University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Law Works: Volume 5 Issue 4 - October 2, 2009

IN BRIEF:  COVER LETTER BASICS

 1. When at all possible, address your letter to a particular person. Do some research to find out the name of the person who will be reviewing your resume. This reinforces that this is not a generic cover letter, but one made especially for them.

2. Modify your cover letter to the particular job you are applying for and illustrate why you are the best choice for this particular position. Hiring managers look for specialized cover letters, not mass-produced ones.

3. Do research on the company you are applying for. Discuss why this company/organization appeals to you. This shows employers you went the extra mile to learn about them - it may give you the edge over the competition.

4. Don't just repeat your resume. This is a chance to not only to illustrate your outstanding qualities, but to show your personality as well. Employers should want to meet you, not just your credentials.

5. Double and triple check for spelling or grammatical errors. 48% of hiring managers say they will not even consider a resume or cover letter with spelling errors.

 

GET THAT EMAIL INBOX EMPTY AND UNDER CONTROL

 Do you have an "out of control" email inbox with 500+ messages?  Are you missing important deadlines and urgent messages due to inbox clutter?  Are you summarily deleting emails without reading them?

 If you follow a few simple strategies with your email, you can quickly get your email under control.

 1.  Spend less time reading

 Use junk mail filters to eliminate the hundreds of emails from companies offering Viagra; wealthy businessmen in Africa looking for access to American banks; investors offering "insider trading" tips and shady characters asking you to update your security information.  You may also wish to use a preview pane to cut down on reading time. 

 2.  Purge that inbox

 If your inbox is out of control, the first step is to block off 4-8 hours to go through your email inbox and delete, act on or file your mail.  The goal is to go through (read) your mail and act on it.  To break this down further, ask yourself:

  • Can it be deleted (again, be sure to read it first)
  • Can it be filed outside of the inbox
  • Can it be quickly acted on (replied to, forwarded, or accomplished) and then be deleted or properly filed?
  • Can the information in this email be moved to my address book or calendar?

 If an email will take 2 minutes or less to handle, just handle it right now.  If it will take longer than 2 minutes, save it in your inbox for later processing.  By following this method, you should be able to get rid of almost all of the emails cluttering your inbox.

 3.  Build a sensible email project folder system

 Create numerous "project folders" in your email account.  Perhaps these folders are for each project at work, interesting job postings, upcoming events, websites/resource lists, personal items, etc.  Then move items from your inbox into other folders as a way of managing inbox clutter.  Alternatively, use automatic filters that send certain types of emails to the folders without "passing through" the inbox.  Using a filing system also helps you search for and find old emails more quickly. 

 4.  Only keep "active" items in your inbox

 Only keep "active" emails - emails that still need some form of action taken on them - in your inbox.  By doing this, you help to keep your focus and effort on items that need to get done.  With the clutter appropriately removed, you are now empowered to take action to complete the remaining bigger and more time-consuming tasks affiliated with any emails still left in your inbox.

 5.  Keep those "active" items under control

 Using these strategies, try to keep your inbox as close to zero as possible - if it starts to stack up again, that is your signal to get your inbox cleaned up and to get things done.  Using these strategies, you can receive hundreds of emails a day and still manage to keep the clutter under control.

 

I WANT TO GO INTO PUBLIC SERVICE ...BUT HOW CAN I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

 Perkins Loan Forgiveness

Attorneys working in a nonprofit child or family service agency with high risk children from low income families may qualify to have some of their Perkins Loans (not Stafford) forgiven under 34 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Section 674.51. Attorneys who believe they may qualify should write to the Perkins Loan officer at their law school, citing this section of the code and requesting loan forgiveness.

Prosecutors working in an agency that enforces criminal law may qualify to have some of their Perkins Loans (not Stafford) forgiven under 34 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Section 674.57. Attorneys who believe they may qualify should write to the Perkins Loan officer at their law school, citing this section of the code and requesting loan forgiveness. Public defenders do not currently qualify for this assistance.

