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Attorney Advice for Graduating Law Students

Below please find the transcript from a recent interview regarding hiring with attorney Aaron Hall.

Question: What are the best things a law student can do (outside of grades) to appeal to prospective employers?

Answer: Demonstrate a track record of interest in a particular area with the selection of course work, activities, and other opportunities that show an interest in a particular niche.

Question: Just how valuable do you view judicial externships?

Answer: They are very valuable for a litigation practice. For a transactional practice, they may provide some general legal knowledge but they don’t differentiate you much in a transactional practice.

Question: Is there anything you didn’t do in law school that you now wish you had?

Answer: No.

Question: What are some other good venues for networking?

Answer: The bar association sections for a particular practice area are a great place to network with leaders in a practice area.

Question: How often do you recommend following up with those you have networked with?

Answer: Once every 1-3 months.

Question: What are good things to talk about with someone at a second or third networking meeting?

Answer: I would ask them about the challenges of their position and what is required to take their career to the next level. Each person will have different suggestions.

Question: Any other important pieces of networking advice?

Answer: I would not focus on networking during law school. Also, come prepared with questions that are open ended and talk about their goals and challenges in moving their careers.

Question: What was your first job out of law school?

Answer: I was an associate at Morrison Sund in Minnetonka earning a $45,000 salary.

Question: When you are interviewing a job candidate, what sort of things are you looking for them to say? How can an interviewee stick out, in both good and bad ways?

Answer: I am trying to find out their true passion because I want to know they will endure over time. The academic and work products are core functions, which are essential, but I focus on passions and interests to differentiate candidates who are otherwise equal.

Question: What things do you like to hear someone say in a cover letter?

Answer: I would be looking for a deep interest in a particular area relevant to the job opening. In our firm, this involves an entrepreneurial passion to grow companies.

Question: Other than Symplicity, what are other valuable job search venues?

Answer: Bench & Bar is the main place I know of where people post jobs. There is also the unadvertised market of jobs, which you can tap into by contacting firms directly to find out if they have any present or upcoming openings.

Question: What is the single best piece of advice you could give to a soon-to-be graduate about to hit the job market?

Answer: Apply to every job opening for which you qualify with a general resume and have a resume tailored specifically to the ideal position that you seek, spending substantial time seeking that particular position. For example, if you wanted to work in a firm with a particular practice area, working with a certain type of client, identify your top firms for that type of position and contact them about doing coffee to learn more about the position. There may not be an opening but you will get to know the people and they will know who you are when a position opens. This is a longer-term strategy.

Question: Is there anyone else you could refer me to who works in a setting similar to Thompson Hall?

Answer: I do not know any similar firms. Most are very traditional.


Priorities During Your First-Year of Law School



You’ll hear a lot of talk about priorities once you get to law school.  Prioritizing your workload is an important way to stay ahead of the game.  With other students talking about extracurricular activities and summer legal jobs, it’ll be beneficial to avoid getting sidetracked by other students endeavors.  I’m here to show you how to keep your eyes on the prize. [click to continue…]




So grades matter.  We know that.  But what matters more?  Class rank.  Where you’re ranked among your peers could be the most important factor in landing a job.  Often times top law firms will only accept applications from the Top 25 – 10% of a given class.  If you’re going to invest over a hundred thousand dollars in a legal education this range should be your most modest goal.  If you’re not striving for this range, you may want to consider another career choice before spending the money.

So how do you get there?  Easy, work hard.  How else?  Read on. [click to continue…]


How to Stay Diplomatic in Law School



I often find myself asking, “what qualities make up the characteristics of a great man?”  One way of uncovering such qualities is to look to the commonalities of great men throughout history—Lincoln, Churchill, Bono.  These men, and others like them, share among other things great diplomacy.  What is diplomacy and why is it so important?  Diplomacy is defined as a skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.  To be fair, it’s really more of an art than a skill.  So why is it important?  As a lawyer, and potentially future politician, the more people in your fan club the better.

So how do you remain diplomatic in an environment that breeds argumentation?  Simple—continue reading this blog. [click to continue…]


Exercise in Law School: Tips and Tricks

When you enter law school, your health can  fall by the wayside as you spend 14 hours a day sitting in class and studying in a chair. Most law students struggle to find time to exercise.

Many law students and attorneys are discovering the health benefits of exercise while they read or work on a computer. For example, some law students read on a stationary bike.


