Two Points of Confusion

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bk1
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Two Points of Confusion

Postby bk1 » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:00 am

I'll start off with the disclaimer: I am a 0L. That being said, after having perused this board for a while there are two perspectives that seem widespread yet do not seem to stand up fully to scrutiny. I was wondering if people here, who undoubtedly have far more knowledge and experience than I, could clear this up for me.


1. When asked for advice for choosing a law school (especially in regards to a T2) people often respond "Go to some place where you would be okay with graduating from in 3 years and do not choose a school just because you have a plan of transferring to a better ranked school after 1L."

While this seems to me to be solid advice at first, it does not add up when compared with other statements about school performance and getting a job. People say it is much harder to get a (good) job coming from a T2 and that of course makes it harder to pay off your student loans that can and often do amount to over six figures. Thus, to get that job it seems that you need to be in the top 10-30% or whatever of your class. Law school is a gamble, and an inherently riskier one the worse school you go to. If you are going to go to a T2, then you are planning to be in that top x% so you can get a job.

This is where the overlap with transferring comes into play in my mind. You are already planning on being in the top x% when going to a lower ranked school because it is the only hope you have towards paying off your debt. If you are going into that school with the mentality that the only way you are going to succeed (and by this I mean pay off your debt before you hit 65) is by being in the top x%, then why not expect to transfer, because it requires you to have a similar expectation of your class rank (being in that top x% thus making you eligible for that transfer)?

Note: The previous argument is largely irrelevant towards people who are going on a full or close to full scholarship.


2. When asked whether or not to do 0L prep, plenty of responses are given both for and against, but one of the most common arguments I have seen against it is "Doing 0L prep will burn you out."

Again, I can see how this makes sense. Personally, if there was a large enough group of people on both sides of the 0L prep argument, I would most likely do it anyways with the mentality "What can it hurt?" But burnout is a serious risk to consider because it is an argument that 0L prep can be hurtful (rather than merely useless). However, it seems to me that if taking 3 months where all your time is free time to read 6 or so primers is going to burn you out by the time school starts or during your 1L year, then law school seems to present a more serious problem for that person.

Law school is a tough 3 years, you will be working both 1L and 2L summers, studying for and taking the bar after you graduate, and jumping into long, hard work weeks for the rest of your life after that. While I can understand the desire to relax for a few months before your life becomes all work and no play, doesn't it seem that if it truly is going to burn someone out then would they not have just got burned out a little bit later and had their grades suffer at that point?

The few counters I could see would be that saying burnout is inevitable and that you would want to postpone this as long as possible. If you were going to burnout right before your finals because you did 0L prep and having not done it would have let you get through finals before burning out, then the burnout argument has merit. Maybe my flaw is in my treatment of law school as a continuous experience where there is little recuperation periods that can stave off burnout. I would then ask, is this the case? Or do breaks such as winter break help postpone burnout so that you can make it to finals before experiencing it? Or does having burnout happen later in the semester have a substantially smaller detriment to your grades than having it happen earlier in the semester?


Appreciation to all the TLSers who can help clear these two things up for me.

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beach_terror
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby beach_terror » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:19 am

This is where the overlap with transferring comes into play in my mind. You are already planning on being in the top x% when going to a lower ranked school because it is the only hope you have towards paying off your debt. If you are going into that school with the mentality that the only way you are going to succeed (and by this I mean pay off your debt before you hit 65) is by being in the top x%, then why not expect to transfer, because it requires you to have a similar expectation of your class rank (being in that top x% thus making you eligible for that transfer)?


I think you're missing that by just saying your planning on being in the top of your class, you will be. The advice against transferring is that 1L grades are hard to predict, so planning on transferring can back fire. It's not that you're not busting your ass, its just the way the chips fall on test day. Trying to be in the top =\= being in top of your class.

