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, August 27, 2015

You’ve Graduated From Law School, What Do You Call Yourself?

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself 
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
~Oh the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss

But not so fast!  If you are going to be a practicing lawyer, you still need to take and pass the bar exam, and then be admitted to a state bar.  And in the meantime, while you are studying, taking the bar, and then contemplating “what the heck am I going to do until I’m admitted,” you need to know what you can call yourself professionally?

This is an important consideration that is often overlooked by recent law school graduates.  The question is frequently asked of the staff at the Board of Professional Conduct, “Can I call myself lawyer, attorney, counselor, esquire?”  And the answer invariably is “No.  Not until you are admitted to practice before the bar.”  It is important to recognize this distinction because you do not want to run afoul of the ethics rules before you are admitted, or worse not be admitted because of it.  See, Disciplinary Counsel v. Cuckler, 2004-Ohio-784; In re Application of Stage, 1998-Ohio-338.

Here is quick guide of how to refer to yourself and when:
  • After graduated and studying for the bar exam:  “J.D.” and/or indicate “preparing for OH (or whatever state) bar examination”
  •  After graduated and finished taking bar exam:  “J.D.” and/or “awaiting OH (or other state) bar examination results”
  • After graduated and passed bar exam, but not yet admitted:  “J.D.” and/or “awaiting/pending admission to OH (or other state) bar.”
  • After admitted to bar:  “J.D.” and/or “lawyer, attorney, or esquire.”
  •  After graduated, but never admitted to bar:  “J.D.”

It is important to keep in mind that you CANNOT refer to yourself as “lawyer, attorney, counselor, esquire” until admitted to a state bar.  The six months from graduation to admission may seem long, but it is much shorter than not being admitted because your application is denied.  The key is do not refer to yourself as something you are not.

This blog post was provided by Heidi Wagner Dorn, Esq., Counsel for the Board of Professional Conduct, Supreme Court of Ohio, Summer 2015.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Legal Research and Writing Competition

The deadline is quickly approaching deadline for the DISH® 2015 “Best in Class” eDiscovery Legal Research and Writing Competition sponsored by DISH Network L.L.C., in conjunction with Redgrave LLP.  The grand prize is $3,500 for the winning student, and the winning school can get some media coverage.

The submission deadline is April 13, 2015.

The DISH® “Best in Class” eDiscovery Legal Research and Writing Competition encourages law students to develop a thorough understanding of the evolution and practice of Information Governance and Discovery in civil litigation.  The competition is the only one of its kind designed to challenge law students to explore the evolving issues of document management, electronically stored information, and ever-expanding technology along with their application to the law.

Additional contest information can be found on the contest website at:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

UpRight Law Scholarship Contest Official Rules

Contest is open to legal permanent residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia.  Entrants must be either (1) currently registered in an accredited law school program; (2) currently accepted to a law school program; or (3) engaged in pre-law curriculum at an accredited four-year college.  Scholarship will only be awarded to the winning entrant upon furnishing proof of law school registration;  entrants who are accepted but not registered, or enrolled in pre-law course work, must register in a law school program to receive scholarship and must do so before July 15, 2019 or entrant/winner will be deemed to have forfeited his or her scholarship. Proof of identity and registration must be furnished upon request.
Entry in the Contest is available only at (the “Website”). Entrants must submit an original video 90 to 120 seconds in length on one or more issues or topics relating to the need for the legal profession to adopt modern technologies to increase access to legal services and lower the cost for such services. The video may not contain any work (in whole or in part) which is the subject of a copyright, trademark or brand name of a third party. Video must not include anything that is inappropriate for publication (such as, profanity, nudity, hate speech, illegal conduct or gratuitous violence) or that disparages or adversely affects the goodwill and reputation of UpRight Law LLC. Video must address the Contest theme, must be truthful and accurate, and must not have been submitted to any other competition or contest or have received an award prior to submission as an entry in this Contest.  Once submitted, the video may not be modified, edited or replaced by the entrant. Video must be the original work of the entrant.  Upon submission, Sponsor is granted the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to display, reproduce, distribute, publish and create derivative works of the video in any format or medium.  Sponsor reserves the right to remove any submission for any reason.
To enter the Contest, access the website during the Contest Period, complete the official entry form on the Contest website and submit it and the video entry as directed. Entry and related materials must be submitted no later than 11:59 PM Central Standard Time on May 31, 2015.  Limit of one entry per person. No joint, group or team entries are allowed.  All video submissions become property of UpRight Law.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

National Association of Women Lawyers
2015 Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition

The National Association of Women Lawyers ("NAWL") is a national organization devoted to promoting the interests and progress of women lawyers and women's legal rights. Since 1899, NAWL has served as an educational forum and active voice for the concerns of women lawyers in this country and abroad. Through its programs and networks, NAWL provides the tools for women in the profession to advance, prosper, and enrich the profession. 

