Tag Archives: Cory Lenz

Veggin’ out in Charlotte

Vegetarians in Charlotte get no love: seemingly every week, there is the
grand opening of yet another hamburger, steak or barbeque joint, while the
options for vegetarian remain consistently anemic.  The benefits
of a vegetarian diet
are well established and its menu includes more than just salads and veggie burgers, yet finding some delicious meatless eats is a chore.  What’s a veggie to do?  Well, stick with me kids, because we’ve canvassed the Queen City and discovered a bunch of tasty vegetarian and vegan eateries, bakeries and recipe blogs.

Sit down dining

Luna’s Living Kitchen is an organic raw food café nestled next to the Atherton Mill Market in SouthEnd serving raw lasagnas (aptly named lunasagnas), kale salads, spicy living burritos wrapped in collard greens and fresh juices. Entrées start at $12 and can be enjoyed on Luna’s outdoor patio, where you might spot a television actor from a locally filmed series.

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Fern offers a wildly inventive vegetarian menu that changes with the season. The entrées are a little more expensive than Luna’s, because the tastes are more thoughtful and sophisticated. Try the OM burger or the “chicken” and waffles at their weekend brunch. Wash it all down with a $1 bloody mary.

Bean Vegan Cuisine has a mostly fried menu featuring burgers promising to taste like Big Macs. Crabby patties and fried tofu fingers satisfy the little ones, or even the kids-at-heart. Try the jackfruit tacos and the Kitty Kat cake for dessert-you’ll be amazed how well crackers and peanut butter mousse go together. Now serving brunch all day Sunday!

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Woodlands Vegetarian Indian Cuisine is an eastside restaurant dishing out all the savory flavors of India sans meat. Start your meal with some samoas and end it with a cup of rice pudding.

Additionally, Pizza Fusion, Uncle Maddio’s, Brixx, and Mellow Mushroom all offer vegan pizzas.

Takeout

Berrybrook Farm is a petite health food market in the heart of Dilworth offering heart-healthy wraps, smoothies and other nutritious grab and go snacks.

Zizi’s Vegan Takeout is a “blink and you’ll miss it” University eatery with a menu featuring vegan fish&chips, tempeh steak, “turkey” and gravy and $3.50 smoothies.

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Outside of Charlotte

******************Closed as of February 2014**************************

Just across the border in Fort Mill, SC is Eat Well . Their menu is full of tamales, quiche, and chai waffles. Whatever you order, save room for dessert – the raw chocolate cheesecake is worth the trip.

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Speaking of dessert, these local bakeries are 100% vegan: Novel Sweets, Your Veganesse, Laullipop&Co., Chelly’s Cakes and Pastries

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VegCharlotte and Queen City Vegan are valuable resources for how to enjoy meat-free dining in the QC.

Check out these fun food blogs for meat-free recipes: Thug Kitchen and veganstoner

Need more tips on healthy eating? The Fresh Expo taking place on October 12th at the Sheraton Hotel features samples from health food vendors, cooking demonstrations, lectures on GMOs and other healthy living topics.

                                        ~Cory Lenz & Jamie Sunnycalb~

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From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same Sex Marriage – A Book Review

fromtheclosettothealtar

Gay marriage is inevitable, according to Harvard Law School professor Michael J. Klarman in his book From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same Sex Marriage.  He makes this claim because young people today, who are more likely to know someone who is gay and to have grown-up in a gay friendly environment, support same-sex marriage by as many as forty percentage points over older adults, who tend to oppose it.  Klarman suggests that having a gay friend or family member correlates to supporting gay rights, so the coming out of every gay and lesbian and every same-sex couple means more votes for gay equality “[b]ecause few people favor discrimination against those whom they know and love” (p.197).  This more welcoming social environment has ushered same-sex marriage into our state and federal courts.  Klarman includes a helpful time line of all major court decisions and legislation relating to same-sex marriage (prior to the 2012 ballot measures and the United States Supreme Court’s granting of certiorari in two same-sex marriage cases[1]).

