Showing posts with label law school life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label law school life. Show all posts

Choosing the Right Law School Location

LSAT Blog Choosing the Right Law School Location
The below excerpt on choosing the right law school location is from Jenny L. Maxey's Barrister on a Budget: Investing in Law School…without Breaking the Bank Second Edition.

Law School: Criminal Procedure Class and Jay-Z

LSAT Blog Law School Criminal Procedure Class Jay-Z
In law school, criminal procedure is one of the more engaging classes you'll take.

You probably already know about the Miranda warning, but there's a lot more to learn in Criminal Procedure class. If his article about Jay-Z is any indication of his teaching style, Caleb Mason is probably one of the best professors to take it from.

He recently wrote an article for the St. Louis University Law Journal titled "Jay-Z's 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading With Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps."

Law Schools Stalk You on Facebook, Google to Find Dirt

LSAT Blog Law Schools Facebook Google Find Dirt Googled Applicant
We all know employers google and facebook job applicants to find additional information about them, but did you know law school admission officers do the same thing?

While you might be looking up your law school admission deans on Facebook and Google, they're doing their own background research on you, too.

(See, LSAT scores and GPAs aren't all they care about.)

Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School

LSAT Blog Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School
The following excerpt is from Bridging the Gap Between College and Law School by Ruta K. Stropus and Charlotte D. Taylor.

The 14 Worst Law Schools (Based on Employment Statistics)

LSAT Blog 15 Worst Law Schools Employment

The good folks at Constitutional Daily analyzed data from Law School Transparency and compiled a list of law schools with underemployment scores higher than their employment scores. (Visit Constitutional Daily for further details.)

Basically, these schools have more underemployed graduates than employed ones, according to LST's numbers.

That sounds pretty bad to me.

Here are the 14 schools ranked by the difference between their underemployment and employment scores (h/t TaxProf Blog):

India's Law School Bubble

LSAT Blog Law School Bubble India Edition
A few years ago, some Indian law schools began accepting a modified version of the LSAT (as an alternative to the Common Law Admission Test). If you look at the CLAT website, you'll understand why.

In what other respect is India taking a page from the U.S.?

Columbia Law School Employment Troubles

This week, the New York Post reported that Columbia Law School had updated its employment website with additional employment information after its previous update raised some questions.

The newest update includes two significant pieces of data:

-a detailed breakdown for Columbia's Class of 2011
-the number of school-funded jobs for the Classes of 2009, 2010, and 2011

The Post writes:

Cooley Law School Founder Still Paid 6-Figure Salary | Why?

LSAT Blog Cooley Law School Founder Still Paid 6 Figures
Former Michigan Chief Justice and Cooley Law School founder Thomas E. Brennan retired in 2002.

According to Cooley's 3 most recent IRS filings available on GuideStar, he received $370,245 (2009-10 - PDF p35), $368,581 (2008-9 - PDF p50), and $365,008 (2007-8 - PDF p6) in total compensation for each of those years.

These IRS documents suggest that his formal titles are "Professor Emeritus" and "Former President" and that he works just 10 hours/week. Taking the average of his total compensation for these 3 years, and assuming he worked 52 weeks/year (no vacations), he earned $707.58/hour during this 3-year period.

But what has he done to earn such a high hourly rate during his retirement? The only current formal responsibility of which I find mention is that of compiling the widely-derided "Cooley Rankings," aka "Judging the Law Schools." (Cooley places #2 nationwide in his latest ranking, while it's in the bottom tier of the U.S. News rankings.)

Will Some Law Schools Close? | Video

Former law school dean and current law professor Nancy Rapoport, an expert on bankruptcy and ethics, was recently interviewed by Bloomberg News. She discussed whether Congress will make student debt dischargeable, as well as the impact of debt on law students and schools.

Baylor Law Emails LSAT Scores / GPAs of Admitted Students

LSAT Blog Baylor Law Emails LSAT Scores GPAs Admitted Students
Update: See this interview: True Life: I'm in the Baylor Law Email

Baylor Law's Director of Admissions accidentally emailed over 400 admitted students with a spreadsheet containing the students' LSAT scores and GPAs, among other personal information, on Tuesday afternoon.

