Dear TLS! I beseech your counsel in a matter I find to be most distressing, and would be forever grateful for any advice that anyone can provide.
To start from the beginning (because this has been a long story):
I am a female 24 year-old Lebanese-American who has been living in Beirut, Lebanon with my family for the last 12 years. I was born and raised in the U.S. until the age of 12, and have always had the intention to return there.
I will be doing so this summer, and I am wondering, given my background, which I am setting out here below, and my intention to apply to law school in the U.S., what I should do given how my life has unfolded since I completed my undergraduate degree.
I graduated with a GPA of 3.95 from the American University of Beirut (AUB) in May 2015 with a B.A. in English Literature, the highest GPA for a graduate in the Humanities in that year’s graduating class.
While there, I had already been entertaining the idea to apply to law school in the U.S. after graduation, so began taking on internships and work experience while I studied to build up my resume. I interned at a bank the summer after my freshman year and a boutique publishing house the summer after my sophomore year, which led to my undertaking part-time work at said publishing house until I graduated. During this time I was also a part of my college newspaper - first as a staff writer, and then as Senior Proofreader my last two years.
Before I graduated I had made up my mind that I wanted to continue my education in the U.S., but would not be able to leave for a few years in order to remain with and support my immediate family in Lebanon (my Lebanese father passed away a few years ago, which has left quite a large burden of responsibility on me, the eldest of my siblings, as we have no other family to support us or make life easier). So I decided to obtain more work experience before leaving instead of, for example, pursuing a Master’s degree at AUB.
As such, I found work as a Legal Assistant at an international law firm in Beirut (quite a well-respected full-service firm that has a renowned arbitration practice and is featured in Chambers Global, the Legal 500, and the GAR100), where I worked until last summer.
Although I enjoyed the work there, I left for three reasons:
1. To study for my LSATs and apply to law school for Fall 2018. I worked around 50 hours a week there with overtime, and had no time to study around it.
2. Because my family and I are planning to move this year, and as we do not have a support system in Lebanon, it would be a big task and take up much of my time after the LSAT to settle our affairs here and re-establish them in the U.S. (we do not have family or a house there, for example).
3. To help care for my mother, who has been quite ill this past year with rheumatoid arthritis.
Well - the LSAT thing didn’t work out. I somewhat inanely completed a Kaplan course and thought that I could be ready in 3 months for the September LSAT. I went into that test knowing I would not get the score I wanted (at the VERY least, mid-160s) but wanting to have the experience of taking it. My score wasn’t the absolute worst - 156 - but it was damn well close. It’s nowhere near where I know I can be at my full potential.
So, since I was out for the Fall 2018 application cycle, I decided to apply to a couple of Master’s programs in publishing, another interest of mine developed over the course of doing my college extracurriculars. I figured that would be more useful to obtain a Master’s degree in a trade rather than in English literature or another academic field, especially to establish myself since my degree is from a foreign institution, so applied to NYU and Emerson College’s Masters in Publishing programs. Maybe not the best decision, but I was at this point quite worried about not having anything on when the family and I leave Lebanon.
I got into both - and into Emerson College with a generous scholarship offer (not a full ride, but over half). I had not expected that.
I am currently studying to take the upcoming September LSAT, and it is still my intention to apply to law school - if not this cycle, then definitely for Fall 2020.
So with all of that established, I am now faced with a dilemma:
What should I do with the next year or two?
At first I had thought it would be better to go for the Master’s. I reasoned that it might be beneficial to get experience in another industry other than law.
But given my intention to go to law school at the end of it anyway, why bother?
Would it maybe be better to continue work as a legal assistant, or even as a paralegal, for the next year or two before going to law school?
I have some time on my hands now - the family is planning on moving to the States in July or August; I am still not working currently, and although I am studying for the LSAT I could return to my old firm to work part time for a month or two so that the gap in my resume isn’t quite as large, and then look for work soon before/as soon as the family moves back.
If I do decide to try work as a paralegal/legal assistant, what are my chances of being hired given my credentials and experience? To what extent would my foreign B.A. (although fully accredited and well-respected in and of itself) work against me, and to what extent would my high GPA, prior work experience at an international law firm, and (potentially, hopefully) high LSAT score work for me?
I greatly appreciate any advice that anyone may have about what I should do, as I really have no frame of reference and do not know anyone who has had a similar experience and then applied to law school in the U.S.
(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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