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Messages - gdeurance

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1
New York Law School / Re: Please help with my decision!!!!
« on: April 17, 2010, 09:29:05 AM »
You did not mention what type of law you were interested in practicing. The notion of paying 2,000 dollars a month is a little absurd, especially when you consider the policy changes recently implemented. It is likely you would simply pay a percentage of your paycheck each month--something like 10 percent (starting in 2012). In addition, after 20 years of consistent payment the remainder (of your federal loans) would be forgiven--10 if you go into public service.

On another note, grades are not highly unpredictable--performance is. Although I would agree that there is not always consistency between professors (perhaps this is what the other posters where referring to). You may be an A student who gets a B in one class, all the B students get C's and so forth. Some professors simply refuse to hand out A's. Know what kind of student you are and be realistic. Going in with the idea of transferring is certainly a bad plan. But, wherever you go, I would encourage you to do well and simply apply to some other (better) schools and if accepted, at the very least, leverage those acceptances for money. I have a few friends who have done that--many others who were unsuccessful. There are a lot of downsides to transferring, law review being one of the big ones. Most likely would not be able to do it until 3L, which puts you behind the pack.

I am also a firm believer that it is better to shine where you are. If you can make top 10 or 15 percent at any of the three law firms you mentioned, that is much better than being middle of the pack at a school only marginally better--you aren't going NYLS to NYU or Columbia (maybe if you are at the very top of your class, like number 1). The loss of GPA and standing, no law review, scholarships if you had any etc, transferring for reasons other than simply not liking where you are, not the greatest idea. Entering a law school looking to transfer, naive at best. Good luck with your decision.

2
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Case Western v. Chapman v. MSU
« on: March 03, 2010, 11:14:30 AM »
I went to Chapman as an undergraduate. I can tell you a few things. First, I transferred after my second year, as did two of my closest friends. Orange is a small "historic" town. There is not much to do within walking distance. There are very few apartments within walking distance. You either have to drive, or rent one of the houses in the surrounding neighborhoods. That said, the campus is pretty nice and they have invested a lot of money in growing the school. It looks nothing like it did when I went there 7 years ago. I took a few law classes as an undergrad and the professors were very good--do not know if they are still there though. Newport beach is 20 minutes away and LA is only about an hour with traffic.

Would I go there, even with a full ride, no. The town, though in Southern California, is small and eventually it closed in on me. The school is well respected in the area--not sure about the law school--but most people I meet in the south or northeast have never heard of it. Hope this helps.

3
Studying for the LSAT / Re: Feb Test Scoring Delay
« on: February 18, 2010, 10:23:35 AM »
Just in case anyone comes across this thread...apparently the last five February LSAT scores were released the Friday before. So, if history holds true, we will likely get the scores on Friday the 26th. Thanks for the above replies...also, anyone who had to take or has yet to take the feb lsat due to snow delays, one article guesses they may simply give a previous (unreleased) test. This would allow them to get the scores out well before the usual 2 1/2 week delay--as they would already have the test data from the previous administering. Hope this helps.

4
Studying for the LSAT / Feb Test Scoring Delay
« on: February 11, 2010, 11:20:55 PM »
This may have already been answered, are the scores for those of us who took the test going to be delayed because of the retakes etc. Three weeks is bad enough. Anyways, thank you to anyone who can shed some light on this.

5
Personal Statement / Re: Seriously, my PS seems extremely corny...
« on: February 11, 2010, 10:55:59 PM »
I think your story is pretty moving. As a person who has not experienced much personal loss, nor physical injury for that matter, the fact you had to overcome both at once is pretty amazing (and you graduated in time--I would definitely keep that in there no matter what editing you do). Your statement reads as though written by a humble individual, I think that is a really good thing.

There are some things you could work on. "The Plan"--that indeed, is corny. No statement I have ever read that instituted "the plan" or any of its many euphemisms made it work. Quite frankly, you do not need it. Just talk about the plan without referencing it as such. You grew up watching your mother give voice to voiceless, you learned that trait from her. Do not say she passed it on to you. Use an active voice. You learned, you developed, you gleaned, etc. If you have not actually gone out an done this yourself, this is a perfect opportunity to relate it back to you recovery time. You now know what it is like to experience the frustration that accompanies the feelings of helplessness. The development of such empathetic feelings has set you on the path to do as your mother once did. On that note, rephrase the bit about subconsciously following...Again, this makes your decision to practice law seem passive at best.

