Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

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NightmanCometh
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Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby NightmanCometh » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:28 pm

Hi all,

I am a new poster living in Beijing (US citizen), and would greatly appreciate some input here. I’ve been humbled by some of the exceptionally talented people on this forum. Apologize in advance for the length...

My question: Assuming I had a slammin’ LSAT (175+), would my interesting (I hope) Biglaw work experience -please see below- be enough to bump me into consideration for CLS, Boalt, Harvard and Stanford? I know my GPA is just slightly out of reach for CLS, out of reach for Boalt, and way out of reach for H or S. I don’t even dream about Yale, but I am including H and S as far reaches because (1) heard H values work experience more and (2) possibility of a very impressive targeted rec for Stanford by alum biglaw partner

UG GPA: Ivy League, 3.69 with honors (thesis), International Relations with focus on China-US relations, graduated 2010, solid and personal academic LORs

Working Exp: Among other internships in DC and Beijing during college, 1+ years (signed on for 2, still working) as a paralegal at the Beijing office of a Vault Top 5 Biglaw corporate firm, maybe the strongest US firm in China for this particular area of practice. The interesting aspect is that through hard work and long hours, I managed to get the trust from lawyers to do some really awesome work, by all accounts 2nd and 3rd year associate work in the equivalent NY office (of course everything I worked on subject to internal review before it hit the client). I am the only foreigner US citizen in the office, but did a substantial amount of work in Mandarin, including meetings, drafting, due diligence, etc. Again, this took a lot of time and effort since I am neither ethnically Chinese nor spoke it before college (hours upon hours of out-of-office vocab, drilling, analyzing Chinese legal language, etc, on my own time). I plan to play upon this angle and discuss my life in Beijing (also involved in community service project here with locals) in the Personal Statement.

The reason I ask: I am debating on whether to take the LSAT this October and apply this fall cycle, or hold off and just intensively study LSAT for the next year. The LSAT is problematic for me because I am a very slow methodical thinker obsessed with details (which helps in the law firm job!) so am quite thrown off by time constraints imposed by LSAT. I am scoring 165-170 on PT even after a year or so of sporadic study, but only started intensive study last month. I have been studying like a man possessed even with my crazy overtime work hours, so I expect that by October a low 170’s is possible, but not necessarily probable, and 175+ is a tall order. But I think with an extra year of hard work, I don’t think 175+ would be impossible.

Another way of putting it is this: if it is unlikely that my work experience will be enough to make up for my GPA for those target schools (mostly Boalt, H, S), I might as well just take my chances and go through with taking the October LSAT and applying this fall, despite my room for improvement. Then would just try to get into any T-10 and get the admissions process over with so that I can hurry up and attend next fall.

This is a big decision for me, as it would mean another year delayed from attending law school and beginning my legal career. Hope any of you can shed some insight or offer suggestions on what I should do.

Thanks a lot!

hawkeye22
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby hawkeye22 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:38 pm

The credited response is ALWAYS to spend more time studying for the LSAT if you are able, willing and liable to improve. That being said, if you've studied for it a fair amount already I'd give it a whirl. If you don't get the score you'd like, you can retake in December or next year.

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samsonyte16
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby samsonyte16 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:50 pm

With an LSAT in the low 170's Columbia is a target and Berkeley is worth the application. If you break 175, CLS is likely and H and S become possible--but still not good odds. It's fairly rare for those schools to dip below 3.7 for a non-URM. Your paralegal experience in China sounds interesting, but I don't think it will make you stand out from the HYS applicant pool. Just my guess. Can you take the test in December?

NightmanCometh
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby NightmanCometh » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:03 pm

Thanks! And I am totally realistic- I understand my chances at H/S (like I said, Yale is not even in my dreams) are slim to none, but if it is at least possible might be worth another year of effort.

As for the December test, I understand that generally it is better to apply earlier than later. So if applying too late would decrease my chances for the schools, might as well just wait until the next cycle when I can study even more for LSAT and apply with optimal conditions (highest LSAT possible, early as possible).

Your input is greatly appreciated!

