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Author Topic: Well, I got into law school...  (Read 8543 times)

fortook

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2011, 02:28:58 PM »
Duncanjp, did you think I was being sarcastic?  I wasn't- I really can understand why someone would pick a state accredited school, depends on the school and area of course. 

I have also known at least one very successful local attorney who went to a state accredited school.  The guy has some inferiority issues that cause him to play games that well- makes him a feminine hygiene product, but that is in his own mind and has nothing to do with his school.  He seems to have gotten a decent education, even if on some level he feels inferior and is constantly trying to prove how smart he is.

You are being attacked from too many angles here.  The in house counsel angle is not as far fetched to me as to some of these other posters.  It isn't my area, but I do know enough to know that often its who you know, not what you know.  Seems like a perfectly reasonable angle to play.

Some smooth compromising (i.e. placating) rhetoric can turn this around to your favor.  I am eager to see how you play it.  :)
"Thank you for inviting me, Mrs. Palin." "Thank you for cutting your mullet, Levi."

Duncanjp

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #31 on: August 07, 2011, 07:45:57 PM »
A lot of what you said made sense, until this:

Some of my classmates and I anticipate becoming in-house counsel within our given industries, what with the contacts, experience and reputations that we've built. Great pay, weekends with the family, prestige among your peers, and working in a legal field. A pretty good gig. And a state school degree will do just fine to reach that goal.

Sure about this, are you?

LOL. Yes, I'm sure. I have 20 years in my field and for years I have worked closely with the attorneys in my legal department, several of whom followed the same path I'm taking now. My attorney-mentors have advised and encouraged me every step of the way since I first expressed an interest in law school, and my good grades are partly the result of my accountability to them. I realize that there are no guarantees of anything in life. Like Huck Finn, I'm just rafting down the river and checking out whatever comes along. But unlike some law students, perhaps, I'm not heading blindly downstream toward a completely unforeseeable, unpredictable hope. A law license can only help me.

I'm not saying that a state school would be the best bet for all law students. A young person with no experience, no contacts, no resume and no expertise in a given field could be taking a big chance by attending a state-accredited school. But a person with an established reputation and credentials in a field of concentration may not require the large leap and deep debt of an ABA school to realize substantial benefits from a state law school education and admission to his or her state bar. The decision hinges on numerous factors. Should you go to an ABA school? Do you really need to go to an ABA school? Allow me to dispel the myth: for some people, the answer to both questions is no.

Duncanjp

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2011, 09:16:28 PM »
Duncanjp, did you think I was being sarcastic?  I wasn't- I really can understand why someone would pick a state accredited school, depends on the school and area of course. 

I have also known at least one very successful local attorney who went to a state accredited school.  The guy has some inferiority issues that cause him to play games that well- makes him a feminine hygiene product, but that is in his own mind and has nothing to do with his school.  He seems to have gotten a decent education, even if on some level he feels inferior and is constantly trying to prove how smart he is.

You are being attacked from too many angles here.  The in house counsel angle is not as far fetched to me as to some of these other posters.  It isn't my area, but I do know enough to know that often its who you know, not what you know.  Seems like a perfectly reasonable angle to play.

Some smooth compromising (i.e. placating) rhetoric can turn this around to your favor.  I am eager to see how you play it.  :)

Hi Fortook! No, I didn't take that as sarcastic in the least. You're a sincere person as far as I can tell. :) And I appreciate your sincerity, too. (I'm a huge fan of Linus and pumpkin patches.) I'm just enjoying an intelligent conversation until classes commence. It's fun and stimulating to take up a tough cause. Incidentally, some people are just flat-out feminine hygiene products. You can't teach those people to be cool. They come from all walks of life, attending all law schools. And let's never forget, the majority thinks that ALL attorneys fit that description without the slightest discrimination. You cannot be a sufficiently moral person to overcome that perception after you've been admitted to the bar. People hate attorneys.

I've had so much to do over the last year that I haven't had time to play these games about which school a person should attend. It's summer and I'm on break. Yay. But over the last year, I've read many, many comments about the grim by-God realities and dangers of attending state schools, and honestly, nobody has mustered the nerve to attempt an argument in their favor. I've taken it up here for my own self-amusement. Arguments do exist, which you appear to have acknowledged. Sound arguments against state schools also exist. I've conceded as much several times. But I've noticed over the last year that many of the dire warnings against state schools are sweeping generalizations which take into account nothing of the student's circumstances or upward reach. This strikes me as naive and misinformed. Legal careers take many forms. To get work in Biglaw, you had better attend an ABA school. But it's laughable to me to hear people claim that it's critical to attend an ABA school to have a meaningful career in law. Absolute nonsense. If I can draw an analogy from music, some musicians are classically trained at prestigious schools and end up teaching kindergarten. Others get a guitar and teach themselves how to play in their bedrooms, then go on to become The Beatles. We should avoid painting with a broad brush. The spectrum of possibilities in life is large.

