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Messages - Duncanjp

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Incoming 1Ls / Re: military options
« on: December 05, 2012, 10:25:53 PM »
Welcome to the forum.

Let's see. You want the government (i.e., the taxpayers) to pay for your college education. Then you want them to pay for your law school education. In return, you want them to make you an officer so you don't have to swab the deck and clean the head. Then you want them to keep you tucked away somewhere nice and safe from bullets and other harm where you can have a comfortable job indoors representing veterans who are living with the black memories of having killed people and watched their best friends get their heads, hands and legs blown off before suffering some internal meltdown and going on a rampage.

I think you're going to need to bring a little more to the table. The JAG Corps is fiercely competitive and frankly, the government doesn't need to pay to put people through college and law school. They have a huge surplus of candidates who have already taken care of that themselves. I'm not saying don't try. But you have to be real about it. (I never realized how "real" the world was until I joined the Marines.) If you're serious, you might consider enlisting and taking your chances with combat. Your odds of surviving a tour intact are very good, statistically speaking. And if you think you're scared, how do you think those other people feel when the U.S. Army is coming to kill them? Serving would get you a bundle of money to apply to college when you got out - which is one way to get them to pay for your schooling. And you can also work on your degree at night while you serve. I did, anyway, when I wasn't deployed. An honorable tour of duty in any branch would look good on your JAG application later. Then get straight As in college and shoot for the best law school you can get into. Graduate in the top 5% of your class. Then maybe they'll agree that you have what it takes.

It's a pretty steep hill to climb. But you'll never know if you don't try. Good luck.

Online Law Schools / Re: ABA is not an option (unfortunately)
« on: November 17, 2012, 11:23:45 AM »
Hi Nor-Cal. I attend a CBE school in Sacramento. My commute is an hour each way, but I work down there, so it's not like I have to make a special trip to get to class. Even though there are two ABA schools in the Sacto area, I never seriously considered either one, despite a solid UGPA from UC. The cost isn't justifiable when you're over 40. I spent four years in the Marines after high school, then another four years in college. For most of the past two decades, I've been forging a career in insurance underwriting, and at this point, the only meaningful prospect that law school holds for me is to get the license. Sure, I'd love to go to an ABA school, and after ranking very high after my first year, I toyed with the idea of transferring to McGeorge's night program. But the cost is ridiculous. Untenable. As it is, my CBE education is expensive enough, and like you, I have a mortgage. However, if I were 20 years younger, I wouldn't hesitate to apply myself toward getting into an ABA school. But at my age and station in life, the only goal is to get the license. I'm not going to be interviewing with local law firms when I pass the bar. Passing the bar will vault me out of the realm of laymen, regardless of which school I attend. There's a lot to be said for that. Granted, I'll never run my company's legal department, but my company has numerous in-house counsel who went to state schools. If you have expertise and existing contacts in a particular field, I don't believe having an ABA degree is quite as important as it is when you're 28 and you've never done anything in life but sit in classrooms. If the only thing on your resume is your law degree, then it should be the best degree you can get. On that point, I question some of my young classmates' decision to attend a state school. They're going to be at a disadvantage when they compete for jobs. (That said, my friends in class are all currently employed college graduates representing a wide array of fields of endeavor. They don't appear to be losing any more sleep than I am about their job prospects after graduation.) The fact is, as you get older, your ROI from having an ABA degree decreases. I don't see the point in saddling myself with exorbitant student debt 20 years into my career. I have no goal or interest in working for BigLaw. None. Just get the license. Once you've done it, you can say you've done it. And whatever rights and privileges that might attach become yours to cultivate however you can.

Wow this is good someone is going to join the law school which is good carrier move and really a proudy movement in life hope he will finish it good.

"Wow" is what I'm thinking as well, but not for the same reason.

To succeed in law school takes extraordinary commitment. You're going to have a real balancing act on your hands between paying attention to your kids, paying attention to your husband, and paying attention to your studies. Not to mention making time for yourself. Especially in the beginning. And further, many of your friendships may begin to stagnate. This would prove to be the case even if you had only a 15-minute commute. Three hours a day in your car is an awful lot of time to kill with so many people pulling on you from all directions. That said, commuting doesn't have to be a complete waste of time. You can spend it productively by listening to law lectures and exam approaches. Still, sacrifices will have to be made on all fronts. Your younger kids will not have the attentive mom they want. Your husband will have to run family errands during and after work and monitor the kids while you're holed up in the den preparing for exams. Your studies will have to wait while you attend little league games or whatever. It'll be very tough to compete against the 20-somethings who have nothing to do but drink beer and study contract formation. I suspect the person who will end up sacrificing the most will be your husband. In the priority of interests, it's a natural thing to brush aside one's spouse when the children want attention. Only you can know your own situation, but his full commitment and support will be critical while you're in school. He needs to completely understand that he is going to be replaced by casebooks and "things the professor said" in your life. It'll be easy for him to feel abandoned, ignored, unappreciated and unimportant in your life. Law school is exciting and it's probably healthy not to let your own dreams fall by the wayside in the wake of having children, as often happens. But law school isn't necessarily all you think it's going to be. Here in my third year of study, the true result of law school is coming into focus. Coleridge said it the most eloquently: "A sadder and a wiser man he rose the morrow morn."

