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281
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Can i get in to an ABA?
« on: June 14, 2013, 05:24:04 PM »
Is it possible to get into an ABA in California with the following stats?:

149 LSAT
3.2 all college GPA including Community College

These two numbers represent the operative portion of your stats. Grade trend and university vs. community college credits won't really matter. Law school admission is primarily a numbers game, especially at lower tier schools, and your final GPA/LSAT numbers will almost entirely determine your chances. Law schools love to talk about how they "look at the whole applicant", but the statistics seem to indicate otherwise.

Take a look at the law school profiles on LSAC's site. You can find your GPA/LSAT range and see how many applied with similar numbers to each school and how many were admitted. This will give you a very good idea as to your chances.

That said, it is possible that you might get admitted to an ABA school. You could try applying to all of the lower tier CA schools, and you may get into one or two. If you look at the LSAC profiles, however, you'll see that very few students get admitted with sub-150 scores. You might stand a slight chance at the T3-T4 schools, some of which have good local reputations and have produced many successful grads.

Your chances of admission at any of these schools, however, is slight.

Many have recommended that i re-take LSAT but i am naturally a horrible test taker.


This is a huge red flag, and you need to proceed with caution.

If you are a "naturally horrible test taker" then you need to consider that law school is loaded with very difficult exams, all of which are much tougher than the LSAT. You will also have to pass the MPRE, and the bar exam. The bar exam is the toughest test I've taken, period. Many very smart people fail. In fact, many very smart people fail more than once. If you have a tough time with tests you need to really think this over before dropping $150,000 on law school. Many people seem to think that although they have a hard time with exams, three years of law school will help them develop their skills and pass the bar. Maybe that works for some people, but it clearly does not for many.

A low LSAT score is not necessarily a bar to becoming an attorney. There are definitely examples of people who had 149 scores, passed the bar and are successful. The question is whether you can overcome whatever obstacles get in your way when it comes to taking tests. You need to make an honest, realistic, and critical assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. Do as much research as possible, and try to determine whether or not you can succeed at this endeavor.

Lastly, think about what you want to go to law school in the first place. Think about your long term goals, and whether or not this is really for you. Graduating from a non-prestigious local school, you almost certainly won't be working at a big firm making $160,000 or as a federal prosecutor. If you graduate and pass the bar you'll probably end up putting in long hours for low pay at a small firm doing unglamorous work like DUI defense or child custody modifications. After a few years of grunt work it will get better, and you'll have some options. I'm pointing this out simply because many law students (even those at top ranked schools) have very unrealistic expectations. Something to think about. 

Good luck with whatever you decide!


282
Law School Applications / Re: Total Life Change Worth It???
« on: June 14, 2013, 02:13:06 PM »
The answer depends on your personal attributes and your academic abilities. If you are very dedicated, very disciplined, smart, and willing to sacrifice most or all of your spare time for the next four years then yes, you can probably do it.

I went to law school at a part time evening program while juggling a family, a mortgage, and other responsibilities. It is a grueling process, period. Law school is far more demanding than undergrad, the two are not even remotely comparable. You will be expected to read hundreds of pages of dense, often boring material every week and to be able to utilize what you've learned in a unique way. The amount of preparation that would have landed you an "A" in undergrad will get you a C- in law school.

More than anything else you have to be absolutely committed to becoming a lawyer, you have to want it badly. I was very committed and had a very supportive spouse (also a lawyer), and it was still a grind. There were many times when I felt like packing it in. Law school significantly reduced the amount of time I had with my family, and wore me out mentally. I think that the idea of "part time" law school is a misnomer, because you are actually forced to adopt a seven-day work week. When you're not in class or at your job you will be studying, briefing, or researching.

You need to ask yourself if you want to be a lawyer badly enough to give up time with your son, and to forego any real down time for the next four years.

If you go to an online school you'll have to set aside additional time to prepare for the FYLSE ("baby bar"), as well as the MPRE (all law students). After law school, of course, you'll need to set aside two or three months to prepare for the bar exam. It would be very difficult to work and prepare for the bar simultaneously. Bar prep is a fulltime job.

Now for the good news. If you successful in this endeavor you get to be a lawyer, and there can be a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction in that. This might sound corny, but when people find out you're a lawyer they often treat you with respect, listen more closely to your opinions, and are deferential. It's kind of a nice little ego boost that helps those fatigue-ridden years seem worthwhile.   

Lastly, you mentioned online school. I assume you know that there are significant restrictions imposed on online grads. I don't know where you are located, but the vast majority of states will not let you sit for the bar. Additionally, you'll be on your own as far as finding internships and jobs, and many employers will be wary of your degree. If there is any way you can attend an ABA or CBE accredited school, seriously consider that option.

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

283
Where should I go next fall? / Re: GGU Law vs. USF Law
« on: June 13, 2013, 02:40:16 PM »
Livinglegend's reply is excellent, I just want to elaborate on a couple of points.

USF may enjoy a slight reputational advantage over GGU, but you need to be realistic about how much benefit you will derive from such an advantage. Think of it this way: firms that will hire from USF will probably hire from GGU too, but firms that want Boalt/Stanford/Harvard grads will likely hire from neither. (I'm sure that a few top students from USF/GGU that go into biglaw and federal jobs, but I'm speaking in generalities).

