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Messages - mtfbwy

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Current Law Students / Re: DC prospects?
« on: August 29, 2007, 05:09:32 PM »
O.K., let me just say that I like coming here because it is more civilized, or "nicer" if you will, than autoadmit.  But, I cannot help but take issue with yet another assertion that CU students need not be at the very top of their class to land a spot at a top DC firm.  Please don't take this as the sort of cruel rant one might encounter over at autoadmit.

What you call the "bigger names" are NOT going to give a job to a CU student in the top 15% of his or her class.  And the firms you name off the top of your head are not much more likely to do so either.  Bear in mind that, this (huge) past year notwithstanding, most firms will be cutting back somewhat on their summer classes for 2008.

To visit a campus and/or participate in some resume drops in one thing.  That's part of the program.  Do you think those firms would actually tell CU "hey, we're only going to give a call-back to the top few students and, even then, we'll only hire the top student"?  To actually extend an offer for a 2L summer associate position is quite another thing. 

For those who care to investigate further, all you need to do is visit those firms' websites and look at the attorney profiles.  If you see any associates who graduated from CU in, say, 2006 or 2005 (or, wait a couple of weeks and most of the 2007 class should be there), then you'll get an idea of your chances (you could then go one step further and inquire with CU as to their ranks, or, more directly, simply contact that alum).

Current Law Students / Re: DC prospects?
« on: August 27, 2007, 02:36:56 PM »
Top 10-15%, really?  I would be curious to know what firms in DC.   

Print your resume on nice paper and bring it to the interview ("Mr./Ms. So and So, here's an updated copy of my resume"). Unless your typo was in or near your GPA or class rank listing (or perhaps in the description of your 1L summer job), I highly doubt they will notice at this point. How much time do you think busy recruiting coordinators (and sometimes lawyers) can afford to spend reading OCI resumes?  They won't even read the resumes of students that fall below the grade cut-off for a given school and, even past that point, they won't be looking at it very carefully.

Then again, you are applying for a $160k/year job where one of your main duties will be proof-reading, and the single most important document (to you) that you have ever produced was that resume.

Current Law Students / Re: DC prospects?
« on: August 26, 2007, 10:02:09 AM »
It seems to me that the DC market, at least based on the firm I'm going to after graduation (though I'm not going to DC), is highly selective.  The offices just tend to be smaller. Pedigree also matters a lot in that town.  Plus, as most of the prestigious firms' DC offices focus on Supreme Court, high level regulatory, and international work, the bar is set even higher.  

The earlier poster was correct in stating that, from Colorado, you would need to be more like top 5-10% (and closer to top 5%).  You will need to be one of the top 2 or 3 (students, not percent) at Catholic to even get a screening interview at a top DC office (unless you know somebody).

If it's any consolation, I met a guy this past summer (he wasn't a summer with me, I met him socially) who was top 5% at Catholic after 1L and transfered to T14.

Current Law Students / Re: Does briefing cases as a 1L = waste of time?
« on: August 24, 2007, 06:26:28 AM »
Why yes, tacojohn, some "stuff" is so important that it merits repeating.  That "stuff," of course, is the final exam.  Your post basically says, "this person is laying down advice like it's gospel, but there are lots of ways to succeed in law school."  But you do not offer your own advice.

Please enlighten me as to a school, with the exception of perhaps Yale (1L), at which test taking ability is not of paramount importance. I know it will irk you, but hey, my post wasn't for your esteemed benefit, it was for the 1L poster, so here goes, allow me to repeat: Success in law school (especially first year) depends almost entirely on exams.  Regardless of how well one actually knows the material, success will turn on a student's ability to (1) analyze a fact pattern, (2) spot issues, (3) set forth rules, (3) apply those rules to the facts, (4) set forth any possible defenses, (5) draw conclusions, and (6) (if time permits) discuss any policy views that the professor considers important. 

How QUICKLY one can complete steps 1-6 will bear heavily on one's grade.  It doesn't matter how one gets through the semester, it matters how one TAKES the exams.  Sitting in study groups can help to understand tuff concepts, or to make outlining easier, or simply to provide supportive company.  But unless such a group practices writing out answers, they won't do as well as they could have.  Again, as in my initial post, I am not saying this is the only way to succeed (i.e. it's not "gospel"), because success will depend on many other aspects of preparation and study (and luck), I am simply saying that it is arguably the best way to get as high a score on exams as one's knowledge, preparation and luck will allow. 

The "confidence" of 1L's is rattled throughout the semester by the fear of being called on in class and looking unprepared or idiotic. This fear, while understandable, is unfounded. As also noted in my initial post, flailing in class if called on is unlikely to harm one's grade, and killing it in class is unlikely to help one's grade.  By stressing to 1L's the fact that how they actually TAKE their exams is crucial, I make no guarantee of success, nor do I hope to rattle their confidence. But make no mistake 1L's, next year at this time, your success in the recruiting process will be based on how well you did on your first year exams.

It is, of course, silly that the ability to complete steps 1-6 faster than 65-95% (depending on your school) of your classmates can have such a tremendous impact on your career prospects (at least right out of the gate), but it is the arbitrary and senseless system in which you must function. (Note: If you plan to hang your own shingle after graduation, good for you, best of luck, and you simply need to pass your courses. As such, you should be able to work while in school, to minimize your debt. You can disregard my "gospel.") 

Current Law Students / Re: Does briefing cases as a 1L = waste of time?
« on: August 23, 2007, 11:11:36 AM »
1. All law schools tell their new students to brief cases.  It's the best way to learn how to spot issues, see how a court states a legal rule, applies the rule to the facts, and draws a conclusion.  This is how most exam answers are written, and how basic legal arguments are developed. 