At the beginning of the book, Klarman defines the historical context of the gay rights struggle.  Before the mid-1980s, most gays and lesbians were not open about their sexuality for fear of losing their jobs and families and having no legal recourse when such things happened.  Gay rights organizations worked strategically, with little money and few members, to convince some municipalities to adopt gay rights ordinances, only to see them defeated by local referenda.  Klarman points to this historical context to explain the surprise that both gay rights and conservative organizations felt when, in 1993, the Hawaii Supreme Court opened the door to same-sex marriage, holding in Baehr v. Lewin that a law restricting marriage to one man and one woman constituted a sex classification and thus required the strictest judicial review.[2]  Klarman provides only a brief analysis of the constitutional arguments for same-sex marriage: that discrimination against same-sex couples is not rationally related to the objectives that states have proffered thus far (i.e., protecting traditional marriage, promoting optimal environments for childrearing, and encouraging procreation).  He makes an intriguing argument, however, that Baehr became a turning point in gay rights policy only because the AIDS epidemic – which refocused the younger gay community on committed relationships and estate planning issues – had created the social environment that would champion Baehr and the subsequent similar decisions.  This brought more financial resources and allies to the gay community for the fight for same-sex marriage.

The discussion of the backlash after Baehr monopolizes the book’s narrative, but the episodes blur into one another because the political maneuvering of conservative and religious groups after each same-sex marriage win follows the same pattern: same-sex marriage opponents rallied behind defense of marriage laws or constitutional amendment initiatives to ban same-sex marriage after a state supreme court from an outside jurisdiction had found its state constitution gave same-sex couples the right to marry.  The federal Defense of Marriage Act[3] and defense of marriage laws in more than thirty states sprang from the backlash against Baehr.  Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and, in most instances, civil unions and domestic partnerships, passed in twenty-seven states after Goodrich v. Department of Public Health.[4]  Klarman might have avoided the rote reporting in this section had he chosen to highlight the lives of plaintiffs, advocates, or opponents in the same-sex marriage struggle.  He does, however, raise the intriguing suggestion that the push for same-sex marriage may have hurt the gay rights movement in conservative states where gays and lesbians have yet to win even “basic legal protections against violence and discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations” (p.179).

With insightful explanations for the legislation against same-sex marriage, Klarman rebounds strongly in the book’s final pages.  He clearly notes that political backlash is more likely “[w]hen public opinion on judicial rulings divides heavily along regional or geographic lines” (p.186).  For instance, Goodrich generated little political opposition in Massachusetts because a majority of residents supported same-sex marriage.  However, in Ohio, Goodrich likely cost John Kerry the presidential election as George W. Bush increased his percentage of the 2004 popular vote in Ohio by double digits among groups who disproportionately oppose gay marriage (the religious, the elderly, the working-class, and African-Americans).

Klarman concludes that same-sex marriage is inevitable, not least because polls measuring shifts in attitudes are tracking similarly to those from the Civil Rights Movement.  A majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage (p.196) and, according to variables measured by statistician Nate Silver, this trend will continue until same-sex marriage is recognized in every state except those in the Deep South by 2016, and in every state but Mississippi by 2024 (p.202).

From the Closet to the Altar fastidiously reports on the litigation and legislative winners and losers in the same-sex marriage struggle.  This work will interest academics and law students alike, particularly those delving deeper into the more intriguing issues that Klarman raises.

~Cory Lenz~

This book review first appeared in 105 Law Libr. J. 233 (2013).


[1] Perry v. Schwarzenegger, 591 F.3d 1147 (9th Cir. 2010), cert. granted sub nom., Hollingsworth v. Perry, 81 U.S.L.W. 3324 (U.S. Dec. 7, 2012) (No. 12-144); Windsor v. U.S., 699 F.3d 169 (2nd Cir. 2012), cert. granted, 81 U.S.L.W. 3324 (U.S. Dec. 7, 2012) (No. 12-307).

[2] Baehr v. Lewin, 852 P.2d 44 (Haw. 1993).

