Law School Discussion

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1
General Board / For those who need a break...
« on: October 30, 2006, 03:01:51 PM »
Here's an article from one of the deans at my law school (BYU)...it's a bit outdated from 1991, but I found it amusing nonetheless.

100 Yale L.J. 1679

Enjoy!  ;D

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Brigham Young / What life is like at BYU Law
« on: September 17, 2006, 01:35:17 PM »
Before I came to BYU Law I had a hard time finding out what life was like here...so I figured I'd do my best to give an objective view (I am a Mormon, but I joined the Church as an adult during  my undergrad years...so I know what it's like from both perspectives).  I originally wrote this after a month here, and have now modified it a bit having finished a full semester.  Since it's been linked on wikipedia it's gotten a lot of views...please note that I don't speak for the University and I make no promises except that this is a good faith effort by an individual who loves going to school here to make a candid assessment of what it's like.  Suggestions/Questions are greatly appreciated.



Student Body - The class size is always ~150 (~450 total at the school) and I would guess in each class there are around 10 or so non-Mormons.  I can think of at least 7 in my class, and I certainly don't know everybody.  It is definitely not a situation where there are only one or two non-Mormons at the school, but if you've done the math you can tell that for sure the majority are LDS.  However, it is not at all segregated between members and non-members.  It's not a topic that comes up regularly (or much at all really), and I'd say most people have no idea who is and who isn't (and probably haven't given it much thought to begin with).  In looking at the student directory, it seems our class is about 35% female and 65% male.  Many students are married - I'd say around half.  Also, my guess would be that a majority of the guys are married, and a majority of the girls are single.  Of the married students, probably half have kids.  I'd say at least a third of the class went somewhere other than BYU for undergrad...perhaps closer to a half.  As to the question of whether they favor LDS applicants or not...I really couldn't tell you.  In general I get the sense that the non-members in our class are on par intellectually/academically with the members.  My guess is that if there were two completely equal candidates they would choose the one who was a member of the church that owns the school, but in most cases they would just choose the better candidate...that is a total guess though, and I didn't go to BYU for undergrad so I really have no idea if that's true or not.

Social Life - Seeing as most law schools are very VERY big on drinking, the social life here is very different.  I'd say if you're not a big drinker then you'll like it more because people have to be a lot more creative in how they go about having fun.  They have a "Law Partners" group for the spouses of the students, which in turn has a playgroup for kids.  They have singles activities (BBQs, etc.), and it seems like people enjoy those a lot.  The student center has a large bowling alley and arcade.  Basically the Provo/Orem area has two rather large schools (BYU and UVSC) along with some smaller ones, so it's pretty much just a bunch of college kids looking to have fun in ways that don't include sex/drugs/alcohol/etc.  It is undoubtedly a very friendly environment.  Whether it is fun & enjoyable depends on your definitions of those words.  Certainly everyone that I've met thus far really enjoys it (LDS or not).

Competition - It is definitely a competitive place, but in a different way than other schools are.  It's competitive in that most people here are pretty smart and pretty hard working.  The GPA/LSAT scores are pretty high, even higher than many schools ranked above it by U.S.News.  My guess is that this is because 1) Many Latter-day Saints go here even if they get into schools ranked considerably higher, and 2) Some students who get into higher ranked schools go here for financial reasons.  Anyways, this translates to pretty hard working individuals and fairly stiff competition.  Having said that, it is different from other schools in that it's really not cut-throat.  People are always willing to share notes/outlines/etc.  Like I said, it is a very very friendly environment...everybody pretty much likes everybody.  No one is going to attempt to sabotage you or anything like that.  People will, however, attempt to work harder than you.

Honor Code - A major difference between BYU and other law schools is the honor code.  I know that some people would never come here because of this alone.  However, I have friends at school who aren't LDS and came here just because they wanted an environment where people had values like their own.  The honor code requires, among other things, that you agree to:
  • Follow certain dress/grooming standards (i.e. No revealing or sleeveless clothes, etc.)
  • Abstain from alcohol, drugs, tobacco, coffee, and tea
  • Abstain from sex outside of marriage
  • Attend religious services (any faith, not just LDS)
Note: Grad students don't have to live in BYU Housing

Religion - Religion does enter the classroom on occasion, but in general I'd say it's in a way that very few people would be offended by.  Morning classes might have an opening prayer depending on the professor.  Some professors will bring up a scripture once in awhile at the end of class (both the Bible and other LDS Scriptures)...but it's never in a preachy manner or trying to convince anyone to believe anything...in fact I'd say most all of the religious references are based around morals and values.  There is a definite sense at the law school that they are trying to produce a group of lawyers that are firmly committed to ethics.

