Re: Ask The Mineshaft: Law School Again

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UC Irvine's first class, admitted this fall, pays no tuition; next year's class will only pay half.

I like LB's lawyer-stalking recommendation. Do you know a lawyer whom you want to be? If not, do you like an organization that needs a lawyer? A cause? A city?

City Attorneys in Los Angeles have reasonable hours, make decent money, and can win interesting assignments -- in my time in City Hall, our office worked with city attorneys on crafting anti-sweatshop purchasing language, evicting a drug-dealing family from their home base of operations in a terrorized neighborhood, and revoking a conditional use permit from a nuisance hotel where the prostitutes had come to the police to complain about the crack dealers.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 6:58 PM
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Pacing!


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 6:58 PM
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You know, I'm never any good at guessing these things, but I think the asker is Bave D. Am I right? If so, go ahead and delete this for discretion.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:06 PM
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lawyering were just a trade I practiced that required humane work hours and gave modest, dependable compensation

I think it could be, but I am not sure that many people are able to find jobs like that at which they are happy. There are government lawyer jobs (I'm thinking staff attorneys in courts, not fancy Assistant Attorney General jobs) which might fit that description, I suppose, as 1 states.

It's a tough business. I really like it, but as a business it can be tough.

I do not think I do what you are interested in (I'm a partner in a litigation boutique in NYC), but if you want to talk to a practicing lawyer about lawyering, you can get my contact information from LB.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:10 PM
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3: Also delete the part of the post that says "BaveD".

(Or does that go on Standpipe's other blog? I can't tell anymore.)


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:12 PM
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My wife and I both faced a similar situation. She went to law school. I did not. I feel like I should have something constructive to say and yet I don't.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:15 PM
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I've heard that public interest work environments are sometimes pretty tough to deal with too, especially if you're unlucky enough to be where your belief in the work gets taken advantage of.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:16 PM
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My wife's an attorney. The education is expensive, and the profession sorts by ambition and pedigree as much as by skills. If you're a returning student and not sure what you want, I would not predict any red carpets in your future. Maybe still worthwhile for you, but no magic bullet. If you don't think you want to practice, consider getting closer to the work that you do want post-degree; if it still fits, go after a year of getting a better idea of what you want.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:20 PM
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7 seems true. Human Services is the same.

I saw a job in a firm which specializes in estate planning. I found it kind of charming. I like to help people keep some of their wealth, and I think that planning so that things are orderly is important. There's also medicaid planning for disabled children, i.e. you want them to be able to enjoy some things but you also want them to be poor so that they'll get healthcare. It seems decent enough, but a lot of their clients are high net worth, so they actually get paid a decent amount.

You could start studying for the test, but this all feels really rushed to me. Why don't you try out being a paralegal somewhere first to see if you like it.

Is there anything that you think you'd really like to do? What's the closest practical thing that you could do?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:26 PM
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I like to help people keep some of their wealth

Where were you about 16 months ago?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:30 PM
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my advice is to take the LSAT, then assess. do you find the LSAT to be A.) tedious and stressful? or B.) kindof fun? if the answer is A, or if your score is mediocre, wait on applications until (unless) the idea of law school starts to make your heart sing. if the answer is B, and you rock it painlessly, go for it. there is lots of good work that's well informed by a law degree and in any case a JD is seldom a liability.


Posted by: ella | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:32 PM
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There's a wide variety of non-BigLaw public-interest-type stuff lawyers can do, but the different organizations and jobs are really quite different from each other. In addition to public sector (city attorney, AG, etc. offices) and nonprofits, there are plaintiff-side litigation firms in various niche specialties that can provide a pretty humane work schedule and decent money while doing work that helps ordinary people in concrete ways. The firm I worked for in ABQ did consumer law, and the attorneys there seemed pretty happy with their work. (I can put you in touch with them if you want.) Litigation takes a particular type of personality, and the firm atmosphere is not to everyone's taste (it certainly wasn't to mine), but it's definitely one option.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:32 PM
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Now's a great* time not to become an academic, so well done on that front. That said, there's a huge glut of lawyers right now, isn't there?** If I had it to do all over again, I'd become a firefighter. Or a bond trader. Or maybe a highly paid blogger. It's hard to say.

* Like, a world-historical great time not to.

** Which will reverberate throughout the profession.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:34 PM
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In any case, I think the most important thing is to talk to people and figure out what sort of job you want to end up with before you go to law school. Go in with a game plan. BG's suggestion to work as a paralegal or something first is also a good idea.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:35 PM
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a JD is seldom a liability

I think people with a 6-figure debt-load might disagree. But taking the test sounds like a very sound idea.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:35 PM
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Right now is a terrible time to be starting out in virtually any profession, so that's not a consideration unique to lawyering.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:36 PM
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Don't do it!

Go to pharmacy school.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:38 PM
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16: I think you're right in general but being too glib in this case. There really are huge numbers of lawyers out there without jobs, and law schools aren't adjusting at all (in fact, they're taking more people, because, as LB noted, applications are way up). So the situation is likely to get much worse before it gets better. At least as I understand it. Also, law school costs huge amounts of money, so I'm guessing that many of today's un- or under-employed lawyers will have to stick it out in the profession in order to pay their debts. This presents a fairly significant contrast with other professions, it seems to me. But maybe not.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:42 PM
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Also, law school costs huge amounts of money

There are ways around that (state school, scholarship, etc.).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:45 PM
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I agree with 18. The debts are big and jobs are scarce. It is hard for new grads to get jobs in areas that they want.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:45 PM
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One problem with giving advice to prospective lawyers is that I have very little idea what lawyers who aren't litigators do all day. I have a vague belief that tax lawyers are happy, calm, and contented, but that may be pure grass-is-greenerism.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:46 PM
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The profession should be so lucky to count you among our ranks. There are many different practices that appeal to different personalities. I am pretty analytical/theory-minded by nature and love appellate work. The trial dogs prefer a bit more action and excitement and human contact (ick!). I have no idea what makes transactional types tick. And different firms have different personalities, too. What do you have to lose? Besides three years of your life and possible vast fortunes to tuition.


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:49 PM
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18 sounds right to me (although I am unaware of the specific data on the question).

For me, if I had it to do over again, I would still be a lawyer, but I work really hard. If I were to do it all over again and was sure I did not want a job that was as all consuming, I would not choose law, I would be a school teacher (whenever I think of quitting and running away to Montana, school teacher is what I see myself doing). School teachers make less on average than lawyers, of course, but lawyer jobs that have humane hours and no stress pay much less than average.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:49 PM
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And Will's right about the debt. I wouldn't go to law school now unless it was either the kind of top school where you'll definitely have a job, or it was pretty cheap.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:50 PM
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trial dogs

I have never heard this term before but I think I like it.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:51 PM
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Bave, like you I've thought about law school many times, and once thought I'd go on to get an MFA in creative writing and teach whilst writing the proverbial GAN.

I know a number of lawyers, and aside from the Public Defender and the labor lawyer, none of them really seem all that thrilled by their jobs and the loss of freedom brought on by knowing that the only way they can afford to live and pay off their loans is to continue lawyering.

I guess if I were you, I would ask what my opportunity costs were. Could you go to business school,or become an accountant, or library school, or something else where you know that there are jobs that you would enjoy doing more than law (aside from your policy/nonprofit jobs that there's a high risk you won't get and/or afford to take)? If I were not married with kids, I'd have looked at becoming a cop or an EMT.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:52 PM
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More euphonious than 'catfish', certainly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:53 PM
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To follow up on teo's 14, it sounds to me like you're considering law school by process of elimination rather than as a proactive choice. My bias is generally that if you're going to start a project that will cost you a phenomenal amount of money and eat up several years, you should either really want quite desperately, to do it, or really need quite desperately to do it.

if lawyering were just a trade I practiced that required humane work hours and gave modest, dependable compensation.

This doesn't sound to me like you're in immediate dire need of money, nor that you are so motivated by it that working long enough hours to earn a big-firm lawyer's salary will feel worth it to you.

One thing I observe a lot among young people I know is a lack of awareness about careers beyond nurse, doctor, firefighter, police officer, engineer, lawyer. In this vein, I'd encourage you to job-shadow some adults with really varied jobs. Send a message to your acquaintances asking for nominations of people who really like their jobs. Go tag along with three or four of them for a day.

Operations manager in a manufacturing plant. Program evaluator for private foundations. Project manager for a housing developer. Hotel manager. The goal is not to elicit an "Aha!" as in "This is what I want to do," so much as a re-jiggering of your own expectations about good, interesting, decent-paying work and how people fall into it. Maybe you'd still decide to go back to school, and maybe it would even be law school. But I don't have the sense -- and please forgive me if I'm wrong -- that your close social circle is filled with this kind of vocational diversity, and maybe that's hemming in your thinking a bit.

(As an aside, if you do pursue the law, I think it's worth considering night school. I know from earlier discussion here that renders you unemployable for a certain swath of law jobs, so maybe that wouldn't feel right to you. But life is short, and debt can severely narrow your options, so I'm throwing it out there as a consideration.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:54 PM
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I wanted to do something vaguely in the public interest and considered law school, but ended up deciding to go for an MPP. If it's really helping people or a cause that you're interested in, there may be other schooling options that get you there.


Posted by: emdash | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:55 PM
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More euphonious than 'catfish', certainly.

I have fond memories of being called a catfish. And a pirate.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:55 PM
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Shadow a professional monome player. The benefits are great at the top.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:56 PM
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My mother likes her job! It has humane hours, too. (She's a W/rker's C/mpensation judge in PA -- it's a civil service kind of administrative law position, not a political appointment or elected position, so you can be a fairly normal person and still do it.)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:56 PM
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Pretend I got the commas right in 28.1.

And there was a lost thought after the bit about young people and career awareness. That is: Judging by the reactions I get when I try to walk adults through career/job search reference materials, vocational myopia is not limited to teenagers.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:58 PM
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32: I think I carpal-tunneled myself. Could you forward an e-mail to her for me?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 7:59 PM
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Debt need not be huge. I went state school and found an undergrad teaching position and walked away with maybe pretty minimal debt. It can be done.


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:00 PM
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My time in the law, or at least BigLaw, will soon come to an end (up or out, not enough deal flow in my space), and I have no landing place, hard or soft, in sight; my thoughts may be shaded, if not jaundiced, by all that.

That said, if I were in your position if I had the chance not to drift into law school and BigLaw all over again, I wouldn't. Even if I didn't have a corresponding chance to repeat my college years with less angry, insecure fuck-you sneering and perhaps more opportunities to find something I liked to do, or at least some risk I thought worth taking, I wish I had packed a bag after commencement and dropped off the alumni magazine radar, instead of slipping into an institution and a business that I knew little or nothing about, and where a solitary fellow who likes to read may find himself quite a bit less valued by his colleagues and clients than he may at first believe.

When I think of the things that I have lost, or sacrificed, in my time as a lawyer, it doesn't seem worth it, and I type that with a pretty good sense of how bathetic it comes across.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:07 PM
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Public interest jobs are hard to get if you go in vaguely thinking about public interest but without focus like I did.

This. I drifted in four years ago, expecting to get blown that way, made half-hearted motions during school but got sucked down the big law chute. It wasn't the dangling of the oversized paycheck as much as creating a path of least resistance. (Worked out okay. I like the people I work with in my small department at my firm. All things considered, though, I'd rather be a scientist.)

If you can identify the sort of job you want and a law degree would help, by all means go get it. If you test well and think you'll enjoy law school, you'll likely get there as long as you have the self-discipline.

And, yes, if you do go ahead, do whatever you can to avoid an unnecessary debt burden.


Posted by: just past first year | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:08 PM
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I get frustrated at practicing law, but it's interesting and rewarding from time to time and I can't really figure out anything else I'd rather be doing, so. But if you're going to be a lawyer, it's worth spending at least your first three years or so in a law firm or similarly intense environment (DOJ, etc.). It doesn't have to be Biglaw and you don't have to be there until midnight every night, but you learn a lot in a hurry when you immerse yourself in practice.

