<![CDATA[Forward Motion 411 - So You're Graduating...]]>Wed, 02 Mar 2016 02:03:21 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[ 2015 Law School Rankings Low Down ]]>Fri, 14 Mar 2014 02:17:40 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/-2015-law-school-rankings-low-down2015 Law School Rankings - The Bad News
Yesterday we mostly gave you the good news. We clued you into how the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and University of Connecticut are moving up the rankings ladder and becoming solid competition in the Tier 1 market. Other schools would be wise to contact them and find out exactly what they’re doing right!  Just looking at the data and trends from the Tier 1 rankings can tell you a bit about how law schools are faring.

Some of the schools who have clung to the bottom of the first tier are finding the current law school market to be toxic for them, Catholic U., St. John’s U., and Santa Clara U. have all slipped below a Tier 1 ranking and will now find themselves fighting to find a way back.  Schools in the lower echelons of the first tier historically show a struggle in the 80th and 90th positions for several years before waking up one day and finding themselves below the #100 benchmark. While it is discouraging for staff, it can be devastating to students as they accumulate debt while betting on what looks to be the losing horse in the law school market.  DePaul and Hofstra both found themselves below the 1st ties benchmark for the first time last year and neither of them were able to rally and make even a slight comeback. Don't let the smiling faces on their admissions pages fool you, the job market is rough. And it will get worse for the students who find their schools slipping below the requisite Tier 1 benchmark when they go hunting for a job. If you’re one of these students, seriously consider your options. You are accumulating a lot of debt; make sure your interests are best served whether you decide to finish up your program (i.e., accumulating more debt while facing dire job prospects) or jump ship.  It honestly is okay to quit if you feel that is in your best interests.

What other schools look iffy – even if they aren’t quite as iffy as the ones mentioned above?  West Virginia and U. of Hawaii have dipped below Tier 1 twice in the past six years. Michigan State is languishing in the bottom of the Tier after pulling up into Tier 1 in 2001.  St, Louis U. placed in 93rd place after years of being a 2nd tier school. History shows they will have to show steady, consistent improvement if they are to keep this tenuous hold. That’s the bad news (maybe good news if you are just getting started in your law school career and are considering attending at one of these high risk schools – it’s not too late to back out). You don’t really pay for what you get; they still cost tons (ranging from $33,714 to $37,615 per year for tuition alone for the schools mentioned in this paragraph).

It’s common knowledge that you’re best positioned for a job if you’re attending school in a T14 law school. But what about other schools? Schools that have recently pulled up into remarkably higher positions (and have surpassed position #60) include University of Richmond (ranked in the 50s for the past 3 years and currently ranking #51), Arizona State (hanging steadily in the 30s and currently #31), and Baylor ( solid showing in the 50s for the past 3 years and currently ranking #51). These are the schools that have increased their ranking despite today’s unfriendly market - so they may be schools that are doing things right and might be worth checking out.

We wish there was better news. It’s still a pretty bleak world for graduating law students everywhere.  But if your heart is set on practicing the law and you’re okay with taking the risk with law school debt, know that graduating students are reportedly finding jobs. So keep your chin and your hopes up while you consider your options and make your dreams (or adjusted dreams) a reality.

<![CDATA[2015 Law School Rankings Are Out!]]>Wed, 12 Mar 2014 19:06:03 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/-2015-law-school-rankings-are-out2015 Law School Rankings Update
The 2015 Law School Rankings from U.S. News and World Report have been released! And here’s the big surprise – no surprise!  Well, okay. Some of you will feel a tiny butterfly of elation and some of you will feel your stomach drop (maybe an eighth of an inch) as you notice your school has risen (or fallen) in the ranking game – because most the changes this year are pretty small. But we didn’t want you left out of the loop so we’ll give you everything you need to know.

Law Schools are very wily about the numbers game and, although it can be annoying, all of this ranking is honestly a good thing for both schools and students.  Law schools working to increase or maintain their rank must consider the post-graduation employment rate to stay competitive. See, the schools play a balancing game – trying to keep LSAT scores and GPAs high by making good choices of first offers while keeping post-graduation employment rates high, too.  How do they boost their employment percentage? Good question. They have to project how many jobs will be available to their students and then create a class that will neatly align with the available jobs. This is why you’ve seen class sizes shrink at law schools around the nation despite a burgeoning demand for law school. This class size slashing is good for law school rankings because it means more students in the (reduced size) class will be snagging jobs come graduation, percentage-wise. And percentages are where it’s at! If there are fewer jobs available, it is good business to produce fewer lawyers to hire into them.  This leaves fewer unemployed attorneys at graduation and a stronger chance that, at the end of your law school career, you will find a way to pay off all of those loans!

