Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Phone interview went well

So, I had my phone interview today, and it went pretty well.  I still got hammered on the "why here?" question.  I answered by saying that I want to stay in-state, and would love to start my career in MediumTown, where I would be centrally located in the middle of the state. 

They responded by reminding me that MediumTown is nothing like CollegeTown or BiggestCity I have lived in before.  I fired back by saying that my parents live in a town of 1,400 people, and I love that place as much as anywhere I lived before.  That seemed to satisfy them.  If that comment gave them the impression that I am not from BiggestCity, so be it. 

Otherwise, the interview was great.  They were very impressed by my work publicizing the CCRAA (College Cost Reduction and Access Act) and my interest in consumer law.  Which was excellent. 

I have an in-person interview in 2 weeks.  Yay!

Just knowing that there is a possibility of a job in my future puts me in a great mood!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Online job hunting

Did my semi-weekly sweep of the government job sites.  Nearby cities, counties, the state job board, even the site.  Nada.  Couldn't find a thing that I am remotely qualified for. 

The one thing I have learned through all this job hunting is not to waste my time applying for government jobs unless I meet at least some of the qualifications.  Trying to emphasize similarities between what they are asking for and work I have actually done never gets me interviews. 

A friend sent me a job posting paying $27,000 to work as a housing counselor.  I think at this point, I would rather work as a paralegal.  If I have to take a non-attorney job, I would rather that it pay a decent wage.  I know that most Americans would love a job paying $27K, but not those with $110,000 in student loan debt!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Phone interview next week!

I have a phone interview with another legal services organization.  This one isn't very familiar to me, because it's in the middle of the state, in a city I have visited only a couple times in my life.   Since I know that housing law is part of the position, I am going to spend tomorrow re-reading those statutes, in the hope I might be able to talk more intelligently at the interview on this topic.

From what a former employee of the organization said, the managing attorney seems to just let staff attorneys follow their interests and take some cases that are out of their job description, but in  the attorney's area of "expertise."  I am hoping that this means I could take some consumer law cases if I worked there. 

There will be, as usual, the question about my connections to the area.  I hate this question.  Why? Because at this point, I would take a job in Nebraska if it was offered to me.  I could care less about location - I just want a damn job.  So I think I am going to just flat out say, "I think I can make anywhere my home, as long as I am here in my home state, and my work is interesting." Or something like that.

Any tips from readers on how you handle interview questions like that???

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Forecast: continued unemployment

The worst thing about the legal profession is that you can go on the state bar's website and see who got the jobs that you unsuccessfully interviewed for.  I really wish that this wasn't possible.  I would rather believe that the person who got the job I coveted was a superwoman (or man) who practically invented public interest law.  I don't like knowing that the winner of my job is an ordinary student, who is no more qualified than I am.  That means that I have to take a hard look at why I didn't get the job instead, and there are no easy answers to that question.

I am starting to think that I must be terrible at interviews.  During law school, I would get almost every job I interviewed for.  That streak was broken when I started looking for post-grad work.  Obviously, I am not selling myself very well at these things.  I just need to find out where I am going wrong.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


As a 3L, I was a project assistant for the law school's pro bono program.  The program is just getting off the ground, and having some growing pains.  The program is supposed to match attorneys with students to work on a pro bono case together, but generally there either are not enough cases or not enough attorneys to match up all the students. 

Now that I am a graduate of that fine institution, I attended the "kickoff" meeting yesterday to show my support, and unabashedly do some networking with the lawyers I knew would be there.

I met two great ones who both worked for the non-profit that wants to phone interview me next week.  They gave me some good information, within the confines of the whole, "I don't want to say anything very negative about my old employer" thing.

This morning,  I went on LinkedIn and made sure I added both to my list of "connections."  Not sure if doing this kind of thing has paid off so far, but I am hoping it will someday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Taking a Paralegal Job to Ride out the Recession?

I have been sending out resumes and networking my ass off lately..  Today, I got a call from a headhunter, asking about whether I would take a position as a paralegal working on a short term document processing project.  The pay is almost as much as our local Legal Aid group pays.  (Without the benefits and super coolness of public interest law.)

