Law School Discussion

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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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241
There are a few things to address here, I'll try cover them all. First of all, congratulations! Your business acumen is impressive and you should be commended.

Soft Factors
Are your soft factors "good enough"? It depends on what you mean by "good enough". Your business experience will not overcome your GPA/LSAT and get you into Harvard, but it might help with schools where you're on the borderline of admit/reject. The vast majority of admissions decisions are based on numbers, pure and simple. Law schools love to talk about they look at the "whole applicant", but most have a GPA/LSAT range beyond which admission is highly unlikely.

Soft factors seem to be most useful when the applicant is being compared to other numerically equivalent applicants. Then they can be used as a tie-breaker. Higher numbers, however, will almost always beat good soft factors. Interestingly, I think soft factors matter more at top ranked schools than at lower ranked schools. With a 2.8/155 you'll be applying to T2-T4 schools, and the decisions will be based mostly on numbers.

Possibly a part time or 2 year program, I may start another business that I will run during law school, so larger markets are preferred.

You're a little bit all over the place on the these next two issues. A two year program and a part-time (4 year) program are very different. You will not be able to start a new business or run an existing one if you do a two year program. The only two year program I know of (at Southwestern) is incredibly intense and requires a whole separate application process. I'm not sure, but they may not even allow you to work at the same time.

Starting a new business while attending a four year part time program would still be very challenging. I attended a part time program and I can tell you that it was still a huge amount of work, far more than most people expect. Law school is nothing like college. The level at which you are expected to operate, the competition among students, and the rigor of the courswork is shocking at first. I knew many classmates who worked while in law school, but they weren't starting new businesses (which requires a significant time investment), and many had to cut back on work because it was just too much. Something to think about.

Possibly San Diego, Chicago, Nashville, Austin, Dallas, Portland, Seattle, or Houston.


These are all very different cities and you will have very different post-graduation opportunities depending on each choice. I'm not sure what your post grad plans are, maybe you're not interested in practicing law per se. Nonetheless, you should think about where you want to live after law school, and try to go to law school in that city. For example, if you go to law school in Houston but want to live in San Diego after school, that means that you'll have to take the CA bar exam and then compete against the local talent who have spent the last three years working at local internships, gaining experience, and making connections. If you attend a non-elite out of state school, the problem is compounded because you can't rely on your academic pedigree to find work.

I hope this helped, and I wish you the best of luck! 


242
Personal Statement / Re: Seeking some honest feedback
« on: June 06, 2013, 06:44:49 PM »
If you had a disappointing cycle re-working your personal statement is fine, but is likely of limited value. In the vast majority of cases the personal statement is a small factor, and is greatly outweighed by GPA and LSAT.

In addition to writing a new statement I would also suggest reconsidering the schools you're applying to (maybe you applied to schools out of your reach?), and perhaps retaking the LSAT if your score was especially low. It's important to be very realistic about your options and to identify the schools which will give you the best shot at admission and (hopefully) scholarships.

Hope that helps, and good luck!

243
Law School Applications / Re: Chances of Acceptance?
« on: May 30, 2013, 03:09:24 PM »
I would also check out the admissions profiles available on LSAC. You can find your GPA/LSAT range, and for each school it will show how many applied and how many were accepted within that range.

The schools that livinglegend pointed out are probably your best bets. If you're willing to look at nearby states I'd suggest Tulsa, Oklahoma City University, U Arkansas (Little Rock), and maybe Loyola-New Orleans.

Lastly, I know that you probably don't want to hear this, but you should consider retaking the LSAT. You can get into a few places with your numbers, but you're severely limited. There's nothing you can do about your GPA, but if you could raise that LSAT to even a 150-155 you'd have many more options.

If you studied hard, put in the time, and still got a 145 then you also need to consider whether law school is the right choice. Law school exams and the bar are going to be much more difficult than the LSAT.

244
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: May 22, 2013, 02:56:55 PM »
It is charming that posters like "Duncanip" would have us believe that their CBA education qualifies them to be practicing attorneys but their antidotal stories, while interesting are not supported by facts.

