Archive for January, 2012

Be Bold…In Your Job Search & For Your Professional Development

by Kristen Pavón

One of my favorite inspirational quotes is “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid” — although, I’m pretty sure that that’s a paraphrased version of the actual quote…

Regardless (or irregardless if you’re from Miami — have you seen this youtube video?! I won’t link to it here because, well, it’s not appropriate — but google it, it’s hi-larious!), it’s a quote that, in this economic climate, should really be put to use.

In an article on National Law Journal by Ari Kaplan, author of Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, explains that he was given the advice to “be bold” by Richard Susskind when he asked how he could expand his career opportunities in 2012. Here’s a snippet of what Kaplan wrote:

I have spent much of the past two months considering the meaning of boldness, both personally and professionally. The idea intimidates me, but also reminds me of trying to meet Secretary of State Warren Christopher in 1996 while working in the Office of Foreign Missions during my second summer of law school.

I simply walked into his office suite and asked his assistant whether he was free. Our conversation went something like this:

“Hi, I’m Ari Kaplan, is the secretary available?”

Confused pause.

“Who are you?”

Signature smile [a cross between Seinfeld’s Kramer and Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura].

“Yes, I’m Ari Kaplan, I work here.” [Badge connected to the traditional Washington silver ball chain hanging from my neck swings proudly.]

“Who?” [a common repeat question in the sitcom that is my life].

Less confidently, “Ari Kaplan.”

She stands with authority.

“Excuse me.”

She walks away.

I can’t believe this is going to work. What a great story. Why are these people watching me?

She returns. “I’m sorry the secretary is busy.”

Undeterred. “I just want to introduce myself; I work here.”

Unpersuaded. “I’m sorry.”

Dejected. I walk away.

The nearby guard enjoying the dialogue asks: “Where are you from?”

“Brooklyn,” I respond.

He laughs. “You’ve got chutzpah, kid.”

Sure, trying to get in an impromptu meeting with Secretary Warren Christopher didn’t work out for Kaplan, but so what? His story resonated with me because nothing bad happened to him after trying his luck. A piano didn’t drop from the ceiling onto his head because he took a bold step that didn’t work out the way he hoped it would.

So, I guess I’m saying — take a leap. Make bold moves for the sake of your career because you never know what will come of it.

Yesterday, my colleague and I went to a discussion on legal pipeline programs. One of the speakers, Veta Richardson, shared a story with us about how a risky choice paid off early in her career.

During her second year of law school, she came across a paid internship with Sunoco. By the time she applied, the 5 spots were already filled. Regardless, Richardson wrote a letter to Sunoco’s general counsel and told him that she would work in the legal department for the summer for free if he would just give her a shot. Well, he did. And at the end of the summer, she was one of the two interns who were offered permanent positions.

Thoughts? How have you been bold lately?

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Job o’ the Day: Staff Counsel at the National Abortion Federation in DC!

The National Abortion Federation (NAF), the leading pro-choice organization representing abortion providers and their patients, has an immediate full-time opening for the position of Staff Counsel.

NAF is a 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to ensuring that abortion is safe, legal, and accessible. Our members include 400 clinics, hospitals and physicians’ offices in the United States, Canada and Mexico City. Our dynamic and innovative programs span a wide range of services designed to meet the unique needs of abortion providers and the patients they serve. NAF’s programs include: accredited continuing medical education; quality assurance and improvement; clinic security and law enforcement education; clinical, legal, and consumer publications; public education; public policy advocacy; group purchasing and a national toll-free hotline.

To learn more, check out the listing at PSLawNet!

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New Housing Regulation to Protect LGBT People From Discrimination

by Kristen Pavón

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s new rule, Equal Access to Housing in HUD Program — Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, aims to “ensur[e] that HUD’s housing programs are open, not to some, not to most, but to all.”

The new regulation goes into effect 30 days after final publishing.

On its most basic level, the rule requires owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing and FHA-insured mortgage lenders to make housing/mortgages available without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant.

One interesting aspect of the new rule is that it not only protects against FHA-insured lenders making lending decisions based on actual sexual orientation and gender identity, but also on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Meaning, a person does not have to be LGBT for protection under this rule — the lender only has to believe the person to be LGBT and determine eligibility or alter existing terms for mortgages.

You can read HUD’s press release and the final rule here. Thoughts?

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Job o’ the Day: Street Law Summer Law Student in Residence in Silver Spring, MD!