This is tempting because:

I haven't worked since April.
I haven't been able to spend any money on anything but bills and insurance since May.
I would love to get out of the house a bit more.

However, I am not sure that an employer that needs someone for 2-3 months would be very pleased if I left after a month.  I mean, what do I do if I get a real job?  I would have to quit, and I hate putting anyone in a bad position, as it could burn a bridge I might need later.

We shall see....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Google Webmaster is hilarious

So I tried out the Google Webmaster gadget that is part of the Blogger Dashboard and found some interesting stuff.  Like the most searched term to get to this blog is "Burger King Secret Menu."  I thought I was known for my honest take on law school and life afterward, but my real claim to fame is knowing that you can order "off menu" at fast food restaurants. 


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Best Value Law Schools

OMG - the National Jurist ranked my law school in the top 25 for best value.  Well, so far it hasn't exactly paid off.  Maybe in a normal (non-recession) economy it would, but not right now. 

What's interesting about the list of the top 50 is that the school with the highest US News ranking is Texas (followed by Minnesota), but most of the schools listed as great values are those ranked in Tiers 3 and 4 by US News.  Not a single Harvard Law School or Yale to be found on the list.

My question is this: If the "prestige" of many of these "best value" schools is so low, how are they worth it to attend?  If you graduate in the middle of your class at my school, you are probably unemployed right now.  That's not a good value at all.  I doubt that many Harvard grads are unemployed right now, regardless of class rank.  Yet here I am waiting for a job to come my way. 

I also have to laugh about the statistic of 90+ percent of grads from my school being employed.  Not this year!

Consumer law: getting out of your cell phone contract

Most recently law school graduates, and those just beginning law school have probably moved recently.  And, if you are like me, you desperately want an IPhone, instead of whatever you are using now.  That usually means switching cell phone networks.  But, if you are in the middle of a contract, getting out means early termination fees.  There is a great article with video about how to get out of your contract early. 

Ideas for doing this include:
1) Waiting for the cell provider to change the terms of the contract, which sometimes means you can cancel without penalty,
2) Complain frequently about service issues and log your complaints,
3) Use a lot of roaming minutes, if your cell provider pays for them.  They might find it is cheaper to let you out of the contract rather than keep paying for you to roam, or
4) Move to an area with no service for that provider.

As soon as I get a job, I am going to ditch my current service, and get a nice juicy Iphone!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I got offered a job

My friend is a lawyer, and he needs a legal assistant.  In Colorado. 

If this job pays more than $40,000, I would seriously consider moving there and taking it.  I have no interviews coming up, and only 2 outstanding applications.

This state isn't doing it for me, and I absolutely loved Colorado when I stayed there for a week in 2007. 

Sad that I would consider this, but I am. 


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Major case of the blahs

I seem to be suffering from a major case of the blahs this week.  Or maybe it's just boredom. Part of it may be that I got rejected from 4 different jobs this week.  I also have been spending way to much time by myself.  I thought when I moved back to my home city, that friends who live here would want to do stuff all the time, and that my social calendar would go back to being full, like it was when I lived here BLS (Before Law School).  But my friends are getting older and most of them have children, which takes up a lot of time.  Four of them had babies while I was in school.  So that means they are pretty much unavailable.  And others just found other friends to hang out with since I wasn't there, and forgot what it was like to have me around. 

Or something.

 I tell myself this stuff so that I don't start feeling too pitiful about hanging out in my sister's basement so much.

When I worked full time, I was also in school part-time, and volunteered registering voters about 15 hours a week during half the year.  I would fantasize about how great it would be if I didn't have to work and could have my days to myself. 

Except I never fantasized about doing so without any money and while living with my sister.  It's not the wonderland I imagined.  I do get out sometimes, to accompany my sis to the grocery store, or take my nephew to his soccer games or even go visit friends once in a while.  But the image of taking yoga classes and becoming fluent in multiple foreign languages really can't happen without good old money. 

I wish I could barter my legal skills for a fabulous fall wardrobe and a gym membership and Spanish tutor and find a way to fill up my days.  (I really do have some legal skills, ya know?)

