Law School Discussion

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Messages - kenpostudent

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51
General Board / Re: Avoiding Burnout
« on: September 20, 2010, 04:34:07 PM »
Make out a realistic schedule and stick to it. If you feel you are getting burned out, you probably don't have a realistic schedule. Also, plan for recreation time and keep those plans.

52
L.L.M. Board / Re: Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?
« on: September 14, 2010, 12:01:05 PM »
Law school is really meant to teach you think like an attorney. In the same way, I bet a tax program has its own nuances to analysis of tax and other transactional issues. That thought process will help you more than the material that you learn. Whether or not you can learn that on a job and whether or not the degree will get you either jobs or higher salaries that you would not get without it is a matter of risk assessment. I think you are probably right that the degree will be worth the money and time expended; yet, I guess that depends on how much of your time you want to spend in tax work.

I was an accountant before law school. I did some tax but mostly a great deal of securities regulation work. I found that the attorneys in those fields were truly experts in those fields. I worked with attorneys who had LLMs in either tax or securities regulation along with attorneys who had neither degree. I did not see any difference in the level of knowledge between those who got a formal degree and those who learned on the job. I don't know if this is dispositive of anything, though. However, the attorneys that learned on the job tended to be entrepreneurs more than the attorneys who sought the formal education.

53
I have nothing against the exams I think they are very important, and they should be there. However, if I was on trial for a crime I would also want to be sure they knew how to write a motion properly etc. I have just heard from numerous places that law school teaches you the theories and not necessarily the practice of law. Maybe the exams could up make 50% of your ranking, and there could be a school wide competition where you file motions and perform a trial to make up the other 50% of your ranking. That way it would be based on both knowing the theory and the practice of law. The current system is benefiting me, but all I am saying is I don't know if I will or will not be a better lawyer than some of my classmates based on a few 3 hour exams. It is a level playing field, and you have to deal with whatever situation you are in.

I really compared the exams to the NFL, NBA, combines where they measure someone's ability to bench press, 40 yard dash, etc. Then they tend to ignore the player's performance in actual games if someone can bench press 300 lbs a few times, sign them up. However, mere strength is only a small indicator of game-day performance. Jamarcus Russel was a STUD in the combine he is a 6'6 280 LB beast, but he cannot play quarterback and if you watched him in college you would see he cracked under pressure, had minimal leadership skills, and his teammates did a lot of the heavy lifting. Tom Brady on the other hand is not a physical specimen by any means he is 6'2 215 lbs and does not have a great arm, but he knows how to play quarterback. He is accurate under pressure, he is a great leader, and he knows how to win games. He would be better if he had Jamarcus's physical attributes no question, but strength and speed are a significant component of your ability to play a sport, but it is not the end all be all. Just as you need to be able to see the nuance between B and C is important it is again not the end all be all of your ability to be a lawyer.

I agree with your analogy regarding Jamarcus Russell and Tom Brady. However, law school's only measure of "game day" is your performance on exams (save say writing or moot court competitions). As far as the mechanics of law, there are classes such as pre-trial litigation and trial advocacy that teach the mechanics of motion and trial practice, along with the skill of depositions and trial work. There are also clinics to learn these skills. Ultimately, however, the real skill of an attorney is not in writing a brief but in crafting the arguments that go into the brief. In other words, you pay a lawyer because he can think like a lawyer. Although, writing is an essential skill, and I'm certainly not downplaying that in any way; the ability to think like a lawyer is just as important. Law school exams are a good measure of one's ability to think like a lawyer under pressure. However, I don't necessarily believe that those who do well on law school exams will always be the best attorneys.

Law school exams are graded on a "shotgun theory", in that, you get points for coverage of issues. So, the more issues that you spot and discuss, the more points that you get. If you argue both sides and make creative arguments, you get points. However, a well-crafted brief or oral argument that wins a tough case is not necessarily based upon the coverage of many disjointed issues (in fact, that would make the brief chaotic and incoherent). A good brief may require a few well-thought, creative arguments that go to the heart of the issue. It also may involve a careful weaving of policy into the client's story to create a compelling narrative. Those are skills that are not necessarily adequately rewarded on a law school exam. So, a good brief may be more akin to one or a few shots from a sniper than a shotgun discharge. Yet, a law school exam is probably still the best measure of "thinking like a lawyer" that we currently have. Maybe we should scrap the third year of law school and make it all clinics instead of classes. Maybe class ranking can then compose one's practical as well as academic skills.

