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Author Topic: Incoming Widener Law (HBG) 1L - Seeking advice/help from current students  (Read 8494 times)

W2014

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I am happy to say that I will be a 1L at Widener Law (Harrisburg Campus) this fall.  With that being said, looking to make arrangements regarding my schedule, what materials I might need etc.

First, can somebody tell me what a 1L's schedule would look like?  I believe its pretty static but if there is some variability very interested in knowing what that might be.

Secondly, can anybody tell me about the casebooks and textbooks I will need for each class?  Would like to just review it a little bit before school begins and also know what the prices may look like for each.  Conversely, is the schedule and professors so variable that the textbooks and casebooks change from semester to semester?

Third, if I do have enough flexibility to chose which professors I would like to have for class, anyone to avoid or anyone to not miss?

Fourth, what specific electives might a current student suggest?

And finally, how are the internship opportunities the summer after your 1L and how good is the school at helping you land it?  Any fields better than others?  Paid internship possibilities?  Where do you typically find your internships, Harrisburg?  Any other general advice?

Thanks in advance for any help.

tschenck

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Also very interested.  I'll be attending Widener Harrisburg as a 1L next fall as well.

dxg41

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Hello...i think I am going to be attending Widener Harrisburg I am going to make my mind up after the preview day on the 17th.

I have many of the same questions expressed above and I am going to ask them at the preview day. They will probably have a few students there as well. I will be sure to ask as many questions as possible.

I am scared as hell of Widener's curve. That's the one thing that really has me on the fence. Our GPAs, even if we score in the top % of our class, is going to be low. I think this will job prospects and possible transfer options dismal. Honestly I don't understand it enough yet to really comment about it, but I am hoping to learn more.

I'll report back after the preview day


USC313

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Hi there,

I thought I'd response to the OPs questions. I'm a 3rd year at Widener U in Wilmington, but the policies are the same for both schools.

First, the fall 1L schedule is pretty full. You'll take Torts, Civil Procedure, Propery I, and your legal writing class. The first 3 classes I mentioned are 3 days week, and the writing class is 2 days a week. Spring semester isn't all that much different. Its Property II, Criminal Law, Contracts, 2nd semester legal writing, and another one I can't remember.

Second, you won't know the casebooks that you'll be using for each class until roughtly 3 weeks prior to the start of the fall semester. Professors choose the case book they want to use, so there is no use in trying to purcahse one early since it may not even be the one the professor assigns. ALSO, you'll have what are called "first assignments" prior to the start of each semester (this is common at every law school). This is reading that is reqired to be done for the first day. Don't worry...the school gives you enough time to go to the bookstore, purchase your books, and have the reading prepared.

Third, you have NO flexibility with regard to the classes, professors, and schduedles you might want. You're entire first year is already prearranged for you by the registrar's office (again, this is common at all law schools). Students are placed within "sections", of which there are about 5 for each incoming 1L class. You'll take the same classe with the same set of 60 students your entire first year. Personally I found this to be a good way to meet friends and socialize. You're all dealing with the same professors and the same work so it gives you an opportunity to vent (which you will do). Once second year rolls around then you will have the opportunity to choose the clases and professors you'd like to take.


USC313

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Fourth, there is no use in thinking about electives at this point. Electives don't enter the picture until the second year anyways, and by that point you'll have a much better idea of what area of the law you may wish to pursue via electives. What you might think you like now you might hate by the end of your first year, and vice versa. Electives are the last thing to worry about prior to the start of 1L.

Fifth, in terms of your summer following 1L, I recommend you try and take on an internship with a judge. A number of students I know worked with judges at their local county courthouse. I even knew a few of the better students who were able to get in with federal bankrupcy judges. Either way, working with a judge will give you the opportunity to meet other lawyers (i.e. network), as well as apply whatever skills you hopefully learn in your classes to real world legal problems. Also, a number of the positions are paid (albeit poorly).

Finally, don't stress out too much. Don't try and read any law books prior to the start of the fall semester or take any pre-law school classes that are supposed to prepare you for your first year but are really just designed to rip you off. I recommend enoying your summer, because once law school begins, you will find that it essentially becomes the number one priority in your life for the next three years.

Anyways, I hoped this help answer some of your questions. If you have others, feel free to continue the thread.

dxg41

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Hi USC313

Thank you for responding to the OP. Its awesome to hear from someone who actually goes to one of the Widener Campuses.I have a further question.

