Comments: 93 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

TheIrishPossum7 karma


Gee1011 karma

Great questions...

OK, the difference between an A and a B is that an A paper will find not just the major issues, but the sub-issues. It'll also analyze both what you think is the likely outcome on a given issue (e.g. why there IS an offer and why the counterargument that there is not one will fail). I like IRAC because it's clear and concise and informative - I think most profs also love IRAC, even if they say they don't.

A related comment: the difference between a B and a C is simply if the person knows all the law. Know the law inside and out. Showing up and making an effort to apply it using some reasonable format will typically get you to at least the middle of the curve, even if your analysis isn't perfect.

In terms of dealing with the vastness...I always recommend creating a skeletal outline and making sure you're addressing each and every major topic you studied in the course of an essay. Look, if you're doing contracts, you're almost assuredly going to have to identify an offer, acceptance, consideration and defenses. So I tell students to write OACD on their scratch paper (we allow that here - check your school's rules) to make sure they address each of those issues. From there, just look for the nested issues within each. Hitting the major topics will get you in the ballpark, from there, just pick up as many minor ones as you can.

As for what profs think of gunners...hey look, I can speak for me: I like it. I like students who come to class and want to participate. It's the prof's job to recognize who needs to be drawn out and who needn't be and if a student wants to sit up front and try to answer every question, I say have at it. Might not be the best social strategy, but then again, it ain't a frat party.

DevonDoesTomahawk4 karma

What do you think about online piracy personally? Some people call it stealing because you are taking copy righted materials that doesn't belong to you; while other say it shouldn't be illegal because you didnt steal it, you just made a duplicate and the original copy is still belongs to the rightful owner. Thoughts?

Gee109 karma

You've nicely articulated the two sides of that one.

I'm guessing the statute of limitations has passed (I hope so, anyway), but I'll admit that I used to enjoy using Napster and never felt bad about it. Art should be free and created for art's sake, right? Having said that, on an ethical level, I recognize that it's taking food out of the mouth of the artist who created it to take their product without compensation when I otherwise would've purchased it.

Not sure how I feel about it. A conundrum.

tonyromojr3 karma

Answered like a true lawyer

Gee101 karma

It's good to be a prof - I can look soberly at both sides and NOT have to pick one!

pcox1044 karma

Why is law school often talked about like it is a scarlet letter of professional or graduate degrees?

genericusername803 karma

Because the job market is horrible and there are too many law schools and too many students. Tons of JDs come out and never work as lawyers or if they do, work in shitty jobs for law wages (despite paying a huge sum of money). This will slowly correct over time and should help it regain some respect.

Gee101 karma

Agreed, though I think law school bore the scarlet letter even before there was a cruddy legal market. Even when it turns around, it'll still almost assuredly have that rep.

Gee102 karma

I don't have any data, but I think there's this pervasive belief that law school is the "default" graduate school. No one seems to sort of happen into med school or MBA programs, but the perception is that law school is for people who want to be lawyers, but also for people who just want to go to grad school.

As for my own take: I think there's actually a decent argument to be made that law school is a very rich experience in logic and civics, even for those who don't want to practice...but for those not authentically wanting to join the profession - unless you're a lifelong learner with unlimited cash stream - it's probably not worth the time or debt.

Majornick3 karma


Gee104 karma

Sure! Go to court. Sit there and watch. It's publicly open and a fascinating experience. See if you like it. Chances are, someone will politely ask you if you need a hand (except for limited situations, like cases involving kids or sex crimes, courts are publicly open...but court personnel like to know if people are in need of assistance). Tell them you're a high school student and want to consider a career in law. Chances are, the judge will be psyched to say hi to you during a break if you ask, too.

Beyond that, do some reading about "real" law. What I mean by that is the stuff not involving sensational crimes or Grishman books. Yes, those are real types of law practice, but not areas that 99% of lawyers are involved in.

In college, consider moot court and taking a con-law course.

Feel free to PM any specific questions and good luck!

cryinbc1 karma

Just a quick question; If I live in a small city (45 thousand, Canada) Do I just simply go? Is there a proper attire?

