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LSAT Story/Law School Question


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#1 gregthomas77

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 01:21 AM

I recently got my results from the December LSAT, and I got a 161. This has brought about an interesting situation.

I already have a job, I have been a college professor/debate coach for five years and I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program (EdD). I took the LSAT because three of my debaters were taking it as they plan to go to law school and I thought it would be neat to take it together. (unfortunately, some of them did poorly, and all of them scored lower than I did)

Funny thing is, I originally wanted to go to law school, which is why I debated in high school and college. But, when I was successful in debating as an undergraduate, I ended up going to grad school and becoming a debate coach in college.

Now, I am kind of torn. I probably don't stand a chance at getting into a good school. My undergraduate GPA was low (think 2.6 low) and even though I have a 3.65 gpa in over 70 hours of graduate work (because my understandign is that law schools don't officially consider graduate work). However, I am going to apply to a bunch of local schools (I am in North Carolina) and see what happens.

Question: For those of you who know - will law schools consider my work experience and graduate work and overlook my undergraduate gpa? What kind of schools do you think I could get into?

Truth is, unless something amazing came up it would be hard for me to give up my career (and my paycheck) to go to law school. But, I'd be lying if I didn't admit I am giddy thinking about the possibility.

#2 dchrisd

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 07:21 AM

Law school might not be for you. You seem to be treating it as some casual interest. I don't think you understand what you'll be getting into. Put some serious thought into it before applying. It's not for everyone.

Law School can be expensive and EXTREMELY time consuming. You need to invest a ton of time into it, especially in the beginning. Say goodbye to your social life for at least that first year if you want to do well.

Debating experience will not make it easier. Those skills are pretty much meaningless. Yeah, there are basic parallels, but those skills will help you about as much in law as Boy Scouts skills will help in the medical field. Not knocking boy scouts or debaters, just saying its a different application of skills. Lay people will tell you its the same thing, but its not.

LSAT doesn't matter much, its about as reliable as the SAT, just more of an admissions tool. Don't put much weight to it.

These are just a few points and maybe you considered all this, maybe not, but law might not be for you. Before wasting your time and getting into something you seem to be unfamiliar with, try interning at a law office and get first hand experience to see what its really like. Actual experience, not just talking with lawyers, and not just a few days sitting around an office. Give it at least a few weeks or a month and make it meaningful. Hanging out with the secretaries and making copies is not going to help you. You need to be on the front lines to see what lawyers have to deal with. Find a lawyer you can shadow if possible.

Not trying to talk you out of it, I just highly recommend you know exactly what you're getting into first.

To answer your question, Yes, the school will look at your experience.

#3 ElwoodCuse

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 09:02 AM

do not, under any circumstances, go to law school

ESPECIALLY since you say you already have a good-paying job

you will kiss three years of that goodbye for big-time debt and will not be able to find a good-paying lawyer job once you graduate. it doesn't matter what school you get into, even people graduating from the top law schools have problems finding jobs these days. and it won't be any better in 3 years.
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#4 kodave

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 09:21 AM

#1 You need to have a real good idea of what being a lawyer is like for the area of law you want to practice. Do what dchrisd said.

#2 If you're not serious about doing what you see in #1 for a good portion of your life, don't bother with law school. So many people go to put off the real world or because they don't know what they want to do with their lives. That's the wrong reason to go. Only go if you want to be a lawyer or do something that REQUIRES having a JD. Otherwise, stay away.

#3 If you're on CAG and asking about law schools, you're doing it wrong. Try one of the law school forums, like www.top-law-schools.com, or better yet, go call up and set up appointments with all of the schools you're thinking of applying to and get the information straight from them.

#4 Your undergrad GPA is going to hamper any admissions process, especially if your major wasn't something notoriously difficult like nuclear physics. You're basically going to have to contact the schools you're interested in and talk to them all on a one on one basis to see how their admissions office will value your graduate GPA and work outside of undergrad. All of them will look at it, but how much it will help you will vary from school to school. At the end of the day all the schools report to the US News and World Report is your undergrad GPA, and that affects their rankings (in theory). The rankings are stupid but everyone is after them whether the school is Top 14 or Tier 3 (or 4... if they still rank a Tier 4), so they will care about your undergrad GPA. Just based on the numbers I'd say your admissions chances are Top 50-100 (at best) and probably Tier 3 pretty easily. Honestly, if you're a minority or have been disadvantaged at some point in your life (extreme poverty as a youth) that will help set you aside for extra consideration from the mediocre white kid (rightly or wrongly).

#5 If you're staying in state and you're not going to one of the top law schools in your state, you're going to have to think about how that will affect your job prospects upon graduation. Big firms will shit on the little schools even though the person who aced Con Law at a Top 25 school is hardly different than the person who aced Con Law at a school ranked 75th.

