USC 3L AMA

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
JPell
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USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:25 pm

Go for it.

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sesto elemento
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby sesto elemento » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:32 pm

Trojan Network, does it work?

JPell
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:52 pm

sesto elemento wrote:Trojan Network, does it work?


My most significant experience with the Trojan network happened in connection with clerkship applications. A judge I was about to interview with had previously hired a USC clerk. This former clerk is now a biglaw associate (whom I've never met). I reached out to him. He extensively prepped me for my interview and gave me several judge-specific pointers. My interview went very smoothly, and I got an offer.

I've generally made use of the alumni network over the years to seek advice regarding biglaw and clerkships. Many of our alumni are happy to give one-on-one advice if you ask. That being said, the alumni network alone will not make a mediocre GPA competitive for biglaw positions.

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LawsRUs
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:50 am

I just saw this, thanks so much for this.
Q: In your opinion, what is the maximum you would borrow for a JD ftom USC if you were paying for it solely through loans?

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LawsRUs
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:56 am

- What type of people would not be happy going to USC?
- Do you know anybody who has a school-funded job? What do they do?
- Can you walk me through your process of how you chose USC to attend for law school? Which other schools were you considering?
- How did you find your 1L and 2L summer jobs?
- Do you have a job lined up? How did you find that job?

Thank you !!

JPell
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Tue Apr 14, 2015 1:28 am

LawsRUs wrote:I just saw this, thanks so much for this.
Q: In your opinion, what is the maximum you would borrow for a JD ftom USC if you were paying for it solely through loans?
- What type of people would not be happy going to USC?
- Do you know anybody who has a school-funded job? What do they do?
- Can you walk me through your process of how you chose USC to attend for law school? Which other schools were you considering?
- How did you find your 1L and 2L summer jobs?
- Do you have a job lined up? How did you find that job?

Thank you !!


Sure, you're welcome.

Money

The maximum reasonable amount to borrow is a pretty tricky question, but if I had to pull a number out of the air I'd say keep the all-in bill at least under $200k and preferably under $150k, i.e. three years of (discounted) tuition plus living expenses. This would require a significant discount from the current sticker price. But discounts seem to be pretty common these days.

I'm also assuming you're interested in biglaw. If you're not, then I wouldn't borrow nearly that much.

You probably know this already, but here is the current biglaw payscale. I think it's best to take the December bonus and roll it into the following calendar year for income smoothing purposes. (This is based on DPW bonus scale from December 2014):

Year 1 160k + 0 = 160k (keep Dec. bonus for following year)
Year 2 170k + 15k (bonus from prev. year) = 185k
Year 3 185k + 25k (prev. year) = 210k
Year 4 210k + 50k (prev. year) = 260k
Year 5 230k + 65k (prev. year) = 295k
and so on.

This income can pay off a significant amount of debt if you're willing to live a middle class/upper middle class lifestyle when you start working. I expect to do this for about five years and then be debt-free. It's a drag, but I'll still be earning significantly more income compared to my job before law school. The idea of grossing over 200k before I hit 30 years old is still pretty crazy to me, even if it's only nominal (since I'll be spending so much on repayment).

The main caveat to this is that these numbers represent the best-case scenario, and that's true of graduates from more highly-ranked law schools too. Regardless of law school, it's very unlikely you'll be on a payscale higher than this, even if you go to a better school and get good grades. And most law school graduates, including those from USC, start on a payscale lower than this.

In recent years the law school has placed 30ish percent of the class into law firm jobs via OCI. The vast majority of those jobs pay at or near this scale. Outside of these OCI jobs, most (if not all) of the other placements are at a lower scale—sometimes significantly lower. Therefore there's about a one-third chance of getting into biglaw based on current market conditions.

