Business Cards for Everybody!

business-cards-for-funReader H wonders whether students should get business cards…

A couple weeks ago, you did a post about stationery and handwritten notes. In the run-up to OCI, I’m wondering if I should order business cards. Many law schools offer student business cards but I personally think the branding is sort of tacky and would much rather have a plain card with my name, email, and phone number. Should students going into interview season suck it up and buy their schools’ cards? Or is there a way to have a simple, stylish card of one’s own (without seeming pretentious)?

I guess this is an issue many people will have in the corporate world, too, but at least once you have a job, someone else is paying for your cards… as long as I’m paying for my own cards, I want to be able to design them well, but I’m wondering what’s appropriate.

I think I’ve mentioned my point of view here and there on the blog before, but I don’t think I’ve ever been really clear about it: I think everybody should have business cards. Ok, not small children, but everyone else — students! people out of work! people seeking new work!  stay at home moms! In short: business cards for everybody. (Pictured: Wellspring Double Flip Case, Audrey Medallion (2420), available at Amazon for $5.91. Check out our previous guide to business card cases!)

This actually isn’t such a new idea — back in the olden days, well-bred single women were supposed to have “calling cards” that had their name and address on it, as well as the time of day (usually a 2-hour window or so) in which they accepted gentlemen callers.  I don’t remember where exactly I read about this, but when I was single I remember thinking that this was a much better idea than handing out my business card to the occasional cute stranger.  So I got my first “personal” set of business cards from Vista Print — they just had my first name, my phone number, and an email address that I used for dating.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this was mildly insane: I probably needn’t have worried quite so much about stalkers and spammers — and it was a little bit weird to give out a card that didn’t have my last name.  (I called them my “playa” cards, and actually was so embarrassed by them that I did in fact give my future husband my business card when we first met.)  Still, I had such a great time being freed from the law firm business card (and realized that the prices were so low) that I’ve since gotten lots, and lots, of other personal business cards, including

  • when I was actively hunting for a new job — these had my full name, my phone number, and the email address that’s on my resume.  If I’d been smart about it I’d have set up a professional website for myself and my CV and added that URL as well, or just given the URL to my LinkedIn page.
  • really nice Moo cards for guests at my wedding (Moo cards are great quality, but very photo-driven — so they were a perfect way to use some of our “engagement shots.”)  In the pack we bought we used 10 different images on the front, and on the back we listed the photo-sharing site that we hoped all of our wedding guests would use to share their personal pictures from the wedding with us.
  • when we moved into a new apartment — we moved in December 2009, so we just tucked these cards into our holiday cards and, subsequently, gave them to people we hadn’t seen in a while.  It just seemed like the cheapest and easiest way to distribute our new address.
  • for Corporette — I’ve actually ordered several packs of business cards for Corporette, not because I’ve gone through them so rapidly but more because I couldn’t decide what name I was going to use for the blog  until I actually came out back in April 2010 (Nickname or Full Name? Maiden Name Last Name? Just last name? Just maiden name?) or what I wanted to call myself (my current cards just say “Kat Griffin, Publisher.”)  I’ve used a few different companies, but have found that I really like the cards from one of the big box office stores — I’m trying to find my latest receipt and will update when I figure out which one.  The colors are nice, the ink is raised, the cards are on good stock — and the prices were really competitive. (I actually have a bit of paper guilt that I have so many unused business cards — let’s just say my necklaces are really, really organized.)

To answer Reader H’s question — I think you can have a bit of fun with design, but keep in mind that you’re representing yourself. A plain design might show that you’re no-nonsense, functional, not fussy.  A unique design might show that you’re creative, stylish, not content with the boring white card.  I think either of these two options are great — they represent who you are.  I think you want to be very careful about choosing a card using stock images (a tiny flower! or heart! or wavy lines that are slightly reminiscent of the 80s!) because it may convey things about you that you don’t intend.  Similarly, one person I know has a card that has a caricature of herself on it, looking slightly tarted up and comical — which would be great if she were a comedienne.  (Unfortunately, she isn’t.)  If you’re not overly creative but don’t want a plain design, you might want to just design a simple monogram for your card.  Some places to check them out:  Vista Print, Fine Stationery, Office Max, Staples, and other “big box” paper stores.  I usually think of Moo Cards being used by artists or graphic designers (although I know one blogger who has them), but if your personal hobby is photography (or travel, or photographing your travels) using some of your own images for the photos could be a fun but classy way to use cards with a bit of design on them.

Readers, have you ordered your own business cards?  Where have you had great experiences? How much design is too much design for an “I’m looking for a job” card?


  1. I have several business cards as well – my 9-5 “real” day job; one for my volunteer life; one for the on-the-side-when-I-have-time-but-mainly-for-my-friends sewing business; and one plain business card with my personal email address on it. I find you can go crazy at and get some good deals. But you can also purchase business card sheets (from Staples/Office Max) and make your own business cards with your home printer.

    If you’re looking for a job, I suggest it’s a know your audience for what kind of card you give them. I personally would be using a plain business card for my field of work; I know it’s not flashy or creative, but I’m not trying to convey that in my interview. But if you’re going for a PR job or something that has a creative side, then perhaps something creative in your business card might be the ticket.

  2. Runnin' for it :

    I don’t know of anyone who used business cards for OCI. You should be handing out copies of your resume. If you wish, you could attach a card to the resume. What would a recruiter do with just a card from you? They need your resume.

