Law School Discussion

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31
General Board / Re: How hard is law school?
« on: June 24, 2009, 08:54:45 PM »
Some more of my opinion, since it seems to differ a bit from most people here...

Also, I'll second the comment that law school will increase your work ethic by ten fold.  As an undergrad, I attended roughly half of my classes, and probably put in about 5-10 hours a week outside of class...and that's a liberal estimate.  As a HS student...well...I didn't even finish.  Since starting LS, though, I've been putting in 30-40 hours weekly outside of class, and I haven't missed a class yet.  If you told my friends or family this would be the case 2 months ago, they'd laugh you out of the room.  It helps to like the nature of the content, but if you establish a routine you can dramatically alter your academic discipline in a hurry. 
This is highly credited.  My biggest concern going in was that I wouldn't do anything and I'd just be on forums or keep checking facebook or something like that all day.  Once you get in the law school groove you can pretty well handle the long hours.  I felt like I could probably have done a bit more than I did, but I'm busy with a couple non-law things that I'm involved with.

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It's a crapshoot.
I kinda felt this way, but based on the numbers at my school, I just didn't feel like it was accurate.  There were several people in my section that I thought were very intelligent, worked hard, understood the material, and paid attention to the professor that ended up just top third, and others that did very well that I didn't think were very smart.

But, from what I've gathered, people got pretty close to the same GPA both semesters.  I got pretty much exactly the same.  My study partners went 3.63 to 3.73 and 3.73 to 3.64 or something like that.  Two of my friends that did poorly did poorly both semesters.  I don't know of anyone that was top 25% one semester that finished under median the second...  (I'm basing what I've been saying on quite lot more data than this ... although as a general rule people don't talk about their grades, enough reliable info slips through)


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The professor's discretion is too wide-ranging for it to be anything but a crapshoot.
I definitely agree with this.  I've had 3 exams so far that I was just pissed off with how easy they were.  I felt very prepared for the subject and then my professor just dropped the most simple, straight-forward exams and needed to split hairs to distinguish grades.  And, professors grade very differently without being clear as to how they grade, which frustrates me.  Some profs love you to cough up everything possible on the exam.  Others prefer you to just quickly focus on the big issues.


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The problem is that all that studying is too much.  The doctrine you need to know is EXTREMELY limited.
Reez is one of 3 people that I know of that did very well without working overly hard (the other 2 people are one of my study partners and a good mutual friend).  But, the other 14 or so people that I know of that made top 10% all studied incredible amounts of time.  And, for most of them, I didn't think they were any smarter than everyone else.
I agree with the sentiment, and this is how I would have felt, but the data at my school doesn't back this up.  Maybe other schools are different.  (And maybe Reez thinks my data is wrong)


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My "worst" classes were the ones that I felt that I had the best "handle" on.
I have mixed feelings on this.  I went into Con Law knowing I would rock it, and I did.  I went into property knowing I was going to do poorly and I did.  (Note:  Coming in unconfident did NOT hurt me/help me).
But, on the flip side, I thought I absolutely destroyed my Civ Pro exam ... I thought I got an A+, and it was tied for my worst grade.  (This said, the professor was new and I think graded very weird)


32
General Board / Re: How hard is law school?
« on: June 24, 2009, 03:24:45 PM »
My stance, as someone not in the top 10%, is probably different from some other folks.

Just based on my experience from Emory -- and I think reez is an exception to two or three of these statements as he did very well AFAIK...  (can edit this if you want, dude)

I don't feel like there is any great way to predict who is going to do well in law school.  Forum posters didn't all do well (I know the TLS people too, and several did poorly).  People from ivy's didn't all do well (a lot of the top student are from crappy UGs).  Boring people didn't all do well, etc.  The biggest constant that I saw is that most of the top 10% that I know did not participate in many law school activities (i.e. bar review) and studied a lot.

