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Messages - kenpostudent

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Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 05, 2010, 10:05:33 AM »
Boyd is ranked higher in legal writing than almost all of the T14 schools. So, we may have a different ballgame 15 years from now... not that this will do me much good by then.

Honestly, Harvard is better than Boyd or GGU. Even if your in the top 10% at Boyd I think the prestige of Harvard will win out. Getting into Harvard is just an accomplishment in and of itself. I almost feel like it is harder to get into some of those schools than it is to rank in the top 10% of a tier 2,3, or 4 school. With that said I have to go on another tangent about these rankings. Boyd is ranked higher in legal writing, Vermont is ranked highly in environmental law, Pepperdine is great at negotiations, but again WHERE DOES THIS COME FROM. I mean these subrankings do not even have any measurable statistics whatsoever. At least as awfully measure as the rankings are at least there is approximately 10% objective facts. These subrankings just seem like they are selected at random. I feel like U.S. News rankings has gotten Wizard of Oz type status.  The Wizard was "allegedly"  this great all knowing,  all powerful entity, yet he was nothing. Nobody questioned his power or how he got there they just accepted well he is the wizard you can't interrupt him, you can't see him, you can't interact with him, but he does know everything. We all know how that turns out.  U.S. News is the same thing I have no idea when they started ranking or why, or who determines these rankings, it is just THE GREAT ALL KNOWING U.S. NEWS. Who is on this committee how did they rank my school as a top 25 public interest school , how did they determine Boyd is a top writing school, how did they determine Pepperdine is great at negotiations. I would love answer to any of these questions, but none exists other than U.S. News said so. Based on what how these anonymous random people felt. It is so ridiculous.

The really sad part is that people take these rankings so seriously. I know a girl from my school that transferred to Santa Clara she was in the top 2% at my school and they gave her a full scholarship. However, she transferred because she wanted to do IP law.  She has no engineering background whatsoever, but Santa Clara is ranked 8th or something in IP according to U.S. News. So she is going to go 80,000 more in debt than she would have and even though U.S. News says they are the 8th best IP school she will probably lose out to anyone in the Bay Area with a J.D. from and an engineering background. Realistically, if she really wanted to do IP law it would have been better for her to save a ton of money staying at GGU and used the 80,000 in savings to get some type of engineering degree. IP is one of those industries where they don't really care what school you went to if you know how technical things work then you are set. Which is why the patent bar exists. However, U.S. News all knowing as they are and with no facts to support it said Santa Clara is the 8th best IP school. So she up and left leaving 80,000 on the table.  I hope it works for her she was a cool person, but odds are she is going to go 80,000 more in debt and not have anymore prospects from Santa Clara than she would from GGU. Maybe I am wrong, but I really think U.S. News is just an awful thing that people use to make life changing decisions.  U.S. News has no facts to support anything and yet people follow down the yellow brick road just as Dorothy did. To follow some unnamed, anonymous, thing, that is not there. It made for a great movie, but in real life people need to question these rankings and how they come about.

Harvard is not better than Boyd in many areas: Gaming law (hello, we're in Las Vegas), arguably not in legal writing (I'll put any of my writing samples against those of Harvard grads and see how I compete, I may not beat every or even most Harvard grads, but I bet I compete with a very favorable showing). Objectively, Boyd requires more writing classes (3 to graduate) plus a scholarly (publishable - aka Law Review Note, minimum of 25 pages not including footnotes) from EVERY student to graduate. Harvard doesn't require that. Yes, Harvard admits a better crop of students, but their graduation requirements are not as stringent. It is very possible that the average Boyd admit is weaker than the average Harvard grad upon admission, but ends up equal to or stronger than the average Harvard grad at graduation because of a more rigourous legal writing program.

The subrankings come from law professors and the deans of law schools. So, they are based on reputations in the legal academic community.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 05, 2010, 09:58:24 AM »
There are some big law firms here in Las Vegas with relatively small offices, while those same firms have large offices elsewhere. However, the most interesting law in Las Vegas is done by small boutique firms of 20 or less attorneys. The "big firms" out here service mostly casinos and banks.

I do agree that efficiency is part of the big law recruiting model. It's also about reputation. Notice that all the T14 schools are also the oldest law schools. Those schools have had the longest amount of time to churn out graduates who have become partners in the big firms. Also, big firm partners also have had exposure to graduates of all those schools, even if that is not their alma mater. There is a hint of an "old boys club" model going on.

