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Messages - Duncanjp

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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.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: What literature do you recommend?
« on: June 18, 2011, 08:10:50 PM »
Chuck and Thane have both identified exactly what I see in your posts, BlackDuck. I would note that your interest in asking for literary recommendations puts you ahead of some, if not many. I approve ha ha. Actually, I applaud. If you find reading weighty literature interesting in itself, then reading legal texts will terrorize you not at all. You may even find that you have a leg up on those who restrict their recreational reading to the funny pages which I love to read. Well: Monty, anyway. Just being a happy reader will put you ahead of the game. I have laughed through the reading of almost everything Mark Twain ever published, although he didn't write expressly for the literati. But I've also consumed Herman Melville's works like popcorn, always with my dictionary within close reach. Moby-D ick (it comes out as Moby-male private part when written as normal on this website) was a staggering experience for me, partly because when I first read it, I had no clue how the story would end. But beyond the plot, I loved the loftiness of Melville's English. It thrilled me to the quick of my soul to circumambulate the watery parts of the world with someone who knew so many words that I had never heard before and who could write a sentence that extended for half a page or more without ever losing its train of thought.

Moby-male private part, I think, is a good boot camp for law students. It shows that other people will misunderstand and censor your references, regardless of how innocent your references may be. At any rate, my approach is to consult my dictionary whenever I encounter a word I cannot confidently and conclusively define. Never blow past a word that you cannot immediately define. Consult your dictionary or go to Use it. Love it. Live it. In fairly short order, you'll begin to recognize verbs like allot. And "male private part" will begin to appear silly.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Case Briefs and Helpful Outlines
« on: June 12, 2011, 12:45:37 PM »
Just a word of caution:  the point of case briefing is not to do the brief.  [!]  It is, instead, to understand how a single point of law fits within a broader context of that area of law.  So, be careful.  Some students all but kill themselves trying to do briefs, never realizing the real goal of briefing.  Many of these realize that spending 40 hours a week briefing (which is what is needed to do them the way they're often shown) is unsustainable, so they give up.  This leads to the worst of both worlds. 

I would second that. There's a line of demarcation that can be crossed from productive to pointless reading. Some students advocate blowing off the cases entirely as useless time-wasters. I don't. But formally briefing each case is definitely too time-consuming to be productive. Still, I see value in reading the cases and doing at least some of your own briefs. Cases show how the law is applied and doing your own briefs teaches you how to apply the law in IRAC format. I try to do at least one or two formal briefs a week, and the rest of the time I book brief. Seasoned law students might get by without even reading every case word for word. That said, there were people in my first year courses who never read any of the cases, and it really showed up in their grades. They had memorized the black letter law as well as anybody, but hadn't learned how to apply it to the facts. After you've read 200-300 cases, you start developing a certain intuition for how to apply the BLL. And since your analysis is where all the money is, not just recitation of the rules, there is certainly value in studying how judges have applied the law from the casebook.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Part-time evening workload?
« on: June 12, 2011, 11:43:58 AM »
This is how part-time students can actually do better than full-time ones . . . and much better, on an hour-for-hour basis.   Work smart, not (just) hard.


I don't disagree with a word of your post, Thane. You're absolutely correct on every point. If a student can find ways to be more efficient with his or her study time, working harder for the same results would be myopic and wasteful. I've found ways to make my own study time more productive, and every little bit helps. (Disconnecting this infernal internet is a biggie!) Learning how to play the game quickly is a critical part of the law school experience. I had to figure that out the hard way myself. At the same time, I would simply caution against relying too heavily on the "smarter, not harder" (SNH) theory.  In my experience, students often use the SNH mantra as an excuse to be lazy. These are people who are chronically looking for shortcuts at every turn, who have been to LEEWS seminars and have purchased Flemings doing everything except the reading. I tend to believe that there is no holy grail out there to learning this material. You have to do the reading.  You should write your own outlines and most importantly, you must do practice exams until you can write them in your sleep. And by all means, you need to get feedback on your practice tests from your professors. Certainly, some people will get there with less effort than others, but it amazes me how much time and energy some students spend in their quest for shortcuts when applying that energy to simply doing the work would give them a better payday.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Part-time evening workload?
« on: June 11, 2011, 02:04:48 PM »
I just finished my first year of attending law school in the evening while working 8-5 M-F. If I were not in law school, I would be at work 8-6, and sometimes on weekends as well. Fortunately, I'm in a position where a law degree will serve my employer's interests, so they're forgiving if I leave for class rather than staying around to work overtime. But I must say, to do well in school while working requires extraordinary commitment. If you want better than a C average, be prepared to abandon your friends, your family, and all recreational activities because you will not have time for any of that. Forget about watching TV and relaxing, too. Law school must become your recreation and relaxation. Part-time law school is a second full-time job. Success requires strict attention to time management. When I started last year, I took a calendar and divided every day of the month into morning, afternoon, and evening. Then I blocked out all of the areas where I would be at work and in class. The remaining white space was where I would do my studying and try to fit in some time for my wife. I made every effort to devote Saturday mornings to my wife, but the rest of the time I studied. I read cases, worked on my outlines, and wrote practice exams. I did not get to take a vacation to New York or Lake Tahoe. The only vacation time I've taken over the last 12 months has been to stay home and prepare for exams. Even during the winter break, I spent my time trying to get ahead on the reading for the spring semester. As they say, law school is a jealous mistress. But the commitment has paid off for me in my GPA.

