Legal Burnout (Ep. 420)
1:14:52Kate Bridal and Josey Hoff, hosts of The Legal Burnouts podcast, join Ben and Nathan to discuss why burnout is such a common problem for legal professionals. They advise future lawyers on how to plan for a healthy, sustainable career. Follow Kate @bridalpartyof5 on Instagram and TikTok, and follow Josey @jh_thelegalburnouts on Instagram. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 420 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 1:47 - Legal Burnout - Josey and Kate share their stories of burnout and warn listeners about the realities of legal practice. Toxic law firm culture, zero work-life balance, pervasive mental health and drug problems, and student loan debt all plague legal professionals. Even if you love the law, you may never enjoy working in the law. 26:08 - Nonprofit and Public Interest Work - Kate and Josey describe the emotional tolls of working for nonprofits in the public interest. While many people aspire to do this kind of work, systemic issues make it more challenging and less fruitful than they’d envisioned. Law students often feel constant pressure from their peers and their law schools to work in a traditional law firm—not in the public interest. And practically no one follows through on plans to leave big law for a nonprofit once their student loans are paid off. 1:02:48 - Advice for Students - Josey and Kate advise prospective law students to seek out lawyers and to gain law firm work experience before deciding to go to law school. They also explain the importance of setting personal boundaries in law school and with clients so that the law doesn’t consume your life. 1:07:00 - The Legal Burnouts Podcast - Kate and Josey share the backstory on how they met, why they decided to start their podcast, and who some of their favorite guests have been so far.
Loan Forgiveness Traps (Ep. 419)
1:26:13Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAPs) are often touted as silver bullets of student loan debt relief for low-earning public interest lawyers. But as good as loan forgiveness sounds, LRAPs are riddled with caveats and conditions that may leave some students with far bigger student loan bills than expected. This week, Nathan and Ben present a list of questions that any LRAP hopeful should ask. They conclude that an upfront scholarship should always be preferred over dependence on loan forgiveness. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 419 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 1:12 - Real-Life LR Flaw - The guys crack up over some car shopping advice that reads like a flawed argument from LSAT Logical Reasoning. 3:39 - LSAT Writing - Listener Dastin provides an update on the functionality of the LSAT Writing interface. You can use the cut, copy, and paste commands while writing your official submission, but not while taking notes in the “digital scratch paper.” 5:45 - New Test Dates - Additional test dates have been added to the October 2023 and November 2023 administrations of the LSAT. Sessions have been added on October 15 and 16 as well as November 8 and 9. 7:19 - August LSAT Shout-Outs - Ben and Nathan give props to LSAT Demon students who crushed the August LSAT. The guys implore listeners not to settle for a lower score than they’re capable of. 19:50 - August LSAT Disappointments - Not everybody who took the August LSAT was happy with their score. Nathan and Ben address some common reasons for underperformance on test day and share advice on how to avoid these pitfalls in the future. They also counsel patience to anyone who feels rushed to apply with a less-than-great LSAT score. 33:31 - Diminishing Returns on Retakes - How high do you have to score before retaking no longer makes sense? It depends on where you plan to apply. 36:35 - LSAT First, Apply Later - Nathan and Ben recap an admissions event that dished out some questionable advice for law school applicants. 54:57 - Loan Repayment Assistance Programs - A friend of LSAT Demon and current student at Yale Law proposes some questions to ask before committing to a top school’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). These programs may sound appealing, but they’re often far less helpful than you’d think.
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Demystifying Judicial Clerkships (Aliza Shatzman) (Ep. 418)
51:53Ben and Nathan are joined by Aliza Shatzman, founder of the Legal Accountability Project. Aliza describes the project’s mission to bring greater transparency to judicial clerkships and to promote positive clerkship experiences. She and the guys discuss why law schools sometimes obscure the truth about judicial clerkships, how the Legal Accountability Project will democratize information regarding clerkships, and what future law students can do now to prepare for clerking. You can find Aliza on LinkedIn and Twitter @AlizaShatzman. Follow the Legal Accountability Project on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @The_LAP_ LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 418 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 1:12 - The Legal Accountability Project - Special guest Aliza Shatzman recounts how the harassment and discrimination she faced as a judicial clerk led her to create the Legal Accountability Project. She advocates greater transparency and workplace protections for judicial clerkships. Read Aliza’s testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. 11:51 - Clerkships Database - Aliza introduces the Legal Accountability Project’s Clerkships Database, which aims to democratize information about judges and serves as a “Yelp for clerkships.” Aliza describes how she’s working to gain the support of judges and law schools. 36:19 - Advice for Future Law Students - Aliza offers advice to future law students who may want to pursue judicial clerkships: Start networking with judges and professors early, apply broadly, and don’t assume that your law school’s guidance is sound. Aliza also explains why federal clerkships aren’t always better than state clerkships.
