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Messages - CLS2009Student

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Incoming 1Ls / Re: Question regarding full time schedule
« on: February 24, 2008, 05:14:40 PM »
I think the first year experience varies a lot, but I would recommend you avoid working at least until you know how much studying you have to do.  One thing to think about is the cost-benefit analysis:  If working causes your GPA to drop .5 pts, how much future income will that cost you?  Depending on what school you're going to, possibly a lot.

As has been mentioned, many law schools forbid employment during the first year.  ALL law schools at least have a cap on hours you may work (an ABA-requirement).

If you've already done one optional essay, I would not send in another one until you get the hold or waitlist email.  I do not think they would reconsider once they've put you in the "waitlist" category, even though they do wait to tell you.

Law School Admissions / Re: FAFSA and merit aid
« on: February 24, 2008, 05:06:08 PM »
A few quick answers:
- Many (perhaps most) schools require the FAFSA for merit-aid.
- You need to complete the FAFSA for federal loans.  (You won't need parental info for it.)
- It is always to your advantage to apply for need-based financial aid, since the burden of applying is negligble compared to the potential rewards.
- Look closely at the financial aid information for each school to which you've applied, as it will explain what they want before considering you for need-based or merit-based aid.

Is your only concern an aversion to debt?  If so, have you received your CLS financial aid offer yet?  Columbia was very generous with me, and with many of my classmates.  Maybe you won't be facing as much debt as you expect!

That said, you need to keep debt in perspective.  Columbia students are virtually guaranteed a great-paying job 2L summer and after graduation.  I'd much rather have boundless opportunities and $100,000 in debt (about equal to seven months pay for Columbia grads starting out) than have less peachy opportunities and a tenth that amount of debt.  Likewise, I got a firm job my 1L summer--as did most of my classmates who put in a serious effort to do so.  There is only a handful of schools where it is that easy to rake in $35K your first summer.  I have some friends at UPenn, UVa, and UMich who say that this is much rarer at their schools.  (I don't have any hard numbers--just what they told me.)  Even if you can't get a firm job, Columbia still gives you a stipend to do public interest work.  So you can count on a lot of money from the summers to help keep the debt down.

The other thing to think about is that Columbia has the best loan repayment assistance program in the nation.  Should you decide to pursue a public interest calling, Columbia will pay much or all of the debt you're worried about.

It's really important to keep this all in perspective.  The difference in cost between one school and another can be huge--but compare that difference to the level of enjoyment you'd get from being at the school, and the future income that a school will provide for you.  If school X would make you happy but cost a little more, it might still be worth it.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Law School Summers
« on: February 24, 2008, 04:39:20 PM »
What's the deal with summers for law school?
Here's my two cents:

Do (most) schools give credits to people who find law-related employment?
Very few schools give academic credit for summer employment.

Can students take classes over the summer?
Most schools do not offer summer classes, but there are some special programs put on that accept students looking for summer classes.  In general, I think most people avoid these.  I think it is viewed as something to do if you can't get a job.

Do employers value Study Abroads as much as law-related work?
I do not think employers value this at all, but I don't think it is generally frowned upon either.  Studying abroad can be useful to (1) give you something to talk about in interviews, (2) show your interest to a particular foreign legal market where you intend to work, and (3) give you a good time in a foreign country.

If you don't get a 1L SA job, do firms get sort of pissed if you don't work in a law-related field?
Firms don't get "pissed."  But during your interviews for 2L year, it is extremely useful to have some sort of legal experience to talk about.  You can use it to frame a lot of other things, including explaining what kind of law you want to practice and what you're looking for in a firm.  It can also show interest in a particular city.  Firms definitely like to see legal-related 1L employment, particularly summer associate positions.

Can students usually find employment in non-SA positions over the summer that pay?  How well do they pay?
I think this varies widely by school.  I go to Columbia, and most 1Ls either choose to pursue a SA position (which usually pays $3100/wk) or to do some sort of public interest work (for which Columbia will give you a stipend of $5000+travel expenses, which is often supplements pay from the organization).  I'm not sure what it is like at other schools, but I believe people do a lot of unpaid internships for government or the judiciary.  Small firms are also often eager to get some help.

