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Messages - Duncanjp

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Might be worth one brief sentence if it shows an ability to focus and coordinate others within a structured environment. But probably not worth two.

Great outlook, LL. No question that a positive, no fear attitude can carry a person a lot further than dwelling in perpetual self-pity.

General Board / Re: What are my options?
« on: May 25, 2013, 12:40:55 AM »
Maintain is right - you need to supply more details. But I can tell you from experience, it's easy to drop out of school by telling yourself that you'll return later. In fact, returning later is very difficult. Probably even harder than pressing on. And the longer you wait, the harder it becomes. Quitting doesn't get you closer to the goal. Your personal situation doubtless has its considerations, but if you are able to stay on, and you really want to become an attorney, you may be better off figuring out what you did wrong and working to correct it than quitting just because you haven't had instant success or you've found that it isn't as easy as you thought it would be.

Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: May 22, 2013, 03:45:42 AM »
It is charming that posters like "Duncanip" would have us believe that their CBA education qualifies them to be practicing attorneys but their antidotal stories, while interesting are not supported by facts.  The hard cold reality is that many CBA never pass the California Bar exam and fewer enjoy profitable legal careers.

Uh, for future reference, the word is anecdotal, not "antidotal" there, "bobol." Your observations on CBE grads are fair commentary, although my anecdotes are based upon personal knowledge. There is a cold, hard reality that many CBE grads never pass the CA bar exam. But you ignore the fact that many of them do and go on to have good careers in law, albeit, not on the Supreme Court. There is also the cold, hard reality that thousands of ABA grads have absolutely astronomical debt and cannot find jobs anywhere. Some have even filed lawsuits against their ABA schools. Some of those who do manage to find meaningful work, especially in BigLaw, burn out after a brief couple of years, or decide they don't like working as an attorney after spending a fortune to become one. It just seems myopic to me to dismiss one path with a cavalier wave of the hand in favor of the other, taking no account of the individual and his or her station in life. Not every college grad can go to Harvard. But does that destroy the value of getting a college degree from whatever institution is available to the student? No. The education is its own reward. What you do with it afterwards is up to you.

Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: May 21, 2013, 03:17:28 AM »
It is not surprising that none of the above defenders of CBA law schools can provide employment statistics.

Hopefully anyone considering a CBA school will understand that if these schools had employment statistics to confirm their worth then they would release those statistics.

Your mission to discredit CBE schools denies reality, despite what you may think. CBE schools don't send a flood of inexperienced graduates out into the real world to compete for jobs the way ABA schools do. The stats you want to see are not a selling point for CBE schools because the majority of CBE grads already have careers well underway and they are paying their tuition as they go. Employment in my class is nearly 100%.  I only know of three people who don't have jobs in law or government in my class of 52, and one of them is retired. Meanwhile, debt is very low. I won't owe a penny to anyone when I graduate, and the same goes for most of my friends. But look at the sad legions of ABA grads today: employment is low, debt is high. Very high. It's a shame, but I can understand the desperation to maintain the elitist status quo of the legal profession.

Anybody considering a CBE school who is young and inexperienced should think twice before settling on less than an ABA education. They'll be competing in an elitist marketplace at a disadvantage. On the other hand, people who are older, who dream that an ABA education is going to make them more employable than a CBE school, need to consider whether they have a realistic chance of recouping the cost.

Barbri, Kaplan, Themis and Cal Bar Review all set up booths at my CBE school regularly.

Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: May 07, 2013, 09:00:26 PM »
I applaud the movement to require CBE schools to meet minimum bar pass rates or risk losing their accreditation. There is something wrong with accredited schools that base their fees (and advertising) on being accredited if they do not produce graduates who have a fighting chance at passing the bar. That would go for any ABA school as well. If all you want is to learn the law for its own sake and you have no interest in sitting the bar, then an unaccredited institution is the place to be - with fees relative to that purpose. But accreditation needs to encompass certain minimum standards, and for law schools, the most important measure of their effectiveness is the bar pass rate.

That said, many factors influence pass rates: position in life, academic capacity of the student, quality of the education, availability of resources, quality of bar prep, etc. I'm glad that CA at least offers those who didn't get a 3.9 at Stanford a shot at becoming a lawyer, if they have the other intangibles in place. 

As a dean of a CBE law school (Monterey College of Law), I can confirm that what makes California accredited law school programs different is that we are scaled in size and cost to more closely meet the needs of the local community. Our law degree costs about $65K . . . not $150K. As a part-time evening program, our students are encouraged to start working in law-related jobs during law school, not only reducing the need for student loans, but in most cases providing the opportunity to get actual experience in different practice areas (and law firms) to identify a preferred area of practice after graduation. In some ways, our format is much closer to the medical school practicum model than the typical ABA program. I think that you will also find that the bar pass rates for good students at CBE schools is competitive with the unranked ABA law schools.

