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Messages - Miche

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Current Law Students / Re: questions for 2Ls and 3Ls
« on: November 05, 2009, 07:51:45 PM »
1. Is briefing on your own/reading every case from casebooks necessary?

I read the cases and confirmed that I did understand the key facts. Learning to read cases is, largely, a function of learning what to skip and how to wade through someone else's prose and logic. I didn't brief any cases, though I highlighted a cogent phrase or two in each case to help me remember why the case was important.

2. I am very behind in almost every class I am taking because I read really slow. However, when I look at the outline and supplement materials, I still do understand why things are the way they are. What troubles me is that I sometimes have no idea whats happening while I'm in class because I didn't do my reading. Is attending every class really necessary to learn the law?

Being behind in reading is extremely common. As others have said, stay on top of the reading if your professor makes a big deal about participation points. Otherwise, it doesn't matter that you're lost because you skimmed or didn't read a case. For example, some cases have convoluted procedural history; that history is often irrelevant to the law or your professor's pet theories, but students end up spending 25 minutes discussing it because they don't yet know what's relevant and what's not. No big deal to be lost in that situation. Or sometimes, two or three cases have identical holdings to the main case, and the prof talks about the other cases just to drive home the point. As long as you know what the point is, it doesn't matter that you didn't read minor supporting cases.

On the other hand, if you're lost when the prof and students are applying rules to cases or comparing one set of standards to another set of standards, that's a bigger deal. What I mean is that the act of applying the rules or interpreting the standards or finding the elements shouldn't throw you for a loop. You may later be able to go back, read through outline/supplemental and understand what was said, but you'll be missing the exercise of analyzing, in real time. That "on the fly" analysis is a kind of mini-test, to see if you do in fact understand the material and to see if you'd be able to adequately analyze the material in an exam setting.

3. Also, I looked at some of the old exams and model answers. It seems like as long as I study on my own(but not necessarily always keep up with demanding reading load) and understand the law, I believe I will be able to produce a reasonable good answer on the exams that look similar to the model ones I've seen. I think supplements are very helpful, if not essential to my studying. To be honest, I think casebooks are unnecessarily confusing and worded in a difficult way/ contain extra information that really isn't the law etc.

Yep, I relied on supplementals heavily. And yep, casebooks are a jumbled mess -- they're collections of rulings, so the structure is necessarily more random. One case often stands for several different propositions, and sometimes there's a case that only half-illuminates an idea or perspective. You sound like you're focused on learning the law, which is important. Spend equal time learning how and when to apply the law and you'll be fine.

And, BTW, you can probably pass all your courses doing less than you're doing right now, depending of course on how vicious your school's curve is. But with some tweaks to what you're doing right now, you can do much bettter than "manage to pass."


Law School Admissions / Re: another disclosure question
« on: November 05, 2009, 07:42:55 PM »
No worries; the bar is never going to know that you didn't disclose it on the law school apps. The moral/character fitness application process is entirely different.
Disagree.  My school has made it very clear to us that the Illinois bar goes through our law school apps very carefully to see if anything wasn't disclosed that should have been.  ...

Your state bar might vary, but I honestly doubt it.

California, Washington, New York, and DC do not review law school applications. Admittedly, DC is an odd duck altogether. But that means three other state bars don't do this.

It may be that IL is different. For the straight scoop, you can check with the Illinois bar directly, rather than rely on your school's representation. I had a friend who attended a Chicago school and did not have this issue -- which came up, actually, because he did in fact fail to disclose something quite huge on his school app (international incident, and it truly was accidental that he forgot to mention it the first time around).

Current Law Students / Re: Typical day of a law school student?
« on: November 05, 2009, 07:37:02 PM »
Columbia will not hold it against you that you decided to dance before going to law school. They're not about "hooking 'em young." They'll like you just as much when you reapply. No worries on that score.

Also, they like bragging about their artsy students. One of my friends was a Hamilton Fellow, in part due to his active life in the arts prior to applying for law school.

Pursue dance and remember that if you become tired of the lifestyle, suffer an injury, or otherwise need/want to settle down, you'll always have an excellent school as a fallback option.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Feel good story...
« on: November 05, 2009, 07:30:54 PM »
'Grats on the great news!

If you turn your monitor away from the door, you can have a video parade of naked women during your internship. *offers, helpfully*

Job Search / Re: best websites for finding a job
« on: November 03, 2009, 08:19:00 PM »
Second Matthies's opinion of Craigslist. Really, don't do it -- it's a depressing, scam-filled wasteland as far as jobs are concerned.

And second Matthies's opinion of the importance of in-person events.

That said, here are two on-line resources:

1. Daily Journal. They have online employment ads, organized by geographic regions (OC, LA, Riverside, SD).

2. Be sure to filter out the recruiters and temp placement agencies. I've been pleasantly surprised several times to find jobs advertised on Monster and not in other publications. (One was a coveted in-house position that hadn't been sent to recruiters, either. Obviously, not appropriate for a 3L, but relevant in that this was a huge company who wanted a young-ish lawyer, and yet it hadn't occurred to them to advertise anywhere but Monster and their own website.)

2.5 This suggestion is approximately the same suggestion as, so it doesn't deserve a new number. LA Times and OC Register both have employment ads on-line, but I think at least one of those publications uses as their direct portal. And the other one uses an irritating third-party portal, IIRC. Still, if you skip past all the recruiter and temp placement ads, you can sometimes find a few good leads.

