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post #31 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sns23 View Post

Bluntly, if you are an undergraduate, you almost certainly cannot perform legal research and writing. It is really a different animal than the type of writing and research you perform during undergrad. My guess is that you likely have no training with Lexisnexis or Westlaw. A firm is not going to pay for your learning curve. I hope you can make a mean pot of coffee. I don't want to burst your bubble, but i really doubt the firm will delegate a case to you and ask you to research an issue and write a memo. May you could write a case summary, but i would not expect much beyond that.

You are right, I don't have any real experience with Lexisnexis or westlaw.  And I appreciate your insight.  I come from a family of businessmen so I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this.  However, I was told I will be getting paid for my time at the firm.  I just wish I could do something of substance to prove myself.

post #32 of 52
Just do what you are told well. You will almost never escape menial tasks at internships, especially during undergrad. That is what you are there for. In fact, sometimes you will enjoy them. It is nice to take a break and do mindless work every so often. During law school i student clerked for a U.S. Court of Appeals judge (an extremely coveted position). One day i reorganized the books in the chamber's library. It was a slow week at the courts. However, it beat reading about procedural due process for 8 hours.
post #33 of 52

^ I mean, all of that is true. Humility is lacking in legal interns, and seems to serve me well. \

 

I am not, perhaps, as particular as sns. I think your probably could do legal research -- West and Lexis are computer programs like any other, and if I learned how to use a 60k engineering software package by myself, you could learn Lexis.  The hard part is learning what is important in a particular case for a particular issue. There is a lot going on in a case and there may only a crumb that you need, be it holding or mere dicta. That's where I think you might struggle. But sns did give you good adivce. Do what you are told extremely well. Use your brain, and ask good questions. Once you have proven your reliability, your questions should open doors to more and better work.

 

~ H
 

post #34 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Huntsman View Post

^ I mean, all of that is true. Humility is lacking in legal interns, and seems to serve me well. \

I am not, perhaps, as particular as sns. I think your probably could do legal research -- West and Lexis are computer programs like any other, and if I learned how to use a 60k engineering software package by myself, you could learn Lexis.  The hard part is learning what is important in a particular case for a particular issue. There is a lot going on in a case and there may only a crumb that you need, be it holding or mere dicta. That's where I think you might struggle. But sns did give you good adivce. Do what you are told extremely well. Use your brain, and ask good questions. Once you have proven your reliability, your questions should open doors to more and better work.

~ H

 

You certainly could learn it. But there is a place for that. It is law school, when you get an unlimited free subscription. It costs a lot of money to use the services. More often than not, those duties will get delegated to law student interns who know how to more economically use the systems (know which databases to use etc).
post #35 of 52
OP you might be getting yourself in good with this firm, which would be valuable if you want to work there or with their friends in the future, but in terms of building your resume for a law school application, I'm pretty sure your internship is useless. Admissions committees in the top schools, after the LSAT and grades, are looking for unique candidates that are 'socially engaged' that will make them look good both in stats and provide bragging rights; and from personal experience I can tell you you'd be surprised what kind of law (and med) schools you can get into if you've done some high profile volunteering. To be frank, they're not going to be impressed with a Republican DC kid whose family has business connections that interned at a small firm in undergrad. Go to Uganda or something and copy papers for a legal aid NGO then write an article for a magazine about it. That kind of stuff, though admittedly feigned and slightly silly in my opinion, can provide the edge over the competition.
post #36 of 52
Make perfect copies each time, every time. You aren't much more useful than that. Read the stuff you are copying and try to understand the various parties, alleged events and their relationships.

You'll learn the most from talking to whoever gives you assignments to copy. Ask them what kind of case it is.
post #37 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by TauKappaEpsilon View Post

You are right, I don't have any real experience with Lexisnexis or westlaw.  And I appreciate your insight.  I come from a family of businessmen so I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this.  However, I was told I will be getting paid for my time at the firm.  I just wish I could do something of substance to prove myself.

Honestly, as an associate in a large law firm, I would never ever rely on you, a college intern (which is below a paralegal in my mind) to do any substantive legal research. If I were working with you, I might have you organize documents into a binder and put tabs on them, or perhaps search news sites for certain stories related to my matter at best. But I bet you'll mostly just be making copies or getting coffee, etc.

