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Messages - Thane Messinger

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Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Schools With National Reputations
« on: July 24, 2011, 05:57:43 PM »
I'm looking for a school with a national reputation as opposed to only a regional one. However, my scores will probably count out the top 12 schools for me. Are there any schools in the 13-30 range that are considered to have a strong national reputation? Does Cornell? Any others??? Thanks for the help!

Tiery -

Most of the others do, but the meaning of "national" becomes the real question.  The distinctions between sub-national and supra-regional can get blurry, especially depending upon which school and which market you're looking into.

That is really the better question:  What are your goals?


Transferring / Re: Rejected from Transferring
« on: July 23, 2011, 11:00:33 PM »
So random question:

Is there anything that can be done once you're rejected from a transfer school?  I have a school I REALLY want to go to, and they just sent out a nifty rejection letter...only I don't want to take no for an answer.  Any advice or suggestions, or should I just give up the goat?

There's a new book out by a law professor, Law School Undercover, that includes some good perspective from the vantage of the admissions committee, including tricks of the trade, but, as the others said, it's an uphill battle.  Among other things, your letter to the dean (who might well have been one of the ones reviewing the transfer apps), has to show convincingly what the application did not.  Again, read X's descriptions of what it is they're looking for.  Hint:  It's not always what an applicant thinks they're looking for.


Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Leave T1 for niche TTT?
« on: July 23, 2011, 10:55:51 PM »
This sounds like a terrible idea. The debt difference is insignificant and CUNY isn't going to get you any more leverage for public interest jobs than CU. Also, with the cost of living difference, I'm not convinced you would even save much.

I would tend to agree.  Focus instead on a targeted networking plan to get where you want to go. 

By the by, a non-profit world in NYC is certainly possible, but it's not likely, without family connections, to be the sort of dream life one might imagine.   Are there other parts of the country with a need and which you might like?

(Among other reasons against transfering, by the way, are the significant logistical downsides, quite apart from a downward-ranking move.  Read Art of the Law School Transfer for a description of these significant factors.  A move from Colorado to Chicago might ameliorate some of these downsides, but to CUNY?  Not so much.)

There are a number of factors, however, and among these are personal.  Do what you absolutely, positively must.  Also, there are practical benefits, such as potential scholarship offers from the original school awaiting transferrees.  Law schools *hate* to lose their top students, and are willing to pay to keep them.  Harder with a downward move, but that too can be explained.  This can, to put not too fine a point on it, be a cost-negotiating lever even if you are seriously debating not leaving.


With fewer jobs available at high-paying law firms, 2010 law school graduates saw their median starting salaries fall by 13 percent from 2009, according to data from the National Association for Law Placement.

NALP’s research also reveals that aggregate starting private practice salaries fell a whopping 20 percent for the class. [...]

Just a note:  we tend to think in terms of averages (and then get annoyed when those averages don't apply in a good way).

Law salaries have long been bimodal:  there are a handful who make, well, a handful . . . even in a bad market.  And there are many who scrounge far below.  There really isn't an "average" as we would see in a normal distribution.  The point is that it is highly misleading to speak of even "median" salaries.  In law, there is no such thing (at least not in any meaningful way beyond the statistical average).

For all, there is hope.  But don't get upset over these various prognostications.  You're not looking for a statistically-driven average salary.  You're looking for a single job, with a single salary . . . with luck a good one, with time left over so that you'll actually get to watch Harry Potter with your kids (and not, a few years hence, in the nursing home when you have a bit more time).

Hang in there,


Incoming 1Ls / Re: Holy Frick, it's the middle of July!
« on: July 14, 2011, 02:36:59 PM »
While it is true 0Ls don't know the language because they haven't prepared, when I wanted to learn Spanish, I moved to Spain for a year. I didn't pick up the language from "Spanish for Dummies." Likewise, law school is complete and total immersion. You will learn the language there, by reading cases and listening to professors. It is a system that has proven to be consistent. Don't freak out now. If you want to read a book about how to pass your first year, go for it, but it isn't necessary, and thousands of students have been successful in law school without it.

