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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

To Take a Year Off or Not? That is the Question.

Taking a year off before law school is always a question many undergrads have. Some would rather get it over with, where others are just too burnt out to continue. I fought with my dad for months about taking a year off before law school. He wanted me to go straight through, but I wanted to take a break. His argument was that I would get lazy and get comfortable making money in a full time job that I wouldn’t want to go back to school. Also the job market was/is lousy for people with only a bachelors’ degree so he worried that I would end up with a job that was a waste of time. I totally understand where my dad is coming from, but sometimes he underestimates me. After months of arguing I knew what my plan was and he could not talk me out of it. I was completely burnt out. I needed a break and I needed to pay off some debts. Just like many college students I got myself into credit card debt, so before I put myself in more debt I wanted to pay off my existing debt, and start law school with a clean slate.

Taking a year off was honestly the best decision I made. Around May 2011 I started looking for a job. I had friends who had already graduated and were having a hard time finding a job so I wanted to give myself a time cushion. I began sending resumes and within a week I heard back from a law firm in Los Angeles. The interview was in the Paul Hastings building in downtown. When I walked up for my interview I was in awe! I had worked for a solo practitioner but never a FIRM. I went from a little law office to a FIRM in one of the tallest buildings in downtown. I remember walking into the office and it being so quiet and everything was white. It almost looked like I was walking into heaven. My interview was in the conference room that overlooked downtown. I sat there waiting for the partner/owner of the firm. As she walked into the conference room all that flashed in my head was Miranda Preistly from Devil Wears Prada. Not the vindictive part but the successful, educated, poised, presentation of herself. She was everything I could ever hope to be someday. I tried to remain confident and calm but deep down my nerves were taking over me. Finally after about 20 minutes or so the interview was over and I was on my way home. I felt pretty confident about the interview, but I had never worked in litigation before so I wasn’t sure if my lack of experience would hurt me. When I got home I sent an e-mail to the legal secretary who also interviewed me, thanking her for taking the time out of her day to meet with me. **NOTE** Employers love this. Personal recommendation: Always send an e-mail if you can thanking those who interviewed you.

The next morning on my way to work I received an e-mail with my employment offer! OMGG!!! I could not believe it! Within a week of applying for jobs I got the ULTIMATE JOB!! I called my dad right away and told him that we needed to meet for dinner because I needed to tell him something important. His first reaction was “you better not be pregnant”. WOW really dad haha! It was a week later that I officially started my job!

Fast forward to today. It is May 2012 and it has officially been a year since I started working. Today I began to think of how much knowledge I have acquired in the past year. A year ago when I got hired my firm was preparing for trial and a year later my firm is once again preparing for trial. Being thrown into trial my first week at the firm was intense. Making binders, taking things to the court, on top of other assignments given to me on other cases, and trying to understand the complexities of trial was INSANE. I felt so unbelievably stressed and wondered if I could even make it at this firm. Everyday I had 101 questions! Today was not like that at all! Even on a busy day like today, the firm once again preparing for trial, all the assignments I had didn’t faze me at all! And people were asking me the questions. It really hit me today that I have come a LONG WAY! I now know the ins and outs of my firm, and the process of trial is no longer foreign to me. The experience and knowledge I gained this year is priceless and well worth the year off! I was able to really evaluate the pros and cons of law and whether this profession was right for me.

If you can take a year off I HIGHLY recommend it. Find out if law is for you. Law school is way too expensive to be unsure, so don’t gamble with debt.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Taking the LSAT and Getting ACCEPTED: Part I

Before really getting into the aspect of preparing for law school I want to give a background as to how I got to this point. Just like most aspiring lawyers my major in Undergrad was related to law. Luckily, I was not limited to political science and was a criminology, law, and society major. It was a blend of criminal justice, law, and sociology. I decided to take a year off before I went to law school so my last years’ grades would be factored into my cumulative GPA, and also to prepare for the dreaded LSAT.

When preparing for the LSAT you must evaluate all your options. Unfortunately for me I made the wrong choice with how I would prepare for this exam, and I ended up spending a ton of money and learning absolutely nothing! So please learn from my mistake. Through my peers I learned of a private tutor who was capable of getting even the most average students into Tier 1 law schools. So I had a consultation with him where he charged me $200 to literally sit there and tell me stories of all the people he had gotten into law school. So for $200 that day I learned NOTHING! I do give him credit for his gift in persuasion, and I honestly do think he’s worth it if you have a TON OF MONEY to blow.

