Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
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doomswitched
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Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:22 am

I'm hoping others will help out with this thread, but I'll answer questions as best I can for the next few days. I'm a 2L.

In another thread a poster asked:
Can any current students elaborate on Boalt's grading system? Whether they like it, how the competition is, how potential employers/interviewers have responded, etc.? Thanks.


If you are going to differentiate between students, I think this is a pretty good way to do it. People at the bottom don't get outed for it, so if you screw up an exam really bad, no one but you and the prof know. Competition is strong. Lots of smart, studious people at Berkeley, but it isn't a competitive environment. Know what I mean?

I had one interviewer comment on the grading system, and that was only to say something like ``after several years of interviewing here, I think I've figured out the system.'' It's not really a big mystery. The cuts are large, so as an employer, or a student, you don't know where exactly in the cut you are. But there are distinctions, just as with the traditional system.

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Nerka
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby Nerka » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:29 am

Hi. Thanks for taking q's.

I got my acceptance pkg in the mail today and the article in the issue of the Transcript that talked about the Career Development Office was pretty bleak. Those guys are admitting that Boalties 5 and 6 years out are coming back for help and that CDO can't really do that much for them-- and this is in material that is going out to prospectives!! Also, lots of talk about "new programs" but no numbers or results.

I guess my question is, what is your perception, from the inside, of the difficulty of getting a job-- any job-- right now? What did you do 1L summer? Anything lined up for 2L summer? What're you thinking for afterward?

I'd love to believe that I'd be in the top 10%, but if I'm going to be realistic, I'll hope for top 50%. I'm curious how those in the middle third of the class did (and btw how does that all shake out for employers with the grading system??) for lining up summer jobs.

Thanks again for your time.

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:58 am

I got my acceptance pkg in the mail today and the article in the issue of the Transcript that talked about the Career Development Office was pretty bleak. Those guys are admitting that Boalties 5 and 6 years out are coming back for help and that CDO can't really do that much for them-- and this is in material that is going out to prospectives!! Also, lots of talk about "new programs" but no numbers or results.

Unfortunately, that's just the market right now. I tend to think the CDO and biglaw in general is overcompensating for the downturn, but there is no doubt that the job market is supremely awful right now. Big law made a ton of layoffs, affecting all the top law schools, and they are hiring sparsely for next summer's classes.

I guess my question is, what is your perception, from the inside, of the difficulty of getting a job-- any job-- right now? What did you do 1L summer? Anything lined up for 2L summer? What're you thinking for afterward?

Students are in a slightly better position than a laid off 4th year associate, who can't find work at all. Students are getting hired on the projection that the market will have returned slightly in two years time. (I think the industry is being overly cautious with that prediction.) I worked for state government first summer; this summer I'm working for the fed. I'm pretty open to different types of law post-graduation, so I'm not ruling anything out. I did enjoy working for the state last summer. Always woke up in the morning ready to go to work.

I'd love to believe that I'd be in the top 10%, but if I'm going to be realistic, I'll hope for top 50%. I'm curious how those in the middle third of the class did (and btw how does that all shake out for employers with the grading system??) for lining up summer jobs.

When the market gets tight like it is now, outside the top grades, it's pretty wide open. A lot has to do with networking and people in your network helping you land something. First summer, you will probably be working for free, and the demand for berkeley law students who will work for free is really high, so no worries there. For 2d summer, the projections are going to be for late 2013. I mean, surely, the country's economic health will be fine at that point. So, basically, I think your class will be fine. The classes (aside from alums) that are getting killed right now are 2010 (because big law didn't give some of them offers, leading to extremely difficult job searches, and for those who got offers, their start dates are up in the air); 2011 (because big law isn't hiring us); and maybe 2012 (could be lower hiring as well, but we'll see). In a normal economy, my impression is that people around the median had fewer options, but all of them could get a job in big law. If you don't care about big law, government positions can be less grade competitive, but not clerkships and DOJ Honors Program and SLIP. Public Interest is far more concerned with what PI stuff you've done than grades.

ArmyVet07
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby ArmyVet07 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:34 am

Are UC budget issues affecting the quality of life for law students?