What To Expect In Law School Video

LSAT Blog What To Expect In Law School VideoThe below 10-minute video gives a great overview of what you'll face in law school. It covers various aspects of law school life, including:

-The Case Method
-Clinical Programs
-The Socratic Method

Law School: Case Briefs

LSAT Blog Law School Case BriefsThe below excerpt about briefing cases is from Professor David Hricik's Law School Basics (Amazon).

Briefing Cases

“Briefing cases” is something you will hear a lot about even before your first day of class. Everyone will be talking about how it is important to “brief” the cases you are assigned to read before the class begins. What is a case brief?

It is not what lawyers call “briefs,” which are documents written to file in a court to persuade a judge on a particular issue. Instead, a “case brief” is a way for you to break down each case you read for class into useful, categorized information.

There is no One True Way to write a case brief. Their purposes, in my view, are two: to make it so that (a) I never had to re-read the case again, and (b) so that if I were called on in class, I could answer likely questions without having to pour over the case. (Cases can be very long, and the ones chosen for inclusion in law school casebooks seemed to be deliberately longer and more opaquely written than they are in “real life.”) To meet these two purposes, my case briefs typically followed this format:

Name of case (court/year)

Class Notes:

We will discuss each part in detail.

In the name of the case, I included information which let me know who was the plaintiff. So, for example, in the “name” section, I might have written:

“Smith (∆) v. Jones (π) (Tex. S.Ct. 1987).”

“π” means plaintiff; “∆” means defendant. You can’t tell from the name of an appellate case who sued whom. On appeal, the loser in the trial court will be listed first in the caption of the case, even if that party was the defendant (the party who was sued) in the trial court, because it is the party which is appealing—the party listed first is the party who lost in the court below and is the one appealing to a higher court. Professors often asked basic questions such as who won below. In addition, understanding the basic facts of cases made them a lot easier to understand. (You will be amazed, though, at how difficult it can be to figure out who sued whom about what.)

The “Facts” section was usually a chronological, short explanation (three or four sentences, or less) of what seemed to be the relevant facts. (You can know which facts are relevant only after you have read the whole case.) I might have written, for example, “π went to ∆-doctor to get nose job. ∆ allegedly made the nose worse. π then sued ∆, and jury found for π, awarding damages equal to the difference between the value of the nose as promised and the value of the nose actually delivered.”

The “Issue” section would lay out the primary legal issue in the case. For example, “Was the proper measure of damages the difference between the nose as delivered and the nose as promised, or should it have been the difference between the nose as delivered and the nose as it had been before surgery?”

The “Holding” would be what the court held the answer to the primary legal question was. For example, “The correct measure of damages was expectancy damages—the difference in value between as delivered and as promised.” This was, in essence, the “rule” from the case.

The “Rationale” section could be quite long. Again, my goals were not to re-read the case and to have something I could rely on were I called on in class. I learned a lot by “outlining” the rationale of the court in some detail, usually following the court’s own structure. Look at the outlines in the appendices to see how I did this. Some are quite elaborate and detailed. It varied a lot, depending primarily upon my mood.

Next, if a judge dissented from the case, I would summarize what he said.

Photo by davidortez

LEEWS Primer Ebook PDF

The vast majority of stuff here on LSAT Blog is, unsurprisingly, about the LSAT. As you might have guessed, that's my main area of interest.

But I know several of you still read my site even though you're well past the LSAT. And even if you're still preparing for the LSAT, remember that law school exam prep will soon be your new obsession.

So, I did some research and discovered The Law Essay Exam Writing System (aka LEEWS), created by lawyer and teacher Wentworth Miller. 

LSAT Blog LEEWS Primer 10th Edition PDF

(And, in case you were wondering, it's his son of the same name who stars in the TV show Prison Break.)

