A question of "mitigating circumstances" and where to apply

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
whyisitsowarmout
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:04 pm

A question of "mitigating circumstances" and where to apply

Postby whyisitsowarmout » Sun Dec 22, 2013 4:29 pm

Hi,

I'm new to the forum and I'm hopeful this holiday break people have a spare moment to help give me some direction.

I recently took the LSAT for the second time, the first being a year ago, and I'm confident I've improved my score significantly. The problem is, on paper, my application is going to look weak due to my undergrad GPA hovering at a 2.8. When I read advice online or on the actual applications about submitting explanations due to "mitigating circumstances" I'm left wondering what that means.

My second year of college (first quarter at my new school. I transferred) I was struck by a car while on campus. The result of which left me in the hospital with serious injuries including a concussion. Instead of taking time away from school I decided to continue because I was a student-athlete as well and missing school would have left me ineligible to compete the remainder of my college days. I was in and out of therapy for 3.5 years (physical, speech therapist, psychologist, neuropsych analysis programs that were 8 hours long) that ran parallel to my lawsuit against the company of the truck that hit me. The head injury was serious enough that I was placed on a temporary student disability program to help with note taking in my classes. I also had a final neuropsychologist review that stated I had lost a percentage of my cognitive ability due to the accident as well.

I'm wondering if this situation leaves me in a unique situation with my applications to certain schools. Will they care that I was able to maintain a decent GPA? Prior to my accident I was a 3.3 student for two quarters. I had ups and downs in quarters through the rest of my college. I was able to overcome my injuries to finish a decorated athlete with NCAA appearances and an All-American honor. I'm 3 years removed from undergrad at this point and my letters are from my attorney and two former coaches. My personal statement focuses on my overcoming the hardships in college to continue to be successful.

My question would be is that qualified as a "mitigating circumstance"? I'd like to attend a Tier 1 law school but I'm not sure which schools really look beyond the numbers. Thats my biggest concern is the fact my application comes in with a 2.8 and they immediately toss it into the trash. Where should I apply?

Any guidance will be appreciated. For what it's worth, I'm expecting at worst 160+ on my LSAT.

User avatar
malleus discentium
Posts: 878
Joined: Sun May 26, 2013 2:30 am

Re: A question of "mitigating circumstances" and where to apply

Postby malleus discentium » Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:48 pm

Even if they judge these to be mitigating circumstances, the best you can hope for is that they look at you as a 3.3, which is still below every median in the T50 and below quite a few 25s. So while they're not going to look at you as a 2.8 in isolation, it's not clear that the explanation is going to help you that much anyway.

Until you actually have an LSAT, it's kind of hard to give you advice. You definitely want to try to get at least one academic LOR, though. Especially since you say you "lost a percentage of your cognitive ability," you don't want LORs from people who can only speak to your athletic accomplishments. Also I'm not sure if getting a LOR from your attorney, presumably someone you have paid, is kosher.

ETA: Once you're outside the T14, picking schools based on rankings is a bad life plan. Other considerations are more important, such as where you want to live and employment prospects.

User avatar
midwest17
Posts: 1686
Joined: Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:27 pm

Re: A question of "mitigating circumstances" and where to apply

Postby midwest17 » Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:24 pm

Don't get an LOR from your attorney. One LOR from a coach is acceptable, but it should supplement academic LORs. You're applying to schools, not athletic programs.

As malleus pointed out, even the 3.3 wouldn't put you in a great spot. You're going to need an excellent LSAT to outweigh your GPA, whether schools treat it as a 2.8 or a 3.3, or somewhere in between.

The risk with your mitigating circumstances approach is that it's not obvious that you've recovered. If you suffered permanent brain injury, then it's possible that schools will view the 2.8 as more predictive of future performance (which, after rankings, is why they care about GPA) than the 3.3. A strong LSAT could help you overcome this concern.

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

Re: A question of "mitigating circumstances" and where to apply

Postby bp shinners » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:51 pm

whyisitsowarmout wrote:I'm 3 years removed from undergrad at this point and my letters are from my attorney and two former coaches. My personal statement focuses on my overcoming the hardships in college to continue to be successful.


You need other letters. From professors. These won't cut it at all, especially the one from the attorney. Don't submit that one; only submit 1 from a coach, and do so as a supplement to academic letters.

My question would be is that qualified as a "mitigating circumstance"? I'd like to attend a Tier 1 law school but I'm not sure which schools really look beyond the numbers. Thats my biggest concern is the fact my application comes in with a 2.8 and they immediately toss it into the trash. Where should I apply?


An accident such as that absolutely is mitigating circumstances. However, you have 2 problems:
1) Your GPA before-hand also is a little low for T1 schools.
2) It doesn't appear as if you have a GPA after the injury that's higher to show that you've recovered.

Honestly, my advice would be to take some post-bacc classes and ace them. That way, you can point to them as indicative of your academic potential. You can also get some academic LoRs.

It won't change your GPA at all, or the way it's viewed. However, what it will do is make it easier to accept you in spite of your GPA.




Return to “Law School Admissions Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest