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Author Topic: Deciding which route to take  (Read 963 times)

SemiMBA

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Deciding which route to take
« on: September 12, 2010, 04:38:02 AM »
Since being a bailiff in the early 1980's, I have been interested in the law and becoming a lawyer.  Now that the kids are all grown up, I was considering a change of career.  I am currently a electrical engineer.  I have a AA in AJ, Electronics, a BS in Engineering, and an MBA.  My objective is not to become rich as I am already comfortable and at 50 years old, am not interested in that route.  I do want to help people who can't help themselves (I am not a do-gooder - just feel that people tend to get run over by the system).  Something in advocacy law, public defender, perhaps the innocence project. 

For this type of law, would a third tier law school like the Lincoln School of Law in San Jose suffice?  Anyone have any opinions as to the quality of the school?  What about the Silicon Valley School of Law (newer school) -- or GGU School of Law in SF?  I know that Berkeley, Stanford, or SCU would be better choices, but I don't want to make it a career  just getting into and completing law school.

Any advice?  Suggestions, etc? 

MeganEW

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2010, 08:50:26 AM »
From what I understand, public defender positions can be pretty difficult to get in certain locations.  If you have any friends who are attorneys in your area, try to get their perspective.  If you don't have any attorney friends, here is the list of public defenders in Santa Clara County:
http://www.sccgov.org/portal/site/opd/agencychp?path=%2Fv7%2FPublic%20Defender%2C%20Office%20of%20the%20%28DEP%29%2FOffice%20Locations%20and%20Staff%20Directories%2FPublic%20Defender%20Staff%20Directory
Since they don't list schools, go name-by-name and see if you can find any information on Linked In.  Look especially at the more recent graduates to get an idea of what school you would need to go to.

It looks like Lincoln School of Law is not ABA accredited, so I don't imagine it would be worth it.  I think Bigs is at GGU and seems to like it.  However, there are a lot of out-of-work lawyers right now.  I know you don't want to make a career out of it, but you should still look into what it will take to get a job in the region where you hope to work.

Good luck! :)
Acceptances: UIUC, IUB, Fordham, W&L, OSU
WL: Notre Dame
Rejections: NYU, Northwestern

bigs5068

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2010, 08:59:08 PM »
I go to GGU and if you wanted to do public interest type work it is a great place to do that. With your background and a solid LSAT score you will probably get a solid scholarship to GGU. Lincoln might also satisfy your goals, it is not an ABA approved school and you could only practice in California so that is something to consider. However, you could get a degree from Lincoln at an extremely cheap price and considering your age I don't imagine you would be interested in practicing anywhere other than California. You may not even have to go to law school if you were interested in only patent law, because with your degree and background you may qualify to sit for the Patent Bar. If patent protection etc work is where your passion lies you should definitely look into that. 

If you have any specific questions about GGU I would be happy to answer them for you if you want to send me a personal message.

Hamilton

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2010, 09:43:16 AM »
Think long and hard about it and do your own research on the REALISTIC job prospects out there - research the reasons why not to go as well as how/why to go and reach your own conclusion.  The market is saturated with lawyers and it is just going to get worse despite what the rainbow and unicorn crowd try to peddle.  You could be hurting yourself financially by spending upwards of $100K for a degree with very little opportunity for a job.  Age discrimination is illegal, but think about it, if a place is looking at hiring a young energetic 20-something from a T1 who they know will take the crap they shovel at the versus an older experienced person from a T3 who is (l) less likely to put up with BS, and (2) not quite so motivated to put in 80 hours a week, who do you think will get the nod? 

Any advice?  Suggestions, etc?

bigs5068

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2010, 11:37:09 AM »
It doesn't sound like the OP is looking for a big law career. It sounds as though he is financially comfortable and wants to have the power to help people if he can. Honestly, if those are his goals Lincoln as a CBA school has an extremely cheap price tag and if he passes the bar he will be able to take on clients etc.  Lincoln would probably be the best path to meet his individual goals. If he wanted to go to GGU he could probably get a scholarship if he got a decent LSAT score.

marcus-aurelius

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2010, 11:59:25 AM »
It sounds like the OP is set finacially.  If that is the case, I would go to the school in the area of CA you want to work.  Networking can do wonders

Hamilton

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2010, 01:27:56 PM »
I am not (here or any other thread) talking biglaw... I am talking ANYlaw.  Financially set or not - who has $100K+ to p*$$ away on a degree that may be useless, or at least a very bad investment?  I am just saying that there are 2 sides to the equation.  I went into law school financially set and with a good career - I got lucky b/c I had the scholarships and have kept my well-paying job.  It's a different world for "seasoned" non-traditional students to crack into the law.  When you are working you can't do the summer associateships or internships - and thats who most folks hire.  Speaking from experience (personal and observed), I think there is an inverse relationship between your age when you pass the bar and the liklihood of landing a job.  The reality of the world is that the law firm culture is not all that interested in us older "non-traditionals."

My advice to anyone with an established background in a field is to build on that background.  I think it is generally an unwise choice to switch trains and pursue law.

bigs5068

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2010, 03:08:22 PM »
Yes, but Lincoln law school will not be 100k if you get no scholarships etc it will be 50K and I imagine with a decent LSAT score you will get a scholarship. The OP should probably not spend 100k to go to law school and a tier 4 with a huge scholarship or a CBA school would probably be the best investment. Any of those schools can certify you to be a member of the bar and take on clients. It is all up to the OP, but as I have said a million times on here you should get out of law school with as little debt as possible, which can include going to a tier 4 with $$$ money and in California we have the CBA schools, which are an excellent investment for some. For the OP you could also use JFK law school, which is in San Francisco and I believe might be cheaper than Lincoln. That is a CBA school as well. I mean for the situation you described I think a CBA school or a tier 4 with scholarship money would be the best investment if you really want to be lawyer. Of course there are risks, but if being a lawyer is something you really want to do and you have the time and resources to do it then go for it. However, get a degree for as cheap as you can and a CBA school or GGU with scholarship money would be your best options in the Bay Area. Well good luck to you.

SemiMBA

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2010, 10:46:36 PM »
Thanks for the input.   Someone mentioned patent law (because I am an engineer).  Isn't this just as  hard to do as any other type of law?  I really want to get away from the corporate grind.  (including being a corporate puppet - I had to deal with a lowlife corporate attorney at my current place of employment - most useless individual I have ever spoken to). 

I am not looking at this to make a lot of money.  As long as I can make 50-60K a year I can make ends meet.  I am going to audit a class at Lincoln.  Can you do the same at GGU or JFK?  There is another law school in Marin County (I forgot the name). 

As far as useless degrees go - if I had to do it all over, I would have forgotten the MBA.  I did prove once and for all that the MBA is not that big of a deal anymore (unless of course it is from Harvard,  Yale, or Stanford)

Semi

bigs5068

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Re: Deciding which route to take
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2010, 12:30:52 PM »
You can audit at GGU and in regards to patent law if you have a science background you don't have to go to law school and can study for the patent bar. You can only be a lawyer in regards to patents, but if IP work is what you want to do and you have a science degree you can save yourself a lot of time and money by taking the patent bar.