2016 writers in residence
The Gen Why Lawyer
How about we shake things up a bit? You don’t need another lawyer telling you what to do to be successful. You can simply type into Google “How to be Successful as a New Lawyer” and you’ll have a plethora of articles to choose from. What you need is a lawyer to show you it’s ok to be different and pave your own path to success. My goal for this column is to share stories of young lawyers who decided to shake their legal careers up by practicing in unconventional ways, which could range from choosing a unique niche practice area to exploring a new take on business development. I also want to show some love to the young lawyers who have decided to pursue their true passions and are utilizing their JD in alternative, non-legal careers (because we all know how difficult it can be to come to the realization that you don’t want to be a lawyer any longer). My hope is that this column inspires Ms. JD readers to not be afraid to stand out.
A Parliament of OWLs (Older Wiser Learners)
Being a non-traditional law student is a wonderful adventure, but it’s not for sissies! Unlike the twenty-five year olds who are my classmates, I have already built one successful career. What I haven’t had much practice at lately is being new to something, making beginner’s mistakes. Finding the humor in being the new kid, putting aside my ego, and laughing at my own frustration (Yes, Erie, I’m looking at you!) is not easy, but it is a source of joy beyond expectations. The furrowed brows of my fellow 1L’s as they hurry through the swirl of autumn leaves outside the law school shows me again how lucky I am. I am old enough to know better. Golden leaves, inspiring architecture, brilliant professors, days filled with reading and ideas and challenges, Pavarotti on my Pandora station: the wonder of this could move me to tears.
Okay, well, enough of all this wonder and joy business. I have a Torts exam to study for now…
That Pre-Law Millennial
Hi everyone! My name is Genevieve Antono and I am a Class of 2017 undergraduate at Columbia University. At school, I also serve as president of the Columbia PreLaw Society—a student club that reaches over 1000 undergraduates and organizes 10+ events with judges, attorneys and law students annually.
So far, I’ve done undergraduate internships at the New York State Unified Court System, the New York State Attorney General's Office, Columbia Law School, Clifford Chance LLP and the inhouse legal department of CK Hutchison Holdings, a Global Fortune 500 company. (If you'd like more details, please check out my LinkedIn page at: www.linkedin.com/in/genevieveantono!) I've absolutely loved all of my internships so far, and am excited to continue exploring the legal profession.
Join me on my journey as I continue to do "prelaw" internships and gatecrash events for “actual lawyers”—and as I (maybe, finally) start thinking about those law school applications!
Validating Violence - How Violence Against Women is Being Addressed in the Teaching and Practice of Law
Violence against women is one of the most jeopardous ailments ravaging modern society. Unfortunately, it is also often one of the most overlooked. It is a multifaceted and vastly complex phenomenon, and its underlying attitudes have deep historical roots. Today, violence against women is a pervasive part of our cultural narrative.
“Validating Violence” will examine ways in which violence against women is being acknowledged in different realms of the legal world. In confronting the destructive power of gender-based violence, the law is a principal mechanism for the regulation of wrongdoing and the mitigation of impact. Further, the way we define our laws and implement components of our legal system shapes the way the problem of violence against women evolves. In this column, I will investigate how issues of domestic and sexual violence are being recognized, and countered, in various fora of legal education and practice.
Recent years have seen an increase in media attention to domestic and sexual violence, and efforts to counter the cultural acceptance of these ills are gathering force. In the midst of this emergent public readiness to address the problem of violence against women, what is the role of the law, and of lawyers? “Validating Violence” will chronicle my efforts in contemplation of that question.
Sisters-in-Law, Then and Now
Highlights such as "Why Wear Slit Skirts?," "Women Lawyers' Lot Not Easy," "Why Women Make Good Lawyers," and "The Ideal Marriage as a Woman Lawyer Sees It," introduced historical news articles about early women lawyers in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Unfortunately, someone reading those historical articles about pioneering women lawyers might mistakenly believe she is reading about contemporary women lawyers. A wide range of topics -- e.g., suitable clothing for women lawyers; appropriate and inappropriate specialties for women in law; all-women law firms or husband/wife law firms; the desirability and possibility of women lawyers remaining feminine; and "women lawyer jokes" -- all appeared in newspaper articles then and continue to do so today. Not all early women lawyers were white, and the articles included news about women lawyers of color (although that terminology certainly was not used) and their accomplishments. These articles are fun to read. They are newsy, entertaining, information, and revealing. Proponents and opponents of women lawyers colorfully argued their views. My posts will address the relevance of the history of women lawyers (as revealed in newspaper articles and other sources, to the professional and personal lives of contemporary women lawyers. There will be good news ("We've come so far.") and disappointing conclusions ("We are still talking about that?") I hope that learning more about our history will serve women lawyers who are "determined to rise."
