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Messages - Duncanjp

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I've been out of the Marines since December 2009.   I'm not sure how hard it was to land a JAG position for them.  I know at least 3 of them actually went to law school while in the Marine Corps, so they got promoted faster even though we started training at the same time.   I mean want to say that each class had 6 spots for future JAGs and there were 6 classes a year.   

Officer Candidate School weeds out a lot of people.  My OCS class had a 48% retention,  not sure how many of them were lawyers.   Lots of people can't handle the physical demands of the Marine Corps and OCS is even tougher than enlisted boot camp.  The Marines also have programs that active duty members can apply for that they send you to law school and that's your job for 3 years,  you just have to graduate, pass the bar and then owe 5 years to the Corps.  I had a friend qualify for that program but I don't think she graduated since she works for Amazon now as a recruiter.   

Sorry for being all over the map here, I'll talk Marine Corps all day.

Semper fi, Lawyurd.

In my con law class last night, we were discussing how difficult it is to hold down a career position during the day while putting oneself through law school at night. I remarked that my four years in the Marine Corps was a cakewalk compared to the four-year madhouse of law school. Of course, that isn't really true, but it feels like it sometimes.

Non-Traditional Students / Re: Never too late
« on: April 07, 2013, 05:15:23 PM »
In another light: why buy a formula one race car to commute to work everyday?

Good analogy.

That said, three of my company's attorneys who went to CBE schools have all candidly confessed in one form or another that their non-ABA J.D.s in fact limited their careers. I know that I will never run my company's legal department. But I wouldn't expect to, even under the best of circumstances. The people who head the various legal departments all went to T-14 law schools. My expectations are realistic: to become in-house counsel and keep the company of career attorneys who went to great schools. I'll do whatever they tell me to do. Works for me. In fact, it's going to rule. And none of the people I work with on a daily basis have any concept of the elitism of the law school hierarchy. To them, an attorney is an attorney.

Non-Traditional Students / Re: Never too late
« on: April 06, 2013, 07:37:05 PM »
Thank you for the comments, Dean.

I'm a non-traditional student finishing my third year at a CBE school (Lincoln in Sacramento). The quality of the education equals or surpasses anything I received from East Carolina University or UC Davis in undergrad. I can't speak for all CBE schools, but I don't honestly know how even the highest ranked ABA school could improve on the presentation of the material that my school delivers. My professors are sitting judges, local prosecutors and defense attorneys, all of whom know their subjects well and clearly enjoy teaching. It's a great bang for my buck. I know that the degree won't have the prestige of Stanford or Berkeley, but the quality of the education is fantastic nonetheless. Inasmuch as I'm firmly entrenched in a career underwriting position for a national insurance company, I can't imagine abandoning my position after I pass the bar to become an associate attorney in some unfamiliar field of practice. It would be a step backwards and would probably cut my salary in half. No thanks. My attorney-mentor at work advised me at the outset that the goal is simply to get the license. Perhaps if I were 20 years younger without the experience and contacts, I would have set my sights on a loftier program. I can't kid anybody: I would love an ABA degree. But raiding my retirement savings just to get one at this point in the game is a difficult sell. I have a great chance of seeing an ROI from my investment at Lincoln. Just becoming an attorney will vault me out of the realm of lay underwriters, many of whom have been working in the field for twice as long as I have. But the satisfaction and prestige of an ABA degree isn't enough to justify paying three times as much in tuition to get it. And the odds of receiving any meaningful ROI from an ABA degree seem a greater risk than a less prestigious degree for a third the cost.

I've been an advocate for CBE schools on this forum for a couple of years. They aren't for everybody, but they're a good choice for the right candidates. I'm one of them.

Given the current state of the legal field, it's certainly risky to enroll in law school if one does not have a clear purpose for doing so.

A Terrible Purpose
"I want to be a lawyer because my favorite TV shows are courtroom dramas."

A Better Purpose
"I have spent five years in [insert field] and a law degree would advance my career in that field."

