Law School

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

  1. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I actually had circumstances similar to yours with regard to undergrad. I didn't want to go their at first....applied just before the deadline after I got waitlisted at my first choice school...was absolutely positive I was going to make kick-butt grades and transfer after one year. Funny thing....after one year...I did have great grades but I also loved my school and decided to stay.

    I certainly would never characterize my law school experience has a prison sentence. I did have fun and, as I stated, met some really interesting and cool people. It just wasn't quite as fun as my undergrad experience....but I don't think I really expected it to be.
     
  2. Danks81

    Danks81 Member

    May 18, 2003
    Philadelphia
    What's the median age for law students attending Top-15 programs? Did the vast majority of your classmates enroll right out of undergrad?
     
  3. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't know off the top of my head what the median age is for first year law students. Where I went to school, IIRC, it was fairly split between those coming right from undergrad and those who had been out for at least some amount of time. If I had to bet, I would say that even of those who did not come directly from undergrad, most were only a year or two removed.

    I took one year off (well, I worked on Capitol Hill) before going to law school.
     
  4. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Fucklechester Rangers
    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Median age for first years at my school was 25 or 26, and that's somewhat young. I believe at Stanford, for example, over 75% have spent more than two years out of undergrad. As admissions have gotten tougher, law schools are looking at experience more in admissions. Also using it as a sign of "maturity", I suppose.
    While you're hardly precluded from getting in to law school straight out of college, I do think its a bit easier these days if you've spent a couple of years out of school.
     
  5. gildarkevin

    gildarkevin Member

    Aug 26, 2002
    Washington, DC
    I'll jump in with a couple of thoughts about now.

    I went to GW for law school and graduated about a decade ago ('95), having gone straight from college. I'd say that my class was split between immediate graduates and those who were out of school for about 5-10 years. I'd say that there were very few older students.

    I have a friend who works for the Kaplan office in DC and she's had me regularly speak on a panel at one of their "So you want to go to Law School?" type programs. My advice to prospective students has always been to take at least one year off after college. There's always time to go back to school. There's never enough time to be young, travel, do something stupid for a year. And honestly, that's what I'd do -- spend most of my time in a very non-serious job or just experiencing those things that I'm not going to be able to do once I start a full time work experience. I really do feel that I missed out on that having gone straight to law school from college.

    Oh, and even though GW is something like the 3rd biggest school in the nation, it still felt like high school. The point was made about having classes with all the same people, very well-defined cliques. Add in lockers, and a "prom" each year and you even move closer to that. Plus, b/c I lived with my parents at home during law school, I brought my lunch each day and my social life once again sucked. At least I'm reaping the benefits now from all the money I saved through that decision then...
     
  6. MLSNHTOWN

    MLSNHTOWN Member+

    Oct 27, 1999
    Houston, TX
    1. I agree take one year off during college.

    I didn't mean to sound so anti-law school or to imply that it was a bad experience. It was a great experience, and I wouldn't trade it. That being said, it was a great experience for the reasons mentioned above, people of diverse backgrounds coming together and studying the law. IT was great. But you have to do lots of reading. You have to do lots of studying. You usually have to do both of these things during your second and third year, while both working part time at a law firm and interviewing for additional positions. It is a hard experience. If you don't want to be a lawyer though it would not be a fun experience. I know several people who went to law school because my dad was a lawyer, or went to law school because they wanted a job that would pay. For those people, I would not go to law school. That was all I was trying to say.
     
  7. gildarkevin

    gildarkevin Member

    Aug 26, 2002
    Washington, DC
    Very good points, also ones that I make when speaking at the Kaplan events -- my thesis could actually be summed up as "Don't go to Law School unless you really want to go". That doesn't necessarily mean you really want to be a lawyer, but law school is not the type of thing you jump into just b/c you have nothing else to do.

    I am someone who likes school and learning. While I wasn't 100 percent sure I wanted to be a lawyer, I had liked the couple law-related classes I took in college as part of my major. I like reading and I like the legal thought process. Thus, I really liked law school. On the other hand, I can see where people who just "want to be a lawyer" or "have nothing better to do coming out of college" would find it tedious.
     