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times, and Everything In-Between
Associate. Partner. General Counsel. Law Professor. Over the course of my 18-year legal career, I have been each of these things. From my early years as a BigLaw associate, to landing my “dream job” seven years later as the general counsel of a real estate company, to my eventual return to private practice, to my most recent move to academe, I’ve been around the block a few times.
Join me as I share my candid impressions and unfiltered true stories of what life is really like at a national firm, a regional firm, in-house, and in the ivory tower of a law school. Is big firm life really as dreadful and stressful as it is portrayed on television? Not usually. Do in-house positions really afford a better work/life balance than practicing in a firm? Some do. Are law professors really living the dream? Some are. Is it possible to balance a successful legal career with a happy marriage, family, and outside interests? Maybe. I hope so. I will let you know when I figure it out. I will share my advice, experiences (some of which are downright embarrassing but oh-so-funny in retrospect), and things that fall in the “I wish I had known this back then” category. From the perspectives of student, professor, and employer I will also share my advice on surviving the first year of law school, navigating the hiring process, starting your career, climbing the ladder, and achieving your own definition of success in the legal profession.
Yes, You Can: Things You Can (and Should) Be Doing to Ensure Your Success
“Success” means different things to different people and encompasses a variety of areas from finances, to career to life in general. However, there tends to be a common theme behind success in any area: small consistent behaviors over a period of time. Too often, however, by the point at which someone begins to understand the formula, a lot of time that could have been spent investing in her success has already passed. The idea behind this column is to address one area where “I wish” I had realized the importance of doing something early in my career or that I had listened to or understood the relevance of the advice someone was giving me at the time and showing how, when I finally grasped the concept, it has played out, either for me or for others. Some of the topics I will address pertain to finances (i.e. what I was doing with my first paychecks), business development as a young attorney (i.e. what I was going to invest in my career and developing clients) and personal relationships (the time I was investing in myself, friends and family outside my career). I suspect, as well, that readers may have some topics of interest and which I should be doing!
Not fLAWless, but Fearless
Starting law school is a time in one’s life that brings about a lot of change, so it's inevitable that we will make mistakes, both big and small. Sometimes we characterize these mistakes as flaws, but even if they are, they exist for a reason – to help us learn and get past them. After one semester, I've learned that law school requires a strong understanding of self, good people surrounding and supporting you, and the mentality that nothing in life is really a failure so long as we use the experience as a redirection. This is me, sharing how I embrace the uncertainty and jump deeper into the unknown every day.
Confessions of a General Counsel
Many years ago, I crammed all of my belongings into a U-Haul truck and drove, with two goldfish in a bucket on the floor in front of the passenger seat, from Chicago to Boston. Day one at Boston University School of Law was right around the corner. My path to general counsel began on that day. Over the years, I’ve worked hard, but I’ve also followed my internal compass along routes that satisfied my natural curiosity and desire to learn.
At Pandora, I helped initiate groundbreaking digital music copyright discussions and managed its legal function through a time of tremendous growth, including a public offering. I led the Lynda.com legal team during the company’s sale to LinkedIn. I’ve also been an entrepreneur, an angel investor, a board member for community organizations and an advocate for people in need of a voice.
The unifying thread in all of this work is that I get excited by transformations: personal, corporate, cultural and legal. We can all experience the satisfaction of a job well done, but the fun is sometimes in the path we take to get there. This column will help legal professionals embrace transformation and adapt quickly in new or challenging positions.
I’ve learned many powerful lessons in the years since I drove that U-Haul truck to Boston, and I look forward to sharing some of them with you.
Soldier On: Boot Camp to Law School
Soldier On: Boot Camp to Law School translates valuable military skills into strategies for succeeding in law school. What do rolling t-shirts the length of a dollar bill, before-landing checks, and helicopter rappelling have in common? They teach the importance of discipline, preparation, and of physical and mental toughness. Written by a former Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot (and long-time military spouse),Soldier On encourages law students to thrive, not just survive. This column shares tips and tricks learned in the military that will help students more effectively navigate the challenges of law school.
