University of Minnesota 2L 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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daniel3.14
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University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby daniel3.14 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:16 am

Hi all! UMN 2L here. If you've got questions, I've got answers...

Fair warning, I should say up front that I think that coming to UMN was the biggest mistake of my life, and I pretty much despise the school. So that's sort of where I'm coming from, and most of what I've got to share are horror stories. But for straight-forward questions, I'll try to keep my answers relatively non-opinionated.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:02 am

1. Why do you think it was the biggest mistake of your life?
2. Was your decision to attend that school based off of that schools ranking, and if so, do you feel as though the current ranking of that school is appropriate?
3. What horror stories have you heard?
4. Why do you despise it?


I am under the impression that all schools from ~20-60 are pretty much the same, but prospective students like to pretend that the higher ranked a school is in that range, the better it is.

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minnbills
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby minnbills » Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:44 pm

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YourCaptain
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby YourCaptain » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:01 pm

Better questions

% class employed by OCI

% of 2L class with offers by December

% of 3L class with offers currently

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minnbills
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby minnbills » Wed Sep 14, 2011 8:06 pm

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daniel3.14
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby daniel3.14 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:36 pm

Hi Minnbills,

minnbills wrote:Why do you put so much stock into the building? It's pretty typical of buildings built in the 1970s IMO. I've spent a lot of time on the west bank and never thought that classrooms were that bad. They're not cool like NU or Cornell rooms but they suit their purpose pretty well. I agree that the west bank is poor aesthetically but I've never really considered that a reason to not want to go to school at UMN.


Whoa, slow down there Frank Lloyd Wright! Who said anything about comparison with NU or Cornell? I'm talkin' Hamline here. I mean, Hamline's facilities put UMN to shame. Different orders of magnitude. When a supposedly "top" law school like UMN is blown out of the water by a local Tier 4 school -- on any metric -- I think it's an indication that something's amiss.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't say that I put "so much" stock into the building. I wouldn't discount its importance either, though. It is perhaps the most concrete (no pun intended) way that the school irks me, since it's physical and directly evident. Walking into the dungeons they call classrooms day-in and day-out really starts to weigh on you after a while -- particularly during the winters.

Look, your 1L year is going to be depressing to the point of trauma. This will be true wherever you go. And when you get to that point, attending school in windowless rooms, with exposed plumbing, insulation, and wiring dangling from the ceiling, and otherwise frequently malfunctioning infrastructure, it gets to be that stuff like ambiance and quality of facilities makes a significant difference.

All that said, you are right to note that there are other, more important factors to consider as well.

minnbills wrote:Could you expand on the schoolhouse rock thing?


Sure! If you're not familiar with it, it's an animated short that's often used to teach children (think elementary school) about how a bill becomes a law. It's on youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ.

So, something you'll be spending a lot of time on is "legislative history." That is, when you encounter a vague or ambiguously worded law, there are a number of ways of resolving the ambiguity or precisifying the vagueness. One such method is to look at how the law became a law -- to see why the legislature passed the law in the first place, and to see whether any issues relevant to your particular cases were actually contemplated by the legislature. So you end up spending some time looking at the law-making so as to get a better grasp of how the law-application ought to go.

To that end, we were twice shown that Schoolhouse Rock video, "How a Bill Becomes a Law" in two thoroughly soporific lectures and our statutory interpretation class. Having spoken with students in other sections, it seems that Schoolhouse Rock was indeed shown in all of the statutory interpretation classes. I feel reasonably confident that this repeated bombardment of children's media was universally resented by my colleagues. I mean, you might pass it off as "cute" the first time around, but after the third time, it's just degrading.

Now, you might fairly interject that this minor indignation is not sufficient reason to decide against UMN. However, I'd disagree, because it's indicative of several larger problems. Firstly, the fact that we were presented with it on three separate occasions -- in three putatively related lectures -- demonstrates the lack of coordination and planning in the curriculum. Were this the lone case of crossed wires, it might be of no significance, but this is a fairly regular occurrence. Indeed, we were subjected to innumerable cases of duplicative, redundant, time-wasting exercises.

Secondly, it's a pretty good example of the lack of respect given to the students. This starts pretty early on, as I'm sure you can verify with this year's 1Ls, to whom orientation week will still be a fresh memory. By my recollection, there were several tedious hours dedicated to introducing incoming students to the importance of wearing hats in winter. Never minding that a majority of matriculated students are originally from Minnesota or neighboring states, the stuff about hats in winter really warrants nothing more than a brief mention. Hours dedicated to this condescending preaching really creates the sense that the school considers its students to be low-functioning, mentally-handicapped children. I mean, really, you'd think the non-Minnesotans would figure out the importance of hats on their own when it got to be -20º in January.

