Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

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hmlee
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Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Tue Apr 02, 2013 12:31 pm

Hey everyone! I'm a 2012 graduate of Northwestern Law, and I now work at the legal education startup company LearnLeo (http://www.learnleo.com). We work to make the law school experience more efficient for students by creating tools for better studying, outlining, and networking with firms and other employers in advance of OCI. Currently, we're operating at Northwestern, Michigan, and NYU, with plans to expand to 10+ other schools by fall semester 2013.

We're also developing a 0L preparation tool that we plan to introduce this summer. The completely free (yep, seriously) site will introduce entering law students to the basic concepts of case briefing and outlining before orientation starts. As part of our prep for this, I thought I'd come on back to TLS to introduce our company and take questions from the community.

Things you can ask me about: general law school questions, the LearnLeo website, Northwestern Law and Chicago in particular, the job hunting experience, taking the bar, life as a lawyer in a slightly alternative career path, and government internships (I was a DOJ SLIP intern while in law school). I can also pass questions about Indiana Law, Michigan Law, the Northwestern AJD program, and JD/MBA programs in general on to other members of our staff if you want answers on any of those topics.
Last edited by hmlee on Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Cobretti
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby Cobretti » Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:41 pm

Sounds interesting, good luck with the startup. What made you take this career path? Did you graduate without significant debt?

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hmlee
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:35 pm

No, I actually have quite a bit of debt. In short, the job market was terrible when I was in school / graduated. I was in the top 1/3 of my class, but I wasn't able to land an offer in OCI the year that I interviewed. I managed to get the DOJ position instead, which was an excellent experience and convinced me that the BigLaw life wasn't really for me. However, cuts to the honors program my year meant that I wasn't able to get a permanent position with the DOJ. After a few unsuccessful clerkship interviews, I found myself without a job on graduation day.

The founder of my company is a Northwestern Law grad himself, and he was looking for part time help from graduating students who wanted to earn a little bit of money while studying for the bar the summer after I graduated. I took advantage of that, and then discovered that I loved the work that is involved in building a company from the ground up and started full time work here. While I've had a shot a firm job and a clerkship since getting sworn in to the bar, I haven't seriously considered leaving since I like it here so much. The startup lifestyle has certain advantages, after all.

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Samara
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby Samara » Tue Apr 02, 2013 2:51 pm

LearnLeo is pretty cool, even though I don't brief cases anymore.

What does the career profile do though?

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hmlee
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Tue Apr 02, 2013 3:21 pm

The career profile is part of the evolving career side of the site. We've currently partnered with two law firms (DLA Piper and Paul Hastings), with several more in discussions (I can't name those, unfortunately, but they are all on the same level as DLA and Paul Hastings) to partner with us. The firms that we partner with use the site, through student career profiles and shortlists, to connect with students in the months before OCI. The way that firms use LearnLeo will vary, but options that we're offering include everything from allowing students to request resume reviews, mock interviews, or mentorships with firm attorneys as well as firms being able to see which students included them on shortlists before conducting OCI interviews.

This is on top of the general ability for firms to publicize events to students and post information about the firm and its attorneys that isn't available through the normal firm websites.

When it comes to non-partner firms, we also provide a "one stop shopping" experience for pre-OCI research. A firm's profile on the site includes not only the number of attorneys (broken down by associates and partners) from a student's law school, as well as basic information (office locations, starting salary, partnership track information, etc) about the firm but also quick links to a firm's NALP, Vault, and Chambers profiles.

I went through OCI a few years ago, and I can tell you that the part of the process that involved researching and ranking firms was incredibly tedious. After about the 20th firm that you look up, going to three or four websites to get information gets really old, really fast. We hope that by collecting information about firms in one place, this process will be easier on students.

The niftier interactive content that I mentioned above is being rolled out over the next few months, as we complete deals with firms and finish development and testing. We hope to have much of it ready in time for the 2013 OCI season.

dallasstar
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby dallasstar » Tue Apr 02, 2013 4:42 pm

hmlee wrote:No, I actually have quite a bit of debt. In short, the job market was terrible when I was in school / graduated. I was in the top 1/3 of my class, but I wasn't able to land an offer in OCI the year that I interviewed. I managed to get the DOJ position instead, which was an excellent experience and convinced me that the BigLaw life wasn't really for me. However, cuts to the honors program my year meant that I wasn't able to get a permanent position with the DOJ. After a few unsuccessful clerkship interviews, I found myself without a job on graduation day.


