Law School Discussion

I want to be a...

I want to be a...
« on: January 14, 2013, 09:41:59 PM »
Hello, before anyone replies about over saturated job market and T-14 attending only, Please read the information below:

I am currently an undergrad student studying finance at a very recognizable school in NYC. I have various banking/accounting internship exposure and a GPA that fluctuates between 3.6 and 3.7.

I DO NOT know how my LSAT looks like because I have never taken a practice test or real test. However I practice timing section 1-2 per day. If it helps my score overall fluctuates between 149-158 for now.

I have my mind set on attending law school after college. However I will not be doing so for the big law position straight out of school. I am very interested in obtaining either a judicial clerkship or getting a job as a prosecutor right after graduating from law school.

Can anyone advise what would be good steps for me to take in order to make that dream come true? I have looked at Brooklyn law, Seton Hall, Rutgers Newark that report amazing clerkship and public service(not to be confused with public interest)placements; However I find more and more posts during my research on the internet that constantly "*&^%" for the lack of a better word, on these schools. Plus recent employment stats of only 73% in Brooklyn law are scary to look at as well.

Can anyone recommend any schools that are very well known for placing their students into public service/judicial clerkships upon graduation? Preferable states where I would like to practice law once are graduate include, but not- limited to: New York, New Jersey, Pensylvania, Illinois, Massachusets and California.

Thank you in advance and apologeze for any confusion caused

Re: I want to be a...
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2013, 08:43:08 AM »
I am very interested in obtaining either a judicial clerkship or getting a job as a prosecutor right after graduating from law school.

I don't have any personal experience with either the NYC market or the schools you're referring to, but I can offer some general observations.

Judicial clerkships are very competitive, and usually go to people who were top 10-20%, on law review, and maybe did a judicial internship during law school. There are only a handful of clerkships compared to the number of law grads who would like to obtain them, and you'd definitely be competing against the NYU/Columbia/Cornell crowd as well as top students from the other local T2-T4 schools. That doesn't mean you can't do it, just understand that it's highly competitive. 

As far as the prosecutor's office, check to see if they're still doing any real hiring. State and local government budgets have been hit very hard the last few years, and many prosecutor's nd public defender's offices simply aren't hiring. The best bet for maximizing your chances at getting hired is to intern at the prosecutor's office during law school. Making personal connections in incredibly important, and will go a long way towards landing a job later. Take all of the crimlaw/crimpro classes you can, do well, and try to squeeze in some trial advocacy classes. Even if you can't get an internship, volunteer at the D.A.'s.

Generally, I think you should go to law in the area in which you want to live (unless you're attending an elite, nationally recognized school). If you want to live in California, for example, you'd be much better off going to school in LA or SF than NY. At most schools the post-grad employment opportunities, alumni network, and reputation are going to be local or regional. It's very difficult to show up in a new city after law school and to compete with the local talent for jobs. All of the schools you're looking at have good local reputations, and will offer the best opportunities within their immediate geographic region.

Lastly, view any law schools' post-grad employment and placement data with a skeptical eye. Law schools will sometimes include unpaid positions, non-legal positions, etc. Frankly, I'd be surprised if any school was acheiving "amazing" public service placement right now, since many government offices are laying people off. Call the school, ask how old the data is, whether that includes unpaid positions, etc. Set your BS detector to "stun" when you view this information.


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Re: I want to be a...
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2013, 09:42:11 AM »

Not all clerkships are created equal.  If you are hoping for a federal clerkship or a clerkship with a state appellate court, you will face an uphill battle.  However, district court clerkships at the state level are abundant.  That said, I applied for a state court clerkship and learned they received over 100 applications.  (Small state).

I have four friends from law school who became prosecutors after law school.  Each of them essentially took the same road: 1L Summer: Some type of externship for school credit at a courthouse or prosecutors office; 2L Summer: Low-paying hourly internship at a prosecutors office (they all were able to handle a full caseload, including jury trials); wait around fora  few months after graduation until a spot opens up.

The New York market is so very saturated, but you'll still have a fighting chance out of the schools you mentioned.   The best thing you can do is begin to cultivate relationships with attorneys at prosecutors' offices.  Ask them what they are looking for and what you can do to improve your chances. 

Above all, try to avoid debt as much as possible.  Unless a prosecutor tells you that you need to go to a more expensive school, take the best scholarship you can get.   Outside of biglaw and midlaw, school prestige isn't required (though it certainly can help.)

