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Messages - Burning Sands, Esq.

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41
Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: Possibilities
« on: June 02, 2014, 08:14:28 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.

42
General Off-Topic Board / Re: Feb vs July bar exam scaled scores
« on: June 01, 2014, 01:44:58 PM »
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?

43
Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: Possibilities
« on: June 01, 2014, 06:13:33 AM »
Good point regarding the arbitrary rankings in U.S. News & World Report. The fact that most schools move up and down from year to year when literally nothing at the school has changed speaks to the Rankings' lack of credibility. People assume that the Rankings are accurate simply because they place the ivies at the top of the list, but that completely ignores the inconsistencies at the other 200 schools.

@NewlyMinted: I don't think anyone is debating that a JD from Harvard would provide more opportunities than say a JD from Thomas Cooley. Citylaw's point, as well as my own, is that OUTSIDE OF the first 14 schools in the Rankings (that would include Harvard) the Rankings are arbitrary and largely irrelevant with respect to job opportunities.  Outside of the so-called "T 14", a school's job opportunities are mainly regional,  meaning employers in any given market pull from the law schools in or nearby their respective market. 

For example, Philadelphia law firms will hire from the T 14 first, and after they've done that they will likely still have a need for associates that exceeds their T 14 pool of candidates.  In order to fill their need, they will next turn to the law students in their region which would include graduates of Penn State, Temple, Rutgers Camden and Villanova.  Those same Philadelphia firms would probably NOT go out of their way to hire a graduate from the University of Illinois School of Law, even though that school is technically ranked higher than all of the area Philadelphia law schools.  Likewise, a University of Illinois grad will have a much better time securing employment in the Chicago market than the graduates of the aforementioned Philly market schools.

44
Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: Possibilities
« on: May 31, 2014, 12:03:33 PM »
I'm a little bit late to the party but Citylaw and smu are correct - be sure you even want to go to law school in the first place because the LSAT is just the beginning. 

Also, as has been mentioned, rankings beyond the top 14 schools do not matter. I had a friend break a lease and move to another state to go from the #62 law school to be at the #52 law school.  Ironically, the graduates from her old class at the #62 ranked school wound up with jobs while she graduated with no job offers.  Moral of the story, rankings outside of the nationally recognized top 14 schools really do not matter. 

If you wind up at a Harvard or Yale then great. You'll be able to land a job pretty much anywhere in the country.  But once you start talking about the other 200 ABA accredited law schools theN you're really talking about where in the country you'd like to practice law because those schools are all regional in the employment options they can provide.

45
Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: Unbelievable
« on: May 31, 2014, 10:22:18 AM »
Good for them.  Always good to see students shaking up the system.

46
Distance Education Law Schools / Re: July 2013 Bar Exam Results
« on: May 29, 2014, 03:35:23 AM »
With regard to the CA bar specifically,  it has one of the lowest pass rates primarily because it permits anyone to sit for the bar irrespective of whether or not they graduated from an ABA accredited law school. Most other states, by contrast, only allow ABA grads to sit for their respective bar exams. When you compare ABA stats to ABA stats, it becomes apparent that California is not the "hardest bar exam in the country" that most think it is.

Take look at the statistics available on Calbar's site. Non-ABA grads made up a whopping 6% of first time test takers last February. If every single non-ABA grad failed, the effect would only be 6%.

Fully accredited ABA schools from out of state often have pass rates in CA that are 20-30%, even though their in state pass rates are 80-90%. The fact that CA has a tougher than usual bar exam is evidenced not by the handful of non-ABA grads who fail, but by the thousands and thousands of fully accredited ABA grads who fail.

I wouldn't use data from the February exam as the standard for bar passage in any state because the February exam is typically comprised of repeat takers who were unsuccessful during the July exam.  Studies show that your chances of passing actually diminish after your first attempt, thus the February passage rates in most any state, including California, will historically be lower for February than they are for July.

