Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Law School Admissions => Topic started by: dnis913lv on August 14, 2012, 04:31:11 PM

Title: My chances
Post by: dnis913lv on August 14, 2012, 04:31:11 PM
I know these boards are flooded with posts like these, but I am in a tight position right now.

Long story short -- I currently have a 2.5 GPA with 2 semesters left (hopefully I can get up to a 2.75+, maybe extend for a 3rd semester to get above the 3.0 hump). The reasoning for my low GPA is that I worked a 40+ hour a week job in a managerial position at a major hotel to help support my family. After 2007 we were severely affected, and I had no other option but to work to pay for my own college. Financially speaking, I am doing well, and in fact, may be able to expense my first year of law school out of pocket (depending on the school of course).

I live in Las Vegas, and ideally would love to practice law in Las Vegas. I am eye balling Boyd School of Law (UNLV), but  I am open to other schools (Syracuse, Nova, Marquette, UC Irvine etc..). I understand that I may have to look at certain t3 or t4 schools but I was wondering what my shots are at Boyd, or any top 100 law schools, by providing my addendum. I have very strong work experience (which is the reason my GPA was affected), and my GPA in classes that are 3/400 level is well over a 3.6+. In addition, is there anything I can or should do to leverage my GPA (take easy classes, pick up another major?)

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on August 14, 2012, 05:41:02 PM
Without an LSAT score it's nearly impossible to handicap your chances at a given school. Law school admissions is a numbers game, and your GPA/LSAT profile will pretty much determine where you'll get win. Factors like work experience, grade trend and distribution, biographical factors, etc are all "soft" factors. They will only come into play if you are on the borderline of admit/not admit, if at all. The vast majority of applicants are simply admitted based on numbers.

Assuming that you can raise your GPA to 2.75 (3.0 seems like a stretch with only three semesters left), I think you'd need something like a 160-165 to have a good shot at UNLV/Marquette/Syracuse, and 155-160 (maybe even lower) for Nova. Although UC Irvine is new, it's admissions criteria are high. You'd probably have to score 170+, and even then your GPA might keep you out.

If you haven't taken the LSAT yet, start preparing now. A high score will not only give you a better shot at admission, but may even get you some scholarships. Even with a low GPA an LSAT of around 165 would probably get you some scholarship offers at T3-T4s. Something to consider if you have a family.

One last thing:
if you want to practice in LV, look at local schools. Going to school in Milwaukee or Florida is not conducive to obtaining internships in LV, or making connections that will help you land a job after law school. The job market is tight, and you'll need to gain some experience in the area in which you intend to practice. It's much easier to obtain that kind of experience if you're already in the region. Along with UNLV, you might want to check out Arizona, Utah, and California schools too.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: legend on August 14, 2012, 09:44:39 PM
Before I say anything realize that I or anyone else posting on this board or others are nothing more than anonymous internet posters whose advice should be taken with a heavy grain of salt. However, I have gone through law school so I can offer some advice to you.

First and foremost it appears you are making the all to common 0L mistake of putting heavy emphasis on law school rankings. Remember that U.S. News is nothing more than a for profit, unregulated magazine offering an opinion. The top 100 change every single year for example I graduated law school 5 years ago and my school was in the 70's when I started it has been tier 3 and last year was in the 11 way tie for 84th place. When I go into court the judge doesn't look up the law school rankings and make million dollar decisions based on the magazine. Instead it is me versus the other attorney and I have never heard an attorney name their law school in open court or put in a brief, memo, etc. When your outside of the law school bubble getting results for your clients are what matters not some unregulated, for profit magazine offering an opinion

To further my point U.S. News ranks more than law schools Albequre is the best place to live according to them. (for your reference) .

Then by 2032 you the best places to live will be South and North Dakota and of the major factors in this is the availability of dental visits, I am not making this up. (for your reference) .

