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Messages - Thane Messinger
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« on: February 14, 2010, 07:14:47 PM »
You really think so? For regular people who graduated from Bumfack State with BS in BS a JD degree is like an MD degree. If they see a guy with JD applying for a job with a 4-year college degree requirement for them it will be like a famous neurosurgeon walking in and applying for a receptionist position. They will be confused and likely decide it is a joke a mistake or an act of desperation from on overqualified person who will likely scram at first opportunity. A lot of people from T2 and T3 come to realize that JD might be a huge liability when you cant find a good legal job and try to land a regular business world position. That is why so many people actually take JD off their resume to assure a successful job search...
The responses are quite right. As you state, the issue of "overqualification" applies when one seeks a position that wouldn't require the law license (which of course requires the law degree). But unless that's the plan (in which case one might ask why they're going to law school in the first place), it's not likely to be a significant issue.
The instances I've seen tend to involve JDs who cannot get law jobs, and who thus branch out to areas (often *any* area) where there's hiring. Focusing in, say, offices dealing with contracts, etc., is likely to be a reasonably good fit, and thus there's not likely to be a major issue with overqualification. Many seek governmental positions, which tend to accept all comers, and tend to have positions requiring a wider variety of graduate degree. Another possibility I've seen is in academics, usually in staff positions in which a professional degree is a general plus. Even so, the issue is often supply/demand more than qualification.
The more important question might be one that seems simplistic: What is the *real* desire? If it's to become an attorney, then there's the answer. Clearly the ranking of school and performance in exams will make a big difference, especially in this market, but those are really not the right questions. If one truly wants to go to law school, then law school is the answer. If one is going for reasons other than a true desire, even if they hit top 5% grades in a Top 5 school, they're almost certain to be miserable. Miserable and well-paid, perhaps, but miserable nonetheless. If one does want to learn the law, then a far wider range of options opens up, and any number of positions can be quite comfortable. The happiest lawyers I've known tend not to be in the jobs we lust after in law school.
The issue of debt is, for many, a deciding point, but even in your case, with an antipated nearly-debt-free graduation, that really shouldn't be the deciding factor. After all, if one could get a degree with a full scholarship in basket-weaving, what good is that unless one really wants to weave baskets?
Likewise, trying to time markets is notoriously chancy. Yes, it's likely that the markets will recover, but in the nearest real historical parallel (the early 1990s, into which I graduated), it took many years for hiring to correct. Graduates in the mid-1990s still felt the effects, and the overall result was an even higher tightening of the rank/grade requirements. (One came from a Yalie graduating in 1995, some three years after the official recession had ended.) Also, the comment about firms' changing hiring is quite right, as the hiring model has been all-but-unsustainable for some time. We might well thus be seeing a permanent change in the patterns employed by firms, which is likely to increase, not decrease, the pressure for grads, at least in the near term.
In short, the question (and answers) are good--one should go into this process with eyes wide open--but the question of which school/should I go/etc. are subsidiary to the one true question of whether one absolutely, positively wants to become a lawyer.
« on: February 14, 2010, 06:30:53 PM »
I went back to school when I was at 43 and received my undergraduate degree at 45. I am now a 48 years old CPA working full-time. I am also in grad school, three classes shy of the MS Tax. Would law school be a waste of time? Am I too old? What is the potential for merging my CPA credential with a JD, especially with the MS Taxation? One of the reasons I became a CPA was to start my own firm what is the potential out there for a law/tax practice? What effect would my age have on my employment prospects after graduating (Jan 2011 is my planned start date)?
I should add that I have always wanted to be a lawyer, I am single, no kids and I dont plan to retire.
The answer likely lies in your second statement. (The part about a lifelong goal of wanting to be a lawyer.) As a rule, don't go to law school for the money . . . or at least not just for the money. Where one has an active career already, the calculus is even further removed from the traditional realm of law-school-as-a-prerequisite-to-a-new-career.
As to age: One friend, an anethesiologist, was 52 when he entered law school. He was a great addition to the class, and he enjoyed a strong second career in IP law thereafter. There were two other physicians in our group (one of five sections), and both did *very* well out of law school.
So, the focus, in my opinion, should be on whether one really, truly WANTS to become an attorney. The reasons are many, and it's entirely fine to have visions from grade school of fame in a courtroom. (As long as we know that that's the motive.)
So, in general, disregard the issue of age, current career, combinations of careers, etc., and ask the simple question that should be the same for all future law students: do you truly, absolutely, positively want to go to law school?
