So you want to do PI?

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:22 pm

koalacity wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
koalacity wrote:Any thoughts on how doing a summer (especially 1L summer) internship at an animal law organization would impact your chances of getting a postgrad job in a different PI field? Would doing a 2L summer position and clinics/externships in whatever other field be enough to show legitimate interest for a FTLT job, or would it be a bad idea to "waste" my 1L summer in a place where whatever connections I would make would be extremely unlikely to help in getting a job down the line?


It shouldn't be a problem. You would likely deal with other kinds of law in that position and you can spin it if you need to.

You can also gun for animal law from day one, and if you go to a school with a post grad fellowship, take that and go to the organization of your choice and then basically write yourself a grant to fund you to stay on.

Thank you!

Another question for you, worldtraveler-would you mind sharing a bit about how you decided to pick Berkeley over whatever other options you had, and what you did/did not like about B as a PI-focused student? How helpful was the career services office? Was the summer funding complicated (it seems like summer funding is more or less guaranteed, but they also seem to reference funding from "other sources" frequently-were there people who did PI summers and didn't manage to get funding)?


In terms of funding, it's possible this has changed, but this is how it was for me.

You are 100% guaranteed 4k for 1L summer and 2k for 2L summer. If you put in volunteer hours with this student group, you get an extra 1k 1st summer and 2k the next. There are also competitive fellowships through the law school and the human rights center. I managed to get enough funding for 3 summers. If I can do that, anyone else can get two unless you're just not paying attention.

I loved Berkeley and am really glad I chose it. I got in everywhere except HYS and Chicago/Columbia (didn't apply), and am very glad I picked it. I liked the grading system, really liked my classmates, and loved living in the bay. I liked a lot of my classes and never had a professor I hated, although some were better than others. Students at Boalt really are very friendly and most are very interesting people.


I have had very little interaction with the CDO, to the point where I think they were pretty annoyed with me because they never knew wtf I was doing. I found them fairly useless for human rights work and did all my career searching on my own. For people interested in more conventional PI I think they're better, although their best PI counselor did leave a couple years ago. Honestly though I think law students rely too much on the CDO. There is very little someone else can do to help you get a job. If you really want a PI job you should be hustling on your own and I'm not really sure what people expect the CDO to do for them.

Some downsides: a lot of PI stuff happens in NY or DC and you're a bit isolated from that, although the bay area has an excellent non-profit scene for certain areas. It also does not have set fellowships with the ICC, UN ,or HRW like some other top schools, which was something I really wish it did have once I started applying for jobs. The school also sucks at coordinating with the rest of the university, although that is 80% the fault of the rest of the school.
On a far less serious note, they spent millions of dollars redoing the building and yet still have freezing cold bathrooms that are always a mess, and don't have enough lockers for everyone. New classrooms are nice though.

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BlueLotus
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:35 pm

worldtraveler, which types of PI employers tend not to ask for transcripts (I'm taking about for FTLT jerbs, not internships)?

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:39 pm

BlueLotus wrote:worldtraveler, which types of PI employers tend not to ask for transcripts (I'm taking about for FTLT jerbs, not internships)?


I have only ever submitted a transcript to the DOJ. My impression is that most do not ask for one.

But I wouldn't be too worried about PI employers who ask for one. They're often just looking to see what classes you took, not that you got an A in contracts.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:45 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:worldtraveler, which types of PI employers tend not to ask for transcripts (I'm taking about for FTLT jerbs, not internships)?


I have only ever submitted a transcript to the DOJ. My impression is that most do not ask for one.

But I wouldn't be too worried about PI employers who ask for one. They're often just looking to see what classes you took, not that you got an A in contracts.


but, as someone in a hiring position who does ask for transcripts, wouldn't it be tough to "unsee" a bad grade and have that color your perception of the applicant, even though your purpose is simply to gauge the client's dedication to PI? i have one particularly ugly grade, but nothing else that would raise an eyebrow. :|

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:35 pm

BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:worldtraveler, which types of PI employers tend not to ask for transcripts (I'm taking about for FTLT jerbs, not internships)?


I have only ever submitted a transcript to the DOJ. My impression is that most do not ask for one.

