Penn Students Taking Questions

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
marija
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby marija » Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:25 pm

Before this question gets asked again: you don't need to start looking for housing yet. I found a nice place in Center City for a reasonable price in June. In fact, most places (that aren't super high end, which you shouldn't be looking for anyway) won't have places open up for the next school year until May when the previous tenants move out for the summer.

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dabomb75
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby dabomb75 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:20 am

johnnyutah wrote:
dabomb75 wrote:Hey everyone, Penn ED'er here, so I'll definitely be coming to Penn next year and I'm starting to think about/look into housing.

I've read the entire thread and from what it sounds like, CC overall just seems like a safer, nicer, and more fun area of town to live in than UC, so I'm looking into some of the apartments over there. Do any of you have any specific recommendations for places to look into if I want to spend around ~1k for housing.

Also, is ASW too late to get good housing in Penn, or will I be fine if I actually check places out at the end of March?

For the record, University City is extremely safe out to at least 44th St.

I know that it is possible to find studio apartments in some of the buildings around Rittenhouse Square for about 1k. A lot of law students like that area, and it puts you in a good spot vis a vis lots of the cultural or alcohol-related spots to hit up east of the Schuykill while not being too far from the law school. I think ASW should give you more than enough time to find housing for the fall, assuming that you're not planning on moving in until August.

PS: Welcome to Penn :mrgreen:


thanks :) . Definitely helpful

sperry
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby sperry » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:05 pm

I live in one of the buildings around Rittenhouse Square and like the area a lot. It's about a 20 minute walk to the law school, which is admittedly pretty miserable this time of year, but obviously not so bad at all. There are dozens of restaurants and bars within a 10 minute walk of my apartment, there are tons of good stores nearby. The only beef I have is grocery shopping. There aren't any quality grocery stores nearby, which means I end up eating out more than I like, and just making sandwiches because it's too much of a pain to go grocery shopping often.

r6_philly
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby r6_philly » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:07 pm

sperry wrote:I live in one of the buildings around Rittenhouse Square and like the area a lot. It's about a 20 minute walk to the law school, which is admittedly pretty miserable this time of year, but obviously not so bad at all. There are dozens of restaurants and bars within a 10 minute walk of my apartment, there are tons of good stores nearby. The only beef I have is grocery shopping. There aren't any quality grocery stores nearby, which means I end up eating out more than I like, and just making sandwiches because it's too much of a pain to go grocery shopping often.


There are 2 Whole Foods closer than going to campus. It's not "nearby" but it's still reasonable.

sperry
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby sperry » Tue Feb 08, 2011 3:10 pm

johnnyutah wrote:
Veyron wrote:Any idea what the GPA range is for the middle 1/3 of the class 1L year? Is it something like 3.2-3.4?

I don't know for sure, but that sounds high to me. I could have sworn the curve had a 3.15 median, or something around there. Have you tried asking at the Registrar's office? They know about stuff like that a lot of the time.



The median is about a 3.3.

marija
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby marija » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:09 pm

sperry wrote:
johnnyutah wrote:
Veyron wrote:Any idea what the GPA range is for the middle 1/3 of the class 1L year? Is it something like 3.2-3.4?

I don't know for sure, but that sounds high to me. I could have sworn the curve had a 3.15 median, or something around there. Have you tried asking at the Registrar's office? They know about stuff like that a lot of the time.



The median is about a 3.3.


Do you know what the other percentiles are? Top 10%? Top 25%? Bottom 25%?

die Zauberflote
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby die Zauberflote » Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:08 pm

One of my primary considerations is the quality of the legal writing instruction. How is it at Penn? It seems that most people aren't too concerned with it b/c it's pass/fail. Is that an accurate assessment? Do you feel that the program has significantly improved your writing? Are advanced legal writing classes offered? I haven't been able find a whole lot on the website.

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Veyron
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby Veyron » Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:51 pm

die Zauberflote wrote:One of my primary considerations is the quality of the legal writing instruction. How is it at Penn? It seems that most people aren't too concerned with it b/c it's pass/fail. Is that an accurate assessment? Do you feel that the program has significantly improved your writing? Are advanced legal writing classes offered? I haven't been able find a whole lot on the website.


The legal writing program at every T-14 is pretty bad. Its really a subject tha that you need to teach yourself. Luckily, legal writing is pretty easy and can be learned over de winter break. Finding good textbook >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> good instructor.

die Zauberflote
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby die Zauberflote » Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:04 am

Veyron wrote:The legal writing program at every T-14 is pretty bad. Its really a subject tha that you need to teach yourself. Luckily, legal writing is pretty easy and can be learned over de winter break. Finding good textbook >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> good instructor.

