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Law School

A BearA Bear Registered User regular
edited February 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Now that I pretty much have my major theoretical law school questions out of the way, Evil_Reaver had the good idea of turning this into a PA Law Support group. If anyone out there is a prospective, current, or past law student come here to lend us your advice or to get some pearls of wisdom from the grizzled veterans. I hear the first year is a killer.


Old OPs spoilered:

In a mild continuation of threads here and here. Its time for me to consider the very real idea of seriously applying (and attending) a law school. Its something I've thought I've wanted to do for many years now, and now that major decisions are to be made, its time to get serious. It seems a good deal of people on here have really good information about law school and the legal profession, and I know I would prefer the good advice of a dozen of you guys over the thousands and thousands of twits running around most major law prep forums. So here goes:

1. Should I really attend law school?

I always thought I should, but lots of people say being a lawyer is miserable (and not as lucrative as people think it is). Now, money isn't everything--but I'm not looking into postgraduate education to be broke. I've interned at a local law firm and really enjoyed the work and the people there, and they have given me some great advice. If I could be like them, I think I'd be happy. At this point I'd need some pretty convincing evidence to consider not going.

2. Ok then, where should I go?

What should I look for in a law school? What regrets does anyone have about attending one school over another? I'm leaning towards private practice, and even within that, towards civil litigation--should any of that be considered in my decision? What about my fiance? She is an advertising major and will be looking for a job when we both graduate in the spring.

Here are some of the places I'm considering, in rough order of preference:
  • Georgetown

    Pros: T14 school. DC is a real city (public transit, culture, job market). Extended family lives in the metro area. Grandfather, Great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather attended (latter 2 for law)
    Cons: High Tuition. DC is a real city (public transit, cost of living, crime). Home is 6+ hours away in NC if something ever were to happen.

  • Duke

    Pros: T14 school. 30 minute drive from home.
    Cons: High Tuition. Parents are only 30 minutes away. I currently attend UNC and wont know what to do when basketball starts. Durham is a horrible place.

  • University of North Carolina

    Pros: Fantastic bargain. I currently attend UNC as an undergrad. T50 school
    Cons: Falling down the ranks like a brick.

  • George Washington

    Pros: Also in DC. I hear good things about this school. Seems to be on the rise. T25
    Cons: Also in DC. High Tuition. What would I do with a GW degree?

  • Wake Forest

    Pros: Location. T50. Good if I wanted to practice in NC.
    Cons: High Tuition. Always seemed really whitewashed. Employment opportunities?

  • Elon

    Pros: Should let me in. I like Greensboro. Elon is a University working really hard to increase their value. Getting attention for having an active court in the school itself.
    Cons: Law school is brand new. No data on them whatsoever. Just got ABA approved.

I think I would really like any of those schools, and find a degree of enjoyment in anywhere I went, but where else should I consider? Its sort of clear I've only looked regionally--but wouldn't be adverse to schools farther away, I just know next to nothing about them firsthand. Georgetown and Duke are already a reach, IMO, so I'm not sure where I should go from there realistically.

Edit: Here's my basic academic profile:
LSAT: 170
GPA: 3.695 (+/- 0.1 or so, as my undergraduate studies are still in progress)
Extracirculars: Beyond my working at a law firm for 2 or so years, little.
Letters of rec: Heretofore unknown.

I'm going off the assumption that I would be one of the weakest candidates with my numbers, if for nothing more than to not psyche myself up. There is a ton of sites offering projections of where I could or should be able to get in, but as far as I'm concerned, nothing is guaranteed.

4 Months have passed, so here is a total revamp and update:

First off, thank you to everyone who has helped me with this entire process--getting this sort of insight has been really beneficial. I've (finally) got the ball rolling with all my recommendations and applications, and thanks to the LSACs easy-to-use website format I can now churn these things out with relative ease. As of right now, here's how I stand:

Sent:

Campbell
Elon
George Washington
Georgetown
Texas
Wake Forest

Compiled/Almost ready to go:

American
Boston University
Charlotte College
Fordham
George Mason
U of Michigan
U of North Carolina
U of Richmond
U of South Carolina
U of Virginia
Washington and Lee
William and Mary

Sending those first 6 set me back about $350, and that put the brakes on turning around and sending out anything else. It seems I cant find hard data on who will give me an immediate fee waver and who wont, so I'm going back through all my old emails checking for messages and really thinking about why I'm applying to each school. Waver schools should be sent easily, but where should I draw the line when its $60-80 a pop? Applying to 17 law schools seems excessive, but its late in the cycle and I want to hedge my bets. Is there any school on here I should skip or outright avoid? Schools I left out? I bumped my GPA up above 3.7, and LSAT remains at 170, so with those numbers in mind how should I prune/direct batch 2 of applications?

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A Bear on
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Posts

  • DJ-99DJ-99 Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I always thought I would go to law school, until I was a senior in college (last year). But, I didn't think I could handle the work load, so I will be going to business school instead. As long as you don't mind working hard though, law school should be great. And yes, a lot of lawyers are miserable and hate their jobs, but people in all kinds of professions hate their jobs as well. Depending on where you end up, being a freelance legal consultant or a law professor (or both) can give you an extremely good income and also ridiculous job flexibility (although that's probably 15 years down the road from where you are now). Everybody I know who does that is extremely happy with their jobs.

    Are you intent on going to a large school for some reason? If so, that's fine, but I would recommend looking at small schools as well. You will probably encounter professors that are more willing to help, and will care very strongly about the success of their students.

    My only real advice, I guess, is to consider Washington and Lee. It's in the region you seem to be considering, ranked about 20th, and is basically just a very good law school. The only problem is it's located in a small town, so I'm not sure how you feel about that, but it's a very good place to focus on your studies and receive a great education. The professors are very good and extremely helpful.

    DJ-99 on
  • X3x3nonX3x3non Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I am studying in a small town right now that basically only exists because of the students. I never realized how much I would miss living in or near a relatively large city. It is driving me nuts that the whole city is ceneterd about students and students only. There is pretty little variety and I keep seeing the same people over and over (even when I don't want to!) That alone and the fact that Georgetown is probably the best University you listed are reason enough for me to recommend going to Washington.

    I wouldn't be too worried about tuition cost when it comes to getting a law degree.

    X3x3non on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    You're looking at a pretty interesting range of law schools. What was your LSAT score?

    VisionOfClarity on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    You're looking at a pretty interesting range of law schools. What was your LSAT score?

    I added it to my OP, as its probably pretty relevant now that I think about it.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I got in at GW with a lower GPA and slightly lower LSAT (but within the same range), but I also had six years of active-duty military under my belt. Even so, I really doubt you'd have a problem getting into GW.

    Georgetown might be a little out of reach, but it's like $80 to apply so what do you have to lose?

    If you've spent time working at a law firm and you know you like legal work, you're already ahead of most people in law school. Almost everyone I know has no fucking clue if they even want to practice law, let alone which specialty.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Personally I'd look at Georgetown. It's a great school and you can find a job in any city with your JD from there. Your GPA is ok for the top schools but your LSAT score is golden. With good rec's I don't see why you wouldn't get accepted there especially being a legacy. DC is a great city and I have plenty of friends who moved down there for undergrad at GW and never came back.

    Personally after I finish my masters I'm going to consider law school. I have no intentions of practicing law but since I'm considering politics and know I want to work in public policy it'd be worth getting a JD. Going law school definitely doesn't mean you have to a lawyer at all much less forever. If you end up hating law there is plenty you can do.

    VisionOfClarity on
  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited October 2008

    Personally after I finish my masters I'm going to consider law school. I have no intentions of practicing law but since I'm considering politics and know I want to work in public policy it'd be worth getting a JD. Going law school definitely doesn't mean you have to a lawyer at all much less forever. If you end up hating law there is plenty you can do.

    If you do not intend to practice law, do not go to law school. It's true that lawyers have a great deal of power in shaping public policy, but getting a JD really is not the way to go unless you want to enact change through litigation. Three years of law school is expensive, and also a major opportunity cost. If working in public policy is your goal and you do not want to actually practice, there are far better uses of those three years.

    And to the OP, it really is worth it to go to a top 14 school, like Georgetown, if at all possible. Law is a prestige profession, and a T14 school will open doors for you. Also, they tend to have better loan forgiveness programs should you decide to go work for the public interest.

    Hachface on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Unless you have a free ride from UNC, it's not even worth considering with your score. You shouldn't have a problem getting into Georgetown, and you have a good shot at Duke too - you have an excellent score and should go somewhere excellent.

    In terms of loan repayment, unless your parents are going to do it for you, the way you're going to pay off loans is work for a big firm for a few years. It's easy to get a biglaw job out of GT or Duke. It's possible out of GW but you still have to grade well - people estimate a 1/3rd of the class or so - not an easy group to place in.

    GW would have to throw a lot of money at you to make the risk a sensible one, and even then, I think I would definately do Duke or Georgetown - especially if you're looking at your region, it doesn't make sense to come from the second-best school in the city. There's a distinct social pecking order in DC social/academic circles, and Georgetown is at the top of it.

    kaliyama on
    fwKS7.png?1
  • UltimanecatUltimanecat Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Generally speaking, you want to go to the highest-ranked school possible. Of course, lots of mitigating factors can come in that can influence that, but it's worth it to consider going to a T14 school.

    The loans are scary, which is why it's in your best interest to go to a school that hedges against that somewhat. This could mean scholarships, loan-forgiveness programs, or feeding into high paying law firms. Otherwise the debt, while likely manageable to a point, will affect your life for some time to come - it could mean the difference between getting a house or staying in an apartment, or put off the opportune time to have your own kids for a while (if that's even an option / issue).

    Law school is also about networking and getting your name placed into a "market", with the size of the market increasing correspondingly with the rank of the school. Go to a random state law school, and likely you will be practicing in that state, if not that city, for quite a while. If that was your plan all along and you can get a good deal, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But like what others say, it's in your interest to broaden your horizons if nothing else is holding you back.

    More than anything else though, consider that first question well. It's perfectly possible to be happy going to any law school. If you get too caught up in the school rankings and then your class ranking and then what firm you intern / work at and then becoming such and such, you may soon develop some of the personality traits that lawyers are known for throughout the general public. Some people need that constant reassurance of their place compared to others - but definitely not everybody.

