JET Program

Calling All Aspiring JETs with J.D.s!

Mecha-hisashiburi’s to you all. The past several months have been intensely busy, with graduation, the bar exam, and following a bit of good fortune, the conclusion to a successful job search. Yes, a job. Happy days are here again. What happened, you ask? Well, I became a contented victim of the “companies are now hiring J.D.s” trend in this absolutely topsy-turvy economy thing we have going on.

In short: I’m going to be involved in the land acquisition end of the natural gas industry. Just picture a mix of the “Rich Texan” from The Simpsons, and the Monopoly man.

Or, picture this guy with a monacle.

Okay, enough navel-gazing self-congratulatory blog-spew. There’s a more important point to my posting: the future of this blog.

Here’s the rub: I am a JET alum, and I do have a J.D., but from here on out I am well aware that my free time to blog for the benefits of JETs and the Japan-obsessed will be sparse. Further, I’ve always felt that this blog lacked the breadth it could otherwise have. The JET program and the legal market is a nice niche, but it’s still an intensely broad area that, even when I had time to blog regularly, I couldn’t tackle all by myself.

Lastly, having talked with lawyers (both old and young) during the course of my law school tenure, I am keenly aware that lawyers’ perceptions of the legal market and the opportunities out there are at times vastly different from the perspective a law student has. I strongly feel that JETs with J.D.s would languish without a JET alum/law student involved.

This is a long and winding way of saying that I am looking for someone (or more than one someone) to take the reigns for this site. While another person interested in private-sector legal work is fine, I’d be really interested in seeing someone interested in public sector/public interest legal opportunities step forward. I feel the public service end of the law is an area where I have been less helpful.

A public sector preference is only preferred, though. All that I would require of a new blogger are two things: (1) that you be a JET alum; and (2) that you be in (or about to attend) law school.

Though there’s no money in it (never was for me 😉 ), there are some benefits to helping out. The biggest of which is contributing to this blog may be the best catalyst to do the one thing law students (and human beings in general) hate to do: network. I know more attorneys and other vital contacts than I would know otherwise because I wanted to have material to blog about and, while I would never name my contacts outright, there gems of wisdom are scattered throughout this blog for the benefit of all. I also believe I would not have received the opportunity I am currently undertaking if it had not been for JET alums and attorneys providing me with personal advice, scouring my resume, and guiding my interviewing style.

If you are interested, drop me a line in the comments, or just contact me directly.

I plan to still contribute occasionally, at least enough to keep JETs with J.D.s up and running. Many of the old posts to this blog are a valuable resource and worth keeping around, and I will do what I can to make that possible.

Finally, I plan to write something up about my law school and job search experience generally sometime in the near future, so look for that post coming soon.

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Clerking in Paradise: Palau

Former JETs naturally have a little bit of adventurer in them.  Unfortunately, the sedentary life of the law student spells disappointment for those of accustomed to a more active life.  This isn’t to say going out and enjoying life doesn’t happen in law school.  But if you like inordinate amounts of time reading and editing italicized commas, however, you’re in for a real treat.

Fortunately, life after law school doesn’t necessarily have to be like that — and if you still have that glimmer of a sense of adventure and the desire to live in not-so-often traveled parts of the world, a judicial clerkship in on of America’s international territories might be what you’re after.  After graduate clerkships with various courts across the country are a common (if not somewhat challenging route) to post-graduate employment.  The pay is typically lower than you would expect if you went to a firm immediately after graduating, but some firms still offer clerkship bonuses for those who bring that experience with them in tow.

But, more than you might expect, America is a big friggin’ country, and clerkships are not limited to the fifty states alone.  Clerking and court employment opportunities exist in America’s international territories as well, including Puerto Rico, the Marshall Islands, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and Palau.  Living here will be not unlike JET – many of these places offer subsidized housing and pay for you to come over, so while your clerkship income is small, your imputed income is not so bad.  A recent law review article was actually written describing much of the process in detail.

But each territory has its own recruiting schedule, and its own preferences.  I hope to share that with you piece-by-piece, and since Palau is the island I currently have the most information on, it makes sense to start there.

Palau is a small island territory located several hundred miles east of the Philippine Islands.

Positions in Palau are possible at all levels of the judiciary, including not only the Supreme Court of Palau, but also in the attorney general’s office, the public defender’s office, as legislative counsel for the Senate and the House of Delegates, or with Micronesian Legal Services Corporation.

The court typically hires under the following timeline: the position is posted late in the year, around December, with the application deadline being mid-March.  Interviews follow in May, and hiring shortly after that.  Like JET, it seems, the process is long and cumbersome, but certainly worth it if a clerkship on a tropical island is your goal.

Additionally, the information I have indicates that, while you can apply to the court without prior clerkship experience, the court is typically trending towards hiring those with court clerk experience – meaning a Palau court clerkship straight out of law school may be a long shot.  Other sources, however, have indicated to me that travel and experience living in the east / southeast Asia area can be a plus, as well as a background in Japanese.  These were both speculation on my source’s part, but if those two factors are a plus, then the JET experience stands to benefit anyone seeking a position in Palau.

Additional sources on Palau are available, including an older blog run by a former Palau clerk: StuffedWombat.com

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JLPT Test Prep Advice

If you have yet to take the JLPT (or haven’t taken it for a long time), the test has seen a dramatic overhaul in the last year as well as a step up in difficulty in recent years.

The resources here and here are highly advised reading to guide you in understanding preparing for the new test.  Even the wiki has a pretty detailed breakdown of the new sections and their time allotments.

NALP Conference: Resume Advice

It’s finals time now, so things are going to be slow here for the next couple of weeks. Last week, however, was the NALP Conference in Puerto Rico– and Above the Law produced the following summary of legal resume advice that’s worth reading through.

Of particular concern to former JETs should be the tidbits about overall resume length and the weight your language ability will ultimately have on your resume. At the end of the day, it may make aiming for that 1kyuu (or N1, as it’s called now) or JETRO exam certification worth it.