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Messages - Morten Lund

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show up for a few months to a book club to talk about what you read, take one lousy set of tests(mostly essays), repeat for 6 terms, take one more big test, get a job, do it for 40 years, die, reincarnate, repeat as necessary.

Unclear to what extent you are being facetious, of course, but no doubt many feel this way.

Which is sad.

The practice of law, like any other profession, can be dull or exciting from time to time, but it certainly provides the opportunity to make it something more than "rinse and repeat" - at least to those willing to make the most of it.

Few professions, IMO, offer the open field of possibilities that the law does.  What does a dentist do?  Pretty much the same that the other dentists do, and pretty much the same as what that dentist did yesterday and will do tomorrow.  What does a lawyer do?  That question cannot be answered in a single sentence, or even in a single book.  The answer varies so drastically among lawyers, and even for individual lawyers over the course of their career, as to render the question nearly meaningless.

The practice of law may be many things - it specifically IS many things - which is why the single thing it is not is uniform. 

I honestly think you can take the California bar without an LLM and become an attorney and knowing Farsi would be a HUGE pro in L.A. There are so many Persians there it is ridiculous. Particularly in San Fernando Valley & Calabasas.

I am almost positive you can take the California bar with your current degree and I think we are the only state that doesn't require you to be a citizen of the U.S. to be admitted to practice.

The requirements do vary from state to state, but my vague recollection is that foreign degree + LLM is sufficient to sit for the NY bar, and of course California's requirements are minimal.

But I am not aware of a single state that requires US citizenship, or even permanent residency, for admission to the bar.  Certainly neither California nor NY do.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: BC vs Emory vs Notre Dame
« on: June 24, 2010, 11:21:02 AM »
Not knowing your LSAT score it is hard to say, but with a 3.8 GPA from a good school and your other experiences/skills, I would think you could do better than the law schools you listed.  Why those schools?

As to your chances with BigLaw/MidLaw - the schools you listed are not generally high on the hiring lists with BigLaw firms (Notre Dame perhaps the exception, as Domers are notoriously ... Domerish), but I believe they are all well-respected regionally and should serve you well with MidLaw firms in their respective regions.

Being a foreigner is tough.  No other way to put it.  You are on an F-1 now?  Unless you win the visa lottery or get married (hint, hint), you are asking your firm to undertake (a) an H-1B application and, if things work out, (b) a permanent residency application.  Both of those are expensive and time-consuming for the employer, even if you pay the legal costs.  So basically you are asking your prospective employer to do a major undertaking for you, on top of the standard recruiting costs - and they have to do it NOW, before you have proven yourself.  And even then, you still might not get the visa.

That is a very tough sell for any employer that does not regularly deal with foreign employers, let alone a mid-sized law firm.  Many, perhaps most, will pass unless you bring something special to the table.

As a foreigner you will have to work harder to distinguish yourself, to make sure that the firm thinks you are worth the hassle.

That said, there are some mid-sized firms that specialize in shipping and similar disciplines, and they may have some experience with visa applications, so careful employer-shopping is also a good idea.  Another option is to look for in-house positions.  Most largish companies deal with visa issues on a regular basis, and generally won't be bothered too much by it.

Some schools might make a mental adjustment of your GPA based on circumstances - probably more based on family history than ethnicity - but that is a big "might," and then only if you get deep enough into the process to where people are actually reading your application.  Straightforward affirmative action based on ethnicity is more than a little difficult for law schools these days, and gender doesn't really matter any more.

If you don't get past the initial (and perhaps second and third) round of numbers-based vetting then soft factors are irrelevant.  As a result you should be realistic about the schools that will let you get far enough for soft factors to play.

Law School Admissions / Re: Chances?
« on: June 23, 2010, 06:08:12 PM »
With a 4.0 GPA you are clearly intelligent and diligent.  The LSAT is mainly a test of intelligence and diligence (preparation).  How much of each is hard to say.  With sufficient preparation you should be perfectly capable of acing the LSAT.  What score to shoot for?  Perfection, of course. 

Will you manage LSAT perfection?  Probably not - some random chance always sneaks in.  But with your track record and your ambitions, to aim for anything less would be silly.

The LSAT counts as much as your GPA (and perhaps even more).  As I like to say, you spent four years working on your GPA - in all fairness you should spend four years working on the LSAT as well.  Now, spending four years on LSAT prep is generally unrealistic, but my point is that you should take the LSAT very, very seriously, and you should prepare for it very, very thoroughly.  Reading a quick book and doing a practice exam doesn't count.  Practice, practice, and practice some more, until you know exactly what your score will be before you even sit down. 

The LSAT is completely learnable.  Taking the LSAT is a skill you can acquire with sufficient practice and determination.  If you are serious about law school, you need to be serious about the LSAT.

As for your chances of getting into a top school - well, that depends on what you mean by a "top school."  With a good LSAT score you should certainly be able to get into a top ten, but at the very top other odd factors start showing up, and admissions get less predictable.

For instance, I suspect that Yale would give you points for a scientific publication (peer-reviewed?), but might actually count your prior legal experience AGAINST you.  Hard to say (but don't worry - those experiences will be huge pluses when interviewing for legal jobs).  My experience is that the main defining feature of students at Yale/Harvard/Stanford is that they are all interesting.

But without an excellent LSAT score, your chances of getting into the top three is virtually zero.  Without a good LSAT score your chances of getting into a top ten school is pretty slim.

Take the LSAT very, very seriously.


I am currently wondering what my chances are at getting accepted into a top law program.  My GPA is a 4.0 from both my undergrad (B.A. in neuropsychology) and graduate programs (clinical psychology).  I have a scientific publication.  I am currently interning at my county's courthouse (pretrial investigations), and I have previous legal experience working for an SSI attorney.  I am also minority status.  I have not taken the LSAT  :-\  I am just wondering what score do I need to shoot for and what might my chances be?

Thanks to anyone who replies.

Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / Re: Super Lawyer Rankings
« on: June 23, 2010, 09:21:31 AM »
Interesting indeed.  Assuming the class size adjustment is fairly legitimate, this would appear to be a ranking of "schools that generate lawyers who end up BigLaw partners or hotshots at locally prominent small firms."

That would explain Yale's relatively low ranking and the relatively high ranking of schools like Texas and UVA, but I am puzzled by why Stanford ends up so low.

Curious exercise.

Interesting exercise.  I suspect the answer would vary rather drastically on a regional basis, and I assume you are limiting yourself to theoretical US respondents.

I agree with the previous posters.  Moving into BigLaw, or anything close to BigLaw, from either of those schools will be difficult at best.

I also agree that doing the LSAT over could be worth your time, if you are determined to go to law school.  The LSAT is mostly about preparation and practice.  Which is why I am always surprised at how casually this test is approached by many students (not suggesting that OP did this).  The LSAT basically counts the same as your GPA, and you spent four years working on your GPA.  Why would anybody take a cavalier view of the LSAT?


Moreover, in this economy, a little time "off" will not necessarily be held against you, by either schools or future employers.  There are a lot of people with gaps in their resumes right now.  To the contrary, you can make it work for you.  Spend a year prepping for the LSAT and doing something useful.  It doesn't have to be a "law job" or anything like it, or even a job at all - just don't go off to find yourself in Nepal or flip burgers.  Start a new community social program, volunteer at the state penitentiary, work with a dot-com startup - whatever, just do something that shows initiative and determination.  And then pummel the LSAT into the ground, and go to a law school that will get you the job you want.

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