It's surprising to me to see how many people on law forums say that they didn't do anything and still finished very well, that they can avoid going to class, etc.  That just was not the case at Emory.  Maybe almost nobody "gets" it yet.  Everybody is pretty close to being equally intelligent.  Some of the people that I thought were "missing the boat" in class did very well, and others that I thought were really smart were only a little over median.  Hard work didn't pay off across the board, but it was probably the best indicator by far that I saw.  Also, I think in previous years it was easier.  We were pretty competitive this year because of the economy, and just because about half the people here are just hard workers. (this may be biased, as I went to a very lax undergrad ... people from ivy's might think we are soft)

To actually answer your question...
To PASS law school is very easy.  Everyone passes, including people that put in very little work (but, a lot more work than to just get C's in UG).  To get top 10%, I think, is a lot harder.  The work isn't all that complex or anything.  You just read a whole lot.  You're smart enough to understand enough of what is going on after the professor explains it.  But, the more, and the closer you read, the better you'll do relative to your peers I think.
As a general rule, I would say that you will get within .3 GPA points of where you could get if you work 35-40 hours/week, and 50h/w during exams.  Some of the people that I know that finished top 5%, however, studied 65-70+h/w, and spent like all their time awake around exam time studying. (Class time included in all this)

I was in the 40h/w crowd first semester, which was a lot for me, as during UG I worked probably 20h/w on average.  Second semester I upped it by about 5h/w, but I think that was just because there was more work.

p.s. I don't actually dislike married people.

33
General Board / Re: Good Starting Salary
« on: June 23, 2009, 09:17:29 PM »
Here is the 2006 one.  The 2008 one would be a good bit different I guess since most firms bumped 30k that year IIRC.  I would be much more interested in the 2009 one, though.
http://www.adamsmithesq.com/archives/2008/07/the-bimodal-starting-sala.html

(The rest of this post, I am going to assume we are in 2007 or 2008)

Anyway, yeah it's bimodal, but it's not "you're making 160k or 40k" for most of the posters on this board.  Almost everyone here will have better credentials than T3/T4 lawyers and better than people that finish in the bottom half of a T2.  That covers 5/8's of the distribution, which would be like the entire group making under 65k.  So, the posters with pretty much the worst credentials on this board should start out at 65k.  That's not that bad, especially consider that of the remaining 3/8, most of the posters here are in the top half of a T14, which makes them around the top 8% of the remaining 1/3.

Also, even though there's definitely 2 humps, just from eying it, probably 1/6 or so of the legal market is at 70-120k, which is a pretty significant amount.

And finally, I really doubt the people making 40k/y continue to make that their whole career, despite the fact that posters here will want you to believe that.  The median salary for attorneys is like 100k, and the median starting salary is like 62k.  That first hump moves.

34
Awesome.  Thanks a ton, as always.

35
Ok, so I've met a couple people that are important lawyers and stuff.  I want to keep in touch with them I guess.

I guess my "relationship" with each of them is very different.

Person 1 - Partner at a mid-law firm that has offices in my hometown (that I don't want to go back to) and is headquartered Atlanta (I go to Emory).  Nice guy that I know through family (although don't know all that well).  He has been trying to "mentor" me.  He works in business litigation and he said his firm is doing really well.  This would be exactly the ideal job for me.
Anyway, I was thinking about sending him an e-mail and telling him what I did over the summer, and then asking a couple questions at the end.  But, I don't know what questions to ask.  And I'm not positive that this is a great idea.  I think his firm OCI's at my school

Person 2 - (I have several "contacts" I met that are similar to this one)  I met this guy when I was eating lunch at court with my boss.  He works for another mid-size law firm and gave me his business card and said to stay in touch.  Yeah, so exactly how do I stay in touch?

I also know a couple people pretty well that go to my gym (it's one of those small, close-knit gyms) that are associates at biglaw firms.  I guess I'm just supposed to keep talking to them and ask law-related little questions here and there?

It is frustrating that I need to write this.  I am not an awkward person and I get along with people well, but I guess I haven't made "professional friends" before.

36
General Board / Re: Using a Law Degree internationally?
« on: June 21, 2009, 09:04:51 PM »
1) Have I looked into Australia?

No.  I am very much interested Australia, but I have absolutely no idea what I would be doing.  Would I just be looking to practice the same way I would in Georgia (i.e. I could choose whatever discipline, whether it be litigation or property or tax, etc?)?  I guess most systems are relatively similar ..?
Or, would I definitely need to be doing some kind of "international law" or business or what?  Would it be reasonable for me to be paid in Australian dollars?

2) State Department
I haven't looked into the state Department too closely at all, but that does sound cool.  My plan right now is to apply to just about every governmental agency possible (along with all the big/medium/small law firms) and hope one pans out.  I thought there might be some additional "international" opportunities that I could check out, though, but I know so little about them.

