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Messages - canuck

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Incoming 1Ls / Re: Pre-school study plan
« on: June 16, 2004, 09:02:53 AM »

thanks for clarifying because I don't think I was very clear about that.  My point is that grades appear arbitrary if you don't know how to play the game.  And I think I'm druding on a dangerous slope here as being an advocate for PLS II to make law school less arbitrary.

As for the grades in law school being indicative of it's failings - that was only part in partial to the more important fact that not everyone passes the bar.  In fact more state wide averages I see seem to hover around the 70-80% with NY and CA (the 2 most written) being around 75%.

So here's a little numbers and please chime in if you disagree.

Say 1000 students just graduates from law school.  That's less than 10% or less who did not graduate, remember.

Of those 1000 that take the bar exam and 75% pass.  So for 250 students - law school and what the profs taught has already failed them.

Now for the remaining 750 - what's not reported is how much they passed by.  And to say that all 750 have an excellent grasp of the law would be optimistic.  There are many terrible lawyers out there and law school has failed them as well.

My warning is then not to be in that group that lets law school fail them.  I think that as students, we shouldn't put our hopes in the administrative system to have a vested interest in our success.  Pessimistic?  Yes.  But I hope that as successful attorneys/judges/politicians we would do something to change the profession of law so that its institutions have more integrity.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Pre-school study plan
« on: June 16, 2004, 08:48:09 AM »
GA Kristi,

Excellent points, and I believe I've sort of strayed from the main point, and that is it can't hurt to study before law school.  For those fearing burnout or being taught the wrong way, that is in the control of someone's mindset.  If you're eager and excited, studying before law school won't seem like a chore- it'll actually be enjoyable.  For those that think it will lead you astray, that's only if you're not open to learning from your profs and fellow students.

As for looking for what the prof wants, PLS II hits that point.  That's why the author advocates going to class to decipher exactly what the professor wants from you regarding specific terms used, political siding, and so on.  That's all part of playing the game - cuz you have to cater to your prof.

But I think that if you can somehow make your answer less arbitrary by quickly spotting the issue, addressing and dismissing irrelevant points, and then truly exploring the critical points, that will get you an A.  My belief is that in order to do that, you can't just go by what your professor teaches you.  If that were the case, more students would feel that exams weren't so ambiguous, or you would see higher passage rates in the bar exam.  Just my 2 cents.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Pre-school study plan
« on: June 16, 2004, 08:38:43 AM »
In response to you, JeffJoe

In all honesty, I just finished the Delaney book on Legal Reasoning and am starting on the primers.  They don't state the Black Letter Law line after line and expect mental regurgitation.  They do however let you go on and explore the hypotheticals - and I think this is what you mean by "discovering the law for yourself".

As for law school marks being completely arbitrary, that is from law school students who have studied the conventional method - so herein lies the difference.  If you know how Profs create exams, how to write those exams, and have a good understanding of what law applies to the given situation, you'll score better than the conventional method.

What is the conventional method?  IMHO it is to go to class, take notes, create an outline, do practice exams, and write the final.  Only the final is under a time constraint, just like the LSAT, and for those that are better prepared it will be easier to write an "A" answer rather than scrambling to search for what law/principle/rule applies to the question.

It is also MHO that there are a select few students in every school that are legal stars - and for whom the conventional method is just as effective in getting the grades.  But you will haven't addressed the main point, JeffJoe - if law schools are doing such a good job teaching law students, why is it that only 10% get A's?  For those 90%, the conventional method of learning and teaching is obviously failing them no?  Isn't that why for the most part 30% of law students (trained at law schools) end up failing the bar exam?

Okay, I got to stop myself, because I'm starting to sound like Atticus Falcon.  But these "facts" about law school grades and bar passage rates were already something I knew.  His book helped me to put it in the context of my situation as a student.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Pre-school study plan
« on: June 16, 2004, 08:22:59 AM »
I'm reading PLS II and I have to say that there is one point that goes missing here:  in law school, with the grading curve, only 10-15% of your entire class will get those coveted A's.  What that translates into is 90% of the rest of your classmates falling into the B-average or less.

