Law School Discussion

low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...

I have taken the lsat twice in dec 2007 (139), and feb 2008 (141).  I had a good study course through my college UCF, where I practiced every lsat and studied fairly hard. My overall gpa is 2.9, but I have had a 3.8 during last two years of college.  I was inducted in a few honor societies in college and participated in few volunteer activities.

My criminal background is extensive with around 11 charges and a few them being felonies, which were later dropped down to misdeamenors.  I have one assault and battery charge and the rest are related to marijuana and alcohol.  I have had all but four of the charges expunged from my record, and the remaining ones are misdeameanors assault/battery, possession of marijuana, drunk in public, and underage possession of alcohol.  Also all of these charges happened when I was about 18-22 and I have not been in trouble for about five years.

I majored in political science in college and minored in criminal justice.  My work experience is alright, but nothing related to the law and I have been a counselor/mentor for kids during the past 1+ years.

I would like to take the lsat again in Dec 09, but are thinking alot about if it is going to be worth it even if I get an decent score.  I have been going through some medical problems for the last few years, and during the time I was studying for the lsat and during the test times, which had negative effect on my score.  I am still going through some medical problems right now, but I am finding out solutions and feel I could be a decent situation by December.

My main questions are even if I did get a 155 or 152 or north of 150, would it be worth it to apply to law school.  I live in Florida and would like to stay in state.  My goal would be Stetson, but they like around a 156 I believe and that is probably someone with good gpa and squeaky clean record.  I have also considered a school like Barry or a few other low tier ones in Florida.  I am not looking to get some great big law firm job right of law school or anything similar too that, I would be perfectly content being a public defender or entry level position for a while until I could build a up a little work experience.  I would like to stay in criminal law area, whether it be defense or prosecution and could not see my self doing anything else and enjoying it as much.

I have seen terrible reviews about going to Barry or any other school in florida besides uf, um, fsu, or stestson.  I know the job market is shrinking and competitive for lawyers and do not want to waste the time and money, and not be able to find a decent job.  Do you think it is worth it to go to one of the other six law schools (lower tier)in Florida.

And with my criminal backgroud, lsat scores, low gpa, do you think I even have a chance with an lsat above 150.

Even though I might not be able to get into a great law school, I have read that you can still become very successful if you work hard after law school and have a good level of common sense towards making money.  Meaning you can figure out ways to profit as a lawyer.  What do you think about this.  I could see myself trying to go solo and being able to make good money.

I do have passion for law and bascially grew up on the wrong side of legal system and would like to have a career on the right side.

The last thing is that if I don't try the lsat now and hopefully being able to get accepted for the fall of 2010, then I probably will not try it again for awhile.  I could see myself getting into another job or career, and it just becoming too late in life.  I am 26 years old now, and my parents are still willing to help me out a little financially if I were accepted somewhere.

I would love to hear your advice and suggestions.  Thank you in advance.

Miss P

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Re: low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2009, 09:13:40 PM »
I don't know much about the schools in Florida, but I have a bit of preliminary advice.  With a complicated situation like yours, it would be a good idea for you to consult with an attorney who specializes in character and fitness inquiries/bar admissions in your state.  Such an attorney could likely give you a good indication of whether you could be admitted to the bar (assuming you graduated from an accredited law school and met all of the other requirements).  You also may want to ask specifically about the likelihood that government offices (both prosecution and public defense are run by the state in Florida) will hire you with your background -- at least if you are singularly interested in criminal law. 

After this consultation, you will be in a better position to think about how much effort you want to put into getting into and making your way through law school.  You may find that some other related careers (e.g., private or public investigator, paralegal) offer similar enough opportunities without the same risks and expenses, but I don't know.  (Investigator licensing is also tough in some states and you may want to find an attorney who has experience with investigators as well if you are at all interested in investigation.)

In any case, good luck.  Obviously, you have a tough road ahead of you, but I am sure you can find a career doing something meaningful if you spend some time thinking through your options and working toward your goal.

Re: low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2009, 03:18:21 AM »
You definitely need to get clear answers on the state bar aspect before you do anything else. Definitely consult an attorney who is an expert in the area like Miss P said. No sense in wasting all the time, stress, and $$$ if you can't even become licensed to practice law in your state.

As for your LSAT, get a private tutor if you can afford it. Right now there are only a couple schools in the entire US that would admit you with those scores. Probably no school in your state is going to take a score like that.


Re: low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2009, 06:22:58 AM »
This is not a flame, honestly, but based on your background, LSAT scores, GPA and everything, I do not think you have any real chance at all of being a successful attorney.  I am not trying to talk down to you, trust me.  But statistics don't lie, and based on what you've posted, there is virtually no chance that you will have a career as an attorney. It is probably best that you sit down and think long and hard about other options that fit you better.

