Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
rick_ross
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:42 am

Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby rick_ross » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:49 am

So I'm a guy who has taken all Econ + Math + Computer Science since freshman year (in particular have written no essays for classes since that time). I have a very high GPA and attend a top undergraduate program (I am a rising senior). I've recently taken an interest in applying to law school. I have not taken the LSAT as of yet.

A few questions:
--Is it okay if my recommendations are from math and econ professors?
--Related, does the rank of those writing recommendation letters matter? For instance, my two strongest advocates would be an associate professor of math and a graduate student in economics. Would this be acceptable?
--Is it a problem if my entire academic program up till now has been tailored toward getting a PHD in economics (since that was my former goal, and as such have taken no politics or policy classes)? -- I've achieved highly in all classes, though.

Thanks! Any advice is appreciated

User avatar
KevinP
Posts: 1324
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 8:56 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby KevinP » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:55 am

Hey there! I come from a similar background (STEM/Math major).

rick_ross wrote:--Is it okay if my recommendations are from math and econ professors?

Yes. All of mine were from my STEM professors.

rick_ross wrote:--Related, does the rank of those writing recommendation letters matter? For instance, my two strongest advocates would be an associate professor of math and a graduate student in economics. Would this be acceptable?

Yeah, that would be acceptable. Honestly, LoRs don't really matter unless they are negative. They can hurt but are very, very unlikely to help.

rick_ross wrote:--Is it a problem if my entire academic program up till now has been tailored toward getting a PHD in economics (since that was my former goal, and as such have taken no politics or policy classes)? -- I've achieved highly in all classes, though.

Won't matter. Law school admissions is almost entirely a numbers game. Your acceptances will almost fully be determined by your LSAT and GPA, so keep that GPA up, and study hard for the LSAT when the time comes.

rick_ross
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:42 am

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby rick_ross » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:59 am

KevinP--thanks! that is very helpful. A followup, so I'm assuming law schools will look at what I'm taking course wise my senior year. Is it a negative if I take a schedule such as, 2 economics graduate-level classes and a math class (I worry about that because they could interpret it as my using the law school application as a hedge, when in reality I'm actually just unsure of if I want an econ Phd or a law degree)?

User avatar
PDaddy
Posts: 2073
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:40 am

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby PDaddy » Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:13 am

OP is in good shape. Econ, mathematics and CSC are considered to be strong majors for law school (as are the hard sciences, philosophy, English, and a few others).

User avatar
KevinP
Posts: 1324
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 8:56 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby KevinP » Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:37 am

rick_ross wrote:KevinP--thanks! that is very helpful. A followup, so I'm assuming law schools will look at what I'm taking course wise my senior year. Is it a negative if I take a schedule such as, 2 economics graduate-level classes and a math class (I worry about that because they could interpret it as my using the law school application as a hedge, when in reality I'm actually just unsure of if I want an econ Phd or a law degree)?

It won't negatively affect you in any way. Admissions deans won't assume anything (there was a thread on TLS where an admissions dean basically said he doesn't read the transcript that closely). PDaddy is right in that your major puts you in a good position to apply to law school.

If you are unsure about law school, I would really do a lot of research before attending. Law is an elitist profession, and where you went to school makes a huge difference. Also, the legal economy is really bad, so even the top law school grads at the bottom of their class are struggling to find good legal jobs.

CodyRuegger
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 11:12 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby CodyRuegger » Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:18 am

I'm a music major going to CCN in fall. Trust me when I say your major doesn't matter - adcomms like having a diverse pool of academic backgrounds in their 0L class.

User avatar
SirCadogan
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:44 am

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby SirCadogan » Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:02 am

KevinP wrote:
rick_ross wrote:KevinP--thanks! that is very helpful. A followup, so I'm assuming law schools will look at what I'm taking course wise my senior year. Is it a negative if I take a schedule such as, 2 economics graduate-level classes and a math class (I worry about that because they could interpret it as my using the law school application as a hedge, when in reality I'm actually just unsure of if I want an econ Phd or a law degree)?

It won't negatively affect you in any way. Admissions deans won't assume anything (there was a thread on TLS where an admissions dean basically said he doesn't read the transcript that closely). PDaddy is right in that your major puts you in a good position to apply to law school.

If you are unsure about law school, I would really do a lot of research before attending. Law is an elitist profession, and where you went to school makes a huge difference. Also, the legal economy is really bad, so even the top law school grads at the bottom of their class are struggling to find good legal jobs.


