Boalt 1Ls 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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nematoad
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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby nematoad » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:02 am

first of all, thank you for this.
do any of you know if it's possible to sit down with any of the adcoms during a visit to Berkeley? I'm coming up next week and am definitely going to sit in on a class and go on a tour, but I was wondering if it's possible to actually sit down with anyone in admissions and discuss my application and put a face to my name. I'm not sure if that's naive as most law schools dont seem too keen on getting floods of applicants in their offices, but Northwestern and Vandy were super cool about it so i figured, what the heck? why not good ol' cal?

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Shaggier1
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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby Shaggier1 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:52 am

Not sure, Nematod. I recommend just calling admissions directly and asking. You don't have to give your name if you don't want, just ask 'em.

Good luck!

PS: have you submitted your app yet? Boalt loves early submissions...

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ahduth
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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby ahduth » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:27 pm

I might have missed this, but did any of you write "why Boalt" addenda, or incorporate that in your personal statements?

Several of you have touched on the student body as a major differentiator, at least as regards you decision to enroll at Boalt over other schools. That's certainly reinforcing the impression I already had, given Dean Tom's comments and other comments regarding the nature of the admissions process. I just wouldn't want any statements I make that reference the student body to imply that the east coast schools don't have student bodies filled with great people, as they obviously do. I also don't know that Boalt's admissions team would particularly care that I think the student body there might be more dynamic and engaging than other schools. Basically trying to figure out if I'd want to mention that or not.

(On a side note, I have now officially spent too much time trying to get my Berkeley personal statement written.)

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Shaggier1
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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby Shaggier1 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:39 pm

I might have missed this, but did any of you write "why Boalt" addenda, or incorporate that in your personal statements?

Several of you have touched on the student body as a major differentiator, at least as regards you decision to enroll at Boalt over other schools. That's certainly reinforcing the impression I already had, given Dean Tom's comments and other comments regarding the nature of the admissions process. I just wouldn't want any statements I make that reference the student body to imply that the east coast schools don't have student bodies filled with great people, as they obviously do. I also don't know that Boalt's admissions team would particularly care that I think the student body there might be more dynamic and engaging than other schools. Basically trying to figure out if I'd want to mention that or not.


My Boalt PS strategy was to present my attributes and accomplishments in such a way that would convince Boalt that I would fit in with their community. I didn't think it a good use of space to tell them how much I liked their community and wanted to be a part of it. I set out to make them want me to be a part of it, and I focused exclusively on that.

That said, I know others included "Why Boalt" elements and were successful, so take my advice as anecdotal at best.

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nematoad
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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby nematoad » Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:43 pm

Shaggier1 wrote:Not sure, Nematod. I recommend just calling admissions directly and asking. You don't have to give your name if you don't want, just ask 'em.

Good luck!

PS: have you submitted your app yet? Boalt loves early submissions...


Cool, thank you, I'm calling now! And yep, sent it in on 9/3. Hope that's early enough :P

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Kronk
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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby Kronk » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:08 pm

ahduth wrote:I might have missed this, but did any of you write "why Boalt" addenda, or incorporate that in your personal statements?

Several of you have touched on the student body as a major differentiator, at least as regards you decision to enroll at Boalt over other schools. That's certainly reinforcing the impression I already had, given Dean Tom's comments and other comments regarding the nature of the admissions process. I just wouldn't want any statements I make that reference the student body to imply that the east coast schools don't have student bodies filled with great people, as they obviously do. I also don't know that Boalt's admissions team would particularly care that I think the student body there might be more dynamic and engaging than other schools. Basically trying to figure out if I'd want to mention that or not.

(On a side note, I have now officially spent too much time trying to get my Berkeley personal statement written.)


I think I wouldn't put a lot of emphasis on the student body unless you have personal stories about Boalt students that you can use. I would just focus on giving a very good image of yourself and making whatever you write about sound very genuine (and indeed, it should be genuine). The goal of the PS, in my opinion, isn't so much to convince the school that you really want to go there, but more to convince the school that they really want to have you there. My application story to Boalt is below, for reference.