Again, if you're satisfied with a C average, then maybe you can take it a little easier than I've described. If you aren't afraid to hear your friends and acquaintances ask, "Weren't you in law school awhile back? What happened?" then by all means, make it to that concert. But to excel, you really have to take your medicine and make the sacrifice.

Current Law Students / Re: Poor 1L Grades
« on: June 05, 2011, 02:39:47 PM »
IrrX is correct. By "first time around," I meant the midterm. By the time I sat my crim final, I had a much more savvy understanding of law school exams. My crim midterm was the first graded law school exam I had ever taken, and while I knew the black letter law as well as anybody, my approach to the exam was utterly naive. I anticipated making points by showing my in-depth understanding of every nuance of homicide, for instance, whether it was relevant to the discussion or not. In so doing, I wasted valuable time and failed to discuss every possible crime the fact patterns disclosed. In my naivete, I thought it was neither possible nor expected by the professor that we should discuss every incidental larceny that appeared. Wrong on both counts. It is possible if you practice and yes, they expect you to see and discuss everything. Okay. Lesson learned. Unlike some of my classmates, I did not take any pre-law classes. I had to learn it the hard way. But that's nothing I haven't done before. Law school reminds me of my parachute jumps in the Marines: I never knew where I was going to land when I jumped. I had to figure it out on the way down.

Current Law Students / Re: Poor 1L Grades
« on: June 03, 2011, 09:27:53 PM »
Happy to report that I crushed my crim final. Kicked butt. I just made some rookie mistakes the first time around that I didn't make on the final.

Current Law Students / Re: What's The Difference
« on: May 28, 2011, 01:00:49 AM »
Officer O'Toole is strolling down the sidewalk one afternoon when he sees a commotion ahead. He arrives to find two lawyers in the gutter, gripping each other in mortal combat with fists flying while a little boy dances around them crying, "Daddy, daddy, daddy!!" O'Toole wades into the fray and siezes the two furious men.

"A'right, sonny," he says, " which of these two is your daddy?"
"I don't know," says the little boy, dabbing his eye. "That's what they're fighting about."

Current Law Students / Re: Any evening student working full time.
« on: May 13, 2011, 01:35:10 AM »
Yo, fo. I have a full-time career position and I'm going to law school at night. It is an exhausting but exhilarating experience. Since matriculating last fall, I have had absolutely no life. I work, I go to class, and I study. If I'm not at work, I'm in class. If I'm not in class, I'm studying. If I'm not studying, I'm squeezing in my mandatory nightly 5 hours of sleep. I think about law constantly. I listen to CDs of myself reading the rules that I need to memorize while commuting. No more sports radio or ear candy. I have a 50-minute commute and I use every minute of it to study. Fortunately for me, I have a wife who is behind me, but she hasn't gotten to see much of me since last August. It's a fabulous experience, though. I love every minute of it. I haven't seen most of my friends in almost a year. The main thing is, if you work full time, you have to really want to be a lawyer. It's a sleep-depriving grind like I've never experienced since getting out of the Marines. Makes college seem like a laugh. But if you like it, it can be done. I'm doing it.

Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students / Re: Military
« on: April 28, 2011, 09:34:49 PM »
Cpl, USMC, 2nd FSSG, Camp LeJeune, NC, 1978-1982. Semper fi, brother veterans of all branches (and genders). 

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