Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

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Rebma90

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Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

Post by Rebma90 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 3:28 am

- Non-KJD (I'll be 30 in Dec, and only have a GED currently)

- No kids or spouse to worry about/take care of

- Non-URM

- No GPA- undergrad school is 100% online, and though regionally accredited, does not calculate GPA (but is at our own pace, so I can feasibly be done with undergrad in ~2 years)

- 168+ LSAT (I won't be applying with anything less)

- Undergrad debt will be less than $5000.00, including student debt I already have from when I was younger

- Little to no softs (I work as a customer service rep for a home shopping network, and it's the best job I've had yet)

-I have little to no interest in big law or prestige. I'm much more interested in state/local politics, and/or opening my own private practice in criminal or family law eventually

- Schools I'm considering (not a full list): UTK Knoxville (<$20k a year sticker), CUNY (out of state), Uni of DC (out of state), George Mason (out of state, only with Scalia Law Scholars)

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cavalier1138

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Re: Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

Post by cavalier1138 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:40 am

Your school list is all over the place, and your career goals are a bit vague, so let's back up:

Why do you want to go to law school? Do you actually want to practice law? How much do you envision earning after graduation? And where do you want to practice?

The online-only undergrad usually wouldn't be a red flag for me. But an online-only undergrad with no GPA that only has regional accreditation might actually be an issue for admissions. At the very least, it will mean that you'll be treated like an international student, meaning your LSAT will be the only thing that matters, and scholarships may be harder to come by. Additionally, your goal LSAT is easier said than done (and is much, much higher than your identified goal schools' 75th percentile scores, so seems unnecessary).

decimalsanddollars

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Re: Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:47 am

Agreed w/ Cavalier's analysis, but I'd add that you can get into state and local politics without a law degree. I'm not saying you shouldn't go to law school if you want to, but make sure to weigh the costs and benefits of doing so carefully, and it looks like you may have a difficult road ahead if you choose law school.

If you decide to go to law school, the LSAT will basically define where you can go to law school and how much it will cost. If your true goal is politics at the state or local level and/or doing work that is inherently mostly local (criminal law, family law to a lesser extent), you should go to law school in the city, state, or region where you want to practice. It looks like you're in Tennessee, so UTK would be the obvious choice here unless you want more options in Nashville (consider Vandy) or on the national level (aim for T13).

mysonx3

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Re: Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

Post by mysonx3 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 12:08 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:40 am
Your school list is all over the place, and your career goals are a bit vague, so let's back up:

Why do you want to go to law school? Do you actually want to practice law? How much do you envision earning after graduation? And where do you want to practice?

The online-only undergrad usually wouldn't be a red flag for me. But an online-only undergrad with no GPA that only has regional accreditation might actually be an issue for admissions. At the very least, it will mean that you'll be treated like an international student, meaning your LSAT will be the only thing that matters, and scholarships may be harder to come by. Additionally, your goal LSAT is easier said than done (and is much, much higher than your identified goal schools' 75th percentile scores, so seems unnecessary).
Generally agree (though I'm a 0L, so take my advice with a grain of salt), but I wanted to quickly address the bolded: regional accreditation is actually the gold standard. Every reputable U.S. school has regional accreditation, rather than national, including all of the T20 law schools. It's a little weird because it sounds like it should be a lesser form of accreditation than national, but it's actually the opposite. It sounds to me like OP is talking about WGU, which is accredited by the same body as (among others) University of Washington. So accreditation will not be a problem.

OP, as to GPA, obviously you've eliminated the possibility of your GPA helping you (which is why I chose not to attend WGU or similar schools for myself), but I don't think it will hurt you too badly, and it seems very unlikely it will be a deal-breaker (I think there's at least one Ivy League school that does the same thing - Brown, maybe?). However, my understanding is that it will make every other part of your application (especially the LSAT) monumentally more important.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri Jul 10, 2020 2:23 pm

Rebma90 wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 3:28 am
-I have little to no interest in big law or prestige. I'm much more interested in state/local politics, and/or opening my own private practice in criminal or family law eventually
Don't go to law school now. Get straight into politics (it's a prez campaign year, so you can start easily by working for a campaign). If you don't like it, or want to make a shift later, law school will still be there.

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Rebma90

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Re: Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

Post by Rebma90 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:20 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:40 am
Why do you want to go to law school? Do you actually want to practice law? How much do you envision earning after graduation? And where do you want to practice?
I want to go to law school for a couple of reasons. I grew up dirt poor. While I like my job well enough right now, the earning potential sucks. It's a home shopping network, and I don't have the looks or the expertise to sell what we sell as a host. And what they want as expertise for all the other well-paid positions will cost $23,000 plus living expenses to gain. I do not have the passion for what we sell to justify that. I love about the company I work for, but I have no passion for the product we sell.

