pageok
pageok
pageok
Advice for New Part-Time Law Students?:

As Ilya notes below, there is tons of advice floating around the Internet for new law students. I'm wondering, however, if readers have any advice to share specifically for part-time evening students, who are likely to be older, have a full-time job, and perhaps a family. Obviously, much of the advice for full-time students will apply to these part-timers as well, but advice on, e.g., balancing work and law school, keeping family harmony while working, studying, etc., 80+ hours a week, and the like would be most welcome. FWIW, many of my best students at George Mason have been evening students (as was co-blogger Jonathan Adler, who was number one in the entire class), many with job, spouse, and kids, and after eleven years of teaching, I still am in awe of them.

Veritas:
A prospective part-time law student who for whatever reasons, can't work as a summer associate during law school, is under a MAJOR handicap when looking for work after graduation. I know this first-hand.
8.20.2006 10:59pm
IANAPTLS:
Are summer associates paid? How much usually?
8.20.2006 11:16pm
Kate1999 (mail):
Much more than they're worth.
8.20.2006 11:48pm
Badgerstan:
I can personally attest to the verity of Veritas' statement. If you can't work as a summer associate, be prepared to interview with two strikes against you.
8.21.2006 1:10am
Guest-o-rama:
This reminds me of an analog to that old engineering joke: you can have a good home life, a good work life, or good grades. Pick two.
In my case, I did good work outside law school and was able still to have a good home life with my wife and two kids (both under the age of 3), but my grades were just mediocre (Bs). This last semester, I had no home life and my grades went up to As.
Perhaps one could have all three important facets of their life maximized, but that person will be rare. My advice is to get a legal job before you get to law school (perhaps as a law clerk) and work there while you're getting educated. Failing that, write a good cover letter for your in-school interview program, and realize that it's going to take either a lower-ranked firm, or a firm with uncommon insight, to look past your (possibly) mediocre grades and see the potential you have.
In my case, I did my 2L clerkship with the firm that I've been working with all through law school. I got a permanent offer from them, as well as two other offers from firms having associates with whom I've been friendly throughout law school. In other words, even with the "handicap" of a job and life, not all is lost.
8.21.2006 2:15am
Gunner:
First, advice to would-be advisors: Evening program students may finish in one more year than their day student counterparts, but that difference amounts to one fewer class a semester. Don't call anyone who works 40 hours, goes to school at night for 11 hours per week, and likely studies 20 more "part time" anything. I guarantee they are working harder at everything than you are.

Second, my advice to evening students:

1. Law school should be your #1 work priority (family is a separate category). Whatever you do now, you are going to be a lawyer, and whatever seems important at your current job will only be cocktail party conversation fodder in a few years. You should act accordingly. If the choice is to do a crappy job on that important report for work or be unprepared for school, be prepared. If the choice is work late to make sure that your charges get a project done or be on time for class, be on time. If you get a crappy review, nobody at any law job will ever see it, but if you get a bad grade, every future employer for the next 5 years at least will see it. Depending on your career path, that bad grade may follow you around for a long long time, while your review gets shredded according to your former employer's document retention policy.

2. Think about when you want to make the transition to legal jobs. At some point, you will leave your old career and start doing legal work. As the comments above illustrate, a good point might be to interview for summer associate positions in the fall of your second year or third year (for positions the following summer). Second year is harder, because employers view you essentially as a first year law student, with two still remaining. You can try to take a leave of absence from your current employer; if that doesn't work, there are a number of firms that hire law students as clerks for the year. Never forget that your current job is your OLD career. The law is your NEW career. The law is more important.

3. You will learn to manage your time. When you have 12 hours between the end of class and the time you need to be at work, you will figure out how to manage that precious time, or you will die. E.g., 1/2 hour commute home, 1.5 hours eating, socialize with family, 3 hours studying, 6 hours sleep, 1 hour to get ready &commute to work. Sleep is the most fungible resource you have. It is possible to survive on 4-5 hours sleep for long periods of time. New parents and first year evening students know this to be true.

The two main strategies are: A) Study for the next day each night after class. Advantage is that the material is fresh, disadvantage is that you don't sleep much, often wind up studying at work (but see #1 above). B) Study for upcoming week on weekends. Advantage: possibly more time with family/friends each night during the week, and more sleep; disadvantage is that you have no weekends.

