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Messages - Thane Messinger
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« on: May 30, 2011, 05:54:41 PM »
Basically, you should expect to spend every waking hour you are not at work or commuting doing class work.
Quite right. I've known several colleagues who attended law school part-time. The upshot is that even a 40-hour workweek is going to be challenging. Attempting to maintain a managerial job with 50-60 hour weeks is not likely to work well. Something will suffer, and bosses tend not to like it to be them. So, as much as possible, try to ease into a lighter work schedule, at least for the critical times around the semester.
On the positive side, most employers are understanding, and most legal employers (especially smaller ones) are receptive to the dedication and organization of a dual-time life.
Go get em!
« on: May 30, 2011, 05:40:16 PM »
My question is, if I got my 2nd bachelors and did a good job above 3.5 or what have you, will it be enough to sort've cover my 2.4? Am I beyond a doubt f***ed and can't get into a good law school (at least my dream school)? Give me some insight, I am willing to do whatever it means to get the wheels moving atm. I know 2nd bachelors is frowned upon but most of my credits will transfer and I can finish it easy while having my tuition covered as opposed to getting an MBA in Marketing where I'd have to pay. My mindset is if law school doesn't pan out, I can get into PRs or Marketing with my current debt only at 22-26k.
A second bachelor's degree (or a master's) is a "soft" factor. The advice is straightforward: ace the LSAT.
As between a second bachelor's and a master's, the latter is probably better even if you have to pay, unless your second bachelor's would give you a substantial credential for a business career (e.g., accounting) that you don't already have. Marketing can be a plus in a business setting, but to be honest most marketing folk either have it or they don't, and the specific degree is nearly superfluous. Communication would be a common degree among marketing departments.
That written, if you can pull off a 4.0 (or close to it) for an upper-level set of courses, along with a compelling personal statement that would be a substantial plus. The harder the courses (i.e., the more math), the more likely this is to impress.
There's a new book, Law School Undercover, that gives an insight from the perspective of a law professor who's also served on admissions committees. He offers several unique perspectives that are really quite eye-opening.
Best of luck,
« on: May 29, 2011, 10:39:50 PM »
thanks thane, i'll definitely see if my local b&n has that book.
When you say "high", what exactly do you mean? I'm well aware that it has to be somewhere around the top of the class, but I wanted to see if people had any input in a specific rank range for each of these schools.
As to transferring, you can think of law schools as a series of cascading pools. And, yes, we're the salmon. So, to make a significant jump requires significant energy. Here, that's in the form of grades. So, if you're hoping to jump more than one tier, you can generally stop looking at percentages (Top 10%, Top 5%) and start looking at absolute numbers (5/258, etc.), plus compelling and superbly done application materials.
This is not the whole story, of course, but it's much of it. Also, timing is crucial. Be sure to confirm that via the book and the potential schools directly. Much of what deans are looking for are indications of superhuman ability in organization, dedication, and perseverance. Note where brilliance fits.
Best of luck,
« on: May 29, 2011, 04:31:42 AM »
What class rank would one need at WUSTL to have a decent shot at transferring UCLA (with ties to the region)? What about HYS? What about Boalt?
There's a chart in Art of the Law School Transfer that might help as to all. (The short answer: high, very high.)
« on: May 28, 2011, 02:38:04 AM »
Thanks Falcon, you've been really helpful! I have to take some classes I never took in college so I can qualify for a masters I'd like to do joint anyway--so hopefully I can get all A's and have at least some traditional grades on my transcript.
If there's not an answer on their site, it's possible to check with LSAC directly. If you're not able to track that, I have a contact there. Let me know and I'll pass the question along.
« on: May 26, 2011, 11:49:37 PM »
As I am finishing out my the end of my first year in law school, I have decided that I would like to post some resources for others to have, that I wish I would have known about before starting law school. First, make sure to do all your briefs, but just in case you cannot understand a topic, there are some great websites out there that I use to help in my studying, and to check my case briefs.
Just a word of caution: the point of case briefing is not to do the brief. [!] It is, instead, to understand how a single point of law fits within a broader context of that area of law. So, be careful. Some students all but kill themselves trying to do briefs, never realizing the real goal of briefing. Many of these realize that spending 40 hours a week briefing (which is what is needed to do them the way they're often shown) is unsustainable, so they give up. This leads to the worst of both worlds.
Know that there are alternatives to "case briefing," and that real lawyers do not brief cases in the way shown in law school. And, ahem, lawyers do need to understand cases. So, be careful.
« on: May 23, 2011, 05:01:12 AM »
I've been planning on going to law school for sometime now, and am starting to get the ball rolling in earnest now. The "issue" is that I went to a non-traditional college for undergrad and have written evaluations from my professors instead of grades. In someways, I think this could help me because it presents a more holistic picture of who I am as a student but:
There are a number of possible answers. An initial question: is your college regionally (not nationally) accredited?
As to the LSAT, get a sufficiently high number there and, if the other factors are within the LSAC parameters, you will get a holistic review.
« on: May 23, 2011, 04:04:35 AM »
So, why do you want to be a lawyer? Can I change my career even if I really become a lawyer one day? I mean, are there any other careers related to a law degree other than being a lawyer?
For me, My dream is to have my own restaurant, but to be a lawyer seems a more realistic choice to me.
