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How to survive this recession

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An economy gone sour and law firms not hiring summer associates are familiar concerns for law students now, but these issues also affected lawyers who faced a recession when they graduated from law school in the early 1990s.

Since then, the economy has had peaks and valleys. So how can new lawyers and law students about to graduate learn from those who've gone on to succeed after a rocky start?

Attorneys interviewed for this article agreed the main thing is that those seeking jobs should be aware of their approach. That doesn't necessarily mean sending a resume to 100 different potential employers, but it does mean that effort is needed and finding a job is a job in itself.

"It's about sincerity," said Leslie Craig Henderzahs, a partner with Church Church Hittle & Antrim in Noblesville. "If someone gives their resume to someone else and expects to get a job the next day without spending time getting to know the other person, taking the time to find a common interest, it's not going to happen."

Henderzahs, who graduated from Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis in 1990, said she's always happy to meet with young attorneys and law students looking for work.

She suggested job seekers not only call attorneys at firms where they want to work, but to do their homework. It doesn't take a lot of extra time or effort to look at a firm's Web site before meeting with someone from that firm, she said, but it can make a difference.

She has only had two jobs; the first was a judicial clerkship and the second is with the firm she's at now. The judge she worked for told her she got the highly competitive job because on the day of her interview she spoke about the job with a clerk already in the position.

Even though her academic record might not have been as good as her competition, she said, she was the only one to take that extra step.

Another tactic when looking for a job is keeping an open mind about where the job is, said Cindy Dean, a staff attorney for Child Advocates in Indianapolis.

Dean, a classmate of Henderzahs, said her job search was frustrating. She said she didn't have a clear plan of what kind of job she'd have right after law school. She graduated and passed the bar in May 1990, but she didn't get her first legal job until December 1990, when she started working for the United Auto Workers.

"It was disheartening not to have a job," she said. "I had to ask for a deferral on my student loans."

She was also willing to commute. For her first job, she traveled from Anderson to Marion; for another job she traveled from Indianapolis to Kokomo.

She eventually got a job in Indianapolis with the Indiana Gaming Commission, where she worked for eight years. She then took time off to raise her family. When she decided to start working again, she volunteered for Child Advocates in Indianapolis for eight or nine months before they hired her full time. She's been with Child Advocates since 2006.

Another attorney who didn't find a job in his ideal location was John Papageorge, who graduated from Valparaiso University School of Law in 1992. He now works for Taft Stettinius&Hollister, which was Sommer Barnard when he started about 10 years ago. But right out of school, his goal was to work for a firm of 30-40 lawyers in Indianapolis.

Instead, he ended up working for a small firm in Franklin because "it was close enough."

While he didn't think it was his ideal job at the time, he did get trial experience right away - something not likely to happen in a larger firm. He said while his current practice doing civil litigation isn't exactly like the criminal cases he handled as a young associate, he was able to learn things like time management and organizational skills at his first job.

"It may not be an ideal job, but treat it as if it's the job you'll have rest of your life. Work hard at it. Keep contacts, stay in touch with people," he said. "It took me a few jobs to get where I am, and this place is great and has been good to me."

He encourages attorneys to be mindful of how their work ethic appears to opposing counsel, because interactions with opposing counsel could also help or hurt when it comes to future job opportunities.

An attorney who used his hometown to his advantage was Tory Prasco, a 1993 graduate of Valparaiso University School of Law and an attorney with Burke Costanza & Cuppy in Merrillville.

Originally from northwest Indiana, Prasco was able to contact people he knew through connections in his hometown to get a job there. He said it was also helpful that he worked for a couple years for Arthur Andersen in Chicago as an accountant between his undergraduate days and law school.

Yet the economy still affected his job search prior to getting a full-time job. Prasco clerked for a firm after his first and second years of law school. He and his fellow summer associates expected a job offer, but none of them got one. He also recalled fewer on-campus interviews than he expected.

"We were all a little surprised," he said, "but ... I wrote letters to all of the business lawyers in northwest Indiana and had a few interviews that way."

His persistence paid off. By Thanksgiving before he graduated, he had a job lined up.

"I was probably one of the luckier ones," he said.

Sometimes the first job is also the one that will help in unexpected ways.

Tim Robinson, who graduated from I.U. School of Law - Indianapolis in 1990, started his legal career with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office. He wanted to work in business, but took the job with the prosecutor because his student loan payments were looming, not to mention other bills. He also waited tables for extra income.

After seven or eight months working for the prosecutor, he learned about a job at Indiana National Bank - from someone he served as a waiter. The bank was looking for someone with five to eight years of experience, including litigation experience.

Robinson played up his litigation experience with the prosecutor's office and that he was less expensive than someone starting with five to eight years of experience. He got the job.

He stayed with the bank until May 1997, when he took a job with Irwin Union Bank & Trust Co. where he worked until recently. He is now an investment advisor for the Private Client Group at PNC Bank.

Christine Corral, executive director of the Career Planning Center at Valparaiso University School of Law, has suggested many of the same ideas for current students and recent graduates looking for work.

She added students should consider getting involved with local bar associations. The school has also partnered with bar associations in northwest Indiana, including the minority bars there, to help students network.

She also suggested continuing legal education sessions as a way to network while sharpening one's legal skills.

She said students are used to immediate satisfaction, so if they don't hear back right away they get frustrated.

However, it's ultimately up to the job seeker to do the work, and she's surprised more students aren't doing more.

"All of that is time consuming, but the handful of students who are doing that are seeing success," she said.

And to handle the emotional stress?

"It can be difficult, but you're not alone," Dean said, suggesting those looking for work to look at it as "more of an economic problem than a personal problem."

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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