    Ultimanecat on
    SteamID : same as my PA forum name
  • HlubockyHlubocky Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I'm not sure how this will shake out by the time you are ready to get a job, but the job market sucks now... at least in Chicago. My fiance did well at a top 10 law school, got a firm job, and is looking to find a new job after 3 years or so. She has been looking for months, talking to recruiters, doing interviews, and so far has found nothing. I can't even imagine what people who went to a lesser school are doing for work.

    Hlubocky on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Hlubocky wrote: »
    I'm not sure how this will shake out by the time you are ready to get a job, but the job market sucks now... at least in Chicago. My fiance did well at a top 10 law school, got a firm job, and is looking to find a new job after 3 years or so. She has been looking for months, talking to recruiters, doing interviews, and so far has found nothing. I can't even imagine what people who went to a lesser school are doing for work.

    You have just highlighted one of my larger fears of going to a big, expensive school. I think I have a standing job offer from the firm I interned at, but it is decidedly a local firm and I have a good feeling a $100k+ debt load would be hard to overcome working there, and would obviously be a disaster if I have no job at all. That being said, all the lawyers there gave me the same sort of advice to start in a huge firm, make lots of money to pay off my debt, and then come to a place where I will enjoy myself more but maybe won't be compensated the same, and it seems like the biglaw world takes a lot of people from top schools simply due to where they are from.

    It seems like the general consensus follows a lot of what I thought about going to law school--that its wise to go to the best school you can because it gives you better options and mobility in your career to come. This means Georgetown, I think, as I figure my odds are better there than at Duke. How do I make sure? What should I look at beyond pure ranking to make sure I will enjoy/tolerate/survive my time there? For that matter, is law school any of the horror stories that the first year is made out to be? What truths are in the biglaw horror stories? I think I'm ready to take on both law school and a demanding job afterwards, but I sure would prefer some reassurance that its not the hell described by all the burnouts who preach online about how bad an idea law school is.

    If I don't make it in either T14, what then? Look at the schools with the best scholarship packages (I hear Wake Forest gives out half-to-full rides to over 25% of its students, UNC is already cheap) because rankings beyond the elite 14 seem to matter much less? The whole bimodal salary distribution for lawyers makes going to an expensive school that doesn't place well an unnerving proposition, but if I go to a cheap school thats less prestigious I'd be selling myself short.

    A Bear on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • KalkinoKalkino Buttons Londres Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Hachface wrote: »

    Personally after I finish my masters I'm going to consider law school. I have no intentions of practicing law but since I'm considering politics and know I want to work in public policy it'd be worth getting a JD. Going law school definitely doesn't mean you have to a lawyer at all much less forever. If you end up hating law there is plenty you can do.

    If you do not intend to practice law, do not go to law school. It's true that lawyers have a great deal of power in shaping public policy, but getting a JD really is not the way to go unless you want to enact change through litigation. Three years of law school is expensive, and also a major opportunity cost. If working in public policy is your goal and you do not want to actually practice, there are far better uses of those three years.

    I agree with your logic so far as cost goes - if you are in a situation where law school is very expensive then it is a bit of a punt, which would be the case re OP. However law school is damm useful for all sorts of professions, especially government work. I would say that over half (maybe 2/3rds) of my class at law school do not practice, and probably a fair few of them had no intention of doing so, yet most use their degree to some degree (lolz) everyday. Of course this isn't the US, and we didn't need to pay the fees you may well have to do so. Also, I have no idea what it is like in the States, but civil service employers in my country and the UK seem to find candidates with law degrees or actual experience as lawyers very attractive, possibly as they see them as more useful than someone with a degree in policy.

    Kalkino on
    Freedom for the Northern Isles!
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    A Bear wrote: »
    Hlubocky wrote: »
    I'm not sure how this will shake out by the time you are ready to get a job, but the job market sucks now... at least in Chicago. My fiance did well at a top 10 law school, got a firm job, and is looking to find a new job after 3 years or so. She has been looking for months, talking to recruiters, doing interviews, and so far has found nothing. I can't even imagine what people who went to a lesser school are doing for work.

    You have just highlighted one of my larger fears of going to a big, expensive school. I think I have a standing job offer from the firm I interned at, but it is decidedly a local firm and I have a good feeling a $100k+ debt load would be hard to overcome working there, and would obviously be a disaster if I have no job at all. That being said, all the lawyers there gave me the same sort of advice to start in a huge firm, make lots of money to pay off my debt, and then come to a place where I will enjoy myself more but maybe won't be compensated the same, and it seems like the biglaw world takes a lot of people from top schools simply due to where they are from.

    It seems like the general consensus follows a lot of what I thought about going to law school--that its wise to go to the best school you can because it gives you better options and mobility in your career to come. This means Georgetown, I think, as I figure my odds are better there than at Duke. How do I make sure? What should I look at beyond pure ranking to make sure I will enjoy/tolerate/survive my time there? For that matter, is law school any of the horror stories that the first year is made out to be? What truths are in the biglaw horror stories? I think I'm ready to take on both law school and a demanding job afterwards, but I sure would prefer some reassurance that its not the hell described by all the burnouts who preach online about how bad an idea law school is.

    If I don't make it in either T14, what then? Look at the schools with the best scholarship packages (I hear Wake Forest gives out half-to-full rides to over 25% of its students, UNC is already cheap) because rankings beyond the elite 14 seem to matter much less? The whole bimodal salary distribution for lawyers makes going to an expensive school that doesn't place well an unnerving proposition, but if I go to a cheap school thats less prestigious I'd be selling myself short.