If you are absolutely dead set on doing this, you need to find out who sits on the ethics council of your state Bar and e-mail one of them.  They are the ones who interview people with criminal records and decide if they should pass C&F.  This varies widely by state -- in some states they will let a person with a non-character-related felony be admitted while in other states they will refuse to admit you if you have a repeated string of misdemeanors/or even traffic that shows you do not respect/understand laws and the legal system.

Re: low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2009, 10:28:19 AM »
Thanks for the replies.  I looked into the character and fitness requirements issue a little deeper and found two good websites that can help me.  One is the actual florida bar examiners website, which handles the c and f process.

And the other is an attorney who specializes in looking up peoples background to see if they can be admitted to the bar.

I should be able to find out if could be admitted by using the attorney.

If anyone else know's another attorney I should look into or any other helpful websites about the c and f process in Florida, please let me know.

I am not deadset on becoming an attorney, but if I take the lsat in December and get a decent score, I probably will apply to a few schools in Florida.

In regards to preparing for the december 09 lsat, what would be my best options.  I have probably done almost every pratice test there was, but that was 2 years ago so I know I am going to need to do them again.  For me, I found that just doing the practice tests under timed / simulated test conditions, was a good way to study.  However, since I did poorly on the exams, I am willing to try any new strategy + doing simulated tests.

What other study materials should I look into assuming I get a clearance from the attorney saying it is alright to apply for the bar. 

I know a private tutor might be good and I will do some more research about them, but I have already went through a great study course (with an instructor) and feel comfortable with the exam.  Does anyone know of a great lsat tutor around Orlando Florida area.

One of the most important issues I need to deal with potentially going to school like Barry or other lower tier school in Florida.  I have seen mixed reviews about going to schools like this and would like to hear your opinion.  Some people say Barry is great at placing people in internships and is good/decent for job placement, others say stay away.  Same thing goes for Nova, etc.  My situation comes down to, what if cannot get into Stetson and have to choose a lower tier school in Florida.  Is it going to be worth it.  I am the type of person to work my butt off during and after law school, but I know going to better school can make a difference as well.  It would be a terrible disappointment to go through law school at a lower tier Florida school and still not be able to get a job even a public defender or entry level lawyer somewhere.  What are thoughts on this subject.  And this is assuming again that I do get decent lsat score and pass the pre-bar background check.

Thank you.

Re: low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2009, 10:33:54 AM »
I have a coupe of DUI's. Will that effect the barz desicion? Its not like I killed

Re: low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2009, 11:15:43 AM »
I have a coupe of DUI's. Will that effect the barz desicion? Its not like I killed

I wouldn't sweat it.  Of course, it varies by state, but I know a couple people who had multiple DUIs and did fine - one of them even got a DUI while in law school.  Own up to it, acknowledge your previous disregard for the law, and establish how you've rehabilitated yourself since.  And, of course, disclose everything.

Re: low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2009, 02:08:27 PM »
To the OP:

Go to the LSAT portion of this message board for advice on that. My hunch is you did not prepare well, your course/instructor was not good, or that you possibly have a learning disability that caused you problems with the test. Trying to study the same way you did before is likely to lead to similar results. Frankly, those are abysmal scores and you are going to need a lot of work to do better. Accept the fact that even December might not be enough time for you.

As for the lower tier school thing, keep in mind that the economy is in the toilet right now. Barry, Nova and the like are bottom feeder schools in FL, a state that has what, 9 or 10 accredited law schools? I can promise you that finding any decent atty. job out of one of those schools is going to be very tough. Keep in mind schools like these have grading curves where a certain pre-set amount are forced to flunk out after first year. Even at some tier 2s, it is not unusual for the school to automatically flunk out the bottom 10% of the class. The LSAC/ABA guide to law schools has stats on student attrition for all schools.

And even a school like Stetson isn't some magic cutoff point where things suddenly become "safe". Are you independently wealthy or do you have rich parents that can pay for law school in cash? If not, you should know that you are setting yourself up for a very tough road by going to a low ranked, expensive private law school in a state that has an overcrowded legal job market.

Re: the medical problems you mentioned, are they recurring? Assuming you are admitted to some law school eventually and are determined to go, you will need to discuss this with them if it is going to impact your performance in school. You might find that your school is not willing to be very accommodating if your medical issues make it so that you might need to reschedule exams or something like that.


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Re: low lsats, low gpa, multiple criminal offenses, is it worth it...
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2009, 03:47:01 PM »
Agree with the others that you should probably talk to an attorney about the C&F issues before you do anything else.

On FL schools, you're probably going to need at least a 155 to have any kind of shot at Stetson, and that's before factoring in your past. A 150 might get you to Ave Maria, Barry, Florida Coastal, St. Thomas and a 155 should definitely land you somewhere by the numbers.