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Messages - ryanjm

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21
^True and ^^True. But nealric, the fact that _none_ of them like legal work at firms is telling. No doubt the work environment has something to do with it, but the raw numbers of lawyers who dislike their jobs is staggering. You can hope that you're one of the few who will like this work and find an awesome work environment, but if I was placing a bet on it I wouldn't give you good odds.

And Contract, I don't remember who was on law review (I wasn't), etc...but they are all smart people and the one clerking for the judge probably had a very high class rank.

22
I graduated last year from law school (T50 if you think rankings other than T14 are important), and yesterday at a wedding I saw quite a few of my old law school classmates. Here is what they had to say:

"Sam" - Works at biglaw litigation firm downtown. He's at the office around 8:30, leaves around 6:30. Usually does an additional hour or two of work at home. Says "it's a grind" and generally dislikes his job. The partners work late as well, so there's little hope in sight. Wishes he had been a businessman or some kind of entrepreneur.

"Stefan" - Works at small firm doing tax law. Also considers it a grind, but hasn't worked there as long so he's still adjusting and doesn't have the same perspective as Sam.

"Wallace" - Worked for a few months as an attorney and hated it so much he went back to school for early education.

"Bram" - Didn't want to practice law and went into federal law enforcement.

"Lefty" - Clerks for a state sup ct. judge and likes it, but his 2-years are up soon and then he starts to work at a biglaw firm.

"Me" - Didn't want to practice and went into family business.

...and on and on. Point being, I don't know more than 1 or 2 of my classmates who are practicing law who actually like their job. No one at the wedding did.

I would really encourage all of you considering law school to actually go and speak with lawyers practicing in whatever area you think you want to work in. Ask 3L's at your local law school what they think of it. Just talk to as many lawyers as you can about their job. Figure out what their schedule is like. I think more than a few would be willing to give you 5 minutes of their time to help you get an idea of whether or not this is a career you really want to get into.

It's worth doing some serious research in order to avoid a six-figure mistake and 3 years of your life. So many people, including myself, had a vague picture of the realities of being a lawyer, and what the work is really like. You like to argue using logic? You like reading and writing, and you're interested in justice? Go join a debating club, create a blog, and read some legal books on your own time. Every lawyer likes to read and write and argue. But do you like working 10-12 hour days at a desk in front of a computer by yourself? Do you like doing tedious research on minute details of the law? Do you like doing tons of paperwork for partners? Do you want to deal with clients who are invariably stressed and upset because they are coming to you only with a serious problem, and you cannot offer them much consolation besides 'we think you have a good case,' or 'we think we have a good argument.' And that's not even touching on the whole billable hour problem which incentivizes working slowly and padding.

The money is nice if you can find a job, but do you want to hate getting up in the morning? These are the realities of legal work. Good luck to you guys, I was in your shoes 4 years ago on this very same board.

23
I think that approach is a bit too tedious. First, you have to read the cases in the casebook because that's what you're going to discuss in class, and you must be prepared to answer questions on the cases. Second, reading a hornbook + your casebook is a LOT of reading. From what I remember of classes, a lot of time is spent expounding on every little detail of a particular piece of law. What would be helpful is something that condenses the law, not expands and discusses every little detail. You will do enough magnifying of each tiny piece of law in class.

Of course, everyone says "Do what works for you," but I think that there are certain methods which are much better than others, and if someone did well using another method, perhaps they just got lucky, or were much smarter than their classmates, or spent a huge amount of time studying every day. Whatever the case, I still think that BARBRI outlines + BARBRI class notes = win. With those two resources, you could cover an entire subject in a day, have examples to look back on (with the notes), and clear definitions of every important bit of law. While I'm sure the hornbook will explain the law magnificently, when it comes exam time, that's just too much information to go through and distill into something you can remember.

24
set for what?  passing exams or getting straight A's?  it's fine and dandy to memorize BLL if that's all we had to do for exams, but it seems like most of the threads on this topic and books on this subject hint that there's something more intangible than just resuscitating the BLL.  they call it "thinking like a lawyer" or some such jargon.  am i wrong about this?

You'll get the "thinking like a lawyer" part just from sitting in class. That's unavoidable, not something you have to work towards. I'm not saying you can read the mini-conviser, go on vacation for 3 months, and then come back and ace exams. I'm simply saying, if you follow what I outlined above, and go to class, you will have a very good chance of getting A's. I'm basically saying the casebook is vastly overrated for learning the law and what you need for exams.

25
Bar Exam / Re: Examsoft issue- speakers
« on: July 24, 2009, 09:05:30 PM »
On a side note, how much did examsoft charge you guys? I thought the fee was rather high considering it's only a limited one-time use license and doesn't really do much besides act as a basic word processor with security features.

26
While studying for the bar exam these last few weeks, I came to the conclusion that if I had these books as a law student, I would have crushed every exam. Why? Because reading a case in your casebook is like digging through a pile of crap to find a nugget of gold hidden inside. Don't get me wrong, you need to learn how to read cases and pick out what is important, but if you want to really _know_ the law, and learn what you will need to ace an exam, an outline is going to help you 100x more than studying cases.

