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Messages - smujd2007

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Current Law Students / Re: 60 mile commute to LS. Am I nuts?
« on: April 23, 2008, 06:27:45 PM »
Ditto.  Since you have a family to think about, and are a single mom, you want to live as close to law school as possible.  The last thing that you want to worry about is whether or not you will get to class on time, on top of everything else.  I commuted 27 miles each way during my last year of law school (I got married) and I easily lost at least an hour each way.  That was during the last year, though, so I was better able to deal with it. You want to give yourself every advantage until you figure out how you fall in your class and how much work you have to put in for maximum benefit (in terms of grades and time management). 

Wherever you go, get as close as you can.  Especially for the first year.

Since I still have two cents (finals are coming up), I'll share them.
Though I am not involved in tons of extracurricular's, I can say that there is a definite advantage to living close to law school.  I am 7 minutes away from mine.  And it's great.
Forget a book?  No problem.  Need to do some research?  No problem.  Friend calls you up to study?  Done.  Not to mention, I can leave between classes and still make it back.
Ideally, living on campus of your law school, when possible, is the way to go.  60 miles will take an hour and a half each way out of your day.  That's 3 hours a day that you can't study, relax, hang out with family and friends, review your notes, etc.  It is not worth it.  You will not have the chance to know people and will miss out on alot of the bonding that happens at law schools after classes.
There are students who live 20 miles or so from my law school and they have very little family time and virtually no social life with the other students, which is sort of sad....
Good luck!

Current Law Students / Re: Bar review courses
« on: April 10, 2008, 04:36:46 PM »
Ditto.  I don't think the books have publication dates in them (prob b/c they use the same ones every year).  The ones they change are in the 3 day course, I think.

Some of the answers, as you start studying, will seem incorrect. Those questions you talk out with a study buddy. When you get to that point you know you are in good shape in terms of studying. 

As for what I'm doing, I'm just doing BarBri.  I heard differing opinions on everyone re: the MBE and PMBR.  I decided to not spend the money on the course, and I'm just going to get the PMBR books on ebay or something and work through some problems on my own.  I think most of my friends are doing some combo of both, however.

I have heard this too.  Does anyone know the most recent publication of PMBR MBE books?  Differences in publications? 

Probably no big deal, but would hate to end up with outdated questions/answers, etc.

Current Law Students / Re: Bar review courses
« on: April 09, 2008, 06:50:13 PM »
BarBri and PMBR should be sufficient--provided you do enough self study on your own.

I'm taking BarBri, PMBR, and Essay Advantage.  Overkill?  Maybe, but Nevada's bar passage rates are so low, I'm not taking any chances.

Public defender jobs tend to pay a little bit more, as opposed to the type of law that I'm doing.  In my state, starting salaries for public defenders are in the $50's, which is great for this area of law.

Clinical experience is A MUST.  You cannot be afraid to go to court.  Many public interest lawyers probably see more court time in a year than some private firm attorneys see in their entire lives.  I would recommend clinical experience and simulated experience that actually mimics trial work--such as legal clinics and trial advocacy courses.

My first summer was for me.  I just did what I wanted that summer--hung out with friends and family.  My second summer was spent half at a large city attorney's office, and the second half at a private family law firm.  During the school year (after 1st semester of 2nd year) I worked for a private firm part time.  During my last semester I continued working for the private family law firm and started another job working with a government attorney at a local university. 

If I could change my summers, I probably would have tried to get a writing sample while I was at the city attorney's office.  I like where I went, though.  First summer, I would recommend not trying to do too much.  You will be exhausted after 1L, at least take half of the summer to veg out.  You can volunteer with a nonprofit maybe part time, to put it on your resume. 

As far as competition for public interest jobs, it is FIERCE.  The main thing that interviewers want to see is that you are committed to public interest.  They know that people run because of the low salaries, or they take public interest jobs just so they can get some experience until they find some thing else.  The main thing is to be committed to doing public interest work, and to have some evidence of it through clinics, internships, and/or trial advocacy. Generally speaking, the more the better.

In terms of finding my job, I dropped my application off in November, right after I found out I took the bar.  It was January before I was called for an interview.  I didn't make the first cut--I had the personality, but not enough experience. An opening became available late last month and they offered it to me. It can be a long grueling process, but its worth it.

