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Messages - Morten Lund

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Current Law Students / Re: Computers in the classroom
« on: October 22, 2010, 10:02:05 PM »
Even if used productively (i.e., not to check the latest updates on Twitter), laptops are still a distraction.  That learning should already have happened; the classroom is for a different purpose.  And when laptops are used to check the latest updates on Twitter . . . .

On the other hand, the practice of law is full of computers, and they don't get any less distracting (as evidenced by me posting here and now).  Cynically (and semi-facetiously) one might suggest that computers should be encouraged in the classroom simply as practice for reality.

Current Law Students / Re: Funding for the Bar Exam
« on: October 22, 2010, 09:57:25 PM »
These things are subjective, of course, and I barbri is the only bar prep course I have ever taken, but I found barbri to be completely helpful and an essential part (heck, the only part) of my bar exam preparation - both times.  Maybe other courses are better, and I have no point of comparison, but I certainly thought barbri was good.  Very good - certainly far better than most CLE I have ever done.

On a more objective level, however, I might suggest that barbri is the best simply because it is the most used.  There is a certain statistical safety in cohorts.  Most people pass the bar exam, and most people use barbri to prepare.  This will tend to pull you towards the modal score, which is a passing score.

Current Law Students / Re: Funding for the Bar Exam
« on: October 22, 2010, 07:31:47 PM »
I probably disagree.  At this point you most likely already have lots of debt accumulated, and the extra couple of thousand to pay for barbri won't break the camel.  On the other hand, failing the bar exam will drastically reduce the value of the JD you paid all that money for.  You are so close to the finish line, job or no job, and this is not the time to start skimping.

Sure, you could pass the bar exam without barbri, but why not get the best available help?  The bar exam is not something you want to gamble with.

Current Law Students / Re: Which type of law?
« on: October 22, 2010, 07:27:46 PM »
You're saying you would attend law school--despite the massive commitment of time and money--even if you knew you wouldn't be practicing law after you graduate? I thought the point of law school was to become a lawyer. Am I wrong?

While practicing law is certainly the most common goal for incoming law students, it is far from universal.  In fact, I would guesstimate that a good quarter of my law school class never practiced law at all, and many of those never had any intent of practicing law.  Several more practiced law only briefly as stepping-stones to other careers.  There are many paths.

Law School Admissions / Re: What are my realistic options?
« on: October 21, 2010, 08:26:40 AM »
I would suggest putting extra effort into the LSAT (I always encourage lots of effort on the LSAT, so "extra" effort is a very high standard) given your resume.  There appears to be a breaking point at 170, and perhaps another breaking point at 174 or so.  Based on available data (such as the links m-a posted), splitter success appears to increase significantly at those break points.

I would make a concerted effort to basically ace the LSAT, which, if you got 162 cold, should not be impossible.  With a top LSAT score and prior work experience you should get serious looks from several good schools - including Northwestern, as noted.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 15, 2010, 06:45:17 PM »

The fact that condoms come in different sizes proves that life is just not fair.

Made me laugh.

It's a cop out to say that a better system could be had, but alas, we just have no incentive to make one.

Not a cop-out. The employers who fail to improve the hiring system - it isn't that they don't have "incentive" to make a better system, it is that (from their perspective) the system is perfectly fine.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  No apathy there at all, just prioritization.  They have approximately a million things to do that are more important than "design a hiring protocol that is more fair to applicants."

I argue that the costs of developing a more accurate and honest system (at least for smaller firms) would not outweigh the benefits derived. I speculate that such a system could be adapted and used by larger firms, but we are both in agreement that this will NEVER happen because there is no incentive to do so.

I was with you up until the very last part.  There is plenty of incentive to design a better system, just not with the employers.  If you feel strongly about this last paragraph, then I believe you have just identified an excellent business opportunity for a bold entrepreneur.  Design a better mousetrap hiring system, sell the system to law firms, and then phase 3: profit.  Law firms may not be willing to spend the time and effort to do this type of thing themselves, but law firms love paying consultants who can save them money.  A pitch along the lines of "if you implement my program it will save you $200,000/year forever in wasted recruiting efforts, and it can be your for the low low price of only $100,000" would likely be quite successful.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: FAMU over Harvard
« on: October 15, 2010, 06:30:36 PM »
I'm just going to quote myself from the post I just made in a different thread:

You are only in law school for three years.  You will be a law school graduate for much, much longer.  You should choose the law school that is best for life after law school, not for life during law school.

