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Messages - mtfbwy

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31
General Board / Re: Chicago v. New York
« on: March 03, 2008, 01:40:01 PM »
I've lived and worked in both NYC and Chicago.  Both are great cities, but very different.  Living in NYC, for at least a year, is an experience I would highly recommend to anyone. Whether to put down perm or semi-perm roots in NYC is another story (it's a great choice for many, but it's certainly not for everbody).  My thoughts:

1) DePaul alumni are associates and partners at every major firm and practically every midsize firm in Chicago, plus countless small firms throughout the area.  The mayor went to DePaul.  How many DePaul alumni do you think practice in NYC?  NYC has its own DePaul, plus a few better, and a few worse.  You haven't (yet) managed to land a job in Chicago.  Why, especially given the economy and legal job market, would you discard whatever advantages (alumni/friends) you have in Chicago?

2) Are you actually willing to pay for, prepare for and take the NY bar, rather than IL or Mich? 

3) Whatever you're paying for housing in Chicago, you can basically double that for NY.  A $1k/mo apartment in Chi would be $2k in NYC (absent some rent-stabilized find - good luck!); a nice 2bed/2bath condo in a great area of Chi runs around $400k; similar place in NYC would be $800k). 

4) Chicago is closer to your family (with whom you seem close, based on your blog). 

Accordingly, your options would seem to be:

1) Don't take any bar.  Move to NYC, do magic, push your book, whatever.  Millions of smart, creative people flock to NYC to be special.  For some, it works out and they "make it."  Others, not so much. After a while, if you find that NYC is the only place in the world to live (as many people decide for themselves), you can take the bar there.  If not, you can return to the midwest and do so, be it in Chi or Mich.

2) Take the bar in Chi (or Mich).  Begin practicing law.  You can always take plenty of trips to NYC if you desire, in which case you'll be there as a tourist, i.e., you can actually enjoy the city, which, were you to actually live there, would be limited to half days on Saturdays and Sundays. 


32
My numbers weren't as good as yours.  I was top 25% after the first semester, then about top 12% cumulative after the second semester (I was about top 5% for the spring semester). 


mftbwy:

May I ask what your numbers were at the T4? (gpa/rank)

Based on my experience (T4 to top 30 to V30), my two cents:

Assuming you transfer, your resume (for this fall's OCI) will feature two law schools, one of which (your former school) will indicate "Graded on to X Law Review" and your GPA/class rank at that school (which firms will use, based on their cut-offs for that particular school, to determine whether you get a screening interview at OCI). There will be nothing listed under your new school (i.e., you won't have a GPA, rank or any accomplishments).  After this fall, you will no longer list your former school (and you'll begin listing your GPA/rank, if favorable, from your new school, plus any good things that happen at the new school).

Your new school will likely offer the incoming transfers a chance to write-on to its journals (lots of luck with that!). Just be hopeful that you land a spot on a secondary journal, because the odds of the "native" students on the school's actual law review welcoming a lowly transfer are slim to none.  If you land a secondary, great; if not, don't sweat it.  Take comfort in the fact that your graduating GPA/rank at your new school will be based on 2-3L (which is, rightly or wrongly, part of what fuels the mostly unspoken anti-transfer sentiment at many schools). 

As already noted, your T4 is quite aware that several people who accept law review invites will transfer out after this semester.  Those spots will be filled (either by runner-ups or write-ons).

Good luck.



33
Based on my experience (T4 to top 30 to V30), my two cents:

Assuming you transfer, your resume (for this fall's OCI) will feature two law schools, one of which (your former school) will indicate "Graded on to X Law Review" and your GPA/class rank at that school (which firms will use, based on their cut-offs for that particular school, to determine whether you get a screening interview at OCI). There will be nothing listed under your new school (i.e., you won't have a GPA, rank or any accomplishments).  After this fall, you will no longer list your former school (and you'll begin listing your GPA/rank, if favorable, from your new school, plus any good things that happen at the new school).

Your new school will likely offer the incoming transfers a chance to write-on to its journals (lots of luck with that!). Just be hopeful that you land a spot on a secondary journal, because the odds of the "native" students on the school's actual law review welcoming a lowly transfer are slim to none.  If you land a secondary, great; if not, don't sweat it.  Take comfort in the fact that your graduating GPA/rank at your new school will be based on 2-3L (which is, rightly or wrongly, part of what fuels the mostly unspoken anti-transfer sentiment at many schools). 

