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Messages - jack24

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General Off-Topic Board / Re: The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« on: August 23, 2012, 04:34:34 PM »
I love research and writing and I love teaching, but I understand there are many challenges and barriers on the road to being a career professor.

My job isn't that awful, but I still feel like I need to make a move now or stick it out.   The longer I wait the more difficult it will be to change.

I went to law school knowing exactly what I wanted to do: Banking law and Real Estate litigation..   I did well, I graduated and I hustled for a job.  Luckily, my firm represented the regional interests of two large banks.  Unfortunately, those accounts dried up due to an FDIC takeover and a sale just six months after I started.  Now I do a random mixture of collections, family, criminal, and personal injury, none of which is very interesting.  But it's work.  I want to start a firm in a few years because I've owned businesses in the past, but I want more contacts in banking and real estate law before I go out on my own, and this firm isn't making that happen anymore.

General Off-Topic Board / The Sunk Cost Fallacy: Help me!
« on: August 23, 2012, 12:48:04 PM »
Working in the legal field sucks.  Wait, that's not right.  The legal field is so huge and diverse, that it can't all suck unless all work sucks.   So let me rephrase: I hate my job and I think I'd hate at least 25% of all law-firm jobs.
So I have law school debt, and I make less than I made before law school.   The long term financial outlook in the legal field is still very good, but it really sucks in the short term.
In summary, I hate my job, I'm bored to death, I have soul-crushing debt, I have a modest income, everything else in my life is going very well.
In addition to my law job, I teach college as an adjunct.  I absolutely love everything about it, but the pay sucks.

So I'm deciding between forging on with my current career and going back to school for a Ph.D. 

I understand there are many pitfalls with the professor path, but when evaluating my decision, should I consider my student loans and time investment as a sunk cost?  In other words, is it rational to consider the time and money investment as a significant factor when I can make more money and be happier doing something that doesn't require a law degree?

What did you do your undergrad in?

You are a unique splitter.    Your GPA isn't horrible, but it may be viewed as horrible depending on your undergrad degree.

That 175 is a monster score.  Congrats on that.  For better or for worse, most law schools will view you as more intelligent than 95% of LSAT takers.   Based on what I've read, Most of the top 14 will have a big problem with the 3.0, unless there is some very unique reason for it.  (Like if you got D's in your first year because your family died, or if your degree was in chemical engineering from MIT)
On the flip side, most of the schools outside the 25 will salivate at that 175.   But in the 14-25 range (not exact, of course) your soft factors may matter more than usual because you are a splitter.   If the school you apply to has a great crop of high-GPA applicants but the LSAT scores aren't great that year, they will jump at the chance to get you in the door, and the soft factors will sweeten the deal.

That said, generally speaking, soft factors, though important to you and some prospective employers, are only used as tie-breakers.  But you are weird on paper, so all bets are off.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« on: August 21, 2012, 09:15:49 AM »
I will say law school and any educational experience is what you make of it. Many people at my school complained about 3L and the pointlessness of it, but I accomplished a lot during that year I participated in two mock trial competitions, took some great writing courses which lead to me having solid writing samples, had two great internships, and developed solid relationships with professors. If you sit in the back of the class and just want to get your degree then 3L is a waste of time, but it is the system and you might as well make use of it while your in the law school bubble.

Let me explain my third year of law school.   I only had 22 credits left, so I was able to work as many hours as I wanted and not violate the rules.
I wasn't an amazing student, but by 3L I had things figured out.

3L GPA was 3.8 on a 3.0 curve.
Law Review Editor (4 credits)
Moot Court (4 credits)
30 hours as student licensed intern (student practice rule)
Faculty research assistant (I helped a professor write a law review article for another school) (3 credits)
And I had 11 credits in class, split between two semesters.

Was that a waste?  Absolutely not.  I honed my skills during 3L, but I really didn't receive "instruction" in the same way I did as a 1L.  It's tough to swallow that heavy bill when you really aren't using the school resources in the same way.  I had a friend who managed to get 25 of is 90 credits from externships.  Yes, he paid $800 per credit to work for someone.

Also, while I understand that some people are uncomfortable with commercial outlines, I really think that, for most people, reading every case and taking vigorous notes after your first semester can be a massive waste of time.   I think analyzing citizens united by saying, "Hey, Corps are people dudes!"  is obviously deficient, but a full analysis of the entire case and dissent, and a study of the history of those justices and why they voted the way they did is not necessary or helpful to most attorneys.   There is a middle ground.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« on: August 20, 2012, 04:34:58 PM »
You won't get any argument out of me about the vast differences between law school, sitting for the bar and the actual practice of law. I guess I just fall more into the law school = legal education camp, rather than the law school = career training belief.

That's fine, but it sucks that a practitioners' group like the ABA and state bars would require three years of legal education unless those years were necessary.   I'm fine with 1L, and 2L really depends on what type of law you want to do, but 3L is a joke for pretty much everyone.  I did law review, moot court, and worked part time and I had a ton of time to mess around.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« on: August 20, 2012, 08:52:44 AM »
I would summarize the following points from the original poster...

