Lawyer Boy

So yesterday I was apartment hunting in Hoboken, but I had to wait for a few hours before my appointment. I decided to go to the most relaxing place I’ve found in the northeast so far. It is called “The Frozen Monkey” and it is quite possibly one of the best coffee shops I’ve ever been to. The drinks and food are wonderful and reasonably priced. The wait staff seems to expect you to stay a minimum of 2 hours journaling, reading, or being creative in some other way. In short, it is my kind of place. So while I nursed a large skim Chai latte and nibbled a $2.00 brownie I read “Lawyer Boy” by Rick Lax. I was amazed that I read over 150 pages in one burst, but the book is just that addictive. It tells the story of Rick Lax who is a magician, law student, and blogger. I know that makes him sound fictional, but he is not. In fact you can check out his blog at http://lawschoolblogger.com he is apparently about to take the Bar. Rick is a wonderfully talented writer, he is able to make his law school experience, which is very typical, not only interesting but hilarious. I would certainly suggest that people read it PRIOR to going to law school because it has a lot of tips for first year students, and I agree with 90% of them.

One thing about Mr. Lax experience that I was particularly interested in was something I completely avoided. Dating. I matriculated into law school with my boyfriend/partner/fiancé and he knew what we were getting into. He knew I’d be stressed, less available, and most likely stressed out. He took it like a pro, and was one of the few things that kept me from going bonkers my first year. Mr. Lax did not have this benefit, and I told my boyfriend last night how much I appreciated it. I also told him that, much like Mr. Lax, I was probably one of the more perky law students in the world. I didn’t come back from my first semester with a death wish, nor did I treat law school like it was the worst experience in the world. I had aspects of my first year of law school that I absolutely hated (my legal writing class), but there were things I truly loved (Property in general, Civil Procedure lectures, and constantly being smart in Contracts) so I enjoyed law school more than I hated it. I am not saying law school is easy, but I am saying it was less awful for me than it seemed to be for other people. Anyway, it seems like dating in law school is just another thing to add stress to what is already a stressful situation.

Reading Lawyer Boy did do one thing I wish it hadn’t. It made me feel like I should be working already on my second semester. Reading about studying cases (by the way the way he briefs/explains cases is wonderfully hilarious) makes me think “If I had the books now….I could get at least 2 weeks ahead!” This I realize is only PARTIALLY nuts, as I am sure I will be expected to have read close to 50 pages per class on the first day (August 25th) That being said…anyone can START wishing me luck, sleep, confidence, anything good, on my 2nd year of law school any time.

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Law School Decision

So many people are interested in where I plan to attend law school. Currently I have been accepted at:

  1. Hofstra
  2. New York Law School
  3. Rutgers-Newark School of Law

I’ve decided to attend:

RUTGERS-NEWARK SCHOOL OF LAW !

According to “www.top-law-schools.com” this is the lowdown:

While the school’s Newark location may not be ideal, Rutgers-Newark School of Law still has plenty to offer. The school is especially attractive for financial reasons, offering both low in-state tuition and very high starting salaries.

Admissions standards at Rutgers-Newark are slightly lower than those of its sister-school in Camden. The Princeton Review gives the school an “Admissions Selectivity Rating” of 84 out of a possible 100. Roughly 29% (863 out of 2,893) of applicants were granted admission last year. For those who were admitted, the 25th to 75th percentile GPA range was 3.08–3.55 and the range for the LSAT was 155-161—with medians hovering around 3.3 and 159, respectively (USNews).

Rutgers-Newark also has a part-time program available. While admissions standards are usually much less stringent for part-time programs, at Rutgers-Newark, they differ little from the full-time program’s standards. Last year, GPA’s for part-time admits ranged from 3.06 to 3.59 for the 25th to 75th percentiles, while LSAT scores ranged from 153 to 158 (USNews).

Most people are delightfully surprised to learn that Rutgers is a state-institution. As a result, in-state students enjoy a healthy discount. Last year, New Jersey residents paid $21,302, while out-of-staters paid $30,307. “Room & board” is estimated by the school to be just over $10,500. So, out-of-state students can easily expect to spend over $40,000 per year. While tuition is low, so is the amount of financial aid generally received by Rutgers-Newark students. The 75th percentile grant was $6,000 last year, while the median was $4,000 and the 25th percentile was $2,500. On the plus side, there is a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP) in place.

