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Messages - Thane Messinger

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I am curious if & when this whole thing gets to the Supreme Court what the arguments will be. It seems like it might violate the 10th amendment to me, but I know it is uncertain if that is a truism or something that can make legislation unconstitutional.  If any actual lawyer has an opinion I would be interested in hearing it. The news seems to ramble on without saying anything really and I would love to hear what the Supreme Court will actually decide when it gets there.

10th Amendment?  What's that?!*

* A jurisprudential double-entendre for those Federalists among us.  = :   )

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Fustrated, confused and I have questions
« on: January 07, 2011, 01:09:20 PM »
I just finished my last semester of undergrad at NYU, and I am a bit dissapointed with my preformance. I transfered from Nassau Community College with a 3.45 GPA, I graduated NYU's school of education with a 3.195 GPA (it game up from a 2.6). My first question is that will the law school that I want to go to compute a new GPA based on my community college GPA and NYU's GPA? My second question is that, does the name of my school make up for an avarage GPA? My third question is that do you think I can get into  Hofstra Law School, UCLA or even ST Johns with this GPA? My last question is does the fact that I am an education major help me stand out?

Havoc -

I'm reviewing a manuscript by a veteran law professor who addresses this topic.  He served on admissions committees, and offers a number of critical points.

First, it's quite right that there is not a requisite program.  At the margins, however, committees do look at specific degrees . . . but that doesn't nearly capture it.  They look at courses and even instructors.  Among the things they're looking for is how an academic workload was handled.  Thus, one element in your application should be in addressing this point.  If, for example, you held a job during your undergraduate years, that is important. 

An additional question:  Does any other subject appeal to you?  If, for example, you like math or economics or IT, adding a second major (usually an additional semester) and doing very well in those courses goes a LONG way, with a strong LSAT, to convincing a committee that you have the dedication and energy that will be needed in the law.  (Moreover, these are good additions to an education and career.  Really.)

Also, "at the margins" is a key phrase:  your LSAT is a large part of the degree to which the GPA and other factors will be an issue.  Where the above analysis is crucial is where an applicant is not clearly stellar--which is most applicants at all but safety schools.

So, THE key to your application, assuming an additional semester is not the immediate thought, is to absolutely nail the LSAT.  Study for that harder than you studied for an entire semester.  Good luck!

Law School Admissions / Re: i'm a hot mess! please help!
« on: December 28, 2010, 08:12:56 PM »
I'm a relatively smart junior in high school (i'm in the top quarter of my class) and recently I've made the wonderful decision of pursuing a career in law. But here's the thing: I have no idea what kind of lawyer I want to be and I'm questioning my major. I really want to be a music major because it's something that I love with a passion and I've heard through the grapevine that law schools are more prone to accept music majors, but is that true? Also, what kind of lawyer should I be if I'm shy and don't like giving oral presentations? OR should I just get over it? Thanks.

Dear Musicgrl -

First, don't give up something you love.  Ever.  That doesn't mean you can't also pursue a career in law (or medicine, or whatever you decide).  Your career should follow your heart, not vice versa.  Moreover, even were you to get a degree in music and decide upon law, that would not negatively impact your chances--assuming you did well on the LSAT, took your music program seriously, and were otherwise dedicated in your application.  (In other fields, such as medicine, this is not true; prerequisites would necessitate either dual majors or additional undergraduate coursework.  Certainly acheivable, and, believe it or not, dual majors in, say, chemistry and music would be a strong plus.)  In law school admissions, an unusual major such as music can be a plus, but only if everything else falls into place (which it will, if that is a true desire).

To your questions as to the law itself, please do not worry about what type of law you would end up practicing.  Even those law students who go into law school with a set desire find themselves in a different field, sometimes quite different.  The same is often true of those graduating from law school.  There is absolutely no detriment to not knowing what, specifically, you would wish to practice.  There's also no real harm in not being extroverted.  The students who end up excelling in their first year of law school are often ones who take everyone else by surprise.  Beware the quiet ones!

