3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

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cenparis98
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3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby cenparis98 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:28 am

Hoping for help from a knowledgeable person.

I'm applying for law school a little late in life (39y.o.). I have strong GPAs (undergrad and grad both about 3.8) and a fairly strong legal background for someone not actually employed in the field (I taught law classes while in graduate school at Harvard, where I finished a PhD in political science).

Anyone know how law schools generally look at an application from an old timer like me? Is the LSAT less important for someone who has a PhD in a law-related field, or does that not matter at all? It's not that I don't intend to study for the LSAT, I'm just curious to know how my background might affect how they look at my application.

I live in Northern California, and relocation isn't really an option. It's got to be commuting distance from San Jose. I may be forced by life circumstances to enroll in a part-time program, which would limit my choices to USF or Santa Clara, but I know some people would advise me to go full-time to a stronger program, assuming I got in.

Grateful for whatever help you can provide. Thanks,

cenparis98

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bernaldiaz
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby bernaldiaz » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:31 am

Don't go to Santa Clara or USF if you have a PHD from Harvard. It really can't help.

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Grizz
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby Grizz » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:36 am

Ya don't go to USF or Santa Clara due to bad job prospects bro

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romothesavior
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby romothesavior » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:27 am

Why do you want to go? What are you looking to do with your degree? These are important preliminary questions for you to answer in order to chart your course of action.

cenparis98
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby cenparis98 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:56 am

I have always had a strong interest in the law. I am hoping to do something on the public interest/social justice/government work side of things. I have less interest in working for a big firm. I've been a teacher of social justice issues my whole life and I would like to look into other ways to explore this interest. Thanks for your help!

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Doorkeeper
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:55 am

In regards to schools, if you get a 168+ you have a great shot at Berkeley and possibly Stanford. Those are really the only two schools anywhere near Northern California that are worth attending considering your background.

Also, as an older candidate who already has an advanced degree, your personal statement really needs to discuss why you want a law degree in addition to your PhD.

Also, admissions directors at law schools know how ridiculously hard that Harvard PhD is to get. Don't sell yourself short.

In regards to your LSAT question, if anything I believe they would weigh the LSAT more, as that test score is supposed to stay constant over time, while your undergraduate GPA can easily be explained due to immaturity or something else like that by an older student.

Edit- Spelling
Last edited by Doorkeeper on Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:11 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby Perdevise » Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:00 pm

Doorkeeper wrote:In regards to schools, if you get a 168+ you have a great shot at Berkeley and possibly Stanford. Those are really the only two schools anywhere near Northern California that are worth attending considering your background.

Also, as an older candidate who already has an advanced degree, your personal statement really needs to discuss why you want a law degree in addition to your PhD.

Also, I applied to Poli Sci PhDs this year...so I know how ridiculously hard that Harvard PhD is to get...so do admissions directors at law schools. Don't sell yourself short.

In regards to your LSAT question, if anything I believe they were weight the LSAT more strongly, as that test score is supposed to stay constant over time, while your undergraduate GPA can easily be explained due to immaturity or something else like that by an older student.


I agree, a PhD from Harvard is an excellent soft. With grades and credentials like that, you should be able to do pretty well on the LSAT. Berkeley/Stanford are optimal, especially if you want public interest.

cenparis98
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby cenparis98 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:30 pm

Thanks for your helpful replies.

So the LSAT might actually be more important for someone in my situation? That's something I hadn't thought of. Something to keep in mind as I start preparing.

Everyone is down on USF and Santa Clara. That's worth knowing too. I may not have the option of going full-time, so I may not have much choice in that regard.

Good luck Doorkeeper on your poli sci PhD applications. As long as you stay away from political theory, the job prospects are actually fairly good, provided you get in to a top school. If you don't, I would stay away from the academic path entirely.

cenparis98
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby cenparis98 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:31 pm

Hilarious to think of my PhD as a "soft." Wish it felt like that while I was doing it.

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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby Doorkeeper » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:47 pm

cenparis98 wrote:So the LSAT might actually be more important for someone in my situation? That's something I hadn't thought of. Something to keep in mind as I start preparing.

Yes. I have little doubt the LSAT will be more important. If you had a 3.6 as an undergrad, but then kicked ass at graduate school, it's easy to explain that in an addendum. The LSAT is supposed to be standardized...you're supposed to get around the same score whether you're 20 or 40 (with sufficient preparation).

Everyone is down on USF and Santa Clara. That's worth knowing too. I may not have the option of going full-time, so I may not have much choice in that regard.

I don't know your situation, feel free to PM me if you want to get into specifics, but I would HIGHLY recommend waiting until you can go full time. As I said, if you have a 168+ LSAT score you can get into Stanford/Berkeley and there is a WORLD of difference in how you're perceived on the job market between these schools. I cannot overemphasize it enough, especially given how difficult the current hiring environment is for new lawyers.
Last edited by Doorkeeper on Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cenparis98
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby cenparis98 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:05 pm

Most of the undergraduates I wrote letters for at Harvard worked toward their JD & PhD at the same time. It's a hard road in some respects, but it can be done, and you have a much greater range of options when you're finished. Something to think about. You should definitely talk to people who have done that. I can put you in touch with a few of my former students if you're interested.