Is this the consensus among Penn students?

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flipadelphia
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby flipadelphia » Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:19 am

die Zauberflote wrote:Veyron wrote:
The legal writing program at every T-14 is pretty bad. Its really a subject tha that you need to teach yourself. Luckily, legal writing is pretty easy and can be learned over de winter break. Finding good textbook >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> good instructor.

Is this the consensus among Penn students?


I disagree, in part. The legal writing program is really what you make of it. Its not graded, so if you don't want to put in too much work, all you have to do is finish the assignments. If you really want to hone your legal writing skills, you can put a lot of effort into your assignments and ask for a lot of feedback from your legal writing instructor. Mine would let us turn in as many drafts as we wanted, and also made himself available to help further polish our writing samples for employers.

The one drawback is that it is ungraded and you will have four other graded doctrinal classes. Some other schools have graded legal writing and fewer classes first semester, making it easier to justify putting more work into your LW assignments. Since we have fewer class meetings this semester, I'm really focusing more on my research and writing to get ready for summer.

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Veyron
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby Veyron » Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:10 am

flipadelphia wrote:
die Zauberflote wrote:Veyron wrote:
The legal writing program at every T-14 is pretty bad. Its really a subject tha that you need to teach yourself. Luckily, legal writing is pretty easy and can be learned over de winter break. Finding good textbook >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> good instructor.

Is this the consensus among Penn students?


I disagree, in part. The legal writing program is really what you make of it. Its not graded, so if you don't want to put in too much work, all you have to do is finish the assignments. If you really want to hone your legal writing skills, you can put a lot of effort into your assignments and ask for a lot of feedback from your legal writing instructor. Mine would let us turn in as many drafts as we wanted, and also made himself available to help further polish our writing samples for employers.

The one drawback is that it is ungraded and you will have four other graded doctrinal classes. Some other schools have graded legal writing and fewer classes first semester, making it easier to justify putting more work into your LW assignments. Since we have fewer class meetings this semester, I'm really focusing more on my research and writing to get ready for summer.


Yah, I kinda do wish we had one less doctrinal class and had graded legal writing instead. Still, I don't love the program, what value there is pretty much comes from the 3L TA that I have who is a very good writer and extremely helpful. The lectures and assignments given by the professor have limited value (hey kids, welcome to 3rd grade, here is how to do PERSUASIVE WRITING) and the textbook is horrible - kids with bad TAs are just screwed.

Edit: Anyway, the point is that this is a pretty stupid way to choose a school IMHO, legal writing IRL is going to be very different than legal writing in class.

run26.2
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby run26.2 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:07 am

die Zauberflote wrote:
Veyron wrote:The legal writing program at every T-14 is pretty bad. Its really a subject tha that you need to teach yourself. Luckily, legal writing is pretty easy and can be learned over de winter break. Finding good textbook >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> good instructor.

Is this the consensus among Penn students?

Even though the legal writing program is P/F, there are other opportunities for you to hone your legal writing. You can take appellate advocacy or trial advocacy or participate in moot court. These classes will require you to write briefs. Some classes, e.g. Environmental Lawyering, also require the students to draft documents like a complaint or an answer and participate in oral argument.

So the opportunities are there. I don't think most people are going to become excellent legal writers with a semester or two of a legal writing class. It is a discipline that develops over time and growth will be contingent on the amount of effort one puts into it.

die Zauberflote
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby die Zauberflote » Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:51 am

Veyron wrote:kids with bad TAs are just screwed.

What percentage typically have bad TAs? Is this common?

Veyron wrote:Anyway, the point is that this is a pretty stupid way to choose a school IMHO, legal writing IRL is going to be very different than legal writing in class.

Other top schools have actual lawyers come in to teach legal writing, so the difference between class and "real life" might be negligible. Lawyers in my market have told me that writing ability is one of the key determiners in obtaining a permanent offer in the practice areas that I'm interested in. Also, when you're choosing between MPV, and two of the schools have highly regarded writing programs and the other has a writing program where "kids with bad TAs are just screwed," I don't think that considering the the strength of the writing program is "pretty stupid," but I'm just a 0L, so I could be wrong.

run26.2 wrote:Even though the legal writing program is P/F, there are other opportunities for you to hone your legal writing. You can take appellate advocacy or trial advocacy or participate in moot court. These classes will require you to write briefs. Some classes, e.g. Environmental Lawyering, also require the students to draft documents like a complaint or an answer and participate in oral argument.

