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Messages - FalconJimmy

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631
Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Nova Law School- Any good??
« on: March 24, 2011, 01:50:03 PM »
I am not applying to any schools with drop out rates in the double digits. Sorry I want to know that after all my hard damn work trying to get in, once I'm in I'd have to be actually trying to fail out to fail out.

But don't you think that wouldn't apply to you no matter where you go?  The lower tiered schools aren't booting out their best students.

I agree with your logic:  they're opening the doors wide, giving opportunities to people who otherwise couldn't go.  But if they can't hack it, they're sending them packing. 

If you're a person who could get admitted to better schools than that, if you went to the lower ranked school, you wouldn't be one of the folks they're weeding out, right? 

632
Law School Admissions / Re: Advice Needed
« on: March 24, 2011, 07:59:53 AM »
1.) Will law schools look at the trend of my grades rather than just the cumulative GPA, since it is clear that when I got out of pre-med classes I started to truly excel? I'm worried that when looking at a 3.5 alone I will be thrown out at top law schools.

Yes, but tread lightly here.  I would emphasize the trend, but you might want to soft-peddle that it was the change of major that did it.  Will elaborate in a moment.

2.) Is this something to write about/explain in law school apps?

Yes.  Same caveats as above.  You will have a chance to write a personal statement and explaining improving grades and/or poor early performance is something many people write about.  Also, some schools let you add an addendum to your application for this purpose.


3.) Most, if not all, of my extracurriculars are medically-related. Is it a negative to not have any law experience when applying to law school?

Not a negative at all.

Okay, here's the word of warning. 

Law school does not require any particular undergraduate major.  Unlike med-school, there aren't even any prerequisites.  The folks who know they want to go to an elite law school have, in many cases, gone through their undergrad getting the easiest possible major.  Frankly, if you KNOW you want to be an attorney, you're foolish to do anything but chose the easiest major with the maximum number of electives.  You want to graduate with the highest possible GPA, period.  Doesn't matter in what or for what.

Now, you, me, and all sentient mammals may know damned well that a degree in the humanities and a degree in biochem are about as comparable as a picture drawn with a crayon and the ceiling of the sistine chapel.

However, you need to take your audience into account, here.  The admissions committee is probably a bunch of similarly brilliant JDs who may have fully understood how the game is played and got glorified basket-weaving degrees in undergrad.  It's not that they're bad.  It's that they understood how the game is played, and they played it.  And they won.

They do NOT want to read how your grades improved when you changed your major from something hard to something fluff.  That is saying, essentially, that the typical undergrad majors of most high-achieving law school students is a joke.  It is also implying that these brilliant JDs from top schools would have mostly been lost in the sauce without a spoon if they'd had to take a real major in college.

At this point in their careers, they've drank the kool-aid.  They will tell you up and down how their humanities degrees made them better critical thinkers, etc.  Also, they will tell you that a humanities degree is not easy to get and that getting good grades requires brains and hard work (and they're right.) 

I assure you this will NOT play well if you try to imply otherwise.  At this point, these guys are almost all relatively wealthy, successful, and worked their butts off to get where they are.  They are not willing or ready to acknowledge that their undergrad education was in any way inferior to anybody else's.  To them it was just as difficult, just as rigorous, and it prepared them for the tremendous success they had in law school.

They honestly believe that their 3.9 gpa in sociology would have been a 3.9 in petroleum engineering.  In a few cases, they are right. 

So, my advice?  Absolutely do NOT frame it as, "yeah, my grades sucked at first, but that's because I was taking a hard major with hard classes.  Once I started taking the typical pre-law classes, my GPA shot up."  The subtext of an argument like that is, "Well, I did okay when I was in school with smart people.  But once I started competing with dumbarses, I whipped them like the morons everybody knows they are."

633
I found quite a gap between my experience in the military (USMC, enlisted, served with 1st Battalion 3rd Marines in the early/mid 90s) and my time in the civilian world, where I have spent the last 14 years in the IT / infosec space. All told I am glad that I had the experience of being a Marine, but at the same time I am glad that I am not still there. Although I can see how others could have different experiences, especially those who opt to serve in other branches.

I guess my point here is that in the military, the screaming and yelling is overt and frankly, it is very unpleasant.  However, in the corporate world, I found that the higher up I got, the more common it was to be involved in political games that you weren't aware of until it was too late.  Basically, once you reach middle management and are in the ballpark of six figures, things get sorta cutthroat very quickly.

