Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Jul 18, 2018 9:15 pm

jackdanielsga wrote:For example, an IP course would briefly go over patents and trademarks, review the five rights of a copyright, introduce a few cases, talk over a few issues, but when I read an actual IP-related case, I'm still woefully confused.


That's pretty much exactly what my intro to IP course covered. There's never a class where a prof sits up front and walks you through a case, explaining what each section and what each term of art means. You're expected to find it out on your own.

A business law course would explain the difference between an SP, and LLC and a corporation. Hello, it's kinda obvious.

Very very basic.


Welcome to law school. Now put an asshole prof in the front of the room who jerks you around for 20 weeks, and you get the whole law school experience. Pay me $8k a semester, and I'll pretend to be the prof.

Seriously, you're acting like law school is magic. Contract law semester one is usually Offer, Acceptance, Consideration. You can learn the basics of those three concepts in a week if you put your mind to it. Tort law semester one is usually Duty, Breach, Causation, Harm. Put your mind to it, and you'll have the basics down in a week. The rest of law school is reading pages and pages of cases and having a prof to mess with your mind.

The prof spent almost a semester in my business formation class teaching the differences between different business types. Kinda obvious? Yeah. Still spent 6 weeks on it. Why did it take so long? Because we read 3 or 4 different cases highlighting the characteristics of each business type. Go buy a used business formation casebook for $10, and you can have the same experience for the cost of lunch.

It bears repeating that law school is a professional school, and nobody would attend if there were a faster/cheaper/easier way to sit for the state bar.


The benefit of a JD is that it's a comprehensive course


Lol. I wish. There's nothing comprehensive about a JD. There are only a handful of courses that take you beyond the bare minimum basics.

that's been put together by people who are probably smarter than me with the purpose of . . .


with the purpose of getting as many students as possible to pass the state bar.

making sure I know enough to understand the nuances of the legal frameworks that may be impacting the potential outcomes of litigation.


I don't know what this means. The nuances of the legal system aren't taught in law school. You're assuming that you'll graduate law school as a master painter, but the reality is they shove a crayon in your mouth and drag your head across a canvas. Most entry level lawyers are ineffective for 1 to 2 years because they need extensive on the job training before they know what the heck they're doing. Nuance doesn't come until 3-5 years into the job.

To be clear, If you have $16k a year that you were going to otherwise light on fire because you're bored of having money, sure, go to law school. Nobody here is going to stop you. However, just about any other use of the money would be more beneficial than going to law school. At this point in the thread, it seems that your mind is made up despite the overwhelming negative response. Good luck in 1L! Hopefully, beyond all odds, it is fulfilling for you.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby jackdanielsga » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:18 pm

totesTheGoat wrote:Welcome to law school. Now put an asshole prof in the front of the room who jerks you around for 20 weeks, and you get the whole law school experience. Pay me $8k a semester, and I'll pretend to be the prof.

Seriously, you're acting like law school is magic. Contract law semester one is usually Offer, Acceptance, Consideration. You can learn the basics of those three concepts in a week if you put your mind to it. Tort law semester one is usually Duty, Breach, Causation, Harm. Put your mind to it, and you'll have the basics down in a week. The rest of law school is reading pages and pages of cases and having a prof to mess with your mind.

The prof spent almost a semester in my business formation class teaching the differences between different business types. Kinda obvious? Yeah. Still spent 6 weeks on it. Why did it take so long? Because we read 3 or 4 different cases highlighting the characteristics of each business type. Go buy a used business formation casebook for $10, and you can have the same experience for the cost of lunch.


Lol. Yes there is in my mind a probably unrealistic image of the law school as something like Hogwarts.

Yes that's the kind of depth I am looking for - a few cases that highlight the important characteristics of different things.

However, if there are alternative ways to get the knowledge, it certainly does make more sense.

Maybe buy every e&e I could get my hands on.
I found this: https://www.amazon.com/Examples-Explana ... 454850124/ -- i am assuming the latest edition is important to include the latest precedents / law changes?

Hornbooks are kinda expensive but still way cheaper than $8k a semester. What other guides would be useful?

Also, is there a cheap or free way to get access to Lexis/Nexis or something similar?

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby Synapse2018 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:39 am

jackdanielsga wrote:
Synapse2018 wrote:On EdX and Coursera, there are lots of legal courses you take. So, you can get the skills you're looking for for free or darn near close to it.


