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Old 06-14-2010, 03:45 PM
864 posts, read 2,268,976 times
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nrogers, congrats on making your decision.

Now that you have, note that you need to do as well as possible. The better you do, the more opportunities you will have. Grades and class rank are EVERYTHING, especially right off the bat. For the first semester (And year) I suggest that since you have a family, that you devote yourself to your law school studies 6 days a week and then set aside one full day for your family. I don't know if that is realistic for you and your family, but if you want one of the increasingly rare 1L summer positions at a big firm (meaning a summer job between 1st and 2nd year), you'll want to finish in the top 10% of your class or higher. There are not many 1L summer positions in BIGLAW, and then for UMN for 1L you probably will only get a shot at the 2-3 MSP BIGLAW firms that will hire any 1L's. Competition for that is tough because everyone wants that on their resume in advance of fall OCI.

Then your first year (total) grades are what is used for 2L fall OCI (not to mention what you do during that summer, even if it's not BIGLAW find a clerking job at a small firm, just something legal!), for the 2L summer associate positions at BIGLAW which leads to post-grad offers at BIGLAW.

So while you want to do as well as possible all the way through, it doesn't get more important than your 1L year. That's why I suggest 6 days a week devoted to studies, 1 day a week to the family. Of course when you have a paper or something AND finals all 7 days will be to studies.

For 2L and 3L, I recommend 5 days a week for studies and 2 for the family (At least).

Good luck!!
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Old 06-14-2010, 05:52 PM
272 posts, read 714,254 times
Reputation: 275
Originally Posted by pappy97 View Post
For the first semester (And year) I suggest that since you have a family, that you devote yourself to your law school studies 6 days a week and then set aside one full day for your family. I don't know if that is realistic for you and your family, but if you want one of the increasingly rare 1L summer positions at a big firm (meaning a summer job between 1st and 2nd year), you'll want to finish in the top 10% of your class or higher.
Extremely sound advice. Most of the successful older students with whom I went to school treated law school as their (more than) full time job, arriving on campus and going to the library at 8 a.m. and not leaving campus until sometime in the evening -- regardless of their class times. Realistically most of your opportunities are determined by the outcome of your first year -- though you do need to keep you grades up in years two and three to take advantage of the opportunities that first year success can bring.
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Old 06-14-2010, 06:39 PM
252 posts, read 507,832 times
Reputation: 75
Thanks for the words of encouragement. As a 0L I'm looking for any sound advice I can get! We are definately prepared to commit plenty of time to school. My plan is to be home for dinner + 1 hour of family time and then spend the rest of the evening studying until the late hours. I do want to make sure I get a chance to jog across the river and get a workout in at least a few times per week, but that will take a back seat if necessary.

Thanks again for the advice and support. I definately want to go in with some type of strategy, and what has been offerred sounds pretty good to me. One thing I can say about Texas has apparently been demonstrated here; there is something to be said about Texas hospitality! I look forward to coming down for a few days as quickly as I can.

Catlover- I'll try not to offload my soul along the way, and remember, the good guys need lawyers too.
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:22 PM
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"I'll try not to offload my soul along the way, and remember, the good guys need lawyers too."

Then you won't be working for BIGLAW.

I had to put in my two cents. I'm an SMU law grad (about ten years ago). I was accepted to other schools with higher rankings (though not Top 10) and was offered a scholarship at SMU. I'm also from the Dallas area and have lived here for much of the time.

I wouldn't go to law school AT ALL now. Maybe if you were accepted to Harvard or Yale it would be a good idea, but after a certain point there are a lot of other factors that go into rankings. IMO, there are the top schools and "the rest" as far as the national or international level. Other factors, such as region, obviously are an important element. Your class ranking, however, is the most important in almost all cases at least for your first job. I am rarely impressed with someone's degree, but then again I'm not doing the hiring at a big law firm. Chances are those people are non-lawyers with backgrounds in HR.

I do not have a high salary and have never reported it to SMU. I haven't even been asked. No one knows about me or many of my classmates. Don't believe the marketing hype. I don't know where they get their numbers but I always have a good laugh whenever I see them.

I know very few attorneys who have high salaries. I do, however, know many unemployed attorneys who went to Top 20 schools. Three years from now you will be competing with them for jobs. They are ALL mired in debt. I know of two who have been on food stamps and more than a few who have had to declare bankruptcy. The employers know this and are happy to exploit them. I'll add that this is in the Dallas area, one of the areas in the US that supposedly hasn't been hit as hard with the economic downturn.