54
L.L.M. Board / Re: Joint LLM in Taxation/MBA?? Is this even possible?
« on: September 13, 2010, 01:20:10 PM »
I sure that any decent-sized school that offers an LLM in Tax would also offer an MBA through their business school. My guess is that most of those schools do not have a joint LLM/MBA program, although maybe some do. Either way, you can always enroll in both separately. As to whether that would help, all it will do is give you credibility. There is nothing you will learn in an LLM program that you can't learn from a treatise. I cannot say the same for an MBA; however, much of what is taught in an MBA program will probably be outside the scope of what a transactional attorney's job description. You'll learn a great deal of finance, most of which will be informational and provide background. I doubt you'll ever use it. Also, you can get the same info from reading trade journals. It really comes down to whether are not you are willing to incur the debt and loss of wages (assuming that you cannot attend part-time). I suppose it will depend on where you want to work (market) and how prestigious of firm for which you apply. The more prestigious of a firm, the more weight they will give to an MBA degree. Honestly, I have heard that the LLM carries more weight at the botique firms than the large firms because there is always a resident tax expert at the large firms to mentor you. At the botique firms, you have to be that expert. I don't think you need either degree, but either will be helpful, especially for prestigious firms where you have to distinguish yourself from other blue-chip applicants.

55
Your contention that there is virtually no difference in selecting b as opposed to c on a torts exam is unfounded. Most legal issues that end up at trial are very nuanced in much the same way that the difference between selecting b or c is very nuanced. The ability to recongize a difference between seemingly identical shades of grey is the skillset for which clients are willing to pay. A paralegal can learn to write a motion or brief. However, a paralegal cannot necessarily see the difference between say why there has been proximate cause in one instance but not another. While I do sympathize with your most basic contention, that law school classifications are based on high stakes exams that are more indicative of performance on a given day than consistent performance over a period of time, I don't think that is inherently unfair. Law is a high stakes profession. You can be great up to the day of tria, but if you choke at trial, your client's rights will be adversely affected. That is the nature of the beast. You can be the best transactional attorney five days a week, but if you miss an important issue on a client's contract, your bad decision in one minute can result in costly litigation. In that sense, law school exams make more sense. Put another way, if I were on trial for a crime that I did not commit, whether my attorney could notice the difference between b and c on his criminal law exam might be of significance if the underlying issue in that question would be dispositive on my case.

56
L.L.M. Board / Re: How competative are Tax LLM programs to get into?
« on: August 28, 2010, 08:54:42 PM »
I don't know for sure, but I've heard from admission's reps that the LLM programs at either Florida or NYU are very competitive. Typically, they want to see good grades in law school (generally, above a 3.25), and relevant coursework in tax. Your grades in tax classes will also be strongly scrutinized. They also look at your research and writing abilities because an LLM is a scholarly degree as opposed to a professional degree (which seems kind of counterintuitive). At other schools, I'm not really sure how tough it would be to get into a program. Try calling their admissions reps and see if you can get an idea of what they require. You might also ask your tax professor. I bet he/she knows someone at a school you might be interested in.

57
General Board / Re: does anyone have any essay exam writing help/advice?
« on: August 23, 2010, 09:33:37 PM »
I think you can either outline your answer or just circle the key facts and draw a line off to the margin and label each fact by legal issue. I do this so I can check off each issue as I cover them in my answer. I find this faster than outlining an answer. Either way works, though.

58
General Board / Re: Best Hornbooks
« on: August 20, 2010, 04:10:30 AM »
Examples & Explanations and Questions & Answers. CALI.org also has great hypos in their review courses and lessons. Focus on supplements that force you think rather than those that do the thinking for you. Afterall, you have to learn to think like a lawyer. No one is going to pay you for your ability to read supplements.

59
General Board / Re: Best way to outline for a course?
« on: August 20, 2010, 04:07:33 AM »
I can't memorize more than 10 pages. Even if I could, I wouldn't want to. If you can't summarize a course in 10 pages (+ 5 pages for involved courses, i.e. secured transactions or sales), then you may notknow the material as well as you should (or maybe you just like to wade through a morass of unecessary text). Either way, my way works with less work. Getting good grades with a modicum of work is the goal.

60
General Board / Re: case briefs
« on: August 20, 2010, 02:42:47 AM »
I disagree that briefing is a waste of time. I brief all of my cases, albeit very concisely. I also book brief. If you exclusively book brief, how do you outline without going back to consult the casebook? (assuming you use your cases in your outlines) I put all of my briefs in One Note, collapse the briefs so the entire brief is a case name and a rule, and then copy and paste that into my outline. I don't like to do work twice. I find that if I just book brief, I'll forget cases by the time I have enough info to outline. I like a record of what I have read and class notes all in one place so I don't have to retype it into an outline.

I don't know why people say briefing takes too much time. I can prepare for three classes in a day and still have time to workout and play video games and work. I stay a week ahead on all of my reading and take weekends off of studying. I brief all of my cases, outline, do practice exams and do well in law school. If briefing is taking you too much time, you're probably going into to much detail or being inefficient.

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