Are You Ready to Take the LSAT? (Ep. 417)
44:31With the deadline to register for the October LSAT only days away, Nathan and Ben share some advice to students who are on the fence about registering. Simply put, your recent practice test scores will tell you whether you’re ready to take the test. The guys also consider what a “reasonable” price for law school would be, discuss how best to negotiate law school scholarships, and uncover a pearl of wisdom regarding Main Point questions in RC. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 417 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 2:20 - October LSAT Registration - Nathan and Ben counsel LSAT Demon student Nafosat on whether she’s ready to register for the October LSAT. 7:25 - U. Chicago Settlement - Ben and Nathan comment on a recent Reuters article about alleged price fixing by elite U.S. colleges and universities. The guys remind applicants that law schools are in it for the money. 14:24 - Don’t Pay for Prestige - An anonymous listener asks whether it’s reasonable to pay $40k annual tuition to attend an elite law school. Nathan and Ben discourage listeners from paying for “prestige.” 20:18 - Negotiating Scholarships - Listener Perrin asks how to negotiate law school scholarships. Ben and Nathan recommend applying broadly to discover your value in the marketplace, then using better offers as bargaining chips. LSAT Demon Daily, Ep. 163: How to Negotiate Law School Scholarships 24:51 - Saving Practice Tests - Ben and Nathan assure students that there’s no need to save newer practice tests for later. 25:32 - Pearls vs. Turds - LSAT Demon team member Elizabeth suggests a fun way to judge Main Point answer choices in Reading Comprehension. 28:51 - Personal Statement Topic - “I’m boring,” laments an anonymous LSAT Demon student struggling to pick a personal statement topic. Nathan and Ben encourage Anonymous to write about a work experience that showcases their work ethic and problem-solving skills. 32:22 - Focus on Accuracy - Listener Mason feels discouraged because he’s still scoring -10 in Logical Reasoning. Ben and Nathan instruct Mason to slow down and focus on accuracy. 35:43 - Test Limit Exemptions - When requesting an exception to LSAC’s limits on repeating the LSAT, it’s not enough to cite “underperformance” on official tests. Nathan and Ben consider the sorts of extenuating circumstances that might qualify for an exemption from the five-test limit.
Legal Writing and AI (Ross Guberman) (Ep. 416)
1:11:35Ross Guberman is one of the world’s top legal writing experts. He’s the author of Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates, and Point Taken: How to Write Like the World’s Greatest Judges. His newest project, BriefCatch, is an AI-powered legal writing tool that offers real-time editing suggestions on legal documents. Ross joins Ben and Nathan to discuss law school, legal writing, and the evolving role of AI in the legal profession. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 416 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 0:45 - August LSAT - Ben and Nathan address the technical difficulties that arose during the August LSAT. They encourage test takers to embrace such challenges rather than crumple under the stress. 9:33 - LSAT Demon Discounts - LSAC fee waiver recipients can get four months of LSAT Demon Basic for only $38, or 20% off any paid plan. Visit lsatdemon.com/plans or email [email protected] to learn more. 13:07 - LSAT Demon Discord - LSAT Demon subscribers can join the LSAT Demon Discord to connect with teachers and fellow students. 13:31 - Updates to LSAT Writing - LSAT Writing no longer allows the use of physical scratch paper. Test takers will instead have “digital scratch paper” available in the testing interface. Read more about LSAT Writing’s requirements and prohibited items here. 16:49 - Introducing Ross Guberman - Legal writing expert Ross Guberman reflects on his career as a lawyer and legal writing consultant. 30:21 - The Value of Law School - Ross, Nathan, and Ben criticize law schools for inadequately preparing students to pass the bar and find legal work. 46:22 - Great Legal Writing - Ross describes how his experience conducting writing workshops for judges and lawyers led to the creation of BriefCatch, an AI-powered tool that aims to standardize legal writing. 59:59 - ChatGPT - Ross and Ben discuss how lawyers are currently using AI tools like ChatGPT and what sort of legal work such tools could automate in the future.