[3] Defense of Marriage Act, Pub. L. No. 104-199, 110 Stat. 2419 (1996) (codified at 7 U.S.C. § 1738C and 1 U.S.C. § 7).

[4] Goodrich v. Dep’t of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003) (holding that the prohibition of same-sex marriage violated the Massachusetts Constitution).

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A Competent Lawyer Will Keep Current with Technology

Recently the American Bar Association revised its model rules, specifically addressing the need for an attorney to keep current with advances in technology.  The change in rules was proposed by the ABA’s Commission on Ethics 20/20 and was adopted during the annual meeting, held in Chicago, August 2-7. The affected Model Rule 1.1 speaks to the importance of an attorney understanding the “benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”   As stated in the Report to the ABA House of Delegates, “[A] lawyer would have difficulty providing competent legal services in today’s environment without knowing how to use email or create an electronic document.”

The impetus behind the changes had everything to do with developing a set of guidances to assist attorneys in not only representing their clients, but in understanding how to maintain the confidentiality which corresponds to competent representation.  The American Bar Association has made practice resources available through its Legal Technology Resource Center.  Its Law Practice Management Section’s eLawyering Task Force has also provided resources.  The amended Model Rules have rounded back and have now imposed a duty on attorneys to embrace technology.

So how has Charlotte School of Law addressed the need to remain knowledgeable regarding technology and the practice of law?  In July, the library staff conducted two student focus groups which addressed how students were accessing legal resources.  Another purpose of the focus groups, moderated by Adjunct Professor and Reference Librarian, Cory Lenz, was to ascertain which legal apps students were accessing through mobile phones and tablet technology.  This evaluation has been continued into the fall semester by the Advanced Legal Research class.  As part of the class, every ALR student is evaluating a specific legal research app and will post the evaluation to the CSL Library blog.  So watch this space!  In the interim, please take a look at the “There’s an App for That”  research guide, created by Metadata & Serials Librarian, Ashley Moye, and available on the Library’s electronic resource page.

~ Susan Catterall ~

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Jess Walter, Quality Literature sans Zombies: Meet Cory Lenz

The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter

He may never squeeze onto a Bestseller List overrun with vampires, wizards, hired guns, and unlucky survivors of an apocalypse, but his narrative and prose unspool beautifully and deserve a larger readership. He places his characters in the wake of a national tragedy – the 9/11 attacks or current financial crisis – drills for humor and discovers everyone’s humanity. He writes fully developed characters and the kind of sentences where, after having read them, you find yourself staring into the distance, shaking your head, marveling at their insight. Luckily, I can recommend other writers like Jess Walter, so that when he’s between novels you can check out the likes of Andrew Miller, Benjamin Kunzel, Mark Costello, ZZ Packer, David Wong Louie, Colson Whitehead, Joshua Ferris, Miranda July, Sam Lipsyte, Andrew Sean Greer, David Ebershoff, Lorrie Moore, and Tim Winton. Among them, there is only one story about zombies.

~Cory Lenz~

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Authentic Listening with My Mom, or the Time I Made My Dad So Mad He Spit Cereal at Me

Author and improvement leader Kevin Cashman believes there is a leader in all of us.  In his book, Leadership from the Inside Out, he posits that the distinction of leaders from non-leaders is the courage to assess and negotiate internal strengths and weaknesses.  Leaders continually apply their strengths and simultaneously push back against the weaknesses and bad behaviors that run counter to their values and undermine the genuineness of their leadership.  This creates the internal environment that is necessary to revitalize external relationships with intimates, family, colleagues, friends, and employees.

Leading from the inside out is hard work.  Pushing back against weaknesses, notably those passed along a family tree, and unlearning bad behaviors take discipline, self-sacrifice, and vulnerability.   And, while it is challenging to recognize that you have to first change in order to see changes in the relationships and social structures around you, implementing this change and practicing it for a lifetime take greater courage.  Mr. Cashman writes that leadership breakthroughs occur along three interrelated pathways: Awareness, Commitment, and Practice.   All must be operating in concert for the leader’s control over her weaknesses and bad behaviors to be truly transformative, mindful, and sustainable.

