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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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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.

Be careful about putting too much stock in sub-genre rankings, I'm not convinced that they carry much weight. A few schools might have an awesome reputation for international law, but outside of those top few programs the rankings really don't mean too much. International law is an incredibly competitive  field and is mostly controlled by megafirms and federal/international agencies. Those places tend to be very conscious of academic pedigrees, and your best bet is to simply attend the highest ranked school you can get into, period.

I usually advise people not to get too caught up in the rankings scheme, but there are exceptions, and international law is one. An attorney with a J.D. from Columbia, for example, will probably have a much better chance getting hired by one of those agencies versus a J.D. from a non-elite school with a higher ranked international law program. In part this is because such "programs" usually only consist of five or six classes, and maybe some internship opportunities.

Here's a real world example of what I'm talking about: Lewis & Clark and Vermont Law School both have ranked programs in envrironmental law. Do you think that biglaw environmental sections in NY and LA therefore consider Lewis & Clark/Vermont grads on an equal footing with, say, Duke or Penn grads?

I think lots of people attend a school based on a specialty ranking an end up not working in that field at all. It's a complex decision and involves lots of different aspects of your life: long term goals, short term goals, finances, etc. Do some research on the international law field, get a feel for what's required, and go from there.

Good Luck!

Law School Applications / Re: 3.34 GPA/150 LSAT Chances?
« on: September 12, 2012, 09:48:55 PM »
Honestly, I don't know if you should go to law school if you can't get into a tier 1 or 2.

The applicability of such a broad statement is dependent on the OP's goals. Depending on those goals, I don't think that any T1/T2 is necessarily a better choice than any T3/T4. For example, if the OP wanted to live and work in Los Angeles, they'd probably be better off going to Southwestern (T3) than the University of Georgia (T1). The opportunities for internships and clerkships in LA are going to much better for the SW student. OTOH, if that same applicant was trying to decide between SW and UCLA, that's a different story.

So, I think it's important to understand that very few T1 (and zero T2) schools are considered so elite that a graduate can rely on his/her pedigree alone to get a job. Plenty of T1 schools will not provide a graduate with any meaningful edge outside of their immediate geographic region. Again, depending on the OP's specific goals, a local T3/T4 may be a better choice than a non-elite T1. (Especially if a scholarship is involved). There are plenty of T3/T4 schools that have solid local reputations and can prepare the OP for a successful career.

Unless you have some serious experience/qualifications in a specialty, you'll likely be beat out for jobs by tier 1 or 2 graduates every time.

In my experience, the T1 grads and T3/T4 grads are rarely competing for the same jobs. The UCLA grads, for example, are trying to get into big firms and federal agencies, and the local T4 grads are going for small firms and local government jobs. The exceptions might be the local DA/PD offices, which seem to attract everyone.  I think it's a bit of a fiction that these groups are in direct competition with each other.

Law School Applications / Re: Writing an addendum with a low gpa
« on: September 12, 2012, 05:57:51 PM »
I also wanted to write that the topics didn't spark my interest, but I don't know if I should include that.

In my opinion, you should absolutely, positively not include that. Law school is often incredibly boring, and you will be expected to devote huge amounts of time to learning very dry subjects like civ pro, property, and wills & trusts. Trust me, most of the topics in law school won't spark your interest either, and the admissions committee knows this.

The best possible way to overcome a 2.74 GPA is not with an addendum, but with a high LSAT score. If your LSAT is sufficiently high, the addendum won't even be necessary.

Any addendum that you write will only be a small factor in the admissions process, and will probably only get glanced over. Those types of things are often most useful as tie breakers, assuming that you're on the cusp of admit/no admit. Law school admission is a numbers game, and if your GPA is below a school's median then you need a higher than average LSAT to compensate. If you don't have an LSAT score yet, start studying and get as much prep as possible. For the purposes of law school admission a 2.74 is relatively low, but it's not fatal. You can still get into plenty of good schools if you score high on the LSAT.

If you're still in college, try to take classes that will allow you to maximize your GPA. Law schools don't seem to care about the content of classes too much, just the grades. If you do end up writing an addendum, just be entirely honest. Explain that you had to work during college, and that you've learned from that experience how to better manage your time and priorities.

Do you know which schools you're interested in?

Distance Education Law Schools / Re: Novus Law School
« on: September 10, 2012, 12:03:23 AM »
No idea what a SCALE is, its 4 years for DL California law schools.   Can't imagine anyone passing the bar with 2 years.

Southwestern has a program called SCALE. The acronym stands for something-something Accelerated Legal Education, and you get a J.D. in two years by taking extra heavy courseloads all year and during summers. I think it's a more selective program, and isn't open to all SW students.

As I have said before, the best candidate for a DL law school is someone already working in the legal system with a phenomenal memory who can't attend a regular law school.

I completely agree. For a highly motivated, smart, disciplined person DL is probably a great format. I think that a lot of people think that they possess those qualities, but don't, and thus the high attrition rates.

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