HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

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Rook221

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HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby Rook221 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:32 pm

Stats
--3.75 GPA from top LAS, majored in Computer Science with Departmental Honors
--Haven't taken the LSAT yet, but got a diagnostic 167, and I'm hoping that with a few months I can get it up to the mid 170s.
Softs
--CS research assistant, summer research intern for the professor for 2 years
--Wrote for undergrad philosophy journal
--Currently paralegal at a well reputed law firm (plan to work for 2 years before applying)
--One very good recommendation letter from a philosophy professor and one probably decent one
--A few other things that probably don't matter (worked a work-study job in IT all 4 years, spent one summer as an intern in marketing, etc.)
Questions/Conclusions
--Are my softs average/weak?
--What LSAT do I need for a chance at HYS?
--What kinds of things could I do in the next few years that might improve my chances, even slightly, for HYS (other than LSAT, I know the application mostly hinges on what I get there)?

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:29 pm

Rook221 wrote:Questions/Conclusions
--Are my softs average/weak?
--What LSAT do I need for a chance at HYS?
--What kinds of things could I do in the next few years that might improve my chances, even slightly, for HYS (other than LSAT, I know the application mostly hinges on what I get there)?


1) Your softs are average - solidly in the middle third of applicants. Working before LS is a great idea.

2) 173, the ol' 99th percentile, is the magic number because that's where H and Y's medians typically sit. 174/175/176 is stronger, of course, and after that you'll see diminishing returns. If you got a cold diagnostic of 167 you can and should gun for 180 rather than worry about cutoff points.

3) I wouldn't think so hard about it. Anything you could do to substantially move the needle is too much effort to be worth it. (Also, I wouldn't be so laser-focused on HYS if I were you.) Just enjoy your 20's and do good work at the law firm you're at. Get to know people and try to get a sense of what the attorneys you work with are actually doing day-to-day.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby LBJ's Hair » Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:25 pm

Rook221 wrote:Stats
--3.75 GPA from top LAS, majored in Computer Science with Departmental Honors
--Haven't taken the LSAT yet, but got a diagnostic 167, and I'm hoping that with a few months I can get it up to the mid 170s.
Softs
--CS research assistant, summer research intern for the professor for 2 years
--Wrote for undergrad philosophy journal
--Currently paralegal at a well reputed law firm (plan to work for 2 years before applying)
--One very good recommendation letter from a philosophy professor and one probably decent one
--A few other things that probably don't matter (worked a work-study job in IT all 4 years, spent one summer as an intern in marketing, etc.)
Questions/Conclusions
--Are my softs average/weak?
--What LSAT do I need for a chance at HYS?
--What kinds of things could I do in the next few years that might improve my chances, even slightly, for HYS (other than LSAT, I know the application mostly hinges on what I get there)?


This is all sorta pointless because you don't have an LSAT score, but...

Are my softs average/weak?
They're like, fine, but not impressive. Not going to move the needle one way or the other.

What LSAT do I need for a chance at HYS?
It doesn't really matter, like if I said you only needed a 170 would you study *less* hard? But...
Mid-170s for Harvard.
You have almost no chance at YLS regardless of LSAT---GPA is well-below YLS's GPA 25th percentile, presumably you are not a URM, and your softs are unexceptional.
Your GPA is also below SLS's 25th percentile, albeit barely, but their LSAT #s are meaningfully below YLS's so maybe a 175+ could make up for it? Also the CS thing they might like.

What else could I do?
Join the military and do a combat deployment. Do a graduate program at one of HYS. Become a Rhodes Scholar.

More realistically? Nothing. This is a numbers-driven process, you can't do anything about the GPA, and if you get a mid-170s LSAT, you're gonna get into one of HCCN, which is a great outcome.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby QContinuum » Thu Oct 03, 2019 4:45 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:(Also, I wouldn't be so laser-focused on HYS if I were you.)

To elaborate a bit on this, being laser-focused on HYS just doesn't make much objective sense. There are some goals (e.g., international human rights law) that effectively require attending Yale or Stanford. But there are very few goals that require attending Harvard to the exclusion of Chicago, Columbia or NYU. (This isn't to say Harvard isn't a stronger law school than CCN - it is - but the difference is a slight one.) So, it makes sense to be laser-focused on Y or Y/S. Or to be laser-focused on the T6. It doesn't make sense to be laser-focused on HYS.

