For the love of christ, retake!

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For the love of christ, retake!

Post by AllpainNogain » Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:10 pm

Hi everyone. This post won't offer insight that regular readers of the forum would not encounter. However, its message cannot be stressed enough and must be hammered into the minds of all prospects.

Like many law school hopefuls, I've wandered through my college career taking interesting courses that taught no practical skills. I thought too little about what I wanted to do with my life and assumed that "it would work out." After graduating from a HYP-level school with a 3.7+ GPA in history, I decided to play the law school game.
My summer after graduation was filled with extreme anxiety, fear, and frustration as I soldiered through LSAT prep. Energy that should have been directed towards engendering peak performance went towards putting out the fire that was my fear over the test. I couldn't help but think of the contrast between my friends working blue chip jobs in high finance and consulting and my sitting in my underwear at home for months reading PowerScore crap. It was horrendous. Finally, after several months of studying, I sat for 1 exam, had a panic attack, and scored a 155. My last practice score had been a 167.
Being the stubborn and naive person that I was, I allowed my disappointment and entitlement to prevent me from retaking the test with a new strategy and a clear head. After missing the registration deadline, I decided to apply to law school anyway. I pretty much had a BigLaw-or-bust mentality and thought that I would necessarily outperform most folks at any non-T-14 school. I was delusional and arrogant.
I decided to enroll at a decent T50 law school in my home state and "make it work" because I was "...determined to be a great lawyer" and could achieve my career goals "...wherever I started." To be fair, the school's in-state tuition was pretty cheap and I had help from my folks. I never would have had any debt.
After enrolling, I met my peers who were mostly dazzled by what they perceived to be the beginning of the high point of their academic careers. I had a chip on my shoulder and was miserable. As the "Ivy League kid," I felt that I had to constantly outshine everyone around me, land in the top 10%, and justify my presence in a school that I had believed was beneath me. This lingering obsession ironically derailed my focus and contributed to my walking out of my first final with another panic attack.
Until sitting for that exam, I never appreciated the high-stakes of law school and how truly arbitrary and unpredictable my performance was. I finally thought: "Whether I secure a $180000 gig or a $45000 gig mostly depended on how I did on 1 essay exam that was graded on a bell curve, like a STEM exam. have I done!" I freaked out and left. Despite all of my preparation and [unwarranted] confidence, I had to [try to] sit for the exam to finally appreciate the gravity/absurdity of the career risk that law school outside of the top schools really is for people set on Big Law. Before even sitting for my other exams and even after being offered a chance to retake that final not on the class curve (whatever the that meant), I withdrew from the school before accruing any grades that might have hindered future enrollment at a different law school.
I write this from my apartment, one day after withdrawing, and a couple days before I pack up to return home.
I realize that I only ever wanted to become a lawyer if I could practice in an elite capacity. I cheated my potential by prematurely quitting the LSAT and mindlessly charging ahead towards any school that would take me with such bizarre stats.
When I get home, I'm committed to treating the extreme anxiety that has crippled my performance, will attempt to enter other industries and eventually retake the LSAT with a clear head until I score 170+. If I'm able to secure meaningful work (hopefully in consulting or investor relations), I'll table law school for now.
I don't regret this decision. I'm relieved and confident in my choice to exit such an uncertain situation and potentially end law school with less earning potential and more stress than what I am experiencing now.
It's true that I was the only person who bailed on the exam. This doesn't look or sound good. But, is sure a hell of a lot better than being stuck with median or below grades at such a school when all you wanted was a shot at the top.
I'm happy and determined to move on.
My message is this: I know the LSAT sucks big wet ones. It's a bitch of a test. But, unlike law school exams, you can work on it until you reach your goals. I don't care how smart you think you are. You have NO IDEA how you're going to do when you take finals. I know that this isn't the message that you want to hear, but this forum speaks the truth. Law school can wait while you prepare yourself to be happy and well-situated. Don't be an idiot like I was. When weighing your options, assume that you will be average wherever you go. If you want Big Law or Big Fed, please RETAKE or don't go!!!

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Re: For the love of christ, retake!

Post by cavalier1138 » Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:31 pm

Although the core message is a common one, this is an extremely important story for 0Ls to see. Far too often, the only people returning to this forum after getting these warnings are the ones who bucked the odds and want to prove all the "haters" wrong.

You absolutely made the right decision (on many levels). Applicants should read every word and note the number of times they think "That won't be me, though." That's the voice they need to start recognizing as inexperience.


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Re: For the love of christ, retake!

Post by AdieuCali » Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:47 pm

Thanks for sharing your humbling experience. I don't have any advice on what you should do now, but wish you the best of luck!

People debate whether the LSAT actually tests for lawyering skills. But there is no doubt that it simulates the way you will receive the majority of your law school grades: through a single, comprehensive, high-pressure, time-sensitive test. It is much easier to prepare and improve on the LSAT, which you can take as many times as you want over the course of several years, than on your 1L finals, which you can only take once and can make-or-break your early career.

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Re: For the love of christ, retake!

Post by » Fri Dec 06, 2019 3:49 pm

A lot of people say they just aren't good at tests but will transfer out without heeding the fact their ability to do that is based on their performance on tests. Many others state they are good at arguing and that the facts of a case or knowledge of law are less relevant than having the charisma to charm a jury without realizing that most cases are more often won and lost in discovery at depositions where the lawyers couldn't care less about delivery or anything else other than what is typed into the record.


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Re: For the love of christ, retake!

Post by namefromplace » Sat Dec 21, 2019 12:15 pm

As someone who unknowingly (thought BigLaw sounded like a nightmare and then realized it is a very beneficial nightmare after my first year) took the risk of going to a non-T14 school and had it pay off (i.e. got placement at a big firm) I also support this post. Finals are very random and subjective. I have several classmates who could have gone to higher-ranked schools but banked on having high enough grades that were entirely screwed over by their grade in a single class from a professor they didn't jive with. I do not know what I do on finals that makes me generally score better than my peers, but there was no way to identify that skill beforehand.

The LSAT is a dumb test: my score never improved more than point from when I first took it blind. I had no examples around me of people who had gone to T14 law schools and just felt like my intelligence had hit a wall. But since finding TLS, I've realized that, if I had just powered through and dedicated more time to studying and improving my strategy, I could have easily boosted my score. I'm happy to be at my school and am enormously grateful for how it has worked out for me, but I'll always think about how things could have been different had I gone to a T14.

A T1 school worked for me because A) It was cheap and B) most importantly: I didn't really care what I did with law. I was fine with ending up in the state where I went to law school and was not especially ambitious: I would have been perfectly happy going to a prosecutor's office. If your T1 school is not cheap (i.e. you don't have a sizable scholarship) and if you have specific, ambitious goals, go to a T-14.


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Re: For the love of christ, retake!

Post by taxman128 » Sat Dec 21, 2019 5:08 pm

Could you have gotten good job offers with top grades from one of the best undergraduate universities?

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