As LB said, law school is relatively easy and kind of fun unless you get really carried away with the whole thing, which you can avoid by spending your Friday afternoons for the first few weeks of school with the classmates who are drinking beer rather than the ones who are organizing study groups.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:09 PM
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or library school

Not so sure about that. My BIL has always had work since finishing library school a few years ago, but really appealing jobs, to say nothing of appealing and well-paying jobs, have been as elusive as I suspect you'd find in law. Do let us know if you find a field that rewards you more than it steals your soul; I've been thinking about getting one of these "job" things myself.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:10 PM
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School teachers make less on average than lawyers, of course, but lawyer jobs that have humane hours and no stress pay much less than average.

...but still way more than schoolteaching jobs.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:12 PM
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a field that rewards you more than it steals your soul

I think that's more a property of organizations than fields. There are human services nonprofits that are total snakepits, and no doubt somewhere there's a tobacco litigation firm that's as caring and humane as an employer could hope to be.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:14 PM
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I wanted to do something vaguely in the public interest and considered law school, but ended up deciding to go for an MPP.

On this note, I know a guy in the MPP program at my school who got laid off from his job as a lawyer and decided to go back to school in a different field. So yeah, law isn't the only option, nor is it a foolproof route to permanent employment.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:15 PM
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One thing I observe a lot among young people I know is a lack of awareness about careers beyond nurse, doctor, firefighter, police officer, engineer, lawyer.

Judging by the reactions I get when I try to walk adults through career/job search reference materials, vocational myopia is not limited to teenagers.

This was one of the major issues when I was figuring out what I wanted to do and discussing the choice with my parents. For my mom, particularly, it was like there were only three options: doctor, lawyer, academic. (Really just two, since neither she nor I could ever see me as a doctor.) This despite the fact that her own career path had been quite different.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:20 PM
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One thing worth noting about secure employment is that there are rather a lot of decently paid public-sector lawyering jobs. (Decently paid by normal standards, that is; not so much by Biglaw standards.)


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:22 PM
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...but still way more than schoolteaching jobs.

Not way more, no. Indeed, I imagine that the teachers in the (well paying) school district in which I live make more than most court attorneys.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:22 PM
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I recently caught up with an old friend I haven't seen in years. She went to law school sort of by default, I think, encouraged by her parents and not having a clear sense of what she wanted to do. She got a job at a fairly big-name firm in NYC and is now miserable (one year into it), wanting to get into something more public-service oriented but not knowing how to go about it. "I only experience New York through a window" was one of the complaints, along with something about being warned that her messy desk was unacceptable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:29 PM
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and is now miserable (one year into it)

It's pretty much a given that the first year or two of practicing law is going to be a bit on the miserable side.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:33 PM
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A lawyer who has time to condemn the messy desks of other lawyers isn't working hard enough.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:34 PM
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A first year associate is being given a hard time about a messy desk? Unless her desk actually has rats, she works for psychopaths.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:38 PM
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39: That job market is tough right now too. Hugely dominated by jobs funded in various ways through states and municipalities. But in government docs/law librarianship and certain related fields, there's some optimism about jobs being created to meet the requirements of records/accountability/transparency rules.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:39 PM
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I'm not sure the reasons I have for going to law school are very good, and if I go through with the whole thing I could incur significant costs and end up just as unhappy with what I do for a living.

I don't think I'm telling you anything that you don't know here, nor anything that hasn't been said on this thread before. Still, one more voice from personal experience:

It's really easy to wind up with significant debt from law school, and it's really easy to wind up in a job that you don't like. I say that as someone who always figured he was going to wind up in government or public interest work, and who just made partner at a mid-sized firm (with hours comparable to a large firm) last year. So I've done pretty well by many standards -- but not doing what I planned to do.

It's possible to do other things. It's just difficult. If you're vulnerable to the attraction of the path of least resistance, you should think very carefully about whether this is a good idea for you.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:39 PM
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To follow up on teo's 14, it sounds to me like you're considering law school by process of elimination rather than as a proactive choice. My bias is generally that if you're going to start a project that will cost you a phenomenal amount of money and eat up several years, you should either really want quite desperately, to do it, or really need quite desperately to do it.

This is a big danger sign for me, too. But it's seriously been impossible for me to come up with other enthusiasms. I would dearly love to be a professional monome player, but there's like one of those in the world, and he's impossibly hip. (Nice guy, thought.) (And Imogen Heap played a monome on Letterman recently, but she plays other instruments and writes great songs.)

When I let my mind wander, I can think of other things I might enjoy, but they all come with their own downsides as jobs, as every job does, and I'm not sure how good I'd be at them or if I'd plausibly be able to get into the profession. (For example: I have certainly considered an MFA in writing and then a teaching career, but I have serious doubts about my talent and drive in that direction. I've done a bit of radio, but I honestly loathe NPR, and reporters are being laid off in droves anyway. I'm quite interested in psychotherapy, but I can't tell if my own fucked-uppedness would help or hinder me as a therapist, and the costs of getting credentialed seem higher than those of becoming a lawyer.)

LB's line a bout a credential that's reasonably easy to obtain is kind of the crux of law school's appeal right now.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:46 PM
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There are graveyard-shift jobs in receiving at my grocery store that seem ideal—no deadlines, no take-home work, employee discounts—but I understand that there's a lot of competition for them. Oh well, a person can dream.

I used to think that learning Chinese would be the ticket, but they're all Englishing up over there, with their superior discipline and everything.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:48 PM
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I imagine that the teachers in the (well paying) school district in which I live make more than most court attorneys.

Seriously? Huh.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:53 PM
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Has anyone ever heard one of these "law school by default" stories that had a happy ending? I know a few happy lawyers, but they really wanted to be lawyers.

I endorse Witt's 28.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:55 PM
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LB's line a bout a credential that's reasonably easy to obtain is kind of the crux of law school's appeal right now.

There are lots of credentials that are easy to get, though. (Although a JD probably opens up more, and more lucrative, doors than most.) Have you considered something like an MPP? Or an MPA?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:55 PM
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Most court attorneys in that school district, at least.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:55 PM
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54: I suspect that Idealist is thinking of public-school teachers with seniority. I'd be very surprised if the average teacher was making more than the average practicing lawyer, even in affluent counties.

This guy is a bit vague about his sources, but has some interesting teacher-salary data, broken down by state. In NY it does look like teachers end up earning more than the median.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:57 PM
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Have you considered something like an MPP? Or an MPA?

I have not, and I honestly don't know what one would do with such a degree.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:58 PM
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The opening question in 55 reads like a rhetorical question, but I didn't intend it that way.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 8:59 PM
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56: The people I know with an MPH seem very happy with it. They go to work for places like this or this, or municipal governments, or nonprofit service providers.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:02 PM
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Has anyone ever heard one of these "law school by default" stories that had a happy ending?

Again, a great point. I wonder, though, if my problem isn't more that I need to do something rather than just drifting along. Which is why I felt kind of silly submitting this to the Mineshaft -- it feels quite adolescent, self-absorbed and annoying -- but also why I figured it was better to ask you all, with your collective emotional intelligence, than just go to a career counselor or something.

There's a big monetary cost and opportunity cost to going to law school, and Witt's 28 makes a lot of sense. At the same time, there's an emotional and an opportunity cost to continuing my present trajectory.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:02 PM
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Has anyone ever heard one of these "law school by default" stories that had a happy ending?

Seriously, my mother! She's pretty much the only one I've ever encountered, though.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:04 PM
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Which is why I felt kind of silly submitting this to the Mineshaft -- it feels quite adolescent, self-absorbed and annoying

Are you new here?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:05 PM
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61: That's cool. I should think about that kind of thing, I guess. I had a job in DC that I didn't like doing program evaluation, but there were aspects that I liked quite a bit, and my former grad school program involved me with the university's school of public policy (obviously not to the extent that I figured out what their graduates did), and I could almost certainly get myself admitted to that if I wanted to. Hmm.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:06 PM
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64: Thank you.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:06 PM
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An anti law school rant .


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:07 PM
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Solution: Take A Fellow Unfoggitarian to Work Day.

(And in support of RFTS's 63, I'll say that the one ALJ I know is delighted with his job.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:08 PM
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I went to law school by default. I'm pretty happy with my job most of the time.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:10 PM
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Maybe you could become a professional game-show contestant.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:12 PM
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I took a quick skim through Shearer's link at 67, and there seems to be some ranty exaggeration in it. For example, there are a whole lot of people who go to non "top 14" law schools who get Big Law jobs. The difference is that if you go to one of the top 14 (I'm not sure I buy that number or that ordering) you can get a Big Law job anywhere in the country, whereas if you go to a smaller name school, you've got a much better chance of getting a Big


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:13 PM
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When I find myself reading something that uses Bil Gates as an exemplar of a possible career path, I stop.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:16 PM
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I think the public health degree has been around for a while - at least I remember it as a mostly grad department at my undergrad 15 years ago - but the MPP and MPA seem to be a response to people not wanting to get a full Ph. D. or JD on the student/applicant side and people wanting some post-BA credential on the employer side.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:16 PM
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You know, it turns out there are ranty blog posts advising you against just about every profession on Earth. We are all wage slaves, and there are sucky and/or difficult aspects to just about everything.

I used to think bar tending would be great, but my barkeep friends tell me it's not.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:17 PM
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My aunt went to law school rather grudgingly and under a lot of pressure from her parents, and she seems to be pretty happy with her career. She's practiced a variety of types of law and now mainly does family law.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:17 PM
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Uh-oh, BigLaw has filed an injunction to stop jms.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:17 PM
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I think the public health degree has been around for a while - at least I remember it as a mostly grad department at my undergrad 15 years ago - but the MPP and MPA seem to be a response to people not wanting to get a full Ph. D. or JD on the student/applicant side and people wanting some post-BA credential on the employer side.

That sounds about right for the MPP, but my impression of the MPA is more that it's mainly an alternative to an MBA for people who want to work in government.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:20 PM
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Maybe you could become a professional game-show contestant.

If only there were money in being that guy who sits at home outguessing the contestants and griping, "that prize is rightfully mine."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:22 PM
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The accreditation group for the MPA claims the degrees have been around for about 50 years. I love that wikipedia's entries for the two degrees have some nearly identical language and (lack of) sourcing, but one has been flagged and the other hasn't.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:26 PM
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74: I loved tending bar. And I only made more money professing than bartending a couple of years after I got tenure. That said, working a bar is hell on one's body and really not a job that's usually sustainable into one's fifties or sixties. Plus, there are very rarely benefits.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:28 PM
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71, oh well, you get the idea.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:28 PM
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I went into a science PhD program by default (afraid of going into debt). I feel like getting an MPH would have been a better idea.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:28 PM
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I really enjoyed working tech support for a tiny ISP in Berkeley in the 90s.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:29 PM
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Without Emerson around, I feel duty-bound to point out that stripping can be very lucrative, at least for a while.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:30 PM
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I'm well past my stripping prime, if ever I had one.

Goodnight, all. I will read further career suggestions with interest in the morning.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:35 PM
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hey slighly ot but has anyone maid wseet crepes (gallates) ie with buckwheat and then put on choc/hazlen spread? do those tastes work well together?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:36 PM
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The Canadian channel switched over from a hockey game just in time for the end of the baseball game.

(Yes, I'm on record being pretty meh about baseball. But I'm also on record as watching the playoffs from time to time.)


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:40 PM
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||
|>


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:41 PM
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And a darn good ending it was, too. Go Phils!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:43 PM
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Both games two-out walkoff doubles tonight. Good tense action.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:47 PM
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Be VERY VERY careful. I keep meaning to put up a post about the danger of law school that no one ever tells you. I am executor/trustor of FOUR different family estates. It hasn't been a problem yet, but when I ask why they all come to me, the answer is always "You went to law school." That and being a dutiful oldest daughter and we're talking about years of my time.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:52 PM
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I am executor/trustor of FOUR different family estates.

