re going to pay for it and likely rely on Westlaw or Lexisnexis.

  • Freepatentsonline – This is the place to do some searching and get your patents in pdf form for free.  They keep adding new features like saving patents you’ve looked up in a porfolio.
  • Findlaw – The research tool that points you in the direction of free legal resources.  Many legal resources are for free and just need to be found.  Findlaw is a great directory for these resources.
  • Google Patent Search – If you’re looking for specific terms in patents, google patent search will actually highlight the term in the patent itself.  Finally I can see the context of the term I want in the patent.  I’ll actually use this with the paper copy in front of me.
  • Google Search – Google not only crawls legal websites, but the free court documents and various legal repositories.  Once you’ve narrowed down your “terms of art” (terms of art mean specific words with special legal meaning) you can mine a ton of legal treatises through google.  Oftentimes you’ll have to use quotes to make sure the words are found together like “patent invalidity”

These are the ones I can think of, off of the top of my head.  I’ll have to do a part II when I can think of the others.