Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
User avatar
northwood
Posts: 4872
Joined: Fri May 14, 2010 7:29 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby northwood » Thu Apr 21, 2011 12:57 pm

Your numbers qualify you for admission. Softs may play a role in scholarship awards. The problem is, as vanwinkle said earlier its hard to validate softs. I wont repost what he said- but i agree with it.


Remember- the median score for all lsat takers is a 151. In order to be competitve for admission to a school you need to be near the median lsat and gpa scores. IF you are there- then your softs may come into play when you are being considerded for any scholarships or grants. However- there are a ton of fraternities and volunteer things that you can do. If you are a go getter then you will by nature join ec's and if you have your eye on the future you will want to demonstrate your leadership skills. In the end how well you qualify for the school- will determine if you are granted admission or not. Once that decision is made- then its up to the school to decide how they want to award their scholarships.

User avatar
Stringer Bell
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:43 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby Stringer Bell » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:04 pm

masochist wrote:I also think the undervaluation of softs might be related to USNWR use of medians rather than means for GPA and LSAT. In order to maintain a stable median, an admissions department would have to take one person above their medians for each person they take below their medians. This would not work the same way if the numbers were averaged. In the latter case you could “buy” several slightly-below mean acceptances with a single acceptance from someone who exceeded your mean by a great deal.

This makes it hard for softs to bump people up a couple of LSAT points, but it probably does not affect truly amazing softs. If you are going to select someone below the median because you want their soft for in your admissions viewbook, then it doesn’t matter if their LSAT is 2 points below your median or 25; the effect on the median is the same. Kind of good softs aren’t worth the effort (and scholarship money) required to offset their below-median scores.


It works both ways though. It makes softs borderline meaningless unless they are truly epic when comparing someone below both medians with someone above both medians. But it also opens the door to soft factors for people that are above one median and below the other. Most of the t14 can admit a 3.2/171+ or a 3.9/164 with great softs vs. a 3.5/171+ or a 3.9/168 without good softs with the same USNWR impact if they so choose.

User avatar
DaftAndDirect
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:28 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby DaftAndDirect » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:11 pm

AreJay711 wrote:
albusdumbledore wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Why should military service count as a soft? Does knowing how to kill people or patriotism help you as a lawyer? I guess maybe following orders and attention to detail but that isn't unique to the military.


I imagine the ability to be treated like a commodity or a herd animal would come in handy in law.


Yeah but thats true in sports too. At least the commodity part.


What separates military experience from sports and other activities - in terms of discipline and attention to detail - is the degree to which these two traits are reinforced by the training you receive. When you're trained to clean a weapon, you're trained under the expectation that you will clean that weapon correctly every single time so that, when the time comes for you to fire it to defend your own life or the life of another soldier, that weapon fires exactly the way that it's supposed to. When you're trained to catch a football, you're not trained with the expectation that someone's life may depend on you catching that football correctly.

I'm a little shocked by how dismissive this thread is regarding the value of military training. No, military service can't stand alone without a good LSAT and GPA, but it's an ancient and well known institution that provides a far more "standardized" and objectively measureable experience than the myriad softs into which admissions officers would otherwise have little insight.

d34d9823
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:52 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby d34d9823 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:18 pm

DaftAndDirect wrote:Then you're trained to catch a football, you're not trained with the expectation that someone's life may depend on you catching that football correctly.

You are clearly not from the South.

User avatar
AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby AreJay711 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:18 pm

DaftAndDirect wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:
albusdumbledore wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Why should military service count as a soft? Does knowing how to kill people or patriotism help you as a lawyer? I guess maybe following orders and attention to detail but that isn't unique to the military.


I imagine the ability to be treated like a commodity or a herd animal would come in handy in law.


Yeah but thats true in sports too. At least the commodity part.


