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Messages - costaragas

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1
Oh Canada! / Re: pre-law EC
« on: May 22, 2006, 09:23:33 PM »
There isn't anything specific really. Your community involvement, and participation in school are important, but that doesn't mean you need to devote every last free moment to buffering your resume.

I personally didn't really do anything law school related. In fact, I didn't realize I wanted to go to law school until about August of 2005. I played sports (rugby and martial arts) at university, and studied abroad on an experiential learning programme. That was enough in my case.

But really, it all depends on your interests. If you really like playing ping-pong, do that. What matters is how you showcase your participation and involvement in your personal statement when you actually apply to law schoo. In other words, describe how committed you are to your interest, and why. Discuss the time involved and how it (of course) taught you time management skills, team work (ping-pong in teams?), a sense of fair play and competitiveness, etc... etc...

Every law school admissions officer you talk to and ask about this will tell you the same thing. It doesn't matter what you did, or how you were involved. What matters is "why" and "what you were able to take/learn from it." And the only place they'll even want to hear about this kind of thing is on the personal statement.

At the risk of sounding redundant:
 - Pursue your own interests
 - Avoid trying to tailor your extra-curriculars to what you think a law school might want; they don't want anything
   in particular

Good luck!

Costa Ragas
Canadian Law School Admissions Web
http://www.clsaweb.com

2
Oh Canada! / Re: Another Can. v. U.S. Law Schools Topic
« on: April 27, 2006, 08:09:03 PM »
Interesting problem you have...

Before I give you any advice, I'm gonna tell you a bit about my story, so you know where I'm coming from. I figured out I wanted to go to law school the in the first semester of my senior year. It so happened that I was doing that semester over the summer interning at an embassy in Washington DC, so my final semester was also the only semester I had to apply to law school. So I read up on every Canadian law school out there to get the gist of what's going on in our country's legal education system. I worked at my applications, wrote the LSAT and was accepted to three law schools in Canada.

Now, read on if you think what I'm about to say is worth reading...

Your comments about your expected LSAT grade are striking. I hope you do as well as you say, but a 163 is not something easy. And like you said, you're going to practice, and take courses, and practice some more. It all may help and get you the score you want, and it all might be in vain. The LSAT is funny that way. My question to you is this: Are you any good at math?

I ask this because whenever someone asks me what the LSAT is like, I say a graduate level math test without any numbers. It's all patterns, and if you've never been exposed to this style of questioning before, it will bite you in the rear... LSAC will tell you that it's an excellent representation of your ability to perform in the first year of law school, and that EVERY Canadian university uses it as an objective way to evaluate candidates. This is false. Having spoken with Admissions Deans myself, the current trend is to move away from the LSAT because of the nature of Canadian post-secondary education. We stress logical reasoning, but we don't stress rapidity that borders on haste. (I'm refering the 35 minutes per section you get on each of the 5 sections of the LSAT).

The key to getting into any Canadian law school is the personal statement.

And this is particularly important in your case. Whatever your LSAT grade is, and whatever your GPA was, it's your personal statement that they really count. Your LSAT is viewed (with the exception of U of T) as nice addition to a well-prepared application, but it will not make or break you. Your GPA, even if it was poor over the first 18 months of university, is considered in a different way than you'd expect. Most schools will take your last 60 credits or two-years worth, but even that isn't written in stone. Essentially, they want to see an improvement. So if you're A- average is accurate of your later 2.5 years of university, that's what they'll consider your GPA to be. Which in most cases is about a 3.6, 3.7...

But there have been many refusals of candidates with LSATs superior to 163, and GPAs of 3.5 and above, simply because the person thought that they would get a "by" because of their grades and LSAT. It doesn't work that way. They want to know you, and they want you to distinguish yourself from the rest of the candidates (generally speaking, there are a few hundred applicants in the 160+/3.5+ pool). The only way you can do that is through the personal statement.

Now as for the US, and like I mentioned, I spent the summer in DC speaking with teachers and working lawyers at the embassy, the advice that others gave me has led me to conclude that anything short of a top-100 isn't going to make a difference in your salary. And on top of that, you need to dinstinguish yourself from your peers while you're at law school, and at a top-100 in the US, with an applicant pool approximately 10x that of Canada, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage... Not to mention the fact that if you're considering salary levels before writing your LSAT, let alone getting accepted, you're going about this all the wrong way.

Re-evaluate your priorities. If you have an interest in law, and the ambition to excel in the classroom, you'll get in, do well, and make the money later. Sky's the limit. But don't start with an interest in money. That's not what it's about.