1) Don't do the work that the professors and the legal education institution, whose expertise you're paying tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars for, feel you should to obtain a quality legal education. (THE SINGLE BIGGEST MISTAKE students make in law school is sinking thousands of hours reading and briefing cases in preparation for class)

Rob, I get your beef with working more than the rules allow, but this statement?  That's crazy.   You talk like those people who say commercial outlines are bad (a lot of those people were my professors.)

Almost nobody pays all that money for "expertise."  People pay that money to get a degree and a chance to sit for a bar exam.
I could go on and on about the subject of "quality legal education" especially how law school relates to bar prep and practicing law in the real world, but I'll save that for later.

I will provide one example: The erie doctrine.   Yeah, that stupid doctrine that almost nobody ever deals with.  Students all over the country spend hours and hours and hours on that crap, and it's useless for 99.9 percent of lawyers.  Most people would just have to learn it again, should the question pop up. 

Shoot, here are a couple more.  Miranda v. Arizona and Roe v. Wade.  Let's set aside the fact that Roe isn't really controlling anymore.  Roe and Miranda are huge cases of massive importance, but there little reason read every page of those cases.  Particularly Miranda.   Law professors are academics.  They desperately try to make their professional programs into research programs so they can feel more like Ph.Ds.  My 1L contracts professor spent an entire semester writing a law review article on the development of the law in the wild west. (I edited the piece of crap).    His contracts class was so full of legal history that we never really got into any examples of common contract problems.  Sure, he covered farrow cows, ambiguously named ships, and 19th century advertising offers, but he openly despised training students to become contract lawyers.  His statement (I'm paraphrasing) was, "I'm here to teach the law, not how to be a lawyer.  Everyone knows you have to learn on the job.  Law school's purpose is to teach you how to be a legal scholar, not a legal practitioner."

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Time Saving Advice for Law Students
« on: August 17, 2012, 03:18:45 PM »
This is credited.

Law School Admissions / Re: My chances
« on: August 15, 2012, 04:50:11 PM »
This may be a bit of a rant, but nonetheless.

The LSAT drives everything.  It's crap, but it's true.  Law School Rankings matter, because law school rankings play a significant factor in both the incoming class and the interest of employers.  Schools understand this, so they play the rankings game. 

Here is how the ranking is calculated:

As you can probably see, the ranking system is incestuous.   Employers hire from the school with the best students, the best students go to the school with the best employment prospects, and the schools that pump out the most prestigious lawyers get the best peer assessment. 
As rankings go up, students and employers are attracted to the school.  But its pretty clear that what everyone wants are the best students (not necessarily the best-trained students)  Because the scores are relatively tight between #25 and #75, every point matters, and admissions offices have little immediate incentive to bring in someone with a good career.  They'll use those "soft" factors as a tiebreaker, but they will almost always choose a 163/3.6 with a job at quiznos over a 158/3.1 with an impressive management career.

I think the main reason why is that employers and schools are terrible at evaluating experience.  Resume's, recommendations, and references are so unreliable and almost always inflated.  Work ethic changes over time as well.  Virtually all of the decision makers go for the "hard" factors because they are easier to evaluate and they have an impact on rankings.

Law School Admissions / Re: My chances
« on: August 15, 2012, 03:07:52 PM »
In my narrow experience, nobody really cares about your work experience unless it is directly related to the job you are applying for.  A law school may be impressed by novel achievements or by specialized schooling.

UNLV could be a different story if you worked for a former student turned big-wig or something.

I really think there is a lot of delusion at both ends.  Yes, people still get jobs and not everyone is screwed.  There are chicken littles out there who are going crazy.  But things aren't easy, particularly for lower-ranked grads.

 I was a top 1/4 at a school just outside the top 50.  I was a law review editor and moot court member.  I had two fantastic internships, one of which produced a ton of 1st chair experience, and I was networking and job hunting from 1L Christmas until I passed the bar.  I got my first full-time attorney job two days before I was sworn in as an attorney (Five months after graduation), and most of my income is based on bonuses.

In my experience, the legal field is absolutely brutal right now, and the available jobs for new associates are absolute crap.  I hustled for years and basically worked for free for four employers while I studied for the bar.  Hundreds of emails, months of networking, at least 50 applications for open positions, calling in every favor I had.   At the end of all that, I had two associate offers, and one came when a managing partner liked me a lot during a paralegal interview.

One state court clerkship in a medium market (salary = less than 40k/year) attracted well over 100 licensed attorney applicants. 100!  The guy who got it was ranked in the top ten students at a school in the top 40.

Anyone at the bottom half of their class or in the bottom half of law schools faces an incredibly brutal, up-hill battle for jobs with horrible starting salaries.

My advice to those licensed attorneys still looking for a job is to write emails to every attorney you can find and offer to do their crap drafting work for 40 bucks an hour on a contract basis.  Also, apply for paralegal jobs and then just start picking up attorney work as it becomes available in your firm.  They will love this because they can pay you less than 20 bucks an hour and bill you out at a low rate, but still tell your clients you are an attorney.

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