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Cycle Update

17 Nov

I got another acceptance this morning, which brings my total count to two. Or three, if you want to count Alabama (which I don’t, really. I just.. no. Would never, could never live and work in Alabama). I am very excited because it feels nice to have new good news. After a while, the luster of that first acceptance starts to wear off. It’s like a meth high, only instead of crashing rapidly and needing another fix, the high fades more slowly. I’d imagine, though, that I’ll build up an acceptance tolerance and eventually need more and more to get the same kind of high. (Assumption being that I will, in fact, get enough good news to become blasé about getting into the best law schools in the country. That seems ridiculous; I never want to take fulfilled dreams as a matter of course.)

In a practical sense, this acceptance could not have come at a better time. I will be able to spend Thanksgiving fending off relatives who want to know why I am single with, “TWO T14 schools! TWO!”

Unfortunately, I think my relatives would be more impressed if I was dating someone who had my law school acceptances than if I swept the entire T14 myself. Sigh.

Law school? What? Oh, yeah. That’s what this is all about.

10 Nov

As this blog has become increasingly focused on non-law school admissions things (it isn’t like I’m in constant contact with admissions officers at this point in the cycle.. *cough* NYU *cough*), I’ve let this thing stray into the realm of the irrelevant, uh, more than once. I feel sheepish.

So. A recap of admissions-related things from the last month-ish in reverse chronological order:

1. Remember Alabama and those free iTunes? Well, I got in. Very quick turnaround, too. I received a nice voicemail during my history of the 1960s course (did I mention that my majors require me to study nothing of any value or relevance to the real world?) from a sweet-sounding woman with a drawl. I assume this sort of accent has had many a man drooling, and I can understand why. She obviously manages an admissions office at a large state school and sounds like she can bake a very nice apple pie, as well.

1a. My parents received a huge admittance package at the house the other day, complete with conditional scholarship (the bane of naive 0Ls everywhere). Because I was in town to get my eyes done, I had the fun of flipping through it. You know, what with the free iTunes and comprehensive maps and spiral-bound informational books, Alabama could maybe win me over if it wasn’t in Alabama. Apparently, it just wasn’t meant to be.

2. According to this thread and this one, my fellow 0Ls have been getting decisions (good ones!) from UVA and Michigan. High fives to them. I am waiting patiently for the opportunity to high five myself. Waiting. Patiently.

 3. I finally got notification from NYU that I am complete. After two       months. In the words of Mrs. Bennet: You have no compassion on my poor nerves, NYU. (That last being my own addition, of course.)

Now that that is taken care of, back to the irrelevant. I put this up this morning instead of doing reading. I am proud of my obvious dexterous ability to handle those L-shaped screwdrivers that come with cheap home-assembly-required furniture.

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VS Channels Elle Woods

3 Nov

I was invited to apply for a highly competitive but virtually invaluable internship program several weeks ago. After doing diligent research via the boards at TLS, I decided to throw my hat in the ring with no expectations of an offer.

As I’ve been preparing for the interview, though, I’ve been wondering why, exactly, I shouldn’t be offered a spot. People will be chosen for this internship; why shouldn’t I be one of them?

I’ve been a victim of cautious, borderline defeatist thinking for most of my life. [Enter stage left a debilitating fear of failure.] I used to think that real people didn’t actually go to schools like Harvard, just people who know people who know people you know. Then, this summer, I realized that I had a legitimate, dare I say even slightly good, shot at getting into a school like Harvard. (I likely won’t get the H-Bomb, but it’s nice to know that my file probably wasn’t laughed at and then torched.) And I started thinking, seriously, “Why shouldn’t it be me?”

I know that everyone thinks that “below median” is something that happens to other people, and that in law school, my hard work may not be enough to ensure that I’m not one of those “other people.” But I see little reason in thinking that now, especially as I am committed to law school because I am committed to being a lawyer.* Instead, I am going to continue wondering why it shouldn’t be me, now, as I am preparing for this internship interview, and in law school, as I am drowning in outlines.

 

*If anyone knows how to become a lawyer without law school, let’s talk.

The One That Got Away

1 Nov

I spent the weekend with my best friend, who lives in Moderate Sized Midwestern City Where Rent is Cheeeeap. She is in nursing school and has an almost-fiance in medical school, with whom she will be cohabiting come summer. 

This afternoon, while Almost-Fiance was hitting the books, she and I took a tour of an apartment complex she is very, very interested in. I understand why. The place was approximately 1200 square feet, two bedrooms, two full baths, walk-in closets, fireplace, and balcony. All for around $1100. While I was reveling in the sunbathed show unit, I suddenly imagined myself married, working 9 to 5, and cooking dinner in that lovely apartment.

