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Messages - Thane Messinger

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Incoming 1Ls / Re: Slacker's Guide to Law School
« on: April 05, 2011, 01:41:24 PM »
This is a good book for prospective law students. A friend of mine wrote it, so I'm a little biased, but I can attest that it's probably the most realistic portrayal of life in law school out there. Please excuse the plug, but the author asked me to help him promote a Kindle promotion. If you have a Kindle, you can get it for only $2.99 through April. If you don't have Kindle, go ahead and get the print edition for a bit more. It's well worth the price, and will help you get ready for law school. Thanks.

Doogie -

I must agree with you, for two reasons.  First, Slacker's Guide has probably the best section on "Should I go?" of any of the pre-law books.  Second, it is quite funny and, in its humor, insightful.  Tis a shame that those two qualities are assumed to be in opposition.  Third . . . wait, I promised only two.  Okay, third, it's equally a good guide as to how not to approach law school.  The author makes several good points and is quite correct in his irreverent repartees, but is also instructive as a contrast for law students.  So, benchmark or counterpoint, this is worth reading.


PS:  Have you your own show yet?

Incoming 1Ls / Re: The Second-Best Law School Guide That I've Read
« on: April 05, 2011, 01:32:06 PM »
OK... we can all see what's going on here...

Actually, I would tend to agree with cal.aaronson.  Not sure who he (she) is, but as someone who's also read Hibbard's book, I agree with the points.  Just because a viewpoint is commercial does not mean it is not valid.  Subject to critique, sure, but then again, much political speech we hear should be subject to vastly more critique.  At least commercial speech is honest.  (And it's not clear that this is commercial speech.  Ah, the joys of anonymity.)   


PS:  To take issue with the subject heading, I know of one book that is the best.  = :  )

This tells me what I need to form an opinion.  Why on earth consider a degree and career in something you do not love?  Life is too short to dislike what you do.  The saying IS true: 'if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.'  Imagine dragging yourself out of bed every day forn the next 40+ years to do something you dont like... that is INSANITY! 

Fine, you are having trouble finding a job now - why not get an advanced degree in the area of study that you ARE interested in?

Also, with all due respect to others - "a JD is a versatile degree" is a throw-away line.  Aside from practicing as an attorney or doing direct law-related work, there are very few careers out there where a JD is a game-changer.  Why spend $150K on a degree with a narrow application?

And finally, not to get too personal here, but why not talk to your parents about alternatives?  If they both work in law then they must be fairly intelligent.  They will have exposure to a wide array of job/career ideas.  If they are pushing law, shame on them if you truly are not passionate about it.

I'll have to second Hamilton's opinion.  One of the most dangerous things is to go to law school "just because."  If you're lucky, that will happen to coincide with something you realize you like to do.  Unlikely, but possible.  More likely is a decade or three spent in a miserable job or, now, spend repaying loans with income from a field that is not law and for which the JD does little or nothing.

Find what you like.  Go for that.  If you don't like anything, find what you like.  If you still don't like anything, find what you like.  Not yet?  Well, prepare to be ho-hum at best at whatever you do. 

I don't mean to be too flippant, as nearly everyone goes through these same thoughts.  But it's still important to figure out what it is you are likely to like.  This is often through exactly the process you decribe: figuring out what it is you don't like.  More fundamentally, ask the big-picture questions.  Do you like people?  Numbers?  Answers?  Questions?  Hard work?  The opposite.  Answer those, and then talk with your parents and others who actually practice.  You'll likely get an eye-opening set of answers.

Good luck.

Current Law Students / Re: Law School Truth and Question
« on: April 03, 2011, 09:12:46 AM »
If you don't feel like starting at the bottom and working your way up, this bodes ill.  Do whatever you want, but it's inadvisable to treat law school like an extended summer camp.  If new people and opportunities is what you want - do it!  There's a ton of ways to make this happen.  Work on a ski resort or any number of things.  Just, I'd hold off on law school.

Quite right.  Even college isn't "college" anymore, for many. 

To the question of "should I or shouldn't I?" there's a book with perhaps the best section on "should I go?" out there (better than mine even).  It's Slacker's Guide to Law School, which I believe is now under a promotion in Kindle.