The T14  No real changes here. If you were accepted into a T14 school this year, you’ll still be attending a T14 school in the Fall.  Congratulations.  There were only 2 tiny moves in this list.  Duke improved it’s standing by jumping ahead of University of Michigan – Ann Arbor so now these two schools are tied at #10. And Georgetown pulled even with Cornell creating a tied ranking so now any attendance at a T14 school means your school is ranked at #13 or higher.

Updates. Last year Brooklyn Law sank like a stone (from #65 to #80). The bad news is this law school hasn’t recovered from the fall. The good news is it didn’t fall off the map: BL is holding its own at #83. For now.  After its precipitous fall to #47, U of Illinois (Urbana-Champagne) has pulled itself together and is starting to make the climb back up the rankings – this year making a showing at #40. As scandals are eventually forgotten, Illinois should be able to work its way back to (or at least close to) the 25th spot once again. St. John’s has sadly slipped into the second tier. The next few years will determine if St. John’s has become a casualty of our new economic reality.

Last year’s wake up call to BYU seems to have worked. BYU pushed up 8 places while the University of Utah  (perhaps complacent in its newly won top ranking in Utah) fell 8 places to render BYU the top dog in Utah once again. Nice try U of U.

The University of Connecticut continues to rally and has worked its way back to the 54th place in the rankings. It still has a little work to do to earn back the 52nd place it enjoyed in 2009 but this is one of the quickest turnarounds in the rankings game. If this school continues to focus on its academic strong points and aligning its mission to its newly reduced budget, we anticipate great things from this school.

The University of Alabama continues to enjoy its newfound prestige. It dropped slightly in the rankings but is holding fast at #23. UNC – Chapel Hill holds fast to its prestigious ranking of #31 for a second year. Will they ever return to their 2010 position of #28? Stay tuned…

It seems a lot of the other gains and losses due to the changes to the ranking games adjusted slightly this year. Given a couple more years, everything should settle back down to a predictable pace. Who do we think is worth watching?

First and foremost, keep your eye on University of Nebraska – Lincoln. They have rocketed from the somewhere in the 2nd tier to #54. This is no small feat. And the upward movement has been a trend (so we’re pretty sure it’s not just a glitch) that looks like it has staying power.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

<![CDATA[You Failed the Bar Exam - Now What?]]>Sat, 05 Oct 2013 22:03:25 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/you-failed-the-bar-exam-now-whatPicture
The numbers are starting to come in and congratulations are in order for the throngs of you that passed the bar exam. Way to be! Go forth and conquer!

The rest of you are not cheering at any news and are filled with trepidation. You have never failed any test in your entire life. Ever. But here you are in excruciating pain, excluded from the jubilant group of passers, and wondering if your last three years were wasted and your hopes to practice the law gone forever. That answer is No! Not at all. You feel completely crushed right now – but really everything can still turn out well, it will just take a little longer than you hoped. Lots of people fail their first bar exam and go on to have lucrative careers.

Famous people who have failed the bar; sometimes more than once.  No I’m not talking about your friend’s friend or your drunken uncle. I’m referring to:

  • Hilary Rodham Clinton (Yale Law) – she took two bar exams during the same period of time. She passed in Arkansas and failed in D.C.  She didn’t tell anyone for decades (it probably embarrassed her). What did she do? She moved to Arkansas, of course!  And you can see how that turned out for her. All sorts of people can fail the bar exam for myriad reasons. It doesn’t mean you are less intelligent than your peers and it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in life. And remember, when one door closes another (sometimes better) one opens.

  • John F. Kennedy, Jr. (New York Law School) he failed the New York bar exam twice and passed it the third time. (Okay, he died before most of you were out of grade school but this is still germane.) After he finally passed, he served as Assistant District Attorney in New York. Yes, his dad was an assassinated President and his mother married a Greek magnate who continued to provide him with privilege and may have landed him the job. But he did land the job. And he did have to take the bar three times to pass. Perseverance is integral to your future success. You most likely need some time to fall back and regroup: take the time you need but don’t take too long. You need to get it together and study your butt off so you’re ready to pass the next bar exam.  You can do this!

  • Emily Pataki (Columbia Law) – she failed the New York bar exam the first time and passed the second time. Unlike Hilary, Emily hit her failure head-on by sending an email confessing her failure to her co-workers at her law firm. This woman was no loser. She was known by her fellow law students to be very intelligent and hard working.  One co-worker attributed Emily’s 1st attempt fail to plain old bad luck. Emily now has a successful career with the Bloomberg association. Not passing the bar exam usually means you didn’t do enough memorization; it does not mean you can’t become a successful attorney in the future. But this means you do need to get back to your Barbri or Kaplan study plan and start memorizing again asap.