Their CBE education and bar passage does, in fact, qualify them to be attorneys.

Again, I think you're missing the point. The CBE and ABA schools are filling different market niches and serving different demographics. It doesn't make sense to compare apples to oranges. CBE grads won't be competing for Biglaw or federal jobs, and many ABA grads aren't interested in small insurance subrogation firms or going solo.

Obviously, the bar pass rates are usually lower and a CBE grad is going to have to hustle more than an ABA grad to get a job. But you have to remember, as Duncan pointed out, that most CBE students are not 25 year-olds who lack experience and are relying on their academic pedigree to land a position. Many possess other experience and connections, and just need to pass the bar.

Lastly, I'm not convinced that any ABA grad is necessarily in a better position to get hired than any CBE grad. I worked at an office where a huge premium was placed on the ability to hit the ground running. A clueless, inexperienced ABA grad would not have automatically beat out an experienced, personable CBE grad. This is especially true of grads from lower-tier ABA schools.

I'm not saying that the opportunities are always equivalent, they're obviously not. I would simply urge you to take the CBE student's goals into account when evaluating the utility of the program.     

 

245
Law School Applications / Re: Chances of Acceptance?
« on: May 22, 2013, 02:30:33 PM »
My GPA is a 3.75 cumulative, and I am currently averaging, on true practice LSAT exams, a score range of 165-170. I plan on improving my score range by at least 5 points at each end before I sit for the test in October.

Let me first say that the LSAT is a difficult test, and simply can't assume that you'll score in the top 2-3%. Practice test are good preparation, but there is no guarantee that your practice scores will be replicated on the actual test day. Thus, until you get a real live LSAT score on the board everything is pure speculation.

That said, take a look at the admissions profiles on LSAC and you'll get a very good idea as to your chances given certain GPA/LSAT combos. Assuming that you score 165, Harvard would almost certainly be out. Even if you scored 175 it wouldn't be guaranteed. You'd have a shot at BU, and the other schools you mentioned would be near shoe-ins, possibly even with scholarships. Again, check out LSAC. The have far more detailed info than I can provide. Good luck!

246
General Board / Re: What are my options?
« on: May 22, 2013, 02:21:13 PM »
The information you provided is too scant to draw any conclusions. Do you mean that you failed some classes, or just didn't do as well as you'd like?

247
Where should I go next fall? / Re: new law school
« on: May 10, 2013, 12:27:17 PM »
I just want to make sure I would be able to sit the bar after three years, especially since a scholarship is involved.

Most states require a degree from an ABA approved law school in order to sit for the bar.

Check out the ABA website, you can read about the process and requirements involved with obtaining accreditation. Obtaining full approval is a long and expensive process, with many intermediate steps.

IIRC, a law school must operate for one academic year before they can apply for accreditation. The school can then apply for Provisional Accreditation, which means that the school is found to be in "substantial compliance" with ABA standards. The school must then maintain provisional accreditation for a while (three years?) before it can apply for full accreditation. The ABA looks at everything from financial resources to faculty qualifications to admissions processes. It's a very in depth process.

Here in California, the new UC-Irvine law school opened in 2009 with Erwin Chemerinsky (a huge name in Constitutional law) as dean, a $20 million gift from a local tycoon, and the full backing of the highly regarded UC system. Even so, they operated as unaccredited for the first year and then acheived provisional status. I believe they are still in the process of obtaining full approval. That's an example of the best case scenario.

Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, OTOH, opened a new law school and failed to obtain provisional approval recently. There is a good NY Times article on the topic which I'd encourage you to read. It explains how a school can fail to obtain accreditation. Look closely at the resources of the parent institution.

Thus, it is likely that in the best case scenario you would graduate from a provisionally accredited school. The ABA says that graduates of provisionally accredited schools should be accorded all the rights of graduates of fully approved schools. I have heard of some states giving applicants a hard time about provisional status, however.