As a 3L what is the job market for a Widener grads like right now? I know that we are talking about different campuses but I am very curious.I would like to go to Harrisburg and then move back to work in Philly, however, I am very naive about the workings of the legal job market and what Widener does for it students. Are Widener students recruited for example and how would one like your self go about finding a job.

Thank you very much.

USC313

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Hey dxg41, sorry my response was not forthcoming sooner. I've been busy with a lot of school work this week. As to your question about the legal job market, it really is a mixed bag. There's a lot of considerations that go into whether or not a given student will be able to get the kind of lawyering job they want.

First and foremost, you have to try and get the BEST grades you possibly can in law school, particularly in 1L. Unfortunately, grades and your indivdual ranking within your class are probably the single most important predictor of what kind of job opportunities you'll have during the summer months and post-graduation. Bad grades during 1L really forecloses many opportunity with some of the more reputable firms and/or judges during 1L summer, and even if dig yourself out of that hole during 2L and 3L, it's still a strike against your GPA and, consequently, your employment outlooks.

You should be aware that Widener's status as a "Tier 4" school among the U.S. News and World Report rankings also will affect your ability to find employment. Law schools and law firms, for better or worse, take these rankings seriously. You're chances of finding employment as a student in the top 35% of the class are worse than a student at say Villanova, or Temple. This fact basically compounds the necessity of performing well academically. Because you go to a "lower-ranked" law school, you have to  

USC313

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...prove yourself more worthy for legal employment in a way. The sad thing is I'm not sure how many students at Widener, at least at the Wilmington campus, are even aware of this. I've never had a discussion with a student, or heard any member of the administration or professor, discuss the fact that Widener's no-so-spectacular ranking will have a direct effect on a student's ability to find employment. This may just be because it's not necessarily in the school's interest to discuss this dilema with the students, since all law schools (lower ranked or not) want to retain and attract students rather than seeing them choose other law schools to attend or transfer out after the 1st year.

In any event, I'm not trying to knock around Widener too much. But the fact of the matter is that a person considering attending law school really needs to consider whether or not its even a good investment. For starters, you'll be losing 3 years of potential income AND Widener is a private school (with pretty hefty annual tuition). Moreover, unless you're in the top 5% of the class, you probably will NOT land that $100K + a year job right out of school. So, all in all, you should consider what type of debt-load you're going to be looking at following graduation, and think hard about whether or not you'll be able to afford repayment given the fact that the average student's salary likely isn't very spectacular.



USC313

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Admittedly, this is not just a Widener issue. The legal job market took a serious beating in 2008/9. If you want to get a sense of how bad it is, take a look here: "http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/national-jurist" That's a link to a montly magazine thats geared to law students, and many schools, Widener included, have it available to student's on campus.

But, the fact the legal market is in bad shape right now tends to expose why going to a lower ranked school may not necessarily be in a person's best interest. Honestly, I tend to think that the kids who are ranked in the bottom half of the class, particularly lower then 70%, are basically F-ed come graduation time. Where i think the disconnect between these facts and Widener's "silence" on the issue is especially exposed is on their career development statisics. They have the class of 2009 at a 95% employment, or advanced degree rate (whatever that means) within 9 months of graduation. Only 50% of students went into private practice, and a full 25% are employed as judicial law clerks. That is an astounding number. While clerking following graduation is a great opportunity, I tend to think that 25% of student's doing it, assuming all students reported WHAT they are doing, is not a good indicator. If I were to guess, I'd say employment as a law clerk was really a "fall back" choice for a number of these students, since they couldnt find employment at a firm. I could be wrong though.

USC313

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Moreover, the 50% private practice rate also isnt very telling. Law firms are NOT all equal. Working at small firm doing personal injury law or insurance defense, you're bearly going to be making more than a teacher's salary. But the school hasn't posted salary statistics, and I'm not suprised given the fact that most of students probably are NOT making great salaries.

Sorry if i sound a litte jaded. I've probably been reading "jdunderground.com" too much. What I've said isn't anything new though. If you look at other law school type forums you'll see many of the same issues about lower ranked schools being addressed.

I realize I'm a bit off topic, so I'll try to emphasize what Widener CAN do for you employment-wise should you attend. The school has fall and spring "OCI"--on campus recruting--where employers are invited to campus and student's bid on interview slots. Fall OCI is pretty much reserved for the top 15% of the class if your trying to get in with one of the more prestigious firms; spring OCI is more low key. There are less employer's that come and those that do are not necessarily from the "better" firms.

OCI really isn't the key to getting a job though. The school supports various "networking" events which gives students the change to interact with local attorney's and other Widener-law alum. The career development office also hosts various types of workshops