WHat Should I do?

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valpocl425
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WHat Should I do?

Postby valpocl425 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:40 pm

Ok, I apologize in advance for being so long-winded but I want to provide as comprehensive an account as possible in order to get hopefully helpful advice. Basically, from what I've read here, I am nowhere near your typical applicant. I was a music major and did my undergrad at Juilliard and my master's at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. During my undergrad I took extra classes at Columbia in history, philosophy, politics and other liberal arts subjects (Juilliard and Columbia have a type of exchange where students at one can study at the other without a separate application or extra cost). While in grad school I studied economics at Hopkins and have the credit equivalent of a minor (Peabody is part of Johns Hopkins so again I could study whatever and wherever I wanted). Since graduating I have been freelancing and teaching at the college level and I launched a small grassroots nonprofit in Arlington VA that gives free daily music instruction to children of low income families, mostly Hispanics. My mother is a Hispanic immigrant and my father is American but I claim URM, and have done so in the past at the urging of former admissions personnel. As a musician I have performed and taught all over the world in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Royal Concert Hall in Amsterdam and in low income areas throughout South and Central America. While I pursued my passion, I always was interested in other things (hence the extra studies) and long term see myself working in another field. In terms of the law, I have an interest in international law and would ideally like to work for the government or in trade and commerce or quite possibly immigration, but obviously I'd take whatever I could get. I did take the LSAT and got a respectable 162. I did prepare, but I could do more but I don't want to if I don't have to obviously. In undergrad I had a 4.0 in my major and a 3.7 overall, exact same for grad school. And anyone that think studying music is easy I'd invite you to crack a book on Schoenberg's atonalism and harmonic signatures within the 12-tone system and go to school everyday with colleagues who are constantly trying to find diplomatic ways to tell you that, in their opinion, you suck. My questions are as follows:

1.) Would my background help or hurt my chances?
2.) How would you suggest I sell myself?
3.) Is the process really so numbers-driven?
4.) Where should I apply?
5.) Should I retake?

Another thing I'm curious about is the statistics that are self reported by law schools. If a school's median is a 168 does that mean that there is likely someone in the class/school that got a 154? (assuming someone got a 180) and in terms of the range, if it is say 162-168 and the class size is say 400 that means that 100 students got below a 162, correct? My question is who are these students and why were they accepted with lower than average scores? URM? Good work experience? Well-connected families? Legacy?

Thanks in advance your feedback.

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t-14orbust
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby t-14orbust » Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:48 pm

valpocl425 wrote:Ok, I apologize in advance for being so long-winded but I want to provide as comprehensive an account as possible in order to get hopefully helpful advice. Basically, from what I've read here, I am nowhere near your typical applicant. I was a music major and did my undergrad at Juilliard and my master's at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. During my undergrad I took extra classes at Columbia in history, philosophy, politics and other liberal arts subjects (Juilliard and Columbia have a type of exchange where students at one can study at the other without a separate application or extra cost). While in grad school I studied economics at Hopkins and have the credit equivalent of a minor (Peabody is part of Johns Hopkins so again I could study whatever and wherever I wanted). Since graduating I have been freelancing and teaching at the college level and I launched a small grassroots nonprofit in Arlington VA that gives free daily music instruction to children of low income families, mostly Hispanics. My mother is a Hispanic immigrant and my father is American but I claim URM, and have done so in the past at the urging of former admissions personnel. As a musician I have performed and taught all over the world in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Royal Concert Hall in Amsterdam and in low income areas throughout South and Central America. While I pursued my passion, I always was interested in other things (hence the extra studies) and long term see myself working in another field. In terms of the law, I have an interest in international law and would ideally like to work for the government or in trade and commerce or quite possibly immigration, but obviously I'd take whatever I could get. I did take the LSAT and got a respectable 162. I did prepare, but I could do more but I don't want to if I don't have to obviously. In undergrad I had a 4.0 in my major and a 3.7 overall, exact same for grad school. And anyone that think studying music is easy I'd invite you to crack a book on Schoenberg's atonalism and harmonic signatures within the 12-tone system and go to school everyday with colleagues who are constantly trying to find diplomatic ways to tell you that, in their opinion, you suck. My questions are as follows:

1.) Would my background help or hurt my chances?
2.) How would you suggest I sell myself?
3.) Is the process really so numbers-driven?
4.) Where should I apply?
5.) Should I retake?

Another thing I'm curious about is the statistics that are self reported by law schools. If a school's median is a 168 does that mean that there is likely someone in the class/school that got a 154? (assuming someone got a 180) and in terms of the range, if it is say 162-168 and the class size is say 400 that means that 100 students got below a 162, correct? My question is who are these students and why were they accepted with lower than average scores? URM? Good work experience? Well-connected families? Legacy?

