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Messages - AtlantaSteve

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Current Law Students / Re: John Marshall - Atlanta v. South Texas
« on: March 30, 2007, 12:00:10 PM »
My only concern at this point is the $57K average salary for recent grads.  They seem to be able to get nearly every student placed. But, if I'm being totally honest, $57K is a big paycut, doubly so when I take into account the additional debt.  But a quick look at numbers from other schools, such as GSU, seems to indicate that JM grads earn a little less, but not *that* much.

I hear you.  I'm doing pretty well in I.T. consulting (security, identity fraud, regulatory compliance, etc), and ~$60K a year would be a pretty steep pay cut for me also.  To be honest, I'm still not 100% sure what I want to do after graduation (it's 2010, so I have time to think about it).  I may stay in the consulting business, but do more high-end work with Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, etc.  I may take a 180-degree turn and start a solo general practice totally unrelated to technology... maybe sublease space from an older attorney and pick up his table scraps while I establish myself.  I may do something in between, like try to work for Federal or State prosecutors in a "cybercrime" division.

I don't really know what I want to do yet. However, I'm a first-generation college grad from a working-class background, so even if I did take a pay cut it wouldn't exactly tear me up inside (by paying as I go right now, rather than take out student loans, I've effectively lowered my take-home pay into that range already).  All I know is that I'm only 32 and have already accomplished pretty much all there is to do in my current field, and I can't accept having nothing else to really do between now and retirement.  I'm too much a Type-A personality to coast along for the next 35 years.

Can you talk a little more about the workload? I'm going p/t evening and I'll be working full time as well.  Have you found the workload too difficult to handle with a full-time job?  Have you had the time to participate in many co-curricular activities (moot court, etc)?  JM seems to be really friendly towards part-time students, which really appeals to me.  What about the library? Have you found it to be sufficient?  With the emergence of internet-based resources, I suspect that the size of a school's library is becoming less and less crucial.

The workload is brutal, I won't lie.  The school is putting a lot of emphasis on its legal writing program, as a way to boost its reputation more quickly (legal writing for someone else is apparently what most recent grads do for their first few years).  While a lot of schools make Legal Writing a one-semester, pass/fail class with little actual writing, here it's two semesters and graded... I've written about 50-100 pages of research memoranda, motions, and appellate briefs.  In your second semester they bring in local attorneys and judges for you to do mock oral arguments in a court setting, which is pretty rare for first-year students.  However, it's a ton of work... a 10 page memorandum might require you to read 30-50 cases to find what you need.

The first couple of months are shell-shock, but then you start to find your groove and get used to it.  You figure out how to brief cases efficiently, you learn your way around Westlaw more effectively, you're able to get more done in less time.  Still, you'll be busy, and it's VERY important that the loved ones in your life are supportive.  I'm lucky to have a great wife who's encouraging.  I have classmates with up to 4 kids, and it's even more crucial for them to have support on the home-front.

The kind of co-curricular activities you're talking about (moot court, etc) aren't open to first-year students at pretty much any school, so you have time to gather your own impressions on that.  However, I've noticed that they do make room for evening students alongside the full-time people on those types of things.  As far as extra-curricular stuff, evening students tend to be less gung-ho.  I'm part of Phi Alpha Delta, the Federalist Society, and student government... but I pretty much show up once a month or so to a speaking event or happy-hour social mixer.  There are only so many hours in a day.

I wish the library had longer hours, because I'm kind of a night owl.  However, I haven't really done much that REQUIRED being in the library.  For your very first Legal Writing assignment, they make you look things up the old-school way just so you'll know how... but from that point forward ALL your first-year stuff is on Westlaw or Lexis.  The only reason I've had for going to the library this year is to have a central "rally point" in getting together with my study group, since our houses are scattered out across the metro area.

After sleeping on it, I decided to limit formal handwritten notes to those attorneys with whom I've had some one-on-one contact (i.e. hanging around after the event for awhile to chat and answer questions individually).  It might be a bit overzealous to send paper cards to someone if you're not absolutely certain they remember will remember you.  For speakers with whom I've only had cursory introductions, I'll stick to 2-3 sentence thank you emails when their email address is available.  I appreciate the feedback earlier!

Current Law Students / Re: John Marshall - Atlanta v. South Texas
« on: March 29, 2007, 03:28:36 PM »
AtlantaSteve - How has your experience been during this first year for you at John Marshall? I have attended the Open House and was just there this past weekend for the Accepted Students Open House. Although the school is provisionally accredited I spoke with Shannon Keef and she made me feel better about the situation. The school just seems so close-knit and helpful to the students, which makes me feel better about attending law school. Doesn't seem so cutthroat there, but very indepth at the same time. I sat in a "mock" class taught by Professor Piar and Professor Tripp. Does the school have a Law Review? Have you heard anything regarding the types of jobs graduates are getting coming out of John Marshall. Any info would be a great help! Thanks much!

