Passing the Bar The Second Time Around: A Do-It-Yourself Lesson Learned
Bar Preparation / 26 de agosto de 2017

Let’s be honest. We all knew that the majestic, beige paper with our names and JD written in fancy letters comes with a price tag. NOT THIS JD THIS JD Complain all we want about how law schools duped us all, but at the end of the day, even with greater transparency with regard to employment and salary stats, quite a few of us would have signed up anyway with ambitions of high grades and dream jobs. However, one very significant cost, which at least in my case was severely underestimated, was the price tag of the most obnoxious and arguably most stressful part of law school—the bar exam. My bar experience involved a $700 bar application fee (plus a $125 laptop fee), a $2500 Barbri tuition fee, and a $400 “round 2” bar application fee (plus a $125 laptop fee). In hindsight (of course), I could have avoided destitution and months of agony if only I possessed the stones to just-say-no to the Barbri (or Kaplan) pushers, ignore the overwhelming majority of peers who were hooked on it, maintained an ounce of faith in my scholastic abilities, and prepared on my own by ordering a set of bar prep…

If the economy bounces back, why bother to reform?
Law School Reform / 26 de agosto de 2017

“We have a duty as educators to make legal education sound and responsive, regardless of the current state of the economy. We shouldn’t be misled into thinking that reforming our practices would help our jobless students; but neither, if the economy improves and some of the loudest voices for reform are softened, should we forget that this continuing duty still exists, in good times and bad.” I love this.  Professor Scott Fruehwald once again offers awesome nuggets for us to devour.  I have heard round the block – “why bother to reform when the economy’s going to get better?”   What?  NO!   Seriously, No!  No!  No!  Or, maybe . . . No. Why? First, the economy may never get back to the point where it’s raining money (though wouldn’t that be nice). Second, if the economy does improve, do you think it’s really going to happen in the next year or two?  (I want a good life too, just as much as I want future law students to be happy, fulfilled, and employed…!) Third, when the economy recovers, legal educators still have a duty to reform.  By reform, I do not mean change for change sake.  But, to “make legal education sound and…

Students Online: Can law schools teach students online self-preservation?
Law School Reform / 26 de agosto de 2017

I like to think we’re all really tech savvy law students – bright, sophisticated, social media gurus (and not complete idiots).  Then, I come across posts on Facebook, tweets, and pics on instagram, which give me pause.  Then, I read those horror stories, such as the one recently posted by Legal Skills Prof Blog (pulling from Above the Law) on how a partner may have lost his job with “unprofessional emails sent to opposing counsel”.  Even with bleeping, the email thread would need a Chlorine bleaching to be considered acceptable in most realms. hen it comes to students, I keep thinking, gosh, it’s common sense.  Just don’t post pictures of yourself swimming in beer naked or post videos of yourself spouting out racial slurs.  At the very least, learn how to privatize your pictures and posts… Then again, your friends might tag you or share such things with a friend who shows it to a friend who shows it to a Human Resources person, and then TAG, you’re IT! Even with all the news coverage on online stupidity leading to job loss, it seems like law students and lawyers continue to make online blunders as much as the rest of the population, and…

Encouraging Bottom Feeders: Consequences for Clients
Law Schooled Evolution / 26 de agosto de 2017

We all came into law school thinking we were the pick of the litter, the top of the top, rarely failing at anything we did, and rarely ever feeling like we couldn’t achieve anything as long as we put our minds to it. Then came 1L year.  Our first round of exams.  Fear, panic, examination, fear, panic, grade.  Oh, crud.  Look at that.  I’m at the bottom half of the class.  In every single class.  Now, what?  Well, I could try to improve and see if I can climb up to the top half somehow, but am I really going to hit the top 1/4 or even top 1/3?  Doesn’t seem likely.  At this point, I know I’m just not IT.  That I don’t have the IT.  And, I’m starting to realize that most of my professors had IT during law school and can’t really empathize with my lack of IT. Some professors verbally reinforce this awful feeling, as I recall more than one saying:  “Your first semester grades indicate how you will do for the rest of your law school career”.  Some were kind to add that a few of us might be the anomaly if we worked hard…

JD v. MBA: Teaching Methodologies and Working with Lawyers
Law Schooled Evolution / 26 de agosto de 2017

In this podcast, a JD and MBA compare and contrast law and business school. CLICK THE FOLLOWING TO LISTEN TO:  JD v MBA     Heard round the block: If you, law student, want to have a client simulation course and learn to work in groups, take a course at the business school. If you think business school is so great, transfer to business school or get a JD/MBA. Law students need to learn more theory rather than skills because lawyers are professionals, while those who work in business are not. Law students do not need leadership skills because they will enter the working world through an apprenticeship system. Law students need to learn to follow, not lead. Law students should not and cannot learn people skills, because they enter law school without them, do not have it within them to learn, and will spend most of their time working on their own when they get to the real world anyway. Law students get sufficient experiential learning through summer internships, semester externships, and clinics. Law students do not need specialization in their second and third years, because lawyers use generalized legal knowledge when they practice. Thoughts? If you’re so inclined,…

