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211
Where should I go next fall? / Re: European LLB...what now?
« on: January 21, 2014, 12:42:02 PM »
I think it is most likely I get into schools around the level of UIUC and UConn. Do you think these schools are still high enough in the rankings for my personal case?

I don't know enough about your personal case to make a determination. It's impossible to say "If you go to School X you will work in international law, and if you go to School Y you will not." I'm sure that there are graduates from just about every law school who work in international law, so I'm speaking in general terms only.

That said, there are some things to keep in mind, and which are applicable to any applicant.

1) Big Firms
Much of the international law market involves big firms with offices in LA, NYC, London, Shanghai, etc. These jobs are highly, highly competitive, and if you look at the firm profiles you will see that many of the lawyers are graduates of elite law schools. They like to hire graduates of internationally recognized schools like Harvard and Stanford because it impresses their international clients.

2) International Organizations/NGOs
Pretty much the same story. Highly competitive, lots of applicants, and a preference for elite pedigrees.

Now, does this mean that you can't practice international law unless you graduate from an elite school? Of course not! I know a woman who graduated from a lower tiered school here in CA and who is practicing internationally helping a foreign government to organize their own legal system. However, I think her case is exceptional. My point is simply that in any highly competitive market where the employer has the luxury of choosing from among many highly qualified applicants, pedigree can matter. As far as I can tell, this seems to be truer for some jobs than for others, and international law is one of those jobs.

I would contact the law schools you are interested in attending and ask them directly about international employment, internship opportunities, etc. Ask about alumni working internationally. Also research and contact firms and organizations that you are interested in, ask where they hire from and what they look for in applicants. Don't rely on anything you read here or elsewhere from me or anyone else, it's just our personal opinions. Get the information straight from the source. Your European LL.B is probably considered a very positive asset, and may give you a better chance of getting into international law than the average student.     

212
Recommendations / Re: No personal relationship with profs
« on: January 21, 2014, 12:16:33 PM »
Hi Alex,

Don't sweat the LOR portion of your applications too much. Yes, they are a necessary part of the application but in reality they will probably play very little role (if any) in the admission process. The decisions will be based almost entirely on LSAT and GPA. Many applicants are in the same situation as you are, and don't really know their professors. As a result, most applicants get very generic LORs which don't offer any real insight as to the applicant's abilities. "So-and-so will be a valuable addition to your law school, blah blah blah." The LORs that you receive will probably be very similar to what the vast majority of applicants submit.

213
Law School Applications / Re: Late Cycle Consequences
« on: January 15, 2014, 12:41:00 AM »
As Citylaw stated, you may have a hard time getting scholarships from most of these schools (save San Diego), but you've got a good shot at acceptance to all of them. Your numbers are about average for most of these schools.

One thing you need to consider is location, and where you want to live after law school. I suspect that you're basing your list on rankings alone, but beware. It's not as simple as that.

All of these schools are fine institutions and will offer a great education. But none are exactly what I would call "elite" national schools. They're more like very good regional schools. With the possible exception of Vanderbilt, they aren't really the kind of schools which you should expect to open doors out of state based on pedigree alone. Most of your internship and post grad job opportunities will be local, and it's actually quite difficult to show up in a new town after graduation and compete with the local talent.

For example, if you wanted to live in LA then UCLA and USC are the obvious choices. However, you may also want to think about shooting for a  a big scholarship at someplace like Loyola or Pepperdine rather than going into serious debt to attend a higher ranked school out of state. Your job opportunities in LA may in fact be better, even though the schools are lower ranked. Is the Los Angeles County DA going to recruit in St Louis or Atlanta? I doubt it. 

Something to consider, and good luck!

214
Law School Applications / Re: Need help with ECs
« on: January 12, 2014, 01:48:58 AM »
Your EC's probably approximate the ECs offered by the vast majority of applicants. That is, they are not especially impressive but they aren't bad either. Most applicants have some generic ECs, and they usually don't play a big role unless they are truly unique and impressive. 

As Miami88 said, these types of soft factors pale in comparison to numeric qualifications. Regardless of what law schools may say about looking for well-rounded individuals and examining the "whole person", numbers dominate the process. Focus on getting the highest numbers possible, and you won't need to worry much about anything else.

