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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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If the OP is located in California he may want to consider the CBE (California bar) accredited law schools. Of course, there are many factors that should be considered when contemplating a non-ABA school, but in the OP's case it might be a viable option.

CBE schools don't necessarily require a bachelor's degree for admission, I think two years of college work will suffice. This could save the OP a couple of years worth of tuition and time. They also tend to be cheaper than ABA schools and offer part-time programs.

The main factors to consider are the OP's post-law school plans. If he wants to work at a large firm or government office, then an ABA degree is a must. Also, many states will not accept a non-ABA degrees for bar admission. Considering the other factors the OP has listed, however, this may be a route to consider. 

Transferring / Re: Transferring v. Reapplying
« on: January 11, 2013, 02:56:22 PM »
Maybe.  My LSAT wasn't very good and I still transferred up multiple tiers.  I started at a tier 4 as well.  I don't think LSAT grades are very important for transferring.  Easily the most important are grades and class rank.   

The answer, as always, is "It depends."

In the majority of situations grades and class rank are the dispositive factors. If you have very good grades and a high class rank you can probably transfer from a T4 to a T1. The thing that transfer applicants have to keep in mind, however, is that terms like "T1" and T2" describe a broad range of schools with varying degrees of selectivity in admissions.

For example, if you're trying to transfer from a T4 to Stanford, I think they might very well take your LSAT into account along with class rank, GPA, and the reputation of your current law school. The competition for those few transfer spots is going to be fierce. (I know someone who transferred from Hastings to Berkeley, both T1. They were ranked near the very top of their class after 1L, and had an impressive resume to boot).

OTOH, transferring from the local T4 to the local T2 (or even a non-elite T1) is going to be based largely on GPA/class rank.

One thing the OP may want to consider is whether transferring makes much sense in the first place. I'm not sure that any benefits gained from transferring to a California T2-T3 are necessarily much better than those gained from graduating top 10% at a T4. In fact, I recently worked at an office where a top 10% T4 grad would have been viewed as highly preferrable to an average T2 grad.

I went to a T3-T4 in CA, and the top 10% of my class secured good jobs. Some went to Biglaw, others to government/judicial clerkships, others to very reputable boutique firms. If you transfer, I assume there is a good chance you rank will drop. Also, I believe transfers are often not eligible for law review. Things like that may or may not be compensated for by the increased tier rank.

Just something to think about, good luck! 

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Common Law v. Civil Law
« on: January 11, 2013, 09:45:03 AM »
Keep in mind that if you plan to take the bar in any state other than LA, you will be tested on common law. Your decision depends on where you plan to take the bar(s).

That's interesting. I actually didn't know until recently that the UK offered this route to the bar. I always thought an LL.B was required. I assume a university degree is stil required for barristers?

I'd love to see an incorporation of this type of apprenticeship into the J.D. program. In my ideal world the J.D. curriculum would be comprised of two years of basic course work (contracts, torts, conlaw, etc) and at least one full year of supervised training. The law schools classes themselves would also be at least somewhat skills-oriented. For example, in Wills & Trusts perhaps the students could learn to, oh, I don't know, draft a will?The apprenticeship would focus heavily on writing motions, conducting discovery, making appearances, etc. Not just the research or doc review that interns usually get stuck with.

It would benefit the entire profession (but not the ABA).

I agree with Jonlevy, the OP seems like the ideal candidate for a correspondance/online degree.

I have respect for people who possess the intelligence and discipline to learn the law essentially independently, pass the baby bar, and then pass the CA bar. Frankly, I find it far more impressive than graduating from an ABA school and being admitted automatically by degree privilege, or passing a bar exam with a 90% first time pass rate. I've had the pleasure of meeting few graduates of CA correspondance schools, and they struck me as highly motivated, goal oriented individuals. It's not for everyone, but it sounds like the OP fits the mold.