Hope that helps a little. I would definitely work on this a bit more before sending it in. Just my .02

6
Personal Statement / Re: PLEASE CRITIQUE THIS PERSONAL STATEMENT
« on: February 11, 2010, 10:35:07 PM »
What I found most interesting about this essay, your legacy. That is bad. You want the focus to be on you, not your ancestors. Honestly, do any of us have a story like "fighting British at the Battle of Brooklyn and the Battle of Fort Washington?" You are talking about the defining years of our country. Anything you write about yourself after that is going to seem trite. You seem like you have a fascinating military legacy, but leave it out (unless you want to simply say you come from five generations of serving your country--your ancestors chose to do so by enlisting in the military, you want to do so through law). Does that make sense?

"As a lawyer, I know I will be uniquely qualified and able to preserve it for future generations." If you feel this is the case, show me how. I never really saw this to be the case. I am not saying it is not the case, you essay simply did not demonstrate this. I think your time working in the probation office is your ticket to an "individual" essay. Really, how many people are going to write about that? What did you learn from that experience? How is it going to shape the type of lawyer you are going to be? Also, if you want to begin with a narrative, describe a wild scene at the office (make one up if you want) and use it to introduce yourself. Talk about how hard you fought for victims rights while working there and how you will utilize the skills you gained in continuing the fight in front of the gavel.

Definitely get rid of the quote. Unless you are going to use the quote as your overarching theme and continually refer back to the central premise it presented, the reader will forget the line within a paragraph--this just has the effect of making you appear a worse writer than you might be.

And like I tell everyone, do not talk about what you want to do, demonstrate how you have done it. You want to give back to your country, how are you going to do it? What have you learned from your experiences that will enable you to do this? Be specific, devote at least 5-10 sentences (if not more) throughout your paper to establish this as fact. Then you will not need to state it, I will infer it--this is much more powerful writing.

Lastly, a word to the wise, do not lash out at people who took the time to write something. If you disagree, do so politely and the ask them to respond. You will get a lot more out of an honest discussion about your personal statement. After all, your goal here is critique right, not to win an argument. good luck

7
Personal Statement / Re: Critique my PS please
« on: February 11, 2010, 10:05:56 PM »
I would agree with the first and second posters. Read each paragraph as its own entity. You tend to bring things up, devote a sentence to the idea, then move on. There is a real lack of continuity. You played in the dirt, then you went to college--how does the one carry you into the other? Unless you went to school to be an architect or real estate developer, it really does not. I can appreciate Descartes, but you fail to explain the Mind/Body link (you do not have enough time regardless) and hence that paragraph really sits alone and again breaks the flow.

What I gathered from this, you have an interest in regulatory policy. That is your focus, but why? Figure out the defining thing in your past that has lead to that interest, then create your narrative from that. Was it something you witness during your time in landscaping or construction? Was it from working in the field of neuroscience? Often a first draft is useful only in as much as finding your topic sentence or overall theme. That is why it is important not to spend too much time on it--likely you are going to cut 90%.

hope that helped

8
Personal Statement / Re: Help I need feedback on my PS
« on: February 11, 2010, 09:44:16 PM »
As the first poster replied, the initial narrative is a bit lengthy. The length itself is not so much the problem, rather the fact it goes on for a while and never really ties into an overarching theme. It is fine to dedicate half a page or more to narrative as long as you analyze along the way. For example, you say Marcus reminded you of yourself at 10, in what ways? What lessons were you taught at age ten by a parent or another individual that propelled you to success and how did you utilize similar tools in advising Marcus. Then, when you get into the second half of your personal statement (the self reflection and what will make you stand out as an attorney part--note, do not actually say you will stand out as an attorney, simply allude to those characteristics you think attorneys embody), you can refer back to the way in which you handled Marcus situation as an example of your ability to apply lessons learned or knowledge gained. So, narrative-good, but narrative without reflection-bad.

I would advise against using any numericals (1, 2, 3 etc..) always spell the number. Forty, not 40. And just as a rule for all writing, you never begin a sentence with a numerical. "20 minutes later" and always spell numbers ten and below.