Ah, cool... I volunteered for the open house last weekend and lead a few tour groups.  I don't believe we met, but I was the Scotch-Irish redhead in the tweed sportcoat.

It's smart of you to do due diligence on the accreditation issue.  I too called the Georgia Bar last year before enrollment to ask the same kind of questions.  Basically, as long as you are in attendance at a provisionally-accredited school during the time it had provisional-accreditation, you are considered an "ABA accredited graduate" no matter what (so long as you finish your J.D. in a normal timeframe).  Students who enrolled when it was non-accredited, but haven't graduated yet, are fine.  If the school lost accreditation, students who are here now would likewise be fine.  So long as as you knock out your J.D. and don't take any extended hiatus from enrollment, YOUR accreditation status can't be taken away.

Of course, I still wouldn't attend if I though there was a chance the school wouldn't be fully-accredited, because in all honesty a loss of accreditation would still look bad even if it didn't affect my license to practice.  I'm not really worried for three reasons:  (1) they're putting a ton of money into renovating the building and expanding faculty... the student-faculty ratio is lower than almost anywhere outside of T14, (2) they're making the right moves in the local legal community... one of the Board of Directors is a sitting judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and (3) the new Dean comes from the ABA committee handling accreditation... he was hired largely for this purpose, and is "politically correct" in those circles.

Anyway, my first year has been pretty brutal.  I should start by saying that I'm a 32-year old part time student, who does this in the evenings after working a full-time consulting job during the day.  I grinned at "contract2008"'s remarks about how cutthroat law school is, because most of us in the evening program are 30-somethings and not prone to the horror stories I've read.  It could be that some younger day students are more immature and sophomoric... I haven't picked up on anything like that, but I can't speak to it directly myself either.  My experience in the smaller classes is that people are supportive and make friends.  It has to be that way, because everyone faces a brutal amount of work.

There was no law review during the non-accredited days, but a faculty committee has being laying the groundwork for a launch this upcoming school year.  My understanding (grain of salt here) is that it will be open to 3L's on a GPA basis, with slots for 2L's based on a combination of GPA and write-on competition. 

I was hoping to sit in that mock class (they had me doing grunt work instead), because I have Professor Piar for Criminal Law this summer and haven't seem him in a classroom setting before.  Tripp has been my Torts professor all this year, she is absolutely awesome.  All the professors I've had so far are easily accessible outside of class, I can't really relate to some of the horror stories I've heard from big schools about professors being isolated or unapproachable.

The alumni I've met are varied in terms of their jobs.  Unfortunately, a lot of what you read on LSD about Big Law is true... it's very difficult to get on with many HUGE Atlanta firms if you don't come from Emory with a high class-ranking.  It does happen, though.  Most alumni I meet work for mid-size firms, plenty of solo practitioners, and some in-house counsel (one of the attorneys who worked out the deal between Apple and Cingular for their exclusive launch of the iPhone was a recent John Marshall grad).

To be brutally honest, most of these discussion boards revolve around students who are targeting T14 schools, or those who like to pretend that they are.  In the "real world" for the rest of us, there's more than enough opportunity to go around if you thinking about small-to-midsize practice or in-house counsel, and are comfortable with networking.  A lot of people presume that if they go to Emory, they will be able to just post a resume online and have an awesome job dropped off on their doorstep.  Maybe, but it generally doesn't work quite like that.  People with no skills at networking aren't going to do well no matter where they go to school.  No matter where you go to school, I encourage you to get involved with student organizations like Phi Alpha Delta or industry-specific groups... and go to all the events they organize so you can meet and mingle with the attorneys who speak. 

More importantly, as soon as you're enrolled you should immediately join the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar as a student member.  Go to section seminars that interest you, and show up to social mixers.  It ASTOUNDS me how few students take advantage of those opportunities.  I've been in the consulting business for about ten years already, so professional networking comes somewhat naturally.  However, it *doesn't* come naturally to most full-time students in their mid-20's... so if you find the nerve to put yourself out there a bit, you'll be miles ahead of everyone else.  You don't want to be crass and shoving your resume at everyone you meet.  You just want to be asking lots of questions and listening, being sincerely interested in attorneys and what they do for a living.  If you're genuine, that's how you start to make contacts and establish a reputation in a professional community, which opens doors for you that aren't open for other students who expect opportunities to come to them.

Oh well, that's probably more than cared to hear anyway.  We're on spring break this week, so this is the first time since August that I've had time to come out here and babble.  Feel free to email if any other questions come up, and no matter what you decide to do I wish you the best of luck!

