Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Get Ready, Set, Outline!

Finals are coming up soon. Are you ready?  I suggest that you start outlining if you haven't already and begin preparations for studying for your final exams.  Say goodbye to your nights and weekends, buckle down, and study.  Your only job as a law student is to get the best grades that you can so you can actually get a job once your graduate (and even high grades is not a guarantee of a job in this economy!) 

Outlining doesn't work for everyone, so I also suggest making flashcards and commit as much as you can to memory.   Good luck! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Guest Blog Post: LSAT Tips- Part 2


Five LSAT Logical Reasoning Tips
from Parliament Tutors and LSAT Freedom


Logical Reasoning comprises half of the LSAT. Here are 5 simple LSAT Logical Reasoning tips that will help you improve your LSAT score:

Read Carefully
According to the LSAC the logical reasoning section tests your ability to recognize the structure of an argument, identify patterns of reasoning, and assess the validity of conclusions and how these conclusions are affected by additional evidence.  Since these are specific tasks, you should be very detail oriented in your approach to these questions.  Read the passage very carefully, and make sure you understand it (as best you can) before you go on to the answer choices.  Students commonly read logical reasoning problems too casually, and fall victim to “traps” for the unwary.  

Use Time Intelligently
The more time consuming questions in logical reasoning invariably come at the end of each section.  Thus, you should give yourself some extra time heading into these latter sections by going through the first 15 questions at a faster rate than average.  You can and should practice timing yourself on every section on every practice exam so you grow accustomed to the pace.

Notice Key Words
Words like “since” and “because” introduce premises, while words like “therefore” introduce a conclusion.  Your ability to spot key words like this will help you determine the logical structure of the argument.  In a similar vein, certain qualifying words, like “all”, “some” and “never” have specific logically specific meanings on the exam, that could ultimately effect the conclusion drawn in a given argument.  Understanding the role of these key words is crucial to your success on the LSAT.

Learn Logical Fallacies that Appear on the LSAT
Many LSAT arguments contain similar types of fallacious reasoning.  These patterns of fallacious reasoning repeat on every LSAT, and thus, as you become familiar with them, you will be able to process logical reasoning questions that contain them much faster.  This will help you a great deal with your timing and your confidence.   

 Be Critical of the First and Last Answer Choice
Although you have five options for each answer choice (A, B, C, D, and E), the first and last answer choices are much more likely to be traps for unwary students.  The first answer choice is often tempting to students who don’t fully understand a problem, and it often contains a tempting answer choice for this reason.  The converse is also true, students who don’t like any of the answer choices are likely to choose the last answer choice without thinking much about it, since it is the only remaining option.  As an LSAT student, you should be aware of these two tendencies, and (1) read through all of the answer choices before making your final selection, and (2) don’t choose the last answer choice without understanding why it is the correct answer.  If need be, read through the passage and question again to make sure you fully understand (see tip #1, above).

By following these tips, you will be on your way to improving your performance on the logical reasoning sections of the exam, and the LSAT as a whole.


                                 


                                   









Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Blog Post: LSAT Tips


The following guest blog post is for those of you who are considering going to law school. Before you start writing your stellar "Why do I want to go to law school?" admission essay, you need to study for and take the LSAT.  I highly recommend taking a KAPLAN course, but whether you decide to study on your own or through a prep course, it is important to practice as many questions as you can. I hope the following post is helpful to you as your prepare for the LSAT.  If anyone else has tips for the LSAT, please feel free to share in the comments! 

5 LSAT Logic Games Tips
By Robert Tauler, LSAT Freedom
in conjunction with David Greenberg, Parliament Tutors 
Here are 5 simple, yet helpful, LSAT Logic Games tips that will help you excel on this difficult section:
Read the conditions carefully
Every word counts on LSAT logic games. Not all questions (like LSAT Reading Comprehension questions) require intense analysis.  With Logic Games, however, details are crucial and you need to keep them straight.  If you misinterpret a rule, you will likely get an incorrect answer (or a string of them).  The LSAT will intentionally try to confuse you.  Read the conditions carefully, and you will be able to avoid this.

