Archive for February, 2007

Pathways to International Law Careers: Join Me on Tuesday in Washington, DC at the Inter-American Development Bank

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Please join me on Tuesday, February 27 from 5:00-7:30 pm at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Andrés Bello Room. I will be a panel member in the Pathways to International Law panel discussion being sponsored by the International Law Section of the American Bar Association.  Register at www.wcl.american.edu/secle .

 

How Lawyers Can Balance Life and Work

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Juggling, balancing, managing…all the words busy lawyers use to describe how they deal with conflicts between their professional and personal lives. 

 Here’s a book designed to ease that struggle:  The Lawyer’s Guide to Balancing Life  & Work:  Taking the Stress Out of Success by George Kaufman. Read my review of The Lawyer’s Guide to Balancing Life & Work here or, to see the original version as published by the Houston Lawyer Magazine, access the Magazine’s website here.

Study Abroad Opportunities for Law Students

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

Are you a law student interested in an international career?  If so, studying abroad has many advantages including: (1) signaling employers that you are interested in and have exposure to the international arena, and (2) making international contacts.

Unless you have a fabulous clerkship offer, the 1L summer can be an ideal time to study abroad.  Future employers usually don’t look askance at studying abroad  during the 1L summer (in contrast to the 2L summer during which study abroad may signal an inability to get a clerkship).  Spending a semester abroad during the 2L spring or 3L fall are also good options; doing so will give you a more substantial foreign living experience, and, as a more senior law student, you will better appreciate and understand the subjects studied overseas.

How do you choose a program that’s right for you?  If you are drawn to a particular geographic region or legal specialty, you might choose your program accordingly.  For example, if you want to jump in the Chinese bandwagon, choosing a program based in China and focusing on Chinese law seems logical.
You should certainly also research and check the caliber of the professors who have participated recently in the program.  Find out whether foreign professors or merely US professor transplants will be teaching.  It can be enriching to study under foreign professors; they will become future overseas contacts and approach the legal world differently than your US professors.  Foreign professors (and foreign students) can also help you with future international networking.  When examining the faculty at a study abroad program, delve into the professors’ professional backgrounds.  How are they linked to legal specialties or geographic regions that interest you?  Who are the contacts that they might have?

Be sure and consult with recent program graduates and inquire about their experiences. A program with a large enrollment of native students will make your study abroad experience feel more authentic and teach you a lot about foreign legal systems.

Helpful websites include:
http://www.nyls.edu/pages/241.asp
http://www.abanet.org/legaled/studyabroad/abroad.html (with links to summer, semester, and co-operative programs).

Interesting summer programs include:
http://www.lawschool.cornell.edu/international/study_abroad/paris_summer/index.cfm
http://www.law.duke.edu/internat/institutes.html
http://www.law.case.edu/summer-institute/

Good luck with your study abroad adventure!

Interview with Robert L. Gallucci, Dean of the School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

I just posted my recent interview with Dean Robert Gallucci of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.  Click here to read it.

When Clients Ask, Clearly and Compellingly Articulate Your Services: Lessons from Katrina Philanthropists

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

Imagine that a client wants to hire you–and will likely pay you a lot of money for your work.  Can you articulate a clear and compelling response if the client asks, “What can you do for my business if I hire you?”

Simple, right?  Wrong.

Last week I moderated a panel discussion for The Philanthropy Roundtable in New Orleans.  Various New Orleans-based non-profits, volunteers, businessmen and the like described the incredible devastation and rebuilding challenges that still plague the city. Funders from charitable foundations across the country listened in rapt attention.

However, on several occasions during the two-day event, funders actually had to ask, “What can we do for you specificaly?  How much money do you need, and for which specific programs?”

And, with one exception, the funders received no clear answers–just general comments about the devastation being pervasive and the need being great.  In other words, a golden opportunity to get big contributions from big donors was lost.

One speaker stood out.  She responded that she needed $40 million for a four phase study on sewage treatment and related cypress grove development; that $10 million had been pledged; and that her project still needed $30 million more.  She’s likely to get some funding because she was able to articulate clearly what the funders would get for their money.

Similarly, law firm clients want to understand what they will get for their money.  At today’s rates, clients know that they will be paying a lot for legal services.  But, what can you as their lawyer specifically provide them for their money?  Further, what can you provide that another lawyer can’t?

There are many critical client development skills, but one is this: being able to clearly and compellingly explain the benefit that your client will receive by hiring you.A lawyer’s explanation should not be general, like “excellent customer service” or “top quality legal work.”  Those qualities go without saying.  Rather, explain what distinguishes your service from others’.  Which client needs can you satisfy better than your competition and why? 

For example, you might say something like, “If we work together, your company will benefit from my specific expertise with registering Argentine company ADRs on the NYSE.  I recently represented Company X during their listing process.  Your company’s transaction sounds like it would be similar/different because…”

Answering those kinds of client concerns–and explaining the benefit to the client of working with you–will set you apart from the pack, and help rope in business.