You should continue to explore whether or not law is for you, generally.  You have plenty of time.  If you are confident over the next few years that the answer is Yes, don't let anything (or anyone) stop you . . . and still don't give up music.  = :   )


Law School Admissions / Re: Low LSAT score.
« on: December 28, 2010, 12:05:00 AM »
While I was an undergrad at the University of California I decided to take the LSAT, and scored a 134. Now I'am a computer science postgraduate student at Newcastle University in England. I still want to go to law school, but don't know which schools would even look at an application with such a low score. I'am willing to take the risk with a law school that has low admission standards, work my tail off, and transfer to a better school. Any advice? I've been looking at Texas Southern University and Cooley law.

Thank you.

Maj Lee offers good points.  As to transferring, that is a difficult path.  There's a book, Art of the Law School Transfer, which might help.

Taking the LSAT again is almost certainly the better path (even if you do intend to transfer).  Take a prep course, practice intensively, and in addition plan to spend the equivalent of a full semester's study/practice to ace it.   Once you have that stellar score, the earlier one will be but a bad memory.  (Note to all others:  Do the above on your first go, and save much money and headache and heartache.)

Incoming 1Ls / Re: CPA v. JD; Is it worth it?
« on: December 27, 2010, 11:55:56 PM »
Undecided -

First, congratulations.  You're asking the right questions. 

The answer should fundamentally depend not upon dollars, or loans, or any of that.  It should depend upon YOU.  Do you have a burning desire to do research, to confirm with absolute finality the answer to a microscopically refined question?  Chances are not many would answer "Yes" to that, but that is much of what a lawyer will be doing (in addition to counting billable hours, dealing with upset bosses--and later clients--and so on).  There's not much in your questions that address this.  Not wrong . . . just pointing to a different set of questions to be asked.

To your questions, your opportunity cost is real, and is higher than many prospective law students.  With a bachelor's in accounting, chances are good you can cover your current debt and enjoy a reasonably good lifestyle, for at least the foreseeable future. 

Do you like taking risks?  If so that points away from law school--on both financial and personality points.  Consider an MBA in finance or accounting instead (assuming you like those areas).

Are you happy with the law school you would attend?  Would you qualify for scholarships?  If you studied for the LSAT again, could you do markedly better?

Do these questions help in refining the next questions toward that answer?   = :  )


Transferring / Re: What is considered T1?
« on: December 27, 2010, 11:33:58 PM »
so you honestly believe that 100% of the judges polled by USNews come from those three schools then. That's what your trying to say?

Clearly not, but precisely because of this, the weighting favors established schools (and especially prestigious ones).  One need look no further than the composition of the current U.S. Supreme Court and their respective almae matres.  This is not about right or wrong; it is about what is.

The question as to what constitutes a "T1" is in many ways the wrong question.  All U.S. law schools . . . ALL of them . . . are modeled on Harvard Law School, circa 1880.  Law professors are routinely drawn from the top five law schools.  To a large degree, legal education is a commodity . . . there is little difference between the highest- and lowest-ranked schools vis-a-vis becoming a lawyer, which is paradoxically why differences among law schools and students, both real and perceived, are so impactful.

PS: Not sure where I wrote anything close to your statement.  = :  )

Transferring / Re: What is considered T1?
« on: December 27, 2010, 07:06:04 PM »
Yale knows about outside of Yale how? You implying they suck or something? ???

In matters academic, those from the top of the top tier know just about everything . . . and everyone.  (Note:  Not that they're right.)  Thus the comparison to Cooley, etc., while (presumably) tongue-in-cheek is a bit off the mark.

The competition at the tippy-top is between Harvard and Yale.  (Many put Stanford in the same club, and one could argue for a half dozen others.)  Harvard is nearly three times as large as Yale, and while Harvard dominates in just about every way, those in the know know that it is Yale with the edge, academically.  This isn't because of superiority of faculty, library, lighting, etc., but because of selectivity.  In that word lies the answer to the question.  Whether we like the question . . . that's another question entirely.   = :   )

PS:  Judges are not selected by quantity.  If they were, it's Texas and Georgetown that would be the ones to beat.   

