172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

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Bestes

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172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby Bestes » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:35 pm

I'm applying as an undergraduate from a top 20 school (Notre Dame) with fairly limited work experience - DOJ internship for 1 semester in DC, mock trial team. Recommendations and essays will be very strong but I'm concerned about how I stack up compared to those with several years work experience. Fairly confident I will have a number of T14 options some with significant merit money but do I have a realistic shot at Harvard, Stanford or Yale? At this point is there anything I need to do or to avoid doing in order to improve my chances? Thus far it feels as if the law school admissions process is actually more straightforward than undergraduate admissions was - you either have the numbers or you don't. When applying to Ivy League or top LACs as an undergraduate it felt as if I needed to win global math competitions or play in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to get admitted

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby 5571 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:08 pm

Your stats are good enough that any of the three are a possibility. Unfortunately towards the top of the spectrum where you're at is where a little silliness as far as trying to raise medians and 75ths at the top schools starts to come in and a 172 and/or 3.9 may barely make or miss the cut for what each school is looking for from non-URM KJDs depending on the year. Not sure if it's too late to retake this cycle and this suggestion probably sounds crazy given you've already done so well on the test, but even a single point could make the difference, and I don't think you have a lot to lose (i.e., my impression is they'll only really care about your top score unless you do so heinously bad that it makes them question whether the first one was just a fluke.) Since you're still in undergrad, obviously try to get straight As this semester. Either way, your chances at Columbia and Chicago look pretty strong and depending on what you want to do they can be practically as good (and cheaper, since they give merit aid.) I would write 'Why ___' for both Columbia and Chicago -- conventional wisdom says you don't need to but there were rumors of yield protection at both last year

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby QContinuum » Sun Nov 18, 2018 2:34 pm

MyLSN is your friend.
Image

To answer your question directly, it looks like you have a great shot at Harvard. I suspect Y/S will be harder, given that these schools actually place great emphasis on softs, and a 1-semester internship plus mock trial is probably not going to cut it. But you should still take a shot, you never know.

Perhaps the better question is what you want out of law school. For many applicants - possibly even most applicants - substantial $ at any T13 would probably be a better choice than attending Harvard (which doesn't award merit aid).

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby Bestes » Tue Nov 27, 2018 8:32 pm

my immediate goal after law school would be a federal clerkship. Longer term I'm interested in a position as an appellate judge which may or may not be realistic and certainly isn't something I can bank on. We will know in a few months, but I will probably be in the same position many are of choosing between a lower ranked T14 school with a lot of merit money or the most prestigious school I can get into. My family is willing to fund $150K of Law School regardless of what merit offers may be available, possibly more if I do get admitted to a school like HYS. I don't want to have to work in Big Law simply because of massive loans if it can be avoided. It certainly feels as if the legal profession cares more about what your LSAT score was or where you went to law school than other professions. While there may be significant net cost differentials between schools the cost differential for law school may pale in comparison to the differential in lifetime earnings or opportunities. I don't think taking a $50K/year legal aid job would be brilliant with a $250K student loan burden but I'm leaving undergraduate debt free

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby QContinuum » Tue Nov 27, 2018 11:17 pm

Bestes wrote:my immediate goal after law school would be a federal clerkship. Longer term I'm interested in a position as an appellate judge which may or may not be realistic and certainly isn't something I can bank on.

Barring Y/S, for clerking you should focus on the upper T13, meaning HCCN. Duke and UVA are also pretty strong in the clerkship business, as I understand. If you get $ at Chicago, for example, that'd very likely be worth going to over Harvard. (I understand your family is wealthy, which is great. But unless they're billionaires - which they could be! I don't know you - and truly view $150k like most of the country views $1500, I don't see any compelling reason to avoid economizing on tuition.) But we'll see what happens, like you say.

