Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Finals are approaching, and the stress level at school is at a high. It was remarked to me last year by the (then) 2Ls and 3Ls how are so much more hardcore than they were. And now, looking around the school, I feel that the current 1L class is more hardcore than we were last year. I'm not sure if it is indeed true, that in the school's quest to rise up the rankings and base admissions decisions more and more on numbers, that each year we're admitting more of the uber-competitive types. Or were we equally as crazy last year but my scarred and repressed memories of 1L year has been dulled by the passage of time (and by the massive consumption of alcohol)?

Anyway, I've goofed around for most of the semester, and tomorrow is the last day of classes, so I guess I better hunker down and start preparing for exams, in order to not fail out of law school so that I may continue to amuse you with my posts.

This blog will be in semi-hibernation mode for the next few weeks, so I suggest that you check elsewhere for your legal amusement.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quote of the day

"Wait, Paul Hastings is a law firm? I see their building downtown, and always thought that it was the L.A. campus of Hastings Law School."

-1L, while doing mail merges in the computer lab

For those of you not from L.A., the PH building is a recognizable part of the LA skyline:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ups and downs

Having gone through the OCIP process, I realized how the entire hiring process can be a crapshoot. Sometimes you just click with an interviewer and other times, you don't. Little things you do or ways you respond to questions perhaps rub the interviewer the wrong way, and you get rejected. What constitutes "I like him" or "I don't like him" vary from interviewer to interviewer, even from the same firm.

What firms don't fully realize is that little things a firm does or does not do can rub the interviewee the wrong way, and my opinion can change drastically about a firm based on a limited interaction with them.

Here is my list of 3 firms that went up and 3 firms that went down in my head.

Reed Smith: Best food in their hospitality suite.
Quinn: Two gorgeous interviewers (male and female) both looked like the walked out of a GQ and Vogue cover, respectively.
White & Case: $20 Starbucks cards.

MoFo: Almost sad how they tried too hard to be different-- chocolate fountain, T-shirts, the "Mojo of MoFo" slogan. Everyone knows anyway that Orrick is the new MoFo.
Jones Day: I know that they rejected some people via phone. Not cool.
Sidley: Had 3 different sets of interviewers and no one could tell me where I was supposed to go. I declined my callback invitation due to their disorganization.

Note: I don't have an agenda against or for any particular firm. I am also only posting this now, as 2Ls have all but done their acceptances, so my views of firms will not affect whether offerees accept or decline.

EDIT: I've been getting a lot of hits from Cleveland, the hometown of and from the IP addresses of a certain firm on my down list:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's me

As Thanksgiving rolls around, most of us with firm offers will have done all our declining, and have figured out where we are going to go this summer. I never really thought about etiquette for declining offers, but I've heard students describe it as breaking up with someone in a relationship.

My routine when calling up firms to decline can be described as the "it's not you, it's me" explanation. That the firm I'm calling up to decline is the best place to work in the world, and that me, as a ignorant law student has problems being around greatness.

I made one of these calls to a firm in the courtyard in between class one day. Someone who heard me told me that it was one of the best firm declines s/he has heard, and that I must have had lots of experience with "it's not you, it's me."


Here is a UCLAW alum in the news (all I know is that recruiting must have sucked for her, since she couldn't take advantage of all the free alcohol). Also, if you haven't heard, alum Alex Kozinski was recently appointed the chief of the 9th Circuit.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

[joke about UChicago]

Ask, and you shall receive.

But seriously, you should know that I make fun at my own expense more than at other people's expense.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Open casting

So, I've been at this blog thing for a year and a half now. I was recently toying with the idea of having a co-blogger, and I'm putting the idea out there. If anyone at school consistently reads this, thinking that this is entertaining or insightful or thinks they can do better than me (not that hard, I assure you), this might be your opportunity. Or if a newbie wants to take a stab at this blogging thing, this might also be your opportunity. I don't even need to know who you are, and you can blog anonymously if you so choose.

Pro: instead of building readership from scratch, potential blogger would get immediate readership of around 200 hits a day, about half of these hits being from the law school.
Con: potential blogger could potentially be viewed of as a #2 to me.

I don't have particularly high standards (insert self-deprecating joke here), so I only require of any potential blogger to a) go to school here, b) can write moderately well, and c) be moderately funny and be willing to make fun of yourself.

Email/ call/ write a letter/ fax/ smoke signals/ carrier pigeon/ telegram if you're interested.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nov. 8

Disclaimer: This post will not make sense unless you're a current UCLA law student.

