University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Law Works: Volume 5 Issue 6 - October 23, 2009


 Over 50 Federal agencies will be represented, for candidates interested in Federal Careers.*  In addition to the career fair, agencies will present information sessions and interviews.  Employers will also provide insider tips for tailoring resumes, applications, interviewing etc. to securing jobs with the Federal Government. Details are at Please register for this free event by visiting the website!


  • Department of Energy - National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • Department of Veterans Affairs - Pittsburgh Regional Office
  • Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Office of Information and Technology
  • Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
  • Securities and Exchange Commission
  • TIGTA - Office Audit
  • Social Security Administration
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Allegheny County
  • U.S. Department of State-Bureau of Diplomatic Security
  • Office of Surface Mining
  • Commonwealth of Pennsylvania - State Civil Service Commission
  • United States Penitentiary - Lewisburg Pennsylvania
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
  • Allegheny County Department of Human Services
  • US Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Loretto, PA
  • National Labor Relations Board
  • General Services Administration
  • MITRE Corporation
  • Office of the Inspector General, U. S. Office of Personnel Management
  • NASA Glenn Research Center
  • Federal Air Marshal Service
  • US Intelligence Community
  • Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS)
  • National Drug Intelligence Center
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • US Office of Personnel Management - CHCMS Boyers Site
  • Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Department of Labor - Office of Labor Management Standards
  • Office of Inspector General, National Science Foundation
  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Department of Justice-Environment and Natural Resources Division
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • Peace Corps
  • FCI Cumberland/Morgantown

 Why:  As in past years, not all employers will be lawyers.  However, all employers will be able to provide advice on hiring trends in regions across the country and with the agencies they represent.  They also are able to put you in touch with attorney-practitioners who work at their agencies.  Perhaps most importantly, they can help you navigate the often daunting hiring process.

 When:             Wednesday, November 18th 10-3

Where:                        Carnegie Mellon University Center, Weigand Gymnasium

How:               Contact to register (preferred); but students can just show up on the day of the event.  (Dress is business casual.  To make the most of this opportunity, do some research before the event and come prepared with questions for the employers.)      



How many times have you considered your qualifications ideal for an open position only to never hear from the employer about the résumé and cover letter you submitted?  Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

1. You only focus on the Reed Smiths of the world.  Firms that are highly recognizable can be exciting places to work. But so are many organizations you've never heard of.  Organizations that are household names often receive thousands of résumés for each opening; consider exploring opportunities with small and midsize organizations. They make up the vast majority of legal practice in the U.S. and sometimes have trouble locating qualified candidates. If Reed Smith is your dream employer, don't give up the good fight, but be open to other opportunities.

2. You don't follow directions.  Each organization has a different application procedure it asks applicants to follow. Make sure you understand what the prospective employer seeks by carefully reading the job listing. Then, follow the directions to the letter. If you don't, your application may never reach the hiring manager.

3. You need to revamp your résumé.  Sending out hundreds of identical cover letters/résumés isn't likely to capture prospective employers' attention. Employers want to know why you're a good match for their specific needs. So research positions and customize your materials:  explain why you're interested in a particular position and how you could contribute to the organization.

4. Your cover letter isn't enticing.  Think of your cover letter as an appetizer that convinces the employer that the main course (your résumé) is worth sampling. The best cover letters take select details from the résumé and expand upon them, explaining in depth how your talents and experience can benefit the prospective employer.

5. You don't reference keywords.  More often than not, keywords come directly from the job description. Terms such as "commercial litigation," "demonstrated commitment to public service" and "strong organizational and personal skills" are examples. As much as possible, ensure your résumé and cover letter contain keywords.

6. Your application materials aren't perfect.  Submitting an application that contains typos and grammatical goofs is the quickest way to foil your chances of securing an interview, because these mistakes show a lack of attention to detail and professionalism.  Make sure to carefully proofread your résumé and ask a friend to do the same.

7. You don't know who to send your résumé to.  Employers pay special attention to applications that are addressed directly to them. If the job posting doesn't include the hiring manager's name, call the organization and politely ask for the name (and spelling) of the person to whom application materials should be sent. 

8. You don't have an 'in' with the company.  Using the name of a common contact to make the connection between you and the hiring manager is by far the best way to ensure your cover letter and résumé get optimal attention. So, keep in touch with your professional network; you never know who has a contact at the organization you hope to work for.

9. You don't follow up.  Job seekers should contact a hiring manager within two weeks of sending a résumé and cover letter. Often a brief phone call or e-mail reasserting your interest in the position and strong qualifications is enough.

