Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

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melamine
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Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby melamine » Fri May 28, 2010 8:49 am

I haven't been immersed in law school forum discussions much, so i'm really at a loss when it comes to chances of getting accepted at the T-10 schools? Does being old count against me at all? I'll be applying when i'm 31. And how much does grad school GPA count for?

PhD in philosophy from a ~T25 philosophy program
~3.75 undergrad from T-5 undergrad program
~3.65 grad school
LSAT will likely be at least 165 (i've only taken a two practice tests so far, so i imagine it will go up from here), but i'm going to try and get in the low 170s.

Does anyone know how they account for grad school GPA? How much will having a PhD in philosophy count? I'd like to do what i can to ensure admission to U. Chicago and Northwestern - but would like to aim for Harvard. Is my Grad school GPA going to count against that?

Any thoughts?

(I accidentally posted in the Choosing a Law School section by accident - if someone could delete that, that would be great).

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holydonkey
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby holydonkey » Fri May 28, 2010 9:02 am

melamine wrote:I haven't been immersed in law school forum discussions much, so i'm really at a loss when it comes to chances of getting accepted at the T-10 schools?
Depends on your LSAT score.
melamine wrote:Does being old count against me at all? I'll be applying when i'm 31.
no.
melamine wrote:And how much does grad school GPA count for?
very little.
melamine wrote:Does anyone know how they account for grad school GPA?
they generally don't.
melamine wrote:How much will having a PhD in philosophy count?
ok soft. depends on the school, from Yale: good soft, from State University: ok
melamine wrote:I'd like to do what i can to ensure admission to U. Chicago and Northwestern - but would like to aim for Harvard.
Get a high LSAT score. 167-168 for NU, 171-173 for Chicago, 176+ for Harvard
melamine wrote:Is my Grad school GPA going to count against that?
probably not.

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kalvano
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby kalvano » Fri May 28, 2010 9:03 am

Grad school GPA doesn't count.

Your undergrad GPA is fine, maybe a little low for Harvard. Having a PhD won't hurt, but it won't help much.

Unless you get in to the mid-170's, don't plan on Harvard.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri May 28, 2010 10:19 am

Although your LSAT score will be weighed most heavily in the admission process, having a PhD in Philosophy should be viewed in a very favorable light at the most selective law schools. However, you probably need to have at least a 168 LSAT score to "validate" the PhD, and a score in the 170s should be a realistic goal for you.

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NDPhil
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby NDPhil » Fri May 28, 2010 10:46 am

First, the sense I get is that many in these forums do not know how to gauge a Ph.D.'s worth in law school admissions, mistakenly thinking of it in terms of a lower level post-graduate degree, like a MA or MBA. Fortunately, they are not the ones reviewing your application.

Your Ph.D. will be a very attractive aspect of your application, particularly because it is relevant to law. It definitely will give you a boost. Chicago law is particularly keen on philosophy Ph.D.'s, mostly due to Leiter's and Nussbaum's efforts. Chicago law now regularly offers a Law and Philosophy workshop (http://www.law.uchicago.edu/lawandphilosophy/faculty) and a Law and Philosophy fellowship to Ph.D.'s in philosophy (http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/11/law-and-philosophy-fellowship-at-university-of-chicago-law-school-for-201011.html). Yale and NYU are very big on philosophy and law, as well. With respect to Harvard, a 171-173 LSAT would give you good chances since you hold a Ph.D.

I am working on a Ph.D. now and have had a chance to talk to a few T10 law school admissions people. Universally, I was told that a Ph.D. is a significant boost in law school admissions whereas a masters is looked at as, in the words of a previous commenter, an "ok soft." I seem to recall Dean Pless of Illinois mentioning that, at least at UIUC, a Ph.D. can even overcome a low GPA or LSAT in admissions: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=57169. Since you do not have a low GPA and may possibly score in the 171-173 range, that Ph.D. may put you over the top at Chicago and Harvard, whereas that GPA and LSAT score would not be looked at as favorably with an applicant straight out of undergrad or a masters program.

xyzzzzzzzz
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Sat May 29, 2010 12:17 am

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Last edited by xyzzzzzzzz on Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jms2788
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby jms2788 » Sat May 29, 2010 9:51 am

NDPhil wrote:First, the sense I get is that many in these forums do not know how to gauge a Ph.D.'s worth in law school admissions, mistakenly thinking of it in terms of a lower level post-graduate degree, like a MA or MBA. Fortunately, they are not the ones reviewing your application.

Your Ph.D. will be a very attractive aspect of your application, particularly because it is relevant to law. It definitely will give you a boost. Chicago law is particularly keen on philosophy Ph.D.'s, mostly due to Leiter's and Nussbaum's efforts. Chicago law now regularly offers a Law and Philosophy workshop (http://www.law.uchicago.edu/lawandphilosophy/faculty) and a Law and Philosophy fellowship to Ph.D.'s in philosophy (http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/11/law-and-philosophy-fellowship-at-university-of-chicago-law-school-for-201011.html). Yale and NYU are very big on philosophy and law, as well. With respect to Harvard, a 171-173 LSAT would give you good chances since you hold a Ph.D.

