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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Current Law Students / Alito calls USNWR rankings an "abomination"
« on: June 14, 2014, 02:17:39 PM »

Interesting article. Apparently Alito, a Yale grad, thinks USNWR's law school rankings are a bunch of bunk. He seems to practice what he preaches and has only hired two Ivy League grads as clerks recently (of course, those clerks may have been from places like Michigan or Chicago).

Current Law Students / Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« on: June 13, 2014, 08:06:48 PM »
Well, an illegal French Canadian could be of Haitian or Senegalese origin too! Your point is well taken, it's nation-specific. 

Current Law Students / Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« on: June 13, 2014, 07:37:30 PM »
It's because people have made it into a "race" issue.
If the person had been an illegal French Canadian, he never would have been allowed to be licensed.
It's as simple as that.

I'd have to agree with that.

One of the interesting points that a friend brought up was what this means for the Character and Fitness application. Generally, you're required to be in compliance with the law. I know people who went through hell because of really minor issues.

The legislature has basically said "If we feel sorry for you, you need not obey the law in order to become a lawyer." Honestly, if that's the case, why not be fair and give everyone a freebie? Why confer this huge benefit to only one group?

Here's the other issue: if this gentleman does violate the law by working in the U.S., is there any chance that the bar would discipline him? No way. On the other hand, if you lose your job and fall behind in your child support payments you can get ready to have your licensed suspended.

I hate I when things become this overtly politicized.   

Current Law Students / Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« on: June 13, 2014, 06:03:16 PM »
While we're on the topic of controversial legal issues, I'm curious what you guys think of this.

I was recently having a conversation with some attorneys regarding California's decision to allow undocumented immigrants admission to the bar. The California Supreme Court was ready to strike down the state bar's admission of such individuals, when the legislature stepped in at the last minute and passed a new law allowing undocumented immigrants to gain admission to the bar.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court stated that although they can become licensed they still can't work (!) because only the federal government can confer employment eligibility.

What I found interesting about the conversation was that although the political view of the group was decidedly liberal, opposition to this law was overwhelming. Out of the twenty or so people, maybe one or two thought it was a good idea.

I'm not trying to start an argument about the very complex issue of illegal immigration, but I'm curious what other lawyers and law students think of this.       

Current Law Students / Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« on: June 13, 2014, 11:06:11 AM »
That's pretty much my understanding of the case, too. Admittedly, I haven't actually read the full opinion so I could be wrong.

It's one of those cases where I really can see both sides of the argument, and they both have merit. One the one hand, there is always going to be disparity in economic influence. I mean, Bill Gates and the Koch brothers are going to be able to promote their causes more effectively than most people because they're rich.

Is that fair? Probably not, but that doesn't mean it's unconstitutional.

On the other hand, there is a real danger of becoming a corrupt oligarchy where the government is simply a bought and paid for instrument of the rich. Like the old Roman Senate, a bunch of elites pretending to care about the common people.

Interestingly, this particular phenomenon crosses party lines. I read an article recently about how this is the wealthiest Congress in history. I believe both of my Senators (Feinstein and Boxer) are worth hundreds of millions. Darrell Issa is worth something like  $600 million.

I think it's already at the point where you can't really win without huge personal wealth or the support of SuperPACS. It may not be unconstitutional, but I think the long term effects are probably negative.

I'm somewhat familiar with these schools. I visited almost all of them, have worked with attorneys from most (if not all), and have friends who went to others.

It sounds like you're pretty set on Chapman, and with an 80% scholarship that's understandable. Chapman has the nicest campus of any of the SoCal schools you're looking at. I was really impressed with their law school building. That's not a huge factor, but if you have to spend three years somewhere you want it to be pleasant.

The main factor I think you need to consider (after expense) is location. Chapman will give you better opportunities in Orange County, but Southwestern, Loyola, and Pepperdine are far better established in LA. There are lots of Chapman grads working in OC as prosecutors, county counsel, etc., but not as many in LA. That doesn't mean that each school will absolutely limit you to it's immediate area, but it will be tougher to compete for jobs in LA if you're competing against LA area students who have been able to make connections.

Between Chapman and Southwestern, I'd be inclined to take the option with the least debt. There is really no reputational advantage between the two, in my opinion. I think most employers will view them as basically on the same level. The only reason to consider SW at a higher cost is if you are determined to work in LA.

As far as the San Diego schools, I'd only consider them if I was willing to live in SD. It will be difficult to make connections in the LA area and to obtain internships if you're in SD. USD has a decent local reputation, but it's not so strong that it's going to open many doors outside of SD. The LA area is already so flooded with local grads that it won't make much difference.

If you get into Loyola or Pepperdine it may very well be at sticker price. Personally, I don't think either of those schools at full price is a better option than Chapman or SW at a substantial discount. Again, they're each good schools but they're not elite. They are ranked higher, true, but take those rankings with a grain of salt. Nobody is going to be so blown away by a Pepperdine degree that they'll offer you a job based on pedigree alone. To get hired at the DA you're still going to have to make connections.

That's not to say that it doesn't matter at all. Loyola, especially, is held in good regard and a degree from Loyola combined with relevant experience might have an advantage over a degree from Chapman or SW with the same experience. But just keep it in perspective.

If you were trying to decide between UCLA and Chapman/SW, UCLA might win. But as between schools like Chapman, Southwestern, Loyola, etc., the decision becomes murkier.

I currently aspire to be a DA, in the SoCal/LA County/Orange area. I want to go to a school for their criminal litigation/trial advocacy programs, clinics, academia, and alumni network. Quality of life inherent from their campus and location is of consideration to me.