But I wouldn't be too worried about PI employers who ask for one. They're often just looking to see what classes you took, not that you got an A in contracts.


but, as someone in a hiring position who does ask for transcripts, wouldn't it be tough to "unsee" a bad grade and have that color your perception of the applicant, even though your purpose is simply to gauge the client's dedication to PI? i have one particularly ugly grade, but nothing else that would raise an eyebrow. :|


If it's one bad grade, no.

Keep in mind that maybe unlike big firms, PI organizations don't really have the time or the drive to keep track of what a curve is at each school too. I have no idea if a B is average or terrible at each school.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby girlmonster » Tue Jan 21, 2014 12:19 am

BlueLotus wrote:
cron1834 wrote:
JCougar wrote:
girlmonster wrote:I have a less serious question to ask simply out of curiosity, because I think it would be interesting to see how it differs depending on the type of PI employer (e.g., gov't v. HRW v. legal aid clinic in Oakland, etc.) and the position:

How acceptable are visible tattoos and piercings?


I know a number of people with tattoos and piercings in plaintiff-side work (some at very prestigious firms) and legal aid. I don't really think it matters at all for these types of jobs. The attorneys in these fields are very liberal. Government might be a bit more conservative on this. It also depends on the state/office, too. If you want to do plaintiff-side work in California, you could probably do so with well-maintained dreadlocks and gauges in your ears, as long as you wear a nice suit to court/at meetings/in front of clients. In Nebraska, maybe not so much.

I once went to a worker-side law conference and there was an attorney from like Boca Raton there wearing a "Heat" tank-top jersey with no undershirt. I mean, that's a little bit extreme, and I wouldn't recommend that until you have your own established practice, but the whole personal appearance thing is fairly overblown...and relates primarily to Biglaw. I once interviewed for a plaintiff-side firm and the guy who interviewed me was wearing shorts and a golf shirt. He told me specifically not to wear a suit to the interview, so I wore a button-up collared shirt with dress pants and leather-soled shoes. I was embarrassed because I was way over-dressed. I've also seen plaintiff-side attorneys at ABA conferences with full back tattoos wearing open-backed dresses...with very successful careers.

It's not the norm, but it doesn't seem to be an impediment to success, either. I would still try and look as professional as possible when looking for a job, but piercings/tattoos by themselves aren't going to stop you from getting anything in legal aid/PI/plaintiff-type work. I'd try and cover them up for government jobs though. Just for the interview, at least. Once you're in the system, no one is really going to care. There's oddballs all throughout the legal profession.

And people are especially not going to care if you are doing good work.


Awesome.


Keep in mind, though, that if you're working with foreign-born clients, it may be best to err on the conservative/formal side, keeping in mind expectations from their home-countries. I've worked in immigration, and I'm not so sure that my clients would have taken me seriously in a Heat tank top jersey. :lol:


It's good to hear the different perspectives! This is why I asked. I'm definitely not going to get my knuckles tatted or my cheeks pierced anytime soon... but even if I did, the Heat tank top dude couldn't be outdone.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby JCougar » Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:32 am

BlueLotus wrote:Keep in mind, though, that if you're working with foreign-born clients, it may be best to err on the conservative/formal side, keeping in mind expectations from their home-countries. I've worked in immigration, and I'm not so sure that my clients would have taken me seriously in a Heat tank top jersey. :lol:


I dunno...if you still have the right swagger, you could maybe pull off the "I'm so good at winning lawsuits that I don't even need to wear a suit..."

Probably not, actually.

But this guy was just at a conference, not in front of clients. He was probably somewhere in his 40s and had been practicing for a while, and was either a solo or had a few other attorneys working with him. I mean, if you're a solo, you can wear whatever you want to the office.

One of my summers, I worked for a small two-lawyer firm, and one of the guys had a kid in cub scouts and he was like the den leader. He would change in the bathroom of the law firm and then go walk out at like 3pm in khaki eagle scout shorts and the shirt. Small firm/plaintiff-side work has a world of benefits...if you can afford to take it, and if you don't overload yourself with debt.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:23 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
BlueLotus wrote:worldtraveler, which types of PI employers tend not to ask for transcripts (I'm taking about for FTLT jerbs, not internships)?