"Being a CoA judge" is really not an appropriate career goal to have in mind, especially as a 0L. Even if you were a mid-career lawyer who'd done everything "right," actually landing a CoA post is still so unpredictable (just think of the number of would-be candidates who will "age out" and never get tapped because Clinton lost the Electoral College in '16) that it's not something you could remotely count on. But you aren't even a mid-career lawyer; you're a 0L! Even in the "best case" scenario, you're at least a decade out from making it to the bench (more like at least two decades if you want to go directly to CoA). I'd recommend trying to determine what you want to do with your career post-clerking. Do you want to litigate? Are you more drawn to government service? Do you want to be a law professor? If you actually feel that being an appellate judge is the only legal position that interests you, I'd highly recommend rethinking going to law school.

Bestes wrote:It certainly feels as if the legal profession cares more about what your LSAT score was or where you went to law school than other professions.

Law is definitely very prestige-driven. That said, at the T13, you aren't going to have any doors shut in your face due to lack of prestige. There is a significant drop in prestige/placement power between YS and H, and then a gradual decline as you move down the rest of the T13 from Harvard to Cornell, but you aren't going to be excluded from any jobs due to having a Cornell J.D.

Bestes wrote:While there may be significant net cost differentials between schools the cost differential for law school may pale in comparison to the differential in lifetime earnings or opportunities.

You realize that maximizing earnings out of law school means doing BigLaw, right? Which is eminently achievable out of any T13. People don't go to Yale over NYU because they want to maximize their lifetime earnings.

Bestes wrote:I don't think taking a $50K/year legal aid job would be brilliant with a $250K student loan burden but I'm leaving undergraduate debt free

Are you saying you want to do PI?

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:22 am

Just to add to what Q already said (all of which was correct):

Let's go along with your stated goals. You want to do a federal clerkship (1-2 years). In the long term, you want to be an appellate judge. What do you plan on doing for the 10, 15, 20+ years between graduating and getting to a position where you'd be a viable nominee for any federal judgeship? You mentioned legal aid; are you interested in doing public defender work? Or was that just a generic PI reference?

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby Bestes » Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:48 pm

Very insightful feedback. Thank you. Fortunately I'm applying to all the law schools mentioned in your posts above. I'm not privy to all the details of my families finances. They certainly are not billionaires but their discretionary income exceeds the cost of law school. I really can't even pretend to understand what working in BigLaw means other than that everyone starts off at $190K/year and that the work/life balance may be a challenge. I understand that my long term goal is just that and that it is roughly the same as a talented high school basketball player thinking about the NBA in terms of odds. Having said that, what type of career path is appropriate if that is one's long term goal? Obviously a clerkship or perhaps several clerkship positions. After that? I realized that Stanford was smaller in terms of enrollment but I did not realize that it was considered more prestigious than Harvard. I had been thinking it was Yale than Harvard/Stanford than the rest of the T14 in some order

I think I will hunker down now and finish the rest of my school specific essays and post again when I have real acceptance and merit offers in hand. Its November 28th and its getting kind of late. Should hear from Duke this week unless the priority track does not work as quickly as promised

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby QContinuum » Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:02 pm

Bestes wrote:Very insightful feedback. Thank you. Fortunately I'm applying to all the law schools mentioned in your posts above. I'm not privy to all the details of my families finances. They certainly are not billionaires but their discretionary income exceeds the cost of law school. I really can't even pretend to understand what working in BigLaw means other than that everyone starts off at $190K/year and that the work/life balance may be a challenge. I understand that my long term goal is just that and that it is roughly the same as a talented high school basketball player thinking about the NBA in terms of odds. Having said that, what type of career path is appropriate if that is one's long term goal? Obviously a clerkship or perhaps several clerkship positions. After that? I realized that Stanford was smaller in terms of enrollment but I did not realize that it was considered more prestigious than Harvard. I had been thinking it was Yale than Harvard/Stanford than the rest of the T14 in some order

