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Messages - mtfbwy

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1
All three of the posters have provided you with good insights and sound advice. All I can add is the following: don't rule out a stint at a firm, including a large firm. 

Public interest outfits (especially the elite, national types alluded to by Miss P) are not in the business of training new law grads to practice law.  In a key respect, public interest organizations are similar to in-house law departments at a corporation: they are mainly staffed by lawyers who "got their chops" at either law firms or in the government (or both). 

At the most competitive/presigious/leading public interest organizations, my guess is that the lawyers (i) did their 1L summer at a public interest organization; (ii) did their 2L summer at a large firm; (iii) took the bar (with the support of that firm) and began practicing at that firm; and (iv) after about 2-5 years or so, left the firm and began their career in public interest. 

(I work at a large firm, and though at this point I'm in it for the long haul, several of my fellow junior associates plan to go into public interest or government work in 2-3 years.)

Good luck! 

2
General Board / Re: Passed GA bar!!
« on: November 02, 2008, 09:51:22 AM »
Congrats to the successful GA bar takers! 

Not to put a damper on things, but isn't there a swearing-in ceremony in GA (eligibility for which, in addition to a law dean's certification of degree, passing the bar and meeting the state's MPRE minimum, requires certification by the character and fitness committee...)?

Then you'll be a lawyer.


Congratulations, Jacy!  You may not realize but you've helped me a lot over the last year (I've changed my name [if that wasn't obvious by the new name!]).

Wish you the very best; now, you're a lawyer!

3
I take it you're a 2L?  If so, one way you can improve your GPA is with good class choices, i.e., in which either an A is easily attainable, or you can get a B with no effort, affording you more time and energy for your harder, required classes (unfortunately, this applies to all of your classmates, so it's not always the source of huge class rank gains). 

Assuming you're required to take business organizations/associations and evidence, and in the event you choose courses such as trusts and estates, securities, tax, admin, etc. (i.e., in which you'll likely take an in-class exam), the same study rule should apply going forward that applied during your first year: don't study "hard," study "smart." 

Studying smart means different things for everyone, but in general, always ask yourself: Is what I'm doing going to help me do well on the exam? 

So much time and energy is expended by 1L's so that they can perform well in class.  They slave away, trudging through and briefing case after case, held hostage to the fear that they could be "called on" in class to recite, in absurd detail, the facts of a case, along with the holding and reasoning (and while facts matter, many professors do seem pointlessly caught up in the facts).  The skills developed throughout that process are indeed necessary (for exams and for practice), but they're developed within the first month or so of law school.  After that, students should stop fully reading and briefing cases (instead book briefing, if at all), focusing instead on the march to exam time. 

For the courses in which you received disappointing grades, how much time did you spend taking practice exams (your professors' old exams and/or commercial prep materials)?  You can know the subject matter cold, having memorized every rule, but come exam day, that's useless without having prepared to perform. 

Do you know what professors do when they call on a student in class, and that student fails to adequately present a case?  NOTHING.  Though many state that they'll raise or lower grades based on preparedness, I think it's rare that they actually raise grades for students who routinely knock it out of the park in class (though they do it occasionally), but I've not heard of anyone's grade having been lowered for being repeatedly unprepared for class (one logical reason being that, in such big classes, people are only going to get called on a few times a semester; another reason is that raising/lowering a grade would require the prof to do extra work).  Students can be drooling idiots in class, but if they memorize an outline and PRACTICE writing out answers, they can do well on exams.

Good luck. 

4
I finished undergrad at 35, graduated from law school this past May, and have started working (nervously awaiting bar results!).  Personally, being an older law student and associate really hasn't been any harder than being an older undergrad, perhaps even less so.  Most people I've encountered assumed I was indeed older, but not "this old."  As long as you're comfortable with the fact that your peers will be 10 years younger than you (and you'll be older than many of your superiors once you're a lawyer), your age shouldn't present a problem.  As noted by another poster, your age can sometimes be an asset for finding a job. 