Focus on what you can find out about a Logic Game
As explained above, each LSAT Logic Game provides you with a set of conditions or restrictions.  And you obviously have to read these closely so you understand them.  Two additional benefits, however, of reading and analyzing these conditions are that you can (a) use a condition to determine what it means for the rest of the game and (b) infer additional conditions based on the ones already presented. 
For example, a condition can help you set up a game and realize that there are only two or three specific possibilities for the arrangement of the variables or that a certain variable can never go in a certain spot.  For instance, if you know that A must come before B in a lineup, you know that you can rule out A as the last variable in that lineup.  If you are presented with a condition that has this effect on a game, that is a valuable piece of information.
In addition, assume one condition states that A must come before B, and another condition states that B must come before C.  Well, if you know A has to come before B, and B has to come before C, you can logically infer that A has to come before C.  Get it? 
Neither of these benefits are gimmicks or shortcuts; rather, they represent valid logical inferences, and that is precisely the kind of skill the LSAT tests (i.e., inferential reasoning).

Identify and prepare for the different types of LSAT Logic Games
The LSAT Logic Games section tests three different types of skills: grouping, ordering, and assignment.  Each Logic Game usually falls into one of these categories, and some of them will test more than one skill.  You should study each of these skills, recognize how they operate and how they are different, and become an expert in them through repetitive practice.  When you can recognize a particular LSAT Logic Game as a “grouping game” or an “ordering game,” you’ve already undertaken half the battle and know what to expect.  Familiarity is key on the LSAT.   

Diagram the Logic Game
This tip requires two steps: First, write out all the rules using shorthand.  That way, you can better understand and remember them and use them to figure out additional or advanced inferences and conditions.  Second, diagram the actual game.  If the game calls for six students being placed in a line, draw six spaces, number the spaces, and write out the letters that indicate who the students are.  Approaching these games visually will help you understand what’s happening question by question, and you will not overlook or forget any key details.

If You’re Stuck, Skip Ahead to a Question That Adds a Condition
If you’re stuck on a particular question, you should look for and skip ahead to a question that adds a new condition into the mix.  Each game often has several of these types of questions.  By adding a condition (“If A is the first person in line . . .”), the question yields fewer possibilities since an additional part of the game has been set for you.  Accordingly, you can say this kind of question will be easier than questions that do not offer an additional condition.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Guest Blog Post: Job Search Advice

I’ve got a news flash: it’s hard to land a job you really love. You’ll see plenty of reports in the news about the unemployment numbers and about the fierce competition, especially among law school graduates, to get a job offer right out of law school. But I’m talking about not just any job. I’m talking about the job you’ll really love. And those are even harder to find.

Over the course of my career – both in helping students navigate law schools and in my current role in matching the brightest young professionals with some of the Twin Cities’ best firms and corporations – I’ve learned seven key points to succeeding in both launching and advancing your law career.

1.      Develop a career plan. While you should be open to a wide range of experiences, you must have a plan to land the job you ultimately desire. This will help you stay motivated. With each position, you should have a purpose for getting access to the skills you need to get your next job. The skill sets that you acquire early can lead to a more satisfying career later.

2.      Develop your own network. I learned very early in my own career the importance of making connections and building strong relationships. The sooner you build those lasting relationships, the better they’ll serve you in the years to come.

3.      Be your own advocate. This means you have to be a manager of your own career and career-related goals, and it’s not always easy. But if you wait for someone else to be your cheerleader, you could be sitting on the sidelines a lot longer than if you cheer for yourself.

4.      Figure out the right fit for you. This requires learning more about your new work environment and industry. For example, law students applying to a firm should learn about the business of law. You should also know about that firm’s clients and observe the work of partners in building a book of business. Understanding how your office works is key to making the most of your working environment. It can save you from making a years-long mistake.

5.      Be open to a wide range of career opportunities. So many students assume that they will find one specialty in their law program, graduate, and land in a desk chair at a law firm of their choosing faster than their fairy godmother can wave her wand. The reality often is, your first clerkship in your career is not the only one you’ll hold. By opening yourself to gaining meaningful experience through a number of job channels, you’ll have a more rounded resume that will appeal to more recruiters. I’ve done this, and have been blessed with many rich and rewarding career opportunities, from serving as Assistant Ramsey County Attorney to leading diversity efforts as an Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs at William Mitchell College of Law.

6.      Know your market. Especially if there’s one particular area of practice that appeals to you. There’s more to learning than just the textbooks. Read industry journals and publications to understand what influences it and how those changes can apply to your own career path.

7.      Clerkships are a constant interview. You should use them to showcase your best skills and talents. You will need to maintain professionalism both within your work setting and outside the office at other work-related functions. This constant interview even continues as you begin your work as a new associate since you will be establishing your professional identity in the legal community. You always want to be viewed as already doing the job you want, and make yourself promotable.

