Hi Spivey, complicated question here I'm hoping a consultant might have insight on:
I enrolled at a T20 five years ago straight out of undergrad. At the time, my stats were 3.77/167. I completed one semester of 1L courses with a 3.76 GPA (put me in the top 5-10% and also got a CALI award for Contracts) but towards the end of second semester I withdrew and have only 'W's for my second semester. I did this for personal reasons, some of which included some mental health issues I've spent the time since resolving, and also some family things that are also mostly resolved by now.
Since withdrawing, I've gotten about 3 years of work experience in higher education (fundraising) and made a lot of strong connections. I've also just started a masters at my employer institution (which is a T14 school, if that's worth anything), but I'm realizing that the salary ceiling for my industry, while nice, isn't anything close to what I hoped to get out of law. There were also a lot of elements of my 1L education that I found intellectually fascinating that aren't present in my current work, and I think working in regulatory/government affairs or in FedGov could be really interesting to me. So now I'm wondering about going back to law school.
My LSAT of 167 is 'expired,' so I know that if I do try to reapply I would have to retake. Worth noting is that I got the 167 with relatively little studying - my weak point was logic games. So maybe my ceiling is higher than that 167? Since I'm currently working on this masters (which is part-time and will likely not be finished for a few years), I'm guessing it makes sense to finish the degree even if it means I would have to wait until I'm about 30 to apply/go back to law school, especially so I don't flake out of this degree too. My employer is paying for most of the masters and I'm not taking any loans but I still have some debt from my 1L year and UG. I'd hope to get into a school (ideally a T14) where I'd be able to get fairly robust $$$ offer that would minimize or eliminate the need to take on additional debt.
Am I correct that my situation is unique enough - between the 1L grades, some possible C&F questions, the questionable timeline for applying, and the long gap of work experience and graduate work between withdrawing and going back - that I'd be best off hiring a consultant to help me think through the possibility of applying and how to frame everything if I do?
More importantly, is it even possible for me to reapply as a 1L to start over? I've heard conflicting reports on here with little support behind any of them, and the only official ABA rule I can find is that students have 84 months from beginning a degree to complete it, but I think that would only apply if I were trying to use the credits I've already earned? And, just to be clear, going back to the school I started at is not an option I want to consider. Part of the reason I chose to withdraw was the school I was at for 1L, and I also think that I may have 'undersold' myself when I made the decision to go there instead of retaking and aiming higher.
Any thoughts would be helpful!