Establish more quickly that you are an adult in a principals office with your "little" or whatever name. I could not tell until well into the third or fourth paragraph what was actually going on. At first I thought this was a flashback to when you were ten and sitting in an office with you ten year old friend.

I wouldn't put a date "3:30 on September..." in the there, what does it actually add, visually? If you want to paint a picture, talk about the room. Marcus' nervous, labored breathing, the annoy secretary, whatever.

I would also advise against one and two sentence paragraphs.

You devote little time to racism, perfect opportunity to talk about something that packs a big punch, consider elaborating on that. The point here is you are using Marcus to talk about yourself. Keep the narrative on him, but the focus on you. Marcus experienced racism when a white bully from school etc. I was able to help him overcome his anger and embrace tolerance by (however you might have overcome racism).

Do not talk about the fact you grew up privileged with educated parents. I promise, no matter how you write it, unless your story is you lost all of your money and ended up homeless and then went on to make it all back and this time use it to open shelters, it will come across as snobby. On that note, like the last poster said, do not talk about how smart you are. Talk about the fact Marcus is bright, and like him, you found yourself not living up to your potential. Every time you address a problem or weakness, use it as an opportunity to demonstrate success.

Lastly, do not talk about what you can do, demonstrate how you do those things.

Hope that helps. (and to be fair, I give all of that advice knowing I turn around and make all of those same mistakes. so much easier to give honest critiques of another person's work, right?)  good luck, i look forward to seeing the revised draft.

9
Personal Statement / Feedback if you wouldn't mind.
« on: February 11, 2010, 09:11:17 PM »
I accidentally posted this in the wrong section, just re-posting it here. So I just finished the first draft of my personal statement. Anyone interested in reading it? Just curious if it reads a little less boring than most. I was kind of wild at my first two colleges. Just trying to explain some it. Thanks for your help/input.