Good points by all, and this is indeed an important decision--probably too important for a default career. There's a book by Juan Doria that has probably the best section on this topic out there. It's the provocatively titled Slacker's Guide to Law School. Worth reading for a number of reasons, not least the question of whether one should go into law (and law school) half-heartedly. Among the other reasons is in keeping your sanity if you do go.
Best of luck,
« on: May 16, 2011, 04:43:40 AM »
Dear Mom -
As with many aspects of law school and the practice of law, there are elements of truth and large quantities of untruths, misconceptions, and general uncertainty, not least in blind grading, a strict grade curve, and the law of averages.
If your son is cut out for big law (and this is a serious "if," as biglaw is not just about alma mater . . . or even, shocking as it is to most students, grades), then clearly there is an element of truth, although it's not so much that only the big 6 count. As a rule of thumb, it's the top quarter of the top tier, or approximately 14 schools that are considered national schools, with sufficiently broad reach as to place their graduates nationwide without too much fuss. On average. (Actually, there are more than 14 schools in the "top 14," but that's another story.) It is true that the averages fall (in this economy, steeply) the further down you go. But there are students graduating from School #14 (and a few from school #34 and even a tiny few from #54) who are in biglaw.
There is also a misconception about what "biglaw" is. If it's the equivalent of Gordon Gekko-style life, well, as with Grisham's protagonists, that's mostly fantasy. There is clearly a different lifestyle in a top firm. Point one is that it's a lifestyle that not everyone likes. Point two is that it's a lifestyle that relatively few can keep up with. Point three is that, again, grades are just part of this. Point four is that pedigree is important, but not in quite the same way that everyone assumes. In a different market a Yalie with Asperger's might have gotten the interview; in this market, probably not. Okay, they might well get the interview...but much less likely, the job.
[Sidebar: Yale's grads will clearly have their pick, but not for the reasons most assume. Yale grads are assumed to be more "eggheady" than even Harvard's, and thus more likely to go to clerkships and thence to teaching, policy, or like big-picture work. Note what's missing? Anything biglaw is going to need and demand. Not always, of course, and a Yale grad will clearly be given serious consideration . . . IF they have the personality traits needed in biglaw. Given Columbia's and NYU's location, their grads are more likely headed to biglaw--yet there are constant jostles between them. And on it goes.]
Part II of "biglaw" is that, in any of the hundreds of cities below the largest, it's not the national firms that are where the action is at, but the top regional firms. Within their markets, it is the regional--not national--firms that have the fun work. And the pay isn't all that bad. (By the hour, it can be higher than in a national firm.) In those markets the national firms might have a smallish office with a token staff to satisfy the needs of a handful of clients (or even just one). The large regional firm will be *the* firm representing all the juicy cases in, oh, Denver or Portland (your choice of coasts) or Austin. And . . . personal opinion here . . . any of those four cities beat any of the majors, hands down. Yes, NYC can be quite lively. But it's also rather expensive, and a biglaw associate (or even partner) won't have a whole lot of time to enjoy all those museums anyway. (And nightlife? Where's our junior associate? Up on the 40th floor. Back to work, young man!) An associate at a top regional firm can probably buy an estate, or close to it (not that they should), while the New York associate will be living in a cramped and outrageously expensive apartment, likely rented for at least a fair chunk of the associateship. (If they last that long.) Just saying.
A real question for your son: Forget what he wants. What is he good at? Is he super-humanly organized, motivated, mature? Was he elected President of his high school class? Did he teach English in Bangladesh? Does he proofread every email? Twice? I'm not being entirely facetious, actually, as this is, especially now, the type of applicant top schools (and thus biglaw) are looking for. Not that they care about his high school years, but they do care about the qualities that carry forward.
More importantly, what does he want? What does he really want? Is it to work 80-100 hour weeks for ten years? Lots of money? Lots of bosses? Does that sound not overly stressful, and not "fun," but just "who he is"? If so, biglaw is a good bet, if he gets in.
If there's a doubt, that's when the money put into law school becomes important. One of the worst things is to be qualified for and get into a position one realizes is wrong, but to be trapped because of those massive loans.
Depending upon how well it's played, taking the LSAT three times can be a plus, showing at least a little bit of each of the above.
A few resources for him, in addition to [* * * self-interest alert! * * *] my own. There's a new book, Law School Undercover, which gives a much better view than the above of the biglaw competition--in particular how it applies to law school. It's not yet out in print, but it is available on Kindle. There's Planet Law School, and if that doesn't scare him that's an excellent sign for biglaw. There's Law School Fast Track, a useful, short guide that's a good balance to PLS. And there are the three books (the first two for your son before/during law school) in Morten Lund's series Jagged Rocks of Wisdom. Also, John Delaney has some excellent books out. And one that you might find funny as a recommendation, but useful in its own way and to keep a good perspective about all of this. It's Slacker's Guide to Law School.
For all who are not yet in law school and considering the same types of questions, in this market in particular, scratch out "son" and "mom" and fit your own name in. These are rather serious questions, especially now, and I'll not be one to be unrealistically idealistic about it: I and most others graduating some years ago had options (mostly by much lower levels of debt) that are not nearly as realistic as they are today. So, while one needn't necessarily be fixated on top, top, top, these are important considerations. Some of the happiest people I've known are lawyers (and a number of judges) who would flat out not be interested in biglaw, nor, in most cases, biglaw in them. Not good or bad, but good to know going in.
Best of luck,
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