Ivy League PhD - does it help?

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tax_nerd

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Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by tax_nerd » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:07 pm

Hi TLS Community,

I'm applying to law school this fall (2020) and am wondering if/how my "softs" will enhance my admissions chances. I just took the LSAT for the first time and scored a 167. UGPA is 3.92 from a public college but with double major and triple minor and tons of accolades. I graduated 5 years ago. LGBTQ+ white male from Missouri.

I am finishing up a PhD in Philosophy from one of the Harvard/Yale/Pton schools with a dissertation that makes sense with my interest in tax law. Lots of language skills (fluent in German, French, Italian, and I can read Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew). President of the student government representing several thousand students. Have published book reviews in some serious academic journals.

Even with a 3.92 UGPA, my 167 LSAT score makes Yale/Harvard/Stanford basically unrealistic. Berkeley/UVA/Penn is probably more realistic -- NYU is probably a stretch. I am planning to retake the LSAT in April and a third time if necessary, and I hope to increase my score at least 3 pts. But assuming that I am hypothetically not able to increase my score, do my PhD and other "softs" boost me to any appreciable degree? Since they are academic in nature, do they give more of a boost at a place like Yale than at the other schools?

My dream scenario would be to be able to choose between Harvard and Stanford.

Any help is appreciated!

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cavalier1138

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by cavalier1138 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:22 pm

The PhD might make a difference on the margins, but not as dramatically as you're hoping it will.

Johnnybgoode92

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by Johnnybgoode92 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:35 pm

I understand the academic job market is incredibly difficult. But what do you plan to do in law and why not directly use your phd?

bob311

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by bob311 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:54 pm

It will help on the margins, but please retake until you have a 172+ and you can just go to Stanford or Yale for law school. I will note that those are obviously great schools for a PhD, but in philosophy they are good, but not great. I don’t think it would make much difference if you had the top tier PhD in philosophy- say from NYU or Rutgers compared to those ivys, but just as a guideline comparison.

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zeglo

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by zeglo » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:44 am

It might help a little bit. I think in competition with people who have similar numbers, you will win head-to-head. But I do not see you necessarily getting into HYS with those numbers. If you can, I would retake for a 170+ if possible. (That is, however, quite difficult for most people, even those with practice.) If not, you'll still get in to a good top 10 school with good scholarship money and have a ton of opportunities. So, you're fine either way. Of course, if your goal is academia, a higher LSAT (and therefore top 3 school ideally) will be a big boost. If you just want a prestigious or high-paying legal job, you're in a good shape either way. My two cents.

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crazywafflez

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by crazywafflez » Tue Mar 24, 2020 12:24 am

It will only help at the margins. I have an MSc from the LSE and my UG from a pretty good school (not quite golden triangle caliber but decent). I also have decent softs (published, speak Hebrew and Russian, worked in intelligence, high school teacher)- from South/Southwest originally and mixed ethnicity. I did not outperform my numbers by much. I did slightly better than my numbers would've indicated- I had thought my softs would be enough to carry me into T13- they did not. I ended up getting full rides or 3/4s rides from bottom T1 schools and top T2 schools, snags from T20 but nothing good, at least not for the cost. I'd seriously consider what you want to do, how much debt you'll be in, if you want to strictly do law, where you want to be (most schools are regional except the T14 really). I'm not sure how good all of the Ivy schools are at Philosophy- I assume they are pretty top notch (I know like Pittsburgh and Rutgers are quite good in ccertain areas of Philosophy)- and this will help you. Just not as much as you hope.
If your career path is just big law then you'll be fine with any of the T14 (well it depends on the economy, but I'll still say they are a safe bet). If you want a clerkship with the supreme court you've really gotta go to Yale/Stanford/Harvard. It is not impossible to get from Penn or Chicago, but difficult.
You have a leg up with the PhD, it will not make admins think a 167 is a 171. If your goals are obtainable at Cornell or Duke, go there, or where you happen to get a really good scholly. If you are dead set on the top 3 you need to retake.
Best of luck.

dabigchina

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by dabigchina » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:27 pm

I have heard from my friends with hard science PhDs that they got a slight edge in admissions.

A PhD in Philosophy might get you less of a bump, but I can't say for sure either way.

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by Joachim2017 » Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:37 pm

dabigchina wrote:I have heard from my friends with hard science PhDs that they got a slight edge in admissions.

A PhD in Philosophy might get you less of a bump, but I can't say for sure either way.
This is true. Part of the reason why is that increasingly, philosophy PhDs realize how tough it is to get published and then hit the market in philosophy itself, and so flocks to law schools hoping to do "philosophy lite" and then hit the legal academic market, which pays better and is easier to crack. Basic supply and demand = it's not that impressive/attractive a credential in law school admissions anymore, especially at the top schools where top-performing JDs can do the same high-level theoretical work as philosophy PhDs in less-technical law-adjacent fields, like moral/social/political/feminist, etc.