Distance Education Law Schools / Re: NWCU by the numbers
« on: April 02, 2013, 11:32:04 PM »
I agree with you that the mere activity of learning the law is well-suited to online study, Jon. But becoming a successful attorney involves more than just rote memorization of esoteric rules and learning to perform legal analysis. What do online programs substitute for the face-to-face relationships you form in brick and mortar law schools? I don't believe that the importance of forging relationships and making friends with your classmates can be overstated. (It would take some effort.) Seeing the same people in classes month after month and year after year cements those relationships. I usually prepare for my exams by sitting alone in my den with the door shut, laboring over practice exams and outlines. But the rest of the time, it seems like a mistake to brush off the all-important element of networking if your goal is to succeed in the legal field.

Distance Education Law Schools / Re: NWCU by the numbers
« on: March 31, 2013, 02:02:20 PM »
I don't have time to confirm the statistics that anonymous internet posters assert in threads such as this, even when properly cited. But assuming the numbers are correct, the obvious conclusion is that nobody who is serious about becoming an attorney enrolls in such an institution. A law degree, even from an ABA school, doesn't really have that much value if you don't pass the bar. It's like having a plumber's license when you work in insurance. And prospective employers in non-legal fields may see you as potential trouble for their HR departments. To be a good fit for an unaccredited, online approach to law school, you really have to want to know the law strictly for the sake of knowing a little about the law, with no expectation of its having any practical application. Example: a minimum security inmate with regular online access might be a good candidate, if the school would admit him. (And why not? He's got nothing but time and it's not like they're serious about producing attorneys.) Another might be a retired senior with loads of free time and curiosity, whose doctor has instructed him to start exercising his mind before he loses it. But that's a gamble, seniors who read this. The cure may become the cause.

General Board / Re: How do lawyers get clients?
« on: February 11, 2013, 12:04:01 AM »
see scabs on knees?  from ambulances stop suddenly.

Why do you post on LSD, Julie?

Wait. Maybe that question answers itself.

you so deep, einstein.  your community college crowd must give you lots ego reinforcement.

LOL. Indeed they do.

There are many answers to your question, but one of the most important things you can do is network with other attorneys. Constantly getting your name, face, and work product in front of as many other attorneys as you can will put you in the pipeline for referrals. It'll start out as the kind of work the referring attorney doesn't want, but work is work. That's how you build experience, self-confidence, and a networking system, i.e., relationships. You've got to sell yourself  not your soul: your service and expertise. It takes a while. You need to be determined to succeed.

General Board / Re: How do lawyers get clients?
« on: February 09, 2013, 04:12:06 PM »
see scabs on knees?  from ambulances stop suddenly.

Why do you post on LSD, Julie?

Wait. Maybe that question answers itself.

In an ideal world Id be able to practice all day long to the point Id be able to give lectures on the LSAT, but realistically I work two jobs, cant afford a prep course and can only study a few hours a week on a borrowed book from my local library.  I have no problem understanding LSAT concepts it's the time factor that I struggle with

1. Even though CBE schools are less expensive than ABA, attending a CBE school is an expensive proposition. Law school wants money every time you turn around. If you can't afford an LSAT prep course, you're going to have a rude awakening once you enroll somewhere - anywhere. Not that prep courses are critical, but a serious student would find a way to get into one, especially if he's already received a score in the low 140s on a formal administration of the test (versus self-testing).

2. You can buy study guides from LSAC and elsewhere for $20-$40. If you're limiting your preparation to a few hours a week with a book borrowed from the library, you aren't approaching the LSAT with nearly the energy, dedication, and determination that you need to apply to it. You should be tackling practice exams every evening and all weekend for months before the next LSAT. Not a few hours a week.

3. Part-time attendance at law school is a second full-time job. If you don't devote the time to it, you'll waste your time, their time, and your money.

Just some food for thought. Law school success demands that you be all in, or not in at all.

General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Baby Bar
« on: December 18, 2012, 12:20:08 AM »
I have mixed emotions about unaccredited law schools. One the one hand, they may serve a purpose for the right person. On the other, that purpose is probably something other than putting a J.D. on one's resume in furtherance of applying for jobs as an attorney.