That said, many claim that the California bar exam is the most difficult based on its July passage rate which, for ALL takers is usually around 55%. However, "ALL" takers literally means everyone, including the repeat takers who, as discussed above, typically do not do well on their subsequent attempts.  When you look at only the first-time takers of the CA bar exam, the bar passage rate is actually 68%.  When we look at first-time takers from CA's ABA schools, that number jumps up to a 79% pass rate. As far as bar exams go, a 79% pass rate is actually pretty high.

http://www.protectconsumerjustice.org/california-bar-exam-pass-rates-by-law-school.html

http://abovethelaw.com/2011/01/california-bar-exam-results-open-thread/

For an apples to apples comparison, the bar passage rate for first-time takers at New York's ABA accredited law schools hovers around 85%. That's only a 6 point difference between the two states.

You said that:
Quote
"Fully accredited ABA schools from out of state often have pass rates in CA that are 20-30%"

That's actually not true.  For the July 2013 California Bar Exam, the bar passage rate for ABA schools from out of state was 64.2% (906 out of 1,411 out of state students passed). That same stat for July 2012 was 63.6% (907 out of 1,425). In other words, the majority of out of state students at ABA schools pass the California bar exam.

That's not to take away from the difficulty of the California bar exam.  It is, without question, one of the most difficult bar exams in the country. However, people should understand that it's not much worse than other states when you look at ABA schools (which is what most of us have attended, are attending, or will attend).

47
Distance Education Law Schools / Re: July 2013 Bar Exam Results
« on: May 29, 2014, 02:50:37 AM »
I think there is no question that an ABA grad is more likely to pass the bar exam than a CBA grad and someone who obtained a 180 LSAT score is more likely to pass the bar than someone who scored 150. It is entirely possible however, for both to pass, both to fail, or the 180 LSAT Harvard grad to not pass and the 150 LSAT CBA grad to pass.

At the end of the day whether you succeed or not in anything is up to the individual, but some people have an easier road to success than others. If you have the raw intelligence to score a 180 on the LSAT the road will be easier for you than someone who despite their best efforts achieved a 145 LSAT score.

Exactly right.  I've known friends from Harvard Law who have failed the bar and friends from much lower tiered schools who have passed on their first attempt.  It all comes down to amount of preparation one puts in before the exam.  Raw intelligence will make it easier for one to learn the material but make no mistake about it - you still have to actually sit down and spend a significant amount of time LEARNING the material. 

Indeed, in the same year I had a friend from Cal Berkeley, a friend from U. Chicago, and a friend from Harvard who all failed the NY bar exam; they all procrastinated on studying until there were about 2 weeks left. Ironically, they each were extremely gifted at taking standardized tests like the LSAT and had grown accustomed to doing well with little to moderate preparation. When they applied that same strategy to the bar, not so good.   

Conversely, students who have regularly struggled with standardized tests tend to be fearful of failing the bar and thus become that much more motivated to putting in the time to study the material.  That doesn't necessarily mean that they will pass, but if they don't it's usually not due to a lack of effort.

48
Distance Education Law Schools / Re: July 2013 Bar Exam Results
« on: May 28, 2014, 07:59:49 AM »
I'd also have to confirm that individual bar passage rates have little to do with LSAT scores. In fact, the bar has little to do with anything,  especially the practice of law. It's just a licensing exam that serves as a rights of passage to regulate the number of people who can practice law in any given state.  In real life, nobody will lock you in a room for 8 hours and require you to provide professional legal advice to multiple issues off the top of your head without conducting any research.  Indeed, that would probably be considered malpractice in most jurisdictions.

With regard to the CA bar specifically,  it has one of the lowest pass rates primarily because it permits anyone to sit for the bar irrespective of whether or not they graduated from an ABA accredited law school. Most other states, by contrast, only allow ABA grads to sit for their respective bar exams. When you compare ABA stats to ABA stats, it becomes apparent that California is not the "hardest bar exam in the country" that most think it is.

49
Race has nothing to do with opportunities in life.

If you seriously plan on practicing law you can't afford to be this naive. 

Google "Jim Crow", "apartheid" and "Baldus Study" and then come back to discuss once you've educated yourself.

50
Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: Cain or Obama?
« on: October 25, 2011, 01:36:07 AM »
Who would you prefer(and why) Cain or Obama?

Is this a trick question?

One guy is Harvard Law Review, meets with world leaders and knows them on a first-name basis, while the other guy has literally stated that he doesn't know who the president of "ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan" is.

Case closed.

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