Gee102 karma

I suspect Canada has similar rules in terms of court being publicly open. Your city/province will have a bar association (an organization made up of lawyers that helps to organize and improve the practice of law). You might call up that organization and ask for their advice. Another good strategy is to call a local law firm that practices in an area that's of potential interest to you and ask if you can join them at court and observe (lawyers almost invariably love to take young people under their wing - one of the best part about the profession is that lawyers tend to be collegial to newbies).

If you go on your own, you'll find that most courthouses - even in modest sized cities - have multiple court rooms operating at once. You want to go where the action is and see a trial or see lawyers making legal arguments. The best strategy if you're just looking to observe is to mention to the court officers that you're considering law school and just wanted to know if there was anything interesting happening in any of the courtrooms at that time. They always know where the action is.

In terms of attire: in the US, and I'm sure in Canada, the idea is to be professional. Courtrooms are conducted with a type of formality and dignity that you don't find in most places. I don't think a business suit is needed by any means, but if you're a guy, you should at least wear nice slacks and a button down shirt. Being overdressed isn't really a risk, but you might feel funny if you're too casual.

Hope this helps! Good luck and feel free to PM any questions.

superdago3 karma

Do you think law school effectively prepares students to practice law?

Follow up since the answer to that should most definitely be "no", what needs to change in order to turn legal education from so theoretically/academically focused to something that effectively trains students to competently engage in the practice of law?

Gee107 karma

Easy one: no.

I favor creating more and more simulation-based experiences in the first year, coupled with internships and clinical experiences in the upper levels.

I would (my own interests are showing...) require training in fields like legal technology and ADR, as well as contract drafting and trial practice. I think it's a sin that some schools allow students to graduate without evidence, which is an underpinning of all law, transactional or (obviously) litigation.

Finally, I'd have more interaction between students and practitioners. Lunchtime talks, trips to the courthouse, job shadowing, etc. I'd encourage students to dress and behave professionally at law school (as B-schools do) and I would recruit applicants who had a few years of job experience to promote an atmosphere closer to professional training than to an extension of undergrad.

tyzoid3 karma

As a trial attorney, what was the hardest case you argued?

Gee1012 karma

Our client was punched in the face by a professional athlete. It happened in a bar after she turned down his drunken advances. After he grabbed her butt for the second or third time, she threw a drink in his face. In response, he punched her in the face, then stomped on her chest while she was on the ground. This big, tough guy then ran out of the bar and hid.

It was not a difficult case to win (it was essentially only a question of how much the jury would award her in damages); it was a difficult case to live with, day-in-day-out, because it shattered her life...and it barely impacted him. He got a slap on the wrist on the criminal side of things. My client wanted "justice," and it was tough to get her to understand that no matter how big the award from the jury, she wasn't going to get anything approaching justice even though we'd likely be able to get her some money.

illu453 karma

That's interesting. Do you have any ideas of what "justice" would have entailed for your client in that situation? What do you think would have been "just" in that situation? It strikes me (as a complete outsider) that the law is always in a precarious position of mediating the "eye-for-an-eye" instinct that we feel when an injustice has been done.

For instance, I expect that, in that particular case, most people would agree that explicit and exact retribution (eg. punching the guy in the face and stomping on his chest) would probably be going to far into vigilantism to be called "justice". So, would a lengthy prison sentence for the assailant be more reasonable? But isn't this just making him suffer for the sake of suffering, even if through less physical means? I suppose the solution might be in teaching the assailant just how deeply he has hurt the victim and stopping him from repeating his actions in the future, but I'm not sure this is what most people have in mind when they talk about "justice".

Gee107 karma

Great comments.

When I practiced, I represented exclusively plaintiffs...always the little guy (I chose that side because it made me feel good - I didn't want to represent big corporations or insurance companies, though many friends and great lawyers are happy in that area).

I represented hundreds of people and found that, consistently, when something terrible happens, even if accidental, they tend to feel some combination of alarmed and mad because a piece of their life and happiness was taken from them through someone else's fault.

