Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Law Students Should Start Spacing Out

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Having difficulty obtaining employment?  Well now all you have to do is look to the skies!  That’s right!  The new wave (but not really that new) is in a special niche area of the law called air and space law.

As countries are gearing up to mine asteroids, we are going to find similar disputes arising as we did for oil and mineral rights on Earth.  Meagan Clark raises several legal issues in her article Outer Space May Rescue US Lawyers From A Saturated Job Market, which discussed the need to fill this practice area.  How can an asteroid be retained as property?  Where would the “deed” be filed?  If a piece of an asteroid chips off during mining and damages a satellite, is there a claim?  And if so, what court will have jurisdiction?  Not to mention, with the future attempt to colonize on Mars, who’s laws and government will the colonists adopt and how will issues be adjudicated?

If this is an area of the law you might be interested in specializing or just getting familiar with, there are several schools who have been quite successful.  For instance, the University of Mississippi Law School created a space law journal in 1973 and has offered courses in space law since the early 2000s.  J.D. students at this school are able to obtain an air and space law certificate.  The University of Nebraska in Lincoln offers space law courses as well as an LL.M in space, cyber and telecommunications law.  Further, there are international moot court and mock trial competitions focusing on space law specifically.

If the force is not with you to practice space law, just use this growing area as an example.  Look to up-and-coming trends in technology, government, and any other growing area where legal issues might arise.  If there are classes, take them.  If there is a certificate, get it (especially if it won’t cost you any extra in tuition).  Although employers fault law students for not having any practical experience, becoming an expert in a new, growing field is extremely valuable – especially during a recession.

To get more information about space law programs, check out Meagan Clark’s article HERE.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Break is NOT a Break

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Whether you get a full week or just a few days, Thanksgiving Break is not a break for law students (or pre-law students who want to have an awesome application).  Instead, this is the best time to get organized for finals.  Here are just a few things you should have on your to-do list before wrestling over the last turkey drumstick.

1.      Complete your outlines.  You’ve been working on your outlines and study materials all semester (hopefully), so now is the time to make sure you have each one finished.  If you have a few classes left, read ahead and outline those assignments – whatever you may get wrong after hearing the lecture, go back and correct during class or right after.  Read through the earlier sections and make sure your outline is correct.
2.      Track down practice questions and prior exams.  If your professor has old exams on file, make sure you have copies.  Try out one of the exams and see how you do.  If you realize you don’t have a grasp on an issue just yet, make sure to stop by your professor’s office as soon as you get back before other students start flooding in with last minute questions.  If your professor does not have exams on file, get your hands on every question you can find on the subject and start quizzing yourself.
3.      Organize your exam schedule.  By now, your school should have posted your exam schedule.  Make sure there aren’t any conflicting exams (if there are, speak to the dean or administrator in charge asap).  Organize your study hours for each exam, and if you have multiple exams in one day, determine how you will split your studying.  If you are working with study groups, organize a schedule with them to maximize time and coverage of the materials.
4.      Tab your books.  If you are allowed to use your book for the exam, have your tabs completed by the end of the break.  This task may take a lot of time.  Try not to over-tab your book.  If you over-tab everything, then it’s equal to tabbing nothing at all (same with highlighting).  Tab areas that you struggle with or you notice you have to look up often when studying.  The goal is to have most of your material memorized as you would with any other class.  You’ll save time tabbing and you’ll save tons of time during the exam if you aren’t spending it looking up everything.
5.      Purchase your exam materials.  If you have to take the exam on the computer, make sure you purchase and download the software in advance to make sure you don’t have any complications.  If you need blue books, highlighters, No. 2 pencils or your professor wants only purple ink, make sure you have all of your materials in advance and organized.
6.      Recharge.  Once you have these major areas complete (and anything else you might need completed), you can finally grant yourself a break.  You will need the time to recharge, get some extra sleep, have family members tell you how brilliant you are and what a great lawyer you will be to build back the confidence that the Socratic Method has completely destroyed, eat great food and, if you haven’t already, possibly get your flu shot so you can avoid getting really sick during finals when lack of sleep and increased stress will affect your immune system.  Give yourself a chance to recharge so you can be your best when exams begin.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

LSAT Score Affects Admission

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October LSAT scores are releasing and students are putting finishing touches on applications before deadlines approach.  The LSAT is not the sole decision-maker for admissions committees as they also rely greatly on GPA and other qualitative areas (personal statement, recommendation letters, essays, etc.), but the LSAT score is a significant component.  But, how will your LSAT score affect your opportunities for admission?

Low Scores:  There is a lot to think about if you received a low score.  You can study harder and take the exam again (if there is time before applications are due).  This may be worthwhile if you have an amazing GPA and extraordinary qualitative factors.  If you choose this option, you should remember that the scores will be averaged and you may have to perform significantly better in order to improve your odds.  Otherwise, you may want to rethink attending law school.  Now is a good time to duck out rather than struggling through classes or having to attend a low-tiered school when the outcome can leave you jobless and with a large debt obligation. 

Average Scores:  If your score is an average score, choosing a school will be easier.  It’s important to narrow the amount of schools you apply to because the application fees quickly add up.  Take the time to pick safety schools (limit this list), target schools (where most of your applications should be sent), and hopeful schools (limit this as well).  Use websites such as and U.S. News and World Report to help you in determining these categories.  It may not be worthwhile, financially speaking, to retake the test to bump up your score.  If possible, spend more time boosting your GPA and polishing your other application requirements, which are free or less expensive options to improve your odds.

High Scores:  Congratulations!  If you received a high score on your LSAT exam, you have already taken massive steps toward more job options and less debt down the road.  Aim for the top-tiered schools, especially the ones reporting high employment rates.  Also, apply for as many scholarships as you can to decrease your reliance on student loans and to limit your debt burden.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Affordable Care Act Costs Students

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As we have all been made grossly aware through the recent government shutdown and website malfunctions, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is beginning its implementation.  Back in 2010, there were many debates about the piecemeal deals that were non-healthcare related within the 800-page bill and what affect these agreements would have on Americans once executed.  One of the newest implementations is the limitation on student work hours.
The Affordable Care Act restricts the amount of hours that students can work to under 30 hours per week (many schools are capped around 25 to 28 hours).  For law students, this is not a new requirement as law schools typically prohibit employment beyond 20 hours a week in order for students to meet the heavy demands of this type of education.  However, undergraduate students didn’t usually have work restrictions prior to this new regulation.  While most students do not work a full time job (40+ hours) while simultaneously enrolled in school full time, the ones who do will be diminished as they are obviously working more hours for a reason. 
Further, some new policies require students to maintain at least a 2.75 UGPA in order to take on employment in addition to class work, which prevents students who may currently be working to quit their job.  Other newly implemented regulations prohibit student employees from working at two church affiliates simultaneously.  For example, a student from Brigham Young University (a private university owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) cannot simultaneously work for the school and another LDS Church affiliate.  Many of the BYU students had to decide which job they would keep.
Fewer work hours mean less time to gain true work experience before graduation – an important factor in acquiring a job during a recession.  Additionally, if students are financing their own education, they may have to resort to more loans and acquire more debt upon graduation.
Employment hours are not only changing for students, but for faculty and staff as well.  Here is a list of examples of school districts that have made changes due to the recent enforcement of healthcare reform.  Many will have to tighten their belts a few notches more and the importance of budgeting cannot be overemphasized.