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Hello All,

Back when I applied to law school, I was on this board too much for my own good.  I had a lot of questions, and the answers always seemed to be coming from other people like myself, i.e., people who had not gone to law school yet, were not lawyers, had never been on an interview with a big law firm, had not interviewed law students for a job at a big law firm, and generally had no idea about the profession.  Thus, I thought I would "give back" and see if any of you have questions that I could answer.

I'm currently a third year associate at a regional office of an AM Law 100 firm.  I went to a top 25 law school and graduated in the top 10%.

Here is some general advice, for what its worth:

(1) Don't go to law school: Law school is probably for about 5% of the people that go.  Really.  While I'm not a huge fan of Tucker Max, his thoughts are pretty spot on:  If you are itching to go to school, I would suggest an MBA.

(2) 90% of you will not be in the top 10% of the class.  Accept this now. 

(3) If you do go to law school, I would starting thinking about a career path outside of an AM LAW 200 firm RIGHT NOW.  I have friends that have started their own practice and they love it.  While the first year to a year and a half were rough, they now make about the same amount as I do.  They have also created jobs, don't have to answer to partners, probably learned more, and are generally very satisfied with their choice in life.

(4) I would strongly recommend that you apply/attend a school in the area where you want to practice that is (1) cheap and (2) has a good (or better) reputation locally.  Keeping you debt down should be your #1 priority.  I think most of you haven't faced down $150K+ in debt.  I have about half of that and its miserable.  I can't imagine what its like to pay $1500 a month for the next 25 years for the privilege of working 60+ hours a week.

(5) On a related note: if you don't get into Harvard, Yale, Stanford, or Chicago you are going to need good grades.  Yes, that includes other "T-14" schools that report grades.  Time and time again, at the two firms I have worked, life experience plus good grades at a well respected school trumps (on paper) a straight out with no experience, that did mediocre or worse at Georgetown or Cornell.

(6) If you are going to do well in law school, you are going to do well regardless of what school you go to.  I have nothing to back this up other than experience, but doing well in law school is not something that comes naturally to most.  If you are able to figure out the secret sauce, it will probably put you in the top 25% of most law schools.  Thus, if you see (4) and (5) above, go to where school is cheapest and reasonably respected.  If you do well, you will have opportunities at a "market pay" job.  If you don't, then you should start your own practice and have as little debt as possible.

(7) Finally, you are all smart.  I don't know any of you, but if you did well enough on the LSAT to go to any law school, and have good enough grades to consider going to law school, you are smarter than the vast majority of people.  Guess what: EVERYONE IN LAW SCHOOL IS SMART.  Understand that and check your ego at the door.  You cannot go into this thinking you are going to be the exception because, odds are, you are not.

If you have specific questions, fire away.  I'm happy to answer.

Job Search / Re: Cross Country job search
« on: September 28, 2009, 12:16:24 PM »
I also go to a law school in GA. I am not in the top 10% of my class, but I am close. I summered and accepted a post grad offer from a firm in SoCal with 0 connections to that area. It is possible. I even explored going to the Seattle office of the same firm.

That being said, I think our firm is the exception rather than the rule. Many other summers and associates had 0 connections with the area.

The reason firms want geographic ties is because they want you to stay there. If you go somewhere that is not home, you may eventually want to return home. So, it is important to say with conviction 1) why you want to be in that area; 2) why you want to work at that firm, at that office. You need to have real tangible answers to these questions that leave no doubt in the interviewers mind that you are going to stick around.

It isn't impossible, but it is hard.

Job Search / Re: Questions at callback
« on: August 24, 2009, 11:38:22 PM »
This one is simple and generic, but I found the answers helpful:

"What do you like about this firm?"

You might be amazed at the variety of responses.

Also, I liked to ask what people did for hobbies/vacation. If the list was short, or non-existent, it would send up red flags.

However, I would be careful of asking this type of question if you are interviewing with a firm that doesn't hide the fact they could care less about associates and they expect you to give you give every drop of blood you have to the firm.

Also, if everyone talked about how wonderful the firm was, I asked what the worse thing was about that firm.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Emory v. Fordham v. BU
« on: May 09, 2009, 04:57:32 PM »
I can't speak for BU, but I can say that if you are in the top 1/3 at Emory, you should be able to get a job with a big firm in NYC provided you don't turn people off when you interview. Ditto for Fordham. Conversely, if you are thinking about Southeast, more firms have experience with Emory grads than Fordham grads (as most choose to stay in NY). While I know some people here at Emory that are going to Boston, if you are thinking about Boston, BU is probably a safer bet.

I think there is a misconception on this board that if you go to Emory, you are going to be stuck in the Southeast. That is just plain not true. I'm going to the west coast this summer (I have zero ties there), and many, many of my classmates are going to NYC.

