Late application to NYU / attending lower ranked school for public interest?

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Marisamichelle

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Late application to NYU / attending lower ranked school for public interest?

Postby Marisamichelle » Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:12 pm

Context:

I took my LSAT twice in 2017 and 2018 but never applied until this year because I didn't quite hit my goal score and knew I wasn't planning to retake — I've been working full time for a few years and had maxed out the study time I was able to give and had left the test feeling like I did about as well as I was during practice. I was also starting to have career success so I tabled the idea but recently became 100% sure that it's worth dropping the marketing career to pursue law school.

Stats:

LSAT: 162, then 167
GPA: 3.94

Schools:

I really need financial aid to consider going to school -- I don't have family financial support and will be relying on loans, savings, and part-time work (worst case) to cover COA. Because I didn't hit the 170 mark that I wanted, I assumed T6 and most likely T14 were all off the table for any shot at scholarship, but I've gotten scholarships from every school I've been accepted to so far and I'm wondering if I undershot.

Huge preference to be in NYC but applied all over to see what offers I could get / increase my ability to negotiate.

Qs:
Knowing that I want to go into public interest/social justice and not big law, how important is ranking?
I could technically still late apply to NYU. Is it even worth it?
Thoughts on the schools below/ any advice?

Accepted at:
Cardozo - 55k scholarship / year
Boston University - full tuition covered
ASU - scholarship offer shared over the phone but amount TBC

Waiting on:
Fordham
UCLA
Vanderbilt
UT Austin

dvlthndr

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Re: Late application to NYU / attending lower ranked school for public interest?

Postby dvlthndr » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:06 pm

Most schools have loan forgiveness programs for people that do public interest work for ~10 years. Quality varies, but programs at "top" schools are very generous (for example, NYU: https://www.law.nyu.edu/financialaid/lrap). If you are 100% serious about doing public interest work, you should consider if you "need" financial aid.

In terms of general admissions, I think you undershot. Mylsn suggests that you would have been competitive at CCN, or any of the lower T14. You may not be in the running for a full ride, but that might not have mattered (see my point above), and you might have received some partial scholarships.

If you were already settled on doing public interest, my honest opinion is that you shot yourself in the foot by not applying more broadly. I would throw in the late NYU application, but don't get your hopes up (there is a slim, but non-zero chance that they take you). Rankings still matter in public interest, particularly if you want to work with big/famous organizations or do impact litigation. Of the current options, I would take the free ride at BU, or try to negotiate a free ride with UCLA/Vanderbilt.

QContinuum

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Re: Late application to NYU / attending lower ranked school for public interest?

Postby QContinuum » Tue Mar 24, 2020 5:29 pm

Marisamichelle wrote:Knowing that I want to go into public interest/social justice and not big law, how important is ranking?

It depends on what kind of "public interest/social justice" work you envision doing.

At one extreme: Are you set on being a state/local (not federal) prosecutor or public defender, or working "in the trenches" for a state/local nonprofit providing free legal services to disadvantaged, indigent clients like the homeless, the elderly, veterans, immigrants, etc. (think a blizzard of landlord/tenant cases fighting evictions or forcing landlords to make necessary repairs; asylum cases; domestic violence cases; etc.)? If so, rankings don't matter (well, short of attending a "Tier 4" or below law school), and you should attend law school in the city you want to practice in. You should expect a salary in the low/mid five figures ($40-60k starting is typical, with some positions starting even lower than that, even in high cost of living cities). You may "max out" at $70-80k even after many successful years in the field, and you could easily "max out" in the $50-60k range.

At the other extreme: Are you set on doing "impact" litigation, i.e., litigating high-profile civil rights cases, generally in the federal courts, with a "national" advocacy organization like the ACLU or the EFF, or "international" human rights law, with the UN or Amnesty or other such high-profile multinational organization? If so, rankings are hugely important, even more so than for BigLaw. These jobs are only realistically achievable from the "Top 6" law schools, preferably Yale or NYU (RTK), and even then there's no guarantee. You should expect a starting salary in the mid/high five figures - $50-60k is typical, and keep in mind these jobs (to the extent they exist) are typically based in high cost-of-living cities. You may eventually hit $100k after many years in the field if you're successful, but no guarantees - you should go in expecting to max out (not start, but max out) in the $70-80k range.

In the middle: Are you set on being a federal prosecutor or public defender? Rankings are very important, just as important as for BigLaw. In fact, a common path to federal prosecutor positions involves first joining BigLaw for a few years after graduating. As a federal prosecutor, you'd start in the mid/high five figures (if you go directly into government upon graduating), and very realistically make over $100k in a few years. Excluding any time you work in BigLaw, you'd likely "max out" in the $120-150k range (roughly).



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