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Nerka
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby Nerka » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:37 am

Appreciate your answer.

From what I've been reading lately, it seems like the legal hiring crisis extends beyond the current economic woes. Glut of grads due to increasing number of accredited institutions, legal markets growing much more slowly than the overall economy (for the last 20 yrs, so it doesn't have anything to do with current economocalypse). So I find it hard to be optimistic about the situation for grads even in three and a half years. Mebbe I'm just being a downer.

First summer, you will probably be working for free, and the demand for berkeley law students who will work for free is really high, so no worries there.


Can you explain further what you mean by "work for free" 1L summer? Does this mean interning somewhere? I understand that firms can't really touch volunteer work because it violates employment law. Did you mean logging in 40hrs a week of unpaid volunteer hours at Legal Aid or another nonprofit in the area? If so, are we talking making photocopies or something more substantial?

I've never been the Biglaw type, so its no longer being an option is not much of a concern for me. What I worry about though is the fallout from those evaporated jobs making it more difficult to get PI or state/local government jobs because of increased competition.

What I want is someone to tell me that I can graduate median from Boalt and not be stuck doing doc-review in a basement in San Leandro and worrying that I'm going to default on my payments for the sticker price I paid. :!: :?

I don't need a hotshot Biglaw job upon graduation, but something over, say, 45K that actually has to do with practicing law is a must, and if I can't get that with a median rank from Boalt, I might decide to take the full ride at a T2 or even back out of going to ls.

Don't mean to imply that I won't be working hard by constantly saying I'll be middle-of-the-pack, but I'm trying to temper my expectations and to mitigate the famous tendency of 0Ls to overestimate their GPA potential...

Also:
Public Interest is far more concerned with what PI stuff you've done than grades.

Need this be pre- law school or are you talking extra-curriculars while in ls?

Once more, appreciate your insight.

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:00 pm

ArmyVet07 wrote:Are UC budget issues affecting the quality of life for law students?

Yes, a bit. The custodial staff is run through central campus, which has reduced their hours, so things are not as clean as normal. The kitchen in the student center area was pretty gross during finals. The entire campus is or soon will be shut down until early January. I don't know if you would count that as affecting quality of life or not. But it means no studying in the library for the gunners during the break. Otherwise, the rapid increase in tuition rates has insulated the law school from the main campus budget woes.

Kretzy
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby Kretzy » Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:16 pm

What's the queer community like at Boalt? Does it seem cohesive and active, or pretty sparse? Are there openly gay, tenure-track faculty (something I was shocked to see none of at UChicago)? Thanks in advance!

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Drake014
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby Drake014 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:19 pm

Kretzy wrote:What's the queer community like at Boalt? Does it seem cohesive and active, or pretty sparse? Are there openly gay, tenure-track faculty (something I was shocked to see none of at UChicago)? Thanks in advance!


I'm a 1L and have yet to encounter openly gay faculty. As far as students, there is definitely a fairly large openly gay community. One thing I liked about Berkeley is that students didn't seem to be forced into groups. You might be part of a black, middle eastern, or hispanic organization that had several people not of that group in it.

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:34 pm

Nerka wrote:Appreciate your answer.

From what I've been reading lately, it seems like the legal hiring crisis extends beyond the current economic woes. Glut of grads due to increasing number of accredited institutions, legal markets growing much more slowly than the overall economy (for the last 20 yrs, so it doesn't have anything to do with current economocalypse). So I find it hard to be optimistic about the situation for grads even in three and a half years. Mebbe I'm just being a downer.

There is a glut of lawyers, because there are too many law schools churning out too many JDs. But as far as the top law schools are concerned, the problem is the current economocalypse. A Berkeley (or NYU or Michigan, etc.) JD is exponentially more in demand than a Florida Coastal, for example.

Nerka wrote:
First summer, you will probably be working for free, and the demand for berkeley law students who will work for free is really high, so no worries there.

Can you explain further what you mean by "work for free" 1L summer? Does this mean interning somewhere? I understand that firms can't really touch volunteer work because it violates employment law. Did you mean logging in 40hrs a week of unpaid volunteer hours at Legal Aid or another nonprofit in the area? If so, are we talking making photocopies or something more substantial?