    You're right that odds are better for you getting into Georgetown, but there's no reason to not toss your application in at Duke and UVA, at least. If you applied to them, i'm reasonably confident you would get into at least one school that's better than Georgetown. I think i'd rather go to Duke than to Georgetown - it is better ranked, and Georgetown is a bit of a factory - large classes, lots of tools, kind of impersonal. But that's not to say you shouldn't go there if you get in or that you won't have a good time; you just have to carve out your own niche. Lots of people at any law school are tools, it's the nature of the beast.
    '
    Lots of other people will be cool, and you can always meet people who aren't law students. You'll form a bond with people over studying + surviving that will last for a lifetime. Like I said on your LSAT tread, the thing is a treadmill, not a race. People will overstudy in ridiculous ways. I worked + went on weekend events a lot in undergrad, so I had a pretty busy schedule. For law school I stopped that and committed to a) running and b) studying. I had plenty of time for both, as well as having friends, socializing, and playing video games. It's stressful at points, but if you can plan and manage your workload, it's still really easy. Way less than a 40 hr/wk committment, with very busy periods when your legal writing memo is due and you have exams, but even then it's not so bad. People freak out because of self-induced stress and 4 years of doing easy liberal arts assignments, not because it's really that hard.

    2) Biglaw's going to suck. Some people enjoy it, but unless you enjoy working 50-80 hour weeks, it's not going to be lots of fun. People do it for the money, and it's a rational choice, I think. Lots of people work those hours for less money, to be sure. I think people can definately put up with it and stick with it if they find an office with good people. If you go to a place like Georgetown, you have a shot (maybe, depending on the economy) of summering as a 1L somewhere, or splitting as a 2L - it will let you compare environments. I really like the firm i'm going to work for. It's still not going to be super fun sometimes, but I have an environment where I will at least have some professional development and work in an area of law I enjoy.

    I also know people who have seen lawyers get put on assignments for one sensitive client that means they are conflicted out of almost every other client's work, and find out that 90% of the work for that client is document review, which means they get no skills, and can't work for anyone else, so they are forced out after a few years with no job skills.

    Smart OCI'ing will solve this, and will require effort, but not for a few years.

    kaliyama on
    fwKS7.png?1
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Kalkino wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »

    Personally after I finish my masters I'm going to consider law school. I have no intentions of practicing law but since I'm considering politics and know I want to work in public policy it'd be worth getting a JD. Going law school definitely doesn't mean you have to a lawyer at all much less forever. If you end up hating law there is plenty you can do.

    If you do not intend to practice law, do not go to law school. It's true that lawyers have a great deal of power in shaping public policy, but getting a JD really is not the way to go unless you want to enact change through litigation. Three years of law school is expensive, and also a major opportunity cost. If working in public policy is your goal and you do not want to actually practice, there are far better uses of those three years.

    I agree with your logic so far as cost goes - if you are in a situation where law school is very expensive then it is a bit of a punt, which would be the case re OP. However law school is damm useful for all sorts of professions, especially government work. I would say that over half (maybe 2/3rds) of my class at law school do not practice, and probably a fair few of them had no intention of doing so, yet most use their degree to some degree (lolz) everyday. Of course this isn't the US, and we didn't need to pay the fees you may well have to do so. Also, I have no idea what it is like in the States, but civil service employers in my country and the UK seem to find candidates with law degrees or actual experience as lawyers very attractive, possibly as they see them as more useful than someone with a degree in policy.

    In the UK, law is an undergraduate (thus almost free..do only oxbride charge extra?) degree or a qucik one year conversion. It is true that people with legal experience may be attractive civil service employees in some instances, but you'll be even more attractive if you get a masters in an area studies/public policy area in a well-connected school.

    kaliyama on
    fwKS7.png?1
  • X3x3nonX3x3non Registered User regular
    edited October 2008

    Lots of other people will be cool, and you can always meet people who aren't law students. You'll form a bond with people over studying + surviving that will last for a lifetime. Like I said on your LSAT tread, the thing is a treadmill, not a race. People will overstudy in ridiculous ways. I worked + went on weekend events a lot in undergrad, so I had a pretty busy schedule. For law school I stopped that and committed to a) running and b) studying. I had plenty of time for both, as well as having friends, socializing, and playing video games. It's stressful at points, but if you can plan and manage your workload, it's still really easy. Way less than a 40 hr/wk committment, with very busy periods when your legal writing memo is due and you have exams, but even then it's not so bad. People freak out because of self-induced stress and 4 years of doing easy liberal arts assignments, not because it's really that hard.

    I feel this is solid advice. Med school, which I have experience with, is the same way. It is a treadmill. Once you have found a steady pace, it really is no problem at all to manage. There is plenty of time for non academic things. Remember when you went to college and you felt like "Oh my god this is so much more work than High School!!!" and then after 1 semester it became little more than routine and you had a fucking good time? Law school/med school is the same way. 1st semester you get used to things, settle into a routine and continue to enjoy life. It really isn't the killer it is made out to be.

