Very true. I know a couple of solo practitioner PI lawyers whose wallets are so fat they'd make a Biglaw partner green with envy.
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Messages - Maintain FL 350
« on: May 28, 2015, 07:47:35 PM »
Interesting article by Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UCI law school and Conlaw giant. He argues that CA should follow NY's lead and adopt the Uniform Bar Exam. I'm not entirely sure what the UBE entails, but it does seem like CA's exam needs a reboot. The two, three hour long performance tests are absurd.
I'm all for a demanding bar exam that weeds out those who should not be lawyers, but a 39% pass rate? That almost seems punitive.
Before I respond, please keep in mind that no one here can make these decisions for you. No one here is qualified to give you actual advice, we can just sort of make observations. You should do all the necessary research on your own, talk to high school and college counselors, talk to your parents, and figure out how all this meshes with your life and goals.
That said, I'll try to address your questions.
1) I'm not sure, but I think it might. I assume they prefer students with an obvious interest in politics, but connections are probably at least as important (if not more).
2) Difficult to answer. Being a career politician is like the lottery. Many will play, few will win. As a general rule, I don't think it's a good idea to go to law school unless you want to be a lawyer. It's just too big and expensive an undertaking to do otherwise. When you graduate law school at 25 it is unlikely that you'll immediately get elected to Congress, so you're going to have to pay off those loans somehow. That means practicing law.
3) Lawyer, unless you don't want to go to law school.
4) Paralegals cannot practice law. They do research, draft documents, maybe interview clients. They can't give legal advice or appear in court. They are like a highly skilled assistant to the lawyer. A law degree is not required.
5) No worries. Most law school grads end up doing something different than what they planned anyway. Honestly, the job market for lawyers is pretty tight, and most new lawyers will take whatever job they can get.
6) GPA and LSAT are HUGE. Other factors (so-called "soft factors") like your personal story, work experience and goals do count, but they are waaay behind GPA and LSAT.
LSAT: take a look at an LSAT prep book. That will answer your question.
SAT vs ACT: I don't know which is better. Law schools won't care either way, they are only used for undergrad admissions.
A few people stated that by working as a lawyer I wasn't necessarily going to be dealing with the constitution and law school is probably not what I think it is. Can anyone give me some more insight on what to expect?
What they mean is that the vast majority of lawyers do not practice Constitutional law. Constitutional cases, which would include things like civil rights, free speech, voting rights, etc., make up a VERY small percentage of all the cases filed. The people who do handle these cases tend to be highly experienced specialists.
The majority of lawyers deal with more mundane things like contract disputes, wills, divorces, and DUIs.
In law school you will take one required Constitutional law class, and have the option to take a few electives that also deal with Constitutional issues. You don't major in law school like you do in undergrad, you just take a lot of required courses and a few electives. Most of your time will be spent taking required courses like Contracts, Torts, Property, and Corporations. Most of it is very dry and difficult (especially the first year).
I don't have the exact quote, but there's only like a dozen lawyers who regularly deal with Constitutional issues, and they all went to Yale, Harvard or Stanford decades ago. Don't let this discourage you but you should have a realistic picture of what lawyers do.
Along those lines, I had a conversation with the daughter of a family friend a while back who had just been accepted to a mid-range local law school. She told she wanted to go to law school to be a "human rights lawyer", working at the UN and travelling around the world. (Forgive me if I'm repeating this story, I think I told it once before).
"Wow" I said, "that's a really admirable goal. Would you also be happy as say, a public defender? Or some other kind of public interest lawyer?"
"No, I'll get my law degree then go to grad school for International Relations."
I mentioned that in the ENTIRE world there are maybe a couple of hundred people who do that job, that they tend to be highly experienced, that they tend to be graduates of places like Harvard and Oxford, that law school is a big and expensive undertaking, blah blah blah. She politely ignored me, and said she would follow through.
I didn't want to seem like a crusher of dreams, but at the same time I almost felt obligated to point out the reality of the situation. She was surrounded by a bunch of people who know nothing about law or international relations all telling her to follow her dream, if you want it badly enough, it will happen, etc etc.
If it was all free, then yes. But when you're talking about a six figure debt you need to be a little more objective.
As others have stated, it doesn't really make much difference what you major in. A biochem major with a 3.5 GPA will be considered a little "better" than an Art major with a 3.5, but it's not a huge difference. As far as the slew of potential social science/liberal arts majors (poly sci, history, English), they'll all be viewed as more or less the same.
One thing I would urge you to consider is debt. I know that when you are 18 and choosing colleges the cost of attendance can seem almost abstract. You see the numbers, but it doesn't really hit home until you actually have to start paying back those loans. If you accrue $100,000 debt for undergrad, defer it for three years while you attend law school, then accrue another $100-200,000 law school debt, you are talking about a debt that will control your life.
If you're rich or you get a full scholarship, then obviously this is inapplicable. Otherwise, be careful.
BTW, unless you get into someplace like Harvard or Yale nobody will care where you went to undergrad. Having a bachelor's from the #50 ranked music program versus the #25 ranked program will make no difference. The vast, overwhelming majority of employers won't care one bit.
Exactly and if someone went to Novus Law School and held themselves out as a lawyer obtained payment and did not have a license to practice law then it would be a crime.
Although I definitely agree with that statement, it does sound like the TX statute goes a little further. It seems to say that you can't use an unaccredited degree to obtain a financial benefit. So, if you applied for a job as a law professor and used an unaccredited degree as your qualification, then you'd presumably be in violation.
Here's where I think these kinds of rules would be really hard to enforce, though:
What if a guy applies for a job as say, an insurance adjuster and lists the Novus degree on his resume? He's not saying "Hire me because I'm a lawyer". In fact, the degree isn't even required for the job.
The prosecutor would have to prove that he listed the degree in order to get hired, and that his intent was to make the employer rely on the degree. At the very least you would have to establish that the defendant knew the employer was relying on the degree. That would be very hard to prove. If the employer calls the guy and says "What's this Novus degree?", and the guy simply says "It's an unaccredited law degree", then I think there is no violation at all. At that point there would be no intent.
1) The FL story is inapplicable because that guy clearly lied about having any degree, not just an unaccredited degree. The intent to deceive was obvious.
2) The TX statute you cited pretty much backs up what I posted earlier: if you use an unaccredited degree to gain pecuniary benefits or to otherwise deceive, then you have committed a crime in certain jurisdictions. In other jurisdictions, it would be totally fine.
Even in TX, however, just listing the degree does not appear to be a crime. You would have to somehow use the title to gain a financial benefit. Don't worry, when you go to law school they will teach you how to read statutory language.
It is absolutely, positively NOT perjury to put an unaccredited JD on your resume. Your resume is not a sworn document.
Filling out an application which states that the information provided is true to the best of your knowledge may be different. Holding yourself out to the public as "Mr. Smith, J.D." may also be prohibited, depending on the state. It depends. Certain states do regulate the use of unaccredited titles/degrees, but I believe the prohibition would only extend to instances where the unrecognized degree is being used in a somewhat deceptive manner. For example, if you were a teacher and you claimed an unaccredited degree in order to get a pay raise, that's probably prohibited.