I could go on and on. They had a series of lectures (mandatory, of course) on how to use Westlaw and Lexis, which pretty much amounted to hours wasted on how to use a search box. True, it is not the same as Google. However, they give no information that a marginally curious/conscious individual could not have gathered from clicking on the "help" link next to the search box.

In summary, they waste hours upon hours of your time with asinine lectures, training sessions, and other such drivel. Then, they repeat the material until you're ready to shoot yourself. And the whole time, they talk down to you as though you were a particularly stupid child. The thing is that the real classes are pretty serious stuff, and the workload is comparable to any other top school. So you don't really have the time to waste with UMN's quirky schedule-busting nonsense.

But then again, if you don't value your time, or if you have no self-respect, then this shouldn't bother you too much.

minnbills wrote:Also, I thought the concensus with most UMN students was that the laptop is pretty good? Maybe it's just for 1Ls and your class wasn't so lucky, but in the Minnesota 11 thread people seemed pretty excited about the model.


Whoa. Not at all. I've talked with a lot of other students about the laptop, and my totally informal, unscientific sense of it is that maybe 40% are indifferent to the laptops. Another 40% would rather have had a different machine, but aren't sufficiently upset about it to raise a stink. And 20% find the imposition unbearable. Count me in the third category.

That said, I think there is wide consensus (even amongst those students who are content with their laptops) that they are way too expensive for what you get, and that it should not be an obligatory purchase. I have not met a single person, who has thought that the mandatory nature of the purchase was beneficial in any way.

The school's line is that they are able to get the laptops at a discount by purchasing them in bulk. The bizarre thing about this is that you can find the same model of laptop, with the exact same specs, for several hundred dollars less on Lenovo's website. It's not clear that there's any savings going on at all.

Another reason for this bizarre policy is that it standardizes the computers for the Tech Services people. Well, knowing a thing or two about computers myself, this boggles my mind. Pretty much the only remedy that the tech monkeys know how to perform, in the event of a problem, is to replace the hard drive with a new one with freshly installed software. Of course, this "fix" loses all of the user's data, but it's entirely consistent with the school's general disregard for its students' concerns. They also give loaner laptops in the case of more severe problems, and "coordinate" with the warranty folks at Lenovo (which involves mailing in defective computers that are still in the warranty back to Lenovo). In short, this rationale for having everyone use the same laptop borders on the psychotic, since none of the things that the marginally competent tech staff actually does depends on having uniformity of computer brands/models.

Nevertheless, some idiot administrator came up with this idea, proposed it at a meeting, was most likely uncontested, and thus the much-loathed, nonsensical, thoroughly absurd "laptop program" was born. What really kills me is that when talking to the admins, they talk about the fact that UMN is the only law school to engage in this imbecilic policy as if it were a good thing. As if Yale, Harvard, and Stanford weren't doing it because they weren't as "innovative" and "forward-thinking" as the brilliant deans of UMN Law.

You know, as I think about this... the easiest way of making my point would be for you to see for yourself.

Here you go: http://youtu.be/EtQA0MmdPWg?hd=1

minnbills wrote:How are people doing with the job search? In particular, in-state people?


What do you mean "in-state people"? Do you mean people originally from MN or people interviewing for jobs in MN? If you mean the former, then I'm not sure why they'd have an easier or more difficult time of it. I haven't seen any issue anyway. If you mean the latter, then it's not hard to get work in MN if you're from UMN. It might be crappy work, but you'll get work. If you're wondering about big law, then the answer is that a small portion of the top quartile make it. If you're not in the top quartile, it's not even worth your time to try.

In the interest of fairness, if you're dead-set on working in Minnesota (maybe Iowa or Wisconsin to a lesser extent), then UMN may be the best school for you. I have not yet met anyone who exclusively wants to work in Minnesota and nowhere else, but if that describes you, then you should probably come here. UMN alums pretty much dominate the regional legal market. Mostly because T14 grads don't tend to flood the Minneapolis legal market, it leaves UMN as the best ranked school in the region by a pretty big margin. There just isn't as much competition.

I have not really heard of anyone in my class getting a summer job with anyone outside of MN. It would be a stretch to say that UMN limits you to working in the upper midwest as a rule (compared with, say, William Mitchell), but you'll be at a pretty serious disadvantage if you wanted to work on either coast after law school. It's certainly possible, but everyone (e.g. 3Ls, UMN profs, and even the career counsellors) acknowledges a pretty heavy regional thing going on with UMN.

