Law School Discussion

3.1...LSAT??? What are my chances?

3.1...LSAT??? What are my chances?
« on: February 14, 2014, 09:15:31 PM »
I graduate with my undergrad in December. I have 8 withdrawals on my transcript (none of them WF's) and a 3.1 overall. Not very impressive but I am planning on Law School. In researching schools, there seems to be a huge career difference between the top 25 schools and the next 30 or so schools. Is there any chance of getting into the top 25? Does it actually matter?

Re: 3.1...LSAT??? What are my chances?
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2014, 12:31:30 AM »
Short Response...

1) Can you get into a top 25 with a 3.1 GPA: Yes.

2) Does rank matter: Sort of yes, sort of no.

Longer Response...

1) Admissions are based on several factors. The two biggest factors are the "hard" factors, your Undergraduate GPA and LSAT Score. Depending on the school, you can expect for at least 2/3 of the decision to be based on those hard factors (if not far more). If your hard factors place you as a borderline candidate, "soft" factors will end up determining the admissions decision. Soft factors include everything else other than your gpa and lsat. This includes your personal statement, application, letters of recommendation, other essays, class rank, major, resume, work experience, graduate school, extra curricular activities, etc. Perhaps the biggest soft factor is if you are an under represented minority (URM). If you are, this can end up giving you a huge leniency/boost in your LSAT score.

So in your situation with a 3.1 GPA... if you are not a URM, you will most likely need a LSAT at least in the 170+ range to have strong shot for a top 25. Note that this represents the 98th percentile. You may be able to squeeze in to a lower top 25 school with a bit of a lower lsat... maybe. Now, if you are a true URM, so long as you are in the mid 160s, you should stand a good shot at some top 25.

Here are a few great resources to gauge the likelihood of your acceptance:

2) Does ranking really matter?

So US News Ranking is based on several different factors. Some of these factors include subjective measures. For instance, US News will send out polls to attorneys asking them to state what they feel the strongest schools are (ie reputation). Other factors are much more measurable, like employment statistics, bar passage rates, salary expectations, etc. There are then the factors that seem a bit pompous, like how "selective" is the school (the % of people that apply that get accepted), the % of people that get accepted that matriculate, etc.

All in all, ranking is a helpful, general guideline for researching schools - but you shouldn't blindly (nor significantly) base your law school decision on ranking. For instance, regional pull is a huge factor. A school located in the mid west that is ranked somewhere in the 30s is probably going to do very little for a lawyer that wants to work in south florida... In this situation, a law school in south florida, even if ranked in the 100+, may be a smarter move if you wanted to work in south florida.

Now, the one sector of law that your entrance into would heavily be influenced by your school's rank is BigLaw. Big Law are the - wait for it - big law firms. These generally are the jobs that pay the big bucks (starting salaries deep in the 100k with %8+ increases each year). The higher your schools rank, the stronger of a shot you have at landing a job there. You can still get into a BigLaw firm by going to a lower ranked school, however, you will have to finish higher in your class rank. For example, if you went to UMiami (ranked 76th I believe), you basically need to been in the top 1% of the class just to have the glimmer of a shot - and even then you will be limited to BigLaw firms in Miami. Now, if you went to Yale (ranked 1st), so long as you graduate, you can have any job you want, anywhere you want it.

Generally speaking, the elite schools are generally thought to be the Top 14 schools with maybe the addition of Vanderbilt. These schools are nationally thought of (not just regionally) as go-to schools. If there was a more specific breakdown, it would probably be... The top 3, top 6/7, top 10, top 14 (with maybe vanderbilt included), top 30, top 50, top 100, and the rest.

A great resource for deciding on a particular school is:

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Good luck!

Re: 3.1...LSAT??? What are my chances?
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2014, 04:35:57 AM »
Thanks! Great advice. I appreciate you taking the time to respond and leave some helpful links as well.

Re: 3.1...LSAT??? What are my chances?
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2014, 11:44:06 AM »
Of course - thats what we are here for!

Also note that your Undergraduate GPA may not be the GPA that schools base their decision on. LSAC (the organization between you and law schools) have their own way of scoring and scaling. Law school predictor also has a GPA calculator that will predict this LSAC UGPA.

I think the big takeaway for law school is that you don't have to go to a top ranking school to have a great career. Just make sure that your debt is kept as low as possible.

Finally, all of this info is great - but I think everyone on this forum would highly recommend you focusing 100% of your efforts right now on prepping for the LSAT. Don't worry about anything else - just focus on getting as strong of a score on that test. There are plenty of great prep tips here on this forum.

Good Luck!

Re: 3.1...LSAT??? What are my chances?
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2014, 12:49:49 PM »
Miami88 has already offered excellent advice, I just wanted to add that until you have an actual LSAT score everything is speculative. The LSAT is such a huge factor in law school admissions that without knowing exactly where you stand all you can do is guess.

With a 3.1 and a very high LSAT score (say, 170ish) you may be able to get into a few of the lower Top 25.

Here's something to consider, however. There is nothing magical about a school being in the Top 25. Some of those schools (like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford) are elite, internationally recognized institutions and the pedigree alone is a huge benefit.

However, not all Top 25 schools are created the same. Some, like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford are truly elite schools and the pedigree alone is a huge benefit. Others are more like very good regional schools. Regardless of their inclusion on a made up list of schools they will never have the same cache as the truly elite schools.

When it comes to those schools, I'm not sure that the employment outlook is necessarily all that much better than the next tier of schools. Also, look closely at the employment data. Schools at the middle to bottom of the Top 25 are likely to have employment prospects which are much more localized than the elite schools.

For example, I think Emory is now in the coveted Top 25. that does not mean that firms from LA, NYC, and Washington D.C. are flocking to Atlanta to hire graduates. I can tell you that in my hometown of LA, a Loyola or Pepperdine grad with good grades would probably have a better chance at getting hired than an Emory grad with average grades, maybe even with very good grades.

So, even if you're admitted to some school that is ranked somewhere in the Top 25, but it's not a Harvard/Yale type place, you still need to think about location and cost.

Hope that helps, and Good Luck!

Re: 3.1...LSAT??? What are my chances?
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2014, 03:56:51 AM »
Thanks again!

Re: 3.1...LSAT??? What are my chances?
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2014, 03:24:18 PM »
Great advice by everyone above and I just want to add to it. First of just to be realistic if you have a 3.1 GPA odds are you are not going to score in the top 10% of LSAT test takers, which is what you need to even have a chance at a top 25 school. Nothing personal, but just a 90% chance you will not finish in the top 10% of test takers, particularly if you did not excel in undergrad.

I had a 3.1 UGPA myself and did well enough on the LSAT to be accepted to several ABA schools with scholarships. However, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia were not on the list. Despite not attending those schools I graduated from law school and passed the bar exam. I am now a City Attorney and love my job.

I think your next step is to take the LSAT as suggested and then you will know your options. It would be great if you came away with a 180 LSAT score, but it is unlikely that will happen. I expect you will get between 150-160, which is still a good score and with a 3.1 and 150-160 LSAT score you will have options.

However, simply graduating law school will not guarantee success and you will have to work for it. There are plenty of successful lawyers from every ABA school and plenty that never make it. The reality is whether you make it in the legal profession or not will have a lot more to do with you than the law school you attend.

As for top 25 schools does it make a difference? Sort of, obviously Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc will open doors that Gonzaga law school won't. However, once you get out of the ELITE schools it doesn't matter much and your personality, work ethic, and dedication will be what is necessary to succeed.