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Request for Input

CarlMyronCarlMyron Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
I am considering taking on the considerable investment of getting in to law school. Before I begin the process I think I should consider whether my past academic performance would be so prohibitive of success that there would be no reason to start. I have posted this thread here in the hope that someone with experience can provide some sort of insight.

I got out of the US Army a little over a year ago. Honorable discharge after five years. When I got out I intended to pursue a career as an actuary. To that end I have been going to my state college for a year and have gotten a 4.0 the last two semesters. I have three semesters remaining not including the current one. I don't foresee getting more than one or two B's. I have also passed my first actuary professional exam and expect to pass the second this summer.

Prior to joining the service I attended the public state university and got abysmal grades to the point of ending up on academic probation. Some of this is due to my own immaturity, partying, and drinking. Some is due to being homeless for the greater part of two semesters and working forty or fifty hours a week changing tires. Excuses aside I don't think my cumulative GPA will be over 3.5 even if I manage to get a 4.0 in my remaining semesters.

I have gathered that it's GPA and test scores that matter. What sort of test score do I need to be successful applying to law school? Is there a test score that would get me in the door or would I be looking at a lot of wasted time and money filling out and submitting applications regardless?

Replies to: Request for Input

  • melvin123melvin123 Registered User Posts: 1,333 Senior Member
    Talk to your pre-law advisor at your college. But I think you are a very different person now than you were then, so I think you'll be ok.
  • tdy123tdy123 Registered User Posts: 423 Member
    edited November 2017
    @CarlMyron There are lots of law schools. There are also lots of unemployed law school grads (some surveys indicates that over 40% of recent grads were unemployed).

    The question isn't really what sort of test scores you'd need to get in to law school. The question should be what kind of test scores you'd need to get in to a law school that is worth going to.

    With a 3.5 GPA you would need to get pretty high LSAT scores (or, for some schools GRE scores) to get in to a fairly highly rated law school where students a) pass the bar; b) get hired for jobs requiring legal degrees;and c) tend to make enough money to pay back their student loans in a reasonable amount of time while still having enough left over to maintain a decent standard of living.

    How high an LSAT score? A 3.5 GPA puts you in the neighborhood of the 25th percentile at schools ranked from around # 20 - 50 in the country where at least around 65 -75% of graduates will be able to land a job as a lawyer after graduation. To have a chance of admissions, you'd probably need to shoot for an LSAT that would put you at least above the 75th percentile score of around 164.

    So, a reasonable case could be made that with a LSAT score of 164 or better, you'd at least have a shot at getting in to a law school that would give you a pretty decent chance to make a living as a lawyer.

    Of course, a higher score would give you a better shot, and a much higher score would start to make merit scholarships and higher rated schools a possibility.

    I'd suggest getting hold of an LSAT prep book, do some studying, take a practice test and see what you come up with as a base line number. Next, think about what kind of score is possible for you if you put in some intensive prep. Then, get an admissions guide with GPA and standardized test score ranges for accepted students (and hiring outcomes) and you'll have some idea of what your chances are at specific schools.

    Some good online ranking, scores and employment information is available at https://abovethelaw.com/careers/2016-law-school-rankings/?rf=1

  • CarlMyronCarlMyron Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    I appreciate the feedback. It seems consistent with other advice I have gotten.
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 25,562 Senior Member
    Being a former device member is a nice plus for professional school. But that's all it is, a plus factor once GPA+LSAT are considered acceptable. Being years away from your paryting days is also a positive, but adcoms won't give any bonus points to a 3.5 cumulative.

    IMO, if you can't get into a top law school or a top regional -- in an area in which you want to settle down-- and attend for cheap, you should not go to LS. (Unless you are indecently wealthy so cost is not an object.) In other words, don't take a full ride at U-Minnesota and expect to move back to Texas to get a job. Possible, very difficult.

    The schools with the most portability and probability of success are the T14, but even some Georgetown grads have difficulty getting a legal job.
  • Peruna1998Peruna1998 Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    I cannot disagree with any of the above. I am the managing member of a small firm in the flyover. We hired two new attorneys this year. For those positions, we probably interviewed over a dozen each. I personally felt sorry for a lot of the applicants as I could see where their career trajectory was going. Law is rough. There are a lot of lawyers for few good jobs. Before you think about law school, think long and hard about what it is you want to do in law and whether that is actually realistic and a long-term career path. Thank you for your service.
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