Law School

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by Ombak, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. Ombak

    Ombak Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 19, 1999
    Irvine, CA
    Club:
    Flamengo Rio Janeiro
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    Well, I plan on studying linguistics.

    But the other side of the coin is... money.

    I have a very dear friend who has been encouraging me to consider going into law school. She, and my former boss, suggest it because they think I can do well and because they both think I should look at such a career instead of Grad School in linguistics and the likelihood of staying in academia and not earning as much as in another career.

    I enjoy linguistics, but I'm sure I could do well if I apply myself in law school.

    So I'm posting looking for similar experiences. People who chose law school over a subject they also enjoyed. Why law, what area did you study and what career did you get into?
     
  2. Jacen McCullough

    Nov 23, 1998
    Maryland
    I've considered Law school before. I've also considered Med school. I'm interested in so many different topics that I could probably enjoy any type of job: for a while. That's why I never went for Law school. I get bored with most jobs after a year or two and they end up making me miserable if I stay longer than that. That's the reason I've had so many majors as well. The only thing/subject/topic that has always held my interest and never bored me is literature and writing. One of the only ways to work with literature and writing while also pulling down a living wage is to teach. That's why I am where I am right now.

    I'd suggest doing a short internship with a law firm. Call them up and explain the situation. When the internship is over, ask yourself, "can I do this job for 35-45 years and enjoy my life"? If the answer is yes, go for it. If the answer is no, or if you have a reasonable amount of doubt, then don't waste your money. Trust me, you'll be much happier making $30,000 in a field you love (linguistics) than you would making $100,000 in a job you hate.
     
  3. Ombak

    Ombak Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 19, 1999
    Irvine, CA
    Club:
    Flamengo Rio Janeiro
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    I've been researching law school programs this weekend. Both of the programs I've looked at offer joint degrees in other departments - usually History and Philosophy as well as other professional programs like the MBA.

    I'm trying to think of ways to connect linguistics and a degree in law. Just out of curiosity right now, more than anything. I am finding areas I would definitely be interested in law, regardless of whether I can also pursue my interest in linguistics.
     
  4. Caesar

    Caesar Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Oztraya
    Connecting it is easy. Law is a very versatile degree, but the drawback is that any linguistics involvement would be bastardised - mainly basic language work, if you worked for an international firm. Work in the area of Contracts involves a good knowledge of language, as does most law, so your degree would certainly help (but I wouldn't count on using it to much extent).

    Law is (at least in Australia) a degree looked upon favourably when applying for the civil service. Areas where you would use linguistics - overseas postings for foreign affairs (again, probably more basic language work) or in an intelligence organisation for a Signals group (in the right area, this would certainly put linguistics skills to the test).

    If you're interested in doing pure linguistics work, then probably your only option is academia. But apparently, there's a limited market of tech jobs such as database building that require linguists, and often you don't actually need an IT background.
     
  5. bungadiri

    bungadiri Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jan 25, 2002
    Acnestia
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm the opposite of your requested profile. I chose a preferred academic discipline over law school. But I will toss in the following anyway.

    1. I'd argue that the non-academic job prospects are at least slightly better than is being suggested here. I took my doctorate in Cultural Anthropology, which (I'm guessing) might provide a few more non-academic job opportunities than a Ph.D. in Linguistics, but I'll bet the prospects generally provided by each are similar.

    Non-academic jobs for cultural anthropologists derive largely from the kinds of research skills used in that field. Qualitative methods such as text/narrative analysis (linguistics is great for this, obviously), focus groups, in-depth interviews, etc. are being used extensively by business consultants, software designers, architects (actually, one of the most impressive instances of this kind of work I've seen was done by an architect from a firm hired to plan a new hospital). I know of a number of people who've moved directly from social science grad school into corporate consulting (Mckinsey and Co.), foreign service, etc. I'm guessing that a degree in Linguistics would qualify you to at least try for all these, depending on the research methods skill set you develop in grad school. (To make that idea into some explicit advice: If you do go the grad school route make sure you can come out of it saying you have experience with a lot of different research methods and at least take some basic courses in statistics.)

    However, almost certainly this would not be big money we're talking about (you'd be lucky to start at $40K/year). Unless you land a job in a corporation (consulting firm or as an in-house researcher) we're talking about soft (grant-based) money, which would have to be renewed. I'm doing the soft-money thing now and it is stressful, but it does offer a fair amount of freedom to choose jobs and follow my own interests, within limits.