As far as "preparing" for law school, first thing I'd do is stop worrying about it until summer before your senior year. You are seriously misinformed if you think all these internships matter more than a minor amount to ad-comms. They literally only care about your LSAT score and your GPA (to game the US News ratings) and perhaps the prestige of your undergrad institution, though that is secondary to the other two. I'd also reiterate the guy earlier who said to take a strong look at NOT going to law school as it is truly a raw deal for many, many people. Surely you've heard about the widespread lawsuits for fraud being litigated right now against dozens of law schools?
post #38 of 52
The legal profession, natiownide, had a net job loss of 2,100 last year. That may not seem like much, but IIRC, 2,400 people passed the Bar last year in Florida alone.Do some fuzzy math, and there were probably 40,000 new attorneys nationwide last year, trying to find a job in a shrinking profession. Good luck.
post #39 of 52
I saw an ad the other day for a licensed attorney. The job was paying 16-18 an hour "depending on experience"
post #40 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by munchausen View Post

The job was paying 16-18 an hour "depending on experience"

Jesus. The Dominos up the street from me had starting salaries of $13 an hour...
post #41 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by FLMountainMan View Post

The legal profession, natiownide, had a net job loss of 2,100 last year. That may not seem like much, but IIRC, 2,400 people passed the Bar last year in Florida alone.Do some fuzzy math, and there were probably 40,000 new attorneys nationwide last year, trying to find a job in a shrinking profession. Good luck.

Yea the legal field is turning into something more akin to photography or modeling- a few well-established, prestigious ones at the top pulling in good money but a massive majority of unemployed or underemployed taking anything they can get. People try to blame the economy and claim it will get better down the road, but there's plenty of proof that the eventual result in a developed economy is the legal profession diminishes- look at Israel or Singapore, highly educated countries where an excess has led to lawyering receiving the equivalent pay of a teacher, except at the corporate top. I feel lucky and thankful I got a decent job in the field, but there's no way in hell I'll let my kids, if I have any, become lawyers.
post #42 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Svenn View Post

Yea the legal field is turning into something more akin to photography or modeling- a few well-established, prestigious ones at the top pulling in good money but a massive majority of unemployed or underemployed taking anything they can get. People try to blame the economy and claim it will get better down the road, but there's plenty of proof that the eventual result in a developed economy is the legal profession diminishes- look at Israel or Singapore, highly educated countries where an excess has led to lawyering receiving the equivalent pay of a teacher, except at the corporate top. I feel lucky and thankful I got a decent job in the field, but there's no way in hell I'll let my kids, if I have any, become lawyers.

Yeah. The good old days are done. The only solutions I can think of are for the various state Bars have are to raise the admission exam score requirements (which will send the various minority groups into an uproar), petition the ABA to raise its accreditation standards, or encourage other fields to start requiring JDs.

The real shitty thing is that the 52% of the country that still pays income tax will be on the hook for all these student loan defaults.

FWIW - I have $145k in student loans, worked as an attorney for a few years, am now a bureaucrat. The law degree is helpful, but not as helpful as my accounting background and MBA.

Another eventual trend - I think we're going to begin to see states, especially red states, exert more control over areas of professional regulation that were once reserved for the State Bar. Many of the Bars have been engaging in a lot more political advocacy than is appropriate and it's going to bite them in the ass.
post #43 of 52
Well I'm working for myself now and doing ok, but only because I keep my overhead really low. And even then, if I have a lull (like I'm having right now) then things can start looking ugly really quick.
post #44 of 52
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your advice, opinions, and responses.  I've been struggling with my future career path for several years now.  I write all of the following in complete honesty, and I say this trying to sound as humble as possible.