What separates military experience from sports and other activities - in terms of discipline and attention to detail - is the degree to which these two traits are reinforced by the training you receive. When you're trained to clean a weapon, you're trained under the expectation that you will clean that weapon correctly every single time so that, when the time comes for you to fire it to defend your own life or the life of another soldier, that weapon fires exactly the way that it's supposed to. When you're trained to catch a football, you're not trained with the expectation that someone's life may depend on you catching that football correctly.

I'm a little shocked by how dismissive this thread is regarding the value of military training. No, military service can't stand alone without a good LSAT and GPA, but it's an ancient and well known institution that provides a far more "standardized" and objectively measureable experience than the myriad softs into which admissions officers would otherwise have little insight.


No I am just skeptical about the value of a military background applied to being a lawyer. To be a cop? Sure. CIA? Sure. But a lawyer" I don't think so. It is just something that admissions people like to see without any real justification. Most people I know that enlisted went to get their shit together or because they thought it would be something they would like -- not out of any kind of altruistic motives and even if that was why it doesn't make them better situated to be lawyers as far as I can tell. I know that is almost blasphemous to say in America but it is the way I see it.

User avatar
AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby AreJay711 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:19 pm

d34dluk3 wrote:
DaftAndDirect wrote:Then you're trained to catch a football, you're not trained with the expectation that someone's life may depend on you catching that football correctly.

You are clearly not from the South.


Yeah and also, when I played football and rugby if I fucked up no one was really going to die but they might get injured or break a neck.

User avatar
masochist
Posts: 247
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:14 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby masochist » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:27 pm

Stringer Bell wrote:
masochist wrote:I also think the undervaluation of softs might be related to USNWR use of medians rather than means for GPA and LSAT. In order to maintain a stable median, an admissions department would have to take one person above their medians for each person they take below their medians. This would not work the same way if the numbers were averaged. In the latter case you could “buy” several slightly-below mean acceptances with a single acceptance from someone who exceeded your mean by a great deal.

This makes it hard for softs to bump people up a couple of LSAT points, but it probably does not affect truly amazing softs. If you are going to select someone below the median because you want their soft for in your admissions viewbook, then it doesn’t matter if their LSAT is 2 points below your median or 25; the effect on the median is the same. Kind of good softs aren’t worth the effort (and scholarship money) required to offset their below-median scores.


It works both ways though. It makes softs borderline meaningless unless they are truly epic when comparing someone below both medians with someone above both medians. But it also opens the door to soft factors for people that are above one median and below the other. Most of the t14 can admit a 3.2/171+ or a 3.9/164 with great softs vs. a 3.5/171+ or a 3.9/168 without good softs with the same USNWR impact if they so choose.


True. I wonder if softs do have more impact for people who split the medians. It would make sense if they did. Taking a splitter means you are going to take a hit on one of your medians in exchange for upward pressure on the other one of your medians. The degree to which the below-median score pulls down the median is independent of the degree to which it is below the median. A 3.2/177 functions the same as a 2.5/177, so you might as well take the 2.5 with good softs over the 3.2 with no added value.

I also think the median effect is why softs seem to matter more for scholarships than for admission. Someone who is above the median with good softs is more valuable than someone who is way above the median with no softs.

My personal experience backs this second point up. I think I have unusually good softs, and my offers of admissions were almost exactly in line with what would be expected given my numbers. My softs seemed to have almost no effect upon admissions. However, I think I outperformed my numbers when it came to scholarships. Admittedly, this is a sample size of one.

User avatar
Stringer Bell
Posts: 1907
Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 9:43 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby Stringer Bell » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:29 pm

AreJay711 wrote:No I am just skeptical about the value of a military background applied to being a lawyer. To be a cop? Sure. CIA? Sure. But a lawyer" I don't think so. It is just something that admissions people like to see without any real justification. Most people I know that enlisted went to get their shit together or because they thought it would be something they would like -- not out of any kind of altruistic motives and even if that was why it doesn't make them better situated to be lawyers as far as I can tell. I know that is almost blasphemous to say in America but it is the way I see it.