    2. My story, FWIW: I completed my doctorate in Anth. because I really enjoyed it and because I was good at it. I decided not to pursue a tenure track position because I would have needed to go back to Indonesia in order to make my dissertation publishable as a book, which in turn was necessary to be remotely competitive. Also, my wife and kids were well settled in career and schools, respectively and the risks-to-benefits of chasing such a position all over the country just didn't make sense. I, too, was strongly advised to consider law school when I was starting grad school in Anth. and sometimes (oddly enough right around pay day) regret that I didn't spend a couple of years exploring other options.
     
  6. Ombak

    Ombak Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 19, 1999
    Irvine, CA
    Club:
    Flamengo Rio Janeiro
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    I'm really not concerned about the job prospects if I do linguistics. I'd be doing something I like, I'd be happy teaching at University if that's where it took me, and I already have experience at a major international organization and know that I can work in the private sector.

    I think that's why I stopped looking at Law School cynically (from an idea that a girl I like suggested and I took as a "you need to earn more money" suggestion) to another field I could do well in and that a friend recognized I should consider. I have skills associated with it - good writing, good reasoning and presenting clear arguments in written and spoken form. And other skills I'm sure could apply to lots of areas of law - languages, international development experience etc.

    So, any other law school choice stories out there?
     
  7. HeadHunter

    HeadHunter Member

    May 28, 2003
    I am currently startin my first year of law school. My feel is slightly off because Im at UVA which is very social compared to most other law schools. Still, even though I just started Im loving. In relation to your direct question I choose law school over a Phd in history. Money was a factor, but I feel that the range of jobs and oppertunities with a law degree are so much greater than in history. Of course I am giving the idea of a masters in history serious consideration. At any rate, you ought to take the LSAT and see what your score is. Enterance to law school is a pure numbers game amd the rankings of schools really do matter-not that lesser ranked schools are bad but your job options become rather localized below the top 15 schools.
     
  8. Th4119

    Th4119 Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    Annandale, VA
    I'm considering going into Law, but I'm only going into my second year at college right now.

    What do I need to know that I don't already. In other words, post everything you know. ;)
     
  9. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    I've talked to Ombak before about this a bit, but I might be one of the more recent law school graduates around these boards. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me, or ask broad ones and I can answer them.

    However, as a short distinction, it really depends on what kind of law school you want to go to. In practical terms, there's a fairly big difference between going to a "top 15" school and schools not of that caliber. It sounds really elitist and mean spirited to say that, but its true. Getting into "law school" in general is not hard at all. Getting into a very good one is getting scarily difficult.
    It also depends on what you think you want to do with your law degree. If you want to be a prosecutor, great. Many places can let you do that. If you want to teach law, its almost impossible unless you go to a top 15 school. If you want to work at a large firm, its pretty easy for a top 15 and certain regional schools, but it can get difficult at most other law schools.
    Oh, and finally; there's a general rule. The hardest part of studying at the best schools is getting in. Despite the horror stories you might hear, most top schools do not make it hard on their students. Not in the slightest. (Chicago and Cornell are noted exceptions, however.)

    P.S. The LSAT is a bitch. You can't really study for it since it tests thinking rather than "knowledge", and although you can pick up study techniques with Kaplan and other such classes, their value decreases as your goals get higher. Also, familiarity with the test is key. Even if you don't take a class, make sure you're familiar with the exam. Otherwise, you're in for a very long day. Also, sadly the LSAT is the most important test you'll likely take in your legal career. Far more critical than the bar, which is actually a pretty easy exam to pass. Most states have a pass rate for first time takers of over 80%.
     
  10. Onionsack

    Onionsack BigSoccer Yellow Card

    Jul 21, 2003
    New York City
    Club:
    FC Girondins de Bordeaux
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I chose Law School over using my degree in Finance or my experiance as a jet engine builder. I think law is a great choice, as stated earlier the degree is quite versitile and you should be able to at least practice law in a field you enjoy. But if it is a subject you do not find interesting or one you wouldn't enjoy I would say stay away. If your heart and mind are not commited to it it could be a costly 3 years of time wasted.

    LSAT is a bitch, no dispute there. But really you only need 155-160 to get into a decent school. Do not waste money on Kaplan, everyone I have talked to that used it said it was worthless. However Kaplan usually offers a free practice test without commitment to the course so I would highly recommend using Kaplan for that instance only. They even score it for you right there. If you are a good thinker, and can make sense out of the logic games section, you should do fine.
     
  11. Ombak

    Ombak Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 19, 1999
    Irvine, CA
    Club:
    Flamengo Rio Janeiro
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    Any additional LSAT advice? I'm taking it October 2nd and basically doing practice tests to become familiar with it. I generally test well and just want to be comfortable with the sections on the test before I go in.

    I think I'll just pick up a book with plenty of practice tests this week to keep me busy.
     