(Most 0Ls just want to make money - which means BigLaw - and so should really be laser-focused on the T13 generally, not just the T6.)

LBJ's Hair wrote:What else could I do?
Join the military and do a combat deployment. Do a graduate program at one of HYS. Become a Rhodes Scholar.

Agree with the thrust of LBJ's advice above, though if anything it understates the difficulty of getting the kind of softs YLS would consider "exceptional". Doing a run-of-the-mill one-year Master's - even at HYS - wouldn't cut it. Master's degrees have (unfortunately) become devalued because of the proliferation of BS/MS programs and because so many one-year Master's programs - even at HYS - are less than rigorous. Degree-wise you'd want a Ph.D. or at least a substantial "research Master's" - with publications - from a top-flight program to move to the "exceptional softs" category. Likewise, spending a year with the U.S. Army - even if that included deploying to a combat zone - wouldn't necessarily move one into "exceptional softs" territory. You'd want more. Some kind of paradigm-shifting experience while deployed. Or a special ops credential.

(To be clear, it's possible to get into YLS without exceptional softs - but in that case, barring URM status, you'd want to have both GPA and LSAT above YLS' 75ths, and you'd still want to have strong softs.)

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby LBJ's Hair » Thu Oct 03, 2019 5:58 pm

yeah I was joking if that wasn't clear, you should not try to become a Navy SEAL to improve you chances of getting into HLS lmao

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby Rook221 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 9:51 am

(Most 0Ls just want to make money - which means BigLaw - and so should really be laser-focused on the T13 generally, not just the T6.)

Of note, I only really care about HYS because I want a chance at (1) working in public policy or (2) becoming a law professor. I'm not sure how feasible this is if at CCN, even if you're a top performer. Between HYS, I think Harvard is most realistic, which is an outcome I'd be stoked about.
Your softs are average - solidly in the middle third of applicants. Working before LS is a great idea.

Is working before law school as a paralegal valued less than other (also run-of-the-mill) jobs? I read this somewhere, and I'm not sure how accurate it is.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:51 am

Rook221 wrote:
(Most 0Ls just want to make money - which means BigLaw - and so should really be laser-focused on the T13 generally, not just the T6.)

Of note, I only really care about HYS because I want a chance at (1) working in public policy or (2) becoming a law professor. I'm not sure how feasible this is if at CCN, even if you're a top performer. Between HYS, I think Harvard is most realistic, which is an outcome I'd be stoked about.


This is reasonable, but understand the following:

- If you want to work in public policy you should get a degree relevant to that instead of going to law school. Maybe an MPP, or a PhD in economics.
- You're incredibly unlikely to become a tenured law professor even if you go to Yale. If you haven't already built a lot of the infrastructure for an academic career by the end of college it's probably too late. Sorry if that sounds harsh but 2019 is very different from 1969 in this regard.
- CCN aren't that far behind Harvard for this kind of stuff. Especially Chicago, whose small class size gives them a structural advantage (just like Y/S). And you could get massive tuition discounts at CCN which would make it easier to explore non-traditional careers.

Your softs are average - solidly in the middle third of applicants. Working before LS is a great idea.

Is working before law school as a paralegal valued less than other (also run-of-the-mill) jobs? I read this somewhere, and I'm not sure how accurate it is.


It's not noticeably better or worse than some other office job. I personally think it would be a slight plus in a vacuum but that advantage is diluted by the fact that so many people go this route.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby LBJ's Hair » Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:19 pm

Rook221 wrote:
(Most 0Ls just want to make money - which means BigLaw - and so should really be laser-focused on the T13 generally, not just the T6.)

Of note, I only really care about HYS because I want a chance at (1) working in public policy or (2) becoming a law professor. I'm not sure how feasible this is if at CCN, even if you're a top performer. Between HYS, I think Harvard is most realistic, which is an outcome I'd be stoked about.
Your softs are average - solidly in the middle third of applicants. Working before LS is a great idea.

Is working before law school as a paralegal valued less than other (also run-of-the-mill) jobs? I read this somewhere, and I'm not sure how accurate it is.


Academic Hiring/Policy
OK. RE being a prof---you're right that YLS helps, partly because it always has been and will always be the best law school in the country, partly because of the network, partly because of not-real grades ("everyone is number one!"), and partly because like, I dunno the culture. But it's really hard to see you getting in with your GPA. It's just like, very bad by YLS standards. You could try to transfer?

