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Messages - TheCause

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Planet Law School is a decent book, but I'm not sure how much it really helps in the long run.  I don't know you (OP), so take my advice for what it's worth.

First, I was on Law Review and I knew a lot of kids in the top 20 percent.  My only true skill in life is my talent for observation.  This is unscientific, but success in law school seems to come from the following:

1: The ability to smartly outwork your classmates in the first 2/3rds of the semester.  25%
Most law schools run on a bell curve, so your grades are drastically affected by your peers. Most people, especially those students toward the top of the class, work insanely hard for the last 4 or 5 weeks in each semester.  If you want an edge, be smart in the first two months of the semester.  This is where books like planet law school can help. 
You should also consider your energy level.  If I could go back in time I would have spent the summer playing and reading good (recreational) books.
Make sure you take good notes in class and work hard, but also focus on test prep as soon as you feel comfortable.  Glannon's Examples and Explanations book for Civil Procedure is a great supplement.  If you have civ pro, I'd recommend picking it up early on.

2: Raw Intelligence 25%
Not much you can do about this.  I know some people will tell you differently, but it's obvious to me that brain power makes a big difference in law school.  (And LSAT scores aren't really the best indicator).

3:  Exam Taking Speed.  15%
Sometimes the difference between an A and a B is very small.  Start looking at practice exams after a few weeks of law school.  You won't know all the material, but you need to get familiar with questions and figure out how you want to approach them.  Also, keyboarding can make a difference.  I know my 90 wpm typing secured a couple of my A grades.

4:  Writing Ability.  15%
Of course this goes hand in hand with numbers 1 and 2, but this is important.  Pay attention to your legal writing classes, and read a couple writing books.  Good writing makes you more efficient and faster, which helps you get more points.   Remember, most tests are timed and you don't have enough time to talk about every single issue.  So that can diminish the importance of knowing everything.

5:  Memory  10%
Most tests I took were open book, but outlines and books slowed me down.  Create notes and outlines with the purpose of learning the material.  Many people just try to organize everything in a brilliant way so it will be readily accecible, and usually they either get bogged down or they just know the crap well enough to not need an outline on the test.

6: Luck 5%
Sometimes your classmates will be geniuses.  Sometimes the teacher will focus on your one weakness on the final.  Sometimes you'll misread a question.  Very few people get anywhere close to straight As.  But some people are very consistent, so luck is very low on this list.

7: Friends 5%
This one is tricky.  Sometimes study groups can make a huge difference, but it's a gamble.  That's why I don't think the impact is very significant.  I don't think study groups are  very effective until you and your friends all have a decent handle on the subject.  Otherwise you'll just be slowing each other down.

So what does this have to do with anything?
The point is that some books and some strategies just focus on one or two of the things above.  Some people even believe that hard work is everything.  I just think most of your top competitors will work insanely hard in the first year.  Try to find advantages in the other areas.

Finally, the top 2 law student's I've ever known didn't do any advance preparation.  They had fun and made sure they were ready to commit when the game started.


The rankings should include at least some factors that aren't directly tied to the intelligence of the incoming class and the student created "prestige" of the university.

Think about it, if you took the smartest kids in the Nation and put them in a school ranked around 80, eventually, more employers would start interviewing on that campus.  I guess it's a bit of a chicken/egg debate, but I think the intelligence of students creates future prestige, not vice versa.

Take a look at
The US news bases their rankings primarily on:

The Opinions of Peers (other law schools and professors) 25%
Employment Placement: 18%
The Opinions of Lawyers and Judges 15%
The LSAT scores of the incoming class. 12.5 %
The GPA of the incoming class 10%

Those categories make up 80.5% of the rankings.  
Professors, lawyers, and judges don't really know whether the quality of education is high at a certain institution unless they attended or taught there, and then their judgments are biased.  They understand that these schools are prestigious and kids with crazy high LSATs and GPAs go there.
Employers interview at the schools with the most competitive classes and the highest scores.  Does anyone honestly think Harvard placement would stay consistent if they only admitted students with LSAT scores between 150 and 160?  Their ranking would drop overnight.

All of those things, including prestige, have to do with how smart/hard working the students are.  Smart Kids choose to go to the schools with the highest prestige and best career prospects, so it's just a perpetual cycle.

These assumptions are supported by the fact that the rankings are relatively stagnant.  Sure, schools move around all the time, but there are very few "new" schools in the top 25.  What if a good state school, like the University of Arizona (Ranked at the bottom of T2) came up with a brilliant way of educating and preparing prospective lawyers?  Would their ranking shoot up to the top ten?  It's doubtful, and I'm pretty sure it's never happened.  I assume that is because Law Schools consider themselves to be academic temples, not vocational schools.  "Our purpose as guardians of the holy legal tradition is to bring together the best and the brightest young minds, and carry out amazing intellectual discussions thereby combining our knowledge and creating a type of idealistic pedagogical kingdom."
If a school's slogan was "Our purpose is to train you to be successful practitioners," U.S. news would just save them a place at the Tier Three Table (Or Toilet)

The cycle needs to be broken.
In reality, the US news rankings are only meaningful because students use them to make decisions.  
Why can't the US news implement other factors?

-Quality of Life  (Based on student surveys, weather, crime rate, entertainment, market size of surrounding city.)
-Satisfaction with Professors  (Based on student reviews, and the real-world experience of professors)
-Tuition Amount.  I know the US news considers financial aid (a whopping 1.5%), but why isn't tuition a factor?
-Average salary ten years out of law school.
-Percentage of Students still in the legal industry after 10 years.