The near-term income potential of a J.D. is a function of two variables: law school brand and 1L GPA. You can control the "law school" part ex ante, i.e., you will know before spending a dime which law school will eventually be on your resume. What you can't know without spending a year of tuition (and a year of your life) is what your 1L GPA will be. At USC, if it's in the top quarter you'll be in good shape, and if it's in the bottom quarter you will probably come to regret your choice to attend law school (assuming you're borrowing a lot). I don't want to turn this into a "how-to-succeed-in-1L" thread, but suffice it to say it's a high-stakes game. My anecdotal impression of 1Ls is that only some of them realize this by the first day of law school. I think if you're mature, serious, and focused on law school then your odds of getting into biglaw will be greater than one-third, but obviously not certain.

What type of people would not be happy going to USC?

How do you mean? Nothing in particular comes to mind. The classroom atmosphere at USC is generally relaxed, and we're in a sunny locale on a beautiful campus (albeit in an ugly building). I like most of my classmates. I guess if you don't like LA you shouldn't come here. Most of our graduates work in/around L.A. It's possible to work in other markets, including other biglaw markets (for instance, one of my friends got NY biglaw out of OCI), but that will require some amount of extra effort re: job searching.

- Do you know anybody who has a school-funded job? What do they do?

I assume you're asking about a post-grad position, rather than students who work while they're going to school.

I know of one acquaintance. For the sake of anonymity I won't elaborate.

You can probably find some information regarding school-funded jobs by looking through the website (look for mention of fellowship recipients). The main point is that a school-funded position is basically never a "plan A" outcome for the graduate (or the law school). Based on the limited information I've read, they pay very little money. It's certainly a desirable program for the graduate and for the law school at large (compared to sending a student into unemployment), but it's far from an ideal outcome.

- Can you walk me through your process of how you chose USC to attend for law school? Which other schools were you considering?


Sure. For me, it came down to UCLA vs. USC. It was a difficult choice because of the similarities. Tuition was going to be similar either way. They're both good schools, and both feed primarily into the L.A. legal market. I went to admitted student days at both schools. I felt like I had a much better experience at USC: I got to meet with/hear from more students and faculty at USC than UCLA. I felt like I learned a lot about USC and very little about UCLA. I also had a great time at admit day, so even though I was leaning towards UCLA initially (because of the nicer neighborhood), I changed my mind and went to USC. I was also attracted to USC because of the smaller class sizes.

- How did you find your 1L and 2L summer jobs?

I got my 1L summer job based on help from a professor. I got my 2L summer job through OCI.

- Do you have a job lined up? How did you find that job?

Yes. My 2L summer firm extended a permanent offer. The firm is letting me defer my start date for a year because I'm going to do a clerkship first.

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LawsRUs
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:52 am

Hey wow, thank you so much for such a thorough and honest reply. I really appreciate you taking the time out of preparing for your finals to answer those questions. (When I was there for USC's admitted students day last weekend, the library was packed with people reading.)

Congrats on your clerkship and your law firm job offers !! Knowing that you have them must be such a nice relief.
---
Some other things that I was wondering, if you have the time (and pls feel free to answer them selectively, you don't have to answer any that you don't want to, of course)--

- Where did you live during your 1L year? Did you like living there? How did you find your housing?
- Did you come to 'SC knowing that you would want clerkship or big law? Did you also come knowing that you would want to practice and live in LA?
- Can I ask for your speculation of why the administration changed the structure of OCI from 100% lottery? What is your opinion on this new structure?
- Why is the legal writing, research, and advocacy class worth so many units? Did you have to put a lot of work in it? Was it a time-sink, or were you able to manage?
- I'm sure you have looked at the recent employment statistics. I was curious about how the number for those employment in gov't doubled. It went from 3.2% (2012) to 5.6% (2013) to 11.8% (2014). Was there anything set up to help those numbers in the recent years? I was wondering if you had any information on this increase.
- And your speculation of the LA legal market in three years.

Many thanks in advance. Thank you!!

Finalfan
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby Finalfan » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:09 pm

Would you say class of 2015 will do better than class of 2014 in terms of overall employment?

