Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: lopezst1 on June 22, 2014, 02:45:40 PM

Title: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: lopezst1 on June 22, 2014, 02:45:40 PM
Alright, so I'm trying my best to figure out what schools are realistic given my credentials. I really want to go to a T14 school if at all possible, but a T25 might be okay as long as it's a really good fit. Here's my details:

As I said, 169 on the LSAT with a 3.18 GPA as a philosophy major. I'm Hispanic but not the kind that they generally care much about (I'm Spanish). Could still possibly work in my favor but I'm not banking on it. It's also been three years since I graduated school. I have good personal relationships with several very reputable lawyers and could get great letters of rec.

I took the LSAT this past December. I definitely could have done better on it, since I only really studied hard for 3-4 weeks and almost puked during the test due to an upset stomach. I'm considering taking it again but also not sure if it's worth it. Let's say I get a 173 the second time around. Since I know a lot of schools average scores, will it really affect the outcome substantially?

The big question here is, what are my odds of making it into a T14? T25? What if I'm able to improve my score slightly? Is my GPA a death knell? I heard Northwestern is favorable to splitters, might I consider going there? I currently live in Michigan and have also considered U of M, but honestly I'm more concerned with the quality of the school than with where it is. I'm mainly so skittish about this because I am aware of the horrible job market for lawyers and want to go to a place that is going to pay off, not somewhere that's going to get me a job as a secretary at a law firm. Anyone who can speak to this element of my post would be greatly appreciated as well. In fact, that may be the most important part of this whole post. Thanks in advance for your help!

Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: barprephero on June 22, 2014, 04:51:24 PM
The major has no impact, but the rest is impressive
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: Citylaw on June 23, 2014, 11:24:20 PM
First realize that anything you read from anonymous internet posters on this board or others my post included should be taken with a grain of salt. Anybody can post anything they want so do not take anything you read from anonymous internet sources to seriously.

With that said the job market is not that terrible and there are plenty of opportunities for law graduates, but it takes time to build a career particularly in the legal field.

As for the rankings please do not make a life altering decision based on a magazine remember it is a for profit magazine offering an opinion.

I have said times on this board that any law student should consider the following factors when choosing a law school in this order (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about the school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; (5) Last and least U.S. News rankings.

Below is an analysis of each factor

1) Location:
You say you do not care where the school is located, but this is something you should consider. Law school does not exist in a vacuum and life goes on if you have friends, family, connections etc in Michigan and want to live in Michigan after graduation then attend law school in Michigan.

If you attend law school in Ann Arbor Michigan or Westwood (UCLA) your experience will be very different L.A and Michigan are very different places and your whole experience will be different.  Do you want to be in a place with beautiful weather, beautiful people, heavy traffic, expensive parties, plastic surgery, laker games, everybody wanting to be an actor etc?  Or do you want be in the Midwest with a simpler lifestyle and bad weather? Nothing is wrong with either one, but you likely have a preference one way or the other.

 Aside from the cultural differences by City you  will make friends, enter into or solidify an existing romantic relationship, get an apartment and just build a life during your three years of law school and most law students do not move far from their law school.

Several reasons for this are if you are California you will likely take the California Bar at graduation, Michigan the Michigan bar at graduation etc. On top of that the professors at UCLA will have connections in L.A. not Michigan conversely professors in Michigan will have connections in Michigan. You will only be able to do not internships in the location you are living in during school so again another factor in favor of location.

So please consider location in your decision it is very important factor.

2) Cost
With your LSAT score and GPA you will likely have access to scholarships at numerous schools and getting out of school debt free is often a lot better than saying you attended the 19th best law school and having $200,000 in debt.

I strongly encourage you to apply to a number of schools in the area you want to live in and see what type of scholarship offers you receive. Also consider the school's location and look up actual costs. The cost of living to attend Columbia in NYC is going to be a hell of a lot more expensive than Ann Arbor Michigan so really analyze costs.

(3) Personal Feelings about Schools:
It is important to realize each school has a culture to it and whether you like that culture or not is a question only you can answer. When I was a 0L I visited a number of schools some I hated others I loved, but you may love the ones I hated and vice versa.

When you have narrowed it down to a few schools I strongly encourage you to visit the contending schools talk to professors, admins, students, walk around the campus, etc and see what feels right. Some schools will give you a good feeling others will not.

