Law School Discussion

SMU Law 3L Taking Questions

Einstein

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SMU Law 3L Taking Questions
« on: January 19, 2011, 01:45:04 AM »
Hey law school applicants!  I was in your position a few years ago and I want to now give back to the community and answer some questions.  Shoot away!  A little about me.  I am a transfer student that transferred from a school in the 60s range to SMU which is in the 40s range.  I now have 1 year left, and I do have a job already.  Anyway, feel free to ask any questions you may have.

nealric

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Re: SMU Law 3L Taking Questions
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2011, 12:28:36 PM »
Thanks for posting.

Einstein

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Re: SMU Law 3L Taking Questions
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2011, 02:01:20 AM »
Well, I guess no one has any questions. 

haus

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Re: SMU Law 3L Taking Questions
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2011, 08:40:10 AM »
Sorry I am late to the game...

Looking back at the path you took leading you into law school, is there anything that you are especially glad that you did? Or perhaps something that you did do that you now feel was not worthwhile?


Einstein

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Re: SMU Law 3L Taking Questions
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2011, 12:16:44 AM »
My law school endeavor has been like this.  I chose to go to law school in a state in which I thought I would want to practice but quickly realized that I was better off in my home town.  I was one of the lucky ones to actually get to transfer to my home town law school.  Although I went to law school to do patent law, at this point, I probably wont be practicing in that area.  A combination of factors including poor economy, and personal interests have led me on a different course into litigation work.  I entered law school with hopes of being that top 10% and law review guy etc. For the first few years of law school I felt like a complete failure because I missed grading on to the journals by .05 GPA  and I missed the mark as far as writing on.  I am now in the top 15-20% but early on I was a little bit lower.  For a while it felt like I was failing at everything I tried to do including finding a good internship etc.  But I did a little soul searching after first year and decided that I only wanted the big firm job because of the guaranteed money it offered and the prestige factor.  I really never considered whether I would actually be happy in the job itself.  Now that I have heard stories of other students who have worked in biglaw and been a little closer to people that experienced the life, I now realize that I would not be happy in such an environment.  I got a job with a small firm and realized that you can still make good money in a small firm.  The lawyer I work for right now started his own firm a few months after he graduated.  Within 2-3 years he had his first $1,000,000 settlement check (he copied and framed it lol). Just last year, he settled a case and netted himself over $800,000 in fees.  These are just two cases, among many other cases.  After experiencing this, I now plan to one day open my own firm doing litigation. 

So knowing what I know now I would not have gone to engineering school and would have probably picked another UG major and applied to law school straight out of UG.  I would have started studying for the LSAT while I was in college for maybe the last two years.  Then I would take the high LSAT and get a scholarship to a good school. 

In my case, I really had not planned on going to law school until a year before I applied.  I spent that year working full time and studying for the LSAT.  I had already been working as an engineer for 1.5 years then decided to go to law school for patent.  Then a year later I applied.  So really the only thing I can think of that I am glad I did before law school was taking an LSAT prep course.  The prep course really helped me in guiding me on what to do for the test.  Other than that, there is really not much you can do to prepare for law school short of taking an UG major like philosophy that includes a lot of writing and debating etc. Coming from an engineering background, first year of law school I had no idea what an outline was and what you were suppose to put in them.  I had to get one from another student and see what they had done to see how to do one. 

I forget the name, but the law school admission counselor that wrote a book on how to get admitted to law school, was a good purchase that I think helped a ton in getting the acceptances I did.  Trying to study for classes before you get to law school is not going to help.  The book, getting to maybe, is a good read but I dont feel that it helped me any on my exams. 