Then I remembered that I am going to law school next year (or the year after), and that I will not have a sun-drenched, 1200 square foot apartment with two bedrooms, two full baths, walk-in closets, fireplace, and balcony. I will not pay $1100 a month for a fabulous apartment that I will share with my significant other while we plan for our well-balanced and happy future. Instead, I will have a small, one-bedroom apartment that I will inhabit with my pet fish, Francis. I will probably never cook, nor will I have clothing to fill the walk-in closet that I won’t have because I won’t have time to cook or shop. I will spend my time in casebooks instead.

And when I remember that marvelous apartment, the one that got away, I will cry, creating multi-colored highlighter streaks all over my work.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..

30 Oct

People who share my academic focus (broadly, liberal arts and social sciences) know that a general rule floated about by academic advisors and career services employees to hand-wringing freshmen and despairing seniors is, “Well, Major X doesn’t specifically qualify you to do anything, but it does not disqualify you from doing most things. It is a very versatile degree.”

Ah, versatility. There’s nothing wrong with versatility. I like knowing that my “versatile” degrees (which have provided me with the following skills: writing.. and that’s all) certainly don’t preclude me from most industries. Most freshmen probably tout their future versatility to their skeptical parents, who rightly wonder how one might market a degree in Far Eastern Folklore to a potential employer.

If I and my fellow pie-in-the-sky liberal arts scholars are so marvelously versatile and primed for employment in any number of well-oiled industry machines, the number of us who feel compelled, usually in sophomore or junior year, to choose between a life in academia or a life in the law is curious. I challenge you to find an English major who is not planning to continue to graduate school or a professional program. 

Obviously, my choice was to parlay my degrees into one useful, socially meaningful professional certification. I am anxious about the state of the legal market and its implications for my employability in four years, but I have a strong conviction that I want to be a lawyer. In other words, I am not going to law school because I’m not sure what the hell else to do with my degrees. 

That seems to be the cardinal rule for making the decision whether or not to live in casebooks for three years: Don’t go just because you don’t know what else to do. Assuming that our Far Eastern Folklore and English majors do decide to heed this rule, and that they then decide to head into the rarified air of doctoral training programs, let’s consider their career prospects. (Remember that we are specifically addressing the concerns of PhD students in the liberal arts and social sciences.)

I once saw a funny ecard that said, “If you go to law school, you will probably have to become a lawyer.” (Har, har, har). This is very, painfully (if you don’t want to actually be a lawyer) true. The same could be said about PhD programs: “If you get a PhD in English, you will probably have to become a professor.” Because once you get that PhD, you’re an expert. An expert in a mind-numbingly narrow field. An expert who is expected to conduct research in that narrow field, publish works, and impart your expertise to sprightly eighteen-year-old minds. An expert who is vastly overqualified to do a lot of other jobs, like teaching The Great Gatsby in a public high school.

For all the crying we future attorneys do over the state of the legal market, we have nothing on our peers who are attempting to break into the academic job market, those students we brushed shoulders with in Literary Critical Practices until our paths diverged, some of us pursuing the path toward social and monetary capital and the rest of us surging forth to the stacks and the beginnings of a six hundred page dissertation. The sacred cow of the academic world is the tenured teaching position. For reasons I won’t go into but that you can check out here, tenure in academia is critical. It also creates a world in which academics stick around because they’re so damn hard to get rid of and turnover is so small as to be negligible. It’s like the Supreme Court: They ain’t goin’ anywhere until they kick it, and your chances of filling one of those seats when it does become vacant is basically nil, statistically speaking.

So if tenured positions aren’t opening, and new ones aren’t being created due to budget cuts like this one happening at schools across the country, a pretty picture is not being painted for future academics. The possibility of funding for doctoral candidates makes such a program slightly less scary than the six figures of debt many law school students saddle themselves with, but, again, that kind of funding is disappearing for PhD programs. I think I can confidently say that I would prefer spending three years and $150,000 pursuing a career path that may not be as plush as it was before September 2008 to spending eight years conducting research that no one will ever read only to find myself overqualified for everything but positions in academia that no longer exist.

In other words, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and instead of taking the one less traveled by and spending the rest of my life in my parents’ basement alternately mourning and cursing the demise of the academic job market, I took the road well traveled by, which included a calculated risk, six figures of debt, and the hope of being employed before I am thirty.”

Who said the South couldn’t negotiate?

2 Oct

Yesterday, the University of Alabama School of Law invited me to apply for admission. They offered to waive the forty dollar application fee.

They also offered me twenty dollars in iTunes downloads.

