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11
General Board / good news
« on: October 13, 2010, 11:20:04 AM »
Legal sector adds 2,500 jobs in September


Submitted by admin on Tue, 10/12/2010 - 8:29am
 
Looking for a safe bet in the job market? Seems like legal jobs may be the way to go. According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal job sector added 2,500 new positions. This continues a three-month streak in which more people gained legal jobs than lost them.

While legal jobs have been on the rise since July, they remain in stark contrast to the most of the lagging U.S. economy. The BLS reported 95,000 jobs lost in September alone, 159,000 of those from government positions.


12
General Board / Doctrine and Practice: A Shared Responsibility?
« on: October 08, 2010, 09:22:21 AM »
Doctrine and Practice: A Shared Responsibility?

Comments at a recent conference are making waves among some members of the legal education community.

The Legal Writing Prof Blog reports on a discussion at the Southeastern Association of Law Schools conference, where, according to the blog, New York Law School Dean Richard Matasar “stated that the idea that we can treat research and writing as a separate course is not optimal and that the entire law school must embrace a shared responsibility for education (including skills education).  He said that we need to challenge assumptions and challenge the separation of teaching research and writing from substantive learning.

I should note that the discussion has raised some heated debate about various important points in legal education, including the status of tenure, which I’m not addressing in this column. There is also an insightful follow-up post on the blog regarding the status of legal writing professors, featuring comments by Professor Ralph Brill of the Chicago-Kent College of Law in response to the original post by Professor Mark Wojcik of the John Marshall Law School. But, seeing as we’re a magazine for law students, what is most interesting to me is the suggestion at the end of the blog post that all this business about faculty status influences students’ perceptions of their writing/clinical faculty and classes. The Legal Writing Prof Blog reports that at the conference in question, “other professors in the audience pointed out that they did not fully realize how student perceptions of faculty status affected how students approach their legal writing classes.”

Are students truly so aware and engaged that they understand the differences between “doctrinal” and “clinical/writing” faculty where a school uses a faculty status model that differentiates between those two categories? If a school uses different titles to label “doctrinal” v. “clinical/writing” faculty, it’s feasible that students would catch on — but many schools don’t.

Today’s law student has been absolutely inundated with information about the importance of clinical education, on-the-job writing and analytical skills and practical experience. For our part, I couldn’t even count the number of times the National Jurist has featured, mentioned or praised a law student clinic or advised students to better their writing skills, enroll in a clinic or otherwise gain practical experience. Students know that employers are expecting new hires to “hit the ground running.”

So, say we polled law students and asked them to rank the importance of the following three goals in what they’d like to get out of their legal education:

1. Preparedness to sit for and pass the bar exam

2. Preparedness to enter law practice

3. Doctrinal teachings and engaging in the “casebook” method

This is just my guess, but I would bet that “doctrine” would come in a distant third to the other two choices. Perhaps the old adage of “law school doesn’t prepare you for law practice” rang true in the 1900s. In this century, law students expect to leave law school knowing what they need to know to pass the bar and practice law. It should follow, then, that many students might find their clinical and practical courses and profs (including those that focus on legal research and writing) to be more useful than the so-called “doctrinal” courses. Yet the comment by “professors in the audience” above suggests otherwise.

It is clear that doctrine still has a huge place in legal education. Teaching students to “think like a lawyer” is, and should be, a fundamental goal. Of course, “doctrinal” teaching and “practical” teaching shouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive. I was lucky enough to go to and now teach at a law school that focuses on practical teaching, and even in the “doctrinal” classes as a student, we would often learn about the “practical” side. The infusion of practice and theory can work, which is why Dean Matasar’s theory sounds, in the least, intriguing. But my question is for the students and recent alumni: regardless of whatever approach to faculty status is in place at your school, have you personally noticed differential treatment among various professors — and, more importantly, has your perception of the professors or the courses they teach been altered as a result?




13
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / seeking advice
« on: October 07, 2010, 11:31:27 AM »
I am hoping someone can offer me some good advice. As I wait to hear from law schools I'm starting to have doubts. I KNOW I want to be an attorney but I also KNOW I want to be a public interest attorney. I currently have a mortgage and I'm starting to have fears about leaving my job, in this economy, based on the possibility that I could be a legal aid attorney.
I understand I need a law degree to be a legal aid attorney but I also know the law degree isn't a guarantee and I don't think I want to practice any other type of law.
I think I'd be more hopeful if I lived in a bigger city with more opportunity but I'd prefer to stay in Iowa.
I don't want to enter law school naive but I don't want to have regrets later..(not attending law school or having mortgage sized debt and still not doing what I want to do)


14
Twenty-nine percent of lawyers interviewed for The Robert Half Legal Hiring Index plan to add legal jobs, while 6 percent anticipate declines, resulting in a net 23 percent increase in projected hiring activity in the latter half of 2010.

