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General Off-Topic Board / Re: My 1L neighbor is driving me crazy
« on: June 10, 2012, 08:26:41 PM »
I've had a year of dealing with the crazy 1L GGU Law School student upstairs screaming and crying all night because she is constantly flunking tests.  Her parents pay for her $2000/month apartment, so she's not on financial aid.  I just found out that the reason she's still around this summer is because she's retaking the classes she flunked in GGU's summer school and no one would hire her for an internship.  Does anyone know how many retakes Tier 4 schools allow before they'll academically disqualify a student?  I can't take two more years of of hearing about her failures at 2 a.m. every night.

Interestingly, lower tier law schools like GGU are usually far less tolerant of academic underperformers than higher ranked schools. One of the biggest criticisms of tier 4 schools is that they admit large numbers of unqualified students, and then eliminate 25-35% through academic attrition. At a school like GGU the grading curve is probably set somewhere around 2.5-2.6. By comparison, Hastings has a curve of  (I think) 3.2. Considering that all ABA law schools teach nearly identical first year curricula, it's probably easier to get a 3.0 GPA at Hastings than it is at GGU.

If your plaintive neighbor was actually "constantly flunking tests" she'd likely have been gone after the second semester. If she re-flunked those same classes in summer school, it's hard to believe she'd still be allowed to continue. Schools like GGU have no qualms whatsoever about kicking out underperforming students. This is in part to protect their bar pass rates, which the ABA has started to consider for accreditation purposes.

Law school is incredibly competitve compared to other graduate programs. Not just difficult intellectually, but actually competitive like a sporting event. This causes some people to freak out and lose it. They can't handle the stress and probably shouldn't be there. It sucks to have obnoxious neighbors, but try to understand what she's going through. You mentioned that your graduate program would drop a student with two Cs. Imagine that your professors in grad school were only permitted to give As and Bs to 30% of the class, and were mandated to fail a certain number.

It sounds like the local CBE school is your only realistic option unless you're prepared to move closer to an ABA campus. A three hour roundtrip four nights a week probably isn't doable, especially during your first year. If you can move closer to an ABA campus, you may want to consider that option. No matter where you decide to go, however, ask yourself what you want to do after law school. Do you want to continue with law enforcement and become a prosecutor, open your solo practice, join an established firm? Answering these questions should help you decide where to attend.

Personally, I think that CBE schools can be a good option for the right student, but it's important that you become fully informed as to what (if any) limitations attending a CBE school may have on your post-law school options. Perhaps you already know this, but big and mid-sized firms are unlikely to hire a CBE grad. Most of the CBE grads I've met work as solo practitioners, small firm lawyers, and local government attorneys (DA, public defender, etc). However, you will have to compete with ABA grads for those jobs, too.

It seems that some CBE schools enjoy a geographic advantage by being the only law schools in their area. Cal Northern and San Joaquin come to mind. (Western State used to have this advantage until Whittier, Chapman, and Irvine moved in next door). In those areas, enough of the local bar is made up of graduates of those schools that any non-ABA "stigma" is essentially removed. In the bigger markets it's much tougher, with heavy competition from well-known ABA schools.

I meet successful CBE grads on an almost daily basis, and I've spoken with dozens of them about their experiences. To a person, the success stories are individuals with lots of drive and ambition. They knew that they couldn't rest on their laurels, so they hustled like crazy, gained experience, and made good careers. This is what I mean when I say that CBE schools can be a good option for the right student. If you are a motivated self starter and already have solid connections that may lead to a job, a CBE degree might be just fine. If you're not already "plugged in", ABA is probably a better overall option.

Also consider the cost. CBE schools are cheaper than ABA, but still pretty expensive. Is that 50-60k going to pay off? Only you can answer that. See if you can sit in on a few classes at your local CBE and find out if you're really interested. Law school tends to be far more dull than most people imagine, and you may want to check it out before committing. As far as out of state practice goes, some states will allow you to take their bar exam after 5 years of practice in CA. Contact the individual state's bars to find out the details.