I'm cautioning everyone here that I don't intend to scare anyone or make them feel inadequate in their preparation.  But the author of PLS II did strike a chord with me.  I've talked to many a law school student (some in school now and some that just recently graduated). and I can tell you one thing that is constant:  they do not know how to predict their grades before they come out.  In fact many complain it is completely arbitrary.

What does this mean?  After taking exams, some felt they had aced it and ended up with a B or even a C.  Others thought they bombed it and ended up with an A.  And all of these students studied religously.  PLS II's main focus is to make a student more successful on law school exams. 

Yes, PLS II's author Atticus Falcon, may be long-winded and rant a lot (like I'm doing right now) but from the opinions I've gathered from law students, he's bang on.  Law profs don't teach the Black Letter Law then test it when it comes to exams.  That leaves students with the ability to conduct legal reasoning without the sound fundamentals of knowing what law/rule/principle should be applied in certain situations.

That being said, in every school environment I've been in, hard work and deligience will get many people a long way.  But most social environments (including the workforce) is a game and knowing the rules of the game and how to play it are always advantageous.  Let's not kid ourselves - Law School is a game - and we should be prepared to play it.

As for those who don't feel that grades are indicative of their worth as a lawyer - all the more power to you since you choose not to play the game.  But whatever it may be, Public Interest jobs, BigLaw, Clerkships - you'll need the grades.  So the point being missed I think by the board is that those grades are scare and competitive to get.

Standing down from the pulpit now, I'm not saying the PLS II approach will guarantee law school success.  It may in fact burn some out.  But if we're going into law school, the rest of our legal careers will be a continous learning journey and studying now shouldn't seem like such a chore if this is what we WANT to do.  If reading these books or learning about the law in some way better prepared me for school, I feel that is the advantage over most law school students - and that's really what we're trying for isn't it?

Incoming 1Ls / Re: funny lawyer story
« on: June 11, 2004, 10:58:49 AM »
Sorry about that folks!  Didn't mean to mislead.  Guess I should have looked it up first before pawning it off as a true story.

Thanks chupacabra96.

Incoming 1Ls / funny lawyer story
« on: June 11, 2004, 10:40:06 AM »
hello.  it's Friday and i thought you all would enjoy a good story about lawyers:

A Charlotte, NC lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire, among other things. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed claim against the insurance company.

In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.

The lawyer sued.. and WON! (Stay with me.)

In delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer "held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire" and
was obligated to pay the claim. Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the "fires".


After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him
arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!! With his own insurance claim and
testimony from the  previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine.

This is a true story and was the First Place winner in the recent
Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.

Law School Admissions / Re: Howard Law School
« on: June 10, 2004, 05:57:28 AM »
i applied to Howard this past year.  i'm Korean and in my personal statement i wrote that one of my aspirations was to bridge the racial tensions between Korean-Americans and African-Americans within inner cities.

my GPA wasn't that good but my LSAT was and i was waitlisted.  later - i was later accepted off the waitlist.  i declined the offer admission afterwards because my heart was set on going to another school.  but it was a real tough decision because i love DC and there are huge benefits towards Howard:

1.  Money talks and Howard's tuition is cheaper than some State schools - $15K.
2.  Huge, affluent, and influential alumni network. 
3.  Firms that have a vested interest in hiring minority candidates always conduct OCIs there.  Look at Cravath, Swaine, and Moore's website - they go to Howard and the top 20.  That's it.
4.  Next to NYC, DC is the best place to be a lawyer.  I heard some crazy stat like 1 in every 10 people in DC is an attorney.  Also, during this recent US recovery, DC's growth has been phenomenal.

But there are cons too that you should definitely take a look at:

1.  Bar passage rates are below the State's average, by a significant amount.
2.  Average starting salaries in the private sector are better than most tier 2 schools - but the number reporting of grads reporting their salary is not that high.
3.  The school is isolated from the main campus and doesn't have any grad res/dorm nearby.  This may be a pro as in isolation you won't be distracted from other things.