I actually didn't lengthen my 2-pg PS for Berkeley. I also didn't have any work experience when I applied. I think the reason I was accepted (and didn't have to go through the WL or FR process) is that my personal statement was already Boalt-centric. As a public law school and the best public interest law school in the nation, I get the impression Boalt likes public-service oriented students. I don't think it hurts to want to go corporate, but I think that even then, they like the idea of public service outside of the corporate work. In addition, they probably know that most people claiming they want to do public interest actually end up taking a firm job, so I'm sure they take such statements with a grain of salt. However, I made it very clear in my personal statement that it wasn't so much civil rights that gave me a conduit to do law, but law that would give me a conduit to do civil rights. That, and my majors in undergrad and various things I had done, I think convinced them I was dedicated to public interest and is, I think, the reason I was accepted. But that's pretty much all conjecture.

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ahduth
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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby ahduth » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:38 pm

Kronk wrote:I think I wouldn't put a lot of emphasis on the student body unless you have personal stories about Boalt students that you can use. I would just focus on giving a very good image of yourself and making whatever you write about sound very genuine (and indeed, it should be genuine). The goal of the PS, in my opinion, isn't so much to convince the school that you really want to go there, but more to convince the school that they really want to have you there.


Right. Any mention of the student body would be purely from "why Boalt" addendum standpoint, since it's one of the schools to which I'm specifically applying for reasons other than than just rankings/reputation, and might choose to attend ahead of other schools with higher generic rankings (CCN basically). Or put differently, it's one of the only schools for which I could put together a legitimate "why X" addendum.

The personal statement (as it exists so far) is very much grounded in my outlook and particularly my work experience, and hopefully expresses something of what I could contribute were I admitted. Any "why Boalt" component therein would basically dovetail with that message.

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worldtraveler
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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby worldtraveler » Tue Oct 12, 2010 7:50 pm

Kronk wrote:Well, one thing is certain--very few schools get as many trolls as Boalt.

To answer the question about tuition, here is what I have to say: Boalt is committed to making their in-state tuition cost 10% lower than similarly ranked private schools. It is actually, I believe, in Boalt's charter, so it is something they have to abide by in the future. You will be paying less at Boalt than most of the other private schools, and Boalt is the best public school in the nation (just as Berkeley in general is the best public school in the nation), so I don't think the tuition argument is really very strong. I think it's also notable that the LRAP program at Boalt is so strong that although I got scholarship offers at other schools, Boalt still ended up being cheaper than most of them at sticker.

As for what I decided between, it's in my LSN profile. Essentially the decision came down to UChicago with 75,000 over three years or Boalt at sticker and I chose Boalt. I was also pretty seriously looking at NYU, and had a 90,000 offer from UVa. After admitted students day, I immediately withdrew all my applications I had received decisions for. I chose not to remain on the Yale and Harvard waitlists after I received them. While I think I may have gone to Yale over Berkeley had I gotten in, the Yale waitlist is a black hole, and I don't think I would've picked Harvard over Berkeley.

As for the stats, the job placement, and whatever else nonsense you want to throw around, I have this to say: IF you get in (big IF) come to admitted students day. If you still have a prejudice against Boalt after meeting the student body, I would be extremely surprised. I saw no appreciable difference in the intelligence of Boalt, UChicago, or NYU students when I visited the schools. Despite the fact that I know my numbers are fairly high for Boalt because of statistics, if I didn't have that information, I would think I barely squeaked into the class. My mod makes me feel unprepared on a daily basis. The 1L clinics and journals are amazing, and the sense of public service at Boalt is incredible. I am involved with two clinics, one student group, and a journal and don't yet feel overwhelmed, so everything here is doable.

The biggest thing is this: students at Boalt actually enjoy their time there. I personally think that is incredibly important, and almost everyday at Boalt I consider myself blessed and know fully that I made the right decision. I have spoken to other people, and almost everyone here feels the same. If you have any qualms about the hiring at Boalt (which you shouldn't, most of the 2Ls here that actually tried to get 1L SAs here seem to have gotten them), I promise you they will leave your mind as soon as you step on campus. The life here is THAT good.

If people like im_blue want to keep blabbering about the tuition, the placement, and the stats (most of which I think are hyperbole) that's fine. Just know that every student at Boalt could care less about any of the three.


I think you've met a fairly unrepresentative sample. There were more than a few people still scrambling for jobs at the end of 1L year. The economy is rough and Boalt is affected it by it. Whether it is more so than other schools is debatable, but among the 2Ls and 3Ls there are a fair amount of people struggling.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby d34d9823 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:27 am

worldtraveler wrote:I think you've met a fairly unrepresentative sample. There were more than a few people still scrambling for jobs at the end of 1L year. The economy is rough and Boalt is affected it by it. Whether it is more so than other schools is debatable, but among the 2Ls and 3Ls there are a fair amount of people struggling.

