Help me out: General advice for an older student

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
SaulGoodmansEvilTwin
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:21 pm

Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby SaulGoodmansEvilTwin » Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:50 pm

So, let me give you a run down of my current situation and my thoughts and goals, then feel free to flame me or caress me gently with soothing, sagacious advice:

Background:
I'm a 44 (as of this month) year old white male, married with 2 kids, about to graduate from ASU with a degree in History and some Philosophy coursework. I work full time as an emergency paramedic, and have done so for over 20 years. In that time I've worked as a paramedic all around the world, especially in the oil and gas industry. I speak Esperanto and Russian at a high-intermediate level, and basic Spanish. Obviously I have an extensive medical background.

Motivations:
Dad was a lawyer, and for years and years, I swore I would never become a lawyer. However, I finally realized- all the things I like and am really good at (reading, writing, logic, analysis, language, etc) pretty much make me a perfect candidate for being a lawyer. And thanks to Dad, and his years of Socratic dinner-table dialogue, I probably even think like a lawyer.

However, there are other motivations: I inherited (I miss my Dad...) an extensive amount of real estate (that isn't worth much in this economy, sadly) and legal training would be of great use in the years to come in dealing with it. Also, my years of experience abroad mean I am very interested in working in either the oil and gas industry or perhaps for a government or educational organization. My background would, I think, help me in getting into, for example, a management position in an international oil company's health and safety division, or doing admiralty law, or teaching abroad.

The biggest reason though- I'm getting way too old to do what I'm doing. The 24 hour shifts are killing me- sleep deprivation, heavy lifting, and boatloads of stress are a recipe for an early grave.

Money is also an issue- 2 kids are going to graduate from HS in the next 6 years, and momma wants them to go to Stanford. What I'm doing now pays ~$70K in a good year working internationally, and ~$45K in a year without any international work- which is an extremely difficult and competitive area.

Where I am at now:
Cowtown, NM. Own a nice house I can sell to get maybe $200K in the bank. I have taken 1 practice LSAT and scored 154 without studying. I got 66% right on LR, 43% right on LG and 89% right on RC. My LSAC GPA is 3.54. I am planning on taking the December LSAT. I have the Powerscore LG book, Nathan Fox's Disrespecting the LSAT LR book, and 30 practice tests to study and take over the next 3 months. I think I can easily get 165, and probably 170 on the LSAT in December. That will hopefully get me into UNM law school (cheap!) but I'm prepared for the fickleness of law school admissions and to apply to ASU, UofAz, etc. I'll even apply to a couple of "reach" schools like Columbia or Cornell, just for shits and giggles.

Goals:
So, my goals are not to get into a top law school. I'm not looking to go for Biglaw. I'm not even sure I'll want to practice law, although if I do it would be because it was awesome money and it would probably be in medico-legal. Basically I want to make a comfortable living, get my kids through school, and work internationally or for a major oil or maritime company. My dream job would look something like working for a Norwegian oil or shipping company in their HSE or Legal department, making $100K+ a year while living in Oslo. But I'd also be happy working for the State Department as a Embassy legal guy, or even teaching at a foreign university as long as the money paid all my bills (and the kids tuition).

My law school aspirations can be summed up as: Go high or go cheap. And since I'm not likely to get into a top-ranked school even with a 170/3.5, I'm more interested in cheap.

Whew, this guy finally shuts up:
So I ask you, dear legal eagles, to tell me any advice you may have, or to poke holes in my plan. Let 'er rip!

User avatar
zot1
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby zot1 » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:53 pm

This is tough. Since you don't want BigLaw, your starting salary could be similar to what you're making now. But only if you even get a job.

You say you could sell a house for money. If I were in that position, I would likely invest it. But I'm also not all that familiar with investments so maybe I'm going about the wrong way here.

The things to think about is that law school will be a three-year commitment plus quite a bit of money and there's absolutely no guarantee that you'll end up doing exactly what you want to do--at least not at first. But if you're okay with that and still want to do it, then go for it. After all, it's your life and you should do what you think would make you happy.

Good luck!

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:21 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby SaulGoodmansEvilTwin » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:26 pm

Thanks :D
I'm aware of the salary issue (don't think Dad ever made more than 80K as a solo defense attorney, and the only way he did that was a couple years when he took on an insane case load).

However, I think there is some real value to having a background like mine: oil and gas jobs are a gamble, but knowing that industry as intimately as I do, I can tell you that experience is King. It's just a huge leg up.

The other avenue I mentioned, medical-legal, I think also has good prospects. 25 years of experience in many different facets of medicine should make me pretty marketable. Again, its something where there's no substitute for experience. Yeah, it's not my first choice, but beggars can't be choosers :)

So, I think that given my background, I can come out with a JD positioned a lot better (as far as the job market goes) than someone who mainly has HS/College/Law School experience...but I don't have any hard facts to base that on. Hence this post!

User avatar
zot1
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby zot1 » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:40 pm

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin wrote:Thanks :D
I'm aware of the salary issue (don't think Dad ever made more than 80K as a solo defense attorney, and the only way he did that was a couple years when he took on an insane case load).

However, I think there is some real value to having a background like mine: oil and gas jobs are a gamble, but knowing that industry as intimately as I do, I can tell you that experience is King. It's just a huge leg up.

The other avenue I mentioned, medical-legal, I think also has good prospects. 25 years of experience in many different facets of medicine should make me pretty marketable. Again, its something where there's no substitute for experience. Yeah, it's not my first choice, but beggars can't be choosers :)

So, I think that given my background, I can come out with a JD positioned a lot better (as far as the job market goes) than someone who mainly has HS/College/Law School experience...but I don't have any hard facts to base that on. Hence this post!


Experience matters but it can be easily passed on based on fit. So say you go on an interview with a firm/company and you have the best resume in the whole world--if one of the interviewers doesn't think you're a good fit, they'll move on to the next person even if they have less experience.

Look I'm not trying to demean your experience. It's possible you'll hit the jackpot somehow. I did. But I think it's important to go into the experience with your eyes completely wide open. Hence my previous post.

User avatar
zot1
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby zot1 » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:52 pm

By the way, I want to make the following very clear, there isn't a prospective law student who doesn't think that given x qualifications they have, everything will work out super great for them.

User avatar
zot1
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby zot1 » Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:58 pm

I also forgot to mention that in-house counsel positions for recent grads are almost impossible to get EVEN if you have some specialized experience. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much you know about oil or medicine if you can't keep the client out of trouble legally.

So this should be a consideration because chances are you will end up working somewhere else first for at least three years.

But like I said, things could work out for you and all what I've said will be moot.

ChinaCat
Posts: 75
Joined: Tue Aug 16, 2011 4:58 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby ChinaCat » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:36 am

You would have a good shot at several top 14 schools with a 3.5 and a 170. And there's no reason not to try for a higher score than that. You could end up at a T14 with a full ride if you score a bit higher.

http://mylsn.info/33muoj/

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:21 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby SaulGoodmansEvilTwin » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:03 am

zot1- All very true and I agree. I will probably have to do something for a few years to earn my spurs- that's always the case. And it's a gamble, no doubt. But continuing doing what I'm doing now is a losing proposition. The work that pays is extremely difficult to get, and the work that's easy to get doesn't pay, and more importantly has significant long term health effects.

Chinacat- Yes, I'm aware that it's possible, but this is something I'm rather conflicted about. If I get into UNM (highly likely) I end up with really minimal debt- $50,000 or so, assuming I sell the house to cover living expenses. Compared to a cool quarter-million for a T14. Is it worth it? Especially given what zot1 has said? I'm not at all sure.

BigZuck
Posts: 11698
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby BigZuck » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:07 am

Do recent grads from schools like New Mexico get the kinds of jobs you envision having? If so, do they get them with any sort of consistency?

(genuine questions, not trying to be annoying or pedantic or something)

User avatar
lavarman84
#MAGA
Posts: 6950
Joined: Thu May 28, 2015 5:01 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby lavarman84 » Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:39 am

Don't want to rain on your parade but you need to temper your expectations. You're going into law school to go after very difficult jobs to attain and you aren't set on going to an elite law school. It'll be VERY tough to attain.

Plus, no offense, but I think your age will hurt you. The experience is great but I'm not sure that companies/firms will be jumping to hire a 47/48 year old lawyer with no legal experience. Especially for the competitive jobs. But I could be wrong. Other TLSers, please correct me if I am.

If you decide to do it, I wish you luck. However, there might be better options for you out there. I'd look around and see if there's an alternative.

jphiggo
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:14 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby jphiggo » Fri Aug 28, 2015 3:39 am

You have some real unicorn jobs that you're interested in. Some, or all, will likely require a certain path (particular law school, particular firm experience, etc.) or an inside connection (and even then that would likely not be helpful without meaningful legal work experience). I would assume the more likely outcome from a school like UNM would not be of the type that you are hoping to land. I think it would be prudent to fully appreciate legal hiring and likely outcomes from the school you attend before committing to such a huge decision at this point in your career.