4) Reality of Legal Education: 

It is important to understand any ABA school will provide you with a quality education and for all intents and purposes you will learn the same exact thing at any school.

Your first year will consist of Torts, Contracts, Civil Procedure, Property, and Crim Law. In these courses you will read Supreme Court cases and the Supreme Court does not write separate for different ranked schools. Whether you attend the #200 school or Harvard you will read Palsgraf in Torts to learn proximate cause, Pennoyver v. Neff in Civ pro to learn about notice etc.

At the end of three years you will take a BarBri or Kaplan  bar review course with hundreds of other students from various law schools and then after months of intense studying cram into a room with thousands of law students to take a state bar exam. Whether you pass that exam or not will have a lot more to do with you than the school you attend and if you don't pass your not a lawyer if you pass you are.

To sum it up any ABA school will provide you with a quality legal education.

5. U.S. News Rankings:
Your post contains one of the most common mistakes made by 0L's and that is thinking the rankings mean something. Obviously Harvard, Yale, etc are great schools, but so are a number of other schools. In reality if you want to live in Utah the best school to attend is BYU. If you want to live in Montana and Montana Law School. U.S. News is not based on anything and the rankings change year by year based on nothing.

Remember U.S. News Ranks more than just law schools and according to U.S. News Albuquerque, New Mexico is the #1 place to live. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/best-places-to-live . Are you going to move to New Mexico, because U.S. News says it is the #1 place to live?

Use the same logic are you going to attend a law school, because U.S. News says X school is #19.

In the real world whether you make it in the legal profession has a lot more to do with you than the name of your school, but so many students make life altering decisions based on this magazine and it never goes well.

Conclusion:
There is no right answer to what law school to attend, but use common sense and apply the various factors of location, cost and how you feel about a particular school and do not let some magazine tell you what is best for you.

The legal profession can be a great career and it sounds like you are taking steps in the right direction to become a lawyer.

Good luck in your future endeavors.

Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: barprephero on June 24, 2014, 03:07:20 PM
I don't think the OP's question had as much to do with "should I go" and "where" as "can I get in where I want to get in"
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: Citylaw on June 25, 2014, 08:42:09 AM
Agreed, but the OP seemed to be very focused on rankings and I wanted to at least make the OP ask why the rankings matter. Maybe OP has done extensive research and really thinks a magazine's opinion is the end all be all in the legal profession, but perhaps the OP has never stopped to think why he/she cares so much about the rankings.

Placing importance is common mistake many 0L's make in my opinion and one I made as a OL. So the purpose of my post was to get the OP asking themselves why the rankings mattered.

As to the actual question as to where OP can get in good sites to look at our lawschoolnumbers.com or just the LSAC chart. Both these sites list whether applicants got in with specific LSAT/GPA scores.

Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: barprephero on June 25, 2014, 04:32:03 PM
Agreed, but the OP seemed to be very focused on rankings and I wanted to at least make the OP ask why the rankings matter. Maybe OP has done extensive research and really thinks a magazine's opinion is the end all be all in the legal profession, but perhaps the OP has never stopped to think why he/she cares so much about the rankings.

Placing importance is common mistake many 0L's make in my opinion and one I made as a OL. So the purpose of my post was to get the OP asking themselves why the rankings mattered.

As to the actual question as to where OP can get in good sites to look at our lawschoolnumbers.com or just the LSAC chart. Both these sites list whether applicants got in with specific LSAT/GPA scores.
gotcha.
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: jdul34839 on July 07, 2014, 10:58:09 AM
is OP trolling?
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: barprephero on July 07, 2014, 01:35:42 PM
is OP trolling?
More like you are by asking that
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: silverdoe91 on July 25, 2014, 11:15:12 AM
Are law school rankings really that useless and arbitrary? I see a lot of job postings online that specifically ask for applicants who went to a T14, T25 school, so maybe these law school graduates do have a lot more doors open for them. If you look at the Above The Law website, the statistics they've gathered show that more graduates from T14 schools get employed in the legal field rather than those from other schools (who might not be employed after law school at all!)

