Law School Discussion

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Messages - BoscoBreaux

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21
My experiences in law school reminded me, quickly, that in law school the bottom 80-95% (depending on the school) of the undergraduate class has dropped out of the intellectual battle, leaving what was once a great student to deal with mediocrity. Those who will do well in law school are those who can apply knowledge, not merely find it. I think only law school itself can divine that.

22
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Curves? I dont get it.
« on: March 03, 2006, 11:23:36 PM »

and yea, reputation of a school has some weight in a decision, but really the outside of the T14 or so most schools become regional.  so you will have schools like pitt vs. duquense when it comes to jobs or suffolk vs. northeastern or something like that.  in these cases the employerer probably doesnt have too much of a preference because odds are that they have people working at the firm from both of the schools and have a positive view of both schools.  so in this case the school with the softer curve helps out the grads from that school.  so i think that the gpa is an inaccurate tool to gauge students in comparison to class rank, and really is therefore unneccessary. 

You are correct about the T14 v regional distinction. But consider as well that when a law firm considers persons for a position, their grades will matter to an extent, but so will their experience/externships and references. In fact, a good reference will often time trump any grade issue that exists. Of course, it is unlikely that we'd be comparing a Yale graduate with a Nova University student, so such comparisons are moot.
When curve differences exist between regional/local schools, local employers know this. In my city, employers know the Top 50 school in town gives out As and Bs like cough drops at a kindergarten assembly and the local Top 100 school wouldn't even give out a B to Cardozo himself!

23
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Why is Cardozo regarded so highly?
« on: March 03, 2006, 11:10:57 PM »
I constantly see people debating top 30 schools, sometimes with money, against a Cardozo offer... I hadn't heard anything about this 'cardozo' so I figured it was a top 20 school, and went to look it up on the rankings.  I was shocked to see it at number 58 on USNEWS. So what is it about this school that makes people still consider it against top 30's WITH money?

Clearly these schools have something going on to raise their place in people's choices... anyone know what this is?
It's in NYC, and when you look at the stats, that might be meaningful considering the high starting salaries. Of course, after paying rent and taxis, you'll be making less than an Ohio Public Defender intern, but you can at least tell mom and dad you are making $125 a year!

24
American vs. Brooklyn and Cardoza

So, at the moment anyway, that's my big decision...While American university is ranked 11 points higher than both Cardoza and Brooklyn, its admissions stats are considerably higher--almost disturbingly so...I'm trying to figure out what that means in post-graduate terms (i.e. starting salary, networking, yadda yadda), but ive had a difficult time tracking down that info.

in any case, i was wondering what you guys think of my situation...any advice, comments or insults are welcome (viewing some of the posts on this site, i'm guessing i'll get mostly the latter).


Okay, step back and take stock of a few things. Look at it this way, Bill Gates is much more wealthy than Warren Buffett, but would you say that Buffett is poor? Do you think Buffett's company is going to make you more money in the future than if you invest in Gates' company (I do incidentally)? If you were comparing New York Law School to Univ of VA, then maybe you'd be dealing with meaningfully relevant statistical differences which will impact one's future.
The truth is whether you'd like living in NYC versus DC, or vice versa, will have more impact on your future than which school of the three you attend.
Obviously, if you wish to work in NYC, I cannot see why you'd want to go to American, unless (perhaps) you wanted an international focus to your education. Further, if you want to work in a DC lobbyist firm, going to Bklyn would be silly. Thus, only you can answer this question...

25
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Question about the Tiers
« on: March 03, 2006, 10:57:40 PM »

Don't get wrapped up in tiers.  Unless you're going to a T14 school, everything else is pretty much regional.  In other words,  if you can't get into Georgetown, choose a school in the city or state where you'd like to live an practice. 

Terrible advice.  As one facet of your law school decision process research the particular school's employment statistics and see how they place in a region where you would like to practice.  If I wanted to practice in GA... I wouldn't pass up Vandy for Mercer... If I wanted to practice in Phoenix, I wouldn't pass up UCLA for Arizona.


