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Kid's law school plan--advice welcome

JMTmamaJMTmama 40 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
Hello CC posters, I would like to check in to be sure my son is on the right track. He is a junior. 4.0 so far (and he hopes expects this will continue). He attends a middle of the road CSU (was accepted to better schools but chose to attend here in order to live at home and graduate debt free).

His plan is to apply to law school next year. He does not want to delay law school, has always wanted to be a lawyer and is very happy with the idea of being a K-JD. So while I know many are delaying law school in favor of some work experience that is not his plan (unless he can't get an acceptable LSAT score, in which case he would delay/retake/reapply)

He has been doing minimal LSAT prep as yet. But has taken some practice tests with scores in the 166-168 range.

He intends to study some over winter break and then much more intensely in the summer and take a prep course over the summer and take the July 2019 test. If he does not get a score in the 169+ range he will retake in September.

He will have nice LORs and less than average softs (debate with some success is about it).

He plans to do biglaw if he can get into a T13 school. If he can't he would like to get a good scholarship in order to have as little debt as possible. If no biglaw he would be happy as a PI/public defender on the west coast, preferably California.

He will need a scholarship and loans.

He plans to apply to: UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Davis, Cornell, Northwestern, USC, Michigan, UVA, Duke, Pepperdine, and Loyola Marymount.

I know without an actual LSAT score this is all just speculation but the score will come very close to the actual application period so I think it is good to plan ahead). What I am looking for is mainly confirmation he is on the right track and he is not overlooking something.

Is there something else he should be doing beyond maintaining his 4.0 at this point? Is this a reasonable list of schools assuming he gets an LSAT of above 169? Any other schools seem like good fits?

Also, in terms of LSAT prep, we don't live within driving distance to in person classes (thinking about Powerscore or Blueprint). Are the online versions of these courses a good plan/worth the money?

All advice very much appreciated!
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Replies to: Kid's law school plan--advice welcome

  • Demosthenes49Demosthenes49 1622 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    1. Don't be a K-JD. There is a correlation between work experience and law school acceptance (insufficient data to determine causation at this point). At Northwestern there is a clear and well-documented preference. There is also a definite employer preference for previous work experience (especially big law). Plus, he can use any savings to take out less in loans.

    2. No one cares about LORs or softs. The good news is that his GPA is solid and his LSAT promising.

    3. You can't use public defender as a backup, so scrap that entirely. PDs want to see long term dedication, so if he wants a PD job he'd better use his work experience in something similarly situated. PDs are very aware of when people try to use them as a fallback. They're not having it. Also, he wants to be a PI? As in personal injury? This wide range of interests suggests to me that he lacks first hand experience with the practice of law. That's a pretty serious problem that he should remedy his senior year through an internship or summer job--before taking out a quarter million in debt financing the degree.

    4. His law school selection is bizarre. I can't for the life of me figure out the thinking behind it. He should spend some time on Law School Transparency looking for schools that are effective at placing graduates into high-end jobs in California.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26752 replies174 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Don't waste that GPA. Graduate, take a gap year and prep hard for the LSAT. Score a 17x and watch the T14 merit money roll in. It will be the easies tax-free money that he will ever earn. Depending on the LSAT, he could aim higher.

    Online courses are fine. Even in-person classes require you to work on your own.

    I'm a fan of Manhattan for those aiming for a high score.
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  • JMTmamaJMTmama 40 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited December 2018
    @Demosthenes49 Thank you for the reply! He is set on K-JD and will only change if he can't get a high LSAT score. But I will pass on the advice.

    By PI I meant public interest--immigration law, things like that. And the PD is not a back up plan at all! In fact it is his main interest. He has two separate plans at the same time (remember he is young ). When he is feeling avaricious he wants biglaw. But his personal inclination is to be a public defender. TBH, he is not sure where he wants to end up. But he is aware that biglaw is only possible with a 170+ LSAT score and admission into one of the elite law schools. So it may not be achievable. Still, he wants to try. But when he really starts to talk about his future life he sees himself as a PD or similar (but that is partly because dad and mom and most family friends work for government type agencies or similar fields and he does not know anyone who does biglaw).

    It is great advice you offer about interning to learn more in senior year and I will strongly pass that on to him.

