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Aspiring lawyer, questions on how to start

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by TauKappaEpsilon, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. TauKappaEpsilon

    TauKappaEpsilon Well-Known Member

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    I'm currently an undergraduate at American University in DC studying pre-law and real estate. I hope to ultimately practice law as a white-collar crime defense attorney. I'm concerned as to the steps I can take to start out. I currently have a very impressive resume with several big internships (I worked at a real estate company in NJ on a $400 million project for over a year, I've worked at the Republican National Committee, etc.) however, all the law firms that I've been "applying" to for an internship all tell me to apply again when I'm in law school.

    I was hoping some of you on here could assit me as to what I should do. All of my friends have desirable internships for the summer in either Manhattan or D.C. and I can't find anything in my potential field of work. When comparing myself to my friends who all have these internships, I find that our grades are very similar, however, my resume is significantly more impressive. I'm not to worried about being told to re-apply when I'm in law school because most of the firms that told me this my family has very strong business connections with and the attorneys in these respective practices have told me very specifically not to worry and they'll give me the chance to prove myself once I'm in law school.

    So the dilemma is, what should I do for the next two summers before law school? Should I keep talking to law firms and asking if there is anything I could do while still being an undergraduate, or should I look for other internships in fields that I am not particularly interested in?

    Thanks a lot SF.
     
  2. Joffrey

    Joffrey Well-Known Member

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    Get internships in other fields. Graduate and work for a law firm for a year as a paralegal or legal aid.

    PS - I didn't know there were tke's in AU. I go there for grad school part time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  3. FLMountainMan

    FLMountainMan Well-Known Member

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    Keep doing campaign work. In the long run, this will do much more to help out your career than making copies at a big law firm. Build a diverse resume now. With the ridiculous amount of people you'll be competing with when you get out of law school, you'll need to differentiate yourself.
     
  4. furo

    furo Well-Known Member

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    That says a lot about you right there.
     
  5. DLester

    DLester Well-Known Member

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    well I am impressed
     
  6. Lighthouse

    Lighthouse Well-Known Member

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    He must have just resigned from Goldman Sachs. :happy:

    No, Tau, worry not. I agree with FLMM. Campaign work. Network > $ at this point.
     
  7. sns23

    sns23 Well-Known Member

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    Regardless of how "impressive" your resume is, it is not worth much. Why would a law firm hire you, an undergraduate, when it can hire a law student who could actually perform legal tasks and improve the bottom line?
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  8. TauKappaEpsilon

    TauKappaEpsilon Well-Known Member

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    That is the same question I am asking.

     
  9. Huntsman

    Huntsman Well-Known Member

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    Two things:

    1) Get an LSAT prep book, take a practice exam to find out your weaknesses (likely the so-called logic games), and start practicing. Do it NOW.
    2) Don't screw up your undergrad GPA

    This comes from a 3rd year law student. I know what I am talking about.

    ~ H
     
  10. stevent

    stevent Well-Known Member

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    From what I gauge from about your posts on here I'd say this may be an issue. You think you're the real deal but maybe you are not. $400 million project is chump change going by what you say your background is and also you seem to want to post about your connections and the like. If you have a good network stuff will be done for you, take to your mentors now about this and since they know you better and could guide you to opportunities that would suit you better. Like FLMM said, differentiate yourself. If you like politics why not work on a campaign for the election or for a senator. Most senators have some sort of program for high school / undergrads that get you exposure and you should be able to meet the senator a few times at least.

    Trying to act privileged (regardless of whether you are or not) and saying you have a "superior" resume mean little, as your friends have desirable internships and you do not. So they either have: more desirable majors / classes, talents that don't show up on resumes (better social skills for example), better connections, more money, etc. You could have 4.0GPA, be president of your house + five clubs, sit on undergraduate council, and do 500000 hours of community service. But that doesn't really matter if you are still not getting any internships.
     
  11. TauKappaEpsilon

    TauKappaEpsilon Well-Known Member

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    I thank you for your honest opinion and for not holding anything back. However, I'd like to clear something up. From what I understand from reading your post, you are making it sound like I can't get good internships. I'm sorry if I miscommunicated this but I meant to say that I can't get good internships in the specific field that I'm looking into. I've had 5 great internships in other fields (real estate and politics). I mentioned that fact that I have a great resume because compared to other students at my school, my resume is far superior. (I apologize for sounding cocky). My problem is that given my previous work experience, my GPA, my interview skills, etc. I'm still having trouble finding an internship specifically in a white-collar crime law firm. My question to SF was should I continue to work on getting an internship with a white-collar law firm or get other internships until I'm in law school? This question seemed to be answered already, and I thank everyone for the answers.

    Just to hit on one more point, Steve, you say that I should take advantage of the connections I have and speak to them about what I should do. To respond to that statement, I have talked to every single connection I have and I have been told similar things from everyone, basically telling me not to worry so much. However, being a little younger then most members on SF, I see SF as an opportunity to speak with members who I can look up to as "mentors". From what I'm gathering, a lot of SF seems to have great careers and in my mind, it can't hurt to ask someone who has gone through a similar life experience as I will be doing for advice.

    Again, I'm sorry if I came across as cocky or anything, and I apologize for any typos since I'm running on 3 hours of sleep.