Was wondering about the bolded part above in respect to non-punitive Withdrawals.. I have 2.5 Ws (one for a half-credit course), none of which are required for me to graduate. I know; I've made some pretty bad decisions in taking courses I didn't even need but I was trying to academically enrich myself or whatnot. That said, would it be looked down upon if I didn't end up retaking these courses? I would have immense difficulty fitting even one into my schedule. I know there's something to be said about proving that I can conquer a class I once withdrew from, but would this non-retaking be serious enough that adcoms would raise an eyebrow? TIA

bp shinners
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby bp shinners » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:04 pm

SirCadogan wrote:Was wondering about the bolded part above in respect to non-punitive Withdrawals.. I have 2.5 Ws (one for a half-credit course), none of which are required for me to graduate. I know; I've made some pretty bad decisions in taking courses I didn't even need but I was trying to academically enrich myself or whatnot. That said, would it be looked down upon if I didn't end up retaking these courses? I would have immense difficulty fitting even one into my schedule. I know there's something to be said about proving that I can conquer a class I once withdrew from, but would this non-retaking be serious enough that adcoms would raise an eyebrow? TIA


2.5 is close to the line where I would write an addendum. However, if you don't have a good reason for withdrawing, don't write one. And don't worry about it - it won't be a big deal.

User avatar
SirCadogan
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:44 am

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby SirCadogan » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:53 pm

Thanks. I will be writing a GPA addendum anyway (death in family), and those Ws mainly were during that period of time. I was just wondering if it would reflect badly if I didn't retake those courses, but it seems not. Thank goodness...stats was terrible haha.

User avatar
JDizzle2015
Posts: 638
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:16 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby JDizzle2015 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:30 pm

Mostly solid advice here.

However, I'd avoid getting a grad student to write your LOR. They should come from your professors (chair/visiting/etc doesn't matter). If you decide to work after graduating UG, you can supplement your app with a LOR from a supervisor at work.

800lb
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:56 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby 800lb » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:30 pm

OP: Math majors are known to do really well in law school admissions. My question is, absent doing IP law, why do you want to go to law school? If your credentials are what you say they are, why not go to grad school in math/science and put money in your pocket while getting your degree?

User avatar
emkay625
Posts: 1839
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:31 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby emkay625 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:35 pm

rick_ross wrote:KevinP--thanks! that is very helpful. A followup, so I'm assuming law schools will look at what I'm taking course wise my senior year. Is it a negative if I take a schedule such as, 2 economics graduate-level classes and a math class (I worry about that because they could interpret it as my using the law school application as a hedge, when in reality I'm actually just unsure of if I want an econ Phd or a law degree)?


Admissions officers process thousands of applications. They won't pay too much attention to what courses you take besides a passing glance. If anything, they'll be impressed with your graduate level work. And I doubt they'll even notice that.

Law schools take all majors - the only thing that will really matter is your LSAC gpa and your LSAT score.

r6_philly
Posts: 10707
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 4:32 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby r6_philly » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:52 pm

OP, I'd make sure you graduate at least with the CS major. It will open up many doors after you start law school, when you are looking for jobs. Econ and math are not nearly as useful. It really isn't about what you learn, but about what's on your diploma. CS is a much easier sell.

For admissions, it won't matter much, if at all.

User avatar
JDizzle2015
Posts: 638
Joined: Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:16 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby JDizzle2015 » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:32 am

r6_philly wrote:OP, I'd make sure you graduate at least with the CS major. It will open up many doors after you start law school, when you are looking for jobs. Econ and math are not nearly as useful. It really isn't about what you learn, but about what's on your diploma. CS is a much easier sell.

For admissions, it won't matter much, if at all.

OP is probably aware of this, but the value of a CS major has an extremely quick "half-life" since newly minted CS grads will be more familiar with the constant development of newer programming languages/techniques. (Employers know this.)

My CS friends from top tech schools have told me that their programming skills/CS degrees are valuable for a maximum of 5 years before new languages completely antiquate their skills and they either move up to management and avoid coding completely or get phased out (aka laid off).

I think Econ or Math might be more valuable in the long run considering law school will take away a good chunk of time from a CS major's most valuable years. Just my 2cents.

ETA: The legal hiring process with regards to CS majors may differ drastically and r6 is definitely in a better position to judge that than I am.