 10. You're not as qualified as you think.  Before submitting your résumé, take a close look at the job description and compare your skills and experience with those required for the position. If a job calls for five years of experience, and you have only two, you might not be as qualified as other applicants. While sometimes it's possible to make up for skills gaps if you excel in other areas, employers frequently have specific criteria in mind, and they use it to determine whom they call for interviews.

By avoiding common pitfalls, you can improve your chances of landing a job interview. Often something small -- fixing a typo, for example -- makes all the difference.



 Employers received hundreds of résumés for each posting and dozens of unsolicited résumés.  Surprisingly, that pile of paper on an employer's desk becomes part of a game - a waiting game.  Employers want to know if you really want to work for them, or if they are just one of the many organizations on your hit list. So, they figure, if you really want to work for them, you'll do more than send them a résumé - you'll pick up the phone and call.

◊ Does calling to follow up work?

Yes. If you mail your résumé to 20 companies, you might land one job interview. If you follow-up with a phone call, you could land a bunch.

◊ Will employers talk to me?

Sure they will. But before you grab the phone and start calling everyone on your list - plan what you're going to say to him or her.

◊ What should I say?

Study the calling script that follows. Then, practice out loud, on the phone, with a friend or CSO counselor.  When you feel confident about your telephone skills, grab the phone and give the employer a call.

◊ What if I get nervous?

If you get nervous, STOP. Take a breath. Turn back to the script and get back on track.

◊ What if I bomb?

Don't get discouraged if you bomb, most people do. All you need is a little more practice. The more calls you make, the more confident you'll feel. So save your favorite companies for when you feel pretty confident.

◊ When should I call?

Try when you know the employer will be there (i.e. not at 2AM or 6AM or 10PM).  If an employer isn't available when you call, ask if there's a better time to try.



 1. Call the manager and introduce yourself:

Good morning, Ms. Newman? Hi, my name is Gracie Goodwin.

 2. Get down to business:

Ms. Newman, earlier this week I sent you a letter with a copy of my résumé. I wanted to follow-up and see if you received it.

 3. Prepare for the unexpected:

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that you never received it. I was hoping to schedule an appointment to learn about the career opportunities as a summer clerk/associate in XYZ firm ...

 4. Ask for the interview:

...Would it be possible for you to spare a few minutes later this week to explore those opportunities with me?

 5. Prepare for the "put-off":

Oh, I do understand. A lot of non-profits are not in a position to hire this far in advance. 

 6. Sell Yourself:

... Would you take a few minutes to meet with me and see where I might fit in once you are looking to grow?

... Would you take a few minutes to discuss with me steps I might take/classes I should take/externships I should do/people I should meet in order to gain more experience in this field? (This is a great way to parlay a "rejection" into an informational interview.)

 7. Wrap it up and confirm the date:

Excellent. That's Tuesday afternoon at 2:30. Thanks so much Ms. Newman. I appreciate your taking time to talk with me - and for fitting me into your busy schedule.




The Career Services Office will be holding mandatory Career Services group Orientation Sessions and individual career consultations at the beginning of November for all first-year students to introduce you to the services and resources offered by our office.  Before you can take advantage of career counseling sessions, mock interviews, and resume preparation, you must attend a group orientation session and schedule an initial individual consultation. 

 Beginning Wednesday, October 21st, you may come to the Career Services Office (Room 235) and schedule your initial consultation.  These will be scheduled to begin after your group orientation session.  Students who have a primary interest in public interest work or government employment may request (on a space available basis) to have their initial consultation with Mary Thinium, our Director of Career Services and Public Interest Initiatives. Once having participated in the group orientation session (see dates and times below) and having completed your initial consultation, you are welcome to use all of our services and resources. 


Mandatory Group Orientation Sessions:

  • Section B        Monday November 2nd           12:00-12:50pm            Room 113
  • Section C        Monday November 2nd           4:00-4:50pm                Room 109
  • Section A        Tuesday, November 3rd           1:00-1:50pm                Room 109

 In conjunction with our office, the library will be holding Westlaw and Lexis Career training sessions (job searching) in early November.  These sessions are required, and attendance will be taken.  Additional information on the times and dates will be announced. 



