Realistically & honestly want to know if I should be applying this year or postponing a year

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kkmckinn

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Realistically & honestly want to know if I should be applying this year or postponing a year

Postby kkmckinn » Mon Oct 01, 2018 5:52 pm

Hello TLS,

I have been following along for half a year or so and decided I just need to post after feeling like I needed some specific help. I was hoping that I could have some realistic and honest advice as to what you would suggest or if you think I have a shot at these schools.

Here is a little background about me:
-3.913 GPA (expecting it to go up this quarter, hopefully before I get my LSAT score back)
-Criminology, Law, and Society major at UC Irvine
-Currently ranging around a 157-159 on the LSAT, been studying for 3 months on-and-off (I have not been as consistent as I should have been, maybe 3-5 hours a week on average), will be committing to 2 hours a day for the next months and a half until the LSAT on 11/17. Shooting to score above a 165 (168 would be great), I feel confident I can do that. My diag. score was a 151.
-I have stellar letter of recommendations from faculty who advise my two independent research projects. Both projects are related to the legal field.
-I have been a research assistant at The National Registry of Exonerations housed by UC Irvine and University of Michigan Law since March
-I have international experience and career/leadership experience.

Top Schools (in order):
University of Pennsylvania (dual JD/MS Criminology)
UC Berkeley (dual JD/MA Jurisprudence Social Policy)
Stanford (I know it's a long shot)
University of Michigan

When applying I will blanket the entire T14. I don't want to go through the entire application process this year if I don't have a shot at any of the T14s. There are two internships I have an eye on that I would apply for if I didn't go for law schools this year, both are in the legal field. But, I also don't want to postpone if I don't need to; I'm married, 27, and have known I wanted to do law for years now...why wait, unless I need to.

Thanks in advance for any advice or help you may have.

QContinuum

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Re: Realistically & honestly want to know if I should be applying this year or postponing a year

Postby QContinuum » Mon Oct 01, 2018 10:32 pm

We really don't know if you'll be competitive for those schools until you have an actual LSAT score in hand. A 159, as I'm sure you know, is nowhere near sufficient for the T13, unless you're a URM.

Also, I'm not sure an MA/MS in criminology or jurisprudence would add any discernible value to a JD. Non-academic employers won't care, AFAIK; academic employers won't care either (they'd value a Ph.D., but not a Master's).

What are your goals out of law school? Penn/Berkeley/Stanford/Michigan is kind of an odd combination, and not one I can recall seeing before.

kkmckinn

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Re: Realistically & honestly want to know if I should be applying this year or postponing a year

Postby kkmckinn » Tue Oct 02, 2018 2:46 am

QContinuum wrote:We really don't know if you'll be competitive for those schools until you have an actual LSAT score in hand. A 159, as I'm sure you know, is nowhere near sufficient for the T13, unless you're a URM.

Also, I'm not sure an MA/MS in criminology or jurisprudence would add any discernible value to a JD. Non-academic employers won't care, AFAIK; academic employers won't care either (they'd value a Ph.D., but not a Master's).

What are your goals out of law school? Penn/Berkeley/Stanford/Michigan is kind of an odd combination, and not one I can recall seeing before.

Thank you, I really appreciate the response. I totally understand that as it stands right now my score will not get me into those schools. I guess I am trying to figure out if the 165 range is an accurate expectation to be shooting for if I want to be applying for T13. If I were to score in the 165 range on the November LSAT, should I apply or hold off a year?

I am interested in academia and plan to later pursue a PhD. Immediately after law school I would like to work as a criminal defense lawyer, public defender, work for the Innocence Project, etc. I will also be applying for clerkships right out of law school, I would really love to do a clerkship for an appellate judge before entering back into a PhD program. I know it is a long shot but my dream is to eventually go through Yale's PhD in Law, but would also be open to a social sciences based PhD (Criminology) with having a JD background. I've wanted to do law for years and that interest has mainly revolved around criminal defense work and my interest with the judicial system, but since transferring to UCI I have been opened to the world of research and academia and love it; I love the tool that research can be in exposing different structural issues. I would love to do legal research and law reviews later in my career, but also am very happy to be a practicing lawyer before my time in academia. Immediate goals after law school would be a clerkship with a judge and/or criminal defense work. Long-term goals would be to pursue either some sort of law professor/legal researcher in academia.

I know my choices of schools are kind of all over the place. UPenn is my top pick because of the location, placement, focuses, and dual degree program they offer. Berkeley is also up there because of the dual program and the fact that it's in state. Stanford would likely be a top choice if I felt I had a chance at getting in there, but I feel as though I wouldn't have a chance without at least a 170LSAT.

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Duckhat

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Re: Realistically & honestly want to know if I should be applying this year or postponing a year

Postby Duckhat » Tue Oct 02, 2018 12:11 pm

Essentially what you are doing is statsturbating. Most of us have been guilty of this so its quite understandable.

Keep plugging away at the LSAT! Commit to set aside time each day, focus, and review, and you will see your score get into the mid 160s. This can even be done in 1 hour per day.

To give you a better idea of your shot play around with your numbers at http://lawschoolnumbers.com/

QContinuum

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Re: Realistically & honestly want to know if I should be applying this year or postponing a year

Postby QContinuum » Tue Oct 02, 2018 12:29 pm

kkmckinn wrote:Thank you, I really appreciate the response. I totally understand that as it stands right now my score will not get me into those schools. I guess I am trying to figure out if the 165 range is an accurate expectation to be shooting for if I want to be applying for T13. If I were to score in the 165 range on the November LSAT, should I apply or hold off a year?


Again, get a score first, then come back; but you should really have a 169+ (preferably 170+) for the T13. You might be able to squeak in to one or more of the lower T13 as a reverse splitter (GPA > 75%, LSAT < median) but it's not a great position to be in.

kkmckinn wrote:I am interested in academia and plan to later pursue a PhD. Immediately after law school I would like to work as a criminal defense lawyer, public defender, work for the Innocence Project, etc. I will also be applying for clerkships right out of law school, I would really love to do a clerkship for an appellate judge before entering back into a PhD program.


For these goals (CoA clerkship, academia) you should really be targeting the upper T13, particularly YSH. So you really need to get a LSAT in the 170s, the higher the better.

kkmckinn wrote:I know my choices of schools are kind of all over the place. UPenn is my top pick because of the location, placement, focuses, and dual degree program they offer. Berkeley is also up there because of the dual program and the fact that it's in state. Stanford would likely be a top choice if I felt I had a chance at getting in there, but I feel as though I wouldn't have a chance without at least a 170LSAT.


Given your goals, UPenn and Berkeley should not be among your top targets. You should be targeting YSH, and to a lesser extent CCN (particularly Chicago and NYU). You'll be able to get good jobs coming out of Penn/Berkeley, but neither is particularly known for CoA or academia placement.



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