You've stated that money is of concern and that you have financial obligations with your kids coming due in the next six years. Law school costs a significant amount of money, both in terms of actual dollars spent but also in opportunity cost. You won't be working while you're in school. If I were in your position, I would only begin to consider this path after having taken the LSAT. At least then you can have an idea of what costs may be truly associated with this decision. Having land and owning your house is great. It would not be smart to sell your house and go into debt, when you have other future financial obligations on the horizon, just to pursue some interest in "admiralty law" or whatever other interests or reasons you are thinking of.

It seems like you want to switch career gears and I can certainly appreciate that desire. Just realize that the system will be working against you to land these types of jobs, that your school choice will have a huge impact on the opportunities that open up to you, that connections matter, and that law school is going to cost you a significant amount of money for what is likely going to be a salary at or near what you're currently making, but with the added debt.

Long story short, come back when you have an actual LSAT score and can more fully appreciate the decision you're weighing.

BigZuck
Posts: 11698
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby BigZuck » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:20 am

Like, I get it, but rando 20 something law students teaching an actual grownup about how money works kind of makes me feel uncomfortable

Still genuinely interested in what the OP has found out about the attainability of these jobs through the course of his research

xeoh85
Posts: 47
Joined: Mon May 21, 2007 5:06 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby xeoh85 » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:21 am

I highly recommend that you do not go to law school. It is highly probable that doing so would be a financially ruinous decision for you and your family that you will not ever recover from.

Instead, consider going to business school. Your life experience will actually give you a leg up, it is far more suitable to your stated goals, and you are far less likely to get screwed financially.

Hope this helps.

jphiggo
Posts: 273
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 8:14 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby jphiggo » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:22 am

BigZuck wrote:Like, I get it, but rando 20 something law students teaching an actual grownup about how money works kind of makes me feel uncomfortable


Well it's a good thing that I'm not a rando 20 something law student then. Either way, I think caution regarding law school debt is appropriate regardless of the age of the person giving the advice.

BigZuck
Posts: 11698
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby BigZuck » Fri Aug 28, 2015 4:45 am

jphiggo wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Like, I get it, but rando 20 something law students teaching an actual grownup about how money works kind of makes me feel uncomfortable


Well it's a good thing that I'm not a rando 20 something law student then. Either way, I think caution regarding law school debt is appropriate regardless of the age of the person giving the advice.

My B, saw the transfer thing and a deleted post from a thread about people being too young to law school and assumed. I guess you were talking about being old in the deleted post, not young.

Anyway, yeah, I basically agree with you but I would still like to hear more about this plan before we TLS this thread to death

User avatar
zot1
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby zot1 » Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:36 am

BigZuck wrote:
jphiggo wrote:
BigZuck wrote:Like, I get it, but rando 20 something law students teaching an actual grownup about how money works kind of makes me feel uncomfortable


Well it's a good thing that I'm not a rando 20 something law student then. Either way, I think caution regarding law school debt is appropriate regardless of the age of the person giving the advice.

My B, saw the transfer thing and a deleted post from a thread about people being too young to law school and assumed. I guess you were talking about being old in the deleted post, not young.

Anyway, yeah, I basically agree with you but I would still like to hear more about this plan before we TLS this thread to death


The issue isn't money but rather expectations. OP has some inrealistic expectations as to how he will get to where he wants to be. I don't doubt it could happen, but I do doubt it would happen right out of law school.

UNM students seem to be doing well job wise and NM in general has a decent amount of jobs. However, most connections are local at best, so international prospects are certainly limited.

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:21 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby SaulGoodmansEvilTwin » Fri Aug 28, 2015 11:31 am

I appreciate the good advice here- it's given me a lot to think about. I definitely think the age issue is not going to help me, but I just don't know how much it's going to hurt me.

One thing I didn't really mention is the issue of connections- I do have connections in the industry, internationally as well as locally.

I'll be feeling them out, as well as someone I know who was, like me, a paramedic that changed careers for law.

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:21 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby SaulGoodmansEvilTwin » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:29 pm

Just spoke to a lawyer who was in a very similar situation- a paramedic/firefighter who changed careers and then graduated from law school in her 40s.