Anyway, after some back and forth, Wentworth Miller, Sr., has agreed to release a digital edition of the LEEWS Primer!

Click here to get your copy for only $49.97:

LEEWS Primer (10th Edition)

Fun Facts:

-This is a PDF available for instant download after submitting payment via PayPal. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader at and ensure that your copy of this software is up to date.

-If you're already registered with PayPal, the instant download link will be sent to your PayPal email address. Otherwise, it'll be sent to whichever email address you submit.

-You don't need a PayPal account to complete your purchase. If you don't have one, simply select the "guest checkout" option.

Law School: The Socratic Method

LSAT Blog Law School The Socratic MethodThe below excerpt about the Socratic method is from Professor David Hricik's Law School Basics (Amazon).

The Socratic Method

Law school classes are not taught like undergraduate courses. Instead of simply listening to a lecture and taking notes, law school classes—particularly most first-year classes—are taught using the so-called “Socratic method.” In the Socratic method, the professor teaches not by lecturing, but by engaging in a dialogue with one or more students in the class. The teacher may often stay with one student for the entire class period. It can be stressful, and some professors enjoy showing off their intellect at the expense of their students.

Professors who use the Socratic method teach by asking questions based upon hypothetical fact patterns slightly different from the cases that were assigned as reading. The professor will see how far the rule from the case can be stretched: when should a different result be reached, or a different rule applied?

For instance, suppose in the assigned case the court had reasoned that a person’s trespass across somebody else’s property was unlawful, even though the person did not know he was trespassing. The professor may ask: “Suppose he was trespassing across someone’s land in order to rush another person to the hospital?”

The professor wants to test the limits of the “rule” from the case and the student’s ability to think on his or her feet. Does the case really mean that all trespasses are always illegal; that is what the court said that it “held”; but can’t some trespasses be “justified” or “excused?” If so, what rules or tests should be used to determine whether such an exception should apply—whether someone should not be held liable for trespass even though he went onto another’s land without permission. The Socratic method is used to explore the factual, logical, and policy boundaries of legal rules as stated by the cases.

The Socratic teaching method is less widely used in law schools than it was in the past, particularly after the first-year classes. Whether that is good or bad as a pedagogical matter is an open question. From personal experience, however, I can say that knowing you will not be grilled about the assigned reading makes it easier to go to classes during your third year, when often you are too detached to care about being prepared for class.

Another common feature of most law schools is that you will have only one test in each class, a final, given at the end of the semester. In some year-long classes, you will have only one test at the end of the school year. Unlike undergraduate courses, your grade for each law course will depend entirely upon how well you do on one test. (Legal writing classes are different because an evaluation of writing ability is not best based on one sample, and so grades in legal writing are based upon several assignments turned in over the semester.)

Thus, except for legal writing, during your first year your daily routine will consist of reading cases and other materials, such as law review articles, and showing up for class to discuss them by the Socratic method. Unlike your typical undergraduate experience, during your entire law school career you will rarely turn in any paper or other assignments. There will only be one final in each class. That one test will determine your grade for the entire, semester-long course, or in some cases, for the entire year-long course. During your first year, this routine will be punctuated every four to six weeks by the need to turn in an assignment in your legal writing class.

Photo by wallyg

Law School Basics Ebook PDF

LSAT Blog Law School Basics Ebook PDFThe vast majority of content here on LSAT Blog is, unsurprisingly, about the LSAT.

However, plain common sense tells me that just about all of you are considering law school.

As such, I've made Law School Basics: A Preview of Law School and Legal Reasoning by Professor David Hricik available for instant PDF download. It's also available on Amazon.

(I've also published an excerpt from it covering the Socratic method, as well as an excerpt about law school case briefs.)

The table of contents includes:

-An Overview of Law School
-The United States Legal System
-The Common Law Reasoning Process
-Why Law School Is Structured Like It Is
-The Legal Research Process
-Hints for Better Legal Research
-Legal Writing: How Lawyers Write About Cases
-Writing Hints


At the moment, this 203-page guide to law school is only $9.97.