Nope, there aren't.

Not at the depth of the law schools.

For example, an IP course would briefly go over patents and trademarks, review the five rights of a copyright, introduce a few cases, talk over a few issues, but when I read an actual IP-related case, I'm still woefully confused.



Blatantly false. Law school work will mostly be done outside of the classroom by reading books/cases which you can do for free at your local library. Spend a year reading books and come back to those cases and it’ll be a different story. Also, IP cases usually require specialized knowledge in the field. Not even law school is going to teach you say C++ programming in order for you to determine if some code was copied or influenced by another.

I took Yale’s constitutional law class on Coursera and found it very informative. No, it wasn’t as thorough as a class at law school, but you can always supplement the free courses with additional reading.

Like others said, law school is a VERY expensive way to learn what’s available for free in books at the public library. And, it seems unrealistic that the goals of the OP will be satisfied by going to law school. I also don’t believe any law school teaches “business law” which is a undergrad intro course to legal terminology for the most part. I’d expect 99% of people schools know the differentlce between a c-Corp, s-corp, Llc and sole proprietorship before enrolling. That’s not legalese. It’s basic business 101 terminology.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby jackdanielsga » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:36 am

Synapse2018 wrote:Blatantly false.

...

I took Yale’s constitutional law class on Coursera and found it very informative. No, it wasn’t as thorough as a class at law school, but you can always supplement the free courses with additional reading.

Like others said, law school is a VERY expensive way to learn what’s available for free in books at the public library. And, it seems unrealistic that the goals of the OP will be satisfied by going to law school. I also don’t believe any law school teaches “business law” which is a undergrad intro course to legal terminology for the most part. I’d expect 99% of people schools know the differentlce between a c-Corp, s-corp, Llc and sole proprietorship before enrolling. That’s not legalese. It’s basic business 101 terminology.


Logic? You call something false and then go on to prove my point.

Yes, almost anything could be learned for free from the books at public libraries. Except fancy physics that require large hadron colliders.

No, at law school the courses would be called "Anatomy of an M&A Deal", "Corporate Litigation", "Unincorporated Business Associations" and such under the umbrella of for example business course concentration.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby nixy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 10:56 am

Part of the issue is that learning all this stuff in law school doesn’t actually mean you learn how to be a lawyer or how law works in practice. I took employment discrimination, for instance. Talking about the statutes and their purposes and whether this case would be discrimination or that case would be discrimination, which is what you do in class, is not really at all like actually practicing employment discrimination law.

You also referenced being confused reading an actual Ip case. That’s bc learning to read cases is actually a pretty distinct skill from understanding the law behind them.

Overall I do have to say that going to law school for the purposes you’ve identified seems really inefficient. It’s a means to get licensed as a lawyer. Doing the degree otherwise isn’t helpful - it’s not something to do just for enrichment. And it’s still not clear to me what kind of legal knowledge you’re actually looking for if you have no intent of becoming a lawyer. What do you actually want to do with this knowledge?

The thing a Master’s program will have going for it is thst is intended exactly for people like you, who want to know more about the law but don’t intend to practice so don’t need to jump through the hoops required for licensure.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby nixy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:02 am

(Finally, how is a one year Master’s more expensive than a 3 year JD?)

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby Synapse2018 » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:04 am

jackdanielsga wrote:
Synapse2018 wrote:Blatantly false.

...

I took Yale’s constitutional law class on Coursera and found it very informative. No, it wasn’t as thorough as a class at law school, but you can always supplement the free courses with additional reading.

Like others said, law school is a VERY expensive way to learn what’s available for free in books at the public library. And, it seems unrealistic that the goals of the OP will be satisfied by going to law school. I also don’t believe any law school teaches “business law” which is a undergrad intro course to legal terminology for the most part. I’d expect 99% of people schools know the differentlce between a c-Corp, s-corp, Llc and sole proprietorship before enrolling. That’s not legalese. It’s basic business 101 terminology.


Logic? You call something false and then go on to prove my point.

Yes, almost anything could be learned for free from the books at public libraries. Except fancy physics that require large hadron colliders.