The thing about academic hiring though (speaking as someone who's talked to young, tenure-track professors about how it works out of sheer curiosity, although not from personal experience)...like, yes the school matters, as do grades, and clerkships. But unless you're a Yale -> Oxford -> YLS -> SCOTUS type person, you're not gonna get a tenure track position at a solid law school doing generic public law (ConLaw, Administrative law, Criminal). Like let's say you got into HLS and graduated top third, clerked on D-Mass, no other distinguishing experiences. that's a solid path to BigLaw, but not to the academy.

You need an *angle*; that's why so many young professors at the T14s have other advanced degrees. They're doing Law and X---healthcare, cybsercurity, some sort of history, etc. And similarly, hiring committees look at applicants and say "we don't need yet another professor writing about the 4th Amendment, or separation of powers or w/e, unless she's actually got someone new to say." They're probably right.

If this is a path you really want to go down, maybe a PhD or other advanced degree would be the right move. Or perhaps real work experience in the area you want to write about. And yes, it might help for HYS admissions. Feel like the CS could be something to keep exploring if that's something you're interested in.

But that's not *why* you should do it. You should do it because it will make you a better academic. That matters a lot more than whether you're at Chicago vs YLS. I have friends of friends who were hired recently at T30 law schools who didn't graduate from HYS, no SCOTUS clerkship---but they wrote really good articles. Because they had an academic background in an interesting subject area.

Once you start getting admissions, ask young profs at schools you visit how they got hired, how much they think the "JD prestige" matters, etc.

RE public policy---I honestly don't know that much but my intuition is a T6 law degree is absolutely fine, what matters more is networking, demonstrated interest, etc. Like, the Brennan Center is located *at NYU*.

Softs
not really. paralegal is just like, a generic job---not helping, not hurting. you're not gonna be better-positioned by switching to marketing or something, if that's what you're asking.

Rook221

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby Rook221 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:24 pm

This is great advice, thanks for taking the time. I do have a few observations/responses though:

The Lsat Airbender wrote:- If you want to work in public policy you should get a degree relevant to that instead of going to law school. Maybe an MPP, or a PhD in economics.


If I thought I could get into a top MPP or top PhD in economics, I would consider that route more seriously. Also, just a quick glance over influential people currently working in government, there is an over-representation of people with (specifically) Harvard and Yale JDs.

The Lsat Airbender wrote:- You're incredibly unlikely to become a tenured law professor even if you go to Yale. If you haven't already built a lot of the infrastructure for an academic career by the end of college it's probably too late. Sorry if that sounds harsh but 2019 is very different from 1969 in this regard.


I haven't seen any data on this, but I admit that I'm pretty skeptical. It seems like (from some cursory research) most of what matters for getting a job at a law school is publication record/research and connections, which means you're suggesting something like some combination of the following:

1) You're just not the kind of person who would do well enough in law school to publish prolifically/establish consequential connections (or you wouldn't have the knowledge, skills, etc. to do so) if you weren't that kind of person in undergrad.

2) You need impressive stuff on your resume dating back to undergrad to competitive with other law-professor-hopefuls.

3) Almost everybody who has been hired as law professor in the past few years had the infrastructure for an academic career by the end of college.

(1) doesn't seem plausible to me, and probably isn't what you meant. (2) doesn't seem plausible to me, if only because this stuff would most likely be overshadowed by your law school performance/publications/connections. (3) might be true -- again, I don't know the data (if it were, it doesn't also require either (1) or (2) to be true).

(Note that I agree it's a little unrealistic to expect to become a law professor, given how ridiculously competitive the job market is. What I'm skeptical of is that not having a relevant and decorated undergraduate career majorly affects your chances.)

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby Rook221 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:31 pm

LBJ's Hair wrote:Academic Hiring/Policy
OK. RE being a prof---you're right that YLS helps, partly because it always has been and will always be the best law school in the country, partly because of the network, partly because of not-real grades ("everyone is number one!"), and partly because like, I dunno the culture. But it's really hard to see you getting in with your GPA. It's just like, very bad by YLS standards. You could try to transfer?

The thing about academic hiring though (speaking as someone who's talked to young, tenure-track professors about how it works out of sheer curiosity, although not from personal experience)...like, yes the school matters, as do grades, and clerkships. But unless you're a Yale -> Oxford -> YLS -> SCOTUS type person, you're not gonna get a tenure track position at a solid law school doing generic public law (ConLaw, Administrative law, Criminal). Like let's say you got into HLS and graduated top third, clerked on D-Mass, no other distinguishing experiences. that's a solid path to BigLaw, but not to the academy.

