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Author Topic: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about  (Read 2740 times)

TTToledoXXXX

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Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« on: November 18, 2010, 02:01:48 PM »
This is a post of some things I wish someone would have told me before I decided to go to Toledo specifically and law school generally. Take it for what it is worth, YMMV, whatevs. I am not really wanting to get into arguments on here since this is all my opinion, but I will answer questions for a while:

1. The city of Toledo is a festering pile of <expletive>.

I live on the edge of town in one of the nicer areas, but as the economy weeble wobbles the criminal wave is spreading outward. In the few years since I moved here, there has been a noticeable increase in stabbings, muggings, rapes, murders, car jackings, home invasions, etc. For example, we had an undergrad student get stabbed to death in the chest a few months ago over 75 cents. The stabber had a prior conviction for, you guessed it, stabbing someone in the chest. He was out a few months, then stabbed this poor student.

Meanwhile, the city is effectively bankrupt and laying off police.

We are also having an enormous number of arson reports. This is because nobody wants to live here and people are stuck in bad mortgages in crime infested neighborhoods and can't move their homes on the market.

On top of that, the road work being conducted around town is driving rats out of the sewer system and into the abandoned homes not yet torched or razed to the ground.

So whatever cost benefit analysis you do on deciding whether to come here or not should take into account increased expenditures for personal safety (i.e. guns, car alarms, things like that) and a personal decision as to whether you would like to or are willing to tolerate such "soft" factors.

2. Toledo law is what it is

And that would be 3rd tier. Simply put, there are only a few things that will make you stand out in this legal market as a Toledo Law Grad, and they are as follows:

a. Top 25%

b. Diversity applicant

c. Good connections to the industry

Everything else is booster club BS. So what does this mean to you, the future applicant? Let me summarize...figuring out "b" is easy. Also, "c" should be fairly easy too. Make sure they are good connections and not just "I know Mr. Attorney socially". I am thinking more like family, close friends, etc.

So that leaves "a". What makes a Top 25%-er, IMHO? The following:

- be a detail-oriented person.

If you are a big picture guy, like me, forget law school and start looking for other work. The classes are geared to grind slowly through details and culminate in an outline, which helps the details-oriented see the big picture. As a big picture guy you are fighting this trend and you cannot win. You will miss easy points on the exams because you are pressed for time and your brain glosses over the details that the details-oriented brain easily picks up.  Don't believe me? Take summer classes and see how much better your grades are when everything is time compressed and you're the only one who "gets" the material well enough to ace the exam. Been there, done it. Everyone else is griping about being overwhelmed while you follow along in class like always.

- enjoy working with numbers. 

You'll have to work with formulas that often don't make a lot of sense. You are also tested on your use of these formulas. It would help to enjoy working with formulas.

- enjoy kissing butt.

If you are not the type to stay after class, ask questions, go to the prof's office, go to social functions to kiss butt, etc., then avoid law school like the plague of rats mentioned earlier. You will not get the "bonus" points the profs are allowed to give for "class participation".

Things that do not help you be in the Top 25%:

- being smart

I graduated college with honors, have a high IQ, and tested well on the LSAT. Not saying I am better than you, especially in law school, because I am  middle of the road here. I am just giving some perspective for you to consider. Being smart is not a necessary element to being Top 25%. I know plenty of Top 25%-ers. Some of them are idiots. Some are highly intelligent. Most are just details-oriented.

- working hard

You cannot force your brain to think differently in a time-sensitive environment. Can you be trained to "think like a lawyer"? Yes. Can you train your brain through hard work to "think like a lawyer" in a 3 hour exam format when you are crunched for time? Yes, but it is unnatural. You fight against your "default" brain setting. You are out of your comfort zone.

- getting the right answers on the tests/papers

The points are in arguing the hyper-technical details. The answer is an afterthought. Again, if you miss details, you lose points even if you get the right answer.

- paying attention in class

Law professors are, overall, very poor teachers. Toledo is no exception to this. Some are really good, most are average to below average to what you experienced in undergrad. Some of the classes I bombed were the ones I paid the most attention in. Some of my best grades were in classes I just crammed for in the last 2 weeks.

3. The legal profession is in serious trouble

Do not believe the employment data from the law schools. The salary stats are bi-modal i.e. a cluster near the bottom, a cluster near the top,  some grads not responding to the questionnaire, and little in between the two clusters. Schools collect and compile their own data, and publish whatever they want. Don't go in thinking "Oh, worst case for me is that I make $30,000 in a govt job with bennies". Competition is FIERCE out there, unless you are Top 25%, diverse, or connected. Even to volunteer ("Me get paid for work? That's unpossible!")

Just some random thoughts to consider from someone who was in your shoes a few years ago.

Is my experience typical? I don't know. Just thought I would tell a different side, take from it what you will.

TTToledoXXXX

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2010, 07:27:07 PM »
Also wanted to add that the "worst case scenario" for me was thinking I could combine my business experience with a legal education to open my own firm or, at the very least, partner up with a fellow grad and work as a solo. What a freaking joke that idea was. So to add to the above...

4. Law school really, really, reeeeeally doesn't prepare you to practice law

I knew this going in, but it really doesn't hit home just how impractical and wasteful it is to devote tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt on an education that teaches you little about the profession until you go through it. It almost totally eliminates any chance of "going solo" or partnering with a fellow grad and striking out on your own. The remaining sliver of optimism telling you that solo-ing is a possibility is finally, mercifully, and repeatedly crushed by taking Legal Ethics. There are simply too many traps to fall victim to as a newbie to the profession. It creates an enormous barrier to entry for new practitioners, even more so when you consider that you'll make next to nothing starting out.


john4040

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2010, 09:19:34 PM »
*Waits for someone to come along and suggest pulling yourself up by your bootstraps because you're not working hard enough*

marcus-aurelius

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2010, 10:38:09 PM »
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps because you are not working hard enough :)

Toledo pushes hard for students as I have received at least a half dozen email from them

MEMEMEME

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2010, 02:21:22 AM »
Let's say that in an average year 150K people take the LSAT. Keep in mind, even though 60K may take it in October and 60K may take it in December, some of those people are the same people retaking the test. We will say 20K don't go to law school, leaving 130K starting law school and graduating each year. The US population is over 300 million. What percentage is that of the entire population?

