Part VI: What I’d Do Differently If I had to do Law School Over Again – My Final Law School Outline
Here’s the Part VI bit on my VI part law school finale.
First question regarding the aforementioned L school. I know what you’re thinking, the big one: “Albert, would you do it again if you had to redo it all over again?” First off, that’s probably not a proper question for me right now, since I’m not officially “done” just yet. I have one more final to get through, then graduation, then the bar. Ask me that later for a more accurate answer. The later, the better.
However, if I had to do it all over again at this immediate moment, here’s what I would change.
1. Classes – I definitely would have NOT taken some classes just because they were on the bar. I talked to a friend who already took the bar, and didn’t take one of the key classes allegedly for the bar that I personally detested, and she said like she rocked that section BECAUSE she was forced to learn it only for the bar. Props to her. I definitely would have dumped that GPA killer, without a doubt. So my advice to you, should you choose this law school adventure? Take the classes YOU WANT to take. Don’t take stuff just because it is “on the bar.” (And some of my law mentors told me this awesome advice, which I did not heed in a few obvious cases. Shame on me. Don’t be me.)
2. Professors – like #1, I definitely would have been much more cognizant of which professors I took in courses if I had to do it all over again too. As I’ve said in previous posts, I was kind of surprised by how interested (or not) I was in a course based upon the professor’s knowledge and interest in the topic. There were definitely some classes where the profs had a passion, and some where they clearly did not. Avoid the did not-ers. Avoid them like the plague. Take classes you may not be interested in topically if you KNOW the prof rocks at that particular subject. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that their passion for the class bleeds into your skin.
3. More summer stuff – I ran out of time, but I’d definitely try my hand at more summer opportunities if given a deux over again. There were a lot of really cool summer fellowships, health/public health law programs over the summer that I should have paid more attention to applying for during my law school tenure. Again, don’t be like me. If you see something cool that might expound upon your law school learning over the summer, go for it. Do it. Because it may be the only and last time of your life that you CAN do it.
4. Less drama – I gave up on great grades sometime after my high school career and definitely at college. But there’s some students who just love to hold on to that ___laude thing. I say, great – if that’s what you want. But personally? I’d get less caught up in the drama if I had to do it over again. Frankly, I didn’t and don’t have much time for that. I’m too busy getting my stuff DONE to be complaining about a B+ v. an A-. Besides, wasn’t there a study that showed that the 3.2-3.5 GPA students were always the rock stars at the 20th year reunion instead of the gunner 4.0 GPAers anyway???
5. Law review – this is one thing I did differently from everyone else’s (or nearly everyone else’s) advice. They told me NOT to do law review. I won’t have time as an evening student, etc., blah blah blah. I’m here to tell you that yes, you CAN and SHOULD do law review. It IS worth the hassle. I’m glad I ignored those who advised against it and did it anyway (not that I need any help going against the grain). The only thing I might have done differently around this was push harder to get on the editorial board the second year, but in retrospect, everything happens for a reason, and I’m glad it turned out as it did. My point here? Do the extra curricular stuff you want to do – and ignore what everyone else thinks and says. You have to answer to one person in the end: yourself.
6. Professional outlines and other amateur outlines – I probably would have joined BarBri and PDP earlier my 1L year if I had to do it over again, just so I’d have access to awesome outlines for the courses I took. Seriously – sometimes it is just good to have another point of view on a course outline, and sometimes, you just aren’t checked in enough to get all the salient points. That is why it is helpful to have outlines to back up your happy studying. Join PAD or PDP your 1L year or any other fraternity or sorority that has awesome outlines at your school – I recommend. That way you also have upper class peeps to chat with about who to take and avoid early on.
Lastly: the money issue, which is probably the toughest hill to climb for some, and of which my opinion is this: My law school is one of the most affordable programs for in state people in the entire country. But if you’re going to shell out $50K a year to go to a top 5 law school, and you don’t have the money ready to go, I want you to really think long and hard about accepting that admissions offer. A tort is a tort is a tort. A contract is still the same, no matter what law school you attend, and the ‘traditional law firm’ positions and jobs aren’t out there like they used to be.
While I was reading the book Academically Adrift last night for another class, I ran into a quote by Anton Scalia about who he picks as judicial clerks for the Supreme Court. He also talks about the elite law schools in it. I’ll let you look up the quote in the book, because repeating it here makes my blood pressure go up–and quite honestly, I couldn’t disagree with him more, so I won’t do the disservice of spreading what I think is completely wrong.
However, in law school, I also had one of my law professors tell the entire class that we are just as good as the Yale and Harvard and Stanford trained law students. Again–a tort is a tort, a contract is a contract, the rules of Civ Pro are the same…you get the picture. And while I may not have an ivy degree anywhere in my near future? I guess I’ll cry all the way to graduation in the limo…then the bank. Because I still have money left in my bank account, which is more than I can say for some of those ivy league peeps.
That’s really all I have for you. Go forth, and if you still want to try your hand at the law shindig after reading my six part wrap up of the law school tilt-a-whirl, go for it!