Student to Lawyer: Stuck in the Middle
The purpose of my column is to narrate the experience of a recent graduate of law school. Topics would include the uncertainty of graduating law school, surviving the bar exam, and entering into the rocky world of the legal field. Since I am graduating in December this column will hopefully be a guide to the May graduates as they begin the journey. There will be plenty of "what to do" and "what not to do" to survive the world during the year after law school. I am hoping my successes and failures will be helpful to others.
So you want to be an international lawyer?
Suddenly there are courses about international law, global health law and global business relations in every university! Glitzy and exciting jobs that provide incredible experiences during key moments at work -- making all that time spent gathering an education seem worthwhile. Yes, there are myths to be shattered and dreams to dream when one thinks of working in international law. This column provides insight into both: the glory and the guts of literally taking on the world as a lawyer. It is moving and passionate to participate in United Nations deliberations, incredibly wonderful to discover that such efforts bear fruit when traveling to a new country, and yet not so easy to land an internship or a live in expensive foreign places that are far away. How many languages does one need to know and which ones besides English are the most useful? From the perspective of a Former international civil servant for the United Nations, representative of an international NGO at the UN Geneva Switzerland, published author and Executive Director of an NGO there are many adventures to be shared, each with their special context and new questions they raise about how people live in this world and what the future we want should be.
Your Brain, Law School, and Law Practice
The title says it all – this year I will be writing about how to make the most of your brain in law school and practice. The irony of the brain is that we use it all the time without thinking about it. Law school and practice, however, require you to rely less on automatic pilot and more on conscious management of this complex organ. Before you can learn to think like a lawyer, you have to have some idea about how the brain learns. Luckily, scientists continually mine helpful data about the brain. My posts will translate that information to maximize your efficiency and productivity as you balance classes, activities, and life generally.
Moreover, practicing law requires the understanding that a brain can occasionally veer off a rational course. For example, cognitive biases can steer decision-making in the wrong direction and affect the ability to persuade, a necessary skill of the successful lawyer. Understanding these biases is critical to becoming a successful attorney and gaining proficiency in fashioning arguments that appeal to the sometimes quirky processing of the human brain. I’ll talk about these glitches as well as how you can recognize and tame them.
I wrote the book, Your Brain and Law School (2014). You can download the introduction here<http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2463506> to get an idea of where we will be going this year on our journey together.
Lawyer. Life. London.
Join me as I navigate what it means to be a new lawyer and an expat. After graduating law school and passing the bar, my husband and I packed up our hound dog and moved across the pond to London. It was here that I had to discover what it meant to be a US licensed attorney in a foreign country. Follow my journey as I experience what it’s like to be a new lawyer, discovering the cultural barriers that exist and the intricacies I must learn as I establish my career in the niche practice of US immigration law.
What Would Ruth Do?
Lawyers are notorious for being outdated. We still speak Latin. We still rely on fax machines. Our wardrobe does not look too different from what the Founding Fathers had on. Our profession has been slow to embrace diversity. We insist on the billable hour even though it prices-out the middle class, and discourages efficiency.
As a young attorney determined to make a difference with my law degree, I find myself wondering, “What would Ruth do?” The Ruth. Donning fishnet gloves and a lace collar atop her judicial robe at age 82, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg reminds us that it’s good to go against the grain. This column, WWRD: What Would Ruth Do, will talk about how some attorneys are doing things differently in order to better serve their clients and community, and ultimately improve the profession.
When Justice Ginsburg enrolled at Harvard Law in 1956, she was only one of nine women in a class of about 500. This column will ask how we can exercise courage in our law practice, like Ruth. Justice Ginsburg has dedicated her career to being a fierce supporter of minority and women’s rights. WWRD will explore how we can make our law practice socially conscious, like Ruth. Justice Ginsburg has evolved into a pop icon, Internet sensation, and an inspiration to women everywhere. Little girls dress up like her for Halloween, and women are getting RBG tattooed onto their arm. WWRD will discuss how we can achieve recognition, and support doing what we love, and standing up for what we believe in—like Ruth.
Turning the Page
Turning the Page - What’s life like right after the first semester of law school? How does that compare with the time right after receiving bar results and starting life as a lawyer? Every woman lawyer has experienced these significant phases in her life…just not at the same time. Come follow the simultaneous journeys of a law student and a new associate in a small southern city. We’ll hear their unique perspectives on why they chose Savannah – the law school and the city - as their place to learn the law, how they’ve adapted to life inside a small school and in a vibrant city, what hurdles they’ve survived, and what pleasant surprises come their way.