The discipline factor as well as real leadership training is legit. Though I imagine the impressiveness given to it depends on what the applicant accomplished in the service as well as what their academic credentials are. My uncle worked for a fortune 500 and said they loved when someone applied for an entry level sales position that had gone to a service academy and just finished up their commitment because they almost always were successful.

User avatar
DaftAndDirect
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:28 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby DaftAndDirect » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:30 pm

RE: the types of people who tend to join the military:

I would agree and have made the same observation - most people I know in the military went to get their shit together. However, none of those people I know have put forth the time and effort to apply to a law school.

So far as the military preparing you to be a lawyer specifically:

I think we agree that discipline and attention to detail are valuable and useful traits that are universally applicable. This includes being a lawyer.

What we may not agree on - but what I personally believe - is that the military is an organization that instills discipline and attention to detail in to its members better than any other, and should be recognized as such.

To your point about rugby and football:

Yeah football/rugby are dangerous sports with risk of injury. Are they more dangerous than war? We're talking degrees of danger here, not existence of any danger at all.

No not from the south haha, and I see where you're coming from. Not a military guy either. I guess I just have an appreciation for what some of these men do. Not the bloodthirsty maniacs who join the army just to kill people (and I know they exist), but the men who join because they want to serve their country.


*Men AND women who join because they want to serve their country. Sorry ladies...

bartleby
Posts: 1315
Joined: Thu May 29, 2008 3:23 am

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby bartleby » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:36 pm

i went to high school in a "rougher" neighborhood and a bunch of the thugs joined the military eventually cause they had nothing else to do. the military can be pretty hood.

User avatar
AreJay711
Posts: 3406
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:51 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby AreJay711 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:38 pm

I'm actually not saying I don't think military is valuable experience I just question it's application to being a lawyer is all. Also, being a platoon leader might be a bit different since there is real leadership there that most people a few years out of college won't be able to get but the boost seems universal to those that have served including people without that kind of experience. Doing something risky (obviously war is more dangerous than anything but fishing) doesn't mean that it makes someone qualified. I just think our culture likes people that have been in the military so people from the military get a boost in law school admissions.

User avatar
DaftAndDirect
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:28 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby DaftAndDirect » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:39 pm

I agree. Like I said I've made the same observation.

Thankfully the military isn't the only gate you have to pass through. Those thugs would also have to take the time to graduate from a university and take the LSAT. Probably not something guys with "nothing better to do" would be interested in.

firemed
Posts: 1195
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:36 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby firemed » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:41 pm

masochist wrote:
True. I wonder if softs do have more impact for people who split the medians. It would make sense if they did. Taking a splitter means you are going to take a hit on one of your medians in exchange for upward pressure on the other one of your medians. The degree to which the below-median score pulls down the median is independent of the degree to which it is below the median. A 3.2/177 functions the same as a 2.5/177, so you might as well take the 2.5 with good softs over the 3.2 with no added value.

I also think the median effect is why softs seem to matter more for scholarships than for admission. Someone who is above the median with good softs is more valuable than someone who is way above the median with no softs.

My personal experience backs this second point up. I think I have unusually good softs, and my offers of admissions were almost exactly in line with what would be expected given my numbers. My softs seemed to have almost no effect upon admissions. However, I think I outperformed my numbers when it came to scholarships. Admittedly, this is a sample size of one.



I have to say that I am a splitter who mildly outperformed my numbers. More in schollys than admissions though. And I personally think it was due to my softs.

User avatar
DaftAndDirect
Posts: 381
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:28 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby DaftAndDirect » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:43 pm

AreJay711 wrote:I'm actually not saying I don't think military is valuable experience I just question it's application to being a lawyer is all. Also, being a platoon leader might be a bit different since there is real leadership there that most people a few years out of college won't be able to get but the boost seems universal to those that have served including people without that kind of experience. Doing something risky (obviously war is more dangerous than anything but fishing) doesn't mean that it makes someone qualified. I just think our culture likes people that have been in the military so people from the military get a boost in law school admissions.


