Law School Discussion

Considering Law School

Considering Law School
« on: April 09, 2014, 01:18:39 AM »
I haven't taken the LSATs and I'm about to finish my undergrad in a few months with an overall GPA of about a 3.2 (last 60 credits average GPA was a 3.68, however).  I'm expecting an LSAT in the mid-160s, but let's not count eggs before they've hatched.

That being said, I don't plan on going into law to become a lawyer.  My main goal, if I attended in Fall 2015, would be to go into the corporate world and use my J.D. as a basis for that career, eventually moving into entrepreneurial ventures.  Also on my radar is going into political work like lobbying and, once again, being an entrepreneur eventually. 

I'm fortunate enough to not have to worry about paying for law school so financing law school wouldn't be a problem.  My main concern is the warning I get from current J.D. students that people will think there's "something wrong with you" because I chose not to practice law or that I'm "too flaky" to be a lawyer, thus resulting in less job opportunities.  Granted, these concerns wouldn't be much of an issue if I was self-employed, so mostly I'm wondering if getting this law degree would be too much wasted time and if it wouldn't end up benefiting me in the long-run.  I personally couldn't imagine a law degree not coming in handy for either political or corporate jobs, but what do I know--I'm an undergrad.

Any kind of information on people who have taken this path or any of your opinions on it would be beneficial.

Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2014, 07:44:11 AM »
As usual, I'm only an anonymous internet poster. You should assume that I and other posters on this forum are by no means qualified to comment. You should simply take our perspectives as just that, a perspective. Factor this in to your end decision with your own judgement...

FYI - mid 160s on the LSAT is hard. By no means is it impossible, but expectionally difficult. Further, these scores are typically attained by people with much higher GPAs (not always, but certainly more often than not). I'm not saying this to be mean, but I am trying to express reality so you can prepare accordingly. I'm sure you certainly can get a 165+, but I promise you it will be far more difficult than you probably think.

There are plenty of professions outside the scope of being a direct attorney that would benefit from a legal education. The ones you have expressed interest in are exactly those kinds of professions. Further, a JD will not in of itself make you seem wishy-washy if you don't pursue a career as an attorney. How you present your JD, and your perspective before, during, and after your JD will dictate this "wishy-washy"-ness. You should have strong, thoroughly researched and thought out reasons for your academic pursuits. So long as these are coming from an open, honest place, you will be fine (and probably in a better place than peers because of it).

One significant issue with a JD degree is that, if what you do afterwards will not benefit at all from a legal education AND it will not pay enough to cover your debt, then you are completely wasting your time, money, and energy. However, you are pursuing careers that would benefit from a legal education AND, from what is sounds like, won't have any real debt. You will be fine. But do some more research. What are the promotion/salary increases you could expect with a JD compared to without it. Is it worth it?

Depending on your undergrad degree and specific career prospects, I would look into JD/MBA programs. I would then supplement that with public policy courses and what not. I would also sit with people in hiring positions and/or positions you are interested in snagging to get their perspective.

Good luck!

Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2014, 07:09:28 PM »
I do not think anyone should attend law school if they do not intend to practice law. You can get into politics, lobbying, etc without a law degree and spending three years of the prime of your career development obtaining a degree in something your not interested in doing seems like a waste of time.

It is true a law degree will not hurt you, but neither would attending medical school,  having six pack abs, or volunteering 30 hours a week at the soup kitchen. You can do all kinds of things with your time, but it is not unlimited and three intense years spent learning something you are not interested in does not seem like the best use of your time.

That is my two cents, but I am an anonymous internet poster so take my advice with a grain of salt.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

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Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2014, 07:18:10 AM »
I generally agree with Citylaw, but will take a different approach here.

Why do some law school graduates never “practice” law? I can answer this question from my own professional experience. Throughout the course of my 35+ year career, my law degree has provided me the opportunity to enjoy a range of different, interesting, challenging . . .  and occasionally profitable . . . professional opportunities. Of course, none have been as rewarding as serving as dean of MCL!

I must admit that I didn’t attend law school with the intention of practicing law in a traditional law firm setting. My first interest was politics, but after internships in state and national congressional offices . . . let’s just say I grew out of that phase. Early in my career, I practiced law as an Asst. State Attorney General. I enjoyed the public policy aspects of the work and the collegiality of working in a legal team environment. However, with an interest in economics and marketing, and a booming economy at the time, I was drawn towards the broader challenges and opportunities in the private business sector. As a management consultant, venture capitalist, public company executive, and entrepreneur, I put my legal education to great use . . .  even though I wasn’t “practicing law.”

One of the most valuable aspects of a legal education is the versatility of the training and the opportunity to integrate it into so many different professions. As a management consultant, I developed a niche practice of law firm consulting, working with individual lawyers and large firms to develop professional marketing plans. This lead me into CLE training for lawyers and eventually back into the law school classroom as a law professor in the areas of law office management, legal ethics, and law-related technology.

