Office Description

The Office of Professional Development blog is your resource for up to the minute news, advice, and information relating to your career and professional development.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

10 Things You Need To Know Summer 2014

Recently Mary Crane shared her "listing of the 10 things students need to know before they leave school or begin work." Due to the popularity of the post, Mary shares more!

1. If I receive more than one invitation to a specific meal—first thing Monday morning, several partners send emails inviting me to lunch—which invitation do I accept?
Respond to invitations in the order in which you receive them. So, if a junior partner asks you to lunch at 8:30 a.m., you should respond immediately indicating your availability. Please do not wait for a better offer. Should a practice group leader extend an invitation two hours later, you should respond, “I’ve already committed to meet with (junior partner’s name) over lunch today. Do you have availability later this week?”

2. Who pays for meals?
Whoever extends an invitation to a meal assumes the roll of host or hostess. He or she is responsible for the cost of his or her meal as well as the meals of all guests. So, when the head of finance invites you to lunch, you can assume she’ll pick up the tab.

When an intern or summer associate invites a senior member of the organization out to lunch—not a bad idea. It’s one way you can take charge of building your network—the summer hire assumes the role of host and thereby is responsible for the cost of the senior employee’s meal. If the senior employee insists on paying, the summer hire may acquiesce. In such a case, however, it’s incumbent upon the summer hire to send a handwritten thank-you note.

When a group of six summer interns decides to visit the local tacqueria, each person is responsible for 1/6th of the total bill. This remains true even when one guest consumes a single quesadilla and one margarita while the remainder of the table chows down on nachos, jumbo burritos and pitchers of beer.

3. At a restaurant, how many courses should I order?
Mirror your host or hostess. If he orders an appetizer and an entrée, you should do the same. If your host orders an entrée only, again you should do the same, even when you feel half-starved.

When the waitstaff requests your order before addressing the host or hostess, order an appetizer and an entrée. Should your host or hostess order a single course, you can always ask waitstaff to adjust your order.

4. What if I don’t like certain foods?
First, if you must avoid certain foods for religious or health reasons, by all means make members of the organization’s recruiting and human resources team as well as restaurant waitstaff aware of this fact. Assume everyone wishes to respect your religious preferences and know that no one wishes to   make you ill.

However, if you have a “quirky” food preference—once I encountered a summer associate who announced, “I don’t eat green foods”—keep these to yourself. Avoid looking like a particularly “needy” summer hire.

5. Do I say “thank you” every time the waitstaff approaches the table? And do I need to send a thank-you note to every person who takes me out to lunch? 
Treat restaurant waitstaff respectfully. There’s no requirement that you thank them each time they refill your water glass, but why wouldn’t you want to position yourself as an extremely polite young professional?

Following a meal to which you were invited by a more senior member of the organization, at a minimum, do send an email—not a text—thanking them for the meal and describing one thing about it that made it memorable. (“I really enjoyed learning more about the Mergers & Acquisitions practice group.” “I appreciated your description of long-term growth opportunities in finance.”)

If you are invited to a meal hosted at someone’s home, take a small hostess gift (a bottle of wine, a small flower arrangement). Following the event, send a handwritten thank-you note to the host's home address.

6. When do I use the social titles of “Mr.” and “Ms.”?
Among your US work colleagues, most will operate on a first name basis. (The same will not necessarily be true among international colleagues.) Immediately use a person’s first name when you meet someone who you believe to be the age of your parents or younger. With more senior members of an organization, organizational leaders or someone from another country, err on the side of formality and use a social title until you are invited to address that person by his or her first name.

As soon as someone asks you to use his or her first name, by all means do.
When you are asked to communicate with a client or customer, don’t hesitate to ask your supervisor how she would like you to address that person. And for heaven’s sake, when using a social title, make sure you know the gender of the recipient. No one should ever begin an email: Dear Mr. or Ms. Pat McNeill.

7. When I have an assignment to complete and a social event to attend, which takes priority?
Obviously, you need to produce quality work on time. Complete every assignment by its due date, and turn in assignments that are client ready, i.e., they have been carefully proofed and are free of stray markings.

Having said this, never underestimate the importance of the social events to which you will be invited. These are important opportunities for you to bond with other professionals in the organization. In part your long-term success will be dependent upon the relationships you build with these coworkers and colleagues.