You see, not passing the bar on the first go around may feel earth shattering but, in the long term, it isn’t. You will move forward and pass that bar on the next go around. How do you do this?
  • Study and memorize.  The bar typically takes 2 months of concentrated study. If you can avoid working during the two months – do so. Study like it’s a full time job – 6 to 8 hours a day.
  • Sleep. You need 8 hours a day. When you are trying to absorb the massive quantities of new information required for you to succeed on the exam, your brain needs time to absorb this information. This happens when you sleep. Try to develop a strict schedule for sleep and study – come on, it’s only for two months. You can let a lot of life slide by while you study.
  • Seek breadth not depth.  I know this is a recurring theme, but this is a lot of material that needs to be memorized. The test does not require intense analysis as did your coursework finals. 
  • Stay on Point.  Test takers who overthink and fly beyond the presented fact pattern do not pass. This is a lot like being too smart – don’t get into the “what ifs” of the presented facts. Write your answers based strictly on the facts presented and remember to write out your entire thought process.  Use your practice questions to carefully recall the presented facts and, relying on your notes, complete a thorough analysis of only that which is presented.  Study the model answers provided and take note of items you added that aren’t included in those answers. If you struggle with comprehension, practice creating concise and cogent summaries by reading the editorials in the local newspaper and writing a 2 to 3 sentence summary of each of them.  
  • Sustain a time balance.  Take practice tests under the pressure of time. Have a roommate or friend time your test and don’t take one minute more than that which will be allowed at the actual exam. Whether you are taking a practice exam or the real thing, get used to wearing, and keeping a close eye on, a watch. You don’t want to run out of time. Leaving questions unanswered on your bar exam can be lethal to your chances for success. 
  • Say your prayers.  Pray for good luck. Sometimes luck turns your life to drama via death, accident, and broken relationships just before your bar exam. Pray this doesn’t happen to you. Pray for smooth sailing and then be prepared for anything that life throws at you.

Now dust yourself off, get out there and pass your test, and discover what great things your future holds for you.

<![CDATA[Federal Clerkships - What States Have What Available?]]>Tue, 02 Jul 2013 04:54:13 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/federal-clerkships-what-states-have-what-availablePicture
The on-line federal clerkship applications for 3Ls were just released to the judges on June 28th. Are you applying? Do you know which states to which you plan to apply? We've talked about what it takes to be selected for one of these plum positions and the competition is very tough! OSCAR has released the data from the 2012 hiring cycle, indicating how many clerkships were available in each state and how many applications were made for those clerkships. On the whole, it's easy to see how tough the competition is for a federal clerkship. Makes sense; as it is a position that can help to boost your future career opportunities exponentially. The 2012 data won't tell you which states have the lowest amount of applicants for this year, but they can be used to get an idea of what this year will look like and can help you strategize if you're flexible on where you're willing to work and live. 

2012 Federal Law Clerk Statistics

State                                 Positions                       Applications             Circuit

Alabama                                       14                                   2,112                        11
Arizona                                           7                                  2,110                        10
Arkansas                                        4                                       84                         8
California                                       75                                19,821                        10
Colorado                                        10                                 1,222                        10
Connecticut                                     7                                 2,716                          2
Delaware                                       11                                  2,244                         3
District of Columbia                        25                                10,295                         4
Florida                                          38                                  5,708                        11
Georgia                                         19                                  2,353                       11
Idaho                                              1                                      10                        10
Illinois                                           51                                13,161                         7
Indiana                                          12                                  2,437                         7
Iowa                                               3                                     368                         8
Kentucky                                      13                                  2,345                         6
Louisiana                                      21                                  5,156                         5
Maine                                             8                                  1,231                         1
Maryland                                       16                                  8,426                         4
Massachusetts                              17                                  6,274                         1
Michigan                                       14                                  2,821                         6
Minnesota                                       8                                  2,300                         8
Mississippi                                      3                                    112                         5
Missouri                                          6                                 1,199                         8
Montana                                         2                                     640                       10
Nebraska                                        0                                        0                         8
Nevada                                           8                                   1,916                      10
New Hampshire                               5                                     976                        1
New Jersey                                   15                                   5,932                        3
New Mexico                                    6                                  1,366                       10
New York                                    110                                 34,824                        2
North Carolina                               17                                   5,574                        4
North Dakota                                  5                                      457                        8
Ohio                                             14                                   3,985                        6
Oklahoma                                       3                                      365                      10
Oregon                                           0                                         0                       10
Pennsylvania                                 38                                 14,147                        3
Rhode Island                                   4                                     210                        1
South Carolina                                 2                                     553                        4
South Dakota                                  2                                      663                       8
Tennessee                                     14                                  2,844                        6
Texas                                            73                                15,195                        5
Utah                                               6                                   1,104                      10
Vermont                                          4                                     323                        2
Virginia                                          36                                  9,378                        4
Washington                                     8                                  2,797                      10
West Virginia                                 34                                  8,658                        4
Wisconsin                                       6                                  1,182                        7
Wyoming                                        4                                   1,092                       10
Alaska                                            2                                     120                       10
Guam                                             0                                         0                       10
Hawaii                                            5                                   1,336                       10
Northern Mariana Islands                  1                                       51                       10
Puerto Rico                                     4                                      724                       1
Virgin Islands                                   4                                     916                        3