It’s easy to give in to panic and try to land any old job you can as you prepare to graduate. But trust me, it’s easier now to work for the job you really want than to work at a job you don’t love while searching for the one you do.

This is a guest blog post by  Val Jensen, Executive Director, from Diversity in Practice (http://www.diversityinpractice.org/).  If you would like to submit a guest blog post, please email me.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

No Regrets

I do not regret going to law school. I would not be the woman I am today if it weren't for what I learned and experienced during those three arduous and memorable years. There were many invaluable things that I learned in law school, but I just wanted to discuss three things I learned during my tenure as a law student. You might also check out my post describing ten things I learned in law school.

1. I learned to think and read critically

Law school taught me how to dissect what I read and think critically about the why something was written the way it was. I learned the significance of understanding the intent or reasons why something is written. This critical eye has served me well after law school. As a side note, sometimes I think lawyers write in "legalese" just so that we are the only ones that can interpret it! Even if you work in a non-legal position, the ability to clarify legal language is an important skill. I have used my legal skills to read and interpret statutes and write policy documents to make the law more understandable to a layperson.

2. I learned how to network and market myself.

Law school taught more about the importance of networking and provided me with several opportunities to network and learn how to "sell" myself. Studying is important, but many students fail to learn how to network and market themselves. Once you leave law school, your intelligence might get you the interview, but your personality and networking skills will get you the job. The ability to market yourself is a skill that must be practiced. Think of yourself as a walking advertisement for yourself... The way your present yourself to your classmates, professors, and potential employers shows them what they will expect from you. Also keep in mind what you put on your facebook or twitter account. How you display yourself online also advertises to others what kind of employee you might be. It might paint an inaccurate picture, but you might not even get a chance to prove someone wrong.

3. I learned to live a life with no (or few) regrets

So maybe I learned this lesson once I graduated, however I believe any experience you go through teaches you something and therefore is a valuable experience in itself.  I think it is unproductive to have regrets, unless they motivate you to make positive changes in your life. For instance, although I wish I had not listened to the financial aid office when they advised me to borrow the maximum amount I could, it taught the importance of making a reasonable budget and living within my means. Some lessons you learn the hard way, but those are the lessons that you tend not to forget.  I do not regret the three years I spent learning a new way of thinking, challenging myself academically, and being part of a profession that holds itself to a high standard.

I don't see how anyone who successfully graduates from law school would regret it. If you use time in law school well, you should have all the necessary skills to utilize your education, intelligence, and experiences to obtain a job. You might have to be creative, flexible, and persistent, but I believe you will ultimately be successful once you realize how you can make a positive and valuable contribution to a potential employer.

The 90%

You have heard of the 99% Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Similarly, in law school there should be a 90% movement. Ninety percent of you will not be in the top 10% of you class!   It is important to focus on studying and learning, especially during 1L year.   However, you also need to work on your job seeking skills or else you will find yourself in the last year of law school with only a few months to get a job and no ability to know how to do so. 
You also must be active participants in the process, be aware of your resources, and start your search early.  Many students do not access their career services office.  It is a myth that career services offices only help the top 10%. Career services offer valuable skills in how to write a law resume, network, and prepare for an interview.  These services are probably underutilized in most law schools.  They cannot help you if they do not see you and aren’t aware of your needs.   Your career services office can also set you up with alumni who are practice in your area of interest.
The other issue is that no matter how prepared you are, there are more graduates than there are openings.   Additionally with lay-offs and reorganizations, young attorneys are competing with more experienced ones.  With this in mind, as law students, you should be more aware of your options and take time to learn what you need to do to get a job.   I would also recommend that you take advantage of opportunities to get more hands-on experiences in law school.  You can work for a local legal services organization, do an externship during the second or third year of law school, or participate in a clinic if your law school offers that option.   These types of experiences will provide you will valuable practical experience, while not only building your skills, but your confidence as your approach the job market. You will be able to tell potential employers of all the skills that you can add to their organization.
If you are in the 90%, you need to start your own occupy movement.  But instead of occupying wall street, you need occupy career services, occupy the offices of your alumni networks, and occupy local legal services organizations.  Do anything you can to get a leg up on the competition, so that you don’t find yourself occupying your parent’s basement! 

Monday, February 7, 2011