Bar Passage & Employment Prospects

USNews reports that 80% of Rutgers-Newark graduates pass the Bar the on their first try, just beating the state-wide passage rate of 79%. This is a fairly weak passage rate; and so it is not surprising that about the same amount of students (82%) are employed at the time of graduation. Within nine months, however, 95% of Rutgers-Newark graduates are employed. This is a testament to the strength of the Rutgers brand throughout the state of New Jersey, where the majority of Rutgers-Newark graduates (63%) are employed.  It may seem like a Rutgers-Newark degree is quite exportable, as 37% of graduates end up practicing outside of New Jersey. Further analysis reveals, however, that almost all of those who find work outside of the state end up in Philadelphia or New York, two cities that share borders with New Jersey. A few students (4%) found work south of the Mason Dixon Line, and some (1%) ended up in New England; but Rutgers-Newark is, and will remain to be, a regional law school. Prospective students should keep this in mind as they decide where to attend.

While Rutgers-Newark graduates may not be represented all over the country, they are represented in almost every field of law. Consistent with nationwide trends, more Rutgers-Newark graduates (43%) work in private practice than in any other field. Judicial clerkships are also quite popular, employing 31% of RU-Newark grads, while 15% went to work in business. The remaining graduates generally divide themselves among public-interest, academic and military jobs. One look at starting salaries reveals the reasoning behind the popularity of private practice work among RU-Newark graduates: those who enter private practice enjoy a median starting salary of $115,000—quite a high figure compared to that of schools similarly ranked to Rutgers. Such a high salary is most likely a result of the healthy legal markets in New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York.

Academics

Rutgers-Newark provides an academic experience that is ample with opportunity; it is the type of opportunity however that must be sought after. Whereas top-14 schools are full of nationally-ranked programs and students are heavily recruited for internships and jobs, Rutgers-Newark has few outstanding programs. The school does have a strong clinical training program, however (ranked 28th in the nation by USNews); and this program, combined with the school’s proximity to both New York City and Trenton (home of New Jersey’s State government), provides students with the type of training and opportunity that can lead to a wonderful career in law.  It should be noted, however, that when it comes time to apply for internships and jobs in the New York and Trenton areas, competition may be fierce. Positions in the New York area are some of the most sought-after in the nation, if not the world.

Students brag about the school’s “excellent and approachable” faculty and “remarkable” new library (six years old). A 2L had this to say: “for pretty much every resource I have needed, I have had no trouble finding it… the faculty and the administration are relentlessly helpful, and this has had a big effect on my experience here so far”.

Quality of Life

Adding to the list of commonalities between the two Rutgers Law schools, the Newark campus, like its counterpart in Camden, is also located in a city which leaves much to be desired. Crime is high, the city is unattractive, and there is little in the way of social life. Many prospective students brush this aside, assuming they won’t have much free time in law school anyway. While this is certainly true, it would be a mistake to discount the effect that a school’s location will have on one’s experience.

Students are able to get out and enjoy nearby Hoboken, however; and many decide to live there and commute to Newark. In Hoboken students can find a growing population of young professionals and increasing night-life, mostly revolving around local happy-hours. Students also always have the option of hopping over to New York City for a weekend, which offers infinitely more opportunities for social life than anywhere in New Jersey.

As far as life on campus is concerned, competition seems to be moderate, if not low, and this helps to create a less stressful environment. As one student put it, “Competition exists… but not so much in the classroom as in the hunt for jobs”.

Conclusion

Certainly the school has its setbacks—most of which stem from the Newark location; but Rutgers-Newark is a gem of a prospect for any student hoping to enter private-practice in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Quick Reference

U.S. News Ranking: 77
LSAT Median: 159
GPA Median: 3.34
Multiple LSAT scores: Average
Application Deadlines: 03/15
Application fee: $60
Entering class size: 195
Yearly Tuition: $21,302 (In-state) $30,307 (Out-of-state)
Bar passage rate: 80.0%
Percent of graduates employed 9 months after graduation: 95.3%
Median private sector starting salary: $115,000

I have visited the campus, and whereas Newark is not exactly the most beautiful looking city in the world. It is not as scary as say….the TSU campus.

Weird

So I was reading over my boyfriend’s shoulder and I saw this picture of Rupert Murdoch:

and I said “is it me or does Rupert Murdoch look like a 90 year old version of Tim Gunn there?”