Law School Admissions / Re: another disclosure question
« on: November 03, 2009, 07:51:38 PM »
No worries; the bar is never going to know that you didn't disclose it on the law school apps. The moral/character fitness application process is entirely different.

Earlcat --

Sure, learning bad habits is one possible disadvantage to self-study. But using a class has the possible disadvantage of wasting OP's time and confusing him with "formulas" for logical approaches that are already intuitive to him. Further, some people really do learn better on their own.

I specifically pointed the OP towards self-study because he's a non-trad -- still finishing up college, and juggling a demanding job -- and he had a good starting score. Those are qualities which lend themselves to self-study. An expensive, scheduled prep course may not be right for him. Tutoring, of course, is a balance of the two.

Self-studiers usually swear by self-study. People who use organized programs usually swear by programs. People who have used tutors really like tutors. Nothing wrong with any of the approaches -- there've been high scores using every method. I don't think it's possible to rule any one method out, definitively.

As I mentioned, I did the self-study route. In fact, I was in approximately the same starting position as the OP, and I had excellent final results (175+).

Job Search / Re: How much does a clerkship make up for mediocre grades?
« on: November 03, 2009, 04:28:06 PM »
Agree with everything BFB said above. Also, a minor but salient point: in interviews, conversations, etc., never pitch your clerkship experience as an asset that counterbalances your grades. You're not compensating for what you did in law school -- this isn't a tit for tat exchange.

Phrases like "at least," "but," "luckily," etc. will all convey that you know you have some bad history behind you and you're eager to whitewash with your future actions. And that kind of attitude may come across as defensive or weak. Also, it encourages people to draw false and ridiculous comparisons (e.g., arbitrarily deciding that a clerkship "excuses" three Cs, or something equally inapt).

Draw a firm line between your academic career and your professional career. While you may have struggled in law school (due to XYZ reasons), make it clear that you have NEVER struggled professionally. Your work product is excellent, your demeanor professional, your skill set is well above your peers, and you have the respect and admiration of judges and seasoned attorneys. You know what you want, you go after it, and you're a success.

Pay homage to the profession and your career goals; explain that your success now is because you're in your element, in a way that you weren't during law school. "The thing I was bad at, back then? It required particular skills, which I didn't have at the time. The things I'm good at now? They require these particular skills, which I have in abundance and which you really want."

By your attitude, your word choice, and your general confidence, you can indicate to colleagues and potential employers that you don't think you need to "make up" for your poor performance back then. That was then -- a different place, a different beast. School really is completely different from the working world. You are a success in ONE of those arenas. In the other, you didn't do as well as you would've liked. Oh, well.

Even attorneys who did well in school (and who may be skeptical of your XYZ reasons) will still approve heartily of the maturity of your perspective. They all know that law school doesn't prepare a person for legal practice, and obviously they're all in legal practice now. So, play up to their ego and to your strengths: tell them that what they're doing now, which they're obviously proud of, is what you're good at and what you want to do.

Job Search / Re: Studying for the BAR, huge DEBT, no JOB, WHAT DO DO?
« on: November 03, 2009, 03:58:00 PM »
You should be disheartened.  It's a miserable process because it seems so hopeless at times.  There's really nothing wrong with being miserable in and of itself.  It's a perfectly normal reaction to your situation.  Just don't let your miserableness turn into a depression that keeps you from doing what you need to do.  Study for the bar, take the bar exam, and then start looking for a job. 


I'd second Dr. Balsenschaft's advice, and further point out that Dr. B's advice is entirely on point for the situation right now. You're depressed about having only California options. Nothing wrong with being disappointed at what's transpired so far. That's a reasonable response. But you can't let "feeling glum" stand in the way of actual progress.

According to your prior posts, you've been diligent about rustling job prospects. Assuming you followed Dr. B's advice, you made a note of all the firms who wanted to talk to you after you received your bar results and you've already zipped off friendly "remember me?" e-mails to them all. You've networked, schmoozed, asked everyone who knows anyone to talk about you, etc.

If it's true that you've shaken the bushes and trees in Chicago, doesn't it seem sensible to move to try something new? Work at your brother's firm. You can do a lot more than glorified paralegal work -- you can do everything but sign the pleadings and argue in court. So, research, write, talk to clients, negotiate with opposing counsel, learn the law, learn how the legal industry really works, meet people, make friends, and have something substantial to add to your resume.

You can always return to Chicago after you've "done the west coast thing." No firm will question your geographic loyalty. If there's really any doubt, work out a deal where your brother's firm has a collegial relationship with an employment firm in Chicago. Then, there'll be cross-referrals and joint articles and any number of ties that will keep your resume full of Chicago. I don't think that's necessary, though. The best thing for you to do is add something new to the package that you present employers and come back to try again. Coming back is proof enough that you really want to be in Chicago.

You've expressed a lot of concern about your debt, especially. You don't want to run out of deferment time when there's a real solution right in front of you. It's okay to feel bad about where you are -- but keep putting one foot in front of the other, despite how you feel.

Current Law Students / Re: Best netbook?
« on: November 03, 2009, 01:03:59 AM »
For a different but similar purpose, I recently advised a family member to purchase an MSI netbook. (Specifically, MSI U2100, a la )

Keys were decently manageable despite the netbook's size. It had nice mouse feel and a reasonably-sized screen. It's light and cute.

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