I've been seriously considering the accelerated JD from Northwestern. You're saying people in the top 1/3 at Northwestern who actually make a concerted effort to land biglaw can realistically strike out? I know that should be obvious, since anything can happen, but this is really scaring me. It sounds like you did everything right, and I'm glad you ended up where you want to be, but I just can't get past that you weren't able to secure an offer coming out of such a good school with a good ranking. :shock:

Did you find the situation was different for patent lawyers? Also, how did you reach a conclusion about biglaw through DOJ? In this startup, what kind of work do you do? Are you a programmer, or more of a business strategist?

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Samara
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby Samara » Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:08 pm

hmlee wrote:When it comes to non-partner firms, we also provide a "one stop shopping" experience for pre-OCI research. A firm's profile on the site includes not only the number of attorneys (broken down by associates and partners) from a student's law school, as well as basic information (office locations, starting salary, partnership track information, etc) about the firm but also quick links to a firm's NALP, Vault, and Chambers profiles.

Yeah, having this info in one spot is pretty nice, I like that aspect of it. It would be really cool if you could create a ranked list of more than five firms and/or be able to compare firms side-by-side.

I have been reluctant to complete my career profile though, because I am wary of putting a bunch of info out there when I'm so unclear on how it gets used by firms. Sounds like you are preparing some good new tools though. I will definitely keep an eye out.

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hmlee
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:00 am

dallasstar wrote:
hmlee wrote:No, I actually have quite a bit of debt. In short, the job market was terrible when I was in school / graduated. I was in the top 1/3 of my class, but I wasn't able to land an offer in OCI the year that I interviewed. I managed to get the DOJ position instead, which was an excellent experience and convinced me that the BigLaw life wasn't really for me. However, cuts to the honors program my year meant that I wasn't able to get a permanent position with the DOJ. After a few unsuccessful clerkship interviews, I found myself without a job on graduation day.


I've been seriously considering the accelerated JD from Northwestern. You're saying people in the top 1/3 at Northwestern who actually make a concerted effort to land biglaw can realistically strike out? I know that should be obvious, since anything can happen, but this is really scaring me. It sounds like you did everything right, and I'm glad you ended up where you want to be, but I just can't get past that you weren't able to secure an offer coming out of such a good school with a good ranking. :shock:

Did you find the situation was different for patent lawyers? Also, how did you reach a conclusion about biglaw through DOJ? In this startup, what kind of work do you do? Are you a programmer, or more of a business strategist?


I would first say that there is no combination of GPA or school that will absolutely ensure you a job in BigLaw. There are always ways to screw up the interview process. That being said, for me it was purely a timing issue. 2010 was a bad year to be interviewing in, especially i your primary market was Chicago, as mine was at the time. From what I've heard from members of the class of 2013/2014, the last two OCIs have been much better.

There were, of course, things that I could have done differently. I could have gotten a better grade in legal writing. I could have picked different electives. Bid on more geographic markets. Cold applied to firms that didn't attend Northwestern's OCI. The thing is, I really didn't know that I was supposed to be doing these things. And in fact, these experiences now inform some of the work I'm doing at LearnLeo. The entire team at the company is made up of law school graduates. We've all been through it, and we all have things that we would have changed if we had the chance. We've been trying to use that knowledge to help us develop better tools as well as in a series of blog posts that we've been running to give students some straight talk on aspects of the law school experience.

Thinking back, I would also say that all of the people I knew in law school who were eligible to sit for the patent bar secured biglaw jobs. I only knew four or five, but it does seem like hard IP is quite in demand.

My evolving feelings towards BigLaw came as a result of both my experience as a DOJ intern and seeing the lifestyle that a few friends (who were 2-3 years ahead of me) entered into when they began working for firms. In comparing the two, I just realized that I preferred the government experience. None of this should really come as a shock -- the demands that major law firms make on associates' lives in exchange for substantial compensation are well known -- and the decision on whether or not to participate in that is an individual one.

My job in the startup involves a little bit of everything. I don't code -- but I do pretty much whatever else needs doing. Content development, strategy, marketing, new school development... the description of my job can change on a daily basis. That's part of what I really like about it, in fact.

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hmlee
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Wed Apr 03, 2013 12:08 am

Samara wrote:
hmlee wrote:When it comes to non-partner firms, we also provide a "one stop shopping" experience for pre-OCI research. A firm's profile on the site includes not only the number of attorneys (broken down by associates and partners) from a student's law school, as well as basic information (office locations, starting salary, partnership track information, etc) about the firm but also quick links to a firm's NALP, Vault, and Chambers profiles.

Yeah, having this info in one spot is pretty nice, I like that aspect of it. It would be really cool if you could create a ranked list of more than five firms and/or be able to compare firms side-by-side.

