Everything you want to know about law school admission

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taxguy
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Everything you want to know about law school admission

Postby taxguy » Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:07 am

I've done a LOT of research on law schools and admission. Because I got some great information here on TLS, I thought I would summarize what I have found ( in part in order to help TLS), which should answer a lot of questions. Be aware that this information is based on conversations with various admission officers as well as coming from what I have gleaned in law school. Thus, some of the information is based on my opinion, which others may have a different view.:


1. What factors do law schools use in admission? Law schools use three primary factors:
a. your LSAT
b. Your GPA from ALL schools
c. Your personal statement.

If you have GPAs from various schools, the law school combines it into one formula:The LSDAS. In addition, withdrawals are also taken into account, however, I don't know exactly to what extent.

2. I transferred schools, do law schools count all grades from all schools or just the one I transferred from?
Response: As noted above, they take all grades from all schools including community colleges.


3. I want to ( name school). Does the prestige of the undergraduate school matter?

Response: Everyone that I spoke with note that the prestige of the undergraduate school doesn't matter. Please say that five times. In many cases,
Here is the process for most schools: You are given a score based on your undergrad GPA, LSAT. This is considered along with the personal statement. If you are deemed to be in the bottom 25%, you are usually rejected. If in the top 25% , you are usually accepted. Everyone in between, will be given a harder look at other "soft factors."

4. I did a lot better in my upper class years vs my freshmen year. Do law schools consider this?
Answer: Not really, although they might consider this as a soft factor if you are a borderline applicant.

5. I have a graduate degree and did very well, does this GPA help with the overall formula for admission?
The answer from those that I spoke to is that the graduate GPA does NOT filter into the overall formula for admission. HOWEVER, admission's officers will look at it ( whatever that is worth).

6. I have a CPA, CFA, or other designation. Will that matter for admission?

Answer: Generally your designations are irrelevant. However, they do qualify as a decent soft factor if you are a borderline applicant. It will also help with getting jobs.

7. What soft factors are considered for admission?
Response: as I said, only the undergraduate GPA, LSAT and personal statement are usually considered initially. However, if you are a border line applicant, schools will consider other "soft" factors such as:
* designations
* work experience
* recommendations
* Books and other articles written
* extracurricular activities
* community service
* military service etc.

8. I got a ( name GPA) in college, do I have any chance for law school?
Answer: here is something that really surprised me. Although different schools place differing emphasis on the GPA vs the LSAT, most law schools weigh the LSAT with much greater emphasis than the GPA. Unlike college where a sterling SAT won't get you into a top undergraduate school without a top GPA in high school, law school is different. You can get into a top law school ( other than Harvard, Yale and Stanford and Berkeley), if you have a decent GPA and a hugely stellar LSAT. Many times, the LSAT is even more important than the GPA!

Although for many law schools the formula that weighs the GPA and LSAT differs, the usual formula that I have come across is to take the GPA and multiply it by 10 and add it to the LSAT. This give you the overall formula for admission.

Thus a GPA of 3.2 plus 160 on the LSAT would equal 192. An applicant with a GPA of 3.6 and an LSAT of 156 would have the same score. Thus, high LSATs could easily overcome a lower GPA but high GPA won't overcome a low LSAT for most schools.

The LSAT is thus, very, very crucial. I can't emphasize this enough.

9. Are there any majors that make admission to law school easier/harder?
Answer: Most law schools do NOT take the undergraduate major into account. However, generally majoring in a performance major such as music or art isn't as well received as other types of majors. However, although this was mentioned to me, I don't think that that law school changes the formula for admission for even these majors. Thus, a GPA of a 3.4 will be considered the same whether you major in economics, English, accounting, engineering or music as far as the LSDAS formula.

10. Do I need to major in ( put major here) to become a legal specialist in tax law or intellectual property?

Answer: No, I have seen history and philosophy majors who are superlative lawyers in all fields. However, certainly majoring in accounting does help in tax law as majoring in a hard science or engineering would help for intellectual property. However, I have been told that for Patent prosecution, you do need a hard science background.

11. Are there any specific majors or courses in college that can help with doing well in law school that other majors?

Answer: As I noted, some majors can be more helpful than others for specific disciplines. For the all important first year in law school, which determines law review, ability to transfer to other schools etc, having some constitutional law in college and good writing skills help the most. Constitutional law helps in both your constitutional law class and in criminal law.

12. How do I do well on the LSAT? Do I have to take a review course?

Answer: You can do well on the LSAT by self study of the exams. However, review courses can help . The top review courses are considered:

a. Test Masters
b. Power Score
c. Princeton Review
d. Kaplan

13. Do I have to go to a top 15 or top 20 law school in order to get a job?
Answer: A lot depends on your goals. If you want to work for big prestigious law firm, you generally either need to graduate from a top 15 or so law school, or need to graduate in the top 10% of the law school or be on law review. However, even if you lack these credentials, working for a law firm is still viable IF you do a lot of hustling and maybe impress someone with your personality and good law school activities such as moot court champion.

If you don't go to a top 15 or so law school, and you want to work in a law firm, you should then go to the best law school in the state that you want to practice in.

Understand, most law firms will hire locally and most law school reputations are regional once you get outside the top 14 or so law schools. Thus, if you want to work in Maryland, go to Maryland or Georgetown or even George Washington.

If you want to work in Maine, going to University of Maine will be helpful. If you want to work in Florida, the top schools there are Florida, Miami and Florida State and maybe Stetson to a lessor extent.

Also, there are many jobs available for lawyers other than working for large law firms. For example, if you want to work in tax law, many top accounting firms higher lawyers, and your law school name won't matter. The government also hires lawyers regardless of law school ranking. Grades, however, do matter for the government as for most firms.

