Take additional year off?

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katesearches
Posts: 72
Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:27 pm

Take additional year off?

Postby katesearches » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:14 pm

I'm contemplating on taking an additional year off. If I do, I will have taken ~2.5 years (5 academic semesters, not including summer sessions) off. There are a few reasons, all related for why I want to take an additional year off, but also other things that I'm worried about.

  • First: I took the LSAT in June, but didn't do as well as I wanted (164). I was thinking of re-taking in Oct., but started working at a law firm and haven't had much time to study (I work late until 8-9pm; and I spend weekends taking care of errands I couldn't do during the week, working 2-3 Saturdays, and taking some time to rewind).
  • Second: I feel rushed to apply this cycle. I would rather take things slowly (and take the test in Feb a/o June 2013), rather than cramming and making the same mistake as the June LSAT. Also, I think I may still be burned out from cramming for June... I don't even want to touch LSAT material for at least another month or so.
  • Third: I want to make the most of this job, and obtain two years of solid work experience here, so that I have tangible and concrete skills by the time I'm applying for attorney positions. At the mid-size firm I work in (and many firms nearby), most positions for junior associates/attorneys require 2 yrs. of legal experience, including experience as a paralegal/law clerk. After working here for a while now, this req. entirely makes sense, and I'd rather not start off in any associate position with the experience level/skills equivalent to that of an experienced paralegal in the firm, and potentially being seen as less competent than that paralegal. This is just my personal preference; I have seen this happen, and I want to do my best to not find myself in that position to begin with. Also, I'd definitely consider myself a quick learner, but something I learned while working here is that there are some things that you can't substitute for years of experience and familiarity with certain case types.
  • Fourth: Travel! I was planning on using the summer before law school to travel to my heart's content. Money-wise, I've planned things out... and I've been looking forward to this for years. However I've had a change in financial circumstances that would make this trip unlikely to happen if I decide to apply this fall and start next fall.

For all the above reasons, I want to take an additional year off. What concerns me is losing momentum or drive. I have highly ambitious pre-med friends (who are doing some Masters or another before Med school), already in Med school, and friends in law school who think that this will be too much time off, and that I'll lose momentum or ambition. This worries me, maybe they are right. I am getting a little soft/too laid back here. I also don't have much of a social life here. Just moved to a new suburb area with family, a bit far from where we used to live; I don't know anyone here, although it doesn't matter since I'm working more anyway; I have lunch with co-workers but nobody really gets too close with each other here (except the interns lol); I think everyone is just nice enough to each other, but still keeps each other at an arm's length just to be safe. I see friends from my old place maybe once every few weeks, because of the distance and working our schedules out, so I can see us all drifting and hanging out irregularly.

What do you guys think? Should I just take the additional year off? I want to do that, but I guess I just have some hesitations. I seek your thoughts on this!

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2014
Posts: 5831
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:53 pm

Re: Take additional year off?

Postby 2014 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:07 am

Absolutely retake, those points are the difference between getting a job and not getting job or entire years of paying back loans because of scholarships. In your case I would probably study hard now and retake in December and if that goes poorly using your 3rd take on June. That also allows you to still put out applications in January if your December score is good and you decide you are ready.

What you do with your year off is your choice though. Your motivation for working is solid, traveling is always a good idea if you can afford it, and law school will always be there when you get back.

katesearches
Posts: 72
Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:27 pm

Re: Take additional year off?

Postby katesearches » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:37 am

2014 wrote:Absolutely retake, those points are the difference between getting a job and not getting job or entire years of paying back loans because of scholarships. In your case I would probably study hard now and retake in December and if that goes poorly using your 3rd take on June. That also allows you to still put out applications in January if your December score is good and you decide you are ready.

What you do with your year off is your choice though. Your motivation for working is solid, traveling is always a good idea if you can afford it, and law school will always be there when you get back.


Thanks for the reply!

Actually, the latest I would want to apply in any cycle is late October/early November (I'd rather play it safe and be one of the early applicants for the following cycle rather than an applicant that submits midway to the end up the cycle. Which is why I was aiming for taking it in Feb, and using my 3rd retake in June if the Feb doesn't work one (same as what you suggested, just a shift).

Also, I have a (general) question.. I understand how grades/lsat scores affect law school admissions and offered scholarships. But not necessarily employment.. I've observed in my firm and the others around here, hiring attorneys rarely care about law school GPA (and generally not even school prestige). I've seen many applicant's resumes and cover letters from great law schools/good gpas bypassed and tossed, for people who have specific and directly relevant experience in a certain practice area (occasionally, I've seen people who have indirectly relevant but solid legal experience employed, but they also have a slight bump, such as fluency in a language or a more recognized school, but the initial screening process focuses on cherry-picking applicants with the experience). I work in a mid-size firm though, and most of the firms around here are small-mid size (I wrote above I live in the suburbs but I commute out). I don't know if this is just a small-mid size firm thing. do biglaw recruiting/OCI tend to focus on applicants from only t14 schools with high gpas?

sprocket
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:07 am

Re: Take additional year off?