No, at law school the courses would be called "Anatomy of an M&A Deal", "Corporate Litigation", "Unincorporated Business Associations" and such under the umbrella of for example business course concentration.


in terms of lecture length, those "lectures" will be similar. They won't provide as much work outside of that. Anyone with self-discipline can download course outlines and learn the materials by themselves. You also seem to be misinterpreting the definition of the word "thorough". The course provided a great foundation. What was lacking was all the extra work that would be required in law school - almost all of which you will forget the day after the final exam.

If you are intent on someone holding your hand and walking you through it (what it sounds like), that's a different story. Not everyone has the self-discipline to be auto-didactic, and that's completely reasonable. But, to argue that all the information you'd learn in law school isn't already freely available in the public domain isn't a very strong argument.

You can learn everything you want outside of law school in 1/3 of the time without the cost. If your career still has a long way to go. Putting that 24k into some type sanctioned investment such as stocks or bonds would give you some serious cash at retirement.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby jackdanielsga » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:33 pm

nixy wrote:And it’s still not clear to me what kind of legal knowledge you’re actually looking for if you have no intent of becoming a lawyer. What do you actually want to do with this knowledge?


For example, a business law class will talk about piercing the corporate veil. What I'd like to know is what are the circumstances when that could actually happen, and how often does it happen? Reading this
https://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/cor ... ey-v-kane/
gives one such example.
But what makes this https://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/cor ... arrow-bar/ different enough for the outcome to be opposite? And what about other situations, and what jurisdictions are better or worse for others? How would LLC be different?

And especially this: https://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/cor ... terprises/
A very non-obvious concept that an LLC cannot be represented by its member in court.

Basically my problem with the self-study is the possibility of learning say 90% of the topic but the 10% that I miss could be important enough to render the whole learning useless. I see that all the time in the IT self-taught people who can be quite brilliant at solving problems, but because they haven't properly learned the fundamentals they miss something small but important (e.g. that if you have a 100mbps internet connection, you can't really plan for it to be delivering 100mbps of throughput at all times) which can break their entire design.

Similarly, using the Poore v. Fox... example, if I didn't know about that case, I could show up in court on behalf of my LLC, and be brilliantly prepared on the subject matter but not be heard anyway.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby nixy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:41 pm

So I’m confused about why you need to know those things unless you’re going to be a practicing lawyer. Because if you’re the business owner this is what you’d hire a lawyer to know/handle. (Also I’m pretty sure that people who are members of LLCs learn that they can’t represent the LLC in court as part of their job, without having to know that case. There are lots of things I do in my job as a matter of course that I know are what I’m supposed to do but I don’t know the cases behind them and I didn’t learn those things by reading cases, but by getting told at my job that that’s how I do them.)

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby sparkytrainer » Thu Jul 19, 2018 12:52 pm

I think this whole thing is a waste of time. If OP wants to burn his money for nothing, then thats his thing. OP, I will just reinforce what everyone else has said- going to law school for the reasons you describe is an objective waste of time and money. But its your life, live it!

We aren't going to convince OP otherwise. Honestly OP, I hope you find what you are looking for. But it certainty wont be at law school.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby jackdanielsga » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:01 pm

nixy wrote:So I’m confused about why you need to know those things unless you’re going to be a practicing lawyer.


I don't have a specific use case. If I did, it would be a much simpler decision-making process :) It's more of a general interest in how the legal system functions. The example is just to illustrate the depth of knowledge of that makes me feel like I really understand something.

I mean, some people pimp up their ride and drag race. Or build model rockets and launch them in the desert for fun. I find the law amusing. My hypothesis is that the depth I'm looking for in the limited range of topics (meaning not constitutional law, for example - for some reason that's kinda boring) is only available through the coursework at the JD level. So a master's program is probably not going to be just as satisfying (I could be wrong about this, need to take a deeper look into it). On the other hand, full JD is definitely excessive for my purposes. However, I perform much better in a structured learning environment, with a professor and assignments to monitor progress.

So I'm still somewhat unclear on what is actually learned in law school vs. what do JDs learn on the job once they graduate.

nixy wrote:Also I’m pretty sure that people who are members of LLCs learn that they can’t represent the LLC in court
It's very simple to create an LLC. There's no learning involved in it at all. Another example: there's a number of real estate investment gurus who recommend placing investment properties into separate LLCs under an umbrella of a holding LLC. Suppose there's a simple lawsuit brought up against one of the LLCs that an individual would be able to easily address by representing self in court - but suddenly because the LLCs are involved that's not an option and what would a lawyer cost? At least $1k, likely. It's a very simplistic example, of course.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby jackdanielsga » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:06 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:I think this whole thing is a waste of time. If OP wants to burn his money for nothing, then thats his thing. OP, I will just reinforce what everyone else has said- going to law school for the reasons you describe is an objective waste of time and money. But its your life, live it!

