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Messages - Esq
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« on: July 09, 2005, 09:38:52 AM »
I disagree with "advice" that advises against taking ANY bar classes because you cover them in bar review courses. Surely, they didn't mean don't take ANY course covered by your bar review course. I don't know about the state where this advice was offered, but in many states, the bar exam covers subjects such as wills and trusts, business associations, secured transactions, commerical paper. It's really hard to "learn" a course such as secured transactions in the three hour lecture that, say, BARBRI offers. That's all you get--about three hours of lecture for secured transactions and then they send you off to study the 80 page outline. The very next day, BARBRI moves on to the next topic like commerical paper with another three hour lecture and another 80 page outline. You do that for about six weeks.
Now, I don't think it's necessary to take ALL bar classes in law school. But you should take a good number of bar classes so you won't have to kill yourself studying in the bar review course.
I'd check to see what topics are covered on your state's essay portion of the bar exam and make sure you've taken a good number of those topics in law school. BARBRI says you don't need to have taken all the bar courses to learn in BARBRI what you need to pass the bar. But BARBRI is also the first to point out that BARBRI is a REVIEW course. It's hard to review the difficult concepts when you haven't learned them in the first place.
« on: July 02, 2005, 09:11:31 AM »
Although it is not a great movie, there is a line I like in Devil's Advocate: "The greatest vice is advice." With that said, here is some advice.
Perhaps when you applied to St. Mary's you had outstanding grades in your undergrad major and a strong LSAT. As a result, you might think you are surely going to dominate during your academic stay at St. Mary's. Or perhaps when you applied to St. Mary's you had a strong GPA but your LSAT was not as high as you would have liked. Or perhaps you applied knowing that with your scores, you were not a sure-fire admit.
Whatever your circumstances are, St. Mary's Law School is a tough program for everyone. Don't assume that just because you got in means you get to stay in. The first-year is especially difficult. You will have to prove yourself. You have probably heard that during the first year of law school nearly all law schools hit you with the same core subjects of contracts, torts, property, civil procedure and criminal law. St. Mary's follows this model and St. Mary's has always had a strict grading policy.
Before you start law school, I would recommend taking a hard look at your academic skills, your study habits, your ability to read large amounts of complex material, etc. You are going to find that your classmates are competitive. Expect a fight for the top grades. St. Mary's has a forced curve in the core subjects. For the last several years, only 20 percent of the class has been able to get a B+, A- or an A. There is no "A+" on their scale. Statistically, many students never receive an A their entire three years at the school. During the first year, the median score for all core courses has been a C+ and there is always a percentage of students asked to leave because that percentage hasn't "made the grade" that year. You have to go in determined not to be one of them.
Preparation and organization can go a long way to ensure that you do well at St. Mary's. It always helps if you know someone who went to the school. Once the semester starts, you will need to find older students who have had the same professors that you have. You need to get good outlines early so that you can use them to build your own outlines during the semester. It's not too early to think about whether you will use a laptop to take notes. In recent years in some classes, about half the class has used laptops and the other half has not During the summer before your first year, read at least one of the Examples and Explanations (E&E) series books (either Glannon's Civil Procedure, Torts, or Blum's Contracts). Don't worry about taking notes, or outlining the E&E books ,just read them for the concepts.
« on: June 25, 2005, 09:46:24 AM »
St. Mary's is a great law school with a proud tradition. Right now there are more than 300 elected officials that graduated from St. Mary's School of Law. St. Mary's Law School boasts a current United States Senator. I don't hear them worrying about the USNWR "ranking." St. Mary's has current members on the Texas Supreme Court, and the Court of Criminal Appeals. These Justices have cases to hear, opinions to author. I don't hear them wringing their hands about the rankings. Practically all the judges on the Fourth Court of Appeals are St. Mary's Law School graduates. They don't spend their time worrying about the rankings. The current president of the Texas State Bar Young Lawyer's Association is a St. Mary's graduate. No one in these circles says anything about the rankings.
I concede there are a lot of people obsessed with rankings. But the thing about rankings, unless you are the number one student at the number one law school (as defined by USNWR), there's always someone "higher" than you are. I suppose you are concerned that if you go to St. Mary's you will worry about students at UT that graduate from a school with a higher rank. Well, then there must be students at UT worrying there is someone graduating from the higher-ranked UVA law school. And of course, there is someone at UVA worrying about someone graduating from a higher-ranked Harvard. And I suppose the objection at this point would be that you can't compare St. Mary's to Harvard. Well, everyone sits for the same Texas state bar exam if you want to practice law in Texas. Everyone is tested on the same material that shows up on the test. Bottom line: people from Harvard can fail the Texas Bar exam.
I think the USNWR rankings give a misimpression that if you could just go to a school with a high rank, you've got it made in your legal career. Unfortunately, almost no one has it made. You are still going to have to work for every gain. Even the highest ranked law schools in Texas have about 10 percent of their classes fail the Texas Bar Exam each year. I suppose some would assume that if a student was admitted to a school that ranked in the top 15, there is no way that student would not pass the Texas Bar Exam. But it happens. After receiving that horrible news, how much comfort do you think it is to say to yourself, I went to a school that was ranked 15th by USWR?
One fact is that there is a potential client out there who doesn't follow the rankings. The potential client wants effective legal representation that won't cost him an arm and a leg. He is concerned about cost and the outcome of HIS case. He may or may not have heard of Harvard Law School, but after that, he doesn't follow the USNWR rankings. By the way, if you did graduate from Harvard, and you lose his case, he'll probably sue you for malpractice no matter where you graduated from.