4. The support of your family &friends is crucial. Think in advance about when you can spend time with them, and try to set their expectations that law school is a major committment, and that you simply will not see them as often, and when you do, you will be tired and talk about torts.
8.21.2006 9:22am
Gunner:
And there is no such thing as someone who "can't" work as a summer associate. There are only those who didn't really figure out their priorities.
8.21.2006 9:27am
JohnO (mail):
In Washington, D.C., Summer Associates at big D.C. firms make $2400-2500 per week.
8.21.2006 9:59am
Mr. X (www):
I'm entering my third year as an evening student now. I'd echo the previous comments.

Further, be selective about what you want to do. I chose to be on the law review, even though it added yet another responsibility to the growing pile. It's been beneficial so far and helps a lot when applying for jobs with a resume that's more suited for another field (e.g. comupter science).

Do what it takes to get As. As an evening student, your first year grades are going to be comprised from just 6 classes. One poor grade in one of those classes can be a more serious drag on your GPA than it would be for a day student.

As I said to a friend who's starting this year, law school is like prison. Keep your head down and do your own time. It's good to get to know your classmates, but you're the one responsible for your grades and you're the one who knows what all of your commitments are.

Make friends with your professors. While only a small minority will have travelled the road you're on, almost all of them are sympathetic and helpful.

I wish there was more advice like this available to me when I started. Thank you Professor Berstein for posting this.
8.21.2006 10:22am
Stevethepatentguy (mail) (www):
If you are married, make your family your first priority. My third child was born while I was in law school and my wife and I are married. Some of the other students weren't so lucky (or didn't have such an understanding spouse).

Attend all classes, even if you can't be prepared. It will happen, don't skip because you don't want to be called on when unprepared.

Stay away from the day students who brag about spending 9 hours outlining Civil Procedure. Always point out that they have too much time on their hands if they try to compare their preparation with yours. Remember you are superior to them in every way (except maybe when comparing the size of daddy's checkbook). Be very condescending when you use the phrase "daddy's checkbook."

Forget about AmLaw 100 firms, you don't want to work there anyway. They are full of the people who bragged about spending 9 hours outlining Civil Procedure. Now they have tales of woe about working 20 hours a day on what a good paralegal could have done better and faster.

Most importantly: take classes with adjunct faculty in the area that you wish to pursue. These adjuncts know what pressures you are under and if you can do well in their class that is the best route to getting a job in their firm.
8.21.2006 10:59am
Gordo:
I just finished a four-year evening program. Several of my first year classmates decided to "speed up" and finish in 3 1/2 years by taking summer school classes. Given my hectic schedule during the normal school year, I needed summer evenings and vacations to regain my sanity. So don't do it.

Also, my family's needs (I am the only wage-earner) precluded summer clerkships or legal clinics. So I wrote on to the law review.

I find out if I passed the bar next month, and then we'll see how difficult it is to get a job. I'll keep you posted.
8.21.2006 11:04am
John Jenkins (mail):
How do they decide which "class" a night program graduate is in. Is it based solely on the year you graduate in?
8.21.2006 11:40am
Stu (mail):
I started at age 40. I finished in 3 1/2 years by taking advantage of the summers. I waited 'til the kids were in high school, so the impact on home life was reduced. I minimized travel for my employer so I could minimize absences from class. The main issue was time management. I took advantage of my hour drive to work and hour drive from work to school by repeatedly listening to law tapes. I spent 12 hours every Sunday reading the cases and briefing them well enough to answer when called upon. I set time limits on prep for each class so that I gave each class at least some prep. I completely ceased TV watching. I kept the (Jewish) sabbath - no study on Saturdays. No time for law review. With discipline, it CAN be done. Graduated in top 10%, counting combined day and night programs (the only way the school reports rank). Went to a top tier firm, billing 2100 hrs per year, but developed panic attacks and OCD after 2 years. Quit after 5 years - now I'm an environmental consultant, and much happier (though much lower paid). Can't say I didn't try . . .
8.21.2006 11:49am
SB (www):
If you're in patent law, do whatever you can to secure full-time employment as a student associate. Then you'll be the one with a leg up over the day students in the job market -- you already have your job!

I'm not sure of the availability of such jobs in other areas of the law, but there are no lack of them in patent law, which is why I single it out.

Also, if there's a way to balance family, school, and work efficiently, I still haven't found it. As others have pointed out, at least one of them is likely to suffer. It always helps to have an understanding law school, and especially an understanding employer, to make life easier.

