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7 hours ago, Maurile Tremblay said:

I learned the rules of an obscure game recently (from Maria Konnikova's terrific book) and it immediately crystalized for me why I liked law school better than I like the practice of law.

Law school is kind of like a game a Jeopardy while the practice of law is more like a game of Lodden Thinks.

In Jeopardy, you win by actually knowing stuff. If the topic is famous mountains, it's helpful to know how tall, objectively, Mount Everest is.

Lodden Thinks is a game where two people bet on how a third person will answer a question. (The third person should be a Norwegian poker player named Johnny Lodden, if he is available; otherwise, anyone nearby will do.) If you and I are playing and the question is about the height of Mount Everest, we would bet on what someone else thinks the answer is. The actual elevation doesn't matter.

The practice of law is like that. Getting the right answer, to the extent there is such a thing, doesn't matter. Predicting what answer the judge or jury will give is what matters. It can be frustrating because judges and (especially) juries can be a little dopey.

Lodden Thinks is a fun game when the stakes are low and you can revel in its silliness. When the outcome matters and your designated Lodden is a blockhead, it's less fun. I prefer Jeopardy-style games.

Yup

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On 2/4/2020 at 2:06 PM, The_Man said:

I'm be very appreciative of any Law School admissions real talk I can get from the vets in this thread

My son is a junior in college and thinking kind of seriously about applying to law school next year and going straight out of college. I would prefer he apply for some fellowships and wait a year or two but he is pretty resistant (primarily because he's already lived abroad twice for 6+ months since graduating from high school - gap year and semester abroad - and his longterm girlfriend is tired of being left behind). We are in agreement that he shouldn't go to law school unless he gets into a Top 6 (or so) school.

Academically, he looks good - goes to Brown and has a 4.0 GPA, double majoring in Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies. He's reasonably fluent in both Arabic and Chinese and won first place in a national collegiate Arabic translation contest. His work history is nothing special, mostly working at camp along with a research fellowship he'll do at his college library this summer. While I know there are no guarantees, my understanding is that law school admission is based in very large part on GPA and LSAT. Would he have a reasonable expectation of getting into a Top 6 school if he got a 175 LSAT? If not, what score would he need?

Next, how hard is the LSAT? He had 800s on the SAT Verbal and the SAT II Literature Subject tests. If he did PowerScore or some other good LSAT prep course this summer, would he have a chance at a 175? Is LSAT prep something he can realistically accomplish on the side while doing his fairly low-impact library fellowship?  

Finally, I guess the longer-term questions are how miserable is law school, and could he expect to find a decent job if he does go to a top law school? But I can hold off on those until if/when he does actually get into law school and has to decide whether or not to go. For all I know, maybe he and his girlfriend break up between now and next fall and suddenly post-graduate fellowships are back on the table. But in the meantime I'm looking for advice before lining up Test Prep and registering for the August LSAT. 

Quick update - my son is taking the LSAT on August 29. With a minimal research job and nothing else happening this summer (because COVID) he decided he could self-study. He's scored 179 on a couple of practice tests but more often than not comes in at 174 each time - he has Logic Games on complete lock and always gets 0 or 1 wrong on Reading Comprehension. It's the Logical Reasoning section that gets him.

He's created a spreadsheet of all the questions he's gotten wrong and is now going to spend the weekend analyzing them to see if there's any pattern he can detect and learn from. Otherwise, just planning to take a practice test almost every day for the next two weeks until Aug. 29. Would love to hear any other LSAT prep suggestions from @Instinctive or anyone else, as he is feeling a bit stuck. 

He plans to focus Top 14 schools that offer merit money. Definitely wants to do public interest law, so going to law school for as close to free as at good a school as possible is the goal - thanks to all who advised that. Probably isn't going to take a year off unless he gets a Schwarzman Scholarship for a year and free master's in China (if China is open to US citizens by Fall 2021). Also one of his recommenders is one of his Chinese teachers who's not the greatest writer in English so basically told him to write his own rec and she'll sign it. Anyone with insight on what law school admissions offices are looking for in recommendation letters? Finished junior year with his 4.0 still intact so hopefully that's the last transcript anyone has to see.

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1 hour ago, The_Man said:

Quick update - my son is taking the LSAT on August 29. With a minimal research job and nothing else happening this summer (because COVID) he decided he could self-study. He's scored 179 on a couple of practice tests but more often than not comes in at 174 each time - he has Logic Games on complete lock and always gets 0 or 1 wrong on Reading Comprehension. It's the Logical Reasoning section that gets him.