We aren't going to convince OP otherwise. Honestly OP, I hope you find what you are looking for. But it certainty wont be at law school.



Actually I find the discussion incredibly helpful. I started it not to be convinced one way or the other, but to better understand what could and couldn't be expected from a law school from those who actually went through it or are going through it. That's exactly the kind of information I am getting, along with some ideas that I haven't considered (e.g. buying some textbooks and going through them). So from my perspective it's very far from being a waste of time. Those who chose to write very detailed responses probably would disagree as well. Many thanks to them for sharing.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby nixy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:08 pm

Re LLCs, I thought you meant actual lawyers. I would basically never recommend someone to represent themselves in court, ever.

Re the rest - I really think to the extent any of this is of use to you, you’re selling MLS (or similar) programs short. They’re intended for this purpose. The JD isn’t magical re: understanding the law. It gives you the technical background to pass the bar and it’s a technical, professional degree.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby jackdanielsga » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:41 pm

nixy wrote:Re LLCs, I thought you meant actual lawyers. I would basically never recommend someone to represent themselves in court, ever. .


There is a number of simple situations that don't actually require lawyers. E.g. eviction. Simple speeding tickets. Even more arcane issues if the risk profile is properly understood. Obviously no lawyer is going to recommend anyone to represent themselves. But just like with the health issues - an MD must be prepared to cure any and all patients within his or her area of expertise. But any reasonable person with sufficient study could learn enough about his or her body to understand much about its specific functioning and ailments. Obviously not to the point of surgically removing a brain tumor on oneself. Similarly, a reasonable person could learn enough about a specific legal issue in a specific situation to reasonably expect a successful outcome. Obviously not in a capital murder case and not in a supreme court appeal.


nixy wrote:Re the rest - I really think to the extent any of this is of use to you, you’re selling MLS (or similar) programs short.


That's quite possible. Something for me to research.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby nixy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:50 pm

Yeah, but the whole point of situations simple enough that you can represent yourself is that they’re not going to implicate stuff you need to go to law school to understand. They’re simple. So either they’re simple enough you don’t need a JD level understanding to deal with them, or they’re complicated enough that you’re going to hire a lawyer. So they’re not really relevant to going to law school.

The other thing is that law is extremely specialized. So you’re either going to get a general sense of how our legal system functions, which an MLS will likely give you, or you’re going to have to actually pick a specific area to learn at the depth of someone going into practice.

Here’s another way to look at it. If you were interested in a general understanding about health/how the body works/how medicine functions, but you had no intention of being a doctor, would you actually go to med school? I think that would clearly be a bad idea. Going to law school to understand law better without any intent to practice law is basically the same thing.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby jackdanielsga » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:02 pm

nixy wrote:Here’s another way to look at it. If you were interested in a general understanding about health/how the body works/how medicine functions, but you had no intention of being a doctor, would you actually go to med school?


I once dated a last-year surgery student. So I have first-hand understanding just how much hard work and commitment is required to go through the med school. So no, I'd never go to med school :))
I've never dated any future lawyers though. Maybe I should try that. We could do her homework together.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby Aptitude » Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:34 pm

totesTheGoat wrote:I get the sense that you're bored. Law is a paper pushing profession. If you're bored by IT work, you're going to be bored by legal work (and study). I forget if it was this thread or not, but I've previously stated that legal work is a constant tedium of paperwork occasionally punctuated by an exciting moment here or there. I switched careers from computer engineering to law, partly because I was hoping for more exciting and interactive work. That specific aspect didn't change as much as I had hoped.


I think it depends on what you're working on in tech and your interests that defines how exciting or interactive it is, and also the role you play in tech. Tech jobs tend to be more diverse than in legal, a Computer Engineer at Intel does a far different job than a Solutions Engineer at Facebook (more so than the difference between a Criminal Attorney versus a Tax Attorney imo). You can get a criminal law or family attorney to eventually train to be a tax attorney or figure out a corporate buyout. Good luck teaching the Solutions Engineer who can't pass his 1st stage whiteboard interview to figure out assembly.

