173 and disappointed - what should I do next? Forum

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GLZ19

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173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by GLZ19 » Wed Nov 02, 2022 4:23 pm

Scores: 173/3.64

Softs (nothing amazing, but not disqualifying either): white male, 27yo, 4.5 of management consulting since graduating in 2018, Editor-in-Chief of a 5,000-reader newsletter for 2 years, 4 years of volunteering at CASA and a few other organizations.

Professional goals: I can spell these out in more detail, if people would like, but I don't want to distract from the thrust of this post. Suffice it to say that I want to be a litigator and practice in Denver.

I first applied in 2019 with a 172. I didn't know where I wanted to live so I applied to T4-T13+Vandy and WashU. I got into WashU with $$ and Columbia and Northwestern without $, and chose to not enroll. I didn't want to go into tons of debt and do online school as the world was heading into a pandemic, and I wasn't sold on St. Louis, nor the T20.

I didn't apply in 2020.

In 2021, knowing that my now fiance and I want to settle down in Denver, near her family, I applied to T4-T13, BU, Texas, and CU Boulder (T50 and best school in the Denver area). I had worse results. Accepted by NW, $$ from CU, waitlisted or rejected by everyone else. I decided not to go because I wasn't sure CU was good for my goals and I still had a T13 or bust mentality. Plus working fully remotely has its perks, at least for a while.

This summer, I did some research and found that the plurality of associates at the Denver offices of Vault100 firms graduated from CU. The next largest cohort were Denver Law (DU) grads, followed by a smattering of T13 grads, and then some from regional schools. This gave me hope that going to CU or DU with $$$ would be a viable alternative to a T13 or T20 like Texas that sends many grads to Denver.

That being said, my fiance and I like the idea of not going to Denver next year (we live in Portland at the moment), if that's where we'll eventually settle. It would be more fun and rewarding to go somewhere else for 3-5 years. That's why I retook the LSAT in October. Unfortunately, it was only a 173 so I don't think it'll help me case all that much. I have applied to T5-T14, Vandy, BU, Texas, WashU, CU, DU, and I'm hoping to just get into some schools and start discussions with them while I give myself some time for pan B, which is to retake in January.

Over four months of practice, I've become much better than I was 3 years ago. My last 7 PTs were 175, 175, 180, 173, 173, 177, 179, which explains my disappointment over the 173, especially given that I'm almost positive I missed 2 in LG.

My questions are:
1) For the purposes of getting money from a T13 or T20, could retaking the January LSAT be helpful? The obvious caveat is that I won't do better than 173 but, because I'm trying to understand whether it's even worth continuing to study so that I can retake the LSAT in January, assume I were to score better. If I score 175+ and submit a score by late January how helpful would that late score be in negotiating for more money? Between now and late Jan, I'll likely get into a few schools, get money from 1-3, and get waitlisted by a few others. I know a lot of negotiation takes place in February and March, so I assume a 175 could help me get more money from schools that have accepted me, but would it actually?

2) If my goal is to get back to Denver, how much worse would it be to go to a T20 (say BU for instance), then a T13 (like Michigan).

3) Am I correct in thinking that CU and DU are totally viable options for my goals (I can explain them in more detail, if needed)?

nixy

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Re: 173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by nixy » Wed Nov 02, 2022 5:10 pm

I know people in the Denver market and I’d say that yes, CU and DU are viable options for your goals, especially depending what you mean by “litigator.” There are lots of alums of both schools in national/local litigation shops.

There are some risks to all your options. Getting a biglaw job in the Denver market is difficult from out of state - even from the T14 - because it’s a small market and connections make a difference. That’s mitigated somewhat by the fact that your wife is from there, but I think it’s still a bit of a risk if neither of you have been living there recently.

Conversely, if you want a national/market paying firm out of CU/DU, you’ll likely need higher grades than you would from a T14, which is hard to guarantee (you sound well-positioned to succeed, a little more so at DU than CU given the average stats for each school, but of course that’s no guarantee of top of the class performance, especially given that a lot of smart locals will just go to CU/DU and not really consider leaving the state). Biglaw out of CU/DU is especially risky if you’re doing OCI during a recession. Plus there are probably fewer T14 grads out there overall, and the pedigree is obviously valuable.

But fwiw, I know a number of CU/DU grads who’ve started at local firms and moved up to more national ones, so thinking longer term, I suspect you can meet your goals (depending what exactly they are of course).

I kind of think it depends on whether you’d rather take $$ at a local school, commit to the market, and work your way into a good gig if it doesn’t happen immediately, or whether you’d rather pay more for a more impressive pedigree that could open additional doors that might not be in Denver right away.

Some of this depends on whether your goal is market-paying biglaw right out or if by litigator you mean something broader.

If you get good money from a T14 that’s probably the best route, of course. I do think it would be tougher to get back to Denver from a more regional school like BU than a more national school like Michigan, but how much tougher is hard to say. If you are absolutely committed to Denver I’d either go the national route or the local route rather than the T20ish middle ground route, but it’s a pretty subjective decision. In part I think it’s easier to explain to a CU/DU grad why you didn’t go to school in Denver by saying “I couldn’t pass up the chance to go Duke” (or whatever national school) than “I couldn’t pass up the chance to go to BU/Texas/the like,” but again that’s a subjective impression.

(I personally kind of don’t get going somewhere else for fun for law school if you know you want to settle in Denver, but that’s partly because my goal in life now is to move as few times as possible, especially across cities/the country.)