Are the big school associates "better"? Maybe, especially for some types of cases. Big law handles primarily corporate interests and complex litigation. So, I can see a legitmate interest in hiring the best and the brightest. The cases they work on are so complex that no one attorney (and in many cases no 10 attorneys) can handle them. You want VERY bright people working on that stuff. By contrast, how many individual clients who walk into a local lawyer's office have issues with a CDO or a credit default swap? Your T2-T4 grad with a high GPA can probably handle a basic PI case involving a car accident. A T2-T4 grad with a 3.8 GPA may not have a background to walk into a complex, multi-national, creditor-debtor litigation case or some international IP case. So, I understand the bias, but I don't think it is always warranted. Many T2-T4 grads are just as bright and trainable, but many are not given a chance. Either way, I don't care because I won't work for those big firms. I understand the complex litigation that they handle, but have no desire to be a desk jockey that NEVER ends up in a courtroom or a puppet to the interests of the world's richest people (who consequently are often responsible for much of the harm in the world).

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 04, 2010, 06:19:20 PM »
I suppose that reflects the biases of hiring partners at big firms. In terms of career placement, those T14 schools "destroy" Boyd today. However, Boyd is ranked higher in legal writing than almost all of the T14 schools. So, we may have a different ballgame 15 years from now... not that this will do me much good by then. I'll put my education against any T14 grad. I bet I win in a direct challenge of writing ability and substantive knowledge of the law on many occasions. Boyd puts out good students, and I bet I work a hell of lot harder than most T14 grads. Do I think that I can overcome partner bias? Probably not... at least not outside of NV. Boyd is 11 years old and doesn't have much of a reputation outside of Nevada. It will be 50 years until that reputation spreads. I'll be retired by then, or well on my way to retirement. So, my comments only reflect my opinion. Inside of NV, I'm not convinced that partners prefer Ivy League or T-14 grads over Boyd grads. I didn't get that impression from OCI. In NV, I think Boyd grads rule, even over T14 grads. There are not many "big firms" in NV, though. I think our largest firm has 80 attorneys. That's nothing compared to NYC, DC, LA, or Chicago. Can I compete in those markets? Not by virtue of just having a Boyd degree with a high GPA. However, big law partners are not rational in many of their choices, so I really don't care. They want to brag about the pedigree of their grads. I guess that impresses Chevron executives who employ such firms. If those firms want to believe that their associates are so great, good for them. When I smash them in court, then I'll buy them a consolation beer afterwards. They can wipe their tears away with their Ivy League degrees.

Are T14 grads "better" on any objective or measurable level than other grads with comparable or higher GPAs? Probably not. Do most hiring partners think so? Probably so. Are they wrong? Mostly. It won't matter to me because I won't work for Big Law. I would rather start my own firm in five years or so after some experience at either a small firm or a government agency. I have the grades to work for the government. If I maintain my GPA, I'll be fine.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 04, 2010, 03:48:58 PM »
Then, I amend my statement to say that I would hire any T2 grad with a 3.8 GPA over any T14 grad with a 3.0 GPA. I am not an expert on the grading policies of any law school other than my own.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 04, 2010, 01:32:13 PM »
It makes sense that class rank opposed to GPA would matter. I had no idea that the higher schools were more lenient with their grades. I also completely agree that someone at UCLA might not do that much better at Hastings. A few points on the LSAT does not mean much in regards to how well you will do in law school. A 170 compared to a 151 maybe, but 159 to 164 or 155 to 159 does not guarantee success or failure at any given school.

Even LSAT scores can be misleading. I got a 157 on the LSAT. I got straight As my first semester. Many students in my section had scores of 165 or better and pulled Bs and Cs. I think law school tests your ability to write a good exam. The LSAT may or may not be a good measure of that. Many times it is, but it often is not.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 04, 2010, 01:27:22 PM »
I asked the attorneys I interned with and between a 3.0 at Georgetown and a 3.8 at Fordham, they chose Georgetown

That's hearsay, anecdotal evidence, and an appeal to authority all in the same argument!

The skill set that it takes to get a 3.8 makes it very impressive at any school. I don't know how to compare a 3.8 from Fordham to a 3.0 at Georgetown or a 3.0 at Standford, or wherever, but I wouldn't frown upon anyone who can pull a 3.8 from any ABA law school, even Cooley. When you're entire grade is made up of one test, it's really easy to be off on one of those tests. A 3.8 basically means you have never gotten anything less than a B, and if you got a B, it happened once. That requires intense dedication.

I'm less impressed with big-name law schools than most people, so I am somewhat biased. The higher curve is one thing. Also, whether you get a 2.5 or a 3.5 from Stanford, you're probably still going to get a decent job. If you get a 2.5 from a tier 2, you might have some trouble finding your first job. So, motivation also plays a part. Someone who gets a 3.8 at Boyd is a rockstar because everyone is competing for a limited number of Big Law jobs in Las Vegas or in the Southwest region. Plus, the differene between an A in many classes and a B is a matter of just a few points on your raw score. So, you really have to be sharp to consistently get all As. That speaks volumes in both knowledge of the law and dedication to one's studies.

In short, I would hire a law student with a 3.8 out of Boyd or any ABA school over the guy with the 3.0 from Harvard, all other things being equal.

