Category Archives: Of Interest to Law Students

So, What Can You Do with Your Law Degree?

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By Ann Skalaski

Not everyone who earns a law degree chooses to practice law.  Recent law school graduates who are not yet admitted to the Bar, or do not plan to take the Bar exam, are often unsure about how to approach their job search.   As a legal recruiter, I am often asked, “Does a law degree have value outside of the practice of law?”   And, “if so, how do I market myself?”  There are general skills acquired during law school such as research and writing, fact-finding, and analytical skills; however, identifying jobs that you should pursue, and knowing how to market yourself, will depend on your unique background, skills and personal career goals.  So, it is helpful to begin by reflecting on why you went to law school, what you learned in law school, what you do well, what you enjoy doing and even those things that capture your interest.  Asking yourself these questions—and writing down your answers— will help you come up with some broad ideas of settings and fields where you might enjoy working.  These insights will help you identify and evaluate opportunities that could be a good fit for you, while also enabling you see and communicate how you would add value.

Any job that was available to you before law school, based on your undergraduate degree or past work experience, is still an option.  Often employers will value your legal education even if it is not a requirement for the job.  However, if you want to blend your background, interests and legal education, there are plenty of options to consider.  Some are legal positions, quasi-legal positions or even non-traditional jobs —but there are countless opportunities that intersect with the law and do not require Bar admission.  Some positions will require specific undergraduate degrees or skills, so you will need to take your background in to consideration.  Here is a selection of fields and/or settings where you could make use of your legal education:

  • Teaching – Undergraduate, Community College, Legal Assistant program, High School or substitute.
  • Court Administration – docket clerk, case manager, staff attorney, etc.
  • State Government – Department of Insurance, Department of Business Oversight, etc.
  • Law Firm – Recruiting, HR, marketing, library services, document review/Records Manager.
  • Law Enforcement – FBI, CIA, hearing office, investigator.
  • Journalism – legal correspondent, free-lance writer for any publication.
  • Risk Management – Healthcare provider, law firm litigation support, insurance company.
  • Corporate Human Resources – recruiting, corporate training, EEOC compliance, etc.
  • Staffing – Legal Recruiter/Headhunter, or non-legal staffing specialist.
  • Real estate – Title examiner, Escrow Officer, Realtor.
  • Banking – Legal Specialist, Fraud Investigator, Fraud Risk Manager, Loan Officer, Financial Services Specialist, etc.
  • Corporate In-House – law clerk, staff attorney.

Anything on that list catch your eye?  Try doing some easy on-line research to see what current opportunities in that field or setting look interesting.  Then, evaluate positions based on how they relate to your career goals.  For example, if you are ultimately interested in real estate law and want to get some valuable experience while waiting to take the Bar exam, you may want learn more about working as a title examiner.  Title examiners are generally employed by title companies and banks, and are used by real estate agents and developers.  So, who do you know that could introduce you to a title examiner so that you could learn more about what they do, and maybe even get some job leads?  Try to arrange as many informal meetings or “informational interviews” as you can.  Always asking if there are other jobs or opportunities that you should be considering within the field that interests you.  While you may be tempted to skip the informational interviews and begin applying for positions, this step is an important part of the process.  Those who you talk to have a broader view of their industry and may see options that are an even better fit for you than those you have identified.  Furthermore, these discussions also prepare you for future interviews.

In summary, if you take the time to identify your strengths and career goals, research positions in the areas that interest you, network with those who can provide additional information and referrals, you will position yourself to find a job that could be the beginning of a very rewarding career…with or without Bar admission.

~Center for Professional Development~

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ALR Student’s Corner: Douglas’ Forms

Douglas’ Forms is an indispensable, five volume set of hundreds of forms covering the following areas of North Carolina civil practice: Business Transactions; Civil Litigation; Wills, Trusts, and Estate Administration; and Domestic Relations and Guardians.

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Whether you are a new attorney starting in a large firm or a seasoned attorney managing your own practice, Douglas’ Forms will save you valuable time drafting documents, which is now more important than ever, as attorneys shift their billing structures, away from hourly billing and to such things as fee-for-service solutions, to satisfy and retain clients who have become savvier at negotiating attorneys’ fees.

