Top Law Schools for Litigation

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tuffyjohnson
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Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby tuffyjohnson » Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:30 am

I'm interested in finding out which of my prospective law schools will be better at training me to be an excellent lawyer. Specifically, litigation. In a nutshell, employment is not the only outcome I'm seeking. I'm also interested in which one will give me the best training.

Are some schools better or is law school just a $200,000 hoop for everyone?

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philosoraptor
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby philosoraptor » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:22 am

tuffyjohnson wrote:employment is not the only outcome I'm seeking.
Picking a law school: You're doing it wrong.

GertrudePerkins
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby GertrudePerkins » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:27 am

It may be that "Which are the best law schools?" and "Which law schools are the best at training students for litigation?" seem like analytically distinct questions, but I don't think they can or should lead you to different choices in the real world. If a large chunk of the average litigator's litigation-specific training occurred in law school, then the second question might be meaningfully different from the first. But I don't think that's the case. (I say this as someone three weeks away from the end of LS.) I think the majority of such litigation-specific training will occur through on-the-job experience (to include summer jobs during law school), so the important question is how to get the positions that will provide the best litigation training, put you in the company of the best litigators, etc. And that, I think, just leads you back to the standard "Which are the best law schools?" inquiry. Put otherwise, even if (hypothetically) Yale as an institution cared very little about litigation whereas William and Mary cared a lot, I think Yale would still put you in a better position for litigation training.

Curious if others agree.

fredflint299
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby fredflint299 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:30 am

tuffyjohnson wrote:I'm interested in finding out which of my prospective law schools will be better at training me to be an excellent lawyer. Specifically, litigation. In a nutshell, employment is not the only outcome I'm seeking. I'm also interested in which one will give me the best training.

Are some schools better or is law school just a $200,000 hoop for everyone?


YSHCCNPVBMDNCG

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stillwater
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby stillwater » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:34 am

tuffyjohnson wrote:I'm interested in finding out which of my prospective law schools will be better at training me to be an excellent lawyer. Specifically, litigation. In a nutshell, employment is not the only outcome I'm seeking. I'm also interested in which one will give me the best training.

Are some schools better or is law school just a $200,000 hoop for everyone?


No law school trains anyone to be a lawyer. HTH.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby JamMasterJ » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:35 am

the one that gets you into Quinn
HS

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hephaestus
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby hephaestus » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:37 am

philosoraptor wrote:
tuffyjohnson wrote:employment is not the only outcome I'm seeking.
Picking a law school: You're doing it wrong.

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tuffyjohnson
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby tuffyjohnson » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:41 am

stillwater wrote:
tuffyjohnson wrote:I'm interested in finding out which of my prospective law schools will be better at training me to be an excellent lawyer. Specifically, litigation. In a nutshell, employment is not the only outcome I'm seeking. I'm also interested in which one will give me the best training.

Are some schools better or is law school just a $200,000 hoop for everyone?


No law school trains anyone to be a lawyer. HTH.


This is what I was afraid of. Why do we put up with this? Seriously. The work has been done to uncover terrible employment outcomes. It seems the next level of reform should entail getting law schools to actually train lawyers.

Sorry for the idealism.

Swimp
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby Swimp » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:55 am

tuffyjohnson wrote: The work has been done to uncover terrible employment outcomes. It seems the next level of reform should entail getting law schools to actually train lawyers.


If "actually training lawyers" improves employment outcomes, then sure. Otherwise, those outcomes should be improved by some other means before anyone starts worrying about pedagogy.

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Elston Gunn
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby Elston Gunn » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:56 am

Definitely go to Baylor, OP.

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philosoraptor
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby philosoraptor » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:19 am

tuffyjohnson wrote:This is what I was afraid of. Why the fuck do we put up with this? Seriously. The work has been done to uncover terrible employment outcomes. It seems the next level of reform should entail getting law schools to actually train lawyers.

