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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Incoming 1Ls / Re: Paralegal to Lawyer?
« on: June 17, 2015, 05:14:52 PM »
Definitely try to bring up your GPA as much as possible, and focus like crazy on the LSAT. I really cannot emphasize that enough. The LSAT, in my opinion, is a bigger factor than your GPA. A high LSAT score can overcome a low GPA, but not the other way around.

Even if you don't score 168-70, which is like top 3-4% I think, you can still get into plenty of law schools. But yes, the higher the score the more options you'll have and the more scholarship money you can get. I would definitely look into a prep course when the time comes.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Paralegal to Lawyer?
« on: June 17, 2015, 10:58:40 AM »
Hi Geeklawgirl (great name). I'll try to match my responses to your specific questions.

Your experience will help a little, but not much. Law school admission is a numbers game, and your GPA/LSAT profile will dominate the process. Work experience (even something highly relevant like paralegal) is a soft factor. It kind of helps, but that's about it. If your numbers are below median at a particular school, being a paralegal won't make up for that. If your numbers are average or a little above average, it might help.

Especially at part time programs, there are lots of paralegals attending so it's not especially unique.

In Law School
Your research experience will help and you will be more familiar with legal terminology, reading cases, and maybe understanding legal rules than your classmates. However, it may be less useful than you anticipate.

Law school is an academic process, and it's really REALLY different from the practice of law. For example, if you take a class on Bankruptcy your prior experience will definitely be useful. But, nothing that you've done as a paralegal will prepare you for engaging in a Socratic method grilling on Torts, or spotting a Rule Against Perpetuities issue on a Property exam. Law school has it's own culture and rules, and they aren't really parallel to the world of legal practice (as goofy as that may seem). There is a shared language, but the processes are fundamentally different.

Getting a Job
Yes, it will help you here. In fact, it might help a lot. You will have a better network than most new lawyers, be more mature, and understand what law firms/agencies are looking for. This is huge, and I think this is where your experience will pay off.

The degree to which your experience will help is somewhat dependent on your pedigree and the specific job your applying for, however. Certain firms/agencies are still going to want a pedigree and high grades. At those places your experience will probably not be enough to overcome a non-elite degree or low grades.

In other words, if a Whittier grad with paralegal experience and a Stanford grad with no experience both apply to a Biglaw firm, the Stanford grad will probably get the job anyway. At smaller firms and government agencies like the PD/DA, however, your experience will definitely help.

Paralegal experience can also help if you decide to open your own office. I had a friend who was a family law paralegal for years before and during law school. She opened her own solo practice straight away and was actually successful, which not common. Her experience in seeing how a firm runs and what needs to be done on a daily basis was crucial to her success.

When to Tell Your Bosses
Can't answer that. You know them better than anyone here does.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Who Should Pay Attention to Rankings?
« on: June 15, 2015, 10:00:04 PM »
The Cooley rankings were awesome. They used criteria like library square footage, but what the hell. Probably made about as much sense as USNWR. What was Cooley's highest rank? Top twenty, IIRC.

Seriously though, I think the Cooley rankings were a significant factor in accounting for people's derision of the school. USNWR is bad enough, but the Cooley rankings seemed so blatantly tailored to ensure a particular outcome. Maybe that was the point? To show how easily rankings can be directed towards a desired outcome?

There used to be a publication called the Gourman Report, don't know if it's still around. It played the rankings game too, but the criteria seemed a little better. I think it tried to avoid totally subjective, intangible stuff like prestige, so you'd see certain schools ranking way higher than on USNWR.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Who Should Pay Attention to Rankings?
« on: June 15, 2015, 09:24:45 AM »
Loki, I understand what you're saying and I think that's sort of what the author was saying, too.

I do think the rankings have some utility, but most 0Ls don't understand the limitations or context required to make sense of them. If Michigan is consistently ranked in the top 10, for example, then of course that indicates a strong national reputation and it does allow the 0L to get a basic picture of which schools are national and which are not.

The problem that the author has pointed out is that all schools are ranked on a national scale, which makes it nearly meaningless once you get past the T20 or so since the vast majority of schools don't have a national reputation, and their graduates will stay in the immediate area.

The harm caused by this scheme is that a law student in Montana will look at the rankings and go "Wow, University of Montana is only ranked #100 (or whatever it is). I better go to Ohio State instead, because that's ranked 40." But, Montana has a great in state rep, which isn't reflected in the rankings.

Frankly, I'm not even sure about some of the schools in the T15-25. They seem more like strong regional schools rather than truly national schools.

Anyway, maybe part of the fault lies with students who need to make an attempt to understand the context better, or maybe the rankings should be based on region after the T14. Either way, it really does seem meaningless once you get into the details of #77 vs. #93, and yet people are making life decisions based on this stuff.