    • Yeah, me either. I didn’t see anyone handing them out during law school OCI. It might be too much. No idea on other schools’ OCIs.

      • Agreed that at OCI your resume can basically take the place of your card. But — I think a card is great for when you’re interning/clerking/whatever. You can give it to the people you will be working withm, thus, making it easier for them to get in touch with you, and even just to remember who you are.

        It can also be great at networking events, especially if you have a website listed where someone can see your resume or whatever, as it would be a bit odd to just hand out your resume at such events.

    • If some law student gave me a student business card I’d tried really hard not to laugh at them. I think it’s pretentious and pretty douchey.

      • anon-oh-no :

        I was thinking the same thing. If I got a card from a law student, I’d think s/he was a douche and through the card, and resume to the bottom of the pile (or the trash can)

      • Yup. No business cards for OCI.

    • The only people I knew who had business cards at OCI were the super intense gunner types – this was 7 years ago, so maybe it’s more common now? I just remember watching this really awkward business card exchange at a law school mixer event, where one of the intense kids was trying to chat up a recruiter and give her a business card, and the recruiter responded, in a slightly condescending tone, “Oh look at you, you have business cards.” Kind of mean, but she was a big firm recruiter so it didn’t matter if she wasn’t nice, people were kissing up to her anyway.

      I’d just stick with providing exactly what is asked for at OCI, and nothing more.

      • Amy Elizabeth :

        I graduated from law school three years ago and at the time I was doing OCI, our career services office was actively mocking the idea of law students having business cards.

        • lawtalkinggirl :

          I graduated 4 years ago and our career office encouraged everyone to get business cards. Maybe they got a kickback from the card maker.

    • My company did not want me to have a business card, b/c they were afraid I would use them to find a new job. I am looking for a new job anyway, but without a business card.

      • Get a cheap VistaPrint one… also, how can you bring in clients without a business card? Sounds like your current employer is a little short-sighted.

    • job lined up :

      I used my school’s cheezy business cards and got 2 job offers out of OCI in 2009. A lot of the interviewers were impressed by the card.

    • I agree. For law school OCI, I would say definitely do not hand out business cards. Our career office emphasized that you should be getting recruiters’ cards, not the other way around. Having gone through OCI interviews and a firm summer, the thought of handing out a card as a student makes me cringe and I’m glad I didn’t. Just keep your resume with you and ask for others’ cards. It’s a great opportunity to follow up with them via email.

    • In law school, I knew douchey and non-douchey people with business cards. I agree that for OCI, you should be only handing out a resume. There are a handful of other situations in which having a business card might be useful, but I don’t think they are ever necessary as a student. As a student, few people will be contacting you becasue you gave them a business card. YOU should be asking for business cards and following up with them! In fact, not having a business card gives you a great excuse to make that first contact: “Hello, we met yesterday at XYZ. I just wanted to thank you again and pass on my contact informtaion. etc.”
      A paper card just doesn’t seem valuable.

  3. Sydney Bristow :

    I’m currently job hunting, so I made business cards. My roommate is an artist, so I had her format them with my information on them and some slight color differences and she printed them for me on her high-end printer. I included my name, phone number, job search email, both law schools I attended (one for my JD, one for my LLM) and my linkedin profile.

    Is my education something I should remove from the cards? I went to a regional school on the west coast, but got my LLM in NYC where I am currently job hunting. I have it on there in hopes that it would set me apart a bit, but maybe I should take it off since I included my linkedin url.

    • I think the education is ok. You’re job searching. You want them to know your qualifications.

  4. I actually have three business cards:
    One for my day job – restricted design
    One for my second job (direct-sales – Pure Romance) – restricted design
    One personal branded card

    My personal card has my personal logo that my husband designed (I also carry HIS business cards), my name, address, e-mail, phones, slogan (“Support through unboxed thinking.”) and my twitter ID. I give it out when I meet people at cons. My personal card is very “me” – it’s about what I do. I give advice (both for small businesses and personally), I help people plan things or find people to do the things they need done, and I always have the intent to get things done – and I am available, pretty much all the time.

    I think everyone should have a personal business card – even that “personal brand” that I think is awesome but everyone else thinks is stupid – because a good one will keep you in their minds. Regardless of whether you’re on the market for a job or significant other, or if you’re happy where you are, it’s good to have.

  5. Almost a 3L :

    IMO, a business card would look out of place at OCI or other career fairs and would probably just get lost (or annoy the recruiter, if it’s stapled to your resume and flopping around) in the resume shuffle. They could be useful for other events (e.g., if you attend a conference on a student scholarship), but not legal interviewing at the entry level.

    • karenpadi :

      I’ll second this as someone who goes to career fairs representing my firm. I really have no use for a prospective employee’s business card.

      During a career fair, I will jot down essential information on the resume that I know is important to HR/hiring partner but may be not expressed well on the resume. Then the collected resumes are scanned and screened by HR/ hiring partner to weed out the clearly-not-qualified on a recruiting website we use. A stapled business card would just jam the scanner–not a good first impression.

      One more thing, please don’t try to “link in” with me after a job fair where all that was said between us was “are you hiring for the summer?” and “here’s my card if you have any other questions”? I don’t know you at that point. On the other hand, if we had a good conversation and I got to know you enough to remember what you looked like, then link-in!

  6. Related question about business cards. I am looking to switch careers (currently unemployed). Do I need to have a title on my business card? And if so, does it have to be the title from my previous line of work? Would it be okay to have a business card with just my full name, email address and phone number or does the lack of title make meaningless?