I also know quite a few people in their late 20s and early 30s who either got laid off or had enough of their jobs and thought it would be a good idea in this economy to get a law degree. Many, if not most, are like you and have families to feed. You'll be with these people as a 1L and you won't be prepared, no matter how many blogs you've read or how many times you've seen "The Paper Chase".

Just about everyone you'll meet will be highly intelligent and interesting with a variety of life experiences. NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCES or other talents. Sorry. They will be useful later just in case you don't get your dream job. Your fellow students will step over their mother to have better grades than you. I know you think you're smart, but you have no idea what lies ahead. Believe the attorneys and paralegals who have chimed in here.

With all due respect, the Midwest is as much of a punch line for many here as Texas is for you.
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:40 PM
Location: Simmering in DFW
6,947 posts, read 18,741,845 times
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its a no brainer. Go to the better, cheaper school. In no time at all you will be out and can live anywhere you please.
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:36 PM
12 posts, read 24,890 times
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I have to chime in here. I go to UMN law and work here in Dallas now at a Biglaw firm. I was top 5-10% or so. You will need to be in the top 10% in a good year to get a position at a biglaw firm in Dallas. It is not a good year either. Dallas is tough market to break into w/o some connection to the region. I didn't get my job through on campus interviewing (OCI) either. I flew down during the summer after my first year and networked the hell out of this city. I literally sent hundreds of emails, resumes, and cover letters. I ended up with 3 offers at biglaw firms and this was before things got bad economically. And my interview skills kicked ass. So be prepared to work for the jobs.

OCI at UMN was horrible last year. Maybe only 15% of people got jobs through it. I know this for a fact from first hand accounts. Also, since everyone has debt, all the liberal do-gooders you refer to want biglaw jobs too. So you truthfully must be in the top 20% at a minimum to get a big law job even in Minneapolis. Hiring isn't going to improve for the foreseeable future either. My firm has done particularly well in the downturn and we still have more incoming associates than we need. Our summer class is less than half what it was two years ago.

Also, your work experience doesn't mean much. I worked in prestigious jobs before LS for about 5 years. Didn't really matter more than having something to talk about in interviews. If you don't have the grades, it doesn't matter. I wouldn't bank on being older/more mature helping you with grades either. I was 28 when I went to school, had great study habits, treated it like a job, etc... and still feel like I got lucky with my grades. Everyone is incredibly smart. Every time you go to a final, unless you're clueless or have a huge ego, you'll look around at your classmates and think "damn, how am i gonna do well. Everyone sitting in this room is ridiculously smart." Amongst my friends, there was no correlation between age/maturity and grades.

The USNWR numbers on salaries are a joke. Everyone knows that once you get into law school.

Also, your plan to use PE to buy up law firms in 10 years. Not going to happen. Law firms can't have equity capital from non-lawyers, only debt. From what I understand, its illegal everywhere in the US. It's the reason there are no publicly traded law firms.

MSP has a lot more competition for jobs at the lower end if you don't have the grades for biglaw since it has 4 schools in the Cities. If I were in the bottom 20% of my class, I would rather be in the bottom 20% of SMU than UMN, since DFW is a bigger market with less competition.

UMN is a great school though. I love it and love being a lawyer, but if you don't love doing what lawyers do (ie reading dense material and writing. Pretty much only public defenders go to court on a regular basis), then don't become a lawyer. It won't be fulfilling and you'll have a boatload of debt.

Last edited by Sanchez14; 06-15-2010 at 11:45 PM..
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Old 06-16-2010, 12:06 AM
252 posts, read 507,832 times
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Blackcat - You, being a lawyer, should understand what I meant. The good guy is subjective. Think about it. Who goes around admitting that they are the bad-guy in a conflict?

As I stated previously, if all I wanted was to make money, I would have gone the MBA route and went to work for an investment bank.

Is it possible that you were asked and overlooked the mailing/voicemail/email/etc.?

With all due respect I don't think that I will be standing in the food stamp line. Worst case scenario I can rely upon previous networks to go back to work for my current employer in a legal job there.

LIFE EXPERIENCES (as you put it) are not what I was going to rely upon as much to get a job. WORK EXPERIENCES are a different story. 7-8 years handling P&C claims & the initials to back it up is something that many of my lawyer friends state would be an asset to any PI firm or insurance defense firm.

Finally - Read the damn posting. I didn't say that I consider Texas a punchline. I said that many northerners consider it a punchline.