IIRC, Taft, Northwest CA, and Concord have the highest FYLSE/bar pass rates. I'd probably be inclined to look at those schools. There a several others that have abyssmal pass rates. I'm not entirely sure what that indicates, but I'd be wary. Check out the CA bar website for statistics. The University of London option is interesting, and (as Jonlevy said), probably carries more name recognition than any of the CA correspondance schools. The only issue is that you'd have to jump through some additional hoops in order to take the bar exam.

Good Luck!

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Where should I go?
« on: January 10, 2013, 09:45:46 PM »
Is it worth it to save the money to go TTTT or should I look to my other schools?

In my opinion, saving money is your best option. If you were comparing local schools like Widener to Yale or Penn, I'd say it's probably worth racking up the student loan debt in order to accrue the benefits of attending a nationally recognized elite school. If, however, your goal is to practice in rural PA, MD, etc., I think you'll be better served by not having an huge loan payment each month.

Among the schools you're considering some may be ranked higher than others, but don't let this mislead you. In reality, they will all offer similar employment and networking options within their immediate geographic regions. Each school probably offers an advantage within it's specific neck of the woods, so that may be something to consider if you prefer to eventually live in one area over another.

The reason I'd focus on minimizing debt is simply because  graduating from one of these schools you'll likely work at a small-mid sized firm, or in local government. When you start, it's likely you won't be raking in a six figure salary. Hence, you probably don't want a six figure debt. 

Law School Admissions / Re: Exaggerations on Law School Application
« on: January 09, 2013, 10:22:13 PM »
Maintain FL 350, I think the "flat out lied" is a little harsh as a general matter

It is a little harsh, and I apologize. I wasn't trying to be snarky.

Maintan FL 350 states that its not inconceivable that they would ask about extracurricular college actvities on a bar application, but think that it is.

Not exactly. I said that it's not inconceivable that the bar might ask about organizational membership (fraternities would be included), and officer's positions held therein (VP is an officer's position).

They most certainly will have a copy of your law school application, and likely will conduct at least some comparison with your bar app. That's how people get caught lying about things like criminal records, for example. Let's say someone initially fails to disclose a criminal conviction on their law school application. Law schools don't really do background checks, so they get away with it. Later, they disclose the conviction on their bar application. The bar investigator compares applications, notices the discrepancy, and they have some 'splaining to do.

Look, it's not a huge deal and the chances of you getting caught are very low indeed. My opinion is simply that it's better to be completely open and to avoid any potential problems with the bar, even if remote. After three years of law school the last thing you want is for your bar app to take an extra few months to process because you have to answer a bunch of new questions or appear for an interview with the Character and Fitness Committee. In my state (CA) this wouldn't be a problem if you disclosed it, but might be an issue if you get caught trying to hide it. Your state may be different, and you can check your bar's rules to confirm.

Law School Admissions / Re: Exaggerations on Law School Application
« on: January 09, 2013, 09:35:55 AM »
On my application to law school, I exaggerated my involvement in campus activities. 

Let's be clear: you didn't exaggerate, you flat out lied. However, the lies were fairly minor and involved a non-critical aspect of your application (as opposed to GPA/LSAT/criminal activity, etc.).

In my opinion, it is ALWAYS better to disclose the issue than to sit around nervously hoping that no one discovers the lie. Admittedly, it is unlikely that this particular lie would be discovered, but why take the chance? Starting now you are expected to act in conformity with the bar's rules. In these situations the bar almost always views the cover up as worse than the lie. The only thing that can likely hurt you here is not disclosing.

I don't know what state you're in, but it's not inconceivable that the bar application will ask about organizational membership (especially officer positions). They will have your law school application, and may compare the two.

Lastly, no one on this site is a representative of your state bar. The opinions you get here are just that, opinions. Follow your state bar's rules and don't count on anonymous advice from me or anyone else.   

Law School Admissions / Re: GPA 3.88 LSAT160
« on: January 04, 2013, 01:30:49 PM »
Both Livinglegend and Jack24 have provided excellent advice, I'll just add a couple of points.

You're a splitter, which makes it a difficult to predict where you'll get into. I was in a situation similar to yours, with the numbers reversed (average GPA, high LSAT). I was told by almost everyone that I should apply to a ton of schools, see where I got accepted, and attend the one with the highest ranking, period. I chose instead to accept a large scholarship at a locally/regionally respectable school, though not a prestigious one. It was the right decision for me, and it may or may not be the right decision for you.

