February 20, 2006
Are you experienced?
I have this friend... no seriously! Not only do I have friends, but this is actually a post seeking advice for one of them who, like me, is a non-traditional law student. I have a bit of an edge: my wife is an attorney, so I've been able to get some experience from her firm and they've been more flexible about it. My friend has a bit of a harder situation, though. She works full-time, takes classes in the evening (four nights a week) and last year, her husband had a very horrible accident. As a result, she cannot quit her job (the insurance is absolutely necessary) which leaves her in a bit of a quandary for gaining legal work experience.
Now, typically, a law student would either do a summer associate position, or maybe clerk for a firm, etc. Or perhaps a judicial externship, or maybe even work in one of the school's clinics. However, nearly all of those options require some minimal time commitment of 20+ hours per week. When you're a non-traditional student, who has no choice but to work full-time and attend classes in the evening, that means you actually don't have enough hours in the week to participate in many of those options.
So what are some creative ways you've encountered to put some legal experience on the ol' resume that are practical and, more importantly, flexible?
February 13, 2006
pre-law and pondering
A reader asks:
With the same GPA, would law schools give preference to Brigham Young University over University of Utah? Does BYU really make it harder to get good grades? I would be majoring Economics.Now, this is serious pre-law here. It's not clear from the question, but if this reader is a high school student, my first bit of advice would be that he should think about going to college before he thinks about going to law school. In other words, pick your school based on how happy it will make you, not your future law school. If you are happy as an undergrad, you're more likely to do well, make better connections with professors (who can write you recommendations), and come out of college a healthier, more well-rounded person.
As for the specifics between BYU and Utah, I don't really know. I know that law schools do take the prestige of your undergrad institution into account, along with the relative difficulty of your major. How much weight they give those factors, though, is a mystery to all, and is going to depend, at least in part, on what law school you're talking about. BYU's law school might not give preference; Harvard may. I honestly don't know though. Does anyone have any sense of how these two schools play against one another?
February 12, 2006
“1L Blues”: Advice and Encouragement for 1L's
New law student blog 3L Epiphany offers all you 1Ls a loose transcript of advice and encouragement from three law profs at Ohio State U. Moritz College of Law. The advice has a special emphasis on keeping your first grades in perspective and making the best of them, whatever they happen to be.
The complete notes from this info and advice session are also available for download.
February 10, 2006
Law School: “It's about more than the exam and your goddamn paycheck!”
Here's a wakeup call for law students from songius—a reminder that the structure of law school and the legal profession encourage us to concentrate on all the wrong things and forget about what's really important. There's also a great comment about how to look at internships and summer jobs.
Thank you, Songius.
Advice to Legal Interns: Just shut it.
Want to know how not to interact with your internship supervising attorney? Well, here's a hint: Do not insult your supervisor's clients or her parking abilities. It's kind of a long story, but it features a law student who claims to be from “poor white trash and [who] was once attracted to bling,” so you know it's gotta be good.
How to: Submit a writing sample
Many legal employers (both full-time and temporary) will ask applicants to include a writing sample in their application packets along with a resume and cover letter. But is it enough to just print out some memo or brief you've written and drop it in the envelope?
For answers to that question, check out the last paragraph of this post from Kristine and the comments that follow. Here's the money bit:
Each writing sample should be accompanied by a cover page explaining (a) the sample's original purpose (e.g., a legal writing class assignments; a moot court brief; an internal memorandum for an employer; a court pleading); (b) when and for whom the sample was written; (c) the extent of editing by any third party; and (d) if the writing sample is an excerpt from a larger document, the nature of that larger document, including issues addressed. If an applicant chooses to submit a writing sample containing confidential or privileged information, the applicant must identify the steps taken (e.g., redactions; changed names; consent obtained from a client or an employer) to preserve the confidential or privileged nature of the document.
So now you know, and as GI Joe always told me, “knowing is half the battle.”
February 04, 2006
Jeremy Richey’s Transfer Advice
For those of you thinking you might want to move from one law school to antoher, Jeremy Richey offers an overview of the uncertainties that are part of the law school transfer process.
For more on transferring, be sure to also check out Blawg Wisdom's previous mentions of the topic:
February 01, 2006
a professor's take on grades
If you are law student, or know a law student, you are familiar with the "staircase theory"--professors assign a grade to each step on a staircase, throw their set of exams down the stairs, and whatever step your exam lands on determines your grade.
That's perhaps an extreme theory to explain the seeming arbitrariness of law school grades. Without a doubt, though, many, if not most, law students have trouble correlating how they feel they did on a given exam to the grade they received for that class.
But Professor Froomkin presents an alternate theory for the gap between how you feel and how you do:
My experience was that on the rare occasions when I thought I did great, I didn't do so great. And frequently, when I thought I did badly, I did very well. I came to believe that on time-limited exams, if you were able to put down everything you knew, which tended to cause a happy feeling, it was usually a sign you didn't know enough. On the other hand, if you could think of 20 more things you coulda shoulda said, which tended to create a bad feeling, it was a sign you knew the subject pretty well.
Yes, the facts you describe relating to your own experience may be consistent with the "arbitrariness" theory you offer, but they are also consistent with an "unreliable subjectivity" theory that I think I experienced. And, for that matter, in classes with curves they are also consistent with a "Well or badly as I did, it was worse (or better) than the next guy" theory. Or maybe you knew some subjects better than others?
Give it a read. Something to think about, at least.
To 1Ls: Don't sweat your first grades
Scoplaw offers a very timely and helpful word to the 1Ls:
As much as I have problems with Stoicism, please remember, there’s an arbitrary element to grades, and all they’re really telling you is what you know anyway – that you’re in the same ballpark as your peers; better on some things, worse on others. They don’t measure your worth as a person. (So don’t act, positively or negatively, as though they do.) They also don’t measure your knowledge of the law against an objective standard. They also don't measure your future ability to be a lawyer or even begin to assess the myriad of skills that you can bring to bear on lawyering. Grades are just points on a curve relative to your peers.
If you find yourself freaking out, have a beer (or two), sit down, and think about all the worthwhile things you accomplished on your way to this point in time; you're going to accomplish just as many, if not more, great things after you leave here. And whatever psychological impact grades have, it's already come too late - it can't undo who you are, what you've done, or what you can do in the future.
So rock on, 1Ls. Keep that bigger picture playing in technicolor on your mental screen and all will be well. Scoplaw and I and countless others before us are living proof.