My favorite part of his consultation was his emphasis on writing a diversity statement for your application. I do believe that writing a diversity statement is beneficial to your application, but he was telling me all these stories, one of a guy who grew up in an attic with 12 brothers and sisters and got shot and survived. I mean stories of tremendous triumph, but I mean REALLY?! He told me to dig in my background and try and find a “poor” story. A POOR story. WTF?!? My life at that point seemed so uninteresting and ordinary. At that point I was pissed off at my parents for giving me such a good life. Why in the world couldn’t have I been shot and survived! Then maybe I’d have a shot at UCLA!(This is not to say I don’t appreciate all my blessings, or in any way am I poking fun at the misfortunate). After about a year of off and on tutoring and advice on my applications I was about $4,000 in the hole and still scoring low on the exam. I had no money or time left over for a prep course so basically I was shit out of luck! I finally realized that if I couldn’t get into law school on my own, and needed to start selling drugs or myself to start paying for this tutor then you know what, law school probably wasn’t for me.

As the October LSAT approached I knew that I was completely unprepared, and I went out and bought the Powerscore Logic Games Bible and Logical Reasoning Bible. I HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMEND THESE BOOKS. I tried to prepare as much as I could but as I took the exam that October morning I panicked and knew I BOMBED IT. So I cancelled my scores, came out of the exam more determined and focus than ever. I knew December was my last chance. My main focus was logic games. Logic games are the easiest section to improve on and the one section where it is POSSIBLE to miss less than 3. I counted on this section. I figured if I can miss around 2 questions on this section and miss 10 on all the others I would still come out with a fairly decent score. After Googling over and over I finally found the answer to all my problems! LSAT Blog: HOW TO ACE THE LSAT. A blog created by a NYC LSAT tutor. The link to his blog is under my LINKS. This blog provides study schedules, answers and explanations to logic games and logical reasoning questions from the past ten years. He really breaks everything down in a way you can understand. All of the supplements provided on his website you must purchase, but they are very inexpensive. So if you are on a budget and don’t have the money for a prep course I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this site. After following his 3 month study schedule I was missing 0-3 questions every single time on the logic games section. 3 months was a little rushed so if you can give yourself at least 6 months you will really have a chance to absorb the content and come test day you should be very prepared.

Finally the December LSAT came. Do NOT wait till the last minute like me to take the exam. I recommend taking it in June. If you don’t do well in June it gives you a cushion to take it in October. The law school application process is on a rolling basis, so if you can get your score and get your apps in by the end of October you will have a better shot at receiving scholarship money. During the month you are waiting for your scores to come in start getting your letters of recommendation together, personal statements done, and applications finished so that you only need to send your score. You can actually send the application without your LSAT score. So try and get your applications in early.

Anyway that is my spiel on the LSAT. Learn from my experience. I recommend taking a prep course and also using the supplements on How to Ace the LSAT. Private tutoring is a hit or miss and I don’t recommend getting into debt before you have to get into debt. Anyway this post is super long so I will have to do a part 2 on getting accepted. Hope this was helpful! Till next time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why blog now?

So this is my attempt at actually blogging and maintaining my blog. I've tried it a couple times before, but I never seemed to stick with it. Perhaps it was the fact that my life was never interesting enough to actually have something interesting to write about, or that I was utterly consumed by my oh so interesting life (I like to think the latter), who really knows, anyway this will be my second attempt at blogging.

So why blog now? Well, I figured that the next three years are probably going to be three of the most pivotal years of my life, so why not document this journey for my memory, and for others going through the same experience. These next three years are the last frontier for me reaching my life long goal, becoming a LAWYER! For as long as I can remember I have wanted to become a lawyer. In my 6th grade yearbook next to my very unattractive picture I have "Future Goal: Lawyer".

I still ask myself how in the hell did I EVEN know what a lawyer was at 11 years old! I put partial blame on my parents divorce as that was my first experience with lawyers, but I know for a fact that I did not understand the complexities of law and the duties of being a lawyer. So why at 11 years old would I have that profession as my future goal? Honestly, I still have absolutely NO IDEA! 12 years later and 3 years of legal experience behind me I think I finally understand the hard work and commitment it takes to become and BE a lawyer.

The reason I titled my blog "Thinking like a Lawyer" is because the majority of attorneys I have spoke with have told me that law school does not prepare you for the practice of law, but rather it gives you the ability to "Think like a Lawyer". Law school provides structure and teaches you how to think critically, analytically, and methodically. This concept is interesting to me because, is it really possible for the trials and tribulations that have molded my way of thinking for the past 22 years be completely outweighed by 3 years of law school. Well, I will soon be finding out!!

I hope to create a blog that can help answer questions for future law students and to give an inside perspective to law school. Anyway, that is all for now. Till next time!