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September 18, 2004

Speed Networking Bootcamp

Hey, you know, I didn‘t get the memo, so can you tell me something? Are we supposed to be finding jobs right now? I mean, a lot of people seem kind of interested in this topic, but, well, I’m not so much. Ok, a little. A job for next summer would be good. One that pays money would be nice. My credit card balances are really pretty persuasive arguments that I need to find a job that comes with a paycheck. Howrey Bootcamp But rather than really apply for jobs, I‘m better at just surfing around the edge of that pool. I got an email from our career office about something called Howrey Bootcamp, which is supposed to teach litigation skills. So, rather than apply, I went to the website and took the quiz, “Are You A Natural Born Litigator?” I scored an “11,” which is supposed to mean this:
If you scored 11 or above: Ever had that dream where you’re giving your closing argument, you glance up and see a stormy sky where the ceiling ought to be, and every point you make is punctuated by a flash of lightening? Yeah. We thought so. Congratulations. You‘re a natural born litigator. You live and breathe (and dream) the law.  Howrey Bootcamp® is perfect for you. This is your day in the sun.
Of course, I have never had that dream, nor have I had anything like it at all. Sure, I’ve dreamed of being an advocate in court, but there was no lighting involved and the ceiling of the courtroom always seemed to be a light sky blue. (I wonder if that‘s a color choice intended to help people stay calm.) The Bootcamp application requires a 100-word “personal statement.” I tried writing one:
Your “Boot Camp Quiz” suggests that I am a “natural born litigator.” That may be, but I confess I have never had a dream of stormy skies and lightning bolts gracing my courtroom performances. No, my litigation dreams are not stormy; instead, they are calm, collected, and when I finish speaking, a tumultuous storm is the furthest thing from my listeners’ minds. Instead, my listeners will be at peace because they will know that what they just heard was right, and that they are right to agree with it, and to find in favor of my client. And the sun will shine and everyone will rejoice, such is the clarity and power of my persuasive speech. Now, isn‘t that a better dream for a natural born litigator?
I’m sure that would get Howrey‘s attention. If that was the goal, I bet I could do even better:
Dude! I don’t need no stinking “100 words.” What I‘m all about only takes ten: I rock the hardest, and it’s all about the rockage.
Maybe I‘ll apply and see how far that statement gets me. Speed Networking In addition to looking at websites and taking quizes, my job search thus far has also included a public interest “Speed Networking” event last week at GW. Basically, it’s like speed dating, but instead of looking for a date, you‘re looking for a job. Ok, I admit it sounds a bit hokey, and I was concerned beforehand that it would be weird and awkward and a big fat waste of time. I’m happy to report I was completely wrong; the event was fun, interesting, and I learned a lot. The event was open to ten students from each of the area law schools (including, I believe, GW, Georgetown, American, Howard, UDC, Catholic, and Baltimore), all of whom are interested in working in a public interest legal job. On the other side were representatives from about 18-20 different public interest legal employers. The employers sat at tables, and the students chose to sit at those tables that most interested them. The event was divided into five, ten-minute sessions. So the moderator rang a bell to tell us our ten minutes had started, and we began talking to the employer, asking questions, answering questions, etc. Ten minutes later, the bell rang again, we shook hands, and went to another table. The bell rang again, and we speedily networked for 10 more minutes. Sound weird? It was. But like I said, it was actually fun and I think worthwhile. Business cards for DC Public Defenders, SEIU, and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. I had memorable conversations with terrific people from the SEIU, HALT, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, and the D.C. Public Defender Service, aka, the best criminal defense firm in the country. (Doesn‘t the PDS have the most kickass graphic on its business card?) The man from SEIU said his job was next to impossible to get because it’s such a great job that everyone wants it. Yeah, that would be me. The woman from TLPJ said about the same thing. Both offer 1-2 year fellowships for recent law school grads, so that‘s both a good way to get a foot in the door and get some great experience, too. HALT, “an organization of Americans for Legal Reform,” appears to do very cool policy work toward the goal of increasing access and accountability in the civil justice system. They didn’t say it was impossible to get a job there, but there was a funny minute during that 10-minute session when the woman from HALT asked, “So, are any of you interested in policy?” She got blank stares. I had already spoken a bit with her in the session, and if there‘s one thing you have to be careful of in a 10-minute group informational interview, it’s monopolizing the conversation. You don‘t want to be that guy who just wouldn’t shut up and let anyone else get a word in. So I held my tongue, but hell yes! I‘m interested in policy! Definitely something to keep in mind. Finally, the women from PDS were very cool and reminded me immediately of one of the huge upsides to being a PD—being professional means being human, accessible, and outgoing. I’ve talked to some law students who have summered at PDS and they haven‘t raved about it, primarily because it seemed so big that they didn’t get to know any of the attorneys or even many of the other interns very well, and they spent too much time researching and writing, and not enough time in court. I‘m sure experiences may vary, but that makes me glad once again that I worked elsewhere last summer. But, and so, these attorneys from PDS seemed to really love their jobs. They reassured me that, even though the PDS is a huge “firm,” work is spread around evenly and reasonably—one of them said she was only working on seven cases at the moment, which is manageable, and that she almost never feels like she doesn’t have enough time to really do the work necessary to present a quality defense. She said she always has access to several interns, and they save her bacon on a regular basis on the research, writing, and investigation fronts. At any rate, I‘m certain the PDS would also be a very cool place to work next summer or beyond. But I started talking about speed networking, and I’ll end there, by saying again that this was a great idea, I‘m glad I did it, and I recommend it if your school decides to do something like this. I’m not sure if the representatives from the public interest organizations found it as useful as I did, but they should know that, from a student‘s perspective (at least mine), events like this are good for them because they help students target their job searches to jobs they really want and for which they’re actually qualified. This helps employers by reducing the number of applications they have to sift through. At least, it seems like it would. FYI: Today is the deadline to apply to be an intern next summer at the Dept. of Justice. If the election goes well, that could be a very interesting job. I‘m sure it would be an interesting job regardless of which way the election goes, but I’m pretty sure I‘d enjoy it a lot more if the Attorney General is ABA (Anyone But Ashcroft). FTR (For The Record): There’s a fan in my window blowing cool air on me, but currently it is almost certainly also blowing the distinct scent of marijuana smoke into my little office space. Yes, one of my neighbors is smoking dope. Yet, it‘s raining outside. Could I be mistaken?

Posted September 18, 2004 09:58 AM | 2L

Seeing the Ashcroft and Bush pictures in the conference room at the part of the DOJ in which I worked was definitely the downer of every day.

Although, I must admit, those pictures weren't anywhere near as bad as the giant (I mean, 4 or 5 ft tall) picture of Cheney's head they had at the Census. *shudder*

Posted by: em at September 18, 2004 11:36 AM

And I just took that bootcamp quiz and I got an 8, but it seems that all the answers are rigged to make you want to apply there no matter what ;)

Posted by: em at September 18, 2004 11:40 AM

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