It is also surprisingly easy to work on a computer  using a treadmill desk. It’s amazing how a steady pace of 2-3 m.p.h. does not interfere with using a computer. Two to three hours can pass effortlessly, while burning hundreds of calories and giving your body a daily workout.

This is the treadmill desk I use (the 2013 model):

You can get the benefits of exercise without taking any time from law school studies.

Don’t let your health suffer in law school. While others are gaining weight and feeling sluggish, you can keep your energy high and feeling great.




Many facets of your life outside of law school will play a role in your success within law school—living arrangements not being the least of which.  With this post I intend on giving you some pointers on choosing where to live your first year of law school.  Keep in mind these suggestions will vary depending on your particular circumstances.

Apartment or house close to school.  This one almost goes without saying.  Preferably you’d like to choose a location that is a hop, skip, and a jog away from campus.  Anywhere in the 1-8 block range is great.  From 9-16 blocks we’re talking a bike ride but still manageable.  One thing you’ll notice about housing around law school campuses is increased rent relative to its real market value.  A tip to avoiding unnecessary rent is to find a home right outside the distorted bubble—Maybe 9-16 blocks away, depending on the school.

Find someone else to rent with.  All too often are students renting single bedroom [click to continue…]




Patent lawyers get drafted out of law school like it’s the NFL Draft—seriously.  Why?  Demand.  Now more than ever technological advances have catapulted patent law to the forefront of legal demand.  When a business needs a new product protected from competitors, they turn to patent lawyers.  So what makes patent lawyers so special?  They have a science background.  Yep, that’s it.

So are you eligible to become a patent attorney?  This question can be answered right out of college if you’ve taken enough of the right classes.  But, do you WANT to be a patent attorney?  This you’ll have to answer on your own, but I’ll provide some guidance as to what to expect. [click to continue…]


How to Reduce Stress in Law School




You’re going to hear a lot about stress your first week of law school.  Professors, counselors and staff will advise you to take care of yourself, not to skip meals, and to take advantage of the free counseling services the school has to offer.   It can be downright scary hearing this kind of advice.  The advice you receive implies that students before you, many much like you, have had a difficult time coping with stress.

It’s true, your first-year of law school will be stressful,very stressful.  From managing all of your assigned reading to preparing for three finals in the same week, time management is key.  Here, I will discuss some easy ways to manage the stress associated with law school. [click to continue…]


Why You Shouldn’t Sweat Outlining



“Outlining,” as it’s called, seems a bit foreign to prospective law students but I urge you to consider the topic before making it even halfway through your first semester.  So what is outlining?  Well, its compiling all of your notes and other relevant material into a single document that you’ll use on your final exam.  So why do law students make such a big deal out of it?  Inexperience.  Often times new law students think the outline is their key to success—and it is—but just not in the way you’d expect.

You see, it’s the journey, not the destination, that garners results.  Let me explain.  Developing a solid outline is important—you want it to look neat, organized and robust—but the learning process is most important.  You’ll find that while you put your outlines together, you’re learning everything about the class as well as developing memory as to where each particular piece of information is located within your outline.  Thus, when you decide to put together this outline is up to you and depends on your learning style.  Here are some tips for putting together a solid outline. [click to continue…]


How to Build a Reputation that Pays After Law School



Your reputation is one of your most valuable assets as a lawyer.  It must be protected at all costs.  So, heading into law school I urge you to be vigilant of your reputation.  The friends and colleagues that you make in law school will be your business partners and competitors in the future.  Wouldn’t you like them to think the most of you?  Often times the reputation you develop in law school will follow you throughout your career.  Here are some simple tips for improving and protecting your reputation in law school. [click to continue…]


How to Decide if Law School is Right for You



The decision of whether to go to law school is probably the most significant one you’ll make in your adult life.  How significant?  Oh, about as significant as the decision to buy a house, or a Ferrari.  All I ask is that you don’t take the decision lightly.  If your basis for going is that you’ve “always wanted to go,” or that you want to make “a bunch of money,” then you may want to sit down and have a more realistic conversation with yourself and your family.  I provide here some guidance in making an informed decision. [click to continue…]


Considering What Law School to Attend



You applied to nearly a dozen law schools and got accepted to a handful of them.  Likely, you received acceptance letters from a healthy variety of institutions—some “safe” schools and maybe even a highly ranked one.  The decision could theoretically be the most important you’ll ever make.  Do you go to school where you want to live or the one just down the street?  Do you go to the best school you got accepted to or the one that gave you the biggest scholarship?  Here are a few pieces of advice that I’ve come to realize along the way.

