Applying to Law School > Law School Admissions


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CA Law Dean:
REJECTION! Not fun. Actually downright depressing. However, for law school applicants in California (and anyone else who intends to live and practice in California at least 3-5 years after law school graduation), there may still be an alternative.

Consider a California-Accredited Law School
Consider one of the 17 California accredited law schools (such as Monterey College of Law). The State Bar of California, not the ABA, accredits these regional schools. Many of them have very respectable bar pass rates (competitive with the unranked ABA law schools), are a fraction of the cost of the traditional ABA schools, and offer part-time programs so that you can actually begin working in law related jobs to gain relevant experience before graduating.

Strong Ties to the Local Bench and Bar = Jobs!
Most have strong ties to the local bench-bar that result in jobs after graduation. Of course this is not the path if your goal is to work in a large urban center in a multinational law conglomerate. But if the idea of being a small firm lawyer, DA, Public Defender, Legal Services lawyer, or solo practitioner is what you are after . . . select one of the California accredited law schools in an area that you might like to live/practice and get an application in . . . right away. Then go visit to see if it fits your goals. Ask hard questions about bar pass rates, costs, job placement, clinical, programs, etc. Most of the non-urban areas of California need lawyers (despite the articles in the national news) and many of them are great places to live and raise a family if you have not already decided to be a big city lawyer.

Practicing Law in California
The biggest limitation is that upon graduation from one of the California accredited law schools you must take (and pass) the California bar exam first. You cannot go directly to another state and sit for their bar exam until you are licensed in California (and some states will require minimum years of practice as well). That is why the option is primarily for those who already know that they want to live and practice in California.

Bottom line, if you really want to be a lawyer, make it happen . . . and a California-accredited law school may be just the place for you.

Well written post I think Monterey College of Law can work for the right student, but as CA Law Dean says do not expect Cravath to come recruit you and offer you $160,000k out of law school. If law students have realistic expectations it can be a great career.

CA Law Dean:
I frequently hear the question "If I get rejected by my top choice law school, should I just take a gap year and reapply next cycle?" Like many legal questions, the answer is "it depends."

First question. Do you have a realistic chance of meeting he statistical LSAT/UGPA admission standard of the dream school(s) where you have applied? There are quite a few excellent websites that provide free access to analytics that allow you to plug in your LSAT/UGPA and get a multi-school report on your statistical chance of falling within the admitted student range of targeted schools. Doing this analysis is a must. The odds are that if you were rejected by a school, you fell below the 25th percentile of their range.

Therefore, the question is, if you took off a year what would you do to improve your chances next cycle? I hate to sound crass, but curing cancer or solving world peace probably won't help you. You also can't change your UGPA. Therefore, the only variable you control is your LSAT score. Even if your UGPA is below standard, many schools will admit "splitters" . . . applicants with a below median UGPA, offset by a high LSAT.

Second question. "Do you have the time, resources, and testing skills to do what it takes to significantly improve your LSAT score?" Top tutorial programs can cost upwards of $10-12,000. Credible commercial review programs can cost $1,200 - $2,500. To significantly move your LSAT score 10+ points, you should expect to spend several hundred hours of dedicated effort. Add all of this to the "opportunity cost" of waiting another year to enter law school . . . and the career market upon completion . . . and you have the objective information necessary to realistically evaluate whether a gap year will be beneficial.

Of course, there are certainly other reasons that could play a role as well. Maturity, financial situation, family issues, undergraduate burn-out, etc. However, these go to the question of 1L readiness, not dream school admissions.

One final consideration. In the current competitive admissions climate, high LSAT scores can directly translate into significant scholarship offers. The trade-off is that higher ranked "dream" schools generally offer fewer scholarships, and fewer still to "splitters". Your best scholarship offers are likely to come from lower tier law schools . . . but that is a completely different topic.

So my recommendation is that if you are willing to use a gap year to improve your law school choices . . . do it. Otherwise, if you are "all dressed up and ready to go", select a law school that otherwise matches your interests and career goals . . . and get started.

I am unhappy after I received a rejection letter today from I.U.  I am no spring chicken and my oldest will be 22 years of age; I decided to go back to my first love, law school.  I submitted every thing early, I took the LSAT only to find out today, I was not accepted.

Rejection does not feel good, no matter how old you are, especially when you are up in age.  I applied to one school for the convenience, since I am a divorcee with children. 

I am not sure about online Law Schools.  I will start from the drawing board and complete a few more apps.

Any thoughts?  I wonder how the young people handle rejection letters.

Thanks for a place to vent.

CA Law Dean:
I am sorry to hear that you were rejected from your law school choice. It is always disappointing, regardless of age and experience. If you will share your LSAT/UGPA, I can probably give you a better idea of what influenced the decision. Despite the applicant friendly admissions cycle this year, it still requires understanding the criteria of the target school to better judge your application prospects. In your case, despite having college grades that are likely several decades old (assuming college was prior to the birth of your 22 year old child), the formula of LSAT/UGPA still overshadows any work-life experience for traditional law schools. When you said "I.U" did you mean Indiana University, and if yes, was it Bloomington or Indianapolis?


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