Around the Blawgosphere: How Law Schools Can Make It Easier for Firms to Hire Students as Clerks

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Help Lawyers Help Students

At Small Firm Innovation, Washington, D.C., solo Carolyn Elefant writes that she’d love to hire some local law students to clerk for her on a project basis. But posting an ad on Craigslist and sorting through sheaves of resumes is a tedious proposition, as is going through a law school’s placement office. “Rather, I’d like to be able to go to a law school website (without waiting to register and gain approval or call someone) and scan through a bunch of resumés and start making calls,” she writes.

If she wants a system like this in place, then surely other small firms do as well—and law schools want to place their students. “So let me say this: Earth to law schools, WAKE UP!” Elefant writes. “There are solo and small-firm lawyers with small, revolving needs—maybe a 40 hour project here, or (as in my case) two 20 hour/week positions there. The pay may not be great—maybe $10 to $25 an hour (that’s just the general range that I hear) but it’s paying and it’s experience and it can help your students advance. … Make it easy for your students to hustle by letting real practicing lawyers access them easily. Not a massive change, but one that I guarantee will help a few more nonetheless.”

How Many Lawyers Really Work from Home?

The latest U.S. Census reported that 2 percent of lawyers “telecommute,” legal consultant David Ward noted at the Attorney Marketing Center. But what does “telecommuting” mean for a lawyer?

“I think a lot of attorneys do at least some of their work from home,” Ward writes. “They don’t call it telecommuting, however, a word that is not usually associated with professionals. I also think a growing number of attorneys, sole practitioners primarily, work almost exclusively from home. They see clients at an office suite where they have so many hours a month available for that purpose, or other arrangements, i.e., using a conference room or spare office in another attorneys suite.”

When Ward practiced law, he had an office outside of his home; if he were to practice again, he would still have an office. “For one thing, I got a lot of walk-in clients in my practice,” Ward wrote. “Over the years, I’ve talked to attorneys who have an office in their home and see clients there. I think this is a mistake. Clients have expectations about what an attorney does and they expect attorneys to have an office. When you deviate from what they expect, they get nervous. They may not say anything but they are surely wondering why you can’t afford a real office.”

What’s the First Amendment Holdup?

Florida International University law professor Howard Wasserman is thinking that the U.S. Supreme Court’s three pure First Amendment cases—FCC v. Fox Television (whether standards for decency on TV are too vague), Knox v. SEIU (union assessments for political expenditures) and U.S. v. Alvarez (challenging the Stolen Valor Act)—should have been decided by now. At Prawfsblawg, he speculated what the fact that they’re not yet decided could mean.

“Does it suggest a deeply divided court? Does it suggest a number of concurring and dissenting opinions circulating? Does it suggest the absence of majorities or ongoing efforts to cobble together majorities? Moreover, does the delay suggest anything about which way the cases are going to come out?” Wasserman wrote. In the last couple of terms, free speech cases have been decided by solid majorities, either for or against. And for the last two terms “have shown a court with a strongly civil libertarian position on free speech. … It just seems as if we have been waiting longer than usual to see if that view continues to prevail.”

Misguided Law Firm Bios

At Slaw, legal consultant Allison Shields takes note of nine common mistakes lawyers make when crafting their law firm website biographies. What are some of the big ones?

Leading with your education. “Your clients don’t really care where you went to school—although the fact that you are actually credentialed is certainly important,” Shields writes. “You’ll want to include your education in your bio somewhere and make that information available to potential clients, but there’s no need to lead with it.”

Not including a photo. “Photos are becoming so common on the internet, particularly on ‘profile,’ ‘about’ or ‘attorney’ pages that if your photo isn’t there, it may look like you’re hiding something,” Shields writes. “Remember—people do business with people they know, like and trust. Posting a photograph helps your audience feel that they ‘know’ you.”

Hiding your contact information—or completely leaving it out. “If the whole purpose of posting your bio online and participating in social networking is to build your business and broaden your network, make it as easy as possible to contact you,” Shields writes. “Some clients don’t like to use the telephone and would prefer email. Make both available on your contact page, and include your firm address if your clients tend to be local, but don’t forget to include that information on your bio page as well.”

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