A special word for introverts: I’m one of you. I acquire energy in solitude and know how overwhelming social events can be. Please do not use the excuse of an impending assignment due date to avoid events. Commit to attending everything to which you are invited with some identified goals in mind, for example, meet three new people. Pursue those goals, and then you can return to work.

8. Hose or no hose?
It depends. Observe the most successful women professionals in your organization and follow their lead. If they wear hosiery for courtroom appearances or major client presentations, you should do the same.

And gentlemen, with rare exception, you should not even contemplate entering a professional workplace without socks.

9. My Mom and/or Dad asked to review an assignment before I turned it in. Should I let them?
If you have a “helicopter parent”—one who continues to hover over you—place a ground stop on them immediately. Nothing will harm your credibility more than a parent who interjects himself or herself into your work, appears at your office, or communicates with your employer.

10. I have some special need. Do I disclose it or not?
Over the years, I’ve discovered that many new professionals have unique concerns. I encountered one summer associate who stuttered, and the first letter of her last name impeded her speech. I’ve met lots of new professionals who develop a flushed face or neck when called upon to speak publicly. I even encountered one young man who suffered from narcolepsy.

Here’s what I recommend:
First, understand that everyone has some unique challenge with which we must contend. Many of us consider “it” to be the worst thing in the world. However, in general, the rest of the world couldn’t care less. Put your fears to rest.

Second, take control of the situation. I encouraged the summer associate who stuttered to disclose this to her work colleagues by saying, “Certain consonants cause me to stutter. Please bear with me.” Similarly, I urged the gentleman with a sleep disorder to disclose, “I have a sleep disorder and am working to treat it with medication. I can assure you it won’t affect the quality of my work.”

Copyright © 2014 Mary Crane & Associates.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Agricultural & Food Law LL.M. - Assistantships, Jobs, Distance Opportunities

The LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law is pleased to announce our expanded curriculum including emerging issues such as urban agriculture, food justice, and local/regional foods. Changes in the 2014 Farm Bill, including farm programs, crop insurance, beginning farmer provisions, enhanced support for organic agriculture, and the nutrition programs are incorporated throughout our curriculum.

A limited number of Graduate Assistantships are available to LL.M. Candidates who attend the Program face-to-face. These provide for a full tuition waiver plus a small stipend  As our alumni have learned, Northwest Arkansas is beautiful place to live and study.

For information on agricultural & food law employment opportunities, view the list of jobs that our recent alumni have landed. 

We are also excited to launch a distance degree option for our Program beginning Fall 2014. Full, part-time, and non-degree enrollment options are available.

The distance option offers full integration with our longstanding face-to-face program. 

  • Distance students will have the opportunity to participate in on-campus classes through synchronous videoconferencing. Classroom capture and online exercises will allow participation when video-conferencing is not convenient.
  • Innovative hybrid courses using a flipped model of instruction will also be available to both face-to-face students and online students.
  • Condensed course taught by recognized leaders in the ag & food community will continue to be available to all in an intensive conference-style format. 
For more information, the slideshow Why Study Agricultural & Food Law is also helpful, or contact us at or call (479) 575-3706.

Friday, April 11, 2014

10 Things Summer Hires Must Know

The following ten tips are from career expert, Mary Crane, who firmly believes that "while an individual’s IQ and GPA helps open doors, critically important people skills ultimately land the job, close the deal and help build teams that transform organizations." These ten things are sure to make you a success.

Thanks for sharing with us, Mary!

The most successful summer associates and interns enter the workforce prepared to succeed. Whether you are a career services professional or a recruiting and training professional, make sure every summer hire knows the following 10 things before he or she starts work:

1. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Targeted) goals for the summer.
Know the types of assignments you want to tackle and the people you wish to meet. Ask for assignments. Your request may or may not be granted, but you’re more likely to achieve your goals when others at work know of them and when you actively pursue them. Make notes about the work you complete, highlighting lessons learned. Eventually, these notes will help you expand your résumé. Keep a record of the people with whom you work. Consciously add them to the professional network that you should begin building this summer.

