Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
As any 1L could tell you by now, the standard ice-breaker in most legal writing classes goes something like this: “Where did you go to undergrad and why do you want to practice law?” The second question will actually be an interesting one that will generally get an honest response. What you find if you pose the first question to 2Ls and 3Ls, however, is that the answers become much more frank. A friend of mine, for instance, recently explained his decision to come to law school this way: “Too many numbers in business school. I hate numbers.” Ah yes, nothing like noble aspirations to warm the heart. Still, we should all admit that, in coming to Hastings, many of us were merely choosing the best route in pursuing what one Corporations professor has identified as a time-tested triumvirate of motivating factors: power, money and sex. (According to that same professor, you really only need two of the three — once you have two, the third naturally follows. Right now, I’d take any one of them. But I digress …) OK, so many people come to law school to make the big bucks and get off on power trips. No big shocker there. The problem for people like my friend is that they won’t escape numbers by coming to law school. The fact is that despite the lack of a Corporate Finance class at Hastings, numbers often play a large role in the life of both a law student and a lawyer. Consider the importance of the following … � Class Rank Many at Hastings would have you believe that class rank is not that important. Really? So does that mean that all the on-campus-interview firms who say they will only interview students within the top 15 percent of the class are lying? Does that mean that the fact that only those at top of the class get the “premiere jobs” is merely a coincidence? Come on. Class rank apparently means a lot. And why not? People in the top 20th percentile are obviously much, much smarter than people in the 60th. Not only that, they probably are more organized, write better, and have more developed social skills as well. I bet they dress better, too — important in a business casual workplace. For the 2Ls and 3Ls, Hastings was kind enough to tell us exactly (to the number) how we did last year as compared to our fellow classmates. For example: “You are number 364 of 365. Have a nice day.” I’ve heard, however, that they’ve done away with this team-building system so that the 1Ls not in the top 15th percentile will now only know their percentile ranking. Despite what most people think, I’m not so sure that the change in policy was prompted by student protests. Instead, it was probably all the complaining by the career services office that students were rounding down when estimating their percentile ranking. That’s right, all you 2Ls, you better round up (from 50.5 percent to 51 percent, for example) or else your potential employers will be called and you will be sent to the corner to wear a dunce cap. Still, I believe that we should use our specific numerical rankings more, not less. For instance, why not use them as our student numbers? Then all the attendants at San Francisco’s Civic Center garage could know where we stand, too. Who knows; maybe the top 10 percent could get a discount. Or we could use the rankings to determine who gets to choose classes first. We could start at the top of the class and work our way down. � Salary This, of course, is the Big Kahuna of important numbers at law school. Everyone wants to know whether the firm you’re interviewing with or working for matched or exceeded the big Gunderson raise last year. That raise will have many of the same people you see falling asleep in class making more money than God next year. How much is that? $125,000 a year with a $20,000 guaranteed bonus. Truly amazing. With that much money, anyone of us might actually be able to pay our student loans off one day. But what is it with this whole “guaranteed bonus” thing anyway? Isn’t a bonus supposed to be … well, a bonus? You know, something in addition to your salary, given to you because you did something extra or because the firm was more profitable that expected? If you’re going to pay $125,000 a year and give a guaranteed $20,000 bonus, why not just pay $145,000 a year? Maybe there’s some tax reason that, after both Baby Tax and Corporate Tax, still eludes me. The more cynical among us (whoever they may be) would probably guess that the “bonus” is really the Big Guys’ way of making sure you stick around at least until the end of the year once you’ve started working and figured out what the real deal is. This leads us to our next category … � Billable Hours As most of us know, billable hours are a big deal to lawyers. Earlier this summer, for instance, The Recorder featured an article about a partner at one of the firms down in Silicon Valley who billed 3600 hours last year. That’s right, 3600 hours. First of all, can you say “fraud?” I mean, if this guy had taken five days out of the year for, God forbid, vacation time, he still billed an average of 10 hours a day every single day of the year. And, as many of the returning 2Ls and 3Ls can tell you, billable time does not include what it takes you to commute, to talk about your weekend with co-workers, to eat, to crap, or to do any of the other things normally associated with being human. Even if we were to admit that this guy was exaggerating his hours, the sad fact remains that, on his way to making a bazillion and a half dollars a year, he is still spending his entire life working in what is probably a dull, gray office. What’s worse is that The Recorder glorified this amazing animal on its front page as a “Billing Machine” instead of including him in the “Freak of Nature” section on the back page where he belongs. But I guess The Recorder knows what its readers think and want. They want to read about people who are miserable and figure out ways to be even more miserable themselves. So as Hastings, many of its students, and the legal community continue to perpetuate the gradual quantification of everything in life, we all might do well to remember one more number: three. According to another friend of mine, this is the number of months in private practice it will take some of us to realize we should have gone to business school.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.