One thing I wish I had done was just to go to court and watch what was going on.  See how the attorneys act and how they address the judge.  See what side everyone stands on. See when you talk to the bailiff.  Know where to go to get things filed.  Get familiar with the local rules. Know which pleadings have to be verified.  Get as much practical knowledge in as you can, even if you are going down to the courthouse and just watching court proceedings for a day. Ask the baliff if you can introduce yourself to the judge during recess.  One attorney advised me that the best CLE's for a lawyer, especially a new one, is to just watch court proceedings.  You will be surprised at how much you learn.  And, it will help with your comfort level with being in the courtroom.  Being in court can be intimidating, but the more you go, the easier it gets. 


PI jobs are notorious for low pay. Honestly, though, I think the quality of life is SOOO different that people who really enjoy the work make the financial sacrifice--especially if you can find a program to assist or pay student loan debt while doing public interest work. If you can get a public interest job making--say, 40,000/yr, and because of that job you qualify for a program that pays 650.00 worth of student loans in a month, you really have to consider that.  It would be like $7800/yr. paid on your debt. So its really like you make $47,800/yr in terms of actual benefit from working in that position.

There are several attorneys where I work that have been at the office for 5 years or more. Several others have been there for 2 years or more. They all seem to be fairly satisfied people who really like what they do. The bottom line is that PI is very satisfying work and at the end of the day you can make the financial sacrifice. I think if you are in law to make money, then you will burn out in public interest very quickly. I think a lot of the turnover in PI is because people think they can do the work until they find something else to do, which is definitely the wrong reason to do it. But if you are in law to help people, PI jobs can be very rewarding.

I don't know about the pay getting better over time.  That depends a lot on how often pay is reviewed.  At my organization, pay is reviewed once a year. There are some organizations that review pay more often than others--like, every 6 months. But pay raises are normally done in percentages, so 2-3% of low pay is a low raise. (its just simple math.)     

I am only asking this for curiosity its not based on anything i've heard:

It seems like since PI jobs are lower paying that so older lawyers might get out of it and go into something this true?

Does the pay get much better over time?

Maybe you can't answer these if you've only been doing it for a short time. but thanks anyway

As for student loan repayments, I am currently in forebearance on my loans. Also, I don't have nearly as much student loan debt as most who graduate from law school--I owe less than $50,000.  In Texas, the state bar has a special program for attorneys who work in public interest.  Depending on your household income, for every year of public service that you do, the State Bar makes your student loan payments for you if they accept you into the program--up to 10 years.  I missed the deadline for this year (blah) by 2 weeks, but I definitely plan to apply for next year! Lots of states have different repayment plans if you plan to get into public interest.  You just have to be creative in looking for them.

I am not really concerned that my organizations funding will be cut.  My organization gets funding from several different sources, many of which are "reliable" so if one source is "cut," then it doesn't hurt as badly. 

I work for a nonprofit organization that provides legal services to the poor.  Most of the work that my organization does is in the area of family law, consumer rights, housing/landlord tenant, and social security. So far, there has never been a dull day at the office.   

Thanks for offering to answer questions about public interest!

How are you managing your student loan repayments?

Are you concerned that your organization's funding will be cut?

What area of public interest are you working in?

Current Law Students / New Public Interest Lawyer Taking Questions
« on: April 02, 2008, 05:30:48 PM »
There is a lot of info on this board about law firms, clerking, and other traditional types of legal careers.  I don't see a lot of info about public interest and nonprofit work.  I recently started a job in this position, that I REALLY like a lot.  If anyone has any constructive, RESPECTFUL questions about nonprofit/public interest work, I'd be willing to answer them (to the best of my knowledge.).

One of my co workers did micromash rather than barbri and it worked for her. She passed the first time. 

As I said before,  I think if you are a disciplined person, you can get through it.  But if you have the tendency to procrastinate and/or don't have the discipline to pace yourself, then make sure you get it done.

Job Search / Re: help me compare my summer options
« on: March 26, 2008, 07:48:29 PM »
JAG is good.

Current Law Students / Re: random Q to make myself feel better
« on: March 26, 2008, 03:52:37 PM »
After first year.

Briefing after first year is probably a waste of time.  By then you know what you are looking for in class, so you take better (and more efficient, more effective) class notes. Once you can efficiently book brief (doing the brief in the margins of your text), you can tailor your notes to the professors style of exam writing--some exams are very fact specific, like con law, while others are not.  Listening is key. 

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