International applicant with Oxford law degree

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pickupel
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International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby pickupel » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:20 pm

I'm will be applying to JD programs in the next cycle (2018-19) for Fall 2019 admission. I'm relatively new to the application process and I'd love some advice on the relative importance of various aspects of my profile.

Background:

1. I graduated from Oxford this year with first class senior status law degree (top 5% of my class) and several prestigious prizes. I also have a first class undergraduate degree from another top UK university. Based on conversation with other applicants from the UK, I believe my transcripts will be marked as 'superior' by LSAC.

2. I moved to the US this year to accommodate my wife's career and we're planning to be here for the long term. I am a UK citizen, but I have a green card and will not need a law firm to sponsor me when I ultimately apply for attorney jobs.

3. I've decided a JD will be more advantageous than an LLM because it offers more portability within the US — I don't want to take an LLM, get a job in New York and then be stuck if we have to relocate to a less amenable state.

4. I am taking the February LSAT.

Questions:

1. I understand undergraduate GPA is a smaller factor for international applicants as it is not reported to US News. Given this, how much of a factor will my undergraduate / law school grades likely be in the application process?

2. Given my law school grades, and significant experience working in legal research, how much weight will the LSAT carry in my case? I know the LSAT is normally of paramount importance for international applicants, but given that its primary function is as an indicator of potential and I have already completed a law degree, am I right in thinking past law school performance will be the decisive factor in my application?

Many thanks in advance for your help.

sparkytrainer
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby sparkytrainer » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:53 pm

The only thing on your application that will matter is the Superior and LSAT score. Crush the LSAT first.

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Nagster5
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby Nagster5 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:04 pm

pickupel wrote: I know the LSAT is normally of paramount importance for international applicants, but given that its primary function is as an indicator of potential


Here's where you went wrong, the LSAT's primary function is being reported to the LSAC for rankings.

pickupel
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby pickupel » Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:58 pm

Thank you both for your input!

I know the LSAT is key to law school rankings, but I thought its importance to an individual admissions decision might be a bit more nuanced than either of you suggest. For instance, a quick perusal of Yale's class profile (one of the few to list the 'low' LSAT score) shows they admitted a student last year with a 156 LSAT. I'm aiming to score much better than that (currently testing in the mid 170s), but it does illustrate law schools are willing to look beyond LSAT in certain cases.

I'm really trying to work out where / how broadly I should apply next year. In making that determination, it would be useful to know how my UK law degree will be viewed. Will it be seen as a decisive factor in my application, or merely as a nice soft? It seems counterintuitive that US law schools would not see prior law school performance as one of the most important elements in an application, if not the most important.

cavalier1138
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:02 pm

pickupel wrote:Thank you both for your input!

I know the LSAT is key to law school rankings, but I thought its importance to an individual admissions decision might be a bit more nuanced than either of you suggest. For instance, a quick perusal of Yale's class profile (one of the few to list the 'low' LSAT score) shows they admitted a student last year with a 156 LSAT. I'm aiming to score much better than that (currently testing in the mid 170s), but it does illustrate law schools are willing to look beyond LSAT in certain cases.

I'm really trying to work out where / how broadly I should apply next year. In making that determination, it would be useful to know how my UK law degree will be viewed. Will it be seen as a decisive factor in my application, or merely as a nice soft? It seems counterintuitive that US law schools would not see prior law school performance as one of the most important elements in an application, if not the most important.


It seems counterintuitive, but it isn't. Law schools play the rankings game, and LSAT is a major part of that.

And not to downplay your pedigree, but you're hardly the only person with a foreign law degree applying this cycle. It's not at all uncommon, and it's not going to be enough to get Yale with a 156.

You're clearly intelligent (at least I hope Oxford has some standards), so just put a little bit of effort into the LSAT instead of trying to guess about how much you can slack off.

sparkytrainer
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby sparkytrainer » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:12 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
pickupel wrote:Thank you both for your input!

I know the LSAT is key to law school rankings, but I thought its importance to an individual admissions decision might be a bit more nuanced than either of you suggest. For instance, a quick perusal of Yale's class profile (one of the few to list the 'low' LSAT score) shows they admitted a student last year with a 156 LSAT. I'm aiming to score much better than that (currently testing in the mid 170s), but it does illustrate law schools are willing to look beyond LSAT in certain cases.

I'm really trying to work out where / how broadly I should apply next year. In making that determination, it would be useful to know how my UK law degree will be viewed. Will it be seen as a decisive factor in my application, or merely as a nice soft? It seems counterintuitive that US law schools would not see prior law school performance as one of the most important elements in an application, if not the most important.


It seems counterintuitive, but it isn't. Law schools play the rankings game, and LSAT is a major part of that.

And not to downplay your pedigree, but you're hardly the only person with a foreign law degree applying this cycle. It's not at all uncommon, and it's not going to be enough to get Yale with a 156.

You're clearly intelligent (at least I hope Oxford has some standards), so just put a little bit of effort into the LSAT instead of trying to guess about how much you can slack off.


Agree with this. And you aren't the person with a 156. Rumor is the 156 at Yale is Vice President Pence's daughter (but just a rumor). Unless your dad is the vice president, you aren't getting in with that sort of LSAT. Also, a UK law degree isn't even much of a soft. It will be viewed as another undergraduate degree (like it is in the UK). Not to bust your balls, but you aren't atypical in any sort of way to make your chances any different than the vast majority of T13 applicants.