I have been reluctant to complete my career profile though, because I am wary of putting a bunch of info out there when I'm so unclear on how it gets used by firms. Sounds like you are preparing some good new tools though. I will definitely keep an eye out.


The side-by-side comparison tool is something that we've actually been working on. I understand your concerns about the career profile, though I would encourage you to create one nevertheless. We haven't set a specific date for when we will release information on students to law firms, but I would guess that the earliest it would happen will be late June. Also, if it makes you feel any better, when we do share information we won't be divulging the spot on a user's shortlist that a firm is in (so the firm won't know that you ranked them #3 vs. #1) but rather just the fact that a student shortlisted the firm.

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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby tcliff » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:14 pm

I'm surprised more people aren't asking lots of questions, but this thread made me really curious.

It sounds like you're happy where you are now, but that's somewhat by chance. Are you still happy you went to law school?

You've got a pretty cool business you're working on -- are there many other people who graduated with you, had an undesirable employment outcome, and transitioned to non-lawyer work (even though you are doing something law-related). What type of skills are you developing in your current job, and do you see those translating into another job easily?

What's the worst case employment outcome for someone who graduated with you?

Sorry that these aren't too LearnLeo specific, but I just put my seat deposit down at NU and am quite curious! Your story sounds like a cross between a nightmare scenario and a really great outcome!

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hmlee
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:06 pm

tcliff wrote:I'm surprised more people aren't asking lots of questions, but this thread made me really curious.

It sounds like you're happy where you are now, but that's somewhat by chance. Are you still happy you went to law school?

You've got a pretty cool business you're working on -- are there many other people who graduated with you, had an undesirable employment outcome, and transitioned to non-lawyer work (even though you are doing something law-related). What type of skills are you developing in your current job, and do you see those translating into another job easily?

What's the worst case employment outcome for someone who graduated with you?

Sorry that these aren't too LearnLeo specific, but I just put my seat deposit down at NU and am quite curious! Your story sounds like a cross between a nightmare scenario and a really great outcome!


I am still happy that I went to law school. Part of this is because I'm happy with the job that I ended up in, and I know that I wouldn't have gotten that job without law school and without Northwestern specifically. (This is because my boss is a NU grad, and was specifically hiring from NU last spring when I started). Part of this is also that I had some great experiences at NU and met some fantastic people who I'm confident I will know for years and years. Finally, when I think back to what my other options were before going to law school, I'm not convinced that I would necessarily be better off if I had picked one of them. The debt isn't great, but I'm dealing with it okay right now, and I firmly believe I'll figure it out long term.

I only know one other person from my class who is doing something like I'm doing -- and he works at my company. I've heard rumors that another guy left his legal job after only a couple of months in order to start his own company, but I'm not certain of that. As far as skills go, I'm doing a great variety of work, which will probably translate to many different jobs down the road. Most importantly, I'm seeing the creation of a company from the ground up, which will definitely be useful to me in the future.

As far as really bad employment outcomes... I know one person who is working part time and supplementing income with a gig waiting tables, but she's public interest and that market has been especially terrible. I also know of one person who failed the bar and was working part time for a professor the last I heard.
Last edited by hmlee on Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby IAFG » Sat Apr 13, 2013 10:08 pm

Can you answer questions about Reddit witchhunts? j/w

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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:09 pm

You mean the time I was accused of being part of a conspiracy run by the DOJ and the Obama administration?

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Cobretti
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby Cobretti » Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:50 am

hmlee wrote:You mean the time I was accused of being part of a conspiracy run by the DOJ and the Obama administration?

Were you the guy that was posting canned questions for Obama during his AMA?

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hmlee
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:12 pm

Well, first, I'm not a guy. Second, I asked one question of Obama during the AMA. Third, it wasn't canned. I wrote it myself. Fourth, I had no connection to the campaign.

So, I guess, the answer is no.

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IAFG
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby IAFG » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:32 pm

hmlee wrote:Well, first, I'm not a guy. Second, I asked one question of Obama during the AMA. Third, it wasn't canned. I wrote it myself. Fourth, I had no connection to the campaign.

So, I guess, the answer is no.

A series of nos.

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Cobretti
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby Cobretti » Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:50 pm

hmlee wrote:Well, first, I'm not a guy. Second, I asked one question of Obama during the AMA. Third, it wasn't canned. I wrote it myself. Fourth, I had no connection to the campaign.

So, I guess, the answer is no.

Haha I remember that witch hunt well. That one got intense, sorry to hear.

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hmlee
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Re: Northwestern Law grad and VP at LearnLeo taking questions...

Postby hmlee » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:57 pm

Yeah, it was my 15 minutes of fame. The highlight was definitely when the National Law Journal called the dean of students at Northwestern to verify my background....




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