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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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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. 

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! 

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.

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! 

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!

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.

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.     


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!

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?

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.   

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