Related: Does anyone hire law students in a non-law field for 3 months, or would you be stuck with pizza delivery?
I'm sure there are plenty of unpaid or low-pay internships--the sort of stuff that college students do.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Law school exams
« on: February 24, 2008, 04:31:08 PM »
What you're allowed to have depends on the prof.  Most law school exams I've had are open-everything: notes, assigned books, commercial outlines, etc.  Some are limited to only your own notes, only assigned texts, or some combination of these.  There are completely closed exams as well.

Most law schools use exam software that locks down EVERYTHING on the computer and only allows you to type your answers.  You can't access or use any documents or programs on your computer or on the internet.  This means you have to print anything you intend to use.  This applies only to in-class exams.  Some professors have take-home exams, during which you are generally allowed to do whatever.

This poll is definitely missing an option, namely, "it doesn't matter."

Law School Admissions / Re: Columbia LRAP
« on: February 23, 2008, 11:27:50 AM »
My guess is that Columbia gives you a loan and you use that loan to make your student loan payments for the first 3 years...then they forgive the loan at the start of year 4. However, I don't really know, so don't quote me on that.

This is correct.  Columbia gives you a loan to make your student loan payments, and then begins to gradually forgive that loan after three years.  So if you bail from public service after a year to start rolling in the benjamins, you have to pay the benefits.

(This is similar to most LRAPs.)

Law School Admissions / Re: Michigan OWND some high-numbers kids this year!
« on: February 23, 2008, 09:16:27 AM »
I'm sorry to those of you who think all you need to do is send your name and LSAT to a top 10 school and they will worship you. The problem is not Michigan but all the schools that actually do worship the Numbers only fools that think they are entitled to everything. The reason you didn't get in is because you have little to offer beyond a score and that can easily come across in a poorly written essay or no essay at all (you don't write one b/c you have no clue how to sell youself beyond a score.

You continually insist that this is a numbers thing.  It is not.  No one in this thread has made the complaints you're railing against.  Either you have some sort of unhealthy obsession with people who do well, or you're trying to set up a straw man argument to support your viewpoint.

EVERY law school application includes at least two written components:  the personal statement (which is supposed to convey what each applicant has to offer) and the LSAT writing component (which is supposed to convey persuasive writing ability).  As I've repeatedly stated, there are a number of people who decline to write the "optional" "supplemental essays" for reasons other than those you so vilely ascribe to them.  Some people believe that their interesting personalities come across on their resume and personal statement, others don't want extra fluff distracting the adcomm from their outstanding letters of recommendation and lifetime achievements, still more simply believe that if the admissions committee thought the optional essays were useful then they would be required or at least encouraged.  This has nothing to do with people thinking Michigan should let them in because of their LSAT score.  It has nothing to do with that at all, so get off it.

The other critique I have of your last post is that you suggest Michigan does not contribute to the excessive weighting of LSAT scores.  This is patently false.  Michigan bases its admissions decisions very heavily on the LSAT.  They offer more adulation to high-LSAT scorers than is typical.  (E.g., they frequently send handwritten notes to high-scorers, something other schools don't usually do).  I agree with you that no one should feel entitled to anything because of a high LSAT score.  It's an achievement, sure, but it is just one test and just one factor.  Michigan contributes to LSAT worship as much as anyone, and their occassional arbitrary rejection of candidates does not have anything to do with it.

Law School Admissions / Columbia LRAP
« on: February 23, 2008, 06:56:44 AM »
I just want to share this news coming out of Columbia, which I am personally very excited about.  Columbia just dramatically improved its Loan Repayment Assistance Program for grads who work for government or in the public interest.

Some key features:
- If you make less than $50,000* a year and do PI/gov work for at least five years, ALL of your law school loan payments during that time will be paid by Columbia.
- The benefits aren't eliminated at $50,000 a year, instead they gradually phase out so that some graudates who make more than that still receive benefits.
- The benefits start to phase in after three years, so even if you bail on public interest then you will still get some benefits.
- There are adjustments for cost-of-living, parental leave, etc.

* The vast majority of public interest attorneys make under this amount.

This is an AMAZING program, and I for one am really excited about it.  For lawyers working in the public interest, this could mean a Columbia education without ANY loan payments having to be made.  Columbia had the first LRAP program, and now it once again has the best. 

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