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Author Topic: Northwestern  (Read 5536 times)

Elaine

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2004, 09:32:19 AM »
There is a very good reason for hiring people with work experience besides being "a gimmick."

Like it or not, most attorneys that go on to work in the industry (not trial lawyers, etc.) are there to make money for their employers. What frequently happens is lawyers view themselves as the last line of defense against any harm/damage to a company. For example, when drafting a contract, we all know that lawyers will spend ridiculous amounts of time to make sure that not a thing slipped by, and that the company is fully protected.

While being prudent is fine, there is a huge financial loss that comes when doing business like this - almost every company you deal with will demand(and usually get) a large financial payment for any sort of "indemnity" or protection clause you include. Sorry to go business/legal on you, but that is the point of getting people with WE to come to law school - they MUST be in a situation to see how their work impacts others, not have seen it from tv shows/movies.

Like i said, it might help placing graduates with corporate employers. But these jobs are at the bottom of the prestige heap for T14 law school graduates. Random WE does not help people get or be better at big firm jobs, academic positions or clerkships. These are the things that make a law school's reputation. Not whether or not some guy in the middle-bottom of his class got hired as a junior corporate council and saved his employer some money because he had a few years of WE. This is why it's a gimmick. No one cares about this sort of thing and catering to corporate employers comes at the expense (or percieved expense) of catering to big firms and academia. That is what could hurt a law school's reputation.

Anyway, it's doubtful that someone with a few years at an entry level job/standard promotions would even be better at this than someone who went straight to law school out of college.

What you are saying is probably correct about random WE. However, random WE is not what Northwestern or other law schools are looking at when they talk about WE. They are looking for substantive and relevant WE. WE that shows one has discipline, interpersonal skills, and sound judgement. People that have experience in business or the industry that they wish to focus in practice will have an advantage over someone who has no practical WE.

domovoy

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #21 on: December 20, 2004, 11:21:25 AM »
Catering to corporate employers is a gimmick?

Who do you think all the lawyers that practice business/tax/international business/antitrust/intellectual property/real estate/bunch of others work for?

Yes, they're employed by law firms, but your local 7/11 doesn't hire BigLaw when it's buying a $10 Billion company. BigLaw works for Big business, and this is where relevant work experience comes in very handy.
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SuicideNixon

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #22 on: December 20, 2004, 11:59:53 AM »
That is clearly crazytalk, for the following reasons:

1. I care about this sort of thing (I would like a job upon graduation), and USNEWS cares about placement rates.  These are the most important rankings, for better or worse.

2. There has been no loss of student body quality in the NU incoming class.  LSAT scores are higher than ever and GPA's are still quite strong.  These are the same students who populate the other top schools, but with the addition of WE.

3. It is a huge, unfounded leap of logic to think that WE does not help in any other venue.  If you were a judge, and you had two qualified candidates to choose from, but one of them had spent four years working in a campaign office in Capitol Hill, would you really think this candidate is not helped by this experience? 

4. Is it really doubtful that these people will be better at their positions (whatever those positions may be)?  Would you be willing to say that you are just as good at dealing with people and understanding economic, political, and social issues now as you were three years ago?  If both NU and, say, UMICH students have the same great scholastic achievements, but the NU student has two years WE, how can this not be an advantage?

I just don't think this is a gimmick at all.  I think NU truly believes in this policy. 

1. Everyone has good job placement rates in the T14. They are all so good as to not be able to get much better. If you went to a T14 school and cannot get a job, something is really wrong. Plus USNWR job placement rates are nonsense, Northwestern gave some its grads who did not make the cut for clerkships low-paying RA positions to help its employment numbers.

2. Ok, fine. All I have been saying is that it doesn't help their perception among the real prestige builders and it could hurt. I never said that they wouldn't attract students with good lsats.

3. No it isn't a 'huge leap of logic'. Judges do not care about WE when they are picking clerks. They care about grades, the prestige of the law school, and law review. That is all. Please tell me how working in a campaign office could possibly be helpful. I know people who have done this...most of those jobs are not only stupid but pretty easy to get for anyone who has even an iota of connections. If you met the chairman of the college democrats at a keg party you could probably work on a campaign on capitol hill with a few phone calls.

4. How can two years random WE be an advantage? You seem to be saying that it's just automatically better to be older. If you want to say that being a paralegal for two years, or being an actuary or entry level programmer for two years makes you a better lawyer the burden is on you to show that. Knowing how to file doesn't make someone a better lawyer. Neither does knowing C. Or the dewey decimal system.

But I forgot that people who have WE have these ethereal qualities that cannot really be described. We know they have them though, because how could they not? They have 'people skills' and they 'know what it's really like'. Any general statement you can make about applicants with WE is general enough to apply to virtually anyone.

Impressive work experience is impressive and it helps. Just having any WE means nothing. What do you think fresh out of college applicants would have done if they weren't going to law school? Play polo all day? Any decent fresh of out college applicant could get some ok job. If you have been out of college for more than a year, law schools expect you to have done something productive with your time. So it's not a plus, it's a requirement. It's only a plus if it's quite good. Entry-level positions and standard promotions are the minimum.
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SuicideNixon

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2004, 12:02:48 PM »
Catering to corporate employers is a gimmick?

Who do you think all the lawyers that practice business/tax/international business/antitrust/intellectual property/real estate/bunch of others work for?

Yes, they're employed by law firms, but your local 7/11 doesn't hire BigLaw when it's buying a $10 Billion company. BigLaw works for Big business, and this is where relevant work experience comes in very handy.