The only paying gigs first summer are with law firms and they don't exactly have a lot of positions open these days, so you are mainly looking at public interest (PI) or public service/government or in-house but unpaid work for your first summer. The work quality varies, but I've yet to talk to any fellow students who had a ``making copies'' type experience. I did a lot of legal research and memo writing. A friend worked in house and drafted several patent applications and didn't pick up the Bluebook (legal citation manual) once. I should also add that there are a few large plaintiff side firms in the area that pay and you might also get the opportunity to work directly on a civil rights case or a big class action.

Nerka wrote:I've never been the Biglaw type, so its no longer being an option is not much of a concern for me. What I worry about though is the fallout from those evaporated jobs making it more difficult to get PI or state/local government jobs because of increased competition.

What I want is someone to tell me that I can graduate median from Boalt and not be stuck doing doc-review in a basement in San Leandro and worrying that I'm going to default on my payments for the sticker price I paid. :!: :?

Yes, the PI/PS market is more competitive because of the private sector influx but I expect that to lessen. Also prior commitment to PI/PS helps greatly with any grade disparity. I do not expect to be stuck doing doc-review or defaulting on loans, and I don't expect any of my classmates to suffer that fate. I could be overly optimistic, of course. But there are numerous programs to help should you end up with a low paying job post graduation. There are still jobs, even now, and I expect far more to exist down the road; the difference is that the easy route--where firms come to you asking you to join them--is not so easy right now. In the rest of the job getting universe, networking and legwork are how you get a job, and as long as you are willing to do that, you can get a good job from Berkeley.

Nerka wrote:Also:
Public Interest is far more concerned with what PI stuff you've done than grades.

Need this be pre- law school or are you talking extra-curriculars while in ls?

If you have pre-law school experience, that is a definite plus, but doing PI work while in law school is also good. There are numerous opportunities for that here both fall and spring semesters. And logging enough hours will qualify you for the Edley grant ($4000) over the summer. It also matters what you do each summer. So if you want to work for Bay Area Legal Aid post graduation, taking a big firm gig 2d summer will not sit well.

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Drake014
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby Drake014 » Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:26 pm

amyLAchemist wrote:
Nerka wrote:
First summer, you will probably be working for free, and the demand for berkeley law students who will work for free is really high, so no worries there.

Can you explain further what you mean by "work for free" 1L summer? Does this mean interning somewhere? I understand that firms can't really touch volunteer work because it violates employment law. Did you mean logging in 40hrs a week of unpaid volunteer hours at Legal Aid or another nonprofit in the area? If so, are we talking making photocopies or something more substantial?

The only paying gigs first summer are with law firms and they don't exactly have a lot of positions open these days, so you are mainly looking at public interest (PI) or public service/government or in-house but unpaid work for your first summer. The work quality varies, but I've yet to talk to any fellow students who had a ``making copies'' type experience. I did a lot of legal research and memo writing. A friend worked in house and drafted several patent applications and didn't pick up the Bluebook (legal citation manual) once. I should also add that there are a few large plaintiff side firms in the area that pay and you might also get the opportunity to work directly on a civil rights case or a big class action.

Another good "work for free" job is externing for a judge (I guess I will find out this summer if I like it or not). I am not sure how it sits with PI employers, though.


If you can afford not to get a stipend from the school.

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The Brainalist
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby The Brainalist » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:16 pm

How many employers were at this year's OCI?
Is there somewhere I can find a list of who interviews at Berkeley?

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worldtraveler
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Dec 22, 2009 9:27 pm

amyLAchemist wrote:I will join when there is something I can provide a good answer to.

Re: grading, though. I haven't had my first set of grades come out yet, so I can't say a lot. However, I found the competitive attitude much higher than I would have liked. I avoided Boalt/other law students like the plague during finals, because I wanted to maintain my sanity.

I have heard the 1L class is more intense than the 2Ls and 3Ls, though. Maybe someone else can confirm/dispute that.