I doubt you will move your family, quit your job, etc to move to North Dakota, South Dakota, or Albuquerque based on the rankings cited above and law school is no different.  So please when making the life altering choice of the city you will spend three years of YOUR life in, spend 100,000 of YOUR money, and obtain YOUR legal education don't let some magazine make the decision for you.

With that said your GPA is going to be a bar to get into almost any ABA school unless you do extremely well on the LSAT. In your scenario UNLV would probably be the best option if Las Vegas is where you want to live. The reality is whatever city you attend law school in is likely where you will spend the rest of your life. If you spend three years of your life in Milwaukee you will likely end up there. Reason being you will have an apartment, make friends, enter into a relationship etc while in Milwaukee this will be hard to leave.

I have had a long day so sorry if this post is a little incoherent I apologize, but please use your common sense when applying law school don't make a life altering decision based on a magazine. However, I am nothing more than an anonymous internet poster so maybe I am wrong, but you better get to South Dakota by 2032 if your going to let U.S. News run your life. 
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: dnis913lv on August 15, 2012, 01:28:52 AM
Haha, thank you for your insight.

I am looking at New York schools as well, as I grew up in New York and have many friends and family out there. I understand my GPA is going to be my biggest downfall, and I am hoping I can come strong with a good LSAT score, and a strong addendum explaining my situation. Obviously UNLV is my #1 pick. Thankfuly, I built a strong connection with a professor who used to teach at Boyd, and is going to write me a letter of recommendation.

Would picking up another major be beneficial if I know that second major will be able to bounce my GPA up?

I feel positive in my ability with the LSAT. I have been doing very well with take home exams, and I'm hoping with the next year and a half that I'll dedicating to study, I'll be able to top 160. Nova is mostly my fall back, last option. I have a cousin who lives in that general area of Florida. I'll be looking into Arizona, and California schools as well. ASU is an option that comes up regularly, and I know there's a good amount of California schools I can look at.

If anybody as any insight they can toss my way, I would greatly appreciate it.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: rsmageboxer on August 15, 2012, 03:34:50 AM
Try again, without the snark.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: legend on August 15, 2012, 09:33:54 AM
If your still in undergrad the best thing to do is take some fluff courses if possible. I received A's in flag football, volleyball, sports & film, and some other courses and that counts towards your UGPA. The substance of your numbers don't matter much all that matters is the number itself. A 4.0 in basket weaving will help your chances more than a 3.2 in molecular biology at the vast majority of schools.

I would recommend extending undergrad and throwing in some easy courses to boost your GPA. GPAs can be easily manipulated in undergrad and doing so can get you scholarship money in law school, get you in the school you want, etc.

As for the second major I don't know how that would work that might take to long. Instead add some electives maybe go part-time to lighten the load and get A's. If you have steady employment while in undergrad you might as well boost the GPA. There is no need to rush law school is not going anywhere.

Again I could be 100% wrong in everything I said as could any anonymous internet poster, but the above is my advice. Good luck to you.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on August 15, 2012, 10:15:16 AM
If anybody as any insight they can toss my way, I would greatly appreciate it.

Maintain your grades and boost them if possible (Legend's advice here is very good), but make the LSAT your singular focus. In your case I really think the LSAT will be the dispositive factor. A high LSAT can overcome a low GPA, but not the other way around. If you can score high , you'll be a splitter (like I was), and soft factors like an addendum or letter of recommendation may be taken into account. However, if you have a lower LSAT score, you'll probably be auto-rejected and those things won't even get read.

Do everything you can to max out that score. Start seriously studying now, take timed practice exams, and take the time to understand why you got certain answers right or wrong. The LSAT is a standardized test, and you can definitely improve your score by understanding what the testmakers are looking for. The more you practice, the more you'll see predictable patterns and you'll be able to anticipate the answer.

Lastly, if you are confronted with the choice of going to a local (CA, AZ, NV) T3-T4 vs. an out-of the-region T2, don't make your decision based on rankings alone. A student at Phoenix or Whittier, for example, might very well have better internship/clerkship opportunities in Las Vegas than a student from Syracuse who has to fly across the country to compete with local talent.

