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Messages - Duncanjp

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Duncan, you are missing the point.  These so-called "disparaging" comments are not made out of malice, this is real advice and perspective given by people who have been on that path, or who have a different perspective on it.  It is not wise to simply view it as something that must be challenged - stop and listen with an open mind.  It is simply advice that may prevent someone from making a very costly mistake.  The perspective is that rather than invest time and money on a likely worthless JD, one may want to consider some other training or degree.

This idea that doors will suddenly be opened to new opportunity within existing careers is not a common reality - it certainly is not if one is planning on suddenly becoming in-house counsel.  Companies generally look for Sr. Associate/Partner level people for in-house, not a newbie from a non-ABA school.  The legal department will not look at you differently b/c you come from some other branch of the company with specialized knowledge - this is not meant to be harsh, but in-house legal does not need or want new lawyers from within the company.  You need to seriously, critically, and specifically ask yourself WHAT doors will open?  WHAT do they lead to?  HOW do they open?  "Doors will open" is as nebulous and non-descript as "hope and change."  WHAT ARE THE DETAILS?  If those opportunities exist right now, today, why are they not filled then?

I appreciate your insight, Hamilton. I would submit that some disparaging comments that I've read have been made rather smugly, and as I've stated previously, may even betray a certain insecurity in the person giving the advice. On the other hand, much of the advice to stick with ABA schools is solid and well-reasoned. I know very well that I'm arguing a tough case here. The details that you're calling for I'm not going to divulge on an open internet forum, just as a matter of prudence. I work for a national company and I'm attending law school under the guidance and mentoring of three of my company's attorneys. It would be fair to say that not all people have access to such valuable contacts and tutelage. But I would ask you to weigh from the several posts I've made on this thread whether I sound like a person who has not seriously, critically, and specifically asked himself whether admission to the bar would or would not open any doors? I made a thorough inquiry of my company well before I ever took the LSAT. The reality for me is that not all doors will fling wide open just because I pass the bar. But plenty of others will. Those doors are closed today because I'm not an attorney. I should note here that I'm not blazing any new trails, Hamilton. I merely saw where other audacious travelers went before, and decided to follow the same path.

Duncanjp, did you think I was being sarcastic?  I wasn't- I really can understand why someone would pick a state accredited school, depends on the school and area of course. 

I have also known at least one very successful local attorney who went to a state accredited school.  The guy has some inferiority issues that cause him to play games that well- makes him a feminine hygiene product, but that is in his own mind and has nothing to do with his school.  He seems to have gotten a decent education, even if on some level he feels inferior and is constantly trying to prove how smart he is.

You are being attacked from too many angles here.  The in house counsel angle is not as far fetched to me as to some of these other posters.  It isn't my area, but I do know enough to know that often its who you know, not what you know.  Seems like a perfectly reasonable angle to play.

Some smooth compromising (i.e. placating) rhetoric can turn this around to your favor.  I am eager to see how you play it.  :)

Hi Fortook! No, I didn't take that as sarcastic in the least. You're a sincere person as far as I can tell. :) And I appreciate your sincerity, too. (I'm a huge fan of Linus and pumpkin patches.) I'm just enjoying an intelligent conversation until classes commence. It's fun and stimulating to take up a tough cause. Incidentally, some people are just flat-out feminine hygiene products. You can't teach those people to be cool. They come from all walks of life, attending all law schools. And let's never forget, the majority thinks that ALL attorneys fit that description without the slightest discrimination. You cannot be a sufficiently moral person to overcome that perception after you've been admitted to the bar. People hate attorneys.