I thought this was going to lead into a discussion of the difficulty you've been having processing the estate transfers across international borders and how we might be of some help to you, in exchange for a generous consideration, of course.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:56 PM
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Please, please. "Executrix/trustrix".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:57 PM
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92: Yes. Is Jurgen Krugger one?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 9:59 PM
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Dude. My Mom's second marriage was to an Iranian dude, who was a famous dancer/choreographer. They turned their large house in LA into a house/dance/film studio/banquet hall. (I am not joking.) They had two trailers full of props that were a mixture of fun shiny things they had picked up for two dollars at swap meets and antique rural dance costumes from Iran. The house was a mixture of not-at-all valuable art-y pieces and genuinely good stuff they got in Iran. They also had an apartment in Isfahan.

The semester I took Trust/Wills, I began begging them to drive separate cars everywhere. I could not begin to imagine untangling and decommissioning that house if something happened to them both. How would I ever?

(They divorced and untangled and sold or kept it all themselves. I'm left with a nicer rug than I would ever get for myself and a fondness for Persian food. I should cook it more.)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 10:04 PM
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For my Dad's part, he has started a large binder, with everything I should do in order for each account. He makes me walk through it with him, in sessions that leave me crying. Don't go to law school and maybe your parents won't die.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 10:12 PM
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i don't think i ever thought of 95.2 when i had that class. of course, i missed class sort of a lot. and i also did not have the potential of a cool name like executrix.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 10:25 PM
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Did you have the specter of a very complicated estate landing on you?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 10:31 PM
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I'm going to go on a bit.

Let me tell you this: do not go to law school. The problem with law school is that, after awhile, you will like law school. This is because your inner currency of interestingness will be devalued. You will meet fresh-faced young smart people and it will seem, high ho, where I'm going must not be so bad in the company of these fine fellows!

No, do not go to law school. When your inner currency of interestingness is devalued, so too is your outer currency and eventually you become, like me, a sad sallow shell of a person you once kind of liked.

Under no circumstance should you go to law school. You will wind up sitting in an office for twelve hours redacting. You will beg to redact. Don't go, don't ever go.

Think of all the things you could do instead of going to law school, for instance, flying a kite, watching an episode of Heroes, joining the military, eating poo. There are many more productive uses of your time.

Lots of people think they are going into public interest, but then they aren't; it's a cliche for a reason. There's nothing keeping you from bucking that trend except that, in most cases, everything about law school will be geared towards keeping you from bucking that trend.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 10:40 PM
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Kobe!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 10:44 PM
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100: Let me tell you this: do not go to the NBA. The problem with the NBA is that, after awhile, you will like the NBA. This is because your inner currency of interestingness will be devalued. You will meet fresh-faced young tall people and it will seem, high ho, where I'm going must not be so bad in the company of these fine fellows!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 10:47 PM
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Seems to me that we could help the enquirer more by suggesting other careers that sound neat. I really like working for the state. They hire people with masters degrees in the subject. Although not, like, now.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 10:55 PM
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Seems to me that we could help the enquirer more by suggesting other careers that sound neat.

Indeed, but we don't have a very good sense of what things interest him. I guess we could just toss out possibilities and see how he reacts.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:00 PM
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He could be a park ranger!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:00 PM
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Or a train conductor!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:03 PM
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"I only experience New York through a window"

Hey, you could be doing doc review in a windowless basement as a temp, for years, after law school.

I could point you to JdJive/jdunderground,
but I will be gentle and give you:
http://newkidonthehallway.typepad.com/new_kid_on_the_hallway/2009/02/in-a-bad-economy-job-prospects-suck-everywhere.html



Posted by: Econolicious | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:04 PM
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I help best by reporting what's in the void. I am asked (not me, really) "should I go to law school?" And the answer is negative, sad, yes, but negative, and the words I have on this point are sadly unfortunately negative.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:05 PM
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From the outside, it looks like demographers think about interesting questions and work for neat agencies. I bet you can work as a demographer with a master's degree. If you can handle numbers and stats, that might be a fast route to a pleasant career.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:09 PM
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You know what else sounds like a neat career, and one that will be increasingly in demand? Disaster response. There's a whole field of hazard mitigation and disaster response, which look to be served out of a few graduate departments. Looks like you could spend a life training sheriff's departments most of the time, and working disasters some of the time. That's a growing field for sure.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:13 PM
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If you don't think you want to be a lawyer, DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL. You'll just wake up six or seven years from now thinking - crap, I shoulda been a demographer or political hack or whatever. Is there anything else you might wanna do that might require taking a chance? As long as it's not a ridiculously unlikely chance (America's Next Top Model, American Idol) go do that.


Posted by: Sophomore | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:15 PM
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Also, anything to do with sustainability. The jobs aren't quite there yet, but they probably will be soon.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:15 PM
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There's construction management, which I think has a document-heavy side of things. We're going to have to build a bunch more infrastructure and someone has to keep track of the permits. Mundane, but your soul doesn't hurt at the end of the day.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:17 PM
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Maybe yours doesn't.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:19 PM
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Or a train conductor!

A SUPERtrain conductor!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:20 PM
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Mundane, but your soul doesn't hurt at the end of the day.

Jane Jacobs disagrees with you.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:20 PM
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USAJOBS is a good place to see the wide variety of jobs out there. It's limited to the federal government, of course, but the federal government hires people to do an astonishing number of things, and so do other organizations.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:21 PM
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Well mine doesn't because I resisted the very strong pressure and didn't become a lawyer.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:22 PM
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You will wind up sitting in an office for twelve hours redacting. You will beg to redact. Don't go, don't ever go.

It would be difficult to find another man who lived so entirely for his duties. It is not enough to say that Akakiy laboured with zeal: no, he laboured with love. In his copying, he found a varied and agreeable employment. Enjoyment was written on his face: some letters were even favourites with him; and when he encountered these, he smiled, winked, and worked with his lips, till it seemed as though each letter might be read in his face, as his pen traced it. If his pay had been in proportion to his zeal, he would, perhaps, to his great surprise, have been made even a councillor of state. But he worked, as his companions, the wits, put it, like a horse in a mill.

Moreover, it is impossible to say that no attention was paid to him. One director being a kindly man, and desirous of rewarding him for his long service, ordered him to be given something more important than mere copying. So he was ordered to make a report of an already concluded affair to another department: the duty consisting simply in changing the heading and altering a few words from the first to the third person. This caused him so much toil that he broke into a perspiration, rubbed his forehead, and finally said, "No, give me rather something to copy." After that they let him copy on forever.


Posted by: Gogol | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:23 PM
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Sanitarian! Document Analyst! Oceanographer!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:24 PM
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Eh. Someone I know spent a year of her consulting career managing the paper for a large infrastructure project. She said the work wasn't taxing once the system was set up. She liked watching construction all day.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:25 PM
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Also - seriously - do not overestimate loan repayment programs. A handful are exceedingly generous, but most are not and the recent hit to everybody's endowment isn't going to help. You will very likely graduate with a lot of debt - and that means going to work for big law to pay it off.

And... a suggestion. If you can manage it, spend a few days in a legal aid clinic. See what that's like and think about whether you want to do it for 20 years or so. It really takes a special kind of person - with a stomach for the very kafkaesque world of law that seizes hold of poor people, and the complicated and very imperfect clients you serve - to survive in that job.

Not to be all sunshine and unicorns :) But seriously, you're only 35. You've still got time. Find something you think is going to work for you and stick to that. If you're politically inclined, by the way, there are nonprofits and issue advocacy groups hiring, and elections are a'coming in 2010.


Posted by: Sophomore | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:26 PM
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OK. Another friend of mine is a park planner. Drawbacks: reporting to an elected board and endless public meetings. When the field guys report that vandals broke all the newly planted trees.

Good parts: picking out the playground equipment to install.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:28 PM
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That Document Analyst is GS-13, sort of getting up there in the classifications unless you're already at an equivalent, of course. You already need to be something like GS-11 to be eligible. For comparison purposes, entry-level archives jobs were about GS-7 +- 2, if I remember right from when I was being turned down, depending on past experience, education or management duties. That particular job asks for lab and organic chem experience.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:30 PM
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Sounds like an interesting job, though. The chemical analysis must be about testing inks and paper materials and stuff.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:32 PM
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I didn't actually look at the position announcements before linking them.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:34 PM
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Good parts: picking out the playground equipment to install.

...being played by Amy Poehler.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:34 PM
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Oh, wait, you can get hired at GS-11 or 12, not just 13. So you can apply if you're at GS-9. They helpfully will accept a PhD, law degree, or three years of study leading to one of those degrees as a substitute for experience.

Government hiring is so exciting.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:35 PM
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Looks like the BLM is hiring Outdoor Recreation Planners again. (They were a while back, then stopped.) Those hire at GS-9 with a Master's.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:37 PM
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Government hiring is so exciting.

It's all about buzzwords. The first cut is made by someone who knows nothing about the positions and does nothing but match buzzwords in the ad to buzzwords in the applications.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:38 PM
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Ooh, Shipwright!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:40 PM
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Theoretically, federal hiring should be better than state and local government because of the whole running deficits and stimulus thing. Theoretically. I applied for a position last year and after two months was informed that no one was hired because it went out of existence.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:40 PM
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Although that was under the Bush admin, so there wasn't a stimulus.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:41 PM
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Yeah, state and local government hiring is basically nonexistent (this is a big problem for planners, who mostly work for local governments). Federal hiring doesn't seem much better at the moment, but it at least has potential to improve sooner.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:42 PM
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Yeah, teo's right. So long as there are people making a living as a shipwright, I don't think anyone should drift into law school.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:42 PM
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I don't check the job listings right now, but I always enjoyed seeing the the identical library positions listed for all over the world.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:43 PM
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I should go to bed, but I drank a huge amount of coffee to make sure I got my reading done for tomorrow and I'm not tired at all. I did get the reading done, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:47 PM
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In case anyone was wondering why I was up with the west-coasters on a school night.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:48 PM
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Well, I'm going to bed. Night, all.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:48 PM
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I was wondering, but you've gotten too big to scold.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:49 PM
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Night, Megan.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:51 PM
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Go to sleep soon, sugar.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:55 PM
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I will. I decided the solution was beer.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-19-09 11:56 PM
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First, what 99 said.

Second, it seems to me that most of the people in this thread saying, "oh, you don't have to work at a giant corporate firm, I have a cousin in Kansas City who is a lawyer for a state agency and seems quite happy" are not themselves lawyers, and the people who seem to be lawyers are much more negative, on average, about the idea

Third, for what it is worth, I am a recovering academic turned middle-aged lawyer out of inertia, and I say beware, beware, beware.

Good luck, but I would keep looking for other ideas, were I in your shoes.


Posted by: Just a lawyer | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:00 AM
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Eh, I'm a lawyer and it ain't so bad. It took quite a few years to get to where I am now, but that's partly because I'm a little slow on the uptake.

The real problem is that having to work for a living kind of sucks, but that's not easy to fix.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:09 AM
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I've barely skimmed the thread, but it's important not to confuse the problems of junior associates at big firms ( especially in NY) with the practice of law as a whole. Most lawyers don't do that work or live in that world, and while it's true that it's really, really hard to get "public interest" jobs as canonically defined (ACLU, etc.), it's not all that hard to find modestly interesting work that helps people in small (but important to them) ways. Some of that work is in govt, some not.

I think law is a terrible career if you're looking for great wealth, credit, or prestige, or even if you expect to change the world, but I've found it consistently interesting and intellectually stimulating, even if my last job was overworking to the point of life crisis. But you don't really have to do that. I guess there is a kind of obsessive quality to the profession, and it attracts a lot of jerks, but probably not many more than other lines of work.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned: the LSAT really can be "cracked" with the help of some preparation and attention to what the test is looking for. It's well worth shelling out some money for a prep course, although I'm sure as a philosopher you'd do very well regardless.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:13 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:13 AM
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I actually quit my career as a demographer to become a lawyer. Demography is cool, and the problems are interesting, but I got a bit bored with the grant-writing and publishing game, and wanted to work more with people than numbers.

I'm now an associate in a high-quality criminal defense boutique firm. We do everything from DUIs to massive white collar stuff. I love my job, because we are always getting new and interesting cases, and I'm the type of person who gets bored if I do the same thing for too long. Here, I'm never bored.