Hi Duncan (I used to post as Roald, but got bored and changed my nom de plume). As usual, I think your analysis is spot on. Unaccredited schools can be the best choice for the right student. Much of the criticism of unaccredited schools is unfair and comes from younger ABA students who don't understand the benefits that may accrue to an older student who just wants to further their career, and couldn't care less about biglaw. Like I said, I've met attorneys (and even a judge) who graduated from unaccredited schools.

That said, in order for someone to determine whether or not an uaccredited program is right for them they've got to understand the potential limitations of such a degree. And it's here that I see some blissful ignorance (or denial) on the part of some unaccredited students.

I go back and forth on this issue of unaccredited law schools. Clearly they serve a purpose, but it's equally clear that some issues with FYLSE and bar pass rates exist. Are the low FYLSE pass rates due to a lack of academic rigor? Or is there a lack of meaningful feedback to the students? Or is the problem with admissions (letting in unqualified students)? Maybe it's a combination of these and other factors.

As I said, much of the criticism of unaccredited schools is unfair and is based on snobbery. Nonetheless, if unaccredited/online programs want to be taken seriously they've got to meet the rest of the legal profession half way. It's not enough to just say "Everyone else needs to change their attitude." They are going to have to significantly boost their FYLSE/bar exam pass rates. Until then, I don't think much will change.

You mentioned that your CBE degree is only a notch above an unaccredited degree, but I'd disagree. CBE schools are accredited, just not by the ABA. In California the bench and bar are well stocked with CBE grads, and many CBE law schools have good local reputations. I've worked at offices where CBE grads worked alongside UCLA grads, but where an unaccredited grad would probably not even get an interview, period. That may be unfair and short sighted, but it's true nonetheless.

The fact is, the CBE schools have already proven that non-ABA degrees can be accepted by the legal profession if they adhere to predictable, accepted standards. 

LOL. I thought you sounded like Roald as I read your post. Hilarious.

I was being slightly facetious when I said a CBE degree is only a notch above an unaccredited school, but I'm a realist about it, too. It has its limitations. A number of my colleagues who are CBE-educated attorneys have also admitted to me that not having an ABA degree has definitely held them back in their careers. But from where I sit, there's nowhere to go but up.

You're correct that unaccredited schools need to figure out what they're doing wrong insofar as improving the number of their graduates who ever pass the bar. I can't see wasting my time and money - especially the latter - on a legal education if I didn't plan to pass the bar exam. There was an article that came out a few months ago about a proposal to require CBE schools to reach a minimum average pass rate of 50% over a five-year period or lose their state accreditation. I think that's a sound idea, personally. The education is just too expensive to get all the way through the program and then find yourself unable to get over the last hurdle.

I've noticed that my professors are starting to talk more and more about the bar and what it takes to pass it. My con law prof in particular likes to spend five or ten minutes at the beginning of each class to put things into perspective for us. He's a great guy, but a very sobering individual. About two weeks ago, he said to us, "You're all working adults, some with families, some with mortgages. It can be tough to take eight weeks off from work to immerse yourself in the law and do nothing but prepare for the bar. But you need to be thinking about how you're going to do that now, while you still have a year and a half to go. Consider your competition: all those students who graduate from ABA schools. Do you think they're going to be working 40 hours a week during those eight weeks leading up to the bar exam?" You could have heard a pin drop. He didn't even need to shake his head. So it's an ominous road ahead when you're a night student with a career. I can't even imagine what it must be like facing the bar while attending an unaccredited school.

That said, I still have 19-20 months before I sit the bar. I'm already in bar review classes, which will run twice a year until I take the bar. I'll be spending the next 20 months working on my approaches and my issue-spotting skills. And I've informed my boss that I'll need to take a leave of absence to prepare for the bar when the time comes. So I hope I've got a fighting chance. I'm sure trying to do what it takes. But this is a steep hill to climb.

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