Diversity in Law School Admissions (Sydney Montgomery) (Ep. 415)
1:14:50Sydney Montgomery is the Executive Director and Founder of Barrier Breakers, a nonprofit that aims to increase access to higher education for BIPOC and other marginalized students. Sydney returns to Thinking LSAT to share her insights into what the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action means for applicants of color. She and the guys also discuss perils of student loan debt and Sydney’s work to help applicants secure their best possible scholarship offers. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 415 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 0:00 - Introducing Sydney Montgomery - Sydney Montgomery introduces her edtech software company, Outline It, Inc., which helps students organize and outline their writing projects. She then speaks about her admissions consulting work through Barrier Breakers and S. Montgomery Admissions Consulting. Sydney insists that anyone pursuing law school answer two questions: Why law school? And why now? 17:21 - Supreme Court Decision - Sydney reacts to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action in college admissions. She believes that the decision will lead to much confusion in law school admissions and increase the burden on applicants of color. She maintains, however, that the elements of a strong application have not changed. 29:37 - Student Loan Debt - Sydney acknowledges that graduate students of color have about twice as much student loan debt as their white counterparts. Barrier Breakers aims to help applicants and students make sound financial decisions at every stage in their journey. Law school should be an opportunity to break cycles of generational poverty and debt—not to create more. 57:48 - Scholarships - Sydney encourages applicants to apply broadly to increase their chances of receiving excellent scholarship offers. She also steers applicants away from conditional scholarships, which Nathan and Ben dub “scams.” Sydney and the guys agree that the best thing for many applicants to do is postpone their applications and work on increasing their LSAT scores.
Big Bad Law (Cece Xie) (Ep. 414)
58:59Cece Xie is a lawyer, writer, and content creator who became wildly popular on social media while working as an associate at a big law firm. She joins Ben & Nathan to talk about her upcoming book. They discuss why law schools push students toward big law and what it takes to climb the law firm hierarchy. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 414 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube Follow Cece on Substack, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and her website. 0:00 - Introducing Cece Xie - Ben and Nathan welcome Cece to the show and ask what she’s been up to after leaving her job in big law last year. 8:22 - Cece’s Book - Cece shares some details about her upcoming book: part memoir, part exposé of big law culture. 17:56 - The Big Law Pipeline - Cece describes the mutualistic relationship between law schools and big law recruiting. She warns listeners that career services offices don't have students’ best interests at heart. And neither do law firms. 27:48 - Thriving in Big Law - The skills that make you a good junior associate won’t help you make partner. Cece explains why business development is crucial to advancing your career in big law. 38:38 - Big Law Compensation - Cece breaks down the reality of big law compensation and explains why it’s less stable than many people think. 42:45 - Making Connections - Knowing the law gets you only so far in big law. Cece shares how a successful lawyer forms strategic connections within the firm’s hierarchy. She encourages listeners to schedule face time with lawyers to explore different practice areas. 55:11 - No More Ctrl+F - Starting with the August test, the LSAT will prohibit the use of keyboard commands, including Ctrl+F. Test takers will now have the option to use a search bar in the test interface. Nathan and Ben still don’t recommend using the search function.
Building Confidence in Reading Comprehension (Ep. 413)
1:42:40Perfect accuracy on LSAT Reading Comprehension is within your reach. LSAT Demon teacher Chris Murphy joins Nathan to help listeners maximize their potential in RC. Chris and Nathan describe what confidence looks like in RC and why it’s crucial to success. They also praise the shift to online education, consider possible downsides to retaking the LSAT, and assess a Pearls vs. Turds candidate about leaving answer choices open. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 413 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 0:00 - August LSAT Pretest Pump-Up - Chris and Nathan invite August test takers to LSAT Demon’s Pretest Pump-Up on August 9. Come meet fellow test takers and get last-minute tips from LSAT Demon teachers. All you need to join is an LSAT Demon Free account. 3:27 - Online Law School - An anonymous listener worries that attending an online law school could hurt their networking opportunities. The guys explain why the opposite might actually be true. Nathan maintains that the future of law school and the legal profession is online. 31:48 - Building Confidence - An anonymous LSAT Demon student struggles to commit to answer choices in Reading Comprehension, frequently double-checking answer choices they’ve already eliminated. Nathan and Chris suggest how Anonymous can find some RC swagger. 47:14 - Perfect Accuracy in RC - Listener Joe has yet to achieve perfect accuracy on RC passages despite slowing down. Chris and Nathan remind Joe that slowing down is not enough. Start predicting answers, and embrace the idea that on Reading Comprehension, they’re all Must Be Trues. 57:12 - Downside to Retaking? - Is there ever a downside to retaking? Some listeners question Nathan and Ben’s recent advice about whether to retake a 174. Nathan reiterates that as long as law schools only care about your highest scores, there’s really only upside to retaking. 1:33:43 - Pearls vs. Turds - Chris and Nathan assess a student’s advice on not eliminating answer choices too quickly.
