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#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

This week on #DearFindLaw, we're presented with the issue of joining a bar association while in law school.

There are many bar associations to choose from, and if you're a law student, you've probably got to join one eventually, right? After all, it's not a "cocktail party" if it's just you and your dog alone in your apartment.

So how can bar association memberships pay off for law students, and which one(s) are worth the annual dues? Here's what you need to know:

I see skies of blue. And clouds of white. Optimistic law schools. Ignoring their perilous plight.

For the past few years, we've seen ever-decreasing law school applications and LSAT test administrations. Fewer and fewer undergraduates are looking to the law as the next step, largely because this is a profession largely lacking in lucrative or meaningful opportunities. For the vast majority of law graduates, you're going to end up with a middling salary working in construction defect litigation, not as Judith Clark or Dana Latham. (Look 'em up, you've got plenty of time between cover letters.)

And yet, according to a Kaplan survey released Tuesday, admissions officers have stars in their eyes. Are they right?

And then there was "HTGAWM" Episode 5. Is anyone still watching this show? We are, though my editor is nearing his breaking point. Shondaland, where everything works out perfectly for unethical lawyers and their clients, and where everyone is having lots of sex, isn't for everyone. Anyway, if you're just now tuning in, we have recaps and reviews of all of the episodes. Now, back to Episode 5 -- SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Who's our Monster Client of the Week? A creepy teenage kid who shot his dad in the back, killing him. But don't worry: He did it for his mom, who was being beaten by his dad -- a cop. As for the ongoing murder mystery, the one that Goth Girl (Rebecca) has been charged with, we don't seem to have gotten any closer to figuring out who the real murderer is, unless the obvious choice (Prof. Annalise Keating's husband, whose body her students are trying to dispose of in various flash-forward clips) is it.

Mr. Keating, by the way, was sending pics of his privates to the dead girl and admitted to a wee little affair.

#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

Today's #DearFindLaw deals with 1L dilemmas. Now that you're getting the hang of law school, should you join or form one of these study groups everyone's talking about? And while you're at it, is it too early to think about this summer?

Are Study Groups Worth It?

Law school study groups will be forever memorialized in popular culture thanks to the smarmy, backstabbing students in "The Paper Chase" -- aka "The Only Movie About Law School, Other Than 'Legally Blonde.'"

In reality, even though there's not that much backstabbing going on at law school anymore, study groups do remain a viable method for learning the material, especially for people who learn better by talking than by listening.

Raise your hand if, at some point, you got slapped with a student loan bill for more than $1,000 per month.

If you haven't yet, and took out loans for law school, it's only a matter of time before some idiot loan servicer sends you a bill requesting more than half of your take-home pay. And for many people, their response will be to utter a few choice profanities and then to ignore the letter.

Don't. Default is bad, at least if you ever want to have a respectable credit score, own a home, or get out of debt. Instead, take a look at the available income-driven repayment plans. If you're working in public interest, your debt will disappear in 10 to 15 years. If not, you're looking at reduced payments until right around the time your child goes to college. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Last week, we talked about consolidating your loans to make them more manageable. Today, we'll look at reducing your monthly payments on your federal loans:

#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

Last week, I got a call from my big brother, a 1L at Louisiana State University. It seems that, while his laptop was sitting in the library, it overheated and fried the motherboard. Unfortunately, he didn't follow his little bro's advice and use cloud storage as a back-up.

He wants to know what to do, besides start listening to his brother. Here's how to get back to business, assuming you have a PC (Mac users ... just head to the nearest Genius Bar):

Previously, on "How To Get Away With Murder": Lots of murders, the least accurate depiction of law school ever, and sexy sexing for nearly everyone. See Episode 1 and Episode 2 recaps for more. Oh, and though it may be obvious: SPOILERS FOLLOW.

Episode 3 begins with more fun with the dead body (Prof. Annalise Keating's husband, Prof. Sam Keating), but mainly focuses on another case -- the hooker house mom who was once a domestic terrorist. If that (sans hooker) sounds like Patty Hearst, you and 300 fake 1Ls think alike, because they discuss the Hearst case and defense. This is your "defendant of the week" plotline, one that has no surprises whatsoever.

The real meat of the episode is WLW's (Wait-List Wes') possibly quixotic quest to help Goth Girl neighbor (Rebecca). The university is trying to get Keating's law firm to represent its star quarterback, who is quite obviously full of it and seems to have had something to do with the ongoing murder mystery (the dead girl from the first two episodes -- we know, there's a lot of murder in "HTGAWM"). WLW breaks the rules and does everything he can to rescue the reluctant Rebecca, but will he succeed?

#DearFindLaw - Advice for New Lawyers and Law Students from @FindLawLP

We're getting into the second month of law school, and 1Ls have learned how the Socratic method works, what their professors want to hear, and presumably how to study.

So does this mean that it's time to slough off and use case supplements -- especially those with convenient case summaries?

Is there any value in using case summaries? Or are there other study aids you should be using in your quest to be No. 1?

So, somebody sent me this earlier this week. I'm not sure how we missed this last year -- I try to never miss an opportunity to mock a "fix law school" or "reinvent law school" proposal -- but somehow, some way, it got lost in the stack.

Anyway, if you're interested in a four-year hybrid online-offline law school that costs the same as traditional law school, you have only a couple of months left to apply to the William Mitchell Hybrid Program. And while online legal education, as a means of delivering cost-effective degrees that can be obtained from anywhere (rural folks, twenty-somethings living with parents, military, etc.) is a good concept, there are a few reasons why this particular program may not be your best bet. Here are five you may want to consider:

If you haven't heard, Shonda Rhimes, the artist behind "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," and "Scandal," just came out with a law school/legal defense drama: "How To Get Away With Murder." It was the most intrigiuing of our Fall TV/Legal Drama Preview.

It's 1L year. Professor Kingsfield Keating is teaching Criminal Law, or as she likes to call it, "How To Get Away With Murder"! And instead of sticking to the boring Socratic Method, she's going for experiential learning. The best of her 879 (estimated) students will get to work for her criminal defense firm. And, of course, there's a murder case for the first episode.

How does the show stack up in terms of 1L year, real-life law, and Hollywood screenwriting tricks? (Spoilers to follow. Also, some of this will only make sense if you watch the show.)