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Author Topic: Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply  (Read 879 times)

mletten

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Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply
« on: December 04, 2008, 09:39:56 AM »
I've been looking around on this site and others for a while, but I am still stuck with a tough question.  Essentially, I am wondering if anyone has any advice as to whether I ought to apply to law school during my senior year (I am a junior right now) or wait until the first cycle after graduation. 

Here are my details:
I'm a junior at Notre Dame, Philo & Poli Sci, 3.8 GPA, light ECs/service, spending all of my junior year abroad at Oxford University, think I will do alright on the LSAT (haven't started studying).

Applying during senior year:
First, I will have to study for and take the LSAT in June while I am still in England (unless I opt for the October LSAT date), in the past some people have had to fly to Paris to take the LSAT because there is one test center in London that fills up fast.  Studying for LSAT will be a problem because I am buried in work at Oxford this year. 
My recommendations will not be as strong because I am at Oxford for the whole year (though I might be able to get an Oxford letter of recommendation if this is allowed) and will only have a few weeks to reestablish relationships with ND profs. 
My grades will probably be alright, though I am unsure how law schools will look at my Oxford stuff.
I will be lacking a lot of academic distinctions that will hopefully come in the course of doing my thesis senior year, which will also provide a good recommendation.

Applying after I graduate:
Basically my application is stronger, but I have to wait another year to start law school and I want to start as soon as possible.

So my questions basically are:
1) How much stronger is an applicant with senior year grades, senior thesis written, senior year professor as references?  Do law schools look at people applying during their senior year differently since they have not yet finished school?
2) How damaging is it to apply during your senior year, turn down any offers because of lack of scholarship money/desire to get into better schools, then apply again a year later?

Any help is deeply appreciated, I can't stop thinking about what to do since I need to start studying for the LSAT soon if I have to take it in June.  THANK YOU.

valjean

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Re: Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2008, 09:55:58 AM »
I'm in a similar situation (eerily similar...) and I'm planning to apply senior year after I get back from Oxford.

I'm also concerned that my LORs will be weaker because I'm either asking professors I haven't seen in a year or ones I only worked with for one (8-week) term at Oxford, but I'm not convinced LORs are decisive in enough cases to be worth putting applications off for a year just to improve them. As far as honours/theses/etc., it will be clear that I'm writing a thesis when I apply, even though it won't be done, and the honours that come with it are probably common enough that they make little difference. Tons of people apply during senior year, before latin honours, PBK, and such are decided, and it doesn't seem to hurt them.

Of course, having some work experience is a major plus, so if you had a job/activity to pursue after your senior year, it would be worth considering. My opinion is based on your statement that (like me) you definitely want to enter LS as soon as possible.
Not applying until next cycle...

mletten

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Re: Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2008, 10:00:53 AM »
I'm in a similar situation (eerily similar...) and I'm planning to apply senior year after I get back from Oxford.

I'm also concerned that my LORs will be weaker because I'm either asking professors I haven't seen in a year or ones I only worked with for one (8-week) term at Oxford, but I'm not convinced LORs are decisive in enough cases to be worth putting applications off for a year just to improve them. As far as honours/theses/etc., it will be clear that I'm writing a thesis when I apply, even though it won't be done, and the honours that come with it are probably common enough that they make little difference. Tons of people apply during senior year, before latin honours, PBK, and such are decided, and it doesn't seem to hurt them.

Of course, having some work experience is a major plus, so if you had a job/activity to pursue after your senior year, it would be worth considering. My opinion is based on your statement that (like me) you definitely want to enter LS as soon as possible.

I'd recommend trying to get with the same tutor for multiple terms.  I'm taking Wittgenstein next term largely to stay with a tutor I had this term that thinks I am a good student.  My other thought was starting to e-mail with the professor back at ND that I want to write my thesis with soon and build something of a recommendation there before I get back on campus.  Just thoughts.  But yah, I want to go to LS and the idea of waiting a year is the biggest obstacle right now.   

schpat

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Re: Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2008, 10:56:04 AM »
Getting LORs from your tutor(s) is a good idea, especially if the tutors consider you a smart person. Unis will likely know the Ox-Bridge system and therefore know that you spent ridiculous amounts of time with your tutor (I remember that from my time in Cambridge). Therefore they are probably aware of how well your tutor gets to know you in those eight weeks and will be able to appreciate a LOR from a tutor. Actually, imho, unless you have done significant amounts of research or other kind of work with a prof, such a tutor will probably know you better and provide you with a more believable / better LOR than the vast majority of profs.

Therefore: If you do well on the LSAT, apply this year.

My .02

GPA: 3.86
LSAT: 174 (169)

dantimreynolds

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Re: Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2008, 11:58:54 AM »
Advice from a year off-er.

