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Messages - Maintain FL 350
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« on: October 03, 2012, 11:17:09 AM »
You can predict what will go on in a court room just by sitting there for a day or two with alarming accuracy. They have become victims of cookie cutter law!
It sounds like you had some bad experiences with PDs who were quick to get a plea, and I can understand your frustration. Most PDs I've known, however, are very dedicated to their clients and really want to help. If they think they can win at trial, they go to trial. If not, they look for a bargain. One thing you'll figure out very quickly once you're a lawyer is that clients are terrible at estimating their chances at trial.
They don't understand the system, the restrictions on evidence, and the elements necessary to establish a crime or liability. Your clients will routinely think that you're doing a bad job, even though you got them the best deal in the universe.
« on: October 03, 2012, 12:03:10 AM »
It seems that cost is the issue and may people I've talked to have pushed the issue of $$$$ over quality of education. $$$ isn't an issue with me when it comes to my education.
The reason people talk about the cost is because it's a huge issue. Imagine all the costs associated with starting a law practice: office space, malpractice insurance, bar dues, Lexis/Westlaw access. Now drop another $1500 a month on top of that for loan payments. It can make or break you. I have a buddy who went to Michigan (top ten) and told me he wishes he had accepted a scholarship at local T2 instead, his payments are so high.
As far as the quality of education, legal education has been standardized to an amazing degree. The education you receive at one ABA school is pretty much identical to all other ABA schools. Places like Harvard and Yale focus more on policy, but that's about it. The whole point of ABA accreditation is to create uniformity and predictability in legal education. Most of your clients won't know the difference between a T1 and a T4, and won't care. As IrrX said, focus on getting into school in the city you want to practice in. If you can get a scholarship a local school, all the better.
I want the best education, one that will prepare me for the challanges to help other people, not as a will writer, or a DA or public pretender somewhere pleading every single case they come across because they lack 1. the balls and 2.the courage to fight for what is right.
Just so you know, the public defenders don't plea bargain cases because they lack balls. They plea bargain cases because their clients are usually guilty, have tons of evidence against them, know nothing about the law, and think that a Casey Anthony style miracle is gonna happen at trial. The plea is usually the best deal the client can possibly get. Some private practice attorneys go to trial because they get paid more for a trial, not because they have bigger nads. Often they end up negotiating the same plea bargain that a PD could've gotten for free.
« on: October 02, 2012, 04:34:56 PM »
I admit that I slacked off in college and I own up to it. Aside from that, I'm a TERRIBLE standardized test taker. I took the SATs multiple times and I've taken the LSATs twice so far (142, 152).
The bar exam is the ultimate standardized test, and is many magnitudes more difficult than the SAT or LSAT. If you had trouble with a one morning-long multiple choice exam, think about how you'll perform on a two or three day long essay/MC/performance test. Consider that before you accrue $100K+ debt to attend law school.
That said, you can probably get in somewhere with a 2.88/152. A small local school is fine as long as you're informed and realistic about your post-grad job opportunities. If you want to do biglaw or be a federal prosecutor, then you need to retake the LSAT, score off the charts, and get into a well regarded school. If you want to be a Main Street divorce lawyer, someplace like NSU might be fine. Do some research and approach law school with ypur eyes wide open. Think about where you want to live, what kind of work you'd be willing to do (you may not have a lot of choices) and assess whether or not it's worth the debt.
« on: October 02, 2012, 04:22:01 PM »
I'm wondering would I still a have a shot at attend a t1 or t2 law school given my age and background.
The short answer is yes, you have a chance. You're a splitter (low GPA/high LSAT), and that makes things unpredictable. However, especially at age 40, you need to consider the cost/benefit of accruing $100K+ debt in order to attend a T1 or T2. With a 169 LSAT you may get accepted to a few lower-ranked T1s and several T2s, but you likely won't get much in the way of scholarships. Consider the fact that since you won't be attending an elite school anyway, you may be better off minimizing your debt and accepting a scholarship at a T4.
« 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)?
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