He's created a spreadsheet of all the questions he's gotten wrong and is now going to spend the weekend analyzing them to see if there's any pattern he can detect and learn from. Otherwise, just planning to take a practice test almost every day for the next two weeks until Aug. 29. Would love to hear any other LSAT prep suggestions from @Instinctive or anyone else, as he is feeling a bit stuck. 

He plans to focus Top 14 schools that offer merit money. Definitely wants to do public interest law, so going to law school for as close to free as at good a school as possible is the goal - thanks to all who advised that. Probably isn't going to take a year off unless he gets a Schwarzman Scholarship for a year and free master's in China (if China is open to US citizens by Fall 2021). Also one of his recommenders is one of his Chinese teachers who's not the greatest writer in English so basically told him to write his own rec and she'll sign it. Anyone with insight on what law school admissions offices are looking for in recommendation letters? Finished junior year with his 4.0 still intact so hopefully that's the last transcript anyone has to see.

Damn.  Congrats.  

Any downside to taking the LSAT course, other than a little money?  I forget which was the good one I did back in the day (either Princeton Review or Kaplan, I believe).  His LSAT score is the last variable that will determine which doors are opened at the very beginning of this career, and it will all cascade from there in the decades that follow.  20 or 30 years from now it may not matter much, or it may matter a lot.  Why not do it?

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On 7/16/2020 at 1:11 AM, Zow said:

Made partner today. 

I said this on Facebook, but just seeing it here now: congrats again Woz.  Great stuff.

And what you’re doing, saving people from life in prison who maybe don’t belong there, sounds far more rewarding than what most of us do.  Certainly me.  Though there are opportunities for others of us to get involved I think.

This is a long listen, but Josh Dubin and Jason Flom were recently on the Joe Rogan show in an episode about the Innocence Project, where they are working to free wrongfully convicted death row inmates.  Link here — it’s long but well worth a watch or listen on podcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Trh7YWo2Bmo  I’m working with Dubin on a case right now and had met him (by zoom) recently, so found it really interesting — had no idea he was so involved in this.  But at the conclusion of the show I was thinking boy would that be interesting and rewarding to get involved with as a side gig/pro bono work. 

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1 hour ago, Otis said:

Damn.  Congrats.  

Any downside to taking the LSAT course, other than a little money?  I forget which was the good one I did back in the day (either Princeton Review or Kaplan, I believe).  His LSAT score is the last variable that will determine which doors are opened at the very beginning of this career, and it will all cascade from there in the decades that follow.  20 or 30 years from now it may not matter much, or it may matter a lot.  Why not do it?

1000x this. If he’s serious about a legal career, no expense should be spared or stone unturned prepping for this test. And if he doesn’t get a score at the level he’s self-testing at, take it again. 
 

sincerely,

someone who didn’t take this advice

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3 hours ago, The_Man said:

Quick update - my son is taking the LSAT on August 29. With a minimal research job and nothing else happening this summer (because COVID) he decided he could self-study. He's scored 179 on a couple of practice tests but more often than not comes in at 174 each time - he has Logic Games on complete lock and always gets 0 or 1 wrong on Reading Comprehension. It's the Logical Reasoning section that gets him.

He's created a spreadsheet of all the questions he's gotten wrong and is now going to spend the weekend analyzing them to see if there's any pattern he can detect and learn from. Otherwise, just planning to take a practice test almost every day for the next two weeks until Aug. 29. Would love to hear any other LSAT prep suggestions from @Instinctive or anyone else, as he is feeling a bit stuck. 

He plans to focus Top 14 schools that offer merit money. Definitely wants to do public interest law, so going to law school for as close to free as at good a school as possible is the goal - thanks to all who advised that. Probably isn't going to take a year off unless he gets a Schwarzman Scholarship for a year and free master's in China (if China is open to US citizens by Fall 2021). Also one of his recommenders is one of his Chinese teachers who's not the greatest writer in English so basically told him to write his own rec and she'll sign it. Anyone with insight on what law school admissions offices are looking for in recommendation letters? Finished junior year with his 4.0 still intact so hopefully that's the last transcript anyone has to see.

I think I had a thread in here once about how I was doing it - worth showing him if you want. Also, here's how I prepped: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-ydQ97zT64v1xi2TPOvw3nQKvo1BUIR35JY_u7etliM/edit?usp=sharing

 

Happy to take any questions if he has them via PM, but pretty far removed now so idk how helpful I'll be. 

