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January 26, 2015

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Kyle McEntee

Thanks Bernie. We are open to suggestions, as we are with everything we produce for prospective students. We're also open to financial support so that we can scale the library as quickly as possible. We're producing one per week now but I could see producing more informational interviews if we can hire some people.

I'm a big believer in this project because of how well this pairs with all of the quantitative measures we provide on the LST Reports. How can somebody know what the numbers mean to them if they don't really know what they want to do? I also think it's really important to empower prospective students who don't know any lawyers. They can learn about the questions to ask, as well as reach far more people than they could on their own.

One note: they're podcasts rather than videos. This has a number of substantial advantages, not least of which is that you can listen to podcasts while driving, showering, and reading TFL.

Bernie Burk

Kyle, Thanks for the correction (which I've added to the post) and the accompanying sensible thoughts. I hope this turns out to be a valuable resource to prospective lawyers everywhere.

Bernie

anon

It is so sad the legal academia can't explain to students the reality associated with the careers they are preparing the vast majority of their students to undertake. This is not to say that applicants shouldn't investigate, but, please, this resort to outsourcing knowledge about the practice of law is just about as Orwellian as it can get for a bunch of folks supposedly teaching in law schools.

Moreover, although generalists are hard to come by (despite the fact the law schools strive and claim to provide a generalized legal education), information about "capital markets vs. M&A vs. tax" is irrelevant and immaterial for about 99% of law school students.

As usual, legal academics seem oblivious to the fact that BigLaw (especially, the specialties mentioned) has nothing to do with the practice of law in the United States for the vast majority of lawyers, and is thus a bogus reference group for the vast majority of law students.

Orin Kerr

Really good idea, Kyle. Looking forward to listening.

Former Editor

anon,

I'm not sure if your comment regarding obliviousness is aimed at law faculty or also at LST. If it's the latter, I encourage you to go over to the LST podcast list and look at who the attorneys there are. I see a public defender, a family law attorney, an immigration lawyer, and two personal injury attorneys. While these attorneys are not generalists, as few successful lawyers are by the middle of their careers, they are certainly folks whose practices are relevant to the majority of law students, not only those who have prospects at BigLaw.

PopGoesWsl

FWIW -- The attorneys profiled so far graduated from Northeastern, Tennessee, Santa Clara and Georgia, and the ones listed as coming soon graduated from Texas(x2), Western State an Emory.

John Steele

I can’t get the podcasts to play yet, but I’m glad LST is doing this. It’s a nice selection of lawyers and I hope it adds value.

In response to the comment above by anon, it’s important to note that there are law professors in the USA and abroad who study what ordinary lawyers do all day, how they interact with clients, etc. You can meet them at LSA and ILEC conferences, among other places. Or you can read the volume edited by Leslie Lavin and Lynn Mather (Lawyers in Practice: Ethical Decision Making in Context (Chicago Series in Law and Society)). Some of those professors have also done detailed studies of how lawyers behave in law firm settings (and not just big law) and one of those professors, Elizabeth Chambliss, has been cited by appellate courts in the cases dealing with assertions of intra-firm privilege against current clients.

Some of them have panels in law school with practicing lawyers so that students will better understand what a lawyer’s life is like, much like the LST project (which is widely accessible to students and applicants too). We had an LSA panel chaired by John Conley on how to do those panels well. It's my understanding that a lot of schools do that now. At Indiana there is a big program with mandatory attendance for 1Ls.

Kyle McEntee

As with FE, I can't tell if anon@1:26's comments are aimed at LST, but we're going to try very hard to keep our percentages in line with reality. So biglaw will not get the focus -- indeed, I don't want more than 10-15% of our interviews to be biglaw. Episode #10 is e-discovery at a large firm, but that doesn't count towards that % fyi.

In addition to the schools mentioned above, the first 12 episodes will be rounded out with graduates from UVA, Pitt, WashU, Vanderbilt, and University of Washington. As with geographic, practice, and every other type of diversity, we'll focus on providing a balance of school diversity.

Derek Tokaz

I think one of the great disservices to law students (and to most students in any field, really) is that careers are often presented as just two or three plot points. "John went to law school, now he's a partner at a firm." "Ted also went to law school but chose a different path. Now he's manager of a major league baseball team." What isn't told is the narrative. "John went to a good but sub-T14 school, and made Law Review. He interviewed with 30 large firms in New York, got call backs at 6, and an offer with 2. After putting in 10 years there, he realized he'd hit a wall and wasn't likely to make partner, or if he did, he'd be stuck in the service partner track. So, he lateraled to a smaller firm where he'd earn less, but have better prospects for advancement." "Before Ted went to law school, he spent 3 years in the minor leagues, and 6 years in the majors. Then he went to law school part-time, while working as an assistant coach for a major league team."

Even though everyone's mileage will vary, hearing all the steps someone went through really helps to drive home an idea about what it's like to go on that path, rather than having it as a nebulous journey that just kinda happens on its own.

John Steele

Derek, when I do panels like that I always end with, "as concretely as possible, including telling us when you arrived at work, how you ate lunch, who you interacted with, and when you went home, tell us what you do in a typical day." When I forget to ask that question the students often jump in and ask it.

Derek Tokaz

John,

While I'm sure some people write it off just a fluff question, you can learn a lot about someone's day to day life just by asking what they've had to eat. When I was an associate there were a lot of sandwiches from the closest deli, and pizza from Two Boots in Grand Central. Dinner was often delivery sushi (either on a client's dime or my own, depending on the day). As an adjunct professor, my last meal was Hamburger Helper, because the first pay day isn't until Feb 12, 5 weeks into the semester. I almost never snack on days when I'm on campus because the campus grocery store (read: Bodega + Subway) marks everything up 100%.

Again, mileage will vary a lot based on location and personal preferences, but it can give you an idea of how long the hours are, their predictability, if they leave you lacking either the time or energy to cook for yourself. It can also give a good sense of the general misery level associated with a job. Long hours and you eat frozen dinners every night is far different from long hours but you go out to a 9pm dinner at a fancy restaurant after work.

Deborah Merritt

I serve as one of the moderators for these podcasts and, thanks to Kyle's pre-production preparation and post-recording technical skills (magically, none of us ever say "um" or "uh"!), I think they're pretty good. I've been fascinated by the detail that the lawyers offer. Kyle's practice of talking with the guests before the recorded program gives them a chance to think of relevant stories. And then Kyle's post-recording edits produce a much tighter presentation than in the usual live interview.

In addition to other uses, I recommend using these podcasts to complement law school courses. Students will get some lively detail that puts the appellate case law in context. Every Torts student really should hear how Tricia Dennis works up a personal injury case. The lawyers in these podcasts don't dismiss law school preparation, but they help students see how much more there is to law practice--and that, depending on your particular interests, practice can be an exciting place.

I've posted a little more about this at LawSchoolCafe.org.

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