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« on: October 09, 2009, 04:38:57 PM »
Congrats on the clerkship. I imagine the judge will open some doors and maybe pull some strings for you. Just keep expanding your network and keep in touch with the contacts you have.
Like I said just don't focus on only large DC firms. They are very elitist in terms of grades and school name. Even moreso than large firms in other large cities. And they are hurting big time from the economic downturn. They just might not have a need for additional hiring in that practice group in the next 1.5 years. Or they may have a surplus of candidates who are experienced govt. contract lawyers, former fed. agency lawyers, or grads of top schools.
Believe or not, firms with practice areas in your field exist in other states, even states on the opposite side of the country. Maybe try to find people who are established in their legal careers that clerked for your judge back in the day. I'd imagine there are some working in areas outside DC biglaw. Also, try to get connected with the other COFC judges. They may be able to help you also.
« on: October 09, 2009, 04:29:38 PM »
The school is small. Probably a decent choice for well connected in-staters and a not so hot choice for out of staters who are taking on big loans. An attorney I know who practiced for several years in Maine said there are not enough legal jobs in Maine for even the small number of Maine Law grads that come out of the school each year. I doubt the school's name will get you far in a larger city like Boston.
« on: October 09, 2009, 10:42:57 AM »
Something you may consider is getting permission to take a 1 year leave of absence from school for "personal reasons". You can defer your loans for the year, get a job to feed yourself and figure out what you want to do. After that, you could go back and finish the JD if you want. Since you are already in the middle of the semester, you'd be wise to see what the financial consequences are before doing anything.
« on: October 09, 2009, 06:57:51 AM »
If the clerkship offer is genuine, you should take it no matter what. Worry about the effect on large firm jobs later. If you weren't going to get one of those right out of school anyway, you have nothing to lose by doing the clerkship. I doubt anyone on this board is going to have a straight answer for you. You're going to have to find a mentor in your field who can give you the info. My gut reaction is that the clerkship alone isn't going to be enough, and that you'll probably need a few years of work experience to look attractive to a big firm.
Also remember that many branches of the federal government deal with FAR/government contract issues. A lot of agencies will not hire outside the honors programs except for attorneys with several years of experience, but it's something to keep in mind for later. Basically, make connections now and hold onto them so you can draw on them later. I would definitely not limit myself to networking only with large firm partners. Find out who the smaller firms are and get close with the people there. Lastly, you could try to get a job working for one of the actual contractors.
« on: October 09, 2009, 06:40:07 AM »
I'd pretty much echo what nealric said. How do you plan to pay for school? If you plan to take out big loans to attend a private/out of state school you may be in for a rough ride no matter what. Where do you plan to practice law? If that place is already over saturated with law schools and lawyers you may want to think again. Are there any public law schools in your state that might let you in? Do they have part-time programs? If so, you might want to apply to the part-time program if your LSAT is low and see what happens.
I'd also look hard at your family connections like nealric said. If they are big firm connections, they're probably not going to be able to do much for you because of the hierarchical/bureaucratic structure and the fact that those places only hire t2/3/4 students from the tippy top of the class if they consider t2/3/4 students at all. Do you have any family connections that are willing to take you on despite your health issues?
Have you talk to your doctors about your career plans? Being in law school is stressful enough, but if you become a lawyer you should expect most days to be stressful. If you work in a small firm environment, you will work long hours and will have a ton of responsibility. You will also be dealing with people who are demanding things from you a lot. You will get nervous and stressed. I would imagine you will run into lots of triggers for your TS/OCD/etc.
Lastly, if you are bad at standardized tests, you may have trouble with your state bar exam. The bar is grueling 2-3 day test, and they may not give you an accommodated test/extra time/etc. If you don't pass the bar, you're not a lawyer, despite all the $$$ you spent getting a law degree.
« on: October 08, 2009, 06:12:09 PM »
I'd advise against doing that LLM. That program is basically a cash cow for those law schools and it is highly likely that it will not lead to any employment opportunities of the type you want. The places you mentioned do not hire very often. Once in a blue moon they will look for attorneys with several years of relevant experience, Ivy League + Federal Clerkship types, or they will have some kind of very competitive fellowship program for fresh grads.
While interning in DC seems like a great idea, the notion that it could lead to some type of employment for you is probably false. There are a TON of people flocking to DC right now in the hopes of doing policy/govt/non-profit/etc work. Most of them have better schools on their resumes, and/or better work experience, and/or got better grades in law school than you did. The pool is just too competitive (even in a good economy) and you're not going to be able to hack it.
If you want to do govt/policy work, try to get a job with state government in your state. Look at the governor's office, state legislature, local city government, etc. Try doing some campaign work maybe. Consider non-legal or quasi-legal work. You'll either end up working for free or will get paid even less than you would at a small town small firm, but at least you'll get to do the work you want and amass some work experience.
« on: October 07, 2009, 12:00:10 PM »
You need to call the schools and ask them on a case by case basis. There is no general rule, but some schools will only consider applicants if you have a minimum number of credits. Some schools have a strict min/max rule. Some schools have PT divisions where you can do a PT to PT transfer. Some schools will let you do PT to FT if you take summer classes before 2L. Some schools will let you do PT to FT if you take a extra semester at the new school. It all depends on the school.
« on: October 07, 2009, 11:54:08 AM »
Cost is the biggie. Even if not similarly ranked, the rankings don't mean much beyond the top 20-25 schools or so. What I mean by that is, if Louisiana State [for example] is your in state school, generally, you're going to be much better off in the long run going there than a much more expensive, private out of state school.
Private law schools do not by their nature offer anything a public school cannot.
« on: October 07, 2009, 11:48:03 AM »
Business Orgs/Agency/Partnership is one I'd recommend anyway even if you're not doing big law. Same thing with the drafting class, if it's taught well. Those classes are worthwhile no matter what you end up doing. I can't imagine going to law school and not taking Evidence and Corporations no matter what type of job you'll have after law school.
Another thing I'd recommend is doing a clinic your final year, for a couple reasons:
1) In the current climate, your biglaw offer could evaporate and it would be nice to have some practical experience for other types of employers
2) If you do go to biglaw, it can be useful for pro bono projects.
« on: October 06, 2009, 06:35:00 PM »
Low level drug dealers go to federal court all the time in big cities. The reasons 1) they are repeat offenders, and 2) they have guns to protect their drug stash.
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