Denver Bar Association
November 2000
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Holiday Gift for the Would-Be Attorney

by Leslie N. Muñoz


A book written by students, for students embarking on or considering a future in law.

If knowing truly is half the battle, then Robert H. Miller, author of Law School Confidential, A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students, has decorously armed his readers with the proper arms of information. In this step-by-step "survival guide" to earning a J.D., Miller provides his readers with extremely detailed instructions to "make it" in law school. An introduction to the work suggests an audience ranging from prospective law school candidates to current students to friends and loved ones of law students; however, the intense itemization provided throughout the majority of the 343-page book could surpass the attention span of anyone other than the admitted law student.

 

"A $17.95 investment in this book for the first 75 pages alone is profitable for anyone wrestling with the decision of 'to be, or not to be' (a lawyer that is)..."


Part one of the book deviates from this intent focus upon the intricacies of law school itself and offers excellent and straightforward guidance to those considering law school, expanding the audience to include "pre-law schoolers" for a solid 75 pages. The picture Miller paints does not attempt to obscure the pains and pressures of applying to and attending law school; rather, it illuminates and emphasizes the drudgery and toil involved, in order to dissuade those whose intentions of pursuing a J.D. are misplaced, while at the same time testing and refining the direction of future 1Ls. Informative descriptions of LSAT reviews and the test itself, a candid interview with Dean of Admissions Janice Austin of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, tips and instructions on choosing a law school, as well as financial-tutoring in the frightening arena of funding law school education all speak loudly and clearly to those embarking upon or considering a future in law. A $17.95 investment in this book for the first 75 pages alone is profitable for anyone wrestling with the decision of "to be, or not to be" (a lawyer that is), even and especially if Miller's candor forces the misguided law school prospect to admit his or her uncertainty and rethink the future.

The most ascertainable of Miller's readers is the law school admittee who is uncertain and uninformed, and who has a substantial chunk of time in the summer before embarking on his or her first year. Parts two, three and four of Law School Confidential will provide this excited yet apprehensive student with access to a group of mentors, headed by Miller, who are fresh out of law school and full of advice. Miller incorporates the opinions and guidance of nine other recent graduates from an array of law schools. The diverse areas of interest in the law, as well as forms of practice embodied by each mentor, is important to the quality and depth of the book. For example, mentor Bess Franzosa, who attended Boston College Law School, offers her perspective as someone who "wanted to be a prosecutor, but joined the labor and employment group at a large firm because (she) has to pay back $1,100 per month in loans." This standpoint is juxtaposed to that of mentor Allan Kassenoff, a U. Penn Law School graduate, who "from day one of law school . . . was always planning to work at a large New York City firm." Miller successfully employs this panel of mentors to strengthen the quality and guidance provided by his book.

The entire law school experience is carefully and clearly plotted by Miller, whose attention to detail and organizational skills are at times daunting and seem out of reach. The specificity paid to purchasing school supplies--Miller lists color codes, and even numerates a suggested supply of highlighters--budgeting time, and landing summer internships is immense and at times tedious. However, Miller usually drives home his point and justifies his detail (the seemingly anal highlighter suggestion is explicated in chapter eight, where Miller provides a well-thought system for case briefing). Excellent advice concerning 1L and 2L summer internships, law school journals, the bar exam and choosing a firm is accompanied by informative sections defining a tort, summarizing required law school courses and demystifying judicial clerkships. This abundance of information is just the remedy for the nerves of a student anxious to enter law school in the fall and will help to counter the lack of mentoring provided to 1Ls that Miller asserts exists in law schools around the country. Law School Confidential will make the perfect gift for summer interns or your favorite future 1L.

Leslie N. Muñoz is a student at Harvard University earning her B.A. in English and American Literature and Languages. She is a 2002 candidate for law school and was a 2000 summer intern at Metro Volunteer Lawyers in Denver.



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