does a PHD help for law school admission?

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ecoughlin
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does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby ecoughlin » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:32 am

Currently I'm sitting at a 3.2 from UCSD with a 171 LSAT (which I think I can improve to 174 if that turns out to help a lot) but its very back loaded (after leaving school to work for a year I averaged a 3.7 over the last 92 units units). My question is will going to grad school in Duke or UCSD's philosophy/Cognitive Science program to receive a PHD help if I continue to get grades in the 3.8 average range? So far in taking classes with grad students I haven't done worse then an A- in any of them so 3.8 is very doable for me now. Would that PHD help for a top 6 law school?

I primarily am interested in going into a practice and eventually teaching in the biomedical ethics realm (hospital and pharmaceutical law, mental fitness tests, medical and scientific ethics cases ect) hence the need for a top tier school. I would say as much on my application so it didn't appear that I was just getting a PHD for a GPA boost (I would probably get a PHD after law school anyway, but maybe through part time attendance over 6 or 7 years).

My question is would a very high PHD GPA help significantly in getting to a top tier school? (taking more undergrad classes for a GPA boost is having quickly diminishing returns)

Tangentially related (and far more embarrassing) much of the mid school crisis (I started and ended with a 3.8 avg GPA with some 2.2-2.5s in the middle, all the Ds I received I retook and got As) was related to the early 20s onset of bipolar disorder. The onset greatly contributed to me doing badly, then leaving school temporarily, in the first place to work. Once I got a handle on it I came back a year and a half later with much stronger post return performance. When some schools ask for an essay of explanation of poor grades is it better to use something like an increase in motivation some other general story? Should I speak about the rather uncomfortable topic of being bipolar (which I have shown I can control with the 3.8 through the last 92 units) and seeking treatment after diagnosis as a catalyst for improvement?

Technically I would contend that a severe mood disorder should be a URM designation (bipolar is only around 1% of the population, even lower in terms of the population thats even in the running for a T1 undergrad or post grad school I'm sure), but I'm not sure that schools wouldn't just hold it against me even more then me just pretending the failed quarters happened without cause. There's a strong bias against those who have any kind of mental illness since it makes any investment in them seem risky and useless. This seems to occur even if they work to prove they have a handle on it. Sorry for the long post if anyone read it, my situation probably isn't as complex as I make it sound.

Mr Trux
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby Mr Trux » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:41 am

Based on my experience, the PhD would be a plus but probably would not significantly contribute to your getting into law school. Focus on raising the LSAT score - a 171 is awesome, a 174 is even better.

As far as grad school grades are concerned, they wont really give the adcom that much more information for a couple of reasons. First, it is in no way uncommon for grad students in PhD programs to have 4.0GPA's. Second, your graduate school GPA will not be analyzed by LSAC and thus the adcoms wont really know much about the your performance at that school and in that program versus other applicants they have had in the past or even your peers in that program. Maybe a 4.0 at UCSD is remarkable, maybe it's not -- LSAC doesn't gather that info, so theres no way for the adcom to know.

That said, a graduate degree is, I believe, almost always a plus and will enhance your file, overall.

ecoughlin
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby ecoughlin » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:46 am

Do schools have stats on grade inflation at different undergrads? I know my school is statistically at a 3.08 average for graduating undergrads with about 10% getting above a 3.5 (so I'd assume about a .25-.3 standard deviation).

Anyone know if thats high or low as far as undergrads go?

LSATman
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby LSATman » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:23 pm

171 vs 174 is only 3 additional questions correct and is within the standard deviation of the LSAT. I am not sure it is worth the risk of a retake in case you have an off day and score less than 171 the second time around and wind up with a 168 or something. Have you scored 174 on prep tests before?

nellie06
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby nellie06 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:31 pm

If you get a phd, you'll be a lot more marketable for patent law. Firms won't really care where you go to school, and often times where you got your undergrad/phd matter more than where you get the law degree from. If you got a phd, and then got a jd from gw which is well known for ip law, you'd be pretty set to have a chance at a lucrative career in ip.

