Law School Discussion

Major Study Advice

Major Study Advice
« on: September 07, 2013, 11:52:53 PM »
Everything I have read about law school all says the major doesn't really matter as much as GPA/LSAT.  I am in Military Intelligence in the Army and aspire to go to Law School here in Texas.  I am currently a student at Wayland Baptist University and am about 1 year away from a B.S. Degree in Justice Administration.  I have now however, an oppurtunity to change my major to a B.A.S. in Intelligence Operations.  It will keep my GPA right at about the same, within a few hundredths of points around 3.7.  Alot of the college credit is from Military Training rather than academia.  Is this going to work against my favor and how are law schools likely to react to a major like Intelligence Operations?  Law School I am considering are here in Texas, UH, UT, St Mary's, Baylor, South Texas College of Law.

Re: Major Study Advice
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2013, 07:45:37 AM »
Not sure, but here are a few considerations:

1) You entrance will primarily be dependent on your LSAC reported GPA and your LSAT score. Soft factors, such as your major, will have an impact on your file, but not nearly as much as your numbers. I've read that law schools (at least the top schools) give ABOUT 1/3 weight to GPA, 1/3 to LSAT, and 1/3 to personal statement and other soft factors. If your numbers are borderline for a school, it will come down to how your soft factors rank with other applicants.

2) You will have to explain why you switched majors. This is not inherently bad, but note that if you do not explain it well, law schools could take it as a sign that you can't finish what you start, you may not finish law school, and thus you are risky to accept. So, if you do want to switch, have strong and defensible reasons for it.

3) The nice thing about unusual majors is that they are typically under-represented. The scary thing about unusual majors is that they are typically under-represented. Again, it will all depend on how you portray it. What about your coursework puts you in a unique and strong position to study and practice law?

4) If you maintain that GPA and your LSAT score is at or above a school's median... you are gold. If your LSAT is below a median, your only hope is on your soft factors and, more importantly, how you portray them.

Good luck!

Re: Major Study Advice
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2013, 08:49:19 AM »
Most of Miami's advice is correct, but except for point 3 schools care very little about your personal statement/soft factors unless there is a tie breaker or your soft factors are so intriguing they could list it in some sort of marketing material i.e. you were a Congressman, NFL Quarterback, etc something that makes you look twice. Military experience is great and might give you a slight advantage, but again it all comes down to your GPA/LSAT.

So to answer your question whether your change your major or not will make little difference in the law school admissions process. It is entirely possible you may end up not going to law school or you may not like being a lawyer once your so in it  so choose the major you are most interested.

If Military Intelligence is something you want to learn more about major in it. If you are enjoying your current degree finish up with that. Your major will have little to no impact on the law school admissions process.

To illustrate why it doesn't matter law schools receive approximately 4,000 applications and everyone is a college graduate smart, hard-working, motivated people, and all have solid GPA's from a variety of majors. If you work in Military Intelligence I imagine you review 1000's of pages of documents and do not read every page in detail you scan for what is important.

Law School Admissions is no different they look straight for the UGPA and LSAT score and if it is above their Median and you didn't submit a resume in crayon and were able to piece together a coherent personal statement your in.

If your below the Median they will scan to see if there is any headline material in your application i.e NFL QuarterBack, Congressman, etc. However, whether you majored in Military Intelligence or Justice Administration is not the type of headline material that will get your application back in the maybe pile.

The bottom line for law school admissions, law school and even when you become a practicing lawyer is do not over think everything. It is not that complicated, but I know as OL I read all the same books, researched, and more or less freaked myself out for nothing.

Bottom line is graduate with the major you are most interested in and get the best GPA you can. Then take the LSAT and submit your application. If you have a semester or two left of school throw in some fluff classes to boost your GPA like weightlifting, Frisbee golf, etc to get a few easy A's if your school offers that and it might give you slight bump, but nothing more. It sounds like you are on the right track with a solid 3.7 GPA next step is the LSAT. Once you have your real numbers you can apply to law school then get ready to learn about Proximate Cause in Palsgraff and Personal Jurisdiction in International Shoe.

Good luck and I am sure everything will work out.

Re: Major Study Advice
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2013, 06:15:11 PM »
Thanks to the both of you for your advice.  The only reason I wont go to law school would be that I could not get in.  Getting the funds for college and law school was the whole reason I joined the service.  My major has switched a couple of times based on the availability of curriculum from different universities.  This switch, to help put things in perspective, is purely due to time constraints.  I will ETS from the Army (get out and go home to Houston) in 17 months.  The training I received in the Army has given me a lot of credits that will transfer to my university, which knock off two semesters worth of work.  I want to finish College while in the service so I can focus purely on Law School when I get out.  That is due to my age (32) and making the most use of the GI Bill and the Texas Hazlewood act.  So it is really for convenience that I switch majors.  But, I will say that all of the really good classes relevant to the JUAD major are not offered at the San Antonio Campus, so the curriculum is limited.  Plus all of the classroom exposure relevant to the operations of the court room that would prep me for law school, I have already taken. The rest is criminology etc.  I do know that there is relevant info in the other classes, but not as much as law and society, criminal law, etc. 

Having said all of that I can come up with a much more "interesting" story if I need to, lol.

Re: Major Study Advice
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2013, 09:39:15 PM »
If your from Houston and want to live there I think South Texas Law School might be a good choice if your interested in litigation. They are one of the best litigation schools out there and I competed in one of their trials and was very impressed with the school.  Assuming you get a decent LSAT score and want to live in Houston I think it is a great option just an FYI.

As far as getting into law school all you need to do is graduate with a solid GPA and take the LSAT. The other factors really don't matter much and I am sure you will get everything done.

Good luck

Re: Major Study Advice
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 05:54:02 PM »
Thanks for the advice legend.  I was leaning towards STCL for that very reason.  However I am not above relocating if it can be worked out in order to go to Baylor; they also have a great litigation program I am told.  I am interested in litigation, I want to be a prosecutor.  STCL seemed to be the best fit for me based on all factors, but one must always keep options open.  Thanks again Legend.

Re: Major Study Advice
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2013, 11:34:25 AM »
Legend offers some solid advice

Also other than location you need to really look at costs of each school.

STCL for example is 27k per year

Baylor is 46k per year

Over 3 three years Baylor will be 57,000 more.

Additionally you may have a shot at getting a scholarship from South Texas.

You should also visit both Baylor and STCL or any other school you are interested and make sure it is a good fit. Schools are like companies or even military branches in your case.

Although I have never been in the military I imagine each branch has numerous similarities, but the Army has a different culture than the Navy and law schools have their own culture as well.

Good luck in your pursuit of a legal education.