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Douglas’ Forms can be accessed electronically via the Charlotte School of Law library catalog or Lexis Advance.    For those who prefer print, Douglas’ Forms can also be accessed at CSL’s Library on the fifth floor in the “Reference: Carolinas” section.  But, if you get lost in the stacks, even with the call number (KFN7468.D622) in hand, there is always a reference librarian to assist (by the way, CSL has the best reference librarians ever).

Researching electronically on Lexis Advance for the correct Douglas’ form should begin the same way as any other research project, with an effective search string.  For example, my client, a hospital, would like to enter into a joint venture with a medical practice.  Therefore, I need to draft a joint venture agreement. To access Douglas’ Forms on Lexis Advance, I can either type the title in the universal search box or use the “Browse Sources” feature.  Once I’ve pulled up the resource, the most efficient starting point is to search “joint venture” from the Table of Contents tab. Then, from the result list, click the link for “Form 8-5 Joint Venture Agreement.”

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Once the document is open, click the save icon to import into your word processing platform.

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The last step before downloading is to choose the document format, format options, and content-specific options.

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After you click download, retrieve the form by clicking the .docx link from the pop-up window.

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Finally, the form will require minor formatting adjustments depending on the word processing platform being used. Now all that is left is to tweak the contract according to the agreed upon terms and make sure the contract does not violate either federal Stark law or Anti-Kickback laws.

Douglas’ Forms is an excellent resource for essential forms related to every aspect of North Carolina civil practice, designed for attorneys to adapt the relevant form to their client’s particular situation.  So, why recreate the wheel – save yourself some time with Douglas’ Forms.

~ Kriss Anne Carlstrom, L’14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Top Five Tips for Appropriate Email Etiquette from CSL’s Center for Professional Development

By Aithyni K. Rucker, Esq.

In this digital age, communication has become more informal and we communicate in 140 characters or less.  However, even electronic communication must remain professional, timely, and audience appropriate.

Everyone has received an email where you really want to just throw your keyboard, pick up your laptop and call it a day.  To cut down on those visceral responses, here are five quick tips toward effective digital communication.

1. Everyone is a Professional and Deserves a Professional Greeting -Every email communication should begin with a formal greeting, i.e. “Dear Ms. or Dear Mr.”  Avoid the Twitter/Facebook trap of addressing your email without a salutation.  Keep in mind you are not friends with your addressee until they say so. Follow the below email trail as an example:

Email 1(you) Dear Ms. Jones: Email 2(employer response) Dear Jim:  Email 3( your reply) Dear Lisa:

In the above example, I changed the tone of our correspondence and allowed for the use of first names.  Never start an email with “Hey, Wassup, Good Morning, (or worst of all, no salutation whatsoever)”. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and keep your salutations formal.  A good Mr. or Ms. can take you a long way.

2. Your Tone Dictates the Effectiveness of Your Message -we all know the clear email rule of never write in all caps.  However, everyone forgets the age old rule about polite correspondence.  We’ve all sent an email when upset, in a hurry, or in need of a quick response.  But remember, “Your Fire is not someone else’s emergency.” Be courteous with your key strokes.  Take a minute, walk away, and read your message back before you hit send.  If it sounds snarky, it likely is.  I can’t think of anyone who wants to be on the receiving end of a snarky message.  Also, remember that emails last forever, and you can’t take you message back once you hit send.

3. Check Punctuation and Message Length - Please remember emails are letters.  They aren’t text messages and they deserve good punctuation.  Make sure to use appropriate periods, commas, and the like within your communication.  Also, email isn’t the time to write a novel.  Keep your message brief, direct, and to the point.

4. Give the Recipient Time to Respond - Proper turnaround time for email response runs about 48-72 hours. More than likely, your message isn’t the only one requiring a response.  Give your recipient time to handle your request and respond timely.  Jumping the gun might offend your recipient and ruin your repoire. If you deem your email urgent and you don’t receive a timely response, consider placing a telephone call. Remember to always be gracious when following up with an unresponsive recipient.

