Law School Discussion

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Messages - aryeal

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11
General Board / Re: Working first year: terrible idea or possible?
« on: July 08, 2005, 08:35:20 PM »
5-10 hours in a job you can walk away from may work out fine.  For financial reasons, I kept my paralegal job and cut back to 20 hours.  And, yes it hurt me grade-wise although I pretty much expected the result.  In my line of work as the "case manager" I actually put in more than 20 hours monitoring my email and answering phone calls, etc. 

This term we've restructured to the better.  We hired a legal assistant who is a DOLL and really knows her stuff (we had a disaster working for us the first year).  I can now unplug when I leave.  Also, in the first year I had classes scheduled each day and had to work on top of going to class every day.  I was left with the weekends only to study and was pretty much exhausted and stressed out. This fall I have class three days a week and I will spend two days at the office (plus two hours one morning before class).

Oh yeah, and I took out private loan money so I can cut back a couple hours a week if needed.  Love it now, will hate it later!

The only reason I wasn't totally freaked at the propect of having less than stellar grades the first year is because I had my summer job lined up (continuing my present position full time).  This would have been a serious situation had I been depending on my 1L grades for a summer internship.

Give it a shot.  You'll have a good idea a couple months in whether it's working and plenty of time to recoup any time you've lost.  Good luck. 

12
General Board / Re: Reading/Briefing or Commercial Study Aids???
« on: July 08, 2005, 08:26:15 PM »
Again, thanks for the advice.  Would you mind giving us/me a rough idea of how you ended up placing in your class and what type of school you go to (T1, 2, 3, or 4)?

T3 although I should qualify that by saying it dumped in the Tier system because it built a new law school and went through a phase of lowering admission standards to pay for the freakin' building.  As a result, the bar passage rates sunk dismally.

I have no idea of my exact placement - didn't really want to go there LOL!  I'd say in the middle of the pack.

Actually I should qualify my opinion on study aids with it depends on the person.   I learn better by working with material on my own and teaching myself.  Some people do fine with more use of study aids.  I think the best approach is to try what feels right and see how the first batch of tests goes (assuming there are mini exams or mid-terms). 

13
Studying and Exam Taking / Re: Outlining...
« on: July 08, 2005, 10:15:50 AM »
Working on outlines every week is a must in my opinion.  I put off outlining until I was preparing for finals and my grades were mediocre.  My reaction time on exams was slower than it should have been because I didn't have data firmly entrenched in my brain. This year it's a whole new ballgame.

 

14
General Board / Re: Reading/Briefing or Commercial Study Aids???
« on: July 08, 2005, 10:11:48 AM »
I bought commercial outlines out of sheer panic and then hardly looked at them!  Crunchtimes are nice for supplementing outlines, but not necessary.  I used commercial briefs occasionally - particularly in ConLaw when the cases were just out of sight long.  However, I always read the cases first and worked my way through.  The commercial briefs in all honesty were only cracked when I was behind on reading.

My conclusion - no study aids next year because in the big picture I hardly used them.  If I'm wrestling with a particular issue that's frying my brain, I can always look at one of the reserve supplements in the library.  But, struggling with the cases on my own is the very best approach.


15
General Board / Re: What do you use your laptop for?
« on: July 08, 2005, 10:02:26 AM »
I find my laptop most useful for profs that use slide presentations and move along quickly.  Most profs will post their slides, but I find typing out the notes myself works much better than staring at a slide because it keeps me engaged.  It's also very nice when a prof sneeks in a quick comment like "attend yourselves to note 50 on page 454" and then moves on without batting an eye.

Also, for outlining I love my laptop.  However, I can't say that I love using any "automatic" outlining software.  I usually do my outlines without any "help" from the horrors of Word's crappy outlining feature.   I usually create one huge comprehensive outline, one medium sized outline, and finally a mini-outline. 

Definitely get one as light as you can afford with tons of battery time.  Wireless is a must.  I work on my research papers with my junk piled around me on a table as opposed to squeezing into a spot in the computer lab.


16
General Board / Re: Family Law
« on: July 08, 2005, 09:54:47 AM »
Where do you work if you do family law? Is it possible to work in a firm? And is the salary really as low as they say?

I'm sorry, I haven't been here in a while and missed your question.

