Law School Discussion

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Messages - David Bakody

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11
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Online Undergraduate Degrees
« on: February 24, 2004, 12:51:18 PM »
Some of my courses at Regis University were online.  Some were on-campus.  In some cases, I was taking on-campus courses at the community college PLUS taking an online course.  It's a mix and match of everything.

I did NOT mention any of this anywhere on my applications.  They didn't ask, I didn't tell.  My degree is legit and was hard earned, and I bet yours was too.

The truth is about 75% of LS decision is going to be based on your LSAT.  I've seen people with 1.9 GPA's and 165 LSAT's get into schools my 3.53 GPA and 151 LSAT wouldn't (and won't) let me even touch.

I wouldn't worry one single bit about your degree being obtained online.

12
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Check out Washburn
« on: February 24, 2004, 12:43:44 PM »
Is your LSAT higher than mine?  If so, don't bother applying.  You really shouldn't go.  It's not a very good school.  Stay out.  ;-)

My eye is on Washburn for several reasons.  First, I have a family and quality of life is important.  Places I can choose to live that are within commuting distance to the school provide excellent elementary schools for my kids, the cost of living is reasonable, the weather is better than Wisconsin (almost anywhere has better weather than my current home in Wisconsin), it's LSAT median numbers are within my range, and the cost of the school is relatively affordable.  Kansas also has some fairly liberal rules for establishing residence, which can make tuition even more affordable.

A friend of my used to live in Topeka and he knows the area extremely well and highly recommended it.

Now... if you are young and single (not an old geezer like me in his mid 30's), you'll find some terrific nightlife a couple hours east in Kansas City area.


13
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Check out Washburn
« on: February 20, 2004, 03:14:57 PM »
I applied to Washburn and it is one of my top 5 choices. 

The school offers a lot of value for the money.  I don't think you'll go wrong with Washburn and I agree that they are positioning themselves to be a top-notch school.

14
If you haven't googled for this information already - a few places to start:

http://www.finaid.org/otheraid/law.phtml

http://www.gradloans.com/

During your first year of law school working will prove to be a difficult proposition, unless you enroll into a part time program (which might be something to consider).

I think the majority of law students take out Stafford Loans (loans from the gov) and some fairly reasonable private loans.  Although it depends on the school, it is not unusual for students to graduate with $80K of debt (or more).


15
Are you planning to seek a transfer from a low ranked school into a higher ranked school?  I've come to learn that this rarely works, unless you are at the top of your class and had a great qualifying LSAT to begin with.  Law schools are also overwhelmed with applicants and frankly don't have much incentive to accept transfer students.  It happens, but it is a tough strategy.

I think this ranking game (excluding Yale, Harvard, etc, name-brands that would do well regardless of USNWR rank) is bunk.  I'll give you an example - Gonzaga.  A few years ago this school was allegedly on its way into 1st tier status - today it's tier 4.  In the early 90's I remember ASU being 3rd or 4th tier, now it's 2nd tier.  Will it remain 2nd tier three years from now?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Pick the school on the basis of what works for you and what each school offers you.  If all you've got going for you is a so-called low-ranked school, you can do one of two things (a) wait another year, improve your LSAT, and try again the following year or (b) take the best of what you've been offered and run with it.

I would choose B, but I'm an old geezer (mid-30's) short on time.  In your case, waiting for your top picks might be the right strategy IF you are comfortable with waiting.

16
I am pretty certain that UofA and ASU have good programs in this regard, also Vermont and Lewis & Clark are good choices as well.  Beyond those 4 schools, I'm less certain.

17
Another vote for PowerScore Logic Games Bible.  The book is excellent and I hear good things about their overall program in general.

I also recommend 10 Official LSAT Prep Tests and 10 More Offical LSAT Prep Tests. 

In addition, if you have the budget, purchase the last 3 REAL LSAT's administered to give you an idea of what you will be up against.


18
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« on: February 15, 2004, 05:47:10 PM »
Yes.  People have been admitted to law school with a low LSAT.  I think just about anything under 150 these days is considered "low", and the 150 to 155 range is "marginal" and pushing into and over 160 is when schools consider you as being anything that could be defined as "good."

Yes.  There is one non-ABA school that does NOT use the LSAT.  They place a heavy emphasis on your LOR's, essay, life experience and academic history.  They also interview you.

http://www.mslaw.edu/

From what I've learned about them - one can get a very practical legal education, but it will come with all of the limitations associated with being a non-ABA school.  Note that I believe you can sit for the NY, Conn, Mass, DC and Vermont Bar upon graduation from MSLAW.  I believe their bar pass rate is in the 90% range, but that really needs to be double-checked.  You can also sit for the Wisconsin and California Bars as well.  As for the other states, your milage will vary.


19
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« on: February 15, 2004, 01:57:08 PM »
Marnet-The overwhelming number of applications hitting law schools right now are students getting out of college and going "Uh oh!  The economy is crap, I can't get a job, the future looks bleak, and I'm really unhappy about the injustice in this world - I want to go to law school..."  This trend has been pushing the median LSAT threshold up just about everywhere, making it harder for applicants that are scoring below the 155-160 level.  This happened circa 1990-1993 (bad economy) and tanked during the Clinton years (good economy).  Somehow, I don't think we're going to cycle down again anytime soon.