    X3x3non on
  • UltimanecatUltimanecat Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    A Bear wrote: »
    Hlubocky wrote: »
    I'm not sure how this will shake out by the time you are ready to get a job, but the job market sucks now... at least in Chicago. My fiance did well at a top 10 law school, got a firm job, and is looking to find a new job after 3 years or so. She has been looking for months, talking to recruiters, doing interviews, and so far has found nothing. I can't even imagine what people who went to a lesser school are doing for work.

    You have just highlighted one of my larger fears of going to a big, expensive school. I think I have a standing job offer from the firm I interned at, but it is decidedly a local firm and I have a good feeling a $100k+ debt load would be hard to overcome working there, and would obviously be a disaster if I have no job at all. That being said, all the lawyers there gave me the same sort of advice to start in a huge firm, make lots of money to pay off my debt, and then come to a place where I will enjoy myself more but maybe won't be compensated the same, and it seems like the biglaw world takes a lot of people from top schools simply due to where they are from.

    There is indeed a glut of lawyers in America right now - a bit of a pet peeve of mine, since it is mostly the doing of the ABA. The other "prestige" profession, medicine, also has a regulatory body in place; the difference is that the AMA actually limits the amount of new doctors entering the job market. As it stands, if you want to go to law school in America, there is a school out there that will let you in, no matter what. The same cannot be said about med school.

    If we're going to insist on keeping law a prestige profession, then at least make it harder to be a lawyer. Otherwise, we really should just do like most of the world and make it a degree like any other.

    But that is neither here nor there. You can't predict the future, so worrying about things like the job market now isn't really helpful. Tackle it when it comes, if it does.

    Ultimanecat on
    SteamID : same as my PA forum name
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    My inbox was full of fee wavers today--highlights are U of Illinois, Northwestern (!), and Columbia (!!!). I guess if its free, I might be casting an even wider net then. Not that I should really have a chance in the latter two, or at best would be in the lower 25th of the incoming class. Still, what would I have to lose?

    kaliyama wrote: »
    You're right that odds are better for you getting into Georgetown, but there's no reason to not toss your application in at Duke and UVA, at least. If you applied to them, i'm reasonably confident you would get into at least one school that's better than Georgetown. I think i'd rather go to Duke than to Georgetown - it is better ranked, and Georgetown is a bit of a factory - large classes, lots of tools, kind of impersonal. But that's not to say you shouldn't go there if you get in or that you won't have a good time; you just have to carve out your own niche. Lots of people at any law school are tools, it's the nature of the beast.
    '
    Lots of other people will be cool, and you can always meet people who aren't law students. You'll form a bond with people over studying + surviving that will last for a lifetime. Like I said on your LSAT tread, the thing is a treadmill, not a race. People will overstudy in ridiculous ways. I worked + went on weekend events a lot in undergrad, so I had a pretty busy schedule. For law school I stopped that and committed to a) running and b) studying. I had plenty of time for both, as well as having friends, socializing, and playing video games. It's stressful at points, but if you can plan and manage your workload, it's still really easy. Way less than a 40 hr/wk committment, with very busy periods when your legal writing memo is due and you have exams, but even then it's not so bad. People freak out because of self-induced stress and 4 years of doing easy liberal arts assignments, not because it's really that hard.

    2) Biglaw's going to suck. Some people enjoy it, but unless you enjoy working 50-80 hour weeks, it's not going to be lots of fun. People do it for the money, and it's a rational choice, I think. Lots of people work those hours for less money, to be sure. I think people can definately put up with it and stick with it if they find an office with good people. If you go to a place like Georgetown, you have a shot (maybe, depending on the economy) of summering as a 1L somewhere, or splitting as a 2L - it will let you compare environments. I really like the firm i'm going to work for. It's still not going to be super fun sometimes, but I have an environment where I will at least have some professional development and work in an area of law I enjoy.

    I also know people who have seen lawyers get put on assignments for one sensitive client that means they are conflicted out of almost every other client's work, and find out that 90% of the work for that client is document review, which means they get no skills, and can't work for anyone else, so they are forced out after a few years with no job skills.

    Smart OCI'ing will solve this, and will require effort, but not for a few years.

    I don't worry too much about Georgetown being a factory (as a big public university UNC is pretty impersonal and I think I've even grown to like that about it) and would concur that Duke is a better school, and seems to place a lot better than Georgetown, and now with Northwestern and Columbia letting me apply for free, I guess a whole new box is open (albeit my odds at getting into either NW or C are slim to none). I always liked the idea of UVA--but never thought I could get in there either. I guess for the price of an app fee, what would I have to lose? I talk with UNC's law advisor on Wendsday, hopefully she will have some advice to me after looking over my transcript and whatnot. If only I got 1-2 points higher on the LSAT, then I would be a little more confident that T14 was a reality and not a reach.

    I also really like the treadmill analogy, so the major trick is not to dig yourself in a hole? I've never found my undergraduate studies to be particularly difficult (in regards to X3x3non's comment) but that not to say at some points they weren't hard, my high school was pretty good at preparing their students for college and in most regards the work freshman year was a step backwards, not forwards, in terms of stress. Places online tell me not to take on a job as an L1 (I had thought about tutoring for the LSAT on the side) but I'm even more worried that I'm supposed to get married next September--everything should be in place by then, so its just a weekend trip back to my hometown to get hitched, but starting married life and law school at the same time? I'm looking at this as a bonus as she will be there to support me (and I her as she begins her career) I just want to make sure we can handle whatever comes our way.