User avatar
KevinP
Posts: 1324
Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 8:56 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby KevinP » Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:43 am

JDizzle2015 wrote:
r6_philly wrote:OP, I'd make sure you graduate at least with the CS major. It will open up many doors after you start law school, when you are looking for jobs. Econ and math are not nearly as useful. It really isn't about what you learn, but about what's on your diploma. CS is a much easier sell.

For admissions, it won't matter much, if at all.

OP is probably aware of this, but the value of a CS major has an extremely quick "half-life" since newly minted CS grads will be more familiar with the constant development of newer programming languages. (Employers know this.)

My CS friends from top tech schools have told me that their programming skills/CS degrees are valuable for a maximum of 5 years before new languages completely antiquate their skills and they either move up to management and avoid coding completely or get phased out (aka laid off).

I think Econ or Math might be more valuable in the long run considering law school will take away a good chunk of time from a CS major's most valuable years. Just my 2cents.

ETA: The legal hiring process with regards to CS majors may differ drastically and r6 is definitely in a better position to judge that than I am.


As a CS/Math major currently employed as an engineer, this analysis is pretty spot on, based on personal experiences. (R6 might have had a different experience).

I think R6's advice still holds though. I talked to quite a few hiring managers and my CS + WE would allow me to go into project management (60-80k/yr) with a JD if I strike out at biglaw, although I'd probably have to use the connections I've developed working in the field. I think going straight to law school with a CS degree without WE can be risky though.

rick_ross
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:42 am

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby rick_ross » Wed Jul 11, 2012 6:44 am

800lb wrote:OP: Math majors are known to do really well in law school admissions. My question is, absent doing IP law, why do you want to go to law school? If your credentials are what you say they are, why not go to grad school in math/science and put money in your pocket while getting your degree?


Good question. I've gotten good credentials bc I've always wanted to do something like change the world by doing Economics research (sounds corny but for real). Recently I've gotten a little jaded by the ivory tower and in addition have noticed much of what is already known about how to improve the world is just not done because of practical reasons. I was thinking with a law degree I would be better equipped to do things like fight banks or environmentally harmful companies in court, etc and generally work in the implementation sector instead of the ideas sector. Maybe you or others can speak to the wisdom of this opinion, as my knowledge of law is very small compared to my knowledge of academia.

800lb
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2011 8:56 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby 800lb » Thu Jul 12, 2012 5:38 pm

rick_ross wrote:Good question. I've gotten good credentials bc I've always wanted to do something like change the world by doing Economics research (sounds corny but for real). Recently I've gotten a little jaded by the ivory tower and in addition have noticed much of what is already known about how to improve the world is just not done because of practical reasons. I was thinking with a law degree I would be better equipped to do things like fight banks or environmentally harmful companies in court, etc and generally work in the implementation sector instead of the ideas sector. Maybe you or others can speak to the wisdom of this opinion, as my knowledge of law is very small compared to my knowledge of academia.


Boss Ricky Ross - You can do a hell of a lot of good with just an undergrad math/econ degree. Policy folks want people who can use and understand numbers. It's a skillset most of us lack. So if you play your cards right, there are jobs out there for enlightened gentlemen such as yourself. A little hustle and some interview practice can go a long way.

Also, law school is a huge financial risk and time investment. It's important for everyone applying for law school to understand how competitive law is even after you pony up the $150,000 entry fee. With the market the way it is, public interest and government jobs are much harder to snag than they used to be, so chances are you'll be leaving the academic ivory tower for a life in big (or, as is often the case these days) smaller business. Also, even if you do get one of those jobs, you'll probably have a whole lot of debt, and while academia seems restrictive, being a hundred grand in the red can force you into a bunch of bad choices.

Before you take that plunge, it's a really good idea to clarrify what exactly you want to do with your degree and meet people who are doing just that. I have some really specific ideas about how I want to help the world with my law degree, but I spent 4 years out of undergrad working and developing those ideas before I committed. There are people all over the place who entered law school with some vague goals and exited with fewer options than they had before. Don't be like them.

walnuto
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat May 08, 2010 5:53 pm

Re: Applying to Law School as a Econ/Math Major

Postby walnuto » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:41 pm

As a math major, I have to say that your math major will definitely help you in admissions. I can't say too much without giving away personal details, but let's just say schools that are very, very picky about the whole package (LSAT/GPA along with work experience/extracurriculars) may take you even as a college senior.




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], MSNbot Media, poptart123, Purple Post It Note, shineoncrazydiamond, splitterfromhell and 7 guests