Law School Discussion

Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Messages - Denny Shore

Pages: 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13

"HOW DO YOU GET READY?    Back to Top
There are several ways to become a paralegal. Most people go to a community college for a 2-year degree. A few schools offer bachelor's or master's degrees in paralegal studies. Some people become paralegals after getting a bachelorís degree in something other than paralegal studies.

Some people learn on the job. Sometimes, legal secretaries become paralegals.

Paralegals need good research and writing skills. They should also be able to use computers. Paralegals often deal with the public, so they should be polite. They also have to be honest and ethical.

To start getting ready for this job, students can take English classes to learn how to write and do research. Social studies classes teach about research and the law. People who want to be paralegals need strong reading skills."

It won't hurt to take the courses, as they will prepare you for complex legal research, legal writing, and get you more comfortable with legal terms and concepts.  Understand that while it isn't a bad thing to do, it won't give you any sort of monster advantage when law school comes around.  While some paralegals certainly believe they are just like lawyers, the truth is that they are more like legal secretaries who understand and are capable of document review, legal research, and basic legal writing.  Paralegals do a lot of briefing and memo creation under careful, direct supervision of attorneys.  As a current law clerk, I do a lot of paralegal type work and can tell you that it does help you understand research, terminology, and process.
Go for it!  Worst case scenario- you hate it and give up.  Best case scenario - you love it and it helps you in law school.  Mediocre case scenario - you decide you want to be a full time paralegal and find a career.  Being a paralegal at a bigger firm, you can earn $65k and up without having to spend $150k on a legal education.  I know a paralegal at a top firm in Chicago who works 50 hours a week and earns $120k a year with full benefits.  His bosses are always telling him to go to law school and he usually responds by pointing out that he doesn't think it's a good idea to quit a job that pays so well so he can spend $150k for the privilege of working 80-100 hours a week to earn the same (all for the possibility that he *might* earn more *if* he is given a partnership).  Being a paralegal can be a great job in the legal field without the high cost of admission that law students end up paying.  I know another paralegal who works like a consultant and he's made a great living working temporary jobs (he just told me that this year, a bad year, he netted around $50k working about 8 months out of the year - not bad).

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Misdemeanor - Expunged question???
« on: July 15, 2009, 10:31:23 AM »
A decent explanation is here:

"If a record has been sealed or expunged, you may not be able to obtain it. Sometimes, evidence of the criminal conduct will remain part of the public record. For example, even if a conviction is expunged or the court record was sealed, there may be a public arrest record associated with the event which gave rise to the prosecution, and there may also be a record of the fact that a criminal charge was filed even though its resolution is not publicly available."

"When a criminal record is "expunged", in most senses the record is treated as if it does not exist. There are limits to expungement - for example, some states maintain separate registries for people who have been convicted of child abuse or sex offenses, and the expungement of a criminal record may not affect those registries. Also, for some subsequent purposes such as applying for a job which requires a government security clearance, the odds are very high that the employer will discover the full criminal history so it may be best to admit having an expunged conviction when applying for such a job."

A few things to consider:
- I'd advise you to retake after doing some coursework (kaplan, books, self-study - all helpful)
- Another option is to take some classes to show that your past performance doesn't indicate future performance.  You don't have to take graduate level courses, but avoid blow-off classes and take something law related that you didn't take in undergrad.  Community colleges offer courses in logic, criminal justice, sociology, etc.  Doing well in a course like this can be used to show that you are serious and capable.
- with your LSAT and GPA score as they are, you are looking at some rather poor law schools. The downside is that these schools charge pretty much the same as the top schools do, meaning you get less bang for your buck.  I'd rather attend DePaul than Cooley.

It's not that you CAN'T get into school with your numbers.  It's that your options aren't going to be as good as they would be if you retook the test and were able to demonstrate academic proficiency.  It helps that you've been working, believe it or not, because you are able to differentiate yourself from the majority of students who are recent grads.  Life experience counts too, just not as much as you might hope.

