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Messages - Burning Sands, Esq.

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General Board / Re: biglaw-differences between firms
« on: September 01, 2009, 11:44:33 AM »
so i am a 1L and had some questions about biglaw firms. now you always hear pple talking about the top 10 firms like skadden, white & case, etc., but what about the firms ranked like 90-100 on vault. after digging around, i found those bottom firms pay 160,000 (or very close to it) as well.  do these guys work the same hours as the guys at skadden?

Comparable but not the same hours, no.  I started at a V-50 law firm, and had friends who started the same time at shops like Cravath and Skadden, etc.  My hours and their hours were definitely different.  For example, when we met up for drinks somewhere in the City let's say around 7ish, after we were done at say 9pm I would go home while they would go back to their respective firms.  And that's if you could get them to come out in the first place.  And, as you noted, we all made the same salary.

Now their bonuses were slightly larger than mine but not large enough that I would trade my lifestyle for theirs just to get an extra few thousand bucks at the end of the year (taxed at 40% btw).  No thanks.

also, how easy (or hard) would it be for a student at a t5 or t14 school to get into one of these bottom firms that still pay160k. would a student around the median at a top school have trouble getting in there, or are these the firms that pple refer to as backups?

I have to concur with Nealric - in this market all bets are off.  We used to be able to answer this same question with near perfect precision.  Now....who knows?  People don't really have "backups" anymore. Not like it used to be.  It used to be you went to a good law school, you got good grades, you got a good job and lived happily ever after.  Now...not so much.

Like one poster said, if you get a job offer in this market for $160k, I'd advise you to grab on tight with both hands and don't let go.

That said, people are still getting jobs (obviously).  But to answer your question with more accuracy at this point in the hiring season is impossible.  We're all finding out the answer together as we go along.

General Board / Re: Legal Market in 5 years
« on: September 01, 2009, 11:29:03 AM »
Tip:  look at your audience.

These boards are frequented mostly by (1) pre-law students and (2) law students.

You are asking a question about predicting a field which most of us are, at best, hoping to be in at some point.  Further, your question probably couldn't be answered with any certainty from an expert in the law field or an expert in economics.

If you want to be a lawyer, go to law school.  That may be overly simple, of course.  There are other factors to consider like money, etc but that should be your underlying reason to go.  Don't go to law school thinking that it's a ticket to a big paycheck, because it certainly isn't.  If you are risk averse, go to law school on the cheap.  With a 3.95 and say a 165, you'll have a good shot at get full-rides to schools. 

Correct.  I've been practicing law for 2 years now (man time flies) and I can tell ya that none of us out here in the practice have any damn idea about when this thing is going to turn around.  The legal profession rises and falls with the economy, so in essence you're asking where the economy is going to be in 5 years.  Not even Greenspan has that crystal ball.

General Board / Re: case briefs
« on: September 01, 2009, 11:24:09 AM »
i am finding that reading and briefing cases is taking up some time, particularly when i don't consult outside sources. i was wondering how bad would it be to just look up the case on wiki or the internet to get an idea of what its about then read the case. doing this drastically decreases the time it takes me to read a case. however, i'm afraid by taking this 'shortcut' i would be losing out on the reading comprehension aspect/ learning aspect of just reading a case on your own. has anyone whose done this feels like it would hinder them come exam time?

You only need to brief cases for the first few weeks of law school or for however long it takes for you to be able to recognize how to read a case, dissect it into its components (procedural history, facts, issue, rule, reasoning), and take from it whatever it is you are looking for.  Once you are able to do that STOP BRIEFING!!! Get a case brief supplement or look up the cases on lexis or westlaw or whatever and call it a day.

I've always been a strong advocate against elitism.  I think it's sad actually how students get so wrapped up in it, especially black students.

Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: Does having Dreads or locks matter
« on: September 01, 2009, 11:00:22 AM »
I generally concur with all the advice given so far.   I have met a couple brothers in Biglaw who have locks that were well kept, so I know it can play over in the professional setting.  I remember one cat in particular was at Paul Weiss here in NY. Understand that not every firm may be as progressive as others though, so you have to take that into consideration. 

In law school it doesn't matter at all.  When applying for jobs it may matter, depending on the cultural awareness of the firm.

Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: YOUNG BLACK MAN NEEDS HELP
« on: September 01, 2009, 10:53:57 AM »
Hi readers! I am a 21 year old Black man. I am in my second year of undergrad school. I am the first out of my family to even attemp going to college. My family don't really understand the different majors and fields in college. They think if you go to college and get a degree you're set for life. It took me 2 years to get my mind together and roll up my sleeves and go. I have a 3.0 gpa (as of now) and I'm majoring in International Business. My goal is to go to Law School and become a Lawyer. However, my major has nothing to do with law, so my concern is how will i prepare myself for the LSAT when my major has nothing to do with law. I am not sure as to what part of law i want to practice, however I do know I want to attend a law school in which I can be taught throughly. Like i said earlier in the text my family doesn't have a clear understanding, (and I'm the person the whole family is depending on to make it), so I don't have anyone else to turn to for help. Also I want to know how do i go about studying for the lsat. Are there any websites or specific books etc. Thanks in advance for your help.