<![CDATA[Dooms Day List of States With the Fewest Law Jobs Available – Scoff at Them ]]>Fri, 07 Jun 2013 16:11:50 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/dooms-day-list-of-states-with-the-fewest-law-jobs-available-scoff-at-themPicture
Right now everyone is talking about the states with the fewest law jobs available like it's a big deal. The approach is a great start but in no way tells the entire story. You can't just look at states that have the lowest job availability and decide that it's a terrible thing any more than you can review the list of states with the highest job availability and assume law students in those states have it made. Take a look at the states with the most applicants for each available job:

The Bad List
New York

The above listed are the top ten toughest states in which to find a law job. Many of you are probably reading this list with a sigh of relief that your law school is not located in any of these states OR you’re in a panic. But wait, now take a look at the states with the least applicants for each available job:

The Good List
New Jersey

Again the sighs of relief and sounds of panic can be heard across the nation. But stop (already)!  The data are a bit misleading. Look closely – it’s kind of like when you were first applying to your undergraduate program.  People are going to apply for jobs in states in which they would like to work. Of course, there are fewer job applicants in Alaska than in New York!  Just like there were more college applications for Harvard than for the local community college. So don’t hit the panic button quite yet. We hope you’re now looking at the details a bit more closely. Some of these places (take for example, Mississippi) don't have the most desirable law schools (i.e., you can attend Mississippi College which doesn't even make the mark on US News  World Report Rankings or University of Mississippi which is ranked at 102). Our bet is the good old state of Mississippi doesn’t place a lot of value on a great pool of attorneys. One could logically predict they wouldn’t have many law jobs there. We could analyze the law schools of every state appearing on these lists and you would find that New York and Massachusetts get tons of applications from people who attended law schools outside of the state. They're both states known as The Place To Work. The schools that feed new employees to them come from a national pool rather than the regional pool so they have to be considered differently.

Don’t understand that concept? To be brief, most law schools will prepare their students to be hired in-state by focusing on a specific jurisdiction or group of jurisdictions (i.e., regional pool) while a few law schools, like Yale, will prepare their students to be placed elsewhere in the nation using a focus on scholarship, research, teaching, and academic values (i.e., national pool). The law school you attend impacts the limited number of states where you will find your colleagues because the majority of law schools create regional pools.  However, if you’re attending law school at a school listed on the Bad List you aren’t dead in the water because the majority of schools place graduating students in more than just their state.  For example, if you attend school at the University of Oregon, you will most likely find employment in Oregon, Washington state, or California. Only Oregon is on the Bad List, so you still have a pretty decent chance at finding a job. 

Well, about that finding a job thing. The market is still bad. And it’s bad for all graduates; not just law school graduates. So, yes, listen to everyone bemoaning the thin market and realize it’s everyone everywhere. And when the market improves, you’ll still have J.D. after your name instead of a long record of unemployment . So relax and enjoy your choice to attend law school and hope that the predictions of imminent economic recovery are finally...finally correct.

If you want to know which states are the primary hirers for your law school, drop us a note that includes the name of your law school and we'll be happy to tell you.

<![CDATA[Graduation: Goodbye and Stay In Touch]]>Thu, 16 May 2013 02:35:39 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/graduation-goodbye-and-stay-in-touchPicture
As you finish up your finals, pick up your graduation regalia, and prepare to take that graduation walk think about the people you will miss. For the last three or so years you’ve seen these people ad nauseam. You knew when each person fell in love, broke up, got drunk, and cheated on a significant other. Starting next week, you may never see these people again. Ever. you might just be thinking you don’t care but you’ll probably change your mind at some point and wonder how at least one or two of your old schoolmates are doing. Memories will fade, old rivalries will diminish, and old hurts will heal. And what will be left will be curiosity – where did everyone end up? So how do you go about keeping in touch?