You need an *angle*; that's why so many young professors at the T14s have other advanced degrees. They're doing Law and X---healthcare, cybsercurity, some sort of history, etc. And similarly, hiring committees look at applicants and say "we don't need yet another professor writing about the 4th Amendment, or separation of powers or w/e, unless she's actually got someone new to say." They're probably right.

If this is a path you really want to go down, maybe a PhD or other advanced degree would be the right move. Or perhaps real work experience in the area you want to write about. And yes, it might help for HYS admissions.

But that's not *why* you should do it. You should do it because it will make you a better academic. That matters a lot more than whether you're at Chicago vs YLS. I have friends of friends who were hired recently at T30 law schools who didn't graduate from HYS, no SCOTUS clerkship---but they wrote really good articles. Because they had an academic background in an interesting subject area.

Once you start getting admissions, ask young profs at schools you visit how they got hired, how much they think the "JD prestige" matters, etc.

RE public policy---I honestly don't know that much but my intuition is a T6 law degree is absolutely fine, what matters more is networking, demonstrated interest, etc. Like, the Brennan Center is located *at NYU*.


Thank you, this is all excellent information! I was seriously considering a philosophy/CS graduate degree at some point. Of course, I'm still planning on JD first, and plans change with time/circumstances, but I'll definitely keep all of this in mind.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Fri Oct 04, 2019 2:01 pm

Rook221 wrote:If I thought I could get into a top MPP or top PhD in economics, I would consider that route more seriously. Also, just a quick glance over influential people currently working in government, there is an over-representation of people with (specifically) Harvard and Yale JDs.


I don't know what jobs you are talking about, so it's hard to say what the best path to them would be, but this methodology has a few problems:

1) The way this stuff works has changed a lot in the decades since those people started their careers - degrees like the MPP didn't exist back then, for instance
2) Getting a HY law degree is frequently a symptom, rather than a cause, of being rich and well-connected, and the latter is what gets you into Congress

Lawyers obey policy, not the other way around. Even the people who graduate magna cum laude at HLS. If you don't want to be a lawyer then law school is a dodgy move.

I haven't seen any data on this, but I admit that I'm pretty skeptical. It seems like (from some cursory research) most of what matters for getting a job at a law school is publication record/research and connections, which means you're suggesting something like some combination of the following: [...]


LBJ put it a lot better than I did. What I basically mean is that going to a fancy law school (it bears repeating that CCN are also adequately fancy) is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being a law professor. So going to this or that law school to "keep that door open" when you haven't even opened the door yet doesn't make much sense to me. What I mean by "infrastructure" is all the things that somebody going on to a PhD also would have done - carved out a research niche, written some meaty academic papers of your own (you don't have to to literally get published, but you want to have written something that could be published, like a very good BA thesis), gotten some taste for the politics of academia and ideally made some strong connections with respected professors who would be willing to vouch for you for a hiring committee.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby QContinuum » Fri Oct 04, 2019 3:14 pm

Rook221 wrote:Of note, I only really care about HYS because I want a chance at (1) working in public policy or (2) becoming a law professor. I'm not sure how feasible this is if at CCN, even if you're a top performer.

For both public policy and academia, Yale (and to a lesser extent Stanford) is absolute tops, followed by HCCN. There is no yawning chasm between Harvard and Chicago. Academic hiring looks at prestige, grades, clerkships and/or other degrees, and publications. The prestige box is more than checked by a T6 J.D. You'd then want top law school grades, either a fancy CoA clerkship or a Ph.D. in a field related to your research focus area, and a demonstrated publication record evidencing your research prowess (you'd ideally start writing & publishing during law school and then further build up your record during a VAP/fellowship period prior to applying).

Yale has the advantage not so much because of its prestige directly, but more because its clerkship numbers are off the charts, so going to Yale would place you in a much better position to snag that aforementioned fancy CoA clerkship.