    • A better idea might be something more detailed, that tells people who you are, what you want, and what you can do!

      Here’s something similar to what I have on my basic networking cards (yes, I’m a huge nerd).

      A. Anonymous
      [industry] professional since 2004

      Seeking growth opportunities in [industry X]
      Specializing in X, Y, and Z

      [email] [LinkedIn] [phone]

    • A title or some sort of description helps people remember what you do/specialize in. I had cards printed up that read “[specialty] Attorney” while I was unemployed, and I think it really helped.

  7. As a student, I had my name, law school, law school email, and LinkedIn profile URL on a simple card from Vistaprint. I didn’t use it much (never handed out any at OCI) but I found it was really helpful for the big mixer events or for Inn of Court meetings. I do still have a ton, so order conservatively :)

  8. I recently left a job to return and realized I missed having business cards.I thought the school ones were ugly and I was able to do a classic but interesting card from VistaPrint for a few dollars. I’ve actually used them quite a bit and I enjoy having them.

  9. I’m currently in grad school and my university makes really affordable / sharp-looking cards available to students. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about them. It’s nice to have them, but if I meet a recruiter, or a potential networking contact, then it falls on ME to get their contact info and follow up. Particularly when you are just starting out, people are not going to be rushing to get in touch with you so you can pick their brain about their careers. Just my 2 cents.

  10. I’ve only ever received a business card that wasn’t someone’s work-issued card once, and I have to say I found it bizarre. It was lunch break during one of the CFA exams and while I was trying to cram while an unemployed fellow test-taker was trying to network so card or not I wouldn’t have appreciated it. But I did keep the card around for a few weeks on my messy desk at home and every time I saw it, I thought it was odd.

  11. Boston apts :

    Threadjack – my husband and I are unexpectedly moving to Boston in the very near future. Hubby works in Cambridge and I will likely be working somewhere in Boston, probably in the Financial District.

    Can you Boston ladies give me some advice on nice apartment buildings to live in? We ideally want a washer/dryer in the unit and a gym in the building. We like living in the middle of everything (meaning, close to restaurants and the grocery store). We’re thinking of the Back Bay/South End/Beacon Hill areas.

    Any specific links to recommended apartment buildings in those areas would be greatly appreciated.

    • Yogi_Lawyer :

      I’ve only lived in Boston about a year, but recently moved from the downtown area to Cambridge. Back Bay and Beacon Hill are nice, but I’d also strongly recommend checking out Cambridge, Harvard and Central Square both have some great buildings.

    • I’ll give it some thought. I live in a building with a gym, washer/dryer in unit, etc, but it’s out in Quincy. I take the redline in and I work in the Financial District.

    • Most people don’t live in apartment buildings in Boston proper, at least not rental company owned buildings. By far the majority of units are condos rented by owners (ranging from apartment towers to 3 unit brownstones). You definitely get a better value and a more interesting apartment going this route.

      If you like the full-service, landlord-owned building model, you might like the Asteria managed by the West End management company. It’s not exactly in the middle of things– it’s buried behind Mass General– but it’s close to a Whole Foods, the Red Line T stop (which is what your husband would probably take to work) and the restaurants in Beacon Hill. There are also full service buildings near the Prudential Center that are almost on top of a large grocery store. Kind of blah but decent from what I’ve heard.

    • Diana Barry :

      If husband is working in Cambridge, I would look more along the red line. South End is not really convenient to his work – you have to take the orange line in and then the red line out, or the #1 bus (ick). Cambridge is v nice, particularly near Harvard Square, and both Beacon Hill on the “flat of the hill” near the MGH stop or the West End would be good for proximity to both your jobs.

      Agreed with other commenters that there are not really lots of big apt buildings in the city – the buildings are smaller. Also, places with gyms in the building tend to be more expensive – it might be easier to find something in a small building very near a gym.

    • miss the city :

      You may want to try East Cambridge. It is an up and coming area and has several new “luxury” type apartment buildings. I know someone who just bought at North Point and there are a few others that have gone up in the last 2 years or so (take a look at the Watermark). The Museum Towers have been around for a few years now and may also fit the bill. From East Cambridge, the green line brings you downtown and there are buses to Harvard Square from Lechmere or the red line is accessible if you find something closer to Kendall. There is a large grocery store in East Cambridge (Shaw’s?) as well as a Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in Central Cambridge (although I think you need a car to get to them).

    • Ex-beacon hiller :

      Honestly, you are going to need to adjust your expectations. After moving from DC, I was literally in tears halfway through our apartment search. Boston rentals are very expensive and even when you spend alot (more than $3000 a month for a two bedroom or $2000 for a one bedroom), you get very little in prime locations. You are unlikely to get laundry in unit, significant closet space or a gym in your building. More likely than not, you will windup in brownstone that’s been converted to apartments. What you will get is charm and an ability to walk to most places, including the gym. I second the recommendations for Beacon Hill/Back Bay given your work locations.

      • Boston apts :

        You’re all extremely helpful as usual! You have given me a lot of food for thought. Thanks so much. :)

      • Yeah. Boston is a very old city, with tiny streets. The pro side to this is that you can literally walk from the North End, all the way down through downtown, Boston Common, etc. and end up at Symphony…. or go the other direction, and walk over the bridge to Cambridge & MIT.

        But the con is that there aren’t very many tall, luxury buildings. Much of the architecture is historic. There are usually gym and laundry nearby, but you’ll need to get further out to get an affordable place with laundry in-unit.

