Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Is my story/path uniuqe?  (Read 1884 times)

trudawg

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 54
    • View Profile
    • Email
Is my story/path uniuqe?
« on: July 28, 2008, 11:23:24 AM »
First off, I'd like to say hello to all as a long time reader, first time poster. I have learned a great deal from these forums.

I'm 32 now, and was involved in the criminal justice system early in my youth doing stupid things. Although I have no felonies, I have a few misdemeanor convictions from traffic violations, disorderly conduct, and loitering. With the last one being about 7 years ago, and if or when I'm eligible to take the bar exam would be 9 years in the past. Should I be discouraged?
Furthermore I currently do not have a bachelors degree. I have a Associates in general studies with a good deal of psychology credits from a community college with a GPA of about 3.75. I went back to a University a couple years ago amassed a few more credits w/ the hopes of completing a BA in Business Computer Information Systems.
So I have a total of about 80 credits, and plan on returning to school to get my bachelors so that I may apply for Law School. I currently make a good living in the Computer/telecommunications field so having a technical degree isn't really as much of an advantage to me at this point as just obtaining a bachelors degree. It would be easier to major in Psychology, and probably less expensive as well. Would anyone recommend this, or should try to major in criminal justice, or some sort of law orientated course load? Also I'm not really that interested in getting into a top school, as I have a family and would like to stay put. I'm not really interested in working for a major firm, or anything high-profile. Ultimately I see myself as a public defender, or a general practice lawyer. Someone that can help young males like myself  (in the past) avoid the criminal justice system, or help them navigate their way out of it at an early age.

Any thoughts or recommendations about my path or goals would be greatly appreciated.

just dot

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3416
  • I just want to be wonderful.
    • View Profile
Re: Is my story/path uniuqe?
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2008, 07:31:05 AM »
First off, I'd like to say hello to all as a long time reader, first time poster. I have learned a great deal from these forums.

I'm 32 now, and was involved in the criminal justice system early in my youth doing stupid things. Although I have no felonies, I have a few misdemeanor convictions from traffic violations, disorderly conduct, and loitering. With the last one being about 7 years ago, and if or when I'm eligible to take the bar exam would be 9 years in the past. Should I be discouraged?
Furthermore I currently do not have a bachelors degree. I have a Associates in general studies with a good deal of psychology credits from a community college with a GPA of about 3.75. I went back to a University a couple years ago amassed a few more credits w/ the hopes of completing a BA in Business Computer Information Systems.
So I have a total of about 80 credits, and plan on returning to school to get my bachelors so that I may apply for Law School. I currently make a good living in the Computer/telecommunications field so having a technical degree isn't really as much of an advantage to me at this point as just obtaining a bachelors degree. It would be easier to major in Psychology, and probably less expensive as well. Would anyone recommend this, or should try to major in criminal justice, or some sort of law orientated course load? Also I'm not really that interested in getting into a top school, as I have a family and would like to stay put. I'm not really interested in working for a major firm, or anything high-profile. Ultimately I see myself as a public defender, or a general practice lawyer. Someone that can help young males like myself  (in the past) avoid the criminal justice system, or help them navigate their way out of it at an early age.

Any thoughts or recommendations about my path or goals would be greatly appreciated.

Your major doesn't matter.  Your grades do.  Pick whichever program you think you can get the best grades in.  I know it sounds crazy but an admissions officer at a law school actually told me this.  They don't expect you to come into law school with any knowledge about the law.

Also, I don't think your minor record from that far ago will hurt you.  Some schools only require that you disclose things that occurred in the past 5 years, but some will require that you disclose any issues.  Either way, something that minor from that long ago will very likely not be a problem at all.  Just make sure you carefully read the app and disclose it if necessary, maybe even with a short addendum addressing the issue. 

Since you mentioned money and are indicating that you will probably go to a school that is not ranked really high, just make sure you do a lot of research first.  You mentioned that you are making pretty good money.  You might actually end up taking a pay cut to be a lawyer at first, especially if you take a lot of loans to go to law school that must be repaid.  I'm not one of the "T14 or die" advocates; I believe there are plenty of good schools outside of the top 14.  However I also think it is important to educate yourself before making a huge decision like this.

Good luck!
To put it bluntly, I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation. But I`m working on the foundation.

brianwithani

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 95
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Is my story/path uniuqe?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2008, 11:32:50 AM »
You can never start too early practicing for the LSAT.  If you can maintain that excellent GPA and rock the LSAT, you could be looking at some scholarship money from your local school. 

I echo what the previous poster said about good grades, to some extent they are all that really matter.  But consider taking a course of study that requires critical thinking and builds your writing skills.  Reading comprehension and critical analysis skills are extremely valuable. 