JPell
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Tue Apr 14, 2015 2:18 pm

Congrats on your clerkship and your law firm job offers !! Knowing that you have them must be such a nice relief.

Thank you.

- Where did you live during your 1L year? Did you like living there? How did you find your housing?

I lived close to campus for 1L year (pretty close to Terrace actually). I found housing by driving around the neighborhood and looking up craigslist postings.

I'm glad I lived close to campus because of the convenience. 1Ls have class five days a week, sometimes starting at 8:00 in the morning. (I didn't; it depends on which super-section you're placed in.) Given the busy schedule, I think it was helpful to have a walking commute to campus (no traffic, no parking, no gas). That being said, the cheaper places near campus are not in especially nice areas. I was ready to move elsewhere after 1L. I got tired of the undergrad parties and the police helicopters.

- Did you come to 'SC knowing that you would want clerkship or big law? Did you also come knowing that you would want to practice and live in LA?

Biglaw was my objective from day one, although I was never ostentatious about it. (Talking up your biglaw aspirations is a great way to come off as a tool when you're a 1L. Fortunately the vast majority of 1Ls are sensible and down-to-earth in this respect.)

I honestly don't know if I was familiar with clerkships when I started law school. At any rate, the law school starts to indoctrinate students pretty early on. There is a clerkship reception in the fall just for 1Ls where judges/alums come to campus to pitch the new 1Ls on the value of clerking. I mentally filed this away when I was a 1L and started seriously looking into clerkships at the beginning of my 2L year.

I started law school with the understanding I would probably practice in L.A. after graduating. I'm happy with working in L.A. It's the biggest legal market outside of New York, and in real terms you get paid more in L.A. than in NYC. (The biglaw payscale is nominally identical in both markets, but the cost of living is significantly lower in L.A.)

- Can I ask for your speculation of why the administration changed the structure of OCI from 100% lottery? What is your opinion on this new structure?

Yes. It's not really a matter of speculation. The school changed the policy because the law firms were asking for it. I guess the 30/70 system is a compromise between all-lottery vs. all-preselect.

I think the attention on the policy change is a little overblown. Law firms continue to focus primarily on GPA during OCI. This was true before and after the policy change.

Consider a law firm that sends an attorney to interview all day at OCI. At 3 students per hour for seven hours, that's 21 students. Under the old system, all 21 would be lottery-based. Now 15 will be lottery-based and the firm gets to preselect 6 students. In a law school class of 200 students, and assuming all the top students apply, that means the firm could "guarantee" that it sees the top 3% of the law school class. That's hardly enough to fill all the OCI openings (as I mentioned earlier, about a third of the class gets OCI placements). So the pre-select thing is not an end-all be-all recruiting avenue.

Also keep in mind that the firms see every resume of every student who bids on them, regardless of whether the student actually gets an OCI interview. If the firms see student resumes (i.e., GPAs) that they like, but who don't make it onto their OCI schedules, they can reach out to those students by other means.

I don't know much about lottery interviews, but my guess is that they can be helpful for students in the gray area (i.e., above-median but not in the top quarter) but not helpful for, say, below-median students. If you walk into a lottery interview with Sullivan & Cromwell with a 3.0 GPA, you will not be getting an offer, no matter how charming you are. To that end, CSO helps students bid wisely. The office keeps track internally, at a general level, of the types of GPAs that are competitive with particular law firms. They distribute this info. to rising 2Ls so you can bid on firms where you have a realistic chance.

- Why is the legal writing, research, and advocacy class worth so many units? Did you have to put a lot of work in it? Was it a time-sink, or were you able to manage?


LRW is important. I did well in LRW, but I found it to be a very difficult class. It is time-consuming all year long, although it does wrap up a week or two before finals start in the fall and spring.

