Listbean website helps users organize life’s little details

When you prepare to study for class, get ready for vacation or create a budget, what’s the first thing you do? If you answered, “make a list,” then I have a website for you!

It’s called Listbean, and it’s awesome!

Unlike other list sites, it is completely free and jam-packed with pre-populated lists. Personally, I like the fact that these lists are already put together. Of course, they aren’t me and don’t know exactly what I need, which is why they make each list fully customizeable.

The checklists are organized into various groups:

  • Home and Organizing
  • Business and Finance
  • Kids and Family
  • Retirement
  • Vacation and Travel
  • Parties and Celebrations
  • Health and Wellness
  • Seasonal

From the Listbean website:

“We want to help make you awesome. We know you are trying to get more done now than ever before. Listbean is our first crack at helping you be awesome at whatever it is you do. Be it parenting, organizing, photography or being an outdoor fanatic, we want to help you be awesome at it. A clean and sleek site that is easy to use and full of value. This is what we set out to create, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that’s just what we ended up with with Listbean.”

A few benefits of Listbean:

  • Want to create a checklist but don’t know where to start? We do. We’ve done the hard part of pulling the lists together. You can use the lists as is or use them as inspiration to create your own customized checklists.
  • You never have to retype checklists. Create an account and you can customize any of the lists you see on the site, save them and come back to them time and time again.
  • Be more efficient, effective and deliberate in everything you do. With checklists covering most things you need right at your fingertips, you can just get on with what needs to get done.

So go check it out and let me know your favorite. Mine? Timeless Toys, of course!

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Trends in law firm profitability suggest smartest route for future law students

At the National Association for Law Placement’s annual conference in late April, Dan DiPietro of Citibank spoke to a packed house of more than 800 conference goers. DiPietro is the managing director of the Law Firm Group at Citibank and visiting professor at Harvard Law School.

Citibank’s Law Firm Group provides advice and services to over 650 law firms in the United States and London. The group lends to more than 200 law firms in the U.S. and UK, including over half of the Am Law 100.

DiPietro spoke for over an hour about trends in law firm profitability. The dominant theme was that 1998 to 2007 was a golden age of profitability, marked by strong growth in demand for legal services, double-digit revenue growth and client tolerance for steady rate increases. Associate attorneys were hired at a rate that corresponded to the strong growth in demand, productivity was relatively steady, and the largest law firms outperformed the industry.

The 1998-2007 period was also a great time for legal employment. Nationwide statistics for the class of 2007 marked a 20-year high for entry-level legal employment rates.

Fissures in this law firm profitability model began to appear even before the recession hit. Over the last two recessionary years, DiPietro described six factors that combined to place enormous stress on the profitability of private law firms.

  • Client consolidation: Consider the financial services industry. Because of mergers and failing businesses, there are fewer clients doling out business to law firms.
  • Convergence and casting a wider net: For example, GE recently cut the number of law firms it employs from 400 to 200, and then again to 112. Large clients are actively seeking more attractive rate structures from their law firms.
  • Commoditizaton: Firms can become “expert” in a practice area quickly by hiring partners from other firms.
  • Heightened client demands: Clients want increased partner time but are less willing to accept high rates. This attitude has led them to cast a wider net when considering firms.
  • Intensifying price pressure: Clients are shopping for good value in all but “bet the company” cases.

These factors resulted in 2008-09 being marked by declining demand for legal services, rates increasing at a slower pace, profits per partner declining and the largest law firms underperforming the industry.

Law firms laid off partnership-track associates and dramatically reduced summer program hiring. There were 42,700 legal sector jobs lost between Dec. 1, 2008, and Dec. 1, 2009. Of the 12,000 people laid off at the 138 largest law firms, 4,633 were lawyers.

DiPietro suggested that to control the ratio of lawyers to partners (leverage) in the near future, large law firms will hire fewer traditional, partnership-track associates because they will be looking to not increase the number of equity partners.

In closing, DiPietro noted that he has a daughter who just finished her first year of law school. As an applicant, she was admitted to a top 20 school with no scholarship, as well as a lower-ranked school with a 90 percent scholarship. She sought her dad’s advice about where to enroll, and DiPietro strongly encouraged her to enroll at the solid but lower-ranked law school where she could graduate with minimal debt.

It is his belief that due to uncertainty about the availability of jobs at large law firms paying six-figure salaries, it is wise for law students to get a good but affordable education that will enable them to consider the widest range of potential entry-level jobs.

Todd Rogers, Assistant Dean for Career Services

Happy Geek Pride Day from a Wheat Law librarian and self-proclaimed geek

My name is Blake, and I’m a geek. It’s true. For those of you who know me, this comes as no surprise. But for those who don’t, it’s not a difficult conclusion to draw. I am a law librarian. Trading in the courtroom for the library is tantamount to trading in Atticus Finch for Rupert Giles.

I let it slip, didn’t I? The real reason I’m a geek? It’s not because I’m a law librarian, although that does give me some geek street cred. What makes me a geek is that I get the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” reference. And I know that “Star Wars” premiered on this day in 1977. And, according to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” today is Towel Day. And Terry Pratchett’s “Discworld” celebrates the Glorious 25th of May.

