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Topics - BoscoBreaux

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Studying for the LSAT / Test Harder? Practice tests?
« on: June 26, 2005, 11:09:23 AM »
Congratulations to all who took and survived the test.

There are two questions/rants which seem to be floating about which probably should be dispelled.

Question: Did you get screwed by the scaled score?
     NO. It simply means that the test, compared to others administered, was easier. So, they had to be really strict about
             what they considered to be a 152, a 158, a 165, etc. Enough on that point.

RESPONSE:  But the test had to be harder, because my practices were 162-168, and I got a 158!

Apples and Oranges. When you take a practice test, you have no peformance sapping stress. Yet, when you scale your
score on your practice test, you are comparing your performance not to others in your situation, but rather, in a much different situation: they had to take the test not only with real stress, but with perhaps more stress than any test they will ever take in thier lives.
(Just imagine if you were competing with Lance Armstrong in a bike race. Who would win? It depends--if Lance Armstrong was violently ill, or so intoxicated that he could barely move, you'd win hands down!)

There are two types of stress: performance enhancing and performance sapping. The sort of stress on such tests are of the latter variety, and has been proven to be debilitating even more than most persons think.

So, it is not uncommon to score 2,3,5,6 points LOWER on the actual test than on the practices. Now, that isn't to suggest that you can't duplicate the score on your practices on the real test, or even do better on the "real deal." But, if you did better or as good with the added pressures of stress, just imagine what you would have gotten if it was a practice test!

Choosing the Right Law School / Teaching Quality at Schools?
« on: March 14, 2005, 01:59:55 PM »
Is anyone else concerned about the quality of education one is going to receive during law school? There are plenty of statistical surveys, including the infamous USNWR ranking system and EQR, but has anyone been able to come up with a valid survey of the quality of teaching at schools, where persons have actually sat in on classes and evaluated the curriculum? I remember during undergraduate school, the so called “elite professors” rarely taught classes, and when they did, they didn’t even grade the papers. The classes were huge, and while they may be brilliant in their fields, they were LOUSY teachers. On the other hand, some of the best instructors I have had were not even full professors!
Some schools, like Harvard and NYU, have so much money (NYU has a real estate empire) and can skew numbers by “hiring for citations,” with no real intention of them ever passing on knowledge to even one student. The reason I ask is because some of us would like to learn, and wouldn’t be happy if tomorrow someone handed me a Yale Law Degree and a BigLaw firm job.

BTW, it occurred to me that USNWR rankings are a lot like the Academy Awards in film: 3/4 of the persons who vote have not even seen most of the movies on which they are evaluating.
If you were to ask someone why Yale is a good law school, even a Judge, your more likely to get a “well, everyone says it is a good school” response. Or, oddly enough, they quote USNWR’s rankings, which are supposed to reflect reality, not create it.

Incoming 1Ls / Supplements anyone?
« on: March 08, 2005, 08:59:19 PM »
  Has anyone decided whether they plan on using supplements, and if so, which ones? I've read conflicting information, from "Never, NEVER, even consider using them since it will defeat the purpose of building legal reasoning skills" to "My God, don't ever consider NOT buying commercial supplements to make sure you are on track."
I heard Hornbooks are so important that even judges use them.
I've also heard not to buy them because you won't have time to even consult them.
I've read  that a student never consult more than one supplement, to get all that you can find!

Ugh. What do you say guys?

