Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
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Close Diamond
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Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby Close Diamond » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:07 pm

Pardon my ignorance about non-traditional students. I'm hoping to gather some information for next cycle.

In the six years since I graduated with a BFA I've spent my time helping to found, run, and teach at a nonprofit Buddhist educational center (501c3). During these years I've also studied extensively in Tibetan Buddhists monasteries in both North and South India and taught Buddhism, meditation, and yoga at different locations throughout the country and world. I also spend up to a month at a time in solitary meditation retreats. As for work, I've freelanced in web development just enough to pay the bills.

And if it matters, I'm a white dude.

So, am I a non-traditional applicant and, if so, how can I use my experiences in gaining admission to law schools?

twopoodles
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby twopoodles » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:13 pm

If you're still without mortgage and kids, you're not that untraditional, but a little older and that will help you. You don't need to do a lot other than write about it like you just did...demonstrate that you devote yourself to a passion.

Mr. Pablo
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby Mr. Pablo » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:30 pm

I have a BFA, and I graduated 6 years ago. Yay us. I would say that we are quasi-non-traditional. I have highlighted my odd young life, and my career as an artist and an entrepreneur. I am hoping that it works. My school didn't calculate a GPA, and my LSAC academic summary is a page of blank boxes. I just made sure to press home my post-graduate achievements.

mhernton
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby mhernton » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:04 am

I'd say that you're non-traditional. You'll be 7 years out of school by the time they read your application. You UGPA isn't rated nearly as heavily as if you were a traditional candidate (within 3 years of graduation). The LSAT will be the key since you're a white dude. In my opinion our(non-traditional) standards are little different. We are competing for fewer slots at the schools, but they're are fewer of us. You need to make sure that your application is spot on. Professional Cover letter and Resume. You need to have a clear reason that you want to go to Law School and it needs to come out in your writing. In my case I'm a non-traditional URM with lots of military experience. I was interesting enough to let on the first pass, but I crafted my application to make sure they took notice. Good Luck.

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SMUDallas2010
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby SMUDallas2010 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:42 am

If you are 7 years out of college and you don't have more to offer a law school than a 22 year old just graduating college (no offense intended) then you probably haven't done much in those 7 years and I would certainly wonder what you have to offer a law school.

TLS members tends to tell non-traditional students that masters degrees don't mean anything and their work experience is a "soft". If you truly believe that nonsense then law school clearly isn't for you.

I'd be happy to go up against a college grad whether interviewing for a seat in law school or a position at a law firm. I'm proud of my graduate degree and 9 years of work experience. Everyone should be.

And again, no offense intended to college students or recent grads. I was one of you too. You'll learn you are much more valuable once you are removed from school and your talents are truly put to the test. Especially when you have to pay your mortgage every month.

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Close Diamond
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby Close Diamond » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:21 pm

mhernton wrote:You need to have a clear reason that you want to go to Law School and it needs to come out in your writing.

Is this unique to NT's or common advice to all applicants? TLS's article on personal statements certainly recommends writing about the motivation for wanting to go to law school. However, only one of the schools I'm considering applying to mentions writing about one's reason for attending law school (on their websites, with regard to PS). And almost all of the sample PS's that these school provide as successful statements don't broach the subject of motivation for attending law school… at least not explicitly.

bahama
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby bahama » Thu Dec 03, 2009 5:16 pm

It's much more important for non-trads.

For your typical 22 yr old with a BA it's pretty obvious why they are applying.

For non-trads, the adcomm want to understand why you are taking your life in a different direction when you have already been doing something else for a while. Also, a lot of non-trads are giving up more (good job etc) so the schools want to understand why you are doing that.

I would also add what you hope to accomplish by attending law school, since someone who is almost 30 ought to have more defined goals than someone straight out of UG.

umichgrad03
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby umichgrad03 » Mon Dec 28, 2009 8:50 pm

Not to hijack the thread, I just wanted to throw in my story, as I relate to this!
I think I'm considered non-traditional as well. I have a BA from UofM, an M.A. from UofA (Tucson) and I've been working in the world of zoning and land use law for 1.5 years. I want to go to law school to work in land use law and cultural resources law (I worked as an archaeologist for two years as well). Because I work in such a small town and "wear many hats," I am eyeball deep in legal interpretation and law all day. I end up doing what some municipalities will send to their lawyers. As we don't have that luxury, I've had a lot of on-the-job legal training and work closely with our town prosectutor. I also utilize land use case law in Arizona while applying our town ordinances. I'll be turning 30 in February and am taking the June 2010 LSAT in Ann Arbor. I'm hoping (perhaps mistakenly) that my real-world experience will help my applications. I've delayed my test date three times already because I end up making some excuse or another in my mind that I should postpone it. By taking it in A2, I have to buy a plane ticket back home. Ready or not, I'm taking it in June :)

I'm happy to find other folks who are a bit older like me as well.

