Apply this cycle or wait?

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GriefBacon

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Apply this cycle or wait?

Postby GriefBacon » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:46 pm

I need some help figuring out if I should apply this cycle or wait another year.

Quick background: I'm 31, and have a B.A. from a small liberal arts school. My work history's been a little all over the place, having graduated during the recession, but mainly in retail management (rising through the ranks) and human resources. I just moved to a new city 6 weeks ago and I love it here, but I'm not married practicing in the mountain west -- though I do have a number of legal connections here (along with a few other cities/parts of the country I wouldn't mind living in). Having worked in HR, I figured I would lean towards to employment law -- and that's still definitely still an interest -- but my recent work in non-profits has pretty much sold me on public service/government.

Super shitty GPA -- LSAC calculated at 2.8 -- and a 163 LSAT, but retaking this month. Hoping for (but obviously not planning on) 165-168.
Schools I'm currently planning on applying to: Colorado, Denver, Utah, UNC, Wake Forest, Chicago-Kent, Minnesota, Notre Dame, and GW

Basically, my initial plan was to apply this cycle. I've been planning on that for almost 2 years now. But I ended up taking an AmeriCorps VISTA position this summer, moved to a new city, and that kinda changed everything. In theory, it all still works, as my service terms would end right before the fall term would start. BUT, one of the benefits of AmeriCorps is a year of federal Non-Competitive Eligibility when you're done. Doesn't guarantee a federal job, but makes it a whole lot easier to get your foot in the door. And if I'm thinking public service is the way I want to go (and more importantly, PSLF for my lingering undergrad and future law school loans)...it seems a little outrageous NOT to delay law school another cycle, take a federal job for a year, and still have reinstatement eligibility when I graduate.

(The third option, of course, is applying to part-time programs this cycle. I'm not super thrilled about that idea, namely because it seems severely limiting in terms of practical experience. If I'm working full-time, summer associate positions/internships, clinics, externships, etc are all impossible.)


Any thoughts or advice? I'm taking the Sept LSAT regardless, but I really need to decide like yesterday/start applications if I'm applying this cycle. Am I best off just applying this cycle and then reapplying next cycle if I end up getting a job federal job?
Last edited by GriefBacon on Fri Nov 11, 2016 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Kopetz

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Re: Apply this cycle or wait?

Postby Kopetz » Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:20 am

GriefBacon wrote:I need some help figuring out if I should apply this cycle or wait another year.

Quick background: I'm 31, and have a B.A. from a small liberal arts school. My work history's been a little all over the place, having graduated during the recession, but mainly in retail management (rising through the ranks) and human resources. I just moved to Denver 6 weeks ago and I love it here, but I'm not married practicing in Colorado -- though I do have a number of legal connections here (along with a few other cities/parts of the country I wouldn't mind living in). Having worked in HR, I figured I would lean towards to employment law -- and that's still definitely still an interest -- but my recent work in non-profits has pretty much sold me on public service/government.

Super shitty GPA -- LSAC calculated at 2.8 -- and a 163 LSAT, but retaking this month. Hoping for (but obviously not planning on) 165-168.
Schools I'm currently planning on applying to: Colorado, Denver, Utah, UNC, Wake Forest, Chicago-Kent, Minnesota, Notre Dame, and GW

Basically, my initial plan was to apply this cycle. I've been planning on that for almost 2 years now. But I ended up taking an AmeriCorps VISTA position this summer, moved to a new city, and that kinda changed everything. In theory, it all still works, as my service terms would end right before the fall term would start. BUT, one of the benefits of AmeriCorps is a year of federal Non-Competitive Eligibility when you're done. Doesn't guarantee a federal job, but makes it a whole lot easier to get your foot in the door. And if I'm thinking public service is the way I want to go (and more importantly, PSLF for my lingering undergrad and future law school loans)...it seems a little outrageous NOT to delay law school another cycle, take a federal job for a year, and still have reinstatement eligibility when I graduate.

(The third option, of course, is applying to part-time programs this cycle. I'm not super thrilled about that idea, namely because it seems severely limiting in terms of practical experience. If I'm working full-time, summer associate positions/internships, clinics, externships, etc are all impossible.)


Any thoughts or advice? I'm taking the Sept LSAT regardless, but I really need to decide like yesterday/start applications if I'm applying this cycle. Am I best off just applying this cycle and then reapplying next cycle if I end up getting a job federal job?


You can apply and see what comes up this cycle and make a deferment or re-application decision later, depending on schools' deferment policies. Retaking the LSAT is a good choice given your GPA.

