Is praticing law anything like law school?

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LAWYER2
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Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby LAWYER2 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:22 am

Many Prof's have said that practicing law is nothing like law school, and that 90% of what they learned in law school was useless. Any truth or insight on this?

MapsMapsMaps
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby MapsMapsMaps » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:27 am

I witnessed a oral argument at the 2nd Court of Appeals last week. It was literally exactly like I was sitting in a law classroom. Heard a handful of cases. One was a 12b6 and they were talking about Iqbal, Twombly. One was a due process thing. Forget the others, but you get the point. Obviously arguing in front of the court of appeals is not representative of the entire profession, but I was blown away. I assumed law school was way off base and pretty bogus, because that's what everyone says. But apparently not, at least not in this regard.

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LeDique
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby LeDique » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:34 am

MapsMapsMaps wrote:I witnessed a oral argument at the 2nd Court of Appeals last week. It was literally exactly like I was sitting in a law classroom. Heard a handful of cases. One was a 12b6 and they were talking about Iqbal, Twombly. One was a due process thing. Forget the others, but you get the point. Obviously arguing in front of the court of appeals is not representative of the entire profession, but I was blown away. I assumed law school was way off base and pretty bogus, because that's what everyone says. But apparently not, at least not in this regard.


Um, how big of a part practice do you think appellate practice is?

Because no, practicing law and law school are not at all related.

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minnbills
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby minnbills » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:42 am

LeDique wrote:
MapsMapsMaps wrote:I witnessed a oral argument at the 2nd Court of Appeals last week. It was literally exactly like I was sitting in a law classroom. Heard a handful of cases. One was a 12b6 and they were talking about Iqbal, Twombly. One was a due process thing. Forget the others, but you get the point. Obviously arguing in front of the court of appeals is not representative of the entire profession, but I was blown away. I assumed law school was way off base and pretty bogus, because that's what everyone says. But apparently not, at least not in this regard.


Um, how big of a part practice do you think appellate practice is?

Because no, practicing law and law school are not at all related.


If your practice is appellate practice, it's 100% of practice.

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LeDique
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby LeDique » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:47 am

minnbills wrote:
LeDique wrote:
MapsMapsMaps wrote:I witnessed a oral argument at the 2nd Court of Appeals last week. It was literally exactly like I was sitting in a law classroom. Heard a handful of cases. One was a 12b6 and they were talking about Iqbal, Twombly. One was a due process thing. Forget the others, but you get the point. Obviously arguing in front of the court of appeals is not representative of the entire profession, but I was blown away. I assumed law school was way off base and pretty bogus, because that's what everyone says. But apparently not, at least not in this regard.


Um, how big of a part practice do you think appellate practice is?

Because no, practicing law and law school are not at all related.


If your practice is appellate practice, it's 100% of practice.


Well, yeah. But my point there was that's a relatively small practice area. Not international law small, but not a lot of people do it and it's not something easy to get into right out of law school. Further, for a lot of solo practitioners (even ones who handle their own appeals), they do maybe 5 appeals their entire career.

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dingbat
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby dingbat » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:20 am

LAWYER2 wrote:Many Prof's have said that practicing law is nothing like law school, and that 90% of what they learned in law school was useless. Any truth or insight on this?

Considering the area of law I want to go into, civ/pro, leg/reg, con law, property and crim are all completely useless for me

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby Scotusnerd » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:50 am

LAWYER2 wrote:Many Prof's have said that practicing law is nothing like law school, and that 90% of what they learned in law school was useless. Any truth or insight on this?


That's been my impression talking to prosecutors and real estate attorneys. The real estate attorney can remember one time in his entire career he used moral consideration, but his contracts class spent weeks talking about it.

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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby MapsMapsMaps » Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:19 pm

LeDique wrote:
MapsMapsMaps wrote:I witnessed a oral argument at the 2nd Court of Appeals last week. It was literally exactly like I was sitting in a law classroom. Heard a handful of cases. One was a 12b6 and they were talking about Iqbal, Twombly. One was a due process thing. Forget the others, but you get the point. Obviously arguing in front of the court of appeals is not representative of the entire profession, but I was blown away. I assumed law school was way off base and pretty bogus, because that's what everyone says. But apparently not, at least not in this regard.