I think your mod was far more competitive than the other ones. Mine didn't seem competitive, at least as far as law students go.

Kretzy wrote:What's the queer community like at Boalt? Does it seem cohesive and active, or pretty sparse? Are there openly gay, tenure-track faculty (something I was shocked to see none of at UChicago)? Thanks in advance!


I have no idea about faculty, but we do have a lot of openly gay staff members, including at least one transperson. There is a large gay community. I get the impression it's not all that cohesive just because it's the bay area and there are a lot of opportunities for people to get involved with the gay community already.

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:06 pm

Kretzy wrote:What's the queer community like at Boalt? Does it seem cohesive and active, or pretty sparse? Are there openly gay, tenure-track faculty (something I was shocked to see none of at UChicago)? Thanks in advance!

I'm checking on this with a friend in the Queer Caucus. I should have an answer shortly.

The Brainalist wrote:How many employers were at this year's OCI? Is there somewhere I can find a list of who interviews at Berkeley?

I couldn't find an accurate count. It was about 70% of last year's number. Somewhere between 225 and 250 (counting each office of the mega firms that interview separately). If you give me something more specific, I can probably answer that; such as who in the Vault 10 or 20.

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Tue Dec 29, 2009 6:46 pm

@Kretzy's question
Sorry for the delay, things are going much slower over email during the break. It appears that people only know of Professor Kapczynski for tenure-track. She specializes in IP and does some access to medicine for HIV/AIDS in the international context.

There are nontenure-track faculty. My friend mentioned Alice Miller and Anne Tamar-Mattis, saying that "I believe Miller has taught courses related to sexual rights and human rights in the international context. Tamar-Mattis has taught Sexual Orientation & the Law the past two years and will be teaching it again this spring; she is a great instructor, and also runs a non-profit dedicated to advocating on behalf of intersex children and their families."

If you want to talk to either my friend or a JSP student who is doing research in the LGBT area, pm me and I'll put you in touch.

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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby atitz » Sun Jan 03, 2010 4:47 am

I will be applying to Berkeley and Stanford as they are both on the very top of my list, and both schools are very prestigious in where I live now (I'm international). If ever I do get into both and enroll in Berkeley, would that be a not well-thought-out decision given that Stanford Law is more renowned? (I don't need FA and the costs for either school is with in the budget.)

How many Berkeley students attend Berkeley Law instead of Stanford Law?

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:09 am

atitz wrote:I will be applying to Berkeley and Stanford as they are both on the very top of my list, and both schools are very prestigious in where I live now (I'm international). If ever I do get into both and enroll in Berkeley, would that be a not well-thought-out decision given that Stanford Law is more renowned? (I don't need FA and the costs for either school is with in the budget.)

If you are planning to return to your present country and there is no significant prestige difference there, then no problem. If you wanted to try and clerk here, then Stanford has better placement. If you can visit both schools, I would do so. The feel at each is different, and you could choose which one feels best.

atitz wrote:How many Berkeley students attend Berkeley Law instead of Stanford Law?

I have no idea, sorry.

crossingforHYS
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby crossingforHYS » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:45 am

Hello! Thank you for taking questions.

I heard that Boalt is very different from the undergrad. When I visited Berkley for undergrad, I was a bit turned off by the in your face liberal extremists, I was wondering if that extremist point of view is prevalent at Boalt? Or, as people have stated, it is different?

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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby Boalt1L » Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:11 am

I mean overall Boalt is liberal, but I mean I honestly don't hear too much about politics. There are people from all parts of the country with various political views. I'm pretty apathetic so I try avoid these conversations, which I never find to be productive, and most other people don't really seem to care that much either. The only real thing is the fire John Yoo people, but honestly I got law school work to do, and I'm able to easily ignore.

atitz
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby atitz » Wed Jan 06, 2010 1:35 pm

doomswitched wrote:
atitz wrote:I will be applying to Berkeley and Stanford as they are both on the very top of my list, and both schools are very prestigious in where I live now (I'm international). If ever I do get into both and enroll in Berkeley, would that be a not well-thought-out decision given that Stanford Law is more renowned? (I don't need FA and the costs for either school is with in the budget.)