You should really think about going to law school part time as well.  I went part time and was able to work for law firms the entire time.  I will graduate with 2.5 years of experience now.  Because I worked for smaller firms I was entrusted with doing actual legal work.  At this point I have drafted petitions, summary judgment motions, discovery, motions to appoint auditor, motion for entry upon land, motion to compel, motion for new trial, motion to substitute counsel, motion for sanctions, motion to remove lien, bill of exceptions, notice of appeals, two appellate briefs, TONS of legal research, witnessed multiple hearings and trials, talked with clients, drafted subpoenas, and the list goes on and on...  I am miles ahead of most law school graduates in terms of experience.  I feel like I am paying my dues right now while im in school instead of paying my dues after I graduate.  I can now graduate and hit the ground running.  I feel confident enough to open my own firm as soon as a graduate and will do so if I need to. 

I say all of this so others can start to think about this stuff before they go to law school.  That way they can mold their experience in law school to what will make them truly the happiest.  If you guys have any other questions then let me know i'm happy to help.  Wish I had been told all of this before I started myself.

Re: SMU Law 3L Taking Questions
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2011, 02:23:56 PM »
How's the Texas legal market looking right now?  How well is SMU placing students in legal jobs?

Einstein

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Re: SMU Law 3L Taking Questions
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2011, 08:17:41 PM »
How's the Texas legal market looking right now?  How well is SMU placing students in legal jobs?

The Texas legal market seems to be fairing better than other markets, but I personally have experienced issues.  Like I said earlier, I went to law school to do patent work.  I have had few interviews but have not gotten an internship.  I thought I was the ideal candidate for these jobs because in the job posting they say that top 30% and BS in electrical engineering is preferred.  I have not met one other electrical engineer in both of the law schools I have attended.  I am also in the top 15-20% so you would think that I would be the ideal candidate.  But the last interview I had was telling.  I straight up asked them, how many interns do you plan on hiring?  They candidly responded that they were still trying to decide if they were going to have an internship this year.  Which is consistent with my theory.  All law firms that usually do OCI dont want to tarnish their reputation by not participating in a sagging economy.  So they just interview students at OCI and make 0 offers or substantially less offers than usual.  So, the Dallas legal market is hurting a bit, but I think that the most hard hit are the larger firms that do corporate work.  "people law" is not hurting that much.  There will always be criminals, who have family that will sell their home to pay the lawyer, and there will always be injuries in accidents which the lawyers take on contingency.  Transactional work is the hardest hit in a down economy.  When commerce stagnates or declines, then there are less transactions.  But litigation seems to not hurt as much because people will sue on their patents or contract or anything else to get money where they wouldn't normally get money.  Its an avenue that people start to explore when normally they would not sue. 

So to sum up everything, yes the Dallas legal market has been hurting but most legal markets are as well.  Transactional work the worst, with litigation taking a hit as well but still going.  We shall see where the economy takes us.  One thing about Dallas though is we have a low cost of living.  So the money you make goes a little further than CA or NY.  Plus you get the benefit of the large population DFW = 5mill  Houston = 5mill. etc. 

As far as SMU's placement of students... I personally have not been placed in a job.  But I do get emails from Career Services every once in a while, and they do ask for you to tell them if you currently have a job or not etc.  But what they do with this information I have no idea.  Ever since I told them that I had a job, I have stopped receiving emails from them lol.  I used to get emails saying which jobs have been posted lately on symplicity.  When I told them I was looking for a job, nothing really changed.  If you want something out of career services you will have to seek them out and take advantage of what they have to offer like resume editing, and general recommendations etc.  In a perfect world the career services department would be like a head hunter calling around for you trying to place you somewhere.  But this is not the reality of most career services departments.  SMU is not harvard or yale.  The top schools career services probably would fair better with placing students.  SMU on the other hand will only be able to place easily in a job those students in the top of the class.  The others it would be really hard to do, and take a lot of work on the part of the career services employee.  So take it for what its worth and go out and do your own thing.  Take advantage of what they have to offer and dont just sit around hoping they find something for you.  Dont be a job snob and apply to places you feel are beneath you and you will be fine.  Sometimes these jobs end up being the job you always wanted anyway.