My point is that student's should choose their law school based on criteria other than prestige, but that won't happen until employers start hiring from schools with less prestige, which won't happen until smarter students go to schools with less prestige..

Wait... I guess we're screwed.


Job Search / Re: Crisis of Faith: Why even pursue this path?
« on: February 19, 2010, 08:38:12 AM »
Just FYI, law review write-on competitions are anonymous at some (probably most) schools.  I doubt the "clique system" has very much to do with it.

It is law school discussion I am not spending hours on my punctuation. I have a job for summer paying me pretty well, which is what I wanted after my first year of law school and I did it going to a T-4.  All half the people do on here is criticize lower ranked schools when they go to what the 83rd best school in U.S. news instead of the 114th really get over yourselves. Law school will work out if you put in the work and don't waste your time on law school discussion trashing other schools.  I am not trying to argue that I will have the same opportunities as a Harvard Grad, but T-4's are not cesspools there are smart people there and the professors went to Harvard or Yale and no matter what school you go to the rules and law are the same.  A tort is a tort whether you go to Harvard or Cooley.  Waste your time criticizing the punctuation of my two second rant if you want.   

I am just writing on this board to let people know the horrible things they hear about T-4's are not true. I almost made the worst mistake of my life by believing that people on this board said about T-4's being cesspools and going to a higher ranked school in a place that I had no desire to live. Had I done that it would have screwed up my family and relationship. Instead I went to a T-4 and my family, relationship, and educational career are going fine. THE END

You make some good points. 
But statistically, if you are going to go to school outside the top 14 or 20 or whatever, your best chance for flexibility (or landing a job at all) is to go to the most well respected law school in the geographical area you want to work in.

Half of the students at T4s graduate in the bottom half of their class (groundbreaking idea right?)
If you don't have a full scholarship or a job lined up, then it would be better to avoid law school altogether than graduate in the bottom half of a T4.

General Off-Topic Board / Ready for College at 17 years old?
« on: February 17, 2010, 08:31:18 AM »
Some Utah senators are proposing a bill that eliminates the 12th grade (or makes it optional)
The proposal will supposedly save the state 60 million dollars.


Current Law Students / Re: Is a JD Just another Humanities Degree?
« on: February 15, 2010, 08:52:02 AM »
the only reason i am dollar signs is because they will make me independent of silliness (strong euphemism) of the majority mob rule.  The morning I will not have to rely on the judgment of 99% of people who think they know everything but do not know jack will be the best time in my life.  I will definitely make sure to FDIC insure my money to protect it from money managers who think they know what they are talking about.  Thats all.

P.S. I self represented myself in 2 lawsuits filed against me and won in a landslide thanks to my legal research and writing skills.  Moreover, I love law and enjoy studying it. I foresee the dollar signs invested in law schools likely wasted, but going there anyways.

You won in a landslide?  Did they tell you what percentage you won by or something?

"I find for the plaintiff, who carried 60% of my decision in this case!  An overwhelming margin."

Go to a good school, get a good job, change lives, make money, come back and tell everyone how to be a good lawyer/law student.

Current Law Students / Re: Is a JD Just another Humanities Degree?
« on: February 12, 2010, 10:38:30 AM »
What is, then?  Relatively speaking, what field/degree helps give you that prospect?

A PharmD will all but guarantee you a 100k+ job when you graduate.  And you can work almost anywhere.

Also, a J.D. is pretty marketable in many cases, even if you went to a school outside of the top 14.
If you're in the top 20% of your class at Texas, Iowa, Kansas, or BYU  (Or another good school that stands atop a geographical area) then you're likely to get a decent job.

Current Law Students / Re: Why is Cooley Law so despised?
« on: February 12, 2010, 10:33:25 AM »
The ABA should cut off a lot of law schools. 

I am not sure how they should decide which schools to discredit, but Cooley would probably be on the list under any formulation.

But what do I know?  I also think the 2L and 3L years should become apprenticeship requirements.
Finish an ABA accredited 1L year, Complete 2000-3000 hours at an approved employer, take whatever additional classes your employer likes and whatever classes you think you need for the Bar Exam.

Not only would the educational experience be more valuable, but if you didn't get into a school in the area you'd like to work, then you could still be an apprentice in your preferred area and take classes (like barbri) tailored to your state's bar exam.

I don't want to offend anyone (even though I understand I probably will) but can someone please help me understand why being bisexual should have any impact on an application?

You get turned on by/fall in love with more types of people than anyone else right?   What does that quality or experience offer a law school in terms of diversity? (Or anything else for that matter)

And as a bisexual, do you have any desire to enter into a monogamous relationship with one person?  Or do you require intimacy with both sexes in order to be satisfied?  And if so, do you support polygamy?  (e.g., one straight man married to two bisexual women)

General Off-Topic Board / Re: We must return to traditional values.
« on: March 24, 2009, 09:10:41 AM »
What items on my list do you support?  What items don't you support?
Call them whatever you want.  Call them "TheCause's crazy slogans" if you wish.

You were the one who labeled them "traditional values."  That's really the main problem I have: the suggestion that just because things are traditional, they must be good.

I wonder how much you've thought these through beyond the slogans.  How, for example, would you suggest that I, as a lawyer, could help preserve the Constitution? 

Well, if you focus on the amendments:
You may have the opportunity to protect the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th amendments on a regular basis.  Of course the other amendments might be applicable as well.

I also think the preamble says it well:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...

And there are many ways that you can ensure that the constitution continues to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence,  promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you and your posterity.

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