I would retake...prepare really well for six months to a year...improve your reading speed and comprehension and drill harder. I seriously doubt that you have done everything you can do to improve. Anyone capable of a 153 is capable of a 158 or even 160. That 5-7 point increase would mean a world of difference in your prospects for admission and money.
But let's assume for argument's sake that you won't retake...why isn't Howard on the list?
Tuition is, what, $24,000? Howard is surprisingly generous with aid for splitters (at Howard you aren't even a true splitter), and you are right near their median LSAT. Your GPA and softs should get you at least $15,000 in scholly money (I have read where people with lower GPA's have gotten that much) or maybe even $20-25K (the more likely scenario).
$15,000 at Howard (where about 20% of students get biglaw), would be the equivalent to a 75% ride at lower T14 - top-25, and you could get much more money than that because of your GPA.
Think about it, your worst case scenario could be a $10,000 tuition shortfall at a school whose big law prospects rival and arguably even exceed those in the top-25.
If you are against retaking, applying to Howard could be the solution to maximizing your access to biglaw and minimizing debt. You might also consider looking at Duke, Northwestern, Virginia, Berkeley, Texas, Notre Dame, GW, and Emory. Berkeley and Northwestern can be very splitter-friendly for URM's.
Other than that, Cornell, GULC, UCLA, and USC are the only schools I would consider here. I know a 3.9/145 from Morehouse who received 75% at GULC; so it can happen. Your prospects from those other schools on your list (BC, Temple, etc.) are potentially shiTTT.
Scratch off UC-Davis and Hastings, as well as the University of Washington. Their graduates aren't getting jobs, and they are extremely regional. Most URM's regret going to the UW, which rarely - if ever - admits an AA male who didn't play on its football team. Look it up, and you will see that nearly every AA male admitted there in recent years played football.
Instead of Davis or Hastings, apply to Irvine. Class sizes are still comparably small, people are getting jobs, and they are taking a truly holistic approach towards admitting students. Your GPA is above median, and you are a true splitter there. I would take irvine over Davis or hasting every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
That doesn't bode well for AA's and other URM's. The culture may have evolved with the new dean, but the UW administration has a reputation for being "cold" towards American-born blacks and other true URM's. Can't speak for Asians, but they seem to like it.
The other schools suck these days as well. I would give Fordham a shot...depending on $$$.
Try this list:
Berkeley, Virginia, Duke, Northwestern, Cornell, GULC, Texas, Vandy, UCLA, USC, GW, Emory, Notre Dame, Fordham, Irvine, and Howard.
You have much better prospects of admission at your original list of schools, but the job prospects suck!
Either apply to the list I gave you (essentially #9-25 minus Minnesota and WUSTL), or retake. And if you retake and get a 158+, apply to all T-14 plus the others I have listed.
Last edited by PDaddy
on Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.