Good luck!
"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is a habit."  Socrates

trudawg

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 54
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Is my story/path uniuqe?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2008, 12:30:02 PM »
Thank you guys for the encouraging words. I'm very excited to just have a plan! I've been a student of LIFE for the past 10 years and have ended up wherever the road has taken me. I haven't done bad for myself, but I'm in a job/field that doesn't excite me nor do I have any desire to further it, yet it does get the bills paid for right now. I actually have the opportunity to go to school full-time and not work so I plan on loading up with 15 credit hours each semester. Hopefully I can stay disciplined enough to maintain a high GPA, and knock this BA out as quickly as possible. Would small schools, accelerated courses such as Kaplan, or University of Phoenix, hurt you when applying to Law School?
Does being a minority have any affect on Law School admission or LSAT score consideration?
Can anyone tell me what the average cost of Law School is? I'm trying to avoid the loan route, if at all possible, and just bite the bullet and pay out of pocket.
brianwithani .....you mentioned that it's "never to early" to prepare for the LSAT. Do you have any recommendations on where I should start?

-sorry for all the questions, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to speak with people who know what they're talking about and wish to take advantage of it! I've had lots wrong information prior to stumbling on this site ;D

brianwithani

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 95
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Is my story/path uniuqe?
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2008, 01:47:53 PM »
Trudawg,

Being a minority, depending on what your ethnic/racial background is, can be an asset in the admission process.  You will hear the term "URM" and that stands for "under represented minority".  African Americans, especially urban and socioeconomicly disadvantaged folks, do get special consideration in the process, much to the dismay of some applicants...see the threads on this site regarding Affirmative Action.  But the reality is, schools work hard, i.e. give scholarships, to establish a diverse admitted class.

As far as getting started on the LSAT, I can only tell you what I did.  I went down to Barnes and Noble and picked out the Princeton Review LSAT prep book and just started reading about the test.  Actually, the local library has LSAT prep books and it won't cost you a cent (I should have done that, but was so naive I wasted a lot of money)  I needed to know what the test included and what types of questions were on it.  It was a good place to start to get a general understanding of the test.  You have a lot of time to prepare so you shouldn't need any of the "cram" type of preps.  Once you do one of the practice tests to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses, you can get one of the "bibles" (Logic Games Bible, etc.) that teach you how to master each type of question.  A lot of people here on these boards swear by the bibles.  Chances are, the logic games section will be the hardest to master, it was for me.  But with time and practice, you can master it. 

It is a complicated process but that first acceptance letter will make it all worth it.  Again, good luck. 
Brian
"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is a habit."  Socrates

just dot

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 3416
  • I just want to be wonderful.
    • View Profile
Re: Is my story/path uniuqe?
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2008, 02:20:43 PM »
I agree with most of what brianwithani said, with the exception of the LSAT materials he recommended.  I wouldn't bother with the Princeton Review stuff.  I think the PowerScore materials (the "Bibles" he mentioned) are far superior and you should begin and end there.  I've done extensive research on this, and I think you'll find most people on the LSAT board here will agree with that.  No disrespect to brianwithani.

If you want a sample of the LSAT, you can download a free copy on the LSAC site.  http://www.lsac.org/  In addition, that site has a ton of info on choosing and applying to law school, registering for the LSAT, and other useful information. 

As for your other questions, it all depends.  The cost for law school can vary from around $12,000 per year for a state school to $40,000 or more for a private school (that's just tuition).  If you are a minority and your score well on the LSAT and have a solid GPA, you should be able to get a nice scholarship at some school.  Since you mentioned you might be interested in a lower-ranked or part-time school, you might even be able to manage a full scholarship.  Nice, huh?   ;D

Your school's prestige will matter a little, but it really comes down to your GPA and LSAT more than anything.  If you need to take a little longer to finish your BA with excellent grades, do it!  Your GPA and LSAT score are the two biggest factors in law school admission and it will be so worth it to really put everything you can into making sure they are impressive.
To put it bluntly, I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation. But I`m working on the foundation.

brianwithani

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 95
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Is my story/path uniuqe?
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2008, 04:17:55 PM »
Thanks dotlyn,

Like I said, I was really naive and am still rather uninformed about the best way to approach the LSAT.  I sort of felt my way through it blind but was able to do fairly well.  I, unfortunately, didn't find places like this and the other forums until long after I took the LSAT and didn't really want to retake it. 

Trudawg, explore the LSAC website.  It has a pretty good profile of each and every law school accredited by the ABA.  Tuition and statistics on what kind of numbers you might need to get admitted are on each profile. 

"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is a habit."  Socrates

mtbrider59

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 70
    • View Profile
Re: Is my story/path uniuqe?
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2008, 07:28:02 PM »
As for your undergraduate major stick to a major that has a solid reputation as being rigorous and don't pad your grades taking a lot of cupcake electives, schools will give som weight eithe positive or negative to this when looking at your UGPA. And by all means prepare for the LSAT-I'd recommend taking the testmasters weekend course- they'll give you a solid foundation on how to approach the various LSAT sections, then its up to you to practice, practice, and practice- and by all means time yourself when you do.

Go to school in an area you want to live in, then evaluate the schools in that region and choose the one that best fits your needs(balance between reputation, finances, and your ability to get in)