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Messages - Maintain FL 350

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Online Law Schools / Re: Current ABA Response to Distance Education
« on: July 10, 2013, 12:31:47 PM »
Concord is the most prominent and very likely will become the first accredited on-line law school in he US. As a subsidiary of a publicly owned corporation they have the means to make it happen . . . a quest they have been on for more than a decade. I predict it will happen within two years. Since the new ABA accreditation czar is Barry Currier, former dean of Concord . . . they also have an informed and sympathetic ear at the ABA . . . I predict less than five years before they get provisional ABA accreditation as well . . .

Although I'm sure that CA Law Dean has a better understanding of the subject matter than I do, ABA accreditation of online schools seems unlikely to me (at least in the near future) for a number of reasons.

Bar Pass Rates
I believe that until Concord greatly increases its first time bar pass rate accreditation is nearly impossible. The current ABA scheme requires that a school's bar pass rate be within 15% of the statewide average, or that they have a cumulative pass rate of 75% over five years. Concord's first time pass rate is around 35%, and thus Concord would have to drastically increase that rate to meet the ABA standard.

Of course, the ABA could simply adopt a less rigorous standard for online schools. This seems unlikely, however, since the ABA has recently considered tightening the requirement from 15% to 10%.

Effect of Concord's Dean at ABA
Although it's helpful to have a sympathetic ear at the ABA, accreditation is not the decision of one man. Under the current rules, Concord simply cannot comply. Therefore, the rules would have to be re-written to accommodate online programs. That process would require the support of numerous ABA committees and members. Currently, the ABA seems hostile to the concept.

The accreditation standards cover everything from bar pass rates and faculty tenure, to financial resources and student services. It would be a gargantuan task for the ABA to overhaul those rules, and would they be willing to do it simply for the benefit of online schools?
If anything, the ABA appears committed to its traditional standards. They recently refused to extend provisional accreditation to Lincoln Memorial University, a brick and mortar law school with Tennessee state bar accreditation, and Whittier Law School was put on probation due to low bar pass rates and high attrition.

In closing, I've said before that to have a shot at accreditation online schools are going to have to meet the ABA half way. As long as they have high attrition and low bar pass rates, I don't think they'll be able to drum up enough support within the organization. And, frankly, I'm not sure if online schools are capable of both becoming more selective in admissions (a necessary prerequisite to increasing bar pass rates), and garnering enough students to turn a profit. 

Amazing. The entire phenomenon of offering scholarships as enticements (as opposed to offering scholarships as rewards) has been highly destructive, in my opinion. Law schools attach absurd stipulations, knowing that the majority will lose some (or all) of the aid.

How many students are saddled with 150K debt because they were enticed by the scholarship? Maybe a good number of those folks wouldn't have even attended law school absent the scholarship offer, which would have a generally positive impact on the profession.

I understand the caveat emptor aspect, and do believe that students are also at fault. There is just something so utterly lacking in dignity about universities playing these kinds of games with people's futures.   

Current Law Students / Re: Newbie to the forum..couple question
« on: July 07, 2013, 03:36:49 PM »
But is it absolutely impossible to get into a good law school if my GPA was in the high 2's at the time of graduation?

It depends on you mean by a "good" law school. You can get into plenty of ABA approved law schools with a below 3.0 GPA if you have a very good LSAT score to compensate. Since your GPA is relatively low, the law schools are going to need to see some evidence that you're capable of handling the rigors of law school. Thus, everything hinges on your LSAT score.

Nationally recognized, elite schools are almost certainly out of the picture since they require high GPAs and high LSATs. Less prestigious local and regional schools are a possibility, however. Please keep in mind that many of these schools can be good choices depending on your career goals. 

Lastly, you need to do a critical assessment of your academic capabilities and ask yourself why you have a low GPA. Law school is far, far tougher than undergrad, and if you had specific problems that held you back in college you need to make sure that those issues won't get in the way during law school. The amount of information you'll need to digest, and the speed at which it comes at you, means that you need to be able focus much more than you in undergrad.

Are there any schools that don't look at GPA at all?


And also when would be a good time for me to start prepping for the LSAT

Yesterday. Seriously, get started ASAP.

Law School Admissions / Re: Chances for these Law Schools
« on: July 02, 2013, 01:17:19 PM »
I'd say that you have an excellent shot at admission to most of these schools, and a decent shot at the rest (the ones with 158+ medians). Your high GPA is a plus, but at schools with 160ish median LSATs it may or may not be sufficient to gain admission. Schools tend to give the LSAT more weight than GPA, so all you can do is apply and see what happens. Check out the admissions profiles on LSAC and you will get a very good idea as to your chances.

One thing that really struck me was that you're all over the place geographically. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to understand that your post law school options will be very different from each of these schools. All of these schools are ABA accredited, and most enjoy a decent local or regional reputation. However, none are what you would call "national" schools, and your post-grad job opportunities are likely going to be limited to each school's immediate geographical region.

For example, you applied to Oregon and Faulkner (MS). A degree from UO is great if you intend to live in the Pacific Northwest or California, but won't help you get an internship or make connections in Mississippi. Likewise, most people in the Pacific Northwest have probably never even heard of Faulkner.

When you're considering attending a local/regional school, I think it's very important to go to school in the city in which you want to live. You won't be able to rely on an elite pedigree to land a job, so you've got to make as many connections to the local legal community as possible during law school. This means you've got to score internships, externships, summer associate positions, and maybe join local bar associations. Understand that whichever of these schools you attend, you will likely remain I that area for quite a while after law school.

Additionally, you will have to take the bar exam in each state in which you intend to practice (unless there is a reciprocal agreement). In my state, CA, our bar exam tests federal and state law, which puts out of state grads at a disadvantage. If you go to school in NY and show up to take the South Carolina bar three years later, you may have learn new law in order to pass (I don't know that for sure, something to look into).

If you like SC, I would recommend going to school there unless you get into a nationally prestigious school whose reputation crosses state lines.

Good Luck!

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Which is better?
« on: July 01, 2013, 12:46:59 PM »
(keeping in mind that my gpa is high, my LSAT score is good and my student visa is in order)
Thanks again!!!  :)

Just so I understand you correctly, are you saying that you have not even begun undergraduate studies but that you have an LSAT score? That's very unusual. Most people don't take the LSAT until at least their third or fourth year of university. 

Choosing the Right Law School / Re: Which is better?
« on: July 01, 2013, 11:54:53 AM »
What if i were to go to york for a year and take the LSAT's in Canada then apply to an american ivy league law school. I checked and most of the ivy league law schools accept students from york.

Law schools in the United States require a bachelor's degree for admission, so attending York for one year is not sufficient. You must complete your undergraduate degree first.

Whether you attend York or Miami, or whether you take the LSAT in the United States or Canada will not matter. Admission to an Ivy League law school will be based primarily on your grades and LSAT score. If you can gain admission to a very prestigious undergraduate university like Harvard or Yale, then that will also help. Otherwise, I don't think that either York or Miami is going to give you any particular benefit. Aside from the elite institutions I mentioned, most university pedigrees won't really help or hurt your chances.

The main thing you must understand is that admission to Ivy League law schools is incredibly competitive. Thousands of applicants will vie for a handful of spaces, and only the most highly qualified will stand a chance. Without a very high GPA and LSAT, none of those other factors will matter anyway.

If you applied to any Ivy League universities for undergrad and did not get accepted, then you already have an idea as to how competitive admission can be. Law school admission is even tougher. Focus on your numbers.

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.

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