Here's a description of the book directly from the publisher:
Law school has the reputation of being one of the hardest academic programs. It is a reputation well earned. However, Law School Basics is chock-full of insights and strategies that will prepare you well and give you a head start on the competition.

Law School Basics presents a thorough overview of law school, legal reasoning, and legal writing. It was written for those who are considering law school; for those who are about to start law school; and for those who are interested in knowing more about lawyering and the legal process.

Law School Basics was written with one overriding goal: to enlighten you about everything the author wishes he had known before starting law school.

Please note:

-This is a PDF available for instant download after submitting payment via PayPal. Download Adobe Acrobat Reader at and ensure that your copy of this software is up to date.

-If you're already registered with PayPal, the instant download link will be sent to your PayPal email address. Otherwise, it'll be sent to whichever email address you submit.

-You don't need a PayPal account to complete your purchase. If you don't have one, simply select the "guest checkout" option.

Top Law Schools Guide PDF

Many of you applying to law school intend to work for a law firm after graduating. The question you should ask is, "what do law firm recruiters think about each law school?"

Obviously, law school rankings are one consideration. However, law school rankings are only a tiny part of the picture. Your law school selection process should be far more detailed.

Luckily, there's a free resource at your disposal to tell you exactly what law firm recruiters think.

Check out the 2014 BCG Attorney Search Guide to America’s Top 50 Law Schools (PDF). This weighty and well-researched book has a ton of info about what each law school is actually like. If this info interests law firm recruiters, it should probably interest you, too.

This book of law school profiles is useful even if you don't want to work at a firm, and it's free.

Law School Selection and Prep Advice | Interview

I recently interviewed Ursula Furi-Perry, Esq., author of Law School Revealed, via email. Our discussion follows.

1. You write that one benefit of waiting before attending law school is that you can gain exposure to the legal field to determine whether or not you truly like the law. However, don't most paralegals do mind-numbing busywork? If that's the case, won't the majority of paralegal applicants be discouraged through this exposure, even if this dislike of the law is unfounded? As a follow-up, what kind of meaningful and substantive experience can applicants get prior to law school?

Actually, paralegals serve a valuable function at many firms and often perform substantive legal tasks, such as legal research, writing, drafting, investigation, interviewing, and assisting attorneys with trial preparation. Those substantive tasks can introduce a future law student to legal concepts, process, and terminology, which can be helpful when trying to navigate, survive, and succeed during the first year of law school.

I believe that either a full-time position at a law firm or other legal employer or a part-time or volunteer position can provide prospective law students with valuable experience. Again, the benefit of working or volunteering in a legal setting isn't just limited to substantive or practical knowledge: students can gain insight into different legal environments by working or volunteering in a legal position, which in turn can help them determine whether the law really is the right fit for them.

Having worked in the field before and during law school helped solidify my desire to become a lawyer. It also opened my eyes to the wide variety of career paths one can choose with a law degree, which is such a versatile and valuable degree.

2. You describe legal writing as being much different than undergrad-style writing. How does it differ, and what types of books/websites can prospective law students use to practice this writing style prior to law school?

In my opinion, successful legal writing has the following characteristics: clarity and precision; thorough and polished analysis; a clear identification and statement of the issue or thesis being addressed; good organization and flow; and overall readability, including attention to proofreading and editing. Those characteristics don't differ all that much from other forms of good writing. What is different is the method. Legal writing requires students and lawyers alike to master a very precise analytical formula (whether using IRAC or one of its "sister" methods like TRAC or CRAC,) where the writer: states the (I)ssue; conveys his or her knowledge of the applicable (R)ule of law; (A)nalyzes the problem by applying the rule of law to the facts; and (C)oncludes on the call of the question and the issue. (Note: In the TRAC method, the writer states a thesis rather than a legal issue/question; in CRAC, the writer begins by stating a conclusion.) Because lawyers, judges, and legal professionals use this same method of analysis in practice, it is essential that law students learn it in school. Writing is the lawyer's craft--so, polishing one's analytical and writing skills as a law student is extremely important.