My boyfriend laughed, I laughed, and we wonder….has anyone else seen this bizarre similarity?

If Tim Gunn reads this please know that I think you are fabulous and this was not meant to be offensive!

Subway Stories – Baby on Board

So I am paranoid about falling on people in the subway. As a result I always hold on/sit still under the train has come to a complete stop. I am sure this is a behavior that is easy to mock, but let me tell you a story that makes me feel slightly vindicated about my behavior. I was on the one train a few weeks ago. Most of the seats were full, but there was plenty of standing room. This woman rushed on, and did not hold on to anything before the train started to move. What happened? She fell! However, she did not just fall…she fell on a baby in a carriage. Luckily she appeared to have hit more carriage than baby, but the entire train car gasped! Not to mention the look of daggers that the mother was giving this woman. So please….hold on! You don’t want to fall on a baby!

Legal Technology

A bit about my job. I’ve got to say I am learning a lot on the job. I do believe that immigration is important. Having seen the process I am certainly aware that it is needlessly difficult and incredibly expensive. That being said, what I am learning about being a lawyer is that I need to constantly pay attention to technology. I work in an office which seems practically antique. There are large manila folders everywhere, and none of it seems particularly organized. To make matters even more complicated they use both sides of the paper. Whereas I think this is wonderfully economic, and a nod to recycling it makes things hard to read. If the backs of all your records have bits that were discarded from other files it is difficult for my eyes to keep them straight. Especially when it is all jumbled into one big folder.
I realize the importance of organization. I was present when all of my previous firms made the huge switch to a “paperless” system. The system was never fully paperless, but it was much easier once people got used to it. I’ve had bosses who prefer to read something in their hands, and I’m totally fine with that. I originally saw it as “old” as if the person could not actually do anything unless I printed it out for them and handed it to them. I now see that there are some benefits to having some materials printed. It is good to have things on hand for reference, as you don’t want to turn to your computer and google something in front of a client. Doing so would give the impression that you were not really needed. So I’m not totally against printing things.
I am, however, insistent upon having an electronic copy of EVERYTHING. It is just stupid not too. Each thing you send and receive should be scanned and placed in a separate folder for each case. That way any employee can view it when they need to. Today my job was to locate a file, look through it, eventually find the document I need, and type the case/tracking number into a website and get the status on it. This took me 4-5 hours. Had I not had to constantly battle with file cabinets, review large chunks of the file that were not pertinent to my task, and then battle to reshelf. I could have done it in under 2 hours.
So far my journey to becoming a lawyer has taught me these lessons:

  1. Treat your employees like they matter. Let them know you are proud of their work when they do something correct. Be understanding, but firm, when they do something incorrect. Let them know that it is normal to make mistakes, but they should learn from them. Repeating a mistake is not as okay, and they should be informed of that as well.
  2. Always be looking into ways that things can be done more efficiently. New software, New hardware, etc. Never be afraid of trying something new, and never reject an idea solely based on a preference for an established routine.
  3. Have an open-door policy as much as possible. Let anyone from the mail clerk to your boss know that you are always there to listen and help if you can. Always be open to new ideas.
  4. Respect space. Sometimes you don’t have a lot of space, but don’t let your space get cluttered because you are lazy. Files won’t move themselves, and it is wrong to hope someone else will file them for you. Even if they have done so before.
  5. Spell check and re-read all correspondence. I have caught glaring errors in my writing that I can’t believe I have sent. I used to be more on top of it when all I did was property, because it was very specific and I basically ate, slept, and drank it. Now that my range of discussion is very broad, it is important to make sure that you check what you are saying.
  6. Never talk to someone when you are angry.
  7. Try not to hold a grudge, but if you are, don’t let it cloud your judgment if you have to deal with them. Especially do not let a grudge impact how you treat others.
  8. Never be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes people might not have an answer, sometimes you’ll have to take an answer you do not like, but make sure you ask.
  9. Leave your work at the office.
  10. Take breaks. Eat lunch. If you are getting to the point you don’t like work, evaluate, and attempt to fix. Even if your “fix” is going to hard. You spend a great deal of life at work, it is not worth being miserable.

That’s about it.

