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Messages - PSUDSL08

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61
General Board / What I learned the last three years...
« on: April 15, 2008, 07:52:12 PM »
I'll expand on this topic by stating what I've learned the last three years at two schools:

1. I wasn't surprised to learn that a good chunk of my fellow classmates are arrogant. Many people haven't discovered that there's a fine line between projecting confidence and coming off as an arrogant feminine hygiene product. But what I was surprised to learn is that a good number of them lack social skills and common sense. It is the minority of law students that possess the reasonable intelligence, humility (without sacrificing confidence), and interpersonal skills necessary to thrive in this profession. IMO, the true "elite student" is the one possessing all three of these traits...not the guy/gal ranked #1 who never left the library or the guy/gal who was editor of the law review who talks above people and is unbearable to drink a beer with.

2. With the exception of law review and moot court, most student groups at my school were pointless. I mean, is what you're doing that important if the only reason people attend your meetings are for the free Papa John's pizzas or Subway sandwiches? Unless you've done something spectacular within your organization (founded a student group, raised money for charities, etc), at the very most it seems like the time you spent involved in these clubs gives you two minutes worth of "BS" time during an interview. I don't think most employers care about why you joined "Phi Delta Phi" or how much involvement you had with the Barrister's Ball decorating committee.

If you have a true interest in these organizations/activities, then go for it...but don't just do things because you think they'll look great on a resume. If you have an extra 15-20 hours a week to burn, you're far better off doing part-time paid/volunteer work for a firm/solo practitioner/govt agency in the area than throwing mixers in the law school lobby.

3. At the very most, 5 semesters of law school is all that anyone needs before they're ready to take the bar and enter the workforce. In reality, 4 semesters is probably enough, but that 5th semester allows you to take a couple of extra bar tested courses. The 6th semester is nothing more than a way for schools to take more money out of your pocket. Can anyone tell I've developed full blown senioritis yet?

4. As a 1L, 30 minutes of class time was often necessary to cover certain cases. As a 3L, you're left wondering why some cases take the same amount of time to cover when they could be adequately explained in 5 min or less. Although on the bright side, if you've read the material and it's straightforward, many professors seem to care less about your  attendance in class when you're a 3L...so skip away

 

62
Again, I just want to get a law degree, I have always wanted to do it, and maybe practice law in the future but not necessarily after I graduate (why is that so incomprehensible?). Money to spent for LS to me is not an issue, and no I will not take any loans. Not all people have the same views or objectives about LS or about life (assuming that all people who to school for the same reasons is very narrow minded in my opinion), for example my cousin graduated from med school but he does not work as a doctor, he runs his father's company and loves it. I have already set my mind on starting this fall and the only question that I had was whether or not I could take the BAR a few years after LS.


You also have more time to read when you're not in law school. 

Maybe this is a crazy solution, but... if you want to live abroad, and you don't care about practicing law, but you want a legal degree...
     
Why not go to law school abroad?  Being a student in a foreign country is fun and it would probably be more intellectually fulfilling than being a low-level worker. 

Like peaches said, you could have saved yourself from this "advice" if you had spent 5 min on the internet. The strict answer to your question is yes, but people here have tried to give you sound advice about your future. Unless you have an in with the family business, you're essentially going to be a 28-30 year old (assuming you're 23 now) entry-level hire competing against younger people who know what they want to do and where they want to live. And unless you're gaining some meaningful work experience over in Europe, you're going to have a hard time convincing non-legal employers that you didn't just waste 6 years of your life. While it's true that, "not all people have the same views or objectives about LS or about life"...there are going to be far more interviewers in the "this is some finicky rich kid who isn't worth the time and expense of training" camp than there will be in the "this guy is richer for the experience" camp.

And for what it's worth, at my old school we had a 40 year old urologist who came to law school for the educational experience...he was gone after less than one semester, and right before the semester's final legal writing paper was due. The "educational experience" rationale wore off on me as soon as our legal writing memos started piling up.

63
Because I want to get Law school out of the way ASAP and be done with it. I知 going to attend this fall and I知 still deciding on Loyola Chicago, DePaul, or IIT. If I go to Europe now for a few years I might changed my mind and not want to study law later, though I have a masters in engineering and have a nice and good paying job, I have always wanted to have a law degree, but not necessary to work in the law business.

I've also heard that employers get weird if you don't go immediately into law after graduation...but I don't have any way to substantiate this one.