I have only ever submitted a transcript to the DOJ. My impression is that most do not ask for one.

But I wouldn't be too worried about PI employers who ask for one. They're often just looking to see what classes you took, not that you got an A in contracts.


but, as someone in a hiring position who does ask for transcripts, wouldn't it be tough to "unsee" a bad grade and have that color your perception of the applicant, even though your purpose is simply to gauge the client's dedication to PI? i have one particularly ugly grade, but nothing else that would raise an eyebrow. :|


If it's one bad grade, no.

Keep in mind that maybe unlike big firms, PI organizations don't really have the time or the drive to keep track of what a curve is at each school too. I have no idea if a B is average or terrible at each school.


thanks. i hope any future PI employers of mine who do ask for transcripts are as forgiving and reasonable as you are!

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby koalacity » Wed Jan 22, 2014 12:58 am

worldtraveler wrote:
koalacity wrote:Another question for you, worldtraveler-would you mind sharing a bit about how you decided to pick Berkeley over whatever other options you had, and what you did/did not like about B as a PI-focused student? How helpful was the career services office? Was the summer funding complicated (it seems like summer funding is more or less guaranteed, but they also seem to reference funding from "other sources" frequently-were there people who did PI summers and didn't manage to get funding)?


In terms of funding, it's possible this has changed, but this is how it was for me.

You are 100% guaranteed 4k for 1L summer and 2k for 2L summer. If you put in volunteer hours with this student group, you get an extra 1k 1st summer and 2k the next. There are also competitive fellowships through the law school and the human rights center. I managed to get enough funding for 3 summers. If I can do that, anyone else can get two unless you're just not paying attention.

I loved Berkeley and am really glad I chose it. I got in everywhere except HYS and Chicago/Columbia (didn't apply), and am very glad I picked it. I liked the grading system, really liked my classmates, and loved living in the bay. I liked a lot of my classes and never had a professor I hated, although some were better than others. Students at Boalt really are very friendly and most are very interesting people.


I have had very little interaction with the CDO, to the point where I think they were pretty annoyed with me because they never knew wtf I was doing. I found them fairly useless for human rights work and did all my career searching on my own. For people interested in more conventional PI I think they're better, although their best PI counselor did leave a couple years ago. Honestly though I think law students rely too much on the CDO. There is very little someone else can do to help you get a job. If you really want a PI job you should be hustling on your own and I'm not really sure what people expect the CDO to do for them.

Some downsides: a lot of PI stuff happens in NY or DC and you're a bit isolated from that, although the bay area has an excellent non-profit scene for certain areas. It also does not have set fellowships with the ICC, UN ,or HRW like some other top schools, which was something I really wish it did have once I started applying for jobs. The school also sucks at coordinating with the rest of the university, although that is 80% the fault of the rest of the school.
On a far less serious note, they spent millions of dollars redoing the building and yet still have freezing cold bathrooms that are always a mess, and don't have enough lockers for everyone. New classrooms are nice though.

Thank you (again)! Berkeley is definitely one of my top choices (though I'm worried about their reported stinginess with money, but that's not really relevant to this thread).

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:19 pm

koalacity wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
koalacity wrote:Another question for you, worldtraveler-would you mind sharing a bit about how you decided to pick Berkeley over whatever other options you had, and what you did/did not like about B as a PI-focused student? How helpful was the career services office? Was the summer funding complicated (it seems like summer funding is more or less guaranteed, but they also seem to reference funding from "other sources" frequently-were there people who did PI summers and didn't manage to get funding)?


In terms of funding, it's possible this has changed, but this is how it was for me.

You are 100% guaranteed 4k for 1L summer and 2k for 2L summer. If you put in volunteer hours with this student group, you get an extra 1k 1st summer and 2k the next. There are also competitive fellowships through the law school and the human rights center. I managed to get enough funding for 3 summers. If I can do that, anyone else can get two unless you're just not paying attention.

I loved Berkeley and am really glad I chose it. I got in everywhere except HYS and Chicago/Columbia (didn't apply), and am very glad I picked it. I liked the grading system, really liked my classmates, and loved living in the bay. I liked a lot of my classes and never had a professor I hated, although some were better than others. Students at Boalt really are very friendly and most are very interesting people.


