The Reality of Law School

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awesomepossum
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby awesomepossum » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:58 am

Snuffie wrote:In my program, I'm known for being an intimidatingly smart guy


... but being the overbearing intellectual will be my undoing.




:lol:

zanyventer
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby zanyventer » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:04 pm

Kiersten1985 wrote:
WonderCat wrote:
los blancos wrote:
WonderCat wrote: Exams grade a student's ability to think and write quickly. Those aren't skills you really need in the real practice of law.


ok i'm a dumbass 0L but


Yes... really. Most attorneys I work with have a huge work load, but that doesn't mean their work is rushed. It's all very deliberate, thought-out, analyzed, re-analyzed, and thought out some more. As a litigator, 98% of your time will be thinking, researching, writing and interviewing. You will spend little time in court - and when you're there, you'll be prepared. It's rehearsed and usually goes to plan. There aren't tons of surprises that require mad quick-thinking skills.

Quick-thinking and quick-writing abilities are skills most people relate to intelligence, and they're probably right, but it's a fallacy to believe that these skills are required to be an intelligent lawyer. They aren't. The best lawyers say the same thing day in and day out: "let me think about that."


Most attorneys I work with have insane deadlines but the work product still has to be done deliberately and thought-through. That's why they're at work until 2am every night. If you don't consider that "rushed" then I guess it's not...

And when's the last time you've been to trial? Everything going according to plan and no quick-thinking skills? Are you kidding me? (And yes, I have been there.)

I don't know...this whole post just reeks of someone who didn't think enough about LS/being a lawyer and now is just bitter that he chose a path that's ultimately not for him.

And who feels they need to lie about their LSAT score on here? Honestly.


why do i get the feeling that kiersten is unpleasant + gunner?

SuperCool23
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby SuperCool23 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:16 pm

Is 1L the hardest part in law school, and was it hard to maintain a good relationship with your wife while in law school?

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Fancy Pants
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby Fancy Pants » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:17 pm

SuperCool23 wrote:Is 1L the hardest part in law school, and was it hard to maintain relations with your wife while in law school?


FTFY

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Kiersten1985
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby Kiersten1985 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:26 pm

zanyventer wrote:why do i get the feeling that kiersten is unpleasant + gunner?


lol touche salesman

I'm off to get coffee now. I guess working til midnight and straight through the weekend will do some horrible things to one's disposition. I'm really nice, I swear.

Also, I want to make lots of cash in the future. :D

nycparalegal
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby nycparalegal » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:29 pm

Here's a question that I have, and maybe you can answer it: Can doing trial advocacy or clinics and externships, provide a law student the practical experience in law to practice as an attorney?

Or are the clinics and trial advocacy classes really just teaching you the broad basics?

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shanoodle
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby shanoodle » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:51 pm

Thank you for the insight. Very helpful.

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adameus
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby adameus » Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:59 pm

wow, nice post!

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Knock
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby Knock » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:39 pm

Thanks for the honest post, we need some more of that over here.

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KimmyGibbler
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby KimmyGibbler » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:55 pm

Kiersten1985 wrote:
zanyventer wrote:why do i get the feeling that kiersten is unpleasant + gunner?


lol touche salesman

I'm off to get coffee now. I guess working til midnight and straight through the weekend will do some horrible things to one's disposition. I'm really nice, I swear.

Also, I want to make lots of cash in the future. :D


You still sound like an unpleasant gunner

WonderCat
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby WonderCat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:56 pm

j.wellington wrote:This was honestly very helpful. I always wondered/suspected there was a disconnect between what it takes to succeed in law school and what it takes to be a good lawyer. Have you had the opportunity to participate in a clinic at your school and can you speak to their usefulness?


I have not participated in a clinical - but I've heard only good things. For most people, the biggest drawback is the time commitment they require during the semester. The pay also usually sucks - but you get school credit for free - and lots of it. People who participated in a clinic are certainly more confident in the technical and practical aspects of being a lawyer than I am.

WonderCat
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby WonderCat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:00 pm

christopher1108 wrote:Thanks for the great post. I like to know their are others who are realist. What do you consider an adequate amount of time spent studying (on average...not finals) during 1L? Also, what do you advise for summer before 1L? Thanks in advance


Honestly, I was at the school from 8:00am to Midnight 6 days a week during my 1L year. This semester I study 6-7 hours a week because that's all my schedule requires (I'm in lots of practical skills classes with little reading). Prior to starting law school, pick up E&E's of the core classes: torts, civil procedure and contracts. Try to quickly read through them in your spare time. It may not get you better grades, but you'll feel a lot more comfortable in your first semester.