NAWL has established the annual Selma Moidel Smith Law Student Writing Competition to encourage and reward original law student writing on issues concerning women and the law. 

The rules for the competition are as follows:

Entrants should submit a paper on an issue concerning women's rights or the status of women in the law. The most recent winning paper wasThe Decriminalization of Rape on America's College Campuses: How Federal Sex Discrimination Policy has Diminished the Role of the Criminal Justice System in Combatting Sexual Violence written by Danielle Elizabeth DeBold, who was a 3L at New York University School of Law. View the paper here.

Essays will be accepted from students enrolled at any law school during the 2014-15 school year. The essays must be the law student author's own work and must not have been submitted for publication elsewhere. Papers written by students for coursework or independent study during the Summer, Fall or Spring semesters are eligible for submission. Notwithstanding the foregoing, students may incorporate professorial feedback as part of a course requirement or supervised writing project.
FORMAT: Essays must be double-spaced in 12-point, Times New Roman font. All margins must be one inch. Entries must not exceed fifteen (15) pages of text, excluding notes, with footnotes placed as endnotes. Citation style should conform to The Bluebook - A Uniform System of Citation. Essays longer than fifteen pages of text, excluding notes, or that are not in the required format may not be read.

JUDGING: NAWL and the Women Lawyers Journal designees will judge the competition. Essays will be judged based upon content, exhaustiveness of research, originality, writing style, and timeliness.

QUESTIONS: Questions regarding this competition should be addressed to the Writing Competition Chair, Professor Jennifer Martin at

SUBMISSION AND DEADLINE: Entries must be received by May 1, 2015.
Entries received after the deadline will be considered only at the discretion of NAWL. Entries must include a cover letter providing the title of the essay, school affiliation, email address, phone number, and mailing address of the author. Entries must be submitted electronically in Microsoft Word via email to

AWARDThe author of the winning essay will receive a cash prize of $500. NAWL will also publish the winning essay in the Women Lawyers Journal

Learn More

Court of Federal Claims Bar Association
2014 – 2015 Law Student Writing Competition

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association announces its 2014-2015 Law Student
Writing Competition. The Court of Federal Claims Bar Association (CFCBA) is a voluntary bar
association made up of nationwide members who practice law in the areas that lie within the
specialized jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The goal of this competition is to
promote interest in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and its distinctive role in American
jurisprudence, and to encourage law student scholarship on current topics that lie within its

The United States Court of Federal Claims, which hears claims against the United States, has
existed in its current and predecessor forms for more than 150 years. The current court was
created pursuant to Article I of the United States Constitution in October 1982. Its predecessor,
the United States Claims Court, was created in 1855 when Congress established a court to hear
private suits against the sovereign. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims is authorized to hear
primarily money claims founded upon the Constitution, federal statutes, executive regulations, or
contracts, express or implied-in-fact, with the United States.
The cases before the Court are diverse. They include (but are not limited to) disputes concerning
tax refunds, contracts with the government, Fifth Amendment takings (which frequently raise
environmental and natural resource issues), federal civilian and military pay, intellectual
property (including use by the government or its contractors of technology protected by patents
or copyrights), Native American rights, federal procurement "bid protests," and the federal
Vaccine Injury Compensation program.

Entries to the contest may discuss any topic that lies within the procedure, substance, or scope of
the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The rules of the contest appear below.

Eligibility: Any law student in good standing currently enrolled at or graduated from an ABA
accredited law school during the 2014-2015 academic year may enter the competition. Students
are permitted to use as their entries (i) papers that they prepared specifically for the competition,
or (ii) papers that they prepared for law school courses and seminars during the 2014-2015
academic year.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Building Professional Habits

Courtesy of Mary Crane, Mary Crane & Associates

A week or so ago, I spoke with the head of professional development at a top-ranked U.S. law school about an upcoming networking program that I’ve been retained to facilitate. “We want our students to walk away from the program understanding that this is just the beginning,” my contact said. “That networking is not necessarily instinctive, but if they start the habit now, it will pay off throughout their professional lives.”