So, perhaps in the end paying $200k debt is worth it, so long as it actually gets you job in this terrible, terrible economy? As opposed to going to a school that's not highly ranked, paying less, but still having a considerable loan amount to pay off (i.e. $60,000) and not being able to get a job at all.
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: Citylaw on July 25, 2014, 01:15:16 PM
Very few firms actually post actual rankings they like to say top law school, but actual rankings change drastically year by year.

Remember U.S news is a for profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion. There is no real basis to the ranking at all.

If you went to Harvard, Yale, Stanford then yes doors will open.

If you went to Mcgeorge, LMU, Pepperdine, Santa Clara nobody would really know the difference in fact I don't know what the difference is, but I work with lawyers from each of those schools routinely. Some are great, some are ok, others are awful.

The reality is whether you succeed as a lawyer has a lot more to do with the individual than the school they attended.
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: silverdoe91 on July 26, 2014, 09:39:21 AM
How about schools like Columbia, NYU, and Fordham? Do any of those schools fall into the category of highly ranked schools that actually "matter"? I know Fordham isn't as well known as the other two, but in NY its name does carry a lot of weight.
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: Miami88 on July 26, 2014, 03:58:26 PM
Check out:

http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-four-tiers-t13-trap-no-name-and-joke.html

http://www.law-school-hacker.com/top-ranked-law-schools.html


For detailed data as to the above info and why they are saying that, take some time to check out

http://www.lawschooltransparency.com



In terms of employment prospects, you can ROUGHLY view the US News rankings as the following


T3 - Yale, Harvard, Stanford
These schools offer you as close of a "guarantee" for a job post graduation as you can possibly get. You will have the best chances to get most any job in almost any region and the strongest shot for big name Fed. Clerkships. This is NOT 100%, but as close to it as you can get.

T6 - Columbia, UChicago, NYU
As strong as T3 for employment minus the Fed. Clerkship boost.

T14 - The rest of the T14
A significant notch below T6 employment stats with not that great Fed. Clerkship prospects (i.e. you will need to be at the top 10-20% of your class for a shot at a fed. clerkships). These schools also tend to lean their employment to broad regions (i.e. The Mid West, The South, the east coast, etc), however, if you have connections to another region (ie your undergrad's city or your hometown), you probably have a good shot at landing a job there. You prob. will have little to no issue finding work in a small to medium sized law firm no matter your class ranking (assuming you don't completely fail).

"Honorable Mentions" - Vandy, UCLA, etc.
A big notch below T14 but these schools have ok prospects for big law in the school's same city. Very good chances for small to medium sized law firms within the school's general region (state).

T14 - 120ish
For the most part, basically everyone (all 100+ schools) here are in the same/similar boat as far as employment stats are concerned. Sure, if you are at the top of your class at a top 30 school, you will prob. have a stronger shot at better paying work in your immediate region, but that's about it. Your best chances here (in general) at landing jobs are in the school's immediate region (i.e. same state for the higher ranked schools to the same county/city for lower ranked schools). Very difficult - if not near impossible - for big law, and fat chance for fed. clerkship. Good to okay chances for small/medium sized law firms.

Sub T120 - Some ranked and all unranked schools
Beware. Unless you have family connections for a small law firm, you may face an uphill battle for jobs. Your best bet will be to open up your own practice. Get creative, network, and work your butt off. You should do the prior no matter what school you go to, but even more so here.


That is an immense oversimplification and generalization of US Rankings. You shouldn't base a decision on the above. The above is just a simplified view of employment stats. Although employment stats have gotten much more transparent over the past few years, they are far from perfect. Just because you get into a T14 school, it doesn't mean you will get w/e job wherever you want it. Likewise, just because you go to an unranked school, it doesn't mean you will never get a job.

The general take away is this... the lower in rank a school gets, the more region specific it becomes. Further, the lower in rank a school is, debt becomes more and more of an issue. i.e. Going into $120k of debt for Harvard and wanting to get a job in New York might be worth it. However, going into $120k of debt for the University of Puerto Rico and wanting a job in Chicago probably is not.

So.. you should base your decision on attending a law school on 1) where you want to live afterwards, 2) the debt you will face, 3) your feelings about the particular law school, and 4) as a tie breaker, refer to ranking.



Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: Citylaw on July 27, 2014, 10:33:32 AM
Columbia, NYU, and Fordham are great schools. However, no school anywhere guarantees you a job.