Her take on it was that it's very doable. In regards to employability, she said "The jobs are out there" but that being willing to relocate helps a lot. She does mainly medical liability work, defending doctors/medics and also law enforcement civil rights defense. Says it's rewarding, and she's made some good money.

She also had the same concerns about T14 schools vs debt, and her opinion was that it's not worth it. UNM was just fine, with a lot of medical-legal courses if I want to go that route. They also have environmental and resource law courses which might give me more options. I noted that the majority of the partners in her firm were UNM graduates.

One thing we discussed was- would going to a T14 school really pay off given the kind of work I am interested in? Is an Australian or Malaysian oil company really going to care whether you went to Cornell or Cuny? She thought not, and I tend to agree. I'm still not ruling anything out- financial aid can make a huge difference- but I don't think it's HYS or bust.

She felt that age isn't a huge handicap. It's not a help in the job world, but she said that it's definitely a significant help in law school, and I agree- I'm a way, way better student now than in my 20s.

None of this is to dispute what others have posted- just trying to get a more complete picture.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10576
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:33 pm

First, you need an actual LSAT score.

Second, based on your actual LSAT score & on your undergraduate GPA , determine which law schools in your targeted region are likely to offer you a full tuition scholarship.

Third, consider attending an upcoming seminar designed to groom expert witnesses. The brochure that I received indicated that it will be held in Naples, Florida at an upscale resort (all of Naples is upscale, however. For example, two adjacent vacant beachfront lots are currently on the market for approximately $15 million each).

Fourth, if interested in oil & gas related work look into Texas law schools & the Univ. of Colorado's joint US/Canadian law degree program with Alberta.

Fifth, only attend law school on a full tuition scholarship.

User avatar
chicharon
Posts: 1194
Joined: Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:57 pm

Post removed...

Postby chicharon » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:39 pm

Post removed...
Last edited by chicharon on Wed Dec 30, 2015 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
zot1
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby zot1 » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:42 pm

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin wrote:Just spoke to a lawyer who was in a very similar situation- a paramedic/firefighter who changed careers and then graduated from law school in her 40s.

Her take on it was that it's very doable. In regards to employability, she said "The jobs are out there" but that being willing to relocate helps a lot. She does mainly medical liability work, defending doctors/medics and also law enforcement civil rights defense. Says it's rewarding, and she's made some good money.

She also had the same concerns about T14 schools vs debt, and her opinion was that it's not worth it. UNM was just fine, with a lot of medical-legal courses if I want to go that route. They also have environmental and resource law courses which might give me more options. I noted that the majority of the partners in her firm were UNM graduates.

One thing we discussed was- would going to a T14 school really pay off given the kind of work I am interested in? Is an Australian or Malaysian oil company really going to care whether you went to Cornell or Cuny? She thought not, and I tend to agree. I'm still not ruling anything out- financial aid can make a huge difference- but I don't think it's HYS or bust.

She felt that age isn't a huge handicap. It's not a help in the job world, but she said that it's definitely a significant help in law school, and I agree- I'm a way, way better student now than in my 20s.

None of this is to dispute what others have posted- just trying to get a more complete picture.


A few things to note here, OP:

When did she graduate? Sure, jobs are out there, but so are thousands of legal grads waiting to get those jobs. In fact, I know a person in law school right now who has extensive experience in the oil industry and is banking on that to get a job later on. He is maybe 7 years younger than you.

She doesn't seem to be speaking about in-house counsel jobs right out of law school. No one here denies you could get a job at a law firm given the proper GPA and school name.

Getting a firm job in NM is super doable. I would check with an attorney in a different state before assuming getting employed somewhere else with a UNM diploma is doable.

I disagree with her statement that clients overseas will not care about your school name. Clients, specially the ones you seek, are sophisticated and they want to pay top dollar for the right people. Unfortunately, school prestige makes it easier for those clients to determine that you are the right person for the job because that's how the system works. I think a great way to educate yourself is to try to find info on LinkedIn or other places regarding counsel for foreign companies in the places you seek. I haven't looked myself, but I'm willing to bet they did not graduate from lower tiered American schools.

Look, man, I am not trying to discourage you. People told me (TLSers included) to not go to law school based on debt I would take on. I understood the risks involved and decided to go for it anyway. Things, so far, have worked out immensely for me. So what I'm trying to do is to have you keep an open mind. I got lucky, but I could have just as well been homeless by now.

