12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I am going to have to branch away from the norm here, and not recommend this book. I've read both of Ann Levine's books now and honestly I feel as though each of them is overrated, however, between the two "Decision" is certainly the least informative.
For starters, it needs to be made clear that a large portion of the book isn't even coming directly from the author. She "cites" her study, which involved a group of 258 lawyers. In the very beginning of the book she practically admits that there are sample biases and other statistical issues with the study, yet this very study pretty much forms the backbone of the entire book. The core issue here, is that beyond a few charts and graphs, the nuts and bolts behind the study are never revealed in any sort of especially thorough fashion. Sure, a small chapter is devoted to methods, but even this is especially vague. Throughout the book this study is cited, though quotations and citations are always very informal and lack transparency. Because of this, it makes it very difficult to actually lend much credibility to the critical bits of information that are used on multiple occasions throughout the book. When the author isn't pulling from her own survey, she is loosely citing sources that range from quite reputable such as the American Bar Association, to completely subjective sources such as "Ask Men.com" (I am quite serious). Between these two extremes you'll find sources in blogs which themselves have no hard credibility and seem to have been taken entirely at face value. In essence, for a book that will constantly remind you of just how rigorous legal research is (and how amazing the author supposedly is at it), the body of citations is astoundingly weak.
Aside from source issues, the entire book suffers from what can best be described as a heavy veil of subjectivity on the part of Levine. Beyond this even, she constantly seems as though she is trying to remind us of her glorious life history. On multiple occasions she'll reference her status at the "top" of her law school class (though she is ambiguous about her exact ranking), her lawyer spouse, her storied history of being the best, and certainly not least that she has sent students to the Top 14. While all of these things have their place, she beats them to death and inserts them into wholly irrelevant areas of the book. It was almost as though the author was anxiously waiting for some detail to pop up in her research so that she could interject a bit of information about herself into every page possible. These interjections range from her playing tennis, to her being a feminist. While they do vary in detail, they all share a common trait in that they add absolutely nothing to the topic of the book.
Another issue with the book has to do with its date of publication, which placed it in a legal market that is becoming increasingly different than the one we find ourselves in today. A few years can make a large difference, but even if we put this lapse in time aside, the book was flawed even when it was freshly published. The issue is that a fair number of the ambiguous data points in Levine's study come from people who entered the legal profession long before the recent economic/professional crises. Sure, the author alludes to having younger respondents and even allows a few of them a voice, but the vast majority of career starting information is given by people who entered the profession in an entirely different time. These are people who may be very able to give advice on their respective positions, but offer horribly antiquated details for the soon-to-be law students or fresh bar examinees. In some ways, I'd even go so far to call some of the advice given in this book "dangerously bad." This most often crops up in the form of the author's own bias towards "Regional" law schools. I am anything but locked to prestige, but Levine would have you believe that all regional schools are created equal, and this is simply not true. She will certainly lure the reader along with "bootstrap" tales of the person who graduated from a no-name school and climbed to greatness, but at the same time gloss over the fact that it took them 7+ years (or longer) to get what the person from the "elite" school had on day one. Additionally, some "regional" schools perform so utterly terrible (See Law School Transparency for more information) that its not even worthwhile to attend them on a full-ride scholarship, due to the cost of living and opportunity costs. In her "Admission Game" book (Which she will advertise in "Decision," have no fear), she mentions that she gives hope to people looking into regional schools. This might be true for people considering strong a regional on a large scholarship, but for the majority of law school applicants this is terribly dangerous advice.
Levine also has an odd way of interpreting her own, and others' data. One such example deals with the relative happiness of law school students, which she actually provides no source for, at all. She claims that lower ranked schools turn out happier students, though this completely contradicts my personal experience. See what I did? I offered anecdotal evidence. Levine does this on multiple occasions, the difference is that I don't claim to be an expert. I think the author has elevated herself unto a pedestal she hasn't actually earned. Even great scholars are expected to cite details, Levine seems to eschew this step on multiple occasions and furthermore seems to be far from a great scholar anyways. Returning to the issue of interpretation, as part of her "selling" of regional schools she mentions a portion of her survey that showed that most respondents believe that their school itself granted them opportunities that they wouldn't have had at a lower ranked school. However, she then goes on to say that "only 86%" of these respondents attended a Top 20 school. What? Doesn't that actually weaken her position? In her mind, it does not. When trying to paint a picture that few students regret their choice of ranking, her own data seems to work against her. However, she glosses over this, and while she does lend voice to a disgruntled student or two, these voices pale in comparison to the entire chapters devoted to happy "bootstrappers."
In addition to all of the above, many questions a reader might have simply aren't answered. For example, on the issue of a JD/MBA, we are left with nothing more than "it depends." While that might be a great start, Levine simply leaves the point there and doesn't expand upon any further details. For a guidebook, I found that many issues were not given the details that they deserved and were instead reduced to tiny portions of a chapter (or even a page) that were on the whole uninformative. What answers Levine does go into detail on, in her own voice, seem to be entirely centered around her Alma matter, the University of Miami Law School. In fact, a disproportionate amount of information within this book comes from people affiliated with that same law school, which again weakens the integrity of the study as a whole (again due to sample issues).
All of the above aside, there are a few portions of this book that are effective and informative. Non-incidentally all of these sections are those which were written by people other than Levine. Arguably the best chapter in the entire book deals with the decision between being in-house or at a firm, and at least 95% of this chapter is not Levine's work or advice. She might throw in a tactful agreement here and there in these portions of the book, but make no mistake the most valuable lessons therein are not those offered by Levine. Still, if you can work through most of the weak information, there are a few good bits of information contained within that might possibly make the read worthwhile. That being said, I cannot recommend this book. I can't recommend it for the very reason that many such books aren't worth their price tag, you are paying for information that is available online in a much more concise format, and for free. Though Levine goes out of her way to discredit internet advice, she pulls from it herself on multiple occasions. As I mentioned before, many of the sources in this book have just been compiled, it doesn't increase their validity just because Levine received their approval to use them in her book. The Law School Decision Game could have been very good, but suffers from not only factual issues, but formatting issues as well (For someone who was apparently so good at law school, this book is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors, additionally Levine doesn't formally introduce acronyms and instead just assumes you know what they are). As such, you would best spend your money elsewhere, preferably from someone who has a depth of personal experience in practicing law, Levine, by her own admission, does not.
15 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
"If given the opportunity to do it all over again, would they?"
That's the key issue in Ann Levine's The Law School Decision Game. For many lawyers, the answer is yes. But for many others--myself included--the answer is a resounding no. If I had read this book before attending law school, I wouldn't currently be $150,000 in debt.
Levine provides a disclaimer on the first page: "It may talk you out of law school." This echoes the disclaimer I give on the first night of my LSAT classes: "If I can talk you out of law school, then you shouldn't be there in the first place."
The point isn't that law school is evil, or an inherent waste of money. The point is to make a smart decision. Before The Law School Decision Game, making a smart decision required working your personal and professional networks, making a lot of phone calls, inviting lawyers for coffee, shadowing them at work, and a lot of other hassles that many prospective law school students are too lazy for. But Ann Levine and her staff have done all this legwork for you, interviewing 300 lawyers across the country. The findings are distilled into 240 little pages, which is the equivalent of your first week's reading in law school. (Except nothing you read in school will be nearly as interesting or useful.)
So let me put it this way: Without knowing you, I can't know whether or not law school is right for you. But if you're not willing to do your due diligence, then you should absolutely not attend law school. As Levine advises the "is law school right for me?" crowd at the end of Chapter 1, "If you're unwilling to [interview three lawyers], then you've made your career decision."
The findings vary as widely as lawyers do--some couldn't be happier, and some think law school was an incredible waste of time and money. I'll just hit a few bullet points:
* Chapter 2 is a discussion of the wide range of lawyers Levine surveyed for the book. But the highlight of Chapter 2 is a figure 2.6, which I now recreate on the whiteboard for all of my incoming LSAT classes--it deals with the bimodal distribution of lawyer salaries. The question is "Assuming the median salary of lawyers is $105,000, how much do you currently make?" The results are shocking: Less than 10 percent of respondents answered "about the same." So if you're attracted to law school by the $105,000 "average" salary earned by lawyers, you need to realize that almost nobody makes that amount. True, over a third of Levine's respondents said they make "significantly more." That's great, right? I'm glad you're excited. But here comes the bucket of ice water in your lap: Almost a third of respondents said "significantly less." How would you feel about making a $40,000 salary to go along with your $2,000/month law school loan payments? That's the reality for many, many law school grads.
* Chapter 3 is an in-depth discussion on "Reasons to Go to Law School." My favorite is figure 3.1, which shows that law school applicants and actual lawyers tend to cite different reasons for going. The differences are illuminating. Law school applicants, for example, heavily cite "making a lot of money," "wanting a prestigious career," and "job security." Real lawyers (who know the reality of the job market) rarely cite those things. Instead, they think good reasons to go to law school are "enjoying researching and writing" and "learning to think like a lawyer." Whose opinion do you value more?
* Chapter 4 compares lawyers on TV to lawyers in reality. I like figure 4.1, which cites "willingness to work hard," and "attention to detail" as the top two requirements actual lawyers cite when asked what traits are important in their field. Wait, what? Willingness to work hard? I also quite like this line: "[Lawyers] work 9 to 10 hours a day, see their children at night, and enjoy weekends with their families (even if they have to work a few hours on a Sunday afternoon)." That adds up to a 50+ hour week. Is that how you want to spend your life? If you think the point of investing $150,000 and three years of your life is so that you can graduate and not work hard, you're in for a big surprise. Plumbers also work hard--but at least they make triple-time on Sundays.
* On that same note, from Chapter 4, from a real lawyer: "It's a way to make a good living, but it's not a good way to make a living." Think about it.
* Chapter 5 is about money--some lawyers are definitely making it! Find out who they are, where they are, and what it takes to get on their career track.
* Chapter 6 addresses the recent media backlash against law schools amidst a bad economy and tough job market for lawyers. How bad is the market, really?
If you're not sold now, you'll never be sold. I'll let you explore Chapter Seven ("Hindsight: Would Lawyers Make Different Choices"?) and all of Part Three ("A Life in Law") on your own. Like Levine's first book, this book is a gem--and more than worth its modest $15.95 list price. If you don't read it, I don't think you're serious about being a lawyer.
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