Excitement:
I think certain practices of law can be pretty exciting, whereas in tech the work stays the same but your excitement is project driven. In law, certain criminal cases can be exciting, policy work or when you're in court.

Tech's excitement is tied to your project. If you're working self-driving cars or a startup that interests you, it's exciting. But for the most part, unless you're really high up on the ladder - you're coding and solving algorithms all day. Obviously, if you're trying to get a car to drive itself or you're working on the next Starcraft, it's extremely exciting. But even so, if you're on those projects and not one of the high performers, have fun staring at code for 90 hours a week and sleeping in the office trying to not get replaced. And if you're a computer engineer and you get to work on assembly for companies like Intel or NVidia, that's the dream. For any of these jobs, if you love math it's great. If you do not, it's a struggle.

For everyone else, they're doing routine stuff for consulting companies or banks, creating corporate web pages, or in a testing/support role for the bigger tech companies. No different than an accountant, financial analyst, or attorney at these companies. Just doing their 40-50 hours of week, with no management responsibilities, and in a defined, limited role in a company with 1000+ people. Another white collar cog in the machine.

Interaction:
You have more meetings, more networking events, and more sociable people in general in law. It's more a white collar, business job. Tech people don't have CLEs, they have conferences, but most actual engineers I know don't enjoy these events. They don't have big happy hours as frequently as attorneys or post-CLE happy hours. In tech, you have happy hours, but that's mainly with just your team and the 8 people you always hang-out with or see at work. Also in law, you'll have 25 year-olds working with 60 year-olds. In tech, vast majority of people are 22-35.

In tech you can easily go a week without talking to anyone. Vast majority of interactions are done over IM, internal BBS, or email unless someone specifically requests an in-person meeting. You have PMs that do most of the face to face stuff or interactions for you so you don't have to.

Generally, I'd say tech engineers are more chill to hangout with. I rarely see engineers or tech managers yelling or having adversarial meetings. They don't have interactions the way attorneys do with Judges or opposing counsel or partners. Even when you're getting fired in tech, you get put on a "performance improvement plan." Generally, people in tech are very passive and don't seek face to face confrontation like in law. There's less snobbery and people are generally real nice. There are a lot of nice foreigners, offices are more diverse. It's more casual, you can show up to work in a t-shirt and shorts. I get way more attitude in my short time in law from school to work, than I ever did in tech.

But in tech, you can get more interaction if you switch out of an engineering role into a PM or Sales role. Most engineers I know look down on people that do this. I even know engineers that became Recruiters or Designers. Some left their cushy, high paying engineering jobs and went off to medical school. Lawyers don't have as many career change options.

Programming is a real struggle unless you have certain math or science skills, and it's way harder to get around this than law (I know financially successful attorneys that didn't do well in law school, go to a good law school, and don't know their law that well). I'd say law is generally more interactive and exciting, unless you're really into math or the project you're working on (most game devs I know have loved their studio since they were kids).

I think people generally overrate the difficulty of law due to the high educational requirements, and underrate the difficulty of tech work/programming due to the low educational requirements (coding bootcamps, every college offers some type of programming class).

You can find way more people in the U.S. that can write a brief well over people that can program well. Legal writing class was never at any time more difficult than a C++ class.

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby Toadvine » Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:20 pm

jackdanielsga wrote:
The primary reason I ever was interested in law school is that I wanted to learn the law (especially property and international law - I also have an MBA) and I want to improve my writing skills - which at the moment kinda suck.

...

- Does my plan fundamentally make sense? Am I going to dramatically improve my writing, and is the law school really the only source for the guided knowledge of the law?

...

- Exactly how much work outside the classroom should I be expecting in the first year? The curriculum calls for Contracts 1+2, Torts, Property, and "Lawyering Foundations" 1+2 which is GSU's term for legal writing. 11 credits in the fall, 10 credits in the spring.