Make sure to check with the state bar in the state in which you intend to practice, and get a clear answer as to their policy regarding provisionally accredited law schools. Also be sure to check out the ABA's rules, and ask the new school specific questions about their plans to acheive accreditation.   

248
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Are CBA schools a joke?
« on: May 07, 2013, 01:28:18 PM »

Let me again ask "CA Law Dean" to present employment statistics for his/ her schools recent graduating classes 2010, 2011 & 2013 similar to what the ABA requires its members to present.
http://employmentsummary.abaquestionnaire.org/

Please also provide bar pass stats for your school and the bar pass stats for other CAB schools.

Thanks.

Monterrey's first time pass rate for July 2012 was 66%. That's better than several CA ABA schools, and significantly better than most out of state ABA schools. Check out Calbar's site for details.

I don't think CBE schools are required to report post-grad employment details like their ABA counterparts, so that info may not be readily available. You could have discovered this yourself in about 30 seconds.

"Are CBE schools a joke?" is the wrong question. It's subjective and vague, and can't really be answered. The question to ask is "Are CBE schools adequately fulfilling their intended function?" The answer to that question is that some are, and some are not. 

CBE schools are not attempting to compete with the ABA schools. As Duncanjp noted, the typical CBE student is a working adult and has no intention of seeking a Biglaw position. The CBE schools do, however, provide a large number of California's prosecutors, public defenders, small Main Street firms, and solo practitioners.

I think it's difficult for attorneys from outside of California to understand the system, because most states have no equivalent. Law students, both inside and outside of California, seem equally confused. I graduated from an ABA school, and the entire focus was on grades, law review, and absurd ranking schemes. Everyone was gunning for those coveted few Biglaw or Federal positions, and most of my classmates openly disdained the notion of working in small firms or at the public defender's office.

From what I can gather, that's simply not the focus at CBE schools. Most CBE students I've met are very realistic about their options, and understand the limitations of the degree. However, visit any public agency or small firm in CA and you're bound to meet successful CBE grads. My county counsel's office is something like 50% CBE grads, and they're doing just fine.

Also, like ABA schools, some CBEs have better reputations than others. Some of them are geographically isolated, and are therefore able to attract more qualified applicants who would otherwise attend an ABA school. Those particular CBE schools produce a large percentage of the local bar and bench, and have good local reputations.

For example, we had a CBE school here in Los Angeles (University of La Verne) that was called "The Judge's Law School" for decades because it produced so many judges in southern California. Within it's region, ULV had (and still has) a good reputation and went onto earn ABA approval. Western State in Orange County had a similar history, and produced a huge number of OC's prosecutors and judges before gaining ABA approval. In the Central Valley, a large number of the attorneys and judges are graduates of San Joaquin COL, and the Santa Barbara area is well stocked with Santa Barbara COL grads.

Other CBE schools, however, have low bar pass rates,mmay be in danger of losing state accreditation under California's newly adopted rules, and are in regions where they have to compete with multiple ABA schools. Clearly, that's going to make things difficult for many of those grads. The point is you've got to look at the schools individually, and take into account the students' goals. 

249
The world does not laugh at the US law school system, they flock to it in droves.

The US has more foreign law students than any other nation on Earth by far. Ask any lawyer in Hong Kong, Berlin, or Johannesburg to name the ten best law schools and the world and I'll bet they'll answer "Harvard, Yale, Columbia...", etc. The international competition to get into top US LL.M programs is intense.

US law schools definitely have problems with cost, lack of practical training, etc. But by and large, US graduate level education is considered to be very high quality internationally.   

250
Cher1300:

If you do transfer to a CBE law school I hope you keep us updated with your observations. You'd have a unique perspective, and it would be interesting to hear how you compare the ABA/CBE programs.

For many jobs, I really wonder if a lower tier ABA degree is worth very much more than a CBE degree. If your interest is solo practice or small Main Street firms, saving money and gaining practical experience may be the best bet.

Good luck with whatever path you choose!

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