Transferring / Re: What is considered T1?
« on: December 27, 2010, 04:49:56 PM »
So if rankings are based in large part based on the votes of judges, and cooley is spitting out record numbers of lawyers each year flooding the market with them as an increasing percentage of the licensed attorneys and increasing so the standing judges as well, won't the system eventually end up with cooley as #1 simply do to the fact that very soon the vast majority will be cooley grads?

Perhaps in a few hundred years.  Then again, Harvard and Yale will still have a three-century headstart.  (Not as to law grads, granted, but for this level, the official degree was often less important than the pedigree of institution and holder.)  Even newcomer Stanford will have a century on 'em.

And quantity ain't the same as quality.  Ask anyone from Yale.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: How to Start Preparing
« on: December 26, 2010, 08:26:19 PM »
The amount of study you need depends on where you're scoring now, and where you need to score to get into the schools you want to go to.  If you're scoring 160, and you only need a 150 to get in, your required study hours are zero.  Without knowing you or your stats, there is no way to tell you how long to study.

I will, however, encourage you to go for the highest score you can get.  Even if you are geographically attached to a school, high scores make for good scholarships.  That being said, I highly recommend taking a class or hiring a tutor.  It's a worthwhile investment.

As always, EarlCat provides good advice.  A note from a colleague struck me: the LSAT is one-half (or more) of the admissions decision for most schools, for most applicants.  To combine this with EarlCat's second point, there's almost no level of preparation that's too much.  (The same applies for the bar exam . . . and, ahem, just about every case you'll ever work on as an attorney.) 

I couldn't afford a prep course, way back when, which is perhaps why I share this:  You should take an  intensive course AND also study about as much as you would for a full semester's coursework.  Overboard?  Perhaps.  But chances are you'll relish every one of those additional points.

Current Law Students / Re: Dress Shirts
« on: December 17, 2010, 11:43:39 AM »
I feel my best when I am dressed in a suit.  Anytime I had doubts about heading to law school (doubts as in can I succeed) by placing a suit on me, my confidence increased and I knew I could.

So Thane, are you saying a monogram can set me apart from the crowd?  I have dress shirts, which I get tailored as well as my suit due to my wide back and narrow waist (44v33) that do not contain monogram.  So would it behoove me to get a few shirts with a monogram?  IF so, button or french cuff?

Sorry for all the questions.  I prefer to stand out among the crowd, and I always appreciate knowledge from those such as yourself and Louiebstef/

Marcus -

Yes, and not necessarily in a good way.

I would tend to agree with louieb:  In general, both French cuffs and monograms are probably overdone, possibly fatally so. 

One point is, of course, your feeling as the interviewee. So if you feel naked without cuff links or monogram, that's certainly on the plus side. 

The other side of the equation, however, is how you would be perceived.  My guess is that, with most interviewers, both would be seen as out-of-place.  It's entirely fine (but not required) to wear cuff links on the job; ditto for monograms.  Both are, however, a bit affected, depending upon the crowd.  (Secretaries will make fun of you until you're at least a senior associate; do not wear either as a summer or new associate.) In an interview room, among students (most of whom are obviously playing dress up because they have to) . . . chances are the effect would be negative, not positive. 

A third point:  interviewers should focus on personality.  Positive personality.  Something that tells them, "Gosh, I sure wish we had more colleagues like [fill in your name here] at the office!"  Clothing should be invisible.  Well, not literally.  Clothing should NOT be an issue, in any sense.  Thus, on balance, I would likely agree that both French cuffs and monograms are probably more risky than they're worth.  Monograms can be fine if you leave your jacket on, as you should, but even there it's still chancy if it's seen and if the interviewer's response is some mental version of a raised eyebrow, as it might well be.  See point on "Gosh...," above.  Better to wear a super quality conventional shirt that makes you feel grand all the same.  = :   )


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