Additionally, I get paid fairly well (not quite BigLaw, but much better than public interest), and my hours are sane most of the time (trial prep being the exception).

The trick is to find a job like this when you graduate from law school, because they're pretty rare. If you go to a Top 10 school, graduate in the top part of your class, and clerk for a federal judge, you can get jobs like this.


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:19 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:21 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:32 AM
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What Moisen fails to mention is that most people who go to top ten law schools, graduate at the top of their class, and then clerk for a federal judge, still end up in shitty jobs they hate and/or become worse people.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:35 AM
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And, re-reading the OP, your ambition of having clients that you can kinda-sorta get behind or a law practice that's an OK, workmanlike trade is really a realistic possibility. It will take some work, of course, in law school or beyond, but it's totally doable. Go for it.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:39 AM
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150: I don't know how you've determined that to be the case.

But there is such a thing as free will, for anyone who is worried about this happening to them.


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:43 AM
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150 is accurate, but not necessarily representative.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:43 AM
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Free will can help you with the not becoming a worse person. Might not get you that job you want, though.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:48 AM
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If you do well enough at a top school, and can get a decent federal clerkship (e.g. one in a big city, or at least with an excellent judge), that opens a lot of doors -- including the small, high-quality boutique firms. DOJ is another possibility.

I'd say about half my friends coming from that situation have ended up doing something they really enjoy. Even the ones who went into BigLaw did so just long enough to pay off their loans, then headed for the boutiques, public interest, or govt.


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:53 AM
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Yeah, state and local government hiring is basically nonexistent

Word. Interest in police and firefighter jobs really spiked, but no jobs to be had lately.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:55 AM
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All of my friends got to practice unicorn law, and oh but do they love it, except for the ones who didn't, whose federal clerkships weren't special enough.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:11 AM
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OK, I admit it. I was utterly lying. NO lawyer has EVER enjoyed what they do, especially the ones who came out of good schools with good records. I'm just wasting my time here making these things up because that's what I enjoy doing.

By all means, Bave D., you should NEVER EVER consider law school, because you will be doomed to a life of perpetual misery and self-anger.


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:31 AM
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I also can't help but think that we're all being a little glib about free will here. Let's assume free will: this does not protect against the unforeseen consequences of the legal career on one's cheerful disposition.

And this:

150 is accurate, but not necessarily representative.

is a wonderful little enigma, isn't it? Does it mean to say that what I said was correct in general, but not necessarily representative of myself? That's nice. Read otherwise, it's incoherent. If he'd meant to insult, Halford would have written:

150 is inaccurate but representative.

But why assume it's an insult and poorly written? I'll be charitable to us both and go to sleep.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:32 AM
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oh, fuck off. I meant that what you were saying is accurate enough about people with clerkships but not about the profession as a whole. I apologize for commenting from a Blackberry while half asleep, and am sorry that you seem to hate your job.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:39 AM
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If it's really 50-50, then it doesn't take a large swing either way to say whether "most" is accurate or "representative." Unless you interpret "most" to mean "vast majority." Anyway, the post linked in 106 makes the point that 50-50 looks a lot better, in many ways, on the lawyer job market than on the academic job market, and that's probably true for other uncertain job markets. Except for the part about how working can potentially suck anywhere.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:40 AM
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Similarly uncertain job markets, that is. I don't think there are many certain job markets.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:42 AM
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Someone, I think BG, was wondering about Donald Kagan's classicist work a few weeks back. Or was that a different Kagan? Anyway, this review is worth a read.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:47 AM
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161 -- right. A lot of whining from lawyers ignores the fact that work sucks for everyone and good jobs are always hard to find.

Sure, bad legal jobs can be truly horrible and ridiculously stressful, but not every lawyer job is a bad job. I mean, you do have to at some level kind of like the law and find the work somewhat interesting to be happy, but that's true in any field. Disgruntled associates who work for big firms are not the entire profession, although it sometimes seems that way on the internet.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:55 AM
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"Disgruntled associates who work for big firms are not the entire profession, although it sometimes seems that way on the internet."

Oh sure, next thing you know, you'll be claiming there are other places for lawyers to work, like boutique firms, the DOJ, the SEC, the IRS, the EPA, etc., where these supposed lawyers do supposedly important and interesting things.

We all know boutique firms don't exist. And the other places, well, they might as well be call the Department of Unicorns, the Unicorn Exchange Commission, the Internal Unicorn Service, and the Unicorn Protection Agency....


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 2:27 AM
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98: no

isn't that the plot of the crying of lot 49?


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 2:41 AM
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i'm willing to guess the legal profession can kind of suck, but i'm not really convinced there are other profession that don't have large amounts of long hours, dealing with assholes, debt, boring work, etc. maybe its the 'oh, you're a lawyer? let me tell you my lawyer jokes!' that really push esquires over the edge.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 2:49 AM
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Hang on, if you're a lawyer you can work in a corporate or a government bureaucracy?

Wow, that's truly amazing choice.

i'm willing to guess the legal profession can kind of suck, but i'm not really convinced there are other profession that don't have large amounts of long hours, dealing with assholes, debt, boring work, etc. maybe its the 'oh, you're a lawyer? let me tell you my lawyer jokes!' that really push esquires over the edge.

True. However, I suspect being a lawyer or an accountant is much shittier on average than being, say, an actuary or a architect or an engineer; I am unsure, but I really do think law involves some very crappy jobs other professions don't. (Also, of course, lawyers are more articulate and can complain better.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 2:55 AM
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well, there is also the choice of going gault.

completely unrelatedly, i'd guess its more that people going to law school have greater expectations for themselfs. you occasionally do something plausably construable as brilliant in other trades.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:33 AM
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The problem with the advice that "there are a million other possible careers, don't be a lawyer unless you desperately want to," is that I (and I'm guessing Bave) am mystified by how you get in the door at most of them, particularly starting at a second-career age.

What, e.g., is an entry level demographer job, and what are the qualifications?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:52 AM
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Has anyone ever heard one of these "law school by default" stories that had a happy ending?

[Raises hand]. I think that fairly describes me. Also, you can feel okay about representing most any client if you care about The Law and can see the project as one about principles rather than personalities. Also, I never did document review and never spent 12 hours redacting. My school was not top 10 and I had no glamorous federal clerkship. The associates at my current firm seem fairly happy and the make a decent buck with pretty ordinary pedigrees. Certain miserable people in the profession can indeed make life unbearable. Learning to navigate your way out from under them is important.


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:08 AM
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I'd be very surprised if the average teacher was making more than the average practicing lawyer, even in affluent counties.

No, my point was a quite different one. The average school teacher in my district likely makes about what the average court attorney in my (reasonably affluent) county makes. This is a point about what state government lawyers make, not average lawyers.

Disgruntled associates who work for big firms are not the entire profession, although it sometimes seems that way on the internet.

This sounds right to me. Maybe all the happy associates are too busy reviewing documents and drafting deposition outlines.

We all know boutique firms don't exist.

I guess there are too many philosphers here for me to simply assert that I am pretty sure my firm exists. Maybe I don't get the joke.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:17 AM
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It's the sophisticated form of humor where you assert the exact opposite of the truth.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:20 AM
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||

If I used a neti pot daily, it would probably be good for me, and it can also help to flush out gunk, but when I try to use one at the onset of symptoms, it always stings.

I'm staying home, and I pray that it's just a cold and not the dreaded H1N1.

I want my damn vaccine, and I'm perfectly happy for it to have adjuvant in it.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:33 AM
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For example, if I say Idealist once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, it's funny, because you never shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Right?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:37 AM
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Thanks for the link, eb.

I often wish that I had gotten a PhD in Econ so that I could do health economics, but I would have hated the impersonal experience of majoring in economics as an undergrad, and there's so much in that field that I can't take seriously. I don't know whether I had the hoop jumping skills when I was younger.


I'm thinking about doing a policy/econ masters in public health someday. If I did it, it would probably be at BU, since you can get tuition remission if you work there full time. Right now, I can go on my BF's health plan, but I don't ever want to have to go back on student health insurance again.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:49 AM
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if I say Idealist once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, it's funny, because you never shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. Right?

Just to watch him die? No.


Posted by: Idealist | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:02 AM
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129: The first cut is made by someone who knows nothing about the positions and does nothing but match buzzwords in the ad to buzzwords in the applications.

When I worked for a state agency and we were hiring, it went past that. The interviews were conducted by my boss and someone from HR and myself. There were two obviously qualified candidates and three people who we interviewed because we had to interview five people. The HR person picked one of the later three largely because when asked a question he would repeat the relevant portion of the job description before giving his answer. We had to smack HR over the head before we could hire one of the competent ones.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:28 AM
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No, my point was a quite different one. The average school teacher in my district likely makes about what the average court attorney in my (reasonably affluent) county makes. This is a point about what state government lawyers make, not average lawyers.

Ah, okay, that makes more sense. Just to be clear, they're both making reasonable middle-class-professional money, right?

I'm thinking about doing a policy/econ masters in public health someday. If I did it, it would probably be at BU, since you can get tuition remission if you work there full time. Right now, I can go on my BF's health plan, but I don't ever want to have to go back on student health insurance again.

My understanding is that BU's public health graduate program is really, really well regarded. Like, one of the best in the country. Anecdotal, of course, but FWIW.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:45 AM
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Bave should get an MBA. Would that be funny as shit, or what?

Last night I had a dream I had a job. It was neat!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:47 AM
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Last night I had a dream that I could write without distracting myself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:50 AM
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Yeah, I've heard that. For certain things Harvard's is better, but it's not as practical. I think that the best might be Michigan's, but that would require a big move, and I'd rather take a couple of stats classes in the evening to see if something would be right before moving forward.

But teo, did you use any how-to books when you applied to Federal jobs? Did you format your resume differently?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:54 AM
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But teo, did you use any how-to books when you applied to Federal jobs?

No, but I had a lot of advice on how to do it from the inside since I was mostly just applying for a job exactly like the one I was doing and at the same place. Basically, the key really is the buzzwords. Make sure what you say exactly matches the job description.

Did you format your resume differently?

Yeah, I basically used the USAJOBS resume builder thing to convert my regular resume to a federal one. A federal resume is rather different from a regular one. It's a lot longer and more specific about things like duties, and you want to tailor it very carefully to the specific position. Again, buzzwords.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:05 AM
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I just got home from my job as an overnight shift baker, and all I took home was a loaf of bread and a sense of satisfaction.


Posted by: Light Rail Tycoon | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:33 AM
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LB reads my mind in 170.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:12 AM
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I have read most all of the thread, and there's a lot that's good. The original question raises lots of red flags w/r/t going to law school (i.e., that it's really inertia or lack of creativity), but also makes it seem that Bave has the makings of a good lawyer (in a philosophy PhD program). And the thread is chock full of tidbits about the perils and promise of law and alternative careers (I'm a big fan of looking at MPA, MPH, or policy type programs).

But none of this provides what I think Bave may need right now, which is a decision procedure, or some positive step to help him along in figuring out what to do. It is not reasonable to expect that the whole thing will pan out by him imagining a job, and then working toward doing it. Life's not like that. Rather, we move in interesting/promising-seeming directions and opportunities come along (hopefully, at least). Law school is like this to some degree; the problem is that the interesting opportunities that can come along (cool public interest jobs) are outnumbered and harder to find than some defaults (big firm, bottom-feeding firms, etc.) That's part of its appeal.

THe question is how to put oneself into a situation that allows the right kind of opportunities to come along. Here's what I did (I was in a situation similar to Bave a while ago), and I think it's a good plan. Take the GRE (if yours is out of date) and the LSAT soon. Apply and go to grad school in a program at a big and hopefully good university, preferably with a law school, but DO NOT start in the law school. An MPA, MPH, MPP or master's in something plausibly practical would work. Maybe nursing--which is pretty darn good for career stability/growth. I started out in a humanities field, but whatever.

When there, take the minimum in your field, and take other courses/pursue other opportunities in related fields. I took policy, planning, and environmental science classes. Look for interdisciplinary proseminars. Do well. If you come across as interested, interesting, and competent to professors and program directors, people will seek you out and/or help you with whatever ends up being interesting to you. Funding will find you. Different jobs and positions will pop up and you'll see what's possible. If law school still beckons after a couple of years, you can start it at the same school, and count much of your work toward the JD.