3. You devote a few pages to law school prep courses. What topics do law school prep courses cover, who (if anyone) "needs" one, and what books/websites would you recommend for someone who wants to self-study rather than take one?

Law school prep courses can serve as a valuable overview of what students can expect during the first year in law school. For example, I profiled the Law Preview course, which offers an overview of the subjects students will study, such as Torts and Contracts, as well as an overview of legal writing, study skills, case briefing, and outlining. I think most students benefit from a law school prep course, particularly those who know little about legal education and what to expect during the first year.

For those who choose to self-study, I recommend that they learn how to properly read and brief a case (I devote a large part of an entire chapter to this skill in my book) as well as put together a law school course outline (likewise.) There are a couple of books I recommend on honing legal writing skills: The Lawyer's Craft by Glaser, Lieberman, Ruescher, and Boepple Su, and Just Writing by Enquist and Oates. I also recommend that you visit the National Jurist and PreLaw Magazine.

Along with three other law professor colleagues, I am putting together a comprehensive yet concise set of study materials for first-year law students. Please read our 1L BootCamp and Bar Exam BootCamp blogs for tips and advice on academic success in law school and on the bar exam, along with information about product release dates.

Finally, be sure to visit your prospective law schools' websites for information on academic support, study skills, and recommended resources. Many schools provide invaluable help and links to resources online. Remember: the administrators at your law school are there to help you -- use their help wisely!

4. What factors are important to consider when choosing a law school?

In my book, I pinpoint the following factors as the most important to consider when choosing a law school:

The school’s reputation with legal employers and the general legal community. A law degree will do you no good if you can’t find a job after graduation; so before you pick a school, consider the school’s reputation among lawyers, law firms, and other legal employers.

Alumni employment rates, bar pass rates, and career satisfaction. How well the school’s graduates do and how happy they report to be in their careers can be good indicators for what may await you if you graduate from the school. You can find some employment data through the National Association for Legal Professionals, to which many law schools report their statistics.

Rankings. Several sources rate U.S. law schools annually: the U.S. News & World Report’s Top 100 Law Schools [Ed: See today's post on the new US News law school rankings - SS] and Ultimate Guide to Law Schools, and the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, to name a few. Focusing solely on the rankings may mean that you fail to consider other factors and end up at the school that may be the right ranking, but the wrong fit. Still, to some extent, a law school’s ranking, reputation, and job placement rates are all connected.

Location. Even if you think you couldn’t care less about where you spend the next three years as a law student, you should give your law school’s location some serious thought.

Faculty accessibility. Many law schools have a great reputation and are ranked high on the lists, yet their faculty may not be as accessible to students as faculty at other schools—simply because the faculty may be pulled in many different directions.

Cost. Most people can’t afford to pay the (often six-figure) price tag for law school in cash. So, at some point, you have to consider what law school will cost you, how you plan to finance your legal education, and how and when you can expect to see a return on your investment.

Admission requirements. You may have your sights set on a particular school, but if you can’t get in, you won’t go there.

5. Anything else you'd like to add?

Law school for me was an extremely rewarding experience. Though law school often gets a bad reputation as a stressful, competitive experience where you'll barely survive, you can thrive and succeed as a law student. Be sure you approach law school for the right reason: because you've done your research and determined that the law degree is the right path for you, not because you're lured by money or someone else is pushing you to go to law school. Also be sure to make the most of your law school experience: participate in activities, explore clinical and practical programs, consider internships and externships, look into academic concentrations, and check out opportunities for international legal study. Law schools today offer an incredible variety of exciting programs. Make your legal education your own!

Ursula Furi-Perry, Esq. is the author of more than 300 published articles and six books on legal topics, including Law School Revealed (Jist Publishing, 2009) and Your First Year as a Lawyer Revealed (Jist Publishing, forthcoming in 2010.) She is an adjunct professor of legal writing and analysis and the incoming Director of Academic Support at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.