Recently, I got an email "from" President Obama, encouraging people to volunteer as an homage to the 9/11 victims.  So I went on the local volunteer website and sent out some emails.  Hopefully, someone will let me volunteer and that should be a good outlet for my nervous energy.  This pity party certainly isn't that fun!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Public interest law blog

If you are a wanna be public interest lawyer, you should check out the Equal Justice Works blog. One of the contributors, Heather Jarvis, is an expert on student debt and its impact on public interest careers. I had the opportunity to meet with Heather last year, and she was very informative. The blog itself contains all kinds of interesting stories about students working in public service internships over the summer, loan repayment options and career choices.

For those who don't know, I also have a lot of information about student loan repayment options, how to find out how much you owe, and ways to use the Income Based Repayment and Loan Forgiveness options set forth in the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about your loans.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What does Facebook know about you?

If you're like me, you don't read most of the privacy notices that are attached to the applications you include in your profile on Facebook. All those quizzes you take also include a caveat that the developers will be accessing your profile, which, in most cases contains a lot of private information.

The Consumerist blog posted a link to a quiz that you can take to educate yourself on privacy issues on Facebook. The hilarious part is that you have to go to Facebook and allow access to your profile to even take the quiz.

Law schools and judicial clerkships

This handy chart from the always questionable US News shows the rankings for law schools placing students in judicial clerkships after they graduate. My law school is doing a poor job, placing less than 10% of students. Meanwhile, the University of North Dakota is kicking ass, placing right behind Yale with 28% of students in clerkships. Wow!

I wonder what they are doing that my school isn't? Oh yeah, probably providing decent mentorship of students, and assisting them beyond a one-hour "hey, clerkships are good, try and get one" class.

The interesting part of this is that my career services counselor said that only the top 10% or so of our students could get these positions. Yet, 28% of those at UND are doing it. And of those people, that can't be the top 28% of the class. (Some of those grads have to be taking jobs in law firms or public interest orgs) Therefore, it seems that, yet again, the view of our career counselors is skewed by their own experiences, rather than what actually happens.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I feel like I am becoming a prime example of why we need health care reform in this country. I lost my health insurance (the one that cost me about $150 a month from the university) in mid-August.

Now I have noticed that when I jog or go for a long (over a half hour) walk, pain radiates around my right foot. That's the same foot that I dropped a box on a month ago when we were moving. But the toe itself doesn't hurt, it just looks a little swollen.

I have also had a mystery abdominal pain today. I am assuming it's because I ate some bad fish or something, but the thought of not being able to get any of this checked out unless I suffer a bureaucratic nightmare with the public assistance office bugs me. So I have pretty much put off looking into that. But I am going to have to, on Tuesday.

It's probably psychological, but these little mystery ailments are annoying me. So is the fact that so many selfish people in this country would rather see others suffer than pay an extra penny of tax money. Even though their own health care could improve, and they might not ever have to pay more for it. I just think that people who are comfortable and who have money forget what it's like to not have much, or never have experienced that at all.

A former classmate of mine indicated in a facebook post that people were doing "risk assessment" to decide whether the risk of having a health problem was worth paying for health insurance. However, his equation is based on his own experience as the child of an attorney, who has never been impoverished or without insurance in his whole life. And future leaders like my classmates are the ones that could be setting policy in this country in the years to come. And that scares me more than pain in my foot or tummy ever could.

Hello....Hello Hello is there anybody out there?

Sometimes, I use my blog like a diary, then remember that other people can and sometimes do read this thing. It's difficult to worry about what I write when I am not even sure anyone is reading it.

I sometimes wish that I had a whole bunch of readers so that I would be inspired to actually carefully consider what I write, and maybe even edit stuff before I post it. I think I am going to try at least for now, to marginally increase my readership by commenting on some other law student/law grad blogs. I could use the company.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Going too far

Yep, I am totally desperate for a job. But I have to keep reminding myself that I went to law school for a reason, and that reason didn't include doing icky things like insurance defense. I just can't and I won't. I applied for a job that a friend of a friend recommended, and it turns out that the guy doesn't want someone to do "some family law and contracts work." It's insurance defense and some collections.

There is a line to be drawn, and for me, it's right there. I just can't spend my days helping insurance companies cut/reduce/eliminate benefits to people. Blech!