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Author Topic: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.  (Read 4714 times)

OConnorScribe

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Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« on: July 08, 2008, 11:40:04 AM »
I posted this on another thread but felt it was worth its own discussion:

I'm quickly discovering, from the feedback I'm receiving and in analyzing the tricky path ahead of me, that 2L could actually more important than 1L. Questions to ponder: If you did really well during 1L, will you get cocky and screw things up? Will you get overwhelmed by bluebooking hell and start to hate the whole deal? How will you maintain your energy and edge and focus and growth curve? Will you make a toolish misstep that costs you a summer associate job, and will that prospect produce its own angst?

For folks like me, who botched a couple of classes and finished at the median at a B/B- curve school (in my case literally; median here is 2.91), the questions become: How do you respond to this reality and what sacrifices are you willing to make to prove your worth as an actual legal worker and potential practitioner? Also, how much are you willing to eschew challenging classes in favor of one or two designed clearly to lift your GPA? Are you ready to network your way into your local bar associations and legal hotspots, even if this is an uncomfortable necessity?

In the first instance, arrogance is not an option. In the second option, crippling despair and depression is not an option. Hence, 2L is where the real fight lies, I would argue. Too many people succumb to the fishbowl mythology offered by boo-birds, trolls and law school deans. It's ridiculous, because $155-$170K in debt out of Harvard is the same as $155-$170K out of Pace. Removed from the top of the class at each (Pace gets Vault 50 placements in our top 5%), it'll be a struggle those first few years for both populations, whether we're talking LRAP gigs or $80-$100K entry-level firm jobs. So really, for rising 2Ls, it's all in how we position ourselves over the next 10 months.

Feel free to disagree.
Pace '10

mike4488

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2008, 11:48:24 AM »
You are delusional if you think a Pace grad removed from the top of their class has the same opportunities as a Harvard grad.  Harvard students can make $160K without even being in the top half of their class.  I don't think the same can be said for Pace.  So in fact there is a difference between paying back $150K in debt on a 50K salary as opposed on a 150K salary.

Not quite sure as to what you are getting at by your post buy anyways.
Boalt Hall '10

jacy85

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2008, 12:47:44 PM »
You are delusional if you think a Pace grad removed from the top of their class has the same opportunities as a Harvard grad.  Harvard students can make $160K without even being in the top half of their class.  I don't think the same can be said for Pace.  So in fact there is a difference between paying back $150K in debt on a 50K salary as opposed on a 150K salary.

Agreed.  I'd even go so far to say that the Harvard degree of the person who came in last in the class is, at least in the abstract, worth more than the Pace degree from the top ranked student in the class.  It's HARVARD, and Pace is a third tier school.  To compare them is completely unrealistic.

And as for 2L being more important than 1L?  No, I really disagree.  I'm not saying I don't think 2L is important.  It definitely is for most people.  But 1L gets you off on the right or wrong foot.  It lays a foundation that can make your life very easy.  If you get the coveted SA gig as a 1L, and you do good work and play nice, you're more likely to get an offer to come back 2L, and with all that time invested in you, if your grades, etc. remain good for 2L, you'll be more likely to get the offer than a 2L the firm's only known for 2 months, IMO.

2L is important - it's vital for people to either maintain or improve as best they can.  But I don't think it's more important than 1L in terms of academics.  If I'd agree with any statement that's "unconventional" I'd say they're close to being equally important, with 1L having an edge.

scoundrel

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2008, 01:37:24 PM »
OP: I agree with everybody else that you're off the mark comparing Harvard sub-median grads with Pace sub-median.

Still, I'll offer my own story as encouragement, if that's what you're looking for. I just graduated from a T50 located somewhere between the Rockies and the Mississippi. My 1L first semester, I didn't do well. Right around median. (It sunk me as far as 1L Spring OCI, but I'm getting ahead of myself). I didn't read any "how to beat law school" books or "how to write law exam" books, like a fool. I didn't use any study aids. I was the idiot who figured I didn't need those things.

So, got my head straight for 1L Spring semester. I was at exactly 20% for that term, and it nudged me just barely into the top 33% for the end of my 1L year. I even booked Property.

Next fall, I was watching with envy while everybody with top 1L grades landed all the week 1 and week 2 OCI interviews with the top firms. You know how it goes. I actually managed to get a summer gig through 2L Fall OCI, but it was at a less-than-prestigious firm (not that that matters). It was only for a half-summer, and didn't pay all that well.

Meanwhile, I seriously applied myself 2L year.  I didn't journal, didn't even try to write on. But I did do moot court, and did quite well. Runner-up for best brief in one competition. I also was in the top 12.5% for my 2L year, which brought me into the top 20% overall. I booked a couple more classes.

I was back in the OCI interview pool the next fall as a 3L. Ended up getting an offer from a Pacific Rim regional that pays market and is strong in my desired practice area. I didn't slack off then either. I did a little better my 3L year than 2L, just under 10% for the year. That brought me under 15% overall, and I graduated Magna just barely.

So, I started at just below median, feeling like sh!t. I didn't quit, finished very strong, and got a great offer. When I pass the Cali bar 3 weeks from now, I'll be ready to start the next stage.

So, for me, 2L year was more "important" than 1L, in the sense that it determined the offer I got, and dug me out of a hole. My story is the exception, I know, but it proves it can still happen.

OConnorScribe

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2008, 01:45:40 PM »
Bottom half of the class is bottom half of the class anyway you slice it, man ... BigLaw is NOT going to hire anyone for those oh so competitive jobs whose credentials aren't sterling ... the Ivy league tag may carry weight, but it;s not a $150K guarantee even for the low rung. Is it at Boalt? I didn't think so either. The $150K/$160K is reserved for the shining beacons and the ambassadors' kids ONLY, and everyone who slips their first year has a lot of work to do to make up the ground, regardless of where they attend school. 