Good Luck!

Usually, even the most generous scholarships require that you remain in "good standing". That probably means something like a 2.0 GPA. I can't imagine that any law school would donate 100k+ to a student who fails classes, is on academic probation, etc. I'm not disputing the terms you were offered, OP, but law schools are not always entirely transparent about scholarship requirements. You might want to ask some specific questions.

Otherwise, sounds like a good deal, Good Luck!

Law School Applications / Re: Help! I need motivation!
« on: June 08, 2012, 02:55:58 PM »
Generally speaking, I encourage people to at least make an attempt at acheiving their dreams. If your dream is to be a lawyer, then the time to make that leap is probably when you're young, single, and don't have too many other distractions.

However, you should also be fully informed as to what acheiving your dream entails. If you go into law school unprepared for what lies ahead, you will likely end up frustrated and disappointed. Here's the deal: law school, for the most part, is not any more interesting or inspiring than economics. If you were bored as an econ major, you will likely be bored with most of the law school curriculum. Sure, you'll get to take interesting classes like criminal law, constitutional law, and maybe moot court. But you'll also have to slog your way through contracts, corporations, property, and civil procedure. In undergrad you can get through boring classes with a C by pretty much showing up and putting in some minimal pre-finals study time. You will not get a passing grade in law school with the same study habits. The amount of effort that got you an A in undergrad will get you a barely passing  C- in law school. Seriously.

If you want to follow your dream of becoming a lawyer, go for it. But understand that much of what you think you will like about law is probably not quite right. A love of arguing, interest in social justice issues, etc., will not really help you too much. What you need to get through law school are discipline and focus. Law school is a marathon, not a sprint, and you'll need to commit yourself to becoming more disciplined about your study habits. Force yourself to go to class every single day, study every single day, and do all the reading. You can do it, you can get into law school and make it through law school, but you've got to reset your mind. 

Incidentally, the vast majority of people in law school were not pre-law majors. I'm not even sure if most colleges offer such a major. Most law students majored in history, poli sci, english, etc. Most of your classmates will be high acheivers, and you'll have to compete with them for grades. The people I knew in law school who brought bad study habits with them from undergrad, those who procrastinated, and those who didn't pay attention in class were usually gone after the first year. Those who succeeded weren't always the smartest, but they worked incredibly hard.

Law school is doable, but you've got to force yourself to make an effort if you're going to do this. Good Luck!

The first day of law school in my legal writing course (which was called "lawyering"), they subjected us to several cases involving disbarment and bar application appeals.  I was surprised at some of the stuff people were able to do and still get a license, but one thing they had no tolerance for was failure to disclose.    Since most states require a background check to sit for the bar, the bar will find out and they will cross reference that background check with all of your bar and law school applications.

Yeah, that's really the key point. I recently heard a story (a friend-of-a-friend type of thing) about a guy who did something which was more serious than getting caught with pot in college. It involved intentional misrepresentation and occured during law school. The person fully disclosed all details of his bad behavior, took full responsibility, and was admitted. If that person had not disclosed, or had been less than candid in their disclosure, they would likely not have been admitted. Again, a cover-up is often considered worse than the crime.

Wow, that's a pretty sweet deal. Unless you have some particular reason for attending SJU, I'd go for Brooklyn in a heartbeat. Remaining in the top 80% is a heck of a lot easier than top 40%.

Good Luck!

OP: I don't mean this to sound rude (seriously, I don't), but are you sure about that top 80% stip from Brooklyn? Are you sure they don't mean that you must be ranked at or above the 80th percentile (top 20%)? The reason I ask is because I've never seen such a generous stip. The best I've ever seen require that the student remain in "good standing", which could easily be above the top 80%, depending on the school.