WonderCat
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby WonderCat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:02 pm

AsylumPB wrote:nice post! what type of affect did law school have on your marriage?


It was rough the first year, but I prepared her for it. She also hung out with me in the library once in a while and helped me prep during exam time. Since we're young, we were use to crazy schedules. Older couples, with more responsibility, might have more difficulty with it. Things are much better this year, however.

Kobe_Teeth
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby Kobe_Teeth » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:08 pm

I wish more people posted like this on TLS.

WonderCat
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby WonderCat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:14 pm

Kiersten1985 wrote:
WonderCat wrote:
los blancos wrote:
WonderCat wrote: Exams grade a student's ability to think and write quickly. Those aren't skills you really need in the real practice of law.


ok i'm a dumbass 0L but


Yes... really. Most attorneys I work with have a huge work load, but that doesn't mean their work is rushed. It's all very deliberate, thought-out, analyzed, re-analyzed, and thought out some more. As a litigator, 98% of your time will be thinking, researching, writing and interviewing. You will spend little time in court - and when you're there, you'll be prepared. It's rehearsed and usually goes to plan. There aren't tons of surprises that require mad quick-thinking skills.

Quick-thinking and quick-writing abilities are skills most people relate to intelligence, and they're probably right, but it's a fallacy to believe that these skills are required to be an intelligent lawyer. They aren't. The best lawyers say the same thing day in and day out: "let me think about that."


Most attorneys I work with have insane deadlines but the work product still has to be done deliberately and thought-through. That's why they're at work until 2am every night. If you don't consider that "rushed" then I guess it's not...

And when's the last time you've been to trial? Everything going according to plan and no quick-thinking skills? Are you kidding me? (And yes, I have been there.)

I don't know...this whole post just reeks of someone who didn't think enough about LS/being a lawyer and now is just bitter that he chose a path that's ultimately not for him.

And who feels they need to lie about their LSAT score on here? Honestly.


Perhaps I chose my words poorly, but I stand by my remark. "Quick-thinking" in the court room is necessary only in a superficial sense. Yes, you'll be put on the spot and have to react. However, you'll be "quickly thinking" about an issue or motion that you've spent hours on. When you know the law you can "quickly" argue your point when called on to, but that relates more to quickly accessing data in your memory, not approaching issues in a novel, unbelievably intelligent way. You don't need quick "thinking outside the box" skills in the courtroom. You "think outside the box" in your hours of preparation. In the courtroom, you simply need to be prepared and react accordingly. Additionally, things DO generally go according to plan in the court room. That doesn't mean you always win - but that the procedure is standard and the judge usually doesn't shock the world with his questions. They don't care enough and they're too busy to make court interesting.

Lastly, I'm not upset with my decision to attend law school. I'm in a fairly good position to make six figures 2-3 years out. I just feel that I'm very lucky - I see many people who regret their decision every day.

WonderCat
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby WonderCat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:17 pm

SuperCool23 wrote:Is 1L the hardest part in law school, and was it hard to maintain a good relationship with your wife while in law school?


1L is the hardest so far. 2L has been the busiest - while I'm not struggling intellectually like I did my first year (along with everyone else), I do have much more to do: briefs, motions, work, etc...

I'll admit that it was hard to find time to spend with my wife. She'd tell you that she wasn't always happy about my long hours. However, I think I prepared her as best I could. She didn't think I'd be gone 9-5 - lower her expectations early.

WonderCat
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby WonderCat » Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:33 pm

nycparalegal wrote:Here's a question that I have, and maybe you can answer it: Can doing trial advocacy or clinics and externships, provide a law student the practical experience in law to practice as an attorney?

Or are the clinics and trial advocacy classes really just teaching you the broad basics?


It depends on the clinic. If you work in an unemployment denial clinic, you probably won't gain much useful substantive knowledge, but you'll get to interact with clients - a valuable skill. If you intern for a judge, you get extensive writing and research experience at the appellate level and gain more practical procedural knowledge at the trial court level (but almost no writing). Many schools, like mine, offer very practical courses: advocacy, negotiation, oral communication, appellate brief writing, etc... Those are very useful and I strongly recommend stacking up on them. You can learn the substantive law in a specific area after you graduate, but having real world, transferable skills will be much more beneficial to your career - even if you end up in a larger law firm where you'll be desk-ridden for a few years.

J-tow10
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby J-tow10 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:03 pm

slider wrote:I liked the post. I felt it was honest. Thanks for sharing.


+1

Insightful and not far from what I've heard from other people already in the legal world.