Happy to help. I think even the NBA analogy isn't exactly on point, because the NBA is the natural thing to strive for if one wants to play professional basketball. In fact, the NBA's the only way to play professional basketball. But 1) unlike professional basketball, there are many, many, many legal positions besides being a judge (let alone a federal appellate judge), and 2) unlike the NBA, where you break in (or not) directly out of college, it isn't possible to go directly to being a judge. Further, the NBA selects players based on skill. Federal CoA judge selections are not based on skill. They're based on connections and luck to a far greater extent than skill (just look at some of the most recently nominated/confirmed CoA judges...). So while it's possible, with talent, to work hard to make the NBA, it's not really possible to assure success for landing a judgeship in the same way.

Given that, and given that even in a best-case scenario you'd be working ~two decades or more out of law school before landing a CoA judgeship, I think it's far more important to think of what you want to do. Practicing law, especially at a very high level, isn't easy. It's very easy to burn out if you aren't doing something you're truly passionate about. Does the idea of representing the U.S. in court excite you? Do you prefer the intellectual challenge of complex litigation on behalf of well-heeled clients, where you have sufficient support staff, money, and other lawyers to do the best legal work possible? Are you more drawn to the idea of fighting for the underdog, righting injustice on behalf of the poor and less fortunate? Think about these and other questions.

Best of luck!

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby Bestes » Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:40 pm

In at Duke via Priority Track. I know LSN said the odds were very strong but it is still helps build confidence and they beat their 10 day commitment by 2 days. Seems like a very smart strategy to go after stronger applicants early. I wonder why more law schools don't have something like Duke's priority track

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby cavalier1138 » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:29 am

Bestes wrote:I wonder why more law schools don't have something like Duke's priority track


Probably because it just gives a gentle boost to the applicant's confidence with no real benefits on either end. You still won't find out about scholarships until later, and that's really what your decision is going to be based on.

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Re: 172 / 3.9 GPA Undergraduate HYS Chances

Postby nixy » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:48 am

Bestes wrote:Very insightful feedback. Thank you. Fortunately I'm applying to all the law schools mentioned in your posts above. I'm not privy to all the details of my families finances. They certainly are not billionaires but their discretionary income exceeds the cost of law school. I really can't even pretend to understand what working in BigLaw means other than that everyone starts off at $190K/year and that the work/life balance may be a challenge. I understand that my long term goal is just that and that it is roughly the same as a talented high school basketball player thinking about the NBA in terms of odds. Having said that, what type of career path is appropriate if that is one's long term goal? Obviously a clerkship or perhaps several clerkship positions. After that? I realized that Stanford was smaller in terms of enrollment but I did not realize that it was considered more prestigious than Harvard. I had been thinking it was Yale than Harvard/Stanford than the rest of the T14 in some order

I think I will hunker down now and finish the rest of my school specific essays and post again when I have real acceptance and merit offers in hand. Its November 28th and its getting kind of late. Should hear from Duke this week unless the priority track does not work as quickly as promised

There is no one clear path to becoming a COA judge - people get there through big law and government, probably most commonly, but you can go to the circuit court web pages (or google) and read bios of the judges and see what kind of work they did before they were appointed. The thing is that it’s a political process so will also depend very heavily on who you know (not to say that merit isn’t also a factor, but there are tons of qualified people out there who will never become COA judges. It’s something people do after working (not as a clerk) for 20 years, so (and I know I’m repeating others) you need to plan a career that isn’t based on becoming a judge.

You will want to go into litigation, but that doesn’t narrow much down. To get into appellate litigation it is very helpful to clerk at the COA level (or obviously SCOTUS, but that is also not something to base your plans on). After that, again, there are a variety of paths into appellate litigation, but frankly to get into federal appellate litigation, biglaw is probably best (unless you go the government route and possibly get an appellate position in main justice or as an appellate specialist for the FPD or a USAO, maybe). It’s also probably not mandatory that you do appellate litigation for your whole career - again, go look at what current judges have done - but it wouldn’t hurt.



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