So for example, if you wanted to work in NYC after school, then you'd have a much, much better shot going to Fordham or Yeshiva than UMN, despite UMN having the higher rank.

Hope that's helpful!
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby daniel3.14 » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:41 pm

minnbills wrote:so... I guess OP isn't coming back?


Sorry -- I'll get to the other questions... I've got a lot of school work this week.

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby minnbills » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:19 am

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby Hopefully2012 » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:36 am

I appreciate the insight, Daniel. Sorry to hear about your terrible experiences. Your stories are definitely playing a role in my law school decisions.

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby Yukos » Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:19 pm

Tagged for awesomeness. Especially that YouTube video.

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby Redzo » Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:54 pm

Man, I feel terrible for you, OP. You seem like a fairly smart guy and I'm sorry to hear that you're having such a terrible experience. From what you say, it sounds like a pretty depressing school.

I don't think it has been asked yet, did you try to transfer out? How did you do after 1L? And what sort of job opportunities do you see coming out of UMN?

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby Naked Dude » Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:40 pm

I don't go to UMN, but I think you might be overreacting just a little bit--all my law school friends (across different schools) have been subjected to tedious, unhelpful Lexis/Westlaw trainings. And I know some Orientation events can be overly paternal in an obnoxious or mildly condescending way, that's just the way it is I think.

I do hear you on facilities though. It's all psychological, but sometimes architecture can be the difference between inspiration and depression. Stanford (and I mean the entire campus, just in general) is heartbreakingly beautiful. Walking around it under a bright, clear blue sky is a religious experience. I've always felt that urban campuses tend to lack character when compared to more suburban/rural ones. There are always exceptions of course: Columbia has some pretty breathtaking buildings, NYU is basically a series of buildings (but both are in NYC, albeit different areas). I don't get depressed by a lack of "character," but if you're one of the people bothered that much by it then of course tread carefully.

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby daniel3.14 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:51 am

Hi Aberzombie -- sorry for the delay -- 2L year turns out to be a busy time!

Aberzombie1892 wrote:1. Why do you think it was the biggest mistake of your life?


That's like asking a refugee from a totalitarian regime why he hates oppression. I really couldn't pin it down to one thing, I guess. Hopefully you'll be able to infer from my answers to the more specific questions.

One word of affirmation is in order, before I move on. I understand a lot of people say things like, "Worst day of my life," or "Worst pizza in the world," or whatever, and it's just sort of an amusing way of overstating things for effect. However, when I say that coming to UMN Law was the worst decision of my life -- I mean it literally. Not figuratively, not hyperbolically, not rhetorically... it was truly the worst decision I ever made. I just want to make it clear that this is not meant as a figure of speech.

Aberzombie1892 wrote:2. Was your decision to attend that school based off of that schools ranking, and if so, do you feel as though the current ranking of that school is appropriate?


This is a great question.

Firstly, YES, my decision to attend was largely based on the ranking. Of course, you have to triangulate with financial aid. By the by, I'm getting $19k aid. In-state tuition is $27k. So, I'm paying $8k per year, which means I'm getting my JD for $24k total, which you'd think is a pretty good bargin. Knowing what I know now, I'd give it up in a heartbeat, but it looked like a fantastic deal at the time. Graduate from the rank 20 law school, with only $24k in debt.

My brother is going to U Chicago Law (he's actually the same year as me). By the time he graduates, he's going to have nearly a $250k debt. That said, my brother seems to be extremely happy at U Chi, and I am insanely jealous of him. And of course, his career prospects are immeasurably better.

Anyway, the point is that ranking was a big factor for me in choosing UMN Law, but it was not the only factor. It was a balance of things, of which rank was a significant element.

Secondly, and this is really the great part of your question, YES, I think UMN's rank is a very inaccurate reflection of its strength. It strikes me as very much overrated.

I should say that it's a weird school insofar as I think that the faculty strength probably does put it in that range. We have some truly excellent professors. There are some real crappy profs, too, but I've been pretty fortunate in not having had too many of them, and I think the general quality of the faculty is very good.

So you might fairly wonder why that's not the most important and dispositive factor. Here's why not:

(A) Because a lot of stuff is taught by adjuncts. For comparison: at my brother's school (U Chi), his Legal Writing instructor (not a professor, mind you) clerked for two Supreme Court justices. The guy is some sort of legal genius, who was teaching my brother's small section for Legal Writing! And the thing is that all of the U Chi Legal Writing instructors were of that caliber. Part of the reason that they were able to get such great adjuncts is just because it's U Chi, rank #5. But another big part of the reason is that they use their adjunct positions as gateways to professorships. They really try to incentivize the best and brightest to come back and teach.

