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Messages - Thane Messinger

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131
Studying for the LSAT / Re: How much studying should I be doing a day?
« on: April 25, 2011, 03:57:15 AM »
Anyway, I think at this point, I've got a dead horse too, and I'm flogging it for all I'm worth.  I'll just close by saying to the OP, 1 hour a day seems fine.  Take the danged LSAT and get into Law School, then work like a mutha to be first in your class.


Dear Horse -

Glad to see you're still breathing.  Where's that bat?

For the OP (and everyone else contemplating law school), how about this . . . reverse those.  Work hard on the LSAT.  Very hard.  Very, very hard.  Way more than an hour a day.  Give yourself options like you've never had before.  Give yourself not just options, but money . . . scholarship money that is reserved for those the schools want.  With a sufficiently high LSAT, at most schools, you'll be amazed at just how nice it is to be attractive.

Then, in law school, do NOT go crazy like everyone else.  Great grades do not follow mere "work."  This, in my view, is where so many law students go so wrong . . . and why so many are so unhappy.  Law school should be fun.  Really.  Done right, it is.  (And, psst, this is how the best students do it . . . and they're not always the hardest-working students.)

The relationship between effort and result is clearer with the LSAT.  And it too should be fun.  Really.  If not, go back to the initial questions.  Do you really want to do this?  Three years and a quarter of a million dollars?

Thane.

132
Studying for the LSAT / Re: How much studying should I be doing a day?
« on: April 24, 2011, 05:26:49 AM »
See my point, here?  There are a lot of things where, sorry, but "good enough" is good enough.  I just brought up an excellent point of perhaps the nation's most successful trial lawyer and not only didn't he really give a crap about getting a maximum score on the BAR EXAM (and I love how the weasly rationalizaions started about that one... give it a rest.  If you have to give 100% to ANYTHING related to the law, you sure as hell would have to give 100% on passing the damned bar. 

Had to chuckle here. Once upon a time I knew someone who seemingly spent as much time calculating the lowest score he could get in each section of the bar exam to pass with the absolute minimum total score as he actually spent studying.  He did manage to pass on the fourth go.


If you're saying that if you don't study a gozillion hours, then you're a slacker who will never make anything of yourself in the law because a lawyer does everything he ever does at 100%, then all I gotta ask is, what year did you win the Heisman?

As to slackers, there's a book out (Slacker's Guide to Law School, by Juan Doria) that speaks to this as well.  I liked Doria's book as it was funny and at times poignant, but more to the point here, his epilogue makes plain just why this is important.  It's not that one cannot be successful (as that term is usually defined)--although the odds are increasingly against it--but rather that there are deeper questions.  Among them, chances are if one is to do well *and* to be happy, one should choose a vocation that at least somewhat comports with a true interest.  Lacking that, the odds of a successful career are diminished, and the odds of a happy one are all but vanquished.

If one begins to study an LSAT book and realizes it's dreadful, that's not a good long-term indicator for the "L" part.  If one is spending just an hour a day, one question is "why?"  Is it boring?  If so, back to part one.  Is there not enough time?  Is it still the eighth grade?  And so on.  If, however, one finds the patterns in the LSAT interesting--fascinating, even--well, one hour is just too short, yes?  So, quite apart from a smart investment, it's also a fair sign.

133
Studying for the LSAT / Re: How much studying should I be doing a day?
« on: April 22, 2011, 11:12:52 PM »
I have personally worked with/for Mark Lanier.  I guarantee you, if he were taking the LSAT right now he would be shooting for a 180. 

But he's not taking it right now.  He took it back then.  In spite of whatever LSAT he took, he ended up being a "real lawyer".

The main reason to get that great LSAT is to get into that great school, right?  However, he didn't do that.  (I mean no offense, to Tech graduates.  Just that most folks would not regard it as being on par with a few other programs in Texas.) 

Doesn't appear to have kept him from becoming a "real lawyer".


At the risk of succumbing to old-fart syndrome, it seems that there's an epidemic of "good enough" going around.  In law practice, until the case is closed, you won't know how much is good enough.  Of course, if a cavalier attitude is good enough, then that's the client's bad luck.  (After a while, however, that does tend to cut into one's ability to replace sports cars each year.) 