2. Do a Day One “test run.”
Summer hires have one opportunity to make a Day One first impression, and the impression you create must be a positive one. No one should arrive late on Day One. A day or two before you start work, travel to the worksite in normal commute traffic and determine the expected length of your commute. Add 15 minutes more for possible delays in traffic and at office security.

3. Understand appropriate attire.
Where an employer has specified “business conservative,” summer hires should wear suits. Where an employer has specified “business casual,” employees are still expected to dress for an office setting. Generally this means well-pressed and tailored slacks or skirts and conservative tops. It’s always better to be known as the summer hire who dresses exceedingly well than as the summer slob. And please remember, in most offices, the following are never appropriate: torn jeans and t-shirts, low-cut tops, sundresses, and flip-flops. 

4. Know how to introduce yourself and others.
Be prepared to introduce yourself to everyone you meet. State your name clearly and provide a descriptor. (“Hi, I’m Manuel Ortiz. I’m a summer associate currently working with Anita Morgan in Mergers & Acquisitions.”) Extend your right hand for a firm handshake. Make eye contact and smile.

If you have an unusual name, provide others with a clue that will aid their pronunciation. For example, Serena Vaux might say, “Hello, I’m Serena Vaux. It’s pronounced vaux just like faux in faux leather.”

When you introduce others, state the most important person’s name first. So, if you’re speaking to the CEO of the firm, and you wish to introduce the CEO to a fellow summer intern, say, “Ms. Zoff. I’d like you to meet one of my fellow summer finance interns. Aliyah, this is Ms. Zoff, the company CEO.” (Note the use of the social title “Ms.” Plan to use social titles when speaking to someone who is much older, occupies a leadership position within the organization or is from another country.) 

5. Create a professional persona.
As soon as you enter the workplace, stay completely focused on work. Remove your ear buds and stash away your personal smart phone. Greet others in the elevator and as you walk down the hallway. Always carry a pad of paper and a pen, allowing you to record assignments as they are given. Start each day by checking in with your supervisor to confirm whether overnight emergencies require you to reprioritize your work. Before you leave at night, confirm with your supervisor that all loose ends have been tied.

6. Demonstrate your time management skills.
You will quickly encounter a host of demands on your time including assignments, training opportunities, and a variety of business-social events. Please do not ask a supervisor or a recruiter to help you prioritize your tasks. Demonstrate that you can manage multiple demands professionally. At the same time, once you have taken on several assignments, please do not take on additional work if you will be unable to successfully complete an assignment in a timely manner. Be prepared to tell your supervisor, “I’m currently working on three projects. If I take on this new assignment, we’ll need to reprioritize my other work. What’s your top priority?”

7. Turn in client-ready assignments completed and on time.
That means no typos and no stray markings. Show interest in assigned projects. One law student, who did not receive an offer at the end of last summer, reports she’s certain the offer was withheld because she failed to undertake appropriate follow-up, for example, she never asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you with regards to the product liability research I turned in last week?”

8. Attend social events.
You’ll find social events play a critical role when it comes to building your professional network, so by all means, attend them. In addition to meeting key contacts, these events give you the opportunity to demonstrate your comfort level with the social side of business. At networking events, wear your nametag on the right side of your outfit. This will keep your name in another’s line of sight during your introduction and handshake. Before you head to a business meal, brush up on your table manners. Always treat wait staff respectfully. Limit your alcohol consumption.

9. Use your employer’s technology for work-related projects only.
Every email you draft on an office computer must be business-appropriate, i.e., use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. Do not write or text anything using office-issued technology that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the local newspaper or posted all over the Internet. Understand expectations regarding your accessibility via smart phone. If you’re expected to be accessible 24/7, when attending a meeting, keep your phone on and turned to vibrate. If 24/7 is not the expectation, when meeting with work colleagues or your supervisor, turn your smart phone off.

10. Ask for feedback . . . but not every day.
At the end of major projects, ask your supervisor for his or her feedback. Listen carefully. If you disagree with the feedback, feel free to explain your decisions and/or actions. However, please do not initiate an argument. When a supervisor suggests areas of improvement, tackle those areas immediately.

Copyright © 2014 Mary Crane & Associates.