Sorry for the idealism.
If you want "training" in law school, do clinics and lit-related internships. Generally, employment and classroom training are unrelated. No firm is going to hire you just because you took a class in the mechanics of state civil procedure or whatever. But a DA/PD might not look at you unless you've done crim clinics and substantial internships. That's not really "training," though; that's showing interest in and commitment to that area of practice. You'll learn what you need to on the job. Even if you somehow memorized all the rules and procedures and laws during school, I bet you'd get laughed out of court or the negotiation room if you tried to strike out on your own, because you don't know how things are done in that slice of the real world. This is true of any profession. Doctors have to do residencies; they don't get to be brain surgeons right away just because they read a book about it.

It comes down to what clients want. No client wants to pay for you, a newbie lawyer fresh out of school, regardless of what "training" you had in school. Clients expect you to get experience under the supervision of senior lawyers; they grudgingly accept this as part of the model. Making law schools more "training"-focused, whatever that means, wouldn't change anything. You need to get plenty of real-world experience before you are considered a competent lawyer, regardless of what you learned in school.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:38 am

I agree with the above - the problem with "practice-ready" training is that each court does things slightly differently, so you really do have to learn some stuff on the job. And there are opportunities to do more practical training at any school - clinics, trial advocacy classes, intern/externships. The only thing that could make a difference between schools is that some give more academic credit for externships than others and some have more clinical opportunities than others.

(Also, I actually see a lot of value in spending some time studying legal principles generally, rather than just learning minute practical details that you'll learn more effectively on the job rather than in the vacuum of a classroom. Mind you, I don't think it needs to be 3 years.)

GertrudePerkins
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby GertrudePerkins » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:43 am

tuffyjohnson wrote:This is what I was afraid of. Why do we put up with this? Seriously. The work has been done to uncover terrible employment outcomes. It seems the next level of reform should entail getting law schools to actually train lawyers.

Sorry for the idealism.
Sorry for the level of snark you received (though one has to expect as much on TLS), but I think you're mistaken about what role law school pedagogy plays. The problem isn't that law schools are doing a bad job of training lawyers, it's that they're pumping out more graduates than there currently are (good) jobs. And I think employers to a large extent (in the legal world and beyond) look at school quality as a proxy for raw talent, not for well-honed skill.

utlaw2007
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:26 pm

philosoraptor wrote:
tuffyjohnson wrote:This is what I was afraid of. Why the fuck do we put up with this? Seriously. The work has been done to uncover terrible employment outcomes. It seems the next level of reform should entail getting law schools to actually train lawyers.

Sorry for the idealism.
If you want "training" in law school, do clinics and lit-related internships. Generally, employment and classroom training are unrelated. No firm is going to hire you just because you took a class in the mechanics of state civil procedure or whatever. But a DA/PD might not look at you unless you've done crim clinics and substantial internships. That's not really "training," though; that's showing interest in and commitment to that area of practice. You'll learn what you need to on the job. Even if you somehow memorized all the rules and procedures and laws during school, I bet you'd get laughed out of court or the negotiation room if you tried to strike out on your own, because you don't know how things are done in that slice of the real world. This is true of any profession. Doctors have to do residencies; they don't get to be brain surgeons right away just because they read a book about it.

It comes down to what clients want. No client wants to pay for you, a newbie lawyer fresh out of school, regardless of what "training" you had in school. Clients expect you to get experience under the supervision of senior lawyers; they grudgingly accept this as part of the model. Making law schools more "training"-focused, whatever that means, wouldn't change anything. You need to get plenty of real-world experience before you are considered a competent lawyer, regardless of what you learned in school.


I am a trial lawyer. This is what I do. I do agree with this post. Any school can train you to be a litigator/trial lawyer. Pay no mind to specialty rankings that rank the best law schools for litigation. They mean nothing. I have wiped the floor clean with lawyers who graduated from those schools. Trust me, they mean nothing.