I have had very little interaction with the CDO, to the point where I think they were pretty annoyed with me because they never knew wtf I was doing. I found them fairly useless for human rights work and did all my career searching on my own. For people interested in more conventional PI I think they're better, although their best PI counselor did leave a couple years ago. Honestly though I think law students rely too much on the CDO. There is very little someone else can do to help you get a job. If you really want a PI job you should be hustling on your own and I'm not really sure what people expect the CDO to do for them.

Some downsides: a lot of PI stuff happens in NY or DC and you're a bit isolated from that, although the bay area has an excellent non-profit scene for certain areas. It also does not have set fellowships with the ICC, UN ,or HRW like some other top schools, which was something I really wish it did have once I started applying for jobs. The school also sucks at coordinating with the rest of the university, although that is 80% the fault of the rest of the school.
On a far less serious note, they spent millions of dollars redoing the building and yet still have freezing cold bathrooms that are always a mess, and don't have enough lockers for everyone. New classrooms are nice though.

Thank you (again)! Berkeley is definitely one of my top choices (though I'm worried about their reported stinginess with money, but that's not really relevant to this thread).


GL, koalacity! A a reverse-splitter I realllllly regret not applying there. Postgrad fellowships are the way to get your foot in the door when you want to work in Legal Aid/NGOs, and it's much less competitive when they're school-sponsored.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby dresden doll » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:24 pm

worldtraveler wrote:They may like to throw money at things to change the world according to their personal world view, but they're still a bit stodgy when it comes to personal experience.


This is true in my experience as well, although my nonprofit isn't focused on international HR (we get into it every so often, but nothing on the grand scale). It was actually a little saddening for me to realize that non-profits' boards of directors are typically staffed with people way more conservative than I'd like.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:40 pm

dresden doll wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:They may like to throw money at things to change the world according to their personal world view, but they're still a bit stodgy when it comes to personal experience.


This is true in my experience as well, although my nonprofit isn't focused on international HR (we get into it every so often, but nothing on the grand scale). It was actually a little saddening for me to realize that non-profits' boards of directors are typically staffed with people way more conservative than I'd like.


Reminds me of how the Skadden Foundation board doesn't allow fellows to do immigration work.

worldtraveler made a comment in another thread that the Skadden fellowships seem anti-PI in terms of what they prioritize, and I wholeheartedly agree. Why chose such an HYS-heavy class of fellows when those schools are privileged enough to offer their own fellowships? /rant

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Jan 23, 2014 12:29 am

dresden doll wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:They may like to throw money at things to change the world according to their personal world view, but they're still a bit stodgy when it comes to personal experience.


This is true in my experience as well, although my nonprofit isn't focused on international HR (we get into it every so often, but nothing on the grand scale). It was actually a little saddening for me to realize that non-profits' boards of directors are typically staffed with people way more conservative than I'd like.


My main gripe with NGO work is how much it is associated with following the money. I get that it has to be that way because we can't work for free, but I am working on a really awesome, effective project in an obscure country and NO ONE will fund it because they want something more likely to get them in the news. I'm also working on a really prominent project that is going terribly, and I'm pretty sure I'm actually making the situation worse (we already had two people in the country get murdered; this is seriously pretty bad), but donors are throwing money at it like crazy because it's in the news and it's a "sexy" topic in human rights right now.

I'm very excited to move into a job with a university human rights center just because we will have way more control over what we work on due to the funding situation. I have a lot of ethical problems with the way IHR lawyers operate and its proven more difficult than I thought to not be a part of that.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby dresden doll » Thu Jan 23, 2014 1:58 pm

worldtraveler wrote:
My main gripe with NGO work is how much it is associated with following the money. I get that it has to be that way because we can't work for free, but I am working on a really awesome, effective project in an obscure country and NO ONE will fund it because they want something more likely to get them in the news.