Since I’ll be watching and chronicling these journeys from my place as professor and dean of students, a little bit of my life will be sprinkled throughout the column. Join us as we turn the page towards a great year!
Living Life in the Law School Lane with Lauren
When I was applying to law schools, I was told that one “needs” to go to the best school as possible. In the legal world, that roughly translates into “T14 or bust.” Thus, when I was accepted to the University of Virginia School of Law, I knew my dreams had come true. Since stepping onto Grounds in August 2014, I have happily never looked back.
Although attending a T14 school does make life somewhat “easier,” especially if one is hoping to start their career in “Big Law,” admission to a T14 school is not enough. I have learned this the hard way. I am not on Law Review nor a “gunner,” and I certainly do not think that an occassional B+ is academic suicide – I am just an average law student trying to survive. The grade pressure and stress of 1L lead to a lot of self-reflecting on whether law school was for me. As such, this blog is for all those students struggling to maintain the grades they want or to find what they truly desired out of law school.
This blog will chronicle the trials and tribulations of my first year and beyond. I will address 1L stress, how I navigated the on-campus interview process, while interviewing for both legal and non-legal (i.e. consulting) positions, and how I have managed to stay afloat. In the summer, I will write about my experiences as a summer associate in Big Law. Finally, I’ll write about how fun law school can truly be (yes, you read that right), because once you muddle through your 40 pages of reading from the Restatement of Torts, law school can actually be the time of your life.
Three Years, Two with Good Behavior
When applying to law school, everyone has an opinion. Advice is thrown at you about cost, location, field and especially length of program. For the applicant considering a 2-year option, the opinions can get harsh. This column focuses on the 2-year experience and how it can (despite some opinions) be the right fit. The column will discuss costs compared to other programs, networking opportunities, working during school and other things any law student might face but with a 2-year twist. It takes a unique type of person to commit to tackling law school in a condensed time. This column should help decide if you’re the type of person who can identify with the experience of a current 2-year student and hopefully succeed in a two-year program
How to Build a Successful Practice Straight Out of Law School
What if you could be your own boss, serve your ideal clients, and gain financial independence as soon as you passed the bar? It may seem unrealistic but through hard work, dedication, and vision, it is possible! Throughout the year, I will provide an insider's view into how I built my law practice only eight months after graduating from law school. Each article will cover the necessary preparation and important lessons I've learned along the way including—choosing a niche, developing a marketing and business plan, finding a mentor, creating a website, formulating a realistic cash flow plan, building a client base, overcoming fear of failure, and more! When I started, there were virtually no publications that provided realistic guidance on how to build an innovative and profitable law practice. My goal for this column is to provide readers with the valuable knowledge I've gained through endless research and experience and ultimately help other attorneys gain freedom and financial independence by building the law practice of their dreams.
Beyond the Pencil Skirt: Thriving, Not Just Surviving, in Law School
It is no secret that law school is one of the most (if not the most) competitive, challenging education paths that we can choose to tackle. For three years we learn how to think, read, write, and speak like lawyers; how to tear issues down to their core and then build an argument from the ground up; and how to set our egos aside as we learn to do so. Yet despite the rigors of everyday life in law school, I have found that loving law school is easy (and, dare I say, fun?) when you choose meaningful ways to reinvest what you are learning before reaching finals or the bar.
“Beyond the Pencil Skirt” flows from my sticky notes, planner doodles, and lists upon lists of how to choose and prioritize extracurriculars and non-law school activities, externships and summer positions, and how choosing the best opportunities transforms the law school experience. My backdrop for learning how to reinvest what we learn in the classroom is 2L year. While conquering perhaps the two toughest semesters of law school and then adventuring into 2L summer and 3L year, I will share both the triumphs and the pitfalls of moot court, law review, a research assistantship, chasing a clerkship, being a mentor to young women in “the real world,” and each of the other opportunities that come my way—all while figuring out how to simultaneously be a daughter, sister, and friend. Join me as I wrestle with how to reach beyond just surviving, to genuinely thriving in law school.
New Clerk on the Block
In June 2016, just days after graduating from law school, I will be moving from Chicago to San Francisco to begin my legal career as a clerk for a federal district court judge. This adventure will be full of newness: a new city, a new job, and new lessons about how to find my footing in the legal profession. There will be a steep learning curve, and I expect to encounter trials (in both forms of the word) and make mistakes along the way. But I hope that by documenting my experience I can provide some insight and inspiration to law students who are curious about judicial clerkships and post-law school life in general.