I think people are displeased because they expect a 100K plus job with a hot secretary in the first five years. And man, it sucks that I have to actually put effort into my job search and interview process. On top of that, I have to plan ahead and try to make myself as employable as impossible while STILL in law school. Oh, and what really blows is that I am not entrusted with great responsibility when I do get that first job. So, I give up before or after I get that first job and whine and post negative crap on the Internet.

ANY job requires you to prove yourself and have knowledge you've gained through experience. Only by proving to potential employers that it is worth their time and energy for you to be somewhat of a thorn in their side for a little bit will you succeed. Oh well, good for me, I hope all this negativity this does deter people from attending law school and makes them give up. More jobs for me to choose from when the baby boomers retire.

Hamilton

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2010, 08:13:19 AM »
ME is right, it takes time and effort to be a success - like all things.  Few start at the top with 6 figures, etc., it must be earned through hard work and accomplishment.  Law has always been fertile ground for television and movies - and both portray it as glamorous, sexy, high-paying, and exciting.  There is a mystique about being a lawyer that has set folks up for false-expectations, and those false-expectations have lead to the ever-expanding group of people going to law schools.  Law schools are certainly not disuading folks by either (1) presenting reality, or (2) using truly accurate "employment" statistics.  Many folks simply do not want to hear or know what "reality" is, they are buying and pursuing the false dream.

One problem with your thinking though... well 2.  (1) Boomers are not retiring en masse b/c many cannot afford to, and (2) there is already a huge supply of lawyers waiting for those jobs and an ever-increasing pool being created - so do not expect a sudden lawyer shortage.

john4040

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2010, 09:41:38 AM »
(1) Boomers are not retiring en masse b/c many cannot afford to, and (2) there is already a huge supply of lawyers waiting for those jobs and an ever-increasing pool being created - so do not expect a sudden lawyer shortage.

You need not look any further than this board as proof of your first statement.  Take a look around at how many 40+ have recently posted on this board stating that they want to "chase their dreams" and attend law school.  Compare that number to years past. 

Merry Christmas! Not only will you have to pay their Social Security, but you'll have to compete with them for jobs as well.

TTToledoXXXX

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2010, 11:01:20 AM »
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps because you are not working hard enough :)

Toledo pushes hard for students as I have received at least a half dozen email from them

They need more grad school tuition paying students because the rest of the University is a resource drain and OH is in bad financial shape. The law students help subsidize the other departments...or more accurately, the Federal Government's student loan programs subsidize the students, who end up subsidizing the other departments.

TTToledoXXXX

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2010, 11:11:35 AM »
*Waits for someone to come along and suggest pulling yourself up by your bootstraps because you're not working hard enough*

I am coasting right now, because slightly better than where I am now is not going to make any difference in employment prospects.

I did work extremely hard 1L FWIW. Harder than I ever had at anything. Finished middle of the pack. Backed off a bit 2L, recognizing I needed to have a backup plan. I started looking outside the profession for opportunities and developing other skills (foreign language skills, for example). Still middle of the pack, though. Hard work, as I stated earlier, has no bearing on my grades. Maybe that is different for others. It has not been my experience though.

TTToledoXXXX

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Re: Before considering Toledo Law, some things to think about
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2010, 11:37:51 AM »
Let's say that in an average year 150K people take the LSAT. Keep in mind, even though 60K may take it in October and 60K may take it in December, some of those people are the same people retaking the test. We will say 20K don't go to law school, leaving 130K starting law school and graduating each year. The US population is over 300 million. What percentage is that of the entire population?

I think people are displeased because they expect a 100K plus job with a hot secretary in the first five years. And man, it sucks that I have to actually put effort into my job search and interview process. On top of that, I have to plan ahead and try to make myself as employable as impossible while STILL in law school. Oh, and what really blows is that I am not entrusted with great responsibility when I do get that first job. So, I give up before or after I get that first job and whine and post negative crap on the Internet.

ANY job requires you to prove yourself and have knowledge you've gained through experience. Only by proving to potential employers that it is worth their time and energy for you to be somewhat of a thorn in their side for a little bit will you succeed. Oh well, good for me, I hope all this negativity this does deter people from attending law school and makes them give up. More jobs for me to choose from when the baby boomers retire.

I am not sure if this was directed at me. It sort of reads that way, but then again, if it was then you really didn't understand most of what I wrote and you assumed quite a bit to reach your predetermined conclusion.

What I posted was my experience at Toledo Law. Some of it is certainly "negative crap", but not all of it. It is hard to put a positive spin on the plague of rats terrorizing West Toledo. But in all seriousness, I made a poor choice in coming here specifically, and attending law school in general. I thought being smart and working hard would be rewarded. It didn't in my case. Maybe it does for you, but it didn't for me.

From my experiences here, what separates the bottom 75% from the top 25% is what I outlined above. If you fit those characteristics, then law school is probably a good investment...or if you can finish middle of the pack but have connections or would qualify as a diversity hire. By all means, attend. You will have options if you graduate.

I have options now, but only because I recognized the sunk cost after 1L grades posted and started developing other skills to make myself attractive outside the profession.