Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

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TJ33618
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Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby TJ33618 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:39 pm

I am starting this thread as a follow up to my thread from 2015 where I sought out advice on this forum. http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=245041 I just wanted to give some encouragement to those who are unsure as they begin their law school journey.

Short version:

I am starting my 3L year and I wanted to provide some encouragement to those who are beginning their law school experience.

I went to law school with a personal situation that was not ideal. I had a wife and 3 kids which makes foregoing 3 years of income a very tough pill to swallow. My undergrad grades were pretty poor and I did ok on my first LSAT attempt. Several people, here and elsewhere, suggested that law school was foolish. I went anyway.

I finished my Fall semester 3rd in the class (graded on to law review), 1st in Spring and 2nd overall for the year. I am currently second in my class and I have booked 4 classes so far.

I just started my 3L year and accepted a job offer for a respected firm after participating in their summer associate program. I have

Don't let other people dictate your outcomes. You know yourself and your abilities. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, but you control your attitude and your effort. People who say you can't may mean well, or they may just be nasty people, but the bottom line is that they don't know.

It may ultimately be that they are right and your law school experience will suck and put you in debt and crush your soul. But there will always be a top of the class too. You have to decide if you are willing and prepared to do what it takes to get yourself in the top.

LONG VERSION

background:

Understand that this is my experience and, obviously, is not the experience of MOST people. However, looking at my numbers, I don't think many people would have looked at my application and thought I was going to thrive in law school. The point of this is to encourage people to pursue their goals with the understanding of how much work it takes to succeed.

So this is what happened to me.

2.5 years ago I created a thread back when I was still deciding which school to attend. Here... http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=245041

Several commenters suggested that law school was a not a good choice. Some said it was irresponsible.

I don't doubt their sincerity, but sincerity is often overrated. Despite their advice, I went to law school in Fall of 2015. I had 3 kids going into law school and enough in savings to nearly replace one year of my annual income.

1L:

In fall of my 1L year I worked on the weekends and went to class at least 4 days per week. Every school day I commuted nearly an hour to school, I arrived at school around 6 a.m. I went to the library and read and prepared for class. I didn't play intramurals or go to clubs, my time on campus was focused on my finals and grades. I headed home around 6 pm for the hour-long drive home. I worked on Fridays and weekends. I only used weekends for law school activities in the last 2 weeks of the semester to finalize my writing Memo.

In spring I had class 5 days per week. 3 of those days I followed the same schedule as fall. The other 2 days I arrived later because I didn't have morning classes. I still worked every weekend save the last 2 of the semester when I finalized my brief. I graded on to law review based on my fall grades (3rd in the class). I finished the semester and finished 1st in the class for the semester, 2nd overall.

I did not use any supplements. I took notes and did practice problems to submit to the teachers. The professor's opinion is the only one that matters so figure out what they like and write your answers the way they want them. Grading is necessarily going to be somewhat subjective, no matter what may be done to make it more objective, so do everything you can to write the way that the professor likes. Review old exams and sample answers and submit your own.

We brought a fourth child into our family at the end of the semester.

I did an federal district court internship in Summer and worked as a law clerk.

OCI:

Then came OCIs, which were challenging for me. I applied to 11 firms, I had 7 interviews, only 2 call backs, and 1 offer for a summer associate position (where I eventually accepted a job after graduation). Several people that did significantly worse than me were offered interviews that I wasn't. I am certain that my age and stage of life (father and a decade+ older than every other applicant) was seen as a detriment by some (many?) firms. "Old father of 4" is not the kind of diversity they are looking for BUT if you are a diversity candidate you should definitely apply to firms even if you are on the bottom end of their ranking requests (even outside of them) because the clients inquire about diversity numbers so the firms are interested in diversity candidates.

The whole process was frustrating and I miscalculated how my non-academic situation would be received. Regardless of that, I am happy with the firm I ultimately ended up with since I will get to begin doing actual litigation work right away, not just writing memos for years.

2L:
I continued my clerk job throughout my 2L year. I was not on campus as often but I arrived early and then went to my clerk position in the afternoons. I still did my other job on the weekends. I finished the 2L year 2nd in my class using the same strategy as my 1L year.

My summer associate position was great. They appreciated my experience and I have no doubt that I will be able to hit the ground running after the bar. I won the best advocate award at our firm wide summer associate mock trial at the end of the summer and I accepted a job on my last day.