You are in a good spot, but make no mistake, your lsat will be the be all and end all for your admission chances.

pickupel
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby pickupel » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:33 pm

Good to know about the LSAT, thanks guys.

I don't want to give the wrong impression — I'm certainly not slacking off when it comes to the LSAT. I know it's really important and I want to make sure my application is as good as it can be. I'm just trying to work out how my UK credentials will be seen!

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UVA2B
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby UVA2B » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:36 pm

pickupel wrote:Good to know about the LSAT, thanks guys.

I don't want to give the wrong impression — I'm certainly not slacking off when it comes to the LSAT. I know it's really important and I want to make sure my application is as good as it can be. I'm just trying to work out how my UK credentials will be seen!


I take no responsibility if this strategy didn't work out, but you'd be an interesting test case for just taking the GRE and applying to the schools that now take it.

pickupel
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby pickupel » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:58 pm

sparkytrainer wrote: Also, a UK law degree isn't even much of a soft. It will be viewed as another undergraduate degree (like it is in the UK). Not to bust your balls, but you aren't atypical in any sort of way to make your chances any different than the vast majority of T13 applicants.


I'm afraid I have to disagree with your assessment of my law degree. A senior status law degree is not regarded in the same light as another undergrad degree in the UK. In fact, it's one of the toughest law courses to get into in the UK and is only open to graduate students. Plus, due to the accelerated nature of the course, it's really not that comparable to the undergrad law program at Oxford and is not treated as such by law firms / chambers in the UK.

I also have a hard time believing that my chances won't be different to the 'vast majority' of T13 applicants. I am not suggesting anything about the calibre of those applying to the T13 (excellent, I'm sure), nor suggesting my profile entitles me to a spot at a great US law school. However, I am in a very different position to most applicants. Most applicants haven't got foreign law degrees. As such, I think my chances will be different to most applicants — maybe better, maybe worst, but certainly different.

UVA2B wrote:I take no responsibility if this strategy didn't work out, but you'd be an interesting test case for just taking the GRE and applying to the schools that now take it.


Not sure I'm willing to be a test case, particularly as I'm not struggling to hit a good score on practice LSATs!

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cdotson2
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby cdotson2 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:13 pm

the degree that your soft's matter is not important if you score in the mid 170's on the LSAT. combined with a good GPA (which you have) almost everyone who scores above a 174 gets into Harvard and can get into the schools below discounting Yield Protection. Your chances might be different in some theoretical sense, but both you and the other international law student who went to a generic school and got no special awards but has a superior gpa and a mid 170's LSAT will likely get into Harvard so it doesn't really matter.

Y and S are more complicated, but your pedigree is likely enough to give you a decent shot (not a sure thing) if you score in the 174-6 range.

(also I agree with what UVA said below, the majority of students at HLS are graduates from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford etc. and many have also done prestigious things like Rhodes and Fullbright scholars so although Oxford is great it isn't necessarily different than what is already here. Not to say you won't get in, but just that most students at top schools are impressive.)
Last edited by cdotson2 on Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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UVA2B
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby UVA2B » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:15 pm

I totally understand, I just meant that if you were a superior from Oxford+top GRE, I'm pretty sure Harvard would roll out the red carpet, but I can't be totally sure on it. Go ahead and take the LSAT, and I hope you nail it.

And don't take offense to those saying your degree from Oxford won't particularly move the needle in admissions, because it's usually just meant that you shouldn't expect that to change your outcomes when the LSAT is way more likely to affect that. If you're a 173/superior from Oxford, and you have a particularly prestigious first from that school, then maybe it will help improve your outcome, but no one can reliably quantify that for you.

No one here should judge you for the quality of your degree, but conversely, you shouldn't expect your degree to be seen in a light more favorable than a top degree from other elite institutions, which are pretty typical at the crust of US law schools you're likely considering. So, in that sense, your degree is impressive, but it's more or less "typical" for those schools.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:22 pm

I get that your degree is an especially rigorous one, and you have a high level of accomplishment. FWIW, PhDs at top US universities are only soft factors as well, and applicants with those degrees generally get acceptances in line with their GPA/LSAT (the thing is that people with stellar performance in advanced degrees tend to have excellent GPAs/LSATs; but where the latter aren't maybe as impressive as the grad degree, those students still perform according to their GPA/LSAT). Where softs matter most is at the very top schools, when distinguishing between students with equally excellent records. You may well fall into that category, but that won't be clear until you take the LSAT.

No one is claiming that this is the best way to administer law school admissions, just trying to describe how it generally works.

pickupel
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby pickupel » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:37 pm

Thanks for your replies! I completely understand that the standard is extremely high at the top law schools and that many applicants have stellar academic records. It's very useful to get an impression of just how critical the LSAT is, so thank you for that. Looks like nailing it is the best thing I can do at this stage.

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InterLaw
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Re: International applicant with Oxford law degree

Postby InterLaw » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:31 am

Just wanted to let you know that you may check International Applicants thread, where we collected some data.
I'm international as well and I'm currently studying in the UK from a first tier university (no Oxford/Cambridge/LSE though). 172/S (but my transcript is a bit more complicated). Feel free to follow my cycle here or on LSN (BobbyAx), and to ask me anything (I could be more of help later in the cycle though).

The short suggestion, as they already said, is: get a 173+ LSAT and your shots at H+CCN are 80%+ (each).




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