BobSacamano
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby BobSacamano » Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:04 am

There are many answers to your questions, so I won't pretend this is an exhaustive list, but here goes:

1. Transfers are totally unpredictable. In most cases, you'll need top 5% grades for a good chance of transferring. Grades are even MORE unpredictable than transfers. Nobody in their right mind would suggest that anyone should go to a T2 school planning on grabbing a BigLaw job. Not saying that people don't go into law school with this mindset, but you'll never find anyone recommending it. Attending a school with the plan of transferring is as stupid an idea as attending T2 school with the plan of nailing top 10%. And just for the record, in most cases it's more difficult to transfer than it is to grade onto law review. This question is all sorts of strawmen built up and then burnt down.

2. Burnout is not very high on the list of reasons why I don't recommend 0L prep. You WILL be burnt out at some point, I can pretty much guarantee that. Anyways, my #1 reason in this: You can learn Torts on your own if you want, and you'll probably be able to take a Torts exam. However, in law school you will not be taking a Torts exam. You will be taking Professor Smith's Torts exam, covering the areas stressed by Professor Smith, analyzing issues the way Professor Smith favors. I cannot stress how important this is. I credit my first semester performance (top 5-7% at a T2) to the fact that I kept this in mind at all times. Despite the protestations of moronic books (cough, PLS) to the contrary, you WILL be taught the BLL law that you need to know, and getting a head start will not help, and could seriously hurt (in the "old habits die hard" manner). For example, keeping with Torts, the E&E taught damages in a significantly different manner than my professor did. 1/4th of the exam asked for damages. I would have been screwed had I confused myself with the E&E's teachings.

Hope this helps.

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby LurkerNoMore » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:56 pm

1. I think you are misunderstanding the advice. The advice is *not* to go to a school *unless* you would happy to be graduating from it. This means that you need to assume that you will be an average student at that school and you are satisfied with the options that an average (not top) student from that school might have relative to the debt. What the advice boils down to, is that people should not assume that they will be at the top of their class and have access to the outlier jobs or transferring. If you aren't happy with the middle of the road opportunities (and don't have some sort of plan for worst case scenario), you shouldn't go to that school. Once you are there, you work to be in the top X% so that you have the opportunity to get the choice jobs or transfer up, but choose with the expectation that you will not be the exceptional student.

2. As to the second issue, you miss the fact that law school performance is weighted most heavily on your 1L performance. To the degree that the BigLaw (which is where this site is skewed towards) hiring model relies almost exclusively on 2L interviews, your 1L grades are the most important thing. You 1L summer job and your 1L grades are the only things that employers use to initially screen applicants. Burning out in 1L has far greater consequences than burning out any other time in school (those who want to clerk need to keep up their performance in 2L as well).

I don't think 0L prep is as big of deal, as long as one is not too intense about it it. Casually going through supplements to increase confidence isn't going to be a big deal. The problem can come from intensive study, which can not only produce burnout, but can also cause overconfidence and a tendency to assume that you already know what a professor is going to say on a topic and miss *their* slant (the one that counts on the exam) in the process.

Action Jackson
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby Action Jackson » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:25 pm

1. I disagree with the other comments here in that I think they don't appreciate how powerful the "BIGLAW FTW!!!!" chorus on this board is. You are right, it's a ridiculous double standard that everyone talks about going to biglaw but warns against transferring. But, you're right, you shouldn't assume either is going to happen.

2. The problem you'll find is that your grades don't actually have anything to do with what you learn. I don't mean that in a "grades are random" way, but studying for 3 extra months just isn't going to help do better on law school exams. Every professor tests differently and expects different things, so unless you know who your profs are and can get access to their old exams over the summer there's no point in working ahead, and even if you did have that material, you have PLENTY of time to work through it all during the semester. You're just wasting your time but trying to get ahead during the summer.

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby LurkerNoMore » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:14 am

Action Jackson wrote:1. I disagree with the other comments here in that I think they don't appreciate how powerful the "BIGLAW FTW!!!!" chorus on this board is. You are right, it's a ridiculous double standard that everyone talks about going to biglaw but warns against transferring. But, you're right, you shouldn't assume either is going to happen.


The advice about choosing law schools has nothing to do with BIGLAW FTW -- it has to do with not expecting to be at the top of your class and choosing a school where you can comfortably pay off your debt with the average job prospects from a school. This *recognizes* that BigLaw isn't either (a) possible or (b) desirable for every person. You and the OP are correct when you say that those that can get BigLaw will be those most likely to be able to transfer. But choosing a school on the basis of expecting *either* of those scenarios is not a wise decision.