    So it just seems like everyone bites the biglaw bullet for the first few years, and then gets out of Dodge. I suppose if I'm lucky enough I'll do the same thing unless I take a shine to the line of work (a distinct possibility, I'm a bit of a workaholic). I suppose I had always seen myself practicing in North Carolina, but if biglaw takes me to more interesting places thats a bonus. I hear the west coast is a lot more active in promoting better work environments than over here--in some firms its even a perverse badge of pride how much they work. But I guess a national law school could take me anywhere.

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  • edited October 2008
    Hey to everyone responding, my GPA is sub standard and I have yet to take the LSAT, but I know I can do decent on the LSAT, is there any hope if my GPA is around 2.9 to get into law school with a good LSAT?

    I had some anxiety and didn't really want to be in college and it lead to a lack of focus (note: I wasn't drinking or partying much, just very unhappy and stressed dealing with alcoholic parents).

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  • UltimanecatUltimanecat Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    A low GPA and a high LSAT will be interpreted as the "lazy underachiever" by most any law school. Like I said in my last post, you can find a law school that will let you in no matter what - the real question is whether you can get into a school that would be worth the expense, both in money and in years off of the job market.

    Most of the schools that people really want to get into will not look highly upon your GPA. They are ideally looking for people who will be successful in law school and beyond, and to that end they are looking both for signs of extended commitment (a high undergrad GPA) and general aptitude (a high LSAT score). Different schools weigh each one differently (Boalt here in California focuses mainly on GPA, for example), but once you're below a 3.0, things start getting tough at pretty much any major school.

    It's hard to say what you should do - you may realistically have to spend some time working in a related field and/or earning good grades in a paralegal or other program to undo how your undergrad GPA works against you.

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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Hey to everyone responding, my GPA is sub standard and I have yet to take the LSAT, but I know I can do decent on the LSAT, is there any hope if my GPA is around 2.9 to get into law school with a good LSAT?

    I had some anxiety and didn't really want to be in college and it lead to a lack of focus (note: I wasn't drinking or partying much, just very unhappy and stressed dealing with alcoholic parents).

    Lots of people around here have seemed to find ways to transfer between in-state schools and in effect turn all their poor grades into nongraded credit hours in their new school. I don't know if that will be possible in your particular case (or if the people I heard this from were just full of crap and didn't properly understand the process) but it could be something to look into. I do know all the outside credits I brought into UNC weren't graded, but those were from high school.

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  • UltimanecatUltimanecat Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Yeah, you can transfer out of one law school into another after your first year. That is an option, but you better make damn sure that you knock your grades out of the park or you still won't be helping yourself too much.

    Somewhere on the LSAC website they have a little tool that lets you put in your GPA and LSAT score, and then gives you a rundown of how many people get into most schools with that combination. Might want to give it a look.

    Edit: Here you go.

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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Somewhere on the LSAC website they have a little tool that lets you put in your GPA and LSAT score, and then gives you a rundown of how many people get into most schools with that combination. Might want to give it a look.

    Edit: Here you go.

    In the same vein as the LSAC link, here are two more pretty good websites that provide some metrics for the probability of acceptance in most law schools.

    LSN

    Law School Probability Calculator

    A Bear on
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  • teopehtteopeht Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Just a quick point.

    I was offered a spot at a Tier 3 with a full ride and a Tier 2 with nothing. I took the Tier 2 and I've regretted it. Granted I haven't started working yet, but I know plenty of people at the Tier 3 that are working in firms just fine and enjoyed their law school experience. Mines has been anything but; the school doesn't care for the students, we're given little to no assistance in either mentors or future job prospects.

    tl;dr - If you're not in a very top school, bad grades will matter for job prospects. Actually learning something can be of more value than just going to a school with a high rank.

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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    A new question: Are fee wavers generally regional? It seems like most of the schools emailing me are from the southeast. Is this coincidence, or due to my good but not great scores, or just the notion that most people seriously consider the schools in closer proximity to them? Ironically, if an interesting yet distant school waved my fee I'd apply, but probably wont unless they do.

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  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Fee waivers are almost completely an issue of economics--if a school has a low ratio of qualified applicants, the waivers go out to increase applications. It's a way to boost your stats. I can't imagine that waiving a $90 fee really has any impact on where people end up going, when the cost per year is about 400 times the application fee.

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  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    A low GPA and a high LSAT will be interpreted as the "lazy underachiever" by most any law school. Like I said in my last post, you can find a law school that will let you in no matter what - the real question is whether you can get into a school that would be worth the expense, both in money and in years off of the job market.

    Most of the schools that people really want to get into will not look highly upon your GPA. They are ideally looking for people who will be successful in law school and beyond, and to that end they are looking both for signs of extended commitment (a high undergrad GPA) and general aptitude (a high LSAT score). Different schools weigh each one differently (Boalt here in California focuses mainly on GPA, for example), but once you're below a 3.0, things start getting tough at pretty much any major school.

    It's hard to say what you should do - you may realistically have to spend some time working in a related field and/or earning good grades in a paralegal or other program to undo how your undergrad GPA works against you.

