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Messages - Thane Messinger

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Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Is law school even worth it?
« on: October 21, 2010, 08:02:11 PM »
A smaller firm and especially having your own firm eventually is the best way to go to have a 9-5 schedule. I know some attorneys that yeah, they do work a lot during trial time, but a lot of the year they go golfing half the day or take two hour lunches working 8 to 4. These are lawyers who are self-employed. It depends.

This can be true, but for anyone who's tried their hand at entrepreneurship will know, owning one's own business (including a law practice) means more work, not less.  Where it's less and with the narrow exception of a semi-retired senior practitioner, that's usually not by choice.


Current Law Students / Re: Computers in the classroom
« on: October 20, 2010, 10:48:49 PM »
if you have a very specific professor who gives you lots of material not covered in the book, you'll be SOL if you don't listen in class. That's my two cents anyways.

This assumes that professors even remember what they covered in class. 
"Ah yes, that exam answer sounds like something I would say... yes, excellent."

An interesting discussion.  It's natural to think of law school as somehow the same as every other educational experience from undergraduate years and before.  This is misleading at best.  What happens in a law school classroom is in one sense vital, and in another sense irrelevant--but the senses are exactly the opposite of what (and how) we've been taught since preschool. 

In law school, the classroom is not to learn, but to confirm.  Thus, what is said in a law school classroom isn't usually useful for an exam itself.  It IS useful in what is needed to prepare for the exam.

The problem we face in the classroom is that everyone is desparate to keep up, much less prove their way to the top.  Even if used productively (i.e., not to check the latest updates on Twitter), laptops are still a distraction.  That learning should already have happened; the classroom is for a different purpose.  And when laptops are used to check the latest updates on Twitter . . . .

Law School Admissions / Re: HIGH GPA/LOW LSAT
« on: October 18, 2010, 07:56:34 PM »
I am currently looking at a 158 LSAT with a 3.837 GPA from Emory University.
* * *
I am definitely retaking the LSAT in December, but am wondering what people's thoughts are on extreme "splitters" such as myself. My practice tests were all high-160's. I must have had a poor test day.

Red -

The good news is that your situation is reparable.  With a higher second score and high GPA, admissions committees are more likely to weigh those slightly more heavily.  In general, however, splits are mildly negative at least; in essence, there must be a good (i.e, objectively logical) reason, and it cannot weigh too heavily against you for that school, which it will as either score approaches the median.  If either is lower than the median, you'll have your work cut out for you in the soft factors.  And if it's the LSAT, which is it for you, your opportunity is to reset the table.

Do take the LSAT again, give it a full semester's worth of your attention, and best of luck.


Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Is law school even worth it?
« on: October 18, 2010, 02:12:48 PM »
I think bankofmouse may be on the right track, but you have to be careful about assumptions relating to JAG.
It's extremely competitive.  The same goes for DA's offices.  People think that you can just "get in" to JAG, but the process is long and drawn out, and they go after very qualified applicants.  The vast majority of applicants are rejected.

Jack is exactly right.  Nearly any government position is going to have an extended intake process, of at least several months, and many of them are extremely competitive.  Not necessarily competitive in the same way as with firms, but competitive nonetheless.  (One friend's son-in-law started as a JAG.  The fellow went to Yale.  So, yes, competitive.)

Perhaps the most important point:  finding a job should not be a sequential search.  Because it does take so long, it's important to try EVERYTHING, and do so EVERYWHERE, and do so NOW.

Hang in there.  It will all work out.  But, now is the time to make your move.

Current Law Students / Re: Law school stress and relationship
« on: October 18, 2010, 12:05:50 AM »
I was married when I started law school and am still married now.  As far as I know law school didn't strain the relationship at all.  I didn't find law school any more stressful than most anything else in life.  IMHO its probably less stressful than actually being a lawyer.

Quite right.  One reason the law (both school and practice) are so hard on relationships is that there is stress.  How you both handle it is key.  A strong relationship will likely last, and perhaps be strengthened.  A weaker one . . . well, that's up to you both to determine, as painful as this might be to read.

Current Law Students / Re: Good site for law outlines
« on: October 16, 2010, 09:35:34 PM »
Bigs -

Thank you.  I agree that there is no perfect outline form, and that that is less important than the process of internalizing what's in the actual outline.  The outline symbolizes the structure and interrelationships among the many rules of law. 

There is, however, better and there is worse.  The law is structured, and so too should the outline be--not because of the outline, but because of your mind and the law therein.  There is usually no need for cases, but there is need for substance.  Keep that in mind, as your outline is being crafted, and it will all make sense.  That is the acid test; if it makes sense, you're on the right track.

See?  Fun!

You are so right Thane. I am always surprised when people go to these websites or buy supplements etc respecting results from doing that alone. This one guy said he never reads the cases, but just read supplements and looked at the commercial outlines etc. Needless to say he did not survive the first year. Not only are these commercial outlines not written by your specific professor who will add their own spin to the law, but as Thane said you need to struggle through the material in your own head to make sense of the law. These supplements and outlines can be helpful, but the most important thing  to do is read the cases and have a basic understanding of the concepts prior to class. Then show up and pay extremely close attention when you are in class. Considering most students are paying somewhere around $200 for each hour and fifteen minute session you owe it to yourself to show up, stay off the internet, and try to stay alert to comprehend the material. If I spent $200 on Laker tickets I would (a) show up, (b) not look at my facebook the whole time, (c) try to enjoy watching the game - so you should try to enjoy law school since nobody is forcing you to be there.