Again, saying not to go to a school that you don't want to graduate from, means don't go to a school unless you are happy with the median job opportunities from that school in relation to your debt load. I don't think I've ever seen someone say that you shouldn't expect to transfer but you should expect BigLaw.

Action Jackson
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby Action Jackson » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:40 am

LurkerNoMore wrote:
Action Jackson wrote:1. I disagree with the other comments here in that I think they don't appreciate how powerful the "BIGLAW FTW!!!!" chorus on this board is. You are right, it's a ridiculous double standard that everyone talks about going to biglaw but warns against transferring. But, you're right, you shouldn't assume either is going to happen.


The advice about choosing law schools has nothing to do with BIGLAW FTW -- it has to do with not expecting to be at the top of your class and choosing a school where you can comfortably pay off your debt with the average job prospects from a school.


If this was the case then NO ONE would go to a law school that cost them more than $70k. In fact, that's not the advice given out on this board, and no one would ever really be taken seriously if they did give that advice. There is an assumption of Biglaw that underlies most topics about the schools towards the top of the USN rankings (I would say top 30ish).

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby LurkerNoMore » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:59 am

Action Jackson wrote:
If this was the case then NO ONE would go to a law school that cost them more than $70k. In fact, that's not the advice given out on this board, and no one would ever really be taken seriously if they did give that advice. There is an assumption of Biglaw that underlies most topics about the schools towards the top of the USN rankings (I would say top 30ish).


This advice *is* given on the board quite frequently and the "follow your dreams not matter what" folks shoot it down all the time and ridicule the advice givers as being elitist. The "T14 to bust" mentality that is so often slammed often stems from the belief that very few, if any law schools are worth sticker price. The advice is pretty consistent that if you aren't at a T14 school (and now, ITE, even within various tiers within the T14) you should not pay sticker. Just because you don't like the message, doesn't mean that it's not being given out.

And yes, when discussing the schools at the top of USNWR, BigLaw does dominate, but there is nothing inconsistent about that fact and saying that you should not got to a school where you aren't happy with median choices -- you should notice that ITE, people are no longer suggesting that you should count on BigLaw from many schools that used to place 75% + there -- there *is* the advice being given that you should focus on weighing scholarships against rank.

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Puffy
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby Puffy » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:27 pm

bk1 wrote:Thus, to get that job it seems that you need to be in the top 10-30% or whatever of your class. Law school is a gamble, and an inherently riskier one the worse school you go to. If you are going to go to a T2, then you are planning to be in that top x% so you can get a job.


This is an interesting attitude to take regarding your education, to say the least.

09042014
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby 09042014 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:47 pm

T13 or free is my motto.

Action Jackson
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby Action Jackson » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:01 pm

Puffy wrote:
bk1 wrote:Thus, to get that job it seems that you need to be in the top 10-30% or whatever of your class. Law school is a gamble, and an inherently riskier one the worse school you go to. If you are going to go to a T2, then you are planning to be in that top x% so you can get a job.


This is an interesting attitude to take regarding your education, to say the least.

Law school isn't really an education, the same way high school or even undergrad is. Law school is a professional school -- you're there to learn the ins and outs of a profession. If your interest in the profession is purely Biglaw, then it is a gamble. If not, then it's an investment. In either case, it might not pay back what you're putting in, so you need to be careful about that.

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bk1
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Re: Two Points of Confusion

Postby bk1 » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:40 am

Puffy wrote:
bk1 wrote:Thus, to get that job it seems that you need to be in the top 10-30% or whatever of your class. Law school is a gamble, and an inherently riskier one the worse school you go to. If you are going to go to a T2, then you are planning to be in that top x% so you can get a job.


This is an interesting attitude to take regarding your education, to say the least.


There is no guarantee of where you will finish in your class. You are taking on a large amount of debt. Class rank roughly equates to salary. If you do not finish well then you will be straddled with debt that will take much longer to pay off. That seems like a gamble of sorts, no?




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