  12. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Erm, well....... That's not necessarily true. I suppose it depends on your definition of decent, but at that LSAT range you're certainly out of top 15, unless you have happened to cure cancer.
    If you're just looking to go to law school, no LSAT's not important. But your LSAT grade will also be combined with your GPA and especially the school you attended. If you're a Yalie, with a 160 and 3.7, sure, you're fine. If you graduate from PickasteatrandomU, those numbers won't be enough.

    I actually took the class, mostly because I could afford to, and I knew I was going to law school. I can't really say I wish I hadn't taken it, but I can definitely say that its not terribly helpful if you're trying for a really excellent score. The second day after they handed out the practice test results, the teacher said "now we don't expect you to get a score of X right off the bat of course." I got exactly X. Not a good start. They're great for logic games with showing you strategies, but the rest.....if you tested well with stuff like SAT reading comprehension, you should be fine. If not, you've got a long road ahead of you.

    The logic games are the most difficult section for most people because they're different than almost anything anyone's ever taken. However, once you become familiar with them, and learn some strategies, they're considerably easier. They're not intrinsically difficult, just unusual.
    This is the only place where Kaplan helps. If you can buy one of their books or borrow a study guide from someone on this section, their methods do help for logic games if you're not an intuitive logic person.
     
  13. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Sounds like you're fine. My advice was always to take as many practice tests as you can. If you're a naturally good testtaker, that's really the best way to go. Reading comprenehsion and verbal logic's not that different from the SAT/ACT which most of us have already seen.
    If you're good at logic games, great. If not, I suggest picking up a Kaplan book (or Princeton Review - whatever; I'm not a Kaplan shill) to get some strategies, and just keep doing them after that.

    If you want a very good score, tricks will only get you so far. I think the more tests you do, the better you know the questions, and the better you'll do. Also, it gives you more confidence, which shouldn't be underestimated for a test like this.
     
  14. tcmahoney

    tcmahoney New Member

    Feb 14, 1999
    Metronatural
    Name them, please. Thanks.
     
  15. tcmahoney

    tcmahoney New Member

    Feb 14, 1999
    Metronatural
    OK. Here's my deal:

    I took the LSAT on a lark two years ago. I decided to go into it blind and see how I did without any studying.

    I scored 159 to make the 80th percentile. My weak spot was logic, where I missed half the questions. But half of the questions I missed were on other sections of the test.

    I wasn't ready to go to law school then, and when I tried last year, I literally could only afford application fees for two schools. I bombed. Not sure why, but I think it had something to do with my essay being the equivalent of the Bush twins' speech, and not having some sterling top-of-the-drawer you-must-admit-this-guy letters of recommendation and good grades in school to counter that.

    My grades back in college were absolute and utter crap. I'm surprised I graduated. But that was two decades ago. Nothing I can do about it now, except to candidly admit that I was an unfocused, undisciplined twit back then.

    I'm signed up for the Oct. 2 LSAT because I'd like to improve my position for scholarships. Trouble is, I'm also working two jobs right now. I'm trying to concentrate on the logic portion of the test, but I'm not going to have the time I'd like to sit down and take a full test to see how I do.

    Taking a dry run at 8 in the morning will be out of the question as I work Friday nights past midnight; I'm not even going to be able to get all of the night off before the test itself.

    So here are some questions: Should I just fold my hand and sit on the LSAT equivalent of 16 at blackjack? Or should I grit my teeth, take comfort in my ability to perform under pressure and on deadline and continue studying?

    And what should I do for recommendations?

    Thanks for your answers.
     
  16. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Nic's advice is pretty much spot on, IMO. Repetition; repetition; repitition. The more familiar you become with the LSAT the easier it is. And I don't mean just the logic versus reading comprehension, etc.....I mean being able to recognize types of questions within those categories. It's difficult for me to articulate this exactly but the more practice tests you take...the quicker you're able to look at a question and say..."okay, this is an X type of logic question...the trick here is to......"

    Like Nic, I also took Kaplan. It was marginally helpful but it depends what type of studier you are. I would liken it to exercise.....are you the type of person that can get up and run/workout every day with no prompting from anyone else.....or are you the type that is willing to workout but needs the prompting/instruction from a personal trainer. That's Kaplan, IMO. I did tons of practice LSAT's and listened to the Kaplan tapes afterward that would breakdown problems. Not to sound like a bragging twit but after all that practice, I scored in the 99th percentile. That's not meant to be an ad for Kaplan guaranteeing those results...but for me it forced me to practice over and over again.
     
  17. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    From my earlier post, you can see that I recommend practicing the test as much as possible if you're going to take it again. With your work schedule, I realize that's pretty tough but I would still try.