Understand that, as LBJ points out, legal academia is extraordinarily rare and difficult to get, even for top performers at Yale. It's not clear to me what "public policy" means in your view, but if your raison d'etre for going to law school is a unicorn public policy position or a law professorship, perhaps rethink whether you should go or, at least, whether you should be Yale or bust.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby Rook221 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 4:13 pm

Thanks everyone for the advice -- while I have you all commenting, I thought I'd ask your takes on a few other questions:
(1) What do people think about law school before/after PhDs (the wisdom of it generally, how people manage this with law school debt, etc.). Does anyone have any experience/knowledge of debt forgiveness programs?
(2) What's the difficulty of transferring from one program to another (in particular, from HCCN to Y/S)? Is it just "get good grades and have a good relationship with your 1L professors", because that's what I've read elsewhere.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby QContinuum » Fri Oct 04, 2019 4:16 pm

Rook221 wrote:(2) What's the difficulty of transferring from one program to another (in particular, from HCCN to Y/S)? Is it just "get good grades and have a good relationship with your 1L professors", because that's what I've read elsewhere.

Sure, but I wouldn't use the "just" term. There is no easy backdoor into Yale. If your goals suggest that you should be Yale or bust, you should probably not attend HCCN planning on transferring to Yale, because you are unlikely to succeed in getting in.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Fri Oct 04, 2019 5:10 pm

Rook221 wrote:(1) What do people think about law school before/after PhDs (the wisdom of it generally, how people manage this with law school debt, etc.). Does anyone have any experience/knowledge of debt forgiveness programs?


PhD > law school happens a lot and is starting to feel like par for academic careers (although most people who do this go on to biglaw or whatever). Debt shouldn't be a bigger issue than usual because any PhD worth its salt is funded.

JD > PhD is a bad idea because you're not really going to realize the value of the JD. You'll be too far removed from law school to get into private legal practice and your PhD work will swamp any earlier degrees for academic hiring. Meanwhile, even if a loan-forgiveness program helps you through grad school (and I have no idea if they would, it probably varies by law school), you're living on poverty wages anyway as a doctoral student which is not a great place to be in with all that debt. People do it, though, and this option becomes a lot more workable if you can go to law school for free somehow.

(2) What's the difficulty of transferring from one program to another (in particular, from HCCN to Y/S)? Is it just "get good grades and have a good relationship with your 1L professors", because that's what I've read elsewhere.


If you're doing well enough to transfer, it's not worth transferring. For every outcome I can think of, you'd rather be in the top 3rd/10%/whatever it takes to transfer at HCCN than a transfer student at Yale or especially Stanford. People only ever do this if they have a compelling personal reason, like when RBG transferred from Harvard to Columbia to be with her spouse.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby LBJ's Hair » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:40 pm

Rook221 wrote:Thanks everyone for the advice -- while I have you all commenting, I thought I'd ask your takes on a few other questions:
(1) What do people think about law school before/after PhDs (the wisdom of it generally, how people manage this with law school debt, etc.). Does anyone have any experience/knowledge of debt forgiveness programs?
(2) What's the difficulty of transferring from one program to another (in particular, from HCCN to Y/S)? Is it just "get good grades and have a good relationship with your 1L professors", because that's what I've read elsewhere.


Timing a PhD
I don't know enough to have an opinion on this, honestly. FWIW, among my profs (who went to mostly YH, but one or two CCN) there was a mix. One started the PhD, put it on hold to move over to the JD, then finished the PhD (same school, so easier). Two finished JD, clerked, fellowship, PhD. Another worked for several years then left for PhD. I'm sure there are several who did the PhD first (which seems logistically easier?), but I can't think of specific examples.

Transferring
Transferring to Harvard is not particularly difficult from CCN. The school is big already and has a massive transfer class. You need top third, maybe top 25%? But I'm not entirely if it's worth it. You get a bump in brand, but lose professor contacts/friends from 1L, face transfer bias, likely aren't on the Law Review (I know you *can* theoretically write-on, but in practice like it almost never happens), you still have real grades and a real curve....I dunno. Maybe for academia it's worth it, since that's a sort of unicorn-y type of thing? You want the relationships and the school's institutional support in getting you a tenure-track job? But on the flip side, if you're at a Columbia/NYU you're probably one of the few students who actually wants to go into academia, which is nice because on a relative basis you have more resources, and if you're at Chicago the school is kinda YLS-y in terms of size, personal relationships with profs. And Chicago really goes to bat for students interested in it...IDK. It isn't clear-cut to me.

Don't know SLS at all.