I understand that some schools do LRW on a pass-fail basis. I'm sure that when I was a 1L I would have loved this. But looking back on it, I have to say I'm glad I was forced to take it on a graded basis. Obviously I would not have taken it nearly as seriously if it were pass/fail. And I'm glad I paid attention because effective memo writing is an important skill for junior associates. I think my LRW experience helped me do well as an SA.

In my experience, LRW was definitely a time-sink, so be prepared. With open-universe memos, you can basically research forever, so it requires some judgment to determine when you've done enough research and when it's time to start writing. This is true in practice too. It's just something you have to learn. And it's better to start learning this skill in law school than when you begin an SA gig.

- I'm sure you have looked at the recent employment statistics. I was curious about how the number for those employment in gov't doubled. It went from 3.2% (2012) to 5.6% (2013) to 11.8% (2014). Was there anything set up to help those numbers in the recent years? I was wondering if you had any information on this increase.

I just looked at the new numbers a couple days ago. I'm not familiar with government hiring/recruiting so I'm not a good source to ask. I have no idea whether CSO is doing anything in particular with respect to government jobs.

- And your speculation of the LA legal market in three years.

I'm not sure what to expect. I assume the pricing pressure that law firms have felt in recent years will continue. This makes it advantageous to get involved in high-end work that is less likely to be in-sourced or transferred to non-biglaw firms with lower rates.

Would you say class of 2015 will do better than class of 2014 in terms of overall employment?

I'm not sure about this either. Most of my friends have jobs by now, but some do not. Our numbers might end up being better since we're a smaller class. AFAIK c/o 2015 is 177 students, compared to 216 students in c/o 2014.

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LawsRUs
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:45 pm

JPell!! Your answers are really great, and I really appreciate them. Thank you.

Some follow-up questions re: OCI--
- Is there a limited number of bids that you can place?
- For the two OCI sessions, are there any noticeable differences in the type of employers that come to each of them? For instance, the second session has less attractive law firms?
- How many employers did you interview with when you were going through OCI? How many call backs?
- (Were you in the top 25% of your class? I feel like you were. Feel free to pm.)
- For your 1L summer job, was it a law firm job?

- For a person with median grades, what type of jobs do they generally take?
- For those who get federal clerkships, is it mostly BK court, as opposed to district or circuit courts?

- At USC, what is the GPA for a person in the top 25%?
- From what time to what time did you study in your 1L year? Did you participate in student orgs in your 1L?

Many thanks!!

edited for grammar

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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby Danimals18 » Tue Apr 14, 2015 7:03 pm

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Last edited by Danimals18 on Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JPell
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Tue Apr 14, 2015 8:38 pm

- Is there a limited number of bids that you can place?

I think when I went through OCI we were limited to 40 bids.

- For the two OCI sessions, are there any noticeable differences in the type of employers that come to each of them? For instance, the second session has less attractive law firms?

Yes. There is a ginormous difference. When people refer generically to "OCI," what they're really referring to is what USC calls "early interview week." EIW is a four-day affair in early August. This is when all the big firms do their interviewing.

Round II OCI is in September. Biglaw firms do not come to the second round. It's small/mid-size firms and government employers. It's timed so that before it starts you'll know whether EIW panned out for you. Therefore, if you're empty-handed after EIW, round II OCI is an opportunity to get facetime with other legal employers.

- How many employers did you interview with when you were going through OCI? How many call backs?


My memory is fuzzy at this point. I think I placed a dozen or so bids. I did preselect OCI interviews with most of the firms I bid on. Most of those firms extended callback invitations. I ended up canceling some of my callback interviews because I got SA offers from my #1 and #2 choice firms early on.

- (Were you in the top 25% of your class? I feel like you were. Feel free to pm.)

Yes.

- For your 1L summer job, was it a law firm job?

No. I tried, unsuccessfully. 1L summer jobs in biglaw exist, but they're pretty rare. 1L placement into biglaw is much smaller than 2L placement into biglaw. But it doesn't hurt to try.

- For a person with median grades, what type of jobs do they generally take?