  8. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Fucklechester Rangers
    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    I agree with most of that, except for the description of your second and third year. My third year, as it was for many of my friends, was very light. I only took classes I wanted, without any thought of what I might need for the bar. (NEVER EVER take classes only because they're on the bar exam. Barbri will teach you all you need to know. I never took Evidence or the jurisdiction part of CivPro, and it made no difference.) Cinema and the law, EU law (I was a big hit with the professor due to my Bosman knowledge) and other such classes.
    To be fair, I also knew I had a job the second week of August of my 2L summer, so my experience may hardly be universal. But in my experience, your third year of law school is light, and your second year gets considerably easier around November once interviews are over.
     
  9. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Fucklechester Rangers
    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Oh, I got in where I wanted, but then they sent the bill........so I stayed, but for different reasons - the academic programs were better than I thought, and quite frankly, with all the credits I got, it was a lot easier to graduate quicker and get out. I almost graduated in two years, but decided it would be a bit odd applying to law schools with just one year of college grades. :)

    Fair enough. I think my school was a bit unusual in that regard. We have, for example, ditched the socratic method almost entirely. I was, maybe, cold-called three or four times in my 3 years.
     
  10. Danks81

    Danks81 Member

    May 18, 2003
    Philadelphia
    There is a Kaplan test drive on campus in a week and a half. I'm thinking about taking the LSAT for sh1ts and giggles. I had better break 160.
     
  11. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Socratic method never bothered me that much. I had 2 or 3 professors who were pretty Socratic but I never really sweat it much. Especially after first semester first year...it's not a big deal anymore.
     
  12. HeadHunter

    HeadHunter Member

    May 28, 2003
    Amen I'm in my first year at UVA Law and at least everyone here drinks a little still gunners are meant to be avoided
     
  13. Pauncho

    Pauncho Member+

    Mar 2, 1999
    Bexley, Ohio
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Two suggestions not everyone will agree with:

    (1) Only get hung up really tight on that prestige law school thing if you're SURE you want to work for a big firm or teach, where it really will be essential. I knew a lot of people undergrad who refused to even apply to anywhere where you couldn't smell salt water from the top of the law library "because they just don't have the contacts," and it's a lot more false than true. It's also ridiculous to think there is a sharp distinction in reputation (and so saleability) between your #14 and somebody else's school that's 'only' #18 on the U.S. News list.

    (2) There are enormous differences in ambiance among law schools. In some places the competition for grades is so fierce that it will be accepted routine to hide books in the law library so the next guy can't get that advantage, and other places somebody who tried that kind of stuff would be an outcast. Actually visit schools you're applying to seriously and strike up casual conversations with actual students. Not everyone thrives on cutthroat. The wrong choice could not only ruin three years of your life, but drive you away from your chosen profession.
     
  14. Ombak

    Ombak Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 19, 1999
    Irvine, CA
    Club:
    Flamengo Rio Janeiro
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    I did the LSAT today, glad that's over with, and I think I did pretty well.

    Advice for anyone else? Practice cutting your time on the logic games - that's the only section I was worried about and though I did well I got caught with 1 minute left and 5 questions I was unsure of. I managed to answer one but not the others (thought I had more time) which I would have at least guessed at anyways.

    So in the end I missed 4 questions, felt good about every single one I answered and know that my reading comprehension and logic games sections will both count as I had three logical reasoning sections (meaning one of those is the one that is not going to be scored).

    Anyone with half-decent writing skillls who can write quickly will not have a problem with the writing sample.
     
  15. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Fucklechester Rangers
    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Ombak - did you at least fill in the bubbles randomly? I would imagine you can still do that.
    Oh, and the writing sample's not really graded. Its not part of your score, so I don't even know why its there. Maybe just to show you're not a computer?

    P.S. As a personal story - I had the opposite result. I hated logic games, and practiced them the most. I finished 3 of the 4 games in about 15 minutes, and spent the rest of the time on the last game. Took me forever, and I never did get it. Solved it the next morning in the shower. Good thing there's only one logic game section, since that was my weakest. :p
     
  16. Ombak

    Ombak Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 19, 1999
    Irvine, CA
    Club:
    Flamengo Rio Janeiro
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    Yes, you can guess the answers and not be penalized for wrong ones (it's still just a point for right answrs, 0 for wrong, unlike the SAT). I got caught with 4 unanswered though because I misjudged my time - would've taken me only 10 seconds to fill in the ovals had I known I was almoost out of time.