Too bad BigLaw doesn't care about WE prior to law school. Maybe you know something they don't. They've been getting along just fine caring about only two things: where you went to law school and what your grades were.
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Thor

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2004, 01:40:29 PM »
This is ridiculous. I highly doubt that a top 10% NW grad loses out to a top 33% (or probably even top 25%) UC grad in anything. I love UC by the way, but NW is not very far behind it. Like I said before, WE is good not necessarily because it provides any special skills, but because it provides some time for the applicant to reflect on their future goals and develop something better than a "law school by default" mentality. This hair splitting, "which T14 is better" mentality is meaningless. If you get into a T14 and do well, than anything you want is a good possiblity, whether it be BigLaw, federal clerkships, or teaching positions.
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TheZooker

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2004, 03:15:12 PM »
Mr Nixon, let me first say that I'm glad you were able to categorize and succinctly debate the points I listed earlier.  It is often difficult to have an intelligent, relevant discussion on these boards without people venturing off to make points not germane to the original subject.

Regardless, I agree with some of what you are saying.  In the case of many applicants, their two years WE has been largely irrelevant to the practive of law, and may help them in some way, but this is hard to quantify.  We could debate this for days.

There are of course the obvious WExperiences that help, if they are very relevant.  I feel that my time working has done a wonderful job of preparing me for the IP field, but this is not always the case.  Your point about non-relevant WE is well taken. 

I recently read an interview of Mr Van Zandt's and his comments intimated that he feels WE is a great way of verifying that the student at hand really wants to study law.  He made no comments about its effectiveness in producing 'better lawyers', that is probably something we all inferred.  (maybe he has said as much elsewhere?) In any event, I think the NU adstaff truly believes in this policyy, and it is not some sort of gimmick. 

As an aside, I have seen many comments by admissions staff at other very reputable schools that allude to WE being a useful indicator of 1L performance.  UW-Madison, for instance (http://www.law.wisc.edu/prospective/criteria.htm) is one such site.  Also Columbia Law's dean of admissions makes a similar statement in Montauk's text. 

nekko

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2004, 05:06:42 PM »
Have you guys worked with lawyers who went straight undergrad-law school-firm? If you work with enough of them you start realizing that even working at a McDonald's for a year would've made most of them better attorneys (though as they progress the difference between attys with WE and those without diminish).

I don't think WE is everything but everything I've heard from the attys I work with (mostly Harvard, Yale, Mich, Boalt grads) say that the folks with some work experience on average were better in school than those without.

Also I think a little WE is very helpful for litigator types, even in big law firms. When doing massive doc productions or reviewing docs it's amazing how little people without exp. understand how decisions usually take place, how things are done, etc. at a normal corp. When you're only work is at a law firm it skews your thinking. My WE has largely been as a paralegal so I suffer something similar. I've been to corp. offices and actually that it was strange that they didn't have a document management system or things like that which are typical of a law firm. In addition there's typically less understanding of what juries think are and aren't important when it comes to lawyers with no WE v. those with some WE. Once again the difference usually disappears after some years but I definitely have the feeling that lawyers with WE are more likely to be immediately useful.

SuicideNixon

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #27 on: December 21, 2004, 06:15:23 AM »
When I said that it was a gimmick, I didn't mean to question NU's belief in the policy. What I do question is whether such an approach will be percieved as worthy of a T14 school. It is certainly non-standard and when you are dealing with instiutions as stodgy as law schools, one should be wary of any approach that could be percieved as gimmick-like. Any time a school could be seen as giving one admissions factor an undue influence in their process, they are exposing themselves to the risk of being accused of gimmickry. This is especially true if the school really promotes it, like NU seems to promote themselves as the WE school.

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Thor

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #28 on: December 21, 2004, 01:18:26 PM »
I could have sworn that there are numerous quotes in Montauk's book from a variety of (T14) adcomms saying that ideally, all applicants would have some WE. I don't have the book any more, so someone feel free to correct me.
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GentleTim

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Re: Northwestern
« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2004, 03:45:34 AM »
I think considering WE to be anything more than a tie-brekaer like college ECs are is pretty lame. Anyone who is applying to northwestern and has a chance in the first place has some outstanding numbers. You cannot tell me that these people who have good grades couldn't get some decent job out of college. Oustanding WE is one thing, but it seems to be really stupid to consider applicant A to be better than applicant B simply because applicant A had some entry level position w/standard promotions for 2-4 years and B is straight out of college.

Spoken like someone right out of college ;-)  Seriously though, I think that the work experience is a fantastic idea.  I know that I'm much better prepared, motivated and sure of what I want after working for a 5 years.  And I've learned so much about how the world outside of Universities work. 

I think that people who come to Law School straight from undergrad are going to have to spend the first 3-4 years learning the same things that everyone learns upon first entering the workforce, whereas graduates with some prior work experience are going to be able to contribute more quickly in a professional setting.

Additionally, with a few years of experience in business, someone with social skills will develop friends which can later be used as a network to bring in business for the firm, and that's what advancement at BIGLAW is all about; can you bring in business?  In my case, I know all the upper management at the biotech company where I'm currently working quite well, and I also know that the company is going to be looking for companies to buy or to be bought out by in the next 3- 5 years.  If I'm at a law firm that does M and A do you think I'll try and recommend that they use us?  Damn right.  If they do, will that make my firm happy.  Damn right.

I think that Northwestern has made a conscious decision not to be an academically focused school.  WE is a prerequisite of attendence, and as such it's probably not going to attract as many students looking for careers in teaching or as Judges, clerks, etc.  Besides, the top 4-5 schools have that game locked up already.  Northwestern is trying to create an entirely new game which plays to it's B-school strengths.

And it seems that it's already bearing some fruit.  If you compare the salary averages for NW to the other schools at the bottom of the top, they're superior.