The advice is sound, except I'd probably extend the TOP 14 to include some selected top 25 schools beyond the 14. When you consider the networking value of attending a good local school (most graduates I know either got the first job at the location where they externed while in school or from someone they know from this-or-that event), on rare occasions would going to a more highly ranked non-top 25 school over a good local school. I don't know too many UC Davis graduates, for example, who stand a better change of getting a job in New York City than the average New York Law School graduate, despite Davis being worlds above NYLS in the rankings.

26
 I think this is especially true for the higher ranked law schools.  When competing against a student body wherein the majority of the students graduated top 25% from undergrad, it'll be tough.  Some of them will be experiencing for the first time how it feels to be ranked below the top 25% mark.

Even if you're willing to work your ass off to become no.1, there are going to be many others who feel the same way, and there can only be one no.1  ;D
[/quote]

   Very good point, but too much is made of the psychological impact of not being the best and not enough on the impact of competitiveness.
 In reality, competition tends to be more intense the lower you go down the Tiers.  This is not surprising--a student attending Stanford knows that even if he is near the bottom of his class, he can get a $100K a year job in San Francisco. On the other hand, second tier students will worry about paying off law school loans if they are near the bottom of their classes.
. The worst student in your law school class will be, at the least, nearly as accomplished as the average student, which depending on the school, is near the top of his or her undergraduate class. Thus, being "below average" has a different meaning in law school than in undergraduate.
It starts before law school though. Look at the LSAT--scoring a 158 puts you roughly in the top 25% of all college graduates who did well enough in college to even consider law school as a viable option for them. That is quite an accomplishment, but good luck getting into a good state school with that score. In law school, the bottom 75% of students disappear.

27
I am not a 'win at all costs' kind of person, but I also don't like being second best.  Is it so bad to look at the person in your study group and admit that you want to do better than them?

Everyone wants to be the best at what means a lot to them, but the more important issues are 1) why is that so important and 2) what are you willing to do to attain it?

Why is it so important?
Usually, in grade school, students want to be the best so that they can receive praise from adults. This external-based praise is often signs of insecurity, often stemming from a poor home life, unreasonably demanding parents, and usually, both.
Being the best so you can feel good about yourself begs the question "why don't you feel good about yourself even without being the best?" All the Biglaw talk and even the thought of SCOTUS before even reading Pennoyer v. Neff is insecurity rearing its ugly head.

What are you willing to do to attain it?
Would you lie, cheat, or steal? What about not helping out a student in need of help because, heaven forbid, he may wreck the curve if he improves? Remember, what you do in law school will reflect what kind of lawyer you will be.

By all means, try to be the best you can be. But, do so for the right reasons. And ALWAYS do so ethically.

28
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Why is law school hard?
« on: March 03, 2006, 10:27:35 PM »
So I hear all these horror stories about law school, especially 1L, and how hard it is to do well.  But the stories seem short on detail - what is hard about law school?  Is it the amount of reading?  The professors' expectation?  The competition of other students?  All of the above? 


All of the above sums it up quite well, but there is more to it than that.
WORKLOAD
Okay, take your most time-intensive class in undergraduate, multiply it by 3--that's the average law school class. Honestly, the reading itself is not that voluminous, but the attention to detail necessary in the reading is nothing like any other level of education one experiences outside of law school. Reading and briefing a case isn't that difficult, but often times there are a dozen notes after the case, each of which mention a case. You are expected not just to read the notes, but prepare to discuss each of the cases and how they are different from the case you read for class. Thus, one case requires you to remember over a dozen other cases, at least well enough to discuss. Considering many classes will cover 3 cases, you need to be fairly fluent in 36 cases, for one class. At my school, which is fairly typical, the average time spent in class and prepping is 70 hours per week, more during exam time. To those who say it can be done in 40 or even 50 hours...whatever...

