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Messages - Hammerstein

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Sorry for not monitoring this post too closely in recent times.  Please, as the original thread post says, PM me if you'd like me to read your statement.


Incoming 1Ls / Re: Columbia Law School Class of 2011
« on: August 01, 2008, 08:47:34 PM »
What's the need to change your driver's license and voter reg? And what exactly about taxes do you need to know?

I can't tell based on what I've read about New York law whether or not the state and city would consider me a resident or non-resident.  In the former case, I think I need to change everything within 30 days or so.  In the latter case, as a non-resident, I think I can leave everything alone.

I presently reside in out of state at my parent's house but will be financially independent starting this month, when I start at CLS.  So, regarding taxes, it's not clear where I should file starting in 2009.  This year, I know I need to file a return for the state where I've been living, but I'm not clear whether or not I'll need to file a New York return.  I don't have enough income to file based on NY's standard deduction, so if I'm a non-resident for tax purposes I don't have to do anything.  If I'm a resident, then I think I have to file just to tell the city's tax department I exist, even though I won't have any NY source income.

Maybe I'm reading too much into the above, though.  Just sort of confused.

Incoming 1Ls / Re: Columbia Law School Class of 2011
« on: August 01, 2008, 07:53:57 PM »
I thought you'd receive your orientation pack on the first day of orientation?  Maybe I'm totally wrong about that, though...

Aaaand, if any current CLS student could help me out:  what have you done vis-a-vis your driver's license, voter registration, and taxes?


Incoming 1Ls / Re: Columbia Law School Class of 2011
« on: July 31, 2008, 01:45:28 PM »
I have to admit, you guys have kinda disappointed on the LSD front compared to the hopping thread we had going last year. Maybe you're all on facebook?

Haven't heard anything about that here...but then again, haven't been on LSD enough recently.

On a different note, what's the deal with the 80% rug rule in UAH?  What has any current student done to meet the requirement?

Law School Admissions / Re: GPA v. Degree GPA
« on: June 25, 2008, 09:15:06 AM »
That brings up a question I was considering yesterday. When the LSAC converts our gpa, do they take into account the weight of the course?

For example, at my university you need 20.0 credits to graduate (ie. 5 full credits per semester to complete in 4 years). I have a lot more crap marks because during my first year of university (at another school, 4 years ago) I took almost all half courses. This year, my first full year back at university, my marks have improved substantially but they are all full credits. So my first year of university I took 7-8 classes which amounted to 5.0 worth of credit. But this past year at my university I took only 5 classes, as they were each worth 1.0 credit. So for example, my 88 theoretically converts over to a 3.9 and it's a full year course. Does this mean that when I'm calculating my gpa I should double up the 3.9 to make sure that my credits are counted equally? I hope this post makes sense!

I had to look this up.  According to page 28 of the LSAC info book (, credits are taken into account so that a 2 credit class is worth less and a 4 credit class is worth more.

Law School Admissions / Re: GPA v. Degree GPA
« on: June 24, 2008, 07:22:32 AM »
Thanks for the post Hammerstein - it's quite clear. I just have two quick questions for you. Firstly, regarding Withdrawls (and I just noticed this now looking at my old uni transcript) I have classed marked as "Dropped". These appear to be non-punitive (they don't affect my gpa). I dropped them when I left the university to live abroad (which is explained in my addendum). Secondly, my current university (Canadian) doesn't award A-. They award A's and A+. They consider B+ to be between 76-80. My classes are all in the 80's and thus are all A's so would this equal a 4.0/class then?

Even though you're a Canadian, I believe that this interpretation is correct.  Canadians, like Americans, just send their transcripts to LSAC, it appears.  LSAC ignores the absense of a particular grade in callibrating transcripts (which is, for better or worse, one of the weaknesses of the current system).

HOWEVER, as a Canadian, check with each school you're interested in to make sure they do not require the JD Credential Service.  If so, you'll probably want to register for that and get your degree credentialed as soon as possible.

The advice I've generally heard is to keep it to "Personal Statement" or "Question #7" (or whatever question the PS is) instead of trying to come up with a clever title.  Impress the reader with the content and don't worry about the title.

Law School Admissions / Re: GPA v. Degree GPA
« on: June 22, 2008, 05:17:50 PM »
I'm finding out now that I would have been better off to just bite the bullet on my CC gpa and not retake the courses. How does the LSAC score withdrawls, if at all?

There will most certainly be an addendum. I'm just shooting for schools along the line of CLS, NYU, Chicago, and UMich. Without counting my chickens before they hatch, hopefully my LSAT score makes up for a large degree of the concern derived from my LDAS gpa.Don't get me wrong, it's not going to be anything horrid, it projects out, after all my UG work is complete, to right around a 3.0.

The withdrawal policy is somewhat convoluted and consists of three basic rules (for future readers, please note that these only apply cleanly to American students):

1)  If it was a college course (even a college course taken for high school credit), then it counts for your LSDAS GPA.  No exceptions.  This includes all classes taken at community college and at any four year universities, whether or not the applicant graduated from that particular school.

2)  Whatever grade you get in all college level classes will be normalized using a LSAC standard conversion from letter grades to numeric values from 0-4.  These work as follows:

A+ :  4.33
A  :  4.00
A- :  3.66
B+ :  3.33
B  :  3.00
B- :  2.66
And so on. There are again no exceptions to these conversions -- they are meant to normalize the grades of all applicants.

3)  If you did not receive a letter grade for a college course (due to a withdrawal or attendance issues or whatever the case might be), then the situation varies depending on the following rules:

a)  If you receive a non-punitive Withdrawal or Withdrawal-Failure (though it's rare that a WF is non-punitive), then the course will be excluded from your GPA calcuations.  Using an addendum, you'll probably want to address why such marks appear instead of course grades.

b)  If a Withdrawal or Withdrawal-Failure or whatever else is considered punitive (i.e., is meant to punish you for failing to complete the class or failing to attend or whatever the case might be), then it is treated as an F, which is equivalent to a grade of 0.0 / 4.0 for your LSDAS GPA.  For obvious reasons, these are not good.

If you're unsure if a withdrawal is considered punitive or not, contact your school's registrar or check a transcript from your school (transcripts usually indicate the nature of every possible mark).  You can also contact LSAC, as sometimes they can already tell you how to tell what they will do with them.

In general, you should be looking at 2-pages double spaced.  Some schools have different requirements, but a 2-page PS gives you a good foundation to add/trim should it be necessary.

This is normally the correct answer.  Some schools will give you a word count, but that word count almost always equals 1.5-2 pages double spaced (assuming 1" margins, Times New Roman 12 point font).  GW, for example, requires a 500 word essay, and so does George Mason, IIRC.  However, I do believe that both of those schools do not strictly count the world limit and anything up to around 2 pages double spaced will still be okay.  They give a limit so people don't start submitting 5 page opuses.

The only real exception to this rule that I'm familiar with is Berkeley, which will gladly take up to 4 pages.  Some schools won't give a page limit, but you still want to keep it around 2 pages so that a tired reader can get through your essay comfortably.

I'm going to bump this back up to the top.  I'm willing to read pretty much anything at this point:  personal statements, diversity statements, addendums of all sorts. 

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