 

I come from a moderately successful family who made their money in real estate, my family started out with some of the bigger names (Kushner, Hovnanian, etc.).  Real estate has always been a great option for me and I have several opportunities at my families company or at a corporate firm in Manhattan when I graduate (within the next year or two).  Although this sounds great and promising, even though the market currently sucks, I've realized I like law a lot more.  I know grades dont matter that much but I get straight As in all my law classes with very, very minimal work.  The things I learn about in my legal classes (whether its my White Collar and Commercial crime class, or my criminology class) I enjoy everything I learn and find it comes very easy to me.  I also like the logical thinking that goes into the discussions of each case study we do.  Due to my great enjoyment and academic success in my law classes I'm highly considering giving up a career in real estate to try to pursue law (even though I know its harder for a young lawyer to find a job then it is for a new home builder).  I'm fortunate enough to not have to pay for my education so I'm currently throwing around some ideas with my parents and grandparents.  I know how difficult it is to get a respectable job at a lawfirm that pays well so I've been thinking about what I can do to make myself stand out.  I was thinking that I might stay in school for a long time (almost as long as a doctor stays in school/residency).  I'm on a path to finishing my undergraduate studies a year early so I was thinking about staying there an extra year and doing a 5 year masters program.  The idea that I'm considering is to continue to stay in school after the extra year for my masters and get a PhD.  Then after having a PhD I should be able to find some kind of job I enjoy (maybe real estate) and go to law school at night for a few years.  If I get a JD and I'm barred after having a PhD and several years of work experience (and hopefully some money) I think my chances of getting a respectable position as a lawyer would be quite high, especially because I'd be able to bring in a lot of work from my previous years of work during law school.

 

I hope I've explained this properly, and I'm looking forward to your feedback and suggestions.  Again, I know many lawyers, but I've never sat down and really spoke to them about the best career path for myself so I really appreciate your advice.

post #45 of 52

If you want to make yourself stand out, then I recommend against "staying in school for as long as possible" or a "5-year masters program"---five (5) year masters program?---and accomplish something in the private sector. 

 

If you have a network in real estate, then why not get your broker's license and do commercial leasing or something? 

 

 

STAND OUT

When I was interviewing right out of law school and, earlier, business school, invariably I would be asked about how I managed over ten million dollars in property at twenty-one years old. To this day my experiences have helped me in life and business. 

 

ENTREPRENEURIAL 

I formed my first company as a sophmore in college. I also formed, and later sold, a property management company. If you have a network in real estate RIGHT NOW, then obtain your broker's license and form your own brokerage? You have to check state licensing law and may have to partner, in some form or other, with a "managing broker."


 

I AM WORRIED

My worry for you, based on world experience---and of course everyone's experiences are different---is that more education will not help you (at all). But if you insist on more education, then why not obtain your broker's license now and work at least part time while pursuing another master's?

 

I know MIT has an excellent graduate program in real estate. 

 

Most of all, and I mean absolutely most to all, I sense you could be very successful in real estate in some capacity or other. My worry? A law degree could hinder your success. Many commercial brokers I work with have law degrees---and many have no degree at all---and do not use their law degrees. You could still work in real estate succesfully with a J.D., but I think it would only serve to delay and possibly even hinder your success.

 

Start working now. Get more involved in working if you already are working. You are way too smart to go to law school.

 

 

TRUE STORY

During law school, I was flying to Paris. This was over my second year during the summer. Next to me on the flight was a kid around my age. His dad was a retired football player, and I was able to learn about the football players' pension system (still find it interesting). His dad was successful after his football career with varied small businesses: gym, laundry mat, etc.

 

Anyway, this kid tells me he basically has a career lined up in professional baseball. I do not remember the full details, but he was going "pro" or "majors" or something. But! He told me that he would give that all up to practice law. 

 

I told him honestly and sincerely that he was not smart enough to practice law or survive law school. If you had a shot at becoming a professional baseball player but would rather pursue an uncertain legal career, then your ability to solve complex legal problems is not there.

 

We hung out a bit in Paris---his hotel was right down the street near me, and but for him I would have gotten lost to my hotel---and I am not sure where he is today. I honestly, sincerely, truly hope that he is a successful baseball player. Now that I think about it, I should have said, "pursue baseball first and if that does not work out, go to law school."

 

I WANT YOU TO SUCCEED

I warn about law school because I want you to succeed. If the (limited) opportunities that law school provided were not so out of proportion to the costs/expenses/time, then I was say just take the risk. It is not a limited risk that law school will hinder your success. My opinion, and simply my opinion, is that it will in all likelihood hinder your professional and certainly personal (financial) success. 

 

Edit: If you do not do law school right, a J.D. is going to hurt you in many and varied ways, professional and personal.


Edited by ShoeShopperJ - 5/13/12 at 7:45am
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