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quetzalcoatl
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby quetzalcoatl » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:29 pm

In-class writting is probably the thing im the most worried about. I can write (very well by most standards), but I fucking hate pencil and paper. I can type extremely fast but my hand will start to cramp after 30 minutes of fast pencil/pen writting. I think its just the way I hold my pencil or something (probably a bad habit I learned as a kid). Im really worried that I will end up running out of time simply because my hand (not my brain) cant keep up.

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los blancos
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby los blancos » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:30 pm

quetzalcoatl wrote:In-class writting is probably the thing im the most worried about. I can write (very well by most standards), but I fucking hate pencil and paper. I can type extremely fast but my hand will start to cramp after 30 minutes of fast pencil/pen writting. I think its just the way I hold my pencil or something (probably a bad habit I learned as a kid). Im really worried that I will end up running out of time simply because my hand (not my brain) cant keep up.


I'm the same way and my impression was that you don't have to do this often, if ever. But I'm probably wrong.

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quetzalcoatl
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby quetzalcoatl » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:35 pm

los blancos wrote:
quetzalcoatl wrote:In-class writting is probably the thing im the most worried about. I can write (very well by most standards), but I fucking hate pencil and paper. I can type extremely fast but my hand will start to cramp after 30 minutes of fast pencil/pen writting. I think its just the way I hold my pencil or something (probably a bad habit I learned as a kid). Im really worried that I will end up running out of time simply because my hand (not my brain) cant keep up.


I'm the same way and my impression was that you don't have to do this often, if ever. But I'm probably wrong.


Maybe I can start a 'Green Initiative' as a 1L to ban the use of paper to cut down on waste :)

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Borhas
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby Borhas » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:41 pm

thank you OP

the first to admit that I was intimidated by the level of talent and knowledge on TLS


lol wut? What talent? What knowledge?

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beef wellington
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby beef wellington » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:43 pm

WonderCat wrote:A 164, I believe. Like many of you, I lied to others on here about my LSAT score, embarrassed that I didn't hit 170.

Anybody else stop reading right here?

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Unitas
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby Unitas » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:48 pm

WonderCat wrote:(4) Study groups are pointless for exam preparation, but they may help you meet friends. Speaking of friends, I tend to be the guy that's happy with 2-3 good friends and lots of acquaintances. The risk in that approach is that finding even 1 good friend can be difficult for some people. I managed to find my clique and am quite happy with it, however I know others that struggle. Most people agree (at my school) that the Student Bar Association is obnoxious. They're the preppy popular kids from high school - they all fuck each other and cheat together (law review and moot court competitions, legal writing assignments, etc...). If that's your thing, go for it I guess. The biggest thing you can do to help your reputation is be that guy or gal who everybody likes - say nice things to everyone (go out of your way to do it) and never trash talk. Genuinely nice people are a rarity in law school - most students are aggressive and needlessly argumentative. Just be happy. The easiest way to make people (and professors) hate you is to constantly offer your opinion in class. No one cares how smart you are - they just want to make it through to the next day. Just be cool and relaxed. Participate, but not every day.


How do I get on this Student Bar Association? It has win written all over it.... :wink:

Just so everyone knows I am joking.

bignoseknowsnoes
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Re: The Reality of Law School

Postby bignoseknowsnoes » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:51 pm

WonderCat wrote:Once, long long ago, I was like many of you - obsessively obsessed with the law school admissions process. Since TLS got me through that miserable 8 months, I figured I'd do a little bit to give back to the community. Here's my take on law school and lawyering in general. It's not a bitter rant, but it's not rosy rave either. I'll gladly take questions on here or via PM.

About me: I'm a 2L at a school ranked between 25 and 50. I scored at or above the 75th percentile at my school (I can't remember), but wasn't offered a scholarship. A 164, I believe. Like many of you, I lied to others on here about my LSAT score, embarrassed that I didn't hit 170. I actually met the one person I outed my real self to on TLS - she coincidentally went to the same school as me. She still thinks I got a 170. Ha! I got a full scholarship at a couple T2 schools that I turned down. I'm approximately $85,000 in debt ($25,000 from undergrad). It could be worse. I wish I would have gone to a lower ranked school and taken the money, however. Right now I'm ranked above the 50th percentile in my class, but just barely. I'm simply a B+ student (OK, slightly less than a B+ student) and I don't think that will change. It's a little depressing, but that's life. I have a brief due for a class tomorrow, so I'm pulling an all-nighter. This is my break.

(1) Dont worry about people here. Seriously. This site is an amazing source of information, but no one really knows anything about law school unless they've been there. I'll be the first to admit that I was intimidated by the level of talent and knowledge on TLS. However, making it through law school and learning "the law" are talents that, believe it or not, don't require a ton of intelligence. In any event, don't be intimidated. Here or in law school.

