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Messages - JSFisher

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Studying for the LSAT / Re: Is one and half month prep realistic?
« on: September 12, 2010, 04:35:11 PM »
Not without a prep course and some meaningful way to gauge your progress. This is about what I put in, and I can tell you that it's not enough if you want to clear the 160 mark, which is what I hoped to do. Look, the benefits of taking a test prep course far outway the costs. If you have the time and the ability, taking an LSAT prep course and getting the nuts and bolts of the test down pat will probably improve your scores considerably. The cost is 3000 dollars (last time looked), and you will reap the benefits in terms of better tuition and better options. If i had it to do over again, I would take Kaplan or something comparable.

That said, sounds like you don't have time to change your mind on that one so make sure you are timing your answers. You need to be able to do all the questions in the allotted time, and in my first section I ran out with three questions to go. It set me up for what I can only describe as an awful testing experience for the remainder. So time yourself, or have someone time you. and take 2 practice tests under timed conditions per day.

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Louisville / Re: FYI from a 3L
« on: September 12, 2010, 04:30:18 PM »
Short Rebuttal: If you can name the price on the most recent Maserati model (like the poster), Louisville might leave you wanting more. If you want a solid legal education in a community with a strong legal tradition and ample opportunities for enrichment in and out of school, and you have the sorts of metrics that make Louisville a realistic option, it is a great opportunity at a fraction of the costs (in tuition and living expenses) of a place like University of Miami or other comparable private school.

I've defended this school, my school, because I think your priorities for law practice are completely out of wack. Anyone who quotes exotic car prices like that has exactly the wrong barometer, as far as I am concerned, for a career in a profession that is often about more than just making bank. Like Doctors who go to med school simply to earn money and care nothing about helping the sick and ill, Lawyers who care more about how much money they earn per year than about the people's lives that are often at stake (whether it be by screwing them out of money or by putting them behind bars) are a scourge upon the profession and the world. I went to Louisville precisely because it prioritizes the public service component of law school, because the man whom it was named after cared about it, because it was one of the first schools to institute a public service component to the curriculum. People who care only about making money might not be happy about the outcome of their legal education at Louisville. But unless they can get into a top 10 law school, my guess is that they will be dissatisfied no matter where they go. The real opportunities for making absurd money as a 26 year old attorney (who in my opinion shouldn't be left alone in a room alone with a client, let alone allowed to go to court unaided), simply because you know your Blue Book backwards and forwards and managed to get great grades in exam settings are limited at best. Blaming the law school for this reality is stupid. It's your priorities, not the school, that made you so upset by your experience. 


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Louisville / My two cents on Louisville: from a 3L perspective
« on: September 12, 2010, 02:23:47 PM »
(This is essentially a sorter version of a previous post that I put here during my 2L year in 2009.)

First, let me state that I feel like I have gotten my money's worth from my education at the University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law. I have learned a lot, I have had ample opportunities for personal and academic enrichment, I have developed the necessary skills to be competitive in the marketplace.

I believe that Louisville provides the opportunities for any prospective lawyer to succeed professionally.

So, with that said, I would like to offer my perspective for prospective students to the school, both pro and con.

Likely, if you are considering this school, your UGPA and LSAT place you somewhere between a 3.4-3.8 and a 155-159 LSAT score. This means that, like me, you are faced with the reality of being able to reasonably gain entry into the bottom 25 of the top 100 law schools out there and into the Tier 3 schools. You probably aren't going to Harvard. And that is just fine, because I'm personally convinced after 3 years of law school that people in Harvard don't learn how to be lawyers so much as how to be the kinds of people who can rationalize "citizens united" and other nonsensical cases you will be reading shortly. 

What you should know at the outset is that a degree from any of these schools is likely to offer you about the same mix of opportunities for advancement, education, and practical experience as the next. Law school is a highly personal decision and I chose Louisville above other higher ranked schools because it fit me and my needs.

What Louisville has to offer in this realm is quite substantial for a school that has around 400 students. First, it has a great location that by itself affords substantial opportunities for the motivated law school student. Louisville is a fairly major urban area, with 1.2 million people in the region including southern Indiana. You have ample opportunities to expose yourself to real civil and criminal law in practice, something that might not be available to more isolated schools in college towns. It is something that few law students (I suspect) consider. Frankly, if the only real world experience you get is during summers off, you aren't taking full advantage of law school, and Louisville offers those year-round sorts of enrichment opportunities.

Secondly, the school has a close knit legal community around it. There are a ton of alumni who work in the area and care about the school, and this provides substantial benefits in terms of working with practitioners and post-law school employment opportunities in the area. If you are either hoping to work, or find working in Louisville an acceptable option, this is a great place to start. It is the biggest city in Kentucky, and it does have significant prospects for post-graduation employment, probably one of the reasons the school has such high employment statistics despite its size and regional nature.

Thirdly, the faculty and staff are quite remarkable. For a small law school, there are quite a few stellar academics. Professor Tony Arnold is highly regarded in the area of property law, while within the state, professors Abramson and David Leibson literally wrote the book on Criminal Practice and the UCC, respectively. There are also a number of respected constitutional scholars at the school, and a variety of authority figures in the areas of Health Law, Disability law, and Tax. In short, the school, despite its size, does not lack in terms of faculty who are respected within the wider legal community and within the state. The Career Services department works tirelessly on behalf of students, making your chances of success post-graduation quite high.