If you are in NY/NJ I suggest one of the schools you consider applying is Rutgers (Camden or Newark), even if your LSAT is low.  Odds are they're already "sold out", but if your story is compelling you might have a shot.  A good friend of mine went to to Rutgers and liked it a lot.  It's a very "activist" kind of law school, and since you mentioned this as part of your background, Rutgers might like you.

http://www.law.widener.edu/

Widener is a little easier to get into compared to some of the other east coast schools, plus they have a part-time program that seems to have a lower median LSAT level.  I applied to this school myself, but have yet to hear from them.

You might have performed far better on the LSAT than you think.  However, if you did really bad (below 140), study hard (consider taking courses from PowerScore) and re-take the exam OR jump into researching non-ABA options (like Mass School of Law or make plans to attend one of the California schools).

Sure - my email is plato -=at=- bakody dot ***net***






20
Non-Traditional Students / Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« on: February 14, 2004, 01:17:02 PM »
Marnet - sorry for the long post - it's a hot button with me.

A good case to get some perspective on ABA vs non-ABA is to read the case of Mass School of Law vs American Bar Association, et el.  After reading that case I learned a non-ABA student will not only be unable to transfer into an ABA school, but from my understanding the ABA rules (at least as of the early to mid 1990's when the case was taking place) students that have even *attended* non-ABA schools are prohibited from being ADMITTED to an ABA school.  Ouch.

I mention the above case only because that is where I first learned (reading a footnote) that non-ABA students used to be  *punished* for going to any school other than a blessed and likewise expensive ABA accredited school.  Hence, the whole anti-trust aspect of the ligitation that arose during the Clinton administration that put the ABA under pressure to make some changes.  Mind you, the ABA is currently on probition with the DOJ for anti-trust law violations, so some of the aforementioned ABA rules might have changed.

Regardless of where the ABA stands today on non-ABA students, I am not aware of any ABA schools that will allow a student from a non-ABA school to transfer into their programs.  Most non-ABA schools won't even accept transfers from anywhere other than students previously attending an ABA program!  Why?  Because many of these non-ABA schools are in the process of obtaining ABA status are following ABA rules (no non-ABA transfer students allowed).

La Verne is a good example.  It stands a good chance of becoming an ABA school later this year.  For all practical purposes, it acts like an ABA school, even though it isn't.  If you look at their forms, web site, etc, you'd think it was another expensive ABA school.

If you go to a non-ABA school and graduate, I don't know of any cases where you would be unable to sit for the bar exam *within* the state of the non-ABA state-accredited school you attended.  You will also be able to sit for the bar in several other states as well - about 20 in all I believe - AFTER you have passed the bar in at least one other state (typically in the state of the non-ABA school you graduated from).

Graduating from a non-ABA school and passing the bar in at least one state will enable you to gain admission to practice law at the federal level as well.  In other words, you could go to Mass. School of Law in Andover (as an example), graduate, sit for the bar in Mass and then go on to practice bankruptcy law (federal-level of practice) in Arizona.  However, you would NOT be able to appear in an Arizona court except *maybe* as pro hac vice and even that is somewhat iffy.  You could also (unless something changed) sit for the Patent Bar and practice before the USPTO. 

What you would NOT be able to do is be admitted to the bar on motion in most states, nor would you be able to sit for the bar in about 25+ states - ever.  Some students from non-ABA schools are starting to sue to gain permission to sit for the bar in those states.  I've contemplated this course for myself (going to Mass School of Law and then returning to Arizona and suing to take the bar).  I'm kind of an a**hole as a person, so this tactic and line of thought comes naturally for me.  It might for you too.

A non-ABA education can be a limitation, but it is not a 100% barrier.  I want to STRONGLY encourage you to seek out a non-ABA school that will meet your needs if it turns out, and ONLY if it turns out, that an ABA school is simply not an option due to low LSAT or GPA history.  Frankly - a low GPA can be made up for easily with a high LSAT.  Schools are not really interested in how you performed over 4+ years in your undergrad degree, what matters is how you do on a 4 hour exam.  Sad, but this is the truth.  The weight is often 75/25 for LSAT/GPA with essay, LOR's, etc, being the thing that chooses one LSAT 165 person over another.  A 4.0 GPA and 139 LSAT won't take you nearly as far as 2.3 GPA and 160 LSAT.

Did you do poorly on the LSAT?  How bad is bad?  My December LSAT was 151 and that's not going to take me very far (GPA from Jesuit college 3.53).  What are your stats?  Are they low?  Do you not want to take the LSAT over?  If this is the case - I suggest three schools to consider applying:

La Verne in California.
Mass. School of Law in Andover Mass. (high bar pass rates)
Southern New England School of Law in Mass.

Where are you located?  Are you willing to relocate?

Cheers.

As a bitching side note:

Most of the Founding Fathers were either self-taught or apprenticed law, and I would throw Abe Lincoln into that mix as well (studied for the bar alone).  Thurgood Marshall didn't take the LSAT as it didn't exist and Howard University did not have ABA status until after Marshall graduated.  Likewise, about 50% of all lawyers before 1948 had earned their degrees via correspondance OR they took classes taught by other lawyers and judges to read for the bar exam.  It's only in the last 50 years that the ABA gained incredible monopoly powers and solidifed law as something of a protected (and expensive) guild.  I don't think the quality of lawyers today is anything to get excited about thanks to the ABA "quality" control measures. I'd take Madison or Lincoln any day over Johnny Cochran.

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