#6 Like dchrisd said, "debate team" means shit for every day law school. Some of the skills will probably come in handy if you want to do Mock Trial or Moot Court though, and those skills will carry over if you want to be a trial attorney. Go sit in at a court for a day. Most lawyers are terrible speakers in court. Being a trial lawyer is not Law and Order.

#7 And like dchrisd said, the LSAT is just an admissions / initial scholarship too and other than maybe some 1Ls asking about what you scored to make chit chat, no one gives a shit about the LSAT or what you scored on it once you're in law school.

Again, if you're asking about this on CAG, you're doing it wrong. There's better resources for law school info on the web, and if you're truly interested in becoming a lawyer, you need to talk to the schools you're interested in directly. Really, if you're in the middle of a doctoral program AND you have a paying job - finish up that degree first then re-evaluate your school and career choices. Because they're not exactly handing out jobs upon graduation from law school and you don't want to end up being one of those people whining about hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt because they made the plunge into law school (along with everyone else that does it in shitty economic times) only to find out the jobs aren't easy to come by.


#5 Run4Fun

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 09:54 AM

I support the other posts in this thread--they're not exaggerating. You should be wary of the worst-case scenario because it affects a surprising number of people: you will suffer the opportunity costs of your current job for three years; unless you go somewhere on scholarship (not likely with your undergrad GPA) or to a cheap state school (and these are becoming rare in law school), you will pay $150K+ for the opportunity to attend; and if you are lucky enough to get a decent-paying job when you get out, you may absolutely hate it, but will be chained to it until you can pay down some of your debt.

I will warn you that a disconcerting number of my classmates have discovered that law is not what they thought it would be. As noted above, it's definitely not debate team. It's many lonely hours in the library reading about things you are forcing yourself to care about only so that you can get a good grade. Few civil litigators see the courtroom with much frequency. "Debates" are certainly not civil or collegial.

Finally, I exhort you to think through what $150K in debt may look like: delaying buying a house; delaying marriage; having a 30-year repayment term if you snag a lower-paying job; not having the freedom to get into another career if you don't like law; etc.

#6 gregthomas77

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 11:38 AM

Thanks for all of the answers.

Like I said in the OP, I don't think I could justify walking away from my career, I was really just curious if the schools would take experience into play in evaluating my application.

By the way, I do read/post regularly on top-law-schools.com, but sometimes I just like to hear what the CAG crowd has to say.

#7 Dead of Knight

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 05:14 PM

do not, under any circumstances, go to law school

ESPECIALLY since you say you already have a good-paying job

you will kiss three years of that goodbye for big-time debt and will not be able to find a good-paying lawyer job once you graduate. it doesn't matter what school you get into, even people graduating from the top law schools have problems finding jobs these days. and it won't be any better in 3 years.

/Thread.
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#8 RedvsBlue

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 06:27 PM

I recently got my results from the December LSAT, and I got a 161. This has brought about an interesting situation.

I already have a job, I have been a college professor/debate coach for five years and I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program (EdD).


Stop there, you already have a good job. If you make tenure, you have a great job. Unless you REALLY want to be a lawyer, or better yet, unless you REALLY want to go to law school, don't bother giving up what's already working for you.

I had a crappy, sub-$30k per year job and had always wanted to go to law school so it was an easy decision for me because even with student loan payments and a crappy lawyer job, at worst, I'd be making the same I am now with much better future prospects and a much more interesting job. I don't regret choosing to go to law school at all but if I gave up a job like yours I certainly would be.

Regarding your LSAT/GPA info. The funny thing about law school admissions is they place a big emphasis on your LSAT but from my own personal experience GPA matters more. No offense, but I'd guess you didn't spend much time studying for classes in undergrad? In law school, you will frequently have 3-4 hours of reading for your classes every single day. None of the undergrad skipping the reading and just show up for lecture because they're the same material anyway.

You have to be prepared for class each and every day or you will not make it in law school. There's simply too much information to learn just before the final and with the lovely law school emphasis on the Socratic method you can be called on at any time and you are expected to know the case reading inside and out. I even have a couple classes where the professor keeps track of who they call on and if someone isn't prepared for the reading twice in a semester they will adjust their grade down a full letter.

#9 dopa345

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 10:01 PM

This article should give you second thoughts.

#10 gregthomas77

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 10:12 PM

That article has been getting a lot of play for sure.

I think what I am going to do is:

1. Apply a bunch of places where I have application fee waivers (which is almost everywhere), just to see what sticks.

2. Study the LSAT (I took it this time after taking 1.5 practice tests the week before the exam) and try again around October.

3. Finish my doctoral degree, keep my job, and consider applying places again next year if I can get my score up above 170 with some studying (which a lot of people seem to think is possible).

#11 kodave

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 12:15 AM

This article should give you second thoughts.