Inherent weaknesses and learned bad behaviors are unique in range and depth to each person.  One may lack motivation and has learned to let small situations spin wildly out-of-control, while another may struggle to feel optimistic and has a habit of avoiding conflict.  As an illustration of Awareness, Commitment and Practice, I have a story about one of my own leadership breakthroughs that I work to put into practice every day.  This one has to do with authentic listening, which Mr. Cashman writes,

Is about being generous – listening with a giving attitude that seeks to bring forth the contribution in someone vs. listening without limiting assessments, opinions, and judgments (Cashman, 97).

As is often the case, you never know a behavior is bad and undermining your leadership potential until someone tells you.  My Dad let me know in my case, on a Saturday morning when I was 10-years-old, a time for Tom & Jerry cartoons, and certainly not for an awareness that I stunk at authentic listening.

That Saturday, I sat down to cereal with Mom and Dad.  Dad sat eating a bowl of cereal, too; I remember thinking how neat that we both liked Cocoa Puffs.  This, at the time, was the size of my analytical thoughts – were it possible to have stood up, after having had fallen out of my head and into my cereal bowl, they surely would have drowned in the milk.  What I was unable to notice about my Dad, however, was the way he ate.  He bowed his head over his bowl while my Mom talked.  He seemed to be studying her words, as though he could see them rearrange in the milk and spell out everything she was saying.

339/365 - April 8, 2009
(photo by meddygarnet)

I blame my gargantuan consumption of corn syrup for not seeing how my Dad, clinging to my Mom’s every word, encouraged her words.  Colas, Entenmann’s crumb cakes, and Friendly’s ice-cream clogged my 10-year-old head.  Authentic listening was no match.  It dipped below the quicksand of my synapses, doomed without the spirit – and bullwhip – of Indiana Jones, and laid victim to the mustache-twirling deceit of my inner Egomaniac, which tiptoed across the quicksand on the sinking head of my Authentic Self.  I was a punk kid, for sure.  I routinely interrupted my Mom and pushed aside her every expression as though it was merely a swinging door to another conversation about me.  Seeing my Mom as a real person was impossible.  But, how could I, doped up on such toxic levels of corn syrup?  However long I justified my bad behavior with this Corn Syrup Defense came to an end that Saturday morning.  I interrupted my Mom and hijacked her conversation for the last time.  I don’t remember what I said.  I’m certain that, were the words to have been weighed for substance, they wouldn’t have registered.  But their effect on my Mom reached my Dad deeply, like a cancer, because every cell in his body rallied against me.

“You are not the center of the universe!  She was talking!  About something important to her,” he screamed, Cocoa Puffs firing from his mouth like exploding shrapnel, “Your job is to listen!  To understand it!  And to make it important to you!”

My Dad cut into his cereal, as though it had been heated with his anger to the consistency of oatmeal.

“You don’t know how lucky you are to call her your Mother.  No idea.  But, Cory,” my Dad stormed, his temper rolling back, “you’re going to learn.”

This moment always projects onto the backdrop of my unconscious whenever a situation requires me to authentically listen.  Through hard language and tough love, my Dad let me know that if I continued to dismiss my Mom’s contributions, the downside consequence of this behavior was a cracked relationship, both of us acting civilly to each other to keep it from completely breaking, until we grow weary and distant and it does break without anyone even noticing.  I didn’t want this, not for any of my relationships, but particularly not the one with my Mom.  So, once my Dad Indiana-Jones-ed my Authentic Self from the quicksand, I committed to getting to know my Mom.  I read what she read – Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, Carol Burnett’s One More Time – just to hear my Mom talk about them.  Then, I watched what she watched – Victor Victoria on film, Knot’s Landing on TV – to keep hearing her opinions on things.  Eventually, I learned to fit into a dialogue with my Mom so that my contributions did not stifle hers, but rather encouraged them, and we began to have real, substantive conversations.

