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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. Good luck, but as I have documented in three Hail Mary's to the SCOTUS, two applications (2007 & 2013),a civil rights suit and my own kicked-to-the-curb prayer for mandamus. all supported in detailed affidavits with full legal briefing (never considered), the ISC knows that the BLE operates "above the law" (i.e. unconstitutionally) and does not give a damn. In fact, that is how it was designed to control the lawyers. IU Law Prof. Patrick Baude blew the whistle while he was Ind Bar Examiner President back in 1993, even he was shut down. It is a masonic system that blackballs those whom the elite disdain. Here is the basic thrust:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackballing When I asked why I was initially denied, the court's foremost jester wrote back that the ten examiners all voted, and I did not gain the needed votes for approval (whatever that is, probably ten) and thus I was not in .. nothing written, no explanation, just go away or appeal ... and if you appeal and disagree with their system .. proof positive you lack character and fitness. It is both arbitrary and capricious by its very design. The Hoosier legal elites are monarchical minded, and rejected me for life for ostensibly failing to sufficiently respect man's law (due to my stated regard for God's law -- which they questioned me on, after remanding me for a psych eval for holding such Higher Law beliefs) while breaking their own rules, breaking federal statutory law, and violating federal and state constitutions and ancient due process standards .. all well documented as they "processed me" over many years.... yes years ... they have few standards that they will not bulldoze to get to the end desired. And the ISC knows this, and they keep it in play. So sad, And the fed courts refuse to do anything, and so the blackballing show goes on ... it is the Indy way. My final experience here: https://www.scribd.com/document/299040062/Brown-ind-Bar-memo-Pet-cert I will open my files to anyone interested in seeing justice dawn over Indy. My cases are an open book, just ask.

  2. Looks like 2017 will be another notable year for these cases. I have a Grandson involved in a CHINS case that should never have been. He and the whole family are being held hostage by CPS and the 'current mood' of the CPS caseworker. If the parents disagree with a decision, they are penalized. I, along with other were posting on Jasper County Online News, but all were quickly warned to remove posts. I totally understand that some children need these services, but in this case, it was mistakes, covered by coorcement of father to sign papers, lies and cover-ups. The most astonishing thing was within 2 weeks of this child being placed with CPS, a private adoption agency was asking questions regarding child's family in the area. I believe a photo that was taken by CPS manager at the very onset during the CHINS co-ocerment and the intent was to make money. I have even been warned not to post or speak to anyone regarding this case. Parents have completed all requirements, met foster parents, get visitation 2 days a week, and still the next court date is all the way out till May 1, which gives them(CPS) plenty of to time make further demands (which I expect) No trust of these 'seasoned' case managers, as I have already learned too much about their dirty little tricks. If they discover that I have posted here, I expect they will not be happy and penalized parents again. Still a Hostage.

  3. They say it was a court error, however they fail to mention A.R. was on the run from the law and was hiding. Thus why she didn't receive anything from her public defender. Step mom is filing again for adoption of the two boys she has raised. A.R. is a criminal with a serious heroin addiction. She filed this appeal MORE than 30 days after the final decision was made from prison. Report all the facts not just some.

  4. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

  5. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

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