Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

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spleenworship
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Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby spleenworship » Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:05 pm

Succeeding at a strong regional T1/T2/T3 is totally within your reach. I, personally, am a huge proponent of strong regional schools. Generally their tuition is less, their alumni networks strong, and the community atmosphere more welcoming. Whatever your reason for choosing a strong regional T2, however, the tactics and strategy for success there seems to be different than what people are using at the T14 and T1 schools. You cannot simply rely on grades and such. Only the top 10% of your class is going to get a job based on their grades. The rest of you are going to have to hustle and network.

Now, first, you have to be realistic with your standards. You are not going to get biglaw in the bottom 90% of your class. It just isn't going to happen. Frankly, for the bottom 75% of the class, even midlaw isn't very realistic. Are you starting to get worried? Don't. Remember, you are going to a strong regional T2 and if you have followed the advice of many on this board you have obtained a scholarship or in state tuition (or both) and won't be hideously in debt. So that gives you the ability to look for two kinds of jobs the strong regional T2 excels at: local government and non-profit jobs, and local small firms. Despite what everyone says, small firms actually do alright. Divorce attorneys regularly make $70-80K a year, as do PI attorneys, crim defense, and bankruptcy attorneys, and all the other small law jobs. Hell, some PI attorneys make a lot more- some are millionares. And $100K a year jobs in small law are possible, and relatively common, despite what people on TLS say. If you aren't in a lot of debt, seriously consider small law. And don't forget local DA and PD offices, Legal Aid, etc. if that is your cup of tea. The local government jobs generally have great benefits, decent retirement, and only require you to work about 50 hours a week most weeks.

Next, I ain't gonna tell you how to study and such, per se. There are loads of amazing guides on this subject already available on TLS. Personally, I used Lazy's Guide to the top 10% (and ended up top 25%, FWIW). You use whatever guide you want with the following provisos related specifically to the T2:

1) Your competition isn't as strong- but they aren't idiots either. Some of your classmates, even at a T2, will have gone to Princeton, Harvard, (insert all the other Ivies), etc. Some of them went to the state school and rocked a 4.0 and a 170 on the LSAT and came to your T2 because they got a big scholly and in state tuition to boot. Others will show up and be one of the "natural talents" at law school and make top 10% with very little effort despite getting a whopping 2.8 GPA and a 156 LSAT (seriously, I know this guy). So while it will be easier to be above median because a significant number of your classmates shouldn't have been let in to any law school, don't slack too much.

2) Your classmates are going to be a lot more laizze-faire about grades, law review, etc. than the average TLSer. Do not accept that attitude. There is a reason that 25-40% of your classmates won't get jobs. Part of it has to do with what I'll discuss below, but some of it is definitely a "C’s get JD’s” attitude. They refuse to accept the reality of the current legal market requires you be at least top 2/3rds of your class, even with rocking network skills.

3) Do not screw with your classmates. While this is undoubtedly true at every law school, it is more so at a strong regional. The majority of jobs in a strong regional come from alumni and local contacts. 90% of your employed classmates are going to stay in the local market. Even if you enter a market with 10,000 attorneys, with specialties and such you are realistically going to be only one of 500 lawyers doing your area of practice and word will get around that you were a douchenozzle in law school and you won’t get referrals or recommendations.

4) I know this has been said before, but don’t do study groups. Look, you need to find 2-4 people who you can trust who are getting good grades (this will be hard to determine first semester, but do your best) to sit down for 15 minutes a week to discuss hypos. But don’t set up a scheduled group with people you like. Because, trust me, it will dissolve in a nasty fashion and before it does will waste your time and effort. Don’t do it.

Now, on to what I see to be the key to success at law schools:

Image

Moichandizing!

Well, not exactly. Actually, “networking.” But part of networking is merchandising yourself… selling yourself. I am only top 25% at a T2 and yet I received a part time paying summer internship with one of the top firms in the area, and another part time gig working for the DOJ. I am also friendly now with to COA judges, two district court judges, and the woman considered the best litigator in our state. Like, actually had drinks outside of scheduled events and told jokes friendly. How? By talking to people, meeting people, and going to extraneous events. I got the DOJ gig by meeting the bigwig in charge at a bar event. I got the firm gig by making friends with a litigator at a CLE conference.

