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Messages - Duncanjp

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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, 09:01:53 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!

In my experience, NonTrad, it's very difficult to conceal the fact that you're in law school. In fact, it would be impossible. For one thing, when you work all day and go to class at night, that's all your life is about. You study every spare chance you can get. You'll bring your casebooks to work with you to read during lunch and whenever you can before class. While your co-workers are eating their tuna sandwiches and working crosswords, you'll be reading your case books and study materials. Invariably, somebody will see what you're reading and ask about it. Even if you hide out in your car to read, you will find that you have absolutely nothing to say to anyone about your life if you can't talk about studying law. Law school completely absorbs you if you're going to do it right, anyway. You may conceal it for a while, but you'll find it increasingly difficult to hide until trying becomes pointless about a week after you start. Since you just got the gig, you're probably better off letting the cat out of the bag slowly like it's no big deal, and without asking your boss for favors or acting like handling work and school is hard. After you've been in school for six months and your boss and coworkers have become both aware and unconcerned with how you spend your evenings, you may be able to let your guard down a bit. But you cannot ever let your work suffer.

I'm following the same route, in a different state.  You're right in not listening to the nay-sayers.  I can name, without even thinking hard, three judges currently sitting on the bench in my area who graduated from a non-ABA school and several prominent local politicians.  I personally know several students working as attorneys in prestigious firms who graduated recently from that same non-ABA school, etc. etc. etc.  Granted, not every non-ABA program is created equal, but that's the point: any gross generalization about such programs is inaccurate.

Are there obstacles to overcome that wouldn't be there with an ABA degree? yep.  But work experience, the right networking, etc. more than make up for it.  I suspect that those who make blanket statements about how bad of an idea it is, how anyone who does it is wasting their time and money, etc etc etc haven't bothered to actually look into it.

A year ago I was called to testify in a jury trial over a civil matter, and as it turned out, the judge who heard the case went to my school - Lincoln Law School of Sacramento. The Sacramento County DA went to Lincoln. Judges, DAs, and attorneys in counties all over the Northern California region can be found who went to this locally reputable school, alongside judges, DAs and attorneys who went to ABA schools and other state schools. Ultimately, they all had to pass the same exam. Lincoln certainly isn't UC Davis or McGeorge, the local ABA law mills, but somehow all of those state-school legal professionals crashed through the opaque ABA barrier to have successful law careers. It's not that their experiences mirror the experiences of all who graduate from state schools, but it points a rather telling finger toward the partial mythology that has arisen around the ABA education. Again, I'm not going to argue or pretend that I wouldn't rather attend an ABA school if I were younger and had the time to realize the benefits of the association and didn't have a career already. I definitely would. But state schools do not consist of slackers and halfwits, which perception is both misinformed and naive.  Most of the people I've encountered are highly driven, extremely bright, energetic people working in government, business and vertical areas within the legal field. It's indisputable that many legal professionals have carved out successful law careers after attending state-accredited law schools at a quarter the cost of an ABA degree. So I don't heed the predictions of young, inexperienced ABA graduates. Sometimes it feels like all the warnings against attending state schools belie a certain desire to keep the ranks of lawyers just as elite and uncrowded as possible to ensure that they who "deserve jobs" are protected against facing any more competition than they already have from T1 schools.

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.

The ABA student community is a swell group of people to get to know, but honestly, who can deny that there is a surfeit of unemployed, deeply-indebted, ambitious young ABA graduates out there who don't know whether to go uphill or down bearing the chains of their coveted interstate law degree? How many ABA graduates would not be more than happy finding steady work in their home town alongside some blue collar, state-accredited attorney?

A substantial number of attorneys here in California, including judges and district attorneys, received their J.D.s from state law schools. They passed the exam. Becoming a lawyer simply means you've read society's rules and know how to play the game. It's becoming less elitist all the time to be an attorney, and the massive debt that attending an ABA school creates, just so you can become another unemployed lawyer who has hypothecated the next 20 years of his or her life, needs to be weighed. The point is, there is no dishonor in attending a state-accredited law school. Every single person who passes the Bar exam in his or her given state hopes to find meaningful employment in the field. Some do, some don't. Getting the gig is the object, not bragging about the train that got you there. Granted, if you're still in your 20s or 30s and you want to go to law school, you should prepare hard for the LSAT and get your tail into an ABA school. Absolutely. An ABA degree will help an inexperienced greenhorn get a foot in the door. But if you're over 45, with a family and a mortgage, and you've already established a solid reputation in a given field with a career that could be enhanced, perhaps perfected, by getting a law degree and becoming a member of your state Bar, then forget about an ABA education. You don't need it. It's a waste. A state-accredited school will do nicely and you won't squander three times as much in tuition to serve clients who couldn't care less one way or the other where you went to law school. After you reach about 40-45 years old, the object is singular: get the license. Get The License. Period. Then you can wield it in your field of expertise to parry opponents and any who stand in your way.