In this case - the rarely-brought civil battery case (all the 1Ls know this one: battery is the intentional harmful touching of another!) - it's not just that this person had something bad happen to her...it was on purpose. That's very, very difficult for people to accept. If you were to ask her what "justice" would've been, I don't know what her answer would be (and as a lawyer, it was important to me to help focus clients on what I could help them with, as opposed to upset them by thinking about hypotheticals I couldn't help with)

As an attorney, I'd tell all clients, straight out, "my role in this process is to seek money compensation for you. That's how our civil system allows for 'justice,' and that's the limit of what I'd ever be able to do for you." That's sobering for some folks. I'd also tell them that if I'm able to get them money, it's theirs - they can use it for paying for the medical or mental health care they needed or will need...but that they can also use it to donate to organizations to prevent the sort of thing that happened to them. I found that sort of thing is often meaningful to people - the idea that they can use the jury-awarded money to try to help someone else if they choose to.

nebulouscloud2 karma


Gee103 karma

I applied. They liked me and made a conditional offer. I passed the poly, physical, background etc., and graduated from the Special Officer Basic Training Course at the USSS academy (a very fun time - lots of fast driving and learning to shoot).

Nothing but hard work and good ol' fashion networking got me the job. I'd recommend it as a career starter to any young, single person wanting to serve (tough for families - a lot of travel, weird hours, some level of risk, etc.).

SuaveMF1 karma

What types of questions are asked on the poly? Are there right or wrong answers or is it only important that you respond truthfully? For example, if asked "Have you ever stolen anything?", and you have and respond in the affirmative, then you're ok?

Gee102 karma

You do a long pre-interview where you disclose everything bad you've ever done. Then they ask you to confirm those statements, one by one, and ask you about some other things that are just standard questions. The polygrapher then analyzes the answers and asks new questions (all of which have to be answered yes/no).

I don't often get to say this, but I think the specifics of what they ask are classified, so I can't say more. But that's the general picture.

It is a remarkably unpleasant experience. One of the least fun days I've ever had.

SuaveMF1 karma

Do they just base the poly off of the pre-interview? Someone could just limit or downplay what they've done in the past.

Gee102 karma

No. Pre-interview is part of it, but there are other aspects.

nebulouscloud1 karma


Gee102 karma

I've always been a pretty safe-and-steady driver, but that training taught me the outer limits of what a car can do. So I guess I'd say that nowadays, I could drive like an utter maniac if I wanted to, but I keep it somewhere near the speed limit and don't J-turn to avoid doing three point turns.

czpczp2 karma

I know this is a bit off-topic, but I just thought I'd ask anyway. What is your opinion on law schools that offer sub par employment rates to students? Specifically, law schools that offer less than a 50% chance of finding work as a lawyer. Not trying to put you on the spot, but I am really interested to see how individuals aside from admissions/staff view the current situation.

Gee104 karma

I'm not shy on this one. I think it's wrong. Law school is here to serve a purpose - to train people to enter the legal profession. If they're not doing that effectively, they shouldn't be in business. In the short term, because of changing demographics and a funky economy, I think it makes sense to just scale down class sizes. If the trend keeps up, schools should close (actually, whether they want to or not, the market might dictate that they WILL close).

The only real counter-argument I think has legs on that is that people go to law school for many reasons, and employment isn't the only one.
Maybe it's to help become a better thinker, or to be a better businessperson, or even for the status that comes with a JD. If I authentically believed that were the case for many students, I'd say everyone should keep accepting as many students as want to come. I just don't believe it, though.

czpczp3 karma

I really appreciate your honest and thorough response. Do you think the requirements for LS are lax at all? I mean all you need is a LSAT score and an undergraduate degree. Do you think if the system moved towards a more involved process, such as the one for med school or certain grad programs that require certain pre-reqs, that it would weed out certain candidates who might find that law school isn't for them?

Gee103 karma


I actually really like the business school model, where the expectation is that students come to B school with a few years experience under their belt. What I don't like is to see students who come to law school as sort of a default thing to do after college because it's more fun than getting a job and their parents support it. Cruddy reason to come to law school! I'd encourage schools to try to get applicants who've worked as legal secretaries or paralegals (or in any responsible job, though in the legal field is optimal) so you get people who want to be in school because they're authentically interested in joining the profession.