A big plus, as I mentioned, would be getting paid in foreign currency.  I am of the opinion that the dollar is going to experience serious inflation pretty soon and weaken a whole lot compared to most other currencies.  It would make paying off law school debt a lot easier if I could work for a company that pays in one of those non-inflating foreign currencies.


Thanks as always for the tips.

37
General Board / Using a Law Degree internationally?
« on: June 17, 2009, 02:01:28 PM »
Hi friends.

I am continuing my plans to search for new and different uses of my law degree (while still hopelessly applying to the same big/mid/small law jobs that I would have applied to anyway).  I am a rising 2L, so I have plenty of time to change my focus and such.  I go to Emory.  My GPA is mediocre.  I'm just outside of the top 1/3.

I want to explore some possibilities that involve using my law degree outside the US.  If I was paid in a currency that is not about to hyper-inflate, that would be pretty sweet.  Fun fact:  I know absolutely nothing about working as a lawyer outside the US.

Anyway, I would really enjoy spending a couple years in Singapore/Switzerland/the UK/Australia/Ireland/Italy/Japan.  I wouldn't at all mind traveling for my first 10 years out of school.  Is there any reasonable path to making this happen right out of school (international law?  maybe some kind of business focus?)?  Can I still make any money at all?  (Note:  I now consider "any money" to be $60k).

Any other advice in general about this?

Gracias.

38
Well, that's New York.  I'm not interested in being employed by New York state (although I appreciate the help, and I'm guessing that one of the federal agencies has a similar pay scale).

And not to act like an entitled prick, but it will be slightly frustrating to be competing with high school graduates for some of these jobs.

39
Thanks for the responses.
Also, there seems to be focus on government jobs (which is great), but does anyone have anything they can share about working in the corporate world, even if I'm not using my JD?

You want to litigate, right?  (references to JAG/USAO).

What are good-but-not-great grades?  From what I hear, you will probably need top 25% to get an interview at DOJ from a school ranked similar to Emory (but that's what I was told in 2007; not sure if you'll need higher grades now that everyone is probably flocking to government).

Has your CSO made any suggestions?

I would be happy to litigate, but I don't care a ton either way.  I actually like almost everything I've done in law school.  I am interested in lots of things.

My grades put me in the top 1/3 as of right now.  I have one more exam to go, but I think that I'll bump up a little bit after this semester. 
I always assumed that a USAO job was really hard to get.  I am guessing it's even harder to get now, but it looks like I need to look into this more.  Are there any legal government jobs that start out at GS-11 that aren't that hard to land?  Also, very stupid question:  USAO is just a smaller part of the DOJ, right?

I speak with my CSO at the end of this week.


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Considered federal law enforcement?  Although, if you don't want to just push paper, you may want to avoid the FBI.

With base pay + locality + 25% LEAP, most investigation types jobs pay over 50k starting out and early pay increases come fairly quickly.

There are tons of agencies, DEA, ATF, ICE, USSS, DSS (Diplomatic Security Service, if you want to or wouldn't mind living in Maputo), NCIS, AFOSI, etc
Can you go into greater detail about what I would be qualified to do here?  I don't have any police/military training, I'm not old, and I don't have any kind of science or semi-science background.  Would I still be a reasonable candidate for these organizations?  And can you give me an idea of what I would be doing?  Assessing/interpreting intelligence?  Being a "field" agent and basically a federal cop?  Detective or quasi-detective?  What are the exit options like?
This is definitely something that interests me, but I know so little about it.

40
General Board / Re: JAG questions
« on: April 28, 2009, 06:25:43 PM »
I applied for AF JAG as a 1L.  There are probably better informed members around, but:

1) Almost all of your "court" work will be criminal.  At the base I visited, AFJAGs also had legal aid time where they answered random legal questions and drafted an occasional will.
2) A few things, don't mention your wife's goals on your app.  My interviewer told me that mentioning my SOs career on my base selection sheet was virtually an auto-ding.  Gotta sell them that you are dedicated to the service first, everything else second.  Other than that, if you are lucky enough to be stationed near a university - she could take classes there.  Otherwise, online school.

Were you not selected?  Did you act like you cared in your interview?
I still don't understand how the hell these branches decide on who to take.  Apparently the selection rate is like 5%, but from what I gather it's only loosely based on merit.

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