Politics - The law school is certainly more conservative than most, but definitely not in an exclusive way.  Ideas from all perspectives are certainly free to flow, and having gone to a UC myself for undergrad, I felt that that experience was farther out to the left than my experience here has been to the right thus far.

Library/Technology - The library is really nice....they remodeled it about 10 years ago, and besides Stanford it is the highest ranked law library west of the Mississippi (even higher ranked than Harvard!).  One very nice thing about the school is that everybody gets their own carrel (desk), that includes wired internet, many power outlets, a light, two large cabinets, two drawers, and a file cabinet (all of which have locks on them).  They are very convenient for studying, but they also breed competition cause you're right next to all your classmates and you see right away who is hard-working and who isn't.  There's wireless internet throughout the school, and I've never had any problem at all connecting anywhere (they'll have like 8 access points in one classroom).  Everyone is required to have a laptop (you take all your tests on them), and they'll give you an extra loan for it if you need it.

Cost/Financial Aid - As you probably know, the law school is DIRT CHEAP!  For a private religious university law school experience you'll generally be paying in the $35k/year range.  For BYU it's currently $8200/year for Latter-day Saints and $16,400 otherwise.  I've heard of people complaining about the higher price for non-members.  My guess as to the reason for this difference is that the tuition is highly subsidized by the tithing that members of the Church pay.  Even if you aren't a member, half of your education is being paid for by members of the Church.  This being the case, to me it only makes sense that tuition would be less for members, and to have tithing subsidize half of the tuition for non-members is in my opinion very generous.  On top of that, I think over half of students receive some type of grant or scholarship...even with the tuition being so low.  Also, they have a special law student loan so that if you need money beyond your Stafford loans, they'll give you an extra $9k/year so that you don't have to start turning to higher rate loans.

Socratic Method - Professors generally use the socratic method, but they're usually not real harsh or anything (i.e. if you don't know the answer they won't keep dwelling on you, and a lot of professors will go down the row when calling on people rather than picking at random). 

That's about all I can think of...hopefully that gives you a better impression of what it's really like.  Everybody I've talked to so far (male/female, Mormon/non, etc.) truly loves the law school.  They have a three day orientation before classes begin that is a lot of fun and extremely helpful in getting you adjusted.  It has been an incredible experience so far and I can truly say that I'd rather be here than at any other law school in the country.  If you have any questions at all or suggestions for updates, PM me and I'll respond as soon as I can.  Thanks for reading :D

3
Law School Applications / They wanted my fall grades...
« on: March 06, 2006, 12:20:53 PM »
My top school asked for my fall grades.....is this a good thing or a bad thing?  I would think it means I'm borderline admit/waitlist as opposed to borderline reject/waitlist (I'd assume in the latter case they'd just waitlist me).  My grades were poor, but just slightly below my overall GPA (I'm a splitter).....any thoughts on whether this is all good or bad?  what are they looking for?  How much will this influence them?

4
Financial Aid / Financial Aid Questions
« on: February 07, 2006, 11:13:07 AM »
Any knowledge regarding the following questions would be very helpful:

1) I'm married w/ a child.  My wife is a stay-at-home mom.  I am going into law school straight out of undergrad (read: no savings).  Has anybody else been in this (or a similar) situation before?  Do you think my family and I can squeeze by on the budget the law school gives me, or will we have to find other sources of income?  If the latter is the case, will it all be private loans...and could I even get additional "student" loans, or would they be higher-rate private loans?

2) My EFC is 0...what kind of need-based aid can I get?  In CA as an undergrad last year I received ~13k in grants from the state...will I see anything like that in law school?

3) When do schools usually give you a full financial aid proposal?  Will I not see that until I accept?  Is there any chance I'll hear about need-based aid before the decision deadline?

