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CallerID

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My situation as a prospective older student
« on: June 29, 2009, 05:54:31 PM »
Hello all, I just signed up for this board and I could use some advice.

I am 39, single/no kids, and considering law school.  I got a 161 on the LSAT earlier this year.  I graduated from Rutgers in 1992 with a 3.5 GPA.  I have been working in financial journalism and research for the past 13 years.

I am not necessarily interested in going to the best possible school because if and when I graduate in my early 40s, I won't be looking for the highest-paying job and a partner track at a top firm.  My interest is in some type of government or public interest law.

I am willing and able to go a few years without making money and then take a job that would pay $60-$75K or the like, which not much for a lawyer in the NYC area.  But while I am far from rich, I do have some assets and I would not be considered needy in the eyes of LS financial aid administrators.  I do not want to deplete these assets to pay for law school, only to graduate and then not make much money. 

In other words, I am willing to forgo income for a few years and then get a modest-paying job, but I am not willing to forgo income AND deplete my assets and then get a modest-paying job. 

So my question is, what are my options?  Are my credentials enough to get me a big package from a decent (say, top 50) school?  If not, would I be able to go to a decent school on a free ride (or close to it), through some type of public interest track?   

Any feedback would be much appreciated!

RobWreck

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2009, 07:28:23 PM »
Coming from a similar situation, I hate to break it to you but you're probably not going to get a BIG package from a T1 school. I had the same LSAT score, a higher GPA from a local SUNY school and a dozen years in a technical position with a major telecommunications company... my scholly offers for the 2 PT programs I applied to were $5k/yr @ St. John's and $15k/yr @ Hofstra. If you're talking about going FT, you're going to be competing against more qualified applicants (in the Ad Com's view of hard numbers), so don't hold your breath for scholly money. If you were thinking of going PT, then you're in a pretty good position. Still probably not a BIG package from any T1, but probably something from some of the better regional T2 schools...
Good Luck
Rob

PS: If scholly money is a big decision-maker for you, then consider retaking the LSAT or accepting a lower ranked school that doesn't have any significant maintenance requirements for their scholly offer...
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CallerID

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2009, 11:20:57 AM »
Thank you Rob - that is helpful information.  I hadn't realized the difference between P/T and F/T.

I actually took the LSAT (I scored in the 88th %ile rather than the 83rd I got this time) and applied to law school back around 1994-95.  I was on the fence about the whole thing though, I only applied to Harvard (thought I had a puncher's chance to get in) and UMiami.  Predictably, I got turned down from Harvard, but I got a 3/4 ride offer from Miami.  Ended up not matriculating, obviously.

What about the public service track, would that expand my financial aid options? 

jollyrog

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2009, 03:16:34 AM »
Hello all,

I'm in somewhat the same boat, but a bit further down the river, as CallerID.

By the time I start, I'll be 50. When I took the LSAT in 1993 I scored 165, but in my undergrad days I majored in Journalism, hockey and coeds, not necessarily in that order, and had the GPA to prove it. That was my undoing, as I was accepted to the T3 & 4 schools, but no scholly offers. Finances and other circumstances prevented me from going.

Now, I've been a software engineer for over a decade, got a 3.78 GPA in a MS Finance program, BUT AC's still have to look at UG GPA. Not only were my last UG grades earned during the freaking Carter administration, I CLEP-ed and GRE-d my way to my BS (Poli Sci) while I was in the Navy, so my UG GPA is basically meaningless.

Anybody have much idea, assuming I can score as well or better on the LSAT this time, how much weight an AC will put on my Grad GPA, considering it's probably a much better indicator of my chances for scholastic success than grades from 30 years ago?

Also, what chance would I have at getting some sort of scholly with a LSAT in the 170 ballpark? (I got the 165 basically cold, from reading a Princeton Review study manual in my spare time on a submarine, then took the exam when we got back to port, so I don't think it's farfetched to consider a score like that.)

mbw

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2009, 07:51:52 AM »
Thank you Rob - that is helpful information.  I hadn't realized the difference between P/T and F/T.

I actually took the LSAT (I scored in the 88th %ile rather than the 83rd I got this time) and applied to law school back around 1994-95.  I was on the fence about the whole thing though, I only applied to Harvard (thought I had a puncher's chance to get in) and UMiami.  Predictably, I got turned down from Harvard, but I got a 3/4 ride offer from Miami.  Ended up not matriculating, obviously.

What about the public service track, would that expand my financial aid options? 

Since many people apply to schools intending to follow a public service track and then change their minds along the way, adcomms don't put much stock in what you say you're going to do after school.  The probable exception is if you're already established in a field, and are using your law degree to continue in that area.

Before I applied, I'd convinced myself (and allowed others to convince me) that my work/life experience would make up for my questionable numbers.  My admissions consultant, a former T10 dean, thought so as well.  However, I don't think anyone really understood how being "over a certain age" can negatively effect one's application cycle - especially with a mediocre LSAT.  And to be honest, for my URM-group, my LSAT was 98th percentile, and I still was dinged by most T14 schools (my LSN link is below my sig line.) 

