University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Law Works: Volume 5 Issue 10 - January 21, 2010


 Most new networkers don’t want friends or former colleagues to feel put out.  But successful networking doesn't mean milking your contacts for all they're worth; instead, it is most effective when both the networker and their contact benefit from the relationship. Here are some things that you can do:

  • Ask for advice.  Asking for advice is a great way to open the conversation -- people love to feel important.  Advice can range from professional: “How did you come to work for XYZ firm" to personal: "I was looking at getting a new hybrid... how do you like your car?"
  • Attend professional groups or volunteer as ways to network in a comfort zone.  Look for the person standing alone -- chances are they would love to be approached. Making eye contact with people throughout the room and smiling will encourage them to gravitate to you.
  • Ask contacts for help with projects such as coordinating a speaker, arranging a meeting location, or contributing to an organization with which you're involved. Even if they don't accept, they think you respect their skills.
  • Bring up newspaper/magazine articles relating to your contact’s personal or professional interests.  Or give a general recommendation that shows you remembered your conversation with your contact. "You mentioned your husband enjoys photography. There's an exhibit this weekend... "
  • When all else fails, follow up with a general "great to meet you" e-mail, listing your phone and e-mail information and opening the door to future contact.

Looking for ways to try out those networking tips?  Come to Attorney Expo:  Thurs. February 4, 1-2:15 p.m., lobby  

 Learn about different practice areas, both traditional and non-traditional, from expert resources: the attorneys themselves!  This is a great opportunity to explore different legal practice areas as well as non-traditional settings.  All law students are invited to drop by to talk to practitioners, ask questions and network with local attorneys.  This is the 15th Annual Table Talk and we expect over 35 attorneys to participate. 



 He's the leader of the free world, but does the President's salary measure up to his power? Not if you compare his salary with top leaders in the private sector.  Barack Obama earns a salary of $400,000 plus a $100,000 nontaxable expense allowance. By contrast, the CEO of Heinz took home $33 million in 2009.

Despite lower pay in the upper echelons of the government, half of government workers surveyed said they had long-term plans to stay in their current jobs; the government's benefits package may be one reason for federal employees' longevity.  Unlike most private employees, federal workers can choose from several health plans and life insurance options.  The government also helps pick up the tab on the premiums.

Government workers also get more paid time off than many other employees. All federal employees receive 13 days of sick leave a year, which accrue indefinitely. They also earn 13 vacation days each of their first three years of service.  Don’t forget about Federal Holidays or Federal Retirement benefits either.

Do government workers make that much less? It depends on the occupation. The following list compares average salaries in government with nationwide averages, based on the DOL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2005.  (These stats include salaries from entry level to retirement.)
                                    Attorney          Accountant      Librarian          Tax examiner
Gov’t average:                105,577         $74,907         74,630              36,963
Nat’l average:              $110,520         $58,020          49,110              49,460
Nationally, average entry level salaries for private sector attorneys $110,000 and in government, $52,500.  While that might seem like a significant difference, government salaries, as reported to NALP, do not include up to $6,000 of annual loan repayment provided by the government.  Additionally, entry level government employees may earn a “raise” for passing the bar exam.  And public sector employees qualify for the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which provides reduced debt obligation and total loan forgiveness after a term of service.


Fellowships, Internships and Clerkships

Business Law
Business Law Diversity Clerkship Program
Application deadline: January 29, 2010

Designed to encourage law students to pursue business court clerkship opportunities and to consider careers in the practice of business law. Up to nine interns will receive a $6,000 summer stipend and placement in a business court clerkship. Tell me more

Janet D. Steiger Fellowship Project
Application deadline: February 5, 2010

Provides law students the opportunity to work in the consumer protection and antitrust departments of state and territorial Offices of Attorneys General throughout the United States. These paid Fellowships last for an eight-week period. Tell me more



Cover Letter Workshop (RSVP Required)

Tuesday, January 26, 1:00-2:00pm, Room 113

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to you because I struggle to craft effective cover letters, yet I am seeking a job for the summer.   As a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, I do not feel I have any skills or experience to offer; however I would very much like to begin my career in Los Angeles…   If you dread writing cover letters; don’t know what to say; or know why you should take the time to write them in the first place, this session is for you.  We will briefly review what purpose cover letters serve.  We will also go over cover letter do’s and don’ts.  And we will provide an opportunity for you to try your hand at cover letter drafting.   If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Mary Thinium at


Small Firm Job Searching Program: Donna Gerson, author of Choosing Small Choosing Smart

Thursday, January 28, 1:00-2:15pm, Room 111

This program will be presented by Donna Gerson, Esq., author of Choosing Small Choosing Smart. The program will address job searching strategies in the small firm market, including information on:  the hiring processes;  how and when to contact small firms; networking fundamentals; interviewing skills;  and tips for succeeding in a small firm environment once you have the position.  This program will also kick off two weeks of focused counseling sessions, during which 2L and 3L students will be able to meet with a CSO counselor to structure their job search.  Additionally the CSO will be holding a Job Search Workshop:  Creating an Action Plan for Your Small and Mid-size Firm Job Search for ALL students on Tuesday, February 2.