I am an evening law student with 2/4 years under my belt. I am top 10 in my class, hold an executive position on my school's law review, and I work 40+ hours per week. I also have a bachelor's degree in creative writing, a paralegal certificate, and 5 years' experience as an in-house paralegal. I will attempt to avoid snark and judgment; however, I want to state at the outset that I think moving forward with your stated plan would be a very bad decision for you. I think that a much better path would be to take some legal research courses from a local community college or undergraduate institution that has a paralegal program and to audit some bachelor's courses in creative writing, comparative literature and/or literary theory.

Your stated goals are to 1) "learn the law" and 2) improve your writing skills. I will address the second goal first. Your principal question regarding this goal is "am I going to dramatically improve my writing?" My answer to this questions is an emphatic NO. First, there is almost no emphasis placed on becoming a better writer in law school. In my experience, it is expected that students enter law school with strong writing skills. Moreover, students with weak writing skills are at a significant disadvantage because nearly all grades are entirely dependent on a single written exam.

You will take one or two legal writing courses in your first year--that's it. At my school there were two, one each semester. The first focused almost exclusively on learning how to cite cases and other legal sources properly. The format for your paper is given to you in advance (usually some sort of internal document a.k.a. "The Law Office Memo"), and you are expected to adhere to it strictly. You will be taught the IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application/Analysis, Conclusion) method of legal writing, and at least in your first semester will likely be graded partly on whether you structure your argument according to the method or not. Though this is an oversimplification, it is not a stretch to say that your first semester writing grade will be based on your ability to properly cite sources according to the Bluebook, whether or not you can follow instructions on how to structure your paper, and whether you were able to write objectively. There was little--if any--guidance given on style beyond major mistakes and/or where legal writing vastly differs from everyday prose. If your school has a second required writing class, as mine did, it will likely focus on trial documents such as legal memos and appellate briefs. Because these are persuasive documents, you will be taught how to effectively structure an argument (IRAC, but with language that paints your client in the best possible light). The second class will require more research, but is otherwise very similar to the first semester class. Because this course requires a persuasive tone the strength of your argument will be graded, but your grade will still be heavily dependent on Bluebooking and structure, which the professor will expect you to have mastered during your first semester.

It cannot be stressed enough that the 1L writing classes are heavily focused on litigation documents and documents that would be written internally at a litigation firm. As you have stated that you do not plan to practice as an attorney, these courses will be of limited value to you. You will produce maybe five documents, and within a year you will be so far removed from them that you will have to pull them up to even remember how they are formatted. Writing, in any form, is a muscle that must be exercised in order to remain strong. If you don't plan on being a practicing litigator, then these courses will likely be a waste of time and money. While the IRAC method is certainly helpful as an analytical tool outside the realm of litigation, it can be learned for free online. If you really desire feedback, just take a paralegal writing class--you will learn the same information, do the same writing exercises, and save a hell of a lot of money.

If you truly want to become a better writer, then my suggestion is to audit some bachelor's level English courses, which you can do at GSU. If you're really dying for a degree, get a bachelor's in literature from GSU--the four year price tag, including books, is $2k more than your first two years would cost at the law school (and, pro tip, book costs are usually overestimated for English majors because a lot of your books are novels rather than traditional textbooks). By taking the literature track (GSU also offers a creative writing track and a rhetoric and composition track), I think you will hone all of the skills that you are looking for. You will study the the masters in the American and British canons and compare and contrast their work. This alone will make you a better writer. By reading and analyzing the works of the masters, you will learn and absorb what makes "good" writers good, and you will learn what styles you prefer. You'll also learn literary theory and apply it in your many, many written assignments.

During my undergrad, my upper-level literature and theory classes all consisted of two graded assignments: a midterm paper and a final paper. The papers will require you either to read and analyze a single text as a literary critic, or to read, analyze and compare two or more texts. Your professors, all or most of whom will have PhDs in literary fields, will be incredible resources to you as someone who wants to become a better writer. If you begin your drafts early, your professors will be happy to provide advice on style as well as substance; because this is undergrad, they are expecting that you are still learning how to write, and it is their job to give you guidance. In your third and fourth years, there are plenty of elective slots. Some of these will need to be filled with advanced literature classes, but I recommend taking any fiction writing classes that are offered, and any other writing classes that you find interesting including some of the rhetoric classes to further hone your argument skills. By doing the lit track you'll be able to take fiction and story writing classes that will dramatically improve your writing while avoiding the poetry writing classes that will be a waste of your time. There will be more than enough room in your schedule as a literature major to take all the writing classes you want--as a creative writing major I took a ton of advanced lit classes (e.g. American Short Stories, American Novels, and English Renaissance Drama, to name a few). After all is said and done, you will have another bachelor's degree, dramatically improved writing, analytical and argumentation skills, and more than enough money saved from not doing law school to audit some of the paralegal courses at the local community college.

