Research Assistant

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#NotACop
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Research Assistant

Postby #NotACop » Fri Feb 06, 2015 5:49 pm

Potentially stupid question, but how much of a resume buffer is being a professor's Research Assistant? Is it worth the time in my 1L year? Does it look awesome during OCI?

hiima3L
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby hiima3L » Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:34 pm

Do not do anything 1L year except focus on grades.

If it's for a summer job, sounds good to me. Getting a prof who can be a reference/write a LOR is very important and something a lot of law students fail to do.

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MarkfromWI
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby MarkfromWI » Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:45 pm

hiima3L wrote:Do not do anything 1L year except focus on grades.

If it's for a summer job, sounds good to me. Getting a prof who can be a reference/write a LOR is very important and something a lot of law students fail to do.


+1. If you worry about anything other than grades during 1L year, you might not have to worry about OCI at all. But if it is for the summer, I would say definitely do it, even if on a part-time basis. As a 2L who is struggling to find quality LORs for clerkship applications right now I really wish I would have pursued an RA job to go along with the work I did last summer.

hiima3L
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby hiima3L » Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:03 am

MarkfromWI wrote:
hiima3L wrote:Do not do anything 1L year except focus on grades.

If it's for a summer job, sounds good to me. Getting a prof who can be a reference/write a LOR is very important and something a lot of law students fail to do.


As a 2L who is struggling to find quality LORs for clerkship applications right now I really wish I would have pursued an RA job to go along with the work I did last summer.


This is credited. A lot of law students don't realize that employers want references in addition to grades. Also, LORs can go a long way. I got my first job and my current (second job) out of law school based almost entirely on my LORs. (My grades sucked.)

k5220
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby k5220 » Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:29 am

Letters of rec from professors are necessary for clerkships, and being an RA is one of the best ways to get one. 1Ls have way more free time than 2Ls. I would do it.

(If you're not interested in clerkships though, your summer jobs are probably all the references you'll need)

jayessbee
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby jayessbee » Sat Feb 07, 2015 3:21 am

My hueristics for these questions:

1) Are you getting paid?
Yes-> Do it.
No -> Go to #2.

2) Is the prof one that you like, and you know you'll get a good reference/contact out of them?
Yes -> Do it.
No -> Go to #3.

3) Is it a prof you hate, but you know you'll get a good reference/contact out of them?
Yes -> Do it if you think you can stand being around them outside of class.
No -> Go to bar review.

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pancakes3
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby pancakes3 » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:13 am

How much of a time commit is a summer RA?

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:23 am

Depends on the prof - I know people who were full time and others who did 10 hours a week and everything in between. (I was a RA second semester of 1L and it was fine, but I'm not sure I worked even 10 hours a week - it was very minimal. Even so it got me a LOR so worth it.)

threecharacters
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby threecharacters » Sat Feb 07, 2015 1:45 pm

I think it depends on the scope and area of law of the research and how that fits with your ultimate career goals. I'm a 2L RA and I do fairly substantive work for my professor (researching and drafting updates to his treatise). It's also in an area of law I want to practice.

Keep in mind the skills you're developing and how it can play into the narrative you want your resume to convey. Being a research assistant just for the sake of it without thinking about how to tie it into your interviews won't be very helpful.

Generally speaking, I think being an RA is a great experience. Especially if you have the opportunity to contribute to your professor's published work (since you'll likely receive an acknowledgement).

Buck Strickland
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby Buck Strickland » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:28 pm

I talked to a big law partner who said she generally isn't that impressed by RAs – she'd prefer to see firm experience or an internship with a judge. But even with that in mind, I think doing one for the sake of getting a LoR plus some money during the summer is not a bad thing at all if you do it alongside some other kind of employment.

jaguin1
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby jaguin1 » Sun Feb 08, 2015 2:35 am

Current RA here for two professors. I highly recommend it. It enables you to observe the academic writing process from the inside, which is helpful if you are considering academia. It also provides you with an opportunity to endear yourself to some professors who can become lifetime mentors, and of course they are typically happy to see what you are working on and provide some feedback. You likely get your name in a FN in published articles and your resume can reflect how you contributed to the articles. And finally, when you begin clerkship applications, you have professors who know your work ethic because it is reflected in the success (or not) of their own work and can thus comment sincerely and concretely in letters of recommendation. I worked my butt off for a professor during 1L summer while externing full time with a COA judge, and his recommendation in so many words said "this kid never put less than 100% into his work for me, often receiving my requests when he got home from work late at night and returning the edits to me by the next morning before he left to work." So, the interaction with professors in an RA relationship has many invaluable benefits and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Jaymore
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby Jaymore » Sun Feb 08, 2015 8:56 pm

(Depending on what law school you go to, important at t25) Research the professor too - the LORs weight will depend on their status, so if you can get one with some weight to their name, it is legit.

Some lame ass new professor won't mean as much.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby jbagelboy » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:55 am

it really depends on the professor and how engaged they tend to be with their research assistants/teams. i've done research for a professor who probably couldn't match my name to my face and who I'd never try to talk to, and i've done/am doing research for a prof who's serving as a recommender and talks to me regularly. it runs the gamut.

an honors grade in a course followed up by close research with the same prof is a well trod path towards a usable recommendation.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby jbagelboy » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:58 am

Jaymore wrote:(Depending on what law school you go to, important at t25) Research the professor too - the LORs weight will depend on their status, so if you can get one with some weight to their name, it is legit.

Some lame ass new professor won't mean as much.


i'm going to pick a bone with this advise as well. yes, all things equal an established senior faculty member writing an excellent letter/making calls will have a lot more weight than a junior prof writing the same quality letter.

however, a lot of older professors or former deans with a lot of contacts and cache won't throw their weight around as easily (which makes sense - it would dilute the value of their reference for a student they truly wanted to support). if your choice is between getting a letter from a younger prof who gave you a strong grade, knows you, and likes you, and a very highly regarded prof who won't take time with individual students because he has twenty others asking for the same assistance and is just writing you a standard form.. go with the former.

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#NotACop
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby #NotACop » Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:31 am

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Last edited by #NotACop on Tue Feb 10, 2015 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Nebby
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby Nebby » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:05 pm

I was an RA (~5 hours week) and interned in the legal department of a state agency (~8 hours week) during spring of my 1L. It's possible to do well during 1L and still do some extra stuff, but you have to make sure you're disciplined enough to keep a proper schedule to ensure school work always maintains priority.

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#NotACop
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby #NotACop » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:43 pm

CounselorNebby wrote:I was an RA (~5 hours week) and interned in the legal department of a state agency (~8 hours week) during spring of my 1L. It's possible to do well during 1L and still do some extra stuff, but you have to make sure you're disciplined enough to keep a proper schedule to ensure school work always maintains priority.


First semester I took on mock trial, and it killed my free time for about two weeks but I did relatively well so my grades didn't suffer so much. Here's to hoping being an RA doesn't kill me this semester.

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BVest
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Re: Research Assistant

Postby BVest » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:58 pm

jbagelboy wrote:it really depends on the professor and how engaged they tend to be with their research assistants/teams. i've done research for a professor who probably couldn't match my name to my face and who I'd never try to talk to . . . . it runs the gamut.


This was pretty much my experience as a 2L. By then though I'd already racked up refs and LORs and wasn't going out of my way for them.




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