6th annual Ohio Agricultural Law Conference Scholarships

We have compiled an excellent program for students who want to explore current issues like the effects of nursing home costs and Medicaid on the family farm, legal issues and challenges North Market farmers face, agri-tourism and direct marketing trends and liability issues, and the farm bill. We hope to attract students who may have an interest in agricultural law. To learn more about the conference, go to:

We are able to offer 5 student scholarships to cover the entire registration fee for attendance at the Conference through the Paul L. Wright Endowment in Agricultural Law contact Catharine Daniels for further information about the conference or student scholarships.

The deadline for applying for a scholarship is May 1, 2014.

Catharine Daniels, J.D.
OSU Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program Department of Extension
2120 Fyffe Road, Suite 25D, Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 247-7898

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

2014 Judge John R. Brown Award

The Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation
1177 West Loop South, Tenth Floor
Houston, Texas 77027

Rules for the 2014 Brown Award of $10,000 for Excellence in Legal Writing 2014:

The Judge John R. Brown Scholarship Foundation is pleased to announce the twenty-first annual Brown Award. The Award is in recognition of Excellence in Legal Writing in American Law Schools. Any law student currently enrolled in an accredited law school in the United States seeking a J.D. or LL.B degree is eligible to receive the Award. This year the stipend for the winner is $10,000. The 2013 Award was presented to Marissa Doran of Yale University School of Law for her paper, Information Traps.

In order to be considered, four copies of a current legal writing must be submitted to:

Foundation c/o Kenneth G. Engerrand
Brown Sims, P.C., Tenth Floor
1177 West Loop South
Houston, Texas 77027-9007

The article must be accompanied by a letter of recommendation from a law school faculty member or legal professional other than the author of the paper. Only one paper may be submitted on behalf of any student and only one paper may be sponsored by any faculty member or legal professional.The student’s package must contain a separate sheet containing the title of the paper; the name, physical address, telephone number, and email address of the student; and the name, title, physical address, and email address of the student’s sponsor. There is no page limitation or restriction on the topic except that the writing must be on a legal subject. The Foundation will appoint a final judging panel consisting of a law school dean, a federal judge, and a law school professor. The Foundation will not return any material submitted to the Foundation.

The submission must be postmarked no later than June 6, 2014.


The 2014 recipient of the Brown Award will be notified by November 21, 2014, and listed with the other finalists at the website

Friday, March 28, 2014

Interviewing: An Employer's Perspective

CapLaw alumnus Troy Doucet (L'10), founder and owner of Doucet & Associates Co., L.P.A., recently posted on his firm's blog an enlightening post discussing tips for a successful interview with a litigation firm. 

His post is broken down into four sections:

  1. Have a sense of your interests.
  2. Be able to articulate your long term goals.
  3. Be efficient during our interview.
  4. Project a professional appearance
  5. Be positive and enthusiastic.
Take a few minutes to read Troy's blog. His candid advice is applicable to all interviewees regardless of the practice setting in which he or she may ultimately work and solidly follows the three P's of interviewing: being prepared, professional, and persuasive. 

If you have questions about interviewing or wish to conduct a mock interview, contact the Office of Professional Development to schedule an appointment.

Hat tip to alumnus Troy Doucet for sharing his blog post.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

10th Annual Heartland Diversity Legal Job Fair

The 10th Annual Heartland Diversity Legal Job Fair (HDLJF) will be held August 1-2, 2014, in Kansas City, Missouri.  Students who are interested in becoming part of Kansas City’s dynamic legal community should strongly consider attending this event.  Students who will be returning to school in August and those graduating in May are eligible to attend the job fair, as employers will be interviewing for both summer and post-graduate positions.

The HDLJF is the result of Kansas City's leading law firms, legal associations, and corporate legal departments coming together to encourage law students to practice law in Kansas City.  The HDLJF is designed to expose law students of diverse backgrounds to both traditional and non-traditional legal employers.  In addition, the event is a great way to learn more about living in this wonderful city.

The HDLJF will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  It will kick off with an evening Welcome Reception on Friday, August 1st at the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.  The Saturday schedule includes a continental breakfast, interviewing from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and a luncheon at which participants will be greeted and addressed by a special Keynote Speaker.

Please register as soon as possible.  Students who register before May 16th will be entered into a drawing for exciting prizes.  The final deadline for registering is June 14, 2014.

Students can register on-line at