3L:
I just began 3L year and I will have a full Fall but I will only need 5 credits in spring. I have much less money in my bank account but I will be in a great position after I graduate.

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby PeanutsNJam » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:56 pm

"I ended 1L as 2nd in my class and got a biglaw job." How is that supposed to be encouraging to anyone?

TJ33618
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby TJ33618 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:00 pm

Meh. If it isn't, it isn't.

I was told I couldn't do it. I shouldn't do it. I would have been encouraged by hearing someone who was similarly situated doing well.

Your mileage may vary though.

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Mullens
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby Mullens » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:04 pm

TJ33618 wrote:Meh. If it isn't, it isn't.

I was told I couldn't do it. I shouldn't do it. I would have been encouraged by hearing someone who was similarly situated doing well.

Your mileage may vary though.


You have to realize you beat the odds though. And just barely. You only had two callbacks and one offer. If anything, the fact you barely got an offer as the #2 person in your class should tell people that going to lower ranked law school is a bad idea. Even if they do very well, it might not be enough and they certainly won't have the options they would have had at a better school.

TJ33618
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby TJ33618 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:22 pm

I understand what happened. But I also recognize that there were other factors, separate from my grades, that went against me. So I don't think a typical student with my grades would have had a similar experience at OCIs.

Most other students don't have those negative factors. And, lacking those detriments, more than a few were able to secure good offers despite ranking much lower than me.

I realize that I had a positive outcome and that most others in my class have not had the same experience. I'm not trying to suggest, nor have I suggested, that my experience is typical.

The reason I updated here is that plenty of people are around saying that it can't be done. It can.

With that said, I understand that just because it can, doesn't mean that it will.

cavalier1138
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:29 pm

TJ33618 wrote:I understand what happened. But I also recognize that there were other factors, separate from my grades, that went against me. So I don't think a typical student with my grades would have had a similar experience at OCIs.

Most other students don't have those negative factors. And, lacking those detriments, more than a few were able to secure good offers despite ranking much lower than me.

I realize that I had a positive outcome and that most others in my class have not had the same experience. I'm not trying to suggest, nor have I suggested, that my experience is typical.

The reason I updated here is that plenty of people are around saying that it can't be done. It can.

With that said, I understand that just because it can, doesn't mean that it will.


No one ever says that it literally can't be done. Most people just say that it's a bad idea to bet on being in the top 1% of your class.

Congrats on your outcome, but it's not expected. And it certainly isn't comparable to what most people can expect from OCI in your situation.

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Mullens
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby Mullens » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:31 pm

TJ33618 wrote:I understand what happened. But I also recognize that there were other factors, separate from my grades, that went against me. So I don't think a typical student with my grades would have had a similar experience at OCIs.

Most other students don't have those negative factors. And, lacking those detriments, more than a few were able to secure good offers despite ranking much lower than me.

I realize that I had a positive outcome and that most others in my class have not had the same experience. I'm not trying to suggest, nor have I suggested, that my experience is typical.

The reason I updated here is that plenty of people are around saying that it can't be done. It can.

With that said, I understand that just because it can, doesn't mean that it will.


I'm happy it worked out for you. Congrats. But just because it worked out for you doesn't mean you made a good choice to go to Stetson. Would you say that your classmates who are at/below median made a good choice?

People graduate #1 or #2 from every TTT every year. Someone has to. But no one should rely on it happening and that's the whole reason people told you not to go.

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MarkinKansasCity
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby MarkinKansasCity » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:47 pm

This one time I took a chance on a Trans-Atlantic voyage on a ship called the Titanic, and survived the icy water. More people should give it a chance.

TJ33618
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby TJ33618 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:56 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
TJ33618 wrote:I understand what happened. But I also recognize that there were other factors, separate from my grades, that went against me. So I don't think a typical student with my grades would have had a similar experience at OCIs.

Most other students don't have those negative factors. And, lacking those detriments, more than a few were able to secure good offers despite ranking much lower than me.

I realize that I had a positive outcome and that most others in my class have not had the same experience. I'm not trying to suggest, nor have I suggested, that my experience is typical.

The reason I updated here is that plenty of people are around saying that it can't be done. It can.

With that said, I understand that just because it can, doesn't mean that it will.


