Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

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SullivanLSAC
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Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby SullivanLSAC » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:09 pm

One of the services I provide to clients who want it is advice on whether to even try to get admitted to law school. In other words, is law school for you? Given the condition of the legal market, the increasing costs of law school and the recent lowering of admission standards to attract more law students, whether one should go to law school at all has become a hot topic.

Two recent articles address this very issue. The first, in U.S. News & World Report, is entitled “Understand What Law School Bar Passage Rates Mean For Applicants.”http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/articles/2015/10/20/assess-whether-bar-passage-rates-should-influence-a-law-school-decision It suggests that before one consider a particular school, one examine the school’s bar passage rate. I am quoted in the article at some length. The second, in The New York Times, is entitled “Study Cites Lower Standards in Law School Admissions.”http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/27/business/dealbook/study-cites-lower-standards-in-law-school-admissions.html?src=me&_r=2 It explores the potential of unemployment for some law school graduates who entered law school under easing standards but never had the skill ultimately to pass the bar exam or to gain employment in a law-related job.

The issue for these authors then, put less politely than I did in my opening sentences, is are you really right for law school? The authors, alas, are correct: you can get admitted to law school today, and graduate, without any hope of passing the bar exam or finding meaningful employment. In those cases, you shouldn’t go.

The Times put its finger on (actually in the eye of) those cases: you should not go if you scored less than 150 on the LSAT. They’re right (actually my red flag point is the LSAT median, which is usually about 151 or 152). If you are not among the top 50% of those taking the LSAT then statistically you are probably ill-equipped to undergo the rigors of law school, pass the bar exam, and get a job in a very tight legal market — but not too ill-equipped to get admitted in the first place, which is the very problem. You are at that point very much in a “rock-meet-hard-place” situation. Forget law school. Instead, go be someone that lawyers work for!

By the way, there’s no shame in not getting in the top 50% on the LSAT. Remember, like the SAT, the LSAT measures your ability not in relation to some standard, but as compared on a curve with all others taking the test. With the SAT, that meant every 17 year old with a pulse. With the LSAT, you are measured only against that small subset of those that took the SAT who did well enough to get admitted to college, and probably to a very good one, and then did well enough in that college that they thought it a serious possibility that they could get admitted to law school. I hate to sound elitist, but that’s an elite group! If it’s any consolation, congratulations on being one of their number.

Dan Sullivan
Sullivan Law School Admissions Consulting
http://www.lawschooladmissionsconsulting.com
781-862-7340

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kellyfrost
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby kellyfrost » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:48 pm

Do you believe that a student with a 155 LSAT score that attends at school ranked in the vicinity of 100-110 has no real shot at becoming a licensed attorney or finding employment as an attorney?

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TheSpanishMain
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby TheSpanishMain » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:09 pm

kellyfrost wrote:Do you believe that a student with a 155 LSAT score that attends at school ranked in the vicinity of 100-110 has no real shot at becoming a licensed attorney or finding employment as an attorney?


I don't want to hijack this guy's thread, but yeah, that student probably doesn't have a shot at a good outcome. By that I mean, getting into a school that gives them a good shot at employment AND doesn't involve taking on a ton of debt.

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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby lymenheimer » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:14 pm

TheSpanishMain wrote:
kellyfrost wrote:Do you believe that a student with a 155 LSAT score that attends at school ranked in the vicinity of 100-110 has no real shot at becoming a licensed attorney or finding employment as an attorney?


I don't want to hijack this guy's thread, but yeah, that student probably doesn't have a shot at a good outcome. By that I mean, getting into a school that gives them a good shot at employment AND doesn't involve taking on a ton of debt.


Inb4 "well that's my bio and I have a great job"

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kellyfrost
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby kellyfrost » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:54 pm

TheSpanishMain wrote:
kellyfrost wrote:Do you believe that a student with a 155 LSAT score that attends at school ranked in the vicinity of 100-110 has no real shot at becoming a licensed attorney or finding employment as an attorney?


I don't want to hijack this guy's thread, but yeah, that student probably doesn't have a shot at a good outcome. By that I mean, getting into a school that gives them a good shot at employment AND doesn't involve taking on a ton of debt.