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11 minutes ago, Otis said:

Damn.  Congrats.  

Any downside to taking the LSAT course, other than a little money?  I forget which was the good one I did back in the day (either Princeton Review or Kaplan, I believe).  His LSAT score is the last variable that will determine which doors are opened at the very beginning of this career, and it will all cascade from there in the decades that follow.  20 or 30 years from now it may not matter much, or it may matter a lot.  Why not do it?

We offered to pay. He decided he would do it on his own because of the free time COVID created this summer, plus I think he just doesn't want to do any more Zoom learning than he has to between last Spring and the upcoming Fall. But I do get the feeling that he's gone about as far as he can on his own. 

Based on how the August LSAT goes, there's still the option to do paid prep and take it again.

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1 hour ago, The_Man said:

We offered to pay. He decided he would do it on his own because of the free time COVID created this summer, plus I think he just doesn't want to do any more Zoom learning than he has to between last Spring and the upcoming Fall. But I do get the feeling that he's gone about as far as he can on his own. 

Based on how the August LSAT goes, there's still the option to do paid prep and take it again.

I don't think, unless something major has changed in 5 years, that a prep course is helpful once you're scoring in the 172+ range. They focus almost entirely on bringing people from 140 to 155, 155 to 165, etc...I found them to be practically useless for "I get 99+% of the questions right but I need to figure out the last 2-3 questions on the test."

If he doesn't like the result, my advice would be a private tutor with strong bona fides, or reevaluating his methods of prep, adapting a bit, and trying again. 

 

Also worth keeping in mind: check LSN (law school numbers) site for the admittance profile for his target schools. YLS is always tough to predict, but take Harvard as an example: basically anything above a 172 and a 3.8 is an admit (some exceptions always but you play the odds). So going from a 175 to a 180 never seemed to me to be super valuable for admissions, but it did seem to matter more for things like Mordecai (Duke) and Rubenstein (Chicago) full rides. I know Rubenstein still exists, but I'm not up to date on what other schools have. The name of the game is roughly: schools just behind YSH offer full rides to steal great candidates away from YSH schools. 

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Well, as many of you know, I was an employment litigator (defense side) for many years before going in house almost four years ago. It’s been a huge learning experience and I’ve been able to work on a ton of interesting things. Because of the nature of my job, however, I haven’t been able to really talk about most of what I do, which is why I rarely contribute to this thread. However, a deal I’ve been working on day and night for a long time just closed this morning. I think I can finally call myself a deal lawyer after this one. It’s public in the press so I can mention it generally (though I don’t plan on linking it in this post directly out of an abundance of caution).  My employer just bought a sports franchise.  It’s been an incredibly exciting deal to work on and I’m super excited that the team is now part of our business enterprise. But I really need some sleep now. 

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5 hours ago, bigbottom said:

Well, as many of you know, I was an employment litigator (defense side) for many years before going in house almost four years ago. It’s been a huge learning experience and I’ve been able to work on a ton of interesting things. Because of the nature of my job, however, I haven’t been able to really talk about most of what I do, which is why I rarely contribute to this thread. However, a deal I’ve been working on day and night for a long time just closed this morning. I think I can finally call myself a deal lawyer after this one. It’s public in the press so I can mention it generally (though I don’t plan on linking it in this post directly out of an abundance of caution).  My employer just bought a sports franchise.  It’s been an incredibly exciting deal to work on and I’m super excited that the team is now part of our business enterprise. But I really need some sleep now. 

 

Congratulations BB. 

I'm sure you've gone over this before, but how hard was it for you to transition from employment law to ... corporate transactions? Difficult to get your foot in the door?

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On 8/15/2020 at 1:00 PM, Instinctive said:

I don't think, unless something major has changed in 5 years, that a prep course is helpful once you're scoring in the 172+ range. They focus almost entirely on bringing people from 140 to 155, 155 to 165, etc...I found them to be practically useless for "I get 99+% of the questions right but I need to figure out the last 2-3 questions on the test."

If he doesn't like the result, my advice would be a private tutor with strong bona fides, or reevaluating his methods of prep, adapting a bit, and trying again. 

 

Also worth keeping in mind: check LSN (law school numbers) site for the admittance profile for his target schools. YLS is always tough to predict, but take Harvard as an example: basically anything above a 172 and a 3.8 is an admit (some exceptions always but you play the odds). So going from a 175 to a 180 never seemed to me to be super valuable for admissions, but it did seem to matter more for things like Mordecai (Duke) and Rubenstein (Chicago) full rides. I know Rubenstein still exists, but I'm not up to date on what other schools have. The name of the game is roughly: schools just behind YSH offer full rides to steal great candidates away from YSH schools. 