    As for whether to take the LSAT at all again....tough decision. If you think you can significantly improve your score it might be worth it based on the fact that you say your college grades weren't the best. As others have said, getting into law school is by and large purely numbers driven.

    With regard to recs.....I would go with bosses who've liked you and with whom you've worked closely. People that know your work habits now. As far removed from undergrad as you are, I don't think it would be worth your effort trying to get recs from former professors unless you have one or two with whom you maintained a relationship.
     
  18. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Generally, the top "15" divided thusly, and in relative order:

    The Holy Trinity:
    Yale
    Harvard
    Stanford

    Three private schools
    Columbia
    Chicago
    NYU

    Three publics
    Virginia
    Michigan
    Boalt (Berkeley)

    The next 5
    Duke
    Penn
    Northwestern
    Cornell
    Georgetown

    Some schools that lurk right around #15 are Texas, UCLA and Vandy.

    If you say to yourself - gee, that's pretty much the top 15 of the US News rankings, you'd be right. Those are, sadly, the most accurate, since they're the ones students and most critically employers go by. Schools will tell you they're meaningless - but they lie when they do that. All top schools take the attitude of "once we're where we should be, then we can pretend we ignore them."
     
  19. MLSNHTOWN

    MLSNHTOWN Member+

    Oct 27, 1999
    Houston, TX
    Ok just caught this thread....recent law school graduate.....

    1. Take the LSAT again if you can practice the logic section significantly. Don't forego your preparation on the other sections though. If you don't have the time, stay with your 16. If you do, take the shot.

    2. The law school attend should be as closely tied to the city you want to live in as possible. It isn't a requirement it just makes it 100 times easier. If you go to a big 15 school you will have more than enough prestige to go to whichever city you prefer. But if you want to live in a particular city, check out the states/cities law schools. It isn't a requirement but when it comes to finding a job, if you are not a big 15 school (and even if you are), the local alumni connection goes a long way to helping you get some inroads.

    3. A law degree can get you a job in just about anything. One of my friends got a joint JD/MBA and just went business side. One of my friends got the joint JD/History thing and ended up as a teacher, and then of course their are the attorneys.

    4. I don't know of any school that offers a joint degree with some linguistic phd work. You may able to convince those that have the joint history masters to allow you to do it, but it probably will be case by case.

    5. If you want to be a linguist, be a linguist. Don't sell out and go to law school. Say what you want about not having a job etc., but law school is not a pleasant experience. It is an extension of college which isn't bad, but it is competitive, you have to study and prepare for class each day, it can be difficult etc. Too many people go to law school because they are required to, or because they feel they have to. Don't waste your time. If you have a passion for the law, go for it. If you don't, be a linguist.

    Just my .02
     
  20. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Good points...especially about picking a school in the city where you want to live if you don't get into a top school.

    One point with which I'll quibble.....I actually thought law school (at least it's negatives) was more like high school than college.....more cliquish and everybody "in" everyone else's business.
     
  21. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Yeah, I echo that. It felt like middle school. We had lockers, for chrissakes. You take classes with the same people, too. My law school had about 800 students total, which is less than many high schools. And the cliques do form. Just be sure to join the one that drinks a lot. :D
     
  22. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The best advice contained in this thread thus far. You figure out pretty quickly who the humorless study machines are versus those that relish this thing called "life" and go from there.
     
  23. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Seriously. Being a hermit sucks. I went to school with a person who wouldn't go shopping and used Webvan, so as not to distract her from studying.
    As for this point:
    I can't disagree more. I liked law school. Actually, I thought law school was great. The people were cool, the studying was required, but a lot less so the second and especially the third year. And, quite frankly, I studied harder in undergrad than I did the first year of law school. My third year I spent traveling to all sorts of places. Most of my good friends are from law school. I loved law school, actually. Great three years. Not true for everyone, but to generalize that law school is not a pleasant experience is just not true.
     
  24. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I wouldn't call my experience in law school "unpleasant" but it was definitely not as fun as undergrad. Part of that, I'm sure, is a result of where I went to undergrad versus law school. Don't get me wrong...the law school experience was amazing....bright people with interesting backgrounds...bright professors....cool city...and I wouldn't change it, but college was just a lot of fun. I have two very close friends from law school but most of the rest of my friends are from college....or people I play football with now. ;)
     
  25. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Some of my friends had the same thoughts, but most people I knew in law school really enjoyed their experience. My time could also be clouded by the fact that I didn't really enjoy undergrad all that much. (Never wanted to go where I did, and finally decided to attend about a day before I had to.)
    That being said, law school should not be looked at as a prison sentence. Especially if you get into a better school, which while it sounds strange, is true.
     

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