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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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L.L.M. Board / Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« on: June 25, 2012, 01:21:50 PM »
From the horse's mouth: Standard 308 of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools states "The ABA does not formally approve any program other than the first degree in law (J.D.)."

As far as I know, ABA approved schools will not accept credits from an unaccredited law program. I have seen some ABA schools which will accept a certain number of transfer credits from a California state bar approved school, but never from an unaccredited program. I think you'd be starting from scratch if you decided to get another J.D. from an ABA approved school. In addition, since you're already a member of the bar, it's possible that you're more or less prohibited from attending law school again. You'd have such a huge advantage over your non-lawyer classmates that schools might be very skeptical about admitting you. I imagine that neither the ABA nor the individual law schools themselves want to encourage people to obtain bar admission first, then seek admission to law school. You may even want to check with the CA bar, they may have some restrictions on acquiring a second J.D.

You're already admitted to the CA bar, which is no small task! You should be proud of that accomplishment and focus on building a career either in law, which you're already qualified for, or in another field which doesn't require an ABA degree. I don't know you or your situation, so everything I say might be totally wrong and misguided. If so, ignore my advice. But based on the small amount of information you've provided, I don't see how an ABA law degree (which would cost possibly $100,000+) would be especially useful. What field do you want to work in?

BTW, your undergrad degree would only matter in terms of J.D. admissions. This is just my personal opinion, but I have a strong suspicion that most law schools absolutely, positively will not want to admit a student to a J.D program who is already a licensed attorney. I would contact the individual schools and ask them directly. I might be wrong.   

L.L.M. Board / Re: Getting ABA after the bar.
« on: June 25, 2012, 12:18:24 PM »
Well, there are a few things to consider.

First, the ABA does not accredit LL.M programs, only J.D. programs. A particular law school may have ABA approval and may also grant LL.Ms, but the LL.M program itself will not be ABA accredited. Even if you got an LL.M from Harvard, for example, that would not qualify you to sit for most state's bar exams. Most states require that you have an ABA-accredited J.D. Foreign lawyers can sometimes get an LL.M and practice in the U.S., but it really depends on where they went to law school (some foreign degrees are recognized by some states, others aren't), and what state they want to practice in. In short, your J.D. really determines whether your legal education is ABA approved.

You need to find out what accreditation your law school has. If it's non-ABA and non-CBE (CA state), then it's probably unaccredited. Sometimes these school advertise themselves as being "Registered with the California State Bar" or something like that. This is important because many LL.M programs will require that your J.D. be from an ABA accredited school. Some, however, don't. You'll need to check out each individual school.

Here is the main issue: you said that you don't want to practice law. If that is the case, spending tens of thousands of dollars on an LL.M is pointless. Please understand that I'm not trying to be rude or overly critical, it's just a fact. For the vast majority of legal jobs (other than tax and maybe natural resources law) an LL.M is usually uneccessary. For non-legal jobs an LL.M is completely uneccessary. For non-legal jobs an LL.M, even from a big name school, is probably not going to help. 

Syracuse / Re: Warning regarding Syracuse Law
« on: June 24, 2012, 12:14:23 PM »
This grading policy is essentially  what every law school in America does.

completely false

If anything this policy seems fairly generous. 70-75% of the class will be in the C to B+ range, and 5-15% will be in the A- to A range. That's hardly an onerous grading curve. A few people will fail and few will score A's, and the majority will get Bs and Cs. Legend is correct, that is exactly what most law schools have implemented. Law school isn't like undergrad, you don't get a good grade just for showing up.

Now, if Syracuse has made it harder to retain scholarships by making the curve tighter, that sucks. And yes, every law school plays games with scholarships .Keep in mind however, that many law school have a curve set at 2.3-2.5. Syracuse's seems pretty easy by comparison. 