I can see how a person defending a state school could be accused of having inferiority issues. That's a risk I've assumed because I live with no fear. (I love that bumper sticker, although I would never put it on my car.) There's probably a grain of truth in it, too. Like I've said, I would love an ABA education. But in a similar vein, it may also be said that those among the ranks of ABA schools who make cavalier predictions about another student's future based exclusively on the information that the student attends a state-accredited law school may have ego issues themselves with which they will have to deal. It may even be the case that some such feel the need to squash the hopes of students of less-expensive schools out of a deep-rooted fear: a fear that in reality, the expense and debt of their ABA education might actually have been unnecessary. I am convinced that some of the vitriol against state schools that I've read in various threads around the internet stems from the same fundamental insecurity that intimidates most state students into quietly keeping their mouths shut.

Anyway, you are a thoughtful and reasonable person, Fortook. It's a pleasure to bounce thoughts off of you. I have to say, I absolutely love law school. I love the challenge. I love the knowledge I'm gaining. Wherever you go to school, this is an awesome experience.

Duncanjp

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2011, 10:06:05 PM »
Duncan, you are missing the point.  These so-called "disparaging" comments are not made out of malice, this is real advice and perspective given by people who have been on that path, or who have a different perspective on it.  It is not wise to simply view it as something that must be challenged - stop and listen with an open mind.  It is simply advice that may prevent someone from making a very costly mistake.  The perspective is that rather than invest time and money on a likely worthless JD, one may want to consider some other training or degree.

This idea that doors will suddenly be opened to new opportunity within existing careers is not a common reality - it certainly is not if one is planning on suddenly becoming in-house counsel.  Companies generally look for Sr. Associate/Partner level people for in-house, not a newbie from a non-ABA school.  The legal department will not look at you differently b/c you come from some other branch of the company with specialized knowledge - this is not meant to be harsh, but in-house legal does not need or want new lawyers from within the company.  You need to seriously, critically, and specifically ask yourself WHAT doors will open?  WHAT do they lead to?  HOW do they open?  "Doors will open" is as nebulous and non-descript as "hope and change."  WHAT ARE THE DETAILS?  If those opportunities exist right now, today, why are they not filled then?

I appreciate your insight, Hamilton. I would submit that some disparaging comments that I've read have been made rather smugly, and as I've stated previously, may even betray a certain insecurity in the person giving the advice. On the other hand, much of the advice to stick with ABA schools is solid and well-reasoned. I know very well that I'm arguing a tough case here. The details that you're calling for I'm not going to divulge on an open internet forum, just as a matter of prudence. I work for a national company and I'm attending law school under the guidance and mentoring of three of my company's attorneys. It would be fair to say that not all people have access to such valuable contacts and tutelage. But I would ask you to weigh from the several posts I've made on this thread whether I sound like a person who has not seriously, critically, and specifically asked himself whether admission to the bar would or would not open any doors? I made a thorough inquiry of my company well before I ever took the LSAT. The reality for me is that not all doors will fling wide open just because I pass the bar. But plenty of others will. Those doors are closed today because I'm not an attorney. I should note here that I'm not blazing any new trails, Hamilton. I merely saw where other audacious travelers went before, and decided to follow the same path.

Hamilton

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2011, 10:40:23 PM »
Not suggesting anyone divulge anything - those are questions you should ask yourself.  I certainly was not asking them of anyone nor expecting answers. 

FalconJimmy

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #35 on: August 08, 2011, 05:32:31 PM »
Ducan, out of curiosity, why did you pick a non-ABA accredited school?  Was it the cost, or is there simply no ABA school that's reasonably geographically close to you?

Duncanjp

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #36 on: August 09, 2011, 12:18:51 AM »
Duncan, out of curiosity, why did you pick a non-ABA accredited school?  Was it the cost, or is there simply no ABA school that's reasonably geographically close to you?