(2) You aren't prepared for law school. If you worked as a paralegal, you might be prepared for being a lawyer - but not law school. No one is. That's not to say it's unmanageable. In fact, many people develop an excellent system to balance work and school. My first year I stayed at school until midnight most nights. It was ridiculous, especially for my wife and I didn't gain much from it. In fact, I realized that by the end of the semester I had forgotten 90% of what I had read. I wish I would have spent my study time preparing for exams, not "doing the reading." Law school will be tough - there will be really bad days. However, the greatest thing about law school is that it ends: on spring break, summer break, winter break, etc. As bad as you feel, every bit of stress will disappear on the last day of finals. That doesn't happen after you begin to practice. As far as preparing for law school - I say go for it. I read a bunch of bullshit online about enjoying my last remaining summer, not studying, blah, blah, blah. One hour of reading a day would have given me an excellent foundation in the core classes. Don't obsess over what study guides to buy - they're all pretty good - just pick up some used E&E's. You seriously don't need the latest editions. Really. Truly.

(3) Exams suck. No, I'm not top 10% and no I don't have a terrific reason why. Exams grade a student's ability to think and write quickly. Those aren't skills you really need in the real practice of law. They also accurately show which students can issue-spot the best - another skill not really needed. I'm honestly not bitter, I've just never heard an attorney talk about how he "missed" an issue or argument. The issues are usually clear in real-world practice if the substantive background to spot them. Nonetheless, exams are a reality. The people who I've talked to at the top of the class have one common piece of advice: write concisely. Don't write everything you know. Write what's important.

(4) Study groups are pointless for exam preparation, but they may help you meet friends. Speaking of friends, I tend to be the guy that's happy with 2-3 good friends and lots of acquaintances. The risk in that approach is that finding even 1 good friend can be difficult for some people. I managed to find my clique and am quite happy with it, however I know others that struggle. Most people agree (at my school) that the Student Bar Association is obnoxious. They're the preppy popular kids from high school - they all fuck each other and cheat together (law review and moot court competitions, legal writing assignments, etc...). If that's your thing, go for it I guess. The biggest thing you can do to help your reputation is be that guy or gal who everybody likes - say nice things to everyone (go out of your way to do it) and never trash talk. Genuinely nice people are a rarity in law school - most students are aggressive and needlessly argumentative. Just be happy. The easiest way to make people (and professors) hate you is to constantly offer your opinion in class. No one cares how smart you are - they just want to make it through to the next day. Just be cool and relaxed. Participate, but not every day.

(5) There aren't many jobs out there and it's getting worse. I was INCREDIBLY lucky and landed a gig at a large local firm my 1L year. I got the job through a diversity program that accepted "economically diverse" students and placed them in firms around the state (I'm white). I nailed my interviews and got lucky. Most people I know did "something" their first summer, but very few were paid - and certainly not like I was. I applied to every firm that came to our school for OCI (70 or so) and got maybe 7 interviews. My grades aren't bad - they're just not great. It sucks, but the same 20 people get all the interview spots at schools that run their OCI like ours does. I didn't get a single call back. Many of my friends were in the same boat. I got lucky and was hired back at the place I worked last year. There are plenty of people ranked much higher than me who have absolutely nothing. It's VERY depressing. The recession only matters when YOU'RE the guy without the job. If I didn't get the offer I did, I'd be miserably depressed. Again, I was lucky. Many aren't. 60% of my class has lower grades than me. 90% aren't in the top 10%. Don't forget that.

(6) Take advantage of everyone opportunity you get. Become friends with professors and local attorneys. Ask them for advice or help - it's an easy "in" and it makes them feel good. I took the (very) few opportunities I got and tried to make the most of them. The firm I work at loves me even though the quality of my work is average (just being honest here). Another summer clerk, much smarter than I am, got no-offered because he didn't have the right personality. Make people feel guilty for not hiring you (because they like you so much). And do good work too - always go above and beyond and bill fewer hours than what the attorney told you to spend on the project. This means secretly working at home for free to impress them with your efficiency. I also did an internship with a federal judge and developed a great friendship with him - he's having my wife and I over to dinner on Wednesday. I don't think he's ever read anything I did for him (it all went to his clerk), but the connection is worth a fortune. Being a successful lawyer is about personality, connections and a base level of knowledge. The most successful lawyers aren't always the smartest.

Well I gotta go - time to finish up this brief. Let me know if you have any questions. It's not an exhaustive guide - just a reflection of what the last year or so has been like.


Let's do this... Leeeeeeeeeeroy Jeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnkins.




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