2. You should have learned the above skills within a month or so.  By the end of your first semester, you should be "book-briefing," i.e. just highlighting, underlining and making notes in your casebooks.  You'll learn to use Lexis or Westlaw to pull up the case, read a quick summary (which can often be misleading, or off-topic for given course), and see the rules espoused in the opinion.  I typically copied/pasted from Lexis onto a Word document to create my "briefs" (at least when I was still preparing briefs).  Many schools will admonish students not to book-brief, but that's just to ensure that students prepare fully for each class (and to further enhance the skills described above). 

3. You should obtain a good outline from a (successful) 2L or 3L in electronic form, which you can keep open during class to modify as needed.   

4. The most important thing in your casebook is typically the notes (and sometimes the problems) and the end of each chapter/section.  I would also keep another Word document open throughout the semester to note any hypos the professor spits out. 

5. Notice how the theme of points 1-3 above were about minimizing how much time and effort is spent on the cases, and how point 4 is about applying the rule(s) learned in each case to a problem?  That's because all of your courses will come down to one thing: the exam. 

6. You should be creating your outline (or touching up an old outline) on a weekly basis.  This is more important than having read all of the cases for class.  Of course, it is embarrassing to seem unprepared if called on, but this almost never affects your grade, and it almost never helps your grade to nail a case when called on.  At the end of the semester, you should already know the outliines well and, instead of spending countless hours preparing an outline, you can spend more time doing...

7. Yes, this one gets its own number...writing out practice answers! 

8. Wait, yes, that one is so important, it bears stressing: get your professors' old exams (if available), look at some E & E's, whatever, and write answers.  You're success will depend on your ability to quickly read a fact pattern, spot issues, then set about writing out rules of law and applying them to the facts (allowing time to draw lawerly conclusions or add any "policy" stuff you know your professor cares about). 

9. To put it another way, you can know the cases inside and out, you can know every rule by heart for the exam, but if you cannot write out rules and conclusions FAST, you won't do as well on the exams as you should. 

Good luck.

Current Law Students / Re: what do mid firms pay summer associates?
« on: August 23, 2007, 06:01:34 AM »
Good luck with the interviews, and in the offer process.  I did the same last fall in Chicago.

Current Law Students / Re: what do mid firms pay summer associates?
« on: August 23, 2007, 04:55:27 AM »
Well, that's good to hear that one of the premium Chicago mid-sized firms is paying $160k (and BF is, indeed, one of the top few mid-sized firms).  But again, to scream it from the rooftops, BF is not what one means when one says "mid-size Chicago firm."  Scroll through its attorney bios.  There are very few who didn't go to a top school (very Northwestern heavy, and many Harvard), and for those who attended lower ranked schools, they were no doubt near the top of their class, and likely came through the door with either serious experience or business.  Moreover, many of the attorneys at BF - just like its founders - likely came from top big firms.  If "law zombie" is so inclined, I'm sure he or she can find out from what schools (and with what class ranks) the summer associates of this and recent years have hailed.

Current Law Students / Re: what do mid firms pay summer associates?
« on: August 22, 2007, 06:28:30 PM »
I have yet to hear of a SINGLE "mid-size" firm in Chicago that pays $160k.  In fact, several "big" firms have yet to raise to $160k and, for most that have, there has been blatant compression (only the top firms, e.g. Mayer, Sidley, Kirkland, etc.) have matched the NYC "market" salary all the way up (i.e. 160, 170, 185, 210, 235...).  The only non-big firms that have matched are the elite boutiques (e.g. elite IP, or the over-the-top elite appellate likes of, e.g., Bartlit Beck). 

There are, of course, a handful of premium mid-size firms in Chicago, perhaps a half-dozen, at which one can now expect to see starting salaries in the neighborhood of $125-140k (and for a few, a billable expectation of 1850-1900, rather than 2000).  The premium mid-size shops offer a full range of services, serving mostly middle market, local corporations (or the Illinois-specific needs of large corporations).  But these are NOT what most people are talking about when they say "mid-size" or "mid-law."  In larger markets in general and in Chicago in particular, mid-size means 50-100 lawyers, one office (with a few exceptions), providing mostly insurance defense services, with starting salaries ranging from 65 (on the low end) to 80 (more common) to 90 (high end).  One can (and is expected to at such shops) develop a practice (i.e. a book of business) beyond insurance defense at such places, but at that point, why not just hang one's own shingle?

As someone who, in my first year of law school, said, "I don't think a big Chicago firm is for me, nah, I think I want to work at a mid-size firm," let me say that I was completely clueless.  Make no mistake: you want to spend your summer (prior to 3L) at as prestigious a large firm as you can. Regardless of your ultimate goals, that is the ideal way to start.  You will make a lot of money, be treated like a king/queen, and will be exposed to the most sophisticated, broadest possible practices available. Ideally, you should receive an offer from such a firm to return after graduation.  Such a firm will pay for your bar course, and perhaps a stipend while you study for the bar.  Months before your bar results are even posted, you can go to work and start making top dollar and learning about the largest clients in the world.  If you discover (as many do) that such a setting and such hours are not for you, you can simply act on one of the never-ending calls from recruiters that will have your phone ringing off the hook (to lateral to one of the above described premium mid-size firms, corporations, etc.).  Bear in mind that typical mid-size firms do not help you with your bar studies, many will not start paying you that breathtaking $80k salary until your bar results come in as passing, and you will not receive any recruiting calls (i.e. your exit options will be quite limited; but you could always go solo once you've gotten some experience or, in some rare cases, lateral to a big firm). 

Note that, at most typical mid-size firms, the concept of the "summer associate" is laughed at by the partners as a ridiculous waste of money.  At the premium mid-size firms, only 4 or 5 students will be taken each summer, and all of them will have turned down offers from several of the top big firms. 

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