Put it this way, an applicant with a 3.8/175 could probably write an essay about how they think ECs are a waste of time and they'd still get scholarship offers from 90% of the schools out there. Conversely, an applicant with a 2.0/140 could have the most amazing ECs imaginable and still be out of luck. For the majority of applicants who fall between these two extremes, ECs might play a role if you are a borderline case. Take a look at the admission profiles available from LSAC. If your numbers are significantly above or below a school's median, your chances for admission are very predictable. 

At highly competitive elite schools ECs and other non-numeric qualifications do matter more than at lower tier schools. I think this is because the expectation is that of course you have a high GPA and stellar LSAT, but so do all the other applicants. What else are you bringing to the table? In those cases, you will see applicants with truly impressive resume experience. 

215
You have a few options. One is to retake the LSAT and shoot for a higher score, which would help you to gain scholarship money and increase your range of schools. This is something that only you can decide, however, since it may or may not be , and Brooklyn.worth your while. If you feel that you can increase your score, I would seriously consider this option.

As far as other schools in the NYC area, I would apply to all of the following and see if any offer a scholarship to help defray the considerable cost of attendance: Yeshiva, NY Law School, St. John's, Pace, Hofstra, CUNY, and Brooklyn.

Other Considerations

That said, there are some things you really need to consider. Don't take this as criticism, but with a 2.8/155 you may have a very hard time obtaining any scholarship offers. This means you will likely foot the entire bill yourself (probably $150,000).

Before you commit yourself to this kind of massive debt, take the time to research the job market in NYC, especially for graduates of lower ranked schools. It is very competitive, and you will likely not obtain a high starting salary. Paying back that kind of debt is no joke, especially on a low salary. With your background in biology you can try for jobs in patent law, but you will be competing with NYU, Columbia, and Cornell grads too.

It is important to be very realistic about your post grad options, and to have a Plan B. If you are happy with the idea that you may have to work as a family law attorney at a small firm, or defending DUI cases for a few years and hustling to get clients, then alright. But if you go to law school expecting a high salary and a big office, well, you may be disappointed.   

I want to stay in NYC because I support my mother and my younger sister financially, and its also why I am looking at part time programs.

This is a red flag. You need to think about whether or not this is the right time to go to law school. I graduated from a part time evening program and I can tell you from personal experience that it is brutal. Law school is far more demanding than undergrad, in fact it's not even close. You will be competing for grades against other students who are just like you: smart, competitive, and ambitious. Remember all the slackers in college? They never made it to law school. It's a different ball game and will require much, much more of your time and energy.

Attending law school while working and being responsible for a family that is dependent on your income is a very, very stressful scenario. In my experience, many people who have these kinds of responsibilities end up dropping out. I'm not trying to be negative, but as someone who has actually juggled law school and a family I can tell you that this is something you need to seriously consider. Law school is so expensive and so demanding that it doesn't make sense to try it out on a "trial basis"; you must be able to fully commit your time and energy to the process or you will not succeed.

Good luck with whatever you decide, and feel free to ask any questions on part time law study. 

216
Distance Education Law Schools / Re: taft law school
« on: January 05, 2014, 12:31:20 AM »
I think he said $8700, not $90,000.

I've met several DL law grads here in California. They have all struck me as exceptionally motivated, sharp individuals. I think they have to be, even more so than the average lawyer, because the majority of firms and government offices simply won't hire a DL grad. It's probably unfair and snobby, but that's just the way it is.

If you are a HIGHLY motivated, disciplined individual then DL may be the way to go as long as you take the time to inform yourself of any potential limitations. Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish with your degree, because as Jonlevy said you will almost certainly work as a solo practitioner. After you build up several years of experience you may be able to join a small/mid sized firm. Depending on what you want to do, that may or may not be an acceptable career for you.

You will likely be limited to CA practice, as the vast majority of states will not allow non-ABA grads to sit for the bar.

I think DL can be the right choice for the right student, but you've go to make that critical self-assessment: do you have the discipline to make it happen, and are you realistic about your post grad options? If so, then you can have a rewarding career.

217
Congratulations, 163 is a very good score and you should be proud.

One thing I noticed that you may want to consider is that while all of the schools you're applying to are fine institutions, they're really spread out geographically. If you're happy making your career in any or all of those states, then great. But if you want to live in a specific region I would focus more on going to a school in that region/city.

Once you get away from elite national schools, it's not very easy to show up in a new town after law school, pass the state bar, and get a job. You'll have to compete against local talent who have had the last three years to work at internships and make connections. It's also pretty difficult to score summer positions and internships (which are vital to getting a job) from out of state. So, for example, if you want to live in NYC it would make more sense to apply to more NY schools than to spend three years in Tucson or Denver. Just my two cents!