Technically, I’m Only Red-Green Colorblind
Law School Reform / 26 de agosto de 2017

I go to a really progressive school.  As in, my classmates keep the granola industry in business.  As in, I’ve been able to go through law school with a course schedule loaded up with social-justice and civil rights classes (I never took Secured Transactions!).  I think the majority of my classmates are well-meaning people who care about others. But there’s a saying about good intentions.  Something about hell and roads. As much as we want to do good, when we students are unable or unwilling to engage our own privileges, we wind up perpetuating evil.  Many of us go to schools where we are surrounded by relatively wealthy, well-educated, white, able-bodied people.  For most of our lives, we have existed in a society that privileges us. That doesn’t mean that we don’t work hard or deserve our successes, but we have to realize a couple things: We’re advantaged in ways that disadvantage others, whether we intend for this to happen or not. It’s really, really, convenient to ignore #1. During our legal educations, rarely, and sometimes never, are we asked to investigate racial inequality or systemic racism.  Our social circles continue to be a fairly privileged bunch.  We can talk…

Tuition Continues to Rise and Rise and Rise and Rise . . .
Law School Reform / 26 de agosto de 2017

Law school tuition continues to rise into the stratosphere. Though not new or surprising, considering lowered employment rates and the controversy surrounding law school employment data, the continued rise in tuition begs just a few, friendly questions. When students no longer can count on high paying jobs after graduation, how can law schools justify raising tuition at the same rate or even at all? As future applicants consider law school as an option and weigh the risk of being unemployed with the certainty of diving head first into debt, which applicants will be deterred and how will this change the socio-economic population of the legal landscape? Where is the pressure coming from for law schools to fudge data and who should hold them accountable? Do the US News & World Report Rankings create an incentive to hike up tuition? Correct me if I’m wrong, but the US News and Rankings clearly factors in the “expenditures per student” yet somehow does not list the “affordability of tuition” of the law school as a factor to incorporate into their weighted, highly empirical average for their rankings. Law schools seem to have been hit hard by this whole economic downturn thing, yet they seem…

The ABA Limit on Student Work Hours
Bar Preparation / 26 de agosto de 2017

The ABA Guidelines limit a law student’s ability to work more than 20 hours a week as a full time student. With tuition on the rise and many low-income applicants already suffering as a result, an additional limitation on the ability for students to earn money while studying would only add insult to injury.  Without the sprinkling down of ubiquitous scholarships, most students face crippling debt. Take the example of a working single mom who fits all the admissions criteria but does not get a scholarship and cannot risk the welfare of her children to spend three years accumulating debt.  She considers that many scholarships get taken away after the first year of law school, and the decision not to go seems wise.  However, she wants the opportunity to practice law.  She enrolls but eventually finds that she cannot keep up with her bills or even consider hiring adequate supervision for her kids despite the loans and despite her scholarship unless she can work more than 20 hours a week. Now, consider a student from a low-income background, already looking to pay off debt from undergraduate loans, who decides to enter law school anyway.  Imagine that this student decides to attend Boston University,…

What happened to Justice?
Law School Reform / 26 de agosto de 2017

In the past while, I have experienced confusion when bringing up the concept of justice to my fellow law students.  While it seemed like a bit of a stretch, I thought that perhaps justice lived at the very heart of law.  The confusion came when I started to note two ideas:  (1) justice is not a necessary element of law and (2) justice already has been defined by the law.  I suppose this ought to be where I define justice.  For me personally, I define justice as a way to express values and power.  Some have defined it as a concept of morality and ethics.  Perhaps it is all of these things.  Truthfully, I have no idea how to define it and don’t know if it can be defined, but I think the process of defining it deserves a bit of attention, if not the main focus of attention, of our legal educations. Perhaps, you may find this a bit funny.  I am a law student, and I think law and justice go together.  What an idiot, right?  Everyone knows that law and justice go together and that law schools teach law students about justice.  I don’t disagree.  The problem…

Values and Skills
Law School Reform / 26 de agosto de 2017

Recently, I came across Professor Daniel Pollitt’s paper from 1973, entitled “Preliminary Proposal for a Public-Service Oriented Law School.”  I appreciate his vision at that time for a quality law school, and in particular, one of his paragraphs stood out for asking for something that schools do not seem to emphasize anymore: “At most law schools, emphasis is put upon the acquisition of skills.  At the proposed law school, emphasis would be put upon the acquisition of skills and values. The proposed law school would seek to convey, borrowing again from Father Hesberg, ‘a deep sense of the dignity of the human person, his nature and high destiny, his opportunities for seeking justice in a very unjust world, his inherent nobility so needing to be achieved for himself or herself, for one’s self and for others, whatever the obstacles.’” When classes have more than 100 students and are cold-called through a chart.  When students generally do not work in groups and are taught to compete, not collaborate.  When skills training is limited through lotteries for clinics and externships.  When values no longer are discussed but are ignored.  When human dignity becomes an anomaly in practice and discussion. . . ….