The key, though, is to put yourself in that kind of situation, where you are able to see different things that can pan out and have some flexibility to act when interesting opportunities and possibilities come come around.



Posted by: phred | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:13 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:23 AM
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Re: Bave's 185 and LB's 170
Yes, that's just it, and what I'm trying to get at in 186. Undergrad programs are terrible at showing opportunities. But big universities with lots of grad programs are much better, especially if you're smart and enthusiastic.
Also, note that I was a second career type when I started this plan. I ended up with a law degree (along with another degree), but I got it fully funded and had interesting opportunities along the way.


Posted by: phred | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:24 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:25 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:25 AM
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I (and I'm guessing Bave) am mystified by how you get in the door at most of them

This I can answer. You use your very high test scores to muscle in the door of a master's program somewhere. I did an engineering masters with no engineering undergrad, and that ag engineering department gets more job announcements than students every year. I bet these people do too. I had to do an extra year of undergrad engineering requirements, which extended the masters from one year to two years.

It is possible to get a masters with no training in the field. It will help if you have an interest in the field and have high test scores.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:28 AM
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There is lots of good advice in this thread. 186 and 191 give me something to consider that I hadn't before. Thanks, guys.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:32 AM
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It will help if you have an interest in the field and have high test scores.

Who does good test prep? I hate standardized tests that aren't based on substantive knowledge. I like a lot of other multiple choice tests.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:34 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:39 AM
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a sad sallow shell of a person you once kind of liked

Nicely written, maybe too fatalistic though. Megan's prose today is also excellent. The quality of writing on this thread is really good, aside from the advice.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:49 AM
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Re: 186 -- Joint-degree programs are an option, too. I did. JD/MEd mostly because I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was only one extra semester and two degrees. Fun! They let you combine the JD with just about anything these days. A decent way to explore different fields simultaneously.


Posted by: di kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:49 AM
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A little late, but this from 28...

As an aside, if you do pursue the law, I think it's worth considering night school. I know from earlier discussion here that renders you unemployable for a certain swath of law jobs, so maybe that wouldn't feel right to you.

...does not at all comport with my experience or that of my classmates. Going at night minimized opportunity costs and avoided much of the insanity that appeared to be a consequence of identifying oneself as nothing but a law student. I really don't think it's closed any doors that would have been open to me had I been in the day program.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:50 AM
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re: 191. Yes. And exactly right w/r/t to using test scores to "muscle in." They are amazingly helpful.

And 196. Yes--though I'd note that often the first year of law school has to be taken as a unit, which can delay the chances to see other possibilities. Still, though, I think that more people who aren't keen on doing straight litigation should consider joint degrees: the extra time is not that much, you can often get the extra year (plus some of law school) funded, and you can weedle into a whole other suite of jobs.


Posted by: phred | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:01 AM
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I am in a very similar position, BaveD - except for the fact that I'm fresh out of a BA in political theory. (though older than most grads because of working full-time/stufying part-time, and other life meanderings). I decided to move to France to try out a law degree, and perfect my french at the same time. The motivation behind this was: I'm 25 (time for a real career) and love the classes I've taken so far on international human rights law, descrimination and the law, philosophy of law and so on. Here are a few thoughts I have on the subject:

1) coming from a theoretical background, and being in love with analysis/navel gazing makes being in a law class with fresh-faced first year law students a tad intellectually unrewarding. The most interesting person I've met so far loves contemporary art (awesome) and aspires to be a notary because she's heard that she can receive a reasonably large salary in exchange for very little effort. (inspiring isn't it?).

So far so good, but:

2) if interesting and lively discussion on a given subject is your cup of tea (which I'm assuming it is considering your background in philosophy) you should NOT expect this from law school. In each class, the profs never fail to remind you that you're role is to apply the law - not to theorize about it, nor to have an opinion on it, and least of all - to wonder whether said law conforms to the constitution... Apparently, those are questions far too advanced for first year students

Now, the European and American systems of law differ vastly, but I believe they share the same underpinnings. Keep in mind, I am not studying at a shitty university either - I'm at the university of Strasbourg (the city, along with Brussels, which boasts being the home to the european parliament,) which is considered second only to the "ecoles superieures" in Paris.

I decided to study here because 1) I have a european citizenship, and 2) because tuition is rediculously cheap - (i.e. $600 US for the year) - so I could wade into the field without drowning in debt later if I didn't like it.

I am now considering switching streams for the rest of the year - french literature has a nice ring to it.....

Hope this helps


Posted by: Speakeasy | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:05 AM
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Now, the European and American systems of law differ vastly, but I believe they share the same underpinnings.

Specifically on this issue - whether law school will involve entertaining theoretical discussions - I think they're pretty different. It's the civil law/common law split: there's a lot of US law that isn't statutory, and talking about that gets theoretical. Practice probably isn't all that different, but it sounds as if school is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:16 AM
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Really sad I missed this thread. One thing I want to vigorously disagree with is lb's suggestion to damn the cost if you get into a top-15 school. I am one of the people who did that, about to be married to another person who did the same. With nearly a half-million dollars of debt between us, we curse ourselves every day for having made that decision despite the fact that we never would have met if we hadn't. We're both public interest lawyers. He was unemployed for a year after law school. I've been unemployed since yesterday. I would much rather have had a harder time getting a job than have to have this debt hanging over me for the next 15-30 years. It truly makes me sick to think about it. And I'm a person who adores being a lawyer. Imagine how you would feel if you didn't.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:25 AM
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I'm sure that there's considerable convergent evolution, but French and American do not share the same underpinnings. In the US, judges have considerable leeway in creating new law.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:29 AM
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Tell me about it.


Posted by: Opinionated Strict Constructionist | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:30 AM
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171

... I think that fairly describes me. ...

So you are actually happy with your job? This isn't apparent in many of your comments.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:34 AM
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201: I agree on school quality. I went to a decent state school and it was fine. Law as a theoretical endeavor runs into the problem that it's made by judges and legislators, many of whom aren't particularly smart or theoretically rigorous, so I have a hard time seeing how it can be a lot more intellectually interesting at Harvard than at State U. And for everything I've ever done, having done very well at State U is more or less equivalent credential-wise to having gone to a big name school. That's not true for a few jobs in a few places, but if you're not after one of those jobs that doesn't matter.

OTOH, pretty much any graduate of a name school has a better credential than someone who was in the middle of the class at State U.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:36 AM
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I've been unemployed since yesterday.

That sucks, m.

Re: debt, a friend of mine from college went straight from our philosophy program to law school at Chicago. He enjoyed it, but after two and a half years or so he decided he really didn't want to be a lawyer, so he quit without even finishing his degree, I think. Now he has a lot of debt that has kept him from doing stuff like moving to China.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:36 AM
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if interesting and lively discussion on a given subject is your cup of tea ... you should NOT expect this from law school.

When I briefly considered law school after undergrad, I was dissuaded by a classmate who warned me of exactly this. I can't honestly say that I've ever regretted not going.

a reasonably large salary in exchange for very little effort. (inspiring isn't it?).

Well, that would certainly inspire me.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:46 AM
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Allow me to throw out a plug for my profession, Marketing Communications (typing on an iPhone didn't allow for extensive commenting yesterday). When employed, I feel like I get the best of both worlds (those worlds being Marketing and Creative)--I get to spend my days interacting with creative folks (graphic designers, copywriters, illustrators, web designers, and so on) and marketing folks (product development, corporate strategy, post-launch momentum, etc.). The one tickles the right side of the brain, the other the left, and translating back and forth, bringing my own ideas to the table, allows me to contribute to both functional areas. Every project is different and new, but experience provides you with a toolkit to arrive at appropriate solutions or even do innovative work.

I know Unfogged is heavily made up of law and academic folks, but seriously think about what kind of businesses you might be able to work for. I've specialized in med device because I feel like the end result of my work is to help health professional and patients to understand the benefits and risk of a particular device and the tools to decide whether its appropriate for their particular situation.

It took me a fair number of years to get where I am on a fairly unusual career path, but there are straightforward ways to the kind of job I have, and competence can lead to quick promotion--especially if you are willing to jump ship every few years to jump the seniority qeue.

Just my two cents. Happy to provide detailed advice if this sounds like something up your alley.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:52 AM
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French literature!! Speakeasy, you're killing me. Dude, you're already there and in law school. Go to judge school! I always thought it was so cool that there was a degree track that was specifically for learning to be a judge. That makes so much sense.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:54 AM
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Oh, and bummer, M. Are you settled down for good in Chicago, or are you willing to move? (I know your fella is temporarily elsewhere at the moment--maybe you can join him?) I love the Twin Cities, personally--if you'd like I can ask around among my lawyer-type friends (and there's always editing for Thompson/West, a dependable fallback for JDs in the area).


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:56 AM
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m's job in Chicago was ending, but she was planning to move to D.C. to be with her fiance who got a job there.

Also, m and the Bear are able to make it up to a point, because they're a couple. Single people are so screwed.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:04 AM
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Aw, M, that sucks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:06 AM
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I have nothing substantive to add, but I just realized:

I'm in the peace corps....applying to law school...and I studied physics in undergrad...

I'm lizardbreath with a penis.


Posted by: cass | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:11 AM
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209 -- Seriously. A few years of boring classes seems worth it to be a lawyer/judge in France.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:11 AM
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213: Heh. What country?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:14 AM
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Bulgaria, YD.


Posted by: Cass | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:16 AM
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oh, fuck off.

Really? I decided to be charitable.

I think it's hard, for me at least, to give advice to someone I don't know very well without it being very navel-gazing advice. There are some people I know who like being lawyers, but I don't generally enjoy their company (even the ones who clerked).


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:45 AM
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text-- CC/N does genuinely seem to enjoy being a lawyer, and I've really enjoyed his company, but I agree that a lot of them are awful.

I sometimes wonder whether this is a litigator disease.

Could it be improved if you focused on a substantive area rather than a particular type of legal focus, e.g., health care law. There are antitrust issues as well as contract stuff and hospital liability etc. (This is just my fantasy.)


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:02 AM
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Hi Bg! I think focusing on a substantive area might improve things. What I most want to do is find a little trap door and go inside it and hide there, but there isn't such a door, and I don't think that would ultimately be a good solution.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:22 AM
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My advice: don't go in half-heartedly. I did, and it was a big mistake. As a naturally lazy person that has problems doing work unless compelled by the material (I loved that philosophy, and considered a PhD program before coming to the same realization you did), though, my situation may be confined to the similarly-lazy.


Posted by: jpe | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:34 AM
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I saw a job in a firm which specializes in estate planning. I found it kind of charming. I like to help people keep some of their wealth, and I think that planning so that things are orderly is important.
That's what I do, although in a non-practicing capacity. Comp is reasonable and hours are sane (I probably make half or 2/3 my BigLaw former classmates, and work about 2/3 the hours)
Posted by: jpe | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:40 AM
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206: I'm pretty sure large amounts of debt would radically increase the chances I move to China.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:42 AM
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I like you too much, Bave, to suggest that you be unhappy. So, I agree with Witt. I think you'd rock the LSAT and law school, and I think you'd pass the bar and be a competent lawyer, but I want you to be happy with your career and your life. And being competent and good at something != happy, necessarily. I know you're not happy now. So rather than focus on what would be easiest to get out of your current unhappy state, try to figure out what would make you happy. What level of income do you need to feel comfortable and satisfied? Where do you want to live? What kind of work/life balance do you require? What skills would you like to utilize in your work? What kind of work would make you feel stimulated and satisfied, or at least working for some goal you find desirable, be it making the moneyz or serving the public interest? Almost all of lawyering is boring, but sometimes the goal helps to mitigate the soul-crushingness.

I have a nephew in college, and I keep telling him I want him to be happy, but I also tell him that in this economy, only nurses and pharmacists seem to have versatile recession-proof training that lets them cross state lines without too much hassle, and so maybe he should try to find happiness in a science major. Also, dentistry or engineering. And that financial independence will allow him to move out of his godforsaken unhappy life at home.