That's a tough question because law is so unique to the individual country. In other words, there really is no "global" law school. However, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, etc. are probably the closest thing to the best law school internationally. A good indication of this is how many foreign students each attracts. Many foreign students apply to LL.M programs at top U.S. law schools, far more than any other country in the world. Some remain in the U.S. and others return home after graduating. But here's the point: even if you're a Chinese lawyer in Beijing, or a Brasilian lawyer in Rio, an LL.M from Harvard is still considered entirely badass. Everywhere you go, that degree is instantly recognizable and respected.

You might be able to say the same about Oxford or Cambridge, but Harvard and Yale are generally (not just for law) considered the top universities in the world. Statistically it's much tougher to get into many top U.S. universities than it is to get accepted at Ox/Cam. In fact, it's a funny thing about the U.S. that we have such crappy k-12 education but such great universities. The Chinese govt sponsored a ranking of international universities a few years ago, and I believe 17 out of the the top 20 were in the U.S. As far as other internationally recognized law schools, I think that their reputations are far more limited. The universities of Sydney, Munich, Tokyo, and Toronto are all very well respected in law within their regions, but I don't know that they carry the same weight as the top ten or so U.S. schools followed by Oxford and Cambridge. 

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Non-American Law Schools
« on: June 23, 2012, 01:50:17 AM »
The European system is very different from the American system. General university entrance exams are required, and in some countries an additional law exam may be required, especially if it's an impacted major. Law degrees in some European countries (U.K., Ireland) are undergraduate degrees (LL.B), and require about four years of university study, a series of state exams and some monitored/mandatory internships (they don't use the word "internship", but I can't remember what it's called). In some continental civil systems, like Germany and the Netherlands, I believe it takes about six years altogether and law students will often pick a track while still in school: civil, criminal, judicial, administrative attorney, etc. Civil law degrees are essentially professional doctorates, much like the J.D. Unlike the U.S., there is little or no crossover between fields. In other words, if you become a prosecutor you will likely remain a prosecutor for the rest of your career.

The U.K. has a distinction between solicitors and barristers, although it's been substantially reduced over the last few decades. Graduates from common law countries (U.K. for example) can take the California bar without an LL.M, but I think that most civil law graduates would be required to at least obtain a U.S. LL.M first. Admissions to European law schools can be very competitive depending on the school, just like the U.S. My guess (and I could be completely wrong) is that it would be pretty difficult to get accepted to most European law faculties as a U.S. student.

Europen universities (especially on the continent) tend to be far more traditional than American schools. Since you already have a B.A., you'd be applying for something like a second, unrelated B.A. which really can't be used in the U.S. (and unless you have joint EU/US citizenship, you will almost certainly have to return after graduation.) You'd probably have a much better chance with U.K./Irish schools than with civil system schools.

I lived in the Bay Area for several years, and my impression was that USF had a slightly better reputation than GGU, but nothing too significant. The heavy hitters were obviously Berkeley and Stanford, followed by Hastings. The big firms hired from those three (and perhaps some top students from USF and GGU). Lots of GGU and USF grads were in local govt jobs (DA, PD, City Attorney) and small firms.

The Bay Area is a tight market, probably one of the most competitive in the nation. Lots of people from around the country want to live in SF, and SF firms have no problem attracting applicants from southern CA, the east coast, etc. I knew some attorneys at a federal office in SF, and the place was stocked with Harvard, Yale, and Stanford grads. I'm not saying this in order to discourage anyone from attending either school, it was just my observation about the market.

There are lots of second, third, and fourth tier schools that have good local reputations and whose grads dominate the local bar. GGU is in a tough position, in my opinion, not just because it's a fourth tier school surrounded by some legal giants, but because it's had some issues recently with the ABA.  GGU was on probation with the ABA (along with Whittier) for a few years. That really hurt both schools' reps, and I'm not sure that they've entirely recovered. There are plenty of very successful grads from USF and GGU. In fact, I know a GGU grad who pulls in more $$$ than most biglaw guys could even dream about. But it's important to understand the individual market you're entering into, and it's dynamics.