Yup, I agree with this.  I actually taught Kaplan LSAT prep for a few months and the whole thing was tailored to help the kids that would get lower scores.  I can't imagine it helping someone that's already getting 175 on practice exams.  

@The_Man - good luck to your kid but I've already told my kids they're not allowed to be lawyers.

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2 minutes ago, whoknew said:

 

Congratulations BB. 

I'm sure you've gone over this before, but how hard was it for you to transition from employment law to ... corporate transactions? Difficult to get your foot in the door?

I went to work for a client I had worked with for over 15 years. I didn’t have the experience for the job they hired me into (not even close to what I’d done my entire career), but they trusted my judgment and my work ethic and figured I could learn the substantive work. So that’s how I got my foot in the door. But it was a HUGE transition. For the first year and a half or so, it felt like everything I did, I was doing for the first time. I went from a very narrow litigation and compliance practice to handling real estate matters, M&A, corporate governance, finance, aviation, philanthropy, etc.  It was a very steep learning curve. I went from being very comfortable in my knowledge base to being perpetually uncomfortable. And that has probably led to more, rather than less, stress if I’m being honest. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve grown more as a lawyer in the past four years than in the prior 15. I’ve had the privilege to work on some incredibly interesting matters, and I get to work for an organization in which I have great pride. And it helps that we have very good outside counsel. But in house is no shangri-la. I’m working at least as hard as I did at the firm. 

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Chase and I have a running joke where I ask him what it’s like to do all these “deals” (we do lots of air quotes) and not be a real lawyer seeing courts and judges and the like. Joke’s on me — the deal lawyers make all the money and nobody cares about their bills. I have a client on an IP case right now who calls me every single month to give me a hard time about the bills. 
 

If I could do it all over again I’d be some kind of “deal lawyer.”  Follow the money, they say....

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2 minutes ago, bigbottom said:

I went to work for a client I had worked with for over 15 years. I didn’t have the experience for the job they hired me into (not even close to what I’d done my entire career), but they trusted my judgment and my work ethic and figured I could learn the substantive work. So that’s how I got my foot in the door. But it was a HUGE transition. For the first year and a half or so, it felt like everything I did, I was doing for the first time. I went from a very narrow litigation and compliance practice to handling real estate matters, M&A, corporate governance, finance, aviation, philanthropy, etc.  It was a very steep learning curve. I went from being very comfortable in my knowledge base to being perpetually uncomfortable. And that has probably led to more, rather than less, stress if I’m being honest. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve grown more as a lawyer in the past four years than in the prior 15. I’ve had the privilege to work on some incredibly interesting matters, and I get to work for an organization in which I have great pride. And it helps that we have very good outside counsel. But in house is no shangri-la. I’m working at least as hard as I did at the firm. 

I always hear this. Scares the daylights out of me. If me only other option is MORE work, I’ll just keep eating my current #### sandwiches. 

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5 minutes ago, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

Yup, I agree with this.  I actually taught Kaplan LSAT prep for a few months and the whole thing was tailored to help the kids that would get lower scores.  I can't imagine it helping someone that's already getting 175 on practice exams.  

@The_Man - good luck to your kid but I've already told my kids they're not allowed to be lawyers.

If you’re scoring in that range, I would think the best thing to do is just to take it more than once to see if you get a test that suits your skills a bit better. I was really strong on the games section, and not as strong on the others. I scored worse on my actual LSAT than on the practice exams because the games section when I took it was super easy. As a result, I wasn’t able to distance myself from the other test takers to make up for not doing as well in the other sections. I think if I took it again and got a harder games section, I would have done better, not because I studied harder or prepared more, but simply because of the specifics of a particular test. 

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1 minute ago, Otis said:

I always hear this. Scares the daylights out of me. If me only other option is MORE work, I’ll just keep eating my current #### sandwiches. 

The workload for actual work is the same. But imagine this - you don’t have to record your time and you don’t have administrative duties like “Hiring Partner” or “Business Development.”  And you don’t have to write articles or speak at CLEs either. 