I can't answer with GPA precision.

Basically, there are five types of employment outcomes: (1) biglaw, (2) small and mid-size law firms ("mid-law"), (3) government, (4) business (e.g., in a company's legal department) and (5) public interest. Biglaw is unusual in that the hiring process is so rigid and formulaic. This has advantages and disadvantages. Outside of biglaw and OCI (EIW), the GPA game isn't quite so important. There isn't a boom-and-bust hiring cycle for these other employers. You'll know by fall semester of 2L whether the biglaw thing is happening or not, and if not then it's time to start networking during the school year. Some of my friends interviewed at smaller firms during the school year and eventually got a summer gig (if not a school-year gig as well).

As to employer types (2) through (5) above, I don't know if there's a close GPA correlation. As between a student with median grades vs. a student with higher (but non-biglaw) grades, I'm not sure whether the GPA difference is that important to the type of placement, although it will probably have some effect on the ease of getting a job in general.

The best way to learn about outcomes is to carefully scrutinize the ABA/NALP employment reports.

- For those who get federal clerkships, is it mostly BK court, as opposed to district or circuit courts?

No. Most of them are article III clerkships. Over the years, I've heard of people taking a BK or a magistrate judge clerkship, but they represent a minority of clerkship recipients.

At USC, what is the GPA for a person in the top 25%?

The school only releases the GPA for the 10% cut-off, so there is no way to know with certainty. The median grade for individual 1L classes is fixed at 3.3.

Despite the school's secretive approach to class ranking, I assume some of the biglaw firms can piece together the higher end of the curve. For instance, if the 10% cut-off is 3.5 (it's not, btw), and the class is 200 students, and a law firm gets 20 resumes with GPAs of 3.5+, they've just gotten the rankings of all those GPAs and students. It's likely that many of the students who were somewhat close to the cut-off will bid too. This allows the firm to get a rough/fragmentary view of the higher end of the distribution.

Obviously your goal is to beat the median more often than not, so if you can finish 1L above 3.3 then you will probably be competitive for at least some employment opportunities.

- From what time to what time did you study in your 1L year? Did you participate in student orgs in your 1L?

I approached 1L like a full-time job. Therefore I expected to be "at work" by 8 a.m. M-F. If I didn't have class in the morning, this usually involved "commuting" to my desk and reading/briefing/outlining.

I probably worked until 9 p.m. most school nights, with an hour break for dinner. I very rarely worked past 10 p.m. I also took off three nights a week for exercise, which I strongly recommend.

I engaged in only token participation in student orgs.

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LawsRUs
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Wed Apr 15, 2015 11:08 am

^^ Thank you very much !! I do have more questions, but I'll come back later in the week. Thanks again for your answers !

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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:18 pm

JPell, I was going to ask these later, but I think I'll forget, so I'll ask now. :mrgreen:

- In your 1L doctrinals, how heavily was the Socratic Method used?
- Good places to eat on or near campus?
- Did you take any bar courses?
- What is this class about? Law, Language and Values, 2 units.
- In your opinion, do you think ADR or Business Law certificates are worth going for?
- Do people actually do the off campus interview programs? I know they are there, but I was wondering if people from USC actually participate in them.
- Is it very "clique-y?" How many people are in your "clique?"

Thank you~!

JPell
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:27 pm

- In your 1L doctrinals, how heavily was the Socratic Method used?

There is variation in teaching style among the doctrinal professors, so it partly depends on what supersection you're assigned to. Most but not all of my 1L doctrinal professors used the Socratic method. A few used it pretty heavily.

As a student, the Socratic method is a little nerve-racking at first. It doesn't take long to get used to it though. Most likely it will have very little effect on your grade in the class. If you've done the assigned reading (as you should be), then you'll be able to handle cold-calling.

- Good places to eat on or near campus?


The places on or near campus are Which Wich, Chipotle, Quiznos, Chick fil A, Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Panda Express, Habit Burger, and CPK to-go.