If you read this or any other law-related online forum, most of the negativity that gets directed at non-trads comes as a result of a particular type of law student: late 20's - late 30's, who either had some sort of career (e.g., engineer, IT, accountant, etc.) or was independently intellectually engaged prior to law school (i.e., reads alot, is politically passionate, etc.).  The non-trad at issue, seemingly as of the first day of classes, trys to contribute his or her personal experiences to the class discussion, and it's often totally unrelated and adds nothing.  Add to this the fact that many a non-trad opts for the infamous "wheelie bag" to tote his or her books (despite the fact that many schools have lockers), and we thus have a recipe for disdain from traditionally aged students.  Mind you, these are law students, many of whom are predisposed to find fault with their peers, casting aspersion on people for any deviation from what they deem to be the proper way of dressing, speaking, or whatever.  But such does not need to be the fate of all non-trads.  

As you likely noticed as an older under-grad, being a bit older can have its advantages (e.g., you likely weren't enjoying the same social and sex life distractions as traditional age college students).  Those sorts of lifestyle advantages are still there in law school, but to a far lesser extent, as law students tend to be a relatively driven bunch (or least when it counts - at exam time).  

You note that you're "considering" law school...does that mean you've not yet taken the LSAT?  Your LSAT score is THE single most important part factor.  Do NOT fall for the admissions materials that indicate that your GPA, personal statement, life/work experience, etc. will be considered.  Those other factors only matter in very close cases.  Your LSAT score has a direct bearing on your other concerns (i.e., financial and employment).  You have to decide now what sort of lifestyle you want as a lawyer.  Most lawyers work alot, but if you're going to take on $100k+ in law school debt, you have to be both willing and able to land a job at a large firm (or at least a midsize firm paying $100k+ to first year associates).  

"Able" is the operative word.  The rank of your school and/or your rank at a lower ranked school will determine (for the most part) your ability to land such jobs.  Your LSAT will determine your school.  There are always exceptions, and everyone has unique considerations (e.g., do you have kids, spouse, etc.?), but in general, if your LSAT gets you into a top 14 school, or a top 30 (perhaps lower, but no lower than 50) IF that school places VERY well in your desired location, then go that route.  If not, go to the school that will allow you to graduate with the least debt.  

Good luck.

5
General Board / Re: So everyone in law school uses a laptop during class?
« on: September 07, 2008, 09:29:57 AM »
People should carefully consider lawmama09's post. 

I graduated this past May, and if I had it to do over, I'd leave the laptop home on most days (for most classes), and hand write notes (but type exams).

I'd say I took about 2 classes (and they weren't during 1L) that required so much note taking that a laptop was essential.  Otherwise, there just isn't that much.  And though I happily surfed the Internet 90% of the time (as did 90% of my classmates) in class (at least during 2/3L; it was more like 60% of the time in 1L), and did just fine, that was an absurd way to experience such an expensive education. 

Plus, I think it forms a bad habit, which I'm now trying to break as an associate: the constant urge to check one's personal email, Facebook, law-related sites, the news, etc. Granted, there is down time in practice, but after just a couple of weeks at it, I'm realizing that time management and concentration have taken on entirely new and important meanings.

Several of the top students at my school used laptops, surfed Internet, and still graduated with honors.  But a few of the very top students were notorious hand-writers, which at times all most put me in awe of them. 

If you're in your first semester, you're likely slaving away under the command of having to fully "brief" cases, take extensive notes, etc., which, for the most part, won't be worth much come exam time.  Yes, learning how to effeciently brief cases now is necessary in order to take your exams (i.e., to "issue spot" and apply a rule to a fact and draw a conclusion), but it all comes down to having crisp, concise outlines to memorize. 

