Law School Discussion

Advice on applying to Tier 4 Law Schools or doing an additional year of college

Hi all,

I am new to this site but as you can see from the title above I have questions regarding attending a 4 tier law school next fall or doing an additional year of college to raise my GPA. I am an older (early 30s) student who is a military spouse and mother. I have taken the LSAT once and scored 165 however my GPA is currently in the lower 2's. I know everyone is going to say "Well you are not fit with those grades" however I'd like to explain. To make a long story short my husband and I gained full custody of his children from his first marriage. When I say I was not ready for that responsibility I mean that. I really didn't comprehend how emotionally fragile the kids were and how much time and energy that was required to get them to a place of normal functioning .This was especially true having a husband who was literally sent on deployment less than a month after we got custody. For a year and a half I went through depression and an emotional breakdown. I shouldn't have taken classes at that time but I was so caught up on trying to finish school before I turned the BIG 30 that I grew impatient and piled too many things on my plate.

My first question is now that I am back on track and my GPA is slowly rising, should I take my last 8 classes, graduate next summer and then apply to a low ranked law school. Or, should I add a minor to raise my GPA, retake my LSAT and apply to a mid ranked school?

My second question is does attending any tier of law school matter if the ultimate goal is to work for self and obtain an LLM in Taxation ?

Side note - I have a background in the field so this is not a pipe dream for me.

Thanks for all responses. I really appreciate it.

1) GPA

First off, know that LSAC looks at all grades up until you receive your first bachelor's degree. So, if you are trying to raise your GPA, you can only do so before you get that bachelor's degree. Also note they will take into account grades from undergraduate coursework prior to your bachelors.

So, if you can take a few extra courses to boost your GPA prior to graduation, great... BUT, you have to figure out just how big of a bump you will POTENTIALLY get. If we are talking about .5 of a boost, okay... but if its just a 100th of a decimal... probably not going to do much.

And is that 165 a legit LSAT score or a practice score? A 165 + stellar addendum + stellar upward grade trend + lousy GPA is still going to be more than good enough to get you into good law schools - maybe even some money... Lower ranked schools may be willing to look past the GPA b/c of the big boost your LSAT score would give them. And if you have a recent history of strong academic performance, your GPA shouldn't scare them off (that you will drop/flunk out and thereby drop their ranking).

I don't know enough about LLMs to be of much help.

Good luck!


Thanks for your response. 165 is my legit score. Your response makes me feel better. I am new to this so forgive me but after reading a few sites, I was under the impression I needed to have as close to a 180 as humanly possible with my GPA. I have to stay local because of my kids and my husband's orders so I only have very limited options for school. I think with a lower 2 GPA the numbers would move faster than if I was closer to a 4.0. All the work I would do would be prior to obtaining my first undergraduate degree. In all fairness, anything that is upward from where my current GPA is would be great. I would just prefer to get undergrad done and move on to the next chapter as quickly as possible.

You can get into a number of schools with 2.something GPA and a 165 LSAT score.

With that said there is nothing wrong with a Tier 4 school, and they can open a lot of doors.

When choosing a law school it comes down to the following factors in this order (1) Location; (2) Cost; (3) Personal Feelings about school; (4) Understanding the reality of legal education; and (5) Last and Least U.S. News Rankings.
Remember U.S. News Rankings is nothing more than a for-profit unregulated magazine opinion offering an opinion, and you should not make a life altering choice of where to attend law school based on it.

Then if your ultimate goal is to attend an LLM in taxation the rank of your school does not matter at law, you just need to graduate then seek an LLM. If that is your ultimate goal attend a law school that offers a taxation in LLM. I know New York, San Francisco, and L.A. have schools that offer LLM in taxation.

With that said here is a great article to read when choosing a law school.

As the previous posters have stated, a 165 LSAT is enough to get you into many law schools even with a lower GPA. Top ranked schools will be out, but it should be sufficient for lower ranked schools.