Um, how big of a part practice do you think appellate practice is?

Because no, practicing law and law school are not at all related.

Thanks for bolding the part of my response that responds directly to your accusation.

KingsCup
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby KingsCup » Sun Dec 16, 2012 3:48 pm

LS teaches you very little about actually being a lawyer, maybe some of the in court stuff, but nothing about in-office stuff

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typ3
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby typ3 » Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:49 pm

Law school is nothing like practice. I come from 3 generations of lawyers and nearly every single person in my family is a practicing attorney (everything from corporate M&A to consumer bankruptcy to products liability). I've been in nearly every single practice area. I can handle everything from an adoption, bankruptcy, personal injury case start to finish- I'm a 2L. That being said, I've learned almost nothing that I've applied or used in my nearly 10 years of working in the law for or with family members. You'll find pretty quick that there is a divide between practicing attorneys and the academicians in law school. To quote someone wiser than myself.

"They get out of law school and they are completely useless as lawyers; they've been trained by academicians who have never been in the courtroom. Who have never looked a client in the eye. Who have never had the responsibility of a man's life or a woman's life. Who have never done anything except read books. And it is silly, and it is ridiculous, and they ought to be sued.”

Gerry Spence

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dingbat
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby dingbat » Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:51 pm

typ3 wrote:"They get out of law school and they are completely useless as lawyers; they've been trained by academicians who have never been in the courtroom. Who have never looked a client in the eye. Who have never had the responsibility of a man's life or a woman's life. Who have never done anything except read books. And it is silly, and it is ridiculous, and they ought to be sued.”

Gerry Spence

LOL. Also, this is why I prefer to take classes with professors who have work experience

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LAWYER2
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby LAWYER2 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:04 pm

Wow, good points!

TheGreatFish
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby TheGreatFish » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:10 am

Law school teaches you the basics from which you build upon. The work you handle in practice will rarely be as simple as the work you handle in law school, but that doesn't mean the skills you learn in law school are useless.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby Scotusnerd » Fri Dec 21, 2012 8:36 am

Yeah, and they teach you to "think" like a lawyer too.

Did you know that the same set of skills could be acquired and accepted by the bar for sitting in someone's law office and reading law books for two years? Some of our most brilliant lawyers learned that way, including Lincoln and some others. We're not allowed to do that anymore, but it worked real well for a very long time. I wonder why the ABA got rid of it. :roll:

Some of what they teach is useful, but it doesn't take three years. A lot of professors have their head so far up their ass they don't see what the real world needs anymore. They don't even teach you how to take the exam that lets you be a lawyer, for god's sake! I asked one professor and she told me that she as "too good" f
or that; that as a national institution she should teach general law and no specific state law. An otherwise skilled teacher didn't even know whether our state was a comparative or contributory negligence state. For a six-figure salary you can fucking figure the goddamn law of the state you are in.

I would like to contrast that with another professor. He is new, and from up north. He only knew all of the relevant law to his class for this state, it's all he tested us on, although he taught the general law of all of the states during the semester. It was open book, and he expected us to be able to analyze effectively, not to memorize. I feel I got my money's worth out of him.

That's what you're up against in law school. Some very brilliant people who have bought in to a lie about how the legal system works, and will charge you a lot of money for knowledge that may or may not apply to your area, and then tell you it's good for you to learn in a nonspecific way. In some cases they are right, but in a lot of cases that knowledge is absolutely useless, and you'll see how useless it is as soon as you hit the real world. No prosecutor cares that I know the difference between insanity defenses in different states. No defense attorney either: they're the one trying the case, not you. They want you to know how an office basically works, and how to fill out the forms with the information they need.

Law school doesn't teach that. That's why a lot of law practices think it's useless.

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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby whereskyle » Fri Dec 21, 2012 9:19 am

The difference is clients. A practicing attorney will be asked to provide calm, comfort, and conviction to clients, some of whom will be going through the worst times in their lives. This requires of attorneys something not taught at law school. It requires the ability to deal with mistrusting people, who do not often appreciate the demands of legal reasoning and procedure. All the shit you've learned? Clients do not care, and they put the food on the table. But if you like the law, you can endure, so long as you shell out decent money for a sensitive and hardworking assistant.