Why We Don't Diagram in LR (Ep. 412)
1:42:28Diagramming in Logical Reasoning is time-consuming, confusing, and error-prone. Ben and Nathan advocate an intuitive approach to Logical Reasoning that promotes real understanding and long-term growth. In this week’s episode, the guys warn listeners of the perils of LR diagrams and demonstrate a commonsense alternative. Later, they recommend an ASAP approach to reviewing mistakes, discourage school list disclosures on applications, and advise students not to skip “hard” questions in timed sections. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 412 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 1:53 - Meditation - A listener praises LSAT Demon’s guided meditations and reminds fellow students to breathe. 3:31 - Don’t Diagram in LR - “It’s painful, boring, difficult, and confusing.” Nathan and Ben explain why they don’t diagram in Logical Reasoning. They demonstrate a more intuitive approach using an example from PrepTest J. 37:59 - Review Immediately - An anonymous LSAT Demon student struggles to explain their mistakes when reviewing questions they drilled hours earlier. Ben and Nathan insist on reviewing mistakes right away—especially in drilling. 45:24 - Where to Start? - Listener Aidan asks if he should master his strongest section before moving on to the other two. Nathan and Ben instruct Aidan to study all three sections from the start. 50:26 - Disclosing Your School List - Some law schools ask you to disclose the full list of schools to which you’re applying. The guys recommend that applicants leave this question blank if it’s optional. Your answer won’t help you, and it might hurt you. 55:35 - “Stated” Questions in RC - An anonymous Ask Button correspondent bemoans how long it takes them to answer Stated questions in Reading Comprehension. Ben and Nathan diagnose Anonymous’s problem: reading the passage too quickly. 1:08:26 - ChatGPT for Applications - In last week’s episode, LSAC’s Kyle McEntee suggested that some law schools will start asking applicants whether they used AI in the creation of their applications. Listener Fran asks why anyone would disclose this information if the schools can’t determine it on their own. Nathan and Ben discourage using ChatGPT for law school applications in the first place. 1:13:25 - Don’t Skip Questions - Skipping the hard questions isn’t just a bad strategy—it might not even be possible. The guys dismiss question-skipping as an unhelpful gimmick that stymies real progress. 1:18:00 - Soft Factors - Listener Noah asks whether his work experience will give him a leg up on other applicants with similar hard stats. Ben and Nathan advise Noah not to use strong softs as an excuse to slack off on the LSAT. 1:26:04 - Income-Driven Repayment - Listener Justin suggests a new consideration for the guys’ discussion about President Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan. Nathan and Ben are unswayed.
LSAC's Kyle McEntee (Ep. 411)
1:26:12LSAC’s Kyle McEntee rejoins the pod to share info about LSAC’s resources for law school applicants. Kyle and the guys also discuss the recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action, the difficulty of fixing the problem of student loan debt, and law schools’ responses to applicants’ use of AI. LSAT Demon LSAT Demon iOS App LSAT Demon Daily Watch Episode 411 on YouTube Thinking LSAT YouTube LSAT Demon YouTube 0:57 - Admission Unmasked - Kyle introduces Admission Unmasked, a free program of live events and on-demand learning modules designed to help applicants navigate the law school admission process. 7:27 - Supreme Court Decision - Kyle shares his perspective on how the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action will impact law school admissions: applicants shouldn’t let it affect where they apply. 11:01 - LSAC’s Mission - Kyle discusses LSAC’s mission to advance justice in the legal system and explains why the LSAT is a tool for equity in law school admissions. He points future law students to LSAC’s Ultimate Law School Prep course. 14:10 - Law School Forums - Kyle welcomes listeners to attend an upcoming LSAC Law School Forum. These forums give applicants a chance to meet directly with law school representatives and ask questions. 18:50 - Student Loan Debt - Kyle weighs in on the problem of law schools’ outrageous tuitions and argues that admissions officers share students’ concerns. Nathan and Ben emphasize the need for federal student loan reform—Kyle worries that capping student loans could hurt access and equity in college admissions. 34:09 - AI for Applications - Kyle urges caution to applicants using generative AI tools like ChatGPT. Law schools are still determining their policies regarding AI, and some schools may ask students whether they used AI to prepare their application materials. 45:17 - August LSAT Registration - Kyle provides an update on August LSAT registration. The registration system experienced some early glitches, but all tools are now back online and working. 53:22 - Income-Driven Repayment - Ben and Nathan react to an article from Reason magazine claiming that President Biden’s new income-driven repayment plan will probably drive tuitions even higher. The guys expound on the perils of debt and warn applicants not to listen to advice that comes directly from law schools. Freakonomics Radio, Ep. 377: The $1.5 Trillion Question: How to Fix Student-Loan Debt?