The same applies for college.  Words cannot express what a horrible decision I think this boy is making.

Law School Admissions / Re: Large body v. Small student body
« on: October 15, 2010, 06:20:35 PM »
Actually, I misread the rankings in your post to put Michigan at 6, not 9.  The smaller gap would lessen the importance of ranking, of course.

Indeed I would view "employment" as the primary purpose of a law school education (for most people, anyway), with "earnings potential" as a related concern.  This is why I feel strongly about school ranking/status and geography, but that primary motivation also would lead me to consider (albeit to a far lesser degree) apparently oddball things like the quality of the school sports. 

Lawyers and executives are still primarily men, and any group of men will eventually get around to talking about sports.  This allows for easy bonding for those who attended well-known sports schools (like Michigan) while excluding those who attended other schools (like the entire Ivy League). 

In fact, by this reasoning one should lean towards a larger school over a smaller school.  In any gathering of lawyers and executives there are likely to be a couple of Georgetown and Michigan grads, which instantly gives them something to catch up about, while the single Cornell grad in the group is stuck talking to the guy from the small liberal arts college (probably discussing how small schools are superior to large schools).

You are only in law school for three years.  You will be a law school graduate for much, much longer.  You should choose the law school that is best for life after law school, not for life during law school.

Law School Admissions / Re: Large body v. Small student body
« on: October 15, 2010, 03:27:34 PM »
I generally agree with the proposition that small class sizes make for a better education, and also that small class sizes make it easier for students to participate in something - and I agree that this makes small class size something worth seeking.  Of course, I spent my entire educational career in small-class environments, so I don't really have a full data set.

But I certainly wouldn't apply this criterion to the exclusion of all others when choosing schools.  Georgetown, for instance, offers excellent access to DC power centers (whereas Cornell offers access to tall bridges), and for the future DC wonk this could tip the scales in favor of Georgetown.  Michigan is significantly less expensive than Cornell, particularly if you happen to have some Native American blood, and has much better sports programs than Cornell.

If I were to choose Cornell over Michigan, it would be for Ivy League cachet, not for the smaller class size.  The ranking gap is too big.  But then, I don't really think the main goal of law school selection is to seek the best education.  Or secondary goal, or tertiary.  Maybe septenary.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: law school grades
« on: October 11, 2010, 04:22:54 PM »
Is an LSAT score taken 3-5 years ago still relevant today? Is that score still relevant after law school, the bar and professional experience? Maybe, but I doubt it.

In my opinion, without a doubt.  And LSAT is, in essence, an IQ test.  Like the ACT, the GRE, and - to a lesser extent - the SAT, the LSAT doesn't test knowledge of any specific subject (other than gamesmanship, sadly), and from a test design perspective bears a significant relationship to the WAIS-R, Stanford-Binet, and other "official" IQ tests.

Of course, the LSAT/ACT/GRE are more susceptible to preparation bias than the WAIS and S-B, but preparation bias isn't necessarily a bad thing from an employment perspective.

That said, I don't particularly want to see your LSAT score when looking at your resume.  Putting your LSAT score on your resume is distinctly crude and will count against you.  But I don't need to see your LSAT score, because I rely instead on a proxy measure that incorporates your LSAT score and your undergraduate GPA.  That proxy measure is the ranking of your law school.  Most people tend to attend the highest-ranked school they can, so employers can and will use school ranking as a convenient proxy for initial estimates of intelligence and academic ability. 

This proxy is obviously a blunt instrument, but has the significant advantage that employers don't have to spend time or money doing any testing of their own.  The law schools do it for us.  This initial estimate is then modified by class rank/GPA in law school.  This is why most large employers have cutoff hiring criteria that read something like this:  Call-backs only for:  All YHS; top 50% class rank at top ten schools, top 25% at top 25 schools; top 5% at tier 2 schools.  For instance.  The lower ranked your school, the better your law school performance has to be to modify the initial assumption.

Could we devise a better system?  Absolutely.  But the employers have little motivation to do so.  The current system works well enough from their perspective.  Yes, lots of good candidates are overlooked, but that isn't the employers' problem so long as they get their fill of good candidates. 

Most of the posts in this thread suggesting alternate systems appear to be motivated by a desire to reward the worthy candidate who doesn't get identified in today's system.  That's certainly a laudable goal, but it is not the purpose of the hiring system.  The hiring system exists to meet the need of employers, not to meet the needs of candidates.

"Fair" is not an applicable concept.

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