So fresh and so clean: your online presence

It’s the week after Barrister’s Ball, and while we all had a great time, there may be some evidence of that night that you’re not proud of. Or that you shouldn’t be proud of. Either way, here’s a quick and easy guide to cleaning up your online presence so that you remain your charming, employable self.

Google yourself.

It may seem narcissistic, but this is probably the first thing that an employer will do when researching you online, so make sure that you’re fine with everything an employer will see when she searches for your name. This is a great reason to create a LinkedIn profile—it will definitely show up upon a Google search of your name, pushing negative material lower on a search, and it will give employers a completely appropriate picture of your life. Make sure to remove old, embarrassing Myspace or LiveJournal profiles that you’ve forgotten about.Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Things were different back then.

If you have a common name, you may need to add specific terms about yourself into your search, such as your high school, hometown, or undergraduate institution. You can also set a Google Alert for your name so you know when anything new is posted.

Hide everything.

It may be fun to see what your boss is up to in her personal life, but being friends with professional contacts is a bad idea. If you haven’t made your Facebook profile as private as possible and deleted anyone you don’t want seeing embarrassing information, do so immediately. If you don’t protect your tweets, do so immediately. Your only web presence for professional reasons should be LinkedIn or a professional profile through your organization. Everything else should be for friends only.

Refrain from uploading unflattering photos.

It doesn’t matter if your profile is private and you think it will never come to light. Haven’t you watched House of Cards? You have no idea what your future holds and what elaborate background checks will be conducted on you. If you’ve already uploaded questionable photos, delete them. If your friend uploaded them, make her delete them. Sure, Facebook still retains the right to use the photo commercially, but getting it off the Internet is the first step to getting (and keeping) a good job. Requiring approval for friends to tag you in photos is a good additional step, but even if you’re not tagged, as long as the photo is out there, it has potential to damage your professional reputation.

If your friends won’t delete embarrassing photos of you, get new friends. Seriously, that’s just mean.

Control what you can.

You can view what your profile looks like to the public by clicking on the little wheel at the top of your profile. It probably includes your profile photo, cover photo, and the things you “like.” Make sure you would feel comfortable with an employer seeing anything that is public. Remember that the legal profession is conservative, and employers have stricter standards for appropriateness than a fun 20-something. That means no drink in your hand in your profile pic. I know, it’s a cute photo, but take it down.

For more information on maintaining a professional web presence, visit NALP’s e-guides.

Clarifying your judicial clerkship confusion

If you want to apply to clerkships, the process is tough to understand, especially since the federal law clerk hiring plan isn’t faithfully followed. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Judge Judy does her own thing.
What should you be doing right now, and what can wait until later? Will you be able to get a clerkship if you haven’t already applied? How many markets should you be targeting? Here are a few tips on getting your clerkship application together and making it through the process in one piece.

Meet with a career counselor.

Give the counselor information on the types of clerkships you’re interested in and your qualifications, and she can give you straightforward advice on which courts and markets you should consider, how to do your research, and what you will need to put a competitive application together. Amy Killoran, the Assistant Director of Judicial Clerkships, may be of special assistance. If you haven’t met with Amy already, it makes the process much easier! You can make an appointment online, so there’s no excuse.

Ask for recommendations immediately.

Professors are notoriously busy and hard to reach. Even if you’re applying to judges that follow the federal law clerk hiring plan, you never know how long it will take for a recommender to get back to you with a solid letter. Make sure to email the professor to set up an appointment “to talk about clerkships” if possible. Asking for a recommendation in an email is too abrupt, and if you meet in person, it will remind the professor of your shining personality, and it will give you a chance to explain your goals and qualifications.

Find and perfect your writing sample.

The best writing samples are seminar papers or law journal notes on issues of domestic law. If one of these is available to you, or if you’ve completed the beginning stages and can produce a writing sample from it, get it ready! A judge may not want a 25-page paper, so if you’ve only written a portion of the paper, you may be able to use it, if you preface that it is an excerpt from a larger paper. If none of these options are available to you, it’s best to talk to a career counselor about what piece of writing you should use to make the best impression.

Consider state court clerkships.

State courts offer a great opportunity to deal with interesting areas of law. Some state court deadlines are approaching, including Maryland, Oregon, and Washington, so look into it as soon as possible!

Prepare for the worst.

It’s not predictable when certain judges will start accepting clerkship applications. As a rule of thumb, if a judge’s Online System for Clerkship Application & Review (OSCAR) profile says she is not following the federal law clerk hiring plan, she is not; if the profile says she is following the plan, this may be subject to change later. Prepare your materials as early as possible to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

For more clerkship advice, visit the Office of Career Services.