I buy that. I think the culturally embedded "warm fuzzies" that admissions officer may get RE: military service that cause them to give a military applicant a leg up are dumb - and I definitely think that happens more often than it should.

Huzzah! Agreement.

User avatar
eaglemuncher
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:21 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby eaglemuncher » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:46 pm

I was in the military and I don't feel that it really helped me out. My cycle was actually rather disappointing. It's probably a good soft, but at the end of the day, just another soft.

User avatar
AntipodeanPhil
Posts: 1300
Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 7:02 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:49 pm

bartleby wrote:i went to high school in a "rougher" neighborhood and a bunch of the thugs joined the military eventually cause they had nothing else to do. the military can be pretty hood.

Those people won't be serious candidates at decent law schools. If you are a serious candidate, then you probably had something less dangerous and more lucrative you could do with your life, but instead chose the military. I know two people who joined after 9/11 - one from grad school - who had other very attractive options, but joined the military at least in part to serve their country.

I think those people would be more likely to do something good with a law degree than most (or at least something not bad) - especially most who post on this site :wink:

bfaiken
Posts: 40
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:50 am

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby bfaiken » Thu Apr 21, 2011 1:53 pm

firemed wrote:
masochist wrote:
True. I wonder if softs do have more impact for people who split the medians. It would make sense if they did. Taking a splitter means you are going to take a hit on one of your medians in exchange for upward pressure on the other one of your medians. The degree to which the below-median score pulls down the median is independent of the degree to which it is below the median. A 3.2/177 functions the same as a 2.5/177, so you might as well take the 2.5 with good softs over the 3.2 with no added value.

I also think the median effect is why softs seem to matter more for scholarships than for admission. Someone who is above the median with good softs is more valuable than someone who is way above the median with no softs.

My personal experience backs this second point up. I think I have unusually good softs, and my offers of admissions were almost exactly in line with what would be expected given my numbers. My softs seemed to have almost no effect upon admissions. However, I think I outperformed my numbers when it came to scholarships. Admittedly, this is a sample size of one.



I have to say that I am a splitter who mildly outperformed my numbers. More in schollys than admissions though. And I personally think it was due to my softs.


This is my first time posting on TLS (been lurking for a few weeks as deadlines approached). I'll echo this sentiment. I'm a splitter (GPA higher than most T14's 75th, LSAT below or slightly below most but not all T14's 25th) and I've had a very solid cycle. I would actually say I've overachieved my numbers, and I attribute it mostly to what I think are pretty strong softs.

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby vanwinkle » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:02 pm

AreJay711 wrote:Why should military service count as a soft? Does knowing how to kill people or patriotism help you as a lawyer? I guess maybe following orders and attention to detail but that isn't unique to the military.

Some thoughts:

Someone who has been in the military a significant length of time has likely been promoted at least once. You know how to make independent decisions on your own level while respecting higher authority above you, and how to differentiate the two. If you move up enough to be responsible for others, you know you have to consider what effects decisions you make will have on people below you. This is similar to how the law works and a big part of legal reasoning; you have to defer absolutely to higher authorities (higher courts, statutes), argue with policy reasons why a judge should use what discretion he has to rule in your favor, and if you're in an intermediate appellate court, also be focused on what effects it'll have on trial courts below.

Many military jobs are such that mistakes could directly or indirectly cost lives. Even if you're far removed from the battlefield you're still likely there for a higher purpose and your contribution to it, and not just the money. (The guy who overhauls choppers here before they're shipped to Iraq could get soldiers there killed if he didn't do his job right, etc.) That can represent good moral character and ethics, which is important because lawyers are frequently trusted, if not with the lives of others, with enough of their money to ruin them if you abuse your position.

The people applying for law school aren't the average soldier, either. They have to have a bachelor's degree. That means they either earned it post-service with the GI Bill, while serving, or that they were an officer (and likely had more responsibilities). Any of those paths are pretty impressive and show drive and determination.

