April 16, 2006
How to Find a Public Interest Law School
Blonde Justice offers some great advice on how to find a law school that will best prepare you for a career in public interest law. Definitely worth a look if you're thinking of heading in that direction.
UPDATE: Blonde Justice has posted a followup to the original post with more great advice.
April 14, 2006
Alternative Career Paths
Will Work for Favorable Dicta recently hosted a discussion about alternatives to traditional law jobs and how best to find and secure such alternative employment. The discussion continues here.
I can second one of the suggestions a reader made there and recommend What Can You Do With a Law Degree?: A Lawyer's Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside & Around the Law by Deborah Arron. I first looked at this book in the fall before I applied to law school as a way of making sure there were career paths available in the law that I would enjoy. I still highly recommend it for that purpose—it can be a big help in letting you know what you're getting into before you take on all the debt of law school. But it also has a chapter devoted to finding alternative opportunities—jobs outside the legal mainstream—and how to spin your experience into something that those alternative employers will like. I think the book is well worth its price for any law student who is not certain he/she wants to go the usual “biglaw” or firm route, but if you're not convinced I'm sure you can find a copy in your school or local library.
April 10, 2006
Advice for Parents Going to Law School
- Absolute organization.
- Buy two of everything so you never run out.
- Make the slow cooker your best friend.
- Arrange back-up day care.
- Stick to your schedule, and make time to be a parent.
- Consider going part-time.
- Cut your books!
Looking Back On 1L
Kristine of Divine Angst is almost done with her first year of law school and offers a look back at things she wishes she'd known before starting law school. Those lessons include:
- Law school is no harder than any other school.
- If you make law school the only thing you do, you will not be happy.
- Even if it's hard, you have to keep your perspective.
- Finally, enjoy yourself as much as possible.
Kristine's exercise is one we might all try to mutual benefit. What lessons do you wish you'd known before starting law school? Before starting 2L? Before starting your job hunt? Etc?
April 04, 2006
Be an effective high-tech lawyer for free!
Evan Schaeffer offers a heads up:
This year, for the first time ever, law students can attend the ABA Techshow for free. It's taking place in Chicago from April 20-22.
If you're going to be in or near Chicago on those dates, you might want to check this out. If anyone goes, I'd love to hear what it was like and whether it seemed worthwhile.
Request: Is upper division GPA important to law schools?
Reader “halai” writes:
when applying to law school, is it the cumulative gpa which is taken into consideration or one's gpa in upper division courses only? i ask because i did very poorly my first two years of college, which obviosly killed my cumulative, however, my upper division gpa is not bad.
which is it?
I'm pretty sure most law schools want only your cumulative GPA. They get your transcript and that's going to give them the cumulative. If your undergraduate school breaks out an upper division GPA on your transcript, that's great, but if you're looking at those GPA ranges to determine your chances of getting into Your Dream Law School, you should consider your cumulative GPA b/c that's what Dream Law School's admissions folks will be looking at.
Can anyone add to that? Do you know of any schools who look at just an upper division GPA?
This is no reason to despair. Your personal statement is a great place to emphasize your great upper division GPA and to explain how it shows that you matured during college and are now on the same path of excellence that you will follow in law school. My understanding is that most law schools like to see that kind of development so this could end up working very much to your advantage.
How to use the rankings to choose your school
Professors Solove and Filler have posted a great summary of the past decade of US News Rankings of law schools, along with some great advice about how students should use that information:
When students choose law schools, they should remain focused on the forest and not get lost in the trees. Focusing on year-to-year changes can be misleading. For example, in 2006, Wash. U. moved up five spots from 24 to 19. But a year earlier, it dropped from 20 to 24. What is the real Wash. U? Over time, one can see a dramatic change -- Wash. U was in the high twenties and early thirties until it leveled out at 25 in 2002. In another example, if one looked at GW in 1998, it was ranked 20. But at that time the 20 was an anomaly, as Wash U was 24 in 1997 and 25 in 1998. After 2004, GW has been consistenly ranked either 20 or 19. To the extent that the US News rankings have any value at all, it is evident only in long-term trends, not in yearly fluctuations.
There are other instances where the US News rankings are simply game of musical chairs for certain groups of schools. For example, Berkeley, Virginia, and Michigan have been have engaged in a US News game of cat-and-mouse over the past decade. When one school drops, students may become crestfallen. Prospective students may shift their preferences. However, over time, the ordering of these schools appears just to shuffle around a lot, with no discernible pattern. Relying on the US News rankings to choose among these three law schools is like choosing one's hometown based on today's weather report.
I'm personally not convinced that even using long-term U.S. News trends as a guide is worth much, but I will defer to the profs on that.