No one ever says that it literally can't be done. Most people just say that it's a bad idea to bet on being in the top 1% of your class.

Congrats on your outcome, but it's not expected. And it certainly isn't comparable to what most people can expect from OCI in your situation.


I get what you are saying. I do. I am not here to quibble about what most people will or won't experience. This is my experience alone. I know that most people will not be at the top of their class, I'm not arguing against math or statistics. There is plenty of cold water tossed on the posters around here. I don't think it is all because people are just negative and pessimistic, I believe they are taking a rational approach to the situation. Regardless, being hopeful and confident isn't always as foolish as it would seem reading these forums.

I'm not sure what you mean about what most people expect from OCI "in my situation." I think my experience was unique, at least for my class, in that my opportunities were minimized based on non-academic factors (considering conversations between interviewers after I left the room). The other traditional 3Ls with higher grades (mostly) got offers, both for SA positions and post-grad employment. So, in that regard, I think it would be typical for high scorers to be successful in OCIs (again, at least in my class).

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MarkinKansasCity
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby MarkinKansasCity » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:01 pm

TJ33618 wrote: being hopeful and confident isn't always as foolish as it would seem reading these forums.


Yes it is.

TJ33618 wrote:I'm not arguing against math or statistics.


"I'm not arguing against math or statistics, but you can totally ignore them if you're a special snowflake."

You should check this out:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivorship_bias

TJ33618
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby TJ33618 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:04 pm

Well. This was not a surprising response. Good day to those that have replied thus far. Best of luck to you.

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MarkinKansasCity
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby MarkinKansasCity » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:04 pm

Also, please check out my thread surveying TLSers who aren't planning to work really hard so they'll be at the top of their class:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=281109

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MarkinKansasCity
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby MarkinKansasCity » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:06 pm

TJ33618 wrote:Well. This was not a surprising response. Good day to those that have replied thus far. Best of luck to you.


Dude, law school is full of a bunch of strivers who are all determined to work their asses off and grab the brass ring. Literally everyone who applies is planning on being at the top of their class.

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zhenders
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby zhenders » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:10 pm

It's completely cool to come on here and discuss your outcomes. As others have said: congratulations! You had a wonderful outcome. You clearly worked very hard, went into law school with a stronger than average aptitude for law school exams, and ultimately got an offer for a biglaw job. Great!

That said, if you wanted to really encourage people, it seems like your story should go more like this:

*
Folks, I've really enjoyed law school, and it's turned out to be a great fit for me! That said, it really is as tough as everyone says it is to get a biglaw job. I was near the very tippy top of my class, worked very hard and am proud of all of the work I did, and ultimately got an SA offer -- but I only got one offer, and I was near the peak of my entire class, with real-world work experience and a lot of maturity coming into my interviews. Is it doable? Yes--I'm living proof of that. But is it a sure thing? No, it's not. Be careful. I literally did as well as it is possible to do in law school, and yet I still almost struck out.
*

Again OP, amazing work; being near the top of your class is an incredible achievement no matter where you go to school, and I'm sincerely of the belief that law school is hard everywhere. But please don't come on here and do the whole "TLS said I would fail and I didn't, na na nana na" thing. The hope is that everyone succeeds; the reality is that not everyone does, and the constant calls for "retake" come most frequently from the hundreds of people who wish they had (because they busted their asses but didn't rank second in their 1L class).

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Sacred Cow
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby Sacred Cow » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:26 pm

zhenders wrote:Folks, I've really enjoyed law school, and it's turned out to be a great fit for me! That said, it really is as tough as everyone says it is to get a biglaw job. I was near the very tippy top of my class, worked very hard and am proud of all of the work I did, and ultimately got an SA offer -- but I only got one offer, and I was near the peak of my entire class, with real-world work experience and a lot of maturity coming into my interviews. Is it doable? Yes--I'm living proof of that. But is it a sure thing? No, it's not. Be careful. I literally did as well as it is possible to do in law school, and yet I still almost struck out.


Yeah, congrats OP, but finishing 2nd in the class and struggling at OCI isn't exactly inspiration to sign up for six figures of debt. Is it even a biglaw job? Not that that's the end-all be-all of legal jobs, but tough to encourage people to take on that level of debt when a biglaw salary is basically off the table.

