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Author Topic: Lots of questions from prospective law student.  (Read 586 times)

Mike Jag

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Lots of questions from prospective law student.
« on: November 25, 2011, 02:46:34 PM »
I apologize in advance if this thread is in the improper section. I have lots of questions so I don't know where it belongs. Please help me out and answer whatever questions you can!



(Not in order of importance)

[QUESTION 1]    I'm wondering if my spotty undergrad experience will significantly negatively influence admissions officers' decisions. I went to a university for a year and a half, dropped out halfway through my second semester for (undocumented) medical reasons, went to an arts school for a semester and dropped because I hated it, went to community college for a year and got an associate's degree in "social sciences", then went to a 4-year state college for a semester and a half and graduated with a BA in journalism. My grades at the university and art school were all over the place (mostly B's with some A's and C's) but I earned mostly A's at the community college and state college. I don't know my GPA.


[QUESTION 2]    I was charged with and pled guilty to misdemeanor computer hacking charges when I was 17, as a juvenile. The charges have since been expunged. Would a law school find this in a background check? Would the Bar Association? Would it be an obstacle if found?


[QUESTION 3]   My undergraduate degree is in journalism. Will I be more or less prepared for law school than other first year students with majors more relevant to law like criminology or political science?


[QUESTION 4]   How relevant is the state where one attends law school to actually practicing law in that state? Do law school lessons focus on statutes of the state? For example, if I go to a law school in Virginia would I be less prepared for the New Jersey bar exam than if I went to a law school in New Jersey (where I live and would like to work)?

[QUESTION 5]    I'd like to find some form of work between now and when I go to law school in September 2012 that will help me learn more about the day to day realities of the practice of law and give me firsthand exposure to cases. Criminal law is my main interest. I have no relevant work or education experience so something like an unpaid internship, apprenticeship, or some arrangement where I shadow an actual attorney would be acceptable for a while. I don't know how to go about pursuing this, should I be cold-calling judges and law firms or something?


[QUESTION 6]    What are some other friendly interactive online forums for law students and prospective law students?


[QUESTION 7]    How much do students at a university's law school interact socially with the university's undergrad population or other grad schools, as far as organized student activities and informal socialization?


[QUESTION 8]    Should I solicit my former professors for letters of recommendation now while they still remember me clearly, or should I wait until I know where I'm applying to law school?


[QUESTION 9]    I'm looking to take lessons to prepare for the LSAT. Kaplan offers the only courses in my area before the February exam. Does anyone have thoughts on Kaplan's LSAT prep courses?


[QUESTION 9.5]    Kaplan offers an "Advantage" course with 33 instructional hours and an "Extreme" course with 72 instructional hours. Do you think the Extreme course is more likely to help me score higher?


[QUESTION 10]    How much memorization of facts is necessary in law school? How much is necessary in actual practice of law? Any pointers for someone with poor memorization skills?

iracafella

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Re: Lots of questions from prospective law student.
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2011, 09:53:01 AM »
Hey,
I majored in Journalism as well. I worked for the Graduate School office at a state university for a while. One definite thing I can tell you, is that universities are a 2 way street (you want to get in, as much as they want you in). They make money off of you being there, and university employees want that state and federal funding, so they have to meet those quotas every year of how many tuition monkeys they will let in.

Overall, I would say dont worry about it. If your GPA is over 3.00, you will have a chance at law school. The cold truth is, your chances at a top law school are so slim, you should forget about that. But whatever. If you want to go to a basic state law school, then you still have a chance.  You should study the law, and follow court cases, and see if you like it. If you don't find law interesting before any prospective career is involved, then find something else.

I recommend relaxing about it. Besides, the law school you attend is not the only factor determining your success. Since my start on the "law path", I have met so many people who went to good schools, but were just good at the academic side of it, and didn't make it to the "Top Tier" of the career world. In fact, I know a Harvard Law graduate that works at Washington State University in just some basic administrative job in a equal employment and education office at the school. That's all he wants, but it still is ironic to me.

You can do many things in this life my friend. I suggest going to law school if the law truly interests you. You can still make it to any city you want to go to. As long as you go to a decent law school, you can practice anywhere. If you graduate from University of Idaho or something, you are probably limited to the northwest, but even that isn't bad. I have a friend that went to law school in montana, and thats where he wants to be. There are good teachers everywhere, and most schools use the same teaching materials...

I hope this post lightened your view of things. And truly, from a Grad school former employee, I can tell you that students do not think enough about how much schools want THEM  $ $ $ $ :)

iracafella

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Re: Lots of questions from prospective law student.
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2011, 11:36:17 PM »
In response to the above reply, I would vote that you do not disclose your teenage criminal conviction that was expunged. I think that first of all, it wouldn't matter, I am unaware of computer hacking being a crime in any part of the U.S., I know that Cyberstalking is a crime, and that things like harassment or fraud or embezzlement or other cases sometimes involve the medium of a computer... but anyway, I am guessing you are talking about a misdemeanor. So that matters so little, everyone was 17 once, and that sounds like a petty crime. And I think barely anyone, if at all, would even find out about it.

