Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Law School Admissions => Topic started by: almighty on September 16, 2014, 08:47:55 PM

Title: I need some help...is law school still an option?
Post by: almighty on September 16, 2014, 08:47:55 PM
This is going to be a long winded, rant like post of my jotting my ideas down as they come to mind, but I need some help. I know better than to bore you with a story about how I screwed up and seek refuge from law admissions. I won't go into great detail, but I didn't try very hard in school and partied too much. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and am born to two immigrant parents (Palestinian). I was always interested in law and becoming a lawyer, but unfortunately I was more interested in partying into my undergrad. Since graduating in December, I've been thirsty for knowledge and experience and I believe I have matured a lot in the realm of academics and motivation.

I learned from people on other forums that law school is almost entirely a numbers game consisting of GPA and LSAT score. It seems almost everyone online doesn't believe in the strength of extracurriculars or experiences helping at all on an application compared to the former two requirements, but I am still curious. I don't really have any solid work experience or references due to me having to run my family business for personal reasons after I graduated. I am trying to find volunteer or career work and am looking into joining AmeriCorps NCCC and using that time to get some experience, references and study for the LSAT while I'm there when I can. Essentially, I'm looking for some gainful volunteer work that will strengthen me as an applicant (mainly because I can't find a job that would show the same kind of commitment and I'm not necessarily pressed for money right now).

Things I am considering:
Joining AmeriCorps NCCC
CASA (court appointed special advocate)
Volunteer at a district or municipal court (this is surprisingly hard to find)
Work in a law office

I understand and accept that admission is mainly a numbers game, but for someone like me who doesn't have the grades and absolutely no outstanding experience or references, I truly believe that extracurriculars will show my maturity and law admissions have no choice but to acknowledge those. When I return or stop doing volunteer work, I will be hopefully finding part time employment in the legal field and then taking a LSAT prep course, taking a few classes to show a current GPA capability.

I guess I just want some suggestions on ways I could strengthen my application, especially because literally all I have is a poor GPA and hopefully an LSAT score above 170. Am I doing this wrong? What should I do to ensure getting into a T-14 school? T-20? And are my ideas above a good idea?

Also, should I study on my own for the LSAT, take the LSAT, and then depending on my score, take a prep class then take it again? Again, I'm willing to do whatever it takes to have a shot at T-14. I want to take the most effective steps.

THANKS!


ALSO: I want to make PERFECTLY CLEAR that I know that absolutely rocking the LSAT is the single most deciding factor on if and where I go to school. But I am looking to see if there is anything else I can do, whether it is the volunteer options above, going back to school or anything else that will also help make a difference.
Title: Re: I need some help...is law school still an option?
Post by: Maintain FL 350 on September 17, 2014, 04:35:11 PM
There's a lot to address here, but I'll try to keep it short.

Extracurricular "soft factors"

Do they matter? Yes, but not nearly as much as your numbers. These kinds of factors are taken into account in addition to, not in lieu of, a good GPA/LSAT.

I don't know what your GPA actually is, but at T14-T20 (and many schools ranked lower than that) you will need a high GPA and high LSAT, period. Those schools have so many well qualified applicants with high numbers and impressive soft factors that there isn't much incentive to take someone who is lacking in any area.

Lots of applicants, especially at top schools, have impressive soft factors. Pretty much everyone who applies to non-T14 schools, too, does some volunteer work or gets a little experience at a law office, or gets a letter of recommendation from some lawyer. The admissions offices are very used to this. Unless you have truly unique and outstanding experience it will not matter too much, and certainly won't overcome a lack of numeric qualifications.

I'm not saying this to be rude, but depending on how low your GPA is the T14 might be a pipe dream regardless of soft factors or LSAT score.

URM status can be a significant factor, but I'm not sure if Palestinians receive much of a boost. It may help a little, though.

Lastly, until you get a real LSAT score everything is pure speculation. I would advise preparing for the LSAT as much as possible. Do the extracurricular stuff too, but really focus on the LSAT. And remember, the T14 are not the only law schools out there. If you get in, great. If not, think about your goals and see if another school can help you achieve them. 

   
Title: Re: I need some help...is law school still an option?
Post by: Citylaw on September 18, 2014, 09:00:21 AM
Join the club of law school applicants that partied to much and didn't take undergrad to seriously. You did not list your GPA so I don't know what your GPA was, but I imagine like 95% of undergrad students you don't have a 4.0.

If you have a 3.0 or above you can get into a number of law schools.

Your post seems to indicate you will only accept a T14 school, but I don't know how many incoming law students erroneously think this matters or is commonplace. If you can get into Harvard go for it, but 99% of practicing lawyers did not go to Harvard or Yale. Additionally, going to Harvard or Yale does not mean you will succeed in teh legal profession. One of my really good friends went to Yale Law School, but he hated being a lawyer and is now a salesman. He completely regrets having ever gone to law school, because it wasn't for him. Many of law school classmates are obviously doing quite well, but the point is going to X school does not mean success.

