Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Capable attorneys...are a Craigslist post away.

Or is that really true? I went to a party a few years bac ambulancechaser201310/04/17
The legal industry has an absurdly binary viewpoint: Either passportfan310/04/17
Here's another way of looking at it. The LSAT is, general passportfan310/04/17
A new Harvard law grad is no smarter than a new Cooley grad. newyorkcity10/04/17
I'm sorry, but the average Harvard law grad is MUCH smarter tomjoadsload10/05/17
the average Cooley grad scored like 150 on the LSAT because newyorkcity10/05/17
I can't agree, especially when you note the average Cooley s inho2solo10/05/17
Haha, Cooley guy isn't scoring 150 on the LSAT because of la tomjoadsload10/05/17
I have to respectfully disagree. The Cooley grad didn't rea newyorkcity10/05/17
It's not about dumb or smart except at the margins. Sure, th onehell10/04/17
"... so at the end of the day you DO "get what you pay for," jeffm10/04/17
Of course a client should seek out experience that is releva onehell10/04/17
I routinely deal with big law attorneys-- not impressed. Th lolwutjobs10/04/17
One of the lawyers who worked for a large law firm here was fettywap10/04/17
lol @ attorneys pretending to be psychologists and neuroscie junkwired10/05/17
Over time, some attorneys, become more diligent, and perhaps clocker110/05/17
ambulancechaser2013 (Oct 4, 2017 - 2:32 pm)

Or is that really true?

I went to a party a few years back. Met some equity partner at a huge firm, not Skadden but you’d all know the name. In any case he said he started out doing mid law. His words were: “I did the mid law thing, and let’s get real what kind of talent do you really think you are getting at $100,000 a year starting salary. Not too impressive, I’ll tell you.”

My point is: do you agree. You get what you pay for, right? Is a $60,000.00 ID associate newly minded T2 attorney “dumber” less sharp than a T1 or maybe top 14 commercial litigator, also newly minted. I think so, but I can’t exactly pin point why. Thoughts?

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passportfan3 (Oct 4, 2017 - 2:52 pm)

The legal industry has an absurdly binary viewpoint: Either you are a phenomenal, awesome ultra-lawyer or you suck rocks in a quarry.

During the Great Recession, many lawyers woke up as superheroes, commuted to their prestigious firms, were suddenly fired for vague "quality reasons" and left the building an unemployable retard.

In reality, neither was true. The average Biglaw drone is an average Biglaw drone -- conscientious, detail-oriented, far more verbal than mathematical, mildly Machiavellian. Most Biglaw fourth-years have the skill set of Biglaw fourth-years.

But the industry is based on hyping unmeasurable intangibles. So if the "superhero" model is used to justify sky-high billing rates, then by necessity everyone else must be an idiot. And you wouldn't want to trust your case to an idiot, would you?

TL;DR. This profession is filled with simplistic, egotistical arseholes.

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passportfan3 (Oct 4, 2017 - 3:36 pm)

Here's another way of looking at it.

The LSAT is, generally speaking, an IQ test, and the students with the highest LSAT scores are, generally speaking, the smarter students.

The students with the higher LSAT scores will, generally speaking, attend the higher-ranked schools.

The smarter and more diligent students will, generally speaking, earn higher class ranks.

And the most selective law firms will, generally speaking, hire the students with the highest class ranks from the most selective schools.

So, yes, there is a general correlation between ability and first legal job.

But, my God, there are so many caveats and exceptions that the general rule is borderline worthless.

Everyone who has attended a T14 or worked at Biglaw knows colleagues who had zero ability. Meanwhile, plenty of good lawyers attended evening programs or worked their way up through local politics, the DAs office, the legislature, whatever.

A Biglaw associate would be foolhardy indeed to assume that the 35-year opposing counsel from the local PI firm does not know what he is doing.

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newyorkcity (Oct 4, 2017 - 5:07 pm)

A new Harvard law grad is no smarter than a new Cooley grad. However, the Harvard grad has been working his rear off all of his life, and he will probably work his rear off at his first law job (e.g., 16 hour days). The Cooley grad has been slacking his entire life, and will do the bare minimum at his first law job. Would you pay $ 500 per hour to a lawyer who is going to do the bare minimum to avoid getting fired? Of course not, you'd pay that lawyer $ 30 per hour and treat them a little better than a McDonald's worker.

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tomjoadsload (Oct 5, 2017 - 10:05 am)

I'm sorry, but the average Harvard law grad is MUCH smarter than the average Cooley grad. The average Cooley grad scored like 150 on the LSAT.