Re: I want to be a...
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2013, 09:31:44 PM »
Well first off realize that most people that spend time knocking things anonymously on the internet are really not worth listening to and realistically anything you read on boards such as this or others coming from anonymous internet posters myself included should be taken with a grain of salt. Michael Scott gives a good explanation of why that is true a little humor for you.

In regards to the specific situation if you want to be a prosecutor in New York I think CUNY is your best bet. They are one of the few schools that offer in-state tuition and as Jack mentioned the best thing you can do is get out of law school with minimal debt. CUNY is only about 10,000 per year or so and you don't have to worry about scholarship conditions.

There are also other factors to consider when choosing a law school and I have posted these factors in other threads in more detail, but my two cents is these are the factors you should consider (1) Location (2) Cost (3) Personal Feelings about the school (4) The reality of legal education & specialty programs. (5) U.S. News Rankings as a tie breaker these is something to consider, but don't let a for-profit, unregulated magazine, be the basis of a life altering decision. 

Another thing I think you should also realize many of the numbers produce from law schools are not very in depth and should not really be considered. Employed what does that really mean furthermore the reality is a reason for a lot of people not obtaining employment is not passing the bar, which many people even from Harvard don't do the first time around. As Jack mentioned Federal Clerkships will be damn near impossible to get, but to be a D.A. in some county somewhere if that is your goal and you pass the bar it can certainly happen.

Here are the reasons why the factors I mentioned above should be considered.

As others have stated and you seem to realize it is extremly important you go to law school in the area you want to live in after graduation. Law school is three years of your professional life and during that time you will likely make many friends, enter into a romantic relationship, get an apartment you like, and more importantly most of the internships etc you obtain will be in the area you attend law school.

This is extremly important and the best thing to do is get out with as little debt as possible. State schools offer that and I know CUNY in New York, Florida International in Miami, Univeristy of North Dakota, University of South Dakota, Wyoming, and a few others are less than 12k per year.

You may also get a huge scholarship from various other schools, but pay attention to the conditions on these often they will require you to obtain a 3.0 at the end of your first year and almost anyone that is offered a scholarship at an ABA school likely could get a 3.0 in college with minimal effort, but that is not the way law school works because of the curve. Generally speaking only 35% of the class can have a 3.0 at the end of first year and believe me 100% of people on the first day of law school are convinced they will be in the top 10% of the class, but as a finance major I imagine you can do the math and see what happens when 100% of people think they will be in the top 10%. If you lose that scholarship then you pay full price for years 2 and 3 which can be a lot I think Brooklyn for example if 40k or so per year so just be wary of any conditions on scholarships you recieve.

3) Personal Feelings about the school
I was accepted to numerous schools and visited them all prior to attending there were some I liked some I didn't and those were my personal feelings. You should visit all these schools and see the facilities, talk to professors, talk to the students, just get a sense of the place and see if it is a fit for you. This is very important because nobody knows what you like better than yourself. So make sure the school is a fit for you personally.

4) Reality of Legal Education & Speciality Programs
Every ABA law school teaches you the same exact thing first year is Torts, Civil Procedure, Property, Contracts, Criminal Law, and Constitutional Law. You will probably get use the Contracts book written by Eptsein a The Con Law Book written by Chemerinsky etc and in Torts you will read the Palsgraff Case, Civil Procedure Pennoyver v. Neff etc and what you learn will be the same.

You want to be in Public Interest and there are some schools that specailze in that, but realistically as a lawyer I still don't necessarily know what specializing in public interest means. They might have clinics etc, but to be a D.A. the best thing to do would be mock trial competitions so I might check out what schools are active in mock trial competitions, because that is some of the best stuff you can do in law school if you want to be a litigator.

5) U.S. News
So many 0L's take these way to seriously and don't realize it is a magazine offering an opinion nothing more. U.S. News also ranks Alberquue New Mexico as the best place to live, but you wouldn't move to New Mexico just because U.S. News says to. There may be numerous reasons for this ranking New Mexico might be a great place, but I am not going to make a life altering decision such as moving there because U.S. News said so. The same logic should apply when choosing a law school consider the rankings, but make it a minimal priority.

Knowing nothing about you other than a few paragraphs on the internet I think CUNY would be the best school, but I know nothing about you and I certainly couldn't say what is best for you and neither can any other anonymous internet poster. 

Also you are only in undergrad it sounds like your grades are good, but next is the LSAT before really considering any law schools I would take that test and see what your options are. You can think about different options all day and night, but until you have an LSAT score you don't really know what your options are.