The attorney profession is unique in that a client or patron of an attorney does not necessarily receive a good or item in exchange for their payment; or leave the office with something physical to hold in their hands. What a client does leave with, however, is the sound legal advice of a competent attorney, certified by that state’s bar association that they are capable of handling legal issues. The legal profession is a service industry. What the client is paying for is the attorney’s knowledge. Rather, the attorney’s main selling point is knowledge. How does one sell knowledge? Or how does one advertise that they have knowledge? In today’s discriminatory world, knowledge is often conveyed by one’s professional appearance. Like it or not, all of us, regardless of age, race, sex, or geographical placement are judged by one thing in about 2 seconds: our appearance. One may not be able to change one’s DNA or genetics, but one can certainly make sure that one does everything they can to ensure they convey a professional image.
One of the easiest things to change with regard to one’s appearance is their hairstyle. Men have it easy. There isn’t much to do to style a man’s hair. 10 minutes tops is all is needed. But the foundation of the style is the haircut. Long hair has never been accepted any professional setting, nor is a short buzz cut considered business-like. There must be a happy medium. Below are two examples. Clearly one has a professional (yet edgy, trendy) hairstyle, and the other . . . well I’m not sure what to call it.
Which would you trust with your legal matters?
Yes, most assistants do not have bachelors degrees and did not endure three years of law school, but they are your support team, they are an extension of you and thus represent who you are and are often your link between you and the client. If treated properly, they will go to bat for you, field calls from pushy callers, make sure all deadlines are met, and remind you of forgotten tickles. Rather than trying to prove how much better you are than them, acknowledge that they are just as talented and capable as you, just in other areas. Think of it as an estate planning attorney telling a prosecuting attorney how to do their job.
You must never hand them your dirty work (ie send my wife and mistress flowers, book my vegas hotel, etc.) and if the task you hand to them is completely mundane and insulting, at least acknowledge that it is crap work, apologize, but ask politely if the assistant would have time to tackle such mundane task. You will probably receive a more positive response when given said task than if you were to simply plop it in front of them and say “have fun with that.”
2. As a freshy, it is likely you are unfamiliar with the local courthouse and may have questions about filing documents and proper courthouse etiquette. This applies to not only freshies but the “new kid in town.”
Getting in the door. Most courthouses now days have security checkpoints at each entrance. Some local bar associations issue identification cards which you may politely (but not arrogantly!) show to the security person so that if you trip off the metal detector, you are allowed to go through without emptying your briefcase, etc. Find out if your local courthouse or bar association uses such passes/id cards and locate one, this saves time for you and the security personnel. However, if the courthouse does not use a pass, you must empty your pockets of any items which may trip the metal detector, as well as place all handheld items (briefcase, laptop, PDA, crackberry) in the bin to be inspected and/or x-rayed. DO NOT act annoyed or indicate you are “above” this. I realize this makes you feel as though you are a “layperson” but the security people do not care whether or not you are an attorney, they are just doing their job and ensuring the safety of everyone in the courthouse.
Once you have made it through the door you need to locate the proper court in which to file your document. If you were successful in not being too pompous with the security personnel, you may quickly but politely ask them to point you in the direction of the proper court. You should specify if you need that court’s clerk’s office or the judge’s office. If you are filing a doc, you will obviously need the clerk’s office. You may need to visit the judge’s office (you will most likely not get past the secretary’s desk) to get things on the calendar, etc.
Filing documents. If the purpose of your visit to the courthouse is to file documents, stand in line (yes in line, even behind the laypeople, superman) and politely wait your turn. When you have arrived at the desk politely explain to the clerk staff that you are here to file x document in x case. Some courthouses prefer that you go ahead and pull the appropriate file and file-mark it yourself, then place the court’s file with the file-marked documents in a specific box which the clerk staff will bring to the judge’s secretary. You will usually file stamp one copy of your document for the court’s copy, one copy for each party in the case, and one copy for you to return as your own file copy; so leave all copies with the file except for your file copy.
There is a standard location to place the file-stamp. You must never stamp over any of the wording of the document, especially the cause number, this will frustrate the court staff. Here is an example of the standard location to place a file-stamp:
3. Document Drafting.
Color Matching and Pattern Clashing. Most females do a pretty good job with this, so I’m speaking mostly to the males here. First, identify if one piece of clothing has a pattern. If said article of clothing has a pattern, DO NOT MIX WITH ANOTHER PATTERN! This is pertinent and you are sure to look like a clown if you wear more than one pattern. The simplest way to wear patterns is to wear a plain, one color collared shirt with a patterned tie. Somewhere within the tie, there should be at least one color that matches identically to the color of said collared shirt. Some stores make this really easy by allowing you to buy a “pre-made” combo, this really takes the guess work out of the equation. You can usually find a shirt in your size that provides a perfectly matching tie and voila your good to go!
As a non-trad, I’ve had some issues finding scholarships that aren’t so focused on full-time, traditional, low income students. I could literally get a scholarship book with thousands upon thousands of scholarships, and after 5 hours of weeding out all the ones I don’t qualify for, come up with two or three. I’m willing to put in the hard work, but I have found a site that narrows it down for you, and even notifies you when there is a new scholarship added that you meet the criteria for.
The site is http://www.fastweb.com/
Its free to register and use, it does take some time to go through the Q & A’s but this is worth the extra time, because it narrows the scholarship results down to only the scholarships you are eligible for, which saves time in the long run.