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23 minutes ago, bigbottom said:

I went to work for a client I had worked with for over 15 years. I didn’t have the experience for the job they hired me into (not even close to what I’d done my entire career), but they trusted my judgment and my work ethic and figured I could learn the substantive work. So that’s how I got my foot in the door. But it was a HUGE transition. For the first year and a half or so, it felt like everything I did, I was doing for the first time. I went from a very narrow litigation and compliance practice to handling real estate matters, M&A, corporate governance, finance, aviation, philanthropy, etc.  It was a very steep learning curve. I went from being very comfortable in my knowledge base to being perpetually uncomfortable. And that has probably led to more, rather than less, stress if I’m being honest. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve grown more as a lawyer in the past four years than in the prior 15. I’ve had the privilege to work on some incredibly interesting matters, and I get to work for an organization in which I have great pride. And it helps that we have very good outside counsel. But in house is no shangri-la. I’m working at least as hard as I did at the firm. 

That's a great story. Congratulations.

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39 minutes ago, bigbottom said:

I went to work for a client I had worked with for over 15 years. I didn’t have the experience for the job they hired me into (not even close to what I’d done my entire career), but they trusted my judgment and my work ethic and figured I could learn the substantive work. So that’s how I got my foot in the door. But it was a HUGE transition. For the first year and a half or so, it felt like everything I did, I was doing for the first time. I went from a very narrow litigation and compliance practice to handling real estate matters, M&A, corporate governance, finance, aviation, philanthropy, etc.  It was a very steep learning curve. I went from being very comfortable in my knowledge base to being perpetually uncomfortable. And that has probably led to more, rather than less, stress if I’m being honest. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve grown more as a lawyer in the past four years than in the prior 15. I’ve had the privilege to work on some incredibly interesting matters, and I get to work for an organization in which I have great pride. And it helps that we have very good outside counsel. But in house is no shangri-la. I’m working at least as hard as I did at the firm. 

Congrats.

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1 hour ago, bigbottom said:

The workload for actual work is the same. But imagine this - you don’t have to record your time and you don’t have administrative duties like “Hiring Partner” or “Business Development.”  And you don’t have to write articles or speak at CLEs either. 

Do I have to go rummaging around constantly to pitch cases?  If not, let me know if you’re hiring. 

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On 8/14/2020 at 2:20 PM, The_Man said:

Quick update - my son is taking the LSAT on August 29. With a minimal research job and nothing else happening this summer (because COVID) he decided he could self-study. He's scored 179 on a couple of practice tests but more often than not comes in at 174 each time - he has Logic Games on complete lock and always gets 0 or 1 wrong on Reading Comprehension. It's the Logical Reasoning section that gets him.

He's created a spreadsheet of all the questions he's gotten wrong and is now going to spend the weekend analyzing them to see if there's any pattern he can detect and learn from. Otherwise, just planning to take a practice test almost every day for the next two weeks until Aug. 29. Would love to hear any other LSAT prep suggestions from @Instinctive or anyone else, as he is feeling a bit stuck. 

He plans to focus Top 14 schools that offer merit money. Definitely wants to do public interest law, so going to law school for as close to free as at good a school as possible is the goal - thanks to all who advised that. Probably isn't going to take a year off unless he gets a Schwarzman Scholarship for a year and free master's in China (if China is open to US citizens by Fall 2021). Finished junior year with his 4.0 still intact so hopefully that's the last transcript anyone has to see.

Parental brag time - kid scored a 180. Many thanks again to @Instinctive for sharing his special sauce about cracking the last few questions. 

He is still fixated on graduating without debt, so will be looking hard at Chicago, Columbia and NYU with their full-ride scholarships. From the no-aid schools, Harvard and Stanford are off his list. But I am going to push him to really consider Yale (which I know isn't an automatic admit, though I feel like a 4.0/180 with good extracurriculars give him a better than 50-50 shot). For starters, I still think academia might really be what's best for him (even though he currently doesn't think so) and Yale Law School is the place for that. It also seems like a less stressful place with its grading system.

Finally, and this is hard to articulate, it feels like graduating from YLS is one of the closest things our society offers to guaranteed access to the penthouse suite, to the VIP Lounge. My parents didn't go to college. My wife and I are on the very low end of upper middle class. We would be in immediate financial distress if either of us lost our jobs. Because we're currently paying two (discounted) tuitions, we drive a Honda Odyssey with 223,000 miles on it. I don't have any connections that are going to help get him a job. So I see Yale Law as this EZ Pass to success and financial security that we've never quite enjoyed.

I can't help but feel that his extreme debt aversion stems somewhat from the financial circumstances in which he was raised, and that maybe taking loans for Yale would be worth it. I am also aware that these feelings might be influenced by my own egotistic desire to say my kid goes to Yale Law. Still a way to go before he has to make that decision, and of course one that he will ultimately make but he will seek my advice.

