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Going into High School

 
 
Reply Sat 28 Jan, 2006 10:21 pm
Hello everybody! I think I want to be some an attorney (most likely criminal or corporate) when I'm older. I'll be going into High School soon, and I'm picking my classes. I've been taking German for almost two years now, but many people tell me I should start Latin instead in High School. Which one should I take? Also, should I take more classes that focus on writing skills or classes that focus on oral and communication skills? Thanks in advance. I'd appreciate any other random tidbits of advice you have.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 1,863 • Replies: 18
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Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jan, 2006 07:30 am
SinnCrest--

Welcome to A2K.


Check out: http://www.able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=40678
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jan, 2006 07:40 am
If you are going into high school, concentrate on courses relating to history, government, written and oral communication. Lawyers need to be skilled in both the written and the spoken word.

When you have a day off from school, (and court is in session) spend a day watching trials. There is an organization:

http://www.toastmasters.org/

People practice oral presentations. You might want to look into that.

Obviously, you can't do all of this at once. The idea is, that if you are just going into high school, you want to spend this time as efficiently as possible, learning those skills, over time, that you will need as a lawyer. Good luck!
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jan, 2006 11:10 am
Also, get the best grades you can, because you want to go to a good college. Good college (with good grades) inevitably translates into a good Law School or at least getting into Law School at all, whereas mediocre grades in a middling college can mean no Law School, or Law School later, after you've had more life experiences and the like.

I'd also advise you to take a variety of classes. You may find something else that strikes your fancy. If you're about to go into High School, then you're, what, 13? 14? 15? That's awfully young to be deciding what you're going to do for the rest of your days. You may not think that, but it's true. So get a varied education. Don't feel this is the only path out there, because it certainly isn't.
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SinnCrest
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jan, 2006 04:07 pm
Thanks for the links, Phoenix, Noddy, and the advice, jespah.
I've checked out the "I want to be a lawyer!" thread already, it's been very helpful.

I'm taking all Honors core classes, hopefully I can handle it, and I plan to get good grades, haha.

It's a shame I'm not too interested in History, but I can get over that. I'm already gonna take lots of writing and oral skills classes, and I suppose classes about government as well. Now, I'm also very interested in Philosophy. Do you guys think some colleges/law schools/law firms would appreciate someone who has studied something a bit unorthodox like philosophy?

And I'm 13, btw.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jan, 2006 05:39 pm
SinnCrest, my undergrad degree is in Philosophy. Law Schools are very interested in that kind of an offbeat major (the top grad in my year was a guy who had been an archaeology major, and the number two guy had been a registered nurse before Law School), plus Philosophy gives you critical thinking skills. So, oh yeah, very big interest there and a very good idea.

When I first was accepted to Law School, a lawyer cousin of mine gave me a book, The Conscience of a Lawyer by David Mellinkoff. Even though I no longer practice, I found it to be an extraordinary book and I still remember it fondly.

You sound very mature for 13. Welcome to A2K and good luck in your studies.
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SinnCrest
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jan, 2006 05:42 pm
Thanks a lot, jespah. Why is it you no longer practice law though? I've heard that many lawyers become disillusioned after a while.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jan, 2006 07:07 pm
Oh, I had about 3 years of it and that was more than enough. I was a young woman and pretty much thrown into the lions' den. Very unpleasant (I was in NYC in the '80s, in personal injury defense. It was a lot of nasty, slimy guys, many of whom felt that being argumentative was a good idea). Anyway, I determined (hey, to thine own self be true) that I wasn't that competitive or argumentative. Plus I liked IT. I work as a voice recognition engineer right now, but I'm not completely extricated from the law, as I am a subject matter expert for a product we are developing (can't go into the details, corporate world hush-hush and all that). Smile

Thanks for asking.
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SinnCrest
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jan, 2006 07:41 pm
Wow, that sounds really exciting and interesting.

I guess I'm glad I enjoy debating and arguing, but I'm trying to accept the fact that I'd be doing tons of paperwork. Litigation sounds so much better than paperwork.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2006 09:03 am
There's always a huge amount of paperwork. One thing you need to be is organized. Worked with a gal (same year as me, actually she and I went to High School and I had dated her cousin, but that's another story) and she was constantly behind. And I could see how horribly that distressed her. But what can ya do? I had to bang out my own work.