As already noted, your T4 is quite aware that several people who accept law review invites will transfer out after this semester.  Those spots will be filled (either by runner-ups or write-ons).

Good luck.

34
Law Firms / Re: in between insurance defense/contract work and v100, what?
« on: February 29, 2008, 09:21:10 AM »
What (I think) you're talking about are either boutique (on the 15 lawyer end of your spectrum) or what I would call "premium midsize" (on the 75 lawyer end of your spectrum).  The boutiques tend to be highly specialized litigation shops; premium midsize firms tend to have mostly "middle market" clients (e.g., local companies, or they handle the local/regional affairs of national/international companies).  Both (generally speaking) tend to have hours requirements of around 1850, rather than the 2000 standard.  Total compensation (generally speaking) at a boutique can equal or exceed biglaw; total comp at premium midsize firms tends to be slightly less than the best biglaw firms (but note also that partnership prospects tend to be better at a premium midsize firm).

Both tend to hire mostly laterals from biglaw.  (Where do you think 50% of biglaw associates, who leave their firms between years 3-5, go? For those who don't go in-house, to the government, to academia, or into politics, boutiques and premium midsize firms are the destinations of choice.) However, boutiques and premium midsize firms do hire a very limited number of summer associates (who then return as associates after graduation).  But note that they are very selective (i.e., those hired at such places tend to have multiple offers from biglaw firms). 

If you're an editor of the law review at a top (i.e., top 6) school, after your prestigious federal clerkship, you might find yourself starting out at a boutique.  Otherwise, you might lateral to one after a few years at a top biglaw firm.  If you're merely on the law review at a top (i.e., top 14-25, depending on the market and just how "premium" the midsize is) school, you might land one of the three or four summer associate positions at a 75-100 lawyer firm.  Otherwise, you might lateral to one after 4-6 years and a good biglaw firm (this will be a highly practice area-driven outcome). 

In sum, it's really not an "either or" situation, i.e., if you are eligible for a job at a boutique or premium midsize (either as a summer and then first year associate or as a lateral), you will also have multiple offers in hand from the leading biglaw firms in your desired market. 

35
Law Firms / Re: T3 hope
« on: February 28, 2008, 08:38:55 AM »
The following insights apply generally, i.e., there are of course exceptions. I base them on my own experience (Tier 4, transfer to a Top 30, then to a V30) and conversations with partners (at both mid-size and biglaw firms) who graduated from T3 and 4 schools.  My four cents:

1) Don't put too much stock in career services offices' claims such as "we're located 18 miles from a major business center" or "we're located IN a major business center" (e.g., NY, Chi).  Yes, it's better to attend a lower tier school located in or near a major market (or your desired market) and, yes, Martindale and firm websites will confirm that alumni from such schools are associates and partners at biglaw offices in that market. 

But bear in mind that those associates and partners are the extreme exception, not the rule - and if they came from a T3, they were likley no worse than top 5% of their class.  Big firms, for the sake of appearances, might "recruit" at a given T3, but will ultimately only extend offers to the top students (and career services propaganda to the contrary is just that, propaganda, and if someone as low as top 25% gets a biglaw job, it's either because of highly valuable pre-law experience/education or a personal connection).  Of course, an NYC T3 grad will get an NYC biglaw job before the Chi T3 grad, just as the Chi T3 grad stands a better chance in Chi. 

2) No matter what, having a degree from a higher ranked school would serve you well as you hunt for your second or third job out of school, and certainly as you hunt for one as a 3L or recent grad (assuming you don't land a  2L summer associate position).  But note that most firms during 2L recruiting will base their decisions (to give a screening, let alone callback, interview) on your 1L grades and class rank from your former school.  Yes, because your new, better ranked school would ultimately appear on your bio on the firm's website, they will view you more favorably than your former classmates at the lower ranked school.  But only slightly, because your 1L grades are all they have to go on.  This is all to say that, if a given firm only  interviews those in the top 10% at your former school, if you're more than 1 or 2% outside of that cut-off, you likely won't get the interview, despite being at the better ranked school. (Note: if you do well during 2L at your new school, especially in some "hard" classes, that can change the situation.)

