Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

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Dr. Dre
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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby Dr. Dre » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:13 am

Don't mean to hi-jack but aren't they making the California bar even more difficult?

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VegasLaw702
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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby VegasLaw702 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:22 am

I believe so. There is also something called the "baby bar" out there in California for schools that are a notch right under OP's school. It is called the FYLSE (First Year Law Students Examination) and is a requirement of students attending completely unaccredited law schools. They have to take this baby-bar after their first year to be able to continue studying.

Scary to think that there are actually 2 levels below the ABA out there: CBE Accredited and Unaccredited. Concord Law online students must take the FYLSE if I'm not mistaken, but I think it would be wise to make ALL CBE schools take the FYLSE. This would probably help boost the overall bar passage by weeding out those that would probably not be able to pass the bar anyways, because if they don't pass the baby bar exam, they cannot continue studying. And, they are only allowed a certain number of attempts at the baby bar. After they hit their max, they are SOL.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby TripTrip » Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:12 am

RELIC wrote:
TripTrip wrote:That part makes some sense, but why are there so few graduates taking the bar? I know the class size is small, but were there really only 17 graduates in 2012? If there were more, I think we can safely assume they aren't working a legal job.


That is a good question. I think he already sort of answered it here:

MCL Law Dean wrote:Average salary is tough to measure since a number of our graduates remain employed in their previous profession (realtors, financial planners, non-profit professionals). However the starting salary for young lawyers in our area is about $50-$60K. Of course this salary range wouldn't work if a graduate was trying to service $150K+ in student loan debt.


Also, the school is pretty small with most people taking more than 3 years to graduate I would be surprised if the graduating class was any bigger than 50 most years. Combine that with the above and I think this mystery is semi-solved.

I guess that sort of answers it. Unfortunately that also sounds exactly the same as "a number of our graduates go back to their previous profession because they weren't going to pass the bar and find a legal job" and that's ultimately what we're concerned about here. :?

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby Danteshek » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:05 am

If I were a realtor in that area, I would definitely see some value in a legal education at that cost, even if I never planned to practice law. It's hard for us to put ourselves in that mindset.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby TripTrip » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:11 am

In a perfect world we would ask incoming 1Ls if they ever plan to take the bar. Then we would report employment for both groups as well as the percentage who ended up taking it after saying they weren't planning on it, so schools don't try to have everyone write "no."

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Dr. Dre
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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby Dr. Dre » Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:23 pm

Dean, do the unaccredited-ABA law schools in California have their own rankings? (e.g., X school of law is "better" than Y school of law).

*and when I say "better," I mean better academically (LSAT/GPA), larger endowment, higher job placement, higher bar passage rates, etc.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby 20141023 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:13 am

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Last edited by 20141023 on Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jetsfan1
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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby jetsfan1 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:21 am

As a 0L I may be missing something, but why would someone go to law school only to return to their old job? Is there any advantage in this? Or is it just that they couldn't find anything better?

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby toothbrush » Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:25 am

jetsfan1 wrote:As a 0L I may be missing something, but why would someone go to law school only to return to their old job? Is there any advantage in this? Or is it just that they couldn't find anything better?

There's a few reasons that you could probably figure out. One, the job may dabble into legal work that they had to send out for specialty. With a legal degree you can keep that business. Another reason is that having a legal education could help to expand business by branching out. A third reason, if working for a corp or company, you may be paid more for having that credential.

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MCL Law Dean
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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:17 am

TripTrip wrote:
kappycaft1 wrote:
TripTrip wrote:Wait... how many graduates are there if only 17 took the state bar for the first time in 2012?


I don't know... and this is why I am confused right now. :lol:

Dean Winick will deliver. He's been a cool OP so far.


Whoa . . . I thought this thread had run its course and I wandered off to another Board to chat. But delighted to jump back in. Couple of quick answers. Stats are indeed confusing, particularly when you are dealing with the State Bar of CA. The cumulative pass rate statistics are . . . "all graduates who took the bar exam at least once during the five year period, divided by those who passed." The most recent graduates will have only taken it once and the last measured group will have had up to 10 times, although state-wide, very few take/pass the exam after the first three times.

