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Messages - kenpostudent

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Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Cooley has a JINGLE
« on: June 30, 2008, 11:03:12 AM »
There are plenty of top law graduates to don't get jobs at the largest of law firms. Many do, some don't. I don't disagree that one's chances are better at getting top firm job out of a top law school as opposed to Cooley. That is an undeniable fact.

However, going to a top law school is not a sufficient condition to obtain a big firm job. Many don't get those jobs even though they apply. I would not recommend a school like Cooley to anyone, but I can see where some good attorneys could come from such a school. The best lawyer that I know graduated from CA Western (a tier 4 school). He has won more murder trials than most other attorneys in Las Vegas. I assert that where you go to school has little bearing on what kind of attorney you will be. A Yale law grad has no more skill or knowlege than any other graduate, since law school does not teach the practice of law but only theory.

So many intangibles to into the makeup of a good trial lawyer. Many law school grads that were top of their class and on law review get stomped in the courtroom by lower tier graduates because they just don't have what it takes. Having a degree from Yale Law School can't give you what it takes. It can only open doors for you. From there, you have to sink or swim on your own. Many a top law grad has failed to live up to their pedigree.

What makes anyone fresh out of law school with no professional work experience think they automatically deserve a job paying over $100K? A fresh law school grad has no clue what it means to be a lawyer or how to represent clients. It's only by the grace of God and the sheer stupidity of BigLaw firms that anyone decides to pay a fresh grad that kind of money.


But I think biglaw firms know what they're doing. They attract top talent and work them to death...they deserve to be well paid.

What other profession pays top dollar for inexperienced professionals? Maybe professional sports teams. Other than that, name an industry where you can make $100K plus in your first year out of school. MBA grads can, but they usually have work experience. Furthermore, BigLaw associates are nothing more than glorified clerks. You really don't need a law degree for most of what they do on a daily basis. I'm not knocking the career choice for those who decide that this life if for them. It's not for me. When I think of a legal career, I think of courtroom litigation. It's personal preference, I suppose.

As far as the attracting top talent, what does a BigLaw associate know or what skills do they possess that small firm associates and government lawyers do not? The "top talent" argument is irrelevant. Many of your best trial lawyers come from lower tier schools that emphasize trial advocacy over legal research. There is simply no law school graduate fresh from law school that knows how to be an attorney. It's called the practice of law because you must learn it by doing it. It takes a few years of experience to learn the profession. The prevailing perception that top law school graduates are "top talent" is more attributable to the laziness of BigLaw recruiters than any empirical facts. Why shouldn't they be lazy, as they are flooded by applications from the top schools? I understand their mindset; I just challenge it's inherent validity. Where you go to school has little bearing on what caliber of attorney you will become. Many "top law" grads get their asses handed to them in court by lower tier grads. Pedigree means nothing in the courtroom.


Where are the "leap" points? What kinds of careers allow you to start out in the "low" range, but not get promotions that are based on being low? Lateral movement, changes of field, developing connections, all that stuff ... so that, if you DO get shafted into one of the low-paying bottom tier jobs after law school, you can still eventually jump into the higher tier.

I think the bottom line is that it really doesn't matter as much where you start out as where you end up. BigLaw is simply not the only employers in the legal community. Small boutique firms regularly hire new associates. You do not have to attend a top law school to get those jobs (but you won't be making 160K either). The fact of the matter is very few people in the entire country make 160K. If you don't believe me, consult IRS records. I'm an accountant. I prepare tax returns and audit public companies. The average salary across the country is like $45K. What makes anyone fresh out of law school with no professional work experience think they automatically deserve a job paying over $100K? A fresh law school grad has no clue what it means to be a lawyer or how to represent clients. It's only by the grace of God and the sheer stupidity of BigLaw firms that anyone decides to pay a fresh grad that kind of money.
Those who land such salaries are the lucky few. Most lawyers simply don't make that kind of money. I think the average attorney salary nationally is something like $80K.

Now, I know plenty of attorneys in Las Vegas and Phoenix who own their own practices and make far more than $160k. Almost none of them went to top law schools. In fact, most went to T3/T4 schools. In fact, my girlfriend's boss is the best attorney that I know, and he went to CA Western (T4). He has won more murder trials than any other attorney that I know. You can make great money, but just not necessarily straight out of law school. You have to gain experience and learn your trade. Very few earn big bucks fresh out of the gate.

Where you go to school will only influence how much debt you incur and your ability to get BigLaw jobs right out of school. BigLaw will hire experienced attorneys, regardless of what school they attended, if they have solid experience. Since very few BigLaw associates ever see the inside of a courtroom in the first few years, an attorney who spent four or five years in a prosecutor's office will have far more trial experience than even BigLaw partners (unless they were also prosecutors once upon at time). Since even BigLaw will have to take a course to court at some point, where do you think they get their experienced litigators? They sure didn't grow them internally.