Let's contrast that with my experience: My Legal Writing instructor was a nice enough guy, I guess. Not the brightest tool in the shed, but I think he meant well.

So, as is the case at most law schools, my first semester of Legal Writing was spent writing memoranda. At the beginning of the course, my adjunct handed out samples of a memorandum he actually wrote for his job, with confidential client info redacted. The real thing. Great, right? Just do what he does, right? But you see, the problem was that he didn't follow any of the citation rules or formatting conventions in his "sample" that he would require from us. So that memo he passed around was useless, and if you actually followed his lead, you'd get points marked off.

Okay, that's a rocky start, but trivial, right? So I hand in my first draft of the memorandum, and he gives a whole bundle of "corrections," which seemed to me to neither improve the writing nor touch upon the legal analysis. But, in the interest of getting through what I was realizing was a fluff course, I complied. Indeed, there were places where I made word-for-word replacements according to his instruction.

So you can understand that I was much surprised when, for the second draft, he crossed these sentences out (the very same sentences that he told me to add), writing in the margin, "Bad analysis," or "You can't say this in a memo," or some such condescending thing.

To be clear, the guy told me what to put in my memo, word-for-word. And then he crossed out those very same sentences, which he told me to insert, now telling me that they were mistakes. Then, on the third draft, he chastises me for not including the sentences in question, which he told me to insert after the first draft. He interprets the absence of those changes as a sign of rebelliousness or laziness on my part. Any objection to the sheer madness is met with condescending prattle about how he understands how "difficult" and "rigorous" legal writing can be, and how UG doesn't prepare students for the precision and intellectual demands of memo writing.

And everyone in my section had similar problems. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of complaints to the admin, which went unanswered. Literally no one with whom I spoke had anything good to say about their Legal Writing adjunct. The problem, simply, is that UMN attracts stupid adjuncts.

Part of the reason is that they pay their adjuncts crap. The dumb-dumbs who sign up to be adjuncts are all local ambulance chasers and gophers, and they get a couple thousand bucks to teach for a semester. For that, they don't really read the students' assignments closely, and they're just doing it to put something on their resumé. Part of the problem here is locality. Unlike comparably ranked schools like USC, UCLA, GW, Fordham -- Minneapolis does not really have a particularly large legal market. It's not bad, but it just doesn't compare with LA, NYC, Chicago, or DC. And UMN is not doing anything to attract people to come to Minneapolis. So the end effect is that you get whomever happens to be available. And that usually means associates at medium/small firms, who are doing it half heartedly so that they'll have something fluffy to put in their CV. The truth is that they're quite often incompetent to mediocre attorneys, who have little/nothing to teach.

And insofar as Legal Writing goes, this is not even the half of it. The adjunct was really sort of oblivious and absent, which was bad enough. But the real horrible part was the student instructor (why do they even have student instructors?), who was a roly poly, brain-dead egomaniac, who paraded around as though he were a big law partner, browbeating everyone for not understanding the "clarity" and "elegance" of his writing. I could go on for pages about this lunatic, but I think he was not really indicative of the norm, so it might just be wasted text to describe his shenanigans in any great detail here. I just had the bad luck there of getting the worst possible SI at the school. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the sort of 2Ls and 3Ls who volunteer to be SIs are usually people who think rather highly of themselves, who fancy themselves "writers," or "teachers," or some such thing, and who sport large, festering, furious chips on their shoulders. Combined with the apathy of the adjuncts (my adjunct didn't even show up for the last month of class), this basically means that the SIs run the show.

I'll have more to say about adjuncts below -- when I regale you with the legend of "Practice and Professionalism."

(B) And then there are all the stupid fluffy, sparkly projects the school has. For example, Dean Wippman has declared that he desperately wants UMN Law to have 27 clinics. There are 22 or thereabouts now. But he specifically wants 27. Why? Because some other school has 26, and he wants to be able to say that UMN Law has more clinics than any other law school.

Never mind whether we have the staff for it. Never mind whether 27 different clinics are actually warranted by the legal needs of the community or the professional interests of the students. He's gotta get to that number. The thing that's galling about this is how transparently he's going about building crap to put in promotional brochures. He doesn't care whether the "27 Clinics" are actually a boon to the students or the school. He wants to say that there are UMN has more clinics than anyone else. And more is better, right? This is the sort of childish, imbecilic, flaky thinking that's running the school.