Contrast to military officers, where you are making about $80,000 a year once you make O-3 (usually 4 years in, 2 years for Jag), and well over $100,000 once you're 10 years in.  Those promotions aren't that political.  By the time things get very, very political, you have your 20 years in and can retire if you want.  (Or sometimes you retire even if you don't want.) 

Unlike a mid-level manager or lower level executive in a corporation who might be elbowed out after 20 (usually without any sort of golden parachute... if you're lucky, you get a few weeks severance, that's it), a military officer who is pushed out at 20 years is retired with a lifetime pension and medical benefits. 

Just saying that there are obvious disadvantages to a military career, but there are advantages, too.  I'm not necessarily saying I'd have done an active-duty career if I had it all to do over again.  Just saying that there are things to dislike about a civilian career, too.

634
Law School Admissions / Re: Low GPA and LSAT
« on: March 22, 2011, 08:20:19 AM »
According to the LSAT/UGPA search at https://officialguide.lsac.org/release/OfficialGuide_Default.aspx, you have a 12% to 25% chance of being accepted at South Texas.

I could be totally wrong about this, but when I see chances that low, I'm thinking that if you're not a URM, you may really need to re-think it.

635
Received big scholarship to Hamline, or I could stay home and attend Phoenix School of Law with a medium scholarship. Is anybody here considering either school? I would like to hear more and share my experiences with you too. If you are are concerned about flaming, please PM me.

Thanks!

I am not attending either school, but wish I could go to Phoenix.  (Personal reasons, unrelated to law school.)  It is what it is.  It's 4T reality.  Just get in there and fight for your class rank.  If you do well enough after 1L you can consider transferring. 

I probably don't need to tell you that if you don't do very well your only real shot is probably going to be to start your own practice.

 I'd say go with the school that's in an area you want to live in, and where you want to practice afterwards.  If you ask me, I'd much rather spend 3 years, or the rest of my life, in Arizona versus Minnesota. 

Student loan debt sucks, but if you're young enough, inflation nibbles away at it a little bit and if you don't take too much, it's just like a large car payment.  So, you have to drive a hoopty for a while.  Lots of folks do that.

Your life will be defined by the people you meet, the places you live, the things you experience.  In the end, it will not be defined by how much coin you have in the bank.

Best of luck.

636
I have. Military strategy is a bit of a hobby of mine and I have a great mindset for an officer. I put my name on the dotted line at my local recruiting office though and they own my ass for the next 4-8 years. It would help me get federal jobs, would be  very good pay etc but I'm not much of the conformist type. I'd really hate Sgt. Mcgraw yelling in my face to do a barrel roll or whatever and unlike other jobs, you quit, you go to prison. 

It has its downsides to be sure.  However, the amount of "in your face" I experienced (and experience) in the military isn't that different than what happens in the civilian world.  It just takes a slightly different form.  It's more out in the open, which is more of a blessing than a curse, IMHO.

637
Visits, Admit Days, and Open Houses / Re: Wayne State: Worth it?
« on: March 21, 2011, 01:27:38 PM »
Hi FJ:

Thanks for the scoop.  I was surprised at Toledo's fall b/c the school was starting to make inroads in the Detroit area.  In the last year or so I've heard from three partners at mid-sized Detroit firms that they had hired Toledo clerks for the summer and were impressed w/ their work.   I suppose Toledo's drop is good for law grads in the Detroit area, since the market here is already bad.

Maybe.  I think things just sorta suck everywhere.  The Detroit job market has a lot more problems than people coming up from Toledo to take their jobs.  It's just bleak all over.

638
I don't see how any of those three is a bad move.

I would think about where you want to live.  All three are top national law schools, but all three are going to have a lot of local opportunities, too.  Maybe the top of the class will have offers that relocate them to NYC, boston, DC, LA, SF, but the rest of the class will likely be competing in the local market for jobs.

You sound like a really smart person, but you never know.  Compared to the average student at those schools, you might just be average.  A whole lot of somebodies with monster LSATs and undergrad GPAs are going to be in the bottom 30%.  Not saying that will be you, but it might be. 

If it is, you will probably have to look for jobs, regionally, unless you have some sort of special connections somewhere.  In that case, you want to go where you wouldn't mind living afterwards. 

639
A) like to work for my country

Have you considered a hitch in the military, either before or after law school? 

Just a sort of WAG, but if you joined the military as a linguist (they'll train you up in any language in the world), got a TS clearance, then got out with your history degree, you'd be a great candidate for foreign service, etc.