    The list of schools is explained by that we live in California and he wants to live here after graduation. So it includes all UC law schools except UCSF/Hasting (which seem to have some problems right now). It includes Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount as safeties (his GPA and hoped for LSAT score is above their median so he would be hoping for a good scholarship from these schools).

    The other schools on the list are the low end of the T13 law schools and USC (included because it is a highly ranked school in California) . Long shots, but if he can get a LSAT score within their range then he would be hoping to get in one of them with some merit money).

    He very much hopes to keep overall debt well below a quarter million dollars! He is a debt averse kid. He won't go to law school if he can't get some merit money.

    I am not familiar with law school transparency but will look into it and ask him about it. Thank you!

    Thank you for the reply @bluebayou Good to hear online courses are fine and we will look into Manhattan.
    edited December 2018
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  • Demosthenes49Demosthenes49 1622 replies4 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited December 2018
    @JMTmama:

    1. Your son needs to consider the practical aspects of his career plan. Specifically, the disparity in hiring schedules between BigLaw and PDs. BigLaw hires the summer after your first year, based almost exclusively on your first year grades and any work experience (another reason working is the smart move). PDs, by contrast, generally don't hire until after your third year. Some have summer programs leading to jobs, but that's the exception and not the rule. However, even though PDs don't have summer programs, they still want students that have demonstrated dedication, which usually (though not always) means forgoing a BigLaw summer associateship in favor of summering with a PD (PI groups are the same in this respect). BigLaw essentially will not hire anyone who wasn't summered and offered. So, he really can't just do both plans--he needs to pick and aim at it.

    I had a friend who worked at BigLaw during his 2L summer who still ultimately landed a PD job, but he did it through connections. Working the BigLaw summer did not help his applications (he got offered, but had no interest in the work). Spending some time interning will both bolster his resume (good for the PD/PI, less relevant for BigLaw) and help him make his decision. He should remember that the JD is a means to an end, not the end itself.

    He should also remember he'll be debt financing his education, which means he'll need money to pay that back. Reliance on PSLF should be well tempered by its current 99% rejection rate. He won't be the first one to pick BigLaw for the cash.

    2. There's no reason to go to law school in California to work BigLaw in California. I went to an east-coast T14, and now I work in California BigLaw. At the top end, school prestige beats out local connections. Somewhere like Wilson or Mo Fo will happily hire a UVA grad before a USC--the geography makes no difference. It can matter at the lower end, but it doesn't sound like your son will have that issue. This may vary for PDs--I do not have any data on hiring to compare--though I note that I know people who became CA PDs from east coast schools.

    He should first get an LSAT score, then apply to every T14 within reach, as well as schools that LST shows placing well into CA.
    edited December 2018
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  • TheBigChefTheBigChef 554 replies5 threadsRegistered User Member
    OP, it's good that your son is debt adverse. His ability to avoid debt is going to be largely dependent upon getting an LSAT score of 170 or better. He should treat studying for the LSAT like a full time job this summer. Also, does your son have an understanding about the realities of big law jobs beyond the fact that they pay well while they last? Big law is not for everyone.
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  • suzy100suzy100 5695 replies58 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    OP, I know a student whose grades and LSAT score were in the range that you describe for your son, and he has a full tuition scholarship at Ohio State's law school so you may want to look into that. I think it's ranked 30 in the nation.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22972 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    A friend just went K-JD very successfully. She picked a law school just outside T-14 (even though she was accepted to two T-14 schools) because it offered the most merit aid. Her family could have paid the full cost of law school, but she just thought accepting the scholarship was best, and she was right. She was very involved at law school (president of her class, law review, other activities). She has a job at a big DC firm, but is taking this year to do a federal clerkship. I'm betting she does another clerkship in a circuit court next year, and maybe even the Supreme Court after that - she's that good.

    I'd suggest he do as much work as he can in the areas he's interested in, such as work in the courthouse, or DA's office, work for a politician, work in government. He might be able to do an internship for credit while still in school or do something for the summer that gets him that real world experience.
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  • Bubblewrap666Bubblewrap666 167 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    My daughter had tremendous success with Testmasters online course, supplemented by one of the Powerscore bibles. She went from 161 on her first diagnostic to 175 on the actual test. She did all of her studying over the summer, pretty much every single day both before and after her summer job, and then took diagnostics almost every weekend.
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  • JMTmamaJMTmama 40 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited December 2018
    Thank you for all the great advice! It is appreciated

    @Demosthenes49 Thank you for raising all these great points--it has started some conversations which over time I think will help my son clarify his goals. :)

    @TheBigChef great question as to does he have an understanding of big law jobs beyond they pay well... I don't know but I am asking him about it. As above, these are great points and I plan to have some conversations with him about this.

