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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Law school is not about wishes, good intentions, and volunteerism (although those are certainly admirable qualities that are an asset). Law school is about really, really, really hard work so that you will eventually be in a position to counsel people and advocate on their behalf about the most fundamental and critical issues in their lives . . . losing their freedom, children, jobs, livelihood. It is a wonderful profession and career . . . but to show that you have what is necessary, you need to get straight about . . . and be in a position to prove . . . what you CAN do, not look for excuses (even those that are understandable and unavoidable) about what you have NOT done.

Excellent advice  from CA Law Dean. This should be reposted to every applicant wondering whether they can get into law school with low numbers. It's so important to understand that law school makes college look like preschool, and no one will cut you any slack once you're there.

How could I improve my application to any law school?

The best thing you can do is focus on LSAT preparation. Study like crazy, take a prep course if possible (or buy books and study yourself), and max out that score. There's nothing you can do about your GPA, but a high LSAT score can work wonders.

The fact that you are Native American will help. Law schools are actively seeking NA applicants. Still, you're going to need a decent LSAT score to balance out that GPA. Native American or not, law schools don't want to admit students who may fail out. At this point the best way to demonstrate that you are capable of handling the rigors of law school is to score well on the LSAT.

Places like Harvard and Yale are probably not in the cards even if you score very high. But there are plenty of mid-lower range schools that might very well consider a NA applicant with a  2.4 and a good LSAT score.

I have NO volunteer work and moving home back to the Indian Reservation with family I don't see any volunteer work to be found.

A little bit of last minute volunteer work is not going to be the determinative factor in your law school applications. If you can build up some resume experience, great, definitely do it. It may give you a slight boost. Your GPA and (especially) LSAT, however, will be of paramount importance. The impact of your numeric qualifications can't be overstated. Focus on the LSAT if you want to go to law school.

Lastly, assess whether or not law school is the right decision at this point in your life. If the same problems that derailed your undergrad grades are going to continue during law school, then you need to have some honest conversations with yourself.

Law school is far, far more demanding than undergrad. The amount of preparation that got you an "A" in undergrad will get you a C or even C- in law school. You will have to literally compete for grades against your fellow students, all of whom will be just like you: smart, motivated, and accomplished. You will have to be able to dedicate yourself 100% (especially during that first year) to succeed. Something to consider.

Good luck with your decision!

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: soft factors
« on: June 19, 2013, 04:55:11 PM »
No, law schools won't really care that you work for the county or were an Eagle Scout. It won't hurt you, but it probably won't help you either. (Please keep in mind I'm not disparaging your accomplishments in any way, I'm just trying to answer your question honestly).

They will care if you were the executive director of a human rights organization, or if you spent years feeding starving kids and providing medical care in sub-Saharan Africa, you ran a legal aid clinic, or work full time at a homeless shelter. Most people have at least some public interest volunteer work under their belts, and will try to make it sound as glorious as possible on law school apps. The ones who have dedicated their lives to public interest work, however, will stand out.

Remember though, even outstanding soft factors are viewed as complimentary to GPA/LSAT, not in lieu of GPA/LSAT. If you have low numbers all the soft factors in the world aren't going to help. Once you get an LSAT score and LSAC GPA you will be able to get a very good idea as to your chances at any given school. Law school admissions is a numbers game, first and foremost. Everything else will be considered secondarily. 

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: soft factors
« on: June 19, 2013, 02:26:06 PM »
What are soft factors that law schools REALLY look at and how does one effectively bring attention to those in the admissions process?  Do some soft factors make a difference more than other?

The biggest ones are probably URM status, followed by truly impressive public service/non-profit work. When I say "truly impressive" I mean something substantially more than donating a few hours at a soup kitchen or doing a little tutoring for underprivileged kids. The fact is, lots of people have some minimal public service experience and everyone tries to play it up on their applications. The law schools know this, and weight it accordingly.

On the other hand, genuine and unique experiences can make a difference. For example, I know someone who was not URM but came from very humble origins. She was the first in her family to go to college and spent ten years working in non-profit/public interest jobs. Without going into details, let me just say that her resume/life story were remarkable and probably blew away 99.9% of the other applicants by a mile. In addition she had a high GPA/high LSAT. I think the admissions committees saw that she was the real deal, and she was accepted to law schools that would have been out of reach based on her numbers alone.

My point is that her soft factors were not just good, they were great. I think you almost have to be at that level in order for it to make any real difference. The routine soft factors that most people try to play up (club membership, study abroad, generic proclamations about being "dedicated to justice", etc.) won't make much difference. 

Also, if i dont get into where i want to, if i go back and get an MA with good GPA will that raise my chances the next time around?

Not really. You'd actually be better off retaking the LSAT and shooting for a higher score rather than spending money on an M.A. Graduate GPA is not factored into your LSAC GPA, and the degree itself will likely not carry much weight. Lots of people apply to law school with grad degrees, it's just not that unique.

In summation, in order for soft factors to play any significant role in admission they need to be very impressive. Otherwise, your GPA/LSAT will dominate the process.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Lincoln Law School in San Jose
« on: June 19, 2013, 01:00:57 AM »
I don't have any personal experience with LLS, but the CBE schools can be the right choice for the right person. To a large extent it really depends onwhat you want to do with your degree. Big firms and federal agencies won't be interested, but plenty of CBE grads do just fine at small firms, as solo practitioners, and with local government agencies. Be realistic about your options, and if you decide on LLS get as much as practical experience as possible via internships, etc.

On another note, i was also curious about low tier vs out of state law school.  Will i have more success finding a job with a degree from University of Hawaii or UNLV in California or a local but lwoer tier school in California like Golden Gate or USF?

You will not have more luck finding a job with an out of state degree from a non-elite school. Once you get away from the prestigious schools like Harvard and Yale, you are better off going to school where you plan to live. You'll have a much better shot at making connections and gaining experience locally. Schools like Hawaii and UNLV are fine schools, but they're not the kind of schools that will allow you to rely on your pedigree to get a job. Honestly, most employers simply don't care if your school is ranked at #71 or #101. Employers that are willing to hire from Hawaii or UNLV are going to be willing to hire USF and GGU. If your goal is to work in work Bay Area, either GGU or USF would be a better choice.

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Brooklyn Law vs. Fordham Law
« on: June 18, 2013, 02:06:32 PM »
Right, all very true and fair points. I guess my biggest concern, aside from doing well, resides with job prospects after graduation. Specifically, going to a school with "worse" job prospects and with a scholarship versus going to a school with "better" job prospects and having to pay full price.

Your concerns are focused in the right area, and that's good. You've got to do a cost/benefit analysis between the two offers. Is the slight reputational advantage from Fordham going to outweigh the substantial debt you'll accrue? Well, only if you can be reasonably assured that a Fordham degree will necessarily translate into a higher paying job.

I don't live in the NYC area, so I don't have any personal experience with either school. However, my guess is that most Fordham students who graduate with average grades and average experience are in about the same boat as most Brooklyn grads. If you were trying to decide between Brooklyn and Columbia or NYU, it would be a different story. Your opportunities graduating from an elite school might very well justify the additional cost. As between Fordham and Brooklyn, however, I'm not so sure.

If you accrue a $2000 per month loan payment in order to attend Fordham, that means you'd have to land a job paying at least $24,000 (more if you consider taxes) per annum more than any job you'd get coming out of Brooklyn. Does the average Fordham grad start off making $24,000 more than the average Brooklyn grad? I'd at least look into that if I were you.

My guess is that Fordham probably places more students in high paying biglaw jobs than Brooklyn, but those are probably people with stellar grades and solid experience. It's entirely possible that less debt will allow you greater flexibility and be more beneficial in the long run than a higher ranked degree.   

Online Law Schools / Re: California to tighten bar admission rules?
« on: June 17, 2013, 10:33:23 AM »
You made the right move. For a difference of 30K the ABA degree is worth it. I'm actually surprised at how expensive the CBE schools have become. One of their major selling points was that were so much cheaper than the ABA schools, but at many you'll now spend 60K+ on a J.D. Although that's still less expensive than the ABA schools' absurd prices, it's still expensive considering the inherent limitations of the degree. They're going to price themselves out of business if they're not careful. 

Take a look at the admissions profiles on LSAC. You can find your numeric range and see how many applied to each school and how many were accepted with similar numbers. It will give you a very good idea as to your chances at a particular school.

Side question: If I retook and got a 160, do you think it's worth applying to better schools?

Well, obviously higher numbers equal broader opportunities. A score of 160 would probably give you a somewhat better shot at Loyola, but if you look at the admissions data on LSAC you'll see that the UCs would still be a longshot. It's all pure speculation at this point, however. You could just as easily retake the LSAT and get a 155.

Also, don't get too caught up in the idea of "better" schools. The minute, subtle differences in rankings that law students tend to obsess over don't play as big a role in the real world. My experience has been that most employers tend to view law schools in much broader terms. They don't really care that Loyola is ranked a few places above Pepperdine or vice versa, they view both schools as basically equal. An employer that is willing to hire from Pepperdine is probably willing to hire to hire from Loyola, too. As far as biglaw, they'd prefer Harvard and Yale anyway.

The fact is, once you get away from the elite pedigrees most law schools won't either help you or hurt you. Your ability to make positive connections and to gain relevant experience will play a larger role than the fact that you went to the #65 ranked law school, whereas your competition went to the #72 ranked school. 

If you're looking at non-elite schools I would focus more on location and $$$. For example, you mentioned USD as an option, a school with a good local reputation and a great choice if you want to live and work in San Diego. If you want to live in LA, however, I think you'd be much better off going to someplace like Pepperdine. In fact, I think you'd be better off going to Southwestern even though it's lower ranked. Why? Because although USD is a good school it's not elite, and you won't be able to rely on your pedigree to open doors. You'd have to hustle and make connections in LA, try to land an internship or summer associate position, and you'd have to do that from 100 miles away. If you simply show up after law school without local connections or experience, finding a job can be very difficult.

Just use your common sense and don't let some ridiculous rankings scheme determine one of the most important decisions in your life.

I guess the question is, what do you hope to accomplish by waiting?

I doubt if the increase in GPA will vault you into a significantly higher tier of schools. Your LSAT will presumably remain 158, unless you plan on retaking, and that probably has a bigger impact on your overall chances than your GPA.

I have heard that some schools (Boalt in particular) value GPA over LSAT. Is there a particular school you're hoping to get into? USD and Pepperdine both have decent local reputations, and with a 158 Boalt/UCLA/USC etc. are probably not in the cards.

Law School Admissions / Re: Total Life Change Worth It???
« on: June 14, 2013, 05:03:24 PM »
Sorry, I misread "on the line" as "online". Anyway, focus on the LSAT like you've never focused on anything before. Invest in a good prep course if possible, and max out your score. A high LSAT score might earn you a substantial scholarship, and the cost of the prep could be dwarfed by the potential savings.

I don't live in SC and I have no personal experience with Charleston, but it's ABA accredited and thus will provide you with a solid legal education. Good luck!

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