Decades later, I continue to build this practice.  I make a point of spending time with my Mom, just the two of us, going for a long walk for instance, where I quietly and authentically listen to what’s important in her life.  I yearn to hear from her always, and am grateful daily for my Dad raging at me – it made all the difference, for so many of my relationships.

~Cory Lenz~

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How to Live in Charlotte on the Cheap

Law school is expensive, but living in Charlotte doesn’t necessarily have to be.  Here is a list of places that will help keep some money in your pockets as you fill your apartments, wardrobes, refrigerators, bookshelves and iPods with all of life’s necessities and entertainments.  And check out Charlotte on the Cheap for more frugal living ideas.

Furniture & Clothing

My favorite place to shop for furniture is the Habitat for Humanity Restore.  Inventory comes in so quickly here that prices on existing items are constantly lowered to make room for more stuff.  A friend nabbed a beautiful, oil painting, originally priced at $500, for $35.  What shopping strategy won her a Monet for the price of a Thomas Kinkade?  An unsophisticated one –she merely dropped in every week.  Of course, I’ve done the same and watched the awesome, red couch I had had my eye on for weeks be carried out the door.  I think my heartbreaking story, versus her fortuitous one, is more common, so check in regularly because your patience and diligence may be rewarded.

Community Service at Habitat for Humanity ReStore

(photograph by susi.bsu)

The Salvation Army Thrift Store on Central Avenue offers some great finds in furniture and clothing.  I’ve walked out of there with a bundle of new Calvin Klein slacks in my size for a grand total of $15.  Clothing is reduced 50% on Wednesdays, so were I smarter, I could’ve spent only $7.50 on those same Calvin Kleins.  More-often-than-not, however, hitting the store at just the right time, like after a large estate donation, is determinative of the quality of the clothing.

Former Kroger, Bay City

(photograph by Wachovia_138)

Tuesday Morning sells new home goods and small appliances at a steep discount.  The store reminds me of my artsy, kind-of-wacky aunt who sat for an entire Thanksgiving dinner in her raincoat.   The place is flighty, eclectic and disorganized, but what a fun way to spend an hour in the afternoon.

Books & Music

Next door to the Habitat for Humanity Restore is Julia’s Café & Books .  The wraps and sandwiches are delicious and the coffee is rich and socially conscious.  With the money saved at Restore, buy a coffee and pastry and, on the way out, pick up a very good, used copy of that book you’ll never read until you finish law school.

Book Buyers in Midtown doesn’t have coffee like Julia’s Café & Books, but it does boast a more diverse selection of used books.  Here, I discovered a signed first edition that I couldn’t find at shops in Los Angeles, New York and Connecticut.  Of course, I could have just purchased the book online since it is now the residence of all things produced and manufactured.  But, for me, there is no joy of discovery in online shopping, as there is in used book store hunting when your eyes finally fall upon that treasured title after having spent many, fruitless years searching through stacks and stacks of books.

(photograph by Amy R.)

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is the place for free books and music.  Pretty much, everything is available because each branch can interlibrary loan from another branch.  Why spend even 99¢ for a song in iTunes when the library lends the entire album absolutely free?  Even lawyers, stereotyped for being bad at math, can see how using their library saves money.

PLCMC (photo by jblyberg)

Food

Aldi on Freedom Drive and Old Pineville Road has the best prices on produce: cauliflower for under $2, avocado for 88¢, bananas for 44¢/lb., an entire pineapple for 99¢ and mango for $1.  I apologize for swooning – and in the process sounding like a TV pitchman – but these prices truly are amazing.  The star attraction here, though, is the $2.69 bottle of Winking Owl red wine.  It tastes better and is cheaper than the infamous Two Buck Chuck (actually, $2.99 and soon be Three Buck Chuck) at Trader Joe’s.

Aldi

(photograph by Portal Abras)

Hillbilly Produce Market boasts a huge selection of locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables at fair prices, as well as free-range chicken and grass-fed beef.  There are also locally made chocolates and candy…and don’t forget to ask for the hot, boiled peanuts.