If you are planning to return to your present country and there is no significant prestige difference there, then no problem. If you wanted to try and clerk here, then Stanford has better placement. If you can visit both schools, I would do so. The feel at each is different, and you could choose which one feels best.

atitz wrote:How many Berkeley students attend Berkeley Law instead of Stanford Law?

I have no idea, sorry.


Hi. What do you mean by clerkship, and why is Stanford stronger in that area?

Yes; I think I would like to eventually practice here in my country, and this is hard because, strangely enough, in my country, Berkeley is more respected than Stanford, albeit not significantly. I think that's due in part to the stronger Berkeley alumni network we have here. Having said that, I'd like to work for a few years in the US before I'd finally settle down here.

I've been to both schools and I love them both, but I like the Berkeley campus and the Berkeley feel better. I'm a very social, outgoing person and I love to be in the center of where the action is, and I like it a lot that Berkeley is so dynamic and full of interaction. I found Stanford ambiance too laid back to my liking. But I like the Stanford prestige a little better. At this point in time, it doesn't bother which school would I end up going.

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:49 pm

A clerkship is a position working with a judge. You do a lot of research and writing, and it is supposed to be good experience unless you get a mean judge. Stanford is better than Berkeley in placing its students in these positions because Stanford is more prestigious. There's also some degree of self-selection; people who go to Stanford tend more so than Berkeley students to be the types of people who really want to do this sort of thing.

As a general function of the prestige difference, Stanford has better placement than Berkeley whether that is for clerkships or for big law. Given the network and the reputation for public interest work, however, I think Berkeley does better in that regard and especially in the Bay Area. If you like Berkeley better, I don't think it would be at all problematic to choose it over Stanford. You can get a good job from either school.

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The Brainalist
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby The Brainalist » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:54 pm

The Brainalist wrote:Doomswitched rules.
Last edited by The Brainalist on Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Wed Jan 06, 2010 6:39 pm

I answered that above.
doomswitched wrote:
The Brainalist wrote:How many employers were at this year's OCI? Is there somewhere I can find a list of who interviews at Berkeley?

I couldn't find an accurate count. It was about 70% of last year's number. Somewhere between 225 and 250 (counting each office of the mega firms that interview separately). If you give me something more specific, I can probably answer that; such as who in the Vault 10 or 20.

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CE2JD
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby CE2JD » Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:35 pm

BLOAT

--ImageRemoved--

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Billy Blanks
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby Billy Blanks » Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:48 pm

Although I'm interested in practicing public interest law, I'd like to ground that in an academic study of constitutional law and policy. Can you comment on the quality of constitutional (federal or state) classes that you or your classmates have taken? How do you feel these classes compare to the other classes offered (namely, do you feel that this is a strength at Boalt)?

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doomswitched
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Re: Berkeley Students (Boalties) Taking Questions

Postby doomswitched » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:33 pm

Billy Blanks wrote:Although I'm interested in practicing public interest law, I'd like to ground that in an academic study of constitutional law and policy. Can you comment on the quality of constitutional (federal or state) classes that you or your classmates have taken? How do you feel these classes compare to the other classes offered (namely, do you feel that this is a strength at Boalt)?

I already was interested in ConLaw, so I have some bias, but I really liked those classes. I took California ConLaw and Federal Courts this past semester. Both were good. The state class is team taught in a seminar style format. They cover a wide range of topics, so at least a few classes should be interesting to you. Most were for me. Judge Fletcher, on the 9th Circuit, teaches FedCts and both he and it are fantastic. Goodwin Liu teaches the basic ConLaw course and is well regarded by students. Jesse Choper teaches a 1st Amendment class, and is a noted authority. Ian Haney Lopez also teaches ConLaw but does so from a critical race theory perspective. I've heard good things. I took ConLaw with a visiting professor--Calvin Massey. He is a repeat visitor and teaches normally at Hastings. He was good. So, in sum, yeah, I think we have a good ConLaw program. ConLaw comes up all over the place in other classes, so your exposure will not be limited to just the stock courses.




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