Just food for thought. Good luck.

Or, if you don't meet the physical requirements, exercise until you do. I used to run laps around my block with a backpack full of books to get ready before I enlisted. The hardest thing I had to do in Marine Corps boot camp was control my laughter at the sight of so many others huffing and puffing to do a few pullups or to run a few miles.
huh, and here I thought CS gas might have been unpleasant...........guess those laps around the block made you able to breath toxic fumes...... ::)
(presuming the marines have to do MOP Gear training like the Army)

"Huh?" back atcha.   ???

Of course we were gassed and yes, it was unpleasant. But watching each other react when the mask was removed was one the funnier moments of boot camp, especially after you had already put your turn in the tent behind you. My only point was that if the Army won't accept you because you don't meet the physical requirements as a result of spending your life in front of video games, there is something you can do about it besides looking for something else to do. You can get off your butt and exercise until you're fit. The physical requirements will preclude very few people if they're determined to be accepted. I was already in pretty good shape, but I got myself into fantastic shape before I ever left for San Diego. And if a person arrives in terrific shape, even Marine Corps boot camp isn't completely unbearable, unpleasant as it can be. Then, when daily exercise no longer intimidates you, there are moments when boot camp can be absolutely hilarious.

Or, if you don't meet the physical requirements, exercise until you do. I used to run laps around my block with a backpack full of books to get ready before I enlisted. The hardest thing I had to do in Marine Corps boot camp was control my laughter at the sight of so many others huffing and puffing to do a few pullups or to run a few miles.

Job Search / Re: Joining the military - last resort or smart consideration?
« on: September 23, 2012, 10:03:40 AM »
The military is an option to be seriously considered by anybody with a college degree and a J.D., whether you're accepted into the J.A.G. program or not. Your education will make you an immediate officer candidate, and they are not likely to throw you in front of a lot of flying bullets in a first-wave assault on Hamburger Hill with that kind of pedigree. You can live in the officer's quarters while you repay your student loans and serve the country at the same time. It's easy to save money or repay debts while serving, and it will give your resume an excellent boost. That said, you need to have what it takes to be an officer. There's a long road to travel between officer candidate and second lieutenant.

I realize this is an old thread, but it's worth a revival to balance some of the information posted here.

I'm a veteran. When I first enrolled in law school, I had connected with the other vets in my class by the second week. We all quickly learned who the other vets were, what branch everyone served under, and what MOS (job specialty) everyone held. Wherever life takes a vet, he or she knows who the other vets are. If you did not receive an honorable discharge after your tour of duty, you are not only not in the clique, but you're likely to be ostracized by other vets if they find out you were kicked out. But you know that already. My career began with an interview in a field I knew nothing about. The interviewer had also done a tour in the military and we spent a full hour doing nothing but swapping stories about our time in the service. He hired me on the spot. But if my interviewer had learned that I received less than an honorable discharge, he would have stopped talking about the military immediately, and my interview would have ended on the note that several candidates were being considered. I never would have heard from him again.

You have to seriously F up to get kicked out of the military. This is true even if the discharge was for something fairly innocuous like being gay or getting caught with a little weed, for which they had almost no tolerance when I served. If the Army punts you from its ranks for something that didn't involve moral turpitude or a violent crime, then it was your judgment that failed you more than your conduct. To illustrate, soldiers who want to continue being soldiers do not smoke weed on base or have sex in the barracks with each other. It's too risky. That said, those who in the past were given a general discharge for being gay probably have nothing to worry about, other than the homophobia that they might face anywhere. Attitudes have changed. But you'd almost have to walk in the door announcing your sexual preference in order to overcome the blemish of a general discharge. If the discharge was for any other reason except medical, you'll have provide details that are probably very regrettable.

If your interviewer never served, you may be able to conceal your service record. But if your interviewer ever served in any branch, you'll have a difficult hurdle to get over. And given the legal field's interest in an attorney's background, it'll probably be a tough thing to conceal without lying, even if the interviewer never served. Fortunately for you, most people do not serve in the military, so the failure to connect as fellow vets may not matter with every firm that gives you an interview. But a general discharge will matter to some of them, and it will absolutely matter if the firm is run by a veteran. 

Job Search / Re: For all those who cry about our jobs stats......
« on: September 02, 2012, 12:01:26 PM »
Also, a 3.0 and a 4.0 are miles apart, Duncanjp.  At most state universities, a 3.0 in a liberal arts degree doesn't require hardly any effort.  Maybe some 4.0's aren't "that" impressive, but a true 4.0 shows dedication.    That said, a 3.6 and holding down a job is pretty dang impressive. A 3.0 and holding down a job shows you have the skills of a highly functioning primate, at least.