I am working on a Ph.D. now and have had a chance to talk to a few T10 law school admissions people. Universally, I was told that a Ph.D. is a significant boost in law school admissions whereas a masters is looked at as, in the words of a previous commenter, an "ok soft." I seem to recall Dean Pless of Illinois mentioning that, at least at UIUC, a Ph.D. can even overcome a low GPA or LSAT in admissions: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=57169. Since you do not have a low GPA and may possibly score in the 171-173 range, that Ph.D. may put you over the top at Chicago and Harvard, whereas that GPA and LSAT score would not be looked at as favorably with an applicant straight out of undergrad or a masters program.


Excellent post! A while back, I asked a similar question as the OP and people said it does not help much, etc. I found that hard to believe, so I got in touch with some legal philosophy professors I know who also teach in law schools. Every single one, even those at top schools such as Yale and NYU said that a Ph.D. certainly helps a great deal, especially in your focus is legal philosophy and you're in a well respected program. Yale really, really likes applicants with a strong background in legal philosophy.


It's not going to make up for a awful GPA and an awful LSAT, but it will certainly give you a boost. I do think you really should try to get in the 170s though.

To OP,
I know a Yale Law alum and a Ph.D in Philosophy and he got into Yale Law with a 3.8/170, non-URM. He claims that he only got into Yale Law because of his strong background in legal philosophy. You're GPA is lower, but if you can pull like a 172+, I think you have a shot. Especially if you happen to have some publications in professional legal philosophy journals.

Harvard, I do not know. Why do you want to go to Harvard in the first place? I would think you would be drawn more to school that are really strong in Philosophy and Law. Harvard really is not strong in legal philosophy. I would much prefer NYU, Yale or Chicago.

Have you ever just considered emailing professors who have appointments in philosophy departments and law schools with your questions? If you're a grad student in a philosophy department, they'll usually be kind. They were all friendly to me.

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im_blue
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby im_blue » Sat May 29, 2010 7:56 pm

NDPhil wrote:First, the sense I get is that many in these forums do not know how to gauge a Ph.D.'s worth in law school admissions, mistakenly thinking of it in terms of a lower level post-graduate degree, like a MA or MBA. Fortunately, they are not the ones reviewing your application.

Your Ph.D. will be a very attractive aspect of your application, particularly because it is relevant to law. It definitely will give you a boost. Chicago law is particularly keen on philosophy Ph.D.'s, mostly due to Leiter's and Nussbaum's efforts. Chicago law now regularly offers a Law and Philosophy workshop (http://www.law.uchicago.edu/lawandphilosophy/faculty) and a Law and Philosophy fellowship to Ph.D.'s in philosophy (http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/11/law-and-philosophy-fellowship-at-university-of-chicago-law-school-for-201011.html). Yale and NYU are very big on philosophy and law, as well. With respect to Harvard, a 171-173 LSAT would give you good chances since you hold a Ph.D.

I am working on a Ph.D. now and have had a chance to talk to a few T10 law school admissions people. Universally, I was told that a Ph.D. is a significant boost in law school admissions whereas a masters is looked at as, in the words of a previous commenter, an "ok soft." I seem to recall Dean Pless of Illinois mentioning that, at least at UIUC, a Ph.D. can even overcome a low GPA or LSAT in admissions: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=57169. Since you do not have a low GPA and may possibly score in the 171-173 range, that Ph.D. may put you over the top at Chicago and Harvard, whereas that GPA and LSAT score would not be looked at as favorably with an applicant straight out of undergrad or a masters program.

Except for one thing: a T25 Philosophy PhD by itself has slim to no shot at a tenure-track faculty position, and isn't likely to impress top schools as much as, say, a T5-10 PhD that would actually be a significant asset for a prospective law professor.

Danteshek
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby Danteshek » Sat May 29, 2010 8:05 pm

My Crim Pro professor has a PhD in pilosophy from Columbia and went on to be EIC of Georgetown Law Journal. After LS he was an AUSA. I would imagine having a doctorate helps establish your academic credentials should you decide to become a law professor.

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UFMatt
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby UFMatt » Sat May 29, 2010 8:17 pm

I have a PhD and applied to 17 schools. I got into everywhere that my numbers had a shot, but I didn't get into any reaches. I feel as though the PhD solidified my numbers, but didn't extend them. You will still likely need either GPA or LSAT above a school's median to get in. For schools where you do have one or more above median, I'd say your chances are excellent.

februaryftw
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby februaryftw » Sat May 29, 2010 8:48 pm

im_blue wrote:
NDPhil wrote:First, the sense I get is that many in these forums do not know how to gauge a Ph.D.'s worth in law school admissions, mistakenly thinking of it in terms of a lower level post-graduate degree, like a MA or MBA. Fortunately, they are not the ones reviewing your application.