Whatever law school you choose it will be up to you to graduate, obtain relevant internships, pass the bar, and find the right job for you.

I know you would like there to be some guarantee that choosing X law school will result in success, but there is no way to know. There are plenty of Harvard, Yale, Stanford grads that never passed the bar or found legal employment and plenty of Cooley Grads that passed the bar and went onto successful legal careers. Obviously a degree from Harvard, Yale, and Stanford will open more doors than Cooley, but no school will guarantee you anything it will be up to you as an individual to succeed in the legal profession.
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: barprephero on July 27, 2014, 05:24:58 PM
169 is a free ride at some T4 schools.
DO THAT INSTEAD
source: Guy who owes the same as someone who owns a nice home and a nice car, but wears a watch he bought from the dollar store.
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: silverdoe91 on July 28, 2014, 10:24:17 AM
169 is a free ride at some T4 schools.
DO THAT INSTEAD
source: Guy who owes the same as someone who owns a nice home and a nice car, but wears a watch he bought from the dollar store.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I'd have to study again and retake the test and *hopefully* increase my score by 10 points in order to do that...
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: silverdoe91 on July 28, 2014, 10:29:19 AM
Check out:

http://outsidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-four-tiers-t13-trap-no-name-and-joke.html

http://www.law-school-hacker.com/top-ranked-law-schools.html


For detailed data as to the above info and why they are saying that, take some time to check out

http://www.lawschooltransparency.com



In terms of employment prospects, you can ROUGHLY view the US News rankings as the following


T3 - Yale, Harvard, Stanford
These schools offer you as close of a "guarantee" for a job post graduation as you can possibly get. You will have the best chances to get most any job in almost any region and the strongest shot for big name Fed. Clerkships. This is NOT 100%, but as close to it as you can get.

T6 - Columbia, UChicago, NYU
As strong as T3 for employment minus the Fed. Clerkship boost.

T14 - The rest of the T14
A significant notch below T6 employment stats with not that great Fed. Clerkship prospects (i.e. you will need to be at the top 10-20% of your class for a shot at a fed. clerkships). These schools also tend to lean their employment to broad regions (i.e. The Mid West, The South, the east coast, etc), however, if you have connections to another region (ie your undergrad's city or your hometown), you probably have a good shot at landing a job there. You prob. will have little to no issue finding work in a small to medium sized law firm no matter your class ranking (assuming you don't completely fail).

"Honorable Mentions" - Vandy, UCLA, etc.
A big notch below T14 but these schools have ok prospects for big law in the school's same city. Very good chances for small to medium sized law firms within the school's general region (state).

T14 - 120ish
For the most part, basically everyone (all 100+ schools) here are in the same/similar boat as far as employment stats are concerned. Sure, if you are at the top of your class at a top 30 school, you will prob. have a stronger shot at better paying work in your immediate region, but that's about it. Your best chances here (in general) at landing jobs are in the school's immediate region (i.e. same state for the higher ranked schools to the same county/city for lower ranked schools). Very difficult - if not near impossible - for big law, and fat chance for fed. clerkship. Good to okay chances for small/medium sized law firms.

Sub T120 - Some ranked and all unranked schools
Beware. Unless you have family connections for a small law firm, you may face an uphill battle for jobs. Your best bet will be to open up your own practice. Get creative, network, and work your butt off. You should do the prior no matter what school you go to, but even more so here.


That is an immense oversimplification and generalization of US Rankings. You shouldn't base a decision on the above. The above is just a simplified view of employment stats. Although employment stats have gotten much more transparent over the past few years, they are far from perfect. Just because you get into a T14 school, it doesn't mean you will get w/e job wherever you want it. Likewise, just because you go to an unranked school, it doesn't mean you will never get a job.

The general take away is this... the lower in rank a school gets, the more region specific it becomes. Further, the lower in rank a school is, debt becomes more and more of an issue. i.e. Going into $120k of debt for Harvard and wanting to get a job in New York might be worth it. However, going into $120k of debt for the University of Puerto Rico and wanting a job in Chicago probably is not.

So.. you should base your decision on attending a law school on 1) where you want to live afterwards, 2) the debt you will face, 3) your feelings about the particular law school, and 4) as a tie breaker, refer to ranking.

