Law School Discussion

Good enough soft factor?

Good enough soft factor?
« on: June 06, 2013, 07:48:11 PM »
I am 28 years old, I have 14 years of hospitality experience. 10 of which are in management. I wrote a business plan, raised capital and started my own business when I was 26 years old. My 1st company grosses 2 million/year with a 30% profit margin. Business was in the black in 9 months. I purchased a second company 1 year later which I am turning around. I currently employ 30 full time employees and the business is growing steadily. My business has won many awards and is very highly rated in the industry where I am located. (one of the most competitive cities in the country for this industry) took the LSAT once, 155, gpa 2.89. Worked 3 jobs, 60-70hrs a week, to put myself through school in 4 years. Suggestions for law schools? Possibly a part time or 2 year program, I may start another business that I will run during law school, so larger markets are preferred. Possibly San Diego, Chicago, Nashville, Austin, Dallas, Portland, Seattle, or Houston.

Please excuse grammar or punctuation, I wrote this on an iPad and I'm too impatient to correct errors on it.

Re: Good enough soft factor?
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2013, 08:37:21 PM »
Having a successful business is a solid soft factor, but law school admissions are highly geared on numbers. If you started a multi-million dollar company that is something that would catch the eye of an admissions committee, but again check out and you will just how much of a numbers game law school admissions is.

There are also no ABA two year programs law school needs to be three or more years. Southwestern law school in L.A. might have some specialty program and with your numbers you could probably get in there. You also probably will not be able to manage this large of a business and get through law school. I knew many people in law school that tried the part-time program and had just 9-5 jobs and failed out. They were not dumb, but law school is very time intensive probably more so than any other form of education.

I have to ask what your motivation for law school is as well. I loved law school, but I do not know how you could manage 30 employees and an entire company while learning the intricacies of interpleader or the rule against perpetuities. Feel free to prove me wrong, but I think you either have to choose law school or your business.

Good luck with your decision.

Re: Good enough soft factor?
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2013, 09:19:39 PM »
Thank you for your reply livinglegend!

I do have a business partner, and he has offered to pick up the slack while I am away because it will be beneficial to our business. Also, we have modeled this business to be operational without our constant supervision. It isn't there yet, but we are very close. We are looking to expand to other cities and my business partner would run the one where I go to law school as well. I will be more of a watchful eye, rather than a day to day operator while in school. We have had some serious setbacks due to attorneys (our own), which could have been avoided, had I been more knowledgeable. The dollar amount that these mistakes have cost us already is at least equal to a 3 year law school education. However, I do not want to waste time on a poor education. I should have restated my question to whether my soft factors are good enough to get me into any T1 program that has a higher than usual emphasis on soft factors, specifically business oriented soft factors. Job prospects, scholarships, and region are less important to me than quality of the education, as I will not be pursuing a legal career and my business will pay the tuition costs.

Re: Good enough soft factor?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2013, 12:37:44 AM »
Well one thing to know is that there is no subpar legal education honestly at any ABA law school you learn the same thing. Your first year will consist of torts, contracts, civil procedure, property, and con-law, crim pro. In these courses you will read Supreme Court cases such as Pennoyer v. Neff in Civ Pro ,   Palsgraff in torts, Hadley v. Baxendale in Contracts, etc, etc. The supreme court does not write different opinions for different schools. I know as a 0L I put far to much emphasis into what U.S. News Rankings thought about law schools and there is no bigger mistake you can make than that. Obviously Harvard or Yale has prestige, but what you learn at any ABA school is for all intensive purposes is the same.

One thing to realize when choosing law schools is that U.S. News is a for-profit, unregulated, magazine offering an opinion nothing more nothing less. They ranked Alberqueue, New Mexico as the best place to live. Citation I don't see New Mexico as one of your options and I don't think U.S. News saying New Mexico is best place to live will change your life plans. Use the same common sense when choosing a law school I cannot stress that enough.

When I was a OL I really thought there was so much more to law school, but in the end you learn the law at every schoo. l I have worked with Harvard Law Grads and T4 Grads some are good some are bad, but it has a lot more to do with the person than the school they attended and any one that graduates and passes the bar knows the basics of Pre-Emption, Offer & Acceptance in a contract, Notice for a lawsuit, so on and so on. Bottom line is any ABA school will teach you the law just fine so if you really want to pursue a legal education and continue running a business you need to look for part-time programs in a location you can succeed in. In law school you will be in the City for the school is located for three years and spending three years in Houston, Texas will be a lot different than three years in Chicago.