You seem to have that "if I don't go to law school now, I'll never do it" fear. If you're truly motivated and really want to obtain your JD, you'll go to law school whether you're 30 with two kids and a wife/husband, or 22 fresh out of undergrad. If you're afraid of taking time off because you might change your mind and not want to study law later, then you probably shouldn't go to law school in the first place..especially since you said you might not practice law to begin with. And from my experience, the students who took time off from school had better GPA's and ranks than those fresh out of undergrad who view law school as a "harder" extension of undergrad.

Why not explore your opportunities in Europe, whether it's legitimate employment or touring the coffee houses in Amsterdam. If things work out, then you'll know that law school is unnecessary, or that you're better off getting your MBA. If they don't, you're better off reapplying for law school than re-learning everything you forgot in law school (or didn't understand in the first place). And I concur with what everyone else said regarding how you'll be perceived by employers...they're going to look at you as the hippie stoner kid who moved to Hawaii to work at a surf shop because he/she was afraid of entering the real world.

64
General Board / Re: Judicial Clerkships
« on: April 10, 2008, 10:04:49 PM »
Hey everyone. Just wanted to gather some advice. I am dying to get out of Southern Illinois. I have wrote about this before as some might remember. Couple of things:.
1) since I go to a school that is not a Top tier school is it possible to get a judicial clerkship? I have yet to hear of anyone getting one.
2) I would LOVE to clerk at either the USVI, Northern Mariana, Palau(I know they require 1 year post JD at Palau), or somewhere like these areas.
3) i want to be a prosecutor when I get out so I am not worried if the right judical clerkship position would lead to a biglaw gig. Not interested.
4) I clerked for judges for about 6 months, I am doing an externship this summer with the SAO, I will also be working with a professor at my school who is working on a textbook doing research and writing for the textbook. Will this help me.
5) My ranking in my class is top 1/3 so I am not to high up there. I was 13th in my class but had to miss an entire month of school to be with my wife while she was in ICU. I still passed all my class above the median, but I still took a hit. Not trying to sounce egotistical, just want to tell what happened and see if anyone thinks that judges will look at this as a positive in a negative situation.

Anyway, I know I have alot of things going against me, but I will take any and all advice.

I would say that with your grades, you could very well have a shot clerking at the state trial court level. I interviewed with three judges in NJ/PA, and all three of them said they care less about grades and more about (1) personality (2) the quality of the writing sample submitted. Unfortunately, you would probably have to stay in Southern Illinois to have a shot at one of these positions.

It also depends on the state. NJ replaces their lower court clerks after every year where many of the judges I applied to in PA had career clerks. I'm not sure whether Illinois is like NJ, but if it is, I'd say your odds of landing a clerkship are even better.

65
General Board / Re: TTT
« on: April 10, 2008, 11:45:31 AM »
The LSAT doesn't measure future law school success, but seems to be a pretty good indicator of intelligence.

However, the law has little to do with intelligence. If any one of us were truly smart, we'd probably be doing physics or cosmology. Law is easy and I see how a TTT grad can do well by handling speeding ticket/dui cases in a solo practice. Those take very little brainpower and it's pretty much the same thing every time.

If the LSAT measures intelligence, and "true intelligence" isn't necessary to be a competent attorney, then I don't see how imposing a 157+ LSAT cutoff would be the most effective measure in weeding out the bad lawyers.

Just from knowing people who have transferred out, my conclusion about performance at a T4 school and the ability to transfer up is as follows:

Top Half: lateral transfer
Top 33%: T3 with local prestige, low T2
Top 20%: Definite T2
Top 10%: Probable T1
Top 5%: Possibly top 5-20 school, definite mid-high T1. 

Assuming you set the cutoff at a 157, then you're almost certainly getting rid of that top 33%-10% contingent (assuming for arguments sake that those in the top 5% had higher LSAT scores than the rest to begin with). So you'd be blindly eliminating a good chunk of people who are capable of becoming at the very least, competent attorneys.

Stricter curves at lower ranked schools might do the trick where the bottom third of a class fails out. But there should be some regulation of this practice. Schools like Cooley and Florida Coastal shouldn't be allowed to admit 500 students while graduating only 100 of them. I also think that lower ranked schools should provide some kind of consultation to prospective students: tell them about the strict curve and about the practical limitations of a degree from a lower ranked school. I'd also be in favor of requiring students admitted to lower ranked schools to take a year off and pursue some type of other employment. Some of these potential bad lawyers might find out that they're good insurance salesmen and ultimately choose to stay with that career path instead of starting their lives as law school dropouts with a "car's worth" of outstanding debt.