So the opportunities are there. I don't think most people are going to become excellent legal writers with a semester or two of a legal writing class. It is a discipline that develops over time and growth will be contingent on the amount of effort one puts into it.

This is good to know, thank you.

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Veyron
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby Veyron » Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:02 pm

die Zauberflote wrote:
Veyron wrote:kids with bad TAs are just screwed.

What percentage typically have bad TAs? Is this common?

No idea

Veyron wrote:Anyway, the point is that this is a pretty stupid way to choose a school IMHO, legal writing IRL is going to be very different than legal writing in class.

Other top schools have actual lawyers come in to teach legal writing, so the difference between class and "real life" might be negligible. Lawyers in my market have told me that writing ability is one of the key determiners in obtaining a permanent offer in the practice areas that I'm interested in. Also, when you're choosing between MPV, and two of the schools have highly regarded writing programs and the other has a writing program where "kids with bad TAs are just screwed," I don't think that considering the the strength of the writing program is "pretty stupid," but I'm just a 0L, so I could be wrong.


You are right that legal writing is an extremely important skill. Still (a) school and grades are more important, Penn places significantly better into biglaw than M ITE and somewhat better than V (NYC is an easier target market than D.C.) so that should probably be your primary "getting hired" consideration. (2) As far as your writing sample, you would ideally produce that during your 1L summer for a real client under the tutelage of actual practitioners, using a sample from legal writing class is bad idea for anyone from any school.

Now, if you aren't a particularly good writer or were never much good at writing, maybe you ought to weigh the quality of the legal writing class more heavily. I'm probably biased because I'm an extremely good writer (used to make a living in a related field), so it wasn't very difficult for me to pick up legal writing once I found a good textbook. Also, if you are a bad writer you MUST avoid a school that grades legal writing at all costs, a below median or even median grade in the class can cost you biglaw.

marija
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby marija » Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:21 pm

Last edited by marija on Mon Jul 25, 2011 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

run26.2
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby run26.2 » Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:33 pm

die Zauberflote wrote:
Veyron wrote:kids with bad TAs are just screwed.

What percentage typically have bad TAs? Is this common?

Veyron wrote:Anyway, the point is that this is a pretty stupid way to choose a school IMHO, legal writing IRL is going to be very different than legal writing in class.

Other top schools have actual lawyers come in to teach legal writing, so the difference between class and "real life" might be negligible. Lawyers in my market have told me that writing ability is one of the key determiners in obtaining a permanent offer in the practice areas that I'm interested in. Also, when you're choosing between MPV, and two of the schools have highly regarded writing programs and the other has a writing program where "kids with bad TAs are just screwed," I don't think that considering the the strength of the writing program is "pretty stupid," but I'm just a 0L, so I could be wrong.

run26.2 wrote:Even though the legal writing program is P/F, there are other opportunities for you to hone your legal writing. You can take appellate advocacy or trial advocacy or participate in moot court. These classes will require you to write briefs. Some classes, e.g. Environmental Lawyering, also require the students to draft documents like a complaint or an answer and participate in oral argument.

So the opportunities are there. I don't think most people are going to become excellent legal writers with a semester or two of a legal writing class. It is a discipline that develops over time and growth will be contingent on the amount of effort one puts into it.

This is good to know, thank you.

When you actually start to read the work produced by lawyers, you realize most of it is pretty formulaic. You can learn the basics of brief writing, for instance, in a relatively short period of time. You learn concepts such as how to write using IRAC (or CREAC or something similar), write umbrella paragraphs, how to be persuasive in your facts section, and a few other simple things.

Becoming a good legal writer, IMO, involves using judgment about which arguments to make based on a given set of facts because you'll always have more to say than you can in your allotted space. Especially in briefs, the best writers tend to tell a story that captures the judge's attention from the outset. The briefs that can tell that story and layout their case simply tend to be the most successful--at least that's what I've been told by COA judges. Learning to do the above takes practice and reading others' work. I spent a good deal of time reading briefs downloaded from Westlaw and I think that helped me become a better writer.

Like most other disciplines, you are going to learn best if you take the initiative to figure out how to write better yourself. I don't think the quality of the program or the instructors is as determinative as your own initiative to learn it. Success will depend on the opportunities you take to write more and on the amount of time and effort you put into it.
Last edited by run26.2 on Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

marija
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby marija » Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:10 am

run26.2 wrote:
die Zauberflote wrote:
Veyron wrote:kids with bad TAs are just screwed.

What percentage typically have bad TAs? Is this common?

Veyron wrote:Anyway, the point is that this is a pretty stupid way to choose a school IMHO, legal writing IRL is going to be very different than legal writing in class.

