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Messages - Burning Sands, Esq.

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Job Search / Re: How to get a Job
« on: June 07, 2014, 06:34:34 AM »
I think maybe they meant to say after they finish the fall semester(?)

Assuming that you're starting law school this fall, the time to start looking for internships is actually regulated by the ABA (assuming you're at an ABA accredited law school); you can start sending out resumes after December 1st for summer internships.

Your career services department at your school can help you search for jobs. In addition, you can contact legal employers directly and ask if they're taking on summer interns for the following summer and, if so, what criteria should be included in your application.  Typically this will consist of: (i) cover letter; (ii) resume;  and (iii) 1st semester transcript.

Online Law Schools / Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
« on: June 04, 2014, 06:48:17 AM »
As with the other "advocate" positions raised earlier, one does not need a law degree to be a patent agent.  A Bachelor's will do just fine.  In other words, you don't need go through the time, energy and expense of law school in order to be an "advocate."  If that is your end goal, then you can get started on that path now and skip the J.D.


If the goal is to become a patent agent or SSA advocate, then spending money on a JD probably does not pass the cost/benefit analysis. I believe the OP's intention, however, was to point out career options for DL students who do not pass the bar.

Let's say you get an online/correspondence JD, take the bar a few times, and realize that it's not going to happen. Is there a way to utilize the knowledge and make money? Perhaps.

Although a JD is not required for these careers, knowledge of statutory construction, civil procedure, and maybe conlaw is useful. In that way the JD holder can enhance their abilities and be a better patent agent, SSA advocate, etc.

I don't think the OP was suggesting that anyone obtain a JD in order to become an advocate, or that they become an advocate in lieu of professional licensure.

Right. I guess my comments were focused on the OP's premise where they said:

Given that a number of DL students won't pass the California Bar

This is effectively a concession that if you go into a DL program then you will not end up practicing law.  In other words, a DL program will relegate you to a life of advocacy at best, but not the practice of law.

If such is the case, and we are aware of this information as we sit here today, then why even bother going to a DL law school? Just begin your advocacy right now and skip law school.

Online Law Schools / Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
« on: June 04, 2014, 06:38:35 AM »

At least the patent agent has to take an exam and have a minimum amount of specific relevant education.

True. Good point.

Online Law Schools / Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
« on: June 03, 2014, 10:14:14 PM »
I think a prime example is the distinction between a patent agent and a patent attorney).  Both a patent agent and a patent attorney have to take and pass the patent bar.  After taking the patent bar, both can file a patent application with the USPTO on somebody's behalf.  But the patent agent cannot give advice to a patent inventor, which, critically, includes advice on whether or not the inventor's patent might be infringing on someone else's patent or vice versa. In addition, the patent agent cannot draft license agreements or other contracts that would help the inventor earn royalties on their invention.  And, of course, the patent agent cannot represent an inventor in court if and when their patent is challenged by another inventor.  The patent agent can only prosecute patents inside the USPTO, which goes back to the point someone raised earlier about being an "advocate" vs. being an attorney: the patent agent can be an advocate by helping somebody navigate the complex labyrinth of procedures inside the USPTO, but their advocacy ends there.  Anything beyond that requires an attorney.

As with the other "advocate" positions raised earlier, one does not need a law degree to be a patent agent.  A Bachelor's will do just fine.  In other words, you don't need go through the time, energy and expense of law school in order to be an "advocate."  If that is your end goal, then you can get started on that path now and skip the J.D.

Online Law Schools / Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
« on: June 03, 2014, 06:57:05 PM »
Yes, that's absolutely right. Practicing law without a license is illegal and unethical.

I think what we're talking about I this thread are a few jobs in which a legal education would be helpful, but bar admission is not required.

The fine line that such an individual must walk is to avoid giving legal advice (practicing law) while still advocating for their client. My understanding is that non-lawyers can represent clients in certain administrative hearings such as SSA, VA, Patent Office, and some IRS proceedings.

They aren't supposed to hold themselves out as attorneys or offer legal advice, although I imagine that does indeed happen.

I see.

In that case, law school itself is not needed for those kinds of positions.

Online Law Schools / Re: Practice of "Law" w/out a License
« on: June 03, 2014, 04:17:09 PM »
I'm a bit confused by the discussion in this thread seeing as how nobody can "practice law" without a license.   Practicing law without a license is a crime in any state, including the state of California:

SECTION 6125-6133

6125.  No person shall practice law in California unless the person
is an active member of the State Bar.

6126.  (a) Any person advertising or holding himself or herself out
as practicing or entitled to practice law or otherwise practicing law
who is not an active member of the State Bar, or otherwise
authorized pursuant to statute or court rule to practice law in this
state at the time of doing so, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable
by up to one year in a county jail or by a fine of up to one thousand
dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment. Upon a
second or subsequent conviction, the person shall be confined in a
county jail for not less than 90 days, except in an unusual case
where the interests of justice would be served by imposition of a
lesser sentence or a fine. If the court imposes only a fine or a
sentence of less than 90 days for a second or subsequent conviction
under this subdivision, the court shall state the reasons for its
sentencing choice on the record.