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summerstar
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby summerstar » Mon Dec 28, 2009 9:08 pm

hey...its nice to hear the stories from the NT's. I think we have a solid perspective that is refreshing, after reading toooooo many jello shot induced posts on other threads.

I decided to go study law VERY late in the game...well after my Master's. I really hope I find a school that is accomodating and welcoming. I 've found several so far that are somewhat non-traditional themselves, but they get a bad rap on here because having part-time programs keeps them out of the elite class.

Where are you guys applying?

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kalvano
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby kalvano » Tue Dec 29, 2009 12:26 am

My experience has been, so far, that if your numbers don't match then you are SOL.

BUT, if you are close to one of the numbers (median GPA / LSAT), then as a non-traditional student, I think you get a better look. It's not like a URM boost or anything that dramatic, but if you are competitive with the school's numbers, then you get a longer look than someone straight out of undergrad.

I would also say it is very important to have a great application package, though. Yes, they won't weigh your GPA as heavily as they will your LSAT, but (and this is purely speculation) I would be willing to bet that a non-traditional application is held to a higher standard as far as professionalism, resume, etc. Make sure it is absolutely correct and within the school's guidelines.

Also, yes, I've been told by many schools that for someone who has been out of undergrad a long time, it's much more important to give a sense of why you wish to go to law school. They want to know why you are giving up [x] to go back to school. If you don't communicate that well, I would imagine it's a bigger ding than for a younger person.

I think you get more slack with your numbers, but I think they expect much clearer communication and reasoning from a non-traditional.

umichgrad03
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby umichgrad03 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:29 am

I've been out of graduate school since 2007...and I plan on going back to school full time. For me, working in archaeology, then in zoning administration/planning, I found that I love the legal aspects of my job.

I haven't calculated my LSDAS GPA, but I have a 3.9 from the University of Michigan (B.A.) and a 4.0 in my Master's coursework at the University of Arizona. I wrote my thesis on the black market in antiquities (a.k.a. looted artifacts) and the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Israel and Palestine (yes, I call Gaza and the WB Palestine). I studied international law very closely for my research and loved every minute of it. I cannot wait to get into the field.

As for where I'm applying...I'm aiming high, back to my alma mater in Ann Arbor as well as NYU. My safety schools will be ASU and U of A here in Arizona. I know it's a long shot, but if I score well on the LSAT, I hope to do ED in A2. I know I need to make my reasons for going back clear in my application, I also hope to express my real-world experience. My letter of recs will be coming from lawyers I've worked with directly in my job.

I plan on applying to a few more schools than UofM, NYU, ASU and U of A...I just haven't figure out which ones. I will probably apply to U of Chicago as well. No Ohio State...that's blasphemy... ;o)

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vanwinkle
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:34 am

You are non-traditional in that you've been out of college more than 5 years and have work/life experience that someone fresh out of UG doesn't have. Talking about how these experiences have taught you and given you purpose will help, most likely in your PS. What makes you different from most applicants is those six years and what you did with them; talk about them as much as possible.

The guy who said "you need to have a clear reason you want to go to law school" isn't right. They know you want to go to law school from the fact that you're applying to their law school, and the reasons for doing so are often both obvious and typical. Your PS will sound fairly generic if you talk about why you want to go to law school, everyone does that. Instead, talk about how what you've learned in the last six years will help you succeed in the future. Show the school that you have positive qualities and that you've gained those through your years being involved in a nonprofit educational institution. Convince them you're not the same as some kid who's graduating from college and just taking the next step up right away, you have more experience than him, you have a different perspective than him, and you're bringing that additional perspective to law school.

Law schools love diversity. Show them the ways you're not like most applicants and it will help you. You're still going to be largely confined to your numbers, but it will help you get into schools where you're close, and it will definitely help adcomms pick you over someone with similar numbers who lacks that experience.

umichgrad03
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Re: Non-Traditional and, if so, what to do?

Postby umichgrad03 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:51 pm

One thing I'm worried about is not being able to take a prep course. I live two hours from Phoenix, and it would be very difficult for me to drive two hours twice a week to go to a prep course. Not to mention I do not have $1500 at my disposal at this point in time to drop on a course where I'd spend quite a bit in gas driving back and forth to boot. I've seen shorter, online courses, but I also do not have reliable internet at home (I live in an old hippie mining town...). As we speak I'm typing this, and will submit whilst standing in a certain area of my bedroom as the WIFI from a neighbor is only accessible from there. I would like to think that I'm capable of studying for such a test, as I've made it through graduate school. But, there's a part of me that wonders if it wouldn't give me the edge I need...though that could just be wishful thinking and too much reading on TLS from some undergrads who are able to take a course because their parents are able to foot the bill and they don't have to work.
Combined with a full time job...it seems perhaps my best best is just dedicated self study. What are others going to do? I plan on starting slowly this week...just easing myself into it. I'm actually very excited to start studying. Do I hate my job that much?!?!? :)




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