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dingbat
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby dingbat » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:37 am

Scotusnerd wrote:Yeah, and they teach you to "think" like a lawyer too.

Did you know that the same set of skills could be acquired and accepted by the bar for sitting in someone's law office and reading law books for two years? Some of our most brilliant lawyers learned that way, including Lincoln and some others. We're not allowed to do that anymore, but it worked real well for a very long time. I wonder why the ABA got rid of it. :roll:
It's still permitted in some states. However, I think lawyers should be required to have some form of legal education. I think it's done right in other countries, where you need both A) formal legal education, and B) apprenticeship;
Scotusnerd wrote:Some of what they teach is useful, but it doesn't take three years.
I'm only 1 semester in, so I can't comment on this
Scotusnerd wrote:A lot of professors have their head so far up their ass they don't see what the real world needs anymore.
That's a problem pervasive in academia, not just law schools
Scotusnerd wrote: They don't even teach you how to take the exam that lets you be a lawyer, for god's sake! I asked one professor and she told me that she as "too good" f
or that; that as a national institution she should teach general law and no specific state law.
And with good reason - 1. not all students end up practicing in that state (bigger problem for some schools than others) 2. laws change and 3. sometimes you can look to other courts, particularly with issues that haven't been properly addressed yet
Scotusnerd wrote: An otherwise skilled teacher didn't even know whether our state was a comparative or contributory negligence state. For a six-figure salary you can fucking figure the goddamn law of the state you are in.

I would like to contrast that with another professor. He is new, and from up north. He only knew all of the relevant law to his class for this state, it's all he tested us on, although he taught the general law of all of the states during the semester. It was open book, and he expected us to be able to analyze effectively, not to memorize. I feel I got my money's worth out of him.
Some teachers are better than other teachers. Also, how useful/important these matters are (state specific vs general) are dependent both upon the topic (is it an area of law that is well-settled? Is it likely to change any time soon) and the state (how unusual is the state? NY and LA in particular)
Scotusnerd wrote:That's what you're up against in law school. Some very brilliant people who have bought in to a lie about how the legal system works, and will charge you a lot of money for knowledge that may or may not apply to your area, and then tell you it's good for you to learn in a nonspecific way.
it's important to learn to think like a lawyer. Also, you don't know when it might be important to deal with other states
Scotusnerd wrote:In some cases they are right, but in a lot of cases that knowledge is absolutely useless, and you'll see how useless it is as soon as you hit the real world. No prosecutor cares that I know the difference between insanity defenses in different states. No defense attorney either: they're the one trying the case, not you. They want you to know how an office basically works, and how to fill out the forms with the information they need.

Law school doesn't teach that. That's why a lot of law practices think it's useless.
So what I get from this is that you have no ambition beyond that of a paralegal? A paralegal can fill out forms. A lawyer is taught to understand the issues. If all you can do is fill out forms, and don't understand the content, then you'll never progress. Hell, if you ever catch a mistake by your boss, you could get major bonus points.

To continue with your example, if you can't tell the difference between insanity defenses in different states, you could miss out on a number of things:
1) multi-jurisdictional cases; how will you know which venue is best for your case?
2) trying to apply a different standard as understanding of mental health is an evolving field. Either side could try to argue that the current state laws are archaic and the court should look at other jurisdictions on how to address the matter.

No, the practice of law is not like law school. That doesn't mean law school is useless. The law has progressed a lot since the days of Lincoln and most lawyers are more specialized, no longer handling just about any type of case in existence. There may be a handful of people capable of being excellent lawyers without going to law school, but you're not one of them

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby Scotusnerd » Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:29 pm

dingbat wrote:So what I get from this is that you have no ambition beyond that of a paralegal? A paralegal can fill out forms. A lawyer is taught to understand the issues. If all you can do is fill out forms, and don't understand the content, then you'll never progress. Hell, if you ever catch a mistake by your boss, you could get major bonus points.

To continue with your example, if you can't tell the difference between insanity defenses in different states, you could miss out on a number of things:
1) multi-jurisdictional cases; how will you know which venue is best for your case?
2) trying to apply a different standard as understanding of mental health is an evolving field. Either side could try to argue that the current state laws are archaic and the court should look at other jurisdictions on how to address the matter.

