Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

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Captdoherty
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Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby Captdoherty » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:59 pm

I just discovered this site and would love some insight.

I am a >50 year old cardiothoracic transplant surgeon who was forced to retire prematurely due to the effect of rheumatoid arthritis and a car accident on my fine motor skills. Lots of awards etc. will have great LORs from other surgeons - should I still look for academic LORs?

On reading here and elsewhere, still unclear about whether a Central American heritage qualifies as "URM" for law school. I marked it for college (top liberal arts) and med school (NYU). Have plenty of time - applying for Fall 2019. Will be taking LSAT again.

Any shot at HYS? Top 14? Have checked lsn but that does not take into account work experience.

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icechicken
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby icechicken » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:03 pm

Unfortunately, people of Central American descent (e.g. Nicaraguan) are not considered URMs for the purposes of law-school admissions. Mexican-Americans are, so if you have bona-fide Mexican heritage you should say so. You can also write a diversity statement about your background - just don't expect the same bump that URMs tend to get.

Your stats probably aren't enough for HYS but you're fairly well-positioned for the bottom half or so of the T14. With your background and LSAT I would be surprised if Northwestern didn't at least admit you. Harvard/Columbia would be reachable with a higher LSAT.

goingnutslawschool
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby goingnutslawschool » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:51 pm

I am wondering where you are getting the information that Central American heritage is not considered URM? Wouldn’t this be Hispanic/Latino?

cgeezyy
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby cgeezyy » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:38 pm

goingnutslawschool wrote:I am wondering where you are getting the information that Central American heritage is not considered URM? Wouldn’t this be Hispanic/Latino?


For ls admissions, the latino backgrounds that are considered URM are Mexican and Puerto Rican. From my understanding it has to do with their representation in our society as compared to their representation among lawyers. Both of these groups are very underrepresented in this way.

Captdoherty
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby Captdoherty » Wed Oct 25, 2017 9:46 pm

Thanks for the replies so far.

Seems like consensus is that IF Central Americans are considered URMs, then the boost isn't that much, as for other groups.

Can anyone speak to possible benefit of significant work experience? Is that offset by being old(er)?

Should I try to get an academic LOR from say my residency director? I spent 11 years at NYU for MED school and two residencies, so even though it was 20nyears ago, they definitely remember me.

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UVA2B
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby UVA2B » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:14 pm

Given your extensive previous professional experience, can I ask what you're imagining in a career with a JD? You're probably not imagining the more traditional career path of a T13 graduate, I would imagine, but I'd love to know what you're thinking.

Your work experience will be a boost in applications, but at most it'll put you at the forefront of the people with your numbers and could slightly outperform your numbers. For instance, your numbers would normally be a non-starter at Yale, but if you retook for a 173-176, they'd love to highlight your profile in their admissions because it's so unique. But as it stands, Yale is probably out. Generically apply that type of logic across the T13, and you have your boost.

Don't worry about your academic credentials. You have them. Your colleagues can speak to them incredibly well. Don't stress about reaching back over a decade to someone who was involved with you in a quasi-academic environment like a surgical residency (to be clear, I'm not at all trying to demean the academic nature of residency training, but just that it's a hybrid of academics and on the job training). Besides, admissions would likely be skeptical of people speaking of your academic abilities that they witnessed two decades ago. Your colleagues have the familiarity and authority to speak to your academic abilities.

Admissions won't be your issue beyond explaining your decision to enter the legal profession at this age. If you can eloquently explain that transition (to include your conditions precluding you from continued practice of medicine), that won't be a problem. But at this point in your life, you should have a crystal clear idea of what you want out of a law degree, because your career will not look like the typical law school graduate.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:25 pm

cgeezyy wrote:
goingnutslawschool wrote:I am wondering where you are getting the information that Central American heritage is not considered URM? Wouldn’t this be Hispanic/Latino?


For ls admissions, the latino backgrounds that are considered URM are Mexican and Puerto Rican. From my understanding it has to do with their representation in our society as compared to their representation among lawyers. Both of these groups are very underrepresented in this way.