For instance, when you take a torts exam, there will be some sort of fact pattern dealing with negligence. ALL you need to know, are the elements of negligence. You need them memorized, and you need to understand how to apply each element to the fact pattern. You can learn that in about 1 hour reading an outline, maybe less. In your actual Torts class, you'll spend weeks on negligence reading all sorts of justices pontificating on all sorts of crap, but that doesn't help you answer a question your client will bring to you in the real world. You'll have tons and tons of policy discussion in class. You'll learn the how and why of everything. You'll hear your class gunners ask all sorts of insightful questions. BUT, if you want to just skip the BS and learn the law, or just get a huge head start that will clarify things and allow you to put all the minutia in perspective, here's are the books I'd get if I was starting law school all over again:

1) Barbri class note book, filled in. This is the book that you take to class with notes from the lecturers, and for some dumb reason they left blanks in them so that you actually have to attend the classes to fill them in. They are generally very good condensed explanations of every 1st year subject and many 2nd-3rd year subjects with examples and simple language.

2) Barbri Mini-conviser outline. Has an outline of every subject on the bar, most 1st year subjects are around 30-40 pages. In those 30-40 pages you will learn basically everything you would need to do well on an exam except the policy crap.

3) MBE Strategies and Tactics. This book has sample questions from the MBE (multi-state bar exam) on all of your 1L subjects plus a few 2L subjects. Around 50 questions per subject, plus a full MBE at the back so that's around another 30 per subject. It also has a 5-10 page section before each subject with helpful strategies for common questions asked in each subject and common areas of confusion cleared up.

You can buy all of these used, a 2007 or 2008 copy would be totally fine, for less than $200. Use however you like, but I'd recommend skimming through an entire subject once just to get an idea of how everything fits together. Then I'd use them as reference books throughout the year, and then finally as exam prep. If you simply add some policy explanations and cites to cases in the conviser outline, you're set.

27
Bar Exam / Re: Illinois Character and Fitness
« on: July 05, 2009, 02:32:56 PM »
lol at all the traffic offense worrying, and jaywalking. Are you serious? These are violations worthy of denying someone to practice law after they spent $100k+ on a law school education? That's a joke. The whole C&F process is a joke unless you have serious offenses that would cause someone to not put their trust in you with important matters. If you told a client you got caught jaywalking, do you think he would suddenly say "Oh, well I guess I can't trust you to handle this real estate contract?"  It's a ridiculous anal-retentive line of thinking.

In response to chi2009, that is a more serious offense imo because it goes to trustworthiness. Although you won't go into details, I'm thinking you probably will have to explain this if you get called in to interview for it. Still, if you got into law school, you'll likely get through the bar admissions process. It would be pretty cruel to admit someone to law school while knowing all the while that they'll be denied admittance to practice. I wouldn't worry about it much, but I'd expect to have to explain myself to an attorney, so just be ready for that.

28
  Another important facet of the lectures is that many professors discuss a bar-specific "approach," which differs from the law school exam approach.  You won't get that out of the outline.  To me it makes no sense to grind your way all the way through law school only to shortcut the most important test you'll ever take. Bar Bri doesn't get that $3k just 'cause it has the best outlines... 

I think it gets that $3k because most law students have an aversion to risk that drives them to fork over the money just for the peace of mind. I've heard a few of the lectures that someone had on tape (which according to my lecture note book shouldn't have been allowed), and personally I thought it just slowed me down compared to how fast I could just read and memorize.

As to the "bar specific approach" and mentality needed for the exam, this is covered in other books which I bought, specifically the Strategies and Tactics for MBE, which I bought for $30, and also the first section of my Barbri workbook had quite a few pages detailing how to answer the Ohio Essay questions. Basically, I don't think the added value of the lectures is worth $2700 more than what I paid for the study materials. But for those who are scared to take the risk, I understand the need to want to cross every T and dot every I.

29
I decided not to take the classes. I bought a set of 2007 barbri books with the lecture notes already filled in. I don't have a problem studying on my own, and I was told by more than a few bar-takers that going to the classes is a waste of time if you can study on your own. For one, the classes are basically just the professor reading the outline to you, so if you know how to read then you can do it yourself. Also, I heard that the real learning takes place when you do tons of practice problems/essays, and learn what you got right/wrong and why. PMBR workbooks are good for this, plus the barbri stuff.

Personally, I just despise paying $3,000 to watch dvd lectures when I can pay $150 for a set of year-old books and do it myself. I'd argue that law school is similarly a waste of money. It reminds me of the line from Good Will Hunting when Will talks to the Harvard snob guy: "You paid $150,000 for an education you could have gotten for a $1.50 in late fees at the library."

30
1L job search / Re: Describe your responsibilities...
« on: June 28, 2006, 02:00:29 PM »
I'm working for our law school's clinic. It is awesome. We get paid $9/hr, get to interview clients, write letters negotiating settlements, draft/file complaints, and generally "handle" every aspect of the case. We even have a huge class action about to be filed. Overall it's great experience and the hours are very flexible, but mostly 9-5.

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