GLZ19

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Re: 173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by GLZ19 » Thu Nov 03, 2022 1:01 am

Thanks nixy, this is helpful stuff. I'm glad you think CU/DU is a viable option. Everything I've heard from lawyers in the area indicates as much and, fwiw, lawyers in Seattle and Portland (where I've lived three of the past four years) have similar thoughts about local schools like UW (Seattle) and Lewis and Clark (Portland). However, at times arguments on TLS can make one feel like anything outside the T20 is a complete waste of time. To be clear, I definitely think there's some merit to those arguments, particularly when you don't know where you want to practice/when you're fresh out of undergrad and are just going to law school because it sounds like a good idea.

Do you have an opinion about retaking the LSAT in January? I would be totally happy going to CU/DU (I am really excited about law school and starting a legal career), but if I have a chance to get big money from a T14 by scoring 176+ I don't see many downsides - am I missing something?

Maintaining my current LSAT ability will be a bit tedious and I'll have to make some sacrifices, but apart from that the only possible downside that stands out is that even if I get a high score, it could be too late to secure major scholarship money, which would make this endeavor a waste of time. I don't think scoring less than 173 is a risk because I can simply cancel my score and I'll probably have gotten money from CU/DU by then anyway.

nixy

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Re: 173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by nixy » Thu Nov 03, 2022 7:13 am

Conventional wisdom definitely says that retaking and getting a higher score can help you, and I don’t see any harm to it except that you’re stuck thinking about this test a little longer. I don’t have a lot of personal experience with it, though (especially I applied too long ago to comment on how it’s working today).

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Dcc617

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Re: 173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by Dcc617 » Thu Nov 03, 2022 8:01 am

I also applied years ago, but I’m not sure a higher LSAT score will do much for you. You’re already at or above the 75th percentile for basically every school, so you’re at a point of diminishing returns for LSAT.

Are there any issues with the rest of your app. I know people back in the day who were getting half scholarships to Columbia with a 173/3.5.

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talons2250

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Re: 173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by talons2250 » Thu Nov 03, 2022 12:45 pm

I would retake the LSAT, so long as you can commit to studying a lot beforehand. Your LSAT score is already excellent but your GPA is subpar so if you can manage 175 or higher, it could be outcome determinative. If you do somehow worse than 173 it probably won't matter that much.

crazywafflez

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Re: 173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by crazywafflez » Thu Nov 03, 2022 1:28 pm

1) For the purposes of getting money from a T13 or T20, could retaking the January LSAT be helpful? The obvious caveat is that I won't do better than 173 but, because I'm trying to understand whether it's even worth continuing to study so that I can retake the LSAT in January, assume I were to score better. If I score 175+ and submit a score by late January how helpful would that late score be in negotiating for more money? Between now and late Jan, I'll likely get into a few schools, get money from 1-3, and get waitlisted by a few others. I know a lot of negotiation takes place in February and March, so I assume a 175 could help me get more money from schools that have accepted me, but would it actually?

Idk if I'd retake tbh. I guess it doesn't hurt, but a 173 should be getting you a fullride to Colorado. If given the chance this cycle, I'd show them my acceptance to NW or my scholarship to WashU and say, "I'd rather in Colorado, can y'all sweeten the deal here- i.e. fullride and I'm there".

2) If my goal is to get back to Denver, how much worse would it be to go to a T20 (say BU for instance), then a T13 (like Michigan).

Depends on the T20. I still would much prefer a T13 school for getting to the Denver market. If UT places a lot of folks in the Southwest, cool (I know they've got a good pipeline for PHX, didn't know they had one for Denver), then perhaps they'd be a good bet.

3) Am I correct in thinking that CU and DU are totally viable options for my goals (I can explain them in more detail, if needed)?

They would be. They can certainly get biglaw in Denver. I'd just personally prefer to go to CU on close to a fullride, or DU on a fullride. Local schools tend to do well in local markets, so long as you are top of your class- just can't guarantee top of the class, and so I tell folks to go on a big scholarship, because the "general" outcome is small law, local govt etc., which are quite fulfilling and fine options in and of themselves, but don't pay heaps of monies.

Itsalovestory

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Re: 173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by Itsalovestory » Fri Nov 04, 2022 8:04 am

When you say 173 and disappointed, that will immediately turn off many readers because they'll regard it as an irrational statement. They've been doing prep tests for hundreds of hours to get a score like that.

GLZ19

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Re: 173 and disappointed - what should I do next?

Post by GLZ19 » Fri Nov 04, 2022 6:37 pm

Thanks everyone for your responses. It's been cathartic to plan for what's next rather than dwell on the past, and this thread has helped me do that. I will probably come back for more advice as acceptances come rolling in, however many or few there may be. Now I just need to figure out how to sharpen my LSAT taking.

As far as this comment is concerned...
Dcc617 wrote:
Thu Nov 03, 2022 8:01 am
I also applied years ago, but I’m not sure a higher LSAT score will do much for you. You’re already at or above the 75th percentile for basically every school, so you’re at a point of diminishing returns for LSAT.

Are there any issues with the rest of your app. I know people back in the day who were getting half scholarships to Columbia with a 173/3.5.

The only aspect of my app that could be an issue is that I failed a class my Junior year - without the F, my GPA would be just over a 3.8. Each year, I've added an addendum explaining what happened, but it may still be a major red flag to some schools, despite my now having worked for four years out of school. Otherwise, my softs are fine and my essays are solid; my PS won't make you cry, but it effectively communicates my motivations and makes a good case for why I'm ready to be a successful student.

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