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Messages - Thane Messinger

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501
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Military
« 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,

Thane.

502
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?

Vonska -

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.)


503
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.

504
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Is it true Feb LSAT hardest?
« 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.


505
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Ridiculous Tuition?
« 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.

506
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Excursion: A Law Job
« on: February 12, 2010, 03:30:57 AM »
Quote

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?

Thane.

507
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.

Thane.

508
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Highest Quality Law Instruction
« 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.

Thane.

509
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Transfer Friendly Law Schools
« on: February 10, 2010, 03:01:20 AM »
Anyone know which schools are transfer friendly?

There's a book out on this if it's not been mentioned.  It's title is The Art of the Law School Transfer, by Andrew Carrabis and Seth Haimovitch.

Transferring law schools is trickier than it might at first seem, and comes with numerous personal considerations, among them a loss of GPA at the new school, often a last-in-line position for course selection and scholarships, and feelings of loneliness among a new crowd.  For the right person it can be a great opportunity, but it's important to go into it with one's eyes open.  

Importantly, for those considering transferring for the job benefits, those are real.  Interviewers will be curious, but not (usually) in the negative sense.  They'll be impressed by your motivation and perseverance, and will want to know that you can handle yourself.  As most transfer up, the vocational boost can be quite significant.

Also, the deadlines for transfer applications are quite strict.  (And, unlike most applications, the final decision on transfer applicants is often made by the dean of admissions personally.)  Of special imporance are grades, both in what they are and in getting them in on time.

Best of luck to you,

Thane.

Where do you practice now?  Can you hook me up with a job?


Contract2008 & All -

As I now teach primarily, after years of practice, I am likely not to be entirely helpful, depending upon your preferences and particulars.

I might also relate a personal history, as I too faced a market much like this one, many moons ago, and as I have traveled to numerous law schools and seen similar questions being asked of visiting associates, partners, and even judges.  So, my perspective is perhaps unique.

For a number of reasons, this is unlikely to be a successful approach.  Among the reasons are that attorneys are intensely jealous of their reputation, which, in practice, is pretty much one's paycheck.  With regard to employment inquiries, few attorneys would refer a prospective attorney to another attorney, absent a reasonably serious basis for the recommendation.  This might be a clerkship, part-time job, or possibly some extended personal knowledge (such as a family connection).  One might think of a snooty version of some episode of Masterpiece Theatre, which isn't too far off the mark, actually.  The exceptions to this prove the rule: I've seen "recommendations" that all-but-kill an applicant's chances with some version of "I had to give this person your name, I'm sorry, but just to be sure you get the message I have absolutely nothing to go on..."  That, of course, is just about the kiss of death for that law office, regardless of the qualifications.  (Exception to exception: "I have absolutely nothing to go on but I think she's editor-in-chief at the Stanford Law Review."  That takes it from trash can to edge of desk just above can.)

For ideas on jobs, starting your practice, and overall success, if you can find a copy of my book in the library that might be helfpul.  (For different reasons, either one will suffice.)  There's also The Insider's Guide to Getting a Big Firm Job (somewhat badly named, as it's applicable to all law jobs), on interviewing.  And either of Morten Lund's books is excellent.  Read any of these and that job is much closer.

Best of luck to you,

Thane.  

510
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Transfer Friendly Law Schools
« on: February 06, 2010, 05:46:23 AM »
Anyone know which schools are transfer friendly?

There's a book out on this if it's not been mentioned.  It's title is The Art of the Law School Transfer, by Andrew Carrabis and Seth Haimovitch.

Transferring law schools is trickier than it might at first seem, and comes with numerous personal considerations, among them a loss of GPA at the new school, often a last-in-line position for course selection and scholarships, and feelings of loneliness among a new crowd.  For the right person it can be a great opportunity, but it's important to go into it with one's eyes open. 

Importantly, for those considering transferring for the job benefits, those are real.  Interviewers will be curious, but not (usually) in the negative sense.  They'll be impressed by your motivation and perseverance, and will want to know that you can handle yourself.  As most transfer up, the vocational boost can be quite significant.

Also, the deadlines for transfer applications are quite strict.  (And, unlike most applications, the final decision on transfer applicants is often made by the dean of admissions personally.)  Of special imporance are grades, both in what they are and in getting them in on time.

Best of luck to you,

Thane.

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