Professor Katrina Lee and the business of law

For today’s #PracticeTuesday post, we’re very excited to bring you a Q-and-A with #AppellateTwitter mainstay Professor Katrina Lee (@katrinajunelee). Professor Lee is an Associate Clinical Professor of Law at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, where she teaches business of law, legal negotiations, and legal writing. She is also the author of several scholarly articles which you can find here. Before joining the ranks of academia, she was a litigator and law firm equity partner in San Francisco.

This summer, Professor Lee taught Business Negotiations at the University of Oxford as part of the University of Oxford-OSU summer law program. The picture of her on the left was taken in her Oxford flat. And the picture on the right is of her fantastic new business of law book, The Legal Career: Knowing the Business, Thriving in Practice. This innovative new textbook explores a constellation of topics in the business of law that are often a black box even to practicing attorneys, to say nothing of law students. Professor Lee’s book is unique in the academic textbook market, and it overlaps nicely with many of the topics we often discuss on #PracticeTuesday, so we asked her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions for us. Happily, she agreed! My questions to Professor Lee appear below in bold; her responses follow. Continue reading “Professor Katrina Lee and the business of law”

On asking for help

One day when I was a junior (but not brand new) associate, I logged into Westlaw, took one look at the search bar, and started to cry. On the one hand, I cry often. On the other hand, I love Westlaw, and crying is not my typical reaction to seeing a soothing blue screen full of databases ready to be searched. After all, I didn’t even cry when, after I steadfastly refused to install Westlaw Next for years, Westlaw finally just stopped supporting Classic and forcibly migrated me to the new system (I’m still bitter). In any event, when my reaction to opening Westlaw involved tears, I knew something was wrong.   Continue reading “On asking for help”

Say “yes” to the firm: making an informed decision

Even though classes haven’t started yet, at this very moment, 2Ls across the country are making decisions about where they will spend next summer. * This decision, which many 2Ls already feel unqualified to make, can be even scarier because of the peculiar way that the legal job market is set up: after just one year of law school, students are faced with what rightly feels like a high-stakes decision about where to start their legal careers. If this sounds familiar, rest assured that it’s not just you; this feeling is real and valid.

Before I share my tips for how to navigate this situation, here are two preliminary thoughts. First, if you have the luxury of deciding between multiple offers, you’re already in a good place. Many students—for a variety of reasons—aren’t looking at that kind of a choice. It’s a good problem to have. Second, while this decision is important, if you spend next summer at a firm and determine it’s not a good fit, you will have learned something important about what you should look for the next time you’re on the market. Nor is a bad 2L summer the end of the road; although it’s a tougher path, many 3Ls find jobs at firms where they haven’t worked before. A clerkship can be a particularly good opportunity for a “re-set.” And even if you spend just a year or two as a young associate at a firm you don’t love, you can still use that time to position yourself well to make a move.

With all of that said, here are my tips for minimizing the chances of accepting a summer associate position at a firm that isn’t right for you. Continue reading “Say “yes” to the firm: making an informed decision”

Enjoy the Valleys, But Pedal Through The Plateaus

Lawyers of any seniority—but particularly new associates—worry about where the next assignment will come from.  Sure, there is enough work now, but what about tomorrow?  Or the next week?  How can I possibly make hours? 

That often leads new attorneys to look for work even when they are pleasantly busy, and then that additional work becomes a crush of work which leads to getting assignments done within a hairsbreadth of the deadline.  At worst, it leads to avoidable errors.  At best, even if you never miss a deadline, the constant relentless pace can lead to cynicism and burnout. 

The common advice—and advice I whole-heartedly subscribe to—is to enjoy the valleys.  If you are busy, push through it.  But once you do, you don’t need to set out looking for new work immediately.  Take a few quiet days; catch up on business development; go to the movies.  Whatever.  If you are good at what you do (and if you are conscientious and keeping up on #PracticeTuesday, I bet you are), the work will find you and you will get busy once more.  2,000 billable hours (or whatever your goal is) doesn’t occur in 50 equal weeks of 40 hours each, and you shouldn’t expect it to.   

But there’s an advanced lesson, too, for attorneys who have learned to enjoy the valleys.

Continue reading “Enjoy the Valleys, But Pedal Through The Plateaus”

Callbacks, continued

It’s OCI season, which means that it is—or soon will be—the time of year when many law firms subject many law students to that time-honored endurance test: the callback interview. Typically, this experience consists of 4-6 consecutive one-on-one interviews, each with an attorney of varying seniority, sometimes followed by lunch or coffee with even more attorneys. Needless to say, it’s often an overwhelming and exhausting experience, particularly when students run the gauntlet of multiple callbacks in a compressed time frame. 

Callback strategies were one of our #PracticeTuesday topics last week, and as part of that conversation, I started this thread:

Following up on that thread, I thought I’d use this post both to provide some context for my tweets and also to elaborate a bit on what I said. Continue reading “Callbacks, continued”