The best advice I can personally offer, and what has helped me get through two years of this torture (courses taught by present company excluded)? Drink ... heavily. :)
8.21.2006 12:17pm
Steve in CA (mail):
80+ hours a week? You do realize that's about 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you sleep 8 hours, spend 2 or 3 eating, that leaves 1 or 2 hours a day to something other than study. I've known a few law students, and I've never seen anything like that.
8.21.2006 12:54pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Steve, that's 80 hours a week of full-time job plus law school.
8.21.2006 1:03pm
A.C.:
I second that remark about not talking to people who brag about how much time they spend outlining. I also avoided people who talked about grades... when graduation honors were awarded, they didn't take the top ones. Not being a summer associate makes job hunting harder, but it doesn't make job hunting impossible. And evening programs aren't hard to explain in Washington DC. Everybody here knows about them, which is not the case in some other parts of the country.

Anybody out there have any insight on which other cities/regions are particularly friendly to law graduates who went through evening programs?
8.21.2006 1:55pm
Steve in CA (mail):
Ah, now that I read more carefully, I see that you're right about the 80+ hours. Sorry about that.
8.21.2006 1:57pm
Gunner:
Gordo,

By all means avoid unpaid summer work, but working for a firm is not unpaid. Primary wage earner or not, you can afford to work for $2500 per week for 12-16 weeks. In fact, that should be a substantial step up for most people. Also, the cost-benefit of working at a firm and taking the chance on a period of unemployment weighs heavily in favor of working at a firm - you should have some cushion after that summer salary, and you should be able to get loans for as much as you need to make ends meet.

Stevethepatentguy,

If you're like most patent guys, you had an idea of what you wanted to do when you entered law school. Most people do not. 8 hours outlining and studying civil procedure is not unreasonable, though I agree it's smart to avoid anyone who brags about the amount of time they spend studying or outlining. Amlaw 100 firms will give you the highest salaries, best chance of paying off your loans, and the most exit opportunities. An entering law student would be stupid or seriously uninformed to write them off now.
8.21.2006 2:02pm
T C (mail):
I was a night student at a DC law school (one of the ones beginning with 'G') and had a job that did not allow me to work as a summer associate. (It was a job I could not quit, and which did not allow me to take time off.) I agree that not being able to summer is a big disadvantage, but it need not be fatal. Some firms wouldn't even talk to me, but I got offers from a couple of top flight firms and accepted a job with one of them. It can be done. As far as school goes, I agree with most of the above. Make it a priority. Go to EVERY class, even if you have time for nothing else. It will be hard, harder then you probably think, but you can come through it with good grades and get a great job.

TC
8.21.2006 2:30pm
Gunner:
I see. TC was in the military. I take it back, there are those who cannot be summer associates.
8.21.2006 3:49pm
evening3L (mail):
Recommendations to law school faculty and deans:
--It is highly unfair that there are students in the first year of the evening program that aren't working. Who do you think has an advantage when one student is taking 10 hours and studying all day, and another is working all day and trying to squeeze in law school reading on the weekends and on the metro? Is there anything that can be done about this?

2 recommendations to students:
--have your work situation pretty much under wraps. My first year as an evening student I was still pretty new to my job (patent office). I was still learning the ropes at work, and so I couldn't any corners at work to make more time for school.
--If you have a girlfriend, make sure she is low maintenance (learned this the hard way).

My grades weren't that fantastic my first year, and I think these were probably the biggest two factors.
8.21.2006 3:58pm
Evening Student 2:
I was an under-achieving undergrad, and after graduating I discovered that my lack of achievement had some negative consequences. So when I decided to go to law school, I was going to push myself hard. But I had a family (my 2nd child was born the day of my Contracts Exam) and I was concerned that I would have to give up on some of the things I wanted to do. And quitting my job wasn't a choice. I couldn't afford to stop working.

I found that it was possible to do just about everything I wanted: judicial extern, law review, graduated summa, and so forth. And I still interacted with my family a good deal. I can't say I missed out on anything. So I say it is quite possible to do whatever you want with good time management. (I do have to confess that after my first week I never "briefed" a case again--saving me a lot of time.)

As far as the summer clerking issue, I can only add a little; mainly because I clerked year round. I worked as a clerk for the same firm for 2.5 years. This dramatically limited my options. If I had to do it over again, I would have found a way to clerk for at least one additional firm. But from my experience and that of others, not being a summer associate almost precludes you from being considered by most the larger firms.

Oh yeah—if you are an evening student, do yourself a favor and try to take some significant time off before beginning your career as a lawyer. You'll regret if it you can and don't do so.
8.21.2006 4:11pm
MikeDE:
Steve, if you're a night student, you're never going to get eight hours of sleep. Bank on 4 years of getting no more than 6 hours each night, more likely about five.