It's easy for me to say, though...I'm not a dean and I don't have to deal with the budget. The problem is $$$.

sddffg2 karma

What exactly is legal technology? Most times I see technology and law it's for e-discovery and document management.

Gee105 karma

Ediscovery and doc management are certainly a piece of it. Not the most exciting ones in my view, but important.

What I focus on at my school (Suffolk Law) is teaching students about using expert systems and document automation. Essentially, using relatively easy-to-learn tools, we can show students how to automate their law practice, so that rather than, say, re-write every will or contract they draft, you can build a basic model once, then use a set of questions about the specific will or contract to re-create it. If you've ever done/seen TurboTax or TaxCut software to do personal income taxes, that's the sort of thing I'm talking about - we use expert legal knowledge to create legal tools that make people quite efficient at doing repetitive tasks, freeing up their time and allowing them to work more effectively.

If you're interested in the topic, shoot me a PM and I'll be glad to send you some resources to learn more.

somethingtosay23331 karma

What would be a great book on reasoning?

What would be a gray book on introduction to understanding law for a lay person?

Gee101 karma

Legal reasoning? My two favorites are Legal Analysis by Romantz and Vinson (full disclosure: Vinson is a friend and colleague, but I assign it) and The Five Types of Legal Argument by Huhn.

I think the book, A Civil Action is a good one to understand litigation for laypeople. the Buffalo Creek Disaster is a good one too.

[deleted]1 karma


Gee103 karma

Sorry to hear that.

I was a low level flunky - essentially, a golem. They told me what doorway to stand in from midnight to 8 a.m., and I did it. I'm afraid I can't advise you on the best avenue is for your case, but I wish you the best of luck.

frozen_in_reddit1 karma

What is your opinion on IBM watson and the legal field ?

Gee101 karma

Totally fascinated by it. Saw the person who runs the project speak at the Disruptive Legal Innovation Conference several months ago. The idea of using that sort of AI for legal analysis (or medical!) is so exciting.

AI, generally, is baked into some projects I work on now and it's very cool at making lawyers more efficient. I don't know that it'll ever replace lawyers, but it sure makes for lighter lifting!

azizexe1 karma

What is the most efficient way to study day to day?

Gee101 karma

Man, this is the question I've been waiting for. It's CRAZY to me that all law students don't use SPACED REPETITION.

I've spent the past 2 years working with other law profs on a project that will allow students to spend a fraction of the time studying and learn more than 3x as much. We created 600+ flashcards corresponding to the MBE topics (which mostly overlap with 1L topics) and made a system so people can add their own cards and use/share a library of flashcards for specific schools/courses/profs.

Very long story, very short: we can use computers to predict when you'll forget information. We can then customize a set of electronic flashcards to cue you when to study (the optimal time is for you to re-learn right before you'd otherwise forget). This is called spaced repetition. The result is that we can scientifically establish that you'll remember much, much more info in much, much less time studying.

I don't want to turn this into an ad, but spacedrepetition.com is my project. Yes, it costs money, but it's worth it. And if anyone is interested and something just north of $2/week is too much (I'm not being sarcastic - I know money is tight for law students; we set costs as low as we could and still cover time/costs on our end), send me a PM and I'll cut you a break.

rex_banner1 karma

How much latitude would I have in spacedrepetition to create my own cards? My profs are rather particular about not introducing any info that goes beyond assigned course materials. And are existing cards customizable?

Gee101 karma

You can create as many cards as you want, either on your own or with classmates (i.e. create public decks that are in the searchable database, or create private ones for just you and/or just you and selected others).

The "core" cards - there are 600+ - are created by law profs. You can turn on or off parts of that deck (for example, we've created evidence cards matching the topics most commonly asked on the MBE...if you're a 1L and not taking evidence, you can just toggle that topic off). You can additionally create sets for any and all of your classes.

gabutnotredneck1 karma

This is spot on. People always yammer on about how to do well 1L year/law school, assuming a law exam is some practice in critical thinking and showing how enlightened of a legal mind one has. That is mostly false for most law exams, instead being more of a function of essay length and how many points you can rack up.