What drives me even more crazy in re: following the money - although I too realize it's inevitable - is the fact that the pursuit of money frequently discourages nonprofits from collaborating together on certain issues. Yes, every so often we'll join together for the common good, but far too often it's all about making sure you're taking the credit for everything under the sun, preempting the field so that no one will barge in on your "niche", and generally playing politics in ways that I find incredibly off-putting.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:51 pm

dresden doll wrote:
worldtraveler wrote:
My main gripe with NGO work is how much it is associated with following the money. I get that it has to be that way because we can't work for free, but I am working on a really awesome, effective project in an obscure country and NO ONE will fund it because they want something more likely to get them in the news.


What drives me even more crazy in re: following the money - although I too realize it's inevitable - is the fact that the pursuit of money frequently discourages nonprofits from collaborating together on certain issues. Yes, every so often we'll join together for the common good, but far too often it's all about making sure you're taking the credit for everything under the sun, preempting the field so that no one will barge in on your "niche", and generally playing politics in ways that I find incredibly off-putting.


Seconded.

A lot of times I hear about amazing work some group is doing and then when you look closer they did very little of it but are just great at publicizing it.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby dresden doll » Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:55 pm

worldtraveler wrote:A lot of times I hear about amazing work some group is doing and then when you look closer they did very little of it but are just great at publicizing it.


And then your boss goes: "look how great they are at bullshitting. We need to learn to do it too."

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:15 pm

worldtraveler (and other grads on here), what is the best writing sample--a paper for a seminar class/Note for those on LR, Advanced Legal Writing motion/memo, Externship motion/memo, or something for a school-based clinic?

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:25 pm

BlueLotus wrote:worldtraveler (and other grads on here), what is the best writing sample--a paper for a seminar class/Note for those on LR, Advanced Legal Writing motion/memo, Externship motion/memo, or something for a school-based clinic?


Whatever is really your best work. If you have multiple bests, then whatever would be closest to a topic the employer focuses on or the kind of writing you would do in the position. I would say not a motion since those tend to be rather formulaic.

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worldtraveler
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Jan 28, 2014 10:36 am

Bluelotus: someone made a fellowship just for you.

--LinkRemoved--

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby dresden doll » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:13 am

BlueLotus wrote:worldtraveler (and other grads on here), what is the best writing sample--a paper for a seminar class/Note for those on LR, Advanced Legal Writing motion/memo, Externship motion/memo, or something for a school-based clinic?


Assuming you have multiple equally good samples to choose from, I would go for a writing sample that required persuasive writing as opposed to an expository and/or writing that required you to objectively evaluate an issue.

Note: speaking solely from my own experience. Not at all implying this is a hard and fast rule of any kind.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby jaydizzle » Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:47 pm

Any of you PMF semi-finalists or have gone through the process? I'm curious to see how many finalists there will be this year.

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:32 pm

worldtraveler wrote:Bluelotus: someone made a fellowship just for you.

--LinkRemoved--


thank you, worldtraveler! i look forward to applying. and the app is surprisingly short and painless (unlike another fellowship that will remain unnamed :P )

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Tue Jan 28, 2014 11:06 pm

Oh shiz, that fellowship asks for transcripts. :| I reallllly hope that one particularly ugly grade from 1L doesn't come back to haunt me!

txpasley
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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby txpasley » Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:49 am

Is there anyone on here who does civil liberties work? Obviously, anyone who knows about the ACLU would be helpful, but I'm also curious about less high-profile organizations who do similar things.

Also, this has been a very helpful, and encouraging, thread for me as a current applicant. What would be the chances of turning some of the info in this thread into a TLS main page article? Unless I'm missing something, there's not really anything in the way of an "aspiring PI lawyers guide to law school."

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Re: So you want to do PI?

Postby BlueLotus » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:29 am

txpasley wrote:Is there anyone on here who does civil liberties work? Obviously, anyone who knows about the ACLU would be helpful, but I'm also curious about less high-profile organizations who do similar things.

Also, this has been a very helpful, and encouraging, thread for me as a current applicant. What would be the chances of turning some of the info in this thread into a TLS main page article? Unless I'm missing something, there's not really anything in the way of an "aspiring PI lawyers guide to law school."


+1 on adapting this thread into a main page article. it's a lovely oasis from the biglawl and PREFTIGE-obsessed world that characterizes the rest of TLS!




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