5.  Check Your Own Email and Respond – Remember, what goes around comes around! (Don’t live in  a glass house, see rule 4)  As a lawyer in training, it is important to get used to receiving and managing numerous emails in one day. When you begin practicing, the commonly-heard refrain “I receive too many emails!” will not suffice.  An unanswered email can lead to malpractice, a lost client, or a missed opportunity.  Get in the habit of answering emails timely, checking your email regularly and cleaning out any unread messages.  An easy rule of thumb is to mark any message unread where a response is pending.

Any questions?

 ~Center for Professional Development~

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

On Friday, October 31st, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will hold an argument session at Charlotte School of Law. Three arguments will be heard by the court, with each case taking about 40 minutes. After the final case, the panel will entertain questions from the audience (other than about the cases). Case summaries will be posted after October 23th. Case briefs can be accessed in WestLaw or below.

We welcome students, staff, faculty, and the community to register for and attend this session. Due to limited space, we are asking all attendees to register and access to the courtroom will be first-come, first-served. The argument session will be broadcast to additional rooms within Charlotte School of Law, as needed based on registration. We ask that anyone who cannot attend the entire session, please view the proceedings from one of the overflow rooms, so as not to disturb the court. Entering or exiting during an argument session will not be permitted.

Attire should be consistent with what would be worn to an official proceeding at the courthouse, cell phones are not permitted in the courtroom and audio/video recording is not permitted in the courtroom.

Charlotte School of Law is located in the Charlotte Plaza building at 201 South College Street. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to Charlotte Plaza or you can search for nearby parking lots with www.aboutparking.com/charlotte.

Please submit your registration through the following: Registration link

Case Summaries completed by writing competition winner CSL 2L Stacey Cargile:
13-2219 Case Summary; Case Brief
14-4288 Case Summary; Case Brief
13-4803 Case Summary; Case Brief

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where is Charlotte School of Law located?

CSL is located in the Charlotte Plaza building at 201 South College Street. You can park in the lot adjacent to the building (accessible from 3rd or 4th street). From the 6th floor of the adjacent parking garage, you’ll enter the Mall level of the Charlotte Plaza building. If you park elsewhere, you’ll want to enter the building at the ground level and take the escalators to the Mall level. Next to the Sundries shop on the Mall level, you’ll find the CSL Welcome Center where Student Ambassadors will be waiting to assist you and where you can get tickets for courtroom viewing.

Can I get my parking ticket validated?

Parking validation is only being provided for Court Staff (Judges, Deputy, law clerks)

Where can I find a case summary or case brief?

Links to Case summaries (written by Stacey Cargile) and Case briefs are located above

I have to leave early or come late to the proceedings, is that ok?

Exiting and entering during one of the three argument sessions is not permitted in the courtroom nor one of the viewing rooms. Although you may exit and enter during the break between sessions, we ask that you watch the proceedings from a viewing room, rather than the courtroom if you cannot stay the entire time.

Is there WiFi access at CSL?

Since use of electronic devices is not permitted in the courtroom or the viewing rooms, guest WiFi access will not be provided.

How can I participate in the Judges Q&A if I’m in a viewing room rather than the courtroom?

Student Ambassadors or CSL Staff will be stationed in each viewing room to solicit questions and communicate those questions to CSL Staff in the courtroom.

Upcoming Events 

Title Organization Date/Time
Arguments Session: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Dean’s Office 10/31/14
8:30am-12:00pm

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Free Online Resources: Freedom of Information Act “FOIA” Electronic Reading Rooms: Civil Rights Division of DOJ

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Charlotte Law Library is beginning a series of blogs about FOIA Electronic Reading Rooms available for free on the web.

Before you make that FOIA request, check if the information is available in the FOIA Reading Rooms on the internet.  According to the FOIA Guide, “The Electronic FOIA amendments embodied a strong statutory preference that electronic availability be provided by agencies in the form of online, Internet access — which is most efficient for both agencies and the public alike — and this expectation has been met by the development of agency FOIA sites on the World Wide Web.