Postby sprocket » Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:25 am

I'm not in law school YET. So, someone please correct me if I'm wrong... but I think it just depends on the schools the law firms recruit from for OCI. Outside of higher ranked schools, they're mostly pull from regional schools nearby (I'm guessing). I think your best bet would be to check out the school profiles on law school numbers. (lawschoolnumbers.com) They give a short summary of the firms that recruit on each school, specifically law firms from Ca, NY, and DC.

I hope it helps.

User avatar
2014
Posts: 5831
Joined: Sat Jun 05, 2010 3:53 pm

Re: Take additional year off?

Postby 2014 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:22 am

katesearches wrote:
2014 wrote:Absolutely retake, those points are the difference between getting a job and not getting job or entire years of paying back loans because of scholarships. In your case I would probably study hard now and retake in December and if that goes poorly using your 3rd take on June. That also allows you to still put out applications in January if your December score is good and you decide you are ready.

What you do with your year off is your choice though. Your motivation for working is solid, traveling is always a good idea if you can afford it, and law school will always be there when you get back.


Thanks for the reply!

Actually, the latest I would want to apply in any cycle is late October/early November (I'd rather play it safe and be one of the early applicants for the following cycle rather than an applicant that submits midway to the end up the cycle. Which is why I was aiming for taking it in Feb, and using my 3rd retake in June if the Feb doesn't work one (same as what you suggested, just a shift).

Also, I have a (general) question.. I understand how grades/lsat scores affect law school admissions and offered scholarships. But not necessarily employment.. I've observed in my firm and the others around here, hiring attorneys rarely care about law school GPA (and generally not even school prestige). I've seen many applicant's resumes and cover letters from great law schools/good gpas bypassed and tossed, for people who have specific and directly relevant experience in a certain practice area (occasionally, I've seen people who have indirectly relevant but solid legal experience employed, but they also have a slight bump, such as fluency in a language or a more recognized school, but the initial screening process focuses on cherry-picking applicants with the experience). I work in a mid-size firm though, and most of the firms around here are small-mid size (I wrote above I live in the suburbs but I commute out). I don't know if this is just a small-mid size firm thing. do biglaw recruiting/OCI tend to focus on applicants from only t14 schools with high gpas?

There are tons of firms that care more about how you would fit in far more than your law school pedigree. The issue is that those firms typically hire like one or two attorneys a year and in many cases don't regularly hire. The firms that do consistently hire care a great deal about what school you went to and your grades there, which is why on this site at least people advocate going to the best school you can and doing as well as you can since it is the "safest" result.

If you have connections that can land you a job at a mid law firm you would be satisfied with by all means go to a cheaper school or focus less on your grades and try to build practical skills or network or something, but if you don't have an employment offer in writing, it is a risky proposition.

And re: Dec vs February your choice is fine just know that February tests are not released so you will never know what you got wrong. That was enough to keep me away from that administration.

katesearches
Posts: 72
Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:27 pm

Re: Take additional year off?

Postby katesearches » Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:15 pm

2014 wrote:
There are tons of firms that care more about how you would fit in far more than your law school pedigree. The issue is that those firms typically hire like one or two attorneys a year and in many cases don't regularly hire. The firms that do consistently hire care a great deal about what school you went to and your grades there, which is why on this site at least people advocate going to the best school you can and doing as well as you can since it is the "safest" result.

If you have connections that can land you a job at a mid law firm you would be satisfied with by all means go to a cheaper school or focus less on your grades and try to build practical skills or network or something, but if you don't have an employment offer in writing, it is a risky proposition.

And re: Dec vs February your choice is fine just know that February tests are not released so you will never know what you got wrong. That was enough to keep me away from that administration.


No, that makes a lot more sense now. I don't have an employment offer in writing, and even if I did, I wouldn't want to put my eggs in one basket and assume connections in a mid-size firm will secure me a position (i'd rather have that as a back-up). You're also right in that most of these firms rarely hire, from my observations at least, and that number seems right: one or two a year, or not even. I wasn't aware of the firms that hire regularly/big-law recruiting focus more on school/grades, but thanks for letting me know. :)

Oh shoot, I didn't realize Feb tests aren't released (just goes to show you how I need to familiarize myself with LSATs more). I actually haven't even checked the June test (on LSAC, to see what I got wrong, etc). I just got my score by email and have been dreading going online (I will today lol). Yeah, I'll aim for Dec. then, I guess I was originally just trying to give myself as much "time off" from the LSATs. But thanks!




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