With the sheer volume of information/facts/cases one must deal with I kick myself that I did not use this type of approach more effectively. I tried 1L doing flashcards on computer but it simply took up too much time with 5 substantive exams each semester. For most smart students (ie at at top tier law school) the exams are just a big memory exercise, especially on closed book issue spotters (all of my exams fml).

Gee100 karma

Well put. Two things are needed to succeed on law school exams: (1) the ability to do analysis (gained by working hard in LRW, playing along with the socratic method, and learning/practicing IRAC or another formatted approach) AND (2) knowing black letter law encyclopedically.

Spaced Repetition handles part 2 and gives you way more time to work on part 1.

DrivingMeBackwards1 karma


Gee102 karma

I hear you. Totally frustrating and demoralizing.

I can tell you this: in the area where I teach, legal technology, we have more people asking to hire our grads than we have bodies to fill the jobs.

PM me if you want to talk legal tech. Find a way to learn document automation. There are great opportunities in this area.

Edit: typo.

gabutnotredneck1 karma

I'm a recent LS grad kicking himself he didn't go into IT. Is legal tech a feasible goal for someone who is tech savy/inclined but not much in the way of tech experience?

Gee101 karma

Yes. You should learn legal document automation. I'm trying to get an online course going here at my school to make available to JDs at a low cost, but, if you have to, consider learning Hot Docs (which is, in my view, the best software package available) on your own.
This is something that can authentically help the legal profession and society. There's a huge untapped market of middle class folks who can't afford $400 an hour attorneys and attorneys who have built practices so they can't succeed unless they charge that. With appropriate automation, you can charge clients a fraction and work many times more efficiently. It makes for a better justice system, a more satisfying career, and good use of the tools that are out there for us.

Feel free to PM me with questions or resources.

cslaw2201 karma

I'm currently getting a degree in computer science and I've always been interested in law. What would be the best route for getting a job in the legal tech business?

Gee102 karma

Right now, the easiest avenue is to learn document automation skills. HotDocs is the best software package to learn.

There are all sorts of opportunities in more coding-heavy law-related jobs, too. Something like $40m went into legal tech startups in 2013. There are many opportunities.

ShortStoutandBitter1 karma

Fairly basic question, but:

In your opinion, do you think past work experience would come into consideration when applying to Law school?

I have always valued street-smarts over book-smarts - you learn much more at a practice than you would from reading a textbook. I currently work as a legal assistant at a small firm who perform a lot of corporate-law type work, and I am only a year or two out from undergrad. Would my work experience be viewed as relevant, or help me gain further consideration when applying to schools? Coupled with (hopefully) good LSAT scores as well.

My thinking was that this work experience would show a genuine interest in the field, and help separate me from the pack, especially when the better schools are so inundated with applicants.

Let me know if you want a PM; I'd love to hear your insight.

Gee102 karma

In the current environment, the process of admissions is very, very stats driven, with a little bit of wiggle room for a compelling life story and/or set of experiences. But if the question is whether I think it should come into play; yes, if i was asked to design a law school, I'd include it as an important factor.

jaglo871 karma

I always wanted to go to Law school but in the end I ended up doing Accounting. For some reason I been thinking a lot about it lately. I am trying to decided whether if I should quit my job and go to Law school or not that leap. I guess my question is Did you always wanted to go to Law School or did you decide later on in life?

Gee101 karma

I went because my job for the gov't had funding to help send someone to law school and the boss suggested I go to law school at night while working for USSS during the day (with the implicit alternative being a nice posting in our Fairbanks, Alaska office). I ended up loving it.

Edit: let me give a plug for going to law school at night. Man, it was amazing. Fascinating classmates, a steady income during school, and it delays graduation by only a year (for some, only a semester).

PaulVene11 karma

I'm very glad to hear that this career path is rewarding.

As far as my questions go:

I'm an under grad student, about to enter my junior year, as an economics major (although I may switch to finance). I have heard that the application for law school is basically LSAT score, GPA, and not much else... How true is this?