I doubt it.
There is no license for paralegals.  Successfully completing coursework earns you a certificate.  Many working paralegals have no formal training, though the better paying positions may desire one.
I looked into paralegal courses as well and met with an advisor from my law school to see if it would help me in law school.  She told me that it *might* help with the writing courses, but not so much otherwise.
I'm certainly not going to discourage you from going through the coursework.  Just don't expect it to be the difference maker in law school.  It should help your writing skills and *maybe* your research skills, but paralegal work has little to do with substantive legal issues and more to do with composing documents/doing research an attorney might find irritating.
If you intend to get a certificate, go for it!  ABA be damned!

Current Law Students / Re: Netbook PC adequate ?
« on: July 14, 2009, 02:16:11 PM »
I've had a netbook for over a year.  Mine is an Asus EEEPC 4gXP.
I love the portability and use it exactly as the name implies - for the internet.
I don't recommend this for your primary laptop for law school for many reasons.
-light weight
-small footprint
-small keyboard (causes cramping)
-Fragile (it feels like it could break easily)
-Storage (the 4gb on board isn't enough - with the OS, openoffice, and AV, I have less than 700MB left.  If I put more software on, i'd be getting an error message that I have limited space)
Basically, using this to take notes and write papers will result in eye strain, hand cramps, and headaches.  If you are looking at anything powered by the Atom proc, the keyboard is a bit larger, as is the hard drive, but I wouldn't recommend it for the sort of use you need.
Get yourself a low end laptop with a good case.  You can pick up a dual core 15.4" widescreen with a DVDRW for under $500.
If you can't swing $500, look for refurbs or open box units from reputable companies like or  There are usually quite a few.
If you know anyone who has one, ask them to borrow it for a few hours and try to write a letter to see if you like it.  If you don't know anyone who owns one, spend some time playing with one at a store and again, try to write a page of text about anything.
Good luck!

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Misdemeanor - Expunged question???
« on: July 14, 2009, 02:00:46 PM »
Expunged does not equal erased.  In most states (maybe all?), expunged records remain sealed and cannot be reopened for any reason unless you are charged with the same crime (or one much worse, such as murder).  The record is not destroyed.  We handle 10-20 expungements a month and advise our clients similarly every time.  The purpose of expungement is not to delete a record, but rather to prevent a record from affecting job/loan applications.  If you had a larceny expunged and were later arrested and charged with larceny, your record would be unsealed and likely used by the prosecution to either show a pattern of illegality and/or increase the punishment.
You'll learn about it in law school.
It is important to discuss this with your dean.  You will not be in trouble, as this is a standard speech given to students entering law school.  The reason you should report it has nothing to do with your status as a student.  Rather, it is part of the character and fitness portion of your bar license.  Failure to report an expunged misdemeanor can result in denial of your license.  The reason your dean said this to students is to simply avoid that possibility.  He can ammend your file to reflect the expunged misdemeanor, thus avoiding a terrible situation later.  It happens all the time, which is why your dean told your class about it.  Often, students fear reprisal or denial of admission so they omit expunged records and/or misunderstand the application to law school.  Most law schools ask you to list any and all tickets, violations, convictions, etc. EVEN if they have been expunged.  Many students, upon the advice of their lawyers, omit expunged records.  This JUST happened at the firm I am working at.  The attorney handling called the law school to ask about it and they explained that it was to avoid the appearance of dishonesty when the C&F part of the licensing comes around.
Go talk to the dean and explain the expungement.  You won't be dismissed from school.  In fact, you'll be saving yourself future problems.  It is essential that you do this sooner rather than later so it can be understood to be an error rather than an example of intentionally misleading behavior.
Best of luck! 