User avatar
UnicornHunter
Posts: 13506
Joined: Wed May 01, 2013 9:16 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby UnicornHunter » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:43 pm

What is an embassy legal guy?

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:21 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby SaulGoodmansEvilTwin » Mon Aug 31, 2015 1:32 am

TUH- Legal attache. Usually an FBI position based out of many embassies. However, I have met Foreign Service lawyers (sometimes doing legal advisor work, sometimes just FS consular service grunts).

zot1- About 20 years ago. And I think she was referring to general legal jobs, not international/oil work (she had no knowledge of that).

I'm very curious why you say getting a firm job in NM is super doable- if the job market for lawyers is as you say it is ("...thousands of legal grads") wouldn't things be pretty competitive everywhere? Or is NM such a backwater no one wants to work here? :D Which I might agree with!

The way you put it about overseas clients being sophisticated- you just might be right on that, depending on the client. Some places might look at any US trained lawyer as a good deal (the Chinese seem to think *ANY* US education is better than any local education, which I have my doubts one, and many Indians seem to think that except for a top schools like IIT, any US school is better than an Indian school), whereas the Aussies might be a lot more discriminating- I am going to talk to my last employer's global risk management executive about this- he's an Aussie with vast experience and I think he'll be a good source of information. I'll also hit up Linkedin as you suggest.

User avatar
zot1
Posts: 4474
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:53 am

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby zot1 » Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:09 am

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin wrote:TUH- Legal attache. Usually an FBI position based out of many embassies. However, I have met Foreign Service lawyers (sometimes doing legal advisor work, sometimes just FS consular service grunts).

zot1- About 20 years ago. And I think she was referring to general legal jobs, not international/oil work (she had no knowledge of that).

I'm very curious why you say getting a firm job in NM is super doable- if the job market for lawyers is as you say it is ("...thousands of legal grads") wouldn't things be pretty competitive everywhere? Or is NM such a backwater no one wants to work here? :D Which I might agree with!

The way you put it about overseas clients being sophisticated- you just might be right on that, depending on the client. Some places might look at any US trained lawyer as a good deal (the Chinese seem to think *ANY* US education is better than any local education, which I have my doubts one, and many Indians seem to think that except for a top schools like IIT, any US school is better than an Indian school), whereas the Aussies might be a lot more discriminating- I am going to talk to my last employer's global risk management executive about this- he's an Aussie with vast experience and I think he'll be a good source of information. I'll also hit up Linkedin as you suggest.


OP, my statement that getting a firm job is super doable is qualified with the statement that followed; meaning that compared to getting a job out of state with a UNM diploma, doing do in state is super doable. If this doesn't make more sense to you, I think you should research the overall legal market more.

In NM, firms pride themselves in hiring locals. In fact, I would even bet some Ivy League grads may even have a hard time getting a job in NM. When you get out of NM, now you're competing with the locals, plus the ivy leagues and other well-respected top schools. It's not that people don't think UNM is a good school, it's just that when an employer has the choice between Harvard and UNM, chances are the Harvard kid will win the spot. There's a reason why the TLS mentality is so top 14 or bust. And don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean that going to a non-top 14 immediately means unemployment (I went to a top 30 school...). It just makes it riskier because that's how the cookie crumbles.

I was saying sophisticated enough to know that Harvard is better than UNM...

SaulGoodmansEvilTwin
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:21 pm

Re: Help me out: General advice for an older student

Postby SaulGoodmansEvilTwin » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:39 am

One year later, almost finishing my 1L year, an update:

zot1- Thank you. Your comments are just about the only ones that I've read on TLS that were worth a shit. I think they were honest and on-point.

I'm an honor roll student, ranked in roughly the top 25% of the class. Well, at least for now...in a couple of months that could change drastically.

I secured a paying law clerk job with a local solo firm. The guy I work for is amazing. He does plaintiff med mal work (I have a medical background, and so from day one I felt like I had been working there for years, since everything was so familiar to me), and is fantastically successful at it (like, hundreds of millions in *judgments* won). One of the top trial lawyers in the state, authored books on evidence and civil procedure, taught at the law school, and was an early pioneer in focus juries. I carry around a notebook just to write down the lessons I learn, and I write in it almost every day. I consider myself extremely lucky to have found such a mentor. Plus, he has a wicked sense of humor and we crack each other up all the time.

