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Friday, August 2, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Sexy résumé lands law grad fleeting fame if not job
A lawyer desperate to get a job has made an impression on the legal community here, but not necessarily in a good way.
2009 Villanova Law School grad Brian Zulberti said he was about two Red Bulls into a late-night push to e-mail every lawyer he could find in the legal directory when he decided to add a photo.
Not a typical head-and-shoulders, suit-and-tie mug photo, it was a picture of Zulberti, 30, in a T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, showing off his sculpted arms. Within a day of sending out his second round of e-mails, he became an Internet sensation.
"I was desperate to an extent," said Zulberti, adding he thought throwing in a little sex appeal might improve his chances.
This attracted the attention of the Above the Law Blog — apparently tipped off by an unimpressed lawyer that received it — which posted an item about Zulberti's letter and photo under the search term "Bad ideas."
"Seriously? Has this man no shame?" wrote Staci Zaretsky on the blog. "Who needs a résumé when you can send a selfie instead?"
The blog then went one step further and chastised Zulberti for pictures on his unsecured Facebook page, including one racy naked torso shot of Zulberti, his underwear dangerously low, holding a sign over his face that cried out for better grammar: "HIRE ME!!! no … as a Lawyer, … NOT A ESCORT… wait is it something I'm wearing."
"A picture is worth a thousand words, and here, all of those words seem to be: NO NO NO NO NO NO," Zaretsky wrote in the blog.
That started the explosion.
The blog post went viral on social media and Zulberti said he suddenly started getting a flood of friend requests on Facebook, less than 12 hours after he sent out his last batch of job-seeking e-mails. His voice mail and e-mail were soon swamped with messages.
Some were supportive, telling him not to give up hope. More called him a disgrace to Delaware, where he had just joined the bar. A number of friends told him to turn on his Facebook privacy settings.
That also was the advice of Delaware attorney and employment law expert Molly DiBianca.
"This is just wrong on so many levels," she said. Law firms want someone who is serious, professional and can show discretion. The images Zulberti posted of himself show "just the opposite."
"I'm sort of stunned by this picture. I can't stop looking at it," DiBianca said, noting that on top of everything there is a grammatical error in his "Hire Me" sign, which she said "looks like a 4-year-old wrote it."
Zulberti said soon after the blog mocked him, he started getting calls from media organizations and friends started sending him links to stories that had been posted about him from as far away as Croatia.
Among his Web hits:
• Gawker, "Lawyer Asks Hiring Firms to Google Him. Puts nude selfie on Facebook"
• MSN, "Law school grad bemoans job search, flaunts toned arms in cover letter"
• And even The Mail Online, the website of London's Daily Mail tabloid, "That's one way to bulk up your résumé!"
Some are getting the story wrong or at least misunderstanding it, Zulberti said.
"I never sent any pictures in my underwear to employers," he said. "I sent a picture in a muscle shirt. I will allow others to debate whether or not that was appropriate."
He said he already has talked to one Philadelphia radio show and has been invited to appear on The Steve Harvey Show.
The American Bar Association Journal website pointed to Zulberti's story as a cautionary tale both about the desperate job market, particularly for would-be lawyers, and the dangers of over-sharing on social media. Tuition and fees at Villanova Law School for the 2012-13 school year was $38,910, according to the Pennsylvania university's website.
But Zulberti said as far as he is concerned he sees no moral to the story.
Zulberti said he didn't intend to set off a social media firestorm. But now that it has arrived he is going to milk it, and enjoy it, for all it's worth.
"I went from being a guy with no job to a guy with no job on TV," he said with a laugh, sitting in his father's home where he lives.
In a YouTube response to Above the Law, Zulberti said while he initially felt the blog item was "rather insulting" and mean, the author also called him "a young stud."
"So it balances out," he said in the video, which has received nearly 10,000 views.
And through all the craziness, Zulberti has defiantly kept his Facebook page public and has continued to post provocative pictures of himself. Zulberti said to turn on privacy filters at this point would be to change who he is.
"I am the guy who takes pictures of himself in his underwear," he said, adding he thinks the images are funny and lawyers should be allowed a sense of humor.
"There is something to be said for being true to one's self in a job search," DiBianca said, but she added that people looking for a job have to be concerned about being a cultural fit with their employer. Reputation is an important part of being an lawyer. "And this does not come off professionally, to say the least.
"You have to keep client matters confidential," she said. "And he doesn't seem to understand the boundaries or lines of confidentiality very well."
Despite the largely negative online and media attention he's received, Zulberti said the job search is going well. He has received several invitations to submit his résumé, and one interview he had Friday went so well that he is hopeful it will lead to a job offer.
Zulberti said he recognizes that "the social media death hammer" ultimately may crush his legal dreams but hopes people judge him on his legal abilities and not Facebook pics of his pecs.
"All I need is one job," Zulberti said, even if 9,999 out of 10,000 potential employers don't like him. If he gets that job, he said he will have the last laugh.
"I feel I could be a very good attorney some day," he said.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Court overturns passport law implying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem
By Ann E. Marimow
A federal appeals court Tuesday found unconstitutional a law that gives thousands of Americans born in Jerusalem the option of listing Israel as their birthplace on U.S. passports.
In a separation-of-powers dispute centered on Middle East politics, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the law passed by Congress in 2002 “impermissibly intrudes” on the powers of the president.
“While the president’s foreign affairs powers are not precisely defined, the courts have long recognized the president’s presumptive dominance in matters abroad,” Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson wrote in a 42-page opinion.
At issue is a provision of a 2002 foreign-relations act that challenged the U.S. policy of neutrality over the sovereignty of Jerusalem, a holy city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians. The law allowed Jerusalem-born Americans to request that official documents list their birthplace as Israel.
Because of U.S. foreign policy regarding Jerusalem, the State Department — under Republican and Democratic administrations — has refused to follow Congress’s direction.
“Congress plainly intended to force the State Department to deviate from its decades-long position of neutrality on what nation or government, if any, is sovereign over Jerusalem,” Henderson wrote. She was joined by judges Judith W. Rogers and David S. Tatel, who also wrote a concurring opinion.
The case, which reached the Supreme Court in 2011, was brought by Ari and Naomi Zivotofsky, U.S. citizens whose son Menachem Binyamin was born in Jerusalem in 2002. The couple want their son’s passport to say he was born in Israel.
Zivotofsky attorney Nathan Lewin argued that the legislation “simply and neutrally” regulated the form and content of the passport.
Lewin said in a statement Tuesday that the “difficult case” calls for resolution by the Supreme Court. He described the State Department’s passport policy as an “isolated holdout, denying what is universally acknowledged, to the detriment of a right that a duly enacted law gives to American citizens.”
The Zivotofskys’ attorneys noted in court filings that the State Department has acknowledged inadvertently issuing passports with Israel as the birthplace to citizens born in Jerusalem and that there had been no harm done to U.S. foreign policy interests.
But the court said it found compelling the State Department’s position that the “reversal of United States policy” could “provoke uproar throughout the Arab and Muslim world and seriously damage our relations.”
The court’s opinion cited submissions from the department that argued the law “runs headlong into a carefully calibrated and long-standing executive branch policy of neutrality toward Jerusalem.”
Since Israel’s creation in 1948, Henderson wrote, U.S. presidents have “steadfastly declined to recognize any foreign nation’s sovereignty over that city.” The executive branch has made clear that the status of Jerusalem must be decided not unilaterally by the United States but by all the relevant parties.
In March 2012, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the D.C. Circuit, ruling in an 8 to 1 decision that the lower court could rule on the constitutionality of the law. The appeals court had earlier dismissed the case, writing that it posed a political question beyond the scope of the court’s authority.