The only part where I will disagree is the on the job training. That just depends on who you train under. If you train under a suck a$$ lawyer on the job. Your skills will suck. Just because a lawyer has been doing something for 20 years does not mean that he/she does it right. If you train under lawyers who do it the right way, you will excel. One way you can help yourself in this area is by participating in your school's interscholastic mock trial program. Those teams are usually coached by real world practitioners who have done it for many years and/or have some distinction in that area. I'm sure this will vary a bit depending on who's coaching you. But my team at UT was coached by practitioners with tons of years experience. They were distinguished in their abilities as trial lawyers. They tell you things to avoid, things to do, the whole nine yards. And you can get some of this type of instruction from your clinic supervisors. They are also real world practitioners. I would recommend that you take a clinic and try out for your interscholastic mock trial teams. If you can't make a team, then take a trial ad course. These courses are usually taught by a mock trial director/coach. While there is no substitute for interscholastic mock trial, taking trial ad is better than nothing.

The problem with real world experience is that you just might be learning from someone who sucks, has bad habits, etc. That will do you no good. It's good to jump into real world practice by having a great handle on the fundamentals. That way, you know who to learn from when you get out into the real world.

But the universal advice holds true for you, too. It's no different. Go to the best law school you can.

utlaw2007
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:52 pm

GertrudePerkins wrote:
tuffyjohnson wrote:This is what I was afraid of. Why do we put up with this? Seriously. The work has been done to uncover terrible employment outcomes. It seems the next level of reform should entail getting law schools to actually train lawyers.

Sorry for the idealism.
Sorry for the level of snark you received (though one has to expect as much on TLS), but I think you're mistaken about what role law school pedagogy plays. The problem isn't that law schools are doing a bad job of training lawyers, it's that they're pumping out more graduates than there currently are (good) jobs. And I think employers to a large extent (in the legal world and beyond) look at school quality as a proxy for raw talent, not for well-honed skill.


And this.

I have law school classmates, who never had any litigation training in law school, come out kicking the a$$es of Baylor and South Texas grads, not all, but many. It's not all about the training. They kick a$$ because they have more inherent ability. They are just smarter. If you have the ability and the brains, that is an unbeatable combination. I was fortunate to have training to go along with that ability. Some of the presentations I have seen in practice are appalling. And many of these appalling lawyers have come from law schools that are highly ranked in the specialty of litigation. As I said, those rankings are garbage.

Go to the best school you can. Hopefully, that school will have really nice trial lawyers coach interscholastic mock trial and teach their clinics. Learn those fundamentals. Then use your knowledge to learn from those lawyers who impress you. That knowledge you gain will help you choose the right lawyers from which to learn out in practice. Because I'll tell you right now, if you had real world on the job litigation training from some of the lawyers I've previously mentioned, you would be in a world of hurt because you wouldn't learn jack sh*&%$t of anything that is meaningful.
Last edited by utlaw2007 on Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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jbiresq
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby jbiresq » Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:20 pm

[/quote]And I think employers to a large extent (in the legal world and beyond) look at school quality as a proxy for raw talent, not for well-honed skill.[/quote]

Scalia put this the best:

“By and large, I’m going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into. They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very well, but you can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. If they come in the best and the brightest, they’re probably going to leave the best and the brightest, O.K.?”

utlaw2007
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:21 pm

While raw intellect will help, and training will help, the most important attribute for being a good trial lawyer is your ability to perform the task. Trial ability is intelligence tailored to do that task. One can be smart, but if he/she sucks at speaking, is not quick witted, etc., that person will likely not be a good trial lawyer, especially if that person does not have charisma.

So you see, your in school training, while important, is only part of the equation. On the job training is only part of the equation. The most important component is one's ability as a trial lawyer.

As for litigation, trying a case in court is completely different from litigating that case to trial. Litigating the case is all of the pretrial work you have to do for a case. For this, raw intelligence, is by far, the most important component. During the pretrial phase, one comes up with the theory of the case (applying laws to your facts and pleading your cause(s) of action sufficiently, crafting your arguments that satisfy jurisdictional, sufficiency of evidence issues, etc. that may arise. And then there is discovery. LOTS of thought has to go into what kind of evidence is needed to support your factual arguments. And is that evidence even obtainable? Cost considerations of gathering evidence. Is it admissable? Crafting plan B's and C's for supporting your arguments if a piece of evidence is not obtained or ruled inadmissable, etc. That all takes raw intelligence. These things are important because they can lead to case handling efficiency. What I mean by that is that one does not always have to have favorable facts to make someone/entity settle. If one's arguments and support for those arguments are strong enough, one can obtain a very favorable settlement before trial. This is just a far more efficient way of generating revenue as an attorney.