I would look at which one is cheaper and which one you like the best if you get a chance to visit.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Washington and Lee Vs. Emory
« on: May 03, 2009, 08:13:52 PM »
I am going to echo the above poster's response that faculty interaction, at least from my experience, has been excellent. While Emory is bigger than W&L, it is still pretty small per class.

As for IP and NY, I can tell you this: I had A LOT of options in NYC had a chose to go there this summer (which I did not, I ended up going to CA). I have no idea how W&L students do in NYC, but Emory grads do well, especially if they have some sort of tie to that area. The IP work is just icing on the cake. Off the top of my head, I don't know anyone that wanted an IP job in NY, and was qualified, that didn't get an offer there.

Further, Emory has a pretty unique program for IP centric students called TI:GER: . This program is very unique and employers LOVE it. I can tell you that it has really been a great experience being a part of this program and going to Emory.

For the record: I'm an EE patent guy. 

Current Law Students / Re: What Do "Soft" IP Lawyers Do?
« on: May 03, 2009, 03:37:12 PM »
Those that have said that "soft" IP refers to Copyright and Trademark are correct, that term usually means that. I'm not sure if I agree with that term, because those areas of law can be as, if not more, complicated that patent law. However, that term is used for that purpose.

As far "soft" IP lawyers do, yes they do infringement. They also might do clearance work, write legal opinions (if something is protectable, if something is infringed). They might negotiate licenses for use. File for TMs and Copyrights. Things like that. There is a transactional aspect to it, so if you wanted to explore those areas without litigation, there are opportunities.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: FSU or Stetson? ... or UF...
« on: April 26, 2009, 12:50:43 PM »
In state tuition at FSU and UF is ridiculously hard to turn down. One year at my school is more than tuition for 3 years at either school. I guess Stetson is cheaper that most private law schools, but both UF and FSU are 1) cheaper and 2) have a better reputation. I think this is a no brainer if you like FSU.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: 0L looking for some advice
« on: April 26, 2009, 12:46:10 PM »
I am a community college grad. I went to UCF for undergrad and graduate school. I am, by no means, an idiot. While I did not get into a t-14 law school (I was waitlisted at a few), it was a result of my LSAT score (much higher than a 145), and not due to my state school degree. I do go to a t-20 school, with a good chunk of money, and I am in the top portion of my class. I would classify my employment prospects as excellent (summer work at a prestigious boutique that still has a 12 week summer program, lots of AmLaw 100 offers). So, everything worked out well for me, despite the scarlet S I wear on my sleeve signifying to the law firm/school elite that I went to (gasp!) a state school and a community college.

I went to community college and the state school because it was the cheapest option. I had to pay my way through school, I was getting nothing from my family. I had no interest it piling on debt for no real reason. I think adcoms understand this. I think especially at your age, they will understand that economic factors are more in play when you chose were to go to school.

So, if it were me, I would just go to USF, slay my classes, do my best on the LSAT and worry about going to the best possible school when you go to law school. That matters more.

Get a real LSAT 1st, and then we can talk. Most people score several points below their practice test scores. While you may be the exception, on average, you are not.

Plus, regardless of law school acceptance, you might have an issue with the bar. Again, one thing at a time. Take the LSAT, get a real score, then we can figure it out.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Fordham vs Emory
« on: March 31, 2009, 01:28:17 PM »
My final decision came down to Emory v. Fordham. It was a hard decision, but I ended up choosing Emory.

First, I would say that you will not be at a disadvantage getting a NYC job from Emory. While half of the class stays in Atlanta, more 25-33% of the class ends up in NYC, and about 10-15% end up in DC. The rest are scattered all over the place. I have limited ties to NYC/NJ and had many, many summer job offers there (more there than in Atlanta). I have zero ties to CA where I will be working this summer. Emory isn't a top-14, but I think calling it a regional school is a little short sighted. After reviewing placement facts I decided that Emory wouldn't really hurt me if I wanted to go to NYC.

Second, if I wanted to be in Atlanta or go back to FL where I am from, Emory has more of a connection with the southeast than does Fordham. Doesn't sound like a concern for the OP, however, I would argue that Fordham is more of a regional school than Emory is. I have no idea what F's DC stats are, but I have a feeling that Emory has more ties to DC.

Third, cost of living is much, much cheaper in Atlanta. If this is an issue, think about it hard. Rent alone could be 1/3 of what you would pay in NY.

Finally, and this is person specific, but I just liked Emory better. I visited both schools and I just got a better feeling from Emory than I did from Fordham. Fordham to me felt like a "lawyer factory" and Emory felt more like a "school." Also, I really like Atlanta (although I really like NYC too); it has a very nice artist/counter-culture/underground vibe to it that appeals to me. I think many of my classmates that are from NY enjoy Atlanta and what it has to offer.

I can't speak to the competition at Fordham, but I would say for the most part, people are pretty laid back here and aren't into sabotaging their fellow classmates. Law students are a competitive bunch but I would say in general, everyone is pretty friendly here. 

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