Thus, we overprepare.  Not just that, but that's our assumption

Do most lawyers do less?  Sure.  But their "success" is as much a matter of the other side's doing even less than that, or of luck, or of insider rules, or of whatever else is operating.  And the higher one goes, or the more serious one takes success, the more one holds to a higher standard.  Whether that's 180 or "A" or what have you, that's what separates the stars from everyone else.  And, to a large degree, it's a self-selecting process.

Here's the funny thing:  it doesn't really matter whether one actually gets the 180, or the "A".  Really.  Yale has admitted folks with 178, 176 . . . and biglaw employers have hired folks who have the occasional "B" . . . and lots of excellent, powerful attorneys have not attended a top school . . . but without that internal expectation--an insistence, really--the odds of getting anywhere close to that 180, or consistent "A's," or an excellent reputation (backed by actually being excellent) are slight to the point of vanishing.

Thane.

134
General Board / Re: How important is rank anyways?
« on: April 18, 2011, 09:40:50 PM »
Is one better off graduating from a T1 school top 1/3 of class but with NO Law Review or Moot Court  OR  is one better off staying at a T3 school, again top 1/3 of class but also having Law Review and Moot court experience????


Along the lines of the other comments, consider that it is not at all automatic (or even probable) that the options are doing-well-in-a-lesser-school OR doing-less-well-in-a-greater-school.  That's not how law school grades (or law review or moot court) work.   

These are separate factors, and are best viewed in light of how each affects the individual student.  What is your goal, and how will each (rank, law review, etc.) affect you?

135
General Board / Re: 1L student thinking about Air Force Reserve
« on: April 18, 2011, 09:25:55 PM »
Is anybody in the air force reserves?

I am currently a part time law school (full time worker).  However I am  thinking that instead of going to summer school, join the air force reserve and go to boot camp over the summer.  Then once fall arrives, I can go to law school full time and graduate earlier.  Also once I graduate, I plan to become active in the air force and hopefully be accepted in the JAG program. 

Is this a realistic goal?  Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Dear World -

This is absolutely worth considering, especially if you can get into a JAG program.  There are several opportunities (JAG and other) . . . check http://www.jagusaf.hq.af.mil/  and http://jagrecruiting.law.af.mil/Judge%20Advocate/jrec.htm  (and no doubt others).  Also, don't discount other branches, or other routes within the Air Force.

Depending upon your desires and outlook, military service can be an excellent way to begin a professional career.  In general, the reserves are a terrific opportunity if you qualify and are accepted.

Thane.

136
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Cornell Slacker
« on: April 18, 2011, 04:09:44 AM »
I'm new to this web site. I am starting to seriously think about law as a post-graduate plan and I am a junior at Cornell studying Economics and English literature. I am a self-proclaimed slacker, and my gpa can show for it. I hope to graduate with around a 3.0 (my English grades are much better than my Econ grades), and I have 2 questions:

1. Can I apply to Law schools with my English major gpa and not Econ?

2. Does coming from an Ivy help my chances at getting into a top law school regardless of the fact that I don't have a stellar gpa?

No, and not really.  In fact, #2 can be counter-productive, if they get a sense of your essential over-indulged slacker-hood.  Absent other compelling reasons, they'll want to favor the single-mother immigrant entrepreneur.  (Yes, I have had just such a person in my class, and yes, she blew the curve for everyone.) 

However . . . admissions officers will be looking a course-by-course grades (if your LSAT warrants the deeper look), so that's where you can point out meaningful distinctions.  This, after all, is what lawyering is.

Your single way to show them is to ace your LSAT.  Do that, and write up how you "came to," and you've a shot.

Once you're in, try Slacker's Guide to Law School: Success without Stress, (mentioned elsewhere).

Thane.

137
Socratic Method / Re: What is THE WORST that could happen?
« on: April 18, 2011, 04:00:46 AM »
I know everyone keeps telling you don't worry......no one will be paying attention.  Though this is probably true I know you still don't want to mess up.  I would just say be thoroughly prepared for class. When the professor calls on you don't get all crazy and nervous, but just answer the question and pretend that you are explaining something to someone you are comfortable with like a friend or family member. 


One should be prepared for class, but NOT to look good.  The best students minimize their in-class performance, rather than trying to shine.  For the best long-term results (i.e., referrals [with money attached!!!] from your future colleagues), you should not "shine," but instead come across as competent, likeable, and trustworthy. 