    Schools don't really care how you'll do in their admit decisions, to be honest. LSAT is weighted more heavily. Boalt is a giant outlier in this respect. As a splitter, as long as your LSAT is high enough, you can go somewhere good - remember that schools only have to report their 25th percentile numbers. So they can afford to fill a low GPA slot if you can offer a high LSAT slot. I'd aim for 170+ for it to be worthwhile, though.

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  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    teopeht wrote: »
    Just a quick point.

    I was offered a spot at a Tier 3 with a full ride and a Tier 2 with nothing. I took the Tier 2 and I've regretted it. Granted I haven't started working yet, but I know plenty of people at the Tier 3 that are working in firms just fine and enjoyed their law school experience. Mines has been anything but; the school doesn't care for the students, we're given little to no assistance in either mentors or future job prospects.

    tl;dr - If you're not in a very top school, bad grades will matter for job prospects. Actually learning something can be of more value than just going to a school with a high rank.

    You don't learn a whole lot in law school - I mean, you do, but you're going to learn things that are a lot more practical a lot more quickly once you are in a clerkship or actual legal job. The marginal benefits moving from t3 to t2 are very context specific - the relative ranking and quality of those schools. There are universal benefits from attending the top tiers of schools - Stanford/Yale/Harvard, then the top 10 or so, then another hard cutoff at 14, and then another one at 20 or 25. After that, things get murkier and law school is overall a much less appealing option unless you're not paying much for it.

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  • KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    A Bear wrote: »
    A new question: Are fee wavers generally regional? It seems like most of the schools emailing me are from the southeast. Is this coincidence, or due to my good but not great scores, or just the notion that most people seriously consider the schools in closer proximity to them? Ironically, if an interesting yet distant school waved my fee I'd apply, but probably wont unless they do.

    I've gotten most of the same waivers you have - I get the impression that more waivers come from schools in areas not as popular for law students - namely, not on the east coast. Northwestern, Duke, and UCLA are top-tiered schools but they send out waivers to entice people to look a bit farther afield than just the east coast. I'd be surprised if Harvard or NYU or even Georgetown sent out waivers.

    KalTorak on
  • jefe414jefe414 "My Other Drill Hole is a Teleporter" Mechagodzilla is Best GodzillaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    My sister went to law school at the University of Virginia (ranked 9th or something overall). This is a corporate attorney in Washington D.C. and makes a huge pile of money. My brother-in-law just made partner at another big corporate firm in D.C. He went to law school at UPenn (7th overall). He makes piles of cash. My sister-in-law went to George Washington and took a job at the D.A.s office in NYC. Pay and vacation stink but it's a municipal job (earn a partial pension when you retire after 5 years) and will get the pick of the litter of jobs when she leaves.

    Their advice (I thought about law myself): Go to a good school no matter what it takes and graduate at the top of your class. Obvious of course.

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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Updated the OP, its time to figure out just how much money I should spend on applications.

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  • DJ-99DJ-99 Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Assuming your undergrad program is at all respectable, and you haven't spent your free time hiding under a rock in an effort to avoid extra-curricular activities, with a 3.7 and a 170 LSAT you should be a very qualified candidate. The best way to save money on applications, therefore, is not to apply to a bunch of schools that aren't so good.

    I'm not the most informed person ever when it comes to law schools, but a lot of those schools on your list I would classify as safety schools for someone with your credentials. Choose the ones that are ranked 20 or below and, unless they especially interest you, cut at least half of them, for starters.

    Are there different application windows for law school? I'm sure you missed the first window, if there is, but if there are still 2 windows remaining I would apply primarily to top-15 schools, then see where you get in.

    Aim high. Don't satisfy yourself with a school that's ranked 20th just because that's better than most people can do if you can get into a top 10.

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  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I currently attend a respectable enough undergraduate school, but the whole hiding under a rock thing is almost accurate--I have a good list of activity in the community, but almost nothing school extracurricular related. I'm considering myself the weakest possible candidate with my numbers, not because I am, but because I know I am not the absolute strongest and don't want to overplay my possibilities. That being said I suppose I really don't have anything to lose (beyond a couple hundred bucks) by sending out letters to most of the T14. I'm pretty late in the application cycle, all early admissions are pretty much closed, but some schools allow people as late as July/August. I have no idea how/when these places will get back to me.

    A Bear on
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  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Nobody cares about your extracurriculars unless they're really, really interesting. You're applying pretty late - but with your numbers, you're still almost guaranteed entry to everywhere you applied except UVA and Georgetown, which are the only two schools you should consider going to, especially because EVERY school is feeling the pinch of the recession at recruiting time. Why are you applying to Fordham but not NYU or Columbia?

    You have three target schools, UM, UVA and G-Town. Every other school on that list is a reach. You don't need to list a dozen safeties. Drop them and apply to Columbia NYU, and leave like W&M, Fordham and George Mason or something. You really, really don't want to go anywhere but a T14 right now.

    kaliyama on
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  • LaPuzzaLaPuzza Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I will say, in this market, you'll want to strongly consider a school in a place where you'll want to work after graduation. Getting hired in another state, without a license, is far less likely than the school-to-clerkship-to-offer route in a tight market.