Another example of this is the course "Practice and Professionalism," which was instituted by the school in response to some scholarly article criticizing law schools generally for not teaching professionalism and practical skills. Ever eager to be on the "cutting edge," the knuckle-dragging neanderthals in the administration decided that they'd create a course called "Practice and Professionalism," and thereby jump to the forefront of legal education!

It was, to say the least, a smashing disaster. No one -- neither the professors nor the adjuncts -- had any clue what the course was supposed to actually teach. The course was composed of two parts: the large lectures and small groups. The large lectures involved random bizarre "games," (which put me in mind of the Milgram experiment) designed to teach social skills (whatever you're imagining, the reality was so much lamer). The small sections met every Friday with adjuncts. My adjunct basically encouraged us to be as mind-numbingly cheerful and cloyingly friendly as possible. Examples: We had a mock deposition, where I really grilled the deponent (an actor from the drama department), and the adjunct went off on me because I was being hostile (note: the witness was a hostile witness!). She also took points off from other students because they didn't offer the client (actor) a glass of water, or notice that the client was fidgeting in her chair (indicating that it was uncomfortable, and a more comfortable chair should have been offered).

This, of course, was unacceptable to all concerned (except the adjuncts, I suppose). There was a large petition, the students were on the verge of storming the Dean of Students' office. She was, as usual, bull headed, and attempted to hold the line. But eventually, the pressure from students (and indeed, the faculty teaching the course itself) became too great, and they had to demote the course from a graded to pass/fail (everyone passed). This was a pretty huge deal, to change the grading scheme mid-semester. Nevertheless, the whole notion was so ill-conceived, and the anger over the poor design, unclear objectives, and amorphous evaluative criteria led to threats of students walking out of classes en masse in protest.

Aberzombie1892 wrote:3. What horror stories have you heard?


Apart from the "Practice and Professionalism" fiasco? Well, off the top of my head: one guy in my section decided he hated UMN so much, he just dropped out after his 1L year. Just up and quit. Pretty much everyone else who could transferred.

One of the profs, who I was fortunate not to have, spent considerable class time preaching about Jesus. When a group of students went to the Dean of Students to complain about this, she offered three responses. Firstly, she pointed out that the professor in question was Jewish (which admittedly makes the episode more bizarre, though methinks no less inappropriate). Secondly, she condescended to them, explaining how everyone has different learning styles, and that they needed to adapt to that professor's "teaching style." Finally, she basically told them to get lost.

Indeed, when it comes to episodes like this generally, the Dean of Students' motto seems to be: "I am always available to hear your complaints, do nothing about it, and 'counsel' you as if you were either (a) stupid, or (b) the source of the problem."

And I suppose I should throw in a personal horror story, too. I was one of the students who didn't download the ExamSoft files during the magic download week. There doesn't seem to be any articulable reason why they have this policy, since it does not affect anything at all whatsoever in the fairness or management of exam taking. Nevertheless, you're supposed to download these blank frames, on which you will write your exams, two weeks before the exam period. Failure to download these blank frames will result in that student not being allowed to type their exams. That meant that I had to handwrite my fall semester exams.

Interestingly, I did go through the process of downloading the exams. The reason why it failed to register or complete is a bit of a mystery, but it bears mentioning that I actually did comply with the school's requirement, but got rather screwed anyway.

So, after the fact, what would it take for them to allow me to download the ExamSoft frames after the magic download week had passed? Basically, one of the tech services guys would have to type a password into a website to allow me access. This procedure would take all of five seconds. Of course, I'd need the Dean of Students' permission to make this happen. This I duly requested, and was duly denied. She (the Dean of Students) claimed that asking the tech service monkeys to type in a password would take valuable time away from the technical needs of other students. As an aside, I should mention that when I went to the tech services room, there were nostudents there, and the staffers were playing video games.

So what is the effect of handwriting your final exams when your colleagues are typing them? Particularly for issue spammers? Well, let's compare my fall semester and spring semester grades. Note once again that I was forced to hand write my fall semester exams because of the moronic, imbecilic, sheet-brane policy of UMN Law, along with the unmoving inflexibility of our loving Dean of Students. Contrastingly, I typed my spring semester exams, just like everyone else.

Fall Semester GPA (handwritten): 2.7
Spring Semester GPA (typed): 3.8

How's that for a horror story? Incidentally, after the fact, when I complained about the unfairness, the Dean of Students basically wrote a long email telling me that I was stupid (or to be more accurate, she "empathized" with my about how "difficult" law school is, and what a "big change" law school must be from what I was used to in UG), and basically that I deserved a 2.7. There's your horror story.

Aberzombie1892 wrote:4. Why do you despise it?


Asked and answered.

