Career Prospects
Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 4:09PM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
This upcoming fall ill be attending college and although I am not decided on a major I am considering a pre-law course of study and law school in the future. At the school I will be attending (Indiana University-Bloomington) pre-law is not a "true major" or program and is rather composed of advising, LSAT preparation, & recommended readings/etc. I plan on majoring in the area(s) of business (specifically finance) or computer science. I will take some law classes in an attempt to gauge my true interest in the field (and will probably change my mind about everything a few times) but I have some initial questions/concerns regarding the profession.

1. My father (business owner) says law is a good career but the field is extremely crowded. Any feedback regarding this point? If so, what field(s) of law should I think about specializing in?

2. How does one truly "start" as a practitioner upon graduating from law school?

3. Extremely general, but what is law school like? Difficulty, classes, etc.

I have researched some of this online but would like feedback from real people. Thanks.
Career Prospects
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 6:00PM - in reply to Career Prospects Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
anyone?
swerve
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 6:10PM - in reply to Career Prospects Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I'm a law student at a T14. Law school is hard, it's a ton of reading and you don't get much of a reward for the work. There are a ton of law students and not many jobs right now. Unless you are really smart and can get into a T25 law isn't worth it. You're also young and will probably change your mind a lot.
present, esq.
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 7:00PM - in reply to Career Prospects Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I see that law school applications are way down (and LS tuitions are way up) recently. If you're just starting college this fall, the job opportunities (when you'd get out of law school, in seven to ten years' time) actually should be better than they are now. This stuff goes in cycles.

I'm very glad to see IU's "pre-law" program as you've described it: not courses, but advising and (especially) LSAT prep. For law school, major in whatever you like *and can get good grades in*--except that law schools do look (somewhat) favorably on tech/hard science majors and may give them a slight (not large) boost in admissions. Conversely, undergraduate business majors may get slightly *less* respect--but a 3.8-4.0 UGGPA speaks volumes, regardless!

Law school admissions are overwhelmingly a numbers game, so a high UGGPA matters a lot; but because of grade inflation, GPA doesn't help quite as much as it used to, because most applicants to top schools will have high grade averages. That makes LSAT even more important, and you need to prep *seriously* for it. Though I was generally a whiz at standardized, multiple-choice tests, I had to take the LSAT twice; the extra 100-200 hours of practice I put in for my retake were well worth it, but I wish I'd made that commitment for the first one.

1. Don't worry about what law field to specialize in--though if you end up majoring in a hard science as an undergrad, patent law is a possibility later. (I will say that employers of all kinds, some law firms included, love to see people with comp sci majors or minors.)

2. As far as being a "practitioner"--as expensive as law school is for most, you shouldn't be thinking about hanging out a shingle. Individual situations vary, but your best bet for an income that can pay off your LS loans is to go to a top-14 school (top-25 at the outside, as mentioned above), *do well* while there, and get a job with a "biglaw" firm. If you do that, your development as a "real" lawyer will be guided by the people you work for.

[Personally, I'm incapable of doing anything that I think a real lawyer does. I'm a document reviewer: not as lucrative an option as it used to be, but it still pays the bills. OTOH I was fortunate enough not to have to pay tuition, and didn't graduate with a mountain of debt.]

3. Law schools vary. In some schools only a small segment of the class gets well-paying jobs, so the competition is intense. But there really is a very different atmosphere, even at schools that "ought" to be pretty much alike. I recommend visiting as many of your potential schools as possible.

Coming out of law school and looking for employment, you will be judged overwhelmingly on your grades. Doesn't mean that you can't get involved in interest groups, etc., but for most firms GPA, most especially first-year GPA, is king. In line with that, as a general prep for law school I always advise (though many other people disagree) taking LEEWS (leews.com) and reading the book "Planet Law School." (Read it with a grain of salt, and ignore the snarky tone, but read it.)

Most people do best with one or more study partners; if you can, try to get a foreign-born student as one member of your study group (they're often better/more serious students).
Trial Lawyer
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 7:08PM - in reply to Career Prospects Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I have been a lawyer for over 25 years. Don't go into it unless you have a plan. Be unique in some way. Otherwise, unless you are truly a fabulous student, who can get into a top 5 or 10 law school, don't bother. What you should take in undergrad, should depend on what kind of lawyer you want to be. You are more likely to be successful if you have a graduate degree in another discipline, such as engineering or business. Other than that, you must learn to read and write. Take classes that emphasize that. Finally, law school is tremendously difficult. Typical grade distribution in a 1st year class of 60 students is 2 -3 A's. 10 B's 45 C's. Lot's of law schools give great scholarships with the requirement that you maintain above a 3.0 GPA. Such a GPA would put in the top 5% of your class. It's a bait and switch.
finally, watch this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMvARy0lBLE
sexy taco
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 8:14PM - in reply to Trial Lawyer Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
"Lot's of law schools give great scholarships with the requirement that you maintain above a 3.0 GPA. Such a GPA would put in the top 5% of your class. It's a bait and switch."