Also, have you seen many with an economics degree at law school? Could it be a good base to build with during law school? Or are there options better suited?

What should I expect for a typical day in law school?

Also, I would love to try that program you have created, but I'm strapped at the moment with my current classes and textbook bills. I hope this project becomes permanent!

Moreover, I would to have your email, if I ever have any questions regarding the process.

And finally, you have actually created interest for me in legal technologies!! I don't know if that was your aim, but if I had to guess it'd be to promote your online study tool and to interest people in legal tech! So congratulations, you might have just set me on a specific course.

Anyways I really appreciate your help! Hopefully I hear from you.

Edit: grammar; I can't be very concise with a small screen.

Gee103 karma

LSAT/GPA are the key drivers to admissions, no doubt.

We have students with all sorts of degrees. I've had students who have everything from a Ph.D. from Harvard to cab drivers who got their degrees online. It's fascinating!

I'll leave the typical school day question to current students. For me, it's mostly meeting with students, writing, talking on the phone about programs and projects.

PM me for my email - glad to stay in contact if I can help.

thebaresheet1 karma

Would it be better to study law overseas or locally? I'm going to high school next year and a university fair was recently hosted in our school, there seems to be a lot of quality education overseas. Albeit so, would it not be inconvenient, knowing that you have to have a local license to practice law?

Gee102 karma

If you want to practice law in the US, then go to school here. In most states (maybe all of them...) you have to go to a US law school in order to sit for the bar exam. Many law schools have great summer abroad programs, so if you've got the travel bug, that's a good way to both go do law school and be eligible to practice.

thebaresheet1 karma

Well, I live in Hong Kong and there are no law schools in Hong Kong, though Hong Kong University is ranked Top 5 in Asia. Moreover, I'm studying the MYP curriculum and will be moving into the IB DP curriculum soon. Other than taking English, which Humanities/Individuals and Societies subject should I take? Psychology or History?

Gee103 karma

All of those work - law school is an exercise in being analytical. Any topic that helps you with reasoning skills will work.

If you're ESL, brush up on English. You seem perfect from this brief message, but schools will require TOEFL and a low score can be disqualifying, so you want to avoid that barrier (and, of course, the stronger your English skills, the easier it'll be to do all that reading).

jVestMan0 karma


I'm hoping to attend law school in the next couple years, once I have finished my studies at University. When I tell people that I hope to become a lawyer, many of them seem to think that "everybody tries to become a lawyer and none of them are able to find work". What would be your response to the necessity of lawyers in today's time AND what are your most critical pieces of advice in regards to getting into a good law program?

Thank you for your time!

Gee101 karma

We need great lawyers more than ever. Something like 80% of middle class and poor people have unmet civil legal needs. Last year, the Legal Service Corporation (a publicly funded org that promotes civil justice) turned down nearly 1 million cases.

There's plenty of need for lawyers...there's just little need for more lawyers to chase representing Coke and Pizza Hut. We need lawyers who build practices around representing the huge unmet needs of regular folks.

As for getting in...good LSAT and good GPA. It's largely a stats-driven process.

andrewnor100 karma

I'm going to school for poli sci with a minor in philosophy. In your opinion is that a good pre law program? What was your pre law major?

Gee103 karma

It'll do fine - I don't detect that pre-law majors matter all that much.

I was government and theology, so pretty darn close to what you're doing.

Touchdown_Knicks0 karma

In the US, do you foresee the federal legalization of marijuana occurring anytime in the near future?

Gee102 karma

That's a bit outside of my area, but just as an observer of legal trends...

I think no time soon at the federal level. I think little by little, states will decriminalize. At some point, enough states will do so that it'll just be generally accepted that it's "legal," that the Feds might act to get in on the tax revenues that might be realized. Until then, my guess is it's too politically risky at the political level to get support from Congress or the White House.

MomSaysImAGenuis0 karma

Any tips on how to salvage your eyesight in law school? I just got by midterms and holy hell is it taking its toll.

Gee105 karma

20/400 here. I can't help ya.