To bring the story full circle, it turns out that a combination of law, business, and legal education experience is also a great combination for law school administration . . . and here I am!

So to answer the question, “why do some law school graduates never practice law” . . . I would say that it is because some of us got too busy using our legal education.

Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2014, 10:38:18 PM »
Not sure if I should reply or start a new thread but I got my June LSAT score back and got a 171!!!  ;D ;D 8) Sorry, I'm not gloating, I'm just happy with the score. 

So with a 171/3.0, are there any T14 schools I have a modest shot at? I'm fighting an uphill battle to get in one, but it's worth asking.

Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2014, 08:14:30 AM »

It will be an uphill battle. At this point, all you can do it blow them away with your application. Write killer essays and make your resume tight and sparkly. Get on that asap. The earlier you apply, the better. Applications should have opened up already (or will soon). But don't send it in until your essays and what not are perfect. Do anything you can to give yourself a leg up.

Also, make sure to address your GPA issue in an addendum. PS should not talk about this directly. Make w/e happened in undergrad look like a positive thing.

Finally, present yourself. Go to as many open house/preview weekend things you can get to.

In the end, that GPA will be difficult to overcome. The only way to do so is to present yourself in the best light, and that is done in the application.

You are almost there!

Good luck!

Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2014, 10:15:33 AM »
Congratulations on a great LSAT score!

As a splitter it's hard to predict where you will get into. All you can do is apply and see what happens.

The truly elite schools (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc) are probably out based on your GPA. For those schools a 171 is pretty average, but your GPA is low. For some of the still very respected but not exactly elite schools (UCLA, Texas, Vanderbilt, etc) a 171 may be enough to get in even with a lower GPA.

Here's one other option to consider: using your LSAT to obtain a full scholarship somewhere. I don't know where you are located or where you intend to practice, but this might be a really good option. For example, I live and work in southern California. If I had a choice between a $150,000 debt from UCLA or a free degree from Loyola, I would seriously consider the free degree. You have to consider your long term goals and whether or not a T14 degree is necessary to accomplish those goals.

Good Luck! 

Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2014, 04:59:13 PM »
Awesome 171 is an amazing score.

As to your question with a 3.0/171 you are a major splitter and it is hard to predict if you would get into a T14 school. I encourage you to use to see your chances.

With that said do not get to caught up in rankings remember these change year by year. Consider location, cost, personal feelings about the school etc.

From your orignal post it sounds like you want to be in the corporate or start-up world. To do that you really want to be in New York, Bay Area, L.A, and maybe Chicago.

Applying that logic to the rankings although University of Texas is a Top 15 school right now, if you wanted to be in L.A. attending U.S.C, which is ranked 23 this year would be far better to attend if you want to work in L.A. If you want to be in New York although Fordham is ranked 36th that will open more doors in New York than Texas, which is ranked 15.

Here is a list of the top 100 law schools and you can see how drastically school ranks change year by year. Remember U.S. News is a magazine offering an opinion nothing more nothing less, use common sense when choosing a law school and don't attend University of Virginia if you want to live in work in L.A.

Again, congrats on the great LSAT score.

Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2014, 08:33:43 PM »
The truly elite schools (Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc) are probably out based on your GPA. For those schools a 171 is pretty average, but your GPA is low. For some of the still very respected but not exactly elite schools (UCLA, Texas, Vanderbilt, etc) a 171 may be enough to get in even with a lower GPA.

I definitely agree that the top 5 to maybe even 10 are out based on GPA so my reach is probably limited to Northwestern or Michigan  as the best I could possibly do (Michigan is #9 currently, but you know what I mean).  Even with that my odds are very low, but I might as well try.  For sake of argument I'll call them my "dream" schools because even though I moved to DC two months ago I would definitely leave for an acceptance letter.  I'm from the midwest and I imagine myself eventually in Chicago doing corporate law, but I could see myself staying on the east coast or possibly in LA or Miami (as a film studies minor and sports fan I have an interest in entertainment law). 

My much more realistic, but still reach, schools are what you recommended: Vandy, Texas, UCLA, and Georgetown, with my target schools ranging from George Washington, Minnesota, Notre Dame, USC, and Boston University to Boston College and Fordham.  I'm fortunate enough not to have to worry about paying for law school, however I'm sure my parents would appreciate not paying as much--regardless of their financial position.  A school like SMU, George Mason, Miami, Loyola Chicago and most definitely American may reward me for choosing them.  Besides, worse fates have become people that have graduated those schools  ;) However, I'm sure many of you would agree that those degrees don't travel quite as well.

I think a lot is going to depend upon the quality of the applicant pool this year, my personal statement, my overall resume, recommendations, and interviews.  I wouldn't be surprised to see accepts and rejects from each tier--even my "safety" schools.

Does anyone have any recommendations on how to broach the topic of my GPA? I've heard it recommended I submit an addendum with an explanation for the lower grades in my early years and the subsequent, drastic improvement, but avoid mentioning it in my personal statement.

Re: Considering Law School
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2014, 10:18:27 PM »