Gunner is right about your day job. The evals you get at work don't mean as much as your law school grades. Never let a bad eval get you down, but bad grades should be big motivators.

If you don't have time to do law review, write every paper as if you are petitioning. It's good practice.

Don't expect to play a round of golf, attend a party, or go on vacation w/o bringing study materials. You are always "in the library".

Go on every interview you can get. You're always going to be less "credentialled" than your spoiled day student bretheren. Therefore, you'll probably need to work harder in your interviews and go to more of them to get that golden ticket. If you're offered a sumnmer associate position, take it. You can always find part-time legal work during your final year, and your credit card can make up for most of the rest. The payoff is when you get your offer and are ensured a well-paying job after graduation. (You probably won't be too hard-pressed to pay off those credit cards.)

Become proficient at using a microwave oven if you aren't married.

You'll find that the alarm seems to go off in the morning at what seems like mere moments after you closed your eyes. Never hit the snooze button. Just roll out of bed and put your game face back on. Every day is one day closer to graduation.

If all of the above doesn't sound doable, it is. And if doesn't sound palatable, don't go to law school. "Doing your time" doesn't end with the diploma. But the payoff is pretty nice if you stick with it and learn to balance your professional and personal lives.
8.21.2006 4:18pm
John Jenkins (mail):
A lot of you guys are, to be honest, full of crap. Everyone talks about the ungodly hours you have to put into law school, but it's just not the case. I just graduated top 10% and all of these horror stories make me laugh. It's like one of the guys at the bar review lecture said: you told everyone all about how hard first year was, then you went to the bar and ordered supplements like everyone else. It's not as hard as people make it out to be and everyone knows it (I never took study aids on any vacation)

Use all of the tools available and don't let it drive you nuts. Spolied day students? Spare me. I left a good career for law school and don't regret it, but the idea that we're spoiled is just silly. I didn't work full time, but I did work as much as I could (class schedule got in the way a lot) and didn't have any problems. It's just a matter of learning how to do what you're doing and if you have a career you should be able to pick it up pretty quickly. Hours and hours in the library frantically studying means one of three things: you're dreadfully ineffecient, deeply paranoid, or should reconsider your decision to attend law school.
8.21.2006 4:30pm
Dustinoo:
What's with all the day student hate?

They're the ones with better grades and LSAT scores (on average). Is there some sort of inferiority complex at play with the night students?

Yeah, I guess it is hard to work and go to school. So by all means, wait until you can go to school full time.

Most day students are surely not there because of "daddy's bigger checkbook". What a stupid remark! They take debt and pay it off. They devote themselves 100% to law study in law school. If this isn't possible and you make sacrifices for that JD, fine. But that is your choice and fault, not mine. My advantages regarding SA jobs and study time are the result of PLANNING MY LIFE CORRECTLY.
8.21.2006 5:36pm
Gunner:
Future students: See John Jenkins and learn to recognize him. He is the one who will brag about how little he studies, about how much he parties, and about how the rest of you are wasting your time. This, along with the one who brags about how *much* he studies, are to be equally avoided. At the break in the bar exam he will say, "That ethics issue in question two was pretty easy," when there was no ethics issue, just to mess with your head.
8.21.2006 5:46pm
aces:
For a PT student, at what point does age offset dedication, good time management, good grades, etc.?

I've often thought of going the PT route, but by the time I graduated, I'd be on the shady side of 50. I've heard success stories from new 50+ lawyers, but they all seemed either to (1) have some previous experience/credentials that gave them a leg up as new lawyers or (2) have made enough money in their previous career that earning potential didn't matter.

Would an AmLaw 100 firm send a 52-year-old associate to a conference with a 40-year-old partner?
8.21.2006 5:50pm
H. Tuttle:
>What's with all the day student hate? <

Simple. Each and every evening law student wants to be there to study law and are dead serious about it. Conversely, roughly 1/2 of the day students are at law school because they couldn't figure out what else to do with their lives. The hardest part of going to law school at night is the 4th year. It is a killer. Your moral is low. Your energy is low. Your motivation is drained by then, and yet you still face that hurdle of hurdles, the bar exam. Do yourself a favor and read Shackleton's Endurance before starting your first year -- you'll need the lessons offered by the time that 4th year rolls around just to keep putting one foot in front of the other each day.

I graduated 3rd in my evening class (only .02 below my best friend who graduated first in our evening class) and I worked my ass off throughout. Unfortunately we graduated into a horrible market and I had NO job offers until September, despite sending out 200+ clerkship applications and having done two judicial internships (one state, one federal) after passing the bar exam.