Finally, as a purposefully small law school, Louisville offers opportunities for students to excel. This is not the sort of law school where you are a number, or a statistic on a page, where your chances for meaningful participation in Moot Court activities or Law Review are rather improbable. The school has externships and law clinic opportunities for students to engage in real trials before graduation. A motivated and energetic student has the opportunity to significantly contribute to the school and grow the resume at the same time. The School offers two alternative journals (the Journal of Law and Education, written in conjunction with the University of South Carolina's Law School, and the new Journal of Animal and Environmental Law, a student-led, online publication: http://www.jael-online.org/). Besides the main law review, the University of Louisville team won the Spring 2010 National Immigration Moot Court competition, and participates in twenty-odd additional moot court competitions throughout the Nation, and internationally (via the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot, in Vienna, Austria). The school has numerous active and engaged student organizations as well, which bring a wide variety of views on important legal topics into the classroom.

There are, of course, downsides to any law school. Louisville's size is also a liability: you won't find many people outside the region with more than a passing familiarity with the school, or some of the more famous alumni (Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd is a graduate, as well as Newsweek Editor Howard Fineman, among others).

The school also suffers from the same fate as many public institutions. It has a mandate for certain performance and yet is hampered by state bureaucracy and legislative decision-making when it comes to funding, salaries, and a number of other areas that directly and adversely affect students. The fact that Louisville is largely reviled by the rest of the state, culturally and politically, means that Louisville gets the short end of the funding stick vis-a-vis UK (where the majority of the state's lawyer-legislators attended law school, incidentally).

 Additionally, the facilities are modest. The library, while certainly sufficient in terms of material and space, is rather musty. The orange carpet throughout is a bit retro-disgusting, and the propensity for the school to put laminate throughout the basement floors is rather aesthetically displeasing. Compared to other (private) schools I've toured, the campus isn't as nice.

I hope this helps any students considering U of L Law in the future. Good luck to you.

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Louisville / Re: FYI from a 3L
« on: September 12, 2010, 12:41:43 PM »
Articulate, persuasive, but I can't help thinking - god, you must have a lot of time on your hands.

Yeah well, it was October and a Month before Finals. Incidentally that was my best semester of Law School, grade wise.

Also, I type fast.


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Louisville / Re: FYI from a 3L
« on: October 25, 2009, 02:54:12 PM »
I'm not sure that one should blame the school here. The school is small and regional. The second best in a poor, relatively obscure state. Acting all offended that Kentucky doesn't furnish its institutions with the best equipment or the most generous budgets is almost comical, given that the entire state is designed to take money out of Louisville and distribute it to the rural political power centers around the state.

Certainly, it is an under-resourced institution in a poor state, hardly an auspicious combination of factors. However, this is something the original poster had to be cognizant of coming in, especially if you are from here in the first place. Louisville has stellar faculty (aside from the 2-3 who are simply waiting to die, anyway) and affords students as many opportunities as they can take advantage of themselves to excel professionally.

Look, the fact that you were on law review alone says tons. In my home state, the flagship law school has something like 1300 students. Your chances of getting that kind of experience at a school like that are nil, to say nothing of the care and concern faculty express for you at gigantic institutions like that, where your 3L courses can have over 100 students in them. Back home, there are 2-3 good law schools ranked above U of L, and 5-6 (depending on whether you count provisional accreditation) that are far below in both faculty, resources, and job prospects. None of them have faculty that are as concerned for students individually as the U of L faculty.

I'm sorry you had such a terrible experience, but with your position, one thinks you could have easily transferred out if you didn't get what you wanted out of it. It strikes me as profoundly bitter to be casting dispersions in such a manner, particularly when you have a job lined up and you are, apparently, set up just fine; the only relevant marker of a law school, as far as I am concerned, is your employablity upon graduation. As far as employment goes, I'm set up just fine myself, with 3 semesters left, and I am no where near the top 10-20%, nor has anyone ever asked me my GPA because my experience is way more important and meaningful to the kinds of employers with whom I am interviewing. Like most things in life, it really isn't as much about the school as what you do with it. If you sit around waiting for things to be handed to you, it simply isn't going to happen. 

To say the teachers don't care only shows that the student didn't take the time to develop relationships or that the goals she set are wildly out of all reason / proportion to the resources the school possesses. I'm from out-of-state, I developed close personal and professional relationships with 3 or 4 professors and several deans. Louisville gave me the opportunity to take advantage of some amazing opportunities for growth, like being a meaningful, contributing member of the legal community and the school itself. I've gotten experience here I never could have obtained back home. 