Thank you for that overview, it was very insightful. Not having debt when I graduate is definitely a priority for me, so I was thinking of maybe getting a full ride to a lower ranked school, to eliminate that monetary concern. But if I do that, I am worried that that will greatly lower my chances at employment, bc as of now, I don't have any connections! :/
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: Miami88 on July 28, 2014, 08:33:41 PM
I think most people - including me - on this forum would support a decision of taking a "lower ranked" school at a lower cost than a relatively more prestigous one at a higher one.

Also, my overview was just that, a generalization. Just because you go to a "lower ranked" school doesn't mean you will have a hard (or even harder) time finding work. You just need to understand that, if you aren't in the top of your class and are attending a school outside the T6, big law may not be a safe bet. There are plenty of people who graduate from lower ranked schools and are fully employed. Big Law is just one sector of the work force, and one that several lawyers get burned out in. In fact, the strong majority of lawyers out there didn't attend a Top 6 school and don't work at those firms. Again, you just need to get realistic and forceful with your job search. As Citylaw says, outside the very top law schools, finding work is far more dependent on YOU rather than the school on your resume. And even for top law school grads, they still need to work their butt off to find the work, the doors will just be a little easier to open.. that's all.

A few things to keep in mind in your decision when it comes to debt and picking a lower ranked school...

1) Look at the total cost of attendance, not just tuition Also, for public schools, check out the difference in cost for in state tuition and, if you aren't a resident, what it takes to bbecome one.

2) Deduct from the total cost of attendance your scholarship. These are the numbers you need to compare. You might get $100k from school A and $50k from school B. But if A's COA is $250k and school B is $100k, that makes the effective COA for each school respectively $150k and $50. Therefore, school B is the better option from a money perspective even though they gave you far less in scholarship.

3) Figure out what conditions, if any, the school has on your scholarship. Some schools, particularly the top schools, just require that you don't flunk out of college. Other schools require that you maintain a particular GPA. A 3.0 might not sound that bad, but also find out what percentage of students that is associated with. It might be that 80% of the class has a 3.0 or better, which isn't that bad. However, if a 3.0 is like, the 90th percentile, then you have to keep in mind that you might very well lose that scholarship come your second and/or third year.

4) Do take into account employment statistics both in general and, more importantly, in the region you want to work in. Going into $30k of debt for a school in Seatle v. $60k for a school in Miami might sound like a no brainer, but if you want to practice in Miami, you will be facing a very steep journey coming out of Seatle.

5) Make a decision on your own personal circumstances. No one on here can tell you X Debt for Y School is worth it or not. We are not in your shoes. Maybe you are 50 y.o. and have 3 kids... maybe you are 20 y.o. with $0 debt as is. Maybe your entire childhood was a mess because of debt issues. Maybe your family is loaded. Who knows. You need to decide for yourself if something is or is not worth it.

Good luck!

Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: Citylaw on July 28, 2014, 11:25:47 PM
Great post Miami.

Silverdoe the rankings are not going to make it or break it for you. Any ABA school will provide you with a quality education and the reality is any educational experience is what you make of it. Honestly, if you attend Harvard, but sit in the back of the class, never interact with anyone, don't study etc you likely won't succeed. If you attend Cooley graduate as Valedictorian, connect with professors, get internships etc you will likely succeed.

As Miami said very few lawyers went to the top schools. There are 200 ABA schools therefore, 95% of practicing lawyers did not attend a top 10 school.

I encourage you not to over think the law school application process it is something many 0L's do, but keep it simple. If you want to be a lawyer in Miami attend law school in Miami and get out with as little debt as possible. If you want to be a lawyer in Eastern Washington attend law school in Eastern Washington and get out with as little debt as possible.

If you will only be happy working for Cravath then probably don't attend law school.
Title: Re: 169 LSAT With a 3.18 GPA in Philosophy: What is Realistic?
Post by: jrivero2015 on September 06, 2015, 09:09:30 PM
Hi Op,

I have similarly stats as you, and to be honest, my research indicated that unless I get an LSAT score in the high 170s I have no chance at a T14. T25? Maybe. T50 for sure.

I wish you tons of luck, and for my sake, I hope you get into a top school!