A word about getting hired as a DA. The DA's office is probably the most competitive government law office in terms of hiring. LOTS of people want to be DAs, and hiring in most counties is currently very low. When a position opens it is not unusual to get literally hundreds of applicants. People who have crimlaw experience and personal connections (such as having worked at that office as an intern) will have a distinct advantage. Obviously, grades and class rank will matter too, but connections and experience are really the key.

The reason I'm pointing out the highly competitive nature of DA hiring is because you should go into law school with a flexible attitude. The fact is, the vast majority of aspiring DAs will not become prosecutors. Trust me, half the people in your class plan on being DAs. It's good to understand early on that you may end up doing employment law, family law, or defending DUIs. In this market you need to be willing to go where the jobs are.

Hope that helped, Good Luck with your decision!

Incoming 1Ls / Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
« on: June 07, 2014, 08:23:48 PM »
I should probably also add that the $200k figure that they cited did not include interest, which effectively turns a $200k loan paid over a 30 year term into about $450,000 even at favorable interest rates.

California sounds like a nice legal market b/c the public attorneys in New York and New Jersey are making nowhere near 6-figures. Public defenders and state prosecutors start at around $40k here.  After 10 years they're making about $70k, which, by the way,  could have been earned with just a bachelor's degree without incurring 6-figure debt.

Only a small minority of lawyers make 6-figures at graduation, and of the majority that don't,  most do not get there within 10 years after graduation (indeed, a good number never get there at all).  The "average" income stats of our profession are skewed higher than other professions because the minority of attorneys who are big income earners make 6 and 7 figures and beyond.  But I know way too many attorneys who are 5 or 10+ years into the practice who don't make $100k.  Accordingly, I can't accept the proposition that "most" attorneys earn significantly more money than bachelor's degree holders - especially when debt is factored in.

It's a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables. What specific degree someone holds, where they attended school (a BS in engineering from Caltech is probably going to earn more than a BS in engineering from an unknown school), location, experience, etc.

I think another issue is that many people with BAs in liberal arts aren't really using their degrees, per se. For example, I was a history major in undergrad and ending working in film distribution/marketing. A lawyer's employment is directly tied to their degree, so the benefit is easier to quantify.

My evidence is merely anecdotal, but it seems that TONS of people with BAs are working at low-midlevel paying jobs. Although I know plenty of new lawyers who are struggling, the experienced lawyers are doing just fine.

I mean, if you take two people, one with only a BA (and statistically it's likely to be a liberal arts degree) and one with a JD, are they likely to be making the same salary ten years down the road? I doubt it, but I might be wrong.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: ANXIETY!!!!!
« on: June 07, 2014, 11:49:22 AM »
Unfortunately, the reality of legal education today is that the average law student graduates with over $100,000 in student loan debt.

"Law school debt essentially means a lawyer must make $200,000 or more above what the holder of a bachelorís degree will make over a lifetime, to have the investment break even." -

It is truly unfortunate that a legal education is so expensive.

However, that figure doesn't seem too bad when you consider that it's over the course of a lifetime. If a new law school grad can expect say, a 30 year career, we're talking about having to earn less than $7000 per year above what a Bachelor's degree holder would earn. That seems pretty realistic.

I completely understand that the first few years out of school are very difficult for many people. I graduated in 2012, and am keenly aware of how tight the job market is. Most new lawyers will struggle to make $1500 per month loan payments on their starting salary.

But I think it's important to point out that most lawyers will increase their earning potential over the first few years. Five to seven years into a legal career, I think the average lawyer is probably making substantially more than the average Bachelor's degree holder (depending of course on what the bachelor's is in. A BS in Engineering will make more than a BA in English Lit).

Here in LA our public law offices (DA, PD, etc) start out at about $70k. By five years in, the salary will be about $100k, and in most cases will max out at around $130-140k. I think that is significantly better than what the average holder of a liberal arts BA can expect.

Current Law Students / Re: Academic Dismissal
« on: June 06, 2014, 12:07:58 AM »
I think the most important thing is to demonstrate changed circumstances. If they (the council) think that you're still experiencing the same problems, they may not want to let you continue. But if you can convince them that those problems are in the past, and you now know what it takes to succeed in law school, may have a shot.

You should be as specific as possible, don't speak in generalities. Say exactly what has changed which makes you confident that you can succeed. Give specific examples, and be positive. I wouldn't spend any time at all blaming a lack of IRAC instruction, or the curve, or spring admissions.

Also, be 100% honest even when it hurts.

Remember, the council wants to be reassured that you're a good bet. Focus on the positive aspects, and show that you have a plan for success.

BTW, I went to law school with kids (and a job) too. It's an unbelievable grind, but it's worth it. I did well the first semester and had good grades. Even so, I considered dropping out because it was so much stress on my family. Now have a job that I love, and am thankful everyday that I stuck it out. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions. Good Luck!

Law school admission is very different from grad school admission. It is far more numbers driven, and far less weight is given to things like academic publications.

Without a GPA and LSAT score, everything is pure speculation. Law school admission is first and foremost a numbers game. You can have the best soft factors in the world, great letters of recommendation and an impressive resume, and it will not overcome a low GPA/LSAT. Conversely, someone with zero soft factors and a high GPA/LSAT will get accepted regardless.

That said, your soft factors are good (much better than most) and this will help if it's tied to a good GPA/LSAT. The thing to understand is that these factors will be viewed as additional to, not in lieu of, your numeric qualifications.

At this point the best thing you can do is focus on the LSAT. It is hugely important, even more so than your GPA in my opinion. Start studying, take a prep course if possible, and max out your score. It will help you obtain offers of admission and scholarships, which you should definitely be shooting for. 

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