Of course, you have the answer at your fingertips: social media to the rescue!  There are tons of social networking sites you can use to stay lightly connected.  I’ll just highlight a few favorites here. 

  • Facebook -  It’s tempting to spend your summer purging your Facebook friends list. How many times have you seen some message about how “lucky” you are because some random someone has purged her Facebook account and is now down to a tiny circle of friends and you made the cut. Give it 3 or 4 years and she’ll be creeping your account to add back those friends that she thought she could live without. She may not even want to talk to them. But it’s nice to be able to see how someone is doing if you start to feel nostalgic.

  • LinkedIn – This is a bit of an old people form of social media. But consider this; as a graduate, you're taking those first baby steps into the adult (i.e., old people) realm. LinkedIn can come in handy as you build a professional reputation. It also lets you peruse the resume’ of each of your friends. You can see how your  resume' stacks up, if you might need to strengthen your resume’ in specific areas, how you might be able to give your old friend a hand up in the business world if you’re already on a good career path, and where your friends have headed for more schooling.  LinkedIn also has a job search component; so, who knows, maybe you’ll find a cool job on this website. Also, there's a new networking site out there called firstjob.com. It’s supposed to be like LinkedIn but catering to a younger crowd. Check it out and see what you think.

  • Academia.eduIf you’re graduating from a graduate program and hoping to continue writing journal articles you need an academic peer group. You’ll be amazed at how many of your fellow students will never collaborate with you again. Try this website. It’s newer  but might be just what you need.

  • Bebo.com – If you’re friends with a lot of international students, this may be a network you want to join. It’s very popular in Europe and is touted as one of the world’s most popular networks. Unfortunately, this company is currently embroiled in a legal battle with their minor shareholders and filed for bankruptcy in February 2013 so there’s no telling if they’ll stick around. We'll have to wait and see.

  • Pinterest.com – Not officially a social networking site, this is one fun place to spend some time. You pin pictures of stuff you like. BUT behind those pictures can be articles, recipes, and other cool stuff. You can follow people or even just follow a specific board a person has created. This would be a fun way to keep up with some of your school friends.

A few more tips:

  • Add some of your favorite teachers to your sites. Teachers can be friends with you now that you aren't a student. These friendships allow them to keep track of you and come in handy when you need a reference for a job or graduate school.
  • If you're traveling to a different state, filter your friends and find the ones who are living in your destination location. Contact them and ask if you could crash at their place for a few days. It gives you a chance to reconnect and may save you some money!  Be sure you take them a gift to say thank you and, if they’re ever in town, reciprocate the kindness.
  • When you decide to get married you may want to invite a few school friends to the wedding. Social media gives you the chance to find them quickly to collect addresses.
  • Don’t forget StumbleUpon, Flickr, or Tumblr. They’re more blog than social networking but are still very fun.
  • Don’t add people you don’t know. It really is just a bad idea on several levels. 

<![CDATA[Don't Take That Job!]]>Wed, 01 May 2013 02:08:39 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/dont-take-that-jobPicture
You’re graduating and excited to take your first step into the world of careers and opportunity! That excitement is short lived, though, as you come to realize you aren't getting the interviews you’d anticipated. Now what?

If your job search isn’t bringing you offers of work (or even interviews) you may have to adjust your expectations a bit. Don’t give up on seeking your dream job, just take a step back and try to find another way into the playing field.

Consider this: the jobs are metaphorically in the ball park. Your degree is your ticket into the park for tryouts but it doesn't guarantee you’ll have what they’re looking for. That is how people could view their job search before 2006. Since then, the ball park has been filled with old people who lost their retirements and are going to continue playing ball, young interns who are now filling (for free) what used to be the entry level positions you would be trying for, and managers who know how desperate you are.  To be honest, no one has had to job search in this type of economy so no one really quite knows how to get you into that ball park for your initial try outs. Do you feel like the kid peeking into the park between the rungs of the fence? You’re not alone.

So you decide to take my advice and take your applications back a notch. None of these jobs will be your dream job but find a job that at least keeps you near your goal, allows you flexibility for future job interviews, and keeps your related skills current. 

That said, don’t take a job:

  • that leaves you in a dead end. These jobs won’t provide you the opportunity to network and they may even be quietly biased against degree holding employees (or women, or married people, or people of color, etc). During your interview they may lie and tell you there is a fabulous career path to management -  so you take the job. As soon as you start a job, look very carefully at who is getting promoted.  Max took a job in the financial industry (where he wanted to work as management) in their local call center (not the job to which he aspired).  He was tied to his phone all day (so he wasn’t able to network at all) and he quickly noticed that everyone in a leadership position was high school graduates who resented people who had earned degrees. He was lied to. There was no career track for college graduates.He was in a classic dead end job.  Max continued his job search and was able to get a job in sales with a different financial company within the month. Narrow escape.  Always, always carefully scope out the company once you are on the inside to ensure there is a true career path. 