I wasn't belittling a 4.0, Jack . It's certainly impressive, regardless of the graduate's major. My point was that a person who has the luxury of going to college without having to hold down a job ought to get good grades. Working at BK or wherever is time-consuming, and it drains the person both mentally and physically. The student who can get good grades in undergrad while holding down steady employment simply demonstrates discipline, character, and a clear work ethic, which are highly marketable traits to have. This doesn't mean that a person with a 4.0 might not also possess the same traits. But the student with a high GPA who doesn't have to work has only proven that he or she did what one should expect of them during college. Obviously, they're capable of learning. But it doesn't really demonstrate much about their work ethic when required to do something they don't want to do, or whether they'll take mental health days on a regular basis, or how well they're going to cope with angry clients, insensitive bosses, snide co-workers, and the weekly grind out in the real world. Incidentally, I used to work with somebody who, unbelievably, had a custom license plate that read 4.0 GPA. Even if pretentious, he was a very intelligent guy. But his interpersonal skills created a thick glass ceiling over his head, which kept him from ever getting anywhere close to a position in management. My point is that, standing alone, a GPA, like the LSAT, is an imperfect predictor of later success.

That's anecdotal, I realize. I think Cher is correct, though. A person who works her way through college and gets a 3.3 would almost certainly have gotten a much higher GPA if she had not had to work at all. But she's shown things that the 4.0 has not necessarily shown: (1) the ability to manage her time under a substantially harder schedule; (2) an ability to juggle multiple, diverse responsibilities; and (3) an ability to function successfully outside the ivory tower of academia. Furthermore, there is a good probability that the working student with the solid GPA is going to have a healthier, more cooperative ego, than the 4.0, who will be tempted to think he's above mopping a floor or making a pot of coffee. After several years in management, I've seen enough of both to know and can declare from experience that a good attitude has far more to do with success in business (maybe not government) than one's superior knowledge. The person who has to work through college knows that she's not entitled to anything, and nobody's going to hand her a dime. The student who never worked through college may or may not know that, but as an employer weighing candidates, it crosses your mind - especially if you had to work through college yourself.

All of that being said, 10 or 15 years out of college, the playing field levels. Nobody is going to be uber-impressed by your 4.0 or the fact that you worked your way through college. Your credentials and success will speak for themselves. If you're right out of school looking for work, you stress your 4.0 if you have one, or you stress your character + solid GPA if you worked. There's no shame in either. But there's no excuse for getting a really low GPA, whether you worked or not. That person has shot himself in the foot big time. That person has shown that he cannot learn new things, cannot juggle responsibilities or manage time, and probably had no discipline in college at all. Would have been better waiting until he grew up a little before enrolling.

If you've read any of my posts on this or other topics you'll see that I'm not a snob when it comes to legal education. My own degree is from a small, regional school. But I have personal, recent experience with government law offices, and hiring is much more competitive than you seem to think. At both the office I worked at, and the office my wife (a local government attorney) currently works at, an online or unaccedited grad would not have gotten an interview no matter how good their writing sample was. And if you can't get the interview, who cares how good your interpersonal communication skills are? A Calbar grad might have gotten an interview if they had 5-10 years of relevant experience, but unquestionably there is a strong preference for ABA grads.

It's possible that in a rural county with fewer applicants the results would be different, or that small firms would not be quite so competitive.

Per usual, Roald, you write a well-considered, matter-of-fact post here that reflects an admirably balanced point of view. Personally, I would be intimidated to try to compete against ABA grads in a job competition outside of my career field (title insurance). You touch upon an undeniable reality about job hunting today that cannot be denied. I've held management positions with the responsibility for hiring and firing. A few years before the economy tanked, I ran an ad for an entry level position in my department and I received 150 replies. And again, that was before the crash. The only way I could handle the response was to automatically eliminate everyone who had not graduated from college, which was the vast majority. After that, I looked at where they attended school, what they studied, and where they had worked. I also paid attention to the quality of the writing in their cover letters, but I didn't get to the writing analysis until after I had assessed their academic credentials. Those with just an A.A. from a junior college went out with the others. Ultimately, I whittled the interviews down to two people who had graduated from the same UC that I graduated from, and one other who graduated from the local Cal State U. I hired one of the UC applicants and we enjoyed sharing the bond for the whole time that we worked together. For that reason, unless the employer has a non-ABA background herself, those from non-ABA schools who hope to be competitive against ABA grads probably need a wake-up call: they're going to be filtered out. Local governments are going broke. ABA grads themselves can't find work, and do-it-yourself legal websites are starting to tear into the opportunities that non-ABA grads once had. Non-ABA schools can be an appropriate choice for people in my shoes, but for those who hope to compete for work on the strength of nothing more than their academic credentials, I can't imagine settling for less than the very best school that would give them admission.

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