I've had so much to do over the last year that I haven't had time to play these games about which school a person should attend. It's summer and I'm on break. Yay. But over the last year, I've read many, many comments about the grim by-God realities and dangers of attending state schools, and honestly, nobody has mustered the nerve to attempt an argument in their favor. I've taken it up here for my own self-amusement. Arguments do exist, which you appear to have acknowledged. Sound arguments against state schools also exist. I've conceded as much several times. But I've noticed over the last year that many of the dire warnings against state schools are sweeping generalizations which take into account nothing of the student's circumstances or upward reach. This strikes me as naive and misinformed. Legal careers take many forms. To get work in Biglaw, you had better attend an ABA school. But it's laughable to me to hear people claim that it's critical to attend an ABA school to have a meaningful career in law. Absolute nonsense. If I can draw an analogy from music, some musicians are classically trained at prestigious schools and end up teaching kindergarten. Others get a guitar and teach themselves how to play in their bedrooms, then go on to become The Beatles. We should avoid painting with a broad brush. The spectrum of possibilities in life is large.

I can see how a person defending a state school could be accused of having inferiority issues. That's a risk I've assumed because I live with no fear. (I love that bumper sticker, although I would never put it on my car.) There's probably a grain of truth in it, too. Like I've said, I would love an ABA education. But in a similar vein, it may also be said that those among the ranks of ABA schools who make cavalier predictions about another student's future based exclusively on the information that the student attends a state-accredited law school may have ego issues themselves with which they will have to deal. It may even be the case that some such feel the need to squash the hopes of students of less-expensive schools out of a deep-rooted fear: a fear that in reality, the expense and debt of their ABA education might actually have been unnecessary. I am convinced that some of the vitriol against state schools that I've read in various threads around the internet stems from the same fundamental insecurity that intimidates most state students into quietly keeping their mouths shut.

Anyway, you are a thoughtful and reasonable person, Fortook. It's a pleasure to bounce thoughts off of you. I have to say, I absolutely love law school. I love the challenge. I love the knowledge I'm gaining. Wherever you go to school, this is an awesome experience.

A lot of what you said made sense, until this:

Some of my classmates and I anticipate becoming in-house counsel within our given industries, what with the contacts, experience and reputations that we've built. Great pay, weekends with the family, prestige among your peers, and working in a legal field. A pretty good gig. And a state school degree will do just fine to reach that goal.

Sure about this, are you?

LOL. Yes, I'm sure. I have 20 years in my field and for years I have worked closely with the attorneys in my legal department, several of whom followed the same path I'm taking now. My attorney-mentors have advised and encouraged me every step of the way since I first expressed an interest in law school, and my good grades are partly the result of my accountability to them. I realize that there are no guarantees of anything in life. Like Huck Finn, I'm just rafting down the river and checking out whatever comes along. But unlike some law students, perhaps, I'm not heading blindly downstream toward a completely unforeseeable, unpredictable hope. A law license can only help me.

I'm not saying that a state school would be the best bet for all law students. A young person with no experience, no contacts, no resume and no expertise in a given field could be taking a big chance by attending a state-accredited school. But a person with an established reputation and credentials in a field of concentration may not require the large leap and deep debt of an ABA school to realize substantial benefits from a state law school education and admission to his or her state bar. The decision hinges on numerous factors. Should you go to an ABA school? Do you really need to go to an ABA school? Allow me to dispel the myth: for some people, the answer to both questions is no.

Hi Lasagna.

1) It diminishes a person's position when he or she resorts to insults and name-calling.
2) As I've noted previously, the majority of the people who sit around me in my state school are not wondering where they'll find work after graduation. The doom and gloom about not finding work later simply doesn't apply. Like me, most of my classmates already have solid careers, which careers were built upon the foundations of their college educations in a wide variety of fields. Call it a condition precedent if you like, but if you meet that pre-existing career condition, state schools can be a great way to go. Becoming licensed to practice law will simply open doors that would otherwise remain closed. No, I won't be getting a job in BigLaw when I graduate. But the opportunities within my industry will enlarge substantially. Some of my classmates and I anticipate becoming in-house counsel within our given industries, what with the contacts, experience and reputations that we've built. Great pay, weekends with the family, prestige among your peers, and working in a legal field. A pretty good gig. And a state school degree will do just fine to reach that goal.
3) Yes, some people do enroll in state schools because they would have trouble getting into an ABA school. How is that relevant to those who fit the profile I've described above? That's for the individuals to decide for themselves.
4) If you can get a meritorious scholarship, take it. But the argument in favor of a state-accredited education on the basis that it is less cost-prohibitive than ABA schools is not rendered "ridiculous" by the example of one person. The context is correct, but your ultimate claim is overly broad. Everyone has a unique station in life. And not every prospective student who got good grades as an undergrad wishes to risk $175,000 that he won't end up contributing his experiences to an angry law school scamblog someday. Cost matters, especially in this market.