Someone may want to argue at this point that the employers follow the rankings. Perhaps there is some truth to that in a vague and general sort of way. But again if some recently graduated associate walks around in a law firm going up to the partners, saying, I graduated from a higher-ranked school that you did, so "obviously" I'm more qualified than you are, so don't question my work--that person will be looking for work soon.
Rankings are everwhere these days. In fact, we seem to be glutted with rankings. Most of them are completely meaningless. VH1 has the top 100 child stars (Gary Coleman was No. 1). Or, how about, the top 100 Most Metal Moments in Music History. Remember when Ozzy did his business on the Alamo? I don't remember where it ranked, but its proper place was in the toliet. By the way, never relieve yourself on the Alamo in San Antonio. San Antonio respects the Alamo. Some people might even kill to defend it. The same might be said about St. Mary's in San Antonio.
« on: June 18, 2005, 09:32:45 AM »
Quoted from Verdict Search, the Asked & Answered column:
If you had to make the choice again, would you go to the same law school?
Cary Toland, Sweetman, Skaggs & Lawler, Brownsville, Texas
Yes I would, because I think that friends of mine who went to bigger, state schools did not have the same level of class participation that I had at St. Mary's, and that prepares you a little better than just going to class and taking notes.
« on: May 28, 2005, 11:03:25 AM »
So what do you think? Are you going to take PMBR?
« on: May 28, 2005, 09:47:37 AM »
For what it's worth, I think PMBR is worth it.
You will never run out of practice MBE questions if you take PMBR. If the extra money is a real problem, you can buy just the PMBR three day session and you get all the essential books (the blue book and the red book of questions) as if you purchased the 9 day package. (It's 9 days because of the 6 day warm up prior to Barbri classes and then the same 3 day session after Barbri ends). If you take just the 3 day session, it is less expensive and you still get the benefit of a simulated MBE exam under timed conditions in a room full of other highly stressed individuals. With the Barbri simulated MBE and the PMBR simulated MBE you will have a good idea of how you react on "game day." I think those two practice tests really help control your nerves and give you the confidence when you start to hit that "wall" around question 120 or so on the MBE.
One more point about class standing. Although statistically, it's true that a higher law school GPA has some predictor value as far as one's chances of passing the bar on the first attempt, never forget that it's a "flukey" test. There're always a few stories about individuals who were highly ranked and for one reason or another, those individuals failed the bar on the first attempt. I think the best way to approach the bar exam is to study hard and prepare by working old essay questions, using the barbri schedule, taking PMBR, and just hitting it very, very hard. You might as well go into the test with every possible advantage.
« on: February 05, 2005, 05:53:47 PM »
Tragic future? This thread seems a little melodramatic. I also think this "stigma" talk of attending a "T4" is a little over the top as well.
Here's a stigma story: I have a friend who graduated from a "T4" school. He got a job out of lawschool with the state supreme court working for a justice as a briefing attorney. The other justices also had briefing attorneys and it just so happened that most of the other briefing attorneys graduated from a "T1" school. There were a few "T2" schools represented as well. My friend was the only one from a "T4" school, but he did not let this bother him. However, for about two months all of them were awaiting their bar exam results. When the pass list came out, the Court Clerk brought it into the room where they all were and they had a chance to see it before the list was officially published. They all rushed the Court Clerk and almost snatched the list out of the clerk's hands. People were crowding in a huddle, tearing through the pages, reading off names, and then shouting out thanks to their various gods when they found their names. All of them passed, except for one. The one that did not pass merely hung his head, cursed, and walked out of the room. The room turned quiet. They all knew what had happened. Slowly, they all filtered out of the room, took the rest of the afternoon off, and went home to their families. My "T4" friend's name had been on the list. He knew that day he had become an attorney, subject to being sworn in. He is proud of his school. He is working for a law firm. He has never been "stigmatized."
« on: February 05, 2005, 08:58:38 AM »
How does the Baby Bar work? I have heard that it is given to all first year law school students in California. Who administers the exam? What is its format? What subjects does it test?
« on: February 05, 2005, 08:55:32 AM »
One point about using the PMBR questions to study for a law school Evidence test. The PMBR questions are geared for the Multistate Bar Exam ("MBE"). Of the six topics on the MBE, the Evidence questions are generally regarded as the most "tricky." Also, the PMBR practice questions only test on the Federal Rules of Evidence because the MBE only tests on the Federal Rules of Evidence. I do believe the PMBR practice questions are essential for studying for the MBE portion of the bar exam; however, if you only worked 50 or 100 evidence questions for a law school exam and found yourself getting 30 percent right, that would not be unusual because most people who start using the PMBR questions to study for the bar exam do not do better than 40 percent correct on the Evidence questions in the first few weeks of study. PMBR recommends that you do 50 MBE questions a day, every day, while studying for the bar exam. It takes this much practice because all the questions on the MBE are tricky but the the Evidence questions are very tricky.
« on: January 29, 2005, 08:31:47 PM »
The Examples and Explanations Series is great. The E&E Glannon Civ Pro book is essential. E&E's Contracts by Brian Blum is clearly written and has great hypos. I liked E&E's Secured Transactions and Payment Systems books. The E&E Wills and Trusts book by Beyer is excellent and I highly recommend it. All the E&E books are great.
I agree with what was said above about the "Nutshell" series.
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