Law students and 0Ls tend to get caught up in the subtle nuances between schools ("Ah, this school is ranked #113 but it has the #5 ranked Elder Law program in the country! That must be better than the school ranked #114!). After you graduate you'll find that most employers look at law schools in much broader terms. Some are considered elite, some have great local reputations, and most won't really help or hurt you.

If you attend either of these schools (or SCU for that matter), you won't be relying on your pedigree to get a job anyway. What you accomplish during law school (getting good grades, getting internships, and above all making positive connections) will be your ticket to employment.

Consider the cost, the location, and your personal goals. What do you want to do after law school? Will one of these schools better help you achieve that goal? Let those criteria steer your decision making process.

Good luck!   

284
Law School Applications / Re: Top law school chances for an engineer
« on: June 13, 2013, 02:19:04 PM »
I agree with livinglegend, until you have an actual LSAT score this is all pure speculation. It's easy to underestimate the difficulty of the LSAT, and you can't assume that you'll score in the top 5%.

That said, if you pull off a high score you have a good shot at many well respected schools. Your GPA is solid, but things like grade trend and major will be accorded little weight by most schools. Law school admissions is primarily a numbers game, and once you have an LSAT score it will be fairly easy to calculate your chances at most schools. 

285
Which law school you choose to attend is a highly personal choice, and I don't know enough about your situation to offer really specific advice. That said, if you want to be a DA in southern California there are some general rules which apply.

First, if you want to live and work in southern California I would definitely advise going to a local school. If you attend Syracuse or Hastings it's going to be difficult to obtain internships at the local DA's office, which is crucial to getting hired. Those internships are actually quite competitive, and local talent will have a huge advantage.

If you simply show up after law school and start sending out resumes to the local DAs without any local experience or personal connections, your chances of getting hired are probably close to zero. It's not uncommon to have 150 people applying for each position, and they've got to whittle that down to a manageable number somehow. Most if not all of the local law schools will have some kind of connection to the DA and can help you land an internship. Once you're there you can do a great job, impress the hell out of everyone, and increase your chances of eventually getting hired.

I went to law school in southern California and worked at a government law office. In my experience, personal connections can easily trump grades or pedigree. I was fortunate to score a great, very competitive internship during law school because I had the chance to meet one of the managing attorneys at local government office. I couldn't have done that if I'd been in Seattle or New York. If you look at the profiles of the local DA offices in southern California you'll see that the vast majority of prosecutors went to schools like Loyola, Southwestern, Pepperdine, La Verne and Western State. Very few went to out of state (or even of the area) schools.

Lastly, a word about the current state of the DA's offices. As you probably know California is in terrible financial shape and this has resulted in government agencies having their budgets slashed. Hiring at most DA, public defender, city attorney, etc. offices is at either a standstill or a trickle. many offices have shrunk because they've had to lay people off or because they can't replace attrition due to retirement. Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to change anytime soon. I know people who are licensed attorneys and are working at the DA as volunteers hoping for a job to open up. The competition for those few coveted positions is heavy, to say the least.

My point is only go to law school if you would be content doing something other than prosecuting, because there is an excellent chance that you won't get hired straight out of law school. I'm not trying to dash your dreams, I'm just pointing out a fact of which you may not be aware.

Good luck with whatever you decide! 

286
Law School Applications / Re: Good enough soft factor?
« on: June 08, 2013, 04:57:37 PM »
Job prospects, scholarships, and region are less important to me than quality of the education, as I will not be pursuing a legal career and my business will pay the tuition costs.

I completely understand your concerns, but let me make a few suggestions. If you are not going to practice law then you may want to consider limiting the cost of your J.D. The fact is, the education you receive at any of the ABA schools to which you're likely to gain admission is going to be nearly identical.

Legal education has been standardized to large degree, in fact that's the one of the advantages of attending an ABA approved law school. In order to achieve accreditation the schools have to meet a laundry list of academic, financial and administrative criteria. They all follow the Socratic method, they all follow the case method, and you will read the exact same textbooks and discuss the exact same salient legal points at just about any ABA school. The same can probably be said for the California accredited (CBE) schools, too. 

Of course, some schools are more prestigious than others but that isn't because the teaching is necessarily better or because they utilize a different method. Prestige has more to do with selectivity in admissions and the school's "aura", which is difficult to define or replicate. I remember that my evidence professor once showed us an evidence exam from Harvard law school. I was struck by the fact that it was very similar to the exam that I took at my local ABA school, definitely not more difficult.

With a 2.89/155 you're not going to be in the running for any of the elite law schools anyway (not trying to be rude, just pointing out a fact). The schools you do gain admission to will be ones with local or regional reputations, and will be on about the same level of prestige. Therefore, it probably isn't worth accruing the extra expense to attend a non-elite out of state school unless you really want to live in that particular city for three or four years. 

Lastly, remember that a given school is not necessarily going to be viewed as a superior institution simply because it is ranked as T1. Many T1 schools have decent local reputations but are largely unknown outside of their immediate region. In many cases a cheap local T2-T4 degree is just about as useful as an out of state T1 degree. Don't let the USNWR rankings scheme drive your decision making process, and take the time to understand it's limitations.

287
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! 


288
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!

289
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.

290
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.     

 

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