You are probably correct about debt being a concern. The legal job market is very difficult right now. I don't know how much longer schools ranked 100-110 can continue to churn out graduates with tuition they are charging and the job prospects are not that good.

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kellyfrost
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby kellyfrost » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:57 pm

lymenheimer wrote:
TheSpanishMain wrote:
kellyfrost wrote:Do you believe that a student with a 155 LSAT score that attends at school ranked in the vicinity of 100-110 has no real shot at becoming a licensed attorney or finding employment as an attorney?


I don't want to hijack this guy's thread, but yeah, that student probably doesn't have a shot at a good outcome. By that I mean, getting into a school that gives them a good shot at employment AND doesn't involve taking on a ton of debt.


Inb4 "well that's my bio and I have a great job"



Inb4: "Well, I am neither an attorney, law school admissions consultant, law school admissions dean or staff, and I am not even a law student. But I am pretty good at spotting "inb4s" and I think that will translate well into me being a great issue spotter on law school exams!"

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lymenheimer
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby lymenheimer » Wed Nov 18, 2015 1:59 pm

kellyfrost wrote:
lymenheimer wrote:

Inb4 "well that's my bio and I have a great job"


Inb4: "Well, I am neither an attorney, law school admissions consultant, law school admissions dean or staff, and I am not even a law student. But I am pretty good at spotting "inb4s" and I think that will translate well into me being a great issue spotter on law school exams!"

Looks like both of us were wrong.

petepilsh
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby petepilsh » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:02 pm

kellyfrost wrote:
lymenheimer wrote:
TheSpanishMain wrote:
kellyfrost wrote:Do you believe that a student with a 155 LSAT score that attends at school ranked in the vicinity of 100-110 has no real shot at becoming a licensed attorney or finding employment as an attorney?


I don't want to hijack this guy's thread, but yeah, that student probably doesn't have a shot at a good outcome. By that I mean, getting into a school that gives them a good shot at employment AND doesn't involve taking on a ton of debt.


Inb4 "well that's my bio and I have a great job"



Inb4: "Well, I am neither an attorney, law school admissions consultant, law school admissions dean or staff, and I am not even a law student. But I am pretty good at spotting "inb4s" and I think that will translate well into me being a great issue spotter on law school exams!"


LOL!

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General_Tso
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby General_Tso » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:03 pm

I think you can do better than a 100-110 school with a 155 nowadays. UC Hastings is letting people in with a 153.

Still doesnt mean you should go though.

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Johann
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby Johann » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:09 pm

if you are shit out of options law school is an okay path for making a middle class income with lots of work and hustle. the more options you have, the worse of an idea law school is.

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kellyfrost
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby kellyfrost » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:09 pm

General_Tso wrote:I think you can do better than a 100-110 school with a 155 nowadays. UC Hastings is letting people in with a 153.

Still doesnt mean you should go though.



Oh wow, in at UC Hastings with a 153? I've been out of the game for a while now and haven't really kept up on statistics, but I thought UC Hastings required much more than a 153.

I was picking out what I considered to be an "okay" LSAT score and then placing that score within the range of schools I thought they could be accepted at (100 or so).

When I went through this, I didn't know there was such a thing as an admission consultant. Good thing too, or they may have told me not to go!

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General_Tso
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby General_Tso » Wed Nov 18, 2015 2:19 pm

kellyfrost wrote:
General_Tso wrote:I think you can do better than a 100-110 school with a 155 nowadays. UC Hastings is letting people in with a 153.

Still doesnt mean you should go though.



Oh wow, in at UC Hastings with a 153? I've been out of the game for a while now and haven't really kept up on statistics, but I thought UC Hastings required much more than a 153.

I was picking out what I considered to be an "okay" LSAT score and then placing that score within the range of schools I thought they could be accepted at (100 or so).

When I went through this, I didn't know there was such a thing as an admission consultant. Good thing too, or they may have told me not to go!


Are you pleasantly surprised? I take that more as a warning of how low the demand is for a mediocre law degree from a school like UC Hastings. The gap between school #50 and school #100 is pretty narrow.