I do feel, though, that anybody in her 20s or 30s who is considering law school should be shooting for the moon. Get into an ABA school. There's no point in settling for anything less if you have the time ahead of you to make it pay off.

I can completely understand why some people choose state accredited schools, by the way.

Hi, Fortook. I would merely observe that such an education has a place. And it's not a bad education, although it's doubtless much more a case of "it is what you make of it" than one should expect from ABA schools. State schools serve niche markets. They can facilitate advancement for older people who already have established careers, contacts, and professional reputations and credentials. One of the reasons I'm in law school is because I began to notice how often young attorneys in my company were calling and asking me to explain things that, to me, were right off the cover of Duh! Magazine. At the same time, many of my peers like to make smart-assed remarks about the ignorance of attorneys, which strikes me as naive, not to mention self-serving. I have met very few dumb people who passed the bar exam, wherever they went to school. At any rate, I ranked in the top 5% after 1L. For about two days, I mulled over the idea of applying to McGeorge, just to see if they'd take a 50-year-old into their night program. But after weighing the cost and the likely benefits, I decided to stay where I am. Yes, I would love a JD from an ABA school. But my tuition would've doubled or tripled if they had taken me. More importantly, no firms out there will ever hire me based on my having a JD from an ABA school who would otherwise reject me based on my having a JD from a state school. For me, becoming a lawyer means becoming licensed to practice law in the field I love, a field in which I've already acquired many years of experience. But I need to get the license.

At any rate, having read enough short-sighted, disparaging comments about state schools from so many mediocre writers as well as plenty of damned good writers, to be fair the recreational diversion of waging a vigorous defense of the state-school underdog appeals to me. If nothing else, it's enjoyable just to practice advocating for something.

No offense intended here, but where did you two learn to write?

Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students / Re: To go or not to go?
« on: July 25, 2011, 10:01:53 PM »

For me, getting through law school and passing the Bar is just a mountain to climb in life. I could enumerate several such mountains that I've climbed in life a tour of duty in the Marines, my undergraduate degree, study abroad, etc. Everybody here has feathers in his or her cap. Law school is just another multiple-year adventure. If you feel in your heart that climbing the mountain and peeking over the top calls, then you need to do it. And enjoy the hike while you do. Law school is hard. But, wow, it's so much fun! Honestly, being so challenged, daring yourself to keep forging ahead, is what life is all about. It would be terribly boring to live as so many do, who come home from work, eat dinner and then flop down on the couch and fall asleep in front of South Park night after night. Okay, that describes what my life had become. But I grew bored and decided to get off my ass and do something cool. Something daring and difficult, but something actually rather impressive and perhaps even useful. If you've got acceptance, being a law student rules.


I just write the way I think,  Fortook. After all, writing is just thinking with fingertips. It's the way I speak. If writing well radiates intelligence, then it's a mere byproduct of the craft of skillful writing. Those who wish to radiate intelligence should learn to write well all the time. But usually when you find a person who writes well, that person simply writes well. It doesn't mean that his or her well-crafted piece was calculated to sound impressive. And what does it expose about a person who, for instance, only notes that, gee, that writer uses big words? Law students should be far above the legions of illiterates that populate the internet. You write very well yourself, Fortook. I embrace good writers.



<regretful snip>

The only truly dire warnings that need to be given are to those who are contemplating mortgaging their future to half-truths and heavy chains.

I just wanted to say..... very well put.

Thanks, Phreejazz. Merely one dude's opinion. Hope you're kicking butt wherever you're going to school.

Very nicely written.  How much time did you spend on it in a somewhat informal forum?

Oh, ad hominem. Cool!

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