        Boston’s a great city… but it’s not a modern, luxurious one.

    • Check out the Devonshire. It’s a high rise on State Street and Devonshire, has a gym and a pool, as well as laundry on each floor and a parking garage (extra fee) in the building. It’s kind of an awkward location (far from groceries, not very neighborhood-y) but offers all the amenities of a high rise. I lived there a few years ago and a 2 bedroom was about $3000, but prices may vary by floor and view.

  12. I have my law firm cards and then personal “mommy” cards that I ordered from tinyprints. The personal cards list my cell, personal e-mail, and home address. Where the title would go, it says “Son’s Name’s Mom” so that others can easily be reminded which kid belongs to me (or which mom belongs to my son). I use these cards for anyone who needs my personal info. and not my professional info. 9 times out of 10, these people already know I’m also a lawyer, and I think it adds a little brevity and makes me more approachable to the church/stay-at-home mom/play group/volunteer set.

    • This could be a threadjack of its own – being one of the very few moms who works when attending church youth events, PTFA meetings, etc. I constantly get the “oh poor you, you have to work” look and comments – I think many of the stay-at-home moms just don’t know what to make of me …

      • Isn’t that awful? I HATE when people do that to me!

      • unassociated :

        GRA and Lawma:

        That attitude is pathetic. If you can afford to and want to stay home, fine, but that’s a privilege, not a right, and I’m far more interested in supporting the women who need to juggle work and family for financial and identity reasons.

        The more middle/upper middle class women who press for really good daycare, the more likely it is to become an option in the future, instead of the ad hoc arrangements that usually arise.

        Unfortunately, nobody cares about poor women, unless their kids are beating up middle class and rich kids.

      • I definitely get the “oh poor you” looks. Unfortunately, I also feel like “oh poor me” because I have to work! So the looks just add insult to injury. I just try to breeze by it. You do what you have to do.

  13. Doc review :

    Repeating a threadjack from the previous thread in hopes of getting a few more responses. Thanks TCFKAG and Another Sarah for the advice you already gave me!

    I will be starting my very first document review project tomorrow. I’ve been told it is a flat rate and that I will be working 50-60 hours per week, but have not been told yet what the expected length of the project is.

    I’ve never done document review before and I’m not entirely sure what to expect. Does anyone have any advice?

    Read more:

    • Doc Review – I’ve never done a doc review as a sole job (just in the context of cases that I have worked on). That said, I use Post-it tabs for noting anything significant (or quesitonably significant). I also always make a grid or timeline in a word document, contemporaneously as I review the records. That way, all of the information will be in one convenient document at the end of the review, and you can refer to it with ease years down the road. Sometimes I put numbers on the tabs and note the number on my grid/timeline so that I can easily flip to the significant page.

      • last responder :

        I’ve done it off and on. In many situations I’ve been unusual in that I actually worked for a large law firm and had real experience. That has caused conflicts with my less well-trained peers.

        I can’t advise you on the specifics as it depends entirely on the project, but I generally tried to make whatever I was doing into a kind of game. It kept my mind alive. If you are working with supervisors (often staff attorneys and associates), and show interest and come up with good ideas on streamlining the work, they may be attentive and appreciative. But some may be rigid and dismissive.

        Now I’m going to focus on the negatives:

        –Be prepared to be treated like crap. At one job, the temp attorneys couldn’t use the same pantry or bathrooms as the permanent associates. They were threatened with being fired on the spot. Often, the number of documents reviewed each day is monitored. Once, someone was docked 15 minutes for taking a too-long bathroom break.

        –No one cares about your career development, or even if you are hampered in looking for a job. I’ve had jobs at which lawyers couldn’t check their personal email accounts or make personal phone calls. Yet they were working 50 to 80 hours a week. And when the job was over, they often got a call at 10 p.m. at night. Sometimes they’d committed to a three-month assignment that ended after three days.

        –Understand that the agencies care only their clients and their clients can be very arbitrary and vicious. You’re not a lawyer, except for when it comes to billing clients.

        –Be very wary about sharing information too soon with other people on the job. There are some seriously disturbed, undermining people on some of those assignments.

        –Set a goal for yourself: 30 minutes of research a day on job opps when you get home, sending out two letters a week, etc.

        –Understand that although it may not be your fault that you’re doing doc review, especially in the economy, you will have to work up a good explanation for employers if you want to get out of it.

        There used to be a blog called Temporary Attorney. It’s a depressing read, but from what I saw, it was accurate.

        Good luck.

        • last responder :

          Oh, and if you complain, no matter how reasonable your complaint, you may be blackballed.


    • I’m on a doc review project right now. It’s the first/only one I’ve done. It is open-ended, and so far I’ve been here a little over 7 months. From what I hear from people who have done other projects, there is a wide variety as far as the atmosphere.
      I clerked and practiced in a small firm before this and there are a couple of major differences I’ve noticed:
      1. I don’t have regular contact with the “real attorneys.” My project is prety self contained, and I rarely get a chance to talk with partners, much less sit on client meetings or go to lunch with them. It is very segregated.
      2. (related to 1) I don’t have any sense of security. I have no idea when the project will end, get down-sized, etc, and tend to be more stressed out than necessary over the uncertainty. I also had no prior warning before being moved between offices, changing desks, changing sub-projects, etc.
      3. I don’t have an office. At the moment, I don’t even have a cube. I work at a folding table, in a conference room with 20 other people. At times, there have been other shifts that I’ve shared my workspace with. I guessmy point with this one is that you really shouldn’t expect to do much personalization of your space (and you should watch your valuables).
      4. On my project, the dress code is incredibly laid back. I would recommend that you try not to fall into this trap. Just because other people are wearing shorts that belong at the beach and heels that light up does not mean that you should (or that they should).