There really aren't any good legal-type jobs where you remain actually practicing law that don't involve some form of paperwork or another, even being a Legal Aid attorney means you're filing or checking something. So writing skills are good, fast reading is really helpful, and being organized will definitely reduce your stress levels.

Then again, these are good skills for pretty much any field that requires a college degree. You write considerably better than most teens and that is a huge start. I shudder to think how briefs and memoranda will begin to look once the texting generation starts Law School.
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SinnCrest
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2006 02:52 pm
Yeah, I consistently score well on district essays, and I'm pretty sure I'm the best writer in my class, all modesty aside.

I need to work a lot on retaining information when reading though; I read very fast, but I don't remember much of what I read. I suppose it's what I get for reading almost all fiction books. I'll be sure to check out "The Conscience of a Lawyer" though.

I'll reask this: Should I continue taking German, or should I start taking Latin in High School?
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Dartagnan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2006 03:04 pm
I want to second those who recommend developing your writing skills, though I can tell you write really well already!

It seems as though fewer people can write clearly these days, so if you can, you'll have a great advantage in whatever career you pursue...
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2006 03:34 pm
Hmm, helfino re the languages. I suspect the answer will be a yes, but just in case it isn't, are you good at learning languages?

I had taken French and Spanish. I ended up placing out of the undergrad language requirement and so didn't take any language after 12th grade. It didn't really do anything to me, one way or the other, re Law School. That is, I don't think it affected me getting in or anything like that.

Latin probably won't hurt, although legal Latin is kinda different. George, if we can attract him to this topic, can tell you about Latin. Since you didn't mention International Law (doesn't mean that won't necessarily end up being your thing), I'd say a language is mainly good for (a) what it can do for you in college and (b) if it can, at all, help you with the Bar.

One thing about college, and someone told me this when I was about your age and I took it to heart, it was some of the best High School advice I ever got - ahem - Smile -

Take as many academics as you can, as many as you can stand, obviously without totally killing your social life, but, if you get the choice between regular and AP, for example, take AP. Choice between Gym and Advanced German? Take German. Why? 'Cause college costs money, and High School (at least, public HS) does not. So get your Freshman Composition, Language, and First-Year Math, Science and History outta the way before you set foot in a college, if that's at all possible. You'll be spending your money on what you want to take, as opposed to what you have to take.

I was able to get out of Freshman Comp and my Language requirement. I went into mid-level Calc (1st and 2nd semester classes) and breezed through them while others were struggling. I received credit for Freshman Comp, 1st year Bio and 1st year American History. As a result, I was able to take 2 semesters with only 3 classes instead of 4 and still graduate on time - once during the 2nd semester of freshman year, when I was blue and pretty much hated school (better to take only 3 classes with a bad attitude, than 4), and the other time was my last semester of senior year (better to only have senioritis with 3 classes rather than 4). Working my tail off in HS also paid off because, I kid you not, a lot of college ended up easier than HS.

My last year of HS, I took, hmm, 4th year Spanish, mid-level Physics, AP American History, AP English, AP Bio, Honors Pre-Calc (just below AP level) and Gym. This was about twice as much as was on my plate during any given college semester.
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SinnCrest
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2006 03:44 pm
Wow, I'll keep that in mind. I was thinking about doing PE during the summer anyway so I can get rid of the required one semester of PE during Freshman year, and do something else instead.

My Freshman electives (so far, I can change anytime) are Public Speaking, Debate I, German II, and then either Piano I or Debate II. The reason I have piano is because my high school requires me to take at least one year of some "fine art".

I'm Chinese, and I came to the United States when I was seven. Would that affect my chances of getting a job later on? (I believe I'm going to get my green card in a year or so.)
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2006 05:17 pm
Don't sweat Piano, it's always good to have something that's not 100% academic (I realize this will look like the opposite of what I just told you, so hear/read me out), because colleges also want you to be a well-rounded person. So things in art, music or even shop class can help fill the bill there.