Yes, we are SMALL. That is the point of a school scaled to a specific region. In fact, I really like the term "micro-school" that someone coined earlier. It sounds better than "boutique". Our entering classes average about 35 1Ls, of whom, on average, 25 graduate. We have about 120 students at any given time. We have remained consistently this size for the past 20 years.

[Warning: Trying to reconcile the State Bar first-time and repeater statistics with our graduation numbers will make your head explode.] Trust me, it does it to me. The reason is that about 1/3 of our class graduates in December and take the February bar exam, 1/3 wait until the July exam (regardless of whether they graduate in December or May), and 1/3 wait until the following February (or in some cases July) so that they have time to adequately prepare (without giving up their day job). So, unlike the traditional law school where virtually everyone graduates and takes the first available exam, ours commonly spread out over a three exam spread, making some first-time groups really small. Don't get me started on the "repeater" statistic, which has no consumer use that I can tell, since it doesn't tell you whether these takers are on their 2nd or 20th time . . . and whether they graduated this year or 10 years ago.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby jetsfan1 » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:27 am

There's a few reasons that you could probably figure out. One, the job may dabble into legal work that they had to send out for specialty. With a legal degree you can keep that business. Another reason is that having a legal education could help to expand business by branching out. A third reason, if working for a corp or company, you may be paid more for having that credential.


Yeah I get that, but it seems like these gains are incredibly marginal and not worth the 60k IMO.

On a side note, I don't see schools like this as the problem. I don't think (or at least I hope) that people aren't going with huge grandiose notions of becoming rich off a law degree. It's understood to be a niche school, and doesn't try to be something else. Again, just a 1L, and some of the numbers given here have been a bit misleading, but still not as bad as Thomas jeffereson

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MCL Law Dean
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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:03 pm

Dr. Dre wrote:Dean, do the unaccredited-ABA law schools in California have their own rankings? (e.g., X school of law is "better" than Y school of law).

*and when I say "better," I mean better academically (LSAT/GPA), larger endowment, higher job placement, higher bar passage rates, etc.


No. Although the question comes up periodically . . . it seems to me that the ranking process has spawned much more disservice, than service to the profession (and potential law students). I think the changes in reporting and "transparency" are a great outcome that were long overdue, but I agree with many others that the USNWR rankings have taken legal education down an unprofessional path that has ultimately resulted in (probably predictable) bad behavior.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:20 pm

jetsfan1 wrote:As a 0L I may be missing something, but why would someone go to law school only to return to their old job? Is there any advantage in this? Or is it just that they couldn't find anything better?


Perhaps I better understand this idea because I was one of those who attended law school as a graduate degree, not with the intention of practicing law. I was a management consultant at the time and weighed the potential benefits of a MBA vs. JD. It seemed at the time that a JD would be much more useful in a business career . . . and at least for me, it has turned out to be the case. Upon graduation, and passing the bar, I continued to practice as a management consultant for appx. 15 years. I actually developed a specialization as a consultant for law firms, although it was business experience, not law school that provided the real background for my consulting services. Over my 35+ year career, in addition to management consulting, I also used my law degree to: 1) serve (briefly) as a State Asst. Atty. General; 2) start a venture capital firm; 3) serve as a VP of acquisitions for a publicly traded company; 4) consult/manage non-profit organizations; 5) teach law in undergraduate and law schools; and 6) eventually move into law school administration, first in an ABA law school, and now completing my 8th year as dean of a California accredited law school.

I have always believed that there are many incredibly interesting things to do with a law degree . . . and only one of them is practicing law.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:36 pm

jetsfan1 wrote:
There's a few reasons that you could probably figure out. One, the job may dabble into legal work that they had to send out for specialty. With a legal degree you can keep that business. Another reason is that having a legal education could help to expand business by branching out. A third reason, if working for a corp or company, you may be paid more for having that credential.


Yeah I get that, but it seems like these gains are incredibly marginal and not worth the 60k IMO.