14. Does going to an out of state law school school, even if not in the top 20, preclude me from getting hired in another state?

Answer No, but it will be harder to get a job than if you went to a good local law school known by all the local firms.

15. The law school that I am considering has a concentration that I want to specialize in. Will that help in getting a job?

Response: Again, it depends on your goals. If you want to work in a major firm, attending a top law school or a top locally known school is better. Thus, going to University of Maryland would be better to get a job in Maryland than attending University of Baltimore and getting a concentration in estate planning etc. However, if your goal is to work in a firm other than a big law firm, having a concentration in the area that you want to work in might be helpful but shouldn't override the better known schools. Thus, I wouldn't go to Cooley or Baltimore over other top schools solely because of the concentration if working at a big law firm was my goal. If working for an accounting firm or government or doing something else was a goal, than getting a desirable concentration might be a good idea.

16. How prevalent are law school jobs? Answer: It is a tough economy. Finding a job will be tough and will take a lot of persistence. You really need to have some defined goals in order to make law school economically justifiable especially if you don't go to a top school. Do NOT go to law school because you don't know what you want to do.

17. What is law school like?

Answer: Law school is very different than anything that you had before. In college, you outlined your book, took notes and simply regurgitated that info for the final. Law school is different. Even if you have a photographic memory and remember every case, you can still fail the exam. Teachers never really teach you how to take the law school exams. I would highly recommend that you read various books on taking a law school exam and on preparing outlines. There are many good law school discussion sites, suc h as this one, that will help you with this.
Also, law school, especially in the first year, is VERY , VERY hard, It requires a HUGE amount of dedications to read all of the cases each day, prepare outlines each day and study these outlines on the weekends. If you want to do well, figure that will take abut 70+ hours per week of work.

18. I bombed the LSAT, can I get into a decent law school?

Answer: the answer will be that it will be very tough for you,but it is still possible. For example, I know someone who graduated with a 3.9+ from the University of Maryland but bombed the LSAT with a 150. Because he ranked so highly in Maryland , he got into Maryland law school despite having a much lower LSAT than would be required for admission.

19: How do I know what LSAT or GPA will be requred for law school?
Answer: There are many law school probability calculators or predictors published. Just goodgle "Law school predictor or law school probability calculator."

Finally, I have written this as a service to other parents. PLEASE do NOT ask me or PM me about specific law schools or about your law school chances.I probably won't know much about your law school anyway.

I hope this helps everyone
Last edited by taxguy on Sun Jun 13, 2010 7:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Logjik
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Re: Everything you want to know about law school admission and t

Postby Logjik » Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:38 am

Hey I'm looking to get into Tax Law as well. I have an accounting background and I will have CPA by the time i'm in LS. DO you have any advice? I'm looking to get into the IRS, hopefully Chief Counsel.

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merichard87
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Re: Everything you want to know about law school admission and t

Postby merichard87 » Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:42 am

You do have to have an engineering/hard science background to become a patent attorney which is a form of intellectual property. If you're going to give out info make sure its correct.

taxguy
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 2:46 pm

Re: Everything you want to know about law school admission and t

Postby taxguy » Sun Jun 13, 2010 3:04 pm

merichard87 wrote:You do have to have an engineering/hard science background to become a patent attorney which is a form of intellectual property. If you're going to give out info make sure its correct.



Response: That is absolutely false. It certainly helps,but it isn't an absolute necessity. The division director of a government organizations that represents the US in international patent and copyright disputes did not have a science background.

As for getting into the IRS, I don't know what to tell you. They changed the rules so that everything supposedly goes into usajobs.gov. You should try to make connections in the chief's counsel office. Connections help.

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merichard87
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Re: Everything you want to know about law school admission

Postby merichard87 » Sun Jun 13, 2010 4:23 pm

In order to prosecute patents you must be registered with the USPTO which requires a hard science/engineering background.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: Everything you want to know about law school admission

Postby Bildungsroman » Sun Jun 13, 2010 4:38 pm

merichard87 wrote:In order to prosecute patents you must be registered with the USPTO which requires a hard science/engineering background.


OP said that engineering/hard science isn't necessary for intellectual property law, which is absolutely true. You need an engineering or hard science degree to be able to prosecute patents, but IP law encompasses significantly more than patent prosecution. Whether it's a good idea to pursue a career in IP law without the ability to prosecute patents is debatable, but a statement that IP law requires an engineering or hard science degree is demonstrably false.

If you're going to give out info make sure its correct.

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merichard87
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Re: Everything you want to know about law school admission

Postby merichard87 » Sun Jun 13, 2010 4:58 pm

I never said everything was incorrect but OP made a blanket statement about IP law and he needs to make the distinction. And honestly even though its not required for litigation there are many firms who want patent litigators with a hard science/engineering background.

Yes its true that not all of IP requires the HS/E background but you shouldn't make a statement that is not applicable all areas under the blanket.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: Everything you want to know about law school admission

Postby Bildungsroman » Sun Jun 13, 2010 5:06 pm

merichard87 wrote:I never said everything was incorrect but OP made a blanket statement about IP law and he needs to make the distinction. And honestly even though its not required for litigation there are many firms who want patent litigators with a hard science/engineering background.

Yes its true that not all of IP requires the HS/E background but you shouldn't make a statement that is not applicable all areas under the blanket.


My bad, your original point was correct. OP should amend to make clear that, while admission to law school is never (that I know of) contingent on your major, prosecuting patents is, and if someone goes into law school wanting to do patent prosecution they should know that an engineering or hard science degree is required.

taxguy
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Re: Everything you want to know about law school admission

Postby taxguy » Sun Jun 13, 2010 7:36 pm

Thanks for the input. I have amended my original post to conform to your suggestions regarding patent prosecution.




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