Also: Of course bottom half at Harvard is better than bottom half at Pace, dummy. I;d sell a testicle to be at Harvard instead of Pace.I'm just saying that in terms of what you start at and up to a certain point, a loan payment of between $1100 and $2000 is going to really hurt. Would a Harvard grad's salary curve be a little steeper? Yes. But that debt is going to suck for him as much as it will for me.

And for what it's worth, Pace might be T3, but it's Westchester County T3 (i.e., 25 miles north of Grand Central, making  this effectively a dual market for legal jobs) with a good rep in several specialties and a growing profile in NYC. Not unrealistic to say a student can make a pretty good starting salary coming out of here, even without a great first year. We really shouldn't be a T3. The only reason we are is because we're only 30 years old and unfortunately attached to one of the worst managed university systems in the country; the law school is by far and away the shining light at this place. 

If anything, this board has taught me that students at T14 are the most delusional, mentally ill law students in existence. You're the guys who'll be the BigLaw "can't last five years" burnouts with sore vaginas. So there ...     
Pace '10

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2008, 01:49:17 PM »
Bottom half of the class is bottom half of the class anyway you slice it, man ... BigLaw is NOT going to hire anyone for those oh so competitive jobs whose credentials aren't sterling ... the Ivy league tag may carry weight, but it;s not a $150K guarantee even for the low rung. Is it at Boalt? I didn't think so either. The $150K/$160K is reserved for the shining beacons and the ambassadors' kids ONLY, and everyone who slips their first year has a lot of work to do to make up the ground, regardless of where they attend school. 

Also: Of course bottom half at Harvard is better than bottom half at Pace, dummy. I;d sell a testicle to be at Harvard instead of Pace.I'm just saying that in terms of what you start at and up to a certain point, a loan payment of between $1100 and $2000 is going to really hurt. Would a Harvard grad's salary curve be a little steeper? Yes. But that debt is going to suck for him as much as it will for me.

And for what it's worth, Pace might be T3, but it's Westchester County T3 (i.e., 25 miles north of Grand Central, making  this effectively a dual market for legal jobs) with a good rep in several specialties and a growing profile in NYC. Not unrealistic to say a student can make a pretty good starting salary coming out of here, even without a great first year. We really shouldn't be a T3. The only reason we are is because we're only 30 years old and unfortunately attached to one of the worst managed university systems in the country; the law school is by far and away the shining light at this place. 

If anything, this board has taught me that students at T14 are the most delusional, mentally ill law students in existence. You're the guys who'll be the BigLaw "can't last five years" burnouts with sore vaginas. So there ...     

Dude, bottom half HLS grads can get market somewhere if they want it. That's $160k + bonus. The loan payments may be the same, but they suck a lot less at $160k than they do with the job options out of Pace for anyone but the very top.

OConnorScribe

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2008, 01:50:03 PM »
Scoundrel: You've nailed my point. Through a lot of hard work; activities such as moot court, pro bono for Legal Aid, and research assistantship; and an excellent first semester gradewise, you can position yourself better for 3L.

And I repeat everyone: I'd still rather be at Harvard's median! But do your reading and realize there are way more students than jobs at the prime salary level, and that the median salary doesn't deviate too much, unless you;re coming out of a true toilet in a disadvantageous legal job market
Pace '10

OConnorScribe

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2008, 01:54:22 PM »
I just don't buy that any school's poorest students can get top dollar right off the bat. That's absurd, unless that person is a world-champion networker and tireless worker re: internships, community deeds, etc. I've said, though, that a Harvard grad will absolutely get to the comfort level quicker than a Pace grad, most likely ... though for anyone who passes and works hard, paydirt five years down the road is a possibility for anyone.   
Pace '10

mike4488

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2008, 01:58:35 PM »
I'm not entirely sure of the point that you are trying to make.  Check out this chart and it will show you the difference between various schools.
  
http://www.law.com/pdf/nlj/20080414employment_trends.pdf

I haven't heard of too many Harvard law students complaining about their debt payments or job prospects.  Pace on the other hand, well that speaks for itself.  Also, being a T3 next to NYC is definitely not a plus.  You compete against the top schools and students in the country plus there are some other really good NY schools as well such as Brooklyn.  That is definitely not an envious position to be in.  (I'm not knocking Pace it's just be a little more realistic about your statements.)

I'm pretty sure 1L was more important for me as well.  Busted my butt finished at top of my 1L class was accepted to Boalt as a transfer and already have a V50 firm job lined up for next summer.  Every attorney I've ever talked to has said that 1L is the most important year by far and until you I have never heard anything different.  Now if you don't do well your 1L year then sure your 2L and 3L years are going to be very important because employer's are going to be closely looking at those as well.

Also, I don't know about other people but we're in law school to learn.  I don't care whether its 1L, 2L, or 3L I am still going to be trying my best to learn the information and get a solid understanding of certain fundamentals.  That is what law school is for.
Boalt Hall '10

OConnorScribe

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Re: Why I think 2L might be more important than 1L.
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2008, 02:02:14 PM »
Also,

***You are delusional if you think a Pace grad removed from the top of their class has the same opportunities as a Harvard grad.****

Where in my OP did I say this? Did I talk about specific opportunities and compare them one-to-one? No ... I only talked about salary, loan stress and work left to be done in 2L.

Thank goodness message board posts aren't cases, briefs and test hypos, because a lot of people on here would be screwed. :-)

Pace '10