66
General Board / Re: TTT
« on: April 09, 2008, 07:40:48 PM »
As someone who started out at a T4 school and transferred to a T2, I値l throw in my $0.02. I値l be directly or indirectly referring to some of your posts on here, since I知 too lazy to cut and paste.

To the people that have either bashed T3/T4 schools themselves or the perceived lack of opportunities from these schools, how many of you have (1) spent a post-undergrad year in the workforce at a 杜eaningful job that doesn稚 involve working as a paralegal at a law firm or telemarketing (2) don稚 have a 吐oot in the door with regards to family members in high-up corporate positions or who own their own business, etc (3) currently have friends who truly like or love their jobs and/or (4) have friends making $60K plus in their mid-to-late 20痴 outside of major market cities? If your answer to the last two is 土es then you either went to a top school or socialized with highly motivated people. If your answer to the first two is 土es, then your perception of what jobs are desirable or dead-end are going to be vastly different from those who haven稚 worked or don稚 have valuable professional connections.

My friends who obtained business degrees (undergrad had a top-20 business school) with 3.0+ GPA痴 are less than thrilled with what they do. They致e topped out at around the $50K mark. Sure, they might get to $100K, but they値l be working long hours in a job they either despise or have lukewarm feelings for. The friends I have who love their jobs are in public service, making $35K. The one friend in the middle, who kind of likes what he does and makes over $90K in Pittsburgh (age 29), has left 5 different jobs in 4 different cities to get to that point. Ironically, he wants to go back to school full-time for his MBA. To make a long story short, from my limited experience, there aren稚 that many people with college degrees, even from top schools, who either like what they do or are making that much money.

That痴 why when people say 典4 students shouldn稚 be going to law school or 杜aking $60K after 3 years of law school isn稚 worth it賠I would ask you to go out there and price cargo, sell insurance plans, or do some other bull office cubicle job at a big company where you池e paid to 徒now and not to think. Furthermore, those of you who feel compelled to point out the lack of opportunities that develop from a T4 degree are making the assumption that (1) money is of the most importance to all law students and (2) that the jobs less desirable for T1 grads are also non-desirable to T4 grads.

I was your stereotypical undergrad slacker and poor-standardized test-taker and decided to attend a T4 school on the basis that I壇 rather enjoy what I do for a living, even if it means that I finish in the bottom half of my class and have committed myself to 30 years of loan payments as a PD or Assistant DA. The way I looked at it was that if I had to make $40K-50K a year in my 20痴 in a dead-end job that痴 less desirable than masturbating with battery acidI might as well do something I like in the process. If I wanted to make money, I壇 take a page out of the book of my girlfriend痴 auntwho as a housewife, made over $100K last year daytrading stocks. It took my dad 20+ years as an assistant prosecutor to break the $100K barrier. However, he gets more satisfaction out of receiving letters from family members who have thanked him for his efforts than from some performance evaluation at a company...or for changing doody diapers while watching stock prices fluctuate on MSNBC

This isn稚 to say that the critics of T3/T4 schools are totally out of the loop when it comes to students at these schools. IMO, the people from my T4 school were far more arrogant (and clueless) about the career they were pursuing than the people at my current T2 are. Many of these students bought into the idea that a law degree is a big money earner, regardless of where you go. Couple that with the fact that when you tell the common person you池e in law school, they 登oh and aah and otherwise stroke your ego about what you池e doing and assume you池e going to be rich and successful. While many of these law students haven稚 done their research, there are plenty of us who have realized and accepted some of the limitations that a degree from a less prestigious school may offer.

鉄eriously though, I'm not trying to be a jerk or insult your school or you for choosing to attend it. I'm merely a proponent of full-disclosure. Prospective law students should know what they are getting into before they decide to take on massive amounts of debt for what are generally dismal job opportunities. And *most* schools (not just T3 and T4) do not readily provide that information.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. Lower ranked schools should provide counseling sessions to prospective students discussing the legitimate job opportunities available to all students (not just the top 10%) upon graduation, in addition to those with scores who fit the 都oon-to-be dropout category of admitted students. Unfortunately, providing such frank information to prospective students (who fail to do the research themselves) would also take money out of the school痴 pocket.

I hate to bring up affirmative action, but it is very fitting in this context. My school had such a problem with maintaining minority enrollment that the administration actually considered implementing different curves for minority students. Our school had a summer 菟re-law school prep course which required students in the bottom 25% for entering LSAT scores (just missed the mark myself) to take two weeks of 田lass regarding how to brief a case, study for exams, outline, etcone of my friends who was forced into this class (and dropped out) said that the vast majority of people enrolled in this course were minority students, and not once did the dean present to them the idea that the odds were against them with respect to not only graduating, but passing the bar and finding meaningful employment.