This actually makes me think more highly of Boalt. Nothing against kronk, but I don't really take people who are all "OMG my place is the bestest place of all places that ever were" that seriously. Having people who are self-aware and honest speaks well of the school.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby ahduth » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:09 pm

d34dluk3 wrote:This actually makes me think more highly of Boalt. Nothing against kronk, but I don't really take people who are all "OMG my place is the bestest place of all places that ever were" that seriously. Having people who are self-aware and honest speaks well of the school.


Personally I think all the Boalt posters have only enhanced my impression of the school - keep'em coming. :D I've had a bit of time to become more jaded than Kronk, so I can't begrudge him the idealism. Basically I'm looking for a law school where all these various background and viewpoints are not only present, but actively expressed. So... yeah, Boalt is looking good on that count.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby boalt2l » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:23 pm

Boalt 2L here, just thought I'd check in to this thread to add my own input on my experience at Boalt.

I do not know where these 1Ls are getting the idea that most people who want SAs get them. For my own experience I finished in the top 1/3rd or so of the class 1L year and did pretty well. OCI was a bust for me and I am still seeking employment.

I am now looking at jobs which pay less than jobs which I was offered straight out of undergrad. While it is easy to get interviews for many job opportunities you are going against hundreds of candidates in this over saturated legal market. Plenty of 3Ls I know are facing unemployment, at least until they pass the bar exam. I am fine with anyone deciding to come to law school, but just know it can potentially be a disastrous investment.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby worldtraveler » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:36 pm

boalt2l wrote:Boalt 2L here, just thought I'd check in to this thread to add my own input on my experience at Boalt.

I do not know where these 1Ls are getting the idea that most people who want SAs get them. For my own experience I finished in the top 1/3rd or so of the class 1L year and did pretty well. OCI was a bust for me and I am still seeking employment.

I am now looking at jobs which pay less than jobs which I was offered straight out of undergrad. While it is easy to get interviews for many job opportunities you are going against hundreds of candidates in this over saturated legal market. Plenty of 3Ls I know are facing unemployment, at least until they pass the bar exam. I am fine with anyone deciding to come to law school, but just know it can potentially be a disastrous investment.


For real. I had a really awkward conversation with a group of 1Ls the other day who were under the assumption that everybody got jobs, and that OCI worked out for almost everybody.
I'm a 2L, and I think maybe 75% of the people I know are doing just fine. They either have something lined up from OCI or have other options. The other 25% are really, really struggling. Some of that is due to their own choices with laziness in applications, terrible interviewing skills, or pickiness when it comes to jobs. Some of it is also just bad luck and the economy and really seems to have little to nothing to do with the candidate.
To be clear, I really like law school, really like being at Berkeley, and I think it was an excellent choice for me. However, the level of "I'll be just fine!" thinking I've heard is really alarming. That kind of thing is a great way to slack off and not get a job.
I'm somewhere between the rainbows and glitter and the doom and gloom.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby boalt2l » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:13 am

I would say OCI is about a 50/50 proposition, and there's definitely some luck involved with the process. But hell go on the Harvard OCI thread, some people with top 1/4th grades came out with jack. The reason people report that so many people are doing fine is because it's really humiliating to talk to fellow classmates with jobs that we have no opportunities.

IF you come to Boalt, you BETTER HAVE A SAFETY NET! Boalt's career office is worse than useless, all they do is schedule OCI. When you go in, they just say "network" and "ask your connections". If you don't get a job at OCI, you are on your own. Jobs don't fly to you and you gotta hustle to get work in this economy, and as said above if you think a job fill fall in your lap because you are a Boaltie you will be hitting the unemployment line come 3L year.

I don't think 1Ls or TLS understands how dead the legal market is.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby gymboree » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:38 am

ahduth wrote:I might have missed this, but did any of you write "why Boalt" addenda, or incorporate that in your personal statements?


I wrote a 'Why Boalt' and talk about this in the first page or two of this thread with some thoughts on the topic.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby gymboree » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:40 am

worldtraveler wrote:
boalt2l wrote:Boalt 2L here, just thought I'd check in to this thread to add my own input on my experience at Boalt.