One of my biggest worries was finding a summer job. I found that if you are willing to work at it, you can find someone who will pay you. Not big bucks, maybe, but $15-20/hr is not that hard to find. Cold-calling firms is the least effective way of landing a job. If an area of law interests you, join the bar section for it and go to those events, tell everyone you meet you are a 1L interested in that area of law, and you want to find a summer job. The key is to come across as someone they would want to work with. Be cheerful, enthusiastic and pleasant and you'll get a job.

This summer I'm doing an externship with a federal district court judge. I feel like it's an excellent opportunity to improve my writing. Between my law clerk job and the externship and my weekend gig, I'll be one busy mo-fo this summer.

I'm also on the board of directors of a section of the state bar, and I've published two articles in an ABA newsletter. That's been very useful in the interviews I've done for my jobs and externships.

Lessons learned: I got some sum and substance doctrinal course CDs and listened to the audio lectures during the summer and into the fall. Holy smokes was that useful. I wanted to study up on doctrinal courses over the summer, but I just couldn't get into the books. Listening to the CDs on torts, Crim Law (by Dressler, who wrote our textbook), contracts- it made following what was going on in class WAY easier. And also I could go back and listen to the sections for things I was having a hard time with. This has been my secret weapon.

Shouldn't have bought any commercial outlines. Got them for free from Barbri and Themis. Also, a lot of the books I ordered (E&E, etc) were available in the library. Could have just checked them out. This semester most of my supplements are out of the library. Why other students don't think to check them out at the beginning of the semester, I have no idea. They usually have multiple copies, so some are on reserve but the rest are free to check out for the entire semester. The career center also has a ton of supplements and bar prep books available. I've also used interlibrary loan to get books that the library doesn't have. I look them over, and if they are good I buy a used one online. TL;dr- Don't buy any books until you've looked them over, either from your library or through ILL.

I got the Casenotes Legal Briefs for each of my courses. I no longer fear cold-calling, since I stopped briefing cases about two months into the fall. I'm too lazy to look them up online, so Casenotes is nice. They're not the best briefs, but they are good enough to get you through a cold call.

I bought and used the "Nailing the Bar" series last semester, and they can take a lot of credit for my grades. Probably the best books on how to prepare for and write essay exams.

It takes a village. Our group of students (assigned by the school) made a Facebook page just for the 13 of us, and it's been extremely useful. What was the reading for tonight? Post that and someone will answer in like 5 minutes. Need help? Post it and someone will respond. Helps that the student body is very non-competitive and supportive of each other. I feel sorry for the schools that are cut-throat competitive.

Nobody is perfect and everybody is fighting a battle of some kind. Well, except maybe for the beautiful, sweet, 19 year old Harvard grad who graduated from our law school last year at the age of 22. Top of the class. But she's probably an android or alien or something.


If you are not T-14 material, and you truly want to be a lawyer, I think a strong regional state school is the way to go. North Dakota, Idaho, New Mexico, etc- they are all cheap and there is a sort of safety net in that you can much more easily get a job in state. Not at Biglaw salaries, but decent and with LRAPs and an already very cheap tuition, you aren't saddled with crushing debt. My property prof went to Stanford, even though he was a local, and he said the only reason he did was because he knew he wanted to teach at our school. He just finished paying off his student loans...25 years later. I think paying out of state sticker (yeah, move to where you are going to go to school and look for a job for a year, preferably at a law firm as a slav...I mean legal assistant) for any law school except maybe a T-10 is insane. Completely. Another plus of a regional is that it's way easier to get summer externships in the federal courts.



zot1 wrote:
OP, my statement that getting a firm job is super doable is qualified with the statement that followed; meaning that compared to getting a job out of state with a UNM diploma, doing do in state is super doable. If this doesn't make more sense to you, I think you should research the overall legal market more.

In NM, firms pride themselves in hiring locals. In fact, I would even bet some Ivy League grads may even have a hard time getting a job in NM. When you get out of NM, now you're competing with the locals, plus the ivy leagues and other well-respected top schools. It's not that people don't think UNM is a good school, it's just that when an employer has the choice between Harvard and UNM, chances are the Harvard kid will win the spot. There's a reason why the TLS mentality is so top 14 or bust. And don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean that going to a non-top 14 immediately means unemployment (I went to a top 30 school...). It just makes it riskier because that's how the cookie crumbles.

I was saying sophisticated enough to know that Harvard is better than UNM...




Return to “Ask a Law Student / Graduate”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests