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Messages - Maintain FL 350
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« on: October 02, 2012, 02:17:33 PM »
Plus (in theory) the extra degree will give an edge (somehow).
No, it probably won't. Unless your goal is to teach college, a Ph.D will only give you more debt. The starting salary for an assistant professor is less than that of a junior associate, and you'll max out at far, far less than an attorney. Most legal employers won't care a bit about a Ph.D (or M.A.), so outside of academia it will not give you an edge. Even if you do want to teach, you better get into a very well-regarded doctoral program. The job market for academics is even worse than the job market for lawyers.
I would advise taking any kind of legal work you can get, just get some experience. If you have to, move in with family or relocate to a cheaper part of the country. Believe me, I recently graduated and I know how crappy the market is. The first couple of years out of school might be awful, but if you can get some experience it will get better. Handling DUIs and insurance subrogation cases for $40,000 a year is still better than accruing an additional $100,000 debt for a degree that will not increase your earning potential.
« on: September 28, 2012, 01:12:43 PM »
One practice LSAT is nothing, don't worry too much about a single low score. What I'd be more concerned about is that the LSAT is not too far off and you've only taken one practice exam. You need to take dozens of practice LSATs, and if possible a prep course. If a prep course is not possible, use get some good study guides (Powerscore, etc). Take the time to comprehensively review each practice exam and understand why you got a certain answer right or wrong. Apply that knowledge to each new practice exam. Starting now you need to buckle down and dedicate every possible minute to prepping.
To have a good shot at SW you probably need 155-160. My understanding is that the SCALE program is far more selective, however. If your cumulative GPA is 3.2 that means your community college GPA must have been around 2.0-2.2? You might have to write an addendum explaining the discrepancy in GPA, especially for the SCALE program. Do everything you can to raise that LSAT, it's going to be the determinative factor in your law school admissions.
« on: September 26, 2012, 12:13:44 PM »
In the case when the average GPA is high, how would this affect my chances to say get into T14?
I might be wrong, but isn't this where the LSAC weighted GPA comes into play? LSAC will adjust your GPA based on major, difficulty of coursework, institutional standards, etc. Usually it doesn't go up or down too much, but I think this exact issue is part of what LSAC is trying to compensate for.
Without knowing what your GPA is it's impossible to gauge your chances, but as SoCalLawGuy said you'll probably need at least a 3.5-3.6 to have a shot at the T14.
Or could I balance it out with a high LSAT?
You can almost always compensate with a high LSAT, depending on what school you're applying to. At the most elite schools a high GPA and high LSAT are required. They have so many highly qualified applicants that there isn't any incentive to accept someone with lower numbers. Outside of the elite schools (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, etc.), a very
high LSAT might
make up for a lower GPA. Depending on your GPA, a score of 170+ might get you into a few other highly regarded schools.
There are also plenty of great schools outside of the T14 that might suit your purposes just as well. Make sure to check out those options, too. Until you have an LSAC GPA and a live LSAT score, however, everything is speculation.
« on: September 24, 2012, 02:19:09 PM »
I'm probably going to look into applying to University of Minnesota, Hastings, USC, UT, and NYU;
Obviously I don't know anything about your personal situation or your future plans, but based on this statement it seems like you're making your decision based on rankings alone. I would suggest that you also consider what you want to do after law school and where you want to live. All of the school you mentioned have good reputations, but they are very different in terms of post-graduation options. With the exception of NYU, each of these schools will mostly offer opportunities within it's immediate geographic region.
Apart from a few truly elite schools (Harvard, Yale, etc) the vast majority of Tier 1 schools are essentially strong regional institutions. The fact that USNWR states that a certain school is Tier 1 does not mean that it automatically has the kind of reputation that will land you a job anywhere in the country based on pedigree alone. If you're interested in living in a particular area, you're almost always better off going to law school in that area, even at a lower ranked school.
For example, if you wanted to live in the SF/Bay Area (possibly the most LGBT friendly place in the U.S.), Hastings is probably an immeasurably better choice than, say, Minnesota. The fact that USNWR ranks Minnesota higher than Hastings does not make up for the fact that Hastings students will have better access to internships, clerkships, and summer associate positions in SF. The alumni network is strong throughout CA, and that will be very helpful when it comes time to get a job. Hastings will also better prepare you for the CA bar exam. A Minnesota grad who simply shows up after graduation without local experience will have a tough time, regardless of rankings. In fact, a USF or Golden Gate grad might even have an advantage over a Minnesota grad in that scenario. OTOH, if you want to live in the Midwest, Minnesota is a great option.
Here's the takeaway: rankings do matter, but once you get outside of the "elite" category you need to look at other criteria including location, scholarships, career goals. Good Luck!
« on: September 20, 2012, 07:03:06 PM »
You might be able to get in somewhere with your current numbers (Cooley, Florida Coastal), but I'd suggest retaking the LSAT. If you can boost that score by even five or six points you'll greatly increase your options. Retaking only makes sense, though, if you think you can increase your score. Only you can answer that by doing a critical self-evaluation. Did you study as much as you have, did you take a prep course, etc.
Also ask yourself what you want to do with a law degree. If you want something like biglaw you're going to have to score ridiculously higher, and that may not be realistic. If you want to be Main Street divorce lawyer, OTOH, maybe not. Think about the debt you'll likely take on, and how that will affect your plan.
I don't know much about paralegal programs, but if you want to be lawyer I'd just focus on retaking the LSAT. The paralegal program sounds like an expensive distraction. I hope that helps. Good Luck!
« on: September 20, 2012, 04:54:27 PM »
Isn't tax also one of the few areas where an LL.M is often preferred (or even required)?
« on: September 20, 2012, 12:16:23 PM »
Why not, LegalFielder? I've never heard of bad reviews for Western State. Then again, it wasn't recommended to me either but seriously, why is it a bad idea ?
I didn't go to WSU, but my understanding is that they have a GPA policy that leads to very high attrition. All law schools are competitive and employ a grading curve, but I believe that WSU also requires students to maintain a certain GPA in specific core courses. I interned alongside a WSU student a couple of years ago and she said it made for a very high stress environment. (All law schools are high stress around exam time, but this sounded worse).
OTOH, the high attrition rates have helped WSU to increases its bar pass rates. I have mixed feelings about those types of policies. According to LSAC, attrition for the first, second, and third years combined was 52%. Of that, roughly 3/4 was due to academic attrition.
That's pretty crazy.
« on: September 19, 2012, 12:34:26 PM »
Having gone through law school myself I still don't really know what "International Law" really is. Is it treaties? international tax? corporate transactions? It is such a broad category that it cannot even really be defined.
It's all of the above. Lots of big firms have small branch offices in Hong Kong, London, or Singapore. They advise corporations on trade agreement compliance, international employment issues ("Genius Visas"), contract issues, etc. The branch offices are very small, like 5-10 lawyers, and are usually not a destination for new baby lawyers. Other "international" issues are handled at the main offices in the U.S., as they don't require an on-site presence. I think a lot of people picture international law as sort of a hip, jet-setter type of gig. In reality, you'll probably be helping a Canadian trucking company with NAFTA compliance. I remember people in law school discussing how globalization would cause the international law field to grow exponentially, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
If you look at lawyers at those offices, you'll see that the vast majority are Ivy League, Stanford, etc., sub-rankings not withstanding.
You should also move to Albuquerque New Mexico in the meantime because that is the best place to live now according to U.S. News.
I love that, it tells you all you need to know about USNWR. A few years ago my hometown was ranked the #5 best place to live by USNWR. A year later it didn't even appear in the top 100. Same town, same people, same school system, and it went from #5 to nothing in twelve months. Consider that when USNWR tells you where to spend 150K in tuition.
« on: September 17, 2012, 12:58:09 PM »
EarlCat seems to think that a criminal record is irrelevant. It's not. Depending on where you live, what crimes you committed, and how long ago it happened, you could be prevented from bar admission. Some states are easy on this stuff, some are not.
Check with the TX state bar before spending 150k on a law degree.
« on: September 17, 2012, 12:50:43 PM »
Law school admission will be based primarily on your first undergraduate GPA and LSAT. Your second B.A. and M.A. will be soft factors, and will probably give you some boost, but it won't be huge. LSAC will calculate your GPA based only on the first degree. Soft factors are mostly helpful when you're being compared to other similarly qualified candidates. Top schools simply have so many well qualified applicants with high numbers that there isn't any incentive to take a chance on a less numerically qualified applicant. Further, the schools are obsessed with the numbers they report to LSAC.
A 3.1 GPA is low for any school in the top 20, and you'd have to compensate with a very high LSAT score. Without a real live score, however, everything is pure speculation. Sometimes people do better on the actual LSAT than they did in practice sessions, sometimes they drop. Until you have a score it's tough to weigh your options.
Even if you don't get a 170 that doesn't mean you can't go to good school. Think about what you want to do after law school, and where you want to live. It's possible that a solid local school with a good reputation is a better bet than a school that is ranked at the lower end of the top 20, but is out of state. Something to consider.
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