Saturday, December 03, 2005

Open Letter To Would-Be Hastings Students

Dear Prospective Law Student,

Generally, I try to keep the name of my current school off the site, lest google lead people to a supposed Hastings Law blawg. This site isn't a blawg, though sometimes it has blawg-worthy posts.

December is upon us here in law school land, which means yet another finals exam period and a depressing lack of holiday cheer. But what makes this semester different from my 6 others - oh yes, the 6 prior semesters and 5 prior finals periods (regular readers get the time line) - is that we have only half a school. Yes, kids, half a school. No library. I hated studying there anyway, but those library studiers had to go somewhere. No law cafe. No general study space. And 1400 students competing for study space adequate for about 400 of them. Now, not all students study on campus. But all students appreciate having the option.

So where does one go?

Well, not to Hastings if you have the option. At least not until the renovation is done in 2007. Take a few more years to work - it's the right choice, trust me. I'll save the usual "don't go" speech, this time, in favor of a "don't go now" speech.

Today I spent most of the day studying at the UCSF library. And what to my wondering eye should appear? Floors and floors of law students studying. Nary a medical student in sight.

I'd also like to take this chance to apologize to the UCSF students who we're crowding out.

So now, with that library closing at 8pm on Saturdays, and no Hastings facility worth treking to at this hour in that neighborhood, I am stuck at the local Starbucks, sitting by two chattering idiot medical students who aren't studying, and the 'bucks is out of nog, so no eggy treat either.

So, please, if you're going to make the mistake of attending law school, don't come to Hastings for a few years. Try USF, McGeorge, or even Golden Gate. They have really good professors. And campuses.

Yours truly,
Phoblog

8 comments:

jbl said...

Woohoo McGeorge!

(The grass is always greener though, we've got plenty of our own problems)

cd said...

You have a campus, I'm assuming; a lot of well-placed Sacramento alums, and if UC keeps raising fees, our value number tanks and so does our ranking. Because Hastings is SO up there as it is.

I've been poo-poo-ed, but I'd still say McGeorge may be the way to go for a lot of students - especially of the "I want the JD for the credential, not to practice, and I want to go to Sacto" variety.

So, Wooohoooo McGeorge, indeed.

jbl said...

Yes and no. We do have a campus (the largest law school campus in the world in fact).

We do have well-placed alumni (Bill Lockeyer and Deborah Ortiz to name a couple). But we have pretty bad alumni relations. UC fees keep rising, but they're still nowhere near private school fees (are they?). Our ranking is improving, but our bar passage rate just tanked this last go round.

McGeorge is good for a lot of students. And, overall it has turned out to be good for me. But it really isn't a haven for the "I just want the credentials and don't want to practice." I can say that because I am that guy. And I'm one of the very few who don't want to practice.

Even our Governmental Affairs program (of which I am a part) is geared towards those who want to be civil servants, not those of us who want political jobs.

(Are we really having this discussion about whose school is worse?)

It's a solid education, a decent school, but it certainly has it's problems. (Like active grade deflation, crotchety old professors, a ridiculous amount of requirements, etc.)

Mary said...

The administration has attempted to alleviate the problem of lack of study space, however that just is not possible. When you close a six story building which represents half of your square footage, how many options are there? I keep getting reminded by professors that a few years ago the other building where all of the classrooms are located was closed. They held classes in prefab buildings. At least there was a library. At least there was a place to go. And while classes in a prefab are likely not ideal, they did make space to compensate for the closed building.

I agree with cd, wait to go to Hastings. It is nearly impossible to find an area to study, and as grades are basically the only criteria in terms of hiring, it is not worth sacrificing grades because the library is closed.

The atmosphere in a law school during finals is already so charged. But when you have stressed out students who cannot find a place to study, that is a really bad thing. It just doesnt make sense to shut down an entire building without adequately addressing the space issue first.

As an editor of a journal, the closure of the library has also been quite the hassle. But I do realize that is a choice. Studying is not. I don't have to stay on the journal if I get too frustrated about having to go to the Boalt library, but I should not have to go there to study.

At least I get a tshirt (the school's giveaway..maybe they should say I am unemployed becasue of my grades, but we have a new building.)

I would urge forgoing the tshirt and waiting a couple of years to go to Hastings. And looking into Davis, McGeorge, or USF is definitely a better option until 2007.

jbl said...

How many journals does Hastings have? (No longer arguing, really just curious)

McGeorge has two journals (and one faculty published journal, oh and two online journals, neither of which are widely distributed or read like the published journals are, so they don't really count, do they?). Students have to be in top 25% of the first year class to be asked to write onto the Law Review, and in the top 50% to be asked to write onto the Transnational Lawyer (the international journal).

McGeorge is really good at promoting people with the highest grades (who don't really need the help because of their grades) and it largely ignores students who are not at the top of the class and while are getting a solid education and do well in real-world settings. (Yeah, I'm a little bitter - but I guess not having the top grades is largely of my own, conscious doing.)

On the other hand, I probably wouldn't have had many of the opportunities I've had if I'd gone somewhere else. Being in Sacramento has its benefits for government junkies.

cd said...

Journals are for suckers. Yeah, you heard me . . . .

Best decision I ever made at Hastings was to decline the invitation to write for a journal. We have like - what, Mary - 6? The big bad one, women's, environmental, law and poverty, entertainment, some new policy thingy I might have acutally been interested if it was around but still should've said no to, the international one. one on pacific rim polka law. who knows.

as far as schools ignoring those after the top 25%, i feel your pain. of course, with rampant grade inflation, even an over 3 GPA gets you bupkis at schools like ours. If you go to Boalt, you're set for life.

I'm not bitter - law firms probably aren't for me - unless you're reading this and want to pay me a lot of money, in which case, I love law firms, and I'm fantastic with clients. email me for a resume.

But yeah - long story short - if you want to go to Hastings, defer until we're renovated. Coming sooner is stupid.

jbl said...

Yeah, I generally agree that journals are for suckers, but you can't deny that they're great for resumes. I'm just saying that we don't have the same opportunities that students at other schools have.

Law firms aren't for me either, I don't think. Even if they do want to pay me a lot of money. (Unless it's a lot of money that I don't have to work much for.)

But I am bitter because students like me get the scraps that students at the top of the class get. And like I said, it's my own fault I'm not there; I'll be the first to admit that. But we shouldn't be treated like we are.

I'm also bitter because it's finals time and I'm a 3L.

mary said...

We have 7 official journals and one unofficial (which is the one I am on). We are a new journal who is hoping for accredation this year, so then we will have 8. I only did journal for the resume benefit. In several interviews it has been a hot topic of converstaion. Not that journal is everything, but my father is a hiring partner and I know for certian he did not hire one person because they rejected a chance to be on Law Review. Now, Law Review is different, because that is based on grades, not some writing competition. But I have found it has helped tremendously on the job front.

And to add to the finals griping, I am actually taking a final right now (24 hour take home), and yet still taking the time to post. Gee, tells you where my motivation is.