Anyway, he has forbidden us from telling anyone about his score (my sister's kid just took it too and didn't do as well as she wanted, and he doesn't want her to feel worse) so I'm doing my bragging here. Sorry not sorry!

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3 minutes ago, The_Man said:

Parental brag time - kid scored a 180. Many thanks again to @Instinctive for sharing his special sauce about cracking the last few questions. 

He is still fixated on graduating without debt, so will be looking hard at Chicago, Columbia and NYU with their full-ride scholarships. From the no-aid schools, Harvard and Stanford are off his list. But I am going to push him to really consider Yale (which I know isn't an automatic admit, though I feel like a 4.0/180 with good extracurriculars give him a better than 50-50 shot). For starters, I still think academia might really be what's best for him (even though he currently doesn't think so) and Yale Law School is the place for that. It also seems like a less stressful place with its grading system.

Finally, and this is hard to articulate, it feels like graduating from YLS is one of the closest things our society offers to guaranteed access to the penthouse suite, to the VIP Lounge. My parents didn't go to college. My wife and I are on the very low end of upper middle class. We would be in immediate financial distress if either of us lost our jobs. Because we're currently paying two (discounted) tuitions, we drive a Honda Odyssey with 223,000 miles on it. I don't have any connections that are going to help get him a job. So I see Yale Law as this EZ Pass to success and financial security that we've never quite enjoyed.

I can't help but feel that his extreme debt aversion stems somewhat from the financial circumstances in which he was raised, and that maybe taking loans for Yale would be worth it. I am also aware that these feelings might be influenced by my own egotistic desire to say my kid goes to Yale Law. Still a way to go before he has to make that decision, and of course one that he will ultimately make but he will seek my advice.

Anyway, he has forbidden us from telling anyone about his score (my sister's kid just took it too and didn't do as well as she wanted, and he doesn't want her to feel worse) so I'm doing my bragging here. Sorry not sorry!

@The_Man - It's very difficult to know what the future holds and you and your kid know best about decisions he's making.  But I just want to offer myself up as a cautionary tale about elite law schools, debt, and "guaranteed access to the penthouse suite."  Just something to think about.

22 years ago I applied to a lot of the same law schools that your kid is contemplating.  I ended up going to NYU (not on scholarship).  I actually did really well there.  But I've struggled mightily with my legal career.  I have genuinely disliked every aspect of being a lawyer.  It was a terrible career choice for me.  I flamed out of my first two legal jobs in less than three years.  Through some miracle I've managed to keep my current job for over a decade but only because expectations are low.  Even though I have law school classmates (who did much worse than me in law school!) that are federal judges and high-level prosecutors and partners in BigLaw firms, I'm still a lowly staff attorney making roughly the same amount of money I made in my first job out of law school and I remain deeply unhappy about my job.  I still have not fully paid off my law school loans.  I do not own a home.  I don't drive a nice car.  I am planning to end my legal career in about a year to do something completely different.

I regret having gone to law school in the first place, but I also regret the fact that I didn't try to go somewhere that I could have received a full scholarship.  If your kid can really get a full scholarship to an elite school that might be a good idea.  Because if your desire is to make sure that he has as many opportunities as possible available to him, consider whether law school debt would deprive him of the opportunity to say "screw this being a lawyer is not for me."

 

  

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We all know lots of kids who entered law school proclaiming their intent to do something positive for society, the environment, public interest, social justice and the like. While that intent was sincere, the fact is the lure of a big law starting salary puts massive pressure on a kid and usually  wins the day. Loan debt plays a huge factor in that decision and can completely dominate a career direction. It’s really very hard to get off that gerbil wheel once it starts moving. 
 

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Best decision I made in choosing a law school was taking the full ride to a lower ranked school and not looking back. I know too many people who are required to make job decisions (where to work, number of hours required) because they have loans. I don't work that hard and make good (not great) money but would be in a much different position if I had gone to some of the other schools I liked at. 

ETA: tell him congrats on the 180. Nice! 

Edited by FBG26
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First, congrats to your son on the 180. That is freaking amazing!

Second, I echo what folks have mentioned here. I know a lot of folks with amazing pedigrees and test scores who did very well in law school at elite institutions and ultimately hated the practice of law (or BigLaw). I also agree that large student loans can limit options and keep people in careers that range from unsatisfying to soul destroying. But many people face the tough decision between attending a cheaper/free law school or taking on big loans to attend an elite law school and it comes down to evaluating the value and cost of incremental opportunity. However, if you can attend an elite law school for free, that seems like a no brainer for me. The only possible exception is if your kid is absolutely sure that he wants to be a Supreme Court clerk or go into academia. There are certainly schools that are more known as feeders for those careers.