As an aside, NCE for federal jobs is nice, but it's not nearly a guarantee. In my experience, it's mostly a way to get into the "maybe" pile for openings a friend or colleague has informed you about. If you do decide to pursue federal employment following your Americorps service, make sure to actively find and meet people at agencies you'd like to work with so they can let you know when an NCE-eligible position opens up.

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floatie

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Re: Apply this cycle or wait?

Postby floatie » Thu Sep 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Do you think your application is going to be significantly stronger next year than it is right now (and by right now I mean after your September retake)? An extra year of work experience won't boost you up a ton. I would say apply this cycle and see what happens. Despite what TLS tells you, a 163 isn't an awful score by any means. Even with your GPA, I would imagine you'd get in somewhere if you add some safeties to your list. Check LSN and other sources and see where your LSAT score is at or above 75th% percentile.

cavalier1138

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Re: Apply this cycle or wait?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:01 pm

floatie wrote:Despite what TLS tells you, a 163 isn't an awful score by any means.


Please find me a thread where someone says that 163 is an objectively awful score.

The OP said they want to go into public service. If that means working in local or state government, a 163 will likely put them in contention for schools that get them that work. If it means working for high-level NGOs or in the federal government, then a 163 will not put them in contention for schools that get them that work.

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floatie

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Re: Apply this cycle or wait?

Postby floatie » Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:55 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
floatie wrote:Despite what TLS tells you, a 163 isn't an awful score by any means.


Please find me a thread where someone says that 163 is an objectively awful score.

The OP said they want to go into public service. If that means working in local or state government, a 163 will likely put them in contention for schools that get them that work. If it means working for high-level NGOs or in the federal government, then a 163 will not put them in contention for schools that get them that work.


There appears to be a pervasive, yet obviously inaccurate "170 or bust" mentality on some threads in TLS. And I generally agree with what you said about the schools, although I will say (as someone who works in a fairly prestigious part of the federal government) that there are lawyers I work with who didn't go to a T-50. I don't know their full career track so it's possible that some of them didn't have a direct path to getting the jobs that they have. Point is, OP - one single test isn't going to determine the rest of your career from graduation through retirement. It'll probably influence how you start your career, though. So give your retake your all, but if you don't do significantly better, don't worry.

cavalier1138

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Re: Apply this cycle or wait?

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Sep 08, 2016 6:53 pm

floatie wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
floatie wrote:Despite what TLS tells you, a 163 isn't an awful score by any means.


Please find me a thread where someone says that 163 is an objectively awful score.

The OP said they want to go into public service. If that means working in local or state government, a 163 will likely put them in contention for schools that get them that work. If it means working for high-level NGOs or in the federal government, then a 163 will not put them in contention for schools that get them that work.


There appears to be a pervasive, yet obviously inaccurate "170 or bust" mentality on some threads in TLS. And I generally agree with what you said about the schools, although I will say (as someone who works in a fairly prestigious part of the federal government) that there are lawyers I work with who didn't go to a T-50. I don't know their full career track so it's possible that some of them didn't have a direct path to getting the jobs that they have. Point is, OP - one single test isn't going to determine the rest of your career from graduation through retirement. It'll probably influence how you start your career, though. So give your retake your all, but if you don't do significantly better, don't worry.


Exceptions that prove the rule. There are people who graduated from Cooley who actually have paying work as lawyers. That doesn't mean anyone should go there and expect that outcome.

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GriefBacon

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Re: Apply this cycle or wait?

Postby GriefBacon » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:26 pm

floatie wrote:Do you think your application is going to be significantly stronger next year than it is right now (and by right now I mean after your September retake)? An extra year of work experience won't boost you up a ton. I would say apply this cycle and see what happens. Despite what TLS tells you, a 163 isn't an awful score by any means. Even with your GPA, I would imagine you'd get in somewhere if you add some safeties to your list. Check LSN and other sources and see where your LSAT score is at or above 75th% percentile.


I wouldn't say my application will be stronger per se, but it will be that much further removed from the GPA. And I think my current supervisor would be a really strong reference, but she's only known me 2 months at this point, so I'd need to wait until next cycle to use a reference from her.

163 is several points above the 75th percentile at Denver, Utah, and Chicago-Kent; right at/just above the 75th percentile at Colorado and Wake...and a point below 75th percentile at UNC. Minnesota, GW, and Notre Dame are clearly reaches, and 163 is just below median at those schools. I don't think I'm being foolishly confident that I'll get into at least some of those schools, even if I didn't raise my LSAT -- LSN certainly suggests as much -- especially being the better part of a decade out of college. But I'd consider Denver and Chicago-Kent my safeties.

It's come to my attention though that NCE can be deferred for up to 3 years for academic reasons, so that's pretty much sealed my decision to go ahead and apply this cycle, even if 163 ends up being my highest LSAT.



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