I want to be able to have the power to influence and change unjust laws and defend those who are messed around by the system, but I'm not willing to live my entire life in relative poverty in order to do so. The past 30 years has been enough, and I'm willing to risk another 5 years of that to set myself up for the rest of my life. If I fail in running for office, as a lawyer I could set up my own private practice and work for myself without having to worry about toeing some politically correct line to keep myself employed. Regarding of politics, someone will always be willing to pay for a lawyer. Men's rights in family and criminal law is a big passion of mine, and defending the First Amendment is another big one.

$50-60k is my minimum salary that will make me happy, provided I can keep my debt reasonable. If I make more, obviously that's even better. I'm open to practicing pretty much anywhere, but I don't want to have to be stuck in a state like California in order to legally do so. (Which is why going the Kim K route is out.) Like decimalanddollars guessed, I'm in TN and open to practicing here, and yes, I'm talking about WGU for undergrad.

What LSAT score do you think I should aim for, if 168 is unnecessary? I was thinking that I should aim that high due to the no GPA thing. Also, what other schools should I consider if I do go?

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Re: Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

Post by nixy » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:33 pm

I think it still makes sense to aim high for the LSAT, just to maximize your options, especially for getting full scholarships. I also think your best move is choosing where you want to practice and then targeting schools there. You're interested in work where pedigree is much less important than demonstrated commitment, relevant experience, and/or networking, and the best way to get into those kinds of jobs will be to build relationships in a region from day 1 of law school. Especially if you end up going into private practice working for yourself, you will rely a lot on connections. (And, honestly, I would say that you're better served by going to a respectable local school for as close to free as possible, than spending more for a higher rank. Like UTK sounds like a great option for you if you decide to practice in TN. Vandy, maybe, and if you can go for next to free, sure. But I wouldn't spend a lot more to go to Vandy in your shoes.)

That said - family law and criminal law are very local and can be done everywhere. Defending the First Amendment (especially depending what you mean by that) is a much more difficult field to get into. If you mean stuff like FIRE, they hire from a range of schools, so it's not necessarily that you'd need to go to a top ranked school, as about showing dedication to the cause and so on, but there just aren't as many organizations like that floating around as there are family and criminal attorneys.

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cavalier1138

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Re: Honest Feedback- Should I Go to Law School?

Post by cavalier1138 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:33 am

I agree with everything Nixy said, especially about picking a specific region to target. That said...
Rebma90 wrote:
Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:20 pm
I want to be able to have the power to influence and change unjust laws and defend those who are messed around by the system, but I'm not willing to live my entire life in relative poverty in order to do so. The past 30 years has been enough, and I'm willing to risk another 5 years of that to set myself up for the rest of my life. If I fail in running for office, as a lawyer I could set up my own private practice and work for myself without having to worry about toeing some politically correct line to keep myself employed. Regarding of politics, someone will always be willing to pay for a lawyer. Men's rights in family and criminal law is a big passion of mine, and defending the First Amendment is another big one.
I feel like you have a very policy-focused vision of what lawyers do. For the most part, lawyers have nothing to do with changing laws. And even the most idealistic would-be public defender quickly learns that representing clients is inherently buying into "the system" (whatever you think that is). I would strongly encourage meeting lawyers in the fields you think you're interested in to learn more about the day-to-day business of (for example) running your own family law practice.

I also think you're going to find that most lawyers have to be more careful in their speech than average people, because prospective clients can generally be pickier than the lawyers competing to represent them. So say you ended up starting a family law practice: Until you're firmly established in the field (and probably even after you are), you likely will not be able to run your firm as a "Men's Rights"-focused entity. You would be cutting off half your possible business. Similarly, if you become known as "the asshole lawyer who got caught on tape harassing some woman at Chili's" (just spitballing here), prospective clients might decide they'd rather have someone else. Until you are the best/only lawyer in your field in a given area, you don't have the luxury of getting away with shitty behavior.

Additionally, if you want to run for office, you should do that before attending law school. If you don't practice law immediately after graduation, it becomes significantly harder for you to start practicing later, especially because any firms/orgs that would consider hiring you are going to assume the gap in your resume is the result of no one wanting to hire you initially. From what I can see, WGU is all about getting you trained in a specific high-demand career field, so if money is a concern, you should hopefully be able to leverage that training to jump to something besides your current sales job.

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