Monthly Archives: May 2009

A unique volunteer opportunity

LeeAnn Webster spent a week in Costa Rico in August 2007 working side-by-side with members of a village painting a community center and digging irrigation ditches.

She ate lunch and dinner with the village residents, and learned first-hand about their culture.

In 2008 she volunteered in an orphanage in Peru. Families living in the nearby mountains used the orphanage as a place for their children to live during the week so they could attend school. She also helped build clay stoves for those families.

These trips were possible because of her involvement in Globe Aware, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments that encourage people to immerse themselves in a unique way of giving back.

Every activity is intended to promote cultural awareness and/or promote sustainability, according to globeaware.org. Chosen projects meet several criteria: safe, culturally interesting, genuinely beneficial to a needy community, and involve significant interaction with the host community.

The organization has no political or religious affiliation, and volunteers help to empower the host communities in creating renewable, sustainable programs, according to the site.

Webster, assistant director of marketing and business development at Mayer Brown, said each trip really changed her and how she lives her life. She typically spends one week working with Globe Aware, and a second week traveling on her own.

Most programs, she said, cost about $1,100 a week, and that includes accommodations and food for the week. But those who participate must also pay for airfare, but it’s tax-deductible.

She said Globe Aware really strives to put the money it receives back into community the volunteers are working in. She plans to go this year back to Costa Rico, but this time will work with a coastal program involving sea turtles. And she will bring her nephew, who just graduated from high school.

Globe Aware could be an option for those lawyers in-between jobs.

“It’s going to give them a unique experience, especially if they’ve never traveled somewhere like that, and an understanding of how these people live, how a different government structure or different supply structure can affect what you’re able to do,” she said.

“As a new attorney you suddenly get on [your firm’s] timetable … Your life really becomes usurped by the firm. This is their last opportunity to do something totally for them to help them gain a different perspective, and I think give them a different view of the world at really unique time. It’s hard to break away after you start practicing.

“And in the jungles of Costa Rico your BlackBerry doesn’t work. That is another reason I like these trips. You can really get away.”

The Total Practice Management Association Scholarships Help Legal Professionals in “Transition”

Here’s something that may be helpful to Attorneys in Transition:

In response to news of continued layoffs at medium- and large-sized law firms, the Total Practice Management Association (Total PMA) is announcing a scholarship program for unemployed attorneys to attend the Get a Life.™ Conference on May 27-28 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago. The Get a Life Conference is a two-day, hands-on workshop being led by experts on marketing and practice management, social networking and law firm strategy in a highly interactive format. Topics include client relations; legal marketing & ethics; staff support & outsourcing; technology enabled services; and office infrastructure and expansion. The scholarship program provides full tuition to 10 unemployed but actively job seeking law firm associates looking to gain insight and advice on running their own firm. Candidates can read the eligibility requirements and download the application at the Total Attorneys Web site. Total PMA will accept applications now through May 22nd at 5:00pm CST and announce the recipients via email and on its Get a Life Conference site by May 26th, 2009 at 5:00pm CST.

To further support the legal community and specifically help law students struggling to find summer internships and employment, Total PMA is also offering 2nd and 3rd year law students a “Get a Life Student Discount package” for $400, a deep discount off the standard cost of tuition. This special offer is being made available to 30 students on a first come, first serve basis and is being actively promoted by Chicago area law schools, related legal news groups, and list serves. For more information, email Total Attorneys.

The upcoming May 26 event

Billie Watkins, a division director for Robert Half Legal, will be the presenter at the May 26 networking and informational event. The event is from 9 to 11 a.m. at The John Marshall Law School. If you are interested in attending, e-mail jobs@lbc.com to register.

Billie has been in the legal profession since 1993, which includes 10 years as a practicing attorney, and three years as a legal recruiter. She answered a few questions about her upcoming event:

1. What are your top three pieces of advice for a lawyer looking for his or her next job?

Be flexible – Explore available opportunities through a variety of avenues, such as online job postings and professional staffing firms, and remain open to contract opportunities to keep your skills sharp as well as develop new skills.

Network – Use a variety of networking tools, from online resources (i.e., LinkedIn) to professional organizations.

Treat your job search like a full-time job – Be committed in every way to your search; you are your own best advocate.

2. How should lawyers keep busy while they look for a job?

Lawyers can remain on top of their game through networking, conducting informational interviews, skills training, and continuing education.