Choosing the Right Law School / Reality check on salaries
« on: March 02, 2005, 09:43:39 AM »
  I certainly hope everyone gets the job they want after being graduated from law school, and if making a high salary is your goal, I wish you the best.
That having been said, I think that many persons are being a bit unrealistic in terms of their future career.
  The average experienced lawyer in the U.S. makes approximately $90,000.00 per year. Roughly half of those persons who take the LSAT with intentions of going to law school don't attend. Of those who do attend, over half of those will make $90,000.00 per year or less. Now, I wouldn't argue that $90K per year is a low salary by any standard, but when you factor in school loans, it isn't a life of luxury; those persons who entered law to become rich are likely to be very disappointed in their career. I never found anyone who has found value in working BigLaw, other than the salary. Perhaps making a billionaire another half million, or helping a chemical company avoid being sued for poisoning a nearby water supply is rewarding for some, but not many. If that doesn't bother you, you love the challenge of high-stakes work, and making a lot of money and having the status of a Big City lawyer is sufficient to make you happy, then obsessing over it may be useful, provided you have the grades to get such a job.
  Of course, many on this board throw around the average starting salariee for top 15 schools, or those for the general counsel of Pfizer. That can be helpful to some, but that is like throwing around the average salary of a professional baseball playing to high school students who are contemplating taking a baseball scholarship for their freshman year. Very few of them will actually make the majors, and if they didn't love baseball, they would be wasting their time.
 Similarly, of those who take the LSAT, about 5% of them can get into top 15 schools. If you get into a top 15 school, great, you have a shot at BigLaw, but we are talking about 8% of persons who will go to law school next year. If you can't get into such schools,, it is likely that unless you make law review (roughly top 10 percent), you aren't going to make $125K starting. (Incidentally, when you make $125K in NYC or LA, that is equivalent to $75K elsewhere, and when you factor your 70-80 hour work week, your making less than the average union pastry chef per hour.)
  I understand fully the lure of making a lot of money. But if that is your motivation for going to law school, you probably should become a real estate agent and just forget the whole law bag. The obsession with BigLaw salaries is disheartening. If you would take the job for half the salary, then you know that is for you. Otherwise, your only doing it for the money, the lure of which will wear off very quickly.
...Just a thought, sandwiched between talk of whether Covington & Burling's second year associate salary is higher than McCarter & English's.

Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / Berkeley (Boalt) Visit
« on: February 26, 2005, 05:43:29 PM »
  What a disappointment!  I don't know where to begin.
I'll start small and work my way up. First, the building, Boalt Hall. Now, I am coming from state school stock, so I don't have any delusions--state schools frequently suffer from funding problems, and maintenence frequently suffers. Further, I had read the reports of other visitors, all of whom universally held the building in low regard. I thought they were being melodramatic. In reality, they were understating just how awful the building is!  The bathrooms resemble that which you'd find at a rest stop, or a bus station in a midwestern city, and not a top law school (or even a bad one for that matter). 
The campus. The best  thing that can be said about the campus is that the buildings on the campus reside in a very lovely, park-like setting. In fact, there few areas with grass there because the trees block out the sun so much. So, lots of ivy--makes me think of Harvard, except there the ivy runs along buildings and not the ground. Unfortunately, the buildings don't add much to the setting. Think concrete, grey, and aged. I'd call the design of buildings on the campus as "Middle Ukrainian Miscellaneous." There's everything from what looked like a little Swiss chalet, to what can only be described as "a concrete block with windows."
Berkeley, the city. It's a progressive city, and it is kinda hip in Greenwich Village of the 1970s sort of way. Plenty of inexpensive little restaurants are available. The only problem is you have to cliimb over the homeless people to get there. Actually, I'm used to the Bay Area homeless community. After all, if you are homeless, why not be homeless where the climate is mild and the people are understanding? Actually, there weren't any more homeless persons, per square mile, then are in most other cities, and they tend to keep to themselves pretty well; that is, they don't aggressively panhandle. But if you're not progressive, you probably won't be happy in either Berkeley or Boalt.
One goes to law school to get a legal education, and other than perhaps for picky architecture students, what a school looks like shouldn't really matter. But, that having been said, there are other concerns.  Boalt now has a difficult time attaining good new professors. The reason: they can't offer what private schools of similar quality can offer. Bad facilities, relatively low pay, and the looming threat of budget cutbacks hover over the school so much the Dean has even called for a word that is about as unwelcome in Berkeley as the term "Christian Coalition Republican." There is talk of "privatizing" the law school.  How Berkeley's budgeting goes, and whether privitization occurs, will determine where Boalt Hall finds itself in the rankings.

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