Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Law School

The KU Law chapter of Phi Alpha Delta presented a current student’s perspective on the “Top 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Law School” to prospective law students in KU’s PAD Pre-Law Chapter on Sept. 8. Here are their tips:
  1. On the first day of law school, everyone is on an even playing field, regardless of age, career background, undergraduate major, or LSAT score.
  2. Your LSAT score is not necessarily an accurate depiction of how well you’ll do in law school.
  3. In certain undergraduate classes, you were probably able to “BS” your way to an A. That strategy does not work in law school! You need to learn the material and know what you’re talking about.
  4. There is no reason to start reading your law school casebooks over the summer to get a jump start on everyone else.
  5. If you read any books about “How To Survive Law School,” keep in mind that those books feature just one person’s opinion. That author’s advice might not work for you, and you will figure out the best ways for YOU to prepare for class, study and take finals throughout your first year.
  6. NETWORKING! Keep in touch with friends you grew up with and people you meet during undergrad. You never know who you will need to contact when you start searching for jobs.
  7. You should help out your law school classmates if they ask you to. Why? Karma. The next time you need notes from class or help studying for finals, your classmates will remember whether you explained something to them last week or refused to give them notes last month.
  8. Be prepared to relearn how to read and write! Law school classes are completely different from any class you’ve ever taken, and legal writing is completely different from any way you’ve previously been taught to write.
  9. Do not underestimate the amount of time you’ll spend in the library. That said, you will still have time to do non-law school things, so set aside time to exercise and relax.
  10. To get the most out of your law school career, get involved in student organizations! It will give you a much-needed break from studying, and it’s also a great way to meet new people.

A law librarian’s journey into the Twittersphere

Do you use Twitter?

“What’s all this nonsense about Twitter? It’s like Facebook, right? But you only do status updates? So you post things like, ‘I’m eating breakfast. I’m driving in my car.’ I don’t want people to know what I’m doing all the time! PASS!”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this. Can you guess what comes next? You got it! They sign up for Twitter to see what the fuss is about.

So what is this fuss about? What exactly is Twitter?

From the Twitter Web site:

“In countries all around the world, people follow the sources most relevant to them and access information via Twitter as it happens—from breaking world news to updates from friends. See what people are doing right now.”

That makes Twitter sound passive, like you are eavesdropping. This has not been my experience. Sure, at first it was strange. You have to find people to follow, and at that time, nobody I knew was on. So I started following celebrities: Wil Wheaton of “Star Trek” fame and Greg Grunberg from “Heroes” were the first two. I then started adding news sources and topical tweets. Finally, friends started appearing. Then I discovered that all of this can be accessed via text messaging! How cool that you can be kept up to date on various happenings through the text messaging feature on your phone?

Here are some tweeters you might consider following:
Off-the-record updates from Above the Law. Stuff you won’t see on CNN.

Law for all. Legal news of interest to general public and civic-minded attorneys. Leans more towards public interest.

The University of Kansas tweets their news updates so you don’t have to constantly check the Web site.

Law Humor posts funny law jokes, rants, anecdotes and true stories.

For those who don’t know, I’m a huge comic book geek. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a nonprofit company that helps defend the First Amendment rights of artists and vendors.

This is the official Twitter page of the White House.

Huffington Post posts political stuff.

The top news stories from National Public Radio.’s breaking news.

Ann Curry mixes news with life experience. I think I have developed a crush on her.

The official Twitter profile of the University of Kansas School of Law.


Happy Twittering everybody!


Student organizations foster engagement

One of my favorite aspects of my role as the associate dean for student affairs is working with our student organizations.

Our student groups plan symposia, host speakers, organize community service events and charitable fundraisers, and coordinate social events. Many of these events have become annual traditions embedded in student life: the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) Thanksgiving Food Drive; Women in Law’s (WIL) Pub Night; Public Interest Law Society’s (PILS) Casino Night; International Law Society’s (ILS) Kick-Off Picnic; the Student Bar Association’s (SBA) Race Ipsa 5K Run/Walk and Barrister’s Ball; and the Human Rights Symposium, coordinated by ILS, PILS and the Muslim Law Students Association.
We have great student leaders in Green Hall who dedicate much of their time and energy to building a strong KU Law community. This week, ILS hosted its kick-off picnic at Clinton Lake on Tuesday evening, introducing new students to the numerous international law opportunities at KU Law.
This fall, we look forward to charitable events like Casino Night, the Thanksgiving Food Drive and Race Ipsa; speakers like Robert Levy and Ken Starr, hosted by the Federalist Society; and social events like SBA’s football tailgates and Phi Alpha Delta’s Volleyball Tournament and Multicultural Potluck Picnic.
Next Friday, the Student Organization Information Fair (noon-2 p.m. Sept. 11 in the first-floor commons) will introduce new students to the many opportunities that KU Law student organizations offer. I encourage you to use these opportunities to engage in student life at Green Hall.
Wendy Rohleder-Sook
Associate Dean for Student Affairs