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newyorkcity (Oct 5, 2017 - 1:29 pm)

the average Cooley grad scored like 150 on the LSAT because he's lazy, not necessarily stupid. Any company would prefer an averagely intelligent work horse over a lazy genius.

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inho2solo (Oct 5, 2017 - 3:17 pm)

I can't agree, especially when you note the average Cooley student scored 141 on the LSAT, not even 150, based on the last few years' admits.

That's scoring in the 15th percentile nationally.

That is not just lazy - there has to be a certain amount of innate stupidity in there, too.

Your average HLS grad could take the LSAT dead cold, no prep, and likely get over 160.

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tomjoadsload (Oct 5, 2017 - 4:39 pm)

Haha, Cooley guy isn't scoring 150 on the LSAT because of laziness. Maybe he got a 2.0 GPA because of laziness. As someone upthread said, the LSAT is basically an IQ test. If you're smart, you do well. If you're not, you don't.

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newyorkcity (Oct 5, 2017 - 5:12 pm)

I have to respectfully disagree. The Cooley grad didn't really care how he did in undergrad, didn't really care how he did on the LSAT, and doesn't really care what's in the discovery or what the court docket says. He may be stupid, but not necessarily.

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onehell (Oct 4, 2017 - 5:08 pm)

It's not about dumb or smart except at the margins. Sure, the average Cooley grad is several standard deviations below the average HLS grad in terms of raw ability. But compare that same HLS kid to a kid from someplace like GW. They're both smart enough that they COULD learn to do sophisticated work. The HLS kid may be smarter but that doesn't matter; both kids likely have as much raw intelligence as the job (which is not rocket surgery at any level) is likely to require; anything above that is likely just diminishing returns.

What does matter, however, is experience. There is training that you'll get in biglaw that (for transactional work at least) simply cannot be obtained anywhere else. So for example, in theory GW + Biglaw >>>> HLS + no biglaw.

Raw intelligence matters, but only at the margins. The difference between top 14 and tier 4 is significant; but between top 14 and top 25 the comparison probably approaches the point of diminishing returns unless one of the two being compared was at the absolute bottom or top of the class, which is once again an "at the margins" sort of thing.

But the only really good training program available (biglaw) has closed its doors to anyone who didn't get a summer associate offer in the first few weeks of his or her 2L year. That excludes a lot of folks who theoretically could have done the work just fine and were perfectly smart enough for it. The guy with biglaw on his resume is not necessarily smarter than the guy without it, but he is better trained. The oligopoly that exists over this training serves to increase price, so at the end of the day you DO "get what you pay for," but not necessarily because of raw intelligence or lack thereof.

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jeffm (Oct 4, 2017 - 5:20 pm)

"... so at the end of the day you DO "get what you pay for,"...

If you DO get what you pay for, it's because of experience and diligence. However, many times, it's not the case that clients get what they pay for. For example, there are attorneys who'll take on a simple matter, like drafting a deed, and they don't know what they are doing. They will lollygag and make a simple task into a long wait. They procrastinate and don't return calls, etc. Despite this, they probably still get just about as much money for the task as a very competent and diligent attorney will charge for turning the same task over in an hour or two.

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onehell (Oct 4, 2017 - 5:28 pm)

Of course a client should seek out experience that is relevant to their needs. Some M&A guy would be pretty clueless if hired to defend a DUI, for example. In fact, that's my whole point: Except at the margins, most lawyers are pretty comparable in terms of raw intelligence. What matters after that is, as you say, experience and diligence, which is something almost no amount of intelligence can make up for a lack of.

I should have said "RELEVANT" experience, come to think of it.

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lolwutjobs (Oct 4, 2017 - 5:40 pm)

I routinely deal with big law attorneys-- not impressed. They seem to assign associates to specific tasks such that a 5th year could not handle a matter from beginning to end in the same fashion as their less prestigious counterparts. I've been much more impressed with boutique/mid law associates

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fettywap (Oct 4, 2017 - 5:50 pm)

One of the lawyers who worked for a large law firm here was deemed unfit by the ABA to be appointed to a federal district judge position, so.... It's not that they're smarter than the other lawyers. They have status in the profession and in the community, so the judges kiss their butts and tend to decide in their favor, and make their work a little easier than it is for the rest of us.

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junkwired (Oct 5, 2017 - 1:27 pm)

lol @ attorneys pretending to be psychologists and neuroscientists. Didn't know that US News and World Report's scientifically accurate law school ranking system also serves as a valuable reference for measuring raw intelligence.

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clocker1 (Oct 5, 2017 - 4:08 pm)

Over time, some attorneys, become more diligent, and perhaps slightly smarter.

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