Bankruptcy/foreclosure is predicted to be the most active practice area with 24 percent of the response; litigation ranked second (18 percent) followed by healthcare (17 percent).

In addition, the majority (88 percent) of survey respondents said they were at least somewhat confident in their organizations' ability to expand during the next quarter.

Robert Half Legal, a premier legal staffing firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals, developed the survey conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with 100 lawyers at law firms with 20 or more employees, and 100 corporate lawyers at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents had hiring authority within their organizations.

Lawyers were asked, “Does your law firm or company plan to increase or decrease the number of full-time legal personnel on your staff during the fourth quarter of 2010?”

Their responses:

Increase: 29%

Decrease: 6%

No change: 59%

Don’t know: 6%

“As the economy regains its footing, legal organizations continue to make strategic hires to support active practice groups,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “Law firms, in particular, are expanding their legal teams to improve service offerings and meet client demands.”

Nearly half (45 percent) of lawyers said it is challenging to find skilled legal professionals.

“Despite high unemployment rates, the market remains competitive for candidates with experience in growing practice areas,” Volkert said.

Survey participants identified lawyers (95 percent) as the type of full-time legal position they intend to add followed by legal secretaries/assistants (36 percent) and paralegals (26 percent).

“Demand for associates who can generate revenue and support staff who can perform multiple job functions should remain strong in the coming months,” Volkert said.


15
They say that law schools and banks are running a scam. “Dishonest” law schools report misleading employment data, which lures prospective students into the profession like “hapless lemmings” to their death. The “greedy” banks happily give the students oppressive loans to pay for the exorbitant tuition fees. And then the students graduate to discover that the high-paying salaries and jobs are just not there.

“It’s really just a ponzi scheme,” Scott Bullock told the New Jersey Star-Ledger in August. “They’re just cranking kids out for $45,000 a year.”

Bullock was, until recently, one of a dozen or more law school scam bloggers. The 2005 graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law stopped his blog soon after the Star-Ledger story revealed his identity, but not before thousands of readers visited his site.

And his was not the most popular. Shilling Me Softly, a blog by Kimber Russell, a 2008 graduate from DePaul University College of Law, has attracted almost 30,000 visitors in just over three months. Third Tier Reality is the most visited site to date, with more than 100,000 visitors since it launched more than a year ago.

“There are elements of fraud and misrepresentation,” said Fernando Rodriguez, who authors the blog. “The cost is the biggest thing that upsets us. If tuition was more reasonable, it would not be such a scam.”

Rodriguez, who graduated from Drake University Law School in 2008, said his goal, and the goal of most scam bloggers, is to warn prospective students of the dangers of an overpriced legal education. He says it is one of the only things disgruntled recent graduates can do to fight the problem.

While some have referred to these critics as a “deeply unhappy” minority, William Henderson, a law professor at Indiana University Mauer School of Law, said the anger and frustration is real.

“The new math of legal education is grim reading for the large number of today’s law students and new lawyers earning less than they need to meet their loan payments,” Henderson wrote in a recent article. “Prospective law students need better information about the legal marketplace. Law school brochures are filled with glossy pictures of alumni at large law firms. Many law schools fail to provide the complete picture of what their graduates do and how much they earn.”

Last year two Vanderbilt law students started an effort — Law School Transparency — to collect more accurate employment data from law schools. The students, Patrick Lynch and Kyle McEntee, unveiled their plans to schools this summer. In August, another recent graduate, Zenovia Evans, waged a nearly month-long hunger strike to support their cause. While her strike was ridiculed even by some of the scam bloggers, her action shows just how deep the anger and frustration has grown. 

The jury is out on whether Law School Transparency’s efforts will succeed. But most agree that it has added to an overall conversation among professors and deans on the matter.

In August, Brian Tamanaha, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis wrote a wake-up call to his peers (read it on page 6).

“Law professors know there is a problem,” Tamanaha said. “We see students. We know about the heavy debt burdens. I am just the guy who wrote about this one afternoon to prompt some collective conversation.”

The conversation may be making some progress. The American Bar Association accreditation committee has announced that as part of an overall review of its standards, it will look closely at employment data.

But the scam bloggers say the ABA is unlikely to make substantial change.

“If they really feel the pressure they may institute some change,” Rodriguez said. “But I don’t think it would be long term. More of a band-aid approach to make it look like there is real change when there is not."


16
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / top law school vs national law school
« on: October 03, 2010, 09:29:46 PM »
I would like some clarification-what is the difference between a top law school and a national law school? I know about the tier system but I read somewhere that some schools cater to a niche market and that makes them a national law school. (HBCU,schools that have a religious connection like Ava Marie) Does that really make a difference or are these schools really still just regional?

