Tuesday, September 2, 2014

¿Como se dice? Language and the Job Search

By: Kandice Thorn

Doctors have instruments; engineers have numbers and stuff (or so I'm told); lawyers have language.  For a practicing lawyer, facility with language is not just a plus, it is a requirement.  For non-native-English-speaking LL.M. students who will be searching for jobs in the U.S., this means that getting up to speed on the language is of the utmost importance.

Fortunately, the LL.M. program provides tremendous opportunities for you to improve both your oral and written communication skills in English.  Here are five things you can do to improve your English quickly:

1.  Join a student group.  Collaboration requires communication - volunteer to spearhead an event for the student group and you'll find yourself with plenty of opportunities to practice your communication skills!

2.  Study in the library.  Just being in the environment can help you soak in the language - much more than sitting alone in your room.  And it's a bonus if you can take a coffee break every once in a while with an English-speaking friend!

3.  Write a paper.  It's a challenge to write a paper in another language, but you'll really find your English writing skills improved for the effort.

4.  Get out of your comfort zone.  It is certainly easy and comforting to hang out with a few friends from your home country who are going through the exact same things you are, but it's not going to improve your English skills.  Expand your group to include people from other countries - it will force the conversation to shift to English.

5.  Attend classes regularly.  This is mandatory anyway, but here's yet another reason why class attendance is important.  You'll find your comprehension growing rapidly as the semester progresses.  Each class you attend is an opportunity to expand your comprehension ability!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A New School Year

By: Kandice Thorn

I love the start of a new school year.  In my school days, each new semester represented a clean slate and a chance to do everything better - to study more, to make more friends, to stay more organized, to participate more in school events.  Today, as I watch our students returning for the new semester, the energy saturates the air and I am filled with optimism once again.

A new school year always represents a fresh start, but this has never been truer for us here at Fordham than it is this year, when we welcome students into our brand new Fordham Law School building.  And this year, we also have some exciting changes to the Graduate Professional Development Program that I want to call to your attention.

First, please check out our brand new website for current students at law.fordham.edu/llm/gpdp (click on "Current Students").  The new website is more task oriented and I think you'll find it much easier to navigate.

Second, you will find that our efforts are being redirected away from large scale programming in favor of a more robust website and more advising one-on-one and in small groups.  Our new GPDP Job Search Strategy Groups, open to current students, provide a forum for students to discuss various aspects of the job search and to keep each other motivated throughout the semester and the year.

I hope that as you all begin this new year, you are feeling inspired, optimistic, and ready to jump into your studies and your professional development.  I encourage you to delve into your job search early and energetically - we're here to support you!

Monday, April 28, 2014

End of Semester Advice

By: Kandice Thorn

It has been a few weeks since I've posted - apologies for the absence - and I cannot believe the end of the semester is already here.  We survived the extra long (and extra chilly) winter and it looks like our much-needed spring might actually make an appearance after all.  But before you all disperse to the ends of the earth for the summer or for the foreseeable future, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a few words of wisdom to close out the semester.

For those of you who will sit for the New York bar exam in July: 
Go all in!!  You are putting a lot of time and money into this exam and it's not a test you can pass if you only put in half the effort.  Expect to study 8-10 hours per day, and schedule a nice vacation for yourself for when it's over so you'll have something to look forward to.  It's hard work, but hang in there and it will be over soon!

For those of you who will return in the fall:
Make the most of your summer.  Set goals now for what you want to accomplish and create a timeline to help keep you on track.  And don't forget to schedule a bit of time to enjoy yourself!

For those of you who will be moving far away:
Keep in touch!  Get involved with your local Fordham Law Alumni Association chapter, which at this point exist all over the world.

For those of you who will be graduating, but sticking around:
Keep in touch!  And if you are looking for a job in the U.S., remember that GPDP services and resources are available to you as an alum.

Thank you all for a wonderful semester!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Acquiring the Skills for Your Dream Job

By: Kandice Thorn

It's the classic job seeker's paradox: you can't get a job without experience; you can't get experience without a job.  This is not just a problem for students or recent graduates who are looking for their first "real" jobs; it can also be an issue for anyone seeking to change practice area or jurisdiction.  It can seem like the cards are stacked against you right from the start, so what is a job seeker to do?

Monday, March 31, 2014

CLEs as a Networking Venue

By: Kandice Thorn

I frequently mention that one of the best ways to network is to go where the lawyers go.  Since all practicing lawyers are required to complete a certain number of CLE credits every two years, lawyers can always be found congregating at Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses.

You do not need to feel like you have to "work the room" in order to make CLE attendance worth your while.  If you get only 2-3 contacts to follow up on (including, even, the names of presenters), you will be in a good position.  You can then follow up with requests for informational interviews or other questions relating to the presentation.

While many CLE courses are expensive, you should not hesitate to reach out to the organizers to ask if they award scholarships or fee waivers for students.  Many organizations will happily do this.  Check bar association websites for their CLE offerings, as well as private companies such as PLI (Practising Law Institute).

Don't forget to dress professionally when you attend a CLE.  Also be sure to show up on time and look engaged with the presentation in order to put your best foot forward.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bookmark This (LLM-UNITED)

By: Kandice Thorn

My Monday schedule has just been completely thrown off. Why? Because I just spent the past hour immersed in the wonderful articles on the LLM-UNITED website. I hadn't been on there for a while, so I wasn't aware of the latest updates, and I must say, if you are not checking this website regularly, you should be. LLM-UNITED is a network of LL.M. students and alumni, and features straightforward advice from someone who has walked in your shoes.

To get you started, here are links to three of my favorite articles on the website:

Your To Do List for Finding a Job in the U.S. With Your LL.M. Degree

Networking Advice: The Power of Names

Networking: How to Write a Forceful Email

Monday, March 10, 2014

Preparation is Key for Interviewing (So Start Now!)

By: Kandice Thorn

Imagine the following scenario: You are sitting at home one day studying, when your phone rings. You don't recognize the number, but you pick it up and on the other end is a recruiter from a law firm to whom you had sent your resume. "We liked your resume and we would like to bring you in for an interview. How about Thursday?" the voice on the other end asks. "Of course, Thursday is great!" you reply enthusiastically. You work out the details and you hang up. At first you are elated, but after a moment the panic sets in. You realize you only have two days to prepare for the interview and you have no clue what you're doing.

Over the next two days, you scramble to pull together the right outfit, figure out how to respond to common interview questions, research the firm, etc. You go into the interview a bit frazzled, and the interview goes okay, but you know you could have done much better if you had more time to prepare. Still, they only gave you two days notice for the interview - there's nothing you could have done, right? Wrong! Below are a few concrete steps you can take now so you will be prepared when you get that call.