Under the Electronic FOIA amendments, all federal agencies have FOIA sites on the World Wide Web to serve this “electronic reading room” function, as well as for other FOIA-related purposes.  This is a matter of great and growing importance to the processes of FOIA administration.  Agencies of such size that they contain sub-agencies or major agency components that administer the FOIA on a decentralized basis and have their own Web sites may maintain multiple “electronic reading rooms,” so long as they are linked together clearly and efficiently for Web site users.”

Today we will look at the FOIA Electronic Reading Room for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

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Frequently Requested FOIA-process Records

Frequently Requested Documents and Records Likely to Become the Subject of FOIA Requests

Policy Statements and Other Significant Guidance and Technical Assistance Letters

Enjoy exploring this FOIA Electronic Reading Room and look for this symbol for future blogs on free online resources:

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Come see us in the library for more resources in print and online.

~Mary Susan Lucas~

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ALR Student’s Corner: Lee’s North Carolina Family Law

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Introduction

Lee’s North Carolina Family Law (“Lee’s”) is a vital secondary resource for attorneys practicing family law in North Carolina.  The Fifth Edition of this treatise, authored by Suzanne Reynolds and published by The Michie Company of Charlottesville, Virginia, provides comprehensive coverage and analysis of family law in North Carolina, including but not limited to substantive case law and statutes, overview of relationships from marriage to divorce, and the parent child relationship.

Lee’s is located in the Charlotte School of Law Library on the fifth floor in the “Reference: Carolinas” section at Call Number: KFN7494.L43, or by searching “family law north carolina” in the Library Catalog.  Additionally, Lee’s can be accessed electronically with a valid Lexis Advance login and the following navigational steps: 1) click on “Browse Source” in the upper right corner, 2) choose sources beginning with the letter “L”, and 3) select Lee’s North Carolina Family Law.  However, this post focuses on the hardcopy print volumes of Lee’s.

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Author Suzanne Reynolds is an Executive Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at Wake Forest University School of Law.  Suzanne is widely recognized for her scholarship and research in the family law field.  She was the principal drafter of the North Carolina statutes modernizing alimony and adoption.

The Fifth Edition of Lee’s is a three-volume hardback series originally published in 1993, but is routinely updated and kept current with additional pocket parts which can be found on the inside back cover of the relevant volume.  The most current pocket parts were updated in December 2012.

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Content of Lee’s North Carolina Family Law

As aforementioned, Lee’s is divided into three volumes covering all aspects of family law in North Carolina.  Volume I covers Acts Prior to Marriage, Entering Marriage, Annulments, Nonmarital Living Arrangements, Spousal Rights and Obligations during Marriage, and Divorce from Bed and Board.  Volume II focuses on Absolute Divorce, Post-Separation Support, Alimony, Child Support, and Enforcement of Awards.  Additionally, Volume III addresses Division of Property Upon Divorce-Equitable Distribution, Child Custody, Separation Agreements, Parent and Child Relationship, Unmarried Parents and Their Children, Adoption and Assisted Conception, and Procreational Liberties- Abortion and Sterilization.

The volumes combine ease of use with practicality by outlining specific topics efficiently and thoroughly.  However, the researcher must be careful not to rely solely on the Summary Table of Contents because the corresponding Table of Contents contains topics that might not seem correlated at first glance.  The Summary Table of Contents at the beginning of each volume lays out the topics covered and the applicable page numbers with clarity and precision.  Furthermore, the actual Table of Contents is intricately detailed, which is initially overwhelming, but ultimately incredibly valuable to the user as a research tool.

The annotations are another incredible research tool.  In the footnotes section on nearly every page, Lee’s provides citations and references to secondary authority, such as articles and scholarly journals, and to primary authority, such as case law and statutes, that are on-point with the legal issue being discussed.  Moreover, all three volumes contain a “Table of Cases” and “Table of Statutes” that a cost-conscious researcher can then look up for free on FastCase or the www.nccourts.org website.