Trader Joe’s on Metropolitan Avenue and Rea Road can be surprisingly affordable for a nationally recognized brand and chain.  For instance, its cauliflower and broccoli are competitively priced as to Aldi; Trade Joe’s soy milk, wheat cereals and granola are only a few cents more than the same at Walmart; and the prices on Trade Joe’s organic apples, blueberries and spinach are among the lowest.

Trader Joe's  (photograph by bradywahl)

Brunch

Bistro la Bon on Central Avenue stages a large, tasty and affordable brunch on Sundays between 10 a.m-2:30 p.m.   For $18, it’s all you can eat for over four hours — this is important to a guy who struggles to find portion sizes large enough to fill his appetite.  Bistro serves up the typical brunch fare such as scrambled eggs, French toast, and fruit. But, the standouts are the lox, the chocolate waffles, the Swedish meatballs and the beet salad.  Coffee lovers take note, however: I had the two worst cups of coffee in my life here – those who dislike Starbucks coffee because it tastes burnt would most likely find the coffee at Bistro absolutely scorched.

Leave a comment and tell us about other places where the goods are cheap but still fun or tasty and a steal nonetheless.

~Cory Lenz~

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Killer Cover Letters 2: The Body Wars

We dissected the Introduction of a cover letter in an earlier post.  The critical lesson there was to umbrella your particular skill-sets under a single theme that would appeal to your future employer.  This will help focus the letter and, more importantly, tell the story of you that your resume simply cannot and, really, should not tell.

So, let’s dissect the Body and Conclusion from a sample cover letter. To highlight the necessary elements of a unique and persuasive Body and Conclusion that elaborate your particular and transferable skill-sets, consider this Early Draft and compare it to its Final Draft by way of the color coding.

EARLY DRAFT

[Introduction]

Though my law school is not top-tier, esteemed persons and institutions have commended the nuance and strength of my writing.  New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts offered me a writing scholarship to its MFA program, however I turned it down in favor of law school.  As a JD/MLS candidate, my trademark professor distinguished my opinion letters and responses to office action as being “firm ready.”  I enjoy writing a trademark analysis because it requires creative problem solving, resourcefulness, and a customer service orientation, attributes I revere and have consistently sought to cultivate.  In addition, I supplemented my IP education at Bedrock School of Law and performed well in copyright law. 

I also demonstrate the keen research and organizational skills typical of a strong writer.  As a summer associate, to accent Ms. Betty Rubble’s exceptional tenure as chair of the litigation committee of the Yaba-Daba-Doo County Bar Association, I organized what became an esteemed career fair that brought together the analytical skills of law students with the legal needs of the nonprofit community in Yaba-Daba-Doo.  This required I manage and prioritize multiple complex tasks, prepare countless communications, and foster a collaborative spirit among the project partners and participants.  Moreover, I have conducted research for film producers, law school deans, and attorneys, all with their compliments, and I am resourceful at finding and using free electronic resources for legal research.

In Coats and Bennett, I see the chance to bridge my analytic and creative skills.  I recognize that such a unique opportunity does not come along often and, thus, am especially thankful for the consideration.

All the best,

Ferris Bueller, Esq.

FINAL DRAFT

[Introduction]

Developing from my past support of artists and filmmakers, I am eager to use my legal writing and analytical skills to defend and exploit the creative endeavors of IP owners.  I model my legal writing style after yours, and like you, I intend to advance their knowledge of IP law through publication.  Esteemed institutions and persons have awarded and commended my writing skills.  The Tisch School of the Arts at New York University offered me a writing scholarship that I ultimately turned down for law school.  As a JD/MLS candidate, my trademark professor distinguished the “nuanced analysis” of my opinion letters and responses to office action and called them “client ready.”  Moreover, my appellate advocacy professor identified my defendant-appellant’s brief as the clearest synthesis of the law and the most persuasively argued. 