You'll get a solid legal education at either school, but ina very tight market you may want every advantage that you can get.

Golden Gate / Re: Going to Golden Gate
« on: June 19, 2012, 02:23:19 AM »
I did not attend GGU, so I can't speak to the specifics of their program. I'd be willing to bet, that GGU works pretty much like any other law school. Total cost of attendance (based on thte per unit cost) is around $118,000. Throw in few grand extra for books, etc. Some people will have that significantly reduced by scholarships, which are probably based almost solely on GPA and (especially) LSAT. This is just a guess, but looking at GGU's admissions profile, and based on what I've seen at other T4 schools, an applicant with a 160-165 could probably get at least a 50% scholarship, and someone with a high 160s could probably get a full ride. Again, this is just a guess. I might be totally wrong.

People with those kinds of LSAT scores make up a small percentage of GGU's student body, however. Many more students are probably be offered scholarships in the 5-25% range. A huge issue with all law schools is scholarship retention. Schools routinely hand out big scholarships to entice well qualified students to attend, but place difficult stipulations on them. I had to rank in the top 15% after my first year in order to retain the entire amount of scholarship, for example. It's rare that any law school will simply hand out a scholarship without some kind of GPA/ranking requirement. One effect of these policies is that they make it difficult to predict how much law school will actually cost, because it's very difficult to predict how you will perform. 

Another thing to consider is that tuition always goes up, never down. Usually scholarships are for a set dollar amount, not a percentage of tuition. Therefore you will likely pay several thousand extra. My guess is that alot of people at GGU end up owing pretty close to that 118k sticker price when you factor in loss of scholarships, tuition increases, and living expenses. If you're interested in going, try to get the highest LSAT that you possibly can. In my experience a high LSAT will trump a high GPA.

General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Solo Practice Advice
« on: June 16, 2012, 04:22:21 PM »
I have not started a solo practice, but I worked at a small firm during college. When I started the firm was just a year old and comprised of two lawyers, both about three years out of law school. They had both obtained experience in civil litigation with mid/big firms before striking out on their own. Within another year they grew to five lawyers, and focused on entertainment.

The biggest hurdle (not surprisingly) was getting clients. They wanted to do entertainment law and had some great contacts in the industry, but still took in cases ranging from business disputes to divorce. I remember that they spent at least as much time drumming up business as they did billing hours. It was tough, and they worked very, very long hours. When you don't have much of reputation it can be difficult to obtain referrals, so they were constantly working to make contacts at local bar meetings, civic organizations, you name it. They kept costs down by doing most of the secretarial/paralegal work themselves.

All of the attorneys at that office knew that the needed to build up a good rep, and they went the extra mile to provide truly excellent service. By the time I left the referrals were starting to come in and they firm was growing.

B.S. in Asian Sexual Migratory Patterns. Who cares what any of us majored in? The vast majority of law school students come from liberal arts programs. Go figure.  ;)

Participation in the discussion is voluntary, if you don't want to respond, don't. But why be obnoxious? You look absurd when you respond to something that you claim not to care about.

I majored in history.

LSAT horror stories / Re: LSAT means nothing in the big picture
« on: June 16, 2012, 03:29:58 PM »
The LSAT is not a perfect predictor of law school success, but it's not meaningless, either. The LSAT tests the type of logical reasoning and reading comprehension which are essential to law school success. It also tests how well the taker is able to prepare and to master new concepts. If the correlation between high LSAT scores and law school performance wasn't well established, why would law schools offer scholarships to applicants with high scores?

The law schools can simply look at the statistical data from previous classes and see the correlation between LSAT score, grades, and bar pass rates. They want students who will pass the bar the first time, and LSAT scores are indicative of this. 

Does any of this mean that a low LSAT score guarantees failure in law school or in legal practice? No, of course not. Anyone can have a bad morning and get a low score, but no one accidentally scores 170. A high LSAT score is a decent predictor of potential.

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