      Other than that, just try to keep perspective. It’s still important to do a good job, because that’s part of being an adult and a professional, but don’t forget that it’s temporary. It’s easy to get stressed about the work, but bear in mind that this likely won’t be a career. Assuming you won’t be there forever, I’d keep looking for more permanent employment (if that’s what you want). Don’t wait until the project is over and you are scrambling.

      • As someone who supervises a lot of document reviews, I think that unfortunately, Mondette is right on a lot of the issues here. That said, I’ll add my two cents as well.

        First, it’s likely that the attorneys running the project don’t have a real concept of the length of the project to date, and if they do, they’ll let you know during the training. Tomorrow you’ll show up and attorneys will lead a training on the issues pertaining to the case. Hopefully they’ll give you a better idea of the timing and background at that time. Once you get settled into the project, you should feel free to ask questions. There are typically supervisors of whom you can ask questions — make sure you do, at least in the first week, if there’s something you don’t know.

        Second, I also agree with Mondette on the dress code issue. We typically require business casual attire at our reviews. Those not adhering to the dress code are looked down on, and I’ll be honest, we tend to spend more time quality checking their work because of it. You don’t want to be that person.

        Finally, definitely look for a permanent job while you’re there. I’m currently supervising a review where several people have left mid-review because they found permanent work, which is fantastic (though slightly annoying for us because we have to retrain a replacement). Likewise, make sure to do a good job and limit your absences! There have been times where project attorneys were let go because they miscoded too many documents (typically from carelessness or a failure to follow directions) or because they were absent or had a bad attitude. I don’t by any stretch think that person will be you, but it bears noting.

        Good luck tomorrow!!

    • Anonymous :

      I have done document review, though it has been a while. I know people who manage very large document reviews currently. Here are some thoughts:
      1) chances are good you will be reviewing documents on a computer – not flagging paper documents with post-it notes. There are sophisticated software programs that allow you to read the document and then code them with multiple fields of information about the document. You may just be determining responsiveness and privilege; or you may also be flagging for certain relevant content, people’s names, etc. That will vary completely from project to project. You will need to know the program enough to use it. There will be someone else who handles the technical side.
      2) you will probably be in a room with lots of other people and a bunch of computers with no personal space. Don’t expect an office or even a cube and pack accordingly. If that turns out not to be the case, great.
      3) be the least annoying person in the room – don’t eat smelly or noisy food, don’t shake the table, don’t listen to music other people can hear, don’t make inappropriate comments, don’t complain openly about your working conditions, etc. Very often, document review teams get whittled down as the volume of documents is depleted. Since this is not rocket science, personality counts – a lot.
      4) present yourself in a professional manner to the associates/partners/paralegals running the review. See No. 3 about whittling down teams.
      5) plan to work long hours at times when there is a deadline looming, but be prepared for lulls, as well. Document reviews often involve a lot of technical computer work peformed by outside vendors and document gathering by the client. Sometimes there are breaks in time when they just don’t have documents loaded that you can review.
      6) if you are nervous about when a project is going to end, calmly ask questions of the managers about what the expected timeline is/how many documents remain to be reviewed, etc. But also know that the parties could just settle one day and your work will be done.
      7) plan for your next document review job. Believe it or not, document reviewers get reputations and that is how you get staffed on the next job (or not), whether that is by the firm or by a recruiter. See No. 3 and 4 above.
      8) Get to know the case and the review parameters/rules as well as you can. That way you will make better decisions.
      9) Expect to feel completely confused at times about things you feel must be obvious to everyone else. The truth is, there are a lot of judgment calls made in a document review, and often, the rules change once a bunch of documents have already been coded because the documents don’t always fit neatly into the categories that were created before anyone read them. Ask thoughtful questions early on when you are not sure which way to make the call. This should set you up to make more calls on your own as time goes on. I can’t promise you won’t ever get a snarky response from some supervising associate or another document reviewer, but I’ve never known anyone to actually prefer improper coding over answering questions.
      10) Brush up on privilege/work product protections. It’s one thing to throw something nonresponsive over the wall. It’s another to send over privileged documents.
      11) Bring your patience. A lot of people do document review to get by while they are searching for another gig they really want. And depending on the firm, document reviewers can feel segregated from the rest of the law firm. That can lead to some interesting temperaments/ego issues. Accept that this is what you are doing now, do it as well as you can, and get from it whatever you are looking for – experience, money, a break, or a career. Let other people be the downers and troublemakers.
      12) Plan for your career. If it is going to be document review permanently, great. See No. 7. If there is something else you really want to do, and this is temporary, make sure you are devoting some of your time and energy to that pursuit even when the hours get long.

      I actually enjoyed document review and it really suited my needs when I did it. I had a good attitude, worked hard, and did good work. For those reasons, the people I worked for were excellent references for me when I went to get an associate position. Best of luck!

    • One more thought. Be prepared for the project to end without notice. If you bring personal items with you, take them home with you everyday. After a full day at work, you may get a call from the agency telling you that the project is done and not to return the next day.

    • Doc review :

      Thank you so much everyone! Your comments have been extremely helpful. I’m hoping tomorrow goes well now that I know more about what to expect.