  • If your new boss is unreasonable about anything before you even start working.  Your potential boss might appear to be quite inflexible (e.g., insisting you start working without giving your time to provide two week notice at another job, etc.)  These bosses are typically unrealistically demanding and do not care about your well-being. This scenario will leave you in trouble when you get a request for an interview for that job you wanted all along.

  • That is a bad fit for you.  You may get that sinking feeling that the place of business is a bad fit for you during your interview. The interview questions tell you a lot about a company’s culture and it is often easy to identify an esteem crushing, soul killing business. Or you may realize the work is contrary to your personal set of ethics.  For example, if you realize during the interview that part of your job is to care for animals being used for experiments and your beliefs align with PETA you will be very unhappy there.  In these cases, you can withdraw your application on the spot. 

  • That will undermine you as a professional.  Well meaning  people will advise to take any job. This is very bad advice if the job undermines your image in the long term. Take a job wiping tables in the company cafeteria and the executives will never take you seriously. They’ll always think of you as the cleaning boy/girl.  Find a job that will leave you with the status you will need once you land your dream job. For example, working in a high end department store selling the suits to executives might be a job worth considering. 

Not every career starts with a “home run” job. Many executives started in the mail room so don’t fret if you don’t land the perfect job right out of the gate. The economy will improve, people will eventually retire, and you’ll be strategically positioned for the resulting promotion. 

<![CDATA[State Bar Exam Difficulty Rankings]]>Sat, 06 Apr 2013 03:27:40 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/state-bar-exam-difficulty-rankingsPicture
When you finish with law school you can sit back, give a great big sigh of relief, and have a great rest of your life. Right?  Wrong!  You have to pass the bar exam.  The bar is the monster underneath your bed every night from the day you get to law school until, well, until you get your results. 

Pass rates vary by state. Some states have reputations for having very difficult exams and some states’ exams are a piece of cake. But looking at the pass rates by state doesn’t give you all of the information you need to know.  What if the state has a low pass rate because the law students were low quality?  Robert Anderson, an Associate Professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, compared average LSAT scores for each state to the pass rate for the state to compile a ranking of states with the most difficult pass rates. In essence, he is comparing quality of the students (as defined by LSATs) to actual pass rates. His computations were a little more complex than that – if you want more information, contact us.

Want to know how afraid you should be?

States With the Most Difficult Bar Exams (most difficult is #1)
Rank                                 State Bar Exam                          Avg. LSAT               

1                                         California                                    160.92                     
2                                         Arkansas                                    155.21                        
3                                         Washington                               158.45                        
4                                         Louisiana                                    154.86                        
5                                         Nevada                                      158.41                        
6                                         Virginia                                       163.10                        
7                                         Oregon                                      159.21                        
8                                         West Virginia                              153.43                        
9                                         Vermont                                    155.04                        
10                                       Maryland                                   160.40                        

We kind of play favorites with Connecticut; so here is the ranking for you, our fine friends:

33 out of 48                Connecticut                                       157.68                        

And for those of you who get to take the “cupcake” tests. We congratulate you! But we still think you ought to study a little.

States with the Easiest Bar Exams (easiest is #1)

Rank                          State Bar Exam                                 Avg. LSAT

1                                  South Dakota                                    150.00                        
2                                  Wisconsin                                          159.12                        
3                                  Nebraska                                           155.39                        
4                                  Iowa                                                  156.56                        
5                                  Montana                                            155.00                        
6                                  Wyoming                                          153.68                        
7                                  Michigan                                            152.00                        
8                                  Oklahoma                                          154.96                        
9                                  New Mexico                                       156.45                        
10                                Missouri                                             157.56            

If you want more details regarding the study (or if your state ranking wasn't shown and you want to know where you stand) just ask! We’ll be happy to share more information with you.    

<![CDATA[Timeline for Applying to Law School]]>Wed, 13 Mar 2013 14:48:36 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/timeline-for-applying-to-law-school1Picture
Did you just get your LSAT score?  Well, good for you! Congratulations or condolences - whichever applies. Choosing your law school is the next big deal. A lot goes into that decision. You need to have an idea of where you want to work since your school has heavy weight in determining the opportunities that will be available to you. As a matter of fact, if you want Biglaw and know which firm you want to work in, you need to look at what firms are hiring as well as what firms hire from your school More importantly, do you want to snag a federal clerkship? You really need to be careful you are well-placed if this is your goal. As you're making these hard decisions, you have to be sure you have started your law school applications and signed up the Credential Assembly Services - open up your wallet, law school is expensive even before you attend your first 1L class.  

