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Messages - Thane Messinger
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« on: June 12, 2013, 07:03:55 PM »
Just received my grade and in dire need of some advice. Just received my grade and I didn't do well thus, wondering if I should withdraw from my law school and come back later. Any advice?
There's a (radical) response to Rising 3L in another thread.
Does that advice apply to you? If not, let's bring into the discussion why not, and we'll help figure it out from there.
PS: The offer to 3L is open to you as well.
« on: June 12, 2013, 07:01:13 PM »
I am a rising 3L at a tier three school, I am almost last in my class with cumulative GPA of 2.37. The school requires that I maintain at least a 2.25 to graduate, which is not terrible but based on my 2L semester I am definitely at risk. My question is what should I do, if I graduate with low grades like this from a tier 3, will I be able to find a job?
* * *
-What should I do? I want to pass the bar and get a job. I do not expect a 6 figure job, but enough to pay my loan debt and not be unemployed... Any advice is helpful...
I wouldn't have written this before, but will now:
You have a summer internship, which for you might be the acid test. After three weeks, ask yourself: "Do I love this?"
Not just "like," but "Do I really, truly, honestly love . . . LOVE!
. . . this job?"
If the answer is anything less than an unreserved "Abolultely, this is fantastic, terrific, and I can't wait
to get to the office in the morning!!!", the consider . . .
. . . not returning in the fall.
I'm serious. Consider other options. Is there anything else you would love doing? [Among other things, might this be an entre for you into the political-staff sphere? You needn't be a lawyer in many circles there.]
Yes, loans loom large. Yes, it's horrible. But it's not as horrible as adding another
$50,000+ to your debt, and still
not having a good shot at *any* job, plus
not liking what you do get (if anything).
Join the military. Join the merchant marines. Move to North Dakota and work in the oil fields. (You'll make more in this last one than you will in nearly any law office.) Go teach English for a year.
I hate to be a downer, but please do think in terms of what you're giving up.
If you'd be interested, I will buy you a copy of a new book, Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession),
by Charles Cooper, author of Later-in-Life Lawyers,
and, ah, me.
Send me a private message with your email, and I'll gift you a Kindle or Nook copy.
Best of luck, sincerely,
« on: June 06, 2013, 08:51:37 PM »
I know this thread is a few months old, but thanks, livinglegend, for the great advice. I am in a situation similar to the OP, and when I seek advice on these online forums I usually just get a lot of bashing. Your closing line ought to be a sticky: "Bottom line is whether you make it in the legal profession has a lot more to do with you than the school you attended."
Caseycu8 & All -
Livinglegend offers excellent advice.
As to the "It's not you, it's me" aspect, while that is generally true, two factors should weigh heavily in this discussion: the abysmal market, and, even with a scholarship, the sizable cost. (Also, be very, very careful that the scholarship is non-revocable; most can and are lost in the second and third years. Get it in writing
As to the former, the market, while one might want to believe that its effect is merely on those who are seeking a more traditional path, what we have seen in the collapse of the market is a cascading effect. I lived this, in 1991 when I graduated into the short but steep recession then. What is different now is, first, this is anything but short, and second, there may be and likely are structural changes afoot in the practice of law. The length and severity of the recession, which have left us with approximately half as many jobs annually as there are graduates, is a "bunching" of unemployed, and soon unemployable, law graduates.
As to the structural changes, Charles Cooper and I wrote a book, Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (The Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession)
. The book goes into greater depth into the above. (Cooper is author of Later-in-Life Lawyers
It seems reasonable (if admittedly self-interested) to state that Con Law
(or its more academic cousins, Don't Go To Law School (Unless): A Law Professor's Inside Guide to Maximizing Opportunity and Minimizing Risk,
by Paul Campus; Failing Law Schools,
by Brian Tamanaha; and The Lawyer Bubble: A Profession in Crisis, by
Steven Harper) are a minimum
of research before embarking on a three-year and multi-hundred-thousand-dollar degree. (And, by the way, even if you are given scholarships that are not revoked, you will still be "spending" this much money in opportunity costs.)
If, after reading these accounts, one is still insistent . . . excellent. That is a sign that you should
go to law school.
Once you have decided that, then you should read all
the books on law school, and incorporate from each strategies to maximize career options that will be open only to the tippy-top students, especially at non-tippy-top law schools. Please keep in mind that there are, and have been for the past several years, only one-half as many law jobs (of any kind) as there are law graduates.