Blue -

While it's always true that we tend to see what we want to see, in my mind this example shows just the opposite:  how much more effective is it when learning a foreign language but to take even a few minutes to read a book about the rules of that language?  It doesn't seem too radical to state that the cost-benefit is near infinity on the plus side--and that a decision to buy the ticket to Madrid and to heck with those sissy books is, well, a cost-benefit approaching null.

Even children--whose minds are uniquely pre-wired to absorb language--tend to hold back in new-language environments.  If you've seen this in action, you'll even see their hesitation, before they (eventually) barge ahead.  (And when they do barge ahead, even if they don't hesitate, it's often chatting happily away in their own language, oblivious to the disconnect.)  More than that, we tend to forget that it take a few years to get even the basic rules of grammar down.  In law school, you've nine months.

Immersion--which is law school too ( . . . but it doesn't have to be)--is the steak and potatoes, per chance with a side of mejillones en vinagreta de tomate y langostinos cocidos, si como no?   But taking a meal without an aperitif?!  Perish the thought, old chap.  = :   )

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Holy Frick, it's the middle of July!
« on: July 14, 2011, 12:11:09 AM »
3. Keep up on your reading from day one, because it is a tremendous amount, and it will take longer your first semester, as you won't know the language yet

You won't know the language because you will not have prepared. 

To anyone who's been around even two semesters, the language becomes child's play.  The $640,000 question:  Will it become child's play in time for exams?

I don't mean to be disrespectful, and I am quite mindful of the steady (and sometime vitriolic) "advice" not to prepare, but I feel it my duty to point out to unsuspecting 0Ls that there is a reason so many law students are so distraught.  Success or failure seems to bear little correlation to how much "study" one has done.  Neither does it bear much correlation to those who seem to talk so constantly in class.  It cannot be brains.  It must be something else.

The answer is not to "study" . . . not in law school [!] and not before.  The answer is to begin thinking like a lawyer. 

There is much good advice in all perspectives, and each must accept or reject elements on their lonesome.  But don't take the easy path just because it's easier.  It doesn't get better in law school.

The acid test:  Law school should be fun.  At a minimum, it should be engaging.  You should be blown away at how lucky you are--your job is to think.  Every day should be high volume--even and perhaps especially the days you get called on.  If not, stop and ask why.

The summer is not best spent in "pre-burnout" mode.  That's the point.  Law school should not be about burning out.  For the best students, it's actually less work than it is for the vast middle. 

Odd Man Out.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Holy Frick, it's the middle of July!
« on: July 11, 2011, 11:27:06 AM »
I thought Planet Law School did a good job on this, especially their list of recommended resources.

At this point, I have read your book Planet Law School (though I had to skim vast tracts of it), gone through 1.5 E&Es and finished LEEWS.

I honestly can not imagine starting 1L without this preparation.  Granted, I won't know until December when the 1L grades come out, but I already feel like I'm way, way, way ahead of anybody who shows up on day one expecting to learn everything they need to know in order to get a good grade.

So much I didn't know, even after all these years of trying to investigate.  If I'd gone into this cold, I'd have been in trouble from day one.

Of course, I could be totally wrong about this, but the preparation I've done can't possibly hurt me even if it was 100% wrong.  If law school is totally different, I can pick that up by attending class.

Falcon -

Your attitude is quite right, and you'll find the common "wisdom" of don't-prepare to be a serious hurdle for many. 

A few points:  The time in preparation isn't the same as the time in law school.  It is entirely possible to learn law well in nine months.  (Although few do.)  And it's possible to feel lost having prepared.  The point of preparation is not to "know" the law, but rather to prepare for the process of learning.

Thus, be careful in getting too far in depth with materials.  What you're looking for is a framework.

Also, while December grades can be important to a tiny percentage of law students or for just a limited number of course, for many those grades are dangerous.  They should be seen as a pleasant (!) prelude, a chance to flex your new legal muscles.  Whether you do well or not-so-well in December, do not put more emphasis there than you should--which for most classes, is very little.  Keep the Spring in mind . . . a marathon, not a sprint.