But since you're not an 18 year old Asian kid with parents (my sister and BIL) who are crazy strict and exacting as mine were, and so therefore you can focus on your happiness. Choose happy, Bave.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:55 AM
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I focused on the negative in my previous comment.

But, there are some real positives about completing law school.

You really can help people. When they are at their lowest point in their life, you have the capability to help them work their way to better times. I feel tremendous reward from that.


You have tremendous job flexibility. The practice of law is extremely diverse. My practice is very different from Carp's and Di's. There is tremendous breadth in subject matter and in process. I started off thinking I wanted to do environmental law. I didnt like it and moved on. I've done a lot of trial work, yet now I am trying to re-tool my practice to do more collaborative practice. A law degree gives you the entry into many different areas.

If you work hard enough and have a little luck, you can work your way into an area that you enjoy.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:58 AM
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If you work hard enough and have a little luck, you can work your way into an area that you enjoy.

I have to say, this thread makes me feel relatively good about my own, "I have a degree in theoretical subjects and no idea how to apply that to a job" career path.

I went with the other "default job if you're smart" and started working with computers. As it turns out, I like the good parts of the job a lot, and that's enough to deal with the times when I just want to throw the computer out the window.

But, as I like to tell people, most people would be miserable doing the work that I do. What I consider the good parts would drive lots of people crazy.

So it really does help if you can find something that matches your particular personality.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:03 PM
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Are you settled down for good in Chicago, or are you willing to move?

Already done. I moved in with my fella in DC on Saturday.

And while the condolences are welcome, it wasn't a surprise or anything. I knew this job was ending on this date over two years ago. I just never managed to get another job lined up, despite some decent effort. But I suspect I'll be considerably more motivated now.

Being unemployed for a few months is no problem. If it's more than few months, I'm kinda fucked. So, here's hoping.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:06 PM
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nurses

You know, while we're talking about non-law jobs, nursing (leading to nurse practitionering?) floated through my head as another credential leading to pretty reliable employment.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:09 PM
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I like phred's 186 a lot. I wish more people came into education with that kind of openheartedness and curiosity.

And to will's 224, I will say that getting people through a divorce with some degree of ethics and sanity is almost a holy calling in my book. One thing I wish for every day and twice on Sundays is that some lawyers would open up a low-cost semi-DIY divorce clinic in East Coast cities as they exist in (a few places) on the West Coast.

I probably have one heartbreaking call per week about someone who is getting caught in the gears of Family Court, and in almost every case it could be fixed with an effort that is about one step up from a Nolo Press total do-it-yourself resource. They just need a human being to tell them how to get from Step 1 to Step 2, so they can get themselves divorced without being immiserated. It just stuns me that 100 years or more after legal aid got invented, there's still nobody to take a simple divorce case.

So lurkers, if you're listening -- go to law school. At night. And graduate with no debt. And then settle in a big old industrial city with a lot of poor people, and make people's lives better by allow them to disentangle themselves and move on.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:13 PM
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versatile recession-proof training

I keep saying. Look at the trends.

Population is aging: Rehab/personal training for old people. Nursing. Recording and archiving their stories (on a family vanity level, probably).

Climate change: Disaster response. Epidemiology. Home temperature regulation. Predicting migrations.

Sustainability: The efficiency experts (water and energy) are busy right now, doing audits and making recommendations. Actually, I think home audits don't have high enough barriers to entry to keep you at a living wage, but I would highly, highly recommend doing efficiency audits for the commercial and industrial sector. I think that's gonna be a good field for another 10 -15 years.

Infrastructure turnover: Most of our infrastructure is aging out. Construction management, man.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:17 PM
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So you are actually happy with your job? This isn't apparent in many of your comments.

Well that's fair. In part that's because the most interesting parts of lawyering (for me) are not things one can post comments on without violating the sanctity of confidentiality, etc. (Or maybe I could but am to circumspect to do so?) Also, the stuff I get excited about would likely bore 98% of you to tears. "So the trial court was divested of jurisdiction, but did the parties revest by their conduct?" I don't agree with Belle that almost all of lawyering is boring, but I get why people feel that way.

In part, it's a love hate relationship thing. When it's good, it's very good. When it's bad, it's soul-crushingly so.

Mostly, the stuff I get upset about is interpersonal. My department is a lot like a family -- a lovable but psychotically dysfunctional family. Learning to navigate the power plays and politics is not my things, but a necessity in firm life. Figuring out when you can safely turn down work and who you can safely tell to go fuck themselves makes a big difference. The stuff that sucks is stuff that I just don't think would be different in any other field.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:17 PM
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One thing I wish for every day and twice on Sundays is that some lawyers would open up a low-cost semi-DIY divorce clinic in East Coast cities as they exist in (a few places) on the West Coast.

My last firm did pro bono divorces through some organization -- I'd have to think and google a little to find it, but would it be useful to have the name for NYC referrals?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:18 PM
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Phred's 186 is excellent. That's a good road map for immediate actions that could lead to a longer-range plan.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:19 PM
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If you can graduate with no or little debt, and the little debt you have is federal, then yeah, by all means definitely go. I thought law school was great and the work is stimulating and fun. But the debt really is oppressive.

The federal debt is good because you can do income-based repayment, which is a fucking godsend. Too bad I have a hundred grand in private debt.


Posted by: m. leblanc | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:23 PM
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I always wondered why more smart-but-rudderless intellectual types didn't consider getting an MBA. There's less debt (a year shorter), the range of jobs you can get is in some ways more interesting or at least more diverse. There are plenty of socially conscious businesses out there to work with, and consulting for a few years will open up more of those types of opportunities. It's not perfect, but for many personality types it strikes me as superior to law school.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:29 PM
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Because the MBA consultant-speak is too agonizing to endure.

Because you have to do group work for two years.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:32 PM
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Isn't the drop-off between a prestige MBA and a State U MBA a whole lot steeper than it is for law degrees?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:37 PM
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High-end management consultants are less prestigious than high-end lawyers, and an MBA with no experience is less valuable than a JD with no experience.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:40 PM
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High-end management consultants are less prestigious than high-end lawyers, and an MBA with no experience is less valuable than a JD with no experience.

I'm not sure I buy either part of that. A JD with no experience isn't worth shit, and high-end consulting is pretty fancy stuff.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:43 PM
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Up until very recently, a JD with no experience beyond that which he got at his summer jobs could get a $140k a year job. Most really good business schools want you to have outside experience in a way that most good law schools don't. And I will maintain that the number of lawyers who make millions of dollars and/or become politicians or otherwise influential is much larger than the number of management consultants who do so.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:50 PM
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And a similarly well-credentialed MBA could get a management consulting job making how much? The point is that newly-minted JDs don't know anything useful until they've practiced for a while.

As far as numbers of high-end lawyers vs. high-end management consultants, yes, there are a lot more high-end lawyers. But there are a lot more lawyers, period, so that doesn't prove much.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 12:55 PM
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I am a transactional attorney. I work in one of the more stable areas of the law and I love my job. Transactional law provides for a very predictable schedule, which will be nice when I have kids. Plus, I hate confrontation and prefer to write all day so litigation would have been an awful choice.

As others have mentioned, the debt is a huge problem. It leaves me feeling very trapped. But, as long as everything keeps going well and I can pay off the debt in about 5 years, I will be happy and less anxious.

I always knew that I wanted to practice in this particular field of law. The people I knew in law school that were less sure struggled and had much more trouble finding jobs because their ambivalence came through in interviews. So I recommend focusing on one area of law and acting like it's been your lifelong dream (at least in the interviews).


Posted by: Eliz | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:03 PM
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I'm not sure what I'm talking about, but isn't it hard to get a prestigious MBA unless you have some useful working experience beforehand? I thought people mostly didn't do MBAs straight out of college.

This is an impression, not actually knowledge, but I thought what water moccasin thinks -- that a high end JD turns an undergrad who doesn't know anything useful into a lawyer who, while she may not know anything useful, can get hired for a six figure salary, but that a high end MBA doesn't do the same trick, because the MBA probably had more credentials going in, and if she didn't then she's not terribly marketable coming out.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:06 PM
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I thought PGD's point is that it's odd that law, not business, school is the default for smart, directionless people who don't know exactly what they want to do but have a vague sense that they want to do good in the world. I went to law school for basically those reasons, and think that the law was a pretty good match for me personally, but I've often wondered the same thing. Most nonprofits, fo example, have much more need for people with financial or managerial skills than they do for people with legal skills.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:11 PM
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I may be wrong too, but my impression was that the work experience high-end MBA programs want to see can be provided by high-end gopher work of the sort that isn't hard to come by if one has the right undergraduate credentials and enough social capital to know where to look.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:13 PM
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Sir Kraab has an MBA. She could probably speak to some of these questions.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:21 PM
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and enough social capital to know where to look

What is this thing of which you speak?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:21 PM
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246: If you have to ask....

But it is possible to pick up the requisite social capital along with your elite undergraduate degree, I think. Not that I managed it, but it can be done.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:25 PM
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186 sounds great if you're outgoing enough to pull it off. I would be very careful to make sure that I'd be ok if I went with whatever program I initially started in because I'd have an extremely difficult time getting outside of its boundaries.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:26 PM
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246: If you have to ask....

Heh.

I'm just very much aware that I and, presumably many people in this thread, have adequate social capital for many situations but almost no background in understanding the behavior of large bureaucratic institutions.

I think I've mentioned before that, of the three different companies that I've worked for over the last ten years, the average size is around 6 people. Those jobs have involved doing contract work for larger organizations, but I still have a hard time imagining what it would be like to be employed in that sort of setting.

Perhaps I'm just still depressed after reading Eszter's latest. I am so glad I didn't try to become an academic, I would have been eaten alive.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:35 PM
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I think the social capital point is key. Smart, directionless people end up in law school precisely (or, rather, in at least some cases) because they're not good at navigating the vague sorts of things you need to know to get started in 'business'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:36 PM
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there's still nobody to take a simple divorce case.

In my experience, lots of lawyers are willing to take a simple divorce case.

But, when a divorce is free, there isnt a lot of incentive to resolve minor issues. If you and I are getting divorced, we are not going to spend $5000 each fighting over furniture that is worth $1000.

No fault, resolved divorces = easy.

Allocating debt or custody or visitation = not so easy.



Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:44 PM
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I always wondered why more smart-but-rudderless intellectual types didn't consider getting an MBA.

Could it be in part that MBA-types have an even bigger reputation for being assholes than lawyers do? Maybe it's just me, and it's probably unfair, but when I think MBA I think "that dumbass in the airport waiting area who makes sure to say MILLION DOLLARS in his cell phone conversation loud enough that everyone can hear".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:50 PM
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The other thing that comes to mind when I hear "MBA": trying to get people to line up in the correct order for the graduation ceremonies at the U of C was not so much work, except for the GSB people. They would all keep wandering out of the line to talk on their cell phones ("I'll find my place later, this call is important!").


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 1:53 PM
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Errmm. I have two thirds of an MBA (dropped out of night school when I got a 60-hour a week job right before daughter number 2 was born, likely will never go back). There are a fair number of choads, but if you avoid the finance track you'll get rid of at least half of 'em. The things I liked about B School:

1) Helped me actually understand how businesses work the way they do. (My parents were academics. Their parents were farmers. I had no one to advise me on these things.)

2) Gave me a basic understanding of accounting and stats.

3) The Marketing coursework was fascinating, because it dealt with applied theory, real-world case studies, and the connection between the two.

4) I never built a contact network, but those who did seem to be able to leverage school ties for decades. (I think it's harder to do part-time in night classes.) My very SWPL undergrad institution is starting to pay some of these dividends for me.

5) The emphasis on strategic thinking versus tactical execution really helped me think through some of my personal marketing theories in a way that really matured how I go about what I do.

So, if you can stand choads for a couple years and test well (I thought the GMAT was a cakewalk, but use one of those study books with the practice exams--it helps), it's certainly offers a pretty broad range of opportunities. (Be sure you know how you want to specialize before starting school.)


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 2:09 PM
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1.) Divorce Law question. In non-community property states, do you generally owe a spouse assets after a very brief (like3-4 months) marriage?

