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Messages - M112

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Planet Law School is a decent book, but I'm not sure how much it really helps in the long run.  I don't know you (OP), so take my advice for what it's worth.

First, I was on Law Review and I knew a lot of kids in the top 20 percent.  My only true skill in life is my talent for observation.  This is unscientific, but success in law school seems to come from the following:

1: The ability to smartly outwork your classmates in the first 2/3rds of the semester.  25%
Most law schools run on a bell curve, so your grades are drastically affected by your peers. Most people, especially those students toward the top of the class, work insanely hard for the last 4 or 5 weeks in each semester.  If you want an edge, be smart in the first two months of the semester.  This is where books like planet law school can help. 
You should also consider your energy level.  If I could go back in time I would have spent the summer playing and reading good (recreational) books.
Make sure you take good notes in class and work hard, but also focus on test prep as soon as you feel comfortable.  Glannon's Examples and Explanations book for Civil Procedure is a great supplement.  If you have civ pro, I'd recommend picking it up early on.

2: Raw Intelligence 25%
Not much you can do about this.  I know some people will tell you differently, but it's obvious to me that brain power makes a big difference in law school.  (And LSAT scores aren't really the best indicator).

3:  Exam Taking Speed.  15%
Sometimes the difference between an A and a B is very small.  Start looking at practice exams after a few weeks of law school.  You won't know all the material, but you need to get familiar with questions and figure out how you want to approach them.  Also, keyboarding can make a difference.  I know my 90 wpm typing secured a couple of my A grades.

4:  Writing Ability.  15%
Of course this goes hand in hand with numbers 1 and 2, but this is important.  Pay attention to your legal writing classes, and read a couple writing books.  Good writing makes you more efficient and faster, which helps you get more points.   Remember, most tests are timed and you don't have enough time to talk about every single issue.  So that can diminish the importance of knowing everything.

5:  Memory  10%
Most tests I took were open book, but outlines and books slowed me down.  Create notes and outlines with the purpose of learning the material.  Many people just try to organize everything in a brilliant way so it will be readily accecible, and usually they either get bogged down or they just know the crap well enough to not need an outline on the test.

6: Luck 5%
Sometimes your classmates will be geniuses.  Sometimes the teacher will focus on your one weakness on the final.  Sometimes you'll misread a question.  Very few people get anywhere close to straight As.  But some people are very consistent, so luck is very low on this list.

7: Friends 5%
This one is tricky.  Sometimes study groups can make a huge difference, but it's a gamble.  That's why I don't think the impact is very significant.  I don't think study groups are  very effective until you and your friends all have a decent handle on the subject.  Otherwise you'll just be slowing each other down.

So what does this have to do with anything?
The point is that some books and some strategies just focus on one or two of the things above.  Some people even believe that hard work is everything.  I just think most of your top competitors will work insanely hard in the first year.  Try to find advantages in the other areas.

Finally, the top 2 law student's I've ever known didn't do any advance preparation.  They had fun and made sure they were ready to commit when the game started.


Incredibly helpful post, thank you very much.  This is some of the stuff I was actually wanting to get into, the "meat and potatoes" of law school.

Speaking to your first point, "The ability to smartly outwork your classmates in the first 2/3rds of the semester.", when you speak about prepping for a test as soon as I feel comfortable, how do you recommend?  Do you mean through class notes, legal briefs, or other supplements like practice exams? 

Also, can I begin studying any of the applicable materials for each course I may be taking in advance so I can be ahead of the game or does that have to wait until class begins?  If I can start in advance, can you lead me to any preferred books, for example like the book by Glannon that you mentioned, Civil Procedure?   And in regards to energy level, do you mean relaxing in the summer in order to “recharge the battery” for the coming fall semester? 

Also, as I understand it, what I gleaned as the underlying message of the post was that if you truly immerse yourself in the study of law, meaning you study with the intent of understanding the law not just for the grades or ranking, the positives will just come naturally?  Am I correct in that assumption? 

Also, as I mentioned earlier, any books o courses you can recommend that would allows me to get a leg up on school before it starts is very much appreciated.  Thanks.