YLS's class is tiny. You need top 10%. And *real* professor recs, I think. Like you've actually gone to office hours and they can say something real about you. That part isn't hard---you'll have plenty of YLS alums as your profs, so go to office hours, ask a lot of questions, mention interest in academia, and if you get the grades, they'll totally get why you want to transfer. Difficult part is being in the top 10% of a T6 law school lol. Is it worth it? Depends on how much you value your relationships with profs, classmates, etc after 1L. It's the low-risk move, though---imagine finishing top 10% your first year and middle of the pack 2L. It happens

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby nixy » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:15 am

Re: timing of the PhD, I think it makes most sense to do the JD first, or to do PhD coursework --> do the JD --> write the dissertation. Intellectually, assuming you want to write your dissertation about law-related stuff, I think it makes sense to get the PhD coursework *and* the JD done before you write, so you can benefit from all that training and best pitch your research to your audience. Doing the entire PhD before doing your JD means you run the risk of writing research that's not as informed by all the relevant disciplines as it could be.

Another issue with doing the PhD first is that you don't always have as much control over when you finish. The JD is very discrete and clear - you go to classes for 3 years, you're done. With the PhD, you don't finish until you finish your dissertation, get it approved, and defend it, and the timeline for that can be very hard to predict. Which means that you could very well be applying to JD programs/getting in/starting while still finishing your dissertation. I know people who've done it, it's not impossible, but it can be more complicated and messy than the other way around. (It may be that your dissertation goes swimmingly and you sail through in the predicted time...but many people don't.)

The flip side is that if you do the JD first, you have JD loans to deal with while you're doing your PhD. On the one hand, you can defer loans during a second graduate program, so you shouldn't have to pay anything. On the other hand, then you're not paying anything, but I think some of that's going to be inevitable regardless of how you organize the degrees.

Re: debt forgiveness programs - if you're talking about Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you need to be employed by a qualifying employer for loan payments to count towards this program. That may or may not happen during a graduate program. Pretty much all higher ed will count as a qualifying employer (it's either public or non-profit private so it should be good), but it needs to be full time, so employment while in a grad program (as an RA/TA) probably won't count. Employment as a prof after would likely count.

(There's also the forgiveness associated with the income-based repayment plans - REPAYE would probably apply to you - but that takes much longer and has tax consequences that PSLF doesn't have. REPAYE is an option regardless of what employment you have.)

HYS (and the rest of the T14) of course have their own debt forgiveness programs, which might well serve you better anyway. I *think* the school programs pay your loans while you're in another grad program (which is another argument for doing the JD first), but you will have to check with specific schools because I don't have personal knowledge and may have that completely wrong.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby nixy » Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:26 am

Re: building the infrastructure to be an academic during undergrad -

What I mean by "infrastructure" is all the things that somebody going on to a PhD also would have done - carved out a research niche, written some meaty academic papers of your own (you don't have to to literally get published, but you want to have written something that could be published, like a very good BA thesis), gotten some taste for the politics of academia and ideally made some strong connections with respected professors who would be willing to vouch for you for a hiring committee.

I pretty much agree with this^, that building an academic profile during undergrad has become increasingly important. How you do this varies somewhat by discipline (it's easier to get authorship credit in multi-author STEM fields working in a lab as an undergrad than it is to try to get something published in a single-author humanities field as an undergrad), but most graduate programs are going to look for applicants to have some kind of research experience, or something that will show their potential for doing research, as well as some kind of awareness of the field and corresponding research agenda sketched out. You may not have to do that through your undergrad degree, but you should have it in place before you apply to PhD programs. (Apart from the fact that PhD programs want to see this in applicants, the more you can hit the ground running in your PhD, the less you will wallow/founder and struggle to complete the degree in a reasonable amount of time. Because that kind of wallowing/foundering happens A LOT.)

So this is probably yet another argument for doing the JD first, because if you don't have this kind of experience already, you will do much much better in the PhD program if you can use the JD to get this kind of infrastructure in place. You will have to take an active role in doing so, because by default the JD is *not* a research degree and is not designed to prepare you for academia. But you can use the degree to do so.

So re: this:
JD > PhD is a bad idea because you're not really going to realize the value of the JD. You'll be too far removed from law school to get into private legal practice and your PhD work will swamp any earlier degrees for academic hiring.

I think it really depends how all-in you are on going into a non-practice field like academia (or maybe public policy - not something I'm as familiar with). I agree that doing the PhD will make it harder to go back and enter private practice, but if you never wanted to go into practice, that's not really an issue. And I think depending on what your research area is and the connections you make during law school, the JD is still a value-add for academia, especially if you're aiming for legal academia. (It's just an expensive one.)

