Great Advice for 1Ls (& 2L & 3Ls)

Prof. Ilya Somin of George Mason (not, certs, one of my ideological bedfellows), has some really good advice for law students. I trust he will forgive me if I do something I almost never do and quote almost all of it:

1. Think carefully about what kind of law you want to practice.

Law is a profession with relatively high income and social status. Yet studies repeatedly show that many lawyers are deeply unhappy, a higher percentage than in most other professions. One reason for this is that many of them hate the work they do. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. There are lots of different types of legal careers out there, and it’s likely that one of them will be a good fit for you…. But to take advantage of this diversity, you need to start considering what type of legal career best fits your needs and interests….

Regardless, don’t just “go with the flow” in terms of choosing what kind of legal career you want to try. The jobs that many of your classmates want may be terrible for you (and vice versa). Keep in mind, also, that you likely have a wider range of options now than you will in five or ten years, when it may be much harder to switch to a very different field from the one you have been working in since graduation.

2. Get to know as many of your classmates and professors as you reasonably can.

Law is a “people” business. Connections are extremely important. No matter how brilliant a legal thinker you may be, it’s hard to get ahead as a lawyer purely by working alone at your desk. Many of your law school classmates could turn out to be useful connections down the road….

This is one front on which I didn’t do very well when I was in law school, myself. Nonetheless, I am still going to suggest you do as I say, not as I actually did. You will be better off if you learn from my mistake than if you repeat it.

3. Think about whether what you plan to do is right and just.

Law presents more serious moral dilemmas than many other professions. What lawyers do can often cost innocent people their liberty, their property, or even their lives. It can also save all three. Lawyers have played key roles in almost every major advance for liberty and justice in American history, including the establishment of the Constitution, the antislavery movement, the civil rights movement and many others. But they have also been among the major perpetrators of nearly every great injustice in our history, as well….

Law school is the right time to start working to ensure that the career you pursue is at least morally defensible. You don’t necessarily have a moral obligation to devote your career to doing good. But you should at least avoid exacerbating evil. And it’s easier to do that if you think carefully about the issues involved now (when you still have a wide range of options), than if you wait until you are already enmeshed in a job that involves perpetrating injustice…..

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When Elizabeth met Barack

I love this clip of Elizabeth Warren telling the story of how she met Barack Obama.

The New York Times reports that Iowa (and presumably other) Democrats are worrying that even though they ‘love’ her, Warren is not as ‘electable’ as, say, Biden.  I suspect there is a gender tax that female presidential candidates must pay of a few percent, so this is not a crazy thing to worry about. But Warren is a lot more ‘likeable’ and natural than Hilary Clinton, who had suffered the misfortune of living in a goldfish bowl for decades and had become too cautious in public. Warren (like, incidentally, Booker) comes off as genuine in a way that I think will sell.

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Local NPR Station Profiles Tony Varona, Our New Dean

Tony VeronaJessica Bakeman, How Being Cuban And Gay Shaped the University of Miami’s New Law Dean .

My favorite bit:

He said the cultural fusion is what attracts him to the Magic City.

I love how there are places here where you can get a Cuban cafe con leche with your bagel and lox,” he said.

Indeed.

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Advice for 1Ls

Above the Law (of all places) has some good advice for 1Ls. I agree with at least eight out of ten.

Although i don’t exactly disagree, I would have put #8 and especially #10 differently. #8’s “Read. Think. Then ask.” doesn’t quite fit how I run a classroom–I see part of my job as going outside the readings and trying to ask questions the either require applying them to something new, or extending them in some way. In other words, the answer isn’t always in the book–the “think” part may be more important sometimes. As for #10, I’m all for ‘engaging with professors (although the author seems to mean more ‘psych out’ than ‘engage’?), but the secret to doing well on exams that seems to elude a lot of people is ….. “Read the directions, read the question, answer the question being asked, not the one you wished was asked. Be as specific as possible. Illustrate your replies with (brief, summary) examples or citations drawn from the readings whenever possible.)”

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One of the Great Things About MiamiLaw

Over at Prawfsblog, Jeff Lipshaw has a nice item on one of our local treasures: Peter Lederer.

Peter is a great force for change in legal education, based on the changes he sees coming in the provision of legal services.  I am sure he finds the glacial pace of academic evolution frustrating, but he keeps at us, which surely is greatly to our benefit.

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Good Sound Bites

Mueller in 30 seconds.

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