Archive for March, 2008

Eight-year Old Brazilian Prodigy Passes Law School Entrance Exam

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

An 8-year old child genius in Brazil not only passed the admissions exam to a Brazilian law school, but he also made it to the doorsteps of the law school on the first day of classes before being turned away. The Universidade Paulista turned the young boy back–perhaps because he brought his father with him (and wouldn’t you if you were starting law school at age eight?).  The boy, Joao Victor Portellinha de Oliveira, dreams of being federal judge.  For now the fifth grader’s dreams must be on hold…at least till he graduates from high school. Thanks to the Associated Press and Law.com for reporting this story. 

Create Your International Network Well in Advance

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

In the past few weeks I’ve been chatting with superstar, international legal recruiters Michael Ellenhorn of Longbridge and and Nick Rumin of Rumin Legal Search in preparation for an article about lawyers working abroad (forthcoming in the June issue of The Complete Lawyer). They concur that, as always, networking plays an important role in finding a terrific job and cultivating clients in any new market. 

One of my favorite books on networking is Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone, in part because it encourages people to help others rather than focusing on helping themselves.  (Caveat:  Some of the specific networking techniques taught in this book are very direct, US-style strategies, which would be perceived as too aggressive in some other cultures.) This other-centered approach to making connections is more effective–and frankly more pleasant–than a self-centered one.  The payoff may not be immediate, but the results are deeper and longer lasting because true relationships–rather than superficial ones–are being built.

I ran across a post on Keith Ferrazzi’s blog by someone who had build his network in another city well before relocating there and simultaneously changing careers; his network proved invaluable.  The same holds true of any international move.  As international lawyers well know, in many countries, cultivating deep personal relationships is often a prerequisite to any business being done. A lawyer who wants to relocate abroad will also need such relationships.

So, whether you are a law student aspiring to work abroad down the road, or an experienced international practitioner wanting to develop more clients abroad, develop–and maintain–your international network well before you actually need it. Meet people (co-workers, clients, colleagues and the like); build substantial relationships; and consciously nurture those across the miles over the years.

Happy International Women’s Day

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

Click for a list of International Women’s Day programs.  Have a great day.

Dress for International Success

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Law firms offering their attorneys fashion advice? According to the ABA Journal and the Wall Street Journal, that’s what’s happening.  The younger generation of lawyers, so it seems, likes to wear jeans and other clothes deemed “abysmal” attire by more senior lawyers.

As an international lawyer coach, I get a lot of questions about attire and etiquette.  Perhaps a client wants to dress well for a big rainmaking session, international negotiations or an important video interview.

There are some basic principles that I recommend following.

DRESS ONE STEP MORE FORMALLY THAN THE CLIENT. First, dress one level nicer than your client.  For example, if you have meetings with Silicon Valley executives who will be wearing jeans and t-shirts, dress one level above that: slacks and a shirt for men. Wearing a suit might make the client feel uncomfortable.  However, by dressing a bit nicer shows that you care.

RESEARCH APPROPRIATE ATTIRE IN ADVANCE.  Clients dress according to their culture–not just the culture of their home country, but also their internal corporate/firm culture.  Before attending a client meeting or job interview, try to gather information about how the others will be dressed. You might ask acquaintances who work there for input.  Or, if you live in the area, drive by and watch people arriving to work.  If you are going to meetings abroad, you can call the local consulate or the appropriate country desk at the State Department for suggestions.

WEAR COLORS THAT LOOK GOOD ON YOU.  Yes, this matters.  Wearing colors that look good on you will make you look healthier.  No client wants to hire a tired and sickly looking lawyer! If you don’t know which colors suit your skin tone, ask a fashion consultant, or refer to the old, tried and true 1980’s classic, Color Me Beautiful.

FASHIONABLE IS JUST FINE; REVEALING IS NOT. No sexy clothes, please. Nothing too tight or revealing–even at firm cocktail parties. What you wear sends a message about you, and you want to be thought of as a professional. However, you need not dress without fashion flair.  In fact, showing some personal is appealing.  Ask a fashion consultant if in doubt.

SOLIDS PHOTOGRAPH BETTER THAN PATTERNS.  If you are going to have your photograph taken, or participate in a video conference call, wear solid colors. Patterns can distract the viewer, and sometimes be unpleasant to look at if they are too busy.

ASK FOR INPUT FROM SUCCESSFUL DRESSERS.  Do you have a colleague that always dresses well and in a professional way that you admire?  Ask this person for general fashion advice, or even to critique a particular outfit.  Doing so can help you to avoid fashion snafus, like the leadership speaker who dressed in a girlish manner.

US Presidential Candidates’ Views on International Law

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

Compliments to the American Society of International Law for producing International Law 2008, a summary of the candidates’ views on certain international law issues–including international trade and the WTO.