I do not know where these 1Ls are getting the idea that most people who want SAs get them. For my own experience I finished in the top 1/3rd or so of the class 1L year and did pretty well. OCI was a bust for me and I am still seeking employment.

I am now looking at jobs which pay less than jobs which I was offered straight out of undergrad. While it is easy to get interviews for many job opportunities you are going against hundreds of candidates in this over saturated legal market. Plenty of 3Ls I know are facing unemployment, at least until they pass the bar exam. I am fine with anyone deciding to come to law school, but just know it can potentially be a disastrous investment.


For real. I had a really awkward conversation with a group of 1Ls the other day who were under the assumption that everybody got jobs, and that OCI worked out for almost everybody.
I'm a 2L, and I think maybe 75% of the people I know are doing just fine. They either have something lined up from OCI or have other options. The other 25% are really, really struggling. Some of that is due to their own choices with laziness in applications, terrible interviewing skills, or pickiness when it comes to jobs. Some of it is also just bad luck and the economy and really seems to have little to nothing to do with the candidate.
To be clear, I really like law school, really like being at Berkeley, and I think it was an excellent choice for me. However, the level of "I'll be just fine!" thinking I've heard is really alarming. That kind of thing is a great way to slack off and not get a job.
I'm somewhere between the rainbows and glitter and the doom and gloom.


I have met a few 2Ls that haven't yet gotten jobs - and they are what I would describe as socially "lawkward". I would imagine they gave the same impression in interviews. Not to say this is the case across the board and true in every situation, but hey.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby boalt2l » Thu Oct 14, 2010 10:25 am

I guess over half our class is socially awkward then.... it's really cute that you think employers actually care about sociability. The only things that matter are W/E and transcripts.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby r6_philly » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:19 am

boalt2l wrote:I guess over half our class is socially awkward then.... it's really cute that you think employers actually care about sociability. The only things that matter are W/E and transcripts.


What you believe is really cute coming from a student.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby aheisman » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:38 am

boalt2l wrote:I guess over half our class is socially awkward then.... it's really cute that you think employers actually care about sociability. The only things that matter are W/E and transcripts.


Yep, grades >>>>>>>>>> all else. I had an interview where the guy asked me for a transcript first thing and then spent the rest of the time asking me about classes. It's better to have top notch grades and no extracurriculars than have mediocre grades and write-on to law review.

I think it's weird how 1Ls who are still naive and overly optimistic are arguing with 2Ls who went through OCI about 2L OCI.
Last edited by aheisman on Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby mfeller2 » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:42 am

boalt2l wrote:I guess over half our class is socially awkward then.... it's really cute that you think employers actually care about sociability. The only things that matter are W/E and transcripts.


Says the socially awkward guy with good grades and work experience that won't get an offer because fellow attorneys don't feel comfortable around him and he is awkward during interviews.
Personality does matter, law firms won't hire someone if they think the person won't gel socially with others. They can easily find someone with just as good grades and work experience, if you haven't heard there is an abundance of them currently without jobs.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby aheisman » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:45 am

mfeller2 wrote:
boalt2l wrote:I guess over half our class is socially awkward then.... it's really cute that you think employers actually care about sociability. The only things that matter are W/E and transcripts.


Says the socially awkward guy with good grades and work experience that won't get an offer because fellow attorneys don't feel comfortable around him and he is awkward during interviews.
Personality does matter, law firms won't hire someone if they think the person won't gel socially with others. They can easily find someone with just as good grades and work experience, if you haven't heard there is an abundance of them currently without jobs.


It depends on the market, but don't expect to get any success out of SF, DC, or Chicago with top third grades. (I personally found it much easier landing callbacks than offers, so getting callbacks is 30% of the battle. I say 30% because firms are calling back a TON of people per spot.)

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby r6_philly » Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:55 am

aheisman wrote:
boalt2l wrote:I guess over half our class is socially awkward then.... it's really cute that you think employers actually care about sociability. The only things that matter are W/E and transcripts.


Yep, grades >>>>>>>>>> all else. I had an interview where the guy asked me for a transcript first thing and then spent the rest of the time asking me about classes. It's better to have top notch grades and no extracurriculars than have mediocre grades and write-on to law review.

I think it's weird how 1Ls who are still naive and overly optimistic are arguing with 2Ls who went through OCI about 2L OCI.


