Right you are, my mistake.
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Messages - Maintain FL 350
Yes, an applicant can write their essay about adverse circumstances or the fact that they are the first to go to college, etc. The admissions boost, however, is miniscule as compared to URM status. I think this has to do with the fact that URM enrollment is reported and used a rankings criterion, whereas socio-economic status is not.
Mind you, I'm not necessarily against AA. Certain groups are vastly underrepresented in the legal field. In my experience, however, the single most underrepresented group are the poor, regardless of race.
Most of what needs to be said has already been covered, but I will add this:
Consider using your GPA/LSAT to get a full ride (or close to a full ride) somewhere, regardless of ranking. If you have a guaranteed job at your current firm, then does it really matter where you go? Would they still hire you if you went to say, Whittier? If so, the lack of debt may be worth it.
Secondly, I live and work in the LA area and I can tell you that none of the schools you mentioned are so prestigious that they are worth $150,000 in my opinion. No firms are going to be so impressed with a degree from Loyola or San Diego that they will hire based on pedigree alone.
Don't get me wrong, they are both fine schools with good local reputations. I know plenty of lawyers from both schools. But again, is the reputational advantage worth $150,000? I don't know, that's something you'll have to answer for yourself.
That's true, but it is possible to quantify the effect of URM status vis a vis LSAT scores. The tough part is that it varies based on whether we're talking a 140, 150, or 160 as your base.It always kind of bugs me how people who go "race is a social construct and we are all just humans and need to stop treating eacother different by race" still call people racist if they ask for that same thing to be applied to college admissions.
These are among the many reasons that race/ethnicity-based AA has been slowly dying for the last fifteen years. Look at the decision in Grutter, then consider that even California has rejected race based AA in it's public universities.
The issues are complex, and AA offers an overly simplistic solution. One of the Ivies (can't remember which one) did a study a while back and found that although AA had increased ethnic diversity at the Ivies, it had not increased socio-economic diversity at all. In other words, the URM child of a heart surgeon benefits from AA while the white kid who grew up in a trailer in Appalachia gets told that he's privileged.
I think some form of AA should exist, but at this point it should based on socio-economic status.
First, there are plenty of law schools that will admit an applicant with a 2.9/160-something. You don't need a 170 to get into law school unless you're shooting for a top school, in which case your 2.9 is a problem regardless of LSAT score.
Second, this is just my opinion, but I don't see the point in cancelling a score unless you have a solid reason to believe that you will do better on a subsequent administration of the test. Most people don't do as well as they hope, and scoring a few points below your practice averages is common. If you can identify a particular reason (other than just hope) that you will score higher, then ok. Otherwise, at some point you just have to jump into the water.
Citylaw has summed it up nicely, but just to expand on a couple of points:
So the definition of "good" is ABA?
I would say yes.
The entire point of ABA accreditation is to ensure that law schools which carry the imprimatur have met or exceeded a series of standards. This creates a predictable, reliable system of legal education which doesn't really differ much between schools.
The standards for accreditation require that the school not only offer an approved curriculum, but that it be financially solvent, have faculty hiring practices in place, offer academic support, meet bar passage standards, and about a hundred other criteria.
In other words, ABA accreditation tells the consumer that they will receive a "good" legal education subject to objectively verifiable criteria. And contrary to popular belief, it's not that easy to obtain ABA accreditation. It takes a lot of money, a lot of dedication on the part of the institution, and years of time. ABA site teams visit every year during the application period and report back to the committee on legal education. They stay on campus for about a week at a time interviewing students and faculty, going over finances and admission standards, sitting on classes and evaluating the academic program.
Prestige is an entirely different matter. Some schools have it and some don't, and it has nothing to do with ABA accreditation. I guarantee that Harvard and Yale were considered elite long before ABA accreditation was conferred.
There's no way to predict what your LSAT score will be based on one practice test. There are too many variables at work: your own intellectual abilities, time, your approach, the specific test you get, etc.
Study hard, prepare as much as possible, take the test and get a real live score, then evaluate your options.
A word about specialty programs:
Put some serious time and effort into researching the international law field before you choose a school based on a sub-ranking. Although such course offerings may be helpful, you'd be surprised how little weight employers attach to such things.
International law is often the province of big firms, government agencies, and NGOs. They tend to want graduates of elite schools, regardless of the school's specific sub-ranking in international law. If you attend a non-elite school there is a very good chance that you will not end up working in international law. I'm not trying to be negative, but this is a possibility that should be considered when evaluating your options.
In other words, think about whether you would be happy working as a family law attorney or public defender in central California or suburban DC, in case the international law route doesn't work out.
Short answer: yes, you can get into a "decent" law school with a 3.27 GPA.
However, it depends on your LSAT score and your definition of "decent". Don't get too caught up in rankings when you evaluate schools. With a 3.27 places like Harvard are out of the picture anyway, so you're looking at local schools. Whether a particular school is right for you should depend more on finances, goals and location rather than USNWR rankings.
Secondly, without an LSAT score everything is speculation. The LSAT is such a huge part of the process that your score will basically determine where you can go. The difference in options between a 3.27/165 and a 3.27/155 is huge. Study for the LSAT, see how you do, then you can evaluate your options.
I was under the impression that UK law degrees were generally accepted in CA without an LL.M. For example, a friend of mine has his LL.B from an English law school and qualified for the CA bar without having to take an LL.M.
Is the determinative factor whether or not you are already licensed in the UK?