First of all, welcome to the board.

Second, your major doesn't have to have anything to do with law in order to go to law school. In fact, most of us didn't major in anything law related.  You can literally major in anything and go to law school.

Third, as far as prepping for the LSAT, see the LSAT board on this website.  All the info you'll ever need in there.

Good luck.

Umm...who here actually enjoyed reading Marbury v. Madison?

<----------------(sheepishly raises hand)

I'm a con law nerd but I have to admit that I never read the whole thing.  My Con Law professor actually started with McCulloch v. Maryland.  It was sufficient to know that Marybury stood for the proposition that the Supreme Court is the *&^%.

Black Law Student Discussion Board / Re: Florida A&M University COL
« on: August 05, 2009, 12:03:46 PM »
sheesh :P

What's interesting about this scenario is that it reveals that the HR department is not communicating with the firm's Diversity department, otherwise why would they book the same person two times?

This may speak to the fact that they are only doing the NBLSA job fair to "show their support" for diversity, or it may be that they actually recruit people from the NBLSA job fair but have simply failed to cross reference their diversity candidates with their OCI candidates.

I'm with A and P, I'd call the firm.

General Board / Re: Question for 2l and 3L
« on: August 04, 2009, 11:13:47 AM » read cases for more reasons than just "understand[ing] a single point of law."  Cases are especially important as a 1L because you not only learn the single rule of law at issue, but you learn how to parse out facts - what's important and what isn't.  You also learn how to spot policy arguments in cases and begin to understand how courts use those policy arguments.

Jacy & All -

I genuinely hope this is not read as a flame, as that is not the intent.  I appreciated your response and care in elaborating your points.  This might, however, be one reason law school is so perennially (and needlessly) hard for so many law students.  While individuals do indeed learn differently, that doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a better, easier way to learn the law. To a large extent, the answer is staring us in the face.  (I write this somewhat assertively because I too was misled by the crowd and common "wisdom" when I was in law school.  Though I did well, I learned later just how mushy my efforts were.  To a large degree, my exams were less bad than everyone else's.)  The answer is provided by how lawyers actually use cases.

As to the case method generally, there are several possible responses, but the most responsible one is, no, a case is there for one reason and one reason only: to highlight a SINGLE point of law (or exception, or exception-to-an-exception).  It's true that policy rationales, etc., are in the case, and might well be hidden in the open, but that's not often the best way to learn that, and it's certainly not how a lawyer goes about case preparation.  True, a lawyer already knows, or should know, the contours of that area of law, and is to a large extent searching for a specific answer to a specific question, given a specific factual framework.  That, to a large extent, is the answer to "A" grades with less effort.  (More discipline, but less effort.)

You're quite right about the importance of fact-spotting--which goes to the point about the single point at issue--and also the policy rationales behind that point.  But it's absolutely essential not to get trapped in a case by looking for more than that single issue.  In fact, one should pinch oneself in law school when going beyond that single point.  Why?  That's a rabbit hole down which many a law student has been trapped, not to be seen again until exams.

This is not to state that one cannot dance rings around a case (in, say, a classroom discussion . . . although it's better not to dance too noticeably with a professor).  The key is to read the case only AFTER one understands why the case is there.  This is why understanding that single point of law is so vital.  Once that is understood, everything else falls into place.  An attorney can read a case's facts in one minute and practically out-talk anyone.  Not because of an ability to spew nonsense, but because the facts of that case fit within the broader framework of that area of the law.  In law school, the challenge is to build the framework, one rule at a time.  The cases are merely there to highlight those rules, one rule at a time. 

Cases are not the donut.  They're the hole.

I hope this helps,


I can appreciate the academic debate.

Actually, I submit that you are both correct - cases are provided to illustrate a single point of law as Thane points out, and cases (as opposed to a laundry list of rules) are used to achieve this point in order to teach law students how to understand and become familiar with the craft of distinguishing and using facts, law, and policy as Jacy points out.  Both are critical to the development of an attorney.

After having gone through the bar exam study process, I'm convinced that you can learn all of the major rules of law for "the Big 6" subjects inside of 2 months.  The multiple-choice questions for the MBE drill this information into one's brain faster than any casebook ever could.  It conveniently parsed out all of the valuable information that was allegedly drilled into our heads through the 1L case-socratic method, and gift wraps that info for us in 3 or 4 sentence fact patterns that have only one correct answer.

However, this method does nothing to develop your sense of how to read, understand, or apply case law, precedent, policy, procedural history, or even how to develop the very critical ability of distinguishing relevant facts from the irrelevant facts (something every good attorney must be able to do whether they are a litigator or a transactional lawyer). It also fails to teach you how to think critically or recognize that, in the law, there is rarely ever one (1) single answer to a substantive question.

So while the cases are there to illustrate a point, the way in which they go about illustrating that point is just as important as the point itself.

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