Law School Discussion

am i screwed?

Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2011, 09:18:57 AM »
Don't laugh but I really would like to be a federal judge and work with the constitutional law and I want to do what I can to make it happen. Like the title of the topic says, I just want to know if I have a chance and seeing as I do, I will take it.

Ya know, as a general rule, I really, really detest the idea that doors close on people as life goes on.  We graduate High School and the world is our oyster, and over time, our chances to make the Olympics, or go to Harvard, or go to Hollywood and become a movie star either diminish or disappear entirely.

I hate to be the wet blanket in this discussion, but... and please don't take this as being mean-spirited, I think you really need to examine reality a little bit, here.

You have a 2.4 in one of the easiest majors a person could possibly get.  Unless you sustained traumatic brain injury and your recovery took place during your undergraduate studies, it's going to be virtually impossible for you to pursuade an admissions committee that you've got what it takes to succeed in law school.

Really, you'd have to freakin' ace your LSAT just to get into a 4th tier school at this point.  I was stunned on preview day to see the number of students who attended who were wait-listed, and I'm attending a 4T school.  20 years ago, those were virtually open enrollment.  Now?  I wouldn't say they're hard to get into, but they're nowhere near the point of accepting anybody just to fill the seats with warm bodies.

Federal judge?  Wow.  Really, just Wow.  Is it impossible?  Well... no, in the same way that winning the lottery is not impossible.

Is it adviseable?  For you to spend six figures pursuing this?  For you to give up 3 years of your professional life?  Honestly, if I had to draw a line that took you from 2.4 with a communications degree to being a federal judge, it would involve you beating a thousand to 1 odds about 5 times in a row. 

You'd have to get into law school (already an EXTREME longshot). 

You'd have to finish pretty much first in your class in 1L.  (Everybody envisions this when they start law school, but even the lowliest 4T law school has some intellectual mutants in there who are frighteningly smart.)

You'd have to transfer to a top law school after 1L.  (A dicey proposition at best.)

You'd have to write-on to law review since chances are you wouldn't be able to grade-on as a transfer.

You'd probably need to get a clerkship with a federal judge after 2L.

You'd have to graduate at or near the top of your class.

Seriously?  I like to believe that no doors are completely closed and that it's never too late to pursue your dream, but to be blunt:  you're screwed.  You stand virtually no chance of putting this together.

At this point, if you REALLY want to be an attorney, you need to focus on your next step, which will be to get a really good LSAT.  Probably doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be darned good, like 80th %ile or better.  (Keep in mind, this isn't 80th %ile for the general population.  This is 80th %ile for people contemplating law school.  Meaning you start with the 1/3 of the population who have the smarts to get a degree.  Then, take the top 20% of them because the other 80% were lucky to get a bachelor's degree and won't ever be going to grad school.  So... you need to test in the top 20% of probably the top 7% of the general population.  Meaning, you need a test performance that probably puts you in the top 1% of the population at large.)

Even after you pull down that LSAT, you then need to carpet bomb the hell out of every 4T law school in the country, because with a 2.4, even if the LSAT is 60% of the decision, the other 40% is probably one of the lowest GPAs the admissions committee will likely see this year.  Using the LSAC site as a guide, there isn't a single ABA accredited school in the country where 2.4 gets you anywhere near the 25th %ile.  The situation is actually far more dire than that because, frankly, if you're not a URM, you're not going to be the one they admit with the lowest GPA.  That's just the way it works. 

There are multiple web-sites where they detail the incoming stats of 1Ls and you should try plugging in a 2.4 gpa and 155 on the LSAT and see what that gets you.  The LSAC site doesn't paint a rosy picture, but it paints a far rosier picture than it should.  Supposing you ace the LSAT, you'll be an "extreme splitter" and those are the students who these predictors do the worst job of predicting on.  (As an example, I am also a splitter.  I put in my numbers and the site gave me a 40% at CWRU.  When I submitted my application, they rejected me, outright.  So, just because the site says you're at, say, 35%, that's a long ways away from saying that 1/3 of the entering class has worse credentials than you do.)