If we have this discussion completely out of the context of graduate education . . . I get your concern. However, in all fairness, why not ask how any graduate degree . . . MBA, Communications, International Policy, etc. ever pays off? At some point, each individual student must take responsibility for developing their own career path. I absolutely agree (as I said earlier in this thread) that the financial implications of long-term student debt must be part of that planning process. However, no professional degree should come with a sense of entitlement that presumes jobs automatically come with the diploma, regardless of the discipline.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:26 am

MCL Law Dean wrote:
jetsfan1 wrote:As a 0L I may be missing something, but why would someone go to law school only to return to their old job? Is there any advantage in this? Or is it just that they couldn't find anything better?


Perhaps I better understand this idea because I was one of those who attended law school as a graduate degree, not with the intention of practicing law. I was a management consultant at the time and weighed the potential benefits of a MBA vs. JD. It seemed at the time that a JD would be much more useful in a business career . . . and at least for me, it has turned out to be the case. Upon graduation, and passing the bar, I continued to practice as a management consultant for appx. 15 years. I actually developed a specialization as a consultant for law firms, although it was business experience, not law school that provided the real background for my consulting services. Over my 35+ year career, in addition to management consulting, I also used my law degree to: 1) serve (briefly) as a State Asst. Atty. General; 2) start a venture capital firm; 3) serve as a VP of acquisitions for a publicly traded company; 4) consult/manage non-profit organizations; 5) teach law in undergraduate and law schools; and 6) eventually move into law school administration, first in an ABA law school, and now completing my 8th year as dean of a California accredited law school.

I have always believed that there are many incredibly interesting things to do with a law degree . . . and only one of them is practicing law.


New article today from Karen Sloan at NLJ: "A survey of pre-law students found that 43 percent planned to use their degrees to find jobs in the business world rather than in the legal industry, while 42 percent said they would attend business school were they not already set to go to law school."

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby TripTrip » Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:44 am

Ok, the small class makes sense, and the reasons for going through law school without moving into full time legal employment make sense. However, I still don't understand what graduates who do not take the bar and thus do not earn a JD and are not certified to practice are gaining by going to law school. Are they just going... to learn? Or is there some other benefit to getting an education without a degree and without passing any bar?

This isn't a small group, either. From what we've seen (by comparing first time rates to entering classes) over half of 1L will never even take the bar, and of those that do only slightly more than half will pass. So about one in four entering students will actually be able to use their degree? What do the vast majority, three of four entering, do?

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Tue Apr 16, 2013 5:33 pm

TripTrip wrote:Ok, the small class makes sense, and the reasons for going through law school without moving into full time legal employment make sense. However, I still don't understand what graduates who do not take the bar and thus do not earn a JD and are not certified to practice are gaining by going to law school. Are they just going... to learn? Or is there some other benefit to getting an education without a degree and without passing any bar?

This isn't a small group, either. From what we've seen (by comparing first time rates to entering classes) over half of 1L will never even take the bar, and of those that do only slightly more than half will pass. So about one in four entering students will actually be able to use their degree? What do the vast majority, three of four entering, do?


You pose a very valid question, but let me put a slightly different twist on the analysis . . . using your scenario, about one-in-four will be licensed to practice as an attorney, which is one way (and the most conventional way) to use their degree. Lets set those aside for the moment.

About one-in four will have met all of the academic standards (grades) to be awarded the J.D. graduate degree but for any number of reasons do not pass the bar exam. Some would argue that the bar exam failure somehow over-rides the entire completed legal education, leaving the graduate without benefit or skills. There is no question that it leaves them without the opportunity to hold themselves out as a licensed attorney. I will not argue that for some, anything less than "being a licensed attorney" is considered "failure". However, your question is "what else could/do" they do? The successes I have personally seen include serving as in-house advisors, including HR, compliance, contracts, regulatory filings, etc. where practicing law is not required, but the law degree is extremely valuable. Real estate - all aspects, sales, development, permitting. Small business as the partner who deals with outside counsel. Litigation coordinators - not practicing law, but managing outside legal counsel, scheduling, budgeting, fee evaluations, settlement evaluations. All kinds of financial services, from investment services to banking . . . assuming other experience or financial skills. Non-profit management - law degrees make for well above average executive directors. Mediation and ADR - license not required. Court-appointed advocates (juveniles, seniors, mentally impaired) - license not required. Could you do these jobs without a law degree? In many cases - Yes. Could you do these jobs BETTER with a law degree and be more competitive in getting these jobs . . . I think yes.