I suspect the person who posted that last year was a member of a group of students who spent 99% of their time there starting rumors about the dean leaving, or U of L dropping out of the top 100, or undermining student's sense of stability in other ways, for what I can only imagine were deeply seated personal problems, perhaps related to the inability to gain admission to UK or something. Frankly, since they left, rumors of imminent doom have ceased and students seem to feel much better about the school experience. The new Career Services Dean is amazing and caring, and the school continues to provide ample opportunity for intellectual and professional development, adding clinical options and enhancing real-world experience. Despite the expense I have incurred as an out of state student, I think the School has done much to allow me to develop as a legal professional and has encouraged me at every turn. It is certainly going in the right direction. Certainly, I wish it were cheaper, but it has been an edifying, rewarding experience for me.

Anyone who finds otherwise has only themselves to blame for not doing something about it. Blaming the school for personal decisions is absurd. If you are going to Law School to make tons of money, you are already coming in with the wrong idea. Law is stable, but if you want to be a millionaire, go get an MBA at Harvard. (or perhaps you couldn't do this because of grades/test scores?)

I further question the intellectual facility of someone who, upon graduation, decides to publicly undermine the school. This seems to me little different than a principle shareholder publicly questioning the value of the stock she owns. It only serves to degrade the value of the degree of qualified applicants turn elsewhere. I think that, combined with the vehemence of the assault, indicate other, unspoken, issues that the poster clearly has with her experience that probably have little to do with anything the school did or did not do for or to her. If you want to improve the school, and the value of your diploma, go make some money and donate it to endowing a new chair or refurnishing the student kitchen downstairs or something useful, in stead of just whining. Better yet, run for office and fund the school adequately. And buy a mirror. 

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L.L.M. Board / Re: Is an LLM worth the time/money?
« on: October 25, 2009, 02:04:23 PM »
If you are (overly) concerned about the particular political leanings of the institution, I would suggest looking for a school that fits your political requirements first, and second look for a program that suits your inclinations. Since it seems to me that a lot of the LL.M benefit is the name of the school and the career opportunities being there may afford you, particularly if you are interested in political work, stay within the top 25-35 schools if possible (though this is less strict with regard to D.C. schools since being there is half the benefit). If you are more interested in political rather than legal work, where ideology might matter more, I would suggest ditching the idea of an LL.M all together and looking into Ph.D programs or at least dual LL.M-MBA programs or something similar that would provide you with more cred politically than an LL.M will with conservatives looking to hire political staff.

As to your direct question, three schools come immediately to mind:

1. George Mason is a reputable institution with a Libertarian political affiliation and a strong Law and Econ faculty, close enough to DC to matter if that is your desired location, far enough away from DC to be less liberal. 
2. University of Chicago is, of course, the pinnacle of Libertarian leaning Law & Econ to this day, and is almost always in the top 5-10 schools for Supreme Court clerks and the like. 
3. Stanford also is home to the Hoover Institute, a center of conservative intellectualism, and might afford substantial secondary benefits if you can get in (beyond going to Stanford itself), though the student body and geography mean it is a lot less conservative than the other two. 
4. quirky 4th option would be to go to LSE or other overseas school with international renown. (in interest of disclosure I did an M.A. there before Law School, but it has hardly hurt me in interviews).

Outside of those three (four), look for schools with names / reputations for conservative leanings: Washington & Lee is close to D.C., so are Virginia and William and Mary, Duke isn't far away. Emory comes to mind as well. While these schools aren't self-consciously "conservative" as Chicago and George Mason tend to be, they are 1. Southern Schools 2. with stellar reputations. Other than that, and dropping in ranking/reputation look at Baylor, SMU, Vanderbilt, maybe Ole' Miss or something - schools with particular ecclesiastical (Loyola, SMU) and conservative leanings with known conservative cache. Effectively, once you get out of the top 30-35 schools you are simply paying for name recognition or location, so if Chicago, Stanford and George Mason are out for whatever reason, go with a school that stands out to other conservatives (I.E., not UC Berkeley, or NYU or something).

If you are dead set on something inside the beltway, you probably won't find anything to suit your particular political ideology (which I gather is rather to the right of AU, GW, and Georgetown; but Catholic might be worth a look) but there is nothing wrong with attending a school with a "Liberal" reputation. You can't really judge an entire faculty by the reputation of the school. Berkeley hired John Yoo, pariah of the left, for example. Anne Coulter went to Michigan Law. Bill O'Reilly has an M.A. from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Nothing is really gained from sitting in an echo chamber. I would argue this is a good thing for honing the skills one needs as an attorney in an adversarial judicial system or a politician in an adversarial political system. Going to a less renowned, poorly located, but more conservative school strikes me as a poor career development decision. And you can generally sniff out faculty of similar political disposition to yourself and develop a relationship with a fellow-traveler.

If this doesn't suit you, I would suggest contacting the Federalist Society, who should have some idea of what schools have solid, active Chapters, or looking for particular legal scholars and reaching out to them for suggestions. Contact conservative legal organizations, CATO, Heritage, Focus on the Family, whatever, that fit your perspective and align with the work you want to do in the future and see what they say. See where the lawyers they have on staff, if any, and where they went to school. LL.M programs offer the opportunity to add a distinguished institution to your resume, don't make the mistake of paying a lot of money and forgoing employment opportunities for a program that isn't going to distinguish you beyond a small geographic area. If you can't get into a good program at a solid, well known school, don't pay the money.


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