Aberzombie1892 wrote:I am under the impression that all schools from ~20-60 are pretty much the same, but prospective students like to pretend that the higher ranked a school is in that range, the better it is.


I would disagree on this point. I think rankings are generally predictive. I do think that some schools are probably overrated -- specifically, schools like UMN that try to cater to ranking methodologies to boost certain metrics to appear stronger than they really are. Of course, all schools do this to some degree, so you'd think it'd even out. But at least with UMN, a lot of the school is sort of built around hype without much heed paid to substance.

I would agree that the differences between two schools ranked within 10 places is probably marginal in most cases, though. I don't think, however, that rank 60 and rank 20 are the same. That leap is too big to elide.
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby daniel3.14 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:53 am

Redzo wrote:Man, I feel terrible for you, OP. You seem like a fairly smart guy and I'm sorry to hear that you're having such a terrible experience. From what you say, it sounds like a pretty depressing school.

I don't think it has been asked yet, did you try to transfer out? How did you do after 1L? And what sort of job opportunities do you see coming out of UMN?


Desperately tried to transfer. Should've tried for a lateral move, but I made the mistake of only trying to transfer up. Was rejected... the first semester fiasco killed me. Tanked my GPA, even though I was at the top of the top quartile my second semester. Even got a "book award" (highest grade in a course).

I'm in my 2L now, so there's not much to report. I'm on a journal. UMN is relatively strong at Crim Law, so I'm trying to focus on those courses, Law and Econ (I just like it), and Law and Philosophy.

Honestly, I don't like my career prospects after this. I'm sure I'd be able to get work, but nothing that I think is dignified or particularly desirable. I will probably go get a PhD in something unrelated to law.

Honestly, I'd like to quit now. But I'd be getting my JD for so cheap, and it would up my earning power (even if I ended up doing something unrelated to law), and I'm ahead on credits and can even probably graduate a semester early. So for now I'm gonna try to muscle through the next year and a half, get the degree, and never look back. Can't tell, though.

The place is so f-ing depressing, I seriously consider dropping out everyday.
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby daniel3.14 » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:13 am

minnbills wrote:Thanks for the detailed reply.

I go to ug at the U and spend most of my time on the west bank. While I agree the architecture is pretty awful, I have to disagree about the classrooms being that bad. The whole insulation thing is just part of the flawed architectural 70s high school chic that went on across MN at the time. I never found it that distracting. I could see how someone who isn't a minnesotan (or who otherwise really doesn't like the cold/windowless days lol) could be pretty taken aback by it.


But I am a Minnesotan, and I still hate it! Have you actually walked around in the law library and checked out the classrooms? I mean, even compared with Humphrey next door, the Law building is really the crappiest building -- even for UMN.

minnbills wrote:I've seen the schoolhouse rock video quite a few times. Honestly it sounds pretty weird that they would show it more than once. What did your professor say?


Two different profs and a librarian, I believe were the presenters of the dread video. And they didn't really say anything about it. They just show it and then go into a lecture about statutory interpretation. Each time. It's bizarre.

minnbills wrote:To be honest, most of what you've said so far seems pretty par for the course for law schools. I mean, didn't Uchi or Penn have a lecture about walking in the snow?


No. As I wrote above -- my brother goes to U Chi Law. He's actually the same year as me, so we compare notes pretty regularly. His experience is incomparably better than mine. U Chi has its problems, too. Insane competitiveness. Pretty extreme political conservatism (this is a problem assuming you aren't a conservative -- which my brother and I are not).

But the problems at UMN are in a whole different ballpark. UMN teeters on being non-functional. The whole program is a gimmick. Frankly, the surprise is not the relatively high rank so much as the fact its even accredited.

Contrast: U Chi is degrading to students, who are forced to slave and toil in the library. UMN is degrading to students, who are forced to sit in a circle and share stories about how law makes them feel.

It's a qualitatively different sort of complaint. UMN sucks in a way that's distinct from the way other law schools suck.

minnbills wrote:My question about in-state people meant minnesotans looking for jobs in minnesota. I know there isn't much of a biglaw market in minneapolis, and you mentioned that people are able to find work in the state, but could you expand on this a bit more? Are people going into small firms or corporations, etc etc. I'm not absolutely dedicated to working in MN and nowhere else but I'm planning on staying here after ls.


Well, if you're planning to work in MN, then sadly UMN may just be the best place for you. Obviously, if you can get into a T14 school, then that'd be better. But outside of that, there's really no better guarantee for a MN job than UMN.