To the question of those who do not complete the J.D. - Our school has a slightly different philosophy and program. (I suspect that this is not a surprise to those who have been following this thread). We offer the option of a 36-unit Master of Legal Studies degree. We consider it similar to an "MBA" that focuses on legal vs. business academic topics. In some cases, students who are not on track to successfully complete the JD, but have passed 36 units of law school have the option to transfer to the MLS program and graduate. Rather than "fail" out of the JD program, they depart with what they rightfully earned . . . an academic, non-licensure, graduate law degree. Like an MBA, they will need to develop their own career plan for this degree. However, in recent years, we have seen them successfully used to improve the career options for graduates in HR management, investigative services, court personnel (moving from clerks to management), junior college teaching (where a Masters degree is required), and public safety (vs. a Masters in Criminal Justice). We also have a few students each year who enroll directly in the 36-unit Masters program because they have no career interest in becoming a lawyer, but have careers where the Masters meets their needs. All of the Masters classes are part of the regular JD curriculum.

All of this works in our community because there are limited local options for Masters degrees. MBAs and MPAs are available, but no graduate criminal justice program is in the community.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Sat Apr 20, 2013 6:42 pm

Just in case you think I am the only one who promotes the idea of practicing law outside of urban areas, there are several interesting articles and comments on the following sites:
http://rurallawyer.com/category/rural-practice . . . and
http://lawyerist.com/small-town-jobs-lawyers . . . and
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 92182.html . . . and here
http://www.usnews.com/education/best-gr ... recent-jds

I am not suggesting this is for everyone . . . and there are some who go out of their way to debunk rural job potential and life style, but it certainly should be at least part of the discussion about law graduate employment opportunities.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby crazycanuck » Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:25 pm

MCL Law Dean wrote:Just in case you think I am the only one who promotes the idea of practicing law outside of urban areas, there are several interesting articles and comments on the following sites:
http://rurallawyer.com/category/rural-practice . . . and
http://lawyerist.com/small-town-jobs-lawyers . . . and
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 92182.html . . . and here
http://www.usnews.com/education/best-gr ... recent-jds

I am not suggesting this is for everyone . . . and there are some who go out of their way to debunk rural job potential and life style, but it certainly should be at least part of the discussion about law graduate employment opportunities.


It's true that there are legal opportunities in rural communities. I know a guy who runs the only law practice in his small town in northern Ontario. He has a nice lifestyle, lives on a lake, spends his weekends during the summer boating, and during the winter cross country skiing. He desperately wants to retire but he can't find anyone to take over his practice from him. He had a guy for a couple of months who was going to do it, but he left for a big firm in an urban center. He's been trying to lure a new grad straight out of school for several years and has been unable to do it.

The issue really is the debt levels. I don't think it's a problem for there to be lots of lawyers. The more people who are educated in the rights of citizens is a good thing. The only problem is the obscene amount of debt students have to take on. I like the model you have where you provide an education at a reasonable price for people who are interested. It's great that you are very transparent in that your law school is not the place to go if you want to go to a big firm in LA.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby it'sjustme » Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:56 pm

crazycanuck wrote:It's true that there are legal opportunities in rural communities. I know a guy who runs the only law practice in his small town in northern Ontario. He has a nice lifestyle, lives on a lake, spends his weekends during the summer boating, and during the winter cross country skiing. He desperately wants to retire but he can't find anyone to take over his practice from him. He had a guy for a couple of months who was going to do it, but he left for a big firm in an urban center. He's been trying to lure a new grad straight out of school for several years and has been unable to do it.


That sounds incredibly nice.

Edit: What area(s) does he practice in?