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kellyfrost
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby kellyfrost » Wed Nov 18, 2015 3:34 pm

General_Tso wrote:
kellyfrost wrote:
General_Tso wrote:I think you can do better than a 100-110 school with a 155 nowadays. UC Hastings is letting people in with a 153.

Still doesnt mean you should go though.



Oh wow, in at UC Hastings with a 153? I've been out of the game for a while now and haven't really kept up on statistics, but I thought UC Hastings required much more than a 153.

I was picking out what I considered to be an "okay" LSAT score and then placing that score within the range of schools I thought they could be accepted at (100 or so).

When I went through this, I didn't know there was such a thing as an admission consultant. Good thing too, or they may have told me not to go!


Are you pleasantly surprised? I take that more as a warning of how low the demand is for a mediocre law degree from a school like UC Hastings. The gap between school #50 and school #100 is pretty narrow.


I am surprised that I was wrong to believe that UC Hastings was not a mediocre law school.

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SullivanLSAC
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby SullivanLSAC » Wed Nov 18, 2015 5:11 pm

Hi kellyfrost:

So, two separate issues: passing the bar; and getting a job. As I said in my initial piece, I start to worry about bar passage when I’ve got a client at or below the LSAT median of about 151. The bell curve phenomenon is such that in terms of percentile, 4 points higher, at your 155, is a more significant difference than you might think. In fact, while 151 is at about the 50th%ile, 155 is actually at the 67th. So you’re in the top third rather than just barely in the top half. That extra gray matter should be enough to pass the bar.

Now, as to the second, and, as I told the interviewer for USN&WR, more important issue, getting a job. The problem lies in the fact that 155 is not going to allow you admission to a law school that is sufficiently prestigious that you can be certain of getting a job. First, I concur with one of our friends on this thread that you can do much better than 100 or 110 with a 155. (I was a bit taken aback when I read that you were looking so low, but I often see that issue.) UC Hastings is a good candidate, but there are many others. Look at schools at which their 25th%ile is right at 155. If your other vital signs are decent, you might just nose into the top 50.

As to getting a job out of one of those better schools, you’re still not looking at easy street, but you’re not putting yourself on death row either. Pick a school that is in the region (if not in the state or in the city) in which you would like to practice; check out National Law Journal’s “Go To Law Schools” ranking, which ranks schools according to their placement at large firms (it has some surprises) http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=12 ... 018150704; and ask to see your potential law school’s placement statistics, which might not exactly be on display in the school’s foyer, but certainly will be made available on request. Oh, and graduate in the top third of your class. Yeah, that last one’s a toughie.

Good luck.

Dan Sullivan
Sullivan Law School Admissions Consulting
http://www.lawschooladmissionsconsulting.com
781-862-7340

6TimeFailure
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby 6TimeFailure » Sat Nov 21, 2015 11:43 pm

It's real...

LSAT: 149
School: NYLS (ranked in the middle of my graduating class)
Debt: closing in on 300K
# of times I failed the CA Bar: 6

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SullivanLSAC
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby SullivanLSAC » Sun Nov 22, 2015 4:28 pm

Hi 6 (I’m changing your name for this post, if that’s OK):

I’m sorry for your trouble. You were, perhaps, too polite to ask me for a response or for my advice, but that never stopped me, so here goes. First, to you, and to all others similarly situated, it might come as small comfort given your debt, but please realize that you are among the best educated people on the planet. You have a law school education. Especially in this day and age, no one other than law school students are getting “educated” in the sense that their minds are being trained to THINK. Hell, that’s not even a metric by which education is measured anymore, it seems. But you have been trained to think. I have often fantasized about a career in education in which I fashion a “B.A. in Law” in which there is a core in science and language and English and history, and then law courses in contracts and torts and criminal law and constitutional law, and even things like evidence, all taught in the Socratic Method, all culminating in a degree. Along with the hard sciences and, say, philosophy, it would be one of the few undergraduate degrees really to have trained one to think. Anyway, with your law degree, you have even more than its equivalence. I bet if you took the LSAT today (do!) you would get 20 points higher.