I wasn't originally inclined to write anything about another email that was sent to all about another incident that happened. But then I realized that the SBA sent out a strongly worded email, yet the email basically told us nothing. The email went something like this: something big happened on Nov. 8->people need to be respected->hence we need to create a non-hostile classroom environment->which is why we're making a resolution against hostile classroom environments. It's basically the equivalent of 3rd graders saying "I have something to tell you but I'm not going to." I think SBA is making things worse for itself, since it has just stirred up a hornet's nest full of law students, and instead of having one version of the event, people are now going to start gossiping and inquiring and there will be dozens of versions of the event which SBA or the Dean will eventually have to dispel.

While I pretty much know one version of the story, I'm not going to take sides or comment on the event in question itself since I don't know the other side's version. I'm merely commenting on the way in which SBA chose to go about the situation. (But if the events happened as alleged, I do think the professor was out of line.)

If you want to know about what happened, ask anyone in the 1L class. I'm sure they've all heard about it, and like the game telephone I played as a kid, each retelling by one to another is never perfect and winds up being further and further from the truth. The SBA apparently intends the consequences of its actions, so let the rumors fly.

[if you don't know any 1Ls, email me for one version of the events, as relayed to me by a 1L who was in the room when it happened]

Friday, November 16, 2007


I was requested to do a post on the 1L job hunt. Here it is...

Extern/Firm (a good approach would be to plan using all four routes)
Route 1:
a. GET YOUR STUFF IN BY DECEMBER 1. This is important! Judges and firms will start considering applications on Dec. 1, so make sure your application is in by then. Both of these groups want to fill their summer class/externs as soon as possible, and to get "the pick of the crop," and hence, they hire early.
b. Make sure your resume is free of typos. Work on your writing sample. Write a good cover letter. Collect your undergraduate grades.
c. Buy a good suit.
d. Because people will be hiring before your have any law grades, they will be hiring based on undergraduate grades, any graduate degrees, past work experience, unique skills, etc. Figure out what you will highlight and what your "pitch" will be.
e. Figure out which judges you want to apply to (i.e. don't mass mail the entire 9th circuit, since judges want to know why you're applying to them, and that your political leanings match theirs). But for firms, figure out what city you want to work in, and then mass-mail every single firm in that town.

Route 2:
a. Prepare for spring OCIP. Repeat steps (b) through (d).
b. BUT employers will have seen your first semester grades when they interview you, so realistically, you better have high grades to expect a shot at a firm job during spring OCIP.

Route 3:
Network. Hit up relatives, ex-significant others, your alumni mentor, your doorman, etc. Hope you can get your foot in the door this way.

Route 4:
Sleep with the recruiting coordinator/hiring partner/judge. I'll leave it up to you to figure out how to do this.

Government/Public Interest
-Figure ou t which organizations you want to apply to.
-Know what deadline they have.
-Look for the organization where you think you can have the best legal experience as opposed to finding an organization that fits your interests but where they will have you photocopy for 3 months.
-Repeat steps (1b) through (1d).

tsk tsk

Sorry to break it to you 1Ls, but you're not going to find the answers to your graded memo through google.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Math time

Lots of prelaw students are seduced by the belief that they will be in the top X% of the class necessary to get the $160,000 biglaw job. And then in law school we learn that the people not in the top X% will wind up working in smaller firms without the same prestige as biglaw and without the same biglaw paycheck. And for the people who can't get jobs at smaller firms, we are told that they wind up as contract attorneys who are paid by the hour to do document review for large litigation cases at large firms.

There recently was a very interesting article written about contract attorneys. The article also links to the online gathering place for contract attorneys. Also interesting is a review of the per-hour salaries of these contract attorneys at various firms.

Even though I am decidedly bad at math (hence law school), I decided to crunch some numbers to see how these contract attorneys come out.

First off...biglaw
-Students often forget to calculate non-billable hours when taking into account the total number of hours. Assume that at the average firm, billable hours are 2,000 (for ease of math purposes). Non-billable hours (going to the bathroom, lunch, internal firm work, waiting for faxes, goofing around reading AboveTheLaw, etc.) I've been told come out to around 500. So, $160,000/2,500 total hours = $64/hour. 2,500/50 weeks a year (2 weeks of vacation) = 50 hours/week. Total salary per week ($160,000/50 weeks)=$3,200.

Next...contract attorney
If a contract attorney works 50 hours a week, and assume he/she gets paid at the top of the market at Quinn, (s)he will earn $55/hour for the first 40 hours, and then overtime of $82.50 for the next 10 hours. Total salary per week ($2,200 + $825 overtime): $3,025. If (s)he works more than 53 hours a week, (s)he would actually get paid more than biglaw.

I know that my math is skewed because I'm comparing total biglaw hours (which includes lunch, etc.) with only "billable" contract hours. I am doing so only because I understand that a significant amount of the 500 extra hours are working on internal firm matters or working on client matters that do not count as billable hours (I believe the legal term is "realization rate"), whereas a contract attorney would get paid for all hours spent working. Another response is that my 50 hours is underestimating hours at biglaw. Average per week at biglaw seems to be around 55-57 hours, which only adds to contract attorney pay.