TJ33618
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby TJ33618 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:04 pm

I never represented that someone should or shouldn't sign up for law school. I made no representations that the debt of law school is always worth the degree. Nor did I suggest that any random person would have the same result as me. I just provided my experience. That's it. You can extrapolate out of my experience whatever you like, but that is on you.

As I have said, there are plenty of people on this forum to tell you that you shouldn't go to law school. Plenty saying that it is a bad choice, the market is weak, the school sucks, your LSAT is low, your GPA is low, you are exactly the person who shouldn't go to law school, etc. Some of them may be knowledgeable and some may be sincere, but others may just be sad because they got burned. And if it didn't work out for someone I can't really blame them for sounding the gong and warning everyone to stay away from law school lest they end up burned as well.

But, just as my experience isn't always going to happen, neither is theirs.

There was/is a dearth of positive or encouraging comments for anything outside of T14 (rightly or wrongly, I don't really care). So I wanted to add my experience for the people who aren't looking at those schools. Or who didn't come out of undergrad with a 3.9 GPA. If my post isn't helpful or encouraging to you, then just move along... or you know, add yet another line about how it won't work or how I made a bad decision. Honestly, this wasn't for you (as you can see from the Subject). I didn't come here to show TLSers how wrong they were or anything like that. I found little encouragement when I showed up here and read through the threads, so I was trying to provide a different perspective now that I am through my first 2 years.

I knew it was a risk when I went in, it paid off for me. It was a good choice for me. It is a risk v. reward analysis. I weighed the risk vs. my chances for a positive outcome. It worked for me. It may not have worked for you or may not work for someone else in the future.

There are winners and losers. That is clear and I never suggested otherwise.

I think most of you have made your thoughts clear, going so far to say that even though it worked out well for me it was still not a good choice. There is just no reason to continue to pursue a conversation with you about this further. So, I won't be discussing the nuance or various points of view.

Hopefully my story is helpful or encouraging to someone who reads it. If it isn't, such is life. I just wanted to pop back in after a 2 year hiatus to speak to people at the beginning of their journey. It's hard, scary, and your future is not secure. Even if you do awesome in school, firms still may not want you. But it is possible to be successful, despite what the chorus of experts tell you on TLS.

lsataddict242
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby lsataddict242 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:26 pm

I think people misunderstood the point OP was trying to make. He is suggesting that what he did is a good idea depending on how bad you want it and how hard you're willing to work for it. The reality is that most people will not handle the situation nor work as hard as OP did, but if you know in your heart and mind that you will be the kind of person that OP was, then don't let anything stop you. Just be honest with yourself. :)

Good job OP! What you did is commendable.

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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:43 pm

lsataddict242 wrote:I think people misunderstood the point OP was trying to make. He is suggesting that what he did is a good idea depending on how bad you want it and how hard you're willing to work for it. The reality is that most people will not handle the situation nor work as hard as OP did, but if you know in your heart and mind that you will be the kind of person that OP was, then don't let anything stop you. Just be honest with yourself. :)

Good job OP! What you did is commendable.


Except even if you are the type of person who works really, really hard, you may just be unlucky and end up not being at the absolute top of your shit-school class. Almost half the class at Stetson can't get a job as a lawyer 9 months out of school. The OP is the exception, not the rule, and this kind of "I did it, so you can do it too" bullshit is dangerous to tell 0Ls.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Aug 25, 2017 9:21 pm

lsataddict242 wrote:IThe reality is that most people will not handle the situation nor work as hard as OP did, but if you know in your heart and mind that you will be the kind of person that OP was, then don't let anything stop you. Just be honest with yourself. :)

...there is no way to know this, though. Any of this.

(Congratulations on the good outcome, OP.)

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PeanutsNJam
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby PeanutsNJam » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:19 am

So OP made this thread to say "I told you so!" to all the naysayers who told him that going to a law school with statistically abysmal employment prospects is a bad idea.

There is nothing encouraging about this thread. There is no intent to encourage. People going to poor law schools know there's a chance they'll get a good outcome--that's why they're going. They don't need you to tell them that.

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cron1834
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby cron1834 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:39 pm

You finished second in your 1L class and still only had ONE OFFER? Sounds like the naysayers were right.

Don't go to garbage schools.

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URMSenator52
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Re: Encouragement for new applicants searching for a school

Postby URMSenator52 » Sun Aug 27, 2017 9:57 pm

Why not transfer after your 1L to a T-14?




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