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Messages - Maintain FL 350
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« on: July 03, 2012, 04:48:53 PM »
FalconJimmy is right. At the vast majority of law schools you will be admitted/denied almost exclusively on GPA/LSAT. Soft factors come into play when you are being evaluated against other applicants with very similar academic qualifications. If your academic numbers are below par for a given school, your soft factors would have to be truly outstanding to have much (if any) impact. This is especially true at elite schools.
As far as what soft factors are most useful, I'd say URM status (specifically African American, Native American, some Latino classifications), followed by extensive non-profit/public service experience.
Let me give you a quick (true) example: A friend of mine graduated from an Ivy with OK, but not great, grades. After college he spent several years teaching in a very poor inner city school, the kind of thing that law schools love. He had multiple other very unique and impressive soft factors that I don't want to specify. Trust me when I say that if you looked at his life story you'd say "Holy s***!" He took the LSAT, scored in the 170s, and was STILL turned down by several top schools. He got into a very good school anyway, but it shows you how even with amazing softs you've still got to show up with the academic credentials, at least at the top schools.
« on: July 03, 2012, 01:09:50 PM »
You're a classic "splitter", just like I was, and that makes it difficult to predict where you might get in. My numbers were the reverse of yours, I had a high LSAT/average GPA. Check out the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, its available for free on LSAC's website. They provide grids for each school, and you can look at your approximate GPA/LSAT profile and see how many applied with similar numbers and how many were accepted. It'll give you a good idea as to what your chances are at a given school.
The thing about places like Berkeley is that they have enough highly qualified applicants with high GPAs, high LSATs, and impressive soft factors that they don't really have any incentive to lower the admissions criteria for a particular student. Your soft factors are good, and will mostly help you stand out among similarly qualified applicants. Remember, the question isn't "How does my application look in a vacuum?", it's "How does my application compare to the other applicants?". The reality of law school admissions is that GPA and LSAT scores dominate, and soft factors will be taken into account, if at all, later.
Re-taking the LSAT might be a good idea in your case. Try to figure out why you got 154, and realistically assess whether or not you think you can do better. Personally, I found practice tests to be more useful than just studying. If you take enough of them you'll start to see patterns and you'll be able to predict the answers. On the other hand, if you feel that you put your best effort into the test the first time you may want to forego re-taking it and focus on identifying schools that you can get into. If you really want a top 20 school you'll need to raise that score significantly, maybe around 165 for the bottom end of the top 20 and more like 165-170 for the higher end. Think about whether or not that's realistic.
Lastly, a word about rankings. Outside of a few truly elite schools (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and maybe 5 or 6 others), the vast majority of law schools have regional or local reputations. The fact that a school is ranked Tier 1 by US News does not mean that it is necessarily a better choice than a school that is ranked lower. Plenty of T1 schools are essentially local. For example, Pepperdine is ranked T1. Do you think that a Pepperdine grad who shows up in NYC after graduation has a better shot at obtaining employment over a local St. John's grad just because Pepperdine is ranked T1?
My point is this: try not to get too caught up in rankings. Depending on what you want to do with your degree, there are probably local schools like Northeastern and UConn that will be just as useful to you as a random, non-elite top 20. If you get into Harvard or Yale, that's a different story. But if you end up confronted with a choice betweeen a scholarship at a local school vs. $150,000 of debt at a non-elite (but higher ranked) school, think seriously about the scholarship.
Also, what do you want to do with your degree? That should help you decide where to apply.
I hope that helped, sorry if it was rambling. Good Luck!
« on: July 02, 2012, 06:26:41 PM »
I think that all of the commentary here is correct in one way or another, and I definitely agree with Legend's comments regarding online classes. I've even had a difficult time with BARBRI's online component compared to actual class attendance. I tend to procrastinate (I'm doing it right now!), but others are very disciplined and might do fine in an online learning enviroment.
At the end of the day, however, you can't escape the objectively verifiable numbers. ALUSL's first time bar pass rate for the July 2010 CA bar was seven percent. Even if we accept that the problem is that online learning is just not for everyone, then we'd have to accept that it's apparently not for the vast majority of law students. I'm not a snob about law school rankings or even accreditation, far from it, in fact. But numbers like that indicate a serious problem with the online model, whatever the cause.
Not every class at every online school has such low numbers, at least not consistently. Concord and ALUSL itself had other classes listed on Calbar with 35% pass rates. The rates are inconsistent and the class sizes are very small, however, which to me indicates a problem. Keep in mind that these bar pass rates are after a large number of students have already been weeded out by the FYLSE. If these schools would clearly display their FYLSE and bar pass rates on their websites, I'd be a little less critical.
« on: July 02, 2012, 06:04:24 PM »
"We interrupt this program..."
« on: July 02, 2012, 04:44:10 PM »
I think you're right on the money with the Yale comparison, but those people are superstars to begin with. What about the average student a T4 like Cal Western, for instance? Their incoming GPA/LSATs are relatively low, but the first time bar pass rate is something like 75-80%. Would those students pass at the same rate if they attended an online school? The question is probably unanswerable, but I have a suspicion that the low FYLSE/bar pass rates are the result of a combination of factors including both quality of students and quality of education.
« on: July 02, 2012, 01:17:26 PM »
A key reason why most FYLSE test takers fail the exam is because they are fooled into thinking that they can absorb a huge amount of information in one year by studying on a part time basis. The amount of information you need to know to pass takes at least 8 hours a day for the entire year. The assignments the school gives only scratches the surface of what the student needs to know. There is nothing wrong with the online law school student. There is something wrong with the way the whole online law school program is structured. Let's stop blaming the victim.