I would never have gotten into a really top school, no matter how hard I tried. I lacked the grades and the time to prepare for an adequate LSAT score. Cost was less of an issue than it might have been 20 years ago. In fact, it was a non-issue on one hand, but it certainly factored in my decision. I read on their website that McGeorge, my local ABA school, only permits its students to work 20 hours per week. Can't do that with a mortgage and a career. That said, once you hit 50, you really have to ask yourself whether spending $140,000 or so on a law degree will ever truly pay off, regardless of the quality of the school. That's a heck of an investment just to fuel what might prove to be nothing more than an ego trip in the end. In my situation, my only chance of making this endeavor pay off is the vertical horizon. I've got a great chance there. But I'm not likely to ever go looking for an associate position with some personal injury law firm, large or small. So I never seriously considered applying to McGeorge. Plus, when I got the idea to go to law school, I only had a scant few weeks, I think about six, to spend my evenings after work preparing for the June LSAT, and you need a score to enroll, even at a state school. I didn't want to waste another year waiting to matriculate at my age. (To those of you in your 20s or 30s, spend the year preparing. You've got the time. Do it right.) So two decades after graduating from Davis with a 3.3 UGPA and taking a lot less time to prepare than I needed, I scored in the average 150s on the LSAT. If I had set my sights on McGeorge, I would have needed to spend six months preparing for it, especially after not having taken a formal exam for so many years. I was a bundle of nerves during the thing. With my score, I would have been a marginal candidate at best if I had applied to McGeorge, notwithstanding my military service and the uber-compelling PS I wrote. And Davis? They would have just laughed. I considered applying for a transfer to McGeorge when I ranked inside the upper 5% after 1L grades came out this June, but honestly, by the time I graduate and take the bar, I highly doubt that the name of the school on my J.D. is going to help me much, regardless of what it is. In sum, the reality check is what propelled me into a state school.

lawstudent#1

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #37 on: August 09, 2011, 12:22:40 PM »
How is $140K a "BIG" investment? It's one years salary.

I guess it depends on where you are before you enroll. If you are earning $200K as a CPA somewhere great, stay there.

If you are earning $30K a year as an assistant manager at a resterant or furniture store(etc) because you got an otherwise useless BA in business, then I'd say you have less of an excuse to be scared.

Unless you are where you want to be for the next 40years, do what you have to do to get where you want to be.

If you are content stay. If you are just scared, pee your pants and cry.

FalconJimmy

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #38 on: August 09, 2011, 12:38:17 PM »
Duncan, you're obviously a very intelligent person.  Our stories are remarkably similar.  I'm not even that far away from you as far as age goes.  You've obviously made an informed decision and are comfortable with the various risks involved.

Personally, although there may be a very small set of people for whom a non-ABA school may be appropriate, that set is probably very, very small. 

To me, the frightening thing is that it severely narrows your options.  Going to an ABA school may be problematic, and I think everybody should be aware of the potential pitfalls.  (My opinion?  Half of current law grads are probably going to be very disappointed at their professional lives after graduation.)

The thing that would frighten me about a non-ABA school is that as daunting as the prospects are for ABA-school grads, they're probably an order of magnitude worse for non-ABA grads. 

I have ideas of what I would like to do upon graduation, but who knows.  I have other options.  I can try to go JAG corps.  I can try to apply for work in the federal government.  Just off the top of my head, those are two options that no non-ABA graduate can even contemplate.

I can transfer to a better ABA school if I can get good enough 1L grades.  Again, no non-ABA graduate can even think about this.

Your decision may be appropriate for you, personally.  I just fear that only a very, very, very, very small proportion of your 1L classmates realistically know what they're getting into.  Granted, probably fully half or more of the 1Ls at my school don't know what they're getting into, either, but at least upon graduation, they're eligible to pursue a job in the DOJ or whatnot.

Best of luck to you.  As I said, we're not that different.  You're obviously a very intelligent person.  I hope things work out exactly as you have planned for them to. 

Hamilton

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Re: Well, I got into law school...
« Reply #39 on: August 09, 2011, 12:48:05 PM »
You are right, $140K is not a "big" investment... it's a HUGE risk if you are looking at a T3/4 or non-ABA school.  It is not one years salary either, especially if it was borrowed.  At best, starting salary is realistically $80K, at best.  After taxes that is now about $45K take home. Factor in rent and other living expenses and there is not a whole lot left for loan payments.   In the mean time, that $140K is accruing about 8% interest - so it's a festering growing boil that does not quickly go away.  After loan payments, there is not a whole lot left for improving one's quality of life (nice car, vacation, travel, etc.).

It's not like one gets a job making $140K, throws all of that money at the loan, and it is gone in one year.

How is $140K a "BIG" investment? It's one years salary.