Incoming 1Ls / Re: Holy Frick, it's the middle of July!
« on: July 11, 2011, 01:00:37 AM »
I'll tell ya what.  The fastest way to make time fly is to have a big to-do list that needs to be done by a certain date.

Here are a few sources, with opposing perspectives of how important preparation is:  Law School Undercover and, if I might, my own, GGG.  There's also Planet Law School, which is an outlier on the "Prepare" side.  (An outlier on the opposite side is Slacker's Guide to Law School.)

Read any two of those (even any two on either extreme) for a good take on what to be doing.  These are precious weeks slipping by.


Incoming 1Ls / Re: Recommended Commercial Outlines?
« on: July 11, 2011, 12:47:32 AM »
If I might offer a partially concurring and partially dissenting opinion:

As I make final preparations for 1L to start (just two more months), I am curious which commercial outlines people recommend?  Where do you get them?  Amazon? 

Any feedback would be appreciated.

1: Take notes in class and read the cases for at least the first couple months. 

Either do not take notes, or take notes SPARINGLY. 

Notes are an almost complete waste of time when studying for a law exam.  They’re also quite distracting in class when you’re supposed to be doing something else . . . something else rather more important.  (Hint: it’s not learning law.)

Okay . . .

For those thinking I must be insane (which is not ordinarily a bad guess), the parenthetical should shock you.  And it should shock you further because it's true.  Here's the punchline:  The law school classroom is not to learn the law.  Rather, it is to learn how to apply law you have already taught yourself.  This is why the techniques so commonly used (notes, color-coding, sharing outlines) are also so ineffective or even counterproductive. 

2: Don't rely too heavily on commercial case briefs.  They are good in a pinch, but they don't help you study for the final very well.

Indeed so.

3: Make friends with someone (or join a club or something) that has access to some outlines from prior years.  These are huge.  The best way to use them is to have one with you in class and actually take notes on the outline.

Do your own outlines.  In fact, you should do two.

IF you use someone else’s outlines, those are useful when used instead of notes.

But nothing substitutes for getting the law into your head, and the law IS in outline format.

4: Pay specific attention to which topics the professor spends time on.  Commercial outlines are really good (sometimes better than a professor) but you won't get any points if you go off on tangents that weren't covered in your class.

Quite right.

5: If you are sure you will be using BarBri to study for the bar after law school, you can save on the book deposit by signing up during your first year.  They have some awesome commercial outlines for all of your first year subjects, and they give them to you when you make your deposit..  I discovered this too late.  A barbri rep will be hounding you when you start school, and they can answer your questions.

Yes, and despite the many things that might be written about these prep services, they’re extremely useful, and are worth it.  They can also be good for first-year review.

If you do exceptionally well, you can even get someone else to pay for it.  = :  )

6: If your library has access to the CALI stuff (Computer assisted legal instruction) you should give them a try.  They run you through the material, ask multiple choice questions, and explain the rules and the answers.  I thought they were very helpful.

Excellent, excellent advice.

7: Use to help you find the best price.  It usually searches all the major bookstores and gives you links. (I use half and amazon most of the time)

While clearly it’s good to use sources tied to specific casebooks, the truth is that it really doesn’t matter.  You could even use a secondary source from 1972 and get 92.5% of the value out of it.  And, yes, this applies even in, say, Con Law, where quite a number of rules have changed.  Why?  The answer to that question is the answer to why so many first-year students have such a frustrating time:  once you know where the law has come from and where it is now, you’ll have a deep sense of how lawyers think.  THAT is what is needed (and rewarded) come exam time.

Best of luck, and enjoy first year!  (Seriously.)


When the Chief Justice gets into trouble, you know we're about to have some fun . . .



PS:  As to the subject line and for bigs especially, while it might take a few levels of inference, the seeds of rankings' true pervasive (and perverse) impact is seen in Roberts' remarks.  (Not as to Roberts, but as to law professors and the ever-more-irrelevant frenzy of the bulk of legal scholarship.)  What's interesting more than a professor's rebuttal are the comments from practitioners that follow the article.  Scroll down for more reading fun.

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