Second, I spent 30 years litigating in New York City, and I know New York Law School well (to the rest of you, this is not NYU; it is a stand-alone law school). It is not an easy school. Its graduates are tough, street smart people. You did well to graduate above half of their number, and you have much to offer to employers in many fields.

Third, to that end, take a look at a book entitled What Can You Do With a Law Degree, by Deborah Arron. My own choices would have been journalism, either print or television, where you’d be surprised how many people have law degrees from the less prestigious places, but still law degrees to go along with their B.A.s, or real estate. I have made a hobby of fixing up houses and flipping them, and so have interacted with many real estate brokers. The best of them are lawyers on second careers, and they make good money.

Good luck.

Dan Sullivan
Sullivan Law School Admissions Consulting
http://www.lawschooladmissionsconsulting.com
781-862-7340

6TimeFailure
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby 6TimeFailure » Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:00 pm

SullivanLSAC wrote:Hi 6 (I’m changing your name for this post, if that’s OK):

I’m sorry for your trouble. You were, perhaps, too polite to ask me for a response or for my advice, but that never stopped me, so here goes. First, to you, and to all others similarly situated, it might come as small comfort given your debt, but please realize that you are among the best educated people on the planet. You have a law school education. Especially in this day and age, no one other than law school students are getting “educated” in the sense that their minds are being trained to THINK. Hell, that’s not even a metric by which education is measured anymore, it seems. But you have been trained to think. I have often fantasized about a career in education in which I fashion a “B.A. in Law” in which there is a core in science and language and English and history, and then law courses in contracts and torts and criminal law and constitutional law, and even things like evidence, all taught in the Socratic Method, all culminating in a degree. Along with the hard sciences and, say, philosophy, it would be one of the few undergraduate degrees really to have trained one to think. Anyway, with your law degree, you have even more than its equivalence. I bet if you took the LSAT today (do!) you would get 20 points higher.

Second, I spent 30 years litigating in New York City, and I know New York Law School well (to the rest of you, this is not NYU; it is a stand-alone law school). It is not an easy school. Its graduates are tough, street smart people. You did well to graduate above half of their number, and you have much to offer to employers in many fields.

Third, to that end, take a look at a book entitled What Can You Do With a Law Degree, by Deborah Arron. My own choices would have been journalism, either print or television, where you’d be surprised how many people have law degrees from the less prestigious places, but still law degrees to go along with their B.A.s, or real estate. I have made a hobby of fixing up houses and flipping them, and so have interacted with many real estate brokers. The best of them are lawyers on second careers, and they make good money.

Good luck.

Dan Sullivan
Sullivan Law School Admissions Consulting
http://www.lawschooladmissionsconsulting.com
781-862-7340



Thanks for this...it does give me encouragement to keep going.

Troianii
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby Troianii » Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:45 am

General_Tso wrote:Are you pleasantly surprised? I take that more as a warning of how low the demand is for a mediocre law degree from a school like UC Hastings. The gap between school #50 and school #100 is pretty narrow.



http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/maine/jobs/2014/
http://www.lstscorereports.com/schools/ ... jobs/2014/

Seton Hall is #63, Lewis and Clark is #94. For J.D. required employment/unemployment, Seton Hall had 73.7%/6.7%, L&C had 59.4%/18.8%. That's a significant difference.


JohannDeMann wrote:if you are shit out of options law school is an okay path for making a middle class income with lots of work and hustle. the more options you have, the worse of an idea law school is.


+1

SullivanLSAC wrote:Two recent articles address this very issue. The first, in U.S. News & World Report, is entitled “Understand What Law School Bar Passage Rates Mean For Applicants.”http://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/articles/2015/10/20/assess-whether-bar-passage-rates-should-influence-a-law-school-decision It suggests that before one consider a particular school, one examine the school’s bar passage rate. I am quoted in the article at some length. The second, in The New York Times, is entitled “Study Cites Lower Standards in Law School Admissions.”http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/27/business/dealbook/study-cites-lower-standards-in-law-school-admissions.html?src=me&_r=2 It explores the potential of unemployment for some law school graduates who entered law school under easing standards but never had the skill ultimately to pass the bar exam or to gain employment in a law-related job.