Cheers,
Costa Ragas
p.s.
I've got a website that I made dedicated to all these topics if you care to visit: http://www.clsaweb.com

3
You need to think strategically here. If you are from South Korea, would you be interested in working with South Korean clients who have maybe immigrated to Canada, once you have your degree? If your answer is yes, than there are a lot of opportunities. Particularly in the major cities like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.

But looking for a job is always about showing a potential employer what you can do for them. So if you showcase yourself as a multilingual and culturally sensitive person, who understands the local South Korean community better than the average non-South Korean, then you not only have a good chance, you have an advantage.

If you prefer to serve more general clients, I wouldn't say that you are at a disadvantage, just more on par with a wider pool of other job seekers. Which means, job competition will inevitably be tougher.

Costa Ragas
Canadian Law School Admissions Web
http://www.clsaweb.com

4
Personal Statement / Re: Resume format/where to put in soft factors
« on: February 15, 2006, 02:25:54 PM »
Your resume structure entirely depends on your strengths, and the requirements of the schools you are applying to. If you have little work experience, but lots of volunteering and community service, you should place that latter ahead of the former. Your education section should generally be fairly prominent, and up front.

Never list references on the actual resume unless specifically requested to do so. You can however indicate that "reference are available on request."

You may find that your "personal" section and community involvement section tend to overlap. No problem, combine them, and illustrate in more detail the different things that you've done.

On a final note, keep it to two pages in length and don't go into your high school years unless you were a superhero back then. It's not a CV, which is more comprehensive... it's a resume - keeping it short is in the name. Think of it as your own personal highlight reel.

I have a website that covers some of this stuff that you might find useful... even though it's more geared toward Canadian law schools, the resume stuff is the same.

Cheers,
Costa Ragas
Canadian Law School Admissions Web
http://www.clsaweb.com

5
Oh Canada! / Re: Canadian Law School Chances...HELP
« on: February 15, 2006, 01:50:50 PM »
You're not in bad shape. But I agree with most of the others, it all depends on your "soft factors" like work experience, volunteering, extra-curriculars, sports, etc... Another big element to your application is your PERSONAL STATEMENT.

I wouldn't worry about it though. A 3.5 is Dean's List quality at most schools, so the admissions officers will know you're a smart cookie.

Good luck,
Costa Ragas
Canadian Law School Admissions Web
http://www.clsaweb.com

6
As a general rule for law school, you should be going to school in the jurisdiction where you intend to practice. Now it's a little different when you consider the common law jurisdictions in Canada... They've been working together to make mobility much easier, so that if you get your degree in BC, you can practice in Nova Scotia. That being said, if you study far from where you intend to work, you have the disadvantage of a weak network in your work area once you arrive, and it makes finding a job that much more difficult. On the other hand, you may opt for private practice, in which case you will have to build a client base without knowing too many people in that market. It's tough...

For the American schools, there are a handful of "national" schools where your degree can take you anywhere. But most schools tend to focus in their local state jurisdictions. And then of course, the same principle applies as the Canadian schools when it come to finding a job.

The joint degree programs offer the best of both worlds. But there is something to consider, and that is (like it or not), name recognition. NYU/Osgoode has excellent name recognigtion, but is fairly competitive. Windsor/Detroit Mercy? Not the same ball game. Most US employers will have never heard of the University of Windsor, unless you plan on working in Detroit.

Choose wisely,
Costa Ragas
Canadian Law School Admissions Web
http://www.clsaweb.com

7
Be careful.  McGill in Montreal is a civil law program - meaning you're instructed in the Quebec Civil Code, as opposed to civil common law which governs the rest of North America.

Cool city though.

McGill offers both Common and Civil law degrees in the form of a 3 to 4 year program. They also have a policy of passive bilingualism, which means that you should be able to at least communicate somewhat in both official languages if you wish to attend McGill.

Costa Ragas
Canadian Law School Admissions Web
http://www.clsaweb.com

8
Hey,

They take a few things into consideration when looking at your GPA. First off, they don't look at your cumulative, as much as they look at your last two years (as a general rule). But in the case of multiple degrees, I would think that your case is kind of special. I agree with the other person who said that they'll probably focus on the BA and leave the rest.

Second, the difficulty of your degree MATTERS. So a lot of this GPA stuff also depends on what you're studying. Are

And third, they don't take GPAs as raw numbers. Most convert them along with your LSAT score into an index.

Cheers,
Costa Ragas
Canadian Law School Admissions Web
http://www.clsaweb.com

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