Law librarian ranks top 10 iPhone apps for law students

I realize that I am a latecomer to this craze. Like most Apple products, I was content to admire from afar. However, this past July, I decided to join the ranks of the uber-cool and purchase myself the geek’s most powerful tool in the arsenal of geekdom: the iPhone.

It did not take me long to discover the amazing functionality of this incredible piece of equipment. When they say, “There’s an app for that,” they aren’t kidding! There are apps for virtually everyone, covering almost every interest! The legal community is definitely no exception.

So, being the blogging librarian that I am, I have decided to share with you 10 of the coolest apps applicable to the lawyer and law student. Some of these might also be available on Blackberry or other devices, whatever they may be.

  1. QuickOffice. This app actually allows you to edit Word and Spreadsheet documents. Honestly, I mostly use this app as an easy way to transfer documents to and from my iPhone, and to view them on the iPhone.
  2. Any of the Cliff Maier reference apps. These apps are designed for legal reference and include the following:
    • Constitution
    • Federal Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil and Criminal Procedure
    • Federal Rules of Evidence
    • Intellectual Property Laws
    • State Evidence Rules for various states (not Kansas).

    Price ranges from $0.99 to $7.99. Each app offers the ability to jump to a section or to search. There is cut-and-paste (for iPhone 3GS), as well as linking. The cool thing is when you are done looking at your link, you can go back to the app and it will still be where you left off.

  3. Black’s Law Dictionary is now available for the iPhone. This is Thomson Reuters’ first venture into app-dom, and I hope it’s not their last. You find terms in the app by typing into a search bar. Results appear as you begin to type, so you don’t even need to finish typing to find what you need. There is an audio button which, when tapped, will pronounce the word for you. Slick! It runs $50, which is a little pricey for an app. It does work really well, though. And it IS cheaper than the hard copy.
  4. Law in a Flash – iPhone Law School Flashcards. You know the product, right? Little flash cards with humorous scenarios on Criminal Procedure, Torts, Corporations, Criminal Law, Federal Income Tax, Professional Responsibility and Wills & Trusts. This is a great resource for law students on the go needing to study as much as they can for exams and/or the bar exam. The application allows users to take notes within the program, bookmark cards and put cards into shuffle mode for quick study. The cards are modeled after the multi-state bar exam. Each subject is $39.99.
  5. Law Pod Foundation provides some legal reference apps not unlike Cliff Maier. There’s not as much there, but at 99 cents per app, it’s well worth a look. Includes Federal Rules of Civil, Criminal, Appellate and Bankruptcy Procedure as well as the Constitution. Each one is searchable. There is also an app called Title 35 that gives you similar access to the patent-relevant parts of the United States Code for $2.99.
  6. The Legal News Reader app, which costs 99 cents, conveniently aggregates all recent legal news in one place, for those not interested in the time it takes to search for it on their own.
  7. DocScanner, available for $8.99, is another great app for lawyers. With this app you can scan a document to your iPhone by taking a photo of it. It is then converted to a .pdf file that can either be e-mailed or saved to your phone.
  8. Amazon Kindle is a great, free app for long, unexpected delays in court. You can download books, some for free, directly to your iPhone and peruse them in an easy-to-read format at your leisure.
  9. Law School 100 is an iPhone app that ranks 100 law schools in the United States and provides capsule profiles of each school. It’s produced by LawTV Inc., the publisher of The Law School 100.
  10. TimeWerks. Sure, you thought that the iPhone meant you were a free-wheeling, outside-the-box kind of lawyer. But nobody escapes death, taxes and, if you’re a law firm attorney, billable hours. While no programs that I’m aware of can seamlessly sync with firm billing apps, it’s a step up from filling out paper billable sheets while you’re out of the office. TimeWerks, $9.99, will track your projects and time spent in a way that, while not strictly built for lawyers, is user-friendly and versatile, and lets you export a .csv file that may streamline getting the data to your main billing program. A lite version does exist for free if you just want to try things out.
As you can imagine, there are tons more out there. Do you know of any? I would love to check them out! Just shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.

