Law School Discussion

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Messages - Morten Lund

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81
My immediate thought is that you are too worried about school and not worried enough about your career.  PhDs and JDs lead in completely different directions - the schooling itself is the least of it.  What kind of PhD are we talking about here?  What do you want to do after finishing school, whether grad school or law school?

If that deliberation leads you towards law school, I offer this insight as well:  getting in to law school is not your problem as an international student - getting a job after graduation, that is your problem as an international student.  Ignoring for the moment the current market conditions for lawyers in general, many of the attractive legal employers are not familiar with immigration practicalities, and will give you a puzzled look when you ask them to sponsor you for an H-1B.  And green card?  Triple ugh.

It varies significantly by field, of course, but I suspect that most employers in the market for PhDs will be far more friendly to immigrants than legal employers.  That is assuming that you plan on staying here after graduation, of course - if that is not the case, then the decision is easy as law school would simply be foolish.

Transitioning from school to workforce is very difficult for international students in the US under any circumstance (unless you were to, say, fall and love and get married to an American citizen, of course...), but it may be more difficult for lawyers than for most.

As always, however, my main advice is to make your decisions based not on "now" but on "later."  Determine your goals, and then make decisions that point you in the right direction.

82
General Off-Topic Board / Re: Law School/Grades
« on: March 25, 2011, 09:40:15 PM »
While I applaud you for coming here to ask this question, I will also suggest that you may be asking the wrong question.

As noted by earlier posters, it is reasonably likely that you can get into a law school.  The more important question, perhaps, is which law school you will get into, and whether that law school will put you on the path towards your goals for life after law school.

Law school is a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, and should (IMO) not be undertaken lightly.  The unemployment lines are full of jobless JDs who went to "a" law school - but more importantly, the ranks of working lawyers are full of JDs who hate their jobs but don't have much choice, and no real prospects of ever getting the job they really wanted, because they went to the wrong law school.

I am saying this not to be pessimistic or discouraging - to the contrary, I encourage you to chase your dreams.  I just encourage you to do so with deliberation, because the price of failure and broken dreams only goes up with age.  So before you ask whether you can get into law school, I suggest you ask yourself what you want to do after you graduate from law school.  Once you have that figured out, determine what kind of law school you have to go to in order to achieve your post-law school goals.  Then, and only then, will you be in a position to ask the better question:  will you be able to get into that kind of law school?

This evaluation process, BTW, is the subject of the first part of Thane Messinger's excellent book Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold.  I highly recommend this to anyone considering law school.

83
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: laptop, macbook, or ipad?
« on: January 29, 2011, 01:35:30 AM »
Leaving aside my personal opinions on Mac vs. Windows, I would make the observation that basically all law firms run Windows.  As a result, good familiarity with Windows and MS Office will likely be of help to you after law school.

84
General Board / Re: Pass/Fail Grades
« on: January 11, 2011, 10:13:06 PM »
What do you base your conclusion that YLS "honors are given out arbitrarily by professors without any consistent standards" on?

Well, if there were any standards, I was never able to divine them.  :)

But more seriously, I seem to recall being told quite specifically that there were no required grade allocations or set standards by which grades were given.  And there was quite a bit of variation between professors.  Some professors notoriously gave very few honors (if any at all), while others would hand them out quite liberally.  So any standards that may have been in place certainly were not applied.


85
General Board / Re: Pass/Fail Grades
« on: January 10, 2011, 10:46:59 PM »
Even Yale doesn't have a "pure" P/F system: First-semester first-year students are graded on a pure P/F system, however, their remaining two and a half years are graded on an Honors/Pass/Low Pass/Fail system.


That may be technically correct, but I am not aware that any LP has ever been handed out, nor an F (other than to people who didn't show up for the exam, and even then only after much discussion).  According to legend, a new professor once tried to fail a student (who took the exam), but the dean told him he couldn't.

YLS basically operates on a "pass/honors" system, and honors are given out arbitrarily by professors without any consistent standards.  The YLS system is locally known as "pass/pass."