As for increasing your chances to reach the “penthouse suite”, I don’t know that Yale provides that much of a benefit over, say, Columbia. I don’t run in those circles, so maybe I don’t know, but I would think undergrad pedigree and whether your family is connected would have a far greater influence than your law school. 

One last thing is that attending elite law schools will definitely open doors at the big law firms that pay the most in starting salary. But two caveats there - most lawyers come to hate their BigLaw jobs, and there are tons of lawyers out there who end up making a whole lot more than those “blue chippers” who stay at BigLaw and make partner. If you want to end up with a penthouse suite, you may very well be better off using your law degree to become a plaintiffs’ lawyer or going into PE. Not having law school debt may provide him with the freedom to take some risks that give him a shot at hitting the long ball.

My two cents. 

But again, congrats on the amazing opportunities your son will have. You are right to be proud. 

Edited by bigbottom
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5 hours ago, The_Man said:

Parental brag time - kid scored a 180. Many thanks again to @Instinctive for sharing his special sauce about cracking the last few questions. 

He is still fixated on graduating without debt, so will be looking hard at Chicago, Columbia and NYU with their full-ride scholarships. From the no-aid schools, Harvard and Stanford are off his list. But I am going to push him to really consider Yale (which I know isn't an automatic admit, though I feel like a 4.0/180 with good extracurriculars give him a better than 50-50 shot). For starters, I still think academia might really be what's best for him (even though he currently doesn't think so) and Yale Law School is the place for that. It also seems like a less stressful place with its grading system.

Finally, and this is hard to articulate, it feels like graduating from YLS is one of the closest things our society offers to guaranteed access to the penthouse suite, to the VIP Lounge. My parents didn't go to college. My wife and I are on the very low end of upper middle class. We would be in immediate financial distress if either of us lost our jobs. Because we're currently paying two (discounted) tuitions, we drive a Honda Odyssey with 223,000 miles on it. I don't have any connections that are going to help get him a job. So I see Yale Law as this EZ Pass to success and financial security that we've never quite enjoyed.

I can't help but feel that his extreme debt aversion stems somewhat from the financial circumstances in which he was raised, and that maybe taking loans for Yale would be worth it. I am also aware that these feelings might be influenced by my own egotistic desire to say my kid goes to Yale Law. Still a way to go before he has to make that decision, and of course one that he will ultimately make but he will seek my advice.

Anyway, he has forbidden us from telling anyone about his score (my sister's kid just took it too and didn't do as well as she wanted, and he doesn't want her to feel worse) so I'm doing my bragging here. Sorry not sorry!

That’s amazing, congrats!  No bad options there. I’ll go against the grain here and back you on Yale for the reasons you’ve stated. I’ll avoid getting autobiographical, but I think I’ve mentioned in here before that there’s the chance that he’ll want to take a couple of elite/snobby career paths that Yale will set up up better for than Columbia will. And teaching is 1000% one of those. 

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By the way, why is Stanford off his list?  It was my dream school but I got waitlisted. Instinctive has a lot of positive things to say about Stanford law if memory serves. Harvard I sort of understand as I’ve heard some negative things from friends who have gone there. 

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31 minutes ago, Otis said:

Damn a 180. Sick. Congrats @The_Man 

That’s one smart kid. As a Biglaw partner myself I wish I had half the brains folks like your kid have.  Talk about a huge advantage.

Some of us are born with huge brains, some with huge hands and some with huge....other things.

We have to play with the hands we are dealt.

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On 9/18/2020 at 11:57 AM, fatguyinalittlecoat said:

I regret having gone to law school in the first place, but I also regret the fact that I didn't try to go somewhere that I could have received a full scholarship.  If your kid can really get a full scholarship to an elite school that might be a good idea.  Because if your desire is to make sure that he has as many opportunities as possible available to him, consider whether law school debt would deprive him of the opportunity to say "screw this being a lawyer is not for me."

Thank you to everyone for their kind words and insights, and especially for this @fatguyinalittlecoat Great perspective.

The only school that he is thinking about paying for would be Yale. @bigbottom, we're East Coast people and he wants to find a place closer to home/girlfriend. Stanford does have these new Knight Hennessy Fellowships but they seem like they go to Class Presidents/Non Profit Founders not just regular smart people so I don't think he's even going to apply.