You should have the desire to be number 1 without question.

One thing to be wary about transferring is to not get to caught up in rankings, a few of my friends transferred from GGU a Tier 4 to Santa Clara or USF tier 2 schools and are not to happy with their decision at all.  This is because, they moved from the 127th best school to the 87th or something, but they lost between 40 and 70 thousand dollars worth of scholarship money. The reality is GGU, Santa Clara, or USF are not going to make that much of a difference in employment. We have Stanford, Berkeley, and Hastings right here and the difference between GGU, Santa Clara, and USF is not that great when dealing with jobs. Santa Clara or USF might offer somewhat of a leg up, but not a 70,000 with 8% interest leg up. The reality is GGU, Santa Clara, or USF  are not going to result in employers chasing you down. When you are dealing with 88, 72, and 121 it's not much of a difference. Now had some of those people transferred into Stanford or Berkley it would be a different and they would have probably been a lot more satisfied with their decision.

In all honesty the rankings are pretty bogus.  If you look at the formula you will see only 12% of the formula is objective the remaining 88% is purely subjective based on U.S. News opinion, which is a private company and the ABA and LSAC specifically say to ignore it. Obviously, there are elite schools that will open doors and you and me both knew what those schools were when we were 5 years old. Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and schools of that Elk are ELITE and will open doors a tier 2, 3, or 4 will not. However, I would recommend not transferring from a tier 4 to a tier 2 everyone I know that has done that has been disappointed. I am sure there are exceptions, but that is the consensus of the people I have talked to.

I am only in my first of law school so I might be talking out of my ass, but that is just my own experience. However, I know I will not transfer to Santa Clara or USF based on what I have heard from people that have transferred from GGU to those schools have told me about their experience.  

Very much appreciate the comments and advice.  In the hypothetical you provided, if I were inserted into them rather than your friends, I would probably end up forgoing a transfer and staying at my current school.  I actually have my sights set on only two schools for possible transfer for two different reasons.  One is a top 10 school, of the elk you mentioned (my long shot school) and the second school is a top 30 school that I am still yet to hear word from I may just end up on the wait list.  This school is not only Tier 1 school, but would also to cost me less to attend than my current school, scholarship withstanding, so the financial consideration is another possible reason for transfer.  

The transfer is not the be all end all for me though.  I am content at my current school and appreciate all the help they have already given me.  However, if I had an opportunity to go to an Ivy League school or a top 30 school that would cost me less, I would almost assuredly take it.  Again not saying it will happen, just want to test the possibility and take a shot at it.

Again thanks a million for the response though.  Any other pertinent information is appreciated.    

I have been accepted to law school for the Fall 2010 semester and wanted to make sure I was as prepared as possible for school.  I was not a pre-law major so do not even have a rudimentary knowledge regarding some fundamentals of the law school experience e.g. case-briefing, outliving, etc.

What should/could I be doing to better prepare me for law school now so that I won't find myself in any sort of G.P.A. deficit during my first semester or year.  

* * *

Any advice is appreciated and any suggested books or courses are welcome.  Thanks.

Aloha, M112 -

This will no doubt cause a few flames, if not take us to one of several levels in Dante's Inferno.

First, congratulations!

Second, you're asking exactly the right question.  This is a very, very good sign.

Third, here's the advice:  Yes, you can and do need to prepare.  I suggest you start with two books, one of which is wholly self-serving (so take it as you will).  The first is Planet Law School, which, through years-long conversations with its author started and changed my thoughts a decade or so ago about this topic.  The second book is mine, Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold.  

Obviously, you're past the first part of that second book, so you would start with the second section, on Getting Good.  I recommend this because it might be helpful in digesting some of the material in Planet Law School, which, believe it or not, is even more radical and dense than I.

In short, you can prepare with a reasonable time commitment by beginning the process of thinking through the framework of the law or, more specifically, in each of the six major areas covered (usually) in your first year. These will be extremely helpful to you as you begin your first year, as the discussions in class will make sense and the cases will too.  (And you'll not feel the need to waste time on case briefs, as the importance of each case will be obvious.)

