Constructive advice and cautionary tales for lawyers starting their careers (VIDEO)

Inebriated plunges into the Hudson River; mistreatment of support staff; e-mails landing where they're least intended. These are real-world examples of what not to do if you'd like to get hired or advance your career, and they were recounted at the March 31 NYU Law Forum, titled "How to Succeed in Law Jobs (While Really Trying)." The topic drew a big student crowd to Greenberg Lounge, including prospective summer associates and imminent J.D.s and LL.M.s. Vice Dean Barry Friedman moderated the discussion among panelists Evan Chesler '75, presiding partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Louise Melling, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Center for Liberty; Carol Kanarek of Career Management for Lawyers; and David Lat, managing editor of AboveTheLaw.com.

To get hired by a law firm in the recent past, Chesler quipped, “All you needed was a pulse and a body temperature somewhere north of 90 degrees.” Now, he and the other panelists said, law graduates have to be much more active and opportunistic. That means forging relationships, taking on key assignments, and remaining visible in an organization. New lawyers should also look for ways to build their skills, Chesler said, by volunteering for pro bono work, for example, or finding opportunities to do public speaking. Success in public interest organizations is achieved the same way it is at law firms, Melling said. Often when trouble arises, said Kanarek, it's because someone demonstrated poor social judgment. Thus, said Lat, the need to have tales of outrageous lawyer (or prospective lawyer) behavior “ lovingly passed on from one generation to the next.”

Video

Watch the full discussion (1 hr, 9 min):

Posted April 2, 2010