        I sat under fluorescent lighting in a sparsely furnished room, unable to escape the stench of burning coffee mixed with sweat and the smoke shaded breath of ten people twice my age. I listened to the stories of adults in their forties, fifties, and even sixties in one case, who had also been caught drinking and driving. For some of them it was their third DUI in as many years, a felony offense. As I scanned the walls of the room that displayed children’s drawings, laminated cursive learning charts, and Mrs. Whitehall’s “Golden Rules,” I found myself considering the juxtaposition of a classroom usually enveloped in the laughs of children with the lamentations of the fully matured members of my ASAP group. The children with their entire lives in front of them, opportunities abound, while these individuals were at the end of theirs with few prospects. It comforted me to think of them as figures unable to escape the trappings of poverty and its ugly mistress, alcoholism. This allowed me to distance myself from their experiences. I was not like them. Sure, I was in trouble, but at only twenty-one, eventually the advantages afforded me in life would provide a path. I just had to hold on long enough for them to appear.
   Half way through the meeting an older gentleman rose. He stood there without speaking. The abiding silence was magnetic, drawing me away from my thoughts. He was looking at me. In a gravelly voice, Ju, as he called himself, began speaking. He correctly guessed this was my “first time on the ride.” Ju touched on his youth paralleling it to my current situation. He remembered well being twenty and stupid with a contempt for authority to rival Victor Hugo’s Gavroche. He also remembers the consequences such an attitude carried. Like me, he once viewed these meetings as a waste of time. Born into a successful family, he neglected his studies early on. He dropped out of college and floundered well into his early thirties. Impulsive behavior and excessive drinking kept him on the wrong side of the law for over forty years. Now well into his sixties, Ju’s choices had cost him his job, his home, his family, and ultimately a functioning liver.
   There was no defining moment of epiphany. However, in time, Ju’s story took its intended effect. From that experience, I gained humility. Ju’s lessons taught me that we are all accountable for our actions, be it from the law or our own body. At the time, I could not see that my behavior was endangering others, and further closing the door on my future. Law endures because it brings order to the chaos that is existence. It seeks to protect society, in my case, from the unintended consequences of impulsive and reckless behavior. I truly regret the mistakes I made throughout my educational career and the inescapable effect they will have on my chances of getting into law school. However, I am forever a better man because of them. The individuals surrounding me in that classroom had surrendered control over their lives to the degenerative force of defeatism.
   The attitude we adopt ultimately decides how we progress through life. As Henry Ford said it, “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.” Their example illustrated that success is not given, rather earned. I have to command my own life, creating opportunities with calculation and diligent work. Well into middle age, they were still making excuses for their situation and repeating the same mistakes. I was not going to allow myself the luxury of defeat. Twelve months after Ju’s anecdote I returned to college reinvigorated and ready to succeed. Maturity enabled me to take on the expenses myself, sometimes working two jobs and as many as fifty hours a week. Heading into graduation, I had finally developed the skills and confidence to truly excel, achieving A’s on each of my last seven courses. I have overcome the immaturity of my youth and worked toward correcting past mistakes and missed opportunities. Although, going into my last two years of school, I was still unclear as to the ultimate direction of my life; my experiences with the criminal system eventually fueled my desire to pursue a career in law.
   I witnessed first hand the flaws of a legal system. How could individuals like Ju, and the companions we shared during our time together, have been allowed to return with such chronicity to that room. It was, of course, a success for me, but the rate of recidivism is astounding. Abundant research continues to tell us this is true of crime in general. If we employed early, effective means to rehabilitate, Ju may have exited his twenties with the possibility of leading a meaningful life. Instead, the same tired, passive techniques of preaching teetotalism and “think before you act” did nothing to affect change. I hope to combine a law degree with my background in psychology in overcoming the most trenchant problems facing legal reform. Over the course of a life this may include working in legal clinics with the disenfranchised or shaping public policy with politicians in state and local governments.
   Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Northeastern is it’s cooperative legal education program. This provides the perfect opportunity to experience a number of avenues by which to accomplish my legal and humanitarian goals. Rather than spend my time as a law student solely focused on academic pursuits, I can work for such varied agencies as the Legal Aid Society of New York and the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. This type of hands on experience will allow me to tailor my course of study towards a path that will complement both my goals and my personality. I will graduate with focus and direction. My experiences have developed in me a deep and lasting empathy for the individual and the hardships we all face. As Ju taught me, no matter how low or high our birth, to err is human, and we can all find ourselves in Mrs. Whitehall’s classroom. To avoid this, we must develop at the top, laws, and at the bottom, programs, that reflect understanding, patience, sincerity, and forgiveness.
   When I began the arduous task of deciding exactly what I should include in my personal statement, I drafted a number of the status quo essays. I thought it was wise to heed the advice of law school columnists and focus on the positive, not alluding to my weaknesses. Each topic was more pretentious and self indulgent than the last. They read like the diary of a fifteen-year-old, as though I was a man with nothing to recant or even abate. The more authentic prose and hopefully the more interesting narrative, involved shedding the superficial and embracing the genuine. This required me to address the culminating event in a period defined by an apathetic and whimsical mien. It was the individuals I encountered during my struggle and the subsequent personal reflection that helped me grow up. The way in which I approach my time at law school and legal career will ultimately reflect these experiences.

10
Law School Applications / Personal Statement
« on: February 11, 2010, 08:28:41 PM »
So I just finished the first draft of my personal statement. Anyone interested in reading it? Just curious if it reads a little less boring than most. I was a wild youth and have a lot to explain. Just trying to demonstrate I have lived and learned. Thanks.