I don't think all military members would make good lawyers. But I think someone with several years of service, the required bachelor's degree, and a high LSAT score is very likely to make a good one.

User avatar
coldshoulder
Posts: 963
Joined: Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:05 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby coldshoulder » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:39 pm

And Vanwinkle steps in with the KO!

09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby 09042014 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:57 pm

At most schools you are either:

Auto Admit -no softs required, and negative softs don't matter

Target - no softs required, but some negative can screw you

Reach - you need something to bump you. Be in a soft, or that the school needs 1 more 172+ to bump their 75%LSAT.

Auto Ding - Great soft required, and even then it's a school by school basis because each ad com has an opinion.

LOL the Adcom thinks you won't survive there - something prestigious, difficult, and unique. For example at UMich being a murder counts.

User avatar
rinkrat19
Posts: 13908
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:35 am

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby rinkrat19 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:41 pm

Every time I see another one of taxguy's rants against the LSAT, it makes me think of NU assistant dean Johann Lee's tweet from a few weeks ago:

Also- your parents should not be calling for you. can't talk to them anyway. something about privacy and being an adult.

I'd wonder if that was taxguy, except his son only applied to TTTTs.

firemed
Posts: 1195
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:36 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby firemed » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:44 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:Every time I see another one of taxguy's rants against the LSAT, it makes me think of NU assistant dean Johann Lee's tweet from a few weeks ago:

Also- your parents should not be calling for you. can't talk to them anyway. something about privacy and being an adult.

I'd wonder if that was taxguy, except his son only applied to TTTTs.


This is, unfortunately, probably an issue everywhere. Actually, I bet it is worst at the T14 (where you have a lot of overachievers whose parents interfere to much) and at the TTTTs where parents have a totally unrealistic idea of both their child and the legal profession. The middle of the pack probably gets less of this (though I know it is still there since I met a couple who were there in place of their son who couldn't make it to the ASD)

User avatar
geoduck
Posts: 890
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:29 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby geoduck » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:52 pm

How about this RE: military service. A lot of you say that the majority of people you know who have gone into the service have done so to get their shit together. The military is in fact an organization known to be very good at doing this (though on occasion taking people beyond their breaking point). Therefore, someone with military service who fulfilled their commitments have that as proof that they have their shit together. With similar numbers, I'd definitely admit the person whose shit is together over the person with an unknown shit dispersion status. The service part of it just sweetens the deal.

firemed
Posts: 1195
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:36 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby firemed » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:57 pm

geoduck wrote:How about this RE: military service. A lot of you say that the majority of people you know who have gone into the service have done so to get their shit together. The military is in fact an organization known to be very good at doing this (though on occasion taking people beyond their breaking point). Therefore, someone with military service who fulfilled their commitments have that as proof that they have their shit together. With similar numbers, I'd definitely admit the person whose shit is together over the person with an unknown shit dispersion status. The service part of it just sweetens the deal.



This made me lol.

bhan87
Posts: 850
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2007 8:08 pm

Re: Why do soft factors matter so little for LS admissions?

Postby bhan87 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:21 pm

northwood wrote:Your numbers qualify you for admission. Softs may play a role in scholarship awards. The problem is, as vanwinkle said earlier its hard to validate softs. I wont repost what he said- but i agree with it.


Remember- the median score for all lsat takers is a 151. In order to be competitve for admission to a school you need to be near the median lsat and gpa scores. IF you are there- then your softs may come into play when you are being considerded for any scholarships or grants. However- there are a ton of fraternities and volunteer things that you can do. If you are a go getter then you will by nature join ec's and if you have your eye on the future you will want to demonstrate your leadership skills. In the end how well you qualify for the school- will determine if you are granted admission or not. Once that decision is made- then its up to the school to decide how they want to award their scholarships.


I really think this is the case. For instance, the right numbers will get you into NYU, but you probably need a significant PI background to get a RTK. However, a significant PI background will not override horrid numbers.




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Anon.y.mousse., ashterlily, poptart123 and 5 guests