I would almost always suggest one for one simple reason. It is very easy to know that you want to STUDY law. You could just enjoy school, enjoy the atmosphere, and all that. Its a different thing to want to PRACTICE law. And when I say practice, yes there are 100 things you could do with a JD, so I would suggest getting some actual exposure to them. Right now I am working at a law firm and it has been a wake up call. Being in a firm is nothing like I would of thought. The good news, I've learned that not only would I want to STUDY law, I want to PRACTICE it aswell.

Law schools like year offers not because we are older but because we bring in experiances that people coming straight in don't have.

Go out, learn about what you want, be able to show confidence in your decision.
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vap

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Re: Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2008, 04:43:58 PM »
If taking a year off means you will have a higher LSAT score, higher grades, a better personal statement, and better letters of recommendation (in that order), then it matters to admissions.  Otherwise, your year of work experience matters very little.

However, I think it is nonetheless beneficial.  As others have said, taking a year off will help you decide if you really want to practice law, so you don't end up wasting 3 years or less (if dropping out) and plenty of money.  Taking a year off was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Working for a year might also provide you with a slight advantage for employers.  Imagine being a recruiter at a large law firm, one that will pay new lawyers $160K and request 2200 billable hours.  Now imagine you have two candidates with equal grades and one of them has never worked a full time job.  Who would you feel more comfortable paying $160K a year?  Who would you feel more comfortable billing 2200 a year?

econtutorNV

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Re: Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2008, 11:42:43 AM »
If taking a year off means you will have a higher LSAT score, higher grades, a better personal statement, and better letters of recommendation (in that order), then it matters to admissions.  Otherwise, your year of work experience matters very little.

However, I think it is nonetheless beneficial.  As others have said, taking a year off will help you decide if you really want to practice law, so you don't end up wasting 3 years or less (if dropping out) and plenty of money.  Taking a year off was one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Working for a year might also provide you with a slight advantage for employers.  Imagine being a recruiter at a large law firm, one that will pay new lawyers $160K and request 2200 billable hours.  Now imagine you have two candidates with equal grades and one of them has never worked a full time job.  Who would you feel more comfortable paying $160K a year?  Who would you feel more comfortable billing 2200 a year?

THIS. If taking a year off will significantly boost your objective factors then I'd recommend it.

Advice from a year off-er.

I would almost always suggest one for one simple reason. It is very easy to know that you want to STUDY law. You could just enjoy school, enjoy the atmosphere, and all that. Its a different thing to want to PRACTICE law. And when I say practice, yes there are 100 things you could do with a JD, so I would suggest getting some actual exposure to them. Right now I am working at a law firm and it has been a wake up call. Being in a firm is nothing like I would of thought. The good news, I've learned that not only would I want to STUDY law, I want to PRACTICE it aswell.

Law schools like year offers not because we are older but because we bring in experiances that people coming straight in don't have.

Go out, learn about what you want, be able to show confidence in your decision.

THIS too. Get a job in the legal field for a year. There's nothing like being able to take an under the hood look at a career you're thinking about BEFORE having to plunk down 100K for tuition. It might not help you significantly on your apps, but I know my job working at a personal injury firm has removed a lot of my doubts about going to law school.
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jumbo07

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Re: Advantages of waiting 1 yr after grad to apply
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2008, 12:20:34 PM »
Advice from a year off-er.

I would almost always suggest one for one simple reason. It is very easy to know that you want to STUDY law. You could just enjoy school, enjoy the atmosphere, and all that. Its a different thing to want to PRACTICE law. And when I say practice, yes there are 100 things you could do with a JD, so I would suggest getting some actual exposure to them. Right now I am working at a law firm and it has been a wake up call. Being in a firm is nothing like I would of thought. The good news, I've learned that not only would I want to STUDY law, I want to PRACTICE it aswell.

Law schools like year offers not because we are older but because we bring in experiances that people coming straight in don't have.

Go out, learn about what you want, be able to show confidence in your decision.

THIS too. Get a job in the legal field for a year. There's nothing like being able to take an under the hood look at a career your thinking about BEFORE having to plunk down 100K for tuition. It might not help you significantly on your apps, but I know my job working at a personal injury firm has removed a lot of my doubts about going to law school.

Another year-offer (actually 2 years) who has spent time in the legal field checking in, just to echo and completely agree with these two posts. I think working a little bit in a law firm has definitely given some real context to where I see myself going with a law degree, something I would not have had without time off.

More personally, I am certain I did better on the LSAT by studying for and taking it during my off-year. The 9-to-5 with nights/weekends spent studying suited me really well, and I think specifically the sort of work I do in my firm did good things for my LSAT skills, specifically reading comp. So don't discount the fact that work experience might have provide a hidden boost to your LSAT performance.