Finally, the other thing is that if you do the JD first, and you find yourself interested in practicing and maybe your goals/plans change, you can just stop and practice for a while. The PhD will always be there.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Sun Oct 06, 2019 9:43 am

I actually agree with a lot of the analysis about above about doing the JD first. But hoo boy do you need to be confident in your career trajectory.

Dual degrees are also a thing, and you can get an admissions bump at the law school if Arts & Sciences falls in love with you. A guy used to post around here (think he left) who was, like, in progress with a PhD on the west coast and then moved over to a JD/PhD (same PhD discipline I assume) at Yale.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby QContinuum » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:33 am

The Lsat Airbender wrote:I actually agree with a lot of the analysis about above about doing the JD first. But hoo boy do you need to be confident in your career trajectory.

Just spitballing here, but is the above actually true? In theory, if OP became unsure about their career trajectory whilst in law school, couldn't they try practicing law for a few years before doing the Ph.D.? That wouldn't really hurt their academic aspirations (if anything, I can see it as a positive to have some "real-world" legal experience when applying for law professorships, especially if the practice can be spun as being at least tangentially related to OP's research interests).

The Lsat Airbender wrote:Dual degrees are also a thing, and you can get an admissions bump at the law school if Arts & Sciences falls in love with you. A guy used to post around here (think he left) who was, like, in progress with a PhD on the west coast and then moved over to a JD/PhD (same PhD discipline I assume) at Yale.

Not sure this is true. Law schools make their own admissions decisions regarding joint-degree applicants, independently of the graduate program (and vice versa; e.g., I understand it's not uncommon for HLS admits to be denied admission to HBS due to a lack of work experience, and I've heard firsthand of JD/PhD applicants getting into Yale GSAS but not YLS). Now, a JD/PhD applicant is likely to have a stronger background than a K-JD applicant, so as a result of that, JD/PhD applicants as a whole are probably more likely to get in than JD-only applicants as a whole, but that's probably just a case of correlation and not causation.

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Re: HYS chances with 3.75/170+, weak softs (prospective)

Postby The Lsat Airbender » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:02 pm

QContinuum wrote:
The Lsat Airbender wrote:I actually agree with a lot of the analysis about above about doing the JD first. But hoo boy do you need to be confident in your career trajectory.

Just spitballing here, but is the above actually true? In theory, if OP became unsure about their career trajectory whilst in law school, couldn't they try practicing law for a few years before doing the Ph.D.? That wouldn't really hurt their academic aspirations (if anything, I can see it as a positive to have some "real-world" legal experience when applying for law professorships, especially if the practice can be spun as being at least tangentially related to OP's research interests).


To be clear, I mean one should be very confident before starting a PhD as a newly-minted JD graduate with tons of debt, or starting a JD with the intent of doing more graduate study immediately after. Getting a JD and making private practice your Plan A, with an eye towards maybe going to grad school in the future, is much less risky and sounds like a great idea.

The Lsat Airbender wrote:Dual degrees are also a thing, and you can get an admissions bump at the law school if Arts & Sciences falls in love with you. A guy used to post around here (think he left) who was, like, in progress with a PhD on the west coast and then moved over to a JD/PhD (same PhD discipline I assume) at Yale.

Not sure this is true. Law schools make their own admissions decisions regarding joint-degree applicants, independently of the graduate program (and vice versa; e.g., I understand it's not uncommon for HLS admits to be denied admission to HBS due to a lack of work experience, and I've heard firsthand of JD/PhD applicants getting into Yale GSAS but not YLS). Now, a JD/PhD applicant is likely to have a stronger background than a K-JD applicant, so as a result of that, JD/PhD applicants as a whole are probably more likely to get in than JD-only applicants as a whole, but that's probably just a case of correlation and not causation.


I don't mean to overstate how much of a bump dual-degree applicants get - you definitely need to be qualified for both schools that take you. But if the faculty in the linguistics department or whatever say "we want this gal, she has real potential in the academy" then that has to be a huge plus.

I'm pretty sure Yale would prefer a 175/3.75 who's impressed their sister faculty to a 175/3.95 without such promise. Much of the reason YLS is so tricky is you need to impress a battery of faculty reviewers, and those people tend to regard their peers' opinions highly. (Of course, your LSAT/GPA still need to pass the sniff test. If the numbers are more like 168/3.75 the response will be more like "great, Dr. T, you guys in linguistics can keep her").



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