The two cents I've been giving since I finished 1L: get the BarBri first year outline (I think it's a "free" gift when you pay $100 to lock in this year's rate on the full bar prep course).  I found it to be the best statement of the law (and the one, with few exceptions, you'll need to know in three years); for some of my 1L classes, it was as if the professors were reading from the BarBri outline (granted, the higher ranked school one attends, this might be less the case, e.g., one might not ever hear a "black letter" rule in three years at Yale).  I would review the topic we were scheduled to cover that day in the outline, quickly "book brief" the assigned cases, then take notes in class only if the prof seemed especially interested in a dissent, an emerging trend, or public policy issue.


6
2L job search / Re: Pre Labor Day Callbacks
« on: September 05, 2008, 07:11:17 PM »
The week before and the week after Labor Day, many firms are ghost towns.  Partners are taking end-of-summer vacations and, even more so, their clients (especially if transactional) are doing the same. There's a lull between when most summer associates leave and most call-backs take place. 

Next week, things will crank back up, i.e., everyone involved with summer hiring will be back to the office, attending the weekly hiring meetings (or submitting emails, or whatever they do to vote yes or no at a given firm), etc. 

Good luck.

7
Transferring / Re: T4 to T1
« on: September 01, 2008, 11:41:50 AM »
bodhi,

The responses you've received so far sum things up pretty well.  It sounds like you've got a chance to go from a T4 to a highly ranked T2. Granted, you would indeed be moving into a different galaxy, but it's still roughly the same universe. 

It sounds like you plan on staying in TX.  Were you weighing a transfer to the University of Texas (or certainly a T14, and perhaps even a top 25 school that places well in TX), I think the choice would be clear: transfer. 

Not knowing anything about the TX market or U of H, I can't offer much in particular. But assuming you were to transfer to U of H, bear in mind that:

1) Though you'd be viewed in a much better light by firms, those firms would be looking at your 1L ranking, based on what that ranking means at your 1L school.  As a transfer, 2L fall recruiting is sort of a hybrid experience; after 2L, your 1L school is not a factor (and, to the extent you care, it can become a bit of a closely guarded secret). 

2) I've met some transfers who received money at their new school, but it's rare.  As such, assume you won't be getting any financial help, i.e., you'll be paying full freight for two years.  If you're o.k. with that far larger debt burden, go for it.

3) Don't plan on being in the top 5% at your new school.  You're obviously a capable and driven student, so perhaps assume you'll be in the top third at U of H.  Do students in the top third at U of H have the sorts of employment opportunities you desire?  If yes, go for it.

Please excuse the trite platitude, but ultimately, it really does come down to resolving a very real dilema: On the one hand, you'll have this degree for ever, the extra debt amortized over your career is no big deal, and the legal profession (to a great extent) cares about rankings and status.  On the other hand, getting out of school with relatively little debt and with job prospects that aren't much worse (i.e., between being a top student at a T4 versus a decent student at a top 50+ school) is mighty attractive. 

I transferred from a T4 to a T1.  I'm glad I did, even with the extra $75k in debt.  But I do often wonder how nice it would feel to have student loan payments that seem like car payments, rather than mortgage payments.  The latter isn't so bad, but having the former would open up a lot of options.

Good luck.

8
General Board / Re: How much do summer associates make?
« on: August 24, 2008, 06:01:37 PM »
Wow.  And I thought I was being snarky (toward the OP)! 

So now I'm a feminine hygiene product and an idiot...

Honestly, I chose the firm at which I'm now starting as an associate primarily because of its reputation for not hiring students whose first impulses and comments include "you're a feminine hygiene product" and "you idiot."  That it also paid me $3,100/wk last summer, and will now allow me to start my career near the top of the heap, those were just bonuses. 

Whether I stay and become a partner and my present firm, go in-house or move to a mid-sized firm, I likely won't find myself working in "Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, Mobile, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, or Miami."  But one never knows (with a spouse who's a doctor, we might end up in one of those places.)  What I do know is that, as with my current choice of where to practice law, I won't be at a place that would suit anyone who would spend his or her Sunday afternoon anonymously hurling aspersions at someone who, for the most part, simply tried to answer a new 1L's question.