    LaPuzza on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I think I want to work in my home state of North Carolina, and that would probably mean Wake Forest then, as Duke grads seem to often leave to larger markets. But at the same time, both DC and NYC are places I would enjoy as well, and could see myself working in those regions.

    A Bear on
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  • Evil_ReaverEvil_Reaver Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I knew I wasn't the only one thinking about going to law school.

    So, this is more towards Bear since he has recently done this. My situation is that I work for a university and full-time employees get tuition assistance so after weighing all of my options and looking at the various programs, I have decided that I'm going to apply to the law school.

    I have registered with LSAC and their stupid data collection service. I'm taking the LSAT in two weeks. My letters of recommendation and undergrad transcripts have been sent to LSAC. I'm working on my personal statement.

    My question is:

    Do I apply through LSAC before my LSAT score is reported or do I have to wait until my score comes in (which won't be until the end of February/beginning of March)? I spoke with an admissions counsellor at my university's law school and she said that they won't even look at applications until the applicant's LSAT score is available. Based on that, I'm not sure what happens if I apply before my score is reported. Does LSAC send my score to them automatically?

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  • KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    I knew I wasn't the only one thinking about going to law school.

    So, this is more towards Bear since he has recently done this. My situation is that I work for a university and full-time employees get tuition assistance so after weighing all of my options and looking at the various programs, I have decided that I'm going to apply to the law school.

    I have registered with LSAC and their stupid data collection service. I'm taking the LSAT in two weeks. My letters of recommendation and undergrad transcripts have been sent to LSAC. I'm working on my personal statement.

    My question is:

    Do I apply through LSAC before my LSAT score is reported or do I have to wait until my score comes in (which won't be until the end of February/beginning of March)? I spoke with an admissions counsellor at my university's law school and she said that they won't even look at applications until the applicant's LSAT score is available. Based on that, I'm not sure what happens if I apply before my score is reported. Does LSAC send my score to them automatically?

    I'd wait until after you get your score to start applying. The score will give you a good idea of the range of schools you should be applying to, and if nothing else once you have your score you'll probably start getting waivers from places, so that could save you a good chunk of cash.

    KalTorak on
  • A BearA Bear Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Do I apply through LSAC before my LSAT score is reported or do I have to wait until my score comes in (which won't be until the end of February/beginning of March)? I spoke with an admissions counsellor at my university's law school and she said that they won't even look at applications until the applicant's LSAT score is available. Based on that, I'm not sure what happens if I apply before my score is reported. Does LSAC send my score to them automatically?

    Most schools will let you apply before you have taken the LSAT and will accept your application with the test pending. Of course, until they get your score (and I'm pretty sure LSAC will forward that automatically, they pretty much broadcast your score to everyone) they are missing a very important part of your application. So while your application will be considered "complete" you will not be truly considered a candidate until they know your score, and its that score that really matters most. Basically, applying before you have your score is a way of saying "hey, I'm interested in your school" and allows you to make some of the earlier final deadlines, as some of these schools stop taking applications this month. Of course, the huge issue there is that while I bet you have a pretty good idea how you think you will score, in the unlikely situation where you are way off your mark you might be over or under-qualified for said program.

    I know some people who were in very similar situations in previous years and went ahead and applied to their top schools before they got their scores, and most of them were spot on in their predictions and got in. Good luck!

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  • Evil_ReaverEvil_Reaver Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    A Bear wrote: »
    Do I apply through LSAC before my LSAT score is reported or do I have to wait until my score comes in (which won't be until the end of February/beginning of March)? I spoke with an admissions counsellor at my university's law school and she said that they won't even look at applications until the applicant's LSAT score is available. Based on that, I'm not sure what happens if I apply before my score is reported. Does LSAC send my score to them automatically?

    Most schools will let you apply before you have taken the LSAT and will accept your application with the test pending. Of course, until they get your score (and I'm pretty sure LSAC will forward that automatically, they pretty much broadcast your score to everyone) they are missing a very important part of your application. So while your application will be considered "complete" you will not be truly considered a candidate until they know your score, and its that score that really matters most. Basically, applying before you have your score is a way of saying "hey, I'm interested in your school" and allows you to make some of the earlier final deadlines, as some of these schools stop taking applications this month. Of course, the huge issue there is that while I bet you have a pretty good idea how you think you will score, in the unlikely situation where you are way off your mark you might be over or under-qualified for said program.

    I know some people who were in very similar situations in previous years and went ahead and applied to their top schools before they got their scores, and most of them were spot on in their predictions and got in. Good luck!

    Honestly, this whole process of applying has been retarded. Basically LSAC has managed to become a middleman and is making tons of money off of a system that doesn't need to exist. </rant>

    I have a pretty good idea of what I'm going to score on the LSAT at this point, but I'd like to know how you scored so high. Obviously some people are just good at standardized tests and others have an easier time with the content on the LSAT. I've been preparing for months now and I'm not making big strides towards my target. Any tips you might like to share?

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  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    A Bear wrote: »
    I think I want to work in my home state of North Carolina, and that would probably mean Wake Forest then, as Duke grads seem to often leave to larger markets. But at the same time, both DC and NYC are places I would enjoy as well, and could see myself working in those regions.

    I promise you that you can work in NC with a Duke or Michigan degree - it's not that Duke grads couldn't get a job there, it's that most Duke grads don't want to stay there.

    kaliyama on
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