This brings me to your second goal: to "learn the law," particularly international law, and your associated question, "is law school really the only source for guided knowledge of the law?" The answer to your question, on several levels, is another emphatic NO. I won't get into it too much, as these topics are discussed ad nauseam in TLS forums and elsewhere, but the idea that one attains a "guided knowledge of the law" by going to law school is perhaps the biggest myth surrounding law school. Law school teaches you to "think like a lawyer" (TM), but it does not really teach you "the law," at least not in any practical sense. The best short and dirty definition of thinking like a lawyer that I can come up with is to be able to digest a set of facts, identify any possible legal issues, and analyze BOTH SIDES of all of those issues. Except for on the Bar Exam, you will generally only have to do this in one area of law at a time, e.g. property. This is a microcosm of practice. The days of the general practitioner are effectively gone. Lawyers generally practice in one or a few specific fields, such as real property, trademarks, patents, etc. These special fields are where lawyers have actual knowledge, and that knowledge comes from practice, not from law school. "Guided knowledge," as you call it, comes from working under a more experienced attorney who can show you the ropes as you begin your career; from there, you must continue to learn throughout your career to remain effective and relevant. With this in mind--that is, the fact that lawyers continue to learn throughout their careers and do much of that learning on their own through work-related research and outside reading--I think what you really need is to determine what area of law it is that you are interested in knowing more about and focus your free time on learning about it.

You've stated that you want to learn about "international law." This is an immensely broad topic, but given your MBA background, I assume what you really want to know about is cross-border transactions. With that in mind, I'd recommend some business law classes, international business law classes, and classes on international transactions. Familiarize yourself with the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code, particularly Article 2), CISG (UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods), and since you have an IT background, you'll probably want to keep up with the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which I'm sure you already know about. Couple this with some legal research classes from your local community college's paralegal program and I am sure you will keep yourself busy.

This post is much longer than I originally intended, but I wanted to make sure that I got my point across. I really do not think that law school is the right decision for you given your age, goals, intent regarding practice, and financial aid situation. As someone who works full time and goes to law school at night I can tell you from experience that it will be very difficult for you to complete if you are doing it to become a better writer and learn a few things about a few topics. You should hone your writing skills before considering law school, and if you don't intend to practice then you should scrap the idea altogether and learn the areas that you are interested in on your own. It is the law school industrial complex (*snark*) that mystifies the law. The information you want is out there, you just have to find it. The brutal truth is that even if you were to finish law school, you'd likely find that you still lacked the knowledge that you'd hoped to gain, and that you lacked the money to buy the books that you needed to gain it.

jackdanielsga

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby jackdanielsga » Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:14 pm

Toadvine wrote:
I am an evening law student with 2/4 years under my belt. I am top 10 in my class, hold an executive position on my school's law review, and I work 40+ hours per week. I also have a bachelor's degree in creative writing,


Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to share that much detail about your experience. Especially interesting to know that you come from a creative writing background so you could speak first-hand about that program.

After initially posting this question, I decided to defer the law school for at least another year and picked up a few books (e&e's and hornbooks) on torts and contracts. Reading them I begin to understand just how much work it would be to learn the details that would be necessary to spot *all* the issues on the law school exams. On the other hand, I find it immensely amusing to apply the lawyer mindset - just as you describe, analyze and see the legal issues from BOTH SIDES of a prospective lawsuit.

The application of the knowledge of the law would not necessarily be transaction support (if a transaction is worth doing, it's worth hiring a specialist law firm to run it) but a) identifying opportunities (and roadblocks) to commercial ideas within the legal environment, (eg. cross border patent enforcement), b) lawsuits for fun and profit (eg. private right of action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, deceptive and unfair trade practices act, etc) and c) activist investor/shareholder perspective

Basically all the things that'd be too expensive to hire a lawyer for every time I get a bright idea.

mmac

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Re: Part-time law study to learn law and writing rather than become a lawyer: what do y'all think?

Postby mmac » Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:28 pm

Take a professional writing class. :)



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