Additionally, I am a creative project manager and versatile researcher.  To accent Ms. Betty Rubble’s exceptional tenure as chair of the litigation committee of the Yaba-Daba-Doo County Bar Association, I organized and marketed what became an esteemed career fair that brought together the analytical skills of law students with the legal needs of the nonprofit community.  This creative enterprise required I manage multiple complex tasks and deadlines and prepare countless communications, including web pages and publicity notices, to foster a collaborative spirit among the project partners and participants.  Furthermore, as a summer associate, I drafted interrogatories and summary depositions and conducted subscription-based research for asbestos litigation.  My library science background, as it did for my summer assignments, heightens my intuition in locating and using free electronic resources and expands my efficiency as a print-based researcher.

As a legal researcher and draftsman, I see the chance to prime my library science training and bridge my analytical and creative writing skills in order to advance the work of the firm and its attorneys.  I recognize such a unique opportunity does not come along often and, thus, am especially thankful for the consideration.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

All the best,

Ferris Bueller, Esq.

ANALYSIS

The first paragraph of the Body highlights the candidate’s writing and analytical skills and their benefit to her future employer by way of elaborating how they have helped or served previous clients and customers.  The Final Draft works better because it launches from this theme of customer service orientation, set-out in the Introduction.  The Final Draft also shows the candidate has done her research and studied her future employer, in this case, his publishing history, and linked it to her own skill-set. But, if you choose to place your skill-sets, principles, or mission in solidarity with your future employer’s, be sure the statements are honest, thoroughly researched, and on instant recall were they to resurface in the interview. 

Now, take a look at the Early Draft: it fails immediately because the candidate chokes on an unnecessary – and rather pathetic – apology for her school’s ranking.  This tells the employer that the candidate lacks both confidence and the writing skill she claims to possess, because she can’t even stay within the theme of her letter’s Introduction.

The Early Draft fails to develop the candidate’s writing and analytical skills for different reasons.  First, her acceptance to the Tisch School of the Arts distinguishes her from other candidates.  But, here, it feels out of place.  This is so because, unlike the Final Draft, the Early Draft doesn’t immediately establish that the candidate’s creative and analytical writing skills stem from the same customer service orientation.  Moreover, she veers further from this theme with the limp statement about enjoying a trademark analysis.  Frankly, who cares – certainly not the employer who, if he hadn’t already, has definitely stopped reading the letter here. 

The Final Draft, however, gets it right.  It elaborates her analytical skills by illustrating how they have served customers in the past – in this instance, the owner of a trademark and a defendant-appellant – and, thus, gives the future employer a glimpse of how the candidate’s skill-sets may benefit him or the firm, as well.

The second paragraph of the Body should continue the customer service orientation theme from the Introduction and show the future employer new, transferable skill-sets.  The Early Draft misses this opportunity, reiterating the candidate’s writing skills from the previous paragraph and ending the current one with a restatement from her resume. 

The Final Draft, conversely, presents a candidate with a unique set of transdisciplinary skills, those that within the new world of work can be plugged into multiple areas, as demonstrated by our candidate here: law, non-profits and the public sector, library science, internet-technology and other creative fields.  In a new world of work where life-long employment at one company is no longer normal or likely, transdisciplinary skill-sets will be attractive to employers, particularly those straddling multiple disciplines themselves.

In the Early Draft, the Conclusion may as well read, “I give up.”  It accomplishes only a single goal: the candidate’s expression of gratitude for the consideration – and that’s all, folks.  But the Conclusion is well-designed in the Final Draft.  Here, the Conclusion immediately reinserts the candidate as embodying all the strengths of the ideal, new hire, even supporting the audacity of this assertion by expertly drawing together like the sails of a boat the most relevant skill-sets and showing how they will advance and benefit the employer; all of that takes place within a single sentence, but it took dozens of drafts to get it there.

Remember, your story is unique.  And you speak and write it every day across many different platforms.  But it will go through dozens of permutations as you re-format it for the “old-school” technology of that darn cover letter.