Bottom-line:  if you work hard at that school, and you're an URM, you will definitely have advantages over other URM's due to Howard's prestige and history.  but the reason i didn't go was that i had to question my motives - although bridging a racial divide is important to me, that's not the determining factor for me to go to law school - learning the law is.

and i knew that there were other qualified African-American students on that waitlist that truly wanted to go to Howard, and they would benefit from that school's legacy more than i would.  so i decided to go somehwere else. 

Again, if it's just to work/live in DC, going to Howard would be strategic.

I'm not sure if this helps, of if you've already done so, but on the LSAC website, you can click on the school and then go to Law School Data.  From there you can see the grid and tell the lowest scores/GPA combinations and if they were admitted.

Although for the RHTGI schools, many of them don't publish this information.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: I should start seeing results when...
« on: April 26, 2004, 01:14:45 PM »

I've read this thread and found it very interesting.  I'm extremely empathetic to the first poster's situation.  Like you, I truly bombed the LSAT the first two times (yes two times) I wrote it.  Scoring 152 and then 151.

Finally I hired an LSAT Tutor from PR.  We would meet weekly.  He made me ask myself soem hard questions that I feel would help anyone that is not scoring 170+ on their practice tests.  Here's some advice:

1.  Realistically, what score would the schools you're targetting want from you?  Some schools don't average your past scores if you score 7-10 pts higher.  But most take them all into consideration so project your average and see what you need to get into a school that is good for you.

2.  Based on your practice tests, you should generally have an inclination to do better on some sections than others.  Mine was games.  No matter how hard I tried, those damn games killed me.  My average before my tutor was 10-12 right out of 23-24 questions.  After my tutor I raised that to 14-16.  Still much less than I expected from myself.  I suggest concentrating on the section that hurts you the most.  Usually people say games are the section where you can improve the most (however that was not the case for me).

3.  You're probably doing this already if you're following the suggestions in the prep book...but don't do the questions in sequential order.  I hated turning back and forth, so if anything prioritize the 5 or so questions from each page.  Really, really stick to this.  Find the "type" of questions that give you the most problems and leave them to last.

4.  This last point, to an already overly long e-mail, is how you "put it all together" for me anyways. 
-Project the score you want. 
-Realistically average out the number of questions you require to get correct in each section.
-Allot time so that you can thoroughly answer these questions.  Example, if your goal is to get 18 questions right on the Games sections, than only do 3 games.  Sounds crazy, but then you have those 35 minutes to do all 3 games and you should see your score improve.  Then guess on the last game, and make sure you make that game the type of game that give you the most trouble.  Do this procedure with every section. 

IMHO, the reason why some people don't see significant improvement over their scores is because of time management.  The books say it, but increasing your accuracy and then guessing on the rest is better than trying to give each question the proper attention it deserves.

My practice LSATs after this method say me scoring in the mid 160's and I cracked 170 once (wish that happened on the day of the test).  I ended up scoring 158 on my third and final LSAT.  I still blew the games section but it was a 7 point increase from my last one. 

I guess that sort of hurts my credibility with this advice.  But my LSAT Tutor was teaching several of his students this way, and he was accepted to Harvard and will be attending this Fall.

Good luck and if you need any clarification or pointers, please feel free to e-mail me.

i have been deliberating for about 4 years whether or not to go to law school.  but unlike most people on this board, i didn't always want to be a lawyer.  in fact after i finished my undergrad, i was thinking of going into investment banking. 

but then one day i was at a bookstore and ran into my Grade 12 English teacher.  she told me that she had gone to law school and was a practicing attorney now at a big firm.  she's actually a litigator.  i'm just ballparking her age, but by the time she probably matriculated she would have been in her late 30's to early 40's.

my long-winded point is that in my opinion, it's all about desire.  if you really want a legal education bad enough, and you're willing to sacrifice to get it, you shouldn't be too concerned about age.  if you're considering other factors like quality of life for you and your family, i can understand why you seem a bit hesitant.

i wish you all the best and understand what a tough choice you're making.

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