To demonstrate how easy and helpful this practice guide is, let’s conduct a hypothetical search.  Suppose, on behalf of a client, I was researching the requisite elements of the marital tort, alienation of affection.  Upon consulting the Volume I Summary Table of Contents, I see that Chapter 5 deals with Spousal Rights and Obligations during Marriage.  Subsequently, a search of the Chapter 5 Table of Contents reveals that “Alienation of affections and criminal conversation; elements” are located in § 5:46(A) on page 393.  There, I learn the requisite elements of alienation of affection are as follows: 1) marriage with love and affection, 2) love and affection alienated and destroyed; and 3) defendant with malice, caused the loss of love and affection.  The text includes a relevant footnote to the premier North Carolina case explaining and analyzing the elements.  Furthermore, the text provides legal analysis discussing the satisfaction of each element and additional references to the relevant case law.

Conclusion

If an attorney is under a time crunch, Lee’s in print might not be the most time efficient resource, relative to the ease of navigating the electronic version on Lexis Advance. But, if that same attorney seeks comprehensive, in-depth analysis of the legal principles of family law in North Carolina, then Lee’s in print at the Charlotte School of Law library is the same invaluable tool, only more of bargain.

~ Michael Haigler, L’14 ~

 Class Advisor – Cory M. Lenz, Esq.

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Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance While Teaching Legal Research

Kristina Niedringhaus of Georgia State University College of Law Library and Carolyn Broering-Jacobs of Cleveland State University, Cleveland Marshall College of Law gave a spirited and honest discussion about the emergence of grit as a best practice in education before a packed hall at the 107th AALL Annual Meeting & Conference. Their presentation, called Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance While Teaching Legal Research, synthesized the scientific research behind grit, and encouraged attendees to share their own experiences implementing grit in legal research instruction.

Grit is the display of perseverance and passion in the attainment of long-term goals.  The research of psychologist Angela Duckworth – among West Point cadets, Wharton School of Business graduates, National Spelling Bee champions, and other high-achieving-groups – indicates that, across demographics, grit is more important in determining success than intelligence or standardized test score. According to Ms. Duckworth, grit is measurable.  Presenters Niedringhaus and Broering-Jacobs administered the Duckworth Grit Scale to the attendees, and, as you would expect in a hall of librarians, the Grit Scale confirmed we were quite the gritty bunch.

Aside from quantifiable data, a student’s grittiness reveals itself in other ways.  For instance, an optimistic explanatory style of negative events correlates to having grit.  Also, students whose words and actions espouse a growth mindset show more resolve and determination in the face of failure than those who demonstrate a fixed mindset.  The growth mindset student willingly risks failure and accepts it as part of the hard work necessary to grow her intelligence and talent.  Conversely, the fixed mindset student believes her intelligence and talent cannot be improved, so she sees no point in working hard, least of all if there is the chance of failure.  This dichotomy between the growth mindset and fixed mindset tracks closely along cultural lines: students of Western cultures believe that struggle indicates they are less capable, while those of Eastern cultures believe the opposite, embracing struggle as a positive event.

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There are no scientific studies that indicate grit can be taught.  But, because it is the key to embracing hard work and failure, and learning over the long-term, presenters Niedringhaus and Broering-Jacobs, in the highlight of their discussion, turned it over to the attendees to share anecdotes of teaching grit.  These fell within such categories as staging an interrupting event or a complication in the research strategy, and allowing searches that lead nowhere or to an unclear answer.  But, a couple of anecdotes hit upon truly unique ways of teaching grit.  One professor brought bow ties to class and taught grit by showing students how to tie a bow tie.  Another professor recorded her efforts to answer a research problem devised by her students, capturing her frustration and failures, but also her determination and strategies for success as she worked through the problem.

Presenters Niedringhaus and Broering-Jacobs gave an amazing presentation that left the attendees with practical ways of instilling grit in their classroom instruction.  This made Building Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance While Teaching Legal Research one of the most talked about presentations from the 107th AALL Annual Meeting & Conference.

~ Cory M. Lenz ~

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