  14. i personally don’t like students giving me their business card. i’m never going to email you. if anything, you should ask for my card and email me if you want to set up an informational interview, etc.

    that being said, after i graduated from law school and had passed the bar, when i was looking for a job, i had business cards made. full name, attorney at law, email, google voice number (which had a local area code because my cell phone number is from another state), and linkedin profile. i used zazzle, which had a great number of templates. i chose to have a black card with a modern template/layout and i got compliments on them all the time. i think zazzle was running a promotion at the time so i got 100 for about $25 including shipping.

    this was the template i used: www (dot) zazzle (dot) com (slash) modern_and_elegant_monogram_business_card_template-240391536724715358

  15. As someone who has been that recruiter for OCI at a big firm, don’t bother. Especially in the OCI environment/season, there is a lot going on and there is no point to a handing out a card when you have a resume. Speaking of your resume, don’t bother with the fancy folder or paper either – save your money – you’re going to need it for those student loans.

    As for any other time, I’d say you should absolutely have a business card or two handy. You never know who you’re going to bump into on the street.

    • karenpadi :

      Thank you! I really feel bad for the law students that shell out big buck on fancy paper and all we do is scan and distribute the resume/cover letter/etc. electronically.

      Can we please tell law school career services that–except for small firms (like less than 20 attorneys)–students should just use regular paper for their resumes?

    • Heh. Good to see this. I just went on an interview where my fancy resume paper was complimented! But it was for a clerkship, not a firm job, and it was definitely commented on in a “we don’t see that much” way. (This is my second career, and in my previous career – also probably back before there were lots of scanners floating around – you were expected to use fancy paper, so I did.)

      • (But no folders because I don’t understand the point of those at all.)

    • unassociated :

      I agree. I’ve never heard of a firm that cared about the kind of resume paper that was used, and I’m talking about the pre-email/scanning era. What they cared was the info on the resume.

      I think it’s nice to use decent-quality paper for cards, but Tiffany’s or Cranes it doesn’t have to be.

  16. Sorry, I just don’t get it. Your resume has your contact information. Why would an interviewer also need your card? If I were doing the interview, and a student said, “Here is my business card,” I would find in kinda strange…and a bit pretentious.

  17. How about this for a “business card”?

    I coincidentally just stumbled across this on Tumblr!

  18. I second the Vistaprint recommendation but I think that professional business cards should be simple and match the overall look of your resume and cover letter. For example, the business card should be the same color and have the same font as the accompanying resume.

    When applying for me legal job I used business cards at the end of the meeting to say, “it was a pleasure meeting with you, if you think of any other questions for me, please do not hesitate to contact me.” ( Much like I do now as a lawyer, actually.) The hiring committee later commented that they really loved the idea, but did not see it much from other candidates.

    It will help you look put together.

  19. I’m a grad student, and I bought some fairly basic ones from Vista Print. They have my name and contact information, my ‘title’ as graduate student researcher and my field, my current school name, and the link to my Linked In profile. I’ve only given them to a few people, and only when they first gave me theirs. That is what I’ve read is business card etiquette, to always give yours when you take someone else’s or vice versa. And since I’m in the inexperienced position all these times, I let others initiate the exchange, that way I never have to question if it’s appropriate to initiate the card exchange.

    Also, you can use them to enter win-a-free-lunch at many restaurants! And since the minimum I could buy was 250 that’s probably where most will go…

    • Haha, love your comment re free lunch giveaways… that’s when I wish I actually had business cards!

      • I “won” one of those and it turned out to be sponsored by an investment group that tried to sell services. What a disappointment!

  20. Like Lawma above, I have a non-work card. Personal calling cards are very common in the boating and RVing worlds. I thought it was sort of cheesy at first, but it has turned out to be a great way to exchange contact information.

    Most traveling people (usually couples) put a photo of themselves on the card. Our RV is very unusual, so we decided people would remember it visually more than our faces and had nice cards from VistaPrint made with a picture of our rig, our email addresses and our blog URL. After 7 years on the road, we’re on our second box of 500 cards.

    While the majority of the cards are handed out for social purposes, we never know when those might become professional contacts. Fortunately, our work world is very casual, so being remembered as the techie couple in the weird RV is fine. I think people are much more likely to keep a business card than a random slip of paper with your name and phone number on it.

    • I’d love to read your blog if you want to be “out” on this site. I’m 29 now but I’d love to retire and RV someday. I have a medical condition that makes me use the bathroom a lot so seeing the country with my very own bathroom in tow sounds great!

      • Irish, our blog is

        I have no problem being “out” here, but so many people are anonymous on Corporette that having a blue link in my name was starting to feel like I was pushing my blog. For a while, there were some regular commenters with blue links. One of them, Shayna, was treated pretty harshly. I didn’t want to be painted with the same blue brush, so I removed the link.

        And yes, it is great to travel with my own bathroom, bed, wardrobe, and pets with me at every destination!

  21. To all who rec’d the Nine West Oak shoes – they are fantastic! Love them!

  22. I can understand why you would want one if you’ve been out of school for a while, and are looking for work, but if you’re still a student, I think it’s a little pretentious. I agree with the reader above who suggested that you should be asking for business cards rather than giving them out.

    Of course, my opinion is not softened by the fact that I’ve only known two students to give out business cards, and both WERE pretentious. I’d say, if you do get them, pay attention to WHEN you give them out. If, for example, you are already a summer associate at my firm, giving an associate a business card is only going to make you stand out in a negative way.