Spend some time thinking about what you want to do after law school, whether it's big firm work, the prosecutor's office, solo practice, whatever. Be realistic, and objectively evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. I think most of my classmates started law school with the intent to become biglaw associates, federal prosecutors, judicial clerks, etc. The fact is, only a fraction of law school grads get those coveted positions. You'll face very well qualified competition, and you should have a backup plan.

Next, consider what type of school you need to graduate from in order to accomplish that goal. If you want to work at a 500 lawyer firm in LA or NYC, you better find a way to translate that 3.88/160 into an acceptance letter from Yale. If you want to work as a county prosecutor, the local law school might be just fine. 

Now think about how finances will affect your goals. Will a $150-200k student debt prevent you from going solo, or from taking a job with the public defender? Alternatively, what if you rack up that debt with the hope of obtaining a biglaw job and simply don't get hired? It's a very real possibility. Will that $2000 per month payment prevent you from buying a house, or a new car, or saving for retirement?

Finally, although the above posters have already mentioned this, think about location. Very few schools have the kind of elite reputation that will get you hired based on pedigree alone. The vast majority of schools have local/regional reputations, and your job connections, internship possibilities, etc will be local. The law school rankings, in my experience, matter less the further away you get from the elite schools. A local T3/T4 may have better post-grad opportunities in it's immediate area than an out-of-state, non-elite T1 or T2.

Good luck!

Transferring / Re: No more beating around the bush
« on: January 03, 2013, 09:41:08 AM »
What gives you the best chance of making that salary is getting hired by a big firm. Here's what gives you the best (but not the only) chance at biglaw:

1) Transfer somewhere other than SMU, someplace higher ranked, like UT. (I assume you want to stay in TX?) SMU is a good school with a good regional reputation, but biglaw jobs are incredibly competitive. You'll be competing against others who are also top 2%, law review, etc and from bigger name schools. Those firms are snobby, and pedigree matters.

I'm sure that some SMU grads get hired into biglaw, as I said SMU has a good regional name. But if you want to know what gives you the best chance at biglaw, try to transfer to someplace like Harvard, Yale, Penn, etc. In this market I'm sure that big firms in DFW get applicants from those schools, and you'll have to compete against them.

If you want to live outside of TX, try to get into a nationally recognized school.

2) Remain in the top 5-10% (at least) after you transfer. This is not as easy as it sounds, as you'll be competing against a different, higher performing class. Try to get on law review, if possible (sometimes not open to transfers). 

3) Obtain a biglaw summer associate position, and do a great job. Most of the people I know who went into biglaw worked summers at a firm and made connections. The only potential snag I see here is that your first year and half worth of grades are from a lower ranked school. I'm not sure how biglaw would view that.

With that said, here are a few other things to consider. Biglaw is not the only satisfying or even lucrative area of practice. Plenty of lawyers who are solo practitioners or small/mid-sized firms partners do just fine, comparable to biglaw partners. I've met a guy who has a small firm that specializes in class action suits, and could buy and sell most biglaw partners with the change in his pocket. Being a DA or federal attorney isn't too bad, either.

Biglaw is one of the few areas, however, where you can make that kind of money straight out of law school, so I understand the attraction. The hours required and the stress level are high, and many burn out quickly. That's one of the reasons you should do a summer biglaw job, to get a flavor of the practice. 

It's also possible that yo could get hired into biglaw coming from a smaller name law school, like the one you're at. I went to a local school, and some of my classmates were hired by biglaw. You have the grades to be competitive, but I admit I don't know the TX market at all. If you could negotiate a better scholarship at your current school, however, it might be worth it.

You have to accept that even with awesome grades you may not get hired into biglaw. These jobs are limited in number, and you won't be the only applicant with a high GPA. Make alternative plans, scope out smaller well-paying firms, and gain as much marketable experience as possible.

 Hope that helps, and good luck!

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