Talked to a rep about Smarter Review Cheat Sheets.  He told me that if a Cheat Sheet "can't help [me] we'll buy you a new car."  I got a Cheat Sheet.  Is that a binding agreement?  Do I have to fail to get the car?

Well, if the car's value is over $500 the UCC SOF kicks in and it has to be writing. Besides, it's a joke (although...Lucy v Zehmer!).

I don't think the OP is talking about actually cheating, I think that's just the name of the company. But anyway, cheating on the bar? You'd have to be out of your mind. I can't speak for other states, but in CA the proctoring was pretty intense. You would get caught, and you would throw away three years of law school.

I'm positive that we were NOT allowed to check anything during the exam. Again, maybe this varies by state.

As far as cheating in law school, I'm sure it happened occasionally but it was not common at my school. In fact, the general attitude was that we would happily turn in fellow students for cheating. There was one incident where a few people got caught cheating on a Contracts exam, and it was a huge deal. They were booted and/or voluntarily left law school. After that, people were pissed off and watched for cheating. 

Remember EVEN IF you want to move to another state to practice post graduation, if you are already licensed in WI then you can do "licensed in any state" type temp jobs and make a few extra bucks while in the limbo of post exam but waiting for results (or god forbid repeating exams)

What are those jobs? I don't mean that in a snarky way, I mean I've just never seen that particular phrase in the job ads. Federal stuff, maybe?

General Off-Topic Board / Re: Who Should Pay Attention to Rankings?
« on: June 11, 2015, 12:52:51 PM »
I think that even local/regional competition can be overstated, depending on the market. I mean, are CUNY and NYU grads really going to be in direct competition with each other just because they're in the same city? Or Boalt grads vs. Golden Gate grads? In most cases I doubt it.

They will likely be vying for different jobs regardless of location. The GGU grad is not going to be competing for a Biglaw job (usually) and the Boalt grad isn't going to be looking at small DUI defense firms. There is some overlap in jobs like PD/DA/County Counsel, etc., but most new law grads are probably going to be competing against other applicants from peer institutions.

General Off-Topic Board / Who Should Pay Attention to Rankings?
« on: June 11, 2015, 09:16:14 AM »
Interesting article from Above the Law on who should or shouldn't worry about rankings. The basic idea seems to mirror what most attorneys say: unless you're in the running for Yale, look local.

If you go to a Wisconsin school you can avoid the bar exam. Even if you want to practice out of state, just practice in state for a few years first.

Seeing how some states are down to a coin toss or less on bar pass rates lately.........factor that in.

I wouldn't go to law in WI just to avoid the OR bar exam, though. That's an awful long time to sit in the snow waiting to return to the rain. You'd be better off just preparing hard for the OR bar.

Besides, does WI even have reciprocity with OR? You may have to take the bar anyway. 

The major points of your question have already been addressed, and I agree. If you want to live in Portland, L&C. For that matter, Willamette or Gonzaga would also be preferable to UW, in my opinion.

This is a great example of why the rankings do such a disservice to so many law school applicants. The rankings give the erroneous impression that all law schools (and thus, their graduates) will be evaluated according to rank only, without considerations for location and local reputation.

Here's the thing that a lot of 0Ls don't get: there is a HUGE difference between an elite school and a "good" school. Harvard and Yale are elite, and a Harvard/Yale pedigree is universally recognized as badass. UW is a good school, no doubt about it. We've all heard of it, and we all know it offers a solid legal education. According to USNWR (and a bunch of 0Ls on the interwebs), it should also be considered "better" than say, L&C.

The problem is that although it's good it's not elite, and once you get away from the elite schools rankings are subject to local distinctions.

So, if you're applying for a job in Portland no one is going to go "Oh my God, Wisconsin! They're ranked #31! That's way better than L&C! I'm hiring the Wisconsin grad based on pedigree and rankings alone." Not gonna happen. If you were comparing L&C with Harvard, Stanford, or even say, Virginia, then yes, the pedigree alone would be decisive.

A L&C grad with relevant local experience, connections, and a degree from a well respected local law school will have a distinct advantage over an out of state grad with a good but not exactly elite law degree.

Does that mean that a UW grad can't get hired in Portland? Of course not, but you'd have to seriously hustle and make your own luck.

Something else to SERIOUSLY consider. It looks like you'd be paying close to full price at either school. Have you looked into starting salaries in Portland and the Midwest? Can you afford to service that kind of debt on an average salary? If not, you need to be looking at scholarships and possibly even reapplying and waiting a year. I used to live in OR, and starting salaries at small/mid/govt were not great. 

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