As to where people are going -- I really couldn't tell you. There have got to be hard numbers on that, which the career counsellors would be happy to give you. Anecdotally, I don't know anyone from my class who's gotten anything with big law yet. There are some quasi-big-law firms in the cities. Faegre. Dorsey. But they're not really the biggest, the environment is pretty bad (even for big law -- Dorsey is particularly douchy).

The small or medium sized firms seem to be hiring, and a lot of my classmates seem reasonably satisfied to work there eventually. But I really couldn't tell you more -- my sample is so likely to be skewed and insufficiently comprehensive.

minnbills wrote:Also, are you participating in a clinical program?


Haha! Yes. It just started, but I'm doing Criminal Defense Appeals. Should be fun. It's being taught by an adjunct, but this guy seems considerably smarter and more engaged in the whole thing than my previous experiences with adjuncts. I'm cautiously optimistic.

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johnnyutah
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby johnnyutah » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:20 pm

Is it true that last year, someone released a live spiny lobster in the library?

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby MNbound » Fri Sep 23, 2011 9:52 pm

Although you seem to almost universally hate UMN law, you also seem to agree UMN grads have the best chance in Minnesota among Minnesota law schools. I'm applying to exclusively Minnesota law schools this fall and my numbers indicate i'll probably get full or close to full scholarships at William Mitchell, St. Thomas, Hamline and probably little to no scholarships at UMN. The only place I want to work is in Minnesota, so if you had to pick between WM, (my number 2) at full scholarship and UMN at sticker, would you still say the employment prospects at UMN are worth the extra debt? Also, what are your feelings in general towards other MN law schools?

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daniel3.14
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby daniel3.14 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:00 pm

MNbound wrote:Although you seem to almost universally hate UMN law, you also seem to agree UMN grads have the best chance in Minnesota among Minnesota law schools. I'm applying to exclusively Minnesota law schools this fall and my numbers indicate i'll probably get full or close to full scholarships at William Mitchell, St. Thomas, Hamline and probably little to no scholarships at UMN. The only place I want to work is in Minnesota, so if you had to pick between WM, (my number 2) at full scholarship and UMN at sticker, would you still say the employment prospects at UMN are worth the extra debt? Also, what are your feelings in general towards other MN law schools?


Hi MNbound!

Yes, I think UMN grads pretty much own the MN legal market. That said, a full ride at WM probably makes up the difference. I assume that you're actually from Minnesota, so you'd be eligible for the in-state tuition rate. So that'd be a smidgen under $30k•3years=$90k. I guess you could just do the math and figure out what the average 1st year income is for a UMN grad and a WM grad, and multiply the difference by five. After five years of actual work experience and networking, you'll overcome whatever disadvantages you had going to WM rather than UMN. If the difference (multiplied by five) is less than $90k, then I'd go WM. If it's more, then I'd go UMN. That's just the economics of it -- you don't really need me to tell you that.

On the "soft" side, to really make the most of what little my crappy school has to offer, you really need to be in the top quartile. If your LSAT and GPA aren't quite stellar enough to get you into UMN with substantial aid, then you'd mostly be competing with people who got better LSAT scores than you, and who are better test takers. So, what you need to factor in is: would it be better to be at the very top at WM or bottomish at UMN. Then, I think the answer is clearly WM.

More than anything, I think I would've been happier going to WM than UMN. I'm getting $19k in financial aid, and I still wish I had gone to another school -- any other school. Every morning when I look into the bathroom mirror, I ask myself pretty seriously whether today's the day I'm going to drop out. It hasn't happened yet, but I must confess that everyday I get closer to it.

Knowing what I know now, I would probably choose any other T1 school over UMN, even if UMN offered me a full ride, and the other schools were sticker price. How that works when you're dealing with T2 (especially a school near the bottom of T2), is maybe trickier.

One last piece of advice/news -- and this may be useful to anyone browsing this thread -- I recently found out that one of the students from my section last year, who finished his 1L year with a 3.9 GPA, has not gotten a single summer job offer out of OCI. And this is evidently not for a lack of effort. Which is to say that the job market is incredibly crappy right now for everyone.

I don't know how this would really affect your decision. On the one hand, in such a competitive market, UMN probably improves your odds considerably. On the other hand, even being in the top 10% at UMN does not guarantee you a job. And if you got your JD from WM, you'd always have that degree, and if you couldn't find work right away, you'd really start to appreciate that full ride. I don't envy your decision. It's a tough call. As you might guess, I'd probably go with WM, assuming they do actually offer you the full ride. Good luck on your decision, whichever way you choose to go.

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby dusk2k2 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:16 pm

Dang man, how can someone get a 3.9 GPA and not get an offer in Minnesota? I'm a 2L at the U too (my grades are below that 3.9 guy by a bit, but I've got 2 offers at the big firms in Minnesota).