No, the practice of law is not like law school. That doesn't mean law school is useless. The law has progressed a lot since the days of Lincoln and most lawyers are more specialized, no longer handling just about any type of case in existence. There may be a handful of people capable of being excellent lawyers without going to law school, but you're not one of them


You think you're gonna do more than fill out forms for most of the time in law practice? :lol:

I never said you shouldn't understand the forms, or understand which form is what. I wouldn't recommend catching mistakes your boss makes for at least a year into the job, though...

I agree that law school is not useless, and I agree with most of your points (including me not being an excellent lawyer, because I'm not), but the implied idea that the specialist is the only form of lawyer left is false. Most lawyers do not do just one type of case, they handle a number of different types of cases to make money, and end up specializing over time. If you start out in biglaw, I suppose you do something different, but if you start in biglaw, you also do document review, so...

There are some areas of law where you do need brains and a very fine eye for detail. However, if you are in the position to make those decisions, you are one of two things: (1) a partner or leader in the office or (2) in WAY over your head. I promise you that for the first year of your existence as a lawyer, you will not be allowed to make decisions that jeopardize anyone's ass but your own.

Also, if you think that paralegals are incapable of trying cases or can't do legal analysis, you're definitely wrong. Hell, some of them are better than the attorneys they work for. Just because someone with an esquire after their name signs off on it doesn't mean that they did all the work.

Believe me, it's not a lack of ambition, it's an acceptance of how the legal field operates.

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dingbat
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby dingbat » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:16 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:You think you're gonna do more than fill out forms for most of the time in law practice? :lol:
Actually yes. The kind of law I want to practice involves very little filling in of forms.
Scotusnerd wrote:I never said you shouldn't understand the forms, or understand which form is what. I wouldn't recommend catching mistakes your boss makes for at least a year into the job, though...
Don't go looking for them, but if you find one, you should definitely point it out - but be diplomatic. Saying "here's a mistake" will backfire if you're wrong, but asking "why is this done this way?" will get you a lesson if you're wrong, and make a good impression if you're right.
Scotusnerd wrote:I agree that law school is not useless, and I agree with most of your points (including me not being an excellent lawyer, because I'm not), but the implied idea that the specialist is the only form of lawyer left is false. Most lawyers do not do just one type of case, they handle a number of different types of cases to make money, and end up specializing over time. If you start out in biglaw, I suppose you do something different, but if you start in biglaw, you also do document review, so...

There are some areas of law where you do need brains and a very fine eye for detail. However, if you are in the position to make those decisions, you are one of two things: (1) a partner or leader in the office or (2) in WAY over your head. I promise you that for the first year of your existence as a lawyer, you will not be allowed to make decisions that jeopardize anyone's ass but your own.
No. you get to make suggestions and recommendations and let other people make the decision. That doesn't mean you can't contribute starting day one. Besides, you will never become a leader in the office if you do not show that you have the qualities to become one - which means having the kind of ideas and doing the quality of work expected of those leaders (just not with the same frequency and not on the same level of priority/importance)
Scotusnerd wrote:Also, if you think that paralegals are incapable of trying cases or can't do legal analysis, you're definitely wrong. Hell, some of them are better than the attorneys they work for. Just because someone with an esquire after their name signs off on it doesn't mean that they did all the work.

Believe me, it's not a lack of ambition, it's an acceptance of how the legal field operates.
That's missing my point, but, as an aside, anyone who puts an esquire behind their name just because they've got a JD is a douche

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Borg
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby Borg » Fri Dec 21, 2012 7:40 pm

Law school is much broader than what you need, as you aren't going to be an antitrust litigating family lawyer who does contracts for environmental nonprofits on the side. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing as it is amazing to have three years to take the classes that you want and learn about different areas of the law.

It's also a mistake to think that none of these classes are going to give you any relevant skills. They deal with the same areas of law that you're going to need to know in practice. For example, your securities regulation class will focus on a lot of the things that capital markets lawyers use on a daily basis. Yeah, you're probably not going to find yourself in a position where you need to think "is this a security?" at any point in your practice, but you will definitely need to be aware of some of the black letter regulations you're going to see in that course. Don't tune out just because you're not going to use 100% of it.