I hope this helps, and again, congratulations,


Thank you for the kind words and appreciate the advice.  I will definitely take a look a the books you mentioned.  Do you have any opinion though on what I should be focusing on now in preparation for law school?  For example, becoming familiar with legalese, studying landmark cases, legal writing etc.?

Also, any courses yourself or anyone else may know of that I could take in anticipation of law school (about five months away).  Thanks in advance.

In all honesty if you will be disappointed if you don't transfer it might be best not to go. The odds are you won't be in the top 10% it is no insult to you, but everybody in law school is SMART. No matter where you go 100% of students think they will be in the top 10%.  You can do the math and see how that will play out. The odds are that if you go to that school that is where you are going to stay. It is not impossible to transfer, but you have a 10% chance of doing it and that is not very good. Even if you do transfer you will lose all the relationships you made first year etc and as I understand it would almost be impossible to be on moot court, law review, etc at the school you transfer into. I could be wrong about that though.

Honestly, the rankings are pretty B.S. really look at the formula they use to determine schools and you will see that it makes no sense. You will see a private company took it upon themselves to make an unregulated regulation system that law school applicants take very seriously. However, the reality is once you get outside of the top 25 or so nobody cares about the rankings it is all about location. Everybody knows Harvard is a good law school, but nobody will really care about the difference between University of Maine and Lewis & Clark. They are both fine schools Maine is respected in Maine and Lewis & Clark is respected in Oregon. I just want to conclude by saying law school is hard whether you go to Cooley or Harvard you will learn the same thing and be in competition with very smart and motivated people. The odds of you being in the top 10% and transferring are very low and it is really something you should consider before going to the school, if your heart is absolutely set on transferring. Good Luck to you.   

Thanks for the response.  My goal has and will be to be at the top of my class, transfer or not, and while I understand everyone in law school is smart, my goals and expectations remain the same.  However, my intent is not to simply enroll in school to transfer, I would be fine completing all three years at my current school however, I always like to know what all of my options are and if transferring to a more prestigious school i.e. one that will help me land a job easier, get an OCI etc. presents itself, I will probably take advantage of it if finances permit.  I'm not so big on the social scene and my friends and the rest, so transferring out of one school to another doesn't really bother me in that respect.  The only relationships I would be worried about hurting would be with professors or other college staff.

My reasons for potentially transferring are two-fold.  First, some of the schools I would like to transfer to have better clinics in immigration, a field I wish to be a part of in the future.  Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, if a transfer to a more prestigious school would help my job prospects, as I suspect it would, it is an option I am willing to explore.  However, if I do not transfer, I am perfectly content at my current school especially with the large amount of scholarship money they have provided me.  I would essentially be debt-free upon graduation which is actually one of the reasons I might not transfer at all.  I am simply just trying to set-up contingencies for myself so that all available options are at my disposal.  Thank you for the response though any other pertinent information is appreciated.

Job Search / Re: How to locate Immigration Law internships in PA?
« on: March 07, 2010, 06:21:04 PM »
I know little-to-nothing about immigration law, but I do know that a good resource for "public interest" internships (and even jobs after graduation) is:

(Unfortunately, I know that this website had a interesting imm. law internship near Harrisburg a few weeks ago, but they took down the posting.  :-\)

I hope this helps you a little, and I wish I could help you more. 

Thanks a million, very, very, helpful.  Any other pertinent information is appreciated.

You have scratched the surface with your research.  Typically, you will not get a scholarship if you transfer, your law school GPA does not go with you.  
How you can you finance your second and third year while not your first?  Like 90 percent of us must take out loans to some extent.
 As to getting a letter in good standing from the dean: usually the registrars office handles that, not the dean personally, so you will not need to have an awkward conversation there.  You will need to have an awkward conversation with at least one prof, however, for a recommendation.
If you are in the top 10 percent your chances at a top 20 seat are pretty decent.  Look at GULC or another school friendly to transfers.
You cannot do law review your first year or moot court.  Furthermore, if you transfer you cannot do it your second year either- you will not have a GPA.
Oh, and you realize that to transfer at all you need 30 credits (one full year), at least at all the schools I have seen, might be ABA rules.   Good luck.