Thanks in advance your feedback.


1) Won't hurt. Might help
2) By retaking for a higher LSAT
3) Yes. See #2.
4) Depends on what your retake is but you should aim for t14 or a strong regional with $$$ since your goals are so vague.
5) See 2,3, and 4.

We can't evaluate if it is likely whether or not someone got a certain score based on a median. Sure, it's possible, but who knows? If the range is 162-168 then yes 100 people scored at or below 162 in a class of 400. Can't really guess at who they are but they are likely one of or a combination of the following: 75th%+ GPA, great WE/Softs, URM, or something else exceptional.

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beepboopbeep
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby beepboopbeep » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:02 pm

You'd be surprised at how many applicants are as awesome as you think you are. Above poster is pretty spot-on, though I'd also say that with your current credentials plus URM you could have a shot at T6 based on LSN. Still, don't leave it up to chance. 170+ with URM, 3.7, and cool softs and HYS is yours.
Last edited by beepboopbeep on Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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philosoraptor
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby philosoraptor » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:02 pm

1) Unlikely to hurt, might help. Softs don't matter much outside the margins.
2) Not as defensively as you do here. The fact that you studied Schoenberg will impress zero lawyers who are not also extreme music-theory geeks.
3) Yes.
4) Where do you want to practice, geographically speaking?
5) Yes.

You didn't ask directly, but "international law" doesn't really exist, governments haven't been hiring significant numbers of new J.D.s in years, and "trade and commerce" will probably require biglaw if you're thinking of big cross-border transactions. Spend some time reading (but not posting in) the legal employment forum and get a sense of what the legal job markets are like in various sectors. After that, if you come up with a plan to justify spending three years and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school, retake the LSAT to give yourself the best chance of minimizing costs and maximizing job prospects.

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t-14orbust
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby t-14orbust » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:03 pm

Before we assume URM, what kind of hispanic are we talking about here? Mexican and Puerto Rican are TCR, whereas in my limited knowledge I believe other hispanic is a very marginal boost (don't quote me on that one).

valpocl425
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby valpocl425 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:14 pm

Thanks for the feedback.

Well the whole point about applying is to sell yourself. I never assumed anyone was more or less awesome, I was just saying that my awesomeness seems to be non-traditional judging by the amount of political scientists, economists, history majors, military etc posting here. Some people have been off saving the world in poor countries, others have been leading election campaigns, some have been wearing the uniform. Everyone has a story, I was just sharing mine. Sorry for being vague, there are no lawyers in my family and I don't really know anyone that has ever applied to law school so I'm pretty out of the loop on the intricacies of the process.

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LET'S GET IT
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby LET'S GET IT » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:52 pm

Yes valpoc, law school admissions are VERY numbers driven. Your softs are great, but as others have mentioned they will only matter if you are on the bubble at a given school. If you are an auto admit or auto decline then they won't matter. Your softs certainly can't hurt, adcomms are always looking for people with interesting and diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, but again your LSAT score and GPA are 10X more important.

1. Help but not as much as you might think.
2. As someone with a background that other candidates won't have who will bring them diversity they wouldn't otherwise have. But yes, tone it down from your post. There are forums on TLS to help with your personal statement when you get to that point.
3. Yes yes yes.
4. Before we can help with that, you need to get a better idea of what kind of law you are interested in and where you would like to end up.
5. Yes. Especially if you feel that strongly that you can do markedly better. With your GPA and background, you are viable at HSCC with a score in the low 170's I believe. Especially if you are URM (although I think above poster is correct, that would only be Mexican or Puerto Rican decent.)

Yes. If a school's LSAT is 162-168 to use your example with a class of 400, 100 of those were below 162 however I doubt very many are at a 154. These would likely be students who fit into one or more of the following three categories. 1. URM 2. Exceptional WE 3. GPA above 75th.

Hope this helps. Good luck to you.

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Nova
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby Nova » Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:54 pm

what kind of Hispanic are you?