RecruiterMan

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by RecruiterMan » Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:30 pm

To give you one datapoint--I applied some years ago with a philosophy PhD, half a dozen peer reviewed journal articles, and a 175 LSAT, and yale and harvard still didn't want me (didn't apply to stanford), but hey ymmv. Either way, retake.

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QContinuum

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by QContinuum » Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:54 pm

RecruiterMan wrote:To give you one datapoint--I applied some years ago with a philosophy PhD, half a dozen peer reviewed journal articles, and a 175 LSAT, and yale and harvard still didn't want me (didn't apply to stanford), but hey ymmv. Either way, retake.
This leads me to suspect you had a low(er) LSAC (undergrad) GPA. Harvard's all in on the numbers. Yale needs the numbers, plus more. The Ph.D. and half-dozen publications could very well have supplied that "more" for Yale, but wasn't enough to overcome the GPA hurdle.

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by L'orDuCommun » Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:24 pm

tax_nerd wrote:Hi TLS Community,

I'm applying to law school this fall (2020) and am wondering if/how my "softs" will enhance my admissions chances. I just took the LSAT for the first time and scored a 167. UGPA is 3.92 from a public college but with double major and triple minor and tons of accolades. I graduated 5 years ago. LGBTQ+ white male from Missouri.

I am finishing up a PhD in Philosophy from one of the Harvard/Yale/Pton schools with a dissertation that makes sense with my interest in tax law. Lots of language skills (fluent in German, French, Italian, and I can read Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew). President of the student government representing several thousand students. Have published book reviews in some serious academic journals.

Even with a 3.92 UGPA, my 167 LSAT score makes Yale/Harvard/Stanford basically unrealistic. Berkeley/UVA/Penn is probably more realistic -- NYU is probably a stretch. I am planning to retake the LSAT in April and a third time if necessary, and I hope to increase my score at least 3 pts. But assuming that I am hypothetically not able to increase my score, do my PhD and other "softs" boost me to any appreciable degree? Since they are academic in nature, do they give more of a boost at a place like Yale than at the other schools?

My dream scenario would be to be able to choose between Harvard and Stanford.

Any help is appreciated!
DM'd you but the DM seems to be stuck in my outbox. Had a similar path and am happy to chat offline if that'd be helpful. You can post a throwaway e-mail address in the thread.

QContinuum

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by QContinuum » Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:54 pm

L'orDuCommun wrote:DM'd you but the DM seems to be stuck in my outbox. Had a similar path and am happy to chat offline if that'd be helpful. You can post a throwaway e-mail address in the thread.
For what it's worth - the DM isn't 'stuck'. It will stay in your Outbox until OP opens it, at which point the DM will relocate to your Sent Items folder. It's TLS' (rather counterintuitive) version of a read receipt.

RecruiterMan

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by RecruiterMan » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:50 pm

QContinuum wrote:
RecruiterMan wrote:To give you one datapoint--I applied some years ago with a philosophy PhD, half a dozen peer reviewed journal articles, and a 175 LSAT, and yale and harvard still didn't want me (didn't apply to stanford), but hey ymmv. Either way, retake.
This leads me to suspect you had a low(er) LSAC (undergrad) GPA. Harvard's all in on the numbers. Yale needs the numbers, plus more. The Ph.D. and half-dozen publications could very well have supplied that "more" for Yale, but wasn't enough to overcome the GPA hurdle.
nah my foreign undergrad was rated "superior" & I graduated top of my class; must've been my ugly mug. oh well.

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tax_nerd

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by tax_nerd » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:05 am

L'orDuCommun wrote:
tax_nerd wrote:Hi TLS Community,

I'm applying to law school this fall (2020) and am wondering if/how my "softs" will enhance my admissions chances. I just took the LSAT for the first time and scored a 167. UGPA is 3.92 from a public college but with double major and triple minor and tons of accolades. I graduated 5 years ago. LGBTQ+ white male from Missouri.

I am finishing up a PhD in Philosophy from one of the Harvard/Yale/Pton schools with a dissertation that makes sense with my interest in tax law. Lots of language skills (fluent in German, French, Italian, and I can read Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew). President of the student government representing several thousand students. Have published book reviews in some serious academic journals.

Even with a 3.92 UGPA, my 167 LSAT score makes Yale/Harvard/Stanford basically unrealistic. Berkeley/UVA/Penn is probably more realistic -- NYU is probably a stretch. I am planning to retake the LSAT in April and a third time if necessary, and I hope to increase my score at least 3 pts. But assuming that I am hypothetically not able to increase my score, do my PhD and other "softs" boost me to any appreciable degree? Since they are academic in nature, do they give more of a boost at a place like Yale than at the other schools?

My dream scenario would be to be able to choose between Harvard and Stanford.