But to gain the most leverage possible, NEVER be afraid to go to trial. If you have to go, you want to relish the opportunity to go. And the only way you can do that is to have the skills and ability needed for trial work.

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Kafkaesquire
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby Kafkaesquire » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:00 pm

Top law schools for litigation = top law schools for jobs = top law schools in general.

utlaw2007
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:02 pm

Kafkaesquire wrote:Top law schools for litigation = top law schools for jobs = top law schools in general.

utlaw2007
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:54 pm

I just wanted to clarify. By interscholastic mock trial, I mean being a member of one of your law school's official teams that compete. I do not mean in school intramural mock trial competitions. Those things are a colossal waste of time. You won't learn a thing. I have done both. I thought I was learning something until I did the real thing with interscholastic. And the difference was like night and day.

Also, I want to say something else. While ability is the most important thing to being a trial lawyer, that ability must be refined. Great ability with no refinement beats little ability with great refinement any day of the week. But great ability with no refinement gets smashed by great ability with great refinement any day of the week.

As I said before, your inherent ability, smarts, etc... will matter most. But those skills do need to be refined. And the best way to refine them is to do them over and over and get feedback on your performances from someone who is an expert. That way you will improve and learn to do things the right way.

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:59 pm

The "law school doesn't teach you how to be a lawyer" thing is overblown. It's true that it doesn't teach you a lot about how to handle clients, procedural rules, etc., but people are too cynical in denying that it does provide a lot of building blocks that are important to practicing across a lot of areas. I couldn't have even understood what it means to write a motion to dismiss on a federal lawsuit three years ago; I wouldn't do a very good job of it now but I would understand the fundamental notion of what is going on, and given enough time I think I could teach myself what the case was about and hash out something halfway competent. Especially with the way the profession is changing, I'd much rather have the tools to learn to do a good job in an area I can't even foresee going into yet than to have spent three years learning the mechanics of like, filing a motion in court or whatever.

That said, if you want to be a litigator, you're not going to learn it in class at any school; the best thing to do is take clinics and intern as much as you can.

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Kafkaesquire
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby Kafkaesquire » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:43 pm

utlaw2007 wrote:I just wanted to clarify. By interscholastic mock trial, I mean being a member of one of your law school's official teams that compete. I do not mean in school intramural mock trial competitions. Those things are a colossal waste of time. You won't learn a thing. I have done both. I thought I was learning something until I did the real thing with interscholastic. And the difference was like night and day.

Also, I want to say something else. While ability is the most important thing to being a trial lawyer, that ability must be refined. Great ability with no refinement beats little ability with great refinement any day of the week. But great ability with no refinement gets smashed by great ability with great refinement any day of the week.

As I said before, your inherent ability, smarts, etc... will matter most. But those skills do need to be refined. And the best way to refine them is to do them over and over and get feedback on your performances from someone who is an expert. That way you will improve and learn to do things the right way.


When I think about becoming a litigator, these are the things that I hear from other litigators that keep me wanting to enter the field. This is the type of person I hope I can stay throughout becoming a litigator, and I hope that I have the solidity that you do when I reach that final point of finding my first legal job. So thank you for your posts, and know that someone like you is sorely needed in this forum, at the very least for keeping people like me looking ahead with fervor.

071816
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby 071816 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:38 am

Yale, Harvard, and Stanford are pretty good.

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Br3v
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby Br3v » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:48 am

Just do Yale bro

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Blessedassurance
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Re: Top Law Schools for Litigation

Postby Blessedassurance » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:48 am

utlaw2007 wrote:One can be smart, but if he/she sucks at speaking, is not quick witted, etc., that person will likely not be a good trial lawyer, especially if that person does not have charisma.


You've been watching too much tv.




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