On a sidenote I was talking to my friend about "outlines", because now I hear all the first years stressing out about them. I think the term outline is dangerous, because students spend so much time e making the outline look nice i.e. roman numerals, chapters, specific page numbers and down the line.  However, the appearance of the outline is irrelevant there is no right way to make one. I remember the first week of law school asking my peer mentor what my outline was supposed to look like because I thought there was some formula. He had no real answer, because there is no right or wrong way to do it. However, the whole first semester I was stressing out thinking I had not done my "outline" correctly. I now realize how dumb that was, because the truth is a well written outline could be some unorganized pos if it helped you struggle through the material and understand it you will be successful on the exams. If you have the most beautifully organized outline with the chapters, page numbers of cases, and words of the elements perfectly organized with roman numerals etc, but have no understanding of the concepts you learned over the semester it probably won't go so well.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 16, 2010, 01:35:41 PM »
Thane (and Morten),

Maybe the old genteel "apprenticeship" could actually work in the modern world.

Leaving aside the resistance to change, etc.  Do you think that some system like that could be workable, from your perspectives as experienced attorneys?

The problem, to follow Morten's comments, is that not only does the system work (from the perspective of the top firms), but it works rather well.  It's expensive, true, but that expense adds to their relative advantage.  And it's not just that they're getting the best talent--which is only roughly true--but that these graduates are, by and large, the only ones getting the in-depth training and back-up needed to make for strong legal skills.

This reminds me of a capstone project I had in business school, where the expected response to the issue of the awful Nestle business practices of the 1970s was for them to be nice.  It was problematic, at best, to expect businesses to disobey their selfish interests.  The issue was deeply problematic, with numerous concerns and implications, but the answer in the end was systemic; nothing less would work

Incoming 1Ls / Re: FAMU over Harvard
« on: October 15, 2010, 07:52:54 PM »
I'm just going to quote myself from the post I just made in a different thread:

You are only in law school for three years.  You will be a law school graduate for much, much longer.  You should choose the law school that is best for life after law school, not for life during law school.

The same applies for college.  Words cannot express what a horrible decision I think this boy is making.

All -

It should not be a knock on any school to agree with Morten.  So, for what it's worth, Morten is right x the number of years of post-graduate life - missed opportunities + additional responses from those who've been there and heard that, divided by the need to feel good.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 15, 2010, 07:40:46 PM »
The paradox is that all firms would be better off with a system akin to medical residencies, and so too would the vast majority of graduates--but the key to this is not firms individually, but the bar as a whole.* 

So, when you're appointed to the ABA's board of governors, this will be your second task, yes?

*  For anyone interested, the "Cravath System," upon which our current model is built, was designed to feed the best firms with the best fresh meat.  And to the Devil goes the hindmost.

The fact that condoms come in different sizes proves that life is just not fair.

Made me laugh.

It's a cop out to say that a better system could be had, but alas, we just have no incentive to make one.

Not a cop-out. The employers who fail to improve the hiring system - it isn't that they don't have "incentive" to make a better system, it is that (from their perspective) the system is perfectly fine.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  No apathy there at all, just prioritization.  They have approximately a million things to do that are more important than "design a hiring protocol that is more fair to applicants."

I argue that the costs of developing a more accurate and honest system (at least for smaller firms) would not outweigh the benefits derived. I speculate that such a system could be adapted and used by larger firms, but we are both in agreement that this will NEVER happen because there is no incentive to do so.

I was with you up until the very last part.  There is plenty of incentive to design a better system, just not with the employers.  If you feel strongly about this last paragraph, then I believe you have just identified an excellent business opportunity for a bold entrepreneur.  Design a better mousetrap hiring system, sell the system to law firms, and then phase 3: profit.  Law firms may not be willing to spend the time and effort to do this type of thing themselves, but law firms love paying consultants who can save them money.  A pitch along the lines of "if you implement my program it will save you $200,000/year forever in wasted recruiting efforts, and it can be your for the low low price of only $100,000" would likely be quite successful.

Job Search / Re: Studying for the BAR, huge DEBT, no JOB, WHAT DO DO?
« on: October 15, 2010, 05:46:28 PM »
There is a general antipathy towards military service by a fair percentage of the general population--and perhaps a greater percentage of folks who attend law school--yet this is often out of ignorance and prejudice rather than thought.  With the right attitude, the military is a tremendous choice.  It certainly provides numerous advantages for the new graduate, including a salary and benefits that are better than 85% of graduates in even a good market get.

If you are thinking of this and have little personal exposure to the military, there are books and blogs about the military experience, and chances are you can track down a nearby JAG office and talk with attorneys there.  Yes, they do actually have phones (and answer them).  Chances are you can earn an invite on base (or post) for a look-see.

For those of you in the Silver Spoon crowd who look down your noses on JAG (military service) as a fallback: "Oh my GOD!"

Here are the approximate numbers:

O-2 (beginning rank for those with only a J.D. and bar passage)/under 2 years service
Base Pay: $43,300 (taxable)
BAS/BAH allowances: $ 20,000 (approximate)
PLUS cost of living adjustments up to 25%

with tax advantage: $70,000/year

Why THAT is terrible!  Better to sit home and whine on the internet about being unemployed....watching the ticker on that
law school debt.

FYI, when I retired (after starting as a dirty, uneducated ENLISTED man) my final compensation:

Warrant Officer (CWO4) with 22 YRS service:
Base Pay: $76,000
BAS/BAH: $25,000

with tax advantage: $109,000/year

Now I have to make due with making only $35K or so in annual retirement pay (which started at age 42).
Oh yeah...forgot about that fully paid BA degree, along with fully paid 1L with $18,000 stipend.


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