    As for the writing sample, they say they want you to show that you can argue a position clearly. I'm sure the schools can get a pretty good impression of that from any kind of writing sample the student might have to submit.
     
  17. X X I

    X X I Red Card

    Apr 9, 2004
    I have a question.

    Let's say you get your law degree in New York, but you wish to practice in Florida. Do you always have to take the board exam again? If so how easy is it to take different exams?

    See, law interests me, but the idea of being pinned down to the place where I receive my law degree does not.
     
  18. MLSNHTOWN

    MLSNHTOWN Member+

    Oct 27, 1999
    Houston, TX
    Yeah good question and the answer (like most lawyers answers) is that it varies from state to state. Typically to be admitted to a state to practice law, you have to pass that state's bar exam. So if you go to school in New York, but you know you are going to move to Florida to practice law, you can take the FL bar exam. If you already have passed and taken the NY bar exam, there are certain requirements for "reciprocity" that vary state by state so that you wouldn't have to take another "bar exam". I believe, in TX you have to have practiced for five years in another state, and then you don't have to take the bar if you want to come to TX and practice (as long as you haven't failed the bar exam).

    It ties you down a bit, but it isn't as bad as you think. If you are considering law school in NY and might want to practice in FL, look at the reciprocity provided by each state.

    http://www.abanet.org/legaled/publications/compguide/chart8.pdf

    Is a chart explaining the criteria of each state re: reciprocity.
     
  19. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Fucklechester Rangers
    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    The of course, certain states do not provide any reciprocity, IIRC. California does not, I believe.
     
  20. Mad Hattah

    Mad Hattah Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    North Florida
    Club:
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    No reciprocity in Florida. If you want to practice in the Sunshine State you have to take the FL Bar... and they keep raising the passing score (bah). But there are worse things than spending three years in law school here... three years in law school in North Dakota for instance. :)
     
  21. Dammit!

    Dammit! Member

    Apr 14, 2004
    Mickey Mouse Land

    I'm in Cali., two years out of law-school and thinking seriously of moving to Florida. Have been doing insurance defense, mainly worker's compensation. Assuming I pass the BAR this February, what are my chances at landing a decent job, hopefully in the Tampa/Orlando area?

    I just stumbled across this thread and it's all pretty good advice. Just remember, by 3rd year it's all about the BAR. I have classmates who STILL haven't passed the damm thing. Not fun when you're $100k in debt.
     
  22. Danks81

    Danks81 Member

    May 18, 2003
    Philadelphia
    I know nothing about the bar exam. Is it really that hard to pass for anyone who has just finished 3 years of studying law at a decent law school?
     
  23. yossarian

    yossarian Moderator
    Staff Member

    Jun 16, 1999
    Big City Blinking
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It depends on the Bar. Some like NY and California are notoriously difficult. Others are considered easier. The problem (if it can be considered as such) is that very few law schools focus on the nuts and bolts types of things that go on the bar exam. Yes, you take courses in most of the areas that the bar examines but most law schools focus more on critical thinking and recognizing legal issues within fact scenarios, etc., as opposed to pure black letter law. For that reason bar review courses such as BarBri and others are very popular and are taken by most 3rd years for whatever state they're trying to pass.
     
  24. MyHouse!

    MyHouse! Member

    Mar 12, 2000
    Tallahassee
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    co-sign

    Florida also has one of the tougher bar exams and I can attest to that. As Mad Hattah says they keep trying to raise the score.
    It's not about what you know or how smart you are. I know very smart people who did well in school that didn't pass their first or 2nd time or not at all and I've been out 5 years now. It's just all about learning to take the test.

    BarBri has excellent written materials (lectures are useless)for both State and Federal exams. It is NEVER too early to start studying for it.

    As for reciprocity DC is the only jurisdiction that I know of off the top of my head that does.
     
  25. Dammit!

    Dammit! Member

    Apr 14, 2004
    Mickey Mouse Land
    California BAR pass-rate was 48% for the last exam in July. Hardest in the country followed by NY.

    I read that Fl has about a 70% pass rate...and it's only two days which is nice. But still not easy.

    I'm studying for the Multistate and it's designed so that even law school professors could only get 90%, in the subjects they teach! There's always one answer you can tell is wrong, one that's probably wrong, and two that look correct. A very subtle test.

    (By the way) a friend of mine just made partner at my firm,,, a very exciting time for him.
     

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