U.S. News & World Report Law School Rankings.  If you take one thing away from this blog post it’s this: DO NOT BASE YOUR DECISION ON RANKINGS!  Let me explain by [click to continue…]




You’re going to hear an awful lot about grades heading into law school. The commentary ranges from the dreaded grading “curve,” to final exams, with horrifying stories mixed in between. Most students couldn’t imagine having their entire grade riding on one final exam, and only four students in a class of eighty get an A? What the heck is that?! With this post I provide some insight on how to avoid these stress “booby-traps.”

I do not intend to minimize the importance of grades in law school. In fact, grades are probably [click to continue…]


Law Grads

It’s no secret that most law school graduates are unemployed. As the managing partner of a business law firm in Minneapolis, I see a lot of resumes and do many interviews. Here are few tips that can help your prospects when job hunting.

In short, the key is to make yourself a more attractive candidate by earning relevant experience to place on your resume. Once law school is over, you are stuck with your grades. But your experience can make you stand out. [click to continue…]



Attorneys, law students, and the public often ask about the difference between the federal district court’s two online computer systems that allow access to court documents: PACER and ECF. In short, PACER provides public access to case documents and case information. ECF is for the lawyers on a case [click to continue…]


Law Student Preparing for Class

Tip # 1:  How to prepare for class efficiently

So you’ve got a Socratic method class and a professor who dislikes, no hates . . . no despises unprepared students.  But you’ve done all you can to prepare, right?  Read every word of the 120-pages of assigned reading you were given.  And then, you get called on.  You just want to sound intelligent and succinct but you’re trying to make sense of the question while paging through the reading in your mind like its in Latin.  You ramble on without giving any definitive answer and the professor moves on. It usually takes students a year or so to figure out that law is not a complex maze of tunnels and hidden passageways.  Ordinarily, its pretty logical and straightforward—so treat it that way!  Here are three tips for law students looking to cut their preparation time in half as well as gain a better understanding of the assigned reading.


Headnotes are a great way to highlight the important parts of a case while skipping over unnecessary reading.  [click to continue…]

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Resources of a Successful Law Student

According to the National Law Journal, only about “55% of [recent] law grads found full-time legal employment” in the nine months following graduation.

To make yourself a more competitive candidate for employment, consider developing the qualities of successful law students: keep your GPA high, gain experience and network. There are plenty of resources, both online and in-school, to help you develop [click to continue…]

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Simple Guide to Law School Loans

Types of Loans

There are several types of loans that law school students can apply for. Each loan offers its own benefits and downfalls. The loan that most often used is called the Federal Direct Stafford Loan. The loan has a set amount of $20,500, broken into both subsidized and unsubsidized parts.

Up to $8,500 of the loan is subsidized, meaning the student will pay no interest until six months after completing school. The loan is based on FAFSA, the program that the government uses to determine financial need.

Another type of loan that is used often by law students is the [click to continue…]


Law School Student Video Diary

If you are preparing for law school, you may enjoy this video diary of Shawnee, a law student, talking about the challenges of law school and tips for new law students.

The videos are from a real law student who decided to make a video to help others who are considering law school or new to law school.

The video diary (Law School Diary #1) starts when she is about half way through law school:
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[click to continue…]


How much are law school books each semester?

A new law student recently asked me how much law school books and outlines will cost each semester. Law students may want to know this for budgeting their finances or for requesting the correct amount of student financial aid. [click to continue…]

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7 Tips to Launch and Advance Your Law Career

I have a news flash: it is hard to land a job you really love. You will see plenty of reports in the news about the unemployment numbers, and about the fierce competition, especially among law school graduates, to get a job offer right out of law school, but I’m not talking about just any job. I’m talking about the job you’ll really love. Those are even harder to find.

Over the course of my career – both in helping students navigate law schools and in my current role in matching the brightest young professionals with some of the Twin Cities’ best firms and corporations – I’ve learned seven key points to succeeding in both launching and advancing your law career. [click to continue…]


Law School Tips

One aspect of law school that I found most challenging was figuring out the recipe to success as a law student. Most other law students are focused on the same thing, which leads law students in many different directions.

Here are some of the best law school tips I have found: [click to continue…]