As far as whether or not you should take additional classes to raise your GPA, it depends on much it will actually change. I doubt if eight additional classes would make much difference. The fact is, a school that isn't going to accept someone with a 2.5 (regardless of LSAT) probably isn't going to accept someone with a 2.7 either.

165 is a good LSAT score, and I'd be wary of retaking unless you really believe you'll do better. You may score lower on a retake.

Here's something you need to consider, no matter where you go:

I was a non-trad student and went to law school while juggling kids and a mortgage. It is an unbelievably difficult grind. Law school makes undergrad look like a joke. The amount of work you will be required to do just to maintain a C average (especially the first year) is overwhelming at first. Your LSAT score indicates that you have the intellectual capability to succeed, but you need to make sure that the obstacles that interfered with your undergrad GPA are resolved before you start.

If you can't dedicate yourself 100% to law school, it won't turn out well. I'm not saying this to be negative, but I have first hand experience with the rigors of balancing law school with other competing obligations. It's something to consider before dropping $30-40k on year's tuition.

You may want to look at part time programs. I went to law school at night and completed my JD in four years instead of three. It's more like 3/4 time instead of part time, but it helps.

Make sure your family is totally on board with the idea, and understands the time commitment you will be required to make. I think a lot of people think they understand what it means, but really don't. Your weekends, holidays, and every spare minute you have will be spent preparing for class and exams. Having a supportive family is very important.

Good Luck with your decision and feel free to message me if you have any questions.   

I agree with the above. All I have to add is that a part-time may program may be the best way to go, as you still have a family to consider. Many law students in full-time programs are straight from undergrad or a year or two out and don't have kids. They will be your competition.

A part-time program, in addition to better suiting a family lifestyle, may understand your situation during undergrad better and allow you to attend a higher-ranked school than if you attend a full-time program. It is well-known that for schools with both full-time and part-time JD programs, the part-time programs have less stringent admissions requirements. Some students that desire to then switch to the full-time program and make up the credits over the summer. I wouldn't recommend this, but if you find that you have extra time as a 1L(!!) then you could consider it.


I am going to ignore every aspect of this EXCEPT the 10,000 lbs elephant in the room


Unless you are in an online program your husband will more likely than not be at risk of having to relocate during your time in law school (the odds of this double if you go part time which is pretty much the only real option for a mom who has a working spouse and no immediate family in the area willing to take a solid three years straight of babysitting)

I would wait until your spouse retires. Sometimes the spouse can use part of the GI Bill nowdays too (if you havn't already done so)

Thanks for your response. To touch on the "elephant in the room" he will be retiring early next year. I will be sending my applications around this time so I do not see much of an issue.  To be honest I couldn't see myself having to retake the bar in a different location every time we had to move with new orders. That would be crazy ! :)

Thanks for your response.

Thanks everyone for the great advice,

I really appreciate it.I would agree that the Tier 4 choice may not be so bad after all and with my LSAT score I will apply to a few higher "ranked" schools in my local area as well. I think attending part time is a perfect idea for three reasons: financial, having a family and work experience. I know it won't be easy but this is what I want to do.  Scholarships are great, tuition remission is also a possibility that I am looking into.

Everything has been resolved. I think it was the initial period of really seeing where the kids were at emotionally and with their education. They've done a complete 180 which I'm really proud of and they are fantastic kids. I know this will be harder than anything I have ever done and I'm trying to make sure that I am going to take my time this time and make the best decisions for me and my family.

Again, I really appreciate all the great feedback.


Thanks for your response. To touch on the "elephant in the room" he will be retiring early next year. I will be sending my applications around this time so I do not see much of an issue.  To be honest I couldn't see myself having to retake the bar in a different location every time we had to move with new orders. That would be crazy ! :)

Thanks for your response.
That sounds like perfect timing then, spouse with pension to watch kids and all......pretty cool
With the bar I don't think that would be an issue too much (if he reuped post grad or whatever) since you in theory could go civie jag and practice on fed soil as long as licensed in some place in America (not needing to be in state in question, just anywhere)

That being said, I bet after a life long military career you are both ready to settle down in one spot for awhile.