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby Scotusnerd » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:27 pm

You guys have some good points. I think my big problem with law school is cost. Sure it has benefits, but it is not worth $150k sticker. I'll buy the general knowledge argument at a cheap cost point, but when we start talking the sort of prices we're talking for law school, I expect a degree that should properly prepare me to make a living. Law school teaches the thought process in preparation to be a lawyer, and teaches a basic overview, but I don't think anyone would argue that taking a recent graduate and sticking him into a job without training would be a disaster at least 50% of the time. For a degree that costs so much, with so little to actually offer, that's just flat-out rediculous. My school doesn't even offer bar exam courses, which is what is required to be a lawyer, anywhere. I really don't see why a law school shouldn't offer an MBE course during the third year, other then competition (And for that I have zero sympathy).

If you ask an attorney if they learned how to be a lawyer in law school, the answer is almost invariably "no." That's a damn shame. I wish that we were less caught up in prestige and more willing to take steps to make sure that students graduate with marketable skills that can be put into use with a minimum of training. I don't dispute that the socratic method has its advantages, but I think that in the current market, I would sacrifice high-flying thinking for a practical focus on the sorts of skills that lawyers will need to survive. Things such as marketing, properly advertising, managing client money, methods of running a law office, effective communication between attorneys and clients, techniques for managing large caseloads, billing techniques, that sort of thing. Sure, you can learn them in the real world, but why is the theoretical stuff put on a pedestal and the mechanics of law practice stuffed into the closet? This makes no sense when 55% of a graduating class is employed.

And, frankly, if I am out on my ass in the cold, hanging out my own shingle, I would much rather have learned how to manage an office than be able to argue about jurisdiction on a multinational case, or argue some against an established point of law before a state supreme court.

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dingbat
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby dingbat » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:35 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:) I would sacrifice high-flying thinking for a practical focus on the sorts of skills that lawyers will need to survive. Things such as marketing, properly advertising, managing client money, methods of running a law office, effective communication between attorneys and clients, techniques for managing large caseloads, billing techniques, that sort of thing.

a lot of lawyers don't need any of that
(except the communication part, but most schools teach legal writing courses)

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby Scotusnerd » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:40 pm

Well, I don't think I'll need promissory estoppel or the Lemon test, but they teach it to me anyway. And since something like 50% (quoting out of my ass, feel free to correct if I'm wrong) of employed lawyers are in private practice, showing newbies the basics of how a firm works is not a bad thing.

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dingbat
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby dingbat » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:45 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:Well, I don't think I'll need promissory estoppel or the Lemon test, but they teach it to me anyway. And since something like 50% (quoting out of my ass, feel free to correct if I'm wrong) of employed lawyers are in private practice, showing newbies the basics of how a firm works is not a bad thing.

Unless you're hanging your own shingle, you'll figure it out soon enough. If you are hanging your own shingle, promissory estoppel is pretty darn important in small claims

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Scotusnerd
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby Scotusnerd » Fri Dec 21, 2012 10:54 pm

dingbat wrote:Unless you're hanging your own shingle, you'll figure it out soon enough. If you are hanging your own shingle, promissory estoppel is pretty darn important in small claims


But how can you justify making them learn something on their own that should have been part of their education in the first place? The tuition law students pay is grossly out of proportion with what is received. We may have to agree to disagree on this point, but I really can't think of an excuse for not teaching attorneys basic firm management skills as part of a degree that costs more than some new houses.

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dingbat
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Re: Is praticing law anything like law school?

Postby dingbat » Fri Dec 21, 2012 11:06 pm

Scotusnerd wrote:
dingbat wrote:Unless you're hanging your own shingle, you'll figure it out soon enough. If you are hanging your own shingle, promissory estoppel is pretty darn important in small claims


But how can you justify making them learn something on their own that should have been part of their education in the first place? The tuition law students pay is grossly out of proportion with what is received. We may have to agree to disagree on this point, but I really can't think of an excuse for not teaching attorneys basic firm management skills as part of a degree that costs more than some new houses.

I agree that law school is ridiculously expensive (pro-tip: don't pay sticker)
However, law school teaches you law, not business. You want to run a successful business, go to business school. (better yet, see if you can get credit for take a class or two at the business school - as an added bonus, it's easier to get an A so it'll improve your GPA)




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