Good Luck!
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: jack24 on August 15, 2012, 11:46:27 AM
I was wait listed at UNLV with a 160/3.3 and a four year full-time career.  The firm I work for has an office in Vegas.

Boyd has a lot of financial backing and they are on the rise.

Vegas is an interesting market though.  The are so many little firms and attorney jobs pop up on craigslist all the time.  There are also a lot of good jobs in the Carson City area as well.  I think you have a decent chance at Boyd if you kill the LSAT.  If your score is under 163 or so, you will probably need to refocus on lower ranked schools.

Keep the Southern Cali schools and Gonzaga in mind.  It also might not be a bad idea to look into some crappy eastern schools like Washburn, Akron, etc.  They have low tuition, easy in-state rules, and they offer a lot of good scholarships.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: dnis913lv on August 15, 2012, 03:00:44 PM
Thank you for the insight. This will help me narrow my search for law schools to New York (where I'm from originally, and wouldn't mind going back to), Las Vegas, California and Arizona.

I will delay my graduation by a little bit, in order to raise my GPA up a couple of points to better my chances. I'm still employed and the money I make, the less loans I need.

The question is: Does law school care about my work experience? Is having managerial experience in a major hotel/resort in Las Vegas going to make any impressions? The real reason I say this is.. I could easily go to Valet, and make 65k+ a year, work less hours and be in a much less stressful position. If, however, work experience is important and looked at, I might as well stay with where I am at.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: jack24 on August 15, 2012, 03:07:52 PM
In my narrow experience, nobody really cares about your work experience unless it is directly related to the job you are applying for.  A law school may be impressed by novel achievements or by specialized schooling.

UNLV could be a different story if you worked for a former student turned big-wig or something.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on August 15, 2012, 04:20:17 PM
As I said before, work experience (especially non-legal) will be a soft factor at best. If you are on the cusp it may help push you into the "admit" category.  The main point, though, is that you need to be numerically competitive in order for the soft factors to count. I had nearly ten years of legal and scientific career experience when I applied. My resume was many magnitudes stronger than the average 22 year old applicant who worked at Quizno's for a semester. Nonetheless, my offers of admission and denials were totally predictable based on GPA/LSAT alone.

A high (or low) LSAT score will make your resume almost irrelevant. I know that's not especially encouraging, but it seems to be true. 
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: jack24 on August 15, 2012, 04:50:11 PM
This may be a bit of a rant, but nonetheless.

The LSAT drives everything.  It's crap, but it's true.  Law School Rankings matter, because law school rankings play a significant factor in both the incoming class and the interest of employers.  Schools understand this, so they play the rankings game. 

Here is how the ranking is calculated:

As you can probably see, the ranking system is incestuous.   Employers hire from the school with the best students, the best students go to the school with the best employment prospects, and the schools that pump out the most prestigious lawyers get the best peer assessment. 
As rankings go up, students and employers are attracted to the school.  But its pretty clear that what everyone wants are the best students (not necessarily the best-trained students)  Because the scores are relatively tight between #25 and #75, every point matters, and admissions offices have little immediate incentive to bring in someone with a good career.  They'll use those "soft" factors as a tiebreaker, but they will almost always choose a 163/3.6 with a job at quiznos over a 158/3.1 with an impressive management career.

I think the main reason why is that employers and schools are terrible at evaluating experience.  Resume's, recommendations, and references are so unreliable and almost always inflated.  Work ethic changes over time as well.  Virtually all of the decision makers go for the "hard" factors because they are easier to evaluate and they have an impact on rankings.
Title: Re: My chances
Post by: dnis913lv on August 16, 2012, 04:03:04 PM
Good thing I go to UNLV... Where I can take classes like Old World Wines, New World Wines, Beers and Spirits... And it counts as upper division electives. I really do appreciate everyone's insight in this conversation!