2.) I was thinking that there might be an exception if there was some sort of criminal activity.

3.) Further to 2. My uncle is still missing, and the private investigator that the family lawyer hired is having a little bit of trouble tracking this woman down, because she's used multiple social security numbers and aliases. I think she must have committed a crime of some sort. Certainly, she forged a check using my uncle's name.

Plus, the city clerk asked my uncle if he was being coerced when they got married.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 2:24 PM
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In Virginia, assets earned during the marriage are marital, subject to division. The division doesnt have to be 50-50. It could be 100-0, particularly in a marriage of 3 to 4 months.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 2:34 PM
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For what it's worth, a friend of mine who went to B school, got a fancy consulting job and eventually left not just that job but the whole continent of urban professional existence to which it tethered him (not that he's poulticing sores in Africa or anything; he's just self-employed in a very different, creative field), described his classmates and colleagues in very similar terms to 252 and 253.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 2:36 PM
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Is there any career option that doesn't bring one into contact with a great many assholes? They're a large enough portion of the human race that I didn't think it was possible to get away from them.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:20 PM
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Is there any career option that doesn't bring one into contact with a great many assholes? They're a large enough portion of the human race that I didn't think it was possible to get away from them.

My assumption was that if you can find a career that (1) doesn't involve large amounts of money, (2) has some barriers to entry, (3) isn't prone to petty politicking, and (4) provides some sort of psychological rewards that you would find fewer assholes.

Unfortunately, those jobs may only exist in Unicorn studies.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:24 PM
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We Are All Proctologists Now.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:24 PM
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259: Everything that humans do is prone to petty politicking.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:41 PM
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if you can find a career that ... isn't prone to petty politicking,

Then I will eat my hat. Well, first I will go buy a hat. Then I will eat it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:44 PM
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258 - C is in university administration, and whilst this certainly brings him into contact with plenty of 'characters', most of them aren't arseholes. Many have been lovely people who have gone out of their way to do him personal favours. And today he got an invitation to the 2009 Concrete Awards!!! With Ann Widdecombe as the after-dinner speaker!!!!!!

Interesting to see nursing mentioned a few times. At the moment, retraining as a nurse (in about 4 years' time) is an appealing option.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:48 PM
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Then I will eat my hat. Well, first I will go buy a hat. Then I will eat it.

My particularly workplace isn't at all prone to petty politicking. Of course, one workplace isn't a career.

Also our ability to get contracts is heavily influenced by politics within the organizations that might contract with us but that actually isn't the same. The biggest issues we've run into aren't debates between people who like us and people who don't but debates over whether or not the people who like us have the authority to spend money.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:52 PM
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C is in university administration, and whilst this certainly brings him into contact with plenty of 'characters', most of them aren't arseholes.

What say you, resident academics?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:54 PM
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plenty of 'characters'

One man's asterisk is another man's asshole.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:55 PM
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asilon, was your entire comment sarcastic? I know that you don't consider an event with Ann Widdecombe an enjoyable evening.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 3:57 PM
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No, the first bit was entirely sincere.

The concrete thing has amused me greatly - he was very involved in getting this place built, and it's been shortlisted for their innovative use of concrete. I told him he should go. And I just googled and found out the Ann Widdecombe thing, which I thought was fucking hilarious. She's a very very odd woman.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:02 PM
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The LSAT is a tough test. One month isn't enough time for most people to max out their score. If possible, put off applying for a year and prepare for the June 10 administration.


Posted by: LSAT Instructor | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:09 PM
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Missed the time frame on your decision. Take the February test. Your applications will be late, but without a good LSAT score, the application process will be tough.


Posted by: LSAT Instructor | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:16 PM
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I'd be surprised if that applies to the sort of 'natural' test-takers that there are a lot of around here (and that I'd guess include Bave). I did maybe three or four practice tests, not more, and did very nicely indeed (that is, if my score wasn't maxed out, there wasn't a whole lot of room for it to have improved).

The only thing that I wouldn't take cold is the logic puzzles (or, there are two different logic sections -- the verbal logic bit I'd take cold, but the analytical bit with Alice, Betty, Carlos, and Zuleika trying to figure out who has to share a car with whom if Carlos rides a motorcycle and one of the women only travels by pogo stick probably needs a weekend or two of familiarization.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:17 PM
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269: Really? Even for the sort of folks who are good at blowing away standardized tests? It wasn't when I took it 20 years ago, but maybe things have changed.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:17 PM
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269 270

This doesn't make sense. If you don't like your LSAT score you can always take it again.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:41 PM
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With the SAT, they will just look at your highest score (for verbal and math--don't know how it works now that 1600 isn't the top score). I know this, because my school made us take it 3 times.

The LSAT averages your scores, so you need to do much better to make it worth it.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:44 PM
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Sorry, law schools generally average your LSAT scores.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:44 PM
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I spent a week doing an LSAT prep book cover to cover, and my scores were good. Your prep time depends a lot on your general test-taking skills.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:46 PM
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243: yes, that was exactly my point. I can imagine lots of career tracks better than business school, but I can't see why law school would dominate business school so thoroughly as the generic choice for "can't decide what to do so I'll get an advanced degree".

Probably has something to do with the law's aura of vaguely intellectual bookishness, some do-gooder associations, and its non-mathematical nature. But law is not all that intellectual a pursuit, and you can be at least as effective a do-gooder with an MBA.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 4:48 PM
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||

Goddamit. I left my desk, got to the subway, and was waiting for the A train when I realized I'd grabbed the wrong file for court tomorrow. Which is going to be in Queens. Hate going to Queens Supreme -- it kills half the workday. And now I've lost half an hour coming back to the office for the right file. Goddamnit.

|>


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:03 PM
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The LSAT is a tough test.

I find this implausible. One friend of mine, just beginning to think about law school, took a timed practice test with no preparation and got a 173.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:06 PM
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It's possible that an LSAT instructor may look at the LSAT somewhat differently than most people would.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:22 PM
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277: A lot of it probably boils down to historical reasons. It's been a long time since you could just take the bar and be a lawyer in most places - now only a small number of states allow this, if any still do at all - so law schools and law degrees have been near necessities. Business hasn't had such a strong credential barrier and a fair amount of businessmen have been anti-degree (saps innovative thinking, schools can't replace experience, etc.). So law's had a huge start.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:26 PM
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278 reminds me of this.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:32 PM
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many people in this thread, have adequate social capital for many situations but almost no background in understanding the behavior of large bureaucratic institutions.

my jobs over the last couple of years have introduced me to bureaucratic office politics at a mindbendingly complex, three-dimensional chess type level. I can't exactly say it's been fun, but it has been interesting, and you can make traction in it by applying some of the same intellectual/ analytical/observational that you use in thinking about any other abstract phenomenon.

One thing that is helpful to keep in mind is that not everyone is going to like you, and you are not going to like everyone. Also, you need to be able to simultaneously do something significant (hence: risky) and cover your ass at the same time.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:49 PM
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Going between the west side above Harlem and Queens/Brooklyn is definitely a pain. I was too cheap to spring for a cab, so when I changed sublet locations when I was in NY I ended up taking multiple trips, each involving a bunch of subway lines.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 5:52 PM
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I actually just took a cab home out of annoyance. I shouldn't -- it's really too expensive -- but if I keep it down to once a month or so it's not too bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:15 PM
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LB you really need that bike-mounted flamethrower.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:19 PM
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Eh, even if I were riding, I wouldn't have today -- I was in Queens Supreme this morning too. Of course, ()*##$*!!! opposing counsel didn't show, and it's just a compliance conference so he probably won't get penalized for it, but it means that I wasted my whole morning.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:22 PM
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Have you considered joining the NRA?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:27 PM
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284 Unless you can take the A all the way there. That jump from 125th to 59th makes things go fast.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:28 PM
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Unfortunately, I was moving on the 1 from a stop skipped over by the E.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:40 PM
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All you business/accounting types using parentheses to indicate negative values? Knock that shit off! it is driving me nuts!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 6:57 PM
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Yeah the politics at my job are interesting... But I have trouble with things when "correct" is highly mutable. Fortunately most other people in our org view us as black hats anyways. And all the other orgs view ours in the same way!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:02 PM
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So it's the black hats vs. the green eye shades?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:03 PM
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290 is some kind of deep comment about hip hop beats and the shallowness of techno, I believe.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:03 PM
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Nah, sucka: it's me against the world.


Posted by: 2Pac Jacobian | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:09 PM
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The June 2007 LSAT is available for free from the LSAC website. I would encourage Bave to take the test under timed conditions and see how it goes. I didn't mean to imply that Bave needs a vast amount of work to do well. But my experience working with folks preparing for the LSAT has been that it's a damn hard test (at least if you're looking to get a score that will get you into a top school).

www.lsac.org/pdfs/SamplePTJune.pdf


Posted by: LSAT Instructor | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:12 PM
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||

This database I have to make for an assignment I've been putting off would have been quite useful back when I was in history. My old spreadsheets look so much more deficient now.

|>


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:14 PM
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I always wondered why more smart-but-rudderless intellectual types didn't consider getting an MBA.

Because they have no interest in becoming fluent in business-speak? Just a guess. Certainly my reason.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:19 PM
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297: My spreadsheet "database" for my dissertation is fast becoming unmanageable. Is it a professional program that you're using?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:20 PM
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It's in Access. I will refrain from laughing at your Mac software, since this would probably become unmanageable as it grows too. I'm not quite sure what to do with it; I'm organizing docs I have from my old dissertation research. I'm still not done, actually, so it could all blow up on me.

But it's really the demonstration of what a database can do that's impressed me. I had unwieldy spreadsheets combined with word docs in separate files, and I could put them all together this way. The worst spending decision of my grad career was investing in Nota Bene and then dropping out before I had much to do with it. That was good software, but PC only. And Zotero does the citation management aspect better.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:29 PM
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Places use Filemaker professionally - probably more than use Access if they're dealing with images - so I bet it can be adapted to whatever you need. It's the initial investment in time to learn how this stuff works that put me off the first time around.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:40 PM
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Yeah, I have Filemaker - I used it to make a database for a professor who needed to spend some grant money. I don't use it for my own work, in part because I really hated the interface. I'm keeping track of hundreds of sources through an entirely idiosyncratic method involving multiple color coded highlighting, archaic numbered lists connecting spreadsheets and text documents, and other really not recommended for larger use methods. Also, did I mention that this is all on Google Docs, so even more laughably substandard? It's working so far, but I'm also collecting a fair amount of data that will eventually need to actually be analyzed or at least formatted into tables and graphs, and that's a bit scary.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:49 PM
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Also, did I mention that this is all on Google Docs,

Backed up, though, right?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:53 PM
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I'm practicing being maternally worrywartish. How am I doing?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:54 PM
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That was my thought too.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:56 PM
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Is there any career option that doesn't bring one into contact with a great many assholes? They're a large enough portion of the human race that I didn't think it was possible to get away from them.

Nick's 259 starts to get at it, but I also think that part of it is your definition of what is unpleasant to work with. Lying, cheating, etc. are pretty much across-the-board undesirable, but outside of that, things can vary a great deal.

I have no doubt that most of the people in my old library cataloging job would have been regarded as persnickety, precision-obsessed rule followers. And I fit right in. In contrast, the philanthropic world? Total opposite. Whereas one of the best fits I ever heard of was a guy who'd spent his career on nuclear subs and then moved to a foundation. Apparently the skill set is remarkably transferable.

Also, some careers are more autonomous and/or solitary. In general, fewer people one is required to answer to = fewer potential jerks to contend with.

278: Cheer up, LB, at least you work in a city. I actually kind of like my far-flung city wanderings because it's such a great opportunity for focused work [although now AT&T is putting cell service in the subway, boo hiss] or productive daydreaming. In contrast, I loathe the suburban parts because I can't safely do one single productive thing in a car except drive.

281: Get out of my head, eb.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 7:57 PM
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303, 304, 305: Yes, of course. Excellent on the maternal worry-mongering, redfox! (And eb too, apparently.)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:00 PM
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307: Did you remember to get a hat for winter? Are your socks dry? Did get enough fruit today?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:02 PM
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But I have trouble with things when "correct" is highly mutable.