- Did you take any bar courses?
Yes. During my upper-division years I've taken a mix of bar classes and non-bar classes. I think it would be a waste to focus heavily on bar classes because USC has a number of specialty (i.e., non-bar) classes taught by excellent professors, e.g. transactional/finance and intellectual property classes. These classes will help get your feet wet in the subject area so you're not totally clueless as a junior associate (if you end up practicing in these areas).

That being said, we also have some good bar class professors, including for evidence and for business organizations. I've taken some bar classes because of the good professors, and also so I have somewhat less new material to learn this summer.

- What is this class about? Law, Language and Values, 2 units.

Haha. LLV is everyone's favorite class to pick on. No one really knows how to describe it well. The course catalog can probably explain it more eloquently than I can. It's basically a sampler/survey class of legal topics. There are units on statutory interpretation, law & economics, philosophy, and other topics. The workload is commensurate with the credit value, so it won't occupy nearly as much of your time as, say, civ pro or torts.

- In your opinion, do you think ADR or Business Law certificates are worth going for?

I'm not a good source to ask. Some of my friends are doing the business law certificate, but I don't know much about it. Also I think the ADR certificate is brand-new.

- Do people actually do the off campus interview programs? I know they are there, but I was wondering if people from USC actually participate in them.

Ditto. I'm aware that these programs exist but I've never looked into them. You can ask to speak with someone at CSO if you'd like. (I had some employment-related questions when I was a 0L, so I scheduled a phone call with the CSO dean.)

- Is it very "clique-y?" How many people are in your "clique?"

I'm not really sure how to count. I have groups of friends related to different aspects of my involvement in law school. To the extent that it's "clique-y," that's probably most noticeable during 1L. 1L is basically like high school: you'll be in a super-section of 60-70 students, and you'll spend the entire school year together on the same class schedule. I was casual friends with most of the students in my super-section by the end of the year, and I was close friends with a handful of classmates (i.e., for study group/practice exam purposes). When you move into upper-division years, this structure breaks down and you get to meet students from other super-sections (outside of bar review).

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LawsRUs
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Sun Apr 19, 2015 1:37 am

JPell, thanks so much for these answers. These are my final set of questions. (I'm trying to get other applicants to ask you questions to see if they had any.)

- Were most or all of your 1L exams in-class exams?
- Did you go to most football games? How are they?
- Did you go to most bar reviews? How are these?
- You recommended earlier of getting regular exercise. How is the gym? Is it nice? Does it get crowded? How much is its membership?

Thank you !! :)

eta: Any study secrets that you would be willing to share, or what has helped you to succeed?

JPell
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:38 pm

JPell, thanks so much for these answers. These are my final set of questions. (I'm trying to get other applicants to ask you questions to see if they had any.)

Sure, you're welcome. I hope you have a good time if you end up coming here.

- Were most or all of your 1L exams in-class exams?

All of my 1L courses had in-class exams lasting for 3-4 hours. They were either majority essay-based (plus some multiple choice questions) or exclusively essay-based. As far as I know, it's unheard of for a professor to use a take-home exam for a 1L class.

This is true of the 1L doctrinal classes. LRW is different. Over the course of the year, it involves a mix of graded memoranda, take-home research projects, in-class exams, and oral argument.

There is much more grading variety in the upper-division classes, e.g. more multiple choice than essay; take-home papers; in-class presentations, etc.

- Did you go to most football games? How are they?

I went to some after my 1L year, but not most. They're a lot of fun. SBA sponsors tailgates near the law school building on game day, so there's free booze to be had.

- Did you go to most bar reviews? How are these?

I went to some but not most. I usually had a pretty fun time. It depends on the venue/neighborhood, which changes every week. I certainly recommend going to the first bar review, which happens during orientation. You can meet some of the 2L/3L students and there's no class to worry about yet.