I went to HS in New York (Long Island, to be precise), and there's a core curriculum required by the state, and another curriculum if you want a Regents scholarship. Getting a Regents diploma is harder and they only give you the $$ if you go to college in NY, and even then it's not enough. My brother won a Regents scholarship and it barely paid for his books at Columbia, and he got out of HS in '77.

I, too, got a Regents diploma, but since I attended college in Massachusetts, I had to forfeit it. No big loss, but the better diploma was a good thing. Anyway (man, I'm chatty today), NY required certain classes, and Gym and English were required all 4 years. Your state probably has similar requirements, so check with your guidance counselor. It would truly stink if you didn't graduate on time because you didn't play volleyball or something.

And it's also not that athletics is a nothing, er, thing. I was never anything even remotely close to varsity, but it is exercise and that's a good thing (I took a lot of dance, hence I know how to polka, a skill that has been as useful to me as taking an integral). But I digress.

If not stuff in class, then you will have to do some stuff outside of it, such as Drama Club, Chess Club, International Club, whatever. I did, um, Drama Club, Int'l Club and Honor Society. Can't recall if I did anything else. Like I said, I was never much of an athlete.

I have no idea if being Chinese will affect things one way or the other. Certainly you have the immigrant experience and colleges do love as much diversity and interesting backgrounds as possible. There are always people with great academics, but what a lot of colleges (not all, but many) look for is some measure of uniqueness. You came here at a time when most people are pretty much through with learning their chief language and, albeit I can't hear if you have any sort of an accent, I suspect you thrived. According to my linguist buddies (who hang out in the wonderful world of voice recognition), most kids are done, stick a fork in them, by about seven or eight, when it comes to really learning a primary language and not having to always think about it. Considering that the grammar and usages are very different, plus the different alphabet, that's a lot that you did right there. Even if you had English in school, even if it was spoken at home, it's still an uphill climb to really get into a second language and make it your main tongue. And the older you are, the harder it is.

Debate and Public Speaking sound wonderful. I don't think I really came into my own for public speaking until I was in college, so every bit helps. It definitely helps with confidence and poise. And I can't play any musical instrument (heck, I even stink at the kazoo), so my hat's off to you re Piano.

Dunno how many Asian folks are in the Law. I don't recall seeing more than a few, but keep in mind that I stopped practicing before you were born (I feel like I should add the words "young whippersnapper" to that. Somebody stop me). As a woman, I found I was mistaken for a Court Reporter an awful lot. Dunno if any of that experience would carry over to how things will be for you. I do hope they're easier.
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SinnCrest
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2006 05:30 pm
Wow, you write what my buddies refer to as "forum books". I really appreciate it, heh.

Yes, my school requires most of what you were talking about. As for extra-curricular activities, we haven't heard much about them yet, but I'm positive I'll be in debate club. I'll probably try out for the varsity soccer team, and whatever else that interests me.

I have a very minor accent problem, which I'm trying to remedy, but my vocabulary (and wit, giggle giggle) is far more advanced than my "fellow students".

Most of my mom's friends that are Asian and in law do either international law, immigration law, or something like that. None of them really do anything that's considered "caucasian territory", like constitutional or criminal law. Hopefully I have a better chance than them. Thanks for all your advice; now I have to work on an annoying Challenge Social Studies project.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 30 Jan, 2006 05:42 pm
Well, come on back when you're free -- as I'm sure you've noticed, there's a lot more to the site than the Legal forum.

Catch ya among the pixels. Smile
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 09:15 am
SinnCrest wrote:
I'll reask this: Should I continue taking German, or should I start taking Latin in High School?

I'll only add to what jespah has said already.

I'd recommend taking some foreign language. It really doesn't matter if it is German or Latin or Urdu. Lawyers don't need to speak Latin, even though they use (and usually mispronounce) Latin terms all the time. I've found, though, that studying a foreign language makes you a better speaker/writer of English.
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SinnCrest
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2006 02:28 pm
Alright, I think I'll continue German then. Thanks for the advice.
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