I have several questions, all of which I hope are relevant here. These are all sincere, so I apologize if they come off as/end up being snarky in tone or very naïve. I don’t expect anyone to take the time to answer all of them, but hopefully at least a couple will be answered:
First, and most importantly to me, could someone in a longer and more detailed post (I enjoy reading these) explain what exactly is meant by sentences like, "serious flaws that have existed for some time are now finally having a negative impact on the profession" and "legal employment is undergoing a structural change from which it will never rebound." I have seen phrases similar to this pretty much everywhere, but no one ever really goes into enough detail for me to understand what this means. What is the legal employment structure, what has been so wrong with it, and why are those problems finally having serious impacts? I am not questioning these statements, just honestly stating that I do not yet know exactly what they mean in the sense more specific than what I’d picked up in my undergrad law courses.
Second, when a poster makes a complaint about the soul-crushing and lowly work of document review to what exactly are they referring? I am an intern in Consumer Protection here, and what I do for the AG is what I would consider reviewing documents. I look through documents, like auto financing jackets, and find the information pertinent to the case like illegal interest rates or other fees. I find this work to be rather boring and tedious, but no more so than other jobs that I have had. Is the document review referred to in this forum—that which an actual law graduate would do—much worse than this and how does it differ? Are most of these positions hourly positions? Are they mainly government or private or both? How much is the pay and is it usually hourly, rather than salaried? What would the hours typically be? I know that the AG’s office is only open 8 – 5, which I could handle. How much would this work pay in a market, say, in the Midwest region, from a school like Iowa or Wisconsin? Are there options to leave these sorts of jobs with experience and enter something more interesting, or are they essentially dead-ends?
Third, I have to touch on this topic because it is actually pretty important to me if I am going to spend my life in the profession. How much truth is there to the statement that the profession is flooded with “douchebags?” I have had two separate and limited experiences with this so far. I have found that both on the internet and in my undergraduate classes, there seems to be a striking number of immature and simply unhappy individuals. I can say that I certainly see more classroom competition and mean-spirited arguments in my Law/Politics courses than in the rhetoric department. On the internet, I have found a lot of posters who honestly sound like children, using words like “lulz” often and attacking benign posters and speaking in a forum with them is like walking on broken glass. I find it is not so bad here, but when I wandered over to the autoadmit.com forums I was simply appalled and felt like I had walked into a classroom of unruly 8th graders. As far as that forum goes, is there some collective joke I am missing or is this seriously a group of prospective and current law students? This leads me to my more positive experience with lawyers, which is the experience I have had outside of the classroom and internet. At my internship, we have state prosecutors, consumer protection investigators, and the attorney general and assistant AG’s. Everyone in the office is extremely kind to me, and this is not only because I am an intern. I have had plenty of opportunities to overhear their conversations with each other and this seems equally friendly. Is it simply that many law students are still immature, or have I just had one exceptional experience with the profession where I am working now?
Fourth, when it comes to interviews, how important is it to be outgoing and sociable? I happen to be a terrible interviewer and find I end up staring at the interviewer in awkward silences and screwing up simple questions. I understand one must be personable in a client-based profession, and when I actually do get a job I am always actually known for my easy-going friendliness. Is this one of those professions where interview skills pretty much will determine whether or not you are given a call-back, or can good grades and previous recommendations offset this a bit? I understand it’s an area I can and will work on, but I am curious in case I fail at that. Related to this, how important is it exactly to get a job offer immediately at or even before graduation? If one does not get an offer and has to spend a year searching, do the chances of entering what most of us would consider meaningful work drop off substantially or is it something that can be overcome with hard work in the job search?
Fifth, and a question I don’t think I see addressed often is, what is the work like at a firm if you do land a great position at OCI? Due to competition and the professional setting, is the discipline strict or are you basically left alone if you are doing your job well, though perhaps occasionally sleep in or something minor like that; I know this sounds like a ridiculous question, but there it is. If one does get fired, or if they get laid off, does this significantly hurt his or her chances of finding another job? Will they be blackballed permanently from good positions?
Sixth, a law school related question, regards the exams I have often read about. It’s noted that they are not like the sort of exam anyone could really anticipate going in and I have often heard the remarks put forward here about how they can sometimes seem random in terms of grading. Is there any way that one of you could try to describe what sort of exams I will be in for in my 1L and what makes them more difficult than what I am used to?
Then finally, just a comment and related question: I feel like there is too much emphasis on this board implying that one needs to know what they want to do prior to going into law school and too much of an assumption that intelligent undergrads are choosing this profession because they feel it will be like Law and Order or the Practice. It is my assumption, key word, that a good amount, if not the majority, of entering students will end up taking a different path than expected after experiencing law school and I remember reading a post by Ken that stated he changed his mind after his first or second year experiences in law school. Is it misguided to believe that one can enter law school without a solid idea of what sort of law they would like to practice, in the hopes that they will discover what works best for them as they progress?
#1 and #2: a few attempts at forum and google searches are likely to answer these for you
#3: yes, there are a ton of douchebags in law school and the legal field. Your experience was probably atypical and a result of the particular place you worked. Mid- and biglaw are different.
#4: Interview skills and interpersonal skills are extremely (no hyperbole) important.
#5: You're not necessarily micromanaged, but the consequences of fucking up are huge. A big firm won't hold your hand, they'll just push you out the door when the time is right for them to do so.
#6: There are a lot of answers to this. Basically, as an example of a test structure: you will be asked a few specific questions on the test that may cover less than 10% of the total course material. There might be one longer essay on a test worth 50% of the total test grade, and the majority of that question might be answered by a concept that you covered for one day and read two cases on.