“But Spleen, I’m not very social by nature!” I hear you cry. You don’t have to be. Sure, I got some charisma and I’m not bad socially, but I’ll be honest- I hate social events, I hate crowds, and I stick my foot in my mouth so often I can tell which toe I am sucking on by flavor. Unless you have aspergers (and I know some of you do… and if so, sorry, I don’t know if this will work for you or not, though it probably wouldn’t hurt to try) I am confident my advice will help you out.

So:

1) Join clubs. Seriously, join them. We all know they are a frequently a waste of time and sometimes filled with pretentious f$%ks who run it like a high school clique. Join it anyway and attend about half the meetings and all the social events. Why? Because the club sounds official, and has important alumni. When the Mexican American Law Student’s Association (or whatever- insert any name there… Tax Law, IP club, BALSA, JLSA, whatever…) hosts an event then judges, partners, etc. show up and mingle, if nothing else for the free food and drinks and to run into other people with similar backgrounds (while drinking). Some of them will also be alumni, and willing to talk to you to remember why it is they hated law school so much. Once there even the non-alumni will generally talk to you. Conversations tend to be stilted at first, though, and so topics usually come around to “what kind of law are you interested in?” and “what are you doing this summer?” Trust me, after 20 or so of these conversations one of those attorneys and judges will either ask you to work for them, or will know someone else who needs a clerk this summer. You don’t have to be a social genius, you just have to be willing to engage in awkward conversations with strangers for a while. Don’t talk too much about yourself either- remember that everyone (but especially important people like judges and partners) prefers to talk about themselves. Just ask brief, intelligent sounding questions and nod a lot. Intersperse with the occasional joke if and only if you are good at that. Otherwise, don’t. There will also usually be other opportunities outside of social events: interviews with prestigious local attorneys for newsletters; liaisons with faculty, the bar, or the school; athletic events sponsored by the club where you can find a hiring partner who is into hockey/running/boxing/soccer/etc. as much as you are.

2) Go to CLE’s in areas you are interested in. You are a law student. You do not have to go to these things. The attorneys there know this and will be curious as to why you are there. When you say you want to improve your understanding of how an area of law works in real life they will be impressed that you actually care. They will think “This person is a hard charger. They want to do what I do, and I know, simply because their dumb ass is here, that they are going to be a hard worker and go above and beyond!” This is how I got my firm job- I talked to an attorney there who got me in touch with a friend of his. He apparently recommended me highly to the hiring partner because I was at that CLE, as did another contact I had made at a local government office (through one of the events in number 1) who happened to have been a classmate at my school with the hiring partner.

3) Get friendly with professors. Professors are usually friends with partners, judges, even state Justices. They also probably know a dozen non-profit or public sector projects that need someone this summer. Your professors are generally nice, they don’t bite, and when you go talk to them to improve your class performance during the spring every single one of them will ask you what you are doing this summer. If you don’t have something and you have been showing up regularly in a friendly way they are going to try to find you something to do in your summer. Most of them clerked. My friendship with a prof has resulted in being offered, effectively, a shoe in at a federal district court clerkship, should I request it… and I don’t even have to make LR or 2ndary journal. Why? Because the prof clerked for the judge 20 years ago and has sent him a clerk every couple years that the judge has been happy with.

4) Do Externships. Seriously. I know it is BS to have to pay your school to do free work for some attorney. It is. At the same time you are going out, actually learning practical applications of the law for an attorney. If you do a good job, they might offer afterwards for you to clerk. Or they might make a recommendation to a friend they have looking for a new associate. Or maybe they'll want you to be an associate. I know one person who got an associate position at a family law firm this way. I know another who got hired at the PDs office because of their outstanding externship performance. So do an externship or two if you can in areas you are interested in and work your butt off and do a really good job. Because it might just pay off.

Good luck to my future fellow regionals and T2ers! Peace!


