With a 4.0 GPA you are clearly intelligent and diligent. The LSAT is mainly a test of intelligence and diligence (preparation). How much of each is hard to say. With sufficient preparation you should be perfectly capable of acing the LSAT. What score to shoot for? Perfection, of course.
Will you manage LSAT perfection? Probably not - some random chance always sneaks in. But with your track record and your ambitions, to aim for anything less would be silly.
The LSAT counts as much as your GPA (and perhaps even more). As I like to say, you spent four years working on your GPA - in all fairness you should spend four years working on the LSAT as well. Now, spending four years on LSAT prep is generally unrealistic, but my point is that you should take the LSAT very, very seriously, and you should prepare for it very, very thoroughly. Reading a quick book and doing a practice exam doesn't count. Practice, practice, and practice some more, until you know exactly what your score will be before you even sit down.
The LSAT is completely learnable. Taking the LSAT is a skill you can acquire with sufficient practice and determination. If you are serious about law school, you need to be serious about the LSAT.
As for your chances of getting into a top school - well, that depends on what you mean by a "top school." With a good LSAT score you should certainly be able to get into a top ten, but at the very top other odd factors start showing up, and admissions get less predictable.
For instance, I suspect that Yale would give you points for a scientific publication (peer-reviewed?), but might actually count your prior legal experience AGAINST you. Hard to say (but don't worry - those experiences will be huge pluses when interviewing for legal jobs). My experience is that the main defining feature of students at Yale/Harvard/Stanford is that they are all interesting
But without an excellent LSAT score, your chances of getting into the top three is virtually zero. Without a good LSAT score your chances of getting into a top ten school is pretty slim.
Take the LSAT very, very seriously.
I am currently wondering what my chances are at getting accepted into a top law program. My GPA is a 4.0 from both my undergrad (B.A. in neuropsychology) and graduate programs (clinical psychology). I have a scientific publication. I am currently interning at my county's courthouse (pretrial investigations), and I have previous legal experience working for an SSI attorney. I am also minority status. I have not taken the LSAT I am just wondering what score do I need to shoot for and what might my chances be?
Thanks to anyone who replies.