3. What do you hope those who attend your event will take away from or learn from it?

An informed view of the current hiring environment and effective search techniques, considering the challenging hiring landscape. My goal is to provide information that will better equip job seekers to navigate a more competitive legal job market.

The next Attorneys in Transition event

Bob Glaves, executive director of The Chicago Bar Foundation, will lead the next networking and informational workshop, which is from 9 to 11 a.m., on May 18, at The John Marshall Law School. It is a free event, and those would like to attend should e-mail jobs@lbpc.com.

This fall Glaves will have been in this position for 10 years. Prior to taking this position, he was a litigator in Chicago at a small/mid-sized firm (depending on your definition) for nine years.

His event will discuss pro bono opportunities and how to break into the pro bono world while making that career transition. He answered the following questions.

What are your top three pieces of advice for a lawyer looking to get involved in pro bono work while he or she is pursuing that next legal position?

Be flexible and patient. There are a variety of ways you can get involved in pro bono, but legal aid organizations and pro bono programs have increasingly stretched resources as budgets are tightened and demand for their help is skyrocketing. Even though programs rely upon and very much appreciate volunteers, it may take some time for them to get back to you and they may not have immediate opportunities available in the area you are most interested in. You can get a sense of the types of opportunities available by checking out our Pro Bono Opportunities guide on our website, www.chicagobarfoundation.org.  Consider signing up for already existing training (an online calendar of pro bono trainings is available on www.illinoisprobono.org) to make getting involved easier.

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Attorneys in Transition Event on May 8, 2009

Panelist Leonard Amari of Amari & Localo speaks about thinking beyond law firms for employment opportunities. (L to R) Cliff Scott-Rudnick, John Marshall Law School, Alexis Reed, Special Counsel, Leonard Amari, Amari & Localo, David Glynn, Law Bulletin at the Attorneys in Transition event co-sponsored by Law Bulletin and The John Marshall Law School on Friday, May 8th at The John Marshall Law School. Photo by Colleen OBrien.

Panelist Leonard Amari of Amari & Localo speaks about thinking beyond law firms for employment opportunities. (L to R) Cliff Scott-Rudnick, John Marshall Law School, Alexis Reed, Special Counsel, Leonard Amari, Amari & Localo, David Glynn, Law Bulletin at the Attorneys in Transition event co-sponsored by Law Bulletin and The John Marshall Law School on Friday, May 8th at The John Marshall Law School. Photo by Colleen O'Brien.

The John Marshall Law School and Law Bulletin Publishing Co. recently held the Attorneys in Transition Seminar on May 8th. Attendees enjoyed a networking breakfast followed by a panel presentation from five legal and business professionals. Panelists discussed resume tips, networking, financial planning and more with attorneys who are changing careers or in the process or finding their next job.

See the photos.

May 11 networking event

After the May 8 event there will be three smaller networking and informational gatherings with a different speaker at each free event. Each smaller event will be from 9 to 11 a.m. at The John Marshall Law School, and there will be time for lawyers to network with each other and the speaker. To register: email jobs@lbpc.com and include the date of the event in the subject line.

On May 11, Julie Paradise, president of Communication Strategies Company, will offer practical tips for networking and improving face-to-face communication.

Julie will discuss the role our individual communication style plays in the impression we make.  She will give some suggestions and tips for starting strong in a job interview and for what we can and cannot control in this setting. She will answer specific questions and include some foolproof strategies for combating “presentation anxiety,” better known as stage fright.

She took the time to answer the following questions about the job search.

What are your top three pieces of advice for a lawyer looking for his or her next job?

Set realistic goals and do something, anything, every day. The key is to create a sense of momentum.
Avoid panicking!  The mind/body connection is powerful. If you get stressed out, you’ll find yourself too ill to interview.
Keep networking but spend some time preparing for networking events. Think about and even rehearse a couple of short narratives that will help to differentiate you from the other networkers.

2. How should lawyers keep busy while they look for a job?

Get out of the house every day! Be a zealous volunteer — walk dogs at a shelter, read to kids at an after-school program, eat lunch with seniors — do any thing that helps to shift the focus off of your job search. There are countless activities that will help you make a difference and gain valuable perspective at the same time.

3. What do you hope those who attend your event will take away from or learn from it?

I will be talking about how to make the best first impression, whether it’s a job interview or a networking opportunity. I will provide suggestions and tips for starting strong and understanding what one can and cannot control in those settings.