Actually, my biggest concern are the bar pass rates for CBE schools.  After doing some research, it appears Monterey does a bit better than those in the Los Angeles area.  Do you think that bar pass sucess rates are largely due to the individual or the school they attend?  Or do you think the CBE schools do not fair quite as well because students are not required to have a bachelor's degree or have higher LSAT scores as ABA schools?  Would like to get your opinion on that.

Several factors influence bar pass rates for CBE schools versus the pass rates for ABA. Lower academic requirements for admission may be a factor, but I'm convinced that it is not the predominant reason - or even a terribly significant one - for the lower pass rates by CBE grads. The students who graduate from CBE programs have all shown that they can perform competent legal analysis and they can pass the same law school exams that you'd find at any ABA school. The real difference lies in the attention to bar prep that CBE students on average are able to give. ABA students are predominantly unemployed or part-time workers at most. They tend to enjoy the luxury of having substantial amounts of time to study the law and to prepare for the bar. Conversely, most CBE students have full-time jobs, and a large percentage cannot take a two-month leave of absence from work to concentrate on the bar. This is the critical difference. The quality of the education itself is no different after they've weeded out the first-year students. Put ABA students in the same shoes as CBE students, or vice versa, and I have no doubt that the pass rates would virtually mirror one another.

Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: May 05, 2013, 02:48:11 AM »
Let me again ask "CA Law Dean" to present employment statistics for his/ her schools recent graduating classes 2010, 2011 & 2013 similar to what the ABA requires its members to present.

Please also provide bar pass stats for your school and the bar pass stats for other CAB schools.

The tenor of your posts sounds suspiciously like you would seek to discredit Monterey COL, its dean, and CBE schools in general if given the chance. Or at least to needlessly assert the superiority of an ABA education over the pedestrian variety of a CBE school. Correct me if I'm wrong. But that's how your posts read.

I attend a CBE school - Lincoln Law School of Sacramento. Our pass rate on the last bar exam was something over 50%, but less than 60%. I don't recall the exact number and I'm not inclined to look it up. Pass rates are posted on the State Bar's website if you want to see them. Nobody claims that CBE grads pass the bar in the same percentages that ABA grads do, or that they have any hope of even coming close. But CBE schools cannot be compared with ABA schools in many ways because unlike ABA schools, CBE schools are not populated with droves of 20-somethings with no professional experience and nothing to do but study the law. CBE schools are primarily attended by working adults, who juggle careers, families, mortgages and night school all at the same time. Landing a job in BigLaw is not on a CBE grad's bucket list. My classmates and I are already gainfully employed in career positions, primarily in law or closely-related fields. A significant number of my classmates work in government - that's Sacramento for you. But the point is that CBE grads do not typically get their degrees and then commence a desperate hunt for lucrative work in the impacted field of law. ABA grads have got that covered well enough without our help. A CBE education is more often a tool to further existing careers. I doubt that most CBE schools keep meaningful records of how many grads are working in law nine months after graduating, although I could be wrong on that point. They definitely keep tabs on who passed the bar. But such records arenít mission critical the way they are with ABA schools, regardless. ABA schools are flooding the country with well-educated, but inexperienced, highly-indebted young people competing for a handful of jobs, many or most of which pay only moderate salaries under the best of circumstances. The employment stats for CBE graduates actually look pretty good, at least to the end that most of us already work in the legal field and we don't seem to have the same problem on average of having to scramble to find employment after graduating.

Furthermore, the affordability of CBE schools means that even those grads who have assumed some debt by the time they finish are not laden with the chains of Jacob Marley. What you probably want to hear is whether any significant percentage of CBE grads are working in BigLaw nine months after graduation. The answer is no. BigLaw is the province of top ABA schools. But it's a hell of a big country, and legal services are needed everywhere. Of all the legal services provided in this country, what percentage is handled by traditional, BigLaw firms? That's mostly rhetorical. I don't know the answer. But I would risk two bucks the percentage provided by small and medium law firms is significant, and those firms hire a lot of CBE grads. Such firms frequently have partners who went to CBE schools.

