In Brief

Vol. 42 No. 2

One more thing to work on: developing a thick skin

“As a first-year lawyer, all kinds of people are going to tell you that you aren’t very good at what you are doing,” writes solo lawyer and blogger Sam Glover. “In fact, they will keep telling you that for years.”

That may not sound very cheerful, Glover writes in a post called “The mental fortitude necessary to practice law” at lawyerist.com. But it is in the job description.

Whether the criticism comes from other lawyers at your firm, from staff, or from opposing counsel, he explains, “[Y]our job, in serving your client, is to tune out the bluster, stay cool, and make good decisions under fire.”

Though law school is a tough experience for many, Glover worries that there is widespread reluctance to criticize students—or to give low grades. The problem, he believes, is that students then emerge unprepared for the kind of criticism they’ll likely receive as lawyers.

What can you do? If you do get a C now and then, or a professor or other student says something harsh, consider those to be practice in how to set your emotions aside and respond well to negative or adversarial comments.

Once you’re a lawyer, Glover explains, “[y]our client needs you—and your professional obligations require you—to make the right decision no matter how you feel.”

Do u write like u txt?

There’s no question that young adults—including law students—text as one of their primary means of communication.

Is it possible that all that texting erodes your ability to write more formally—including legal writing? After all, notes researcher Lindsey P. Gustafson, texting is quick whereas legal writing takes deep, careful focus. And for all its faults, autocorrect does a lot of the work for you when you text.

But Gustafson, of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, says there’s surprisingly little need to worry. Many studies, she says, have found that even heavy texters are able to adapt their writing from one setting to another, almost like switching between languages.

This isn’t the first time, she notes, that a relatively new tool has prompted concern for people’s writing ability. For example, she says, in the late 18th century, teachers worried that students would become less careful in their compositions—because, for the first time, pencils had erasers on them.

To read the abstract of the paper, “Texting and the Friction of Writing,” or to download it in its entirety, visit http://papers.ssrn.com. (Hat tip to the Law School Academic Support Blog, www.lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support, which highlighted this paper in a post called “Article on texting’s potential impact on formal legal writing.”)

Making your own luck

Looking back on her 2L year at New York University School of Law, current 3L and blogger Tracy Huang says that’s when she learned that professional success often comes down to luck.

But the good news, she writes, is that you can often help make your own fortune.

At the blog Life at NYU Law (http://blogs.law.nyu.edu), Huang gives an example in a post called “548,600 minutes: How do you measure, measure 2L year?” Thanks to a New York State Bar Association event in an area of law she wanted to practice—antitrust—Huang made a connection with an attorney at a firm she was interested in, and ended up landing a summer associate position there.

A lot of things had to come together for this to happen, Huang notes: She knew what area of law she was interested in. A firm that a mentor had previously mentioned had a panelist at the event. She wasn’t too busy to attend.

If she had thought her success depended only on hard work and good grades, she says, she might have missed out. Those factors are important, she says, “But I now understand that hard work can truly pay great dividends when combined with luck, which allowed me to capitalize fully on the opportunity in front of me.”

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