URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

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wannabeellewoods

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URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

Post by wannabeellewoods » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:12 am

Hi all,

I'm slated to take the August LSAT and I've been testing at 165 during practice tests. Feeling a little frustrated because it doesn't seem to be going up from there. What might be my chances at the T14+Vanderbilt and USC with that score? My other stats:

Overall UGPA: 3.77 (History and Women's Studies, lowest grade I've ever gotten was a B- in econ)
CAS GPA: 3.83
Master's GPA: 4.00 (my master's degree was in a very writing-intensive interdisciplinary humanities program at one of the Top 3 public universities)
Jobs/Internships: 6 month internship at public defender's office, 2 years working as research assistant on a legal history project, 2 conference presentations focused on history of feminist political movements, currently working at research non-profit
Diversity: African-American female, LGBTQ+, mild disability, low-income background
Career goals: Academia with a focus on feminist jurisprudence and how legal philosophy contributed to shaping modern gender constructs, also applying to history PhD programs concurrently
LoR: 2 letters from professors including one legal historian, 1 letter from head public defender at my internship

Do you all think my other stats are good enough to potentially outweigh an underwhelming LSAT score? My target schools are UChicago, Northwestern, Yale, and Columbia.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:54 pm

Per MyLSN, all of the T14 have admitted underrepresented-minority applicants with numbers around 3.8/165. (Including Yale, and you have the kind of academic background that will attract interest there, although they're still a tough nut to crack with an LSAT below 170.) But this is all hypothetical until you get an actual score.

You probably know this already, but a top PhD program would be a more "reliable" route to academia than a JD. You should only go to law school if you'd be okay working as an actual lawyer. Yale is arguably the exception, but even its graduates need some luck to get a tenure-track job after graduating.

nixy

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Re: URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

Post by nixy » Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:30 pm

I mean, there isn't really a "reliable" route to academia, and the academic job market for history PhDs is probably even worse than it is for legal scholars.

OP, I'm a little confused about how you're going about this. Are you applying to do the PhD/JD in the same program? Because the right history PhD program is going to be determined by very different considerations than the right JD program.

wannabeellewoods

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Re: URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

Post by wannabeellewoods » Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:55 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 7:54 pm
Per MyLSN, all of the T14 have admitted underrepresented-minority applicants with numbers around 3.8/165. (Including Yale, and you have the kind of academic background that will attract interest there, although they're still a tough nut to crack with an LSAT below 170.) But this is all hypothetical until you get an actual score.

You probably know this already, but a top PhD program would be a more "reliable" route to academia than a JD. You should only go to law school if you'd be okay working as an actual lawyer. Yale is arguably the exception, but even its graduates need some luck to get a tenure-track job after graduating.
I hadn't heard of MyLSN before so thank you for that plug! I know that I don't necessarily need a JD to be an academic, but I am getting both because A) Frankly academia can be an extremely toxic environment to be in sometimes and I like the idea of having multiple viable career options if I were to decide to eventually leave the profession, maybe pursue some form of consulting or policy B) Almost all JD-PhD programs are fully funded for both degrees so for the cost of adding a few more years to my education I can come out of school debt-free with more career flexibility than I'd have if I just pursued one or the other. It just seems like a win-win.

wannabeellewoods

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Re: URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

Post by wannabeellewoods » Sat Aug 08, 2020 1:04 pm

nixy wrote:
Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:30 pm
I mean, there isn't really a "reliable" route to academia, and the academic job market for history PhDs is probably even worse than it is for legal scholars.

OP, I'm a little confused about how you're going about this. Are you applying to do the PhD/JD in the same program? Because the right history PhD program is going to be determined by very different considerations than the right JD program.
Yes I'm aware of the dismal state of the job market for both. I am a hustler and will give it my best shot anyway. Statistically speaking I shouldn't have been able to finish college much less earn a fully-funded master's degree so I try not to let numbers discourage me too much.

And yes, I will be applying to do JD/PhD programs within the same university if that's what you mean. Some universities like Northwestern have formal JD/PhD programs with a cohort and a universal program structure. Other places I'm looking at seem to be more ad-hoc and individually tailored. All of the schools I'm planning to apply to fall in the T20 with most in the T6. They have a good reputation for both their law programs and their history programs. I guess my only worry is that my LSAT score might represent a stumbling block for my plans. :/

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The Lsat Airbender

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Re: URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:10 pm

wannabeellewoods wrote:
Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:55 pm
A) Frankly academia can be an extremely toxic environment to be in sometimes and I like the idea of having multiple viable career options if I were to decide to eventually leave the profession, maybe pursue some form of consulting or policy B) Almost all JD-PhD programs are fully funded for both degrees so for the cost of adding a few more years to my education I can come out of school debt-free with more career flexibility than I'd have if I just pursued one or the other. It just seems like a win-win.
This is totally fair (I was in a similar place some years ago), but it's actually precisely why I would "save" the option of law school for later. Law school isn't a gold star, like going to Princeton for undergrad, that hangs out on your resume and makes you a more appealing candidate the rest of your life. It's a professionally-oriented degree, and its value is mostly in helping you get your first legal job. If you never get that first legal job, you're . Someone who got a JD years ago and hasn't gained any experience in the meantime isn't going to get much "credit" for it from employers.