Graduate school and the concomitant transition into the workplace present an ideal opportunity for students and new professionals to develop a series of new habits. Any time we encounter a period of upheaval—psychologists call these periods “quantum change moments”—habits become more malleable. We suddenly become open to new rewards. It’s the presence of those rewards that can help convert a new behavior into a routine. Once that occurs, a new habit is formed.

You can play a huge role in helping students and junior employees acquire critically important professional habits. With that in mind, here are three things you need to know:

1. How do we form habits?
Over the past several years, a body of science has clarified how individuals develop habits. It turns out the process is amazingly simple, and it’s driven by neurology. According to New York Times reporter and book author Charles Duhigg, every habit has three component parts: a cue (something that automatically triggers a behavior); a routine (the behavior itself); and a reward (something that helps you remember and want to repeat the behavior in the future).

When we want to initiate a new habit or change an established one, most people focus on the actual behavior. But, Duhigg says, that approach almost always fails. Instead if we focus on cues and rewards, then the likelihood of ingraining the habit significantly increases. 

Duhigg describes one study that tested how best to make early morning exercise habitual. Researchers found that participants were most likely to succeed when they put their exercise shoes out before going to bed (the cue) and when they also received a small bite of chocolate (the reward) after their exercise session. Within a matter of months, 58 percent of participants reported that they continued to exercise without the chocolate reward.

So, think about your students and new professionals and the habits you want to instill in them. What cues and rewards can you provide? Want them to network? Then how can you cue them up for an event and reward them afterward?

2.  How do you change a habit?
You may work with students or new professionals who have developed work habits that you would desperately like to change. Maybe you’ve invested time and effort in recruiting a particular individual, but his recent behaviors suggest he may be among the 50 percent who won’t survive his first two years at work. What’s your next step?

When we develop a habit—a good, bad, or neutral one—our brains effectively go on autopilot. And thank goodness they do. Habits save us huge amounts of time. For example, if pressed, I can pack a suitcase in three minutes flat . . . simply because I’ve acquired a packing habit. I don't need to think through the process.

If you wish to help a student or new professional change a habit, you need to help them identify the current cues and rewards that support a specific routine.  With that knowledge, you can then help them identify a new, more professional response to a specific trigger as well as a reward that will help them transform the response into an ongoing habit.

Here’s one example: I’ve participated in loads of law firm orientations and have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard a partner instruct a group of new lawyers to record their time daily. The instructions are generally accompanied by an admonition that capturing all of the time invested on a particular project is critical to the firm’s bottom line. If establishing good time-recording habits is as important as I believe it to be, firms would be well served to create a system that rewards associates when they complete a nightly timesheet update.

3. What types of rewards work best?
Those of you who know me well know that I am not a believer in the “everyone-gets-a-prize” school of motivating behavior. I am completely and thoroughly opposed to the idea of giving some a reward just for doing the equivalent of “showing up.” But anyone who has taken a Psych 101 course understands the power of positive reinforcement.

According to Duhrigg, “If you can create a sense of craving,” specifically craving for some reward, “you can establish almost any habit.” The reward need not be huge. In the exercise study cited earlier, the piece of chocolate each runner received was relatively small. But according to Duhrigg, it was large enough to satisfy either an individual runner’s sensation-seeking impulse or the novelty impulse.

In my timesheet example, a law firm could help encourage daily timesheet entry through a variety of different rewards. Each time a new associate updates his or her timesheet, a computer-generated message could be delivered to his or her email inbox thanking the new associate for their contribution to the firm’s bottom line. Alternatively, associates who update their timesheets daily could receive “points” that could be used to purchase a morning java at the local coffeehouse. And remember, the reward won’t need to be delivered forever, but rather just long enough to transform the behavior into a habit.
Your greatest challenge moving forward may be uncovering what motivates all the people you need to influence. Expect major variations person to person.

Imagine the habits you can start to inculcate among your new and established professionals: people RSVP for events; people actually attend the events for which they’ve RSVP’d; everyone dresses appropriately; professionals regularly say “please” and “thank you”; and so forth. Focus your efforts on creating the right cues and rewards, and you can help your students and new professionals create the habits they need to succeed.

For more on the formation of new, good habits or the replacement of old, bad ones, click here to listen to Charles Duhigg’s 2013 TEDTalk.

Copyright © 2014 Mary Crane & Associates.