Public interest these days is nearly as competitive as BigLaw - particularly when so many top law schools grads are being deferred and paid by their deferring firms to go "play" in PI for a year or two.  My suggestion would be take the October test, really try and increase your LSAT score by 7-10 points and apply as soon afterward as possible.  I actually delayed my cycle for a year when I couldn't hit my target score (165) in the fall of 2008 - even though it meant I'd be starting school at 45, I still think it was the best choice I made.

Good luck.
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

space for rent.

mbw

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2009, 07:56:24 AM »
Hello all,

I'm in somewhat the same boat, but a bit further down the river, as CallerID.

By the time I start, I'll be 50. When I took the LSAT in 1993 I scored 165, but in my undergrad days I majored in Journalism, hockey and coeds, not necessarily in that order, and had the GPA to prove it. That was my undoing, as I was accepted to the T3 & 4 schools, but no scholly offers. Finances and other circumstances prevented me from going.

Now, I've been a software engineer for over a decade, got a 3.78 GPA in a MS Finance program, BUT AC's still have to look at UG GPA. Not only were my last UG grades earned during the freaking Carter administration, I CLEP-ed and GRE-d my way to my BS (Poli Sci) while I was in the Navy, so my UG GPA is basically meaningless.

Anybody have much idea, assuming I can score as well or better on the LSAT this time, how much weight an AC will put on my Grad GPA, considering it's probably a much better indicator of my chances for scholastic success than grades from 30 years ago?

Also, what chance would I have at getting some sort of scholly with a LSAT in the 170 ballpark? (I got the 165 basically cold, from reading a Princeton Review study manual in my spare time on a submarine, then took the exam when we got back to port, so I don't think it's farfetched to consider a score like that.)

If you hit a 170 or above, I still think your application cycle will be hit and miss, as there are just some top schools which are not interested in older students, unless, of course, you're famous.  That said, I do know that I'm not the oldest student in my class this year (at Cornell), and I did receive a very generous scholarship, even with a dismal mid-1980s GPA.

Good luck! 
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

space for rent.

Matthies

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2009, 10:48:50 AM »
Iíll say I agree and disagree with MBW. Age is an issue in fulltime admissions, its not at all in part-time admissions. If you think your age is going to hurt you apply PT if the school has such a program. PI work in NYC and large markets is dominated by T14 and other top schools, itís not in mid markets. So think about where you want to work. Finally law school costs a lot more than you think for older students. If you canít return to living like a student expect for it to cost you far more than the schools ďcost of attendance.Ē I lived off my savings, and I could never adjust to a studentís lifestyle. Over four years of law school I spent close to $370k on tuition, expenses, and living costs and mortgages. I blew through a lot of my savings. This *&^% aninít cheap even when youíre not borrowing to do it.
*In clinical studies, Matthies was well tolerated, but women who are pregnant, nursing or might become pregnant should not take or handle Matthies due to a rare, but serious side effect called him having to make child support payments.

jollyrog

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2009, 11:10:58 AM »
Thanks for the input, all. There are some fine PT programs, GULC is ranked #1 by US News, but because I live in FL, unless I want to sell my house (which me and the missus are willing to do), the best PT around here is Stetson, who doesn't seem to be all that generous with scholly dough.

One thing at a time - nail the LSAT, see what, if any, offers come and then it's time for decisions, but it's good to have some idea of what's possible.

mbw

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2009, 11:39:04 AM »
Thanks for the input, all. There are some fine PT programs, GULC is ranked #1 by US News, but because I live in FL, unless I want to sell my house (which me and the missus are willing to do), the best PT around here is Stetson, who doesn't seem to be all that generous with scholly dough.

One thing at a time - nail the LSAT, see what, if any, offers come and then it's time for decisions, but it's good to have some idea of what's possible.

If you hit a 170 or above, I don't suspect you'll want to stay in Florida at all, as your score will most likely travel well above the rank of UF and FSU.  Just be prepared to be as flexible as possible - something which, I know personally, can be tough when you have a family, spouse, roots, etc.
I'm in a lynch mob?  I had no idea.  This is really worrying; I really don't have time for another extra-curricular activity.

space for rent.

jollyrog

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Re: My situation as a prospective older student
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2009, 05:28:31 PM »
Thanks for the input, all. There are some fine PT programs, GULC is ranked #1 by US News, but because I live in FL, unless I want to sell my house (which me and the missus are willing to do), the best PT around here is Stetson, who doesn't seem to be all that generous with scholly dough.

One thing at a time - nail the LSAT, see what, if any, offers come and then it's time for decisions, but it's good to have some idea of what's possible.

If you hit a 170 or above, I don't suspect you'll want to stay in Florida at all, as your score will most likely travel well above the rank of UF and FSU.  Just be prepared to be as flexible as possible - something which, I know personally, can be tough when you have a family, spouse, roots, etc.


I'm aware a 170+ will likely get some attention elsewhere, which is why it's nice that I have the flexibility of no kids at home or in college, and neither of us are originally from Florida, so while it's comfortable, the roots don't run very deep.

Here's what my calculus boils down to: I'll be 55 by the time I begin practice, which means I don't exactly want to burn time working my way up the salary scale. Therefore, I'd better do well at the best school I can get into, in order to have the most opportunities upon graduation. If it means pulling up stakes, so be it.