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thesealocust
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby thesealocust » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:11 pm

Nobody is going to be impressed by the fact that you were a paralegal. It's work experience and will help you in the job hunt and in applying to law schools and in your personal growth, but it's just not a game changer. V5 paralegals are a dime a dozen, and if you try to talk it up as doing 2nd or 3rd year attorney work you'll sound naive and arrogant.

NightmanCometh
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby NightmanCometh » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:44 pm

thesealocust wrote:Nobody is going to be impressed by the fact that you were a paralegal. It's work experience and will help you in the job hunt and in applying to law schools and in your personal growth, but it's just not a game changer. V5 paralegals are a dime a dozen, and if you try to talk it up as doing 2nd or 3rd year attorney work you'll sound naive and arrogant.


thesealocust- thanks for your input, but just to make it clear I am not trying to brag about being a paralegal, I am the first to admit that at the end of the day I am just a paralegal. However, in my opinion there is a certain value in marketing/presenting yourself to highlight the best attributes possible. I clearly have weaker attributes, hence the original point of my question (I will just assume your answer is no)

As for my statement about 2nd and 3rd year associate work, this is not my self-evaluation; several associates here have told me that the nature of work I was doing (even though they were subject to further quality control), was indeed higher level associate work. I am not that naive; of course I will not directly mention this in the app, rather I will just describe my tasks/responsibilities in a way they speak for themselves (again- marketing). The business model in this office is different from the NY office and since we deal with different regulatory bodies and different styles of transactions, paralegals here have roles different from than standard paralegals in the US (again, not my self evaluation, this was made clear to me when I applied to this job). All of the other paralegals in my office myself excluded have law degrees from the top universities in China, frankly I am only able to keep up through tons of extra outside study. And again, I hope to market the fact that I am doing substantial legal work in Mandarin despite not being a native speaker.

Sorry if I came across as arrogant; that was not my intention. I clearly see glaring weaknesses in my application and am just trying to market myself to make up for these in order to get a better position. Thanks.

bhan87
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby bhan87 » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:50 pm

With a 175, CLS is possible, but NOT because of your biglaw experience. It would be possible solely because your GPA is not under the 25th percentile, and your LSAT is at their 75th percentile.

Even with a 175, I think Harvard will still be out, and your work experience will not help you much.

Berkeley will always be a black box, so no one can predict that for you. But I doubt they'll care much that you were a paralegal.

In short, your "biglaw experience" is not that important, but your GPA doesn't exclude you from the T10 if you get a great LSAT score.

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soj
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby soj » Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:27 pm

You don't sound unique. You're probably not getting H/S/B because your GPA's too low. Kill the LSAT and you should get CCN, and definitely MVP.

NightmanCometh
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby NightmanCometh » Sat Jul 23, 2011 6:29 am

Thanks for the input all! Pretty much confirmed what I had thought earlier- my GPA is too low. Recently some people put doubts in my mind saying that with a killer LSAT score (I'm talking 178-180), I would have a shot at B/H/S, which is why I asked. In any case I will see where I am LSAT-wise right before the October test before deciding to risk wasting another year to study more.

As for work experience, it seems that my paralegal job probably won't make an impact. Nonetheless, it can't hurt to use my PS to present this in a way that highlights the unique nature of the work I was fortunate enough to do and how the experience fit with my overall academic interests/skills/work ethic. In my experience, employers care a lot more about what you did and how you did rather than the job title, seems this doesn't really matter to law schools though :(

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sunynp
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Re: Tangible BIGLAW experience, make up for GPA?- CLS/Boalt/H/S

Postby sunynp » Sat Jul 23, 2011 7:40 am

Why don't you go ahead and take the October test? Don't just devote a year to studying without taking an exam you have already been studying for.
You can always retake, many people do. Not taking the test and then devoting a year to studying could be a waste of time. If you do well, you may not want to retake. If you don't do well, you will know how you fair under actual test conditions. If anxiety is an issue for you on the exam day, then you will have time to prep to get your anxiety under control.
Anxiety tends to hurt many people on the test day. You should not put in an extra year of studying without knowing how you may do on the test now. You will just be putting a lot more performance pressure on yourself if you expect to study for an extra year and get a 175.

Law school is primarily a numbers game. See how you do on the LSAT and then ask for advice for where to apply. Remember you can always apply to dream or reach schools, just don't expect to be admitted.




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