Thanks a million for the response, it is a huge help.  To summarize the contents of your post:

I should not/will not receive any scholarship aid at my new school.  Is scholarship aid a possibility in year three?

Aside from the awkward conversations with the registrar and professors, will the school I am transferring from pull a scholarship or will negative consequences be relegated merely to the awkward nature of the situation?

I do plan on completing my first year of school i.e. 30 credits before I transfer, but given the nature of Moot Court, Law Journals and their 1-year G.P.A. requirement, would I be eligible to join them in my third year at my transfer school?

Also, to clarify, I cannot afford school strictly on loans my first year because I have already taken an amount of graduate Stafford Loans such that I will meet their limit for those loans by my third year of study if I began taking them in my first year.  However, if I get financial assistance my first year, I will have enough money left to complete my final two years of school without reaching their limit.  My current school has offered half of my tuition (approximately) upfront and I will most likely receive more aid to cover the remaining tuition which is why I will most likely go there this fall.

Thanks again for the response, any other pertinent information is appreciated.

I am currently admitted to law school but am looking to transfer out after my first year of school to a more prestigious college.  I have accepted admission this year to a lower tier school because of the financial aid package they offered because without which, I would not be able to attend school for my first year.  During my second year of law school, however, I should be able to afford the schooling no matter what the aid package is hence, my desire to go to a more prestigious school to open up more job opportunities, possible academic career path etc.

My question centers around what I should be doing during my first year outside of being one of the top students in my class G.P.A. wise?  

Should I be on a law journal or moot court?  
Should I be doing any specific types of extra curriculars to make myself a more appealing candidate for transfer at my desired school?

Additionally, being that I am currently going to school at a T4, what is my ceiling as far as transfer is concerned assuming that my class standing at the end of my first year falls anywhere from top five (5) overall on the high end, to barely top 10% in my class on the low end?  Is top 10 a realistic possibility, or is top 30, or top 50 more likely?  Moreover, is their a general rule regarding transfers and financial aid packages i.e. would I possibly be eligible for any scholarships or would that have to wait at a minimum until I have completed one year at my new school?

Also, for some schools I took a look at, their transfer policy states that you must receive a letter of good standing from the dean of the college you want to transfer out from.  Now, would my approaching a dean about a transfer lead to the possible revocation of my scholarship ?  Any pertinent information is greatly appreciated.  

I have been accepted to law school for the Fall 2010 semester and wanted to make sure I was as prepared as possible for school.  I was not a pre-law major so do not even have a rudimentary knowledge regarding some fundamentals of the law school experience e.g. case-briefing, outlining, etc.

What should/could I be doing to better prepare me for law school now so that I won't find myself in any sort of G.P.A. deficit during my first semester or year.  

Also, I did peruse the suggested readings posted by the law school I will most likely be attending (still waiting on an admissions decision from a few other schools) but some of them seemed to be more about the law school experience as an example "My first year of law school as a female" and "How I survived law school"; are these books really as useful for my first year of school as opposed to books that outline how to brief cases, legal terminology, learning legal writing etc.?

Any advice is appreciated and any suggested books or courses are welcome.  Thanks.

Job Search / How to locate Immigration Law internships in PA?
« on: March 07, 2010, 01:36:18 PM »
To provide some background, I will be a law student for this coming Fall 2010 semester at a T4 school with the intent of pursuing a career in Immigration Law.  After graduation, I hope to work in PA and most likely the Philadelphia area.  I read in different publications that a 1L should be looking for their first summer internship in the months preceding their first semester of school which is what has led me to this post.  

Does anyone know of any particular firms, organizations, etc. that could provide me with said internships or even some guidance in regards to where I can look for them?  I am especially interested in completing my internship in the Philadelphia or Harrisburg areas.

Also, I do remember reading that their is the potential for paid internships in limited numbers, would also be interested in any information regarding these opportunities.  

Finally, is there anything that I can be doing now, in the summer preceding my first year of law school study i.e. internships work that would be beneficial for me academically and or professionally.  Any pertinent information is greatly appreciated.        

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