     
  12. Joffrey

    Joffrey Well-Known Member

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    I'd say take their advice and do a summer volunteering or study abroad. Obviously something you're interested in and take your mind off internships for the 3 months.
     
  13. sns23

    sns23 Well-Known Member

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    Probably the best idea.

    In the end, an internship you had while in undergrad is going to have zero impact in law school.
     
  14. ShoeShopperJ

    ShoeShopperJ Active Member

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    I sent a PM. As to anyone aspiring to attend law school or practice law: don't. I wish someone would have given me advice prior to my attending law school, but I was the first in my family to attend college and had zero debt entering law school.


    Law school is an enormous mistake unless you have a network in your preferred practice area or job guaranteed PRIOR to attending. Otherwise, the amount of debt---in addition to the substantial costs of three years of law schools plus Bar exam fees---is far out of proportion for the opportunities that a J.D. provides.


    Just do not do it. You can attend some MBA programs and take a law school class or two. Suggestions: contracts and business organizations. \



    EDIT: many from my graduating class of '10 have (a) no job AT ALL, (b) unpaid internships and clerkships, (c) "associate" positions that DO NOT provide health insurance or any benefits, (d) contract positions (aka document rev. at $16 an hour if they can find it), and (e) some have REMOVED the J.D. from resume as they job search in other areas.

    YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED (WISH THAT I WERE PRIOR TO ATTENDING LAW SCHOOL)
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  15. veneto

    veneto Well-Known Member

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    I have experience in this both in law and the practice area you are talking about.

    To be blunt, the fact that you are talking about working for a "white collar law firm" tells me that you haven't done enough research. White collar defense work is largely handled by large law firms, although there are smaller firms and solo practitioners who take these kinds of cases. There are very few law firms that dedicate themselves solely to criminal law (note that I'm not referring to solo practitioners), let alone white collar work.

    Regardless, all of those employers are only going to hire you as a paralegal. The smaller the firm, the more likely you will get substantive experience. No matter what though, it is still paralegal work. The reason I mention this is because I think you need to focus on getting an internship that will set you up for law school, and not getting a white collar defense job. For reasons not worth explaining now, I will just say that your goal is quite beyond law school and the bar exam.

    By the way, why "white collar" defense? This is a question just for you. I suggest it though because I'm not sure you think it means what it really means.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  16. yerfdog

    yerfdog Well-Known Member

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    If you want to do white collar criminal defense you need to realize that most white collar criminal defense lawyers have experience as an Assistant US Attorney with the DOJ.

    Try to get an internship with the DOJ, any branch would probably be better than nothing, or any DC internship that can get you some connections inside the DOJ: http://www.justice.gov/06employment/06-3.html
    Relatedly, if you are trying to get a foot in the door w/DOJ then look for ways to get you into places that can get you into the DOJ (ie, the Manhattan DA is prob a decent place to start if you don't make it into the DOJ w/the Atty Honors Program right after law school, so try to do things that show an interest in prosecuting crimes or law enforcement, or conversely w/nonprofits that do defense work or stuff along those lines, Innocence Project or whatever)
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
    1 person likes this.
  17. nerdykarim

    nerdykarim Well-Known Member

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    This stuff can also give you something interesting to write about in one of your personal statements, especially if your background is otherwise pretty vanilla.

    I agree with the posters who suggest that you should first get yourself into the best law school you can (which is mostly a factor of your grades and LSAT) and then, once you get there, getting the best law school grades you can, particularly in your first semester. Personally, I think that this has as much to do with working hard as it does getting to know people who are a year ahead of you that can tell you how to study for each professor's exam and give you their outlines.

    I assume you're aware of all the doomsday talk re: the legal profession. If not, though, I would recommend reading the posts on the Inside the Law School Scam blog when you get a chance.
     
  18. Huntsman

    Huntsman Well-Known Member

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    The thing about the legal profession (more so now than ever) is that there are far, far, far more aspiring attorneys than there is need for attorneys. Thus, the law firms seeking interns have their pick of students who actually have a little bit of law school under their belts and thus know a little bit about how lawyers work and at least have a handle on lawyers' vernacular. What reason would the firms have to choose an undergrad with no law school experience instead of all those actual law students out there begging for internships? If you're wondering why you are having trouble, I think that should highlight it.

    Also, the firms are to some degree looking for prospective associates -- you will not be providing that benefit to them, as your advent is too far removed for their processes.

    Like, CT, I suggest getting an internship doing something else that you can really get behind that will also be good on your resume. But do remember, 95%+ of law school admissions criteria is GPA and LSAT scores. All your other 'softs' only come into the picture if they are deciding between 'maybes,' and maybes are not where the scholarships are.

    As for typos on 3 hrs of sleep, get used to not making the former on account of the latter. Profs and Law Review members who review student papers can tell if you have improperly italicized a comma.

    Best,
    H
     
    1 person likes this.
  19. sns23

    sns23 Well-Known Member

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    It is true. After being an editor of law review, i can tell the difference between an italicized and regular typeface period.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
  20. Huntsman

    Huntsman Well-Known Member

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    ^ Editors are so cold. <laughs> I really wanted to do law review, but when I found out how much time all the cite-checking takes combined with the penalties for dropping out, I decided I couldn't do it. As a night student with a full time job and a 5-hr commute, there would just be no time.
     

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