Preparation for class means understanding what will be discussed in that day's class.  Note, this does not mean "do all your case briefs" or "stay up all night 'catching up' on your reading" or any such nonsense.  It means understanding what the professor is saying.  Magically, if your study is focused in this direction, you can actually do a passable job responding to the professor even if you didn't read the case (not that that's what I'm recommending).

As hard as it is to accept, remember that law school grades are based on your exam.  Thus, your attention must remained focused there.  The classroom is a chance for you to practice, whether or not you're being called on.

138
Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: Clerkship chances
« on: April 11, 2011, 02:34:11 AM »
I think you should apply broadly.  Since you have a class rank, I'm assuming you don't go to Yale.  In my experience, though this has probably changed since I was applying in the fall of 2007, it was fairly easy for URMs on the Journal to get clerkships as long as they applied broadly.  I imagine the same would hold true for H and S.  Of course, times have changed since then, but I still think you can probably find a good clerkship if you apply broadly.  If not, work for a year or two and try again (and let judges know in your cover letter that you're willing to be considered a year out as well).

Would certainly agree.  Also, at this level the decisions are not automated, nor even particularly linear.  Your stats put you in the running.  Once you're in the judge's chambers, it's pretty much a fresh start from there.  I can recommend two sources for this latter hurdle.  Insider's Guide to Getting a Big Firm Job has several excellent sections on this (and interviewing with a judge is not all that dissimilar from interviewing for a firm or other law job).  Also, Morten Lund's first book, on practice, will be a good look into the mind of an appellate judge, times two.  His book on memos will be even more important once you start your clerkship.

To emphasize A's point, don't not apply because you think it's a long shot, if it's a reasonable shot and it's a judge or office you would like to serve.  If so, make that known, and go for it!

Best of luck,

Thane.

139
General Board / Re: Why Law School Sucks for me
« on: April 08, 2011, 12:36:44 AM »
Here's some background on me:
I'm near the top 25% of my class, I had a summer job both summers, I'm on the law review board, and I have some decent prospects in the job hunt (even though I don't have anything nailed down yet, and I'm going to starve this summer)

* * *

Reading is no longer useful, taking notes doesn't help at all, and there is really no incentive to choose a particular class on any basis other than who is teaching it.  I love the legal field, and I think I will continue to love my career in law, but law school is a huge waste of time and money.  Unfortunately, it's another hoop you have to jump through and the only people who could do anything about it are too heavily invested in the current system.

Jack -

If it helps, your perspective is shared by many practitioners and (shh...) more than a few professors.  I couldn't contain myself, and added a section "Obiter Dicta" at the end of GGG on just this, although I took it in a different direction (along the lines of medical education). 

In any event, do take course of some interest, by professors of some interest as well.  Take a semester abroad if you can.  Work part-time (a great way to see law school differently).  And hang in there.

Thane.

140
Studying for the LSAT / Re: How much studying should I be doing a day?
« on: April 08, 2011, 12:19:08 AM »
Perhaps for some.  For me it would have been pointless.  Like most folks, I took 4 sections other than Logic Games.  3 of them were graded.  One of them, I know I missed maybe 3 questions on.  Might have missed 1 or two others that I thought I had right.  the rest, I doubt I missed any, but might have missed, at best, 1 or 2.


One difference in perspectives is that someone such as Lund is shooting for 180.  (Or, for me, the old scale of 48.)  Beware:  when entering the actual world of law practice, this perspective IS the world of law.  There is 180, and there is "lose."  I don't mean to make too much of this, but for a real lawyer, one strives to do (and be) the best.  Really.  The very, very best.  Not just "good enough," or "that's silly," or "golly isn't this over yet?"  Not everyone can get 180, sure.  But almost everyone can do better than they will if they study lightly or, out of some misplaced machismo, not at all.  Walk into an LSAT cold and the ghost of an admissions committee member will be standing watch, shaking his head.  The live member, sensing what the ghost whispers and reaching for the admissions stamps, selects the one labeled "smite."

Also, it's easy to make too much of difference.  Sure, individuals are different, and perhaps there's something to learning styles . . . but not nearly as much as one would suspect by reading about what works and what doesn't.  It's almost as if we've sipped a bit too much at the "if it feels good do it" Kool Aid bar.  At some level, brainpower is brainpower is brainpower.  And preparation is preparation is more preparation.  If you think you're prepared, think again. Prepare some more. 

I'm with Morten on this one, even if he is more extreme than I.  (Better that someone is!  = :  )

Thane.

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