1.) Would my background help or hurt my chances? don't expect to out perform your numbers
2.) How should I sell myself? use paragraphs
3.) Is the process really so numbers-driven? yes
4.) Where should I apply? depends on career goals... where you have ties... where you want to work.
5.) Should I retake? yes

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barrelofmonkeys
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby barrelofmonkeys » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:50 am

Nova wrote:2.) How should I sell myself? use paragraphs


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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PepperJack
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby PepperJack » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:34 pm

OP: You seem to have a terrible attitude both in terms of being immediately defensive, and the unjustified ego. Firstly, nobody said that studying music is easy, and I'm sure that you were competing against some brilliant musicians while in college, and acquired a respectable GPA. However, nothing about your resume screams out that you're special. Frankly, I'm not sure where this comes from. You studied music, realized that it doesn't make much money and then went to grad school for economics. You do part-time teaching to earn an income, and started a small non-profit to volunteer your time. This isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff. You will have a slight boost for being half-URM, but AA's have a bigger boost. You really want to bring the LSAT up because right now you're below both medians for most respectable schools.

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philosoraptor
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby philosoraptor » Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:48 pm

PepperJack wrote:OP: You seem to have a terrible attitude both in terms of being immediately defensive, and the unjustified ego. Firstly, nobody said that studying music is easy, and I'm sure that you were competing against some brilliant musicians while in college, and acquired a respectable GPA. However, nothing about your resume screams out that you're special. Frankly, I'm not sure where this comes from. You studied music, realized that it doesn't make much money and then went to grad school for economics. You do part-time teaching to earn an income, and started a small non-profit to volunteer your time. This isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff. You will have a slight boost for being half-URM, but AA's have a bigger boost. You really want to bring the LSAT up because right now you're below both medians for most respectable schools.
OP, I don't agree that you have a terrible attitude, but it's important to be aware of how statements like your post come off (in terms of both defensiveness and ego). It's also important to know what matters to the folks whom you will ask to admit you to law school and later hire you as a lawyer. Frankly, if you show up to OCI these days bragging about your knowledge of 12-tone technique or otherwise focused on music, it's going to be tough to get a job. Recognize it for what it is: potentially good interview stories, background to round you out as a person, and the possibility for connections down the road. Your "lead," fairly or unfairly, will always be your numbers and the "what I can bring to this firm/agency/school now" sales pitch.

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PepperJack
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby PepperJack » Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:01 pm

philosoraptor wrote:
PepperJack wrote:OP: You seem to have a terrible attitude both in terms of being immediately defensive, and the unjustified ego. Firstly, nobody said that studying music is easy, and I'm sure that you were competing against some brilliant musicians while in college, and acquired a respectable GPA. However, nothing about your resume screams out that you're special. Frankly, I'm not sure where this comes from. You studied music, realized that it doesn't make much money and then went to grad school for economics. You do part-time teaching to earn an income, and started a small non-profit to volunteer your time. This isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff. You will have a slight boost for being half-URM, but AA's have a bigger boost. You really want to bring the LSAT up because right now you're below both medians for most respectable schools.
OP, I don't agree that you have a terrible attitude, but it's important to be aware of how statements like your post come off (in terms of both defensiveness and ego). It's also important to know what matters to the folks whom you will ask to admit you to law school and later hire you as a lawyer. Frankly, if you show up to OCI these days bragging about your knowledge of 12-tone technique or otherwise focused on music, it's going to be tough to get a job. Recognize it for what it is: potentially good interview stories, background to round you out as a person, and the possibility for connections down the road. Your "lead," fairly or unfairly, will always be your numbers and the "what I can bring to this firm/agency/school now" sales pitch.

I agree the music background can be very rewarding when interviewing, because everyone listens to music. As long as you're not snobby about it, it seems like an easy way to find a common ground with other people. However, the music area itself will have little to no applicability to either law school or any kind of legal work. It is a disadvantage, if anything, when compared to someone who has paralegal experience or corporate world experience. Unless you won a Grammy it's going to be all numbers based from here on forward. A school won't say below both medians, but plays an instrument. Employers probably won't care either. It's a little bit like special snowflake syndrome. Switching careers because you couldn't make a lot of money in music doesn't make you special to these places.

Kimikho
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby Kimikho » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:16 pm

It's all numbers + URM bro, sorry. even with URMs you see schools consistently like those with one (GPA/LSAT, usually GPA) above a median.

but friends ya'll should delete your quotes :\. OP probably doesn't realize those will still be around when she/he applies and there's a lot of info in there.

03152016
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Re: WHat Should I do?

Postby 03152016 » Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:35 am

Doesn't seem too out of the ordinary to me. Not all lawyers majored in English/philosophy/poli sci; plenty of conservatory grads end up in LS (myself included). Sounds like you'll have lots of interesting things to write about in your PS, but remember that in the top schools, many students have done amazing things and excelled academically.

My advice: get a clearer idea of what you want to do in law as you study for your retake. Paralegal/intern at a firm, talk to lawyers about their work, do some research on the practice areas that interest you.




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