A Larson Connection

So I keep forgetting to mention this on my blog, but I have resolved to get it out there today. I am not sure if the rest of the world knows that RENT is closing after this summer, but it is. I was pretty much over RENT after the terrible rendition Christopher Columbus created came out, but I learned something a few weeks ago that revived my interest. I found out that my little apartment building on the upper west side was where Jonathan Larson lived! That’s right a few floors down Mr. Larson most likely dreamed of and wrote the score of the show that I used have completely memorized. It’s strange, I thought that my neighbors might find the fact that I play and sing showtunes at all hours a bit annoying, but after learning that I assume that it is less of an issue. It’s a bit strange to think of singing, and having the air ducts which once heard “Seasons of Love” hear my voice as well.  Anyway, that’s something that I thought I should let people know.

Bitching about the Bucks

So a few weeks ago I talked about a particular experience at Starbucks. The main point of said article was that I was shocked at how terribly slow the service was. However, I did say that it might have had something to do with the fact I went on non-peak hours and so I withheld final judgment. I would like to return to that topic to give my final verdict.

The Starbucks at 2252 Broadway (between 81st and 80th) is quite possibly the single worst Starbucks in the United States. They seem to be partially deaf as they cannot hear when you order an extra shot of espresso for your drink. My boyfriend and I EACH ordered it differently, and NEITHER time were we heard even after the third repetition. The conversations went a bit like this:

Me: Hi, I’d like an iced triple grande non-fat latte.

Starbucks: Iced grande skim latte?

Me: triple.

Starbucks: Iced grande skim latte?

Me: With an extra shot of espresso.

Starbucks: huh?

Me: I want a grande skim latte, but with an extra shot.

Starbucks: So you want a grande skim latte with an extra shot.

Me: On ice

Starbucks: Iced grande skim latte?

Me: Fine..whatever.

Eventually I told the person who was making it that I wanted an extra shot, and, after giving me a look as if I just asked them to put wolfsbane in my drink, she complied.

WHY IS THAT CONCEPT SO HARD? I am not sure what the deal is in New York and coffee, but it is a constant disappointment. I mean aren’t New Yorkers known for ordering ridiculously long complicated coffee? You know “Iced, soy, vanilla, sugarfree, …” All I did was add ONE thing, which I assumed is the most common addition to coffee.

I generally have the same problem at all coffee shops on the island of Manhattan, so that is not what makes this Starbucks the worst. A botched order, even consistently, does not earn it “the worst” in my book. The problem is that their service is not only incompetent it is slow too. It is slow in the morning, during the rush, in the afternoon, in the evening, basically any time you go. Why is this? Starbucks are generally slower in New York than they were in Arkansas, Tennessee, or Texas, but this location is tragically slow. One of the main problems might be that you never know if your order is up because they don’t call it out. So you have to watch them make each drink, and hope you know what you are looking for to see if it is yours. This is more difficult when they screw up your order. I once sat there and watched for a latte that had an extra shot only to realize that “my drink” had been hanging out on the little bar for 5 minutes.

So…I’ve decided to swear off this location, and I hope it is one of the many locations which are being closed. It’s too pathetic for words, and if I knew it would be read I would certainly complain to the company itself.

I actually wrote this review from a DIFFERENT Starbucks location. They do a pretty good job at Columbus and 86th.

I still have not found a New York coffee shop worth a positive review. My demand for coffee shops are small:

  1. Comfy chairs
  2. Decent coffee
  3. Okay service
  4. Not overbearing music
  5. Free Wi-Fi

Is that so much to ask? I’m not even demanding stellar quality of any of those criteria.

It’ll make you smile till your face hurts

So of you have not been to see the new Pixar film “Wall-E” you should go.  I am a big fan of Pixar shorts, but none has ever made me so happy and smiley that my face hurt after it. Below is the short before “Walle-E”

My ticket to being a New Yorker!

So…in order to keep this blog going I needed to be accepted to a law school in New York. Today I got my first transfer acceptance letter in the mail!

THANK YOU NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL!

I will possibly be attending their come this fall!

The City of Love

I don’t know what it is about New York that makes me so happy I am in love. I guess in a way it is partially because I always hoped it would happen that way. I’d be able to walk down the streets of New York with a smile on my face. A shining happy face amongst the scowles of the thousands of pedestrians, and I would know I was loved.

Now I’ve often said I have the best boyfriend ever, but since we have moved to New york I can only say he has become even more incredible. He has been totally understanding about my lack of finances, and so affectionate that it truly is a dream come true.

I’m not sure if this city brings it out in us, but there is certainly seems to be a connection if not a direct correlation!

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