A personal take: do not listen to those who say, or write, some version of "Don't worry, be happy" during, well, now, the summer before you go to law school. You darned well ought to be worried about, and working toward, doing extremely well. For most, that requires a sense of what happens in law school that is missing in all but those students who (usually) have a family with a top lawyer or two. In short, what we think as students is happening in a law classroom is not what is tested on an exam; this is one reason grades are so radically disconnected from what is happening in class.
Best of luck to you,
« on: June 03, 2013, 02:39:47 AM »
I have read many of your posts and agree with what you have had to say so I am going to go deep into my pockets and spend the $2.99 on your new book. Hopefully you will start posting on this site again as well.
Aloha, Legend -
A hearty mahalo,
and I'll save a mai tai when next you're in town. = : )
As to posting, I will try to stay a bit more visible. It's been quite a hectic 2012 . . . wait, what year it is . . . ?
« on: June 03, 2013, 12:16:48 AM »
Aloha, All -
It's been a while since I've had time to post anything here. I thought I might post a note as to a new resource. It's . . .Con Law: Avoiding...or Beating...the Scam of the Century (A Real Student's Guide to Law School and the Legal Profession),
by Charles Cooper and Thane Messinger
Given how outrageously expensive everything related to school is, my coauthor (Charles) and I were lucky to get this priced at $2.99, which we hope sticks. And here's hoping this is a helpful boost to your otherwise precarious finances. (I also got the price lowered for Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold,
which, part three, I hope helps as well.)
In short, Con Law
is about the realities of law school and the profession, by two law school graduates, practitioners, and academicians. While we have ourselves led charmed lives, we have also seen the darker side of the profession, which, over time, has caused us to reflect on legal education. Law School used to be an easy sale: spend three years, and a modest sum of money, and you were pretty much set. This is, of course, no longer true. But not many students are fully aware of the degree to which is is blatantly false. Thus, this book.
For those who are wavering about law school, these are crucial perspectives to consider. For those who are about to enter, the stakes are high. Very high. It is, if anything, even more important to lay out your law school "career" with a serious plan as to both how you will approach law school and how you will connect with, and convince, a future employer.
If anyone is willing to read this and provide a critique, and is otherwise reasonably impecunious (a word at least one of your first-year profs will spring on you), please send me an email, to email@example.com
, and I will buy you a copy myself. [Legal disclaimer: Limited time offer!]
Here are the links:http://www.amazon.com/Con-Law-Avoiding-Beating-ebook/dp/B00D2YJZM0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1369886149&sr=1-1/theyounglawyersjA/http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/con-law-charles-cooper/1115443270?ean=2940016619569
« on: March 21, 2013, 04:42:54 PM »
Good to hear from an actual attorney. The guys over at top-law-schools.com don't seem to think I have a good plan. Then again, they're the deluded types who think that once they go to a T14 they're going to be at the top 10% of their class, and the big law firms will flock to them. That may happen to some, but there are too many ifs involved.
I remember reading somewhere that the bigger law firms are usually started by C students who went to less than prestigious schools, because those guys are willing to take risks, where the A students from the top schools either end up in academia, or at a big firm too scared to leave their 6 figure jobs to do something bigger. Do I think I'll build the next big law firm in Manhattan? No, but if some C students from lower end schools can build those firms I can certainly build a business to support myself with a similar background.
As to pararaph one, exactly right. Do NOT think that your scores (high or low) will be more than slightly predictive of success in law school. This is, to a large degree, because most law students are doing the wrong things, and when (if) they figure it out, it's too late.
As to new firms, you'd be surprised. Nearly everyone in a firm has done *very* well. It's also misleading to discuss risks, as that is not the driving force of law practice; quite the opposite. Many forced into solo and small-practice work are exactly that, forced. Moreover, the value of a firm is not just in the collective expertise, but also in the on-going revenues, based on long-term client contacts. This is very, very hard to duplicate, even with a large dose of chutzpah. Community connections are very nice, of course, but there you might parlay that into work in a firm, even if a smallish one.
« on: March 21, 2013, 04:34:35 PM »
In my anonymous internet poster opinion I recommend taking the LSAT seeing what score you get. Until you have an official score you cannot get into any law school. Once you have the LSAT score you don't need to enroll in law school right away and you can work for a law office or legal clinic and try it out. If you love it and want to pursue a legal career you have the LSAT score and can proceed. If you find being a lawyer is not for you then you are not obligated to enroll you will be out $100 for the LSAT fee and you will have saved yourself 3 years and 100,000 + dollars.
However, DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT go to law school simply because you do not know what else to do. No matter what profession you are in finding your first job is really difficult and starting as a lawyer is no different. Good luck.
Abolutely right, and especially as to the second paragraph. Know, too, that simply scoring well on the LSAT . . . even sufficient to get into Yale . . . will NOT translate automatically into great grades (although those are somewhat . . . somewhat . . . less crucial at a top 5 school), nor will it translate into a career that you actually like.