7 out of 9 minority students in my section either failed out or preemptively pulled themselves out of school after the first semester. Not one of those 7 students was remotely competent at answering questions in the classroom...they shouldn稚 have been there since day one. It was only after a semester of tuition had gone down the drain that the assistant dean of the school pulled these individuals into her office and suggested that they dropout. Now these students are starting their lives with anywhere between $18-36K in debt having gained nothing but frustration and humiliation in the process.

On another note, I would say that while a T4 school is likely to produce a decent amount of bad lawyers, that these schools also produce far more 堵ood lawyers than just the 兎rrant good lawyer. There were some legitimate morons in my classpeople incapable of accurately reciting the facts of a case by their 2nd semester of law school. On the other hand, the people I would consider to be potential 堵ood lawyers from these schools fall into one of a few classes: (1) the 登verachiever guy with decent grades and an LSAT above the 75th percentile for that school receiving a scholarship (2) the 澱right slacker/underachiever guy/gal with sub-3.0 GPA in college with higher LSAT scores (3) the 澱right poor standardized test-taker/slacker guy capable of performing well in law school and beyond who habitually performs poorly on standardized tests or didn稚 care much in college (4) the 殿fraid of change student person who didn稚 get into school of choice in their region/town/city, yet went to the lower ranked school so they could stay put.

All of the five people in my study group at my T4 fit into at least one of these categoriesone of them is ranked #1 with a $150K+ IP job at a big firm, the two ranked #3 and #5 have jobs lined up at big firms (one transferred to Michigan), the #18 guy has been working as a summer associate for a well-known mid-sized firm for the last year, and I (top 30%) transferred out and am currently ranked in the top 10% at my T2. That痴 5 people right there out of 90 in my section. While 2 of 5 of us ended up transferring out...we wouldn't have had the opportunity to transfer anywhere had we not been given a shot by a lower ranked school.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my rant. At the end of the day, there are incompetent employees in all walks of life. For the person who suggested that all med school students are competent, ask Kanye West how he feels about that idea. Just because some schools are more likely to produce bad lawyers doesn't mean that the window of opportunity should close for those of us who might do great things despite not being as "smart" as our peers.

67
Transferring / Re: Transfer to these TTT schools..
« on: April 07, 2008, 12:35:14 PM »
Didn't transfer into Baltimore but was accepted as a transfer applicant. Adcomms told me I needed to be in top half of class to be in consideration. Was in top 30% and got an acceptance back in less than a week after submitting my final Spring semester grades. This was my backup plan considering that I hated the T4 I used to attend.

68
General Board / Re: Mandatory Attendance
« on: April 03, 2008, 05:29:01 PM »
From my experience, it depends upon the school and the professor. My old school had a strict attendance policy in all classes. You were allowed 4 unexcused absences in a class that went for 1hr and 15min (2x week), and 6 misses for class that went for 50 min (3x week). Attendance sheets were passed around in every class.

At my current school, the attendance policy is the same, although there are some professors that don't choose to take attendance. They merely have the school's attendance policy regurgitated in their syllabi, but don't uphold it. Two of my classes are based upon paper grading only, which means that class participation is minimal and the professor rarely sends around an attendance sheet. I've finished the papers and I'm lucky if I go to these classes once a week. I've found (especially now in my 3L year) that even the stricter professors have been willing to grant me excused absences for interviews, traveling, etc.

Personally, I hate attendance policies. We are not at a job where your attendance is critical...they are not paying us to go to school, were paying them for a service. If we choose not to use that service to its fullest extent, that only hurts us in the longrun

69
Transferring / Re: From Tier 4 to Tier 3
« on: April 02, 2008, 05:13:12 PM »
I was in the top 31% of my class at a T4 and am attending a mid-T2 (undergraduate alum), got into a T2 in the 60's range (homestate school ranked higher than my current school) and was accepted at a then T3, now T4 school which hadn't accepted a transfer student in 4 years. At the time, I didn't think i had a chance in hell at the T2's, and thought I'd be making a purely lateral transfer. Now part of me wonders why I didn't shoot higher for the hell of it. A girl ranked #4 in my class transferred to Michigan. Another kid in the top 10% got into ND.

Some schools are far more transfer friendly than others. Couldn't hurt to call those schools and demonstrate an interest in transferring there, and inquire as to how many transfer applications they received/acceptances given. Most admissions personnel were more than willing to provide me with that info. Also, check out the LSAC attrition rates...that'll give you a decent idea on how many kids they'd be looking to add.