Pursue this if it's your dream, but be aware:  even though it seems like everybody and their cousin has a law degree, the percentage of attorneys who got a 2.4 in undergrad is almost imperceptibly small.

I don't mean to discourage, but just to give you a little reality-check before you spend 3 years and a hundred grand pursuing a federal judge position that is highly likely to be nearly impossible for you to get.

Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2011, 04:09:54 PM »
I don't mean to discourage, but just to give you a little reality-check before you spend 3 years and a hundred grand pursuing a federal judge position that is highly likely to be nearly impossible for you to get.

Falcon's advice is worth pondering seriously.  I too don't like to focus on closed doors, and there are always (or nearly always) second chances.  Were you to be the first in your class (even at a 4th-tier law school), a judgeship would indeed become a more realistic opportunity.

Here's a test.  (Seriously.)  If you've not yet read Planet Law School, read that.  It's about as raw a look at law school as there is.  Then, if I might, read my own book, Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold, which provides not nearly as dark a picture but looks seriously as well at the question of whether law school is right for you and, if so, how to go about it.  You don't even need to read them in full.  Just scan them. 

Okay.  Do you still have the same thoughts?  Do you *love* the idea of law school?  Do you see no other career possibility that fills you with an absolute insistance that this is the one for you?  Are you willing to go back and read the books, word for word, twice, and implement at least parts of the advice therein?

If you answer in the affirmative, and if you spend a month following through, the answer to your original question is much, much closer to "Yes."

For all, law school is not about effort.  Sure, it takes effort, but not nearly as much as most assume.  Lots of students burn out long before exams, and nearly everyone does less well than they should because of how they approach law school and preparation for exams.  So, to a large degree, the same question should be asked for everyone.  After all, even if you don't want to be a judge, being in that realm means that you're in a lot of other good realms too . . . and those will depend, to a large degree, on how well you approached law school.  (Note:  Not "how much effort you put in," but how *well* you approached it.)  The best law students look like athletes--it looks almost easy.  (Note 2:  It actually is easier, and more fun, the right way.)



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Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2011, 04:44:53 PM »
May I suggest Cooley Law school in Michigan (also Tampa Bay, FL soon).  Sure, they are an T-1, but you can always transfer after L-1.

Good luck to you!


Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2012, 01:48:26 AM »
I am in the same boat.  I say, screw it all and just prepare as well as you can for the LSAT.  There's no need to think about what percentage of the population you are being compared to.  Just study and take it as if you had a 3.9 GPA.  That is what I intend to do: try.  And if I get a good LSAT score and still don't get in, so be it.  And if I get a bad LSAT score and of course, don't get in, so be it.  But I tried.  It's just 3-5 months of preparation in your life, which should hopefully last 60-80 years.  It's not a long time. 

I kept thinking about it and being a prisoner to my GPA--for years--and seeing my best friends go to law school and being midst their crowd and feeling inferior and longing to be in school and knowing that I have the wits to succeed in it, and knowing that my 2.4 does not reflect my academic ability (and knowing that this is a run-on sentence)...I can't die knowing I just kept thinking about it.  Just buckle down, do the best you can with the LSAT and things will pan out from there.  But are you truly going to lie on your death bed one day and say you never took the LSAT or sought a law career because some person on the internet made it seem like a horrible impossibility?  I think not.

Those are the demonic voices in your head, the same ones that brought you here to ask that.  You don't need anyone's opinions really, although some are definitely helpful.  In the end, just go for it.  Good luck to us :)

Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2012, 10:59:43 AM »
You may not be screwed, but with a 2.4 GPA there are some things you should consider before going if you do get accepted.
I attend a T4.  While it may be easy to get in, the attrition rates are high because they are admitting students with either low LSAT's or low GPA's that either shouldn't be in law school or just don't want to put in the hours of study.  My situation was the opposite of yours.  A good GPA, but a lower LSAT score. 
Law school is definitely doable, and many people succeed but it is a lot of work and takes up a lot of time - especially for those of us trying to prove ourselves at a T4.  I am currently in my second semester and we lost about 16% of the class and will loose more after this semester.  The people who did not return were mostly people who didn't put in extra time for study. 
A 2.4 doesn't mean you're not smart, but admissions committees will want to know why it's not higher.  You will not have the time you did in undergrad to party, go to concerts, etc.  There is a real misconception with some about the actual amount of work that is expected of you.  So ask yourself if you really are prepared to give up happy hour, and your Saturday nights out til 4am.  It's not that you have NO free time, but there is very little free time and this reality for T4 students usually does them in.  The first year is overwhelming because you really don't know what you are doing and your goal should be to make it to your next semester - which is harder than you think.  It really is a marathon and once you get back your first exam you'll see exactly what I mean.  If you really are ready and willing to put the hours in, then go for it.  But before you waste money on your first semester, you should have a long talk with yourself about whether or not you really want to be a lawyer and what you are willing/not willing to sacrifice to get there.  Good luck!


Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2012, 02:02:06 PM »
Online law school take many that even T-4 will not.

Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2012, 10:27:14 PM »
No, you're not screwed, but be realistic about your future. The people I know who went to T3-T4 law schools and were happy and successful were those who entered law school with their eyes wide open. Your chances of obtaining a federal judicial appointment would be slim even if you went to Harvard. So don't worry about it, and set your sights on realistic, achievable goals.

Study hard and crush the LSAT, and you can get into a T3, maybe even a T2. State court judges are often grads of T3 and T4 law schools, having worked their way up the ranks of the DA or PD's offices. In my area lots of the judges are La Verne, Western State, and Southwestern grads for example. So are many of the prosecutors and successful small firm/solo practitioners. I argued my first case before a judge who graduated from a non-ABA school.

If you choose to attend law school in order to become a federal judge or biglaw partner, you will be disappointed. Contrary to what you will hear from almost everyone else here, attending a lower ranked law school is not the kiss of death unless you have unrealistic expectations to begin with. Keep in mind that many of the people offering advice have little or no experience in the actual practice of law.

Be realistic, work hard, make meaningful connections, and you'll be alright.


Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2012, 11:24:53 AM »
That must be kind of cool being a judge from a non-aba school breaking in (or showing people their place) who are aba grads. "but I went to harvard, I'll cry to my daddy if I lose......" :'(


Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2012, 12:04:16 PM »
Jimmy, in his usual eloquent way of having his cake and eating it too, is right and kind of right-  You still can do it.  Most schools (understand each school does it differently and only a few actually disclose their formula) weigh the LSAT 2/3s and the UGPA 1/3 at the front door before they start considering the softs.  Meaning you are, somewhat ironically, in a better situation than someone who has a high UGPA, but can't score well on a standardized test on a stressed Saturday afternoon - the LSAT is key to law admissions.

I'm not an admissions officer, but I would assume getting a second bachelor's is pointless from a law admissions point of view.  A master's is a stronger, still not as influential as you'd think, but developmental rather than an uncounted do over (i.e. stagnant).

Thane mentioned Law School Undercover somewhere.  I read it as well and the author addresses this issue directly.  I believe the suggestion was a fast master's (done in about a year) in a field like Econ (Econ Master's programs aren't super common, but there are plenty of good programs out there, like MBA).  I think s/he was emphasizing a fast cosmetic fix to a poor UGPA- not perfect, but helpful.  I do remember s/he specifically wrote, "do not get a Master's in Social Work", not sure I can see the angle there- there are JD/MSW joint degrees for people who provide legal services to mental patients, hospitals, children, the poor, etc. But the author does not quantify the comment, sadly.

Check  There are obviously erroneous numbers there, but most are probably legit.  There are applicants that have gotten into respectable schools with horrifyingly low UGPA (I can rem one had a 2.2, but a very high LSAT and got into a good school, maybe GTLC, but I can't really remember.  Look around- it has been done.

The point is, its doable.  Even if Jimmy is right and a low UGPA is a result of slacking or poor academic ability, its still doable- we all can learn and change. Einstein failed math, Poe was kicked out of UVA in undergrad and look what they accomplished in their careers. 

Not trying to blow smoke up you ass, but your UGPA isn't as definitive as some people would like to think and admissions people know that.  You sill have to compensate in some way, but it can be done.  Good luck. 


Re: am i screwed?
« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2012, 02:43:44 PM »
Neither Einstein or Poe were lawyers.