Any help is appreciated!
DM'd you but the DM seems to be stuck in my outbox. Had a similar path and am happy to chat offline if that'd be helpful. You can post a throwaway e-mail address in the thread.
Hi L'orDuCommun,
I would love to chat offline. Looks like I'm too new to send any private messages, but I got yours. Want to shoot me your email address? Really appreciate it!

tax_nerd

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by tax_nerd » Fri Jun 05, 2020 9:29 am

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to circle back after receiving my most recent LSAT score: I got a 174! It feels good that I will not need to lean on the value of my PhD as much in the admissions process.

Thanks to everyone for your advice and for encouraging me to double down on studying and retake!

lawdog97

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by lawdog97 » Fri Jun 05, 2020 11:40 am

My question would be: "Why do you want to go to law school if you have a PhD?"

nixy

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by nixy » Fri Jun 05, 2020 12:01 pm

Probably because the academic job market is *abysmal,* with a side of realizing that’s not the kind of work you want to do.

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galactiis

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by galactiis » Fri Jul 10, 2020 3:51 pm

I understand the academic job market is incredibly difficult. But what do you plan to do in law and why not directly use your phd?

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bretby

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by bretby » Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:02 pm

tax_nerd wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 7:07 pm
Hi TLS Community,

I'm applying to law school this fall (2020) and am wondering if/how my "softs" will enhance my admissions chances. I just took the LSAT for the first time and scored a 167. UGPA is 3.92 from a public college but with double major and triple minor and tons of accolades. I graduated 5 years ago. LGBTQ+ white male from Missouri.

I am finishing up a PhD in Philosophy from one of the Harvard/Yale/Pton schools with a dissertation that makes sense with my interest in tax law. Lots of language skills (fluent in German, French, Italian, and I can read Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew). President of the student government representing several thousand students. Have published book reviews in some serious academic journals.

Even with a 3.92 UGPA, my 167 LSAT score makes Yale/Harvard/Stanford basically unrealistic. Berkeley/UVA/Penn is probably more realistic -- NYU is probably a stretch. I am planning to retake the LSAT in April and a third time if necessary, and I hope to increase my score at least 3 pts. But assuming that I am hypothetically not able to increase my score, do my PhD and other "softs" boost me to any appreciable degree? Since they are academic in nature, do they give more of a boost at a place like Yale than at the other schools?

My dream scenario would be to be able to choose between Harvard and Stanford.

Any help is appreciated!
Speaking from experience, if you got your PhD at Harvard or Yale and your dissertation really is closely connected with the law (as in, you worked directly with/took classes from/had significant discussions with) faculty at YLS or HLS and the faculty liked you, this could be a meaningful boost. If the connection is more tenuous, it is likely less helpful. If your faculty advisors are connected with faculty at the law schools you might also ask them to reach out on your behalf.

nixy

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by nixy » Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:49 pm

galactiis wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 3:51 pm
I understand the academic job market is incredibly difficult. But what do you plan to do in law and why not directly use your phd?
There is no direct use of a philosophy PhD outside the academic job market. (There are philosophy PhDs doing other things than academia, but it's not because they got a philosophy PhD.)

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by Iowahawk » Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:56 pm

Joachim2017 wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:37 pm
dabigchina wrote:I have heard from my friends with hard science PhDs that they got a slight edge in admissions.

A PhD in Philosophy might get you less of a bump, but I can't say for sure either way.
This is true. Part of the reason why is that increasingly, philosophy PhDs realize how tough it is to get published and then hit the market in philosophy itself, and so flocks to law schools hoping to do "philosophy lite" and then hit the legal academic market, which pays better and is easier to crack. Basic supply and demand = it's not that impressive/attractive a credential in law school admissions anymore, especially at the top schools where top-performing JDs can do the same high-level theoretical work as philosophy PhDs in less-technical law-adjacent fields, like moral/social/political/feminist, etc.
I don't think this is true. There isn't a flood of philosophy Ph.D.s on the legal academic job market on Prawfsblog's tracker and I think the number of JD/phil PhD students at HYSCCN at any given time can be counted on one hand (at most two). That makes sense because philosophy Ph.D.s have tiny cohorts and high dropout rates so there literally can't be very many, especially from top ten programs like OP. And jurisprudence/law and phil is impossible to crack without a philosophy Ph.D., a "top-performing JD" isn't remotely comparable in training.

Congrats on the LSAT OP, enjoy your choice of Yale or the Ruby.

nixy

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Re: Ivy League PhD - does it help?

Post by nixy » Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:20 pm

But how many jurisprudence/law and philosophy profs does any one law school hire? Just bc you can’t break into that field without a philosophy PhD doesn’t mean that a philosophy PhD makes you enough of a desirable admissions candidate to outweigh a lower LSAT - you’re conflating the academic job market with general admissions. (I mean I hope I’m wrong and the OP has amazing options to choose from, I’m just not convinced as you are as to how likely that is.)

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