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby crazycanuck » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:33 pm

it'sjustme wrote:
crazycanuck wrote:It's true that there are legal opportunities in rural communities. I know a guy who runs the only law practice in his small town in northern Ontario. He has a nice lifestyle, lives on a lake, spends his weekends during the summer boating, and during the winter cross country skiing. He desperately wants to retire but he can't find anyone to take over his practice from him. He had a guy for a couple of months who was going to do it, but he left for a big firm in an urban center. He's been trying to lure a new grad straight out of school for several years and has been unable to do it.


That sounds incredibly nice.

Edit: What area(s) does he practice in?

Whatever people want. It's an isolated northern community of 15000 people and he's the only lawyer, he does whatever they need. I don't know how much he makes, it can't be that much but he leads a nicestyle. Doesn't go anywhere fancy for vacations but he takes a trip to somewhere in Canada and goes hiking (which is how I know him, we met on the trail)

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby it'sjustme » Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:49 pm

crazycanuck wrote:
it'sjustme wrote:
crazycanuck wrote:It's true that there are legal opportunities in rural communities. I know a guy who runs the only law practice in his small town in northern Ontario. He has a nice lifestyle, lives on a lake, spends his weekends during the summer boating, and during the winter cross country skiing. He desperately wants to retire but he can't find anyone to take over his practice from him. He had a guy for a couple of months who was going to do it, but he left for a big firm in an urban center. He's been trying to lure a new grad straight out of school for several years and has been unable to do it.


That sounds incredibly nice.

Edit: What area(s) does he practice in?

Whatever people want. It's an isolated northern community of 15000 people and he's the only lawyer, he does whatever they need. I don't know how much he makes, it can't be that much but he leads a nicestyle. Doesn't go anywhere fancy for vacations but he takes a trip to somewhere in Canada and goes hiking (which is how I know him, we met on the trail)


Thanks!

That actually sounds pretty great.

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Tue Apr 23, 2013 8:03 pm

I am originally from Texas where there are a number of Counties where there are no lawyers . . . of course they also have more cattle than people . . . absolutely true . . . and the Texas bar exam is not one of the harder ones to pass . . . as long as you learned community property and oil and gas law. See the following article about other states needing rural lawyers:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/09/us/su ... d=all&_r=0

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby MCL Law Dean » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:08 pm

toothbrush wrote:
jetsfan1 wrote:As a 0L I may be missing something, but why would someone go to law school only to return to their old job? Is there any advantage in this? Or is it just that they couldn't find anything better?

There's a few reasons that you could probably figure out. One, the job may dabble into legal work that they had to send out for specialty. With a legal degree you can keep that business. Another reason is that having a legal education could help to expand business by branching out. A third reason, if working for a corp or company, you may be paid more for having that credential.


There are also alternative legal careers that are rarely discussed here on TLS since the focus is on T-14 schools, BigLaw careers, and six-figure student debt. The following recent article discusses a few options and links to actual job boards that will reflect current job postings. It will NOT be for everyone, but it might trigger interest for a law student or recent grad who has not thought beyond using their law degree for anything other than the type of law seen on TV and in the movies.

http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/h ... reers-2013

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Re: Non-ABA Law School Dean takes questions

Postby Rahviveh » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:33 pm

MCL Law Dean wrote:
toothbrush wrote:
jetsfan1 wrote:As a 0L I may be missing something, but why would someone go to law school only to return to their old job? Is there any advantage in this? Or is it just that they couldn't find anything better?

There's a few reasons that you could probably figure out. One, the job may dabble into legal work that they had to send out for specialty. With a legal degree you can keep that business. Another reason is that having a legal education could help to expand business by branching out. A third reason, if working for a corp or company, you may be paid more for having that credential.


There are also alternative legal careers that are rarely discussed here on TLS since the focus is on T-14 schools, BigLaw careers, and six-figure student debt. The following recent article discusses a few options and links to actual job boards that will reflect current job postings. It will NOT be for everyone, but it might trigger interest for a law student or recent grad who has not thought beyond using their law degree for anything other than the type of law seen on TV and in the movies.

http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/h ... reers-2013


In what way are these alternative "legal" careers? This is all shit you can do without a law degree.




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