  23. I have a question about phrasing, should I just put out there
    CSF, Attorney at Law (which I don’t know why, just comes off as pretentious to me)
    Phone Number

    Or should it be CSF, J.D.
    Or CSF, XX School of Law, Class of 2011.

    This is obviously for a new graduate, still looking for work. Thanks in advance for the wording advice!

    • MaggieLizer :

      This is probably obvious but I just wanted to point this out – if you have not been admitted to the bar (not just passed the exam, but actually admitted) then you are not an attorney and you should not hand out business cards that claim you are. If you want business cards right now, then just order as few as you can with “CSF, J.D.” and you can order more when you’re admitted to practice that say “CSF, Esq.” or whatever you like.

    • i put attorney at law on my card, but that was after i graduated and passed the bar. many of the solos/small-firm lawyers i met had attorney at law on their cards. in fact, i’m just looking at my firm card right now and it says attorney at law! i would hesitate to just include J.D. or your law school class year–both of which imply, to me, that you haven’t pass the bar. if this is the case, i would hold out on getting cards, and just be sure to collect them when you’re networking and following up. better to make an investment into cards that you can use for some time rather than cards which (hopefully!) will be out of date in a couple of months.

      • thanks!

      • counselorcap :

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with “Attorney at law” on a card, although I think “Attorney” may be more common.

        In general conversation, I refer to myself as a “lawyer.” I only use “attorney” when I’m dealing with idiots who would be impressed by that word, or if I’m speaking specifically about my relationship to a client.

      • KYC has it exactly right –

        Once you’re admitted, put “Jane Doe, Attorney at Law.”

        Get used to it. All the lawyers I know have that on their cards. It’s not pretentious when you actually are an attorney.

    • I don’t like the phrase attorney at law either – and it kind of sounds to me like something only a solo practitioner would use. Not sure why. I’d just say

      Attorney licensed in State

  24. counselorcap :

    Can we agree that if you go the VistaPrint route and especially if you are not a student you should spring for the paid version that leaves “VistaPrint” off the back?

    I had a discussion with a very mature friend about this. I said it looked terminally tacky to use the free VistaPrint version. This person is not a lawyer/MBA type, but I still thought the free version was too casual.

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      I think this holds true even for students — it is practically free to get a pack of 250 cards anyway, so it did not seem very onerous for me to get some without the ad on the back.

      In other news, I wanted to share some of my good news in an anonymous and hopefully non-obnoxious way:

      1. Just got an offer from my summer firm today — not surprising, since they usually give offers to the whole class, but still nice.
      2. Just got approved for an apartment (in Manhattan) which is a lovely one bedroom for a pretty good deal, so am stoked about that. They didn’t look as askance at my being a student as my current rental company, so am happy.
      3. Was informed that the editorial board of my journal is voting on my Note this week — so could be published (again) soon! (Yes, I am still formerly 2L NYC who hates everything having to do with journals, but perhaps this is some reward for all the bluebooking).

  25. I love having business cards around. You just never know who you’re going to meet at different events, so it’s always nice to have something small to hand to people.

  26. West Coast Attorney :

    Threadjack — A topic similar to this was covered recently, but I didn’t see anyone but Kat opine on the particular question of trial prep during the first trimester. My husband and I just — three days ago — decided to start trying next month for a baby next summer, which is the only time that he would be able to take any time off from work before July 2013. (His new main job is just short of full time, meaning no FMLA leave even if he becomes full time September 2012.) We have to plan in advance because I’m on medication I have to stop a MONTH before getting pregnant. Today I found out I’m being staffed on at trial that would put trial prep right in the first trimester if I’m lucky enough to get pregnant when we wanted to. Super excited about the trial. Have also been super excited about the prospect of having a baby sooner rather than much later. Not excited about utter exhaustion, trial prep and trial all at the same time — or even sure it’s possible. (My mom didn’t make the fatigue sound so bad, just now, but other friends beg to differ.) What to do?!? Wait? Try? Accept the fact I’ll just have to have a baby without my husband taking a couple weeks off?

    • lawtalkinggirl :

      How old are you? If you are under 30, then maybe wait. If you are over 30, don’t wait.

    • counselorcap :

      Trials often settle.

      If your husband isn’t available, consider hiring a doula. See if friends and family will help.

    • Anne Shirley :

      You know you want a baby- so have one! You really have no idea about the rest of it- no idea how long it will take to get pregnant, no idea if the case will actually go to trial, no idea when that trial will really be (mine always seem to be pushed off by at least a year), no idea your husband will still be at the job, no idea his employer won’t start giving more leave etc. etc.

      If you wind up in your first trimester of pregnancy and doing trial prep, you’ll make it work, or you won’t. But you can’t plan pregnancy in that much detail. it is just not possible.

      • Anonymous :


      • This. Even though I knew better, we played the “ideal time to start trying based on when we want to be new parents” game. And now after 5 mos of trying, I really wish I hadn’t waited.

        Also, and I hope this doesn’t come off as judgmental, but I’m concerned that you are shooting for next summer b/c after that it’ll be a year before husband can take any time off again. Of course we all hope for the best, but kids are unroeedictable. Even if you have a baby next summer, you may need time off during your child’s first year…and unpredictably any time over the next 18 or so years after that. Just saying, I thnk that being a parent changes your life so fundamentally it’s not eve worth trying to plan in large chunks of time where you can’t be flexible to their needs.