Current Law Students / Re: These discussions are killing me....
« on: October 03, 2010, 04:23:43 PM »
I suppose there might be difficulty when trying to break into some sectors of the legal job market. Big Law is suffering, and only some of the smaller regional firms are starting to hire again. Yet, I got a ticket a few months ago. I found an attorney here in Las Vegas that does nothing but tickets and DUIs. When I went to his office, he was chillin in jeans and a t-shirt, and he looked like Eddie Vedder with hair down to his mid-back. He said he makes well over $100k a year just handling traffic stuff. He goes to court a few times a week, but chills the rest of the time. While all my classmates are fighting over the big law jobs that pay $105k, he's laughing all the way to the bank. He has no a$$ to kiss, and no drama. If he can do, so can many others. So, I suppose that your career is what you make of it.

I also know of a few small attorneys in town who are struggling. I'm not saying that it's easy street for the sole practitioner. However, for those who are smart and motivated, there are opportunities.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: socratic method
« on: October 03, 2010, 12:11:09 PM »
Basically, the professor is just going to carry on a discussion with a student or a few students about the material assigned for that class. Some professors employ different methods. I've had professors that will have 3 or 4 on-call students for the class. Those students will field all the questions, with the option of passing a question on to someone else if they don't know the answer. Other professors just randomly call on students. Some tend to focus on one or a few students for quite some time. Others jump around from student to student.

Generally, they'll take a case, Smith v. Jones, and ask, "What happened in that case?" A student will usually start with the facts and the procedural summary. Then, the professor might ask why certain facts were important to the court. Then, he might ask what was at issue. Then, he might ask about the case holding and reasoning. A good professor will ask why a court ruled the way they did and if that holding would be different if the facts were slightly different. Then, they may ask about a concurrence or dissent, if the case has one or both. Then, they might throw out a few hypotheticals that are based on the case but slightly different to see how the case applies to different fact patterns.

It's nothing to be afraid of. If you don't know, just say so. They can't do anything for you for not knowing the answer. I would try to answer the question before I defaulted to "I don't know". You don't lose points for wrong answers. I wouldn't worry about looking dumb in front of your classmates. They probably thought the same thing you did and just didn't have the balls to speak up. Besides, everyone makes mistakes. Just be prepared for class and try to answer the professor's questions intelligently. They are going to bring up a question that you cannot answer at some point. They want you to think on your feet, which is an essential skill for an attorney (at least a litigator). Mostly, they grill 1Ls to make sure that you are doing your reading and not relying on commercial outlines or commercial briefs. Lawyers have to learn to read actual cases. A good professor will ask you where in the opinion (page and paragraph) that you got your info. Just be prepared and be confident in your answers.

You can find examples of all of those motions on Westlaw. You will learn most of that stuff in either pre-trial litigation, in trial advocacy, or in a clinic. You just haven't gotten there yet. The other way you learn this stuff is through clerkships and externships. At a clerkship, you'll see examples of all the various motions filed by attorneys, some good, some very bad. So, you'll see the practice of law from the court's perspective. You'll get the same from a judicial externship. If you do an externship or an internship with either a law firm or government agency, you'll see all of it from a client perspective. I'm not saying that any of the options listed above will prepare you for the practice of law, but all of them together will help. Except for a clerkship, you access to all of the above while in law school. You'll apply for clerkships right at the start of your third year. Law school is really meant to teach theory and not practice. Maybe all law schools should require 30 credit hours of clinics. Unfortunately, they do not. My law school makes 6 credit hours of clinical education available, but it is not required. No more than 12 credits of externships can be applied to the graduation requirement. This is frustrating, but if a student does a clinic and maxes out their externship hours, they'll have 18 credits of practical education. Then, you can always work over the summer or during your third year. Ample opportunities exist to get practical experience while in law school. Don't fret that you are only learning theory now. The theory drives the practice.

What practical skills do you think are lacking? You mentioned arguing cases, but few attorneys actually do that. You fashion arguments everyday in law school. You argue on exams. You argue on your briefs. The only difference is that you would present those same argument orally in court as opposed to on paper. What I think you mean is trial skills. There are mock trial competitions in law school to simulate that. However, nothing really prepares you like the real thing. No law student can actually argue a trial for real. It wouldn't be fair to a defendant, unless a law student was also the Plaintiff/Prosecutor.

What other lawyer skills do you want to build in law school: interviewing? There are tons of competitions for that. Law school teaches you to question issues and formulate questions on important issues. You don't need extensive training to put that into practice. However, there are both competitions and clinics that will help you build client interviewing, negotiation, and mediation experience.

How about writing? There are tons of writing competitions for myriads of types of practice documents from briefs, motions, office memos, and even non-practice documents like law review notes and general research papers.

You can get as much technical skill as you want to put the time in to develop. No matter what, however, you will never be fully prepared for your first day on the job. You will be learning your entire career.

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