You are only seeing half the equation.

Good personality will most likely not compensate for good grades. But bad personality will put you at a disadvantage compared to others with both good grades and good personality. In a over saturated market, good personality will get chosen first. You probably get call backs on good grades, and offers based on other things (including personality) when firms choose people to send offer to.

Socially awkward attorneys don't work too well with clients, good grades or not.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby aheisman » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:01 pm

r6_philly wrote: You are only seeing half the equation.

Good personality will most likely not compensate for good grades. But bad personality will put you at a disadvantage compared to others with both good grades and good personality. In a over saturated market, good personality will get chosen first. You probably get call backs on good grades, and offers based on other things (including personality) when firms choose people to send offer to.

Socially awkward attorneys don't work too well with clients, good grades or not.


Since at least 50% of the class has "bad" grades, it's not ridiculous to say that regardless of their personality they probably won't get biglaw. And if someone who has good grades has a crap personality, you're right, that person probably won't get an offer.

Also, at the callback-offer stage, grades also matter. It depends on the firm and screening interviewer's status (partner or not), but a lone interviewer at OCI can callback an individual without speaking to the hiring committee. However, at the offer stage, you are evaluated by 4+ interviewers, your reviews along with resume/transcript/paperwork is sent to a recruiting committee, and the committee has to agree to make a decision. So yes, grades matter at the offer stage as well.

Also, if you want to do litigation you probably won't speak to any clients for numerous years. As a mid-level litigation associate in biglaw, you never get to interact with clients. Transactional work requires more social skills, but for certain practice areas you will literally just be working behind your desk.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby r6_philly » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:14 pm

Well we are essentially agreeing. I just feel that once your grades pass the bar (ha) your personality will be judged against others.

Even at a desk job where you never see anyone else, being able to fit into the corporate culture is important (maybe not expressed as such, but it is). No one wants to work in the same company with socially awkward people. I am not from the legal industry, but even in other industries you think personality and social skills shouldn't matter and are not expected, it still does. I remember a company I worked for had a need for a DBA whose job is to be locked in a server room alone for 10 hours a day. But we really did not want to hire that person because he was so awkward. But he was the only qualified person. Had we come across ANY other person who is even remotely as qualified, we would not have hired him.

And when I screen for interns nowadays, I screen them on personality first, then decide among the rest based on grads/major/apps. I would not bring in a person so everyone could avoid him/her like the plague. Because that does not increase productivity.

Maybe this is less so of an issue in the legal world? But after 15+ years in various settings and capacities, I doubt it. If a fortune 100 company can have the same environment and politics as a university department, I just can't picture a law firm be any different.

But it's only my unqualified opinion ;)

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby boalt2l » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:03 pm

Once you pass the grades bar your relevant work experience comes into play. The hiring partner at firms who makes the call is someone who usually never even meets you. After grades it essentially becomes a resume contest, which is why people straight out of undergrad are pretty screwed.

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Re: Boalt 1Ls taking questions

Postby worldtraveler » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:34 pm

aheisman wrote:
mfeller2 wrote:
boalt2l wrote:I guess over half our class is socially awkward then.... it's really cute that you think employers actually care about sociability. The only things that matter are W/E and transcripts.


Says the socially awkward guy with good grades and work experience that won't get an offer because fellow attorneys don't feel comfortable around him and he is awkward during interviews.
Personality does matter, law firms won't hire someone if they think the person won't gel socially with others. They can easily find someone with just as good grades and work experience, if you haven't heard there is an abundance of them currently without jobs.


It depends on the market, but don't expect to get any success out of SF, DC, or Chicago with top third grades. (I personally found it much easier landing callbacks than offers, so getting callbacks is 30% of the battle. I say 30% because firms are calling back a TON of people per spot.)


That's a little over the top. There are people with median or barely above grades who made it into those markets.

The one thing I would agree with everyone on is that people straight out of undergrad seem to struggle more. I've seen a few non-traditional students with not so good grades but awesome resumes get great offers. The same is not true for the ones going straight through.

It's rather odd that 1Ls are arguing about OCI. 2Ls as a group are also far more reluctant to talk about jobs with 1Ls if they didn't do well. It's rather humiliating, and given that people immediately start thinking you're a socially retarded weirdo if you didn't get anything, I can understand why. Yes, some of them are actually socially retarded weirdos, but some are not.




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