FinallyGoing
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby FinallyGoing » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:04 am

Stop trolling.

Edit: ...and move back to Cambridge. You're a shoe in.

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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby Geetar Man » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:10 am

FinallyGoing wrote:Stop trolling.

Edit: ...and move back to Cambridge. You're a shoe in.


+1 , troll.

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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby FinallyGoing » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:14 am

Geetar Man wrote:
FinallyGoing wrote:Stop trolling.

Edit: ...and move back to Cambridge. You're a shoe in.


+1 , troll.



Oh, I know the guy is representing himself honestly..I just can't believe he would be considering USF or SC...H takes care of its own and I am sure they would love to accommodate him should he apply.

cenparis98
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby cenparis98 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:37 am

Harvard does tend to take care of its own, but as my previous post indicated, I live in Northern California now, and have no option to relocate. I am also at an age (39) where it isn't smart to take on an enormous amount of debt. For someone in my situation, a debt-free option at a lesser school might make more sense than going to the best school I can get into. But everyone seems to disagree with me on that, which is helpful for me to know.

FinallyGoing
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby FinallyGoing » Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:45 am

cenparis98 wrote:Harvard does tend to take care of its own, but as my previous post indicated, I live in Northern California now, and have no option to relocate. I am also at an age (39) where it isn't smart to take on an enormous amount of debt. For someone in my situation, a debt-free option at a lesser school might make more sense than going to the best school I can get into. But everyone seems to disagree with me on that, which is helpful for me to know.


I understand that. Forgive me, but do you mind my asking "why do you want to go to law school?"

Then perhaps we can discuss whether or not the schools within your region make for good ideas.

cenparis98
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby cenparis98 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:22 am

I have been teaching issues of law and social justice for years. Going to graduate school in the first place was a close call for me - it was basically a choice of law school with a public service bent or government grad school with a public law bent. I have only started looking into this systematically, but my intention is to earn a credential that might allow me to do work in a field of social justice that might include government work, working with underserved communities, or focusing on a subject like immigration. I don't see myself at a big law firm. As a teacher, I have gotten used to being grossly overworked and underpaid, so I'm not chasing a big paycheck. I'm just looking to transition into work that I find more interesting for my stage of life.

Basically I have been teaching this stuff for years at both the high school and college level, and I would like to get out of the classroom and get more involved in actually doing it. I was hoping that someone whose primary interest is public law/government work/social justice wouldn't need to worry quite as much about the prestige of the law program itself as compared to someone wanting to work with a big corporate firm.

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Doorkeeper
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby Doorkeeper » Tue Feb 07, 2012 10:53 am

cenparis98 wrote: I was hoping that someone whose primary interest is public law/government work/social justice wouldn't need to worry quite as much about the prestige of the law program itself as compared to someone wanting to work with a big corporate firm.


A shiny degree looks good to all. Places like the ACLU are notorious for how difficult they are to get a job at for new lawyers, and since the recession public interest places have slowed down hiring.

And government work varies widely. You'd need to be more specific about what government work you're looking at - a city housing agency, or an AUSA job? The latter will need a prestigious degree, while the former not so much.

FinallyGoing
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby FinallyGoing » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:36 pm

Doorkeeper wrote:
cenparis98 wrote: I was hoping that someone whose primary interest is public law/government work/social justice wouldn't need to worry quite as much about the prestige of the law program itself as compared to someone wanting to work with a big corporate firm.


A shiny degree looks good to all. Places like the ACLU are notorious for how difficult they are to get a job at for new lawyers, and since the recession public interest places have slowed down hiring.

And government work varies widely. You'd need to be more specific about what government work you're looking at - a city housing agency, or an AUSA job? The latter will need a prestigious degree, while the former not so much.


+1

OP, PIL is rather competitive. If I were you I would contact the Koteen OPIA @ HLS. Tell them you're a GSAS grad and that you'd like to speak to someone about going into law. It's a busy time of year around that office but I am sure someone will take the time to talk to you.

cenparis98
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby cenparis98 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:41 pm

Thanks to everyone for their good advice. I am just beginning to think this through and I've found these conversations very useful.

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twenty
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Re: 3.8GPA/HarvardPhD - what LSAT?

Postby twenty » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:43 am

The reality is, law schools look at three things -- your undergraduate GPA, your LSAT, and your URM status (not flame, let's just be honest.) If you get a 155 on the LSAT, and someone else has your same GPA with a 159, they will be considered more competitive. That's how incredibly important the LSAT is.

The good news is, you're obviously a smart guy. You have your PhD from Harvard, you've got a 3.8 GPA, and probably tons of other great softs. More good news? You have four and a half months to figure this LSAT thing out. For the love of god, don't take it cold -- figure out what the LSAT questions are looking for, take a few timed practice tests, and you'll jump up 5-10 points easily.

You're an hour away from Berkeley and Hastings. With a decent LSAT score, you could probably swing a full ride/close to it at Santa Clara. Heck, if you get your LSAT up to 170's, you have a good shot at Stanford.

On the other hand, you're almost 40. You obviously have little to no interest working for a huge law firm in New York/being a federal judge/etc. Do what makes the most sense for you and your family.




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