I'm a 1L and have started attending some of the various spring time seminars at the school, where local attorneys come in to speak and offer career advice, etc. I am wondering if it would be crass to send "Thank You notes" to the attorneys after their seminar. I don't mean slipping my resume in the envelope or hinting that I want a job or anything like that... just showing appreciation for their time, and making a decent impression to help start some kind of reputation in the local legal community.

My gut feel is that a simple email would be the appropriate medium for this sort of thing, but most attorneys do not make email addresses publicly available. All I usually have to work with are postal addresses for their physical offices. Are "old-school" paper thank you notes a little too "weird" for situations where you've only met for a moment or two after a seminar?

Current Law Students / Re: John Marshall - Atlanta v. South Texas
« on: March 29, 2007, 01:27:05 PM »
Hey Melissa -

I don't come to LSD that often anymore (it's great when you're pre-law, but you don't have time once you start school!).  However, your thread happens to be in the "Latest Posts" block on the main page as I write this, and the title caught my attention.  I'm a 1L at John Marshall this year... if there's anything specific you wanted to know, I'm happy to answer any questions.

Each ABA-accredited school has a couple of PDF's on the LSAC website, containing information such as the LSAT-UGPA grid and bar passage rates.  I've noticed that the information currently on there reflects the Fall 2005 entering class, not the Fall 2006 current year's 1L's.  Does anyone know at what time of year those stat-sheets get updated?

Black Law Students / Non-black BLSA members?
« on: March 06, 2007, 11:46:35 AM »
I'm a part-time 1L, who has found that BLSA (National Black Law Students Association) is probably the best-run student organization at the school... and the most proactive in lining up speakers for helpful seminars (especially for evening students).  I've been to a few events so far this year, and am on the announcements mailing list.  However, a professor and one of the student officers asked this week if I would be interested in formally joining.

My first impulse was to raise an eyebrow... after all, if I were any more White I'd be translucent!  I went to BLSA's national website, and the mission statement is pretty unambiguous about it being a "student organization for future Black lawyers".  However, one of the questions they ask in the membership survey running on their site is, "How many non-black students are in your local BLSA chapter?"

Therefore, I'm a little confused on the role of non-black students in the organization.  I am sympathetic to the discrimination faced by minorities in the legal workforce... but just to be honest, my number one concern is getting established so I could have the option of discriminating if I wanted to!  I am also not a self-hating academic type, constantly putting up a front to show how "not-evil" I am.  However, I do have alot of respect for how the organization is run at my school, and I get a lift out of involvement with groups of people that are proactive and have their act together.

Does anyone else have any experience with non-black members of BLSA or similar organizations?  Did you find them to be "tokens", or otherwise disingenuous in any way?  I'd appreciate some honest feedback of what people think about such a situation.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the argument should be if PT at a higher ranking school is equivalent to the FT program.  Since there is no way to hide the fact that soemone went to a PT program, and it is assumed PT is easier to get into, does the name of the school still carry the same recognition?

About that assumption, though... are PT programs easier to get into because the standards are lower, or just because the ratio of FT applicants is dramatically higher (even moreso than the ratio of FT-to-PT seats)?  When I look at most schools with part-time programs, there seems to be overall parity between the numbers.  Undergrad grades for part-timers are sometimes a notch lower, and LSAT's are sometimes a point higher.  However, if some really bored person took time to crunch the numbers, I suspect that the average admissions index between most schools' FT and PT programs are virtually equivalent in any given year.

General Off-Topic Board / Re: s3x offendors
« on: May 19, 2006, 02:40:46 PM »
Many sexual assualt victims wish that their aggressors would have just killed them instead of them having to live their lives having gone through that. I don't think you can say which one is worse. They are both pretty serious in nature.

I'm not going to belittle the feelings of sexual assault victims, but the difference is that time and therapy can heal and bring about a full and happy life.  All the time and therapy in the world isn't going to turn a corpse into anything but a more-severely-rotted corpse.

I don't understand what the problem is with a sex offender registry. Its just notifying the public of something that is public record anyways. Why should a person's past trangressions be confidential? Would you also think that sex offenders shouldn't have to reveal their status to an employer even if that employer was a daycare center? It seems to me that there isn't really an issue considering its public information anyway.

That's a very valid point.  It's not so much that I see problems with a registry, it's all the restrictions that are placed on the person even after they've "paid their debt".  Never being able to own a home for the rest of your life without having to worry that you'll be thrown out if a new bus stop is built nearby... I'm sorry, but even given the circumstances that's still wrong.

Minority and Non-Traditional Law Students / Re: Ask a Homosexual
« on: May 19, 2006, 02:20:31 PM »
is it just me or does this thread have 2 conversations going on at the same time?

Yes, I think some of us are ignoring the gay pride/public nudity/political action convo because that subject is totally boring...

I've never seen an interesting LSD thread before with less than 3 or 4 parallel trains of thought.  :)

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