3) If you want to save money, Rutgers is a good choice and, as njlaw notes, its top 20% or so tend to land biglaw jobs.  But again, remember point #2 above.  Personally, though it likley places fewer grads in NY biglaw than Rutgers, I would be inclined (if saving money were the goal) to transfer to Buffalo.  It's nearly a "mid T2," cheap, it's very cheap to live there, and in many ways a more desirable place to live, at least right around UB (plus there are some decent local ski areas). 

4) If cost is not the driving factor, then, as noted by ronaldo699, shoot for Fordham, or at least Dozo or BLS.  For that matter, don't rule out applying to other T1 schools (in the Fordham range). 

Good luck.

36
Transferring / Re: Mercer to Emory/ UGA/ UCLA/ UTexas
« on: February 24, 2008, 02:13:45 PM »
I second xferlawstudent's comments.  I would also add:

Do you plan to practice in CA or in GA?  If the former, UCLA should be your goal, as should a couple of lower ranked CA schools. 

If the latter, Emory does tend to take more transfers than UGA.  Emory is also better regarded in Atlanta (the extent to which is debatable).  However, given your in-state status, the savings of attending UGA for two years may well outweigh the whatever edge Emory might give you in Atlanta. (Emory is expensive - and you won't receive a penny of scholarship assistance.)
Emory does place some students in CA (more so than UGA), but most of its grads who leave the south head to NY (and a few go to Boston, Chi and D.C.). Were I staying in GA, UGA would be my top choice, otherwise, Emory is the better choice of the two. 

Even if you don't get in to any of those four schools, you're on track to transfer somewhere that should improve your opportunties.  Good luck to you.

P.S. I have to ask: How in the world (especially given the current market) will you be a summer at an "excellent firm" in LA?  In general, only 1L's from the top schools land summer jobs at even decent firms, let alone excellent.  (By "excellent" I presume you mean the likes of Latham, O'Melveny, Irell, etc.)  I realize you have strong ties in CA, but...

37
You will indeed be able to secure private loans (albeit with perhaps less favorable terms, as noted by PixyLaw).  However, your biggest concern should be whether or not you are eligible for federally backed loans (Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized).  It's my understanding that, at such schools, you will NOT be eligible for Staffords. 

38
Transferring / Re: Odds of transferring out?
« on: February 13, 2008, 06:51:43 AM »
xmarco, I hate to say it, but the above posts are correct.  Allow me to add the following:

1) If you do apply to transfer, do NOT mention your laptop meltdown in your personal statement or letter.  While I certainly empathize, it's just an excuse - and a poor one at that (i.e., it's not as if it melted down during an exam). 

2) Why do you place such importance on your notes?  The only reason to even take notes in class is to capture some public policy viewpoint of the professor, or some aspect of the law that he/she feels is particularly important.  Otherwise, you're (especially in 1L courses) being tested on material that is readily available in commercial outlines.  Indeed, you should assume that every one of your classmates has memorized all of the black letter rules for the exam. 

What determines your grades are (i) your ability to quickly read the questions and spot all of the issues; (ii) your ability to type or write very fast, putting as many issues/rules/applications or analyses/conclusions on the page as possible, in an organized fashion to minimize your professor's misery in grading; your ability to raise any possible defenses or alternative concerns; (iv) the appropriate inclusion of any policy concerns; and (v) some luck.

3) My advice for 1L outlines is to pay Bar/Bri the $100 deposit (or whatever it is up to now), which "locks in" the current bar prep rates.  More importantly, you will receive the Bar/Bri 1L course outline book.  It is the best, especially for lower tier schools, which tend to be more bar focused than top schools.  The only other must-get book would be Glannon's E & E for civ pro. 

Otherwise, just get some old exams, and start practicing - NOW.  Stop briefing cases and worrying about taking notes.  Your ability to know the facts of every case read over the semester and every minute detail uttered by the professor will NOT affect your grades.  Only your ability to memorize the law and, most importantly, effectively TAKE exams, matters.  As for your writing courses, I hope you're taking advantage of any writing resource center at your school and visiting the professor during office hours. (I neglected to do so during my first 1L semester, because "I was such a good writer, and always got A's on papers in college."  I got a B in legal writing that semester.)

