Law School Discussion

introductory questions...


introductory questions...
« on: September 23, 2004, 05:04:00 PM »
Greetings all,

This is my first visit to the board and I had a couple of quick questions...

First, I am a "mature" student (35yo) and am contemplating law. My initial undergraduate record was weak, but then when I was 26 I returned to school to finish my BA and managed a 3.73 for that final year. Plus I did a year of graduate work with a 3.69. Will a law school likely overlook the results of my youth in favor of the more recent grades?

Plus the field that I was studying was theology...would the fact that philosophy and interpretation are so heavily involved in that field be a positive influence in my favor?

I'm confident that I could gain entry into a tier 2 school (I just took the full length LSAT on the LSAC website and scored a 168...and now I'm buying some review material to see how much I can improve) but with my less than stellar GPA, would U. Texas give me a second look?

Also I am currently writing a 40,000 word thesis for a MTH degree...would this make me a more appealing candidate?

Thanks for any and all  responses!


« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2004, 05:45:45 PM »
I forgot to mention that I went to the Defense Language Institute (the US military school for languages), and became fluent in Russian...those skills have faded over the years, but some school websites mention foreign language skills as a this correct?



Re: introductory questions...
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2004, 03:18:35 AM »
You definitely have a colorful background, I'll say! :)  And yeah, I do think theology would be a great background for the law, but it will ultimatley depend on how you spin your background.  If you can make it interesting and compelling to the law school admissions committees, then with your considerable work experience and life story, that'll likely make up (at least a little) for a lower undergraduate GPA.  I once read somewhere (one of those law school admissions book?) a personal statement of a guy who used his studies and wrestlings with the Talmud at his local yeshiva to say how it provided him with the perfect background to springboard into studying the law.  And I believe, if I remember right, that the book or whatever I was reading said he got into several top 10 schools.  You could do something similar with your background.

As far as the graduate degree, that'll look good too, in light of the rest of your application, but unfortunately, and despite (it seems) what they say, law schools really do tend to focus on undergraduate GPA even for older folks.  But how low was your undergraduate GPA?  If it was a 3.0, then I think with a 168 or possibly higher, like a 170, if you study hard, will make up for a lot!  A 2.5 or so will be more difficult, but yeah, you obviously can't do anything about that anymore, so best to focus on getting a high LSAT score.  The higher, the better.  170+ would be ideal.

Basically, the main thing I want to try and get across is that you have not give the adcomms any reasons for denying you, but all the more reasons to admit you.  You have to deliver to law schools a clear, coherent picture of yourself, play up your strengths and play down your weaknesses, so much so that your strengths will outweigh your weaknesses (your low undergraduate GPA).  So it's all about how you spin your background and experiences since undergraduate, and how you "explain" to law schools -- through your PS, your LORs, your resume (include one even if they don't ask for one), addendums (if necessary), etc. -- why the weaknesses in your application are really not all that weak and why the strengths in your application really are that strong.  For example, when they receive your application, law schools will ask, "What reasons are there that we should not admit him?"  Perhaps reasons like, well, he's been out of school for a long time, will he be able to get back in a mode of studying, etc.?  Will he have the energy and time (particularly if you have a family) to devote to the grueling hours of law school?  So if you get a high LSAT score, which hopefully you should, and coupled with your solid graduate GPA, then that'll put a lot of these concerns out of their minds that you won't be able to cut it academically.  Stuff like that, to help put their minds at ease.  Perhaps have an objective friend you trust (and ideally who understands what law schools are looking for) make a list of all the questions and/or concerns that a law school might have in admitting you, and then try and answer them in your application somehow.  Try to write a PS that will address those concerns, not directly, but as part of the entire package. 

Anyhow I'm starting to ramble now, 'cos it's so late, so I better turn in.  Best wishes to you!

Oh, and UT's most recent 25/75 splits are 3.41/3.83 GPA and 160/166 LSAT.  So if you're aiming for UT, then I think if you can get say a 168+ you've got a really, really good chance at getting in, assuming you're in-state.  Well, unless they weight GPAs really heavily?  I think a lot of state schools seem to do that.  Well, all I know is that the University of California schools definitely do that, and I've heard from others here on LSD that the University of North Carolina is the same.  Hopefully UT isn't, because then you'll have a strong shot if you can get a higher than their 75% (166) LSAT -- but make it at least 168 if not higher to give yourself a nice cushion, in my opinion (which you've already scored on practice, so it shouldn't be a problem) -- as well as your graduate degree, military experience, etc.


Re: introductory questions...
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2004, 01:22:08 PM »
Thanks for the reply...and the advice.

I'm trying to stick with Texas law schools, as being a Texas veteran I will receive a full tuition waver if UT, UofH, and T.Tech are what I'm looking forward to.

As far as my undergraduate GPA, I'm not sure how they will figure it. Here's why:

50 hours at a junior college (2.84)
12 hours at UTSA (0.0) - due to injury.
30 hours at DLI (2.7) - but while it is an accredited college it was with the US
                        army, so I'm not sure whether it will count or not.
57 hours at Bible college (3.39) - but it was an unaccredited college in London so
                                   again I am unsure whether it will count or not.
30 hours at DBU to finish BA (3.73)

So if they just average the official US colleges - 2.76
If they add in the Defense Language Institute numbers - 2.74
If they add in the Bible College from London - 2.95.

Or if they just look at my final three years of undergraduate work in my major (ministry) I have a 3.5. Plus I have an additional 3.69 for one year of graduate work in theology.

Any ideas on how LSAC will average these numbers? I know that I will be stressing the 4 years of theological studies with over a 3.5 average, but I was wondering what the lsac report will say....



Re: introductory questions...
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2004, 04:17:56 PM »
Oh sure, no prob.  Glad I could help at least somewhat. :) 

This sounds like an obvious question (sorry), but have you sent in your transcripts to LSAC yet?  It usually takes a couple of weeks for them to get it online, but once they do, you can check what they officially use as your UGPA via your online account.  Here's the link:

But since your undergraduate studies seem to be all over the place, and also since you've been out of school for a long time, done other stuff like get a graduate degree, I seriously think if you get a high score on your LSAT, you'll have a pretty good shot at UT.  In my estimation, the LSAT will be a slightly bigger factor for you than for other applicants because of your background.  So if you can really do well, it'll look very, very good.  I could be totally wrong, but that's my hunch.

Also it might be a good idea for you to try and start politely communicating with UT, UofH, and TTech.  Maybe even visit them if you're nearby.  Sometimes it helps so much just to see applicants in person.  Try and see if you can get an interview, too, even if they don't offer interviews.  Go online, look up the dean of admission's phone number, or his/her secretary's phone number which is often online too, or at least someone in the office that can transfer you there, and then say something like, "I'll be in town at such and such a date, would you by any chance have a few minutes to spare to talk with a prospective applicant like myself?"  The worst that will happen is that they'll say no, but they might put a note in your file and say that at least this person seems to have a stronger interest than most other applicants, so that might mean something down the line.  You never know, and you could be pleasantly surprised. :)  And come prepared with good, probing questions, not stuff you can find the answers to on their website or whatever, but serious questions that you think might make a difference in an acceptance or rejection from the law school. 

Okay, better run.  Hope that helps, though. :)