Well, today is something else. Today is Geek Pride Day! It’s a day which claims that every person can claim the right to be a geek! There is even a manifesto:


  1. The right to be even geekier.
  2. The right to not leave your house.
  3. The right to not like football or any other sport.
  4. The right to associate with other nerds.
  5. The right to have few friends (or none at all).
  6. The right to have as many geeky friends as you want.
  7. The right to be out of style.
  8. The right to be overweight and near-sighted.
  9. The right to show off your geekiness.
  10. The right to take over the world.


  1. Be a geek, no matter what.
  2. Try to be nerdier than anyone else.
  3. If there is a discussion about something geeky, you must give your opinion.
  4. To save and protect all geeky material.
  5. Do everything you can to show off geeky stuff as a “museum of geekiness.”
  6. Don’t be a generalized geek. You must specialize in something.
  7. Attend every nerdy movie on opening night and buy every geeky book before anyone else.
  8. Wait in line on every opening night. If you can go in costume or at least with a related T-shirt, all the better.
  9. Never throw away anything related to geekdom.
  10. Try to take over the world!

So in celebration of this most joyous of days, I say to you:

  • May the Force be with you.
  • Live long and prosper.
  • Inconceivable!
  • Kneel before Zod!
  • Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler…
  • This is my Boomstick!
  • NEE!
  • Excelsior!
  • The Dude abides.
  • One ring to rule them all
  • With great power there must also come — great responsibility.

Can you guess these films? Do you have other quotes? Feel free to add by leaving a comment!

W. Blake Wilson, Instrucational & Research Services Librarian – and Geek

Library’s Kagan page provides one-stop shop for information on the Supreme Court nominee

The University of Michigan Law Library’s informational Web page for the latest nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, was created May 10 by reference librarian Kincaid Brown within hours of the announcement. It is available here.

The Web page includes biographical information about Kagan, links to her authored works, transcripts of speeches and links to confirmation hearings for her nomination as solicitor general. The site will be updated as Brown continues to compile material and as new information becomes available. When the confirmation hearings begin, the site will also include links to the hearing transcripts.

We hope this Web page will enable you to follow Kagan’s progress through the nomination process!


W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

How to find your dream job when you have a law degree but don’t want to practice law

So you have attained (or are working toward attaining) your Juris Doctor but have decided not to practice law. If you already have your dream job, then you are set. But not knowing what your dream job is does not have to be a nightmare. You just need to take a step back and do some groundwork.

First, try to remember why you initially decided to go to law school. Many times, the past provides a key to your future. Then consider bringing your other degrees into the mix. If you truly enjoyed your area of study in undergraduate or graduate school, you might be able to have the best of both worlds by finding a career in which you can use all of your degrees.

Second, reflect on previous jobs – paid or volunteer positions – that you have enjoyed. What did you like about these opportunities? Was it the job, the people or even the location? Next, consider those jobs you did not enjoy. Again, try to determine why it was not a good fit for you. If you need help with these reflections, there are various assessment tests you can take. As mentioned in an earlier blog, your school’s Office of Career Services may offer them at reduced rates or you may use the services of a life coach. Knowing the qualities and characteristics that provide a good working environment for you will help you to narrow down potential employment fields.

Third, talk to folks. Maybe you know what you would like to do but you’re not sure how to get there. Do your research, find out who the key players are and then conduct informational interviews with them. Most of the time, people are happy to talk with interested individuals about their careers, and they may have some ideas about how you should proceed. You may meet even more people once you join a professional association affiliated with the type of job you want. Many times the association has a job board, and the membership list can be a great networking tool.

Fourth, become an advocate for yourself. There may be some careers in which it is not obvious how a J.D. would be beneficial, so be prepared to tell the employer about the transferrable skills, education and experience you bring to the table. Having a J.D. may make your application stand out for nonlegal jobs, but make sure to stand out because you have done your research on the employer and can provide them with the qualities they seek.

Finding a job where you do not practice law does involve work, but taking these steps can help you find your dream job where you and your degrees will be valued. Good luck!

Karen Hester, Director of Career Services and Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Law librarians share words of wisdom with graduating class

I have worked here at the University of Kansas Wheat Law Library for just over three years. Technically, I, too, am a 3L. The first class I taught was the 2007 summer starters, but really that was a bit of a dry run. My true connection was with the fall starters, what was to be the Class of 2010. You are my first class of students who I actually get to witness walking across that stage. I have come to know so many of you as not only a librarian and teacher but also a mentor. I will miss each and every one of you.

I asked the librarians if they have anything to say to the graduates of 2010, be it words of wisdom or quotes they have found meaningful. Here is what they sent me:

  • “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” – George Washington Carver
  • Clean out your carrels, return your library books, CELEBRATE, then right back to the library to study for the bar. Good luck, and we’ll miss you! Seriously!
  • My only advice is don’t forget to thank your friends and family for their support these past three years!
  • “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
  • “You have brains in your head.
    You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own.
    And you know what you know.
    You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
    – Dr. Seuss
  • “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
  • “I sincerely hope that all of the new grads will take some time to relish their accomplishments, to celebrate their graduation from law school. Getting into and getting through law school was not an easy task, so I hope they will all take a moment to reflect, relax and release!”

I do hope that you will remember that we at the Wheat Law Library are here for you whenever you need us. Keep us in your phone and call whenever you get stumped with a research problem or when you need a book. Or if you just need to talk to someone who has been through what you are going through.

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Thanks to Chris Steadham, Su Johnson, Tammy Steinle McLain and Joyce McCray Pearson for their contributions.