Five fun tips for the networking novice

Law students hear about the importance of networking in a tough economy, but without any practice or much information on how to start, it often feels forced, awkward, and desperate. Here are some tips on meeting people and developing your professional network without feeling creepy.

Attend events and receptions.

Between Georgetown Law, law firms, public interest organizations, and local law associations, there are a lot of events where you can meet new people without having to contact a random stranger. Relationships develop more organically in  person, and it’s easier to meet people and have natural conversations in a social, group setting.

Develop personal relationships through mutual interests.

As fun as it is to talk about law school, most people prefer to have a friendly conversation about absolutely anything else.Whether it’s a shared alma mater or favorite football team, having a regular conversation and developing a non-law-related connection will help people like and remember you. Asking for career advice is a great strategy, but depending on the context, might be too intense when you’ve just met someone.

Follow up.

If someone gives you her business card, send her a quick email about how much you enjoyed your conversation, or add her on LinkedIn. If you make contact soon after meeting, it won’t be as unexpected if you decide to get in touch with her at a later date.

Don’t be desperate or forceful.

Some people love helping law students, and some don’t want to be bothered. There is a chance that your new contact didn’t see your email, but it’s more likely that she is busy and didn’t have time to respond. Your professional reputation is more important than establishing any one connection, so keep things in perspective and don’t pester anyone.

Network when you don’t need to.

It’s more comfortable to ask someone for help when you have established a relationship, and it’s much less awkward to start a conversation when you’re not expecting a specific benefit from the other person.

Developing connections early in your career can help you avoid looking desperate, and a new contact may even think of you when they hear of a new opportunity that would suit you and your interests. 

Remember, it’s not about what you know, but who you know. Except in law school, where it’s about both. Or neither. No one really knows.

For more networking advice, visit the Office of Career Services at: http://www.law.georgetown.edu/careers/job-search-tools/networking.cfm.

Kevin Keeps It Real: Advice for Law Students

Dear Law Weekly,

I’ve got all this free time on my hands, and instead of doing something productive like early outlining, spending time at the gym, or even improving my social life, I’d like to watch some movies. Any tips on what’s coming out this fall?

- Bored and Lazy

Thanks for your question, Bored and Lazy. There are a number of movies of varying degrees of quality. Out now you have the remnants of summer. “The Dark Knight Rises” is sometimes incoherent (“Did it just go from noon to midnight in nine minutes?” “Wouldn’t they look at trades that happened right after the stock market got robbed with a touch of skepticism?” and “How did he fix the cartilage in his knee by doing push-ups and crunches?” come to mind) but emotionally satisfying and a must for Christopher Nolan fans. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (see review on the opposite page) is excellent and unique, if a little off the beaten path. “Lawless” is this summer’s Tom Hardy movie where he’s not shirtless and speaking like the robot version of Sean Connery from “Robin Hood,” although the price of admission is having to watch Shia Labeouf.

But the good stuff is starting to come out now. Oscar season is approaching, and filmmakers are lining up to be lauded by their peers for taking a lot of pretty pictures of people playing make-believe (note: the following previews are based on viewing trailers on YouTube and the author’s wild speculation).

“The Master”: Do you like long, depressing movies? Do you like movies about definitely-not-scientology-well-ok-maybe-exactly-scientology? Were you not conditioned to hate Joaquin Phoenix by his pretentious douche roles in “Gladiator” and “I’m Still Here”  (playing “Emperor Commodus” and “Himself,” respectively)? In all seriousness, though, this movie looks awesome. Paul Thomas Anderson and Philip Seymour Hoffman: back together, using three names, and drinking milkshakes.

“Lincoln”: Speaking of drinking milkshakes. If the guy who directed Indiana Jones and the Super-Powered Refrigerator can return to direct the Oscar winner for best picture, than anything is possible.

“Looper”: Time travel. Mobster hit men. Jeff Daniels. The only thing that could derail this movie is whatever they’re doing to Joseph Gordon Levitt’s face to make him look like a young Bruce Willis. It’s really weird, and pretty distracting.

“Skyfall”: Bond is back. More importantly, Javier Bardem is reprising his role as Anton Chigurgh, and this time the terrible hair cut has been bleached blonde.

“Django Unchained”: I may or may not have had a Tarrantinogasm watching this trailer. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz roaming the American West on a spree of revenge killing, with Leonardo Dicaprio as a plantation owner? Yes, please.

Twilight Seven: Edward’s Revenge”: If the plot of this movie isn’t an all-out blood bath, with Robert Pattinson getting back at Kristen Stewart for cheating on him, then I’m not watching.