Still fair warning to people going to Minnesota. It's almost IMPOSSIBLE to get a biglaw job out of the states of Minnesota or Wisconsin. I estimate maybe 5 people MAX will be able to get biglaw elsewhere. I've been trying, and can't get anywhere out of state, and I've got real stellar credentials.

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minnbills
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby minnbills » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:26 pm

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Last edited by minnbills on Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby shoeshine » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:30 pm

I just read your treatise above.

You sound fun. I think I just found the root of your legal writing problem. Are you always that bombastic?

I realize UMN might not be an awesome school, but you sound like the type of person I am really glad didn't come to my school. Bad mouthing your school anonymously about completely trivial matters is extremely BETA.

Edit:
Figured out why you are angry. viewtopic.php?f=7&t=162896

2.7 GPA first semester = You mad.
Last edited by shoeshine on Mon Oct 03, 2011 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dusk2k2
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby dusk2k2 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:44 pm

minnbills wrote:
dusk2k2 wrote:Dang man, how can someone get a 3.9 GPA and not get an offer in Minnesota? I'm a 2L at the U too (my grades are below that 3.9 guy by a bit, but I've got 2 offers at the big firms in Minnesota).

Still fair warning to people going to Minnesota. It's almost IMPOSSIBLE to get a biglaw job out of the states of Minnesota or Wisconsin. I estimate maybe 5 people MAX will be able to get biglaw elsewhere. I've been trying, and can't get anywhere out of state, and I've got real stellar credentials.


In general, how would you say people above median are doing? I'm not talking about biglaw, but are people able to find real work with law firms?


Here is my opinion on the job situation. First I'm gonna address the biglaw situation, then the median situation.

If you are not WAY up there in the first quartile, you are in trouble to get biglaw anywhere. The Minneapolis legal market is way too small, and the reputation of our school isn't good enough to get the top students out of state. What's the practical effect? Basically, the biggest and best firms in Minnesota (Dorsey, Faegre, etc) are snatching up people (like me) who want to go out of state, but can't. What this means is that if you aren't at the top of the first quartile, you're not going to be able to compete to get the Dorsey's or Faegre's because you'll be going up against people with 3.8+'s and LR. In other schools, those people wouldn't be competing for local firms because they'd be going to DC or NY, but here, they just can't get out of state and have to take what they can get (I'm not saying that Dorsey or Faegre are bad, just that a 3.8+LR at a comparably ranked school, like GW or Fordham, would be looking at a V25 generally).

I can't say much about being median at Minnesota and the prospects of jobs. You won't get biglaw, and I really don't know well enough how the mechanics of smaller law firms work to be able to give an intelligent response.

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minnbills
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby minnbills » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:48 pm

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Last edited by minnbills on Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dusk2k2
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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby dusk2k2 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:57 pm

minnbills wrote:Thanks for the quick response. Haven't the top 5-10% made it to chicago historically?

What impression do you have of people who aren't getting biglaw (or whatever we're calling the MN equivalent) as far as placement is concerned? Are people turning to the corporations (I know there are a ton in MPS) for compliance/in-house work, etc. etc.

I know that's just a roundabout rephrasing of what I asked earlier but I'm just trying to get an impression of the landscape is like for UMN students right now. Being in state I will probably end up here and there doesn't seem to be a lot of info on what the current hiring climate is like, other than that people aren't getting jobs with big firms.


(1) Chicago is non-existent here. Only 1 Chicago firm came to OCI (I didn't get a callback). I don't know of any people getting to Chicago from here (I'm up there in the class and struck out in Chicago from my own mailings).

(2) Honestly, if you don't get biglaw, I don't know what you do. Probably end up doing the kind of things you did 1L summer (research assistant, unpaid govt internship, etc).

Again, like I previously said, Minnesota is strange (and dangerous to go to) because, while its well ranked, it has NO PULL outside of the state. This leaves top students (including those from out of state who would go elsewhere), taking the biglaw jobs in Minnesota. Using myself as an example, I've been trying to go the coasts (I'm not from Minnesota). My numbers, at a school like GW or Fordham would probably leave me V25 secure, but here, I can't get there. I'm not complaining, I'm glad I have offers, but I'm basically taking a spot that someone else should deserve, but can't get because I have to take it. This means someone else who's got good numbers will be left empty handed because they can't get biglaw here, and they can't go anywhere else.

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Re: University of Minnesota 2L Taking Questions...

Postby minnbills » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:10 pm

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Last edited by minnbills on Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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