Employees of Federal Agencies

  • Agriculture                                             
  • Commerce                                             
  • Defense                                                 
  • Education                                              
  • Energy                                                   
  • Health and Human Services                   
  • Homeland Security                                
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Interior
  • Justice
  • Labor
  • State
  • Transportation
  • Treasury
  • Veteran's Affairs

Independent Agencies

  • Agency for International Development                       
  • African Development Foundation                  
  • Arctic Research Commission                          
  • Broadcasting Board of Governors                    
  • Chemical Safety Hazard Investigation Board    
  • Commission on Civil Rights                           
  • Committee for Purchase from People Who Are          
  • Blind or Severely Disabled                   
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission         
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission                       
  • Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board                       
  • Environmental Protection Agency                  
  • EEOC                                                            
  • Export-Import Bank                                          
  • Farm Credit Administration                              
  • Federal Communications Commission                        
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation                       
  • Federal Election Commission                        
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission         
  • Federal Housing Finance Board    
  • Federal Maritime Commission                                    
  • Federal Trade Commission                               
  • General Services Administration                       
  • Government Accountability Office                  
  • Government Printing Office                           
  • Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation         
  • Holocaust Memorial Museum                          
  • Inter-American Foundation
  • International Trade Commission
  • James Madison Fellowship Foundation
  • Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • NASA
  • Nat'l Archives and Records Admin.
  • Nat'l Capital Planning Commission
  • Nat'l Credit Union Administration
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • Nat'l Endowment for the Humanities
  • National Labor Relations Board
  • National Mediation Board
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Office of Government Ethics
  • Office of Personnel Management
  • Overseas Private Investment Corp.
  • Postal Rate Commission
  • Retirement Board
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Small Business Administration
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Social Security Administration
  • Surface Transportation Board
  • Tax Court
  • Trade and Development Agency

In addition, graduates may opt to repay loans through the Income Based Repayment (IBR) option available through the federal government. IBR is a federal program that enables graduates to significantly reduce their monthly loan payments and provides for forgiveness of remaining debt after a 25-year period of repayment. IBR is a complicated program and repaying loans through IBR has both advantages and disadvantages.

For more information about IBR, visit http://www.equaljusticeworks.org/resources/student-debt-relief/income-based-repayment

Continuation Pay Through the Military

One example of continuation pay is The Marine Corps option. The Law School Education Debt Subsidy (LSEDS, rhymes with "el-seds") is available to company-grade judge advocates that meet certain requirements. Please refer to MARADMIN 602/02 for details about the program.

 

HOW TO EARN PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS

A webinar can be accessed through the EqualJusticeWorks (EJW) website; it features Heather Jarvis of EJW who is THE expert on this topic (recognized as such at all law schools, at EJW and other organizations, on Capitol Hill, etc.), and it is very good.  The power point slides from the webinar are also available at:  http://www.equaljusticeworks.org/files/ibr_webinar.pdf.

 From the EJW home page, you can access a wealth of information by clicking the link to Student Debt Relief http://www.equaljusticeworks.org/resources/student-debt-relief/default.  

 You will see a list of topics on the left-hand side of the page.   The following are extremely helpful on this topic:

  • CCRAA - Income-Based Repayment
  • CCRAA - Public Service Loan Forgiveness
  • Student Debt

 Take a few minutes to look over these web pages and the tools you can access, and you'll find that they are packed with valuable information.  They provide a checklist to help you analyze your loans and their eligibility for inclusion under CCRAA.  You'll find worksheets and calculators to help you figure out what you are looking at in terms of repayment amounts, etc. 

 NOTE:  For more information, please feel free to join the upcoming webinar sponsored by EJW:

 Monday, October 5 at 1:15 - Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Loan Repayment Assistance Programs from A - Z

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

"THE CAREER COUNSELOR IS IN" THE STUDENT LOUNGE:  Q &A Pressing Job Search Questions

Monday October 5 12:30 - 1:30, Student Lounge

Pam, Jen and Mary will be in the student lounge to answer your "quick" questions (for more involved questions we will schedule an appointment with you for a later date).  So, bring your pressing questions, a hard copy of your resume and your laptop and we'll provide some support and direction in your job search efforts. (And snacks - we'll provide the snacks).