Good luck and congratulations!

218
Law School Applications / Re: Will this hurt my chances?
« on: January 02, 2014, 11:16:56 AM »
As the above poster has stated, disclosure is the key. Full, open, non-equivocal disclosure. Don't try to spin it, just be honest. You may need to disclose this on both you law school apps and your bar app, because you do not want there to be a discrepancy between two applications (yes, the bar will compare them). 

When you get to law school you will take Professional Responsibility and you will learn that in these matters a cover up or even just a failure to disclose is worse than the actual crime. The bar takes honesty very seriously, and any perceived dishonesty could result in a rejection of your application.

The bar app will probably tell you whether or not you need to disclose juvenile matters. Contact your state bar now, before law school, and get the answers straight from them. They are the only source you should really trust in this matter.

Lastly, at least here in CA, people do get admitted with such problems as long as they are honest and take full responsibility for their actions.

219
Recommendations / Re: Submit 1 or 2 LORs
« on: January 01, 2014, 02:08:37 AM »
This is just my opinion, but I think you're overthinking this. If you have two good LORs send them in, it can't hurt. You numbers are what's going to get you into law school (or get rejected). Things like LORs play a very small role. If you do get waitlisted, then an extra LOR may or may not make any difference. My guess is that the vast majority of waitlist admits are simply those who had the highest GPA/LSAT profiles from among the waitlisted applicants. 

220
Where should I go next fall? / Re: European LLB...what now?
« on: January 01, 2014, 01:59:48 AM »
Well, your question has a lot of moving parts, but I'll try to address the main issues.

Let me start with a caveat: I'm just some guy on the internet, and this is just my opinion. I could be wrong about a lot of this stuff, and I don't know the specifics of your situation. Don't make important life decision based on what I (or anyone else here) says. Do the research yourself, contact the state bars, contact the law schools, and contact the employers. They can give you better information than anyone.

Working in the U.S.

If you plan to practice law in the U.S. you must become a member of the state bar for the state in which you intend to practice.
 
Most states will require an LL.B holder to complete a U.S. LL.M before they can apply to take the bar exam. A handful of states such as California and NY will allow LL.B holders to sit for the bar without an LL.M. An LL.M is two years, a J.D. is at least three. However, the J.D. is better preparation for the bar exam in my opinion, as evidenced by bar pass rates. (The pass rate for foreign degree holders here in CA is very low). 

For many legal jobs, the obsession over law school rankings is greatly overstated. (You don't need a Harvard J.D. to write wills in Little Rock, for example). However, there are certain fields of law in which prestige matters greatly and international law is one of them. Most of the big firms and international organizations are well stocked with graduates of elite institutions, and will usually only hire the same. If you are serious about this field, you really need to consider this. An LL.M from Unknown State U probably isn't going to cut it when everyone at the office went to Yale and Stanford. 

European LL.M

If you plan to work in the U.S., then I don't think a European LL.M is advisable. It will not qualify you to take the bar in most states, and will not prepare you for the bar in the few states that may admit you. A U.S. LL.M seems to make more sense.

Is taking the bar necessary to work in international law?

If practicing international law involves appearing in U.S. courts or giving legal advice, then yes, you must be licensed.

"International law" is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion, as there is very little truly international law. Typically, you are talking about countries which are signatories to trade agreements or treaties. The laws are applicable to those nations or entities. So, if the U.S. and Italy have an agreement as to how arbitration clauses in sale of goods contracts are to be handled, and your client is an American manufacturer doing business in Italy, then you are advising your client on American and Italian law and you are filing and arguing cases (probably) in an American federal court. Thus, you would need to be a licensed attorney.

Working at the U.N. or IGO

Depending on what specific work you do, I imagine that bar admission may or may not be required for this type of job. If you are filing cases in U.S. courts and dispensing legal advice, then yes. But if the job is more like a policy analysis/policy development position, then maybe not.

One thing to keep in mind when discussing organizations like the U.N. is the stiff international competition for these jobs. In the entire world, you're probably talking about a few thousand people (or maybe a few hundred!) whose job fits this description. People who get hired tend to have many years of legal and/or diplomatic experience, very impressive academic credentials (Harvard, Oxford, etc), and have worked their way up the ladder. Some are professional academics with numerous publications and others are internationally recognized judges. I don't think very many lawyers at the U.N. or the Hague are hired straight out of law school. Not trying to be negative, just something to consider.

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