4) Since my EFC is 0, does this mean that every school will find some way for me to pay for their budgeted amount in some way other than private loans?  I know this is the case for undergrad.  For law school the budget is usually ~45k.  18.5k in federal loans still leaves 25k+ to pay for...how will this be made up in their financial aid package?  Do they sometimes offer loans from the school?  Will it all be scholarships/grants?


Any help is greatly appreciated...thanks.

5
Law School Applications / James E. Rogers....
« on: February 06, 2006, 06:30:49 PM »
Here's an e-mail they sent me today....kinda funny I thought.


Quote
Subject:  YOUR APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION IS COMPLETE! 
 
GOOD LUCK!

Dan
Law Admissions

6
Personal Statement / Good? Bad? Ugly? HELP!!!
« on: December 30, 2005, 07:56:57 PM »
As with everybody else, I'm looking for people to read my PS.  I just finished the first draft, but am hoping to get it done by early next week (ie 1/2-3/05).  I'm usually a decent writer, but I'm somewhat writing in a style that is atypical for me, and I really have no idea if my topic is good, if I'm approaching it correctly, if my style is good, if it's all bad, if it's organized well, if I'm emphasising the right things....you get the picture.

Looking for good authors who can be blunt, and can get back to me within 24 hours of reading or so.  If interested, PM me.  I'll gladly read yours and be as blunt or un-blunt as you'd like me to be.

7
Recommendations / What to do...
« on: December 30, 2005, 05:07:22 PM »
I should have my apps totally ready to turn in by early next week at the latest.  I am having 3 recommenders - 2 profs, 1 non-prof.  Two of the three letters have been turned in, but one prof hasn't turned hers in and hasn't responded to my e-mail from a week ago.  Should I got ahead and turn in my apps anyways?  If I do, will ALL the schools FOR SURE still get her letter once she sends it in?  Is there a chance schools will just see my two letters, only one of them being academic, and think bad thoughts about me?

Any info appreciated...thanks.

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Where should I go next fall? / West Coast Splitter....where to?
« on: December 30, 2005, 05:00:52 PM »
I'm a true splitter...2.88/170.  I have a few excuses for the GPA (Computer Engineering major at UCLA, married with a daughter), but it's still a 2.88 in the end.  I'm looking to get into Intellectual Property Law (to become a patent attorney).  I'm from Southern California and would like to stay in the area...preferably Southern California or Utah.  However, I'd consider anywhere if I got into a T14.  My number one choice is probably BYU, where I have about a 50/50 shot.  I'll also definitely be applying to USD (where I should be gauranteed in) and Santa Clara (where I should get in, and they have a good IP program).

Looking for suggestions for other schools...looking for top schools that place a heavy emphasis on LSAT, or lower schools on the west coast with good IP programs.

Thanks in advance.

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Studying for the LSAT / SITE IS BACK UP --- POST HERE IF YOU GOT YOUR SCORE
« on: December 22, 2005, 05:48:21 PM »
Use this thread to post if you received your score and when

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Personal Statement / Topic Ideas
« on: December 16, 2005, 01:09:38 PM »
So my life for the month of November was all LSAT, then I had finals and whatnot, and I'm just now going to get started with my PS.  I haven't really had a serious brainstorming session yet, but I've thought of two ideas so far and wanted some feedback (ie both horrible, one has potential, both have potential, why, etc.).

Idea #1: Talk about what it's like to work at Best Buy selling computers.  I'm a Computer Engineering major (read: nerdling), so I figure I could play up the sales part of it, which would address my people skills, etc. (a different side of me from my major).  I could also relate selling a computer to making arguments as an attorney, etc...but I want to do patent law, so that doesn't necessarily apply....lastly, I could throw some humor in w/ funny stories.

Idea #2: Talk about my struggle with my parents when I joined the LDS (Mormon) Church a few years ago.  They were very much against it, which led to lots of drama that should be interesting to read about.  I ended up joining, despite the threats, and everything is hunky-dory now...so this would show character/stick-to-itiveness and have a happy ending.

I have a horrible GPA (LSAC = 2.88) but will hopefully have 172-178 LSAT (waiting on Dec '05), so I REALLY need a rock solid PS, as they'll be relying on it heavily.  Be blunt!

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