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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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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!

General Board / Re: Two Questions - What is realistic?
« 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!

General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Tax Attorney opinions
« 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)?

Western State College of Law / Re: oL at Western State
« 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.

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.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: talk to me...
« 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. 

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.

Good Luck!

Law School Applications / Re: Study Abroad factored in LSAC GPA?
« on: September 16, 2012, 11:47:09 PM »
I believe that LSAC calculates your GPA based on all grades received from all institutions attended.

Law School Applications / Re: LOW GPA LOW LSAT South Western Law
« on: September 15, 2012, 03:46:45 AM »
The only information she had suggested to me in regards to the LSAT, is that a 155 LSAT Score would make it so I would not need to take a GMAT. This was for the prospect of doing the dual JD/MBA program through SCALE.

I'm familiar with the program, it's in conjunction with the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. My understanding is that you have to be accepted to each program separately. Personally, I think JD/MBA programs are usually not worth it anyway. They're overly expensive and the potential benefits accrue to a very small number of people. If you want to practice law, you don't need an MBA. Most firms won't care if you have the extra degree. The only people who may benefit are those who plan on going into business rather than practicing law, and that's very few people. I have no idea what you want to do, but consider the utility of the degree versus the cost before committing to such a program. It may or may not make sense.

Southwestern's 25% GPA/LSAT profile (the bottom quarter of accepted applicants) is 3.04/152. Again, you really need to retake the LSAT in order to have any chance at getting into an ABA approved law school. The LSAT is a learnable, predictable exam, but you've got to put in the time to understand what the testmakers are looking for. Take six months or even a year if necessary, and take a prep course. If you're not interested in retaking the LSAT, and you don't plan on leaving California anytime soon, the California State Bar accredited schools might be an option. You could get in with your current numbers, and the tuition is lower, but there are potential drawbacks to attending a non-ABA school (depending on your goals). 

Law School Applications / Re: LOW GPA LOW LSAT South Western Law
« on: September 14, 2012, 05:15:32 PM »
You've got to retake the LSAT and score significantly higher, period.

I had a meeting with the Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Programs.

Did you disclose your GPA/LSAT to the Dean? If so, what advice did the Dean provide? Any specific advice you learned straight from the horse's mouth is more valuable than what you can get here.

There are general rules which apply to everyone, and which will weigh heavily in your situation. Law school admission is primarily a numbers game, dominated by GPA/LSAT. Biographical details, work experience, LORs, etc are "soft factors", and will help if you are on the cusp of being admitted/denied. If your numbers are far below average, soft factors will not usually be much help. You seem to have good, solid soft factors. If you can raise your LSAT score significantly they may help you. The greatest LOR in the world, however, will not overcome a 140.

I don't remember exactly, but I think SW's medians are something like  a 3.4/155-159. Entrance to the SCALE program is more selective. I don't mean this to sound rude, but with a 2.5/140 you probably stand no chance of being admitted regardless of soft factors. In fact, I'm not sure if any ABA approved law school will accept those numbers. To have a shot at SW I think you'd probably have to raise your LSAT to something like 165 to compensate for the low GPA. Even then, the SCALE program would be a stretch.

Here's something else to consider: the SCALE program, as you know, is incredibly intense. Your GPA/LSAT profile might be an indication that you'll have a very difficult time in such a program, or in a traditional law school format, and with the bar exam. Something to think about before spending $150K on a J.D.

If you can raise your LSAT to around 160 you might have a shot at some other ABA approved law schools in CA and elsewhere. Instead of focusing on your soft factors, focus all your energies on the LSAT. Take a prep course, study like crazy, and max out your score. See how much you can raise your score, and go from there.

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