Yup. Just think of the scholarship as a discount because other people passed on going to LS. I got one first year and lost it by a wide margin by second year. Like the trial lawyer said, you have to be in like top of the class to keep that money. So many people get it first year but most lose it.

The law field is great if you're like really smart. Otherwise, get ready to work hard and hustle for money. There are far better fields out there with less anxiety that pays better.
present, esq.
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 8:17PM - in reply to Trial Lawyer Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Trial Lawyer wrote:

Typical grade distribution in a 1st year class of 60 students is 2 -3 A's. 10 B's 45 C's. Lot's of law schools give great scholarships with the requirement that you maintain above a 3.0 GPA. Such a GPA would put in the top 5% of your class. It's a bait and switch.


Nah, nowadays the average grade at most law schools is a B, though there's still often a forced curve (at least for first-year courses). At some schools, they're *officially* edging toward a B/B+ as the average grade.
your man
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 9:29PM - in reply to Career Prospects Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
went to IUB and went to law school. If you wanna get in touch with someone in the know, im the guy. post your email or something and ill hit you up.
Consider This
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/10/2013 9:54PM - in reply to Career Prospects Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Most of the points I would have made have already been made. The one thing I would say is make sure you work for a few years between college and law school. This will have several benefits:

1) Give you some real world experience; legal employers tend to like that. Plus, being a little more worldly when you head into the legal profession can't hurt.

2) A lot of people fall bassackwards into law school. I'm not saying that you are going to, but if you were, or if you just realize that law school isn't for you, you won't end up making a HUGE mistake.

3) You'll make some money and won't have the same financial problems as people who go straight through.

As to what law school is like, the film "The Paper Chase" is pretty good, or the novel "1L" by Scott Turow.
Career Prospects
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/11/2013 7:07AM - in reply to your man Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
ncxes7@aol.com - thanks in advance
afew
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/11/2013 7:28AM - in reply to Consider This Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Consider This wrote:

As to what law school is like, the film "The Paper Chase" is pretty good, or the novel "1L" by Scott Turow.

"1L" is not a novel. It's a true account of Turow's first year at (Harvard) law school.
Precious Roy
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/11/2013 9:44AM - in reply to Career Prospects Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
1. Law isn't crowded as much as there is a bottleneck for new lawyers in many parts of the country. That bottleneck will clear in a few years if the economy continues to improve. What will really be interesting is to see how baby boomers moving out of the profession will affect the job market. Many are delaying their retirement because of the economy. Eventually, they will move out of the market in very large numbers. This should also help clear the bottleneck.

2. Those in the top 10-20% of their class in law school will participate in an on campus interview process in their second year and get clerkships with big to medium size law firms during their 2l summer. They will frequently get job offers after their clerkships to be hired as a first year associate upon completion of law school. For everyone else, summer clerkships with smaller firms may yeild job offers. But most will just send out resumes and get hired by a small firm, work for the government (county/city attorney, prosecutor, etc.), or get a job in house. A few will actually start their own law firm. If you have a lot of family, friends etc. who will give you work and like being a jack of all trades attorney (family law, probate, real estate, criminal, personal injury etc.), then starting your own practice can be rewarding.

3. Law school is interesting and exhausting the first year. The second year is still mildly interesting if you are working on a law journal or doing moot court/mock trial. The third year is dismal.
Finch Esq
RE: Any Lawyers on Letsrun? *advice 2/11/2013 9:47AM - in reply to Career Prospects Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I've been an attorney for 15 years and my best advice is: Don't go to law school! Google: "insidethelawschoolscam" a blog by a law school professor. He concludes that the problems in the legal profession are not "cyclical" as suggested above but will continue to get worse and worse without reform. There are over 200 law schools pumping out over 40,000 new lawyers every year. Law school has become overwhelmingly expensive and the only way to pay back the massive loans required is a "Biglaw" job with high initial salary, but no long-term guarantee of employment.