1) Nova is $50k cheaper and I've made some very solid connections with Nova grads in the area and even found myself a mentor that is a Nova grad.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: connections are everything in this profession.

If you already have a strong base of connections for what you are trying to accomplish in the Nova area market, then Nova is the logical choice.  This isn't to say that you can't establish connections that are just as strong in the Tallahassee market if you went to FSU, but your current connections are worth their weight in gold. 

You have to ask yourself what you'd rather do.  If the end goal is to work in Tallahassee in a state agency then FSU is where you need to be because it will allow you to establish those network connections.  If that's not the end goal then Nova sounds like where you need to be.

Black Law Students / Re: Possibilities
« on: June 02, 2014, 06:37:50 PM »
That is a great summary and it really is unfortunate how many people fail to use common sense when choosing a law school. When your in 0L or law school bubble it seems so important, but the reality is real lawyers are not paying attention to the rankings they have staffing needs etc. The majority of firms can only afford to recruit locally the San Diego D.A.'s Office is going to do OCI at the San Diego Law Schools and maybe L.A. ones. There is no way they are going to do OCI at Iowa, Kansas, or Idaho even if those schools are far higher ranked than Thomas Jefferson and Cal Western.

Exactly right. 

I practice Biglaw in New York, which is a ridiculously competitive legal market.  The big firms here pull heavily from the so-called "T 14" which I'd estimate make up around 60 to 70% of all associates at any given NY firm.  The other 30 to 40% of associates come from the NYC area law schools (Fordham, Cardozo, Brooklyn, Rutgers, Seton Hall, St. John's, etc.).  It is rare -- and I do mean rare -- to run across an associate from a quote unquote "high ranked" school geographically located outside of the NYC area.  There are several reasons for this which primarily boil down to (i) local connections; (ii) regional reputation; and (iii) convenient geography for OCI.


Black Law Students / Re: Possibilities
« on: June 02, 2014, 06:14:28 PM »
I knew so many people who went to college with me in LA, then went to law school in Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Washington because they simply chose the school with the highest USNWR rank. They quickly found out upon returning to LA that local students had a distinct advantage in terms of connections and employment, and that nobody really cares that you went to the #42 school instead of the #53 school. At that level, alumni connections and location are far, far more important.

Leaving a major legal market to gain a few measly points in school rank is a huge mistake and, as you mentioned, shows a complete misunderstanding of how legal employers interpret school rankings.  Connections are paramount to everything, even school ranking.  One (1) good connection can outweigh school rank, class rank, law review, moot court, student leadership groups, etc.  So my advice to any 0L's or current law students reading this, if you're at the #60 or 70-something law school (whatever that is) located in the market where you'd like to practice and you're obsessing over transferring to another school to gain a few points in class rank then you're missing the point.  Save yourself a lot of time, money and energy and focus your obsession on the number of solid connections you can make in your legal market.  You'll thank me later.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Feb vs July bar exam scaled scores
« on: June 01, 2014, 11:44:58 AM »
I agree that there is a lower pass rate and thus "harder" on paper but I guess what I'm asking is this.

Since the average taker is a retaker (who statistically do worse) and/or a foreign trained attorney (same type of stats) wouldn't that lower the curve for the otherwise average person?

For example, if I showed up to a class in Algebra that was filled with remedial math students
 that was on the curve I'd get an A even though I am most likely not an A student in math otherwise.
That is the angle I was looking at it from.

You'd be exactly right if the scale worked like a curve but it's slightly different.  The way the MBE scale works is that it takes a subset of about 20-30 questions on each exam iteration and studies how students did on that subset as compared to how they did overall. The subset is comprised of easy, medium and difficult level questions and these same questions have been repeated (with minor variations) from year to year since the MBE was first administered.  Students who performed poorly on the MBE should, in theory, perform poorly on the subset of questions.  Students who performed so-so on the MBE should, in theory, perform so-so on the subset and likewise students who aced the MBE will ace the subset.

If enough students who aced the MBE have trouble doing equally as well on the subset, then the exam is "scaled" up to compensate for the difficulty of the exam. Similarly, if enough students who bombed the MBE unexpectedly end up acing a significant amount of the subset questions then the exam will actually be "scaled" down.  The theory is that by using this scaling process every MBE that is given each year should not be any harder or easier than the first MBE that was ever given way back when.

So even though February does have a large % of retakers, and retakers do tend to perform poorly, the test will not be scaled up or down just because the retakers perform poorly.  The scale already accounts for that.  In order for the scale to move the needle one way or the other, a lot of smart kids have to do well on the MBE as a whole while simultaneously screwing up on the subset (meaning that the exam was harder than previous years which will result in a bump up for everyone), or alternatively, a lot of not-so-smart kids have to screw up on the MBE as a whole while simultaneously acing the subset questions (meaning that the exam was harder than previous years which will actually result in a bump down for everyone).

I know,  it's crazy right?

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