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General Board / Re: Hottest area of Law
« on: July 07, 2004, 10:42:47 AM »
Right now, Intellectual Property. Basically, just look to see what is important or hot in society right now and see which area of law covers the conflicts that come up.

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You are very welcome. Just a word of advice. Don't put yourself down for choosing a 4th tier law school and don't let anyone else put you down for it. There are millions of reasons why people attend 4th tier law schools, none of which is stupidity. Don't let anyone else tell you differently because they do not know what they are talking about. Numbers are just that, numbers, and they do not measure the quality of a person, no matter how much a magazine or know it all snob would like you to believe.

I did not start school with the intention of transferring and there is nothing wrong with staying exactly where you are at. Some of my reasons for transferring had to do with tier status, but most of it had to do with bar passage rate, name recognition in the area where I plan to go back to, and also the opportunities that I was able to get at my new school that I could not get at my old school. When I made the decision to transfer, I had to make a very hard choice. I was given a hefty scholarship based on grades at my old school, had an excellent GPA, and was headed for the honor's writing program and law journals. I spoke to judges and lawyers in making my decision. One high level judge told me that it is better to graduate in the top 10% of a tier four law school than the bottom 25% of any other law school. I trust his advice. I transferred because I believed that I could maintian my status. You need to do what is right for you. Life is a series of trade-offs and it usually happens for a reason.

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I just have Microsoft Word and that is just fine for me. I don't have any fancy graphics or applications. I build my own format just through normal outlining and that is all I need. I bought a law school outlining program at the end of first semester and never used it. My personal opinion is that you get more out of it if you have to figure out how to structure your outlines, etc. I would suggest to just use what you are comfortable with and if you want to upgrade later, do so then. But I think Word programs are just fine.

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One more tip before I go on managing time.  Always stay one week ahead on your reading and briefing. This is how it works. For the first week of classes, I make sure I have all of the reading and briefing done by the weekend before that week starts. For example: my first term I had Torts, Property, Criminal Law and Contracts. I did all of the reading and briefing for each class and had it done by Sunday night. I tried to get all of the reading done Monday-Friday and left Saturday and Sunday to brief. The week would begin and on the day that I had class, all I had to do was to go over my brief and glance at my book to review the assignments for that day. During that week I also started to prepare for the next week. I tried to make sure that my reading was done by Friday and my briefs were done on Saturday and Sunday. When the next week started, I would review the briefs for class that day and start reading for the next week, etc.

This helps for two reasons. It gives you more time to work with the material so that you won't be trying to do everything on the weekend. Believe me, you do not want to be doing all of your homework on the weekend. This also enables you to get an extra week of studying for your finals at the end of the semester. At Cooley, week 14 usually has no assignments and is a week of review in classes. The students who only study on the weekends usually only have that week to start studying, but if you do your assignments a week ahead, you will have Week 13 and Week 14 to start studying before finals in Week 15.

And, don't worry, you will not get confused by working a week ahead. If you do your review of your briefs on the days you have class, your reading for the next week will not get in the way. It is hard to explain, but the first read is at a different level (more passive) than the level you work with when you are preparing for class using the briefs.

Just a suggestion, but this helped me a lot.

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Shane,

Cooley also will administer mid-terms for all first semester classes. I don't think other law schools do this but I do think it is a very good idea. It is a way for you to experience the multiple choice section of the exams and it will give you an idea of where your weaknesses are. It only counts for 10% of your grade so it is not the be-all, end-all of everything. But prepare carefully because it does count. If you do well, just continue what you are doing, but don't fall into the trap of getting cocky. We had a few that did and ended up doing poorly on the final. On the other hand, if you don't do well, do not give up. In contracts, I only got half right on my midterms which scared the *&^% out of me but on the final, I ended up with an A in the class. The midterms are a way for you to evalutate yourself. Just make sure you have your outlines done at least a week prior to when you will start studying for midterms.

As far as jobs, I can't tell you a lot about that. I'm still just taking classes. You will get two sets of opinions out there about what opportunities you have at Cooley. In this area, Cooley is highly regarded. They know that Cooley gives everyone a chance, but they also know how many get kicked out. Their view is that Cooley is very hard once you get there and they have a lot of respect for the school. For those people, Cooley usually does very well in the regional workforce. There are another group of people who have not started law scool yet and who read U.S. News and World Report. They do nothing but bash Cooley based on the magazine ratings. They have not been to school and are not out in the workforce but think they know what the hiring trends are and what employers think. I will say that I don't know what lawyers and hiring committees think. I don't claim to know it and I won't go around acting like I do. I can tell you that the Cooley grads that I know from before starting law school and after starting law school have not had a problem. I cannot, however, tell you that people out there do not listen to U.S. News and World Report. I'm sure it happens. The best thing I can tell you is to do well in law school. I can't tell you any more than that.

I would also recommend taking the chance to get involved in the activities of law school. Join a club or two. Definitely try to participate in Moot Court and Mock Trial. And, if your Research and Writing grade and Scholarly Writing grade is good enough, you will get an invitation to be on the Law Review. I personally think it is a great idea (you can enter a writing contest to get on if you can't grade on, but don't let it get to that point). Make yourself a well rounded student. Employers will notice. If you have apprehensions about doing everything in the beginning, wait until after midterms are over or even until the second semester. Give yourself a chance to get used to school. Moot Court/Mock Trial and Law Review cannot be done until later semesters anyway, but the clubs can be started right away. If you want to ease into it, take your time. You can join the clubs at any time.

