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Messages - kipford

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Current Law Students / Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« on: November 16, 2009, 04:32:13 PM »
Perhaps as an aside, I think using supplements as the primary source is dangerous in the long term.  I understand how it can help one get through law school, but when you get into the job market you will probably have to know how to read cases.  I actually think that the primary purpose of law school is learning this exact skill.  BarBri teaches you the state law before the bar, law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer.  If you are just reading a summary of the black letter law I'm not sure you are getting this skill.

FWIW, I use supplements very little.  I usually buy one or two for a class, but really only use them when making my own outline.  Other than a class I took pass/fail, I have read every page and case that has been assigned to me.  I also was one of a pretty small percentage of people who got a job offer following my 2L job this last summer (Vault 100 firm).  I think being able to read cases (and often a lot of them) and understand what was important in them without having a supplement was critical in my success.

I hope this doesn't sound smarmy, that is not my intention.  It is just a word of caution since actually getting a job (not just a summer associate gig) is the goal for most law students.

Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there...

Current Law Students / Re: lack of motivation in 2L
« on: October 26, 2008, 06:15:44 AM »
I think there are a couple of factors (in my experience at least) that lead to the malaise.

Law school is kind of like a triathlon where only the first portion really counts.  Its kind of like they declare a winner after you finish the first leg (i.e. you (hopefully) get a S.A. gig) and then expect the motivation to be the same.  I know I'm still trying to do my best-but its mostly because of interest/pride/etc. rather than the overwhelming fear of what will happen if I bomb out.

I was terrified as a 1L of not finishing the reading for class.  During the interview process I gave up a lot of my out of class time (I scheduled them around not missing class) so there was no way to keep up on the reading some weeks.  The world didn't end.  I only interviewed locally but it was still enough of a drag on my time that I've got chunks of class work to make up in the next few weeks.  For those that had lots of interviews, and and to travel for them I'm sure it's compounded.

Law review.  For those "fortunate" enough to make it onto law review, this may be the single most malaise inspiring accomplishment you can achieve.  There is nothing like spending 30 hours (often crammed into the two days before they are due) in an already full week doing verifications when you have normal class work, make up class work (see above), etc.  I don't think I really complained about anything as a 1L.  When verifications are due I do nothing but complain.  Pretty much nothing is gained by this time (unlike learning about substantive law).  Sometimes I feel like Law Review's entire purpose is to take away top student's time/energy so that we move down in the rankings and other people can creep into the top ten and have a better shot at top jobs as 3L's (no, I don't actually BELIEVE this, but the thought goes through my mind from time to time...).

All of this goes to pretty much destroy the work-life balance that is quite possible as a 1L.  Half of the law review members were in the office or the library Friday night working on verifications.  A bunch of us have a major writing assignment for a class due today.  Our note drafts are due next week (the consensus seems to be that little work as been done on these because of everything else).

I guess that is my long winded way of saying that there is just a LOT more to do as a 2L, that the motivation is not the same (fear) and that the things that keep you grounded (a life outside of school) get lessened.

Of course I'm taking the time to write this out, so maybe the time constraints are not so bad.  ;)

Job Search / Re: 7 callbacks, 6 rejections
« on: October 21, 2008, 07:07:39 AM »
Lower ranked firms rejected me. Place I will probably work is higher ranked. It's weird. Maybe the firms like uptight people and you don't fit in? It sucks, but what are you going to do? Keep trying. I know the rejections screw with your head a little bit, but just remember it is nothing personal.

Yeah, I definitely saw that as well.  I only applied for jobs in my city, but here is the breakdown of my failure/success:

Screening interviews: 100%
Callback from screening interviews:  Vault 100: 66%; Non-Vault 100:  30%
Offers from callbacks:  Vault 100:  100%; Non-Vault 100:  0% (I also canceled one of the non-Vault 100 callbacks).

Not sure what it says, but it's interesting.  In the end I'm ecstatic with where I am going but there was certainly some "what's wrong with me" thoughts going through my head through the process.  I should point out that I'm also a non-traditional student (mid 30s) which may have played a role.  FWIW I'm on Law Review, top 2% at a T2, and did a federal externship last summer.

Current Law Students / Re: Why is Cooley Law so despised?
« on: October 16, 2008, 04:33:54 AM »

 You learn what you know by serving clients. I can't imagine that law is drastically different.

