Follow Dreams or Not?

A forum for applicants and admitted students to ask law students and graduates about law school and the practice of law.
Perturbed
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:50 am

Follow Dreams or Not?

Postby Perturbed » Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:54 am

Hello, TLS. I have a question, let me first give you some background. My main interests are Economics, Chemistry/Physics, and Philosophy in that order. As a result of my high school debate career, I've been filled with these grandiose ideas involving values and justice and whatnot. However, my intended major is engineering even though I have no idea what it means -- I picked it because it's practical and it incorporates a lot of chemistry/physics. Now, I feel like I've made a bad choice. Ideally, I would like to help prosecute war criminals and bring light to human rights violations across the world. If I could somehow bag a job in the world court or International criminal court, I'd be set. Working for the ACLU also sounds like a good idea. I don't care about money, but why would I? I don't have responsibilities. Second to the ideal, I would like to work in an investment firm.

I like taking standardized tests because they seem like fun logic puzzles that you would find in a newspaper or something. That being said, I just took a practice LSAT and got a 168. I'm sure I can raise it by a few points in the next few years insofar as I don't drink like a fish. Would you advise me to stick with engineering or change to economics? Would you advise me to go to law school to do my ideal work or do you think this is some sort of naive, 18 year old's fantasy? I feel like I'm being a sellout by trying to be practical.

Also, I read a lot that Law school is about LSAT/GPA, but to what extent would I need to get involved in extracurriculars to attend a top 10 law school?

Any personal stories by you TLS lawyers would be greatly appreciated. You can give me insight into how realistic my goals are.

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Ernert
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Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:35 am

Re: Follow Dreams or Not?

Postby Ernert » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:00 am

Working for an international tribunal court is an incredibly rare opportunity that you probably shouldn't plan on being able to do when you go to law school. However working for the ACLU and similar civil rights groups is realistic, especially if you get into a good school and succeed there.

With a 168 cold (which is pretty ridiculous), focus right now on your GPA. Law school admissions are a numbers game. With a high GPA and high LSAT, your major and extracurricular activities will make a minimal difference. Check out law school predictor or lawschoolnumbers.com to see where you could potentially stand.

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tedalbany
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: Follow Dreams or Not?

Postby tedalbany » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:06 am

To have any shot at doing what you described you'd have to go to Yale, so you will need some amazing extracurriculars and a 177+ LSAT.

In any event, going to law school to change the world or for some grandiose vision without having any idea what legal practice is actually like is an awful idea (I've been there when I was your age, trust me). The best thing you can do now is: chill out, take different classes and get a better sense of what you'd like to do, and major in something practical that can get you a job if you decide against law school. I'd stick with engineering since it is useful, and if you do go to law school then you'll have access to the IP [intellectual property] world (a fairly high demand legal area, science background required).

If you go the Econ route I'd pick up a minor in math to market yourself a little harder. Or you can just go the Finance route.

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Pete Venkman
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:33 pm

Re: Follow Dreams or Not?

Postby Pete Venkman » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:20 am

Going to a top school is a must, and admittedly this is based on speculation and not experience, but I'm not sure you have to go to Yale specifically to do what you're talking about. To work for an international court you'd probably first have to have a couple decades of experience doing very substantive work, probably both domestically and internationally, but you sound like a sharp kid. If you take the long view and don't expect to achieve this straight away, it doesn't seem beyond the realm of the feasible. Yale would probably be the fastest route there, no doubt.

Choosing a practical major is a good idea, but I second tedalbany's suggestion that you take a variety of classes. Find something that you're into but that also has some chance of getting you a job (major in math instead of philosophy, or a double major of math or econ if you don't do engineering.)

Perturbed
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:50 am

Re: Follow Dreams or Not?

Postby Perturbed » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:28 am

Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

I guess the major source of my anxiety is not having a plan with college. I meandered through high school not knowing what a GPA was and not knowing the names of any universities except Harvard and MIT. When I figured these things out, it was much too late. I guess the defining difference between the top students of my high school class and me is that they came to high school knowing what they wanted to do after HS and how they were going to achieve it.

I kind of don't want the same things to happen in college. If I stick with engineering and then revert to my natural inclination of economics or hard science, I might lose out in terms of grad school or law school. I know a few brilliant people who claim that their switch from hard science to philosophy screwed them out of competitive law schools.

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tedalbany
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Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:15 pm

Re: Follow Dreams or Not?

Postby tedalbany » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:49 am

Perturbed wrote:Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

I guess the major source of my anxiety is not having a plan with college. I meandered through high school not knowing what a GPA was and not knowing the names of any universities except Harvard and MIT. When I figured these things out, it was much too late. I guess the defining difference between the top students of my high school class and me is that they came to high school knowing what they wanted to do after HS and how they were going to achieve it.

I kind of don't want the same things to happen in college. If I stick with engineering and then revert to my natural inclination of economics or hard science, I might lose out in terms of grad school or law school. I know a few brilliant people who claim that their switch from hard science to philosophy screwed them out of competitive law schools.


Hard Science -> Philosophy won't screw you out of (or hurt you at all with) a competitive law school, but it will screw your shot at a job if you decide law isn't for you (and you may not see that as a possibility now, no one ever does - but trust me, law is NOT as glamorous as you think it is, and there's a very real chance you won't be as enamored with the idea of law school once you learn more about it).

Like I said, explore. The first two years of so of UG you can explore and it won't hurt you. Just take classes in Philosophy, Econ, Sciences, and Engineering.

In terms of what would be best to major in:
1) Engineering
2) Finance, Econ (B.S.), Math
3) Hard Science
4) Accounting, Actuarial Science



...


?) Philosophy/Liberal Arts (Unless at elite school)

sonnyhodgin
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:05 pm

Re: Follow Dreams or Not?

Postby sonnyhodgin » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:32 pm

SPAM.




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