Finally, make no mistake, firms discriminate against evening students, who are generally older and viewed as less "pliable" than day students, who may have never held a year round full-time job if they went to law school straight from college. Bitter? No. But certainly somewhat disappointed. As astra per aspera!
8.21.2006 5:55pm
T C (mail):
Much as I hate to, I semi-endorse Jenkins viewpoint, and even Dustinoo's. First, the material in law school is not crazy difficult. I worked 50+ hours all through law school, have two children, and finished well. But if you really have to work a real job, then you are going to find it difficult because you can only do so many things. If you can leave your good job and focus on school, great. But, despite Dustinoo's rant to the contrary, not everyone can plan their life that way.

Having said that, they are both right on another point. Its not the day kids fault that they don't have your life. Don't rationalize away your performance by blaming others for their good fortune. I mean, its your life and you either planned to do it that way, or screwed up and did it that way, or just stumbled into it (as I did). Yes the day kids have some advantages, deal with it. Life sucks in a lot of worse ways then being the least lucky guy in your law school class. You could be the luckiest guy digging ditches. So you don't have tons of time, use what you have. Don't waste time haunting the law library (as so many do), organize your time and efforts, focus on high-payoff activities, use all the tools and tricks you can, and let the day program take care of itself.
8.21.2006 5:56pm
Hoosier:
AC--Chicago is a good market for night-school JD's. UChicago and N'western are day-only, and their grads get plum jobs, as you'd expect. But Chicago has four law schools with night programs. Good grades at Loyola and Kent make one competitive for very good jobs. But DePaul and Marshall night grads can do quite well, too. Of course gpa and review become bigger factors for them.
8.21.2006 7:33pm
Hoosier:
TC--

Very well-put. I admire night-law grads tremendously. My uncle is a night-law grad, who, in addition, is blind. I can't compete with a story like that; that's dedication on an entirly different level. I've worked my butt off to do well in school and professionally. But I never had any significant strikes against me, and I finished school--barely--before having my first child.

You guys are in a totally different league.
8.21.2006 7:38pm
MikeDE:
I think John Jenkins' post, in a nutshell, encapsulates why night students don't particularly care for day students. How can you find it appropriate to flame an advice thread on juggling full time jobs with family and law school because those who have been through it have the audacity to suggest that it will require a lot of good old fashioned work hard?

An evening student is well served by following H. Tuttle's advice to read Shackleton's "Endurance." Through hard work and unbending perseverance you are most likely to achieve your academic and career goals. These are the keys to your long term success as an attorney, not chasing grades and class rank.

TC is right that you will have to cut some corners to make it work, whether at school, home, or the office, but deciding where to cut is part of the rite of passage we all faced.

Good luck to all of those getting ready to start it all again this fall!
8.21.2006 8:19pm
CSorensen:
<cite> How do they decide which "class" a night program graduate is in. Is it based solely on the year you graduate in? </cite>

I don't know that all schools do it the same way, but in my program you become a 2L when you complete 30 hours and a 3L whenever you complete 60 hours of classes.

<cite> What's with all the day student hate? They're the ones with better grades and LSAT scores (on average). Is there some sort of inferiority complex at play with the night students? </cite>

Answered your own question, I'd say. This is the attitude a lot of full time students express toward the part timers. My academic credentials would have gotten me into a number of full time programs, but as someone who is planning to go into patent law, I think there's value in having practical experience as an engineer. I'm simply not willing to give up that work until I'm prepared to make the transition to a legal position.
8.21.2006 8:50pm
John Jenkins (mail):
I think John Jenkins' post, in a nutshell, encapsulates why night students don't particularly care for day students. How can you find it appropriate to flame an advice thread on juggling full time jobs with family and law school because those who have been through it have the audacity to suggest that it will require a lot of good old fashioned work hard?

I think your post illustrates why some people manage to fail classes in law school: an utter lack of reading comprehension. I didn't say law school wasn't hard. I said it wasn't as hard as it's being made out to be. You can't slack, but you don't have to be a slave either.

Future students: See John Jenkins and learn to recognize him. He is the one who will brag about how little he studies, about how much he parties, and about how the rest of you are wasting your time. This, along with the one who brags about how *much* he studies, are to be equally avoided. At the break in the bar exam he will say, "That ethics issue in question two was pretty easy," when there was no ethics issue, just to mess with your head.