Ha. I wish I'd said that.

if you do this, please do not whine when you do not get a job

employers know that it's more difficult to get into an ABA school. you say there are tons of unemployed graduates of ABA accredited schools. this should mean something.

That's my point: it does mean something. It means a lot of people are being suckered into blowing enormous sums of money by the lure of a false hope that having an ABA degree will place them fat in the middle of a lucrative position in an office suite atop San Francisco or New York. Or that merely having an ABA degree guarantees them that they'll land a job. No degree guarantees anybody anything: you make of it what you can. But whatever the benefits and greater opportunities of having an ABA degree may be, the returns drop precipitously for older students, especially those with years of experience who have already forged careers in particular fields. For us, a state-accredited school is just fine. My professors are all judges and practicing attorneys. They know what they're talking about and they tend to be enthusiastic communicators. They have also not hidden the fact that statistically, the A-B students are the ones who pass the Bar exam. Students in a state-accredited school with a 2.0 GPA do tend to have problems passing. Regardless, I see absolutely no reason to join the stampede of 20-somethings into massive debt when you are considering law school at 45-50 unless you have money to burn. The prestige of the ABA degree will not pay off. And if you do not intend to relocate to another state, the ABA benefits diminish even further.

If you're 25 or 30, sure, get the best education you can afford. If I were 20 years younger, I would definitely set my sights on an ABA school by spending six months or a year preparing for the LSAT. I went to UC Davis and got great grades as an undergraduate. It's not my philosophy in life to settle for less than that of which I'm capable. But I'm also a realist. If you've established yourself in a worthwhile career that could be enhanced by admission to your State Bar Association, then why on Earth would you want to blow all that money on an ABA education? It would be a total waste. At this stage of the game, it's only about getting the license. Nothing else. I may have squandered some time in my life, but I'm not about to waste my money. The reality is, very few employers are likely to hire an older law school graduate solely on the basis of where he or she attended law school. If you're young with no experience in a field, then all you've got is your degree. Make it the best degree you can. But my resume hinges on the 20 years of experience I've gained in my field. A J.D. will enhance my resume, but it won't form the cornerstone of it, ABA or not. And it would show an incredible lack of vision on my part to take a step backwards in my career now by accepting a position as a public defender or an associate attorney somewhere at half my current salary. Not to mention the disappointment that my wife would rain down on my head for the loss of income.

And regarding whining, frankly, the only whining I ever hear is from the multitudes of deeply indebted ABA graduates out there scamblogging about how they can't find work to pay off their school loans. I've never heard any state-accredited law school graduates griping about their debt and how unfair the world has been to them. Further, I know numerous working attorneys who went to state schools. The J.D. is simply what you make of it. Honestly, a person who wants to go to an ABA law school really needs to consider what he's doing - and why - a lot more carefully than a person entering a state school. Granted, there are law firms that won't even talk to graduates of state-accredited schools. But at my age and station in life, I don't need those law firms. I only want the education and a chance to sit the Bar. When I graduate from my locally reputable, state-accredited law school, I won't owe anybody so much as one thin dime. I'm paying as I go. And I'm in the top 5% after the first year, so I believe I have a reasonable chance of passing the Bar exam on the first try if I can keep on keeping on. We'll see about that later. I know the stats. But the only whining I ever encounter comes from the ranks of disgruntled elitists blaming their ABA schools for their personal failures. Boo hoo. I moonlighted for years to keep my mortgage paid. My patience for whiners is fast evaporating.

As I said, if I were 20 years younger, I would set my sights on an ABA education. I can't dispute the greater prestige of an ABA degree. But if you're an older person who is entrenched in a career already, who merely wants to enhance that career by becoming a licensed attorney, then you don't need an ABA degree. State-accredited law schools serve the purpose fine and they don't put you 30 years in the hole.

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