Street Law, Inc. is an international leader in programs that teach non-lawyers about law, democracy and human rights.  Founded in 1972 at Georgetown University Law Center, Street Law has helped more than 100 law schools (70 in the U.S. and 30 more around the world) develop and implement programs in which law students teach practical law in schools, communities and correctional settings.  Street Law has also worked with democratizing countries throughout the world.  Information about the organization’s programs and materials are available online at

There are several components to the Summer Law Student in Residence Program for 2012.

US Supreme Court Summer Institute

Street Law, in cooperation with the Supreme Court Historical Society, conducts two six day institutes in late June about the Court and its cases for high school government, civics and law teachers.  Sessions are held at Georgetown Law Center and at the Supreme Court of the United States.

Our law student assists in the development of the materials for the institute, participates in all sessions, helps teach one session, and assists with the institute follow-up.  A justice participates in the program, which also includes attendance in Court for the announcement of the final cases of the term. (

Legal Updates to Street Law Web Sites

Street Law has produced a high school curriculum (Street Law: A Course in Practical Law) which is the most popular practical law book used in high schools today. We will be providing a legal update to the web materials that complement the 8th edition of the text (2010 edition).

In addition, Street Law has developed a popular web site for high school teachers and students who want to learn about Supreme Court decisions mandated in state history and social studies standards.  Our summer law student in residence will assist in expanding and updating this web resource,

Our law student will assist with research, writing and editing tasks.

Summer law students are supervised by Lee Arbetman, lead author of the Street Law materials, director of the Supreme Court Summer Institute, and executive director of the Street Law organization.

To learn how to apply, see the listing at PSLawNet!


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The Many Pathways to Civil Rights Careers…

By: Steve Grumm

Most folks think of “public interest law” as an arena filled by nonprofit and government organizations.  But many law firms (typically smaller ones) also have robust public interest practices even though they work on a for-profit basis.  Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the practice of a civil rights firm, and perhaps nowhere are civil right firms more prevalent than in Washington, DC.

A brief piece in yesterday’s Post looked at the popularity of civil rights careers in for-profit firms, government, and in the nonprofit arena.

The Washington region is a magnet for civil rights lawyers in the public and private sectors. Civil rights careers are sprinkled throughout the Beltway, and according to a count on LinkedIn, some 211 people have civil rights in their job titles in the region. The Justice Department employs 393 civil rights attorneys and 48 paralegals, a spokesman said.

“I think there are jobs for people who want them, in D.C. especially,” said [Jennifer Klar, a former Biglaw attorney who now works with a boutique civil rights firm], noting that most government agencies have civil rights offices and many lawyers and others work in civil rights areas for the Justice Department.

Many 20- and 30-somethings seem “really interested in these types of positions,” said Lisa Mottet, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s transgender civil rights project director. Over 10 years, she has worked with 40 legal interns; about seven of them continue to work in the LGBT civil rights movement, she said.

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Want a Shot at Boosting Your State’s Economy? Invest in Civil Legal Aid.

According to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, legal aid boosted the state’s economy by $53 million in 2011 through federal benefits won and state costs saved.

Those numbers sparked legislators’ interest in Massachusetts and have led to a recent proposal to increase MA’s Legal Assistance Corporation’s funding. Here’s more from The Boston Globe:

Civil legal aid has always been underfunded. But over the past three years, the work of these attorneys has hung by a slender thread. State appropriations have shrunk, and private donations have dwindled. The result? Legal aid programs have lost a third of their staff in the last three years. For every five people who come to legal aid attorneys for help navigating the court system, three are turned away, says Lonnie Powers, executive director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the largest funding source for legal civil aid in the state.

“They’re on their own,’’ Powers says. “They lump it or go to court by themselves.’’

Lumping it costs not just those who find themselves alone in the maze of our legal system, but all of us. The asthma sufferer whose medication is no longer covered by Medicare ends up in the far more expensive emergency room. A family unfairly evicted ends up in pricier temporary housing. A worker unjustly denied jobless benefits lands on welfare. A study by Powers’s outfit estimates that legal aid boosted the state’s economy by $53 million last year through federal benefits won and state costs saved.

Read the rest here.

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Job o’ the Day: Career Services Counselor for Outreach at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville!

Florida Coastal School of Law (FCSL) is seeking candidates for the position of Career Services Counselor for Outreach. Coastal Law offers a dynamic, professional, and collegial work environment for employees in addition to state of the art facilities, cutting edge technology, and a competitive and comprehensive compensation and benefits package.

The primary role of the Career Services Counselor for Outreach is to provide instruction, orientation, and high level career counseling to the law school’s students and alumni in the areas of resume and cover letter preparation, interviewing skills, and career planning in addition to overseeing the law school’s participation in external job fairs that pertain to his/her assigned area of outreach. This position reports to the Director of Career Services.

Find out more at PSLawNet!

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