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Messages - ethelmag

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Incoming 1Ls / Re: OFFICIAL "I am going to ______ in the Fall" Thread
« on: March 30, 2005, 10:27:49 AM »

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Accepting an acceptance
« on: March 20, 2005, 06:28:56 PM »
There wasn't a form in the GW acceptance package I don't think.

There is. It's on an orange piece of paper.

Incoming 1Ls / Book Review: Law School Without Fear
« on: March 20, 2005, 10:01:36 AM »
I posted this on my blog, and thought people here might be interested too.

Upon hearing I was about to start law school, someone gave me a copy of Law School Without Fear by Helene and Marshall Shapo. Turns out, this is not a very useful book for someone about to start law school.

The book has two main goals: (1) Outline the basics of the American legal system, and (2) Explain what the first year of law school is like and how to succeed at it. So a chapter on how to brief a case might be followed by a chapter on broad vs. narrow holdings in a case.

The main problem with the book is that it's way too basic. I felt constantly like the authors were talking down to me. I already knew almost all the information presented in the book. In fact, I would say that if you don't know at least 50% of the information in this book, you aren't even equipped to decide whether you want to go to law school. Because of that, I might recommend Law School Without Fear to a high school student or college freshman who is thinking about going to law school several years down the line.

If you've read a few Supreme Court cases in your time, or taken any kind of government / political science class that covers the American legal system, you will find the Shapos' summaries of legal concepts to be hopelessly inadequate. Everything is incredibly oversimplified. Each concept they address would probably be covered in the first 10 minutes of any class on the subject, and the professor would then move on to more interesting or in-depth analysis.

As for the chapters about success strategies for the first year of law school, there are much better books available. For instance, check out Eugene Volokh's book on Academic Legal Writing, and for a great strategy for law school exams, Getting to Maybe by Fischl and Paul. (Okay, I haven't read either of those yet, but they come highly recommended and are on my reading list.)

So in sum: Law School Without Fear - don't waste your time.

I've asked the same two professors for recommendations for everything I've ever needed recommendations for - internships, scholarship apps, law school apps, etc. I bet they have form letters for me by now!

If you're not very close with any professors but you need a recommendation anyway, here's what you should do: Go to the professor's office hours to ask for a recommendation letter. Sit down and talk to the professor about your career goals, your reasons for wanting to go to law school, why you think you'd be good at law school, and some of your academic interests. That will help your professor get to know you better in a very focused way, and at the same time give him/her something to write about in the letter instead of just saying "this person did well in my class".

Acceptances, Denials, and Waitlists / Re: Need advice
« on: March 14, 2005, 09:44:27 AM »
Maybe you should wait and apply again next year. That would give you time to study more for the LSAT and take it again, apply to more schools, and be among the first people considered instead of trying to sneak in under the wire to whoever has room left. Since you've already got a good job, it probably wouldn't be too much of a hardship to wait. Besides, it will give you more time to mull over the idea of law school, since you just decided to go.

I'd start by letting Georgetown and UVA know that Tulane offered you full tuition.  They very likely may not care, but there's no reason not to take the chance that you can get them to offer you a more generous financial package.

Hey Anton - I just realized I know you in real life!

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: cornell or GULC?
« on: March 10, 2005, 08:14:05 AM »
I got into both. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna end up at Cornell. I get the sense that Cornell has a more theorethical approach to the law while GULC has more of a trade school feel.  Also, Cornell might have a slight edge in the prestige department.  Last, Cornell's program just seems a little more airtight and gulc's large size seems crazy

I disagree that GULC has a "trade school" feel. A lot of GULC students end up in public interest, which is not a trade school kind of thing. Also, if you're into a theoretical approach to law, it's hard to beat GULC's first-year curriculum B option.

I don't know much about Cornell, so I can't compare the two schools, but I'm going to be going to Georgetown, and I actually see its size as a plus. Georgetown is huge for a law school, yes, but compared to where most people went to undergrad, it's tiny - about 1200 law students total. That's exactly the same size as the "small liberal arts college" I attended, and I didn't feel at all "lost" in the student body there - in fact, I knew almost everyone by sight if not by name. The other advantage to a large law school is the variety of courses that are available. You can study almost anything at GULC because they have so many professors offering so many different classes, whereas at a smaller school you'd have fewer choices.

Just my two cents.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: GULC Binder
« on: March 09, 2005, 07:48:02 PM »
I got my GULC binder today (I live in California). It looks great, but the zipper pouch had broken open at the top, rendering it unusable.

Also in the "free goodies" category: when I visited GULC last week to sit in on a class, the admissions office gave me a goody bag with bottled water, a package of crackers, and a candy bar.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Bike in DC
« on: February 28, 2005, 02:04:50 PM »
Your three schools are all out in the suburbs, which means a car is easier to deal with than if you were looking at GW and GULC, which are right in the city. I lived in DC for a year without a car, and it was doable. The metro is really convenient, but living within walking distance of a metro stop majorly jacks up the rent you'll pay on your apartment. If you think you'll need a car once in a while, you might consider signing up with ZipCar or the competing service whose name I can't remember, which rents cars by the hour from metro stations.

Also beware if you're living in Virginia - they have a very high "car tax". DC and Maryland don't, though.

Law School Admissions / Re: How exactly does the "curve" work
« on: February 28, 2005, 01:59:39 PM »
The curve works differently at different schools, and sometimes differently for different professors within a school. I have this info from my husband, who finished law school a few years ago, and some law professors he is friends with who have visited at various other schools.

The basic idea of a curve is that the grades for any given class should fall roughly on a bell curve. That is, most students should have a score in the middle of the range, with fewer students on the high and low ends.

What exactly is the "middle" varies widely. Some schools dictate that the middle of the curve should be, say, a B. Other schools are more precise, and will dictate to a professor that 50% of the class should have a B, 15% B+, 15% B-, 8% A-, 8% C+, and so on (I'm making these numbers up). Other places leave all discretion up to the professor. Still other places might say something like "at least 2 students must get a C- or lower," or "you can't fail more than 2 students".

This curve explains a lot of why law students feel their grades are "random". If you feel like you did really well on an exam, then you expect an A. But maybe you feel great about it because it was really easy, so everyone else also did well, your performance was only average for the class, and you end up with a B. Then in another class you felt like you totally messed up on the exam, but that's because it was really hard and everyone else did even worse than you, and all of a sudden you've got an A+.

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