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 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



STUDENT REGISTRATION UPDATE:   $15 for Symposium - Special Deal worked out for U of Pitt Law Students Courtesy of The Flagship Group, Dean Crossley and Professors Smetanka and Miller (Max).  Not available through auto pay on Flagship Group website (auto-pay is only for full payment - not special deal) - however, special tuition can be easily completed by:

(1)                 Stopping by the Career Services Office Room 235 and Registering (name and email) along with check ($15.00 made payable to The Flagship Group, Inc.) or Cash

(2)               Filling out the attached form with credit card info and faxing (202-204-5198) or scanning and emailing it back to  If you have any questions, please contact 202-302-6364 or

If you would like to travel with a group of students to the program please email and if there is sufficient interest we will set time/place to meet.  Please note that you must still register for the program as set forth above.

This program will provide an opportunity for students to network with attorneys and gain a better understanding of what is going on in the market.  The program has been put together for the Pittsburgh business and legal community on the state of the current economy by Heather McAllister, a 2001 graduate of our law school.    She recently left her law firm position in Washington, DC, to establish The Flagship Group, Inc.  Dean Mary Crossley and Max Miller, Director of Pitt Law's Innovation Practice Institute are on one of the panels.                                                            

November 4, 2009 - The Rivers Club
Oxford Centre, Fourth Floor, 301 Grant Street, Pittsburgh
$15 student rate
3:00-6:00 p.m. 6:00-7:00 p.m. (Reception and Networking)

Hosted by:  ALCA, a Division of The Flagship Group, Inc.

Featuring:  What to Expect Moving Forward, Detailed Approaches and Thoughts on this Economy by Firm and Business Leaders, State of the Market Analysis and Strategies and Skills for Moving Forward in this Economy.

Join Us For:

  • Expert Insight and Strategy
  • What's to Come in 2010  
  • HOT Legal Issues and Discussion
  • New Necessary Skills and Information


The Working Mothers Committee of the Women in the Law Division is hosting a brown bag series for practicing and non-practicing attorneys/moms working in suburban Pittsburgh. If you live or work outside of downtown and are looking to meet or reconnect with other attorneys and mothers, this series is for you! The first session is November 9, 2009 at noon at the Starbucks in Green Tree. Please RSVP and direct inquiries to Marguerite Link at


 The ACBA Health Law Section CLE "Prospects for Enactment of Federal Health Reform Legislation" on Friday, November 13, 2009 at the ACBA Conference Center on the 9th floor of the City-County Building.

 Cliff Shannon, Chief Communications Officer of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, Health Careers Futures will present. The program will review the major (and frequently competing) healthcare reform ideas under consideration by Congress, both for increasing access to affordable coverage and for "bending the curve" on runaway healthcare costs. The program will also posit likely outlines of compromise legislation, effects on major stakeholders, and prospects for signing into law this year.  Lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. and the program will run from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. You may register online at Cost:  $20



  • "Capturing and Securing Your Client's Privileged Electronic Data."  12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Cost: $15.  When: Tuesday, November 3, 2009
  • "Policies and Procedures for Transportation Impact Studies: What Real Estate Attorneys Should Know About PennDot's New Policy." 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Cost: $40. When: Thursday, November 12, 2009

 All programs will be held at: ACBA Conference Center Auditorium, 9th floor, City-County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219. To register, please mail registration form with payment to the ACBA CLE department at 400 Koppers Building, 436 Seventh Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15219. Credit card registration is also available at  The last day to pre-register is November 3, 2009 at 10:00 a.m. Anyone wanting to register after this date and time MUST attend the program as a WALK-IN registrant.

To register for the following PBI CLE classes, please contact PBI customer service at 1-800-932-4637 or visit the PBI website. 

  • "Morning Session: Accounting For Lawyers" from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., October 26, PBI Professional Development Conference Center, Heinz 57 Center, 339 Sixth Ave., 7th Fl
  • "Afternoon Session: An Attorney's Guide to Understanding and Using Life Insurance" from 1:00 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. October 26, PBI Professional Development Conference Center, Heinz 57 Center, 339 Sixth Ave., 7th Fl.
  •  "RESPA: A Primer" from 9:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.; October 27, PBI Professional Development Conference Center, Heinz 57 Center, 339 Sixth Ave., 7th Fl. 
  • "Discovery - Where Most Case Are Won or Lost" from 9:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m., October 28, PBI Professional Development Conference Center, Heinz 57 Center, 339 Sixth Ave., 7th Fl. 
  • "The Complete Legal Negotiator" from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., October 28, PBI Professional Development Conference Center, Heinz 57 Center, 339 Sixth Ave., 7th Fl. 
  •  "Oil and Gas: Law Colloquium" from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; October 30

All programs will be held at PBI Professional Development Conference Center, Heinz 57 Center, 339 Sixth Ave., 7th Fl.


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