Your Ph.D. will be a very attractive aspect of your application, particularly because it is relevant to law. It definitely will give you a boost. Chicago law is particularly keen on philosophy Ph.D.'s, mostly due to Leiter's and Nussbaum's efforts. Chicago law now regularly offers a Law and Philosophy workshop (http://www.law.uchicago.edu/lawandphilosophy/faculty) and a Law and Philosophy fellowship to Ph.D.'s in philosophy (http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2009/11/law-and-philosophy-fellowship-at-university-of-chicago-law-school-for-201011.html). Yale and NYU are very big on philosophy and law, as well. With respect to Harvard, a 171-173 LSAT would give you good chances since you hold a Ph.D.

I am working on a Ph.D. now and have had a chance to talk to a few T10 law school admissions people. Universally, I was told that a Ph.D. is a significant boost in law school admissions whereas a masters is looked at as, in the words of a previous commenter, an "ok soft." I seem to recall Dean Pless of Illinois mentioning that, at least at UIUC, a Ph.D. can even overcome a low GPA or LSAT in admissions: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=57169. Since you do not have a low GPA and may possibly score in the 171-173 range, that Ph.D. may put you over the top at Chicago and Harvard, whereas that GPA and LSAT score would not be looked at as favorably with an applicant straight out of undergrad or a masters program.

Except for one thing: a T25 Philosophy PhD by itself has slim to no shot at a tenure-track faculty position, and isn't likely to impress top schools as much as, say, a T5-10 PhD that would actually be a significant asset for a prospective law professor.


This seems excessively stark of a contrast. A Duke or Wisconsin or UC Davis PhD student who couples that PhD with a HYS PhD is going to have a much better chance at legal academia than one of the roughly 2/3 of recent hires who go into legal academia without a PhD. Sure, a top 25 philosophy degree is going to have trouble finding a tenure track job in this market, but to say a PhD in Philosophy from Duke (or similar) isn't an asset but a top 10 degree is seems absurd.

Getting a PhD from a top25 Philosophy department requires a very similar set of skills than an NYU PhD, and they are the kind of skills that law schools are looking for when they hire. And in terms of what it says regarding ability to succeed in a law program, I don't think the difference is very great.

If the PhD has an effect in admissions, I doubt the benefit stops after the top 5-10 programs.

Burger in a can
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby Burger in a can » Sat May 29, 2010 9:00 pm

UFMatt wrote:I have a PhD and applied to 17 schools. I got into everywhere that my numbers had a shot, but I didn't get into any reaches. I feel as though the PhD solidified my numbers, but didn't extend them. You will still likely need either GPA or LSAT above a school's median to get in. For schools where you do have one or more above median, I'd say your chances are excellent.


This is the most informative post in this thread.

Numbers first. If your numbers aren't sufficient, your PhD will be more or less meaningless. This is unfair and ridiculous, but it's the way it works. Remember, law school rankings are not improved by any percentage of their entering class holding advanced degrees. They are improved by median GPA and median LSAT, and therefore your value as a candidate is greatly measured by your contributions to those medians.

philgrad
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby philgrad » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:36 pm

Another point to be made about PhDs: I don't imagine many law school admissions counselors, overwhelmingly outside of philosophy, will be keenly interested in PGR rankings or, for that matter, terribly concerned to check whether Pittsburgh's ordinal rank sits in a different tier from Chicago's (as it does) or Duke's (yet another lower) or Georgetown's and Northwestern's (still farther down). That all seems a little too in-house to matter much to someone who leafs through hundreds of applications a day, only a handful of which every few years are relevantly reviewed in such a way. (The only exceptions that come to mind, I think, are Chicago and Yale, the one having Brian Leiter and the other a system of inspection by faculty, some of which, no doubt, are acquainted with the rankings.) I suspect the halo attaches to the institution, in most instances, and not to the department (a PhD from Duke in philosophy seems impressive, probably as much as another from Hopkins or UCLA, the PGR notwithstanding).

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jump_man
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Re: Law School Advice - Age, PhD, Grad school GPA, etc...

Postby jump_man » Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:18 pm

philgrad wrote:Another point to be made about PhDs: I don't imagine many law school admissions counselors, overwhelmingly outside of philosophy, will be keenly interested in PGR rankings or, for that matter, terribly concerned to check whether Pittsburgh's ordinal rank sits in a different tier from Chicago's (as it does) or Duke's (yet another lower) or Georgetown's and Northwestern's (still farther down). That all seems a little too in-house to matter much to someone who leafs through hundreds of applications a day, only a handful of which every few years are relevantly reviewed in such a way. (The only exceptions that come to mind, I think, are Chicago and Yale, the one having Brian Leiter and the other a system of inspection by faculty, some of which, no doubt, are acquainted with the rankings.) I suspect the halo attaches to the institution, in most instances, and not to the department (a PhD from Duke in philosophy seems impressive, probably as much as another from Hopkins or UCLA, the PGR notwithstanding).


This is true, but an applicant with a PhD from a program ranked in the top 20 by the PGR should definitely highlight this in their personal statement. Similarly, you should note if your program's specialty is ranked highly (for example, Georgetown is not ranked in the top 20 PhD programs for its overall evaluation, but it has the top program in applied ethics - according to the PGR). Admissions staff will certainly care a lot more about your program's rank if you explicitly spell it out for them. No matter what your situation is, you should use your personal statement to highlight the ways in which your studies and your research will make you a more competitive applicant for law school.




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