86
Law School Applications / Re: 2010-2011 Application Cycle
« on: December 27, 2010, 03:51:24 AM »
I egged him on to YLS, I am afraid, on the theory that they are more likely than most to go for the unusual.  It is a long shot, of course (as it is for everyone), but it's a worthwhile roll of the dice.

But based on what I've seen here, he does seem like a good Georgetown fit.

87
Law School Applications / Re: 2.7 undergrad GPA 3.4 MS and 3.7 PhD LSAT 142
« on: December 27, 2010, 12:19:12 AM »
But, to the OP - it sounds like patent agent may be a useful step for you, for a couple of reasons.

Patent lawyers are indeed in high demand generally ... but mostly within BigLaw.  Firms on the less expensive end of the spectrum provide mostly straight-forward patent services, and face stiff competition from patent agents on price.  As a result "patent attorney" is not as attractive a designation at that level, and patent agent may get you the same result for a whole lot less pain.

Big firms do seek patent lawyers, and typically pay a salary premium to associates admitted to the patent bar, but - and this is a big but - they only hire patent attorneys who also meet their general hiring guidelines.  Very few big firms will consider a candidate from the schools you mention, which will make it a challenge for you to get a job with BigLaw under the best of circumstances, and we are not living in the best of circumstances.

In short, I tend to agree that law school may not be in your best interest at this time, for all the reasons others have posted as well.

88
Law School Applications / Re: 2.7 undergrad GPA 3.4 MS and 3.7 PhD LSAT 142
« on: December 27, 2010, 12:09:25 AM »
I'm a little late to the game here, obviously, but I figured I would add a dose of reality to the "IP law" discussion.

"IP law" is not a clearly defined separate practice.  Virtually all business matters entail some IP issues, if only a licensing provision or patent indemnity.  If touching those provisions required membership in the patent bar, I would be in trouble (as would approximately 98% of business attorneys in the US). 

Similarly, "IP ligitation" is a fuzzy concept, as many business disputes will involve IP issues - such as litigating those provisions I described above.  If participation in litigation of those subject matters required admission to the patent bar, then approximately 98% of US litigators would be in the same pile of trouble as I.

In fact, the patent bar only relates to ... patents - which are only a relatively small subset of "intellectual property."  Copyright, know-how, trade secrets - all are intellectual property governed by "IP law," and none involve patents or the patent bar.  (Trademarks are an interesting middle ground).

And even within that patent subset, there is much activity that (as far as most attorneys are concerned, anyway) does not require admission to the patent bar.  As far as I know, admission to the patent bar is only required for a proceeding before the Patent Office (and to hold yourself out as a "patent attorney"), which limits the requirement for that bar admission by quite a bit.

Of course, I could be wrong.  I have done no research on the subject (other than check Wikipedia for the full name of the USPTO), and am basing my views entirely on observations of the behavior of every lawyer I know.  So it is possible that all of BigLaw is one giant violation, and is practicing IP law without proper authorization - who knows.

89
Law School Applications / Re: 2010-2011 Application Cycle
« on: December 26, 2010, 11:11:19 PM »
Well, this thread took a sudden turn for the less pleasant.

In any event, sorry to hear about Penn and UVA - although this way you will be spared the dubious honor of having attended the same school as the infamous Mr. "I have to be at the gym in 26 minutes," so there is that.

And I certainly agree that it seems that Georgetown would be a good fit for you - but I am still crossing my fingers for New Haven, long shot as that may be.

And Merry Christmas to all, as well.

90
Law School Applications / Re: 2010-2011 Application Cycle
« on: November 24, 2010, 01:21:37 AM »
Marcus - You make a good point about the GPA impact.  For once I was speaking purely in terms of educational value for your future career, rather than resume value.  Certainly if a clinic is likely to boost your GPA then it adds value, for you are exactly right that class rank/GPA is the prime value measure within each school.

And I wouldn't worry about the speeding ticket.  At least not anymore.

nealric - was Katyal involved with the appellate clinic at Georgetown?

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