640
I go to the top school in my market and only half of last years class had a job at graduation.

Do you think this has something to do with the economy, though?  I mean, new grads of all stripes (both law and non-law) are having trouble finding jobs.  I wonder if perhaps the situation you describe has more to do with the economy than your school.

Totally agree with your post, though.

My anectdotal evidence may be grossly out of date, too.  In the 90s, I knew two women who ended up as biglaw associates at a big firm.  One of them was a gunner from day 1.  I knew her when she was in law school. 

The following is based on my limited universe of the cleveland market, but I think it could apply elsewhere.

She'd say things like, "You can only work biglaw if you go to case and do really well.  Otherwise, maybe they'll look at you if you go to Akron, but only if you're #1 in your class."

So, even then, she was acknowledging that there was a path to biglaw from 4T schools.  (Akron was 4T at the time.)

Once she worked for a while, though, she really changed her tune.  She indicated that her firm also picked up people from Cleveland State (which was either 3T or 4T.  I really don't remember.)  I think they still picked up the bulk of their new associates from Case, but there were enough people from "lesser" schools that she thought it was noteworthy.  At one point, I think she even said it wouldn't have mattered if she'd gone to CSU.

The overall impression I got was that yeah, you could get a job there from CSU, but that you'd better place really high in your class.

Again, somewhat validated by what you said, generally speaking the students at CWRU are better than the students at CSU.  If you take the same guy and put him at CWRU, maybe he is top 20%, but put him at CSU and he's maybe top 10%.  If you're the #1 student at CSU, there's a fair to middlin' chance that you might have been #1 at CWRU, too.  At a minimum, you probably would have been near the top.

I think firms that are hiring take this into account.  They aren't going to treat all schools equally, but they do look at people from most sorts of schools.  You just have to do a little better if your school is not as highly regarded.

These days, things are pretty bad all over, but I know that when I went to my school's preview day, they had some recent grads who had pretty good jobs.  I presume these people were the very top of the class.  Class sizes are small (maybe 100 students, maybe a few more), so to be in the top 10%, you pretty much have to be one of the 10 best students. 

However, there are jobs for those very top folks.  It's where folks are, say, down lower in rank that I think they're really, really struggling to find work.    Supply and demand.  Lots of grads, very few jobs.  So, the people with jobs can be very, very picky.

I also maybe am looking at this differently.  If the top 10% are getting good jobs (and by that, I mean six figure jobs), then that's pretty darned good.  If you took a typical guy who got a bachelor's degree, it's pretty unlikely they'll get a six figure job 3 years after graduation.  Chances are they'll be schlubbing around at something less than $50,000.  So, at a disparity that great, law school makes sense.

For those who graduate at the bottom of their class?  Yeah, I admit, I believe it when folks say that they're totally ****ed.  However, most degree programs are that way.  Some aren't, but most are.  If you graduate in the bottom of your class, your career isn't over, but you're going to have trouble finding a job and it probably won't pay well.

That's not law school's fault.  That's just the way things are.

Though, as an attorney, you can put up a web-site (I mean, how much does that cost, really?), open  up a family law practice and who knows.  Maybe after a few years, you'll be pulling down six figures, too.  Not hard to do if you're billing $150 an hour and $150 an hour isn't that high of a billing rate.

You might have to work long hours, but frankly, folks who make six figures usually do. 

I also think there's 4T and there's 4T.  Looking at Ohio schools, honestly, I mean no disrespect to anybody, but I don't think anybody thinks there's a whit of difference between CSU, U of Toledo and U of Akron Law.  I think they're all regarded as competent, not particularly remarkable, and just solid, state-supported law schools with rather forgiving admissions policies. 

I don't think anybody thinks of them as “great”, but I don't think anybody thinks of them as “bad” either.  They're “good”, solid, they teach you the law and get you ready to practice if you're willing to put in the work and you have some potential.  The top of the classes probably do very well.  The bottom of the classes probably not so much.

They all move around a lot between 3T and 4T.  Once in a while, one of them will crack the lower part of 2T.  (Toledo has been there a couple of times this century).  There seems to be a lot of movement and jockeying in the 3 and 4T. 

That tells me the rankings are highly imprecise when drawing distinctions between these schools.  You just can't take them too seriously if it's possible to be #98 one year, and in the hoard below #143 three years later.  Contrast to the T14, where the schools are the same every year. 

Now, some schools are in the 4T, always have been, and never will get out.  It's almost like they need a special 5T category, but really, what purpose would that serve?  Only a very naïve person would go to those schools thinking it was a great school, anyway. 

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