Employment hope, despite cooling in on-campus recruiting

The New York Times ran an article on Tuesday titled “Downturn Dims Prospects Even at Top Law Schools.” It was reported that at many top tier law schools, on-campus interviews are down by a third to a half compared with a year ago. Far fewer law firms are interviewing on campus, and those that remain are offering a reduced number of positions. Two second-year students, both with over $200K in debt, lament in the article that, absent an offer from a big law firm, they don’t know how they’ll manage.

KU Law has experienced a similar cooling in on-campus recruiting, as the number of our fall on-campus employers has fallen by over one-third from a total of 72 in the fall of 2008. Several employers that consistently recruit on campus will forego all on-campus interviewing in 2009-10. Others registered for fall interviews but later withdrew, citing economic uncertainty. There remains a small group of undecided employers. I anticipate that at least 10-12 will ultimately choose to participate in our fall program, so at best we’ll top out at approximately 50 fall on-campus employers.

The employers who do participate will be offering fewer summer clerkship opportunities than in past years, and the acceptance rate of their offers will be high.

Students who do not receive offers from on-campus employers should not despair. KU Law has always offered a top-notch, affordable legal education, and most students accrue far less debt than their peers at NYU and Penn who are quoted in the Times. In uncertain economic times, graduating from law school with a manageable debt load is of heightened importance. When jobs are less abundant, it pays to have the financial flexibility to accept a summer or full-time position that offers a good opportunity to gain marketable experience, if not a fat paycheck.

To weather this economic storm, students will be encouraged to gain experience through our excellent law school clinics, with small and mid-sized law firms and government agencies, at corporations where their legal skills may be viewed as a plus, and with judges.

It is also important to note two facts:

(1) Since 2000, the percentage of KU Law grads who attribute their full-time job to a fall on-campus interview has averaged just under 20 percent.
(2) Law firms in the 2-25 attorney range have accounted for over 50 percent of law firm hiring of KU Law grads in six of the last nine years.

Fall on-campus interviewing is not the only way to find a legal job after graduation. It represents a piece of the overall puzzle. And large law firms, even in a robust economy, do not represent the entirety of a student’s employment options.

Todd Rogers
Assistant Dean for Career Services

Looking back: A 1L perspective on career planning

The newest batch of KU Law Student Ambassadors will be in place by mid-September and will begin contributing to the blog each Wednesday. Until then, we’re dipping into the archives of blog entries from Ambassadors in past years. These have never been published because we didn’t get our blog off the ground until July. This first installment comes from Chris Kaufman, who begins his third year of law school this fall. He composed the post on Jan. 31, 2008.

After completing the first two weeks of the second semester, I think I have finally readjusted to the demanding 1L schedule. I welcomed the month long break between semesters, using my time to relax, spend time with family and travel to watch the Jayhawks win the Orange Bowl. 

Lost in those weeks away from KU Law, however, were the focus, discipline and endurance that I have recently become reacquainted with. But with the start of a new semester also comes additional responsibility — because following the spring semester come summer employment opportunities. Therefore, the KU Law Office of Career Services kicks its program into high gear this time of year.

The first week back from break consisted of the usual reading assignments and class sessions, but also included mock interviews. Recent KU Law alums return to campus to walk through a simulated interview process to help students become familiar with the legal interview process. I came prepared, wearing my black suit, carrying resumes and transcripts, and reciting facts in my head about the firm that I was “applying” to work for over the summer.

I found the experience to be worthwhile. While the typical nervous stress that will likely accompany me to the real interviews was absent, the program provided me an opportunity to polish my answers and critique my body language, posture and other needless mannerisms.

With my first set of on-campus interviews with Kansas City-area law firms approaching, I have spent recent nights combing their Web sites, researching their specialties, and predicting the questions they will pose. While the experience is full of uncertainty and a little bit of stress, it will undoubtedly provide the valuable opportunity to practice my communication, research and persuasion skills in an un-simulated environment. I just hope I don’t get too much interview practice.

Chris Kaufman, 3L