If, as a test for one day, you say, "Nah, not really." and you realize that you're miserable in contemplating not fulfilling that dream, then go! Don't worry about the career (there are lots of opportunities for all combinations of xxx/JDs out there--although many will be in smaller firms or government), and don't worry too much about everything else. The same dynamics will apply as apply to all other law students (grades, etc.), but you will have the advantage of a better focus in your path...which, of course, need not be the same as all other paths.
And best of luck,
« on: February 14, 2010, 02:26:57 AM »
let's wish good luck to the soldiers , they are nearing the end in Afghanistan.
Absolutely yes. And thank you to all for your service.
As to law school, service will help considerably in areas of focus and a steady, disciplined pace. That is one of the keys to productive law study. Avoid a frenetic, panicked approach that is so often the (bad) norm. You'll also likely find a good deal of respect from faculty, most students, and, even moreso, from employers.
Again, thank you, and good luck,
« on: February 12, 2010, 04:47:25 AM »
It's rather unlikely that it will hurt you too much. They really don't look to hard at graduate school grades (unless you failed or something).
At the same time, I question the point of getting a CPA before law school. Do you plan on practicing law or accounting?
I agree with nealric on both points. Where it might need some explaining is for your reach school, and there you'll need to address the second point: namely, the accounting angle and law school. The admissions committee won't look at it negatively, but they will wonder. (The same is true for the MBA, by the way.) The main risk, which *would* cause harm, is either a stars-in-eyes assumption that these credentials belong together, or a lack of real focus in how they might and should fit together, for you. (For example, an interest in forensic accounting with an agency investigating securities violations, based on earlier work or a *real* interest, sufficiently explained.)
« on: February 12, 2010, 04:37:51 AM »
For what it's worth, the suggested path is likely somewhere in the middle. Here's why:
Bar examiners are charged with assessing the moral competency of applicants to sit for the bar exam. Okay, now that the laughter has died down, they are charged with actually assessing these qualities.
One way they do this is by demanding disclosure of ANY fact that might bear on this issue. Among those are criminal transgressions. Here's the real point: what they're (usually) looking for is not the transgression itself, but rather the disclosure, and the indications (positive or negative) that lessons were learned.
So, with most "youthful indiscretions" there's room for error. What there's not room for is omission, lying, obvious shading, or a lack of genuine repentance.
The initial post runs several risks: it appears to shade the crime as a bit too much the Good (if misunderstood) Samaritan; it then punts with regard to the attorney's actions and gets a bit too caught up in the legal procedure [bar examiners are almost always attorneys, so don't try to show them what you know of procedure]; and it doesn't convincingly state the lessons learned.
The suggested re-write is likely too little, and would raise questions and result in follow-up. (Not good.)
So, think about this not from your perspective, but from the bar examiners'. They need to be sure that they're not letting a future thug into the bar. Think about what you would need to hear from someone who's done something foolish to believe that they had indeed learned their lesson.
« on: February 12, 2010, 04:15:34 AM »
I wouldn't be surprised if the scores are the lowest. Only T2/3/4 schools really take February LSATs- my guess is that a lot of Feb takers are people who are trying to get into that range of schools at the last minute. Shouldn't change the curve too much, as it's weighted against other administrations.
Just speculation though.
This is likely to remain one of those imponderables, as the LSAC would hardly offer evidence to contradict its assertions of a test normed nationally and over time. Certainly raises eyebrows. The techniques for validating tests and test questions is quite sophisticated, however; the difficulty is when the populations in each test might be substantially different and different in unpredictable ways. There too, questions can be used to validate these different populations, and presumably the numbers of test-takers are sufficient to achieve that. (e.g., if a percentage of test-takers in one test get a series of questions wrong with greater frequency, that can be used to adjust the scores.) Not surprisingly, that's a lot of faith to place in the statistical integrity of the system when so much is at stake for the average test-taker.
That written, nealric's take is a safe one.
Also, I found an interesting corollary when studying for the bar. Several friends seemed to spend a LOT of time calculating just how low their score could be to pass. (A pointless exercise on so many levels.) One such person seemed to take delight in sharing his calculations after each day. Said individual took the bar four times.
. . . Seems far better to forget the abstract mathematics and focus on acing the test. Forget margins. Forget decimal points. Just ace it.
Along with the *excellent* stickies--where were you twenty years ago?--plan on spending a LOT of time preparing for the LSAT. You'll be glad when scores come out that you spent the extra 60 hours taking the extra 10 exams.
PS: To all who took the exam, you did GREAT.