I used to, but then I started musing that situations where "correct" is clear are highly artificial and engineered, and situations where "correct" is mutable reflect the nature of life itself. That helped somehow.

[ Also, OT, but this Matt Taibbi piece is the single best commentary on the Obama Nobel Peace Prize that I've seen. Wish I had seen it in time to post back in that thread. ] >>


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:04 PM
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I found Google's spreadsheet so irritating that I avoid it whenever I can. Also, do you take notes directly on google docs in archives? In my day, we were just happy to have access to electrical outlets! Wireless was just a dream.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:04 PM
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310: I made the original, extremely large one in Excel and uploaded it; now I just manage it on Google docs. Easier to deal with, I think.

The main reason that I have it on Google Docs is that I have two computers (desktop/laptop) and find moving documents between them annoying (I do back up but I was always sitting down at one to realize that last I had worked was on the other, and I found it frustrating to have to go back and move the newest version before I could get started - this is why I need time capsule or some sort of drive mirroring), and because I often found myself in situations where my internet wouldn't work for the laptop when I needed to be reading sources online, so I wanted to be able to work on any computer connected to the internet (particularly in the library).

Right now, all of my sources are published and/or available on Google books, so no, I'm not taking notes on Google docs in the archives! I've never been in one that did have wireless, i don't think (unless you count my university's special collections), though I think it's becoming more common.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:16 PM
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||

My brilliant plan to have beer for dinner was ruined by the realization that Yuengling Black & Tan is actually not very filling. Luckily I had some beans in the fridge I could microwave.

|>


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:21 PM
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Hey, I drink regular Yuengling. I didn't know it sold much outside of PA.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:25 PM
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312: Hey, I sort of had that plan as well. It's failed. And Yuengling is yummy.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:28 PM
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I didn't know it sold much outside of PA.

It's widely available in New Jersey.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:31 PM
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Do you get Straub?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:32 PM
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311: Do you have less than 2GB of stuff? Dropbox is good for multiple computers, but not free beyond the initial 2GB.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:32 PM
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317: I think so. I'll look into it - might be super helpful. Thanks!


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:34 PM
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But now that I've read more carefully, Dropbox is not great for when you're not on a computer that has it installed.

I connected to the internet through a wired connection at my home university and at the Hunt/ngton. It was not the best for productivity to be honest. But I could look up stuff referenced in the sources right there (through American Memory, Making of America, etc.). I did download some things, like maps, that I kept referring to when I read docs at places without an internet connection.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:36 PM
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Do you get Straub?

No.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:36 PM
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320: I've never tried Straub, but I keep meaning to in an effort to reduce my 'beer miles' without drinking Iron City or paying microbrew prices.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:45 PM
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274 275

According to this (which may be biased):

Most law schools don't average them anymore. Instead, they'll only count your highest LSAT score when they create your "admissions index," which is a formula combining your LSAT and GPA - each law school does it differently.

My relative, now attending a top law school, took the LSAT twice.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:46 PM
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287

... but it means that I wasted my whole morning.

You didn't spend the time composing Unfogged posts? Tch, tch.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:49 PM
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309

Also, OT, but this Matt Taibbi piece is the single best commentary on the Obama Nobel Peace Prize that I've seen. Wish I had seen it in time to post back in that thread.

Taibbi disses the award to Gorbachev. I don't agree.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:52 PM
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My relative, now attending a top law school, took the LSAT twice.

My relative with the most successful legal career in the family didn't take the LSAT at all or have a Bachelor's degree (other than LL.B.).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:54 PM
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I don't even see LSAT scores.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 8:56 PM
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Since we're 300 comments in, I figure I can go off-topic to ask: Can anybody who understands economics comment on today's speech by Charles Plosser of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve? It's quite seductive to my uneducated ear, but I'm pretty ignorant of these issues and maybe it's one of those superficially plausible things that's actually more like saying "Yeah, flat tax! Great idea!"

This leads me to my last point concerning systematic monetary policy. In order to capture the benefits of such a policy, the public must believe that policymakers will stick to their goals and the rules adopted to achieve them. If policymakers fail to act in a way consistent with the stated objectives, credibility is lost and the public becomes uncertain about how policymakers will react in the future. That is surely a recipe for volatility, not stability.[...]
Because a financial crisis of this magnitude does not occur often, policymakers had little experience to draw upon. As events moved quickly, we ended up learning as we went. So it is probably not surprising that policy reactions appeared, at times, erratic, rather than systematic. [...]
This was underscored by the public and market reaction to the Fed's and the Treasury's varying approaches during 2008 to the serious problems that arose at three financial firms: Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and the global insurer AIG. The lack of a clearly understood approach to the government's and the Fed's decisions about when assistance efforts would be provided created confusion and uncertainty.
A significant factor contributing to the difficult policy choices was the lack of an explicit resolution mechanism for the orderly failure of a systemically important nonbank financial firm. In fact, we still do not have such a mechanism 18 months after the Bear Stearns merger.

Is that really true? If so, who can we pillory?

The lack of a well-articulated systematic approach to the Fed's lending role contributed to uncertainty in financial markets about who would be "rescued" and who would not. That uncertainty still remains and must be one of the prime objectives of policy reforms going forward.
I believe that no firm should be too big to fail and that a body other than the Fed should have the authority to fail these firms, wipe out shareholders' stakes in the firm, force uninsured creditors to take haircuts, and unwind the firm in an orderly manner.

That sounds awesome, but also a bit like a (wonky) campaign speech. Any chance of it happening?

The real challenge in such an approach is whether a policymaker can make a credible commitment to behave in such a manner. Won't there always be some firms that might gamble on a rescue in something like a game of chicken with the government? Does this really eliminate moral hazard? Probably not entirely, but it is likely to substantially improve the situation.
[...] In hindsight, a basic problem was that, in our desire to get financial markets working again, we offered no systematic view as to how and where the Fed would intervene -- we lacked a well-communicated systematic approach. Moreover, to my way of thinking, we strayed into credit allocation that, in my view, should be the purview of fiscal authorities and not the central bank.

It's so especially tempting to believe someone who shares your biases...

Going forward, to promote a clearer distinction between monetary policy and fiscal policy and help safeguard the Fed's independence, I have advocated that the Fed and the Treasury should agree that the Treasury will take the non-Treasury assets and non-discount window loans from the Fed's balance sheet in exchange for Treasury securities [...]
I believe we must specify in advance the conditions under which the central bank would serve as a lender of last resort. This policy should be systematic and should apply to both good times and bad. It should have clear, realistic, and feasible objectives; it should be consistent, transparent, and predictable; and it should operate independently of interest group pressures to lend to specific sectors or industries.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:01 PM
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Taking standardized tests is my greatest talent. I'm definitely going to study hard if I decide to take the LSAT, but I don't anticipate having that much trouble with it.

I drank a lot of Yuengling in Maryland, and they sell it here in Brooklyn. I was amused to find out that in Harrisburg you ask for "a lager" at the bar and they give you a Yuengling.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:01 PM
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I guess I thought Yuengling was more local because I'd never heard of it before moving to Pittsburgh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:05 PM
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It's basically limited to Pennsylvania and surrounding states. So more than local, but not exactly national.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:06 PM
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Within those states, though, it's very widely available, and usually pretty cheap.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:06 PM
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However, I don't seem to recall it from when I was in Ohio.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:09 PM
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Maybe not Ohio.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:11 PM
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My sense (and Wikipedia backs me up!) is that Yuengling was mostly a Pennsylvania beer until about 2000, when the company built another manufacturing plant and expanded production and marketing. Now it's a Mid-Atlantic regional beer, with stronger popularity/availability in the Philadelphia area.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:12 PM
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Unless Bave wrote the Wiki article on Yuengling, it's popularity at the other end of the state is common knowledge.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:12 PM
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333: According to their website, available in all states from New York down to Florida and Alabama, but not in Ohio.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:13 PM
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That sounds right.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:13 PM
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Straub sucks. Rolling Rock likewise.

Genesee Cream Ale seemed like the Upstate New York equivalent of Yuengling in prevalence. Among my uncle, at least.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:13 PM
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PA, WV, Tennessee, Alabama form its western frontier.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:13 PM
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338: I stopped Rolling Rock out of solidarity for the people of Latrobe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:15 PM
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'solidarity with'


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:15 PM
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Genesee Cream Ale seemed like the Upstate New York equivalent of Yuengling in prevalence. Among my uncle, at least.

It's certainly prevalent, but not exactly the same sort of reputation. I don't think I ever had any, but from what I heard the stuff was atrocious.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:18 PM
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I like Straub well enough, but my tastes tend to be authentically crude and unsophisticated.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:19 PM
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Back on databases, which I'm sure is more interesting than beer, does anyone know of a quick reference for using forms with junction tables in Access? My stuff is working for what I need, but it's not the most efficient and search results indicate that people don't always give the same, or clear, advice to the same question.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:28 PM
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My relative with the most successful legal career in the family didn't take the LSAT at all or have a Bachelor's degree (other than LL.B.).

My grandmother was fairly successful in business. She dropped out of college during the depression, did a lot of copywriting and moved to various management-style things, mostly in cosmetics. I think she went to night school for a bit, but never finished the BA.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:33 PM
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search results indicate that people don't always give the same, or clear, advice to the same question.

Thesis!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:33 PM
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Sometimes you luck out and everyone who's asked your question has gotten the same answer, except for the obviously wrong answers that are easy to ignore.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:36 PM
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Back on beer. Looking up something about Genesee Cream Ale led me to this recent list of the top beers in the world by volume sold.

1) Snow*
2) Bud Light
3) Bud
4) Skol
5) Corona
6) Heineken

*This might not be a "fair" comparison as apparently there might be different brands grouped under Snow.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:50 PM
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One type of beer can be sold in many states and one state can allow the sale of many types of beer.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:53 PM
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Snow?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:54 PM
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I'm presuming that's not an American beer.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:55 PM
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Ah, here's the article that had the list, originally from March of this year. Touches on methodological difficulties. Snow is Chinese, Skol is Brazilian.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 9:58 PM
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*This might not be a "fair" comparison as apparently there might be different brands grouped under Snow.

Yeah, I hear the Eskimos Chinese have 30 types of Snow.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:00 PM
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Esquimaux, please.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:02 PM
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334: Whenever I'm asked to create anything complicated in Access, I have one simple rule that has so far worked most of the time. I say, "You don't go to the programmers for data analysis. I do SAS and Stata. Quit bothering me with this stuff."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:21 PM
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But this isn't really complicated! It's the next step above the basics. I love how my manual says that you'll learn how to do this later and when you get to later, you learn information that could be used to do this but are never shown how to arrange that information the right way. It's like being told you'll learn how to write words later, and then you only get letters.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:34 PM
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355 was to 344. It's also probably less than applicable if you don't have an Access guy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:34 PM
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Technically, this is potentially a more advanced problem that could be solved with SQL and whatever, but that's beyond where I need to be in the next few days.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 10:44 PM
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||

It's really irritating that an Emergency Alert System test can break in and prevent me from watching a recorded TV program on my DVR for an hour. Isn't it enough to interrupt current broadcasts? Do they have to intrude on things that are stored on a hard drive right here?

|>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:27 PM
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I thought I read somewhere that some DVR set ups actually involved out-of-the-house storage. But yes, it's really annoying. Only a flash flood or hurricane should be allowed to interrupt my recorded tv watching.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-20-09 11:34 PM
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360: Not The Rapture? Well aren't we the confident one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 7:42 AM
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359: for an hour? What kind of crazy, emergency-prone place to you live in?

361: needless to say, the saved will not have their repeat viewing of Benny Hinn interrupted by the Rapture; they'll just instantaneously switch to the big screen plasma TVs they got up in Heaven.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 7:46 AM
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The Rapture will not be televised.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 5:51 PM
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Esquimaux, please.

What the innuit say to one another to express disbelief.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 6:04 PM
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363: Beauty. The Rapture will not go better with coke.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 10-21-09 7:42 PM
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