As a rule, it's hard to overstate just how taxing and consuming and expensive law school will be.  Even for those with a serious passion, the road is arduous.  (It shouldn't be, actually, but that's another story.)  Without that passion, as our moderator says, that bodes ill.  Even if mom and dad are paying, law school is a personal and mental commitment unlike any academic experience prior thereto.

Good luck.

so apparently the "comparitive reading" where theres 2 passages to read instead of one is a pretty new thing and the older lsats dont have them. how different are these from the other reading passages? and where can you find them? the new sample from lsac as well as the tests at have comparitive reading questions but other than that i havent really found any.

True -

On the assumption that this is on the up-and-up, you might first look at the basic components of any of the LSAC's materials.  Quite honestly, it matters not which you start with.  You could even pick one up from 1971 and get a fair sense of essential lawyerish "aptitude" and what it is that law school folk are concerned with.  Reading comprehension is obviously a major part of the LSAT, and has been for some time, so the specific form of comparative evaluation is a concern after mastering the basic elements.

You might also read Morten Lund's book on memos.  While that might seem premature, it will lend a good sense of the degree of precision needed in all forms of communication.  Lawyers are excruciatingly precise, and law school admissions officers are part of this process of defining, observing, and choosing those with a like degree of precision.


Law School Admissions / Re: 49 year old physician seeking advice
« on: March 13, 2011, 03:57:10 PM »
I am a 49 year old physician in Florida taking the LSAT in June.  I graduated with honors from a private medical school 20 years ago.  I took the LSAT in 2/03 and scored a 148 without prepping for it.  I'm signing up for a Kaplan course to prep for the LSAT.  I'm focusing on gettint into Florida State University.  I don't know if I'm competetive since I've been out of the classroom for 21 years.  I'll listen to any ideas.

ABDoc -

I knew three physicians in our first-year section.  All did very well. 

You're exactly right to take a course.  Focus on this like the dickens, and the rest becomes relatively easier.  What you will offer is a unique perspective, and one that admissions committees will be receptive to.  While they will look mostly at undergraduate grades, your medical school and later experience will be a strong plus.  As long as your LSAT put you within the realm, your "softs" and ancillary materials will be key, and highly favorable. 

There's a new book that should be out in a few weeks.  I'll try to remember to post on it.  It's called "Law School Undercover," I believe, done by a veteran law professor who's served on admissions committees.

Best of luck,


Is this supposed to be an argument in support of the idea that it is the hard-working go-getters who are landing jobs in law and everyone not getting a job is a lazy slacker not willing to put in the effort?  If so, it falls very flat.

The above listed blogs can be dismissed as being written by bitter JDs who just did not have what it took, or who somehow felt entitled to a job - but folks do so at their own peril.  I think these guys make an excellent point that anyone paying full price for a JD from a T3/T4 school and wracking up 6 figure debt is really taking a big risk.  They are providing a forum to warn 0Ls that law school is not a guaranteed path to wealth and glamour - contrary to the product that the law schools continue to sell.

To show that it matters how hard YOU are willing to work.  I have two friends, went to the same school, had the same major, and GPA were closes (3.6 v. 3.5).  One has a NYC job at larger company.  Other is working for a local township.  And then one with the lower GPA is the one in NYC

There are numerous lessons we might focus on, and it is clearly a difficult time to be looking for a job.  At bottom, however, is the reality that each individual is responsible for making the connection; jobs won't come to you.  It IS possible to find the right job, and there ARE "right" jobs out there.  They will be more difficult than in flush years, sure.  I dealt with this almost exactly 20 years ago, so I am proof on both sides. 

One additional point:  this is a good opportunity to ask the questions of which type of job is exactly right for you.  A job--even a biglaw job--can be heaven for one and one-half step from Hell for another.

A third point:  Much of the difficulty in one-on-one contacts has much less to do with stats and much more to do with being comfortable in your own skin.  This is something that few graduates are.  I encourage anyone to read Insider's Guide to Getting a Big Firm Job.  It was written during the flush times, but its message is, if anything, even more relevant now.  Of special importance is the interview in the book with a senior partner at a national firm:  it's the personal side that becomes the decision point as to a specific applicant.  Shiny resumes will mean little if the actual human is difficult or awkward.  So-so resumes will still matter, but they're not the end game, and especially not if the position that's right for YOU is one in which the human elements come through.  Focus on this now and save yourself years or even decades of misery.