« on: February 12, 2010, 03:46:11 AM »
In addition, there's also the flip side, which is the calculus from the law schools' side. The University of Michigan decided in the 1950s that it couldn't support the type of law school it wanted to be (i.e., a national one) with just Michigan's population. Like most flagship state schools, it was strong, but not world-class. So, unlike most state schools, it raised its tuition to near-private levels, re-invested that money into building a national school, and presto! (well, a few decades of "presto!") . . . it achieved what it had sought. In that sense, those higher tuition dollars were well worth it. The lesson was eagerly grasped by other law schools, of course, and so we've seen real pressure on even mid- and lower-level schools to replicate this.
Of course, not everyone can be at the top, so what we're really seeing is a churning, something like what happens when we toss fish food into the pond at the nearest park.
There are two more reasons. One, the requirements of the ABA add considerable pressure. One-point-five, this pressure is not just for accreditation, but for prestige. The former can be had for a relatively modest few million. The latter takes much, much more. And the scale is not arithmetic. So, in a sense, the constant pressure for prestige creates an ever-more-voracious appetite for resources to buy prestige, which in turn (it is hoped, as with Michigan, Boalt Hall, and Texas) will buy better students, which in turn (it is hoped, as with Michigan, Boalt Hall, and Texas) will buy more prestige, which in turn . . . .
Two, and related to the Michigan tale, on the "consumer" side we might have as much ignorance as stupidity. Aside from rankings, there's not a whole lot for the average applicant to go on. So, rather than seeing higher pricing as a hurdle (or something to be justified), it is seen as an indicator of quality. Voila! Yet more reason to charge more.
« on: February 12, 2010, 03:30:57 AM »
In short, your answer to my second question is "no?"
There are several possible answers, actually. At the risk of taking this thread a bit too far afield (from its focus on transfer-friendly schools), I'm reminded of what just about every lawyer I know would say. Actually, that's not quite right. I can't think of a lawyer for whom "No" wouldn't be the most polite answer.
In any event, that is not I. So, help me along. What sort of law job are you seeking? What and where do you hope to practice?
« on: February 10, 2010, 02:47:39 PM »
Aloha, John, nealric, and All -
Yes, this is excellent. When markets correct, those who happen to be in the entry-level rungs feel the pain first and hardest. That was true when I graduated, and while I doubt I would have listened, it would have been good to have at least considered what's in the link.
Since nealric mentioned book-worthiness, last year I was handed a manuscript by a new author, and while I was initially appalled (its title is "Slacker's Guide to Law School"), I came to see it in much the same way. I mention this because it has probably the best section on "Should I go?" of any pre-law book out there, including mine. (I did address this in a somewhat different way, as my assumption is that most readers are GOING to go. The real question is where. So, part of what I advise is to think about the options, such as an MBA, PhD, or the like. In short, as corny as it sounds, take some time to figure out what you REALLY want, and strive towards that. If it's action and capital, the MBA or *possibly* MBA/JD is a good bet. If it's cerebral, a PhD or PhD/JD combo might be better.) Another major factor is the cost associated with any of these programs. Defraying these costs is possible, but should also be viewed with a wary eye.
In sum, be very, very careful of going to law school with stars in your eyes. The actual world of law practice is far, far different from our collective imagination. That's not to write that it's not attractive. It is. But those stars need to be aligned--which for most means, among other things, being exceptionally careful before even embarking on the LSAT--before the stratospheric salaries and fame (and happiness) follow.
In any event, a great link. And to all, this sticky is very much worth the viewing.
« on: February 10, 2010, 05:00:32 AM »
To follow Bike Pilot and nealric's comments, the quality of faculty is high at all, or nearly all, law schools. Why? The pool from which law profs have come over the past several decades is that of a Top 5 law school, a clerkship or perhaps a year or two at a national firm, and then on to teaching. There are few Kingsfields about anymore. And most who go into teaching go because they want to, so you're generally getting a happy professoriate.
I attended Texas and also, years later, Harvard. An important aspect of both is that, as large law schools, there's pretty much a wide palette to choose from, at least in years 2-3. A tiny law school might be considered to hold its students more captive, but the only ones I can think of have reputations as having, if anything, an even cozier, more student-friendly reputation.
Bike Pilot's point about Law & Econ, environmental (or some other) specialization is fair, so if that's a concern and you're *far* on the opposite side (which might not be the best approach to get the most out of any law school), that might be a factor at the very few schools (Chicago, Yale, Vermont) for which one of these is a clear bent.
So, in sum, it's hard to think of a school that would be markedly better (or worse) on this score, and it's likely not the factor on which a decision of where to go should be made.
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