Law School Discussion

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Messages - Morten Lund

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51
Studying for the LSAT / Re: How much studying should I be doing a day?
« on: April 24, 2011, 12:07:57 AM »
I understand your objection.  I just think that saying that if you study an hour a day for the LSAT, that this is somehow an indication that you simply don't have what it takes to be a successful lawyer is a bunch of BS.

Let's try a different tack?  Did you play sports?  Did you play football?  After all, that was probably the most highly visible sport at your school.  If you didn't play football, then frankly, you don't have what it takes to be a successful lawyer.  Because a successful lawyer would do whatever it took to give 100% at everything.


Thane and I may officially be beating the proverbial dead horse here, but I'll give it another go.  Your last post indicates to me that you missing Thane's point completely.

The first paragraph I quoted above does not accurately reflect Thane's point.  The second quoted paragraph does not follow from Thane's actual point.  Ditto for the rest of your post.

Let's try another tack.

For the moment, forget the LSAT, forget law school, forget the bar exam.  Let's instead focus on the practice of law, which is what this is ultimately about.

The actual practice of law is a perfectionistic existence.  Your job is to get the best possible result for your client.  You are not supposed to decide that "5-to-10 is a pretty good plea bargain.  I might be able to get it down to 5-to-8 if I spent another day researching, but the House marathon is starting, so I guess 5-to-10 will have to do."

Bad lawyers do in fact make exactly that type of decision - but good lawyers do not, or at least they work very hard to avoid them.

To apply that more directly to the life of a junior associate:  If you give me a memo that has an unacceptable number of typos in it (i.e., more than zero), I will point them out to you.  If you flush with embarassment and fix the typos immediately, then you bought yourself another few chances.  If, on the other hand, you tell me that you intentionally didn't proofread carefully because you thought the memo was already good enough, then your career prospects are not good.

Here's something to ponder:  Take two junior associate research memos.  They are identical in all respects, except two.  Both memos correctly identify the legal issues and current state of the law, but one memo reaches the wrong conclusion.  The memo that reaches the right conclusion, however, is riddled with typos and poor grammar.

Given a choice between those two memos, I would rather have the memo with the wrong conclusion than the memo with the typos.

Or, more specifically, I would rather have the associate who authored the wrong memo than the associate who authored the sloppy memo.

This is because sloppy tells me you don't care, and you didn't try hard.  You unilaterally decided that the memo was "good enough."  We don't expect junior associates to know anything - we DO expect them to work hard, be diligent, and take everything very, very seriously.  You'll learn substance on the job, but I don't know how to teach an attitude of perfection.

I don't mind people who fail.  Everyone fails.  What I don't like is people who fail because they couldn't be bothered to try hard enough.


52
There are two basic issues involved:  Assumption of risk (on your part), and the effect of any liability waiver agreed to by you.

Assumption of risk generally means that you can't undertake an activity, get injured in an obvious way, and then sue about it.  By undertaking the activity you assumed the risk of that activity.  In this case, for instance, you may - may - have assumed the risk of injury from flipping your quad (as those darn things flip all the time).  It would be much harder, on the other hand, to argue that you assumed the risk of injury from bad brakes - unless, that is, you were told ahead of time that the brakes were bad and you decided to go ahead anyway.

The liability waiver is trickier.  The law of waivers varies quite a bit from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and you should of course consult a lawyer before thinking about any type of legal action - but many states have fairly specific rules about waivers.  For instance, for a waiver to be effective, the law might require that it be in writing and signed, or be dated on the day of the injury, or the law might declare the waiver ineffective if you didn't read it (even if you signed it), or perhaps the waiver has to specifically list the specific injury you suffered, or some other language requirement.

The courts in some states don't like liability waivers and look for ways to declare then invalid; in other states they might hold up better.

In short:  I would not conclude that you have no rights simply because you signed a waiver, but I would definitily recommend consulting a local lawyer before thinking about taking any type of legal action.

Good luck.

53
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Admissions chances...
« on: April 14, 2011, 06:29:10 PM »
I will second everything that the prior posters said, with this added note:  don't limit yourself to the regional school, even if it is pretty good.  You have a very good law school acceptance resume so far - if you score above 170 on the LSAT, you will have a very legitimate shot at the very best schools, in which case you should seriously consider the very best schools.

[plug]I also suggest reading Thane Messinger's Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold.  He discusses extensively exactly your current predicament - deciding where, or whether, to go to law school, and how to go about it.[/plug]

Also, yay math majors!

54
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Don't even know where to start!
« on: April 14, 2011, 06:14:37 PM »
I pretty much agree with MikePing.  Some additional thoughts/observations:

- Take the LSAT very, very seriously (I know Mike said that, but it bears repeating a few times).

- I wouldn't sweat the live LSAT course too much.  If you are good at standardized testing, a course may not add much, and you may be better off studying on your own.  But do study.  A lot.  And practice.  There are tons of books and practice exams out there - I suggest reading/doing as many as you can.

- As to which school to attend, it is impossible to tell until you get your LSAT score, since this will define which schools are available to you.  Your target area is chock full of law schools across the full quality range, so your main focus should be the LSAT. 

- If you do very well on the LSAT, your GPA puts you in the "maybe" range for Yale/Harvard/Stanford, and if you get in to one of those, you should go.  In addition, many of the next tier of schools are in your area, including Columbia, NYU, UPenn, Georgetown, Princeton, etc. - either way you should have a decent set of options.  But LSAT first.