My opinion would be that you should only disclose the criminal charges if you are specifically asked (implied or expressly, through oral or written medium) for your criminal background and you are subsequently asked to include all expunged convictions as well.

But definately try to learn about the law, you can go to your local public law library and look around, you can even sit in during certain hearings and cases at your local superior court. think about it for a while

Duncanjp

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Re: Lots of questions from prospective law student.
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 01:19:10 AM »
Pleading guilty to computer hacking at 17 is a very serious matter. Not like staying up past your bedtime, or pranks like smashing pumpkins and streaking around the block when you're 14. Hacking goes to your honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. If you really want to become a licensed attorney, an officer of the court, you'll wait for the Bar Association to uncover your past  at your peril. Even if you slid it under the radar to get the license to practice law, how do you know that somebody who remembers you wouldn't inform the Bar Association upon learning that you, former computer hacker, had become an attorney? You might find yourself disbarred for offering a fraudulent application. Best to disclose it up front. It's a hell of a lot easier to explain your conduct at 17 when you're forthcoming about it than it is to explain away why you weren't forthcoming about it in the first place.

iracafella

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Re: Lots of questions from prospective law student.
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 04:51:29 PM »
Pleading guilty to computer hacking at 17 is a very serious matter. Not like staying up past your bedtime, or pranks like smashing pumpkins and streaking around the block when you're 14. Hacking goes to your honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. If you really want to become a licensed attorney, an officer of the court, you'll wait for the Bar Association to uncover your past  at your peril. Even if you slid it under the radar to get the license to practice law, how do you know that somebody who remembers you wouldn't inform the Bar Association upon learning that you, former computer hacker, had become an attorney? You might find yourself disbarred for offering a fraudulent application. Best to disclose it up front. It's a hell of a lot easier to explain your conduct at 17 when you're forthcoming about it than it is to explain away why you weren't forthcoming about it in the first place.

Well i think that it is serious, but I cannot recommend enough that you just not say it unless you have to. It would not be fraudulent to apply for law school or any related other thing, if you had no duty to say it, or were not simply asked. Just saying it out of the blue is, IMO, a bad idea. I think that you should do what anyone would do. Just keep quiet about it until you have a duty to disclose, and/or an application or interviewed specifically asks for your criminal background. Even then, as I said before, dont mention the expunged computer crime unless you also have to say expunged crimes you had as a minor.

Ask this question of Lawguru.com, or an attorney in your area. I bet they would be helpful if you are still wondering what to do.

iracafella

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Re: Lots of questions from prospective law student.
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2011, 05:10:51 PM »
any bar association person or lawyer says when in doubt disclose...
This exact situation is asked in MPRE questions and the answer is always disclose.

Okay, I think you have good arguments, but I feel like you are misapplying some rules here. First of all, the key phrase in the first quoted sentence, is "when in doubt". There should be no doubt. And I think the correct phrase after "when in doubt" should usually be "do research, inquiry, and contemplation", rather than guess that you should disclose something.

I may be wrong, but the original poster is talking about expunged minor convictions right? or were they not expunged?

Secondly, I think the MPRE may have a question about criminal convictions that were not expunged. So the facts are different in that circumstance I believe.

Lastly, I have a few quotes below from Black's Law Dictionary 9th Ed. to clear this situation up, if we are dealing with convictions that were not expunged. I believe that the best advice would be to not disclose, if the crimes were expunged:

erasure of record. See EXPUNGEMENT OF RECORD

expungement ofrecord. (1966) The removal of a conviction
(esp. for a first offense) from a person's criminal
record. Also termed expunction of record; erasure of
record. [Cases: Criminal Law C=>1226(3).]

expunge (ek-spanj), vb. (17c) 1. To erase or destroy <the
trustee wrongfully expunged the creditor's claim
against the debtOr>. 2. Parliamentary law. To declare
(a vote or other action) null and outside the record, so
that it is noted in the original record as expunged, and
redacted from all future copies.


iracafella

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Re: Lots of questions from prospective law student.
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2011, 09:26:39 PM »
Well that's actually a really good point. The question is not "Do you currently have any criminal convictions on your record," it is "Have you ever been convicted or pled guilty to a crime?"

The language of the actual question is (on one hand) saying what big is saying. But on the other hand, the people who created (and made prominent) that classic question were probably not lawyers - thus they do not seek exact statutory-like language. They aren't trained like us (i'm still pre-law, after undergrad but before law school) to think logically and use language in an exact way to create very specific rules and laws.

So I hereby change my vote, to "we should do more research, inquiry, and contemplation, and then reconvene together with new found proposed answers."