Not that you've suggested this, but just to clarify: I would not make bar reviews and football games the focus of your 1L year if you're hoping to maximize your GPA. I suggest attending these events very sparingly during your nine months as a 1L. The late nights and hangovers will significantly impact your productivity. This is much easier to deal with when you're an upper-division student with a lighter class schedule and (hopefully) a job lined up.

- You recommended earlier of getting regular exercise. How is the gym? Is it nice? Does it get crowded? How much is its membership?

The Lyon Rec Center is decent. It's no Equinox but I've been happy using it. Membership during the school year is included in your tuition & fees, so you don't have to pay extra (except during the summer). It has ellipticals, treadmills, rowers, resistance machines, free weights, and a pool. If you pay extra, you can get a locker for the semester and get towel service for the showers. This can be convenient if you want to workout during the day and take a shower before going back to class. (It takes 10-15 minutes to walk to the gym from the law school building.)

The gym is open until midnight every day during the semester. It gets crowded in the evening, so it's best to go in the morning, afternoon, or late-ish at night.

eta: Any study secrets that you would be willing to share, or what has helped you to succeed?

I don't think I have any particularly unique advice. I think regular sleep and exercise is very important so that you can be focused and productive seven days a week. I think it's helpful to go to bed fairly early every night, and get up at the same time every morning (regardless of your class schedule).

I think your goal should be to have 100% of your assigned reading done before each lecture. This can be hard to keep up with (and there were a few lectures where I was behind as a 1L), but I think it's a good goal. Lecture won't make much sense (at least in a non-superficial way) if you haven't done the reading. I also think reading the casebooks is helpful for more than just lecture prep. The more cases you read, the more examples of legal reasoning/legal writing you'll be exposed to. Despite the many complaints against casebooks, one virtue is that they generally are reliable sources for examples of well-reasoned legal writing. This is the style of writing that will help you succeed on final exams and in LRW.

That being said, I know some students prefer to skip much of the reading and rely on case briefs and supplements instead. This is obviously better than nothing, and it will give you the rules and prepare you for cold-calling. But I think this shortcut deprives you of the (time-consuming) opportunity to digest many examples of sophisticated writing.

I recommend writing short case briefs as time allows, especially during the first semester. This is also time-consuming, but it will train you to identify facts and issues quickly, which will be helpful when it's time for finals.

Finally, keep your eye on the ball. There will be times during 1L when you're stressed out. But just realize that you only have to do 1L once, and it only lasts for 9 months (including 3 weeks off for Christmas). The upper-division years will be less stressful and more fun.

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LawsRUs
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:20 pm

Thank you very much, JPell. I feel like you've answered everything that I was curious about, and I can confidently say that I can make a more informed decision now. I appreciate you taking the time to write out these answers in your free time to reach out to us before you graduated, and I wanted to wish you good luck on your finals and on your future career going forward. Many thanks again for sharing with us your nuggets of wisdom.

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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby UCLAHopeful2015 » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:42 pm

^^ Ditto everything Laws said!!

I have one question of my own, if you don't mind/have the time.

Is there any class/book you recommend we take before the school year begins to prepare us for 1L?

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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:46 pm

Is there any class/book you recommend we take before the school year begins to prepare us for 1L?

Short answer: No.

I don't think it's necessary to do any academic law school prep during your 0L summer. The most I did was read Getting to Maybe, because I felt like I had to do something. I found out Getting to Maybe makes for a pretty boring read, and I only got through half of it. I don't think it had any effect on my 1L performance whatsoever.

I wouldn't recommend reading cases or outlines during the summer. You'll be doing plenty of this during the school year, and as a 0L you won't really know what you're doing yet. (Furthermore, each professor chooses to emphasize different topics/rules.)

I just recommend taking time off before law school, and not thinking about class at all. I did this and everything turned out fine.