        I sat under fluorescent lighting in a sparsely furnished room, unable to escape the stench of burning coffee mixed with sweat and the smoke shaded breath of ten people twice my age. I listened to the stories of adults in their forties, fifties, and even sixties in one case, who had also been caught drinking and driving. For some of them it was their third DUI in as many years, a felony offense. As I scanned the walls of the room that displayed children’s drawings, laminated cursive learning charts, and Mrs. Whitehall’s “Golden Rules,” I found myself considering the juxtaposition of a classroom usually enveloped in the laughs of children with the lamentations of the fully matured members of my ASAP group. The children with their entire lives in front of them, opportunities abound, while these individuals were at the end of theirs with few prospects. It comforted me to think of them as figures unable to escape the trappings of poverty and its ugly mistress, alcoholism. This allowed me to distance myself from their experiences. I was not like them. Sure, I was in trouble, but at only twenty-one, eventually the advantages afforded me in life would provide a path. I just had to hold on long enough for them to appear.
   Half way through the meeting an older gentleman rose. He stood there without speaking. The abiding silence was magnetic, drawing me away from my thoughts. He was looking at me. In a gravelly voice, Ju, as he called himself, began speaking. He correctly guessed this was my “first time on the ride.” Ju touched on his youth paralleling it to my current situation. He remembered well being twenty and stupid with a contempt for authority to rival Victor Hugo’s Gavroche. He also remembers the consequences such an attitude carried. Like me, he once viewed these meetings as a waste of time. Born into a successful family, he neglected his studies early on. He dropped out of college and floundered well into his early thirties. Impulsive behavior and excessive drinking kept him on the wrong side of the law for over forty years. Now well into his sixties, Ju’s choices had cost him his job, his home, his family, and ultimately a functioning liver.
   There was no defining moment of epiphany. However, in time, Ju’s story took its intended effect. From that experience, I gained humility. Ju’s lessons taught me that we are all accountable for our actions, be it from the law or our own body. At the time, I could not see that my behavior was endangering others, and further closing the door on my future. Law endures because it brings order to the chaos that is existence. It seeks to protect society, in my case, from the unintended consequences of impulsive and reckless behavior. I truly regret the mistakes I made throughout my educational career and the inescapable effect they will have on my chances of getting into law school. However, I am forever a better man because of them. The individuals surrounding me in that classroom had surrendered control over their lives to the degenerative force of defeatism.
   The attitude we adopt ultimately decides how we progress through life. As Henry Ford said it, “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.” Their example illustrated that success is not given, rather earned. I have to command my own life, creating opportunities with calculation and diligent work. Well into middle age, they were still making excuses for their situation and repeating the same mistakes. I was not going to allow myself the luxury of defeat. Twelve months after Ju’s anecdote I returned to college reinvigorated and ready to succeed. Maturity enabled me to take on the expenses myself, sometimes working two jobs and as many as fifty hours a week. Heading into graduation, I had finally developed the skills and confidence to truly excel, achieving A’s on each of my last seven courses. I have overcome the immaturity of my youth and worked toward correcting past mistakes and missed opportunities. Although, going into my last two years of school, I was still unclear as to the ultimate direction of my life; my experiences with the criminal system eventually fueled my desire to pursue a career in law.
   I witnessed first hand the flaws of a legal system. How could individuals like Ju, and the companions we shared during our time together, have been allowed to return with such chronicity to that room. It was, of course, a success for me, but the rate of recidivism is astounding. Abundant research continues to tell us this is true of crime in general. If we employed early, effective means to rehabilitate, Ju may have exited his twenties with the possibility of leading a meaningful life. Instead, the same tired, passive techniques of preaching teetotalism and “think before you act” did nothing to affect change. I hope to combine a law degree with my background in psychology in overcoming the most trenchant problems facing legal reform. Over the course of a life this may include working in legal clinics with the disenfranchised or shaping public policy with politicians in state and local governments.
   Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Northeastern is it’s cooperative legal education program. This provides the perfect opportunity to experience a number of avenues by which to accomplish my legal and humanitarian goals. Rather than spend my time as a law student solely focused on academic pursuits, I can work for such varied agencies as the Legal Aid Society of New York and the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. This type of hands on experience will allow me to tailor my course of study towards a path that will complement both my goals and my personality. I will graduate with focus and direction. My experiences have developed in me a deep and lasting empathy for the individual and the hardships we all face. As Ju taught me, no matter how low or high our birth, to err is human, and we can all find ourselves in Mrs. Whitehall’s classroom. To avoid this, we must develop at the top, laws, and at the bottom, programs, that reflect understanding, patience, sincerity, and forgiveness.
   When I began the arduous task of deciding exactly what I should include in my personal statement, I drafted a number of the status quo essays. I thought it was wise to heed the advice of law school columnists and focus on the positive, not alluding to my weaknesses. Each topic was more pretentious and self indulgent than the last. They read like the diary of a fifteen-year-old, as though I was a man with nothing to recant or even abate. The more authentic prose and hopefully the more interesting narrative, involved shedding the superficial and embracing the genuine. This required me to address the culminating event in a period defined by an apathetic and whimsical mien. It was the individuals I encountered during my struggle and the subsequent personal reflection that helped me grow up. The way in which I approach my time at law school and legal career will ultimately reflect these experiences.

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