Also realize that U.S. News law school ranking change drastically year to year. My law school was 78th when I started it went to 64th then dropped into an 11 way tie for 84th my third year. Then into the 100's then back into the 80's and I will tell you nothing changed at the school for better or worse.

I think knowing the law will be very helpful your business, but I can't stress enough the fallacies of making a life altering decision based on a for-profit, unregulated, magazine. Again good luck whatever you decide.

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Re: Good enough soft factor?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2013, 08:01:04 AM »
took the LSAT once, 155, gpa 2.89

The direct answer to your question is that with your statistics, there is no T14 law school that will care about your work experience enough to overcome what are considered median or below scores/grades. In fact, your statement that you don't really want to practice law will be seen as "an admission against interest" for most (maybe all) of the elite schools. You have a great story for an MBA program, not a law program.

OK, so what to do? Since you have asked for advice, a couple of thoughts:

1. You have missed the 2013 cycle for the elite ABA law schools and your current LSAT/UGPA are too low anyway. You can't change the grades, but you can change the LSAT. Use the next year to apply the same energy and discipline that was successful in business to actually prepare for the LSAT and raise your score 15 points. A 170 and strong "softs" at least gives you some chance of getting into a "top" law school.

2. Forget the elite law school route. Your current score/GPA will still get you in this year to a number of ABA law schools that are still taking applications because admission numbers are significantly down (as much as 30% at some schools). Time is ticking and you are within a few weeks of missing it altogether so you would need to get your act together quickly. California would provide the most choices because there are so many law schools (21 ABA and 18 California accredited schools).

3. Since it sounds like you are mobile, consider one of the CBE (California accredited) law schools. They cater to non traditional law students just like you. They have evening only classes that would allow you to continue involvement in your current business or start a new one. Since your business interests are in hospitality, you could pick from locations in high-end hospitality markets such as Monterey/Carmel and Santa Barbara . . . urban markets such as LA, San Francisco, Sacramento . . . or high-tech markets such as San Jose. All of these schools are still taking 2013 applications, but they are also in the last few weeks of their cycle.

Hope this helps.

Re: Good enough soft factor?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2013, 01:57:37 PM »
Job prospects, scholarships, and region are less important to me than quality of the education, as I will not be pursuing a legal career and my business will pay the tuition costs.

I completely understand your concerns, but let me make a few suggestions. If you are not going to practice law then you may want to consider limiting the cost of your J.D. The fact is, the education you receive at any of the ABA schools to which you're likely to gain admission is going to be nearly identical.

Legal education has been standardized to large degree, in fact that's the one of the advantages of attending an ABA approved law school. In order to achieve accreditation the schools have to meet a laundry list of academic, financial and administrative criteria. They all follow the Socratic method, they all follow the case method, and you will read the exact same textbooks and discuss the exact same salient legal points at just about any ABA school. The same can probably be said for the California accredited (CBE) schools, too. 

Of course, some schools are more prestigious than others but that isn't because the teaching is necessarily better or because they utilize a different method. Prestige has more to do with selectivity in admissions and the school's "aura", which is difficult to define or replicate. I remember that my evidence professor once showed us an evidence exam from Harvard law school. I was struck by the fact that it was very similar to the exam that I took at my local ABA school, definitely not more difficult.

With a 2.89/155 you're not going to be in the running for any of the elite law schools anyway (not trying to be rude, just pointing out a fact). The schools you do gain admission to will be ones with local or regional reputations, and will be on about the same level of prestige. Therefore, it probably isn't worth accruing the extra expense to attend a non-elite out of state school unless you really want to live in that particular city for three or four years. 

Lastly, remember that a given school is not necessarily going to be viewed as a superior institution simply because it is ranked as T1. Many T1 schools have decent local reputations but are largely unknown outside of their immediate region. In many cases a cheap local T2-T4 degree is just about as useful as an out of state T1 degree. Don't let the USNWR rankings scheme drive your decision making process, and take the time to understand it's limitations.