I'm working on something with the author of Later-in-Life Lawyers that addresses this point. And, if you'd like a good look at the Go/No-Go question (which every student, even stellar ones, should consider), one of the best write-ups is in The Slacker's Guide to Law School, which as it happens is a pretty good book for non-slackers too.
« on: March 21, 2013, 04:29:26 PM »
So, don't highlight, do think and analyze carefully, and get a coloring book for fun when not studying to put the highlighters to good use.
Once upon a time I wrote that in law school all electronic devices . . . all of them . . . should be disabled. A colleague wrote that "Heads would explode."
Here's to exploding heads . . . or at least expanded ones. = : )
For all, if you want to get a sense of what law school and the LSAT are all about, read a few oral arguments. For example, Paul Clement (who argued the PPACA, or "Obamacare") is widely considered one of the best advocates before the Supremes.* Does he highlight? Doubtful. Does he take notes? Well, yes, but they're either two lines with regard to a case, or an entire memo to evaluate every aspect of the jurisprudential impact of a line of cases. The challenge is to *understand* the arguments. Devices, gimmicks, bad habits . . . all are not just pointless, they're a distraction. Use your *mind,* not gimmicks.
You want to be a biglaw hotshot? Get (nearly) as good as Clement *before* the LSAT (much less before law school). Really.
* The fact that Clement lost, in large measure, on the merits is irrelevant to the legal argumentation, and even the justices who ruled against the challenge were at pains to recognize (albeit minimize) Clement's force of argument.
« on: March 17, 2013, 07:07:17 PM »
So the question is, will LSAC permit you to bring only a highlighter or can you bring more than one and use more than one at a time? For example, pink is main main conclusion, organge is evidence, green is opinion.
I will go further than Jeffort (and against the grain of nearly the entire educational establishment) to say that if you've fallen into the habit of highlighting, you are wasting your time and talent.
If one could look at a law classroom from above, one will see a rainbow of highlighted passages . . . and nearly none of the highlight-happy souls will have a clue as to the deeper meaning of what it is they've so earnestly highlighted.
The LSAC testers are interested in logical ability, not in some mechanical aptitude. Put away the highlighters. Put away even a single highlighter. Take several dozen exams, under real-world conditions, and then take a few dozen more. And a few dozen after that.
Sorry to seem even a bit rude, but that's the take from at least one corner. Highlighting (and, in the classroom, note-taking) are not just silly, they are a distraction from what you really do need to be doing.
« on: March 17, 2013, 06:53:37 PM »
I'm wondering how top law schools (Eg T14) look at undergraduate institutions.
Do they look at its prestige? I mean I attend a for-profit regionally accredited UG (campus and online), and many times I heard that it is difficult to get accepted by top law schools from such as UG because it is not seen to be as rigorous as a non-profit UG. Is this true? Can a high LSAT compensate for this , or should I switch to a non-profit UG?
Aloha, Marissa -
As is often the case, the answer is a bit of "All of the Above."
Yes, law admissions committees DO look at one's alma mater where it matters most . . . when the candidate is on the border. This is usually true at a reach school, or at any top law school. In such a case, this does come into play.
Moreover, for those still in their undergraduate years, not only do committees look at the school, they look at the courses, grades for each course, and sometimes (oftentimes, at a top school) they will know, personally or by reputation, the writer of the letter of recommendation AND the professors of senior-level courses. It gets that granular where it counts the most. So, if your years are filled with underwater basket-weaving, even if you do have a high GPA that will count against you at a reach school. And, if your grades topped out when you hit your senior-level courses, or when you took 18 credits, or when you hit a rough patch, that will also count against you. Deans and professors, who are usually part of this process (especially with the hard calls), are very much aware of these academic aspects.
This will not be true for a graduate of a for-profit college, as there IS the presumption you state. But it is a rebuttable presumption. So a solid GPA and top LSAT, plus other softs, will be cruicial for a reach application. Do not dismiss the value of these soft factors for a top law school: this applies to nearly ALL candidates, as nearly all candiates have tippy-top scores. Harvard and Yale and Stanford could, famously, accept only 4.0 students. They don't, which is why these other factors are important, and also why the conventional wisdom among future law students is so incomplete or downright misleading.
There's a good book that goes into some depth in this. It's Law School Undercover, by Professor "X." (Not I.) Well worth reading for ALL applicants. If you're still in undergraduate school, take an afternoon of your Spring Break to read this. Though less fun than your other activities, it could be the best (i.e., most useful) four hours you spend in college.
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