Here's my thoughts on your potential schools of choice in CA and your odds provided you dont gain or drop in GPA/rank:

Definitely IN
Univ of San Fran
Univ of Pacific (#95)
Univ of San Diego (#82)
Santa Clara (#77)
Loyola Marymont (#63)

Probably In
UC Hastings/Davis (#38 and 44): i'd say that if you maintain, you've got a 70/30 shot.

Reaches
UCLA (#16)
USC (#18)
If you can push yourself into the top 10 and show improvement, these are possibilities.

No Chance
Stanford and UC Berkeley

 
Shoot for the stars if $ permits, but even assuming you tank your GPA this semester, you could make a lateral transfer to Univ of San Fran. Get your apps out there early and have a compelling reason why you want to transfer to that school in particular, not just the San Fran area. Best of luck to you. Ultimately, I think you'll end up at UC-Hastings, the highest ranked school in San Fran.

70
Law Firms / Firm/Legal Employment Horror Stories
« on: March 31, 2008, 06:44:19 PM »
Just wanted to start a thread regarding people's "War Stories" with regards to summer or post-grad employment that demonstrated some of the horrors of legal employment. I think it would be useful to have a means of comparison for those of us considering different fields, different size firms, etc. I'll start:

I turned down $28/hr and 50-60 hr weeks in my hometown to take $14/hr (had to bargain them up from $12/hr) and 40hr week maximum to work at a small insurance defense firm in the town where my girlfriend is located. My reasons for doing so were three-fold: (1) the girlfriend obviously (2) to break into the legal market in that state/city where I will likely move post-grad (3) the people who interviewed me seemed awesome.

My duties were pretty much according to standard summer-clerk protocol: research and write memos, briefs, summarize depositions/medical records etc. The content of the first memo I ever wrote for a young associate was more or less taken verbatim and filed with the appellate court there. A motion for summary judgment I wrote on a slip and fall case was approved nearly verbatim and signed off on by an attorney from another firm who was joined in on the case. To make a long story short, the vast majority of my work product during my time there was well done and ALWAYS timely. Tack on the fact that I was literally never late to work, and only took 1/2 of a day off in the three months I worked there.

However, this firm made it crystal clear that they didn't give two shits about their law clerks. First, they stuck us in an "office" which was the equivalent of a janitor's closet. Secondly, by week two, we were informed that this firm had never extended an offer of full-time post-grad employment to a law clerk before. There was no degree of courtship whatsoever. Even on our last day of work, none of the partners/attorneys even offered to take us out and pay for our lunch. Furthermore, during the interview process, they told all of the clerks that we would have the opportunity to watch trials, depositions, etc. None of us ever saw a courtroom.

During my fourth week there, a partner for the firm asked me to compose a memo for him regarding a fire-related accident. He gave me limited facts and when I inquired more, he told me it was "my job to figure it out." I consulted with a young associate, who knew this company's paralegal very well, and suggested that I contact her. I did so, and received a fed-ex'd package of data shortly thereafter. I wrote the majority of the memo and went to ask the partner a question about one portion of it. When I told him I spoke with the paralegal, he said: "What hte @#!* are you doing. You're a f-ing law clerk. What makes you think you're so important, you're a speck on that company's radar. You better not ever f-ing call a client again, etc." Took every ounce of restraint not to leap over the table and deck this guy, and the only reason I didn't curse back was b/c I needed the job.

But here's the real kicker. Halfway through the summer, I went to my managing attorney and asked her for feedback. She emailed several of the people who I did work for and asked their opinion of my work. These people themselves came up to me and said "Person A asked me about your work and I told her youre doing a great job." However, it wasn't until my last day of work where my boss brought me into my office and told me that she "didn't feel I really wanted to practice law." She said I lacked confidence and didn't listen properly to instructions because I did not correctly summarize medical records in the format that she requested on one individual assignment(fair criticism). She provided me with none of the email feedback she received from others indicating that the work I did for them was well done.

I don't regret working there for several reasons. First, one of the young associates wrote me a glaring letter of recommendation. Secondly, I greatly improved my research and writing skills. Third, I figured that if I could endure working at a place where the vast majority of attorneys/partners exhibited little to no professionalism, that I can handle working pretty much anywhere.

I guess what I'm asking are the following:

1. Have any of you experienced a work situation that resembled mine in any fashion?
2. Am I being a giant p*ssy and is this something I shoudl "get used to" dealing with in the future if I'm to work at a law firm?

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