The article is pretty spot on about the bullshit surrounding the rankings system and about the dark side of the whole institution of law schools.

But the main person profiled in the article, that Wallerstein guy, is a complete and total idiot. He deserves to be in the situation he is now after moving cross country to attend a 4th tier law school that he apparently didn't do much, if any research into, other than the fact he thought he'd like San Diego. Then he finances the whole thing living luxuriously and in excess (he nearly bought a condo? Jesus Christ), studying abroad, not keeping track of his finances or how much debt he was racking up. I have ZERO sympathy for him because even in a great job market a 4th tier law school doesn't historically churn out people who get great law jobs.

The guy is an idiot, plain and simple. Too bad they couldn't profile someone who made better life choices and is still having financial problems as a result of law school because of the shitty way the institution is set up and the current economy. Although even if you try to do things right and still get dicked over by the whole process, perhaps the right decision was probably not to go to law school in the first place.


#12 Machine

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 12:52 AM

If you are just going to look at local schools, you might want to see what kind of scholarships you can get. A lot of lower-tier schools give very generous scholarships based purely on LSAT score (I base this statement on personal experience). Many people argue that you shouldn't even bother with law school if you can't get into a tier 1 school but I don't agree. Set your sights a little lower and you can graduate from a lower tier school with little or no debt and do quite well for yourself.

#13 gregthomas77

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 12:55 AM

If you are just going to look at local schools, you might want to see what kind of scholarships you can get. A lot of lower-tier schools give very generous scholarships based purely on LSAT score (I base this statement on personal experience). Many people argue that you shouldn't even bother with law school if you can't get into a tier 1 school but I don't agree. Set your sights a little lower and you can graduate from a lower tier school with little or no debt and do quite well for yourself.


This is what I was originally thinking. We have schools like Campbell, Elon, Charlotte, and North Carolina Central locally. Otherwise, all of my locals are Duke, Wake Forest, and UNC.

Like I said earlier, I will apply everywhere in state, see what happens, and keep studying to take the test again in October.

#14 RedvsBlue

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 01:33 AM

The article is pretty spot on about the bullshit surrounding the rankings system and about the dark side of the whole institution of law schools.

But the main person profiled in the article, that Wallerstein guy, is a complete and total idiot. He deserves to be in the situation he is now after moving cross country to attend a 4th tier law school that he apparently didn't do much, if any research into, other than the fact he thought he'd like San Diego. Then he finances the whole thing living luxuriously and in excess (he nearly bought a condo? Jesus Christ), studying abroad, not keeping track of his finances or how much debt he was racking up. I have ZERO sympathy for him because even in a great job market a 4th tier law school doesn't historically churn out people who get great law jobs.

The guy is an idiot, plain and simple. Too bad they couldn't profile someone who made better life choices and is still having financial problems as a result of law school because of the shitty way the institution is set up and the current economy. Although even if you try to do things right and still get dicked over by the whole process, perhaps the right decision was probably not to go to law school in the first place.


I was thinking the same thing when I was reading the article. I also was wondering how he racked up $250k when his annual tuition was only $33k. I know you take extra out for living expenses and a BAR loan but he was averaging about $80k a year at a 4th tier school, WTF did he expect?

#15 Dead of Knight

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 02:00 AM

I was thinking the same thing when I was reading the article. I also was wondering how he racked up $250k when his annual tuition was only $33k. I know you take extra out for living expenses and a BAR loan but he was averaging about $80k a year at a 4th tier school, WTF did he expect?


The guy in the article is obviously a dumbass. But considering how stupid he was in the rest of the article, I was surprised he decided not to lie on his mortgage application when the Countrywide rep told him to. :lol:
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#16 IRHari

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 01:05 AM

In this economy the market is saturated with lawyers. The supply is high but demand is low unfortunately.

Of course you could get a law degree then start teaching in a law school, if that's your thing.

And the economy could always turn around... /sarcasm
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#17 Pirate331

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 09:47 AM

As a current 1L, I suggest you put off going to law school unless you have a very stable environment around you. I entered right after finishing undergrad as a BA in PoliSci is slightly less worthless than an English degree, and I'm living with my parents again. Basically my only expenses are gas and tuition, the latter of which is tied up in loans I won't be repaying for years.

If you're married and your spouse has a stable job and you can afford to quit yours (you will not have enough time to do any meaningful work. We've actually got a policy that prohibits us from working more than 15-20 hours a week, I think it is.) then maybe you can handle it at this time. Otherwise, I'd suggest waiting it out.

My parents are handling most of my undergrad debt, so I'm only really responsible for the $9k and change/semester I owe my school. You've got undergrad and grad debt to consider before you pile on another $18k+ per year for the next 3 years.

In summary, if you're solid financially and environmentally then give it a shot if law is what you want to do. Otherwise you might be better holding off.
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