17
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / socratic method
« on: October 02, 2010, 08:17:53 PM »
just wondering if anyone would care to share their expierences with the socratic method..most of my fear or anxiety revolves around the socratic method

18
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / For Current Law Students
« on: September 29, 2010, 07:32:40 PM »
Other than the law-what else have u learned in law school or what do u think should be taught that isn't?

19
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / law school grades
« on: September 29, 2010, 04:00:36 PM »
GPA determines your career success, study finds


Submitted by Jack on Tue, 09/28/2010 - 11:04am
 
Law students have long known that grades are important in the job search. But a new study underscores just how important they are for long-term success as well. In fact, law school grades are far more important than the prestige of the school one attends, the study’s author’s state.

“The eliteness of one’s school, by itself, means little in the absence of high performance at school,” the report states. “The quantitative evidence also suggests that the importance of law school eliteness is exaggerated in most discussions about legal markets. Law firms, which once hired exclusively from a narrow set of elite firms, now hire associates from dozens of different law schools.”

The study found that grades are predictive of attorneys making partner at large law firms.

Jane Yakowitz, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School and one of the two authors of the study, said that student’s law school GPA today is far more predictive of success than the school’s ranking — which is different from the past.

Yakowitz wrote the article with Rick Sander, a law professor at University of California Los Angeles and a labor economist. It is based on several employment-tracking studies over the past few years. Sander undertook the study to determine whether admissions preferences help African Americans or hurt them in the long run.

“Law school should be viewed as the beginning of your legal career,” Sander said. “There is this remarkably pervasive conventional wisdom which dismisses law school as too theoretical.”

Sander advises students to take law school seriously and to avoid distractions.

Yakowitz said the study shows that night students are more distracted and don’t perform as well, as a result leading to less success in their legal career.

Sander said the study also shows that grades determine success on the bar exam.

“There is a widespread perception that bar review courses are really important,” he said. “That students can blow off three years of law school and take a bar prep course. And that is totally false. If you look at bar performance, law school grades predict 70 percent of bar performance.”

The study does not focus on why GPA is more predictive. But Sander said he feels that what law students are learning is directly relevant to skills as a lawyer.

“You get intellectual self-confidence from doing well in law school that helps you do better in your career,” he said.

Yakowitz said that it is a virtuous cycle. Once you start doing well, it motivates you through law school and your career.

But others see a different reason for the study’s findings.

William Henderson, a law professor at Indiana University-Bloomington, said the study’s data is solid. But he feels the reason behind it is more related to student’s motivation.

“There are two ways to get high grades,” he said. “You are really smart or you are somewhat smart and highly motivated. The purest form of motivation is found with people at the top of their class at regional law schools.”

He said students at regional schools are very aggressive and work hard, as they know they will not have the school pedigree to get by on.

Sander said the study shows that students who choose to attend a more elite school take a hit to their GPA. The study uses the following hypothetical to explain:

“Imagine an average student (GPA 3.25-3.5) at 47th ranked University of Florida,” the report states. “If she had attended 20th ranked George Washington University, her grades likely would have slipped to the 2.75-3.0 range, and her salary would drop considerably (by 22 percent.) If she had attended 80th ranked Rutgers, she probably could have improved her grades to land in the 3.5-3.75 range, and earned a 13 percent higher salary. Access to a top 10 school simply would not have been an option — even the weakest students at the top 10 law schools have higher entering credentials than the median student at a school in the middle of the rankings, so our comparisons are most meaningful within a range of 20-30 places in the rankings in either direction.”   


20
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / fyi-LOR
« on: September 21, 2010, 01:48:12 PM »
Nearly 90 percent of law school admissions officers report they have received a negative letter of recommendation about an applicant, according to a survey of admissions officers by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.

A word of warning: Aspiring lawyers need to be more careful about who they call as their own character witnesses for their law school recommendations.

According to the new survey from officers at 145 law schools across the United States, 87 percent say they have received a negative letter of recommendation about an applicant. Fifteen percent report that a poor letter of recommendation is actually the biggest application killer.

“While your LSAT score and GPA are by far the most important factors in your application, letters of recommendation do factor in, and what these results show us is that students need to be much more self-aware about who they choose to advocate for them in their applications,” said Howard Bell, executive director, pre-law programs, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. “First rule: Do no harm. Only ask for recommendations from people who like you personally and think highly of you.”

Still, 64 percent of admissions officers report that an applicant’s LSAT score is the most important admission factor. GPA placed second with 23 percent.

The Kaplan survey also reports that 73 percent of admissions officers have discovered claims on an applicant’s application to be “exaggerated or untrue.”


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