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20160810
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby 20160810 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 1:35 pm

It would be a plus, but a PhD is a huge investment of time and money so only get it if you wanted it irrespective of law school admissions because with a 171 you're already in at a great law school.

ecoughlin
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby ecoughlin » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:20 pm

As far as the 171 into 174 question I only have taken one prep test about a year after the 171 (which I took cold) and got a 175 from organic studying (as in not LSAT specifically, just general reading, learning ect) so I think with actual diligent study a secure 174 would be reasonable to expect of myself. Now to talk a psychiatrist into adderall to make hardcore studying of any sort feasible!

As far as the PHD funding is concerned ideally I would go to a public school such as UCSD or UCLA which offer fellowships for TAing then a few years in actual courses to teach which give twice as much funding. A 50% TAing schedule (4 units of TAing) is 18000 against 9000 in tuition, the fellowship for a few years in is more like 36000 which is a full ride plus 26000 for living expenses. I'm also married to a web designer so that helps with the initial hardship of the 18k of funding.

Thanks for the IP suggestion, I actually didn't think of that type of law, but it is very applicable to a science based philosophy major combined with a law degree, thanks!

I've become a bit of a prestige whore ;) so when I say law school admission I kind of mean top 6. Ever since seeing the Paper Chase I've held out the dream of Harvard; where most people see horror and abuse I see an amazing opportunity to finally really challenge myself in school. The idea of a harsh inquisition from a pitiless teacher holds a strange appeal to me, crazy as that sounds.

On top of that how embarrassing is it to do worse in life then Elle Woods from Legally Blond. Sure its fiction, but the idea of being beaten by a valley girl, even a fictional one, is too much to bear! The idea of not having a 179 and being beaten by that character is bad enough. (how in the world does she have a 99.9 percentile score anyway! Suspension of disbelief in the most extreme form.)

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aleph209
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby aleph209 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:29 pm

you're thinking of getting a phd to boost your chances at law school admission? whoa...

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bwv812
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby bwv812 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 8:22 pm

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Last edited by bwv812 on Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bwv812
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby bwv812 » Fri Jun 20, 2008 8:26 pm

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Last edited by bwv812 on Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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koggit
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby koggit » Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:28 pm

A professor of mine told me about his friend who didn't do well in school, go his bachelor's, master's and doctorate all from different low-ranked no-name schools, worked research for a couple years, taught at a community college for a couple years, then got in to HLS. He currently works for one of the top IP firms in the northwest (Seed IP).

I have no idea what his numbers were, but I thought it was an interesting story.

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worldtraveler
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby worldtraveler » Fri Jun 20, 2008 9:59 pm

If your primary motivation for getting a PhD is getting into a better law school, then that is insane. You're talking about spending 5 years of your life making very little money and working very, very hard all for a perceived better chance at something that might not occur.

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RexAllDay
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby RexAllDay » Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:16 pm

worldtraveler wrote:If your primary motivation for getting a PhD is getting into a better law school, then that is insane. You're talking about spending 5 years of your life making very little money and working very, very hard all for a perceived better chance at something that might not occur.


TITCR

Insane might be a bit strong but you get the gist. If you were going to get the PhD anyway then cool. But its a big stretch to do if you're just looking to increase your chance of admission to a T6 school. 5 years is a long time when there is no guarantee you'll get in.

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ACM
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Re: does a PHD help for law school admission?

Postby ACM » Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:31 am

Hi Coughlin, so I've just stumbled across this thread, almost a year later, and I thought perhaps you could tell us what you decided

(1) with respect to the PhD.
(2) How is law school going, if you went to law school?
(3) What did you decide with respect to your grades? Did you talk address why they were low? (I had a couple of bad semesters and "took four years off" for a similar reason.)
(4) I'm in favor of doing interdisciplinary work myself, and think two degrees would probably be best. If you have any thoughts on this topic a year later, that would be great.

Thanks.




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