Additional caveats: I know, contract attorneys don't get health or retirement benefits. They don't get the standard year-end bonus. There's no chance of advancement (to senior document reviewer I guess). There is no guarantee that they will have work every day. Or that they will work at the high-paying firms year-round, since they move on to another firm when the current doc review assignment ends. And they don't get the prestige, training, or exit options that biglaw provides. And I'm assuming that the contract employer pays overtime and abides by all labor laws.

But even if we do not use Quinn's $55 but use the average wage provided in the data of $35.82 + OT in NYC, 50 hours a week would pay ($1,432.80 + 537.30): $1,970.10/week, or close to $100,000/year.

But, still, not bad in my opinion, and aside from doing extraordinarily boring and routine work, I don't see it as being as poorly compensated as many make it out to be. If anyone has any comments about my math, please let me know.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Legal reasoning

LSAT logic game:

1. This Wednesday we are on a Monday schedule. [I normally have class on Monday]
2. I have a whole day of class on Thursday.
3. 1Ls, but not 2L or 3Ls, have class on Fridays.
4. Monday is Veterans Day. School is closed.
5. Tuesday is on a Friday schedule.
6. I will not be going to class on Thursday.
7. Schedule goes back to normal next Wednesday.

So, the question to law students: How long a weekend will I be having? First one to respond correctly gets a cookie.

For a bonus cookie, how long a weekend will 1Ls be having?

My __-day weekend is another reason I am so glad I am no longer a 1L. Off at the end of class Wednesday for a break. Check back at the end of my extended weekend for updates.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Here we go

Apparently law schools are places that almost seem to thrive on controversy. Here we go again.

Don't know the whole story, but I assume the facts are pretty simple, as relayed to me. There is supposed to be an immigration panel discussion today. Yesterday, someone finds that the big poster that was made to advertise the event has been defaced by someone who wrote "Deport all Mexicans" on it. Poster was taken down once someone noticed it.

Not an indictment on anyone in the school, since we don't even know if it was a law student who wrote it. (The law school seems to be a magnet for the public who come to use the public law library, for undergrads who have their Testmasters classes, for non-law grad students who come to use the law library, as well as for other assorted random people.) But if it was a law student, I think it was a highly immature thing for a law student to do. If you have a disagreement with current immigration policy, well, I imagine that the logical thing to do would be to attend the panel to voice your objections. But then again, law students are not exactly paradigms of maturity...

[EDIT: Dean sent out usual email today about tolerance and diversity, with the subject line "Zero Tolerance."]

[EDIT #2: Less than flattering news at 2 more law schools. Emory and Hastings]

Saturday, November 03, 2007


The following is a recent email from our Office of Career Services:

"The new Los Angeles office of a large East Coast law firm seeks 2L candidates for its Summer Associate Program. Candidates should have a 3.3 GPA and journal or moot court experience. Starting salary for the firm is $160,000. If you’re interested, please bring your resume to the Office of Career Services in 77 Dodd Hall by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31."

I found this email striking for two reasons:
1. Everyone, including OCS, has been stressing about the importance of finding the firm with "the right fit." Yet, the firm is not named, and we don't even know the size of the office or whether they do litigation or transactional work. But we do know that they are a East Coast firm and that they pay market.
2. But, as we all realize, listing the salary is the only thing that matters, and they were sure to list the salary. The firm is apparently the right fit depending on how much it pays.


P.S. Another ranking has been released, this time from the ABA and the former head of Cooley Law School. As I said before, while lots of schools don't maintain consistency in the various non-USNWR rankings, it is impressive that UCLA (this time at #13) maintains the same level across the different rankings,

Thursday, November 01, 2007


During OCIP, my worst fear was that I would, in order to make the interview seem more personable, use the firm's name, and how I would screw it up majorly. (Well, OK my worst fear would be if I forgot my pants or if I farted, but you get my drift). So, in an effort to avoid this, I simply stopped using a firm's name, and replaced it with the generic "the firm."

Real-life example:
Q: So, why do you want to work at MTO/I&M/OMM/L&W/GDC etc.?
A: Because the firm's culture really sets it apart from your peers and because I've heard great things about the firm from my friends who work there. [Start dropping names, and conversation moves to mutual gossip about my friends who work there, and thus the interviewer conveniently forgets about my crappy answer.]

I would like to present Fox's awards for the top 5 firms no one can pronounce correctly.

5. LeBoeuf
4. Dechert
3. Debevoise
2. Stroock

And [drum roll] the winner of the most unpronounceable firm name goes to. . .
1. Sonnenschein