~Cory Lenz~

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Killer Cover Letters

Cover letter writing is essentially storytelling.  You are telling your future employer why she specifically matters to you, and why your skill-sets particularly matter to her.  You are not merely ticking-off the bullet-points from your resume.

Let’s dissect a sample cover letter’s Introduction and in a subsequent blog, we will tackle the Body and Conclusion.  To highlight the necessary elements of a stylish, personable, and strong Introduction to a cover letter, consider this Early Draft and compare it to its Final Draft by way of the color coding.

Early Draft

I am a recent graduate of Flinestone University School of Law.  Before becoming an attorney, I worked as an editor at a major publishing house in New York.  The hours were long and the pay was low, but it was an incredible time to learn.  Currently, I am looking for such an experience at Coats and Bennett.   I am eager to remain in Amityville and apply my writing and analytical skills to the intellectual property arena.  I promise to bring to the company the same hard work I applied to my legal studies and the same entrepreneurial spirit I exhibited working as a youth counselor to help put myself through law school.

Final Draft

I recently graduated from Flinestone University School of Law with a JD/MLS, which I supplemented with intellectual property studies at Bedrock School of Law.  I am writing to express my interest in providing research and document production support for your firm.  My masters in library science propelled my legal education toward the most current research trends and methods.  As a result, I celebrate exciting research discoveries with an accelerating frequency, and I draft documents and complex communications thoughtfully.  Moreover, my unremitting success as a youth counselor demonstrates a special ability to coach and encourage people toward the attainment of their goals.  These common and enduring displays of my customer service orientation make me ideally suited to conduct research and write preliminary drafts for your partners and associates.

Analysis

The Final Draft works better because it uses the joint degree and supplemental studies to distinguish the candidate and immediately suggests to this particular employer, an intellectual property attorney, the reasons for the candidate’s inquiry.  The Early Draft does none of these.

The Early Draft uses three sentences to say nothing.  It makes the mistake of falling back on the resume without application to the candidate’s skill-set.  Also, the candidate makes it all-too-clear that she has not researched the firm.  But, take a look at the Final Draft: in just a few words, it states the reason for the letter and demonstrates an awareness of the particular needs of the employer.

The Final Draft accomplishes more than the Early Draft.  It merely lists the skill-sets.  The Final Draft, however, uses the skill-sets to describe how they would benefit the employer.  In doing this, the candidate additionally manages to show-off her personality by using, for instance, the active voice (i.e. “propelled” and “celebrate”).

The Early Draft shows you a truly terrible closing sentence for an introduction.  This is so because the candidate has not spent enough time reflecting on her particular skill-sets.  But, by the Final Draft, she has.  She has brought them together under a common theme – customer service orientation – and tailored it to the employer’s needs.

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Filed under Careers, collection, electronic resources, Of Interest to Law Students, Student Information

Introducing Cory Lenz!

I am excited to be the newest reference librarian at the Charlotte School of Law and look forward to promoting the studies and scholarship of the students and faculty.  Research can be fun, encouraging and, most importantly, painless – very similar to a safe, effective workout.

How did I get interested in law and arrive at the Charlotte School of Law?  Well, it was simple – I followed a very crooked path and pedaled a lot of miles to get here.  I started my career in Los Angeles working in film production and development as a story editor.  Stories and films fanned the flame of my interest in artists and creativity which vaulted into the area of their legal concerns, specifically trademark and copyright law.  In addition to my legal studies, I continued my education in human kinesiology as an ACE-certified personal trainer and added library science to the mix.  Creativity, curiosity, and customer service have always been and will continue to be the common themes of my professional development.

So what can I do for you?  Having just graduated from North Carolina Central University School of Law with a JD/MLS and finished the journey many of you are taking, I can help fend-off common mistakes in your research strategy, exam study, or bar preparation.   So please stop by my office with any questions, be it research or assignment-related or about your health and fitness concerns.  Or stop by just to introduce yourselves – I would love to share favorite films or books, externship war stories, or anything else you might want to discuss.

~Cory Lenz~

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Filed under CharlotteLaw Library Team Members, Staff Updates