How to Apply to Law School Article

Last weekend I wrote and article about applying to law school for law school discussion. I’ve been getting a lot of emails from people asking for advice, so I thought an article might answer some of the obvious questions ahead of time. I had read a couple books before applying, and I found that they didn’t always answer my questions. The idea here was to create something like a FAQ for questions that aren’t ever answered. I don’t know if I was successful, but it’s one more gulp of information for the ever-thirsty law school applicant.
How to Apply for Law School

Bag and Baggage

I want to welcome visitors from Denise Howell’s quality Bag and Baggage site. I want to let you know that I do write on law and law school, and that you can find such writings using the category links on the right.
This site is not so organized to always be about law school or law, and lately there has been a lot of fluff. Please don’t let this discourage you from looking around.

The Same People Everywhere

I added some pictures to the entry page of law school discussion about a month ago. I think pictures are a great way to make a website feel more human (if there are actual humans behind it). Those pictures are actual law students who have posted on the board – so the pictures are legit.
You may have noticed, however, that the same people seem to pop up on the web, in magazines, and even in subway ads. I keep seeing the same people everywhere. Often they’re standing in a perfectly white room with nothing more than a shadow and some huge text, and they’re usually looking up (because hey – things are looking up) with giant torsos and tiny feet. It was pretty hard to dig up examples because I couldn’t remember where I’d seen these people, but I found a couple:

This guy advocates building without barriers (oh – so that’s what
I’ve been doing wrong) at
Meanwhile, his twin brother is looking for something to fit his top-heavy
body, and nothing fits better than a Kaplan shirt!
Kaplan was a big help to this guy… but he already had an in – he works for the Law School Admissions Council… He deserves to go to a good school though. Since birth he has had a rare
condition that causes giant molecules to come out of his hands!

How does one get to be one of these people? I want to be that guy on the Kaplan subway ad that’s making a “boo-yah” motion (presumably in celebration of his great LSAT score). Imagine – every time the train stops, there you are… “Oh Yeeeaah!” acing the test, and teaching English as a foreign language. I want to build without borders, and I want to open a free-checking account that is convenient to my busy schedule. Boo-Yah!
To advance my clip-art modeling career, I have created the following image to advertise your project.

The Little Dig

I wanted to write something (else) about the consistently annoying road construction going on right outside my apartment. The street wart disappeared the other day, leaving only a stain for remembrance. I refer to the whole project, in conjunction with other street construction around my end of Boston and neighboring Brookline as “the little dig”. The little dig is all around me, and nobody knows the purpose.
I was shocked and dismayed, however, to find that the terminology “the little dig” is already widely in use – to refer to other projects! One religious onlooker thinks that we should each allow a “little dig” into our souls, while urban planning commentator Jane Holtz Kay has dubbed the Silverline tunnel project “the little dig”.
Clearly the Silverline project is big enough to warrant a “dig” name, but it’s only little when compared to the Big Dig – it’s quite big compared to the digging going on around my neighborhood. Thus I propose a new naming system to best accommodate the relative sizes of digs while quite handily coinciding with the soft-drink sizes at fast food restaurants. The Big Dig should be renamed the “Super Size Dig”; the Silverline project should be called, “The Large Dig”, and the project in my neighborhood should be dubbed, “The Regular Dig”. This leaves room for backyard and “soul” digging, hereinafter referred to as “The Child-size Dig”. Starbucks frequenters should cease going to Starbucks, but may use alternative dig names, referring to the dig formerly known as “The Big Dig” as the “Grande Dig”.
Okay – this is where my joke runs out because I’m unsure of the other Starbucks sizes. I know there is one called “Tall” but I don’t know if that is medium or large…

Are You Average?

Based on an informal glance through my referrer logs, I’d say the average visitor to this website wants to (a) play a mini-putt game (b) on a bus to New York (c) while armed with a super-soaker water gun (d) on a quest for chicken and waffles. Oh, and the average visitor also has a lego-related sex fetish.
And writing about these things again probably just made them all worse. Oh dear.