If you have more questions, don't every hesitate to ask. I won't have access to a computer for a few days, but I will be back next week. Good luck!!

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Shane,

What are the first couple of weeks like? Exciting and overwhelming. The best way I could describe my feelings was that I was so excited to be there. I fell in love with law school the minute I walked in the door and I was ready to do it all. I was also scared shitless. I didn't know how things would work, I walked in knowing I could do well but always had that little voice in the back of my head waiting for me to fail just a little. I was freaked because this was a major life change and what if it didn't work out. Fortunately, it was the best decision that I have made.

Cooley makes the transition to law school very easy. As I said in an earlier post, the teachers are demanding, but they will go out of their way to help you if you put the effort in. The weekend before law school (I think?) they will have you to go orientation and that really is a very good introduction. They will teach you about the policies and how the school works, but the best thing is when they teach you to brief cases and to outline. Pay very close attention, use their methods and you will have a much easier time.

In class, depending on the professor, you will either hear mostly lecture with a lot of class participation and you will be subject to the Socratic method. I don't know how you feel about it, but don't fight it. Some people are deathly afraid of it. I was nervous, but I just made sure that I prepared well and I did fine. Look at it as an opportunity to prepare yourself for some of what you might experience at trial.

You will have a lot of homework. More than you ever imagined. But don't let it defeat you. It is possible read the case, later brief it, and later review it (the three read method you will learn about in orientation) for all of your cases and still have time to do the normal things in life. It is possible, but again, you have to have good management skills. You will not have a lot of extra time in the beginning, but that is normal. You will learn how to be more efficient at it and still learn the material effectively. But don't push it, especially the first semester. Take the time to do it right so that you know what you are capable of intellectually. DO NOT take short cuts during this first semester. DO NOT ever go into class without reading and understanding all of the cases. DO NOT use someone else's notes or commercial outline to prepare yourself (you can use another outline as a guide, but do the work yourself). You will be amazed at the level you understand the material when you do it yourself.

Continued

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Shane,

You asked about places to go out and whether you would have time to do so. If you manage your time well, you can definitely have time to go out and I would recommend it with one condition. In law school, you will see three types of students: ones that manage their time well and go out occasionally, ones that never go out and only pay attention to the books, and ones that go out all the time partying. Of the three groups, the third one has people who tend to get kicked out more and the second group has people who tend to burn out more.

My suggestion is to take this very seriously. You are spending a large amount of money and a large amount of time and school should be your priority, not only for yourself, but for all of your future clients. They deserve no less. However, you still have to protect that person inside. If you bury yourself in your books all the time, you will lose yourself and burn out very quickly. If, on the other hand, you go out and party all the time, your grades will suffer. I saw several go down the tubes for that reason and it is not worth it. I'm sorry if this comes off preachy, but I just don't understand it. Find things to do for yourself that do not include law school: excercise, go see the local baseball team, go to East Lansing and participate in the activities over at MSU and yes, go to a party if you feel the need to. DO NOT let it lead you away from the reason you decided to come to law school.

Continued

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Shane,

I will reply to this in several posts since again, this site likes to time out on me.

You menitoned Professor Senger. He is an excellent Professor. I'm not sure how you know him, but when you need advice, you cannot go wrong with him.

What is Cooley like? What are the students like? Personally, I have a wonderful opinion overall of Cooley. As a whole, the students are terrific. I haven't seen any cut-throat attitude at all and everyone seems to get very close. The Professors are great and are always there to help you. Don't get me wrong, if you are un-prepared, they won't hesitate to kick you out of class and possibly school if you walk into class unprepared. Cooley won't put up with it and I don't blame them. Would you expect an attorney to get away with walking into court unprepared? Cooley treats students like the adults they should be. However, if you always work hard and make an honest effort to understand the material, they will go out of their way to help you.

Continued

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I started out at a fourth tier school. I transferred up to a first tier and still ended up in the top of my class (sorry, not trying to brag, but some think that if you attend 4th tier that you are stupid which is not so). I had an awful LSAT experience which held me back in choices for law school, but my first year grades in law school enabled me to transfer.

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You are all very welcome. I never read Planet Law School, but I did read a lot of the other popular primers. For me, it was a way to see what techniques were out there but really, it was to stop me from freaking out when I was waiting to start school. I really hated not knowing what things would be like, it made me uncomfortable. The techniques that I incorporated are probably a mixture of a lecture we received in law school and my own experiments.

The biggest thing that I can recommend is to learn the law but see the big picture and figure out how to apply it to more hypos than just the cases you are reading. If you can see how everything fits together (how that one, minute rule from that case a long time ago fits in as an explanation of one element: intent, how that element fits in as part of what has to be proven for a specific law: battery, and how that specific law fits into the body of law that covers that area: intentional torts for tort law) then you have suddenly conquered a large part of the game that others never do. Those are the ones that I have seen over and over again fail out. It was because they did not see how everything fit together. Do whatever you need to do: outlines, graphs, paste up charts on your wall if you have to. It will come together if you go in with that focus.

If any of you have other questions, I usually check in daily. Good luck to all of you.!!!

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