Getting into the law school of your choice straight out of undergrad will take quite a bit of up-front planning and preparation (as well as a little luck). If you miss one step in the complicated application process, you might find your plans delayed by an entire year!  Which is cool; you can always get some work experience for a year. But if you're goal oriented (who isn't?) and this is your year, use this timeline to get where you want to be right on time. If it looks like more than you want to take on alone, we provide Law School Admissions services tailored specifically for your needs. We can help with finding the right schools for you, the application process, tracking your deadlines, and/or professional edits for your application writing. We use only experienced and current law students to make the process go smoothly for you. Contact us for pricing. 

Here's a handy timeline to keep you on track during your application process: 

Undergrad – Spring Semester – Sophomore Year
  • Start doing a little research and a lot of dreaming.
  • Visit the LSAC website and look around a bit. Check out the dates for upcoming LSAT tests for February of the next school year; that’s when you should consider taking a your test.
  • Think about whether you want to take a prep course and, if you do, which one you’ll take. Consider buying some LSAT prep books to study over the summer.
  •  Start looking at schools. US News and World Report appears to be the leader in creating rankings to which people really pay attention.  A couple of great websites that will augment your body of knowledge are the  Leiter Law School Reports and Find the Best.
  • Go to your college’s counseling office and make an appointment with the Pre-Law Advisor.
  • Identify four professors who you want to write Letters of Recommendation for your application. Don’t say anything to them just yet but start attending office hours with them once a week. Keep your grades up.

Undergrad – Fall Semester – Junior Year
  • Create your account on the LSAC Website as a Future JD Student.
  • Sign up for the February or June LSAT test. Sign up at least 30 days in advance. Don’t hesitate; these seats often fill quickly.
  • Take an LSAT prep course (if you decided to do so) or keep studying your LSAT study guides.  Talk to any law students you might know and see if they developed any strategies for mastering the logic games section of the test. 
  • Take a timed practice test (an untimed test will not provide the information you need) to get an idea of how you might do and to target where you should concentrate your prep studies.
  • If you would like a consultation, we’ll hook you up with someone who was in at least the 90th percentile on their LSAT.
  • Touch bases with your Prelaw Advisor to ensure you are still on track with anything you need to do.
  • Continue to attend office hours and, if possible, take additional courses from the professors who may be writing your Letters of Recommendation. Mention you are hoping to attend law school when you graduate but don’t ask for letters quite yet. 
  • Start to identify the specific schools you’d like to attend.  Based on your grades, which ones are reach schools, which ones are target schools, and which ones are safety schools?

Undergrad – Spring Semester – Junior Year
  • Take the February LSAT (as planned). You will receive your score in approximately 3 weeks and can decide if your score is high enough to get you into the school of your choice. If you need to retake, register for the June or October LSAT. Remember that seats fill early.
  • Consider taking a test prep course, decide whether you should hire a tutor, and continue your self-study to maximize your score. Check out the LSAT test prep manuals below - these were the best rated manuals we could find. If you decide to take a test prep course, we've been told that MLIC and Powerscore are the best two. They are both available on-line at a cost of under $1000 (MLIC reviews were better and the cost appears to be about $200 less). 
  • Continue attending office hours with your potential recommendation writers. If you don’t have classes with them, drop in for a chat about twice a month. 