I never bragged about exams, or even talked about them afterwards unless someone asked me first. Sorry to disappoint you. Nor did I brag about how much or how little I studied. I also partied much less than most other students. I just get tired of the horror stories that I know aren't true. I know they're not true because I've been there and we shouldn't be scaring people off like that. Of course it's hard work, but it's not going to kill you or ruin your life unless you let it.

Finally, make no mistake, firms discriminate against evening students, who are generally older and viewed as less "pliable" than day students, who may have never held a year round full-time job if they went to law school straight from college. Bitter? No. But certainly somewhat disappointed. As astra per aspera!

I found my prior career to be quite helpful, but several of my friends who were older (40+) were unable to get jobs with firms because they didn't have "investment potential" (actual words from a firm lawyer), even as day students (no night program at my school).
8.21.2006 11:18pm
Gunner:
>I just get tired of the horror stories that I know aren't true. I know they're not true because I've been there and we shouldn't be scaring people off like that.

None of the comments talked about how it's necessary to spend "hours and hours in the library" or "ungodly hours." You appear to be the one suffering from reading comprehension, as this thread has been about the difficultly of going to school while working full time, which you did not do. Add law school to a full time work schedule, and it does equal ungodly hours just to get the reading done and attend class.

How can you possibly talk about how difficult it is to go through law school as an evening student when you haven't done it? It is very hard, trust me.
8.22.2006 9:33am
Stevethepatentguy (mail) (www):
I think that if you are looking at a night program you have to consider Washington D.C. Georgetown, George Washington, George Mason, American and Catholic all have night programs. While at American, I took Patent Law classes from some of the best patent lawyers in the country.

As far as I could tell there was no discrimination against the night students, in fact we were sought after as full time employees. Who would you rather hire someone who graduated in three years or someone who graduated in four while working for (pick one --IRS, SEC, PTO, DOD)?

My recollection is that the other folks had pretty interesting jobs on Capitol Hill or in the executive branch. One friend worked for a senator and took a year off to work on his presidential campaign, she came back and finished while working for the Vice-President.

As for the Day/Night lack of love:
1) smarty-pants attitude (see JJ);
2) sense of superiority (see Dustinoo);
3) false sense of superiority, my night section was 25% of the class and about 40% of Law Review Staff and 60% of the top 10 in the class (I wasn't in either group);
4) The biggest problem is that the day students have a much better life. The night students resent it and the day students feel a little bit guilty.
8.22.2006 10:49am
bwilliamsdc:
I appreciate all the comments, especially from the DC and/or Computer Science types. I'm 23 and finishing up undergrad part-time... just one class left... and take the advice to heart as I head towards applying for part time law school.
8.22.2006 11:41am
Zywicki (mail):

"and after eleven years of teaching, I still am in awe of them"

Amen, I agree.
8.22.2006 12:43pm
A.C.:
Re: older law grads being less pliable... who wants to work for an employer that selects employees based on pliability? I find the very idea disturbing.

On the other hand, I think that it's the youngsters (only some of them, to be fair) who are most stiff-necked about doing things according to a formula. I'm not sure why... maybe they only know how to do things the one way, so they stick with it even when it doesn't work. A higher proportion of older students, regardless of intrinsic stiffness, seem to have mastered the skill of reading a new situation and developing strategies to cope with it. I consider that a measure of sophistication.
8.22.2006 2:30pm
ElizabethN (mail):
I was a full-time day student at a top-three school and also worked half-time at a medium-size firm (patent law - I was there two years full-time as a patent agent before I started law school). As SB pointed out, this (or a night-school variant) is clearly the way to go if you're sure you want to do patent prosecution. Already having a job lined up allows you to cut out all of the enormous number of hours that the typical law student spends resume-polishing, interviewing, obsessively researching firms, etc. Also, if you can get work as an agent for a while before you start law school, you will know whether you want to be a patent lawyer before you make the enormous time and money investment in law school.

Once in school, I think the advice that you can have any two of good home life, good work, and good grades is valid. An understanding spouse is also an enormous help. Colleagues are also helpful - many of them think it's kind of fun to talk about obscure contract cases over lunch, the ones they haven't looked at since law school.

I think that older students with more life experience can also be much better at not getting freaked out about law school. After going through oral quals for my PhD, no law school professor could really faze me, even the semi-hostile Socratic ones.

I do wish I'd read Getting To Maybe before my first year, as it probably would have saved me from treating the phrase "state your assumptions" the way I would on a physics exam, instead of the way one should on a law school exam.
8.22.2006 2:49pm