Has LSD turned into the Autoadmit for lower ranked schools and MidLaw?  There's nothing wrong with either attending a low ranked school or practicing at a non-Vault (Vault being a silly measure anyways; see Chambers for a meaningful ranking system) or even a non-Nalp firm.  I have friends and family who did/do both and, as noted, I would not rule out practicing at a mid-size firm (or smaller) one day.  But again, as with the attorneys at my current firm, those I know from low ranked schools and the MidLaw world have never struck me as Autoadmit types. 

Good luck to you.


"Dozens" of non-Vault firms in a state that pay upwards $2k/wk for a summer position?  Interesting.  I'm only familiar with the NYC and Chi markets, and to a lesser extent the DC and LA markets. What markets have dozens of non-Vault firms paying first years $104k/year?

As I qualified in my initial response, my figures assumed the poster was "asking about the conventional definition of 'summer associate,' i.e., a law student working between 2L and 3L (or 1L summer if exceptional) at a major, multi-office law firm, or at least at a firm with a large office." 

Galt gave a good working definition of how summer associates are paid: "Summers get paid the same salary as first year associates pro-rated for 10 or 12 weeks."  But even that definition assumes that we are talking about a "summer associate" properly so called. 

Many non-Vault firms that employ people for their pre-3L summer call such students "summer clerks," and many (if not most), regardless of their job title do not pay those individuals the same as new associates (and certainly don't wine and dine them all summer).  At many such firms, after graduation, they return to work at the firm (often during bar prep) - at their pre-3L summer pay rate - until they receive passing results and are sworn into the bar, at which point their pay goes up (albeit, in most cases, nominally) to their "first year associate" rate.
 


First of all, you are a giant feminine hygiene product. Secondly, you stated that you are only familiar with NY, CHI, DC and LA markets, yet you come up with some ridiculous generalizations about non-Vault firms and their employment practices. Way to show your idiocracy.

In any event, since you asked for markets that have non-Vault firms (many called "Mid-Law") that pay between the $1100-2000/wk range to their summers, here's a list that I'm familiar with (Mainly the South):

Atlanta, Charlotte, Birmingham, Mobile, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, Miami...should I list more?

Also, many of the firms in these markets pay more than 2K a week for summers. And why don't I list every firm name? Because it would take me several days to compile the list. Most firms aren't "Vault" firms, and yet they still pay a good rate. But you knew that right? With your generalizations and everything..... ::)

9
General Board / Re: How much do summer associates make?
« on: August 24, 2008, 11:13:14 AM »
What market?  What firms? 

10
General Board / Re: How much do summer associates make?
« on: August 24, 2008, 09:32:54 AM »
"Dozens" of non-Vault firms in a state that pay upwards $2k/wk for a summer position?  Interesting.  I'm only familiar with the NYC and Chi markets, and to a lesser extent the DC and LA markets. What markets have dozens of non-Vault firms paying first years $104k/year?

As I qualified in my initial response, my figures assumed the poster was "asking about the conventional definition of 'summer associate,' i.e., a law student working between 2L and 3L (or 1L summer if exceptional) at a major, multi-office law firm, or at least at a firm with a large office." 

Galt gave a good working definition of how summer associates are paid: "Summers get paid the same salary as first year associates pro-rated for 10 or 12 weeks."  But even that definition assumes that we are talking about a "summer associate" properly so called. 

Many non-Vault firms that employ people for their pre-3L summer call such students "summer clerks," and many (if not most), regardless of their job title do not pay those individuals the same as new associates (and certainly don't wine and dine them all summer).  At many such firms, after graduation, they return to work at the firm (often during bar prep) - at their pre-3L summer pay rate - until they receive passing results and are sworn into the bar, at which point their pay goes up (albeit, in most cases, nominally) to their "first year associate" rate.
 

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