      • anonymous :

        Exactly right. Also, if you are lucky enough to get pregnant right away and really busy with trial prep during the first trimester, working that hard on something exciting might help take your mind off whatever symptoms you have.

    • The stars rarely align when you expect them to. Just start trying. If you should have the good fortune to get pregnant at the first attempt, you’ll have nine months to work all this out. Nine months is plenty of time.

    • I agree with everyone on just start trying, but also wanted to answer the more specific question. Although the exhaustion in the first trimester can be brutal, I did not find that I could not pull it together to function at work. I just couldn’t do much else after that! Lots of going to bed early, skipping dinners out, even working out in the beginning in favor of sleep. So I think trial prep is possible during the first trimester–will likely be more difficult than when not pregnant, but having kids is hard all around!

    • Anonymous :

      Your mother probably has a better idea of your body than your friends do, sorry to say. Check in with her about the age(s) she was pregnant. If she was much younger then you may be in for some exhausting times (younger women experience less fatigue, shorter deliveries and shorter recovery time, sad to say) but if about the same age, you will probably experience more of what she went through than not. (You also might want to check in with maternal aunts and your MIL. The genes that determine placental growth and thus baby size are inherited from the father, so her pregnancy may also be very telling.)

      But mostly I’d say just go for it.

  27. ElevenElle :

    Must read for anyone studying for the bar exam (I swear at least 90% apply to me)

    • AnonInfinity :

      You win the internet. Thank you for this!

      I laughed so hard at #17 my abs hurt bc my study partner and I were just talking about how no one can record a freaking deed. WTF?!

    • Oooo, I’ve got a good one, too!

      I died laughing.

    • Spending my bar exam study break reading the comments here, and all I have to say is THANK YOU !

  28. I’m not a “corporate” corporette. I do a lot of freelance writing but to make ends meet I do everything from occasional bookkeeping to copyediting to legal assistant temping to personal assistant (project based) to babysitting (amazing – after kids are in bed I can do other work and double bill my hours!).

    I have to have business cards. I went with Moo cards in some fun patterns (all in the same color palate) with just my name, cell and email on them. I pass them out all the time (especially to mom’s who need sitters). I love them, but when I’m done with these I will probably get some that are not glossy so I can write whatever it is the person needs on it so they won’t forget who I am (though my unusual name helps!). Maybe if I did fewer things I would put some sort of title on them (Works with Words?)

    Basically I would say the more you have to hustle, the more you need business cards. And the more things you do, the less info the card needs, so you are never keeping yourself from an opportunity.

  29. I just recently order a set of 100 business cards from a place called I previously went to this company to have some address labels designed, and since they did such a good job on those, I took my business to them for a second time. I used to be part of the bunch who though business cards were kind of pointless. I mean, I don’t own my own business, and the place where I work doesn’t really design business cards for its employees. However, I finally came around to it solely due to networking reasons. It’s a whole lot easier to hand out a card than it is to stand there and give a recitation about yourself and your background. Like others here, I included my name and contact info on the front. But I put an extremely condensed version of my resume on the back, which listed my education, job history, and notable achievements and expertise. I have yet to distribute them to anyone yet. So, I’m anxious to find out how well they go over with people.

  30. Kat! I wish you hadn’t turned me on to – I now am going to be the proud owner of 200 incredibly twee personal cards, as well as yet another set of adorable notecards…

    • Oh, and I should add just FYI for the Corporettes – I have ordered cards, labels, and invitations many times from Vistaprint and they’ve always been absolutely great. And they’re much cheaper than moo (although not nearly as twee).

  31. I bought personal business cards for the first time my 3L year when I was attending a conference in a specialized area of law I desperately wanted to work in. I went for “cute” cards because I wanted to stand out and be memorable, and it seemed appropriate considering the lack of formality among practitioners in this particular sub-field. I ended up getting my foot in the door via another avenue, but three years later, as someone responsible for hiring law clerks, I still think it was a good idea.

    As for info on the cards, I put my name, degree (M.S. with school & year) and expected degree (J.D. again, with school & year), two email addresses, and phone number.

  32. I find it incredible how negative people are about students having cards! What is so bad (or, “douchey”) about having your contact information on an easy to share and carry card? I keep virtually every card given to me, and I understand that at conferences they’re hard to keep up with, but goodness.

    Just because you’re still a student, doesn’t mean you aren’t professional, or that you aren’t ALSO doing other work. I am a student (just starting my bachelors degree program this August, actually, and finishing my associates presently), but I’m ALSO a full-time administrative assistant, and I am trying to build my own business on the side as well. Having a business card, especially when jobs are so hard to find right now, is vitally important. Even if you don’t give it out at the fancy conferences, giving it out to people in regular day-to-day can make a difference.

    • I agree with this. Like I said above, most people have a place where they save business cards, even if only in a rubber-banded stack on their desk. Your name and contact number becomes more “sticky” on a card and maybe will be useful in the future.

    • I agree with you. I think students should have cards to give out at conferences and other events. I think that what most commenters meant is that students shouldn’t hand out a card at an interview, when it’s appropriate to give out a copy of your resume instead.

  33. Just finished up OCI, and I don’t know a single person who ordered business cards. If a person had handed them out, he/she would have stuck out like a sore thumb & maybe even looked a little strange, at least at my school. Maybe it’s ok if the majority of your classmates are doing it, but my resume has all the information I would include on a business card anyway & the interviewers already had it. Maybe I’ll get one as a SA, but as a student they don’t seem necessary.