ETA: a sort of final addendum here - I got a job at a Public Defender Office in large part because I made friends with several lawyers (by doing good work and being fun to drink beer with) during my externships and they convinced the managing attorney here to hire me. Good times.
Last edited by spleenworship on Thu Jan 14, 2016 12:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby Scotusnerd » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:26 pm

Wow, very timely information. Thanks for posting this! :D

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spleenworship
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby spleenworship » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:58 pm

You are welcome. I know there aren't a lot of us regional T2/T3 people on here, but I thought I might help out a few people.

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IHeartPhilly
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby IHeartPhilly » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:06 pm

Tag for later reading. Thanks for the info!!

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Johnlj56
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby Johnlj56 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:07 pm

Thanks for the info. Very useful.

Lord Randolph McDuff
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby Lord Randolph McDuff » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:15 pm

This advice applies to strong regional T1 and T3 schools as well. Good post.

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spleenworship
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby spleenworship » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:30 pm

Lord Randolph McDuff wrote:This advice applies to strong regional T1 and T3 schools as well. Good post.


I'll edit it to reflect this. Thanks!

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R86
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby R86 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:51 pm

Thanks!

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barestin
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby barestin » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:16 pm

Very helpful info, thanks for sharing. Out of curiosity, what kind of law are you ultimately interested in practicing for small law and are you confident that you will have a 70K-100K job lined up when you graduate?

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vpintz
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby vpintz » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:18 pm

Johnlj56 wrote:Thanks for the info. Very useful.

+1. Also, I love me some Mel Brooks references.

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gaud
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby gaud » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:19 pm

IHeartPhilly wrote:Tag for later reading. Thanks for the info!!

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spleenworship
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby spleenworship » Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:21 pm

barestin wrote:Very helpful info, thanks for sharing. Out of curiosity, what kind of law are you ultimately interested in practicing for small law and are you confident that you will have a 70K-100K job lined up when you graduate?


I am in a small market with lower cost of living, so keep that in mind when you read my answer:

1) Family law, Personal Injury, or the DA's office are my ultimate goals. I still haven't decided yet.

2) I don't want to jinx it, but I think there is a decent chance (70/30) my current firm will give me a job after graduation, unless the economy tanks again just before my bar results come in, and they start at about 60K a year... and since my state has like 40% of people living below the federal poverty level.... well, that ain't bad.

hiima3L
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby hiima3L » Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:20 pm

I couldn't agree with this advice more. Great post.

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dowu
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby dowu » Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:29 pm

gaud wrote:
IHeartPhilly wrote:Tag for later reading. Thanks for the info!!

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Mr. Pancakes
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby Mr. Pancakes » Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:37 pm

nmop_apisdn wrote:
gaud wrote:
IHeartPhilly wrote:Tag for later reading. Thanks for the info!!

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Unagi
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T2

Postby Unagi » Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:42 pm

nmop_apisdn wrote:
gaud wrote:
IHeartPhilly wrote:Tag for later reading. Thanks for the info!!

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Nova
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby Nova » Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:47 pm

*applause*

Dreas
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby Dreas » Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:51 pm

Referenced.

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spleenworship
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby spleenworship » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:46 am

Bumping this for the people starting next month. Also, willing to answer questions.

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mr_toad
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby mr_toad » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:51 am

Given current trends, about half the T-14 needs to be reading this religiously. Good stuff.

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JCFindley
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby JCFindley » Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:59 am

Speen drops back, he's under heavy pressure. Oh, he avoids the sack and has a wideout running free down the sideline. The ball is in the air. The receiver brings it in and TOUCHDOWN!

Thanks.

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spleenworship
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby spleenworship » Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:33 pm

Thought I would bump this again for the next crop. It's about time when people are making some serious decisions and might find themselves considering that Strong Regional with a Scholly. Also, I added a little up there about externships.

Suzy_29
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby Suzy_29 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:42 am

Wow thanks for bumping! I would never have seen it otherwise and as someone heading to a strong regional T1 your guide is gold. Networking is the one thing I had absolutely no idea how to proceed on. Kudos to you!!!

hk_donaldson
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby hk_donaldson » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:50 pm

.

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law chihuahua
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Re: Spleen's Guide to Success at a Strong Regional T1/2/3

Postby law chihuahua » Tue Apr 30, 2013 3:06 pm

Thanks so much for this, Spleen! :D




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