I guess the question he needs to work out is if Yale is somehow worth $200,000+ more than, say, UChicago, for someone who doesn't want BigLaw but would like to work in high levels of policy, international human rights, etc. Yale talks about having very generous Public Interest Loan Repayment Programs, but I hear the promise of those things is almost always better than the reality. Also hoping there will be admitted students visits possible at some point in the Spring since he's never laid eyes on any of these places.

Anyway, he still has to get in first, but the 180 alleviates a lot of those concerns. Too bad there isn't a job where you just take standardized tests for a living because that is where I think his greatest ability lies! I'll provide an update at the end of the admissions cycle for anyone who is kind enough to be interested but will otherwise end the bragging for now. But would love messages from anyone with insight or advice. Thanks again

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On 9/19/2020 at 8:26 AM, bigbottom said:

By the way, why is Stanford off his list?  It was my dream school but I got waitlisted. Instinctive has a lot of positive things to say about Stanford law if memory serves. Harvard I sort of understand as I’ve heard some negative things from friends who have gone there. 

I'll let @The Man answer, but we had a few PMs about the topic. IMO - Stanford and Yale provide such strong protection from their debt if you don't make a high income that they are worth paying for. They are also still, to the best of my knowledge, the only two schools I would say legitimately give you a major leg up on every other school for every single legal career option, especially anything judicial. Political aspirations, ad HLS, but I don't know many folks who had a good experience there. Also, if you want to be on the west coast, SLS is far and away the top option.

 

It's low enough additional effort that I'd encourage him to at least apply and see what the aid package is if he gets into either (especially Yale - which I know is weird coming from me, but the only reason I didn't go was because I didn't want to do the split-across-schools JD/MBA, which is a thing but seemed rough, and the GSB is dramatically better than SOM). I had grant aid that covered like 25-30% of tuition, my 2nd summer job was enough to cover most of the rest of that year...lots of ways to make the debt relatively lower (even though I think full freight debt there would still be worth it, even moreso at Yale). Between that and working all of undergrad and some help from my folks since I had a full ride in undergrad...I was lucky in many ways but also minimized the debt pretty well by being a hard worker and being smart about it.

 

Also, we've been living in Chicago for my wife's school - 3 school years here suck compared to 3 in Palo Alto. Its cold AF, people don't hang out Nov-Mar nearly as much, there's almost no outdoor activities...in law school where it's relatively easy to get disheartened and/or depressed, the grayness is a bigger factor than I ever would have guessed when I was making the decision.

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40 minutes ago, bigbottom said:

PALO ALTO >>> NEW HAVEN

I have a pretty low opinion of New Haven, and would have agreed wholeheartedly with that six months ago, but a lot of folks I know that live in the SF area are looking to permanently move out of there as getting tired of the fires.

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Second mediation in a case today.   It's being conducted over a combination of zoom, phone and text.   Nobody is in the same place.   It takes about 15 minutes every time there is an offer just to gather all of the necessary people to discuss a response.   It's very inefficient, but I think the defense counsel with the checkbook is getting so frustrated that she's throwing out offers that are larger than she otherwise would just to get this thing over with.

 

Ugh.  She doesn't understand brackets, but we got an extra move.   

Edited by -fish-
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3 hours ago, -fish- said:

Second mediation in a case today.   It's being conducted over a combination of zoom, phone and text.   Nobody is in the same place.   It takes about 15 minutes every time there is an offer just to gather all of the necessary people to discuss a response.   It's very inefficient, but I think the defense counsel with the checkbook is getting so frustrated that she's throwing out offers that are larger than she otherwise would just to get this thing over with.

 

Ugh.  She doesn't understand brackets, but we got an extra move.   

I’d be interested in seeing some data on remote mediations. I can’t imagine them being as successful as in person mediations, simply because you’re missing the exhaustion factor for the parties when you have to sit in a conference room all day and into the evening.

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  • 1 month later...

When my partner and I left our previous firm in 2015 to start our own practice, I had no startup capital to contribute so he took the financial risks and in exchange we agreed on a 60/40 split of the ownership of the firm in his favor, plus eat what you kill on hourly work.  In my view it's been very fair, and our firm has done quite well.  Today he gave me another 5% of the firm.  No discussion.  Just did it prior to the distribution of the settlement funds from the case I discussed above with the remote mediation, so I'll start seeing the benefits when we distribute funds next week.      

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