Passing the California bar definitely presents a greater challenge for CBE grads on average than ABA grads. This is not because they're dumb or less academically capable than the average ABA grad. Those who struggle academically get weeded out in the first year, and pretty mercilessly. Those CBE students who go the distance, however, tend to be exceptionally driven, focused people. Unfortunately, not everyone who completes a CBE program is able to abandon his or her job (and income) for two or three months to immerse themselves in preparing for the bar. ABA grads generally have the good fortune to have nothing going on their lives but law school and bar prep, which is by design. And good for them. My mission isn't to worry about how lucky ABA students are, but to focus on my own task. Having watched my classmates progress over the last three years, I'm confident that the average CBE student who makes it through the entire program could handle the typical ABA student's life and educational program with one hand. I mean, if you can pass law exams while working full time, you can certainly pass law exams when you donít. CBE schools do not dumb down their courses. Contracts is contracts. Con law is con law. Most of my profs went to ABA schools themselves. Some of the finest professors I have ever studied under have been my instructors at my humble CBE school. It isnít the quality of the education that truly distinguishes ABA schools from CBE, nor even bar passing rates: itís the station in life of the average student.

The idea of enrolling in law school struck me like a thunderbolt. It was an awakening that turned into a personal mission, a goal, and I committed myself to the challenge almost instantly. By committed, I mean that absolutely nothing short of some personal tragedy can stop me from achieving my goal. The J.D. that evening law students earn is as much a testimony to their endurance as it is an academic achievement. As an insurance underwriter, I have a rewarding career in a field that I love. It requires a lot more than 40 hours a week. The upshot is that tackling the rigors of even a part-time evening program (three nights a week, 6:30 - 9:15, and study all weekend) has been the most difficult thing I have done in life since my tour of duty in the Marine Corps. In certain ways, managing a career and part-time law school at the same time is  harder than anything they threw at me in the USMC. It takes extraordinary courage, stamina, determination, commitment, passion, and focus to succeed. You need to have an insane, blinding desire to become an attorney. But the dean is correct: it can be done. I'm doing it. I'm a 3E currently preparing for my final exams, with just one more year to go. Then on to the bar. I still can't see the top of the mountain, but looking back, it's a hell of a long ways down. We keep climbing. But you have to accept that you will be holding down two full-time jobs for the next four years. Except during the breaks, your life will have only two prongs: the job and law school. There will be little time for anything else, so you need to steel yourself for total commitment. But it isn't just an exercise in misery. Honestly, law school is fun. Yes, it's challenging, but you'll start to get passionate about learning the law, and while you might lose a few loose friends during the journey, your true friends will still be there. And plus, you'll make a lot of new friends in class.

We lost some 50 percent of our class after the first year.  People started falling out by the third week, which I thought was pathetic. The rigors of the program were just too difficult for a lot of otherwise nice people to handle. But poor grades on the first-year final exams also took out a substantial number of people. However, of the students in my class who survived the first year, I can think of only one who has fallen by the wayside over our second and third years. There's something to be said for that. The first-year survivers tend to go the distance.

There's also something to be said for the camaraderie of evening law school. I don't know how it is in regular law school, but in a CBE night program such as the one I attend, and probably CA Law Dean's at Monterey as well (correct me if I'm wrong, Dean) you go through the program with pretty much the exact same people from the beginning to the end. Other than summer school, there isn't the same picking and choosing of courses from an array of possibilities, as in college. Everyone takes the same program of courses and you tend to sit with your friends in every class. By the second year or earlier, you know everybody in class by first name, and everybody knows you. It's pretty cool. I'm proud of my classmates, because I know that they're all enduring the same hell that I am, juggling work, school, families, and mortgages. The people who succeed in night school have an astounding degree of determination and drive. But Livinglegend has a point. During the school year, and especially during that all-critical first year, you need to be "all in." You can't bluff your way through law school like you might in a college lit class. If you're prepared to make the necessary sacrifices in your social life in order to focus on the work demanded of you, you can make it.

Another thing  I haven't mentioned, and it's as important as anything, is that you need support. You need the support and understanding of your spouse, your employer, your family and your friends. The grind takes a toll on relationships, which is why you may lose a few of your looser (I didn't say "loser") friends. You may also start to take inventory of your relationships after a couple of years of law school and decide to punt some of the losers (this time I mean "losers") the hell out of your life. You're surrounded by so many inspiring professors and go-getters, and your free time is so precious that wasting it on unambitious, uninspiring, unmotivated old friends will start to feel like putting on a pair of dirty old shoes that you lost in the garage five years ago. So you take them off and throw them away. It's not elitist: it's water seeking its own level.

Law school is a fantastic experience. And boy, is it eye-opening. After three years, I want it over with so badly I can taste it. But I'm getting closer and closer to my goal. No turning back. Set that goal, keep your eyes on it, prepare for success, and you, audacious climber, may reach the top of the mountain. Lots of us are doing it.

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