I have no idea what the curve is at Brooklyn, but it seems at least questionable that a school would allow you to retain a scholarship if you are ranked in the bottom 20%. I'm not challenging your honesty, OP, I'm merely suggesting that you ask Brooklyn some questions.

Where should I go next fall? / Re: New opportunity means no JD
« on: June 07, 2012, 01:07:56 AM »
If you want to work in the business world, go for the MBA. It sounds like a great deal. If, however, you want to be a lawyer, there really is no point in delaying law school. The longer you wait the tougher it will be to return to school. If you have everything set to make that leap now, you might want to just do it.

Also, getting the MBA only makes sense if you truly intend to work in business for the rest of your career. If you intend to eventually go to law school, the MBA will not help you land a legal job.

I'm not trying to persuade you in either direction, I know nothing about your personal situation. Law school can be expensive and the job market is tough. You may not get your dream job straight out of law school. I'm not sure that the market is much better for MBAs, however. But here's something to consider: three years from now you're going to be three years older whether you like it or not. You can be three years older with a law degree, or three years older without a law degree. The choice is yours.   

Here is the general rule that you should follow: disclose, disclose, disclose. If you don't disclose, and your law school later discovers the disciplinary issue, you can be dismissed from law school. If they discover it after graduation, your degree can be revoked and you can be disbarred. I'm not making this up, check with your state's bar association.

Perhaps you already know this, but before you can be admitted to the bar you will have to acquire a positive Moral Character & Fitness determination from your state's  bar.  The process is essentially a detailed background check, and you will be required to disclose any and all instances of academic/legal probation. The bar will quickly figure out that you lied to your law school, and you will rue the day you failed to disclose. As you will learn in law school, when it comes to state bar admissions the cover up is often worse than the crime. Disclosure must be full and frank, making excuses and playing word games will not be tolerated. It is imperitive that you disclose the good, the bad, and especially the ugly. Anything involving drugs (yes, even pot) is taken very, very seriously.

I'm going to assume that you're friends who think this is no big deal are not law students or lawyers. Don't listen to them. I don't know how much disclosure will harm your chances of admission, but failure to disclose (which will be treated as a LIE by the state bar) will certainly hurt you.

Now, don't lose heart. I don't know what state you're in, but you're not the first person who has applied to law school with such issues. People here in CA do get admitted to law school and the bar with such isues, provided that they demonstrate that they have learned from their mistakes, remain squeeky clean, and are fully, 100% honest about their bad behavior. You should contact your state bar (or whatever state you want to live in) and ask them about their policies. They may have a program you need to follow to gain admission.

I hope this helps, and good luck!

Yes, you can still get into a T2 or 3, maybe even a non-elite T1. It really comes down to your LSAT performance and where you want to live. A high LSAT can overcome a low GPA/GPA problems. Lets say that your LSAC GPA ends up as you predict, around 3.55. With and LSAT of, say, 158 or above you'd have a good shot at plenty of T3s and T2s. With an LSAT of 160-165 you'd have a shot at some T1s.

Your specific grade trend and the fact that you failed some classes will  matter the most at schools for which your numbers are borderline. In other words, if you apply to a school whose median GPA/LSAT profile is 3.5/162, you may have atough time. For that school, your numbers would be pretty average and most of the other applicants probably don't have any Fs or Ws. If, however, you apply to a school whose profile is 3.3/155, and you have a 3.55/162, I think you're in good shape. Schools desperately want to increase their GPA/LSAT profiles in order to appease the gods at USNWR. I think that a significantly higher GPA and LSAT would overcome Ws and Fs at many T3s and 2s.

If you rock the LSAT, say 170 or above, you've got a shot at some T1s. You'll have to explain your scholastic problems on your applications. Don't make lame excuses, but use the opportunity to play up your dramatic improvement. I had an average/mediocre GPA and several years between undergrad and law school. I studied like crazy, got a very good LSAT score, and still managed to obtain a 75% scholarship to my top choice. In my experience, an LSAT score which is significantly above a given school's average can work wonders. 

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