 

You drive a hard bargain, Alabama. Look for my application in the quite near future.

Leveling

28 Sep

There was a significant judgment call to be made re: my law school applications, and I made it.

I leveled with myself, and I’ve decided to not waste a hundred dollars on a Yale application. I could tease myself with, “But if you don’t apply, then you’ll never know what might have happened,” but I actually do know exactly what will happen.

I’ll be rejected. Probably not even WL/out. Just a big old DING.

I haven’t cured AIDS or even cared for AIDS babies; I only know that I, personally, don’t have AIDS. I’ve been abroad twice for educational purposes, and when I was overseas, I spent most of my time in museums pretending to be cultured and socially aware when I could have (should have?) been collecting potable water in rural Africa. I don’t have an Olympic medal; when I run, I get to the two or three mile mark before I quit because I’m bored. I haven’t created a mathematical equation that is applicable only in deep space; the only counting I do on a regular basis is of my calorie intake (and even then I make mistakes–usually of the coffee ice cream variety).

I am not Yalie-material, and I need to learn to be OK with that.    

Yep, I’m OK with that. I will be taking suggestions on how to spend the one hundred dollars that I’m not wasting on Yale. This is what I am leaning toward:

“Chance me?”

16 Sep

The world of admissions can be a strange beast. Enter it, and you are immediately bombarded with a cacophony of competing voices: those of your pre-law advisor(s), the parentals, friends, acquaintances, the myriad of avatars on TLS, blawgers, etc. I’m not sure any of these groups has the market cornered on inaccurate advice, but I am sure that no one really knows what goes through the mind of an adcomm who is reviewing the 265th application of the day.

What kills me, what really cracks me up, is the advice giving and taking that goes on over at TLS. I’m going to hazard a guess that most of the people browsing the Law School Admissions forum have no real firsthand information on which to base most of their statements; a lot of information there is recycled, anecdotal, inferred, blah blah blah, you get the idea. I’m not saying all of it, or even most of it, is wrong. Actually, I feel very comfortable following most of the advice I read over there, not least because these people are as obsessed as I am with admissions, much more so than my university pre-law advisor (who seems perfectly content to send people to T4 schools paying sticker). A lot of good things come from TLSers, appreqs.com and lawschoolpredictor.com, to name a couple. But really, I feel deeply sorry for people who ask questions like, “What are my chances at Law School X with 17x and 3.xx?”

Because no one knows. A few people will hazard guesses, but those guesses are fairly valueless. I accepted a while back that there is an element of chance that no one can anticipate correctly, and then I moved on. With this “moving on” came a dramatic decrease in the number of hours brief, pop-in-to-have-a-look-around stops I made over to TLS, and I realized that life exists outside of the law school admissions process. It also probably helps that (a) I have an LSAT score I’m pleased with, (b) my essays and other application materials are finished, (c) I have admission to a school where I would have no problem going, and (d) my friends and family are thisclose to kicking me out of their lives if I don’t STFU about law school.

Returning to the world of normal, balanced people has been a treat. I highly recommend it.

!!!

11 Sep

I just got my first law school acceptance (via BlackBerry, thank God for sanity-facilitating technology).  I thought I’d feel more excited. Mostly, I feel annoyed that I need to fill out additional scholarship applications. I also feel annoyed because I know that I am embarking on a life path that will be overwhelmingly paperwork based, and I should consider the law school admissions hoop-jumping a primer, but really, I just want to revel in my success for a bit.

Opportunity-Cost

9 Sep

I run across people, in real life and through Internet forums like TLS, who have done, bluntly, pretty impressive stuff. They’ve done research (independently or in assisting positions) on things they care about. They have great insight into and familiarity with particular areas. They write dissertations and give panel presentations. Even as undergrads, they took on research responsibilities and began learning how to be real academics–not exactly on par with the “try not to plagiarize your ten-page term paper” instruction I receive in my upper level courses.

I don’t want to be an academic, but this knowledge is disheartening. Because what have I done?

I’ve taken a standardized test, and I did well. I’m proud of this. I am.  I completely devoted myself to test preparation, but it feels absolutely empty now, three months later. I almost wish I had undertaken an honors thesis instead, but if I had, my LSAT score may have reflected that choice. In the long run, a few points on the LSAT is worth more than fifty pages of original research to an admissions committee. Those few points are the difference between ninety-ninth percentile and… everyone else. The difference between T6 and… everyone else. The difference between BigLaw and… everything else.

So in terms of opportunity-cost, maybe I made the right decision. I sold my academic and intellectual curiosity for the ability to determine whether the stegosaurus can be mauve or whether it must be yellow. I hope it’s worth it.