OP,

Thanks for sharing this bit in particular. Falling admissions standards can be good for law applicants's chances of admission, but they certainly do have some bearing on the applicant's chances at passing the bar, and it's little surprise that bar passage rates have dropped. One thing I'm curious about - what would you make of a school that has some erratic bar passage rates? I've seen some schools that had bar passage rates jump or drop double digits in just a year - what do you make of this? When the jumps are that big? For example, I've seen one law school that has had admissions standards fall but bar passage rate rise - that one is a bit baffling and I don't know what to make of it other than the luck aspect.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:05 am

The thing is, few candidates should be seriously considering both Seton Hall and Lewis and Clark - when you're looking at regional schools, you need to consider your ties and where you want to work. It seems pretty unlikely for both those schools to be a top choice for the same person.

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SullivanLSAC
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby SullivanLSAC » Tue Nov 24, 2015 11:36 am

troianii:

I don’t know the exact answer, but I think that bar passage rates can fluctuate because of the phenomenon of repeat test takers and multiple year statistics. Any given year might have all of the prior year’s failed test takers repeating the exam, succeeding, and then being included with the current crop of test takers, to improve the entire group’s rate – or not, depending on the year. So it’s not a statistic like median LSAT, which always reflects only one year’s test takers. Now I’m no statistician, and if it weren’t for the fact that I have high school kids I wouldn’t even remember math, but it seems to me that such a phenomenon would sort of “correct itself” as the group normalized over time, i.e., always had a group of repeat test takers, but once variables enter the picture, fluctuations always remain possible. Good question.


Dan Sullivan
Sullivan Law School Admissions Consulting
http://www.lawschooladmissionsconsulting.com
781-862-7340

Ray47
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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby Ray47 » Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:21 pm

Though you might advise against going to a lower ranked school without an above average LSAT score due to concerns about employment and/or passing the bar after law school, would you also advise against going to a top 14 with an LSAT above 160? From the statistics on their websites at least, it looks like a lot of those graduates are passing the bar and getting full-time JD required positions.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is if you think law school in general is a bad investment right now, or just to be cautious when picking a school because there are schools taking advantage of students even though they know there aren't good odds of them passing the bar or finding legal jobs?

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Re: Sure You Want to go to Law School? Bar Passage Rates and Placement

Postby zot1 » Sun Mar 20, 2016 8:27 pm

SullivanLSAC wrote:Hi kellyfrost:

So, two separate issues: passing the bar; and getting a job. As I said in my initial piece, I start to worry about bar passage when I’ve got a client at or below the LSAT median of about 151. The bell curve phenomenon is such that in terms of percentile, 4 points higher, at your 155, is a more significant difference than you might think. In fact, while 151 is at about the 50th%ile, 155 is actually at the 67th. So you’re in the top third rather than just barely in the top half. That extra gray matter should be enough to pass the bar.

Now, as to the second, and, as I told the interviewer for USN&WR, more important issue, getting a job. The problem lies in the fact that 155 is not going to allow you admission to a law school that is sufficiently prestigious that you can be certain of getting a job. First, I concur with one of our friends on this thread that you can do much better than 100 or 110 with a 155. (I was a bit taken aback when I read that you were looking so low, but I often see that issue.) UC Hastings is a good candidate, but there are many others. Look at schools at which their 25th%ile is right at 155. If your other vital signs are decent, you might just nose into the top 50.

As to getting a job out of one of those better schools, you’re still not looking at easy street, but you’re not putting yourself on death row either. Pick a school that is in the region (if not in the state or in the city) in which you would like to practice; check out National Law Journal’s “Go To Law Schools” ranking, which ranks schools according to their placement at large firms (it has some surprises) http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=12 ... 018150704; and ask to see your potential law school’s placement statistics, which might not exactly be on display in the school’s foyer, but certainly will be made available on request. Oh, and graduate in the top third of your class. Yeah, that last one’s a toughie.

Good luck.

Dan Sullivan
Sullivan Law School Admissions Consulting
http://www.lawschooladmissionsconsulting.com
781-862-7340


This is not entirely true. Applicants with lower LSATs get into top law schools. Perhaps not in great numbers, but it does happen.


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