Don't mean to sound pessimistic. A funded JD-PhD sounds like a great fit for your goals, and I think you have a pretty good shot at one (assuming you're a strong applicant on the PhD side, which it sounds like you are). But you won't necessarily be able to hop over to a law firm, or McKinsey, after you've been doing the fellowship/adjunct-professor thing for a few years.

On the other hand, if you're trying to escape academia ten years from now, going to law/business school then would be a straightforward and reliable way to pivot.

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Sackboy

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Re: URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

Post by Sackboy » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:48 am

You have a great shot at Northwestern, a good shot at Columbia/Chicago, and a not great shot at Yale.

That being said, I'd be hesitant to do my JD-PhD in History at Northwestern. The PhD in History program/the department is quite small and also has noticeably worse placement power than Columbia/Chicago/Yale. This isn't to say the department is by any measure bad; there are many fantastic scholars in it who focus on various aspects of Gender Studies and are fantastic teachers. Unfortunately, history PhD hiring is based more on historical department prestige/PI connections than quality of the teaching. Regardless, when you're in a market as shitty as history, you need every advantage you can get.

Saying the odds aren't in your favor and weren't for those other tasks is dismissing how dismal the market is. The odds for landing a tenure-track history PhD gig in comparison to both of the accomplishments you listed would be to compare winning the lottery with making a half court shot. They are in no way comparable, despite both being unlikely. If you're a rational person, the numbers SHOULD discourage you, and they should make you think long and hard about if a PhD in History is truly right for you.

Quite frankly, if you're an Americanist, which would be bizarre if you weren't, I'd just do a political science PhD. It hurts me to say it, but political science is just a considerably more employable PhD in both the law and college of arts & sciences context.

While there are few legal academic jobs open a year, the market is considerably better. ~50% of all new hires have a PhD, which means you still have a competitive advantage over a good portion of the field. Considering that a high school sophomore could shit out 85% of what gets published in legal journals (I wish I was joking) because they're not peer reviewed and articles are selected by clueless law school students that often don't even read the articles they select, it's not particularly difficult to create a sufficient publication record to get hired. If it weren't for low number of openings (in absolute terms) every year, I'd say landing a gig as a legal academic has to be the easiest thing to do in all of the humanities + social sciences combined.

If you get a T13 JD and PhD, do a VAP, and publish like two articles (should be the easiest shit ever considering a PhD + VAP is going to be ~8yrs), and don't shit your pants during your job talks, you're probably going to get several tenure-track job offers. Now, they might be at shitty law schools, but they'll be tenure-track. TLS talks about jobs in legal academia like they're unicorns, but it's really a bunch of people who would love the cushy jobs but aren't willing to make the sacrifices to get them. If they were willing to go to a top PhD program (which you can most definitely do if you could get into a top JD program), endure 6-8yrs of researching, writing, and publishing with 6 of those years at ~$30,000/yr. and 2 at ~$60,000/yr. all to land a job that pays between ~$100-250k in Idaho while they could have just gone to biglaw for 3yrs making ~$600k and then moved in-house making $200k+ indefinitely, they could be legal academics. For some reason, most of these folks prefer making $1,600,000 instead of $300,000 over eight years. I can't quite put my finger on why, though.

As for exit options with a JD-PhD, you have a few but not that many, and all could probably be achieved with just a JD. You could maybe wrangle a policy gig, but it wouldn't be any different/better than what a JD could get you. You could end up in litigation, but you'd probably have to land some clerkships first, as no firm would want to hire a JD-PhD in History without seeing practice commitment. Still, they might just think you're trying to clerk to land academia. You'd need to get extraordinarily lucky to make it into consulting. The problem with a history PhD is that it's a 0 value add for the vast majority of commercial enterprises. Writing like a historian, sadly, but understandably, has pretty much no value in the marketplace. If you were a JD-PhD in Computer Science or Applied Math, you could probably end up in consulting or with some cool legal tech startup or many other opportunities, but you're not.

nixy

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Re: URM 165 LSAT 3.77 GPA

Post by nixy » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:05 am

I agree with a lot of the above. I’d quibble with a few things: getting a tenure track job in history is more about publications and prestige/connections of your actual advisor than just departmental prestige, so you could be just as successful out of Northwestern, depending on those two things; and I don’t think polisci is measurably more employable in either legal academia or arts & sciences academia. (With regard to legal academia, they may have a bit of an edge collectively, given that more of the field tends to focus on topics more pertinent to law, but I don’t think a history PhD who researches law-related things is at any greater disadvantage. There are just more history topics that are harder to connect to law.)

(I also don’t think the problem with legal scholarship is really that students don’t know anything. I think the problem is that law doesn’t have any real intellectual tradition/methodology of its own, and a lot of the articles are at heart no more than commentary/thought pieces - not all, but a lot. I agree that getting published in law much easier than getting published in history, though, in part because of how quickly the process works in law compared to other academia, so that’s a plus for going the legal academia route. I don’t even know how a history department would evaluate law review articles, given the lack of peer review.)

But in the grand scheme, these are minor quibbles. I agree with Sackboy’s overall message.

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