Thanks for your input. I do understand that its tough in the law sector, but I believe that if you don't keep your head up you're going to get hit (old boxing metaphor). Maybe here is where my life experience adds some value - I have enough experience to know that a JD isn't an automatic job-golden-ticket. Its a tool that opens doors and if you don't play your cards right, you get nothing. That's more or less what I mean when I talk about life experience, and how it plays as an advantage over the straight-shot traditional students. I know that grades are everything, but if you don't know what to do once you get out, they won't help you much in the real world because clients don't care how well you did in Commercial Papers.
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Old 06-16-2010, 12:37 AM
252 posts, read 507,832 times
Reputation: 75
Sanchez- At some point, I wouldn't mind sitting down and discussing UMN and what I can expect. Thanks for coming out of the woodwork.

I don't really expect to move to Dallas after going to UMN, considering that I have a family that would need to come with. You did just prove my point about placement, though. Its not easy, but its doable. Others have commented that its damn near impossible. You prove that its not, even with the amount of work you had to do and the economic slide.

One of the things they mentioned at student orientation week is that OCI was bad this year. They admitted it unabashedly; apparently in 2009 only 25% of people got jobs through OCI, so it looks like it went down from 09-10. The one thing that Dean Wippman did mention is that the old way of hiring associates is changing, and they aren't sure if its going to make a comeback. My hope is that the economy will cycle up (it already appears to be doing better than last year). Even if it doesn't, my plan is to find a niche and pound it until I get in all thruought law school. They did say that they already have about twice as many OCI firms lined up for next year than this year, so that's a positive sign (unless its just a load of crap, but I don't think they would lie about that - too traceable).

I'm interested to find out more about your position that work experience doesn't mean much. I don't exactly consider my job prestigious, but I do know that it relates to insurance defensework and personal injury for obvious reasons. I've been told by several that this would be an advantage, although to what extent I'm not sure. Either way, its a supplement, not a main reliance. Obviously grades are the most important, but commercial lines P&C claims experience can't hurt, especially from the networking aspect, and especially trying to get work doing insurance defense or PI, right?

I have heard it before how the general feeling is that everyone feels intimidated by their classmates. I assume that this is due to the high level of competition and high standards for admission. I don't expect anything different than what you have stated about this. One thing I do foresee, however, is that everyone (save the clueless & egatistical) will feel similarly. I think of that being my equalizer, and I'm just going to study my @ss off and try to answer the questions the best I can. I can't really controll how everyone else does on their finals, so I'm just going to try and ignore it. Is that a good strategy? If not, I'd love to hear your alternatives.

As I had stated earlier - the USNWR numbers aren't viewed as the bible (at least by myself), just as an index. I.E. the school that reports at average salary of 50k is probably not as well off as the one that reports as 115k. Although both may be realistically higher or lower than these reports, its useful to see how they compare to each other. Would you say that this is more of an accurate analysis?

Regarding the private equity- I'm not as familiar with law firm ownership as you probably are, but when I said private equity, I meant my own firm's equity. That would be equity funding from lawyers, not non-lawyers. I wasn't planning to somehow woo blackstone into helping me purchase a firm, I was planning to do so based upon private equity funded by my own firm (with a little debt as well). Is that kosher? This is also my initial plan. While I plan to stick to it as long as appears feasable I don't plan on subjecting to anchor theory. I'll be flexible.

I'm really glad to hear some encouraging words about UMN. I haven't heard any one say that they hated it or that they hate the career that it has fostered. I have heard this from other school's grads. I'm not so naieve as to plan on stepping into the life of Alan Shore or Denny Crane, but I do admit it looks thrilling to get to try a case (although I know from 1st hand experience its a lot more boring than TV makes it look). I do plan to settle most of my cases and spend lots of time (especially the first few years) pouring over assignments and briefs, not seeing much litigation.

Definately PM me if you have a moment, I'd love to get more of your insight going into this thing.

Last edited by nrogers1122; 06-16-2010 at 12:48 AM..
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Old 06-16-2010, 04:12 PM
5 posts, read 5,772 times
Reputation: 18
There's really no need to respond in such a manner Take my advice or leave it. Think of me as you ten years later. For the record, I put life and work experiences in the same category. They should be taken into account when looking for jobs in law firms, but I didn't feel they were in most cases. Another factor no one will admit is that youth is favored. I wish you the best of luck in the future.
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Old 06-16-2010, 05:11 PM
252 posts, read 507,832 times
Reputation: 75
Thanks for the insight. I could see how they would prefer someone younger that they could mould the way they want, and that sucks.

I don't mean to be standoffish. I do appreaciate your advice, it just came across a little short. If it wasn't intended that way, I apologize for responding in kind.
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