I don't think this is quite true.  I worked for a judge last summer and saw huge differences in the quality of work on different cases.  This may sound like I'm shilling for biglaw or something, but the large firms did vastly superior work.  This was a big consideration (besides, you know, the money...) when I applied for jobs over the summer.  I don't think anyone will dispute that there are terrific lawyers coming out of Cooley and other lower ranked schools, but come on-does anyone REALLY think that Cooley and, say, Michigan are comparable?  If you knew that your life, liberty or property were on the line and I said I can get you a lawyer (cost being no object)-do you want someone who graduated from Michigan or from Cooley?  How many would really pick Cooley?  Maybe we should run a poll on that?

Also, I think most (all?) schools require that their professors worked in the real world before getting hired as faculty.  I know my school has a requirement of 5 years in practice before they will be considered.  Many of them still do some practice on the side as well.

Job Search / Re: 2 callbacks and 2 rejections, why?
« on: September 28, 2008, 05:26:24 AM »
At this point probably the thing to hope for is just not to get a rejection.  That means that they want you there, just that they can't make an offer, at least yet.  I talk to my classmates about job stuff, probably more than I should (for my own sanity), and I knew that significant numbers of offers had already gone out to people before I even interviewed at some firms.  The callback that I did earliest I got an offer.  The one I think went the worst I got dinged a few days later.  I'm waiting on two others (although I will be accepting my offer this week).

Theoretically it shouldn't matter when you have your interview but I think it clearly does, at least in this market.  If you are a 1L take the earliest date you can get next year.  I scheduled around classes which I believe made me less competitive.  Luckily my offer is at my first choice anyway, but I am really glad that I scheduled them early.

That said, if my school is any indication there are some rockstars that will get a ton of callbacks and offers.  They can only go to one firm.  Once they make their decision there will be other offers made.  So, like I said, I think that silence is probably about the most positive thing to hear at this point.  Don't firms interview at top schools first and work their way down?  This would fit in to the way I think things are working...

Current Law Students / Re: Why is Cooley Law so despised?
« on: September 22, 2008, 04:59:35 AM »
Having done Tier 3 and T14 (transfer), the answer in terms of actual quality is all about norms/aberrations.

At the T3/T4, the well-informed and insightful student is the aberration.  The student struggling to answer a professor's questions cogently, fumbling through the case and possibly not having entirely done the reading is the norm.

At the T14, the well-prepared kid is the norm and the other is the aberration.

The same holds true for professors -- my T3 had a handful of 'good' professors that everyone wanted to take and more than one widely regarded as awful, the T14 only has a couple of professors with a bad reputation.

So yes, there is some difference in actual quality in terms of how most people are being educated at the school. But this question has never been about actual quality, the high-ranking JD is about perceived quality that will sell to law firms, judges, the layman (who pays your bills) and everything else.

Which was the point I was trying to make.  It also means that professors can probably work at a higher level knowing that most students are prepared and ready with their A game.  While not law school, the following my be indicative.  Before law school I went to a low ranked graduate school for political science.  I enjoyed it and felt like I learned a lot.  I also talked to my cousin, who was an undergraduate at an Ivy League school, and he was basically learning the same things.  At my school there were outstanding students and there were ones that kept taking up class time asking questions becasue they didn't understand the basic material.  At the "better" the professor could have whipped through that material much faster and we would have learned more.  Does this mean every professor at elite schools does this, or that there are never students that force a slow down there? No, but it does mean that it is less common.

Trust me, I'm not saying that everyone at schools ranked below me is worse than me.  I'm saying that given the option to go to an law school for free I would pick one of the top ones.

I'm also curious (honestly) about the perceived vs. reality issue.  On the one hand you would think that in a market system, especially a tight market as it is now, the law firms that hired the best law students, especially if they were cheaper, would come out ahead.  On the other hand I'll bet clients are interested in presteige and are more likely to go to a firm that has a bunch of T14 lawyers than one that does not (i.e. that perceived quality, rather than actual quality, does drive the market).

As far as the biglaw misery:  I hope your description isn't accurate, but assuming my summer offer turns into a permanent one, I'll be able to pay off my debt (including graduate school loans and the mortgage on the house).  I'm a non traditional studen (36, married, baby on the way) so my need to make money is probably more critical than most.  It is not about getting a boat or anything, but about creating security for my family.  If they want to stick me in a basement office and make me do document review for 70 hours a week I may not be thrilled, but I'll do it, because that's what I have to do to give my family a good life and security.