I work in a firm for a partner who created the family law practice herself in the firm.  Unfortunately, I don't know much about salaries.  I can say that I've noticed a lot of small firms that seem to do very well.  There are also some BigLaw firms that have family law practice groups.

For a sole practicioner it can be tough because collections can be a problem.  Splitting up the finances from one household to two creates a strain and the attorneys are always the last to be paid.  Plus, angry clients can be difficulty with collections because very often what the client wants they can't get (as in blood drawn or the person completely out of their life when they share children).

My advice would be to check out some of the BigLaw firms in the locations you want to practice in to see if they have partners who practice FL or practice groups for FL. And don't discount to boutique firms - sometimes the salaries and chances for advancement at those smaller firms are better than BigLaw.

17
General Board / Re: Do you hate law?
« on: June 22, 2005, 10:02:29 AM »
It took me twenty years to decide to go to law school after working as a paralegal for that long.  Here's the deal:

1.  You will work very, very hard.  Your life will be dictated by billable hour requirements and deadlines on your calendar.  You will have to sacrifice a lot.

2.  Your clients will at times turn on you because you are often the messenger of bad tidings.

3.  You will hold the lives of your clients in your hands (financial lives most of the time).  The responsibility will keep you awake at night.

My opinion on the key to happiness for a lawyer is twofold - organization and discipline.  Know ahead of time that 10-12 hour days and weekends are part of the package.  On the other hand, don't get sucked into making your work life your LIFE.  Get some downtime.  Learn to say "no".  The word "no" will be hard to get out of your mouth at times because you'll be convinced that your entire career depends on taking on more work than you can ever accomplish. 

The lawyers I've met who regretted their decisions started out with the erroneous assumption they would work banker's hours and wear pretty suits.

I decided to become a lawyer because I topped out in my career financially and intellectually.  I no longer wanted my hard work to stop at the printer.  I wanted to "play" as it were.  I also looked around at the comfortable lifestyles lawyers can achieve.  Of course, the trade-off for that comfortable lifestyle is hard work - lots of it.  But, if you enjoy the law, like making a difference, and like the law enough to eat chinese take-out at your desk, it's worth it.   


18
General Board / Re: Family Law
« on: June 22, 2005, 09:42:12 AM »
I've worked in family law for many years as a paralegal and I plan to go into the practice. It takes A LOT of patience because the clients are naturally not at their best emotionally.  On the upside you get a lot of time on your feet in the courtroom.  Family law is motion heavy with a lot of time honing your argument skills.  And the issues that spring from family law cases are fascinating.  One day you'll be learning about psychological testing on children and the next you'll be learning how to split up a dozen business entities.

19
Gonzaga / Re: Gonzaga 1L
« on: April 29, 2005, 03:36:09 AM »
Luckily I got a notification that this thread had a new post, so you get your reply!

I highly recommend the summer torts program.  Right now as I take final exams it is a huge relief to only have 4 as opposed to 5.  The class is tough due to the fast pace.  It is usually taught by Professor DeWolfe who actually wrote the practice book on torts in WA.  You will learn a lot from a prof who really knows the subject.  You'll have class every day for two hours and a lot of reading each day.  But, by the time fall term starts, you are way ahead of the game.  You will have learned to synthesize rules, write case briefs, live through the socratic method, and experienced exams.  As an aside, DeWolfe's socratic method is not harsh.  He gives good feedback to every student and doesn't put anyone down.  DeWolfe also maintains a large website of resources, links to the text (which he wrote) and oodles of past exams and model answers.

And I love GU.  It's suffering in the tier rankings, but they are working hard to get it back on top.  They just yanked it out of 4th tier to 3rd in the last year.  The professors are very accessible.  The legal research and writing program is excellent and the library is very well maintained. 

It's an expensive school which is a downside.  On the upside, I work with many GU alums and they are fine lawyers.

Good choice!  I know it's a tough one to make when you balance the expense and the low tier ranking against other schools in Seattle.

20
General Board / Re: Best software for note taking and/or outlining
« on: November 16, 2004, 09:58:25 AM »
I see ppl using WORD all the time, and they have a seperate file for every case, or for every class. That would be an organizing nitemare for me. I like things organized, and easy to find.

Separate files for every case would be really inefficient.  I have my notes and briefs for each class in one document.  That way I can cut and paste into my outline without opening a million documents.  I suspect the "one for each case" people will change their methods after their first outline. 

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