Transferring / Re: Should I transfer to Penn?
« on: July 01, 2009, 03:21:37 PM »
Maybe I'm a bit pragmatic, but a FREE law education at a school like Temple sounds MUCH better than taking on $120k debt load at Penn.  Both are Tier 1's and I'm not sure the extra debt will be worth the bump in prestige.
Just my opinion, which certainly leaves room to be wrong.
Free legal education at a school ranked 57th sounds better to me than a $120k legal education at a school ranked 7th.  If you went to a toilet, like I do, and had an opp to transfer to Penn, I'd say it would pay off.  I guess you have to think about it in terms of job prospects - will a degree from Penn turn into an opportunity that isn't available with a FREE education at Temple?
$120k in debt will put you into a 10 year hole.  It might be better for you to take your education on scholarship just to graduate in the unique position of having zero debt when you finish.  Consider this: the average debt load of a graduating JD is around $150k.  The top students HAVE to work at biglaw to make any kind of decent living with that kind of debt.  You get the freedom to chose what sort of job you actually want.  Plus, if you DO go biglaw and hate it, you aren't trapped (the rest are) by your debt and can make your moves based on your desires instead of your need to pull in big paychecks.
If I'm in your shoes, I'd probably finish up at Temple with no debt and worry about jobs later.  Many students who graduate with massive debt NEED the biglaw job so they can make a living, which can feel like a trap.
I'm sure others may disagree, which I why I humbly offer my opinion.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: First Year Law Classes
« on: July 01, 2009, 11:47:30 AM »
Generally speaking, what are the typical 1L classes? Do you get to pick whatever classes you want to take, or is there a general subject path you have to take?

Most law schools (I believe ALL law schools) decide for you what classes you take in your first semester.  Others map out your entire first year.  You will likely take the following in your first year:

Contracts I
Contracts II
Lawyering Skills (legal writing) I and II
Civil Procedure I
Criminal Law
Constitutional Law I

Your second year will require you to take:

Civil Procedure II
Constitutional Law II
Lawyering Skills (Drafting or something more technical depending on your school)

The remainder of law school will be, quite literally, up to you and what you wish to focus on.  Electives tend to dominate the last half of your legal education, allowing you to study the courses you are most interested in and that you desire to specialize in.

Most law students enjoy law school more during the second half of their legal education because it isn't so dogmatic and rigid.

Thanks.  While Loyola isn't really on the top of my list, I found out that I would be entitled to a benefactor's scholarshop left by my family. 

What drawbacks are there concerning Loyola?  Why are their admissions easier?  Also, does it hurt me in the long run to get a J.D. from Loyola instead of Tulane or LSU?

Tough questions that many law school applicants face....
The drawbacks are simple:
- recognition
- prestige
- reputation
- job prospects

It all depends on what you plan on doing with your education.  If your goal is to try and get a job in a top tier law firm, your chances of doing so with a degree from Loyola are going to be much lower.  If your goal is to hang your own shingle or work for/with a family member/friend with a smaller firm, it might not matter at all.  If your goal is public defender or state's attorney work, it might matter (I'm not familiar with Louisiana's SA office hiring, so you'll have to figure that out on your own).  Essentially, a top 10% student at Loyola-NO could be viewed by a firm the same way a bottom 1/3 student at LSU might be.  It boils down to reputation and prestige of school.  Many of the bigger firms weigh their own perception of the quality of education more so than class rank/gpa.
Generally speaking, a law degree from LSU or Tulane carries more recognition and prestige than Loyola-NO might.  As a result, a student from LSU or Tulane have an advantage over a student from Loyola in the eyes of potential employers.  If you intend on working for a smaller firm, family/friend, or on your own, it likely won't matter much (or at all).  That's not to say that the degree is diminished, it's just a perception thing that might effect the way your application for employment is viewed.
Loyola likely admits students with a lower gpa/lsat because that's their market - folks who don't qualify for better schools.  Don't feel bad about that.  I'm not judging.  John Marshall in Chicago, for example, was built to fill a need for legal education for women, minorities, etc.  While their rep has improved over the years, they tend to cater primarily to students who can't get into a better law school in Chicago (Kent, DePaul, Northwestern, U of C, Loyola) but still want to attend and practice in Chicago.
Be aware that attending a school with a lower reputation *might* affect your job prospects in the future.  That said, the aba data on loyola-NO shows that they meet or exceed bar passage rates for the state and that 95% of students are employed within 9 months of graduation, so it can't be all bad.
It boils down to what YOU want to do with your JD....

Your best option is to retake the test.
That LSAT score doesn't speak well to the law school concept of "LSAT score speaks to ability to pass the bar".  I think it's a BS test, but administrators tend to weigh it heavily as an indicator of your ability to reason, comprehend what you read, and identify issues.  With that GPA, you should definitely look into either a self-study course or a full on Kaplan type thing.
I plugged your numbers into's official guide to law school's ugpa/lsat search and of the schools you wish to attend, only Loyola New Orleans looks probably.

Pages: 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13