I'm not saying I'm better than anyone because I have this option.  In some ways I'm worse-I'm in a situation where my options are actually more limited because I can't financially take a job with legal aid, for example.

Current Law Students / Re: Why is Cooley Law so despised?
« on: September 21, 2008, 09:12:02 PM »
Maybe I am just naive, but I know I want to help people. I know I won't do anything for money, and I know where my blizzard line stands. I also know that because of my work ethic and drive I will only be beaten in court by you snotty high brow, I'm better than everyone T1 grads only if your case is more meritorious than mine, and not because you are any better than me or the school I graduated from.

We are community of brothers and sisters who all went through the same struggles. Let's all act like adults and give respect to all of us who are a part of that community. And if you went to a top 5 or top 10 school then be proud, I know I'm impressed when I meet you, but don't be so naive to think that you're better than a Cooley grad just because of your LSAT score or where you attended law school.

Were that it were so.  While inexact indicators of professional achievement down the road, LSAT and undergrad GPA values do have some correlation to intelligence and ability to think like a lawyer, at least on average.  I only have experience at my T2 school, but I'm guessing that the average input that is given by students at Yale is superior to that given by an average student at my school, and that the average input given by a student at my school is superior to that given by an average student at Cooley.  I'm sure there are some superstars at lower ranked schools, but you are not going to get the same kind of consistent insight in class, in discussions, in study groups.  That will create an inferior educational experience.  Sorry, that's just the way it is.

Plus, in the real world many of the kids at the top schools will go to big law firms.  So will some at schools like mine (I've got an offer at a V100 firm I'm almost certain to take).  Few from Cooley will (maybe the top few students in the entire class).  Going to a top firm will push us to be better.  We will have superior mentoring (in virtually all instances) and there will be higher expectations.  Perhaps more importantly, we will have better resources.  No matter how brilliant and hard working you are, you will probably only be able to do one or two finely crafted Lexis searches for relevant case law.  The biglaw lawyers you are up against (in your hypo) will be able to do what it takes to get as much research as needed (internal memos on many areas of the law, much more liberal use of Westlaw, etc.).  It may not be fair, but it is how it is.

Yes, I know that there are outstanding lawyers that are not working in big firms, just as I'm sure there are outstanding law students at Cooley.  However, on balance it's pretty overwhelming.  I know where I would rather be (and will be...).  I also know who I would hire if I needed good representation.

And, to be honest, maybe some people are rubbed the wrong way by Cooley students who take the attitude that Cooley is just as good as anywhere else.  I'm under no illusion that my school is as good as Yale, much as I love it.  Sure there are students who can compete with the students from top schools (and we had a few that transferred to T14 schools) but on average it is not the same.  If it was wouldn't Cooley grads be in the running for the top jobs in the same percentage as Yale grads?  I mean law firms are not stupid-if they could get the same caliber student from Cooley as they can from Yale they would-because they would be a LOT cheaper.  The fact that they don't is pretty damning evidence.

I hope this didn't come off as harsh...

Current Law Students / When does NALP update?
« on: September 17, 2008, 08:25:55 PM »
Does anyone know when the NALP directory updates?  I know that some firms are including the weekly salary for next summer's SA in their offer letters but NALP is still reporting the 2008 data (which in at least one case is outdated). 


Is the firm part of NALP?  My understanding is that they are bound by the 45 day rule if they are.  If they are not part of NALP then the 45 day rule is probably of no relevance.

Current Law Students / Re: In the current downturn in the legal market
« on: September 16, 2008, 03:18:24 PM »
At this point I don't see how it is anything but the class of 2009. 

It's not as simple as having made $30k over the summer.  Many jobs (certainly Biglaw, but I would think others too) hire virtually all of their non lateral hires as 2L summer associates.  Plus, by the time offers are (not) made, it's too late to sign up for OCI, etc. 

Hopefully (I'm class of 2010) the decisions made for next summer are in line with who they actually will hire full time.  If you put me behind a Rawlsian veil of ignorance and asked me if I wanted to have the option of getting a better SA spot with a 10% or greater change of not getting an offer (based entirely on the economy) or getting a worse offer but where a permanent position is mine to lose, I'd take the latter any day.

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