 COVER LETTER WORKSHOP (2L and 3L Students - RSVP Required)

Tuesday, October 6th, 1:00-2:00pm Room 111

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 a 2L or 3L student interested in attending, please RSVP to Mary Thinium at thinium@pitt.edu

 

JOB SEARCHING BEYOND OCI:  FOCUSED COUNSELING SESSIONS

Monday September 28th-Wednesday, October 7th    (By appointment)

Perhaps you weren't interested in the types of employers participating in Fall OCI or maybe it didn't work out as you had planned.  It is easy to feel left out of the Fall job searching hustle and bustle.  And it is all too easy to feel disappointed about Fall OCI and give up on your job search.  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 dschoch@pitt.edu.  If your schedule does not permit a meeting during this time period, students are welcome to schedule an appointment on another date. 

 

THE STATE OF THE LEGAL MARKETPLACE: NAVIGATING YOUR WAY IN THESE CHALLENGING TIMES

Thursday, October 8th 12:30-2pm ALCOA ROOM - RSVP Required (All students are encouraged to attend)

Are you aware of the market forces affecting the legal profession?   Are you looking for insights on the the daily news reports about the economy and  its impact on the legal marketplace?

 Then come to a program that is sure to provide a better picture of what is going on in the legal industry along with strategies for success.   The Law School's Career Services Office and the newly established Innovation Practice Institute are partnering with the Allegheny County Bar Association to present a panel program and reception on the State of the Legal Marketplace.  The program will present different views on what is happening in the marketplace, how we got here, the manner in which business models may or may not be changing, practice areas that are thriving and those that are on the decline, and projections for the future.   Panel members will also share insights as to how students can best position themselves in this changing marketplace and discuss the importance of immersing yourself in the legal community as a student and how this will benefit not only your job search, but your career in the long term.

Panelists will include:  David Blaner, Executive Director, Allegheny County Bar Association; Marie Millie Jones, Partner, Meyer Darragh Buckler Bebeneck & Eck; Eugene Connors, Hiring Partner (Pittsburgh office), Reed Smith; Kaveri Subbarao, Chief Marketing Officer & Attorney at Law, Cohen & Grigsby; and Diane Lazarris, General Counsel, Dick's Sporting Goods.   The panel portion will be followed by a reception.  If you would like to attend please RSVP to Pam Day , pday@pitt.edu ASAP but no later than Monday, October 5th.

THE WOMEN'S BAR ASSOCIATION OF WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA, JUDICIAL RECEPTION
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm (RSVP Required)
Omni William Penn, Urban Room, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Women's Bar Association of Western Pennsylvania invites law students to join them for a Judicial Reception to honor, meet and greet the finest in our profession.  Complimentary hors d' oeuvres and cash bar will be available.  If you would like to attend  please call the WBA at (412) 429-1922 by October 9th to make a reservation or email Michelle Pierson at mpierson@zoominternet.net .  Judges & 2009 WBA Members Free/Others $20.00.  Please note that student memberships are $10 at this point in the year, however, those who volunteer to help greet the judges/registration at any of our events receive a free student membership (they can tag team and only work about 1/2 hour shifts).  If you would like to volunteer please let Michelle know in your RSVP. 

 

GOING SOLO:  INSIGHTS FROM SOLE AND SMALL FIRM PRACTITIONERS (RSVP Required)

Thursday, October 29th 4:00-5:30pm ALCOA ROOM

Do you have visions of opening up your own firm one day?  Perhaps you are thinking about partnering with some friends to start up a practice.  Whether going solo is of interest to you today or 10 years down the road, this is a great program to explore solo and small firm practice.  This program will include attorneys who decided to go solo right out of law school and those who made the decision to do so at various points in their careers.  The panelists will share their thoughts on what you need to think about before going solo, tips on starting up a practice and how they are managing to be successful in solo/small firm practice today.   Additionally, Paula Hopkins, Chair of the ACBA's Sole and Small Firm Practitioner's Section will talk about her experiences and how this practice section can be of help to you.   If you would like to attend please RSVP to Pam Day at pday@pitt.edu ASAP but no later than Wednesday, October 21st.  Please note that the first 20 registrants will receive a free copy of the book, Solo by Choice:  How to Be the Lawyer You Always Wanted to Be.

             Please note that this program will serve as a kick-off to the Allegheny County Bar Association's upcoming Program on "How to Start and Manage a Sole Practice or Small Firm in Today's Economy."  The ACBA program will take place on Thursday, November 5th from 1:00pm to 4:15pm with a Networking Party: 4:15pm to 6:00pm. (Students are encouraged to attend this ACBA program and reception.  For more information and to register for the ACBA program go to www.acba.org).

 

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