Random Tips for Prospective Law School Students

<p>First, many law schools look askance at applicants who have criminal infractions, including minor ones. Why do they care? Many states have "good character" requirements for admittance to the bar. States ask law schools to opine regarding a law school graduate's character. When choosing between two good candidates, law schools will take the good over the bad any day of the week. My point is that the next time you are invited to a stoner party or a keg party, realize your moment of excess may be the turning point in your legal career. </p>

<p>Second, think about where you would like to practice law when choosing among law schools. Of course if you get into Harvard you can write your own ticket, but very few people get into Harvard. Most lawyers graduate from regional law schools. If you graduate from Pepperdine law school, you may have a great education but have difficulty explaining the quality of your education to a North Carolina law firm hiring attorney who thinks you graduated from Peppermint law school. If you want to practice in North Carolina, you will likely find an abundance of North Carolina schools meeting your needs.</p>

<p>Third, what you see on TV does not accurately represent what lawyers do. (maybe Court TV comes closest, but they choose cases based on sensation). If you want to see what some lawyers do, call the clerks office of your favorite courthouse and ask when traffic court is scheduled. Sit through several hours of traffic court paying close attention to the type of defendants appearing in the court. See if any of the drunk driving defendants show up wearing "Brew Thru" T-shirts. These are the type of "winner" clients who you may end up representing.</p>

<p>thinkingoutloud: A couple of points. 1) While I agree with you that minors should ALWAYS think long and hard before doing anything illegal, even drinking, law schools are not so myopic and as to totally look askance as soone who had a "youthful indiscretion." (I speak from experience here, but that is all I will say on that topic). The more critical point is when dealing with such a fact -- either on your application for law school or the state bar -- to be totally honest about it. Rather than take a wait-and-see approach, be proactive. Admit the fact, and give any truthful explanantion that speaks to mitigating your lack of good judgment. In short, if you puffed, don't tell then you didn't inhale.</p>

<p>Second, and a minor point, in most jurisdictions, traffic court is the criminal version of small claims court -- no laywers present. Drunking driving, without priors or injury, is a misdemeanor -- not an infraction -- and is usually dealt with in municipal court (or its equivalent). Also, the public does not need permission to attend a public hearing: it is a protected right under the constitution.</p>

<p>Thanks for your continued input.</p>

in most jurisdictions, traffic court is the criminal version of small claims court -- no laywers present.


I don't agree with you on that point. In any and all criminal matters a defendant has the right to counsel. (Rumor is that there is an Amendment about this; but who believes rumors.) If there is a risk of criminal conviction even if it is just a criminal fine, you can bet you will find lawyers. Your point about small claims court, however, raises another point -- the rise of small claims courts reduces the amount of business for lawyers. (Not a good thing, if you are a lawyer). I did not say or suggest you need permission to attend court, but I would add that there are some courts that are not public. For example, try to attend a child custody hearing without being a party or witness and the court bailiffs will throw you out on your constitution.</p>

<p>thinkingoutloud: there is no right to appointed counsel unless you are in jeopardy of losing your freedom. Since the nature and definition of an infraction is that it carries a fine, with no possibility of jail time, you have no right to appointed counsel. Thus, I stand by what I said earlier, in most, if not all, traffic courts you will not find people represented by counsel. Would you want to pay me $350.00 per hour to beat a $150.00 speeding ticket?</p>

<p>The rising jursidictional level of small claims court really does not, in my opinion, cut much into a lawers work. Again, it is a matter of economics. Most people simply cannot afford to hire a lawyer to sue for $5,000-$10,000: legal fees will cost you more than you can win. Raising the jurisdictional amount of small claims court simply allows for the reality that "things" cost more, and allows for more poeple to have their day in court. That, IMHO, is a good thing.</p>