I hope this helps,


U.S. News is the best ranking out there right now and it does factor in the most important aspects.  However, my objection to their rankings is the reliance on personal opinion of reputation from unqualified persons.  I call these persons unqualified because a judge in New York or Hawaii is unlikely to have any experience with a graduate of a Texas law school, yet they are asked to rank the school. 

Because of this, anything below the top 50 is going to be a regional school and anyone outside the region is less likely to be able to accurately assess the quality of the graduates.  Therefore, the further down the list you go, the less the actual ranking matters.

(On an aside, I suspect this favors schools in more densely populated regions like the Northeast, etc. potentially giving them an artificial boost up the rankings.)

Quite right as to all points.  This is why we should look at rankings in groupings and location and one's own specific circumstances, rather than as a linear (supposed) truth.  It is pointless to compare Harvard with [choose your Tier 1, 2, 3, 4 favorite here].  It doesn't matter who's doing the judging, or how "subjective" is their judgment, collective or individual.  Likewise, it is misleading to compare law schools within a half-dozen places of each other--or even within a few dozen places of each other, depending upon one's specific, singular factors. 

To take Texas as an example, even with UT-Austin as the lead school in the state, there are still numerous other factors.  For a major employer in, say, Houston, a UT grad will compete with one from Harvard . . . and the Longhorn might well be at the disadvantage, depending upon individual factors.  (i.e., here's where individual performance and connections count.)  But for a smaller firm, the assumption is that the Harvard grad is slumming, and perhaps somehow couldn't land a job at a "real" firm to which Harvard grads are presumed to be headed.  Even that is simplistic: a "major" firm can be a branch office of a national firm, or a top regional firm.  Believe it or not, the top regional firm will, in general, be better regarded within that market than the national firm's branch.  Why?  Because the regional firm is a full-service firm, handling all matters of top clients from that area; the branch is likely there to serve a national or global client, but might have a relative handful of attorneys.  Not that the national firm's attorneys will not be taken seriously--they just won't be as significant a force in that market.  In each market, something similar is operating.  San Antonio, as you know, is very much its own culture, quite distinct from Dallas, Houston, Austin, and, well, every other of the 26 (?) cities in Texas.  Comparing San Antonio to Lubbock is not just misleading, it's downright silly--and yet both cities have lawyers, judges, firms, and new openings.  In short, there's a lot more to rank, prestige, etc., than a grossly simplistic, single "ranking" system.

I know U.S. News is head shoulders above the rest when it comes to the list that matters the most in the perception of the world BUT it is certainly NOT the best list in my opinion. So what is the best list based on methodology, career prospects, admission data, reputation, etc? I mean, the whole purpose of these lists is to determine which schools will give you, the prospective law student, the best chance of success. I know that no list is perfect, but there has to be some kind of hierarchy. U.S. News cannot possibly be the best list out there...even if it is the most used and watched list.

As a contrarian view, it is foolish to seek a ranking system better than U.S. News.  It's not a question of perfection.  It's a question of filters.  Aside from the fact that U.S. News is the ranking system because it is believed to be that system (a statement that could be said of the legal system as well), it factors in just about every reasonably factor-able factor to be factored.  If one disagrees with a specific variable, fine; refigure that according to your preferences.  But it won't make a measureable difference on employers.

Far more important than the ranking is what you do with it.  Depending upon your stats, you should view the layers of schools as nearly independent sets of potential schools.  There isn't "a" ranking; there are several. 

What no one should do is choose Law School A at rank #25 over Law School B at rank #28.  The rankings are not linear.

Current Law Students / Re: Poor 1L Grades
« on: January 29, 2011, 10:17:34 PM »
However, I am more and more convinced that perhaps I do not fit well with my specific law school, in my location. Is transferring even an option?
It would be to another school in an area closer to my home and girlfriend of many years. I came here with the intent to stay and set up a career in the Midwest, but I don't think it was a fully thought out intent. I simply didn't live here long enough before law to understand how I truly feel about the location. Low grades give me an incentive to move out.

As to transferring, there's a book that might give you a sense of the possibilities.  It's Art of the Law School Transfer.  As a general comment, top grades are needed for all but lateral or downward transfers, which of course rases its own issues.

Best of luck,


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