I say that academic prep is unnecessary, but I do think some "life prep" is in order during the summer. By that, I mean taking care of whatever miscellaneous/personal issues might come up during the school year. So get your car fixed, finish unpacking (if you've moved), see the dentist/eye doctor if you're due for a checkup, etc. These things are easy to take care of during the summer when you have downtime.

If you feel utterly compelled to do some sort of academic prep, that's okay, but just try to not make a big deal out of it when you're making new friends as a 1L. For instance, if you talk about how great law preview was, no matter how innocuously, 1Ls will interpret this as bragging/gunning. That's not the best foot to start on.

Honestly; just go to the beach!

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LawsRUs
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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:29 pm

^^ Thanks !! Good to know. I'll be planning my summer around the beach I think.
---
Can I ask you if you remember approximately when we are assigned our 1L sections?

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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:17 pm

Can I ask you if you remember approximately when we are assigned our 1L sections?

Yes. You will be assigned to a section by sometime in August. Once your class schedule and book list show up on MyUSC, that means you've been assigned to a section. Separately, the law school will post a master 1L schedule on the law school portal. So by comparing the two you can reverse-engineer which section you're in.

The reason that this is kind of convoluted is because your section assignment is tentative up until the first day of orientation (which is around the Thursday before class starts). Waitlist activity continues into August, so it's necessary for the law school to retain flexibility in balancing out the sections. Therefore the law school will warn you not to buy textbooks until orientation starts and your schedule is finalized.

On the first day of orientation, the registrar will give you a personalized letter indicating your section assignment and class schedule. Then you can hit up the bookstore.

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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:26 pm

JPell, thank you.

You've mentioned that you came to SC knowing that you wanted private practice/big law. I wanted to ask you when you knew that that was what you wanted. For me, I don't know what I want (private/PI/gov't). I was a little concerned.

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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby JPell » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:56 pm

You've mentioned that you came to SC knowing that you wanted private practice/big law. I wanted to ask you when you knew that that was what you wanted. For me, I don't know what I want (private/PI/gov't). I was a little concerned.

Sure. After undergrad, I did a stint as a legal assistant at a few (small) law firms. This gave my an impression of what it was like to be in private practice. I was also working during the course of my law school applications, and in my downtime I did some industry research (e.g., Above the Law). I decided to try to make the jump from small law to biglaw.

While I am interested in government work, it's not something I will seriously consider for the next few years. I'm not willing to take the salary hit. If you look at USC's most recent NALP report, you'll see what I'm talking about. Median law firm starting salary is $160k. For business, it's $65k. For government, it's $55k. For PI, it's $37k. This difference is compounded over the years too, since the raises are more significant in biglaw.

I would put some thought into your career interests before you start school. It's not that you need to have an idea before 1L (no matter what, you'll be taking the same classes as everyone else), but you will be pretty busy during the school year. May as well do some career research now, at a leisurely pace, before things get hectic.

If you want to focus on PI or government opportunities, then it may be important to demonstrate an interest in/commitment to public/gov't service during 1L and 2L. As a 1L you can set aside time to volunteer (there are plenty of opportunities) and try to get a PILF grant to do volunteer work during 1L summer at a PI org. This would be good for PI prospects. For government, you could focus your 1L job-searching efforts on a gov't-related volunteer position. That way when you start interviewing for permanent positions as a 2L/3L you'll be able to point to something on your resume.

Comparatively, biglaw is basically indifferent regarding what you do 1L summer, so long as it's something law-related. The firms are not specifically interested in PI vs. gov't work. They focus on 1L GPA above all else.

CSO can (and will) give you much more detailed advice.

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Re: USC 3L AMA

Postby LawsRUs » Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:37 pm

JPell, thank you very much. I'm really taking your advice to heart. Everything you say is very helpful. I'll get started on doing more industry research. I guess it would make my life much easier if my criteria for picking between private law firm/PI/gov't is salary and lifestyle. Could I pm you my PS?

Also, I decided to attend USC in the fall, and I was able to make that decision after getting all the information from you in this thread. Thank you.




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