Summer Break before Senior Year
  • Take the June LSAT (if planned). You will receive your score in approximately 3 weeks and can decide if your score is high enough to get you into the school of your choice.
  • If you need to retake, register for the October LSAT. Remember that seats fill early.
  • Consider taking a test prep course, decide whether you should hire a tutor, and continue your self-study to maximize your score. Check out the LSAT test prep manuals below - these were the best rated manuals we could find. If you decide to take a test prep course, we've been told that MLIC and Powerscore are the best two. They are both available on-line at a cost of under $1000 (MLIC reviews were better and the cost appears to be about $200 less). 
  • Sign into your LSAC account and sign up for the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) to begin the application process. This will cost you approximately $155. The CAS will become the centralized dispenser of the documents you need for each of your applications. The CAS does not provide assistance with completing your law school applications nor advice/editing for your personal essay. Forward Motion 411 can assist you by taking care of all the tiny details of the application process: 1) providing advice and editing on your personal essay and other written portions for each of your applications; 2) helping you identify your Reach, Target, and Safety schools; 3) tracking deadlines and due dates for each school with whom you apply; 4) writing and perfecting your resume', 5) creating the packets to take to your potential Letter of Recommend writers; and 6) making all of the associated payments for applications, CAS, etc. for one standard fee. We use only experienced and current law students to make the process go smoothly for you. Contact us for pricing.
  • Draft your personal statement and your resume'. Ask your advisor, parents, friends, etc. read it and provide feedback. If you prefer to complete your own applications, but would like some assistance in limited areas, contact us. We have experienced writers and certified resume' writers available to help draft your personal statement and resume'.  
  • Finalize your list of schools and start completing the application for each school.
  • Assemble 4 packets containing an unofficial transcript; your draft resume'; a draft of your personal statement; a list of the schools you are considering; and a request letter stating why you selected them to recommend you and what you learned in their class. Personalize these for each of your 4 selected professors. Set aside for Fall semester.
  • Create a list or spreadsheet of anything you need to complete your applications and the deadlines for the applications for each of your selected schools. DO NOT plan on getting your application in by that date: do it much earlier!
  • Order your college transcripts sent to CAS.
  • Visit as many schools on your application list as you can so you can get a feel for the school and see if you can imagine yourself there.
Undergrad – Senior Year - Fall Semester 
  • Take the October LSAT (if planned). You will receive your score in approximately 3 weeks. 
  • Request Letters of Recommendation from your 4 professors during (you guessed it) office hours.  Provide each of them their personalized packet containing your application information.
  • Complete you law school applications and submit them.
  • Follow up with your professors regarding Letters of Recommendation as needed.
  • Track confirmations of receipt of your application to ensure none of the slip through the cracks. Most of them will send you a confirmatory email or postcard.

Undergrad – Senior Year – Spring Semester
  • During winter break, complete you fafsa (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) and any financial aid application forms located on each school's Financial Aid website. This way schools can build you financial aid packages once they have accepted you to their law school!
  • Celebrate as you begin to receive acceptance letters! But don’t stop yet, you now have the most important job to do….pick a school!
  • Send thank you notes to the professors who wrote you Letters of Recommendation. Let them know which lucky school you selected. 

Summer Prior to Your 1L Year
  • Prep for law school. Say what? Yes, you're in and raring to go but if you can muster up the time and money take a Law Preview class to optimize your success during your 1L year. In fact, we would recommend you really really try to do this. You will receive invaluable instruction, an overview of your 1L courses, and more support than you can imagine. The entire course is geared to give you advantage.  Barbri Law Preview (a six day course will cost you a little over $1,000) seems to have the market cornered. Check with your law school as they can often offer you a discount for this.  

<![CDATA[Just Out! 2014 Law School Rankings]]>Wed, 13 Mar 2013 02:48:02 GMThttp://www.forwardmotion411.com/so-youre-graduating/just-out-2014-law-school-rankingsPicture
The 2014 Law School Rankings from U.S. News and World Report are out! Pretty exciting until you realize there wasn’t considerable change from 2013. Predictable? Yes. The movement within the rankings are typically glacial, but this year everyone anticipated some huge changes because the weighting factors were adjusted to allow for long term post-graduation employment differently than in the past. The T14 lead with pack without much change. 

A quick review indicates some shake ups in the rankings from about #50 - #100 but, really not a lot has changed. Brooklyn Law, unfortunately, dropped like dead weight from #65 to #80. Above the Law also noted that St. John's dropped from #79 to #98. Illinois Law continues to lose rank in the wake of its recent scandal; falling all the way down to #47. Don’t get me wrong, #47 is a decent ranking but the poor students graduating this year selected their law school based on its solid position in the top 25. No more. Rankings can be so fickle.

People attending BYU in Utah will be chagrined to learn the University of Utah has now bested them in the rankings by rising from #47 to #41; while BYU dropped from #39 to #44.  Ouch.

On a happier note, some of the schools fared well. The University of Connecticut School of Law dropped from #52 to #62 in a short four years when they lost their Dean over a slight drop in ratings. They’re back up to #58 – and with a new Dean freshly hired (just yesterday) - they are hoping to resume (or exceed) their previous rank in the coming years.  The University of Alabama moved up 8 levels to #21.  University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) enjoyed a boost to #31 from #44 – and most likely to still be considered a best value school due to their relatively low tuition.

Are you wondering how your favorite law schools fared in the 2014 rankings? The rankings may not be perfect, but they will give you a good overview of how the law schools are performing when compared against each other.  If you’re in the throes of selecting your law school, best wished to you; hopefully these updated rankings will make your choice a bit easier.