Generally speaking, I agree. The model of legal education adopted by the the ABA and CBE schools, is, I think, the bare minimum that most people need in order to adequately prepare for the bar exam. Of course there are always examples of online students who pass the FYLSE and bar on their first attempts, but these numbers are very, very low. Personally, I don't think that there is any substitute for live classroom attendance and participation. I know that many people will disagree, but the statistics speak for themselves.
I've read a lot of commentary that attributes the low FYLSE/bar pass rates of online schools to the fact that online students are usually working full time, have families, etc. Well, students at ABA/CBE accredited part time evening programs are also working full time, have families, etc., and the bar pass rates are much, much higher. I believe that this discrepancy has to do less with the students, as you've said, and more to do with the format.
« on: July 02, 2012, 01:06:02 PM »
Since I took the LSAT in 2005, I attended the University of Southern California Law before I dropped out, lived in a hostel in Hollywood for half a year, then worked at a Ford dealership in North Hollywood, CA, and had a stint with Greenpeace, and also worked at Toyota Hollywood, and I also worked for a telephone fundraising company in Korea Town, Los Angeles. I must've sold about $ 2 million of merchandise at the Ford dealership. My score on the LSAT in 2005 was 166. Perhaps if and when I take the LSAT again, and if I score at least a 166 again, then I can get into a more presitigious law school than Gould because of my additional "soft" factors.
Yes, if you score higher than 166 you may get into some higher ranked schools. I don't know what your soft factors are, but one thing to keep in mind is that they'll be looking closely at your law school transcript from USC. The vast majority of applicants can only be judged by LSAT/GPA, but your performance in law school can be predicted more easily.
I might be totally wrong about this, but I would guess that your application will be treated somewhat like a transfer application. If your performance at USC was very good, you've pobably got a great shot at higher ranked schools. If your performance was average/below average, you might have a hard time. A new, much higher LSAT score would probably help, but I don't know how much. Your grades from SC are going to play a big role, I think.
« on: July 01, 2012, 03:41:35 PM »
It's a difficult question to answer because it requires an assessment of your abilities, which no one on this board can provide. Only you know your strengths and weaknesses, and can determine how much time you'll need to study. I would advise taking a prep course and practicing as much as possible. I found the practice tests to be very helpful. The more you take them the more you'll see patterns and start to anticipate the correct answer.
You have plenty of time, why not start practicing now?
« on: July 01, 2012, 01:49:37 PM »
Bonjour, Sophie. I think most of us on this board are at American law schools, and are not familiar with the requirements of French law schools. Therefore, it's difficult to offer any meaningful advice. You are the best judge of your own abilities. Try to be as disciplined as possible, and don't take on more academic work than you can reasonably handle.
If you had trouble the first time you took these classes, try to figure out why. Not enough study time? Too many classes? Maybe you don't really like law and would prefer to study something else? Only you can answer these questions. Once you know the answer, ask yourself what you will need to change in order to pass your courses.
I wish I could offer better advice, but I just don't know the system at Paris-2! Good Luck!
« on: June 30, 2012, 06:57:14 PM »
I have no personal experience with ALUSL, so I can't speak as to the education it offers. I would, however, advise you to really think about the fact that this law school does not have either ABA of CBE (California state) accreditation. That doesn't mean it's a bad school, or that you can't get a good legal education there, but it does mean that you'll have limitations placed on your ability to practice in other states. It also means that that your degree will be viewed very differently by a lot of employers, and not in a good way.
Generally, I'm not one of those people who says "Oh my god, you're not going to (insert name of random T1)! You'll never get a job!" I've met enough lawyers from all tiers to know that that's not necessarily true. However, graduating from an unaccredited law school does present some pretty big challenges and you should be totally aware of these before committing yourself to four years and tens of thousands of dollars.
1) You'll have to take the First Year Law Students Exam (the "Baby Bar") at the end of your first year. ALUSL's pass rates are pretty low, for both first and repeat takers. Check the Calbar website. That doesn't necesarily mean tha the education offered at ALUSL is inferior, or that you can't be one of the few who passes, but it isn't meaningless either. It's something to note and to ask ALUSL about.
2) The bar pass rates are equally troubling, in my opinion. Again, it doesn't mean you can't do it, but it's legitimate to ask why are these numbers so low? I'm not talking about the 50-60% that some CA T4s have, I'm talking under 10%. Check the Calbar website.
3) You will not be able to practice in many states. Some will let you apply after a certain amount of time spent practicing in CA, others won't. ALUSL's website says that theeir degree may not qualify you to take the bar in a particular state, and you should check to be sure. Fair enough, but I think unaccredited schools should be absolutely clear and offer full, frank disclosure on this issue. The majority of states will not admit you, period.
4) CHEA and DETC accreditation are fine, but don't mean anything in the law school context. ABA and (to a lesser extent) CBE are the only forms of accreditation that matter. CHEA and DETC do not help you qualify for practice outside of CA.
5) When it comes to getting a job, you may very well be entirely on your own. My undertsanding is that most correspondance schools offer little or no career services. This may not be an issue with you. You may want to go into solo practice and be your own boss or you may already have a job lined up. If you plan on solo practice, spend some time looking into that option first. It's very difficult straight out of law school.
Bottom line, I think a school like ALUSL can be a good choice for the right student, but I think most people are not that student. Think hard about whether or not you are.
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