Sias wrote:Living abroad for a few years is one of the few softs that's both "strong" and actually somewhat common. I'm not talking about studying abroad for a year, but living in another country for 2+ years so that you can also list being somewhat proficient in another language.
Otherwise, softs are almost always weak. A lot of people come here thinking that community service, athletics, or a "special" background (I quotation because these are almost always just an overly dramatized sob story about a person's upbringing) are strong. They aren't. This stuff is filler and will buff an application sure, but it won't compensate for below median numbers like a "strong" soft might.
This makes no sense. The OP wants to know what's average, what's above average, what's below average. By definition, the vast majority of applicants can't be below average. They're average. I'd guess "average" in the overall applicant pool means some club memberships, maybe a leadership position or two, an internship or two and probably some half-assed volunteer work.
Maybe you do have to be really outstanding to outperform your numbers, but you're pretty well guaranteed to underperform if you haven't done anything.
I never mentioned an average nor did I suggest that softs are measured on some sort of curve, which is the idea that you seem to be massaging right now. The term "weak" was correctly used to indicate that most softs lack potency or efficacy with regard to one's application. This is a numbers game, and an applicant with a 178/4.0 will still be a 178/4.0 if he or she never volunteered or played sports or traveled abroad while in college.
Similarly, someone with a 155/2.5 might think he or she has excellent softs because they interned for a Congressman for a year, but no school is going to look very far beyond those numbers. Why, you ask? Because those numbers: A) potentially hurt the school's desired medians and, by extension, rank; B) indicate that the individual probably doesn't have the mental acuity or, at the very least, the work ethic to succeed in law school; and C) that many unsuccessful law students tend to reflect poorly on the school they attended.
Now the above example could be used with an applicant whose numbers are about median, in which case softs might play a role in said applicant being granted admission. However, even in less extreme circumstances, softs really won't be considered until numbers have been accounted for (i.e. school's reaching their medians; sometimes they prefer high-LSAT splitters over a strong, well-rounded candidate to reach these goals), and demographics have been accounted for (race, ethnicity, location, age).
So yes, softs are almost always weak and shouldn't be expected to do much for an application. Good to have--no doubt about that--but ultimately of small consequence.
You might ask, "But then what would be a 'strong' soft which might prompt an adcomm committee to overlook a weak LSAT/GPA?" Examples might include patenting an invention or publishing a novel. They don't have to be particularly grand or exciting (otherwise why are you applying to law school if you're a successful novelist?), but by virtue of the accomplishment itself the committee might think "here's someone with drive or a desire to achieve. Even if he or she doesn't go into a legal career, there might be a potential notable alumni here," and schools love having famous alumni.