Furhtermore, I've read a tone of posts regarding poor job prospects for T3/Tr graduates. If this were true, how could such schools stay afloat? Wouldn't they eventually get a reputation and fold? Common sense seems to dictate such. Since there have been no documented closings of ABA accredited T3/T4 schools (that I know of anyway), I can only assume that their graduates eventually find gainful employment. There are always a few who do not, but that is true of any profession. Despite the booming market for accountants. I know of classmates who did not find jobs. I found a full-time position while I was still in school. Some did not (mostly because they wanted top dollar with no experience).

And just for the record, here are my alternatives...with tuition rates...

(T3) Michigan State - $30k/yr (part time, but could transfer)
(T4) South Texas - $29k/year
(T3) Suffolk - $40k/year (not an option. not affordable)
(--) Charlotte - $29k/year

Pick a school where you plan to practice law. Unless you can find a legal market that does not care where you attended school (Las Vegas is the only one I know of). There is a huge debate over prestige vs money. Honestly, where you go to law school is irrelevant if you don't plan to work for BigLaw. Your clients will never ask you where you went to school and most wouldn't know the difference if you told them. Only BigLaw recruiters care because they are innundated with applications from Harvard and Yale grads. They have no incentive but to take the best.

If you attend a T3/T4 school, it is true that your degree will not travel well, though until you get experience. Once you have three or four years of practice under your belt, it won't matter where you went to school as you will rise and fall on your experience. It is best, though, to attend a school where you plan to practice if you are not attending a T14 school. In this way, you can get interships at firms that you wish to apply to upon graduation. I would take a full scholarship if it were offered. You can always cut your teeth in that market and move when you have more experience. You would only have to take another bar.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Columbia vs. NYU
« on: June 30, 2008, 12:21:26 AM »
Despite my obvious disdain for Columbia for letting an enemy of our country deliver a speech on their campus, I would honestly say that there is probably little, if any, difference between the two schools as far as the quality of their law schools. You'll probably see no difference in your legal career regardless of which you choose to attend. It's like trying to compare Harvard and Yale. This is even a tougher comparison, since the two schools are literally right down the street from one another. Columbia has a nicer campus, but it's also in Harlem.

Personally, I scrap both and go to USC.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Columbia vs. NYU
« on: June 29, 2008, 08:38:21 PM »
NYU all the way. Columbia is for traitors...the let the Ahmedinejad speak there.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Cooley has a JINGLE
« on: June 29, 2008, 08:37:11 PM »
I never thought that there would actually be a Cooley troll on the board.

Don't you have, like, 20,000 chairs in your library that you need to start sitting in?  I mean, those chairs aren't going to warm themselves...

hm.  if he can modify his shtick kinda like steve jones, it might be successful.  for now, its just lame.  especially the use of ";" instead of "'"

No need to get insulting.  Thomascooleybliatch just reinforces the crapfest that is Cooley.  His rant sounds like it's coming from a 3-year-old...any school that would admit this idiot has to be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I'm not a Cooley student, nor would I attend the school; however, could somebody please tell me how the curriculum there is materially different from any other law school? How would someone be less of an attorney five years into practice for attending Cooley as opposed to a "T14" school (job propects at BigLaw excluded because BigLaw is a crap shoot for even graduates of the highest ranked schools)?

From my understanding of law school, the curriculum is almost identical anywhere you go. What's more, there are not difficult concepts in law. It's not rocket science. So, for someone who wants to be a trial lawyer, why would the school they attend make much of a difference?

If you don't have any idea what you want to do, you should give serious consideration to going the prestige school so that you don't foreclose any opportunities.

I think it's the other way:  if you know you want biglaw, then go with higher ranked; otherwise, take the scholarship to keep your options open.

It's a trade off.  Higher ranking makes you a more attractive candidate for all employers.  Lower debt makes more employers more attractive to you.

This is probably the best advice I've heard on this board so far. Take the money if you feel you want to practice in the area of the lower ranked school. If not, go for the biggest name. Lower tier schools do not necessarily limit your career options, but they do create detours. For instance, if you have a liberal arts undergrad degree and no substantive work experience, BigLaw will not be impressed with your JD from a lower ranked school. If you have some work experience, a marketable undergrad degree (i.e. accounting, finance, marketing), or are the top of your class, you will have something to distinguish you from other applicants. However, even if you can't get into BigLaw right off the bat, you can always lat-move up to BigLaw after a few years of working for a boutique firm (especially if you get some strong litigation experience).

I think people focus too much on where they start their career. No matter where you start your career, you are not limited by that. I live in Las Vegas. From my experience with the legal market here (I'm an accountant, so I work with many tax, securities, and corporate attorneys), most did not go to top schools. In fact, the majority attended T3/T4 schools, and they are not worse for it. If you want to practice in NYC, LA, SF, DC, then you will need the pedigree. However, you can find jobs in many smaller markets without a "T14" (whatever that means, since they change every year) on your resume.

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