This is the traditional understanding, but as I understand it, many/some schools only offer Hispanic/Latinx as an option (for instance, Harvard asks only "are you Hispanic/Latino?"), and don't break it down further into Mexican/Puerto Rican/elsewhere (and the category on the ABA required disclosures is "Hispanic of any race"). So it's not clear how this really plays out in practice - schools may care, but they're not always collecting information that allows them to parse this very finely.

Edit to add: LSAC *does* break this down further on their site, when you complete your profile, but it's not clear to me why schools would separately ask you to identify your demographics if they were just going to rely on what LSAC collects. LSAC also breaks down Asian into a lot of different categories, while law schools don't seem to at all. So I suspect LSAC's data collection *isn't* determinative of how schools treat this. But I can't prove that, of course.

Captdoherty
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby Captdoherty » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:44 am

Thanks to all who have replied thus far. This forum seems quite active, hopefully more will care to share their insights.

Special thanks to UVA2B, for your thoughtful note.

With regards to how I would utilize a JD degree, I think there would be a number of options. I could certainly work in malpractice defense. I think it would be very interesting to try to carve a niche in assisting physicians with credentialling and licensing issues. One of the little know scourges of the medical profession is a practice called "sham peer review". This may be the ideal audience for this reference:

http://www.jpands.org/vol8no3/waite.pdf

There is also the possibility of working in biotech. My degree in college was in molecular biology, and I have a number of strong publications, including one in Nature Medicine, a very high impact journal.

Then again, I have a number of friends/contacts over the years who have quite literally told me to "call them the minute I graduate". I think I could certainly find an area that is meaningful to me. I am thankfully fairly financially secure. I do not want to/have to be concerned about getting that great big law firm job. I really want a first rate education.

I will be looking closely at the culture of the school. My sister went to Penn Law and graduated back in the 90s, so she will be an excellent resource.

I guess I will be a good test case for just how holistically law schools evaluate applications. From my initial reading, sounds like schools such as Stanford and Northwestern have the flexibility and the institutional ideology that I would need. I live in the Northeast, closest big city is Boston.

I wonder what anyone here would say about the importance of published rankings for subspecialty type programs, for instance the ranking in USNWR for health care law. Boston University is very high up in those specific rankings, and have seen it ranked in the low 20s or so in other ranking for the law school as a whole. Is it worth it in a case like mine to look past the traditional ranking and look at the health care law rankings as more important?

Lot of questions. Thanks for offering your advice.
Last edited by Captdoherty on Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cavalier1138
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Oct 26, 2017 9:57 am

Captdoherty wrote:I wonder what anyone here would say about the importance of published rankings For subspecialty type programs, for instance the ranking in USNWR for health care law.


Generally, they're considered to be useless. They're largely determined by comparing academic output among schools and have nothing to do with the job market.

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UVA2B
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby UVA2B » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:06 am

You might be in a good position to transition into a role assisting other physicians with licensing and credentialing, or finding work in the biotech field in a consulting type role. You certainly have the technical expertise and professional network for making a career like that work. That's good. One point of caution that should be fully understood before you embark on finding a "first rate education": law school educations will be largely uniform across the schools you're considering, and the subject matter and course offerings won't so substantially differ as to make one better than the other (with Yale being the possible exception because Yale is just a whole different law school from the rest). Along with the educations being largely similar at different schools, you should also appreciate how minimally law school actually prepares you for a legal career. As I'm sure you can appreciate, a recent med school graduate may theoretically know anatomically and scientifically what goes into being a cardiothoracic surgeon, but it takes years of tireless training to become a cardiothoracic surgeon with the requisite skill set. It's not that different in the legal profession. Law school graduates don't understand how to be an effective lawyer and advocate. It will take years of training under more experienced lawyers before you approach a level of competence where you can stand alone as an attorney. So please just be wary of that.

Along with the above, you should also appreciate what the compensation can likely be for a freshly minted law school graduate who isn't going to the traditional law firm: salaries are wildly unpredictable, but most certainly you'll be taking a marked pay cut from what you've been doing. I'm sure you fully appreciate that in theory, and I'm quite confident you're likely in a position where student loan debt won't be an issue (if you've been somewhat financially savvy in your medical career and saved/invested appropriately), but you should also appreciate that you will likely be taking a pretty drastic pay cut. I'm not saying you don't appreciate that, but I wanted to bring it to the forefront.

Since you're still in the applying phase, I would just suggest you apply to all of the USNWR T13, plus a few regionals (like BC/BU since you mentioned being close to Boston). Don't put any weight whatsoever into specialty rankings, they're meaningless. Once you have some options in front of you, start doing the cost-benefit analysis of your options and certainly come back for any insight into what your better options are based on your goals. Good luck!

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icechicken
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby icechicken » Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:10 am

Captdoherty wrote:I wonder what anyone here would say about the importance of published rankings For subspecialty type programs, for instance the ranking in USNWR for health care law. Boston University is very high up in those specific ranking, and have seen it ranked in th e low 20s or so in other ranking for the law school as a whole. Is it worth it in a case like mine to look past the traditional ranking and look at the health care law rankings as more important?


1) Rankings are mostly trash. There is a meaningful difference in job outcomes between different tiers (e.g. T13, top-50) for most people but even that effect is probably diminished for you because you'll be finding jobs on the strength of your medical expertise, network, and publication history, not your law degree.
2) USNWR "specialty rankings" are especially bad because most schools don't care about them and don't try to compete in them, so anyone who wants to can retool their school to fit the criteria and say "we're #2 in environmental trial advocacy!"

It's not that you shouldn't care about those factors, but they're significantly diminished for you. Culture and location will have a big effect on how much you enjoy your 3 years in law school; I think your assessment that Northwestern would be a great fit is spot-on.

Captdoherty
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby Captdoherty » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:31 am

Thanks to all who have contributed insights. Have been lurking.

Had an interesting experience at the recent Boston LSAC Forum.

Fwiw, asked several admissions officers from all tiers about this question regarding who is considered a "URM" amongst Hispanic subsets. The unanimous answer was that all subsets were considered URM. Not sure the genesis/source of the idea that only Mexicans and Puerto Ricans are considered such, but this seems to be inaccurate.

Also realized I need to send in a transcript of courses I took for college credit while a high school senior (all those years ago). Interestingly, since the credits were granted by a local community level college, they will give me a nice boost, likely into the mid to high 3.6 range. Small difference but I will take it.

So I got to thinking about GPA a little bit more. Why should the GPA from a small fifth tier community college be valued the same as the GPA from a STEM major at what most would call an elite liberal arts college? If you think about it, it is a perfectly controlled study. Same person - two environments, two vastly different GPAs.

And further, what about this business of an A+ being valued as a "4.3"? That just seems ridiculous on its face. Turns out my "GPA" in senior year of high school, once again, a "college GPA" contributor, will be 4.15. That's just silly. Works for me I guess, but it's still absurd.

So I found this article which I find extremely interesting, which was apparently dug up from the discovery process in a suit against UCalifornia system regarding potential discrimination.

http://web.archive.org/web/200008290949 ... adeadj.htm

The document purports that there is an adjustment given to GPA depending on the undergraduate institution. This actually makes sense,whether it is acknowledged by admissions committees or not. And it also makes it more understandable why the LSAC goes to such efforts to produce a report which apparently contains a comparison of the students GPA against OTHER GPAs from law school candidates of the same institution. IIRC, the same comparison is generated for the LSAT score, so as to give a basis of comparison of the strength/rigor of one undergraduate institution versus another.

The document at the link is well worth examination. I was heartened to see that many national liberal arts colleges are apparently highly regarded.