Job Search Break-Out Sessions with Donna Gerson (RSVP required)

Thursday, January 28,  times and locations below:

  • 10:15-11:00 am  G 13 The Informational Interview:  How to do it and why?
  • 12:00-12:45 pm  G 13 Interview Skills:  How to put your best foot forward
  • 2:25-3:10 pm  118 Professional Communication Skills: Email, Phone and Letters
  • 3:15-4:00 pm  118  The Informational Interview:  How to do it and why?

These breakout sessions are open to ALL students and are designed to focus on various aspects of the job searching process. If you would like to attend any of these sessions (you are welcome to attend as many as you want) you must RSVP in advance to ASAP.

Sign-ups For 2L and 3L Spring Job Search Focused Counseling Sessions

Sessions run from February 1 through February 12 (By appointment: Sign-ups begin January 25th)

Perhaps you need some encouragement to begin your search or are wondering what should I do next?  Now is a great time to meet with a CSO counselor to help you focus/refocus your energies on your job search.  2L and 3L students can stop by Room 235 to schedule an appointment or email beginning January 25 (when scheduling, please let us know of any geographical or practice area interests and please forward an updated resume to your counselor 2 days prior to your appointment).  If your schedule does not permit a meeting during these weeks, students are welcome to schedule an appointment on another date. 

Job Search Workshop: Creating Your Action Plan (RSVP Required)

Focus:  Small and Midsize Firms in the Pittsburgh Area

Tuesday, February 2, 1:00-1:45pm, Room 113

If you are feeling frustrated and your job search needs some energy and direction, then this workshop is for you.  This hands-on workshop will take you through the process of developing a Job Search Action Plan. This session is designed for students who are searching for summer or post-graduate employment with small and mid-size firms in the Pittsburgh region (please note that if you are looking at firms outside of the region and the principles in this workshop will still apply).  If you would like to attend this workshop please RSVP to Pam Day  ASAP but no later than Thursday, January 28 with your name and class year.  Because this is a hands-on workshop students should bring their laptops to this program.


ALL STUDENTS – Save the Date -- Attorney Expo (Table Talk)

Thursday, February 4, 1:00-2:30pm, Law School Lobby

Learn about different practice areas, both traditional and non-traditional, from expert resources: the attorneys themselves! This is a great opportunity to explore different legal practice areas as well as non-traditional settings. All law students are invited to drop by to talk to practitioners, ask questions and network with local attorneys. This is the Fourteenth Annual program Talk and we expect over 35 attorneys to participate. A complete list of attorneys and practice areas will be available closer to the event date.



 Pitt Law Women’s Association – Spring Career Panel

Thursday, January 28, 2010     12:00 noon – 1:30PM     Room 107

 Catered lunch provided with RSVP by January 25th

RSVP on Facebook (search Pitt Law Women’s Association) or by email

 Worried about what to do with your law degree? This career panel will help you think about real career options from successful Pitt Law alumnae. They will also provide insight on challenges and opportunities faced by women in the legal profession.

 Panelists include: Marcy Reed ‘96 (Highmark, Inc.), Diana Leech ‘06 (Metz Lewis LLC), Linda Burke ‘73 (solo practitioner), Julie Meder ‘93 (Webb Law Firm), Amanda Dew ‘05 (Cook & Tate), Mary Conturo ’79 (Pittsburgh Sports & Exhibition Authority).


 Alternative Spring Break:

The Alternative Break program will continue to take applications until all the service sites are full.  Below are the service sites that have openings.  For more information go to

 Camp Sequanota/Jennerstown, Pennsylvania     Location: Jennerstown, Pennsylvania     Cost: $200. per student. All expenses included.

Nature of Work:  Trail restoration and new trail building on the 400 acres of woods, rock formations and open fields of Camp Sequanota.  Trail construction includes clearing, raking, digging and grooming the trails. This physical work of building trails will be supervised by Camp Sequanota staff.

 Habitat for Humanity/Salem County, New Jersey     Location: Salem County,  New Jersey     Cost: $300. per student. All expenses included.

Nature of Work:  Building new home in the urban town of Penns Grove which usually means foundation or framing work.  This will be the 36th home for this affiliate.

 Habitat for Humanity/Buffalo, New York     Location: Buffalo, New York     Cost: $300. per student. All expenses included.

Nature of Work:  This affiliate has completed its 200th house and will increase its new-build and rehab housing to 20 per year.



University of Pennsylvania Law School is hosting its 22nd Annual Sadie T.M. Alexander Commemorative Conference, to be held on Saturday February 20, 2010.

 This year's conference theme is: Making Your Mark: Emerging as Leaders in Troubled Times. Through the diversity fair we hope to introduce diverse first year law students from Mid-Atlantic law schools to law firms and legal organizations prior to the start of the fall recruiting season. We are currently in the process of securing firms and organizations and will have attendees finalized in the coming weeks.

 The first panel, Going "Above the Law": Where the Legal Market Has Been and Where it is Going, is designed to offer students a perspective on the way the legal market has been impacted by the changes in the economy, and how law firms and legal organizations are responding.  The second panel, "Marketing Yourself:  Developing the Image and Skills Necessary for Success," aims to provide students with information about how to set themselves apart as leaders and developing professionals.  

 Should you wish to attend this conference, please submit your resumes electronically as a PDF file, limited to 1 page, with 1-inch margins no later than February 15, 2010, so they can be included in the conference’s resume book.  If you have any questions, please contact Tiffany Southerland, the conference organizer, at or co-chair Dianna Myles at  


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