The Tuition Effect

I got a bill for law school this week. Tuition: $15,260. If you think that’s expensive, you’re right. If you think it sounds reasonable, consider this… that’s for one (1) semester! Does this mean the whole year will cost more than $30k?
For a minute I thought so, but looking back at my old bills, I noticed that Spring semester costs less than Fall. That makes sense because… oh no wait – it makes no sense at all. Maybe they like to invest that extra couple grand for an extra couple months.
More annoying than the fact that the charges are inconsistent is the fact that tuition is increasing much faster than law salaries, rents in Boston (probably everywhere), and the cost of living in general – and it’s always unannounced. The bill comes and the “expected student budget” is a couple thousand more than the previous year. That means more loans, which means more to pay back and faster growth of debt.
Lately I’ve been preaching the benefits of delaying law school for a year on Law School Discussion, but the increasing tuition is something to consider. If a school costs 2k more each year, you’ll save 2k by starting this year, and another 4k by not being there in four years time. For example, let’s say school costs x + 0, 2, 4, and 6. If you start this year you pay an extra 6k (0+2+4). If you start next year you pay an extra 12k (2+4+6). That’s 6k difference. Assuming that’s the last bit of loans you’ll pay off, that debt will more than double. You might end up paying something like $15k more for waiting one year!
I don’t claim to have accurate numbers here, just hypothetical numbers to show my point. Interest rates and tuition are unpredictable too, and I didn’t even look at my loan statements to figure out what my interest rate is or how my debt accrues over time. Even if this “tuition effect” isn’t as bad as I’ve made it out to be, you still have to consider the “cost” of working for less money before law school (when compared to the allegedly higher salary you’ll supposedly get after law school).
I had a hard time (took more than a minutes so I gave up) finding information on past tuition rates. I was going to make a chart, but there are some holes in my data. I’ll point you to one resource though: Just pop in the address of a school’s “student budget” page and check out what it looked like last year, or two years ago. Chances are it’s climbing like a monkey on a coconut tree.

An Uninformed Guide to Crap-Water

Got a nice little color mailer from the Massachusetts Water Resouces Authority the other day: “Tap into Water”. I’ve never been that concerned with tap water, but we’ve all read A Civil Action (or at least seen the movie), and that took place right here in New England. I decided that since this “Right-to-Know” report was required to be sent to me (“Residential Customer”) under U.S. law, I wanted to exercise that right.
The shocking revelation comes on page 4. Apparently, there is something called coliform that could signal that harmful bacteria from fecal waste may be in the water. Question: Isn’t all feces waste? Or is some of it the waste of the feces? I think the former, so we’re talking about feces in water. I’ll refer to this as “crap water” (yes I know, not that technical – I’m just a lay person on this topic – a “Residential Customer” if-you-will)
0.37% of samples in Boston were crap water. Okay, so I’ll get a Brita. Looking down the list though, I was amazed to see that 20% of the tap water samples in Southborough had indications of crap in them. 20%! If you drink five glasses of water a day, you’re likely drinking a glass full of crap-water every day. Disgusting!
On a serious note, there is actual information about this on the EPA Website.
P.S: Be sure to check out David Galbraith’s recent thoughts on open source water.

4th of July Internet Dissent

Happy 4th of July. I plan on the usual barbeque followed by blowing up Chinese chemicals in the sky, but purely for aesthetic reasons. Meanwhile, popular internet sites today (via blogdex) dissent by pointing out some obvious policy mistakes.
First, we have the nerdy weapons of mass destruction 404 error page (page not found). Funny yes, but I liked it better the first time. I was going to make a “your mom cannot be found” page, but it really wouldn’t be that funny, and I wouldn’t want people to think I don’t appreciate every effort to point out that, despite Bush’s speeches about the threat from Iraq, the US was the party that was truly capable of real destruction.
In the number two spot on blogdex today is a cost of war calculation. I like this concept. I remember that the first bombing strike on the Baghdad bunker cost something like $50 million – just to try to kill some people. In the US, you can have people killed for a fraction of that, but that must be a result of our free-market economy. Right?

The Parallel Universe of Top Level Domains

I have a really good friend named Brian. He’s a great guy, but in a parallel universe, where things ended in “.com” instead of “.org”, I would probably hate him (though I would be justified because, in this parallel universe, he would have dropped an unidentified 100 lb object on someone’s hand… tortfeasor!). The Brian I know would never do that. (here’s a permalink to what I’m talking about – the website of a different Andrew Sinclair)
It’s not the first time a top level domain has caused confusion. By now everyone should know that is not a government site.

The Other Side of the Exam: Grading

I just finished grading my assigned stack of memos for the writing competition for my journal. Experiencing the other side of the grading process gave me a lot of insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the exam process and has furthered my belief that law school grades are almost completely arbitrary.
Some observations:

  • Everyone writes pretty much the same thing, using the same style.
  • Little mistakes cost people big – partly because this is for the journal where technical perfection is important, but also because there wasn’t much else to distinguish the writers.
  • My mood and the order of the papers definitely affected people’s grades. I feel like this is fair because they are in random order, and blindly graded, but it increased the amount of luck involved. Hopefully the differences were negligible, and the papers I graded best really were the best.
  • Contrary to discussions with my friends, I didn’t think any of the papers were “really bad”. There were some typos, but no misspelling or horrible grammar.