Other top schools have actual lawyers come in to teach legal writing, so the difference between class and "real life" might be negligible. Lawyers in my market have told me that writing ability is one of the key determiners in obtaining a permanent offer in the practice areas that I'm interested in. Also, when you're choosing between MPV, and two of the schools have highly regarded writing programs and the other has a writing program where "kids with bad TAs are just screwed," I don't think that considering the the strength of the writing program is "pretty stupid," but I'm just a 0L, so I could be wrong.

run26.2 wrote:Even though the legal writing program is P/F, there are other opportunities for you to hone your legal writing. You can take appellate advocacy or trial advocacy or participate in moot court. These classes will require you to write briefs. Some classes, e.g. Environmental Lawyering, also require the students to draft documents like a complaint or an answer and participate in oral argument.

So the opportunities are there. I don't think most people are going to become excellent legal writers with a semester or two of a legal writing class. It is a discipline that develops over time and growth will be contingent on the amount of effort one puts into it.

This is good to know, thank you.

When you actually start to read the work produced by lawyers, you realize most of it is pretty formulaic. You can learn the basics of brief writing, for instance, in a relatively short period of time. You learn concepts such as how write using IRAC (or CREAC or something similar), write umbrella paragraphs, how to be persuasive in your facts section, and a few other simple things.

Becoming a good legal writer, IMO, involves using judgment about which arguments to make based on a given set of facts because you'll always have more to say than you can in your allotted space. Especially in briefs, the best writers tend to tell a story that captures the judge's attention from the outset. The briefs that can tell that story and layout their case simply tend to be the most successful--at least that's what I've been told by COA judges. Learning to do the above takes practice and reading others' work. I spent a good deal of time reading briefs downloaded from Westlaw and I think that helped me become a better writer.

Like most other disciplines, you are going to learn best if you take the initiative to figure out how to write better yourself. I don't think the quality of the program or the instructors is as determinative as your own initiative to learn it. Success will depend on the opportunities you take to write more and on the amount of time and effort you put into it.



This is a better representation of the point that I think I may have been trying to make.

sperry
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby sperry » Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:56 am

Chief Judge McKee spoke to my appellate advocacy section, and essentially told us that everything they teach you in legal writing is crap, and to forget it all. He said that the first thing he does with his new clerks every year is completely retrain them in legal writing.


If you care about writing, take appellate advocacy. You'll be taught by experienced, successful appellate litigators, people who have made a career out of being good legal writers. The director of the legal writing program at Penn had a whopping 2 years of experience as a big firm associate before jumping into academia. Frankly, I think it's a joke that someone that unqualified is directing the legal writing program, especially when they are apparently teaching it extremely poorly.

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johnnyutah
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby johnnyutah » Fri Feb 11, 2011 3:20 pm

You won't learn to do good briefwriting until you start working. Legal writing class won't actually prep you to practice; that's what your summers are for.

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Excellence = a Habit
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby Excellence = a Habit » Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:39 pm

tag!

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johnnyutah
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby johnnyutah » Wed Feb 16, 2011 6:43 pm

Excellence = a Habit wrote:tag!

Bummer about your stillers.

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violaboy
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby violaboy » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:38 pm

What are the first semester classes, and what is the weekly schedule like? (What time are classes? How early and how late can they go?)

tipler4213
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby tipler4213 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:53 pm

Visiting Penn with the girlfriend next week. Will be there Thursday night through Saturday evening--any "must dos" (other than Pat's, Geno's, and checking out the campus)? Want to make sure the trip rocks, because I am trying to sell her on Penn/Philly

marija
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby marija » Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:17 pm

violaboy wrote:What are the first semester classes, and what is the weekly schedule like? (What time are classes? How early and how late can they go?)


This year it was Torts, Civ Pro, Property, Contracts, and Legal Writing, but there are rumors abounding that the 1L curriculum may change for next year.

run26.2
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Re: Penn Students Taking Questions

Postby run26.2 » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:29 pm

tipler4213 wrote:Visiting Penn with the girlfriend next week. Will be there Thursday night through Saturday evening--any "must dos" (other than Pat's, Geno's, and checking out the campus)? Want to make sure the trip rocks, because I am trying to sell her on Penn/Philly

If you want to make sure the trip rocks, I'd say don't go to Pat's or Geno's. They're not very good, except possibly to say you've been there.

You might try Jim's on South Street, instead. My personal favorite is Dalessandro's, which is a little further away from the campus in Roxborough, a neighborhood of Philadelphia.

What does your girlfriend like to do? That might help with the recommendations.




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