If you get a 170 on the LSAT awesome more power to you, but again there is 95% chance you will not score a 170 on the LSAT nothing against you, but odds are you not going to score in the top 5% of test takers.

Conclusion:
Take the LSAT see what you get and assess your options. Don't go to the PeaceCorps or any of the other numerous things for the purpose of getting into a "better" law school. Just take the LSAT and see where you stand and decide whether to attend law school or not.

Also remember that the T14 schools are based on U.S. News, which is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine offering an opinion and the "T14" schools changed every year. There are certain schools Harvard, Yale, Stanford, that people know across the country, but Notre Dame is a great school in the Midwest, Texas is the best school for Texas, Nebraska is best for Nebraska, on and on location matters far more than what U.S. News says.

Here is an excellent article explaining the things to consider when choosing a law school. http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html

Good luck in your pursuit of a legal education.
Title: Re: I need some help...is law school still an option?
Post by: barprephero on September 18, 2014, 07:29:38 PM
consider military, you can enlist as a paralegal as an officer in JAG even with just undergrad
Title: Re: I need some help...is law school still an option?
Post by: mickjsk4589 on September 24, 2014, 11:38:53 PM

I will post a link (http://www.losangelespersonalinjurylawyers.co/dog-bite-attorney/) to an great article here which explains the factors to consider when choosing a law school. http://www.legalmatch.com/choose-the-right-law-school.html


I just want to thank you for sharing this link.  Been having a hard time deciding where to go ever since.  Do you have any other sources you can share?   
Title: Re: I need some help...is law school still an option?
Post by: Miami88 on September 25, 2014, 08:51:12 AM
It's simple. Apply to all the top 14-20 schools plus any school in the region(s) you want to live and work in after college. If your hard factors place you far above the median for local schools, apply to the top school/school you like the most and move on.

Several people would (and with good reason) disagree with casting this wide of a net, but...

 Don't worry about applying to the "right" school just yet. If it was really certain you would get into the school you wanted merely by applying, then this early speculation would be warranted. But the reality is, even if you have the numbers, there is no certainty you will get accepted. Therefore, start thinking about these decisions once you have offers - and only then. Sure, you can look schools up and hope for your dream school - but don't pigeon hole yourself this early on.

Finding a job after graduation (or, hopefully, before graduation) is largely based on where you go to law school. The top 14 schools generally have national reach (though some far more than others). Therefore, no matter where you want to practice, these schools should open sufficient doors for you. Aside from that, it is easier to find work in the region your school is located. There are a few reasons for this... local schools will - surprisingly - have more local connections; you will have more opportunities to network in the specific area; and you will have a demonstrated commitment to the region.

Moreover, if you manage to get a scholarship, you might be able to use that as leverage to get money at another school. For example, assume school A is your dream school and school B is safety. Say both have accepted you but school B gave you $60k more in scholarship than A. You can then try to use that scholarship offer to get more money from school A. Likewise, if school A is ranked far higher than B, you can try to use their offer to get even more money out of school B... and so on. If you had only applied to school A, you would not have this option. And believe me, this is an option you want to have.
Title: Re: I need some help...is law school still an option?
Post by: Groundhog on September 26, 2014, 12:10:30 PM
consider military, you can enlist as a paralegal as an officer in JAG even with just undergrad
This is incorrect.  JAG paralegals are enlisted, which means that they are not officers and are outranked by every 21-year-old ROTC graduate fresh out of college. Some eventually have the opportunity to become legal administrators, which is a warrant officer position, but only for those who go career non-commission officer.

Serving in the military has many benefits, but enlisting to become a JAG paralegal in the hopes of helping with law school admissions is a bit extreme and won't necessarily help OP. It might not be fun being treated like a 17-year-old kid who barely finished high school. Also, it'd be at least 4 years before he could apply again to law school.
Title: Re: I need some help...is law school still an option?
Post by: barprephero on September 26, 2014, 03:59:11 PM
consider military, you can enlist as a paralegal as an officer in JAG even with just undergrad
This is incorrect.  JAG paralegals are enlisted, which means that they are not officers and are outranked by every 21-year-old ROTC graduate fresh out of college. Some eventually have the opportunity to become legal administrators, which is a warrant officer position, but only for those who go career non-commission officer.

Serving in the military has many benefits, but enlisting to become a JAG paralegal in the hopes of helping with law school admissions is a bit extreme and won't necessarily help OP. It might not be fun being treated like a 17-year-old kid who barely finished high school. Also, it'd be at least 4 years before he could apply again to law school.
I wasn't attached to JAG, so I will take your word for that. I will post a link to the MOS that officers can do.
http://usmilitary.about.com/od/army/l/blofficermos.htm
OP could go enlisted in the National Guard and have that pay for law school if they wanted to do paralegal (or officer too in another MOS)
http://www.nationalguard.com/27d-paralegal-specialist
OP was posting about CASA and other stuff too, so let's be fair about OP was asking about