Would love to hear thoughts from the esteemed crew here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:43 am

Dude, people have been making that complaint about GPAs since the beginning of law school applications. First, I think you're making assumptions about GPAs that wildly overgeneralize (it's not really a controlled study). Second, and more importantly, USNWR doesn't report where GPAs come from - just the number. So while if you've got two candidates with the same GPA from wildly different educational settings, I'm quite sure adcomms look at that and take it into account, schools also care a LOT about their GPA medians, and so a higher GPA, even from a "worse" background, is usually going to have more value than a lower one, even from a "better" school. The numbers in that article about Boalt are interesting, but they're also from 1997.

Also there are lots of schools out there that count A+s as 4.3 - LSAC didn't make that up.

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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby cavalier1138 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:05 am

In addition to what Nony said, adcomms lie. That's simply a fact of life.

At that LSAC forum, I bet that the adcomms also told you that they evaluate applications holistically and that LSAT/GPA aren't overwhelmingly important. But guess what? Ever year, their "holistic" review results in a very precisely calibrated set of LSAT/GPA medians. So either the LSAT is a proxy for how impressive an applicant is, or someone's lying to drive up their app numbers.

So when people say that there's no observed URM boost for certain groups, it's because they're looking at how these groups are actually treated in admissions, not just how the schools imply they will be treated. Same thing goes for GPAs being given more weight.

This all comes with the caveat that you're an extremely non-traditional applicant, so you might get non-standard results.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:07 am

cavalier1138 wrote:This all comes with the caveat that you're an extremely non-traditional applicant, so you might get non-standard results.

Yes, to be clear, this is also true. Predicting your outcomes will be hard.

Captdoherty
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby Captdoherty » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:12 am

So rather than impugn your reading comprehension, I will accept blame for writing imprecisely.

The "controlled study" I was referring to was my own individual case. I obtained a 4.15 as a senior in high school at a local college (with the 4.3 BS), and as the same person, obtained 3.56 at a national liberal arts college. Same person, two vastly different results. Seems to me it would be negligent on the part of Adcoms to NOT take that into consideration.

And the document I linked to is one of the only ones I could find which is not mere "speculation" on the part of a poster at TLS, but appears to be grounded in data. The fact it is from 1997 does not at all seem to weaken it's relevance - in fact, one might consider that with ALL of the tremendous amount of data that has been accumulated in the intervening two decades, that those "adjustments" have only been "finer tuned".

And much like the "dogma" which seems to be presented here at TLs regarding who is regarded as a URM and who isn't, the perceptions about GPA may not be as grounded in fact as I commonly believed here. Isn't it always better to be able to refer to evidence and documents?

When every single admission officer at the Boston LSAC Forum says that there is no differentiation between Hispanic subsets when classifying as a "URM", while that is not a document per se, it makes me reconsider what is being spread here as "common knowledge". Part of the scientific method is to reassess your hypothesis when new data is obtained. I would think that it is also an important part of being an attorney. Or at least a good one

Here is another interesting study I posted on another thread, but would love to get feedback on it here:

https://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/do-und ... -advantage

This study was culled from the reams of publicly available data on the topic, and was analyzed in what seems to be a novel manner.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Non trad 3.56/169 URM - Central America

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:25 am

To be clear, I largely agree with you about the URM issue. I don't think that it's at all clear that the URM boost only applies to MA/PR. But I'm also not sure why you're posting the Powerscore blog post because everyone here agrees that URMs get a boost - they just disagree on who qualifies for that boost, and the Powerscore blog doesn't break that down in the post you cite.

You're ignoring the fact 1997 is millenia away from how admissions works now and that adjustments made by one school in 1997 don't tell you anything about what adcomms do now. In particular, the importance of USNWR and how they calculate rankings has changed over time, quite a bit.

Again, you are an unusual enough candidate that your outcomes may be different (there is anecdotal evidence here that adcomms weigh very old GPAs less heavily than more current ones, especially in light of grade inflation in recent years).

(I still don't get your controlled study argument - are you saying that you did a 4-year degree at a community college as a high school senior, then another at an elite liberal arts college? Or are you saying that you took a course/courses as a senior at a community college as well as doing a 4-year degree at the LAC? Because clearly those aren't the same thing.)




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