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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Considering your age and existing financial obligations, you may want to focus on minimizing your debt. At some point you'll want to retire, and you don't want an additional $1000 per month payment to deal with. If you can score very well on the LSAT you may be able to secure a substantial (or even full) scholarship at Memphis State. I think Memphis' average LSAT is around 155, so a score of 165+ might yield some positive results.

Another option is to attend part time in the evening. This would allow you to continue working, and you wouldn't have to take out loans to pay your mortgage. I believe that Tennessee is one of the few states that has state-accredited law schools, and they probably offer evening options. I know there is one in Nashville, I'm not sure about Memphis.

When I graduate I'll be 51 years old. At this age does rank even matter considering how firms will likely ding me for being an old fart?

Whether or not rank matters depends on your goals. Unless you're willing to pick up and move to another city for law school, and unless your goals include large law firms, I wouldn't worry about rank too much. I think it is possible that larger firms would ding you for being older. They tend to hire young associates fresh from top law schools, it's just the industry culture. At smaller offices, though, I don't think it would matter too much. For those smaller firms (or if you go solo) Memphis State is probably fine.

I don't know what your current profession is, but you may also want to consider the fact that you may experience a drop in salary initially. A new minted, inexperienced lawyer in a secondary market like Memphis, especially at a small firm, isn't likely to command a large starting salary. This is also a factor when you consider whether or not to take out loans.

Non-Traditional Students / Re: Am I too old for law?
« on: January 18, 2013, 05:38:12 PM »
My questions is, what advice would you more experienced, or anyone with advice that would help, give to me in my current situation?

I was about the same age as you when I started law school, and my biggest piece of advice is this: minimize your debt, maximize your experience.

It sounds like you already have the debt part figured out, and that's good.

By "experience" I mean legal experience via internships, part-time jobs during law school, summer associate positions, etc. The job market is still likely be very competitive when you graduate, and it's imperitive that you bring some actual skills to the table. Good grades or a good pedigree alone don't really cut it anymore (unless you're graduating from someplace like Harvard). Many firms don't really have the time or money to train someone, and they look for people who can hit the ground running.

Many law students, however, focus almost entirely on grades, and perhaps complete one or two lightweight summer positions. As a result, there are plenty of newly minted lawyers pouring into the market, but very few who actually know what they're doing. (You'll find when you get to law school that practical skills training is usually minimal).

You can give yourself an advantage by finding positions at busy firms or govt offices where you won't just be a gopher or researcher. I had an internship during law school that allowed me to write motions, work on discovery, and make court appearances (including a civil bench trial). Instead of doing it for one summer, like most of my classmates, I stuck with it for the rest of law school. That kind of experience will allow you to effectively compete against others who have gone to bigger name schools, or who have higher grades.

As far as being a prosecutor, take all the criminal law and trial advocacy courses you can during law school, and intern or volunteer at the local DA's office. Personal connections are very important for those jobs. Hiring at the DA's in my state (CA) is very bad right now, but TX might be better. If you can't land an internship with the DA, look into criminal defense firms. You'll learn criminal procedure at either one.

Without an LSAT score it's tough to speculate about which schools to apply to, although all the ones you mentioned have good regional reputations. If possible, take an LSAT prep course. They're expensive, but I think they're worth it.

Hope that helped, and good luck.

Law School Applications / Re: Fordham asks for "additional law schools"?
« on: January 17, 2013, 06:49:30 PM »
I suppose that's possible, it seems unlikely.

Here's the deal: you're not the only person who's applying to Fordham as a backup, they get this all the time. Plenty of people who are hoping for NYU, Columbia, Cornell, etc will apply to Fordham and Cardozo as safeties. If your numbers are high enough to legitimately consider Fordham a safety, you'll probably get admitted regardless. I don't really think the adcomms strategize as much as you think they might.

Western State College of Law / Re: oL at Western State
« on: January 17, 2013, 06:43:08 PM »
Just my two cents about the school having never been there, but I think that Western, Cooley, and many other schools get an unfair rap. If you think a law school exam is difficult when you are told exactly what the subject will be try balancing thirteen different ones for 3 days straight i.e. the California Bar Exam.

I completely agree. I've worked with plenty of graduates of WSU, Whittier, Southwestern, La Verne, Chapman, Cal Western, and plenty of other local Socal schools. They've all been smart, successful attorneys, and a few were even judges.

Nonetheless, any policy that allows otherwise good students who have passing GPAs to be kicked out of law school seems unfair to me. I understand the purpose, and it's definitely helped WSU raise their bar pass rate, but I don't think it's necessarily picking on WSU to point out that this policy is uncommon and contributes to very high attrition.

Additionally, although a 2.5 requirement doesn't sound too bad, it really depends on the school's curve. I have no idea what WSU's curve is, but if the curve is low, you could end up with a significant number of people who receive passing grades but still fail to earn the required points.

Law School Applications / Re: Fordham asks for "additional law schools"?
« on: January 17, 2013, 11:01:13 AM »
That's very common. Almost every law school I applied to asked for that info. I think they use it for statistical purposes; they want to see who their competition is, which schools applicants choose over them, etc.

Would it harm you to not provide the info? I don't know, probably not. Why not disclose it, though? What's the reason?

I'm here to help.

Unlike TLS members, many people believe that law school isn't T14 or bust.

That's because unlike TLS, some of the people here are actually successful lawyers and have had sex.

I have no doubt that UMass is a good school, my main point was simply that it doesn't make sense to go to a relatively unknown law school in MA if you want to practice in Los Angeles.

I'm not sure what that particular administration of the exam indicates about UMass, if anything. Schools sometimes have "outlier" years where they score low, then recover.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: Advice on Deciding Where to Attend
« on: January 16, 2013, 07:11:57 PM »
I would suggest first deciding where you want to live, then choosing the least expensive school in that region. Most of the places you've been accepted to probably offer similar post-grad employment prospects, with a slight advantage being given to U Miami. Assuming that you're a FL resident, I'd look closely at FIU. The in-state tuition is reasonable, and (unlike a scholarship) it won't be lost after the first year. I don't have personal experience with the south FL market, but I doubt if the slight reputational advantage enjoyed by U Miami outweighs the cheap tuition at FIU.

Scholarship stipulations are tricky, and it's very common to lose all or some of your scholarship. You'll quickly find when you get to law school that it's far more difficult than undergrad, and staying at the median is not as easy as it sounds.

My analysis would apply to the midwest schools, too. If you want to live in Chicago, then DePaul might be a good choice. But if you plan to live in south Florida I'm not sure that it makes too much sense to spend three years in Bloomington or East Lansing. Also, if you go out of state you're likely to accrue debt for living expenses, whereas maybe if you stick near home you can avoid that cost.

Trust me, it's easy to take out those loans but it hard to pay them back. Coming out of one of these schools you probably won't be making $150K right out of the gate, so do what you reasonably can to minimize your debt.

What are my chances of getting into a top 20 school without retaking the LSAT?

Pretty low. Please understand that I'm not trying to be harsh, I'm just answering your question directly. As I'm sure you've read here and elsewhere, law school admission is primarily a numbers game. GPA and (especially) LSAT are the two biggest factors in the process. For schools in the top 20, both your GPA and LSAT are on the low side. For elite schools like Harvard and Yale a GPA/LSAT combo of around 3.8-4.0/175-180 is common. Even at schools ranked in the 15-20 range I think you're looking at averages of around 3.5/165+.

Take a look at LSAC's admission profiles for more detailed info on individual schools. The conventional wisdom states that a high LSAT can help compensate for a lower GPA. In order to have a shot at the top 20 you'd probably have to retake and score very, very high (170+).

Will my job experience (including previous internships at prestigious places of employment) and scholarship outweigh my GPA and LSAT?

No, at top twenty schools your soft factors will generally not outweigh your GPA/LSAT. Your soft factors exist complimentary to, but not in lieu of your numeric qualifications. In other words, they're helpful, but not dispositive. The thing you have to keep in mind is that you will be competing against other applicants who have higher GPAs, higher LSATs, and amazing soft factors. These schools tend to attract the best and the brightest, and literally thousands of people will apply for a handful of slots.

Also keep in mind that there is a big difference in the level of admissions competition at a top 20 school like Stanford versus, say, USC. If you raised your LSAT to 170ish you might have a shot at a place like SC, whereas the Stanford would still likely be out of reach.

Lastly, although this is probably anathema to everything you've read on every other board, don't get too caught up in rankings. Remember, these rankings don't exist according to some provable law of the cosmos, they're just the subjective product of a magazine.

Some schools will always be elite because they possess a certain aura (Harvard/Yale/Stanford and a few others). Other schools that USNWR has deemed worthy of appearing in the "Top 20" are not really elite national schools so much as very reputable regional schools. Don't kid yourself into thinking that going to one of these places is going to open doors throughout the country based on pedigree alone. You may be better off going to a reputable local school instead.

With a 3.25/161 you can into plenty of good schools. Think about where you want to live and work, and go from there. If you want to stay in NC/Southeast region, it may make more sense to go to focus on getting a scholarship at a school like Wake Forest, NC State, UGA, or even Charlotte rather than a school that is simply ranked in the top twenty.

Good luck!   

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