4) If you're still serious about transferring, as already posted, apply to the T2/T3 schools that have placed their grads in the markets you're interested in.  And if you do well this semester (i.e., your cumulative rank is no worse than top 15% or so), apply to some mid T1 schools (i.e., top 25-35 or so). 

Note: My empathy with your struggle is genuine and my advice is well intentioned.  I too entered a Tier 4 school with every intention of transferring (having done well at a good undergrad university, yet bombing the LSAT).  I was in the top third after my first semester, which was most disappointing (I, as do thousands of students, wrongly assumed that I would be tops). *** I then did what I advised you to do in point #3 above. ***  Second semester, I think I was in the top few percent for the term, bringing my cumulative up to around top 12%.  I transferred to a top 30 school, then summered at and will join a V30 firm in my desired market this fall. 

Good luck.

39
Law Firms / Re: Construction Law Salary???
« on: November 25, 2007, 04:00:39 PM »
Wow, you've become so well informed and authoritative.  Just a week and a half ago, you wrote that you "would like to pursue construction / engineering / contract law," but were unable to find "any information on typical salaries for construction law." 

"Contract law"?!  Unable to find information on salaries?  And now you're an authority on the (hard) IP market?  Jee whiz, what a waste it would be if you opted for "construction law"!

I must confess, I think my firm only has around 100 IP lawyers, including both hard and soft.  So perhaps I'm a bit ignorant.  Could you please enlighten us as to what it is that makes electrical engineering-related work the "majority" of the IP market?  Some examples of clients, or at least client types, along with some products, might help to clear up the extremely widespread (and, according to you, incorrect) belief that bio-tech, chemical, and software work account for the vast majority of the (hard) IP market. 

40
Law Firms / Re: Construction Law Salary???
« on: November 18, 2007, 02:45:17 PM »
Not too sure what you're talking about, but I'll try... 

1) Do you HOPE to work at a big firm?  If yes, your salary will be whatever "market" is for that city (e.g. NY, Chi, DC, LA, Boston, etc. is $160k, Philly, Atlanta, etc. is around $145k, Denver is roughly $120k, and so on down the line).

2) If you end up at a mid-size firm, your salary will be 40-65% of whatever "market" is for that city (with a few rare exceptions). 

3) Most big firms, as well as some mid-size firms (i.e. ones that aren't just insurance defense sweatshops), do some type of (transactional) construction work.  For many, it's based out of their real estate practices.  All associates are generally paid the same salary within a given firm, based on their class year (e.g. first year, fourth year, etc.), regardless of practice area (with the exception of some IP work, noted below). 

4) Some firms, particularly mid-size (and some smaller firms), do a good amount of construction-related litigation (if mid-size, it's likely defense-oriented; if small, more likely plaintiffs). 

5) Your engineering background would matter (for salary purposes) only for "hard" intellectual property work (i.e. patent), in which case some firms are paying a bit more to their patent lawyers.  But I don't think electrical engineering would count for much in IP.  Perhaps there is some rare niche practice area reserved for folks with electrical engineering backgrounds, but I'm not aware of it. 

6) By "contract law," do you mean that you want to be a transactional lawyer (i.e. drafting contracts, closing deals, etc. related to construction/development), or a litigator (i.e. bringing or defending lawsuits for breach of contract or warranty, e.g. faulty construction, building product defects, etc.)? 

7) For the city in which you plan to practice, research law firm websites for construction-related work.  This should give you a sense of what the firm does in the practice area.  Look at the bio's of the associates and partners in the construction/development practice groups, looking at both their undergraduate educations (i.e. for any signs of engineering backgrounds) as well as their recent legal work (if listed).  If nothing else, their bio's should be informative as to what exactly a "construction" lawyer does. 

8) Here's some bonus insights: given the crises in the credit and housing markets, it stands to reason that transactional work in construction/development will be increasingly scarce (however, such is not the case internationally, in emerging or rapidly developing markets).  My guess would be that construction-related litigation will be on the rise over the next few years (as are most litigation practices when the economy hits the skids). 

9) Good luck.

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