- Be prepared for the sucky part:  graduating from law school at 33.  Most law jobs take a serious plebe view of beginning lawyers (and justifiably so).  It can be very difficult for second-career lawyers to adapt to being at the bottom of the ladder again.  Second-careerers tend to do well and advance quickly (as one would expect), but you still start at the bottom, and the bottom sucks double when your boss is five years younger than you.

- Don't sweat the blue-collar bit.  Yes, law school will at times feel like high school, with stupid clique-based drama, and yes, some things will initially be harder for you than for the guy whose father and grandfather are lawyers, but law school isn't rocket science.  You'll be fine if you take it seriously.

- In fact, a few years working "on the rig" will make you attractive to many employers, and there are many practice areas (including mine) where the clients come from that same background - and clients like lawyers who understand their business.  If you aren't adverse to working in the oil industry after law school, you will likely find that your experiences are valued highly there.  If you don't want oil, there are plenty of other lawyer-intensive industries that will value whatever you did in the oil business.

Either way, good luck.

55
Acceptances / Re: UCI vs. USD?
« on: April 14, 2011, 01:58:22 AM »
UCLA hasn't gotten back to me yet, and as I said, I really don't want to move. I'm surprised, though, given what you said about USD, that you think UCLA would be so much better. UCI will be ranked by the time I graduate, and it will very likely be ranked above USD. So should I be focused more on rankings or local connections, given my stated goals?

As bigs pointed out, rankings should be taken with a grain of salt.  But that applies only when the rankings are low or close. 

UCLA is a top-20 school with a national reputation; USD is top-60 with a local reputation.  A law degree from UCLA makes you basically eligible for any legal job in the US, whereas a USD law degree will forever exclude you from many jobs (including some in San Diego).  UCLA law will make you far more attractive to San Diego employers than USD law.  Whoever told you that USD is better than Harvard for San Diego jobs did you no favors - that is far from true.  USD is a perfectly good law school, but even in San Diego it does not open as many doors as a truly high-ranked school like UCLA.

I understand your personal issues regarding moving, and those are of course important issues that only you can evaluate - but understand that you will be making a significant career sacrifice if you choose USD over UCLA (assuming that you are accepted to UCLA, of course).


56
Acceptances / Re: UCI vs. USD?
« on: April 13, 2011, 03:45:32 PM »
I would start with this primary observation:  You should choose your law school not based on how the law school experience will be, but based on how the POST-law school experience will be.  Those two are obviously not entirely independent, but I nevertheless encourage you not to get too distracted by the promise of a more enjoyable law school experience.  You will be a law student for three years; you will be a lawyer for thirty years. Choose the law school that will serve you best AFTER law school.

As between USD and Irvine, IMO, there is no comparison - particularly if you truly plan on staying in San Diego.  A better option with your GPA/LSAT would have been UCLA or USC (or Harvard), but it sounds like that boat has sailed.  Given a choice between USD and UCI in your circumstances I would be hard pressed to choose UCI.

USD has deep roots in the area; UCI does not.  USD is well established and decently ranked; UCI is not.  Sure, UCI hired a hotshot professor, but you might have one class with him.  Maybe UCI will gain status and be helpful to you later in your career; USD will be helpful to you early in your career, when you need it most.

But, above all - UCI is not currently ABA accredited.  That alone is in my book enough to not give it another moment's thought.  It seems likely that accredidation will occur, but - as any lawyer will tell you - "likely" is not the standard upon which to base an important life decision.

It is your decision alone, of course, but I certainly know which way I would go.

(Also, as an aside:  while it does seem likely that you will have an academic edge on most USD students, I encourage you to approach law school with humility.  Law school is different.  Aptitude in college does not translate particularly well to aptitude in law school.  Read some law school guides, like (my favorite) Law School:  Getting In, etc., by Thane Messinger, or Law School Fast Track, by Derrick Hibbard, and prepare well.)

Either way, good luck.

57
Law School Applications / Re: Must I attend the toefl?????
« on: April 12, 2011, 01:35:25 PM »
The TOEFL will not be required to apply to admission to law school in the US - but it will most likely be required for F-1 visa eligibility, so if you have any plans to study anything in the US I would encourage you to take the TOEFL as soon as you can.

As for testing logistics, you will have to contact your local test administrator.

Good luck.

58
That strikes me as more than just a little odd.  I have never heard of such a thing for law firm associates, and this seems to me an odd use of a non-compete in general.

 If you take this job, and then subsequently find yourself thinking of departing, I would encourage you to consult an attorney (not in that firm) regarding the enforceability of that agreement.

59
Vaguely curious, if you don't mind:  which firm in NYC?  A bunch of my old law school buddies are there...

60
Acceptances / Re: PLEASE HELP...chicago vs. san diego
« on: April 10, 2011, 04:49:36 PM »
I will refrain from opining on the law schools in question, and instead offer this obvious gem:  Chicago and San Diego are two very, very different places.  I have lived in urban Chicago, suburban Chicago, and suburban San Diego (and obviously have some experience with urban SD as a result).  Those are all entirely different living environments, in just about every conceivable way. 

You indicate in your OP that you are Californian with no particular ties to Chicago - hopefully you have visited the city, particularly during winter.  Many SoCal folks are shell-shocked by the weather alone (others don't seem to mind).  And the weather, frankly, is the least of the differences.

I concur with other posters that all of the schools you mention appear to be geographically limiting.  As a result, you could be making a very long-term commitment to either SD or Chicago by your choice of school.  I would encourage you not to do so without properly investigating both locales as best you can.

But, either way, good luck - they are both great places to live, IMO.

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