CLASSES
Ever read a book of the length and complexity of "War and Peace" and have a professor ask you what the author meant on the bottom of page 365 and contrast that to the book you read in 8th grade english class? That is kinda what law school classes are like. Because of the detail of answers professors demand, there is NO WAY you can go to class without fully preparing (unless you enjoy being humiliated by 70 other students, each of whom think they are smarter than Da Vinci). Believe me, you'll read a heck of a lot more deliberatly next time. This takes an incredible amount of time, and drains the mind quickly. It ain't exactly light reading. In fact, tax code can be more stimulating. Classes are pretty intense, especially when you factor in the nervousness of being grilled in front of others for what seems like an eternity. You are intellectually naked in a way that no other experience in life captures. If you have ever seen The Paper Chase...yes, many students head for the bathrooms after class!
The result is, predictably, to spare embarassment, students will prepare, overprepare, and over-overprepare for classes. This, equally predictably, leads to all-nighters and poor outlines, but at least you won't be embarassed (too badly) in classs.

EXPECTATIONS
Law is a regulated profession. Thus, it is not unreasonable that professors demand students are accurate. Unfortunately (in my view), this lends itself to sadistically long assignments, are mind-draining nuance wars between professors and students. Thus, the workload is tremendous, and the detail with which you must prepare is equally demanding.

THE STUDENTS
Remember in high school, there was always that one student in class who always liked to show up everyone else by thrusting his hand into the air, and with an aire of confidence based largely out of insecurity, spewed whatever nonsense was in his head? Now, remove the other 30 kids from class, and make 30 carbon copies of the class conceited jerk. That's law school. (Okay, I generalize). Law students make medical students look human and uncompetitive--and that takes a lot.

29
General Off-Topic Board / Re: Racism in Law School
« on: November 24, 2005, 08:40:23 PM »
This article is really disturbing.  Just to think that people who harbor such blatantly racist sentiments can become leaders within the law school is really disheartening.
http://2theadvocate.com/stories/111005/new_email001.shtml

The more amazing thing this shows is how utterly devoid of a sense of humor law students are. Too bad Chris Rock didn't make those statements--then the same persons who complain would pay $80 a ticket to hear him say the same thing and giggle all the way back to their cars.
Ugh, law students are so embarassing sometimes.
Reminds me stories I hear about what went on at my school on 9/11/01. Classes were cancelled, and students spent all day debating about whether international laws apply to possible prosecution of the murders or whether American law sufficied. NOT ONE person stopped to realize that thousands of persons were killed, or cared to acknowledge that human suffering was occuring as they spoke.

30
General Off-Topic Board / Re: Perspective on Law School
« on: November 24, 2005, 08:32:18 PM »
This morning I realized that, a few months ago before the application process, I was thinking I would go to a local TTT and was mainly studying law because I wanted to do something intellectually challenging and have a break from my job. After that, my goal was to do animal rights or first amendment work.

Now I have gotten sucked into the whole law school game and I feel I have to go to a top 20 school, even if it is across the country, I have to get top grades and get on law review, and I must work for a big law firm and make $125,000+ a year.

What happened? I already have a career which I can even do part-time if I want. Big law sounds horrible, and I don't particularly like working long hours. Yet, I have gotten sucked into The Game. I think law school plays upon a lethal blend of greed and competitiveness to which we all seem susceptible. You'd think being in my 30's and having more perspective than the average person fresh from undergrad, I would be less vulnerable to the whole thing. But I'm not.

It's kind of scary. Law school and the career beyond that are like an addictive drug.

Just say no! Withdraw your apps so I can have your spot!

I was there last year, but speaking as a One L, resist. The IDEA of law school is far more exciting than reality. Further, the only persons who really care where you go to law school are 1) ) BigLaw firms and 2) Prelaw students; im not sure which group cares more to be honest. But your issue reminds me of the following exchange:

     Do you want to own a Porsche? HECK YEA
     What if to own the Porsche you had to work 80 hours a week and live in a 400sq ft apartment?


The same reality exists herein.  Biglaw is worse than horrible. Not only do you make little money ($125,000 for an AVERAGE of 70 hours a week in a city where a decent apartment starts at $2000 a month, while the parners bill $400 an hour for your time) but you are treated like dog drool, you have no client contact, and if you are lucky, you MAY be able to work on a real case (other than just cite check and research) after a year or two.  For those who want Biglaw--look into a good cardiologist, you'll need it. 

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