    @suzy100 thank you! Full tuition would be wonderful and I will mention OSU to him. I don't know how practical it is given he wants to come back to California... but there is plenty of time to look into it and this was the kind of info I was hoping for, so thank you for taking to time to post!

    @twoinanddone thank you for sharing about a K-JD success. I will encourage him to intern.

    @Bubblewrap666 wow that is a great LSAT success story! Is your daughter applying this year? Could you share where she applied?
    edited December 2018
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  • Bubblewrap666Bubblewrap666 167 replies7 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    @JMTmama she will not be applying just yet to law school but when the time comes, she will probably stick mostly with T14 (except those on the west coast) plus a few others in the top 20. She will be self-funding law school and is not interested in Big Law, so minimizing debt will be very important to her.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78229 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    http://schools.lawschoolnumbers.com/ can help with admission chances (has scatterplots of GPA and LSAT score for each law school)

    https://www.lstreports.com/schools/ can help with employment outcomes for each law school.
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  • scarletbillowsscarletbillows 4 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Another vote for Testmasters here-- D pulled her score up to 175 and is in at 3 T-14s already, one with a great scholarship. It is worth every effort to study. The other thing-- you want the whole application to tell the story of why you care-- which is harder K-JD. But if he can write an essay that really shows his interest in immigration law etc., that will make him a very appealing candidate.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6712 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Does your son understand that many top law firms hire college grads for 1-2 years *explicitly* for them to get experience before going to law school and that they pay *very* well for that time? As in, enough to live on & bank a good bit? (for them it is comparatively cheap, highly motivated labor, with a chance to get a first look in at the next gen).

    Internships- starting summer after 2nd year of college- also pay rather well. He is already behind the competitive kids on that front and should be lining up something for this summer STAT.
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  • PublisherPublisher 7977 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    K-JD is fine.

    It would be helpful if posters explained or defined what they mean by "interning" at a law firm. Usually worthless unless with a PD or prosecutor's office for one intending to work in that respective field.

    Someone aiming for PI or PD without significant demonstrated interest may be in for a rude awakening.

    @collegemom3717: Curious as to "many top law firms hire college grads for 1-2 years explicitly for them to get experience before going to law school and that they pay very well for that time?"
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6712 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited January 6
    To be fair, based on my experience of DC, where law firms are 10 a penny: it is a normal thing to take them in as (in effect) junior associates, being told at the time of hiring that the firm expects them to be gone within 2 years and will be helpful about things like studying for the LSAT, time off for interviews, etc. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count how many recent college grads I know doing this at the moment (from solid or strong, but definitely not super fancy undergrad places).
    edited January 6
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 3983 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited January 6
    @collegemom3717 Unless you’re talking about paralegals, that’s totally false. Junior associates are lawyers.
    edited January 6
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  • PublisherPublisher 7977 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited January 6
    I am familiar with some of the elite DC firms & their hiring practices.

    They do recruit & hire recent graduates of prestigious colleges & universities as paralegals. All are asked for a two year non-binding commitment. They are called paralegals as labeling them as "junior associates" could be seen as a serious violation of bar rules--even DC bar rules. Many rarely have contact with the firm's associates or partners as the head of the paralegal division assigns & monitors their work.

    I do know personally of a Princeton University graduate who was hired as an assistant at an elite DC law firm. His pay was lower than the paralegals & his job less demanding, but he worked with a specific attorney (as a favor to the student's family) & did routine administrative tasks.

    Your experience is interesting. It seems clear to me that we have exposure to two different "types" of DC law firms.

    Thank you for sharing & for your response.
    edited January 6
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 6712 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I wasn’t sure what they are called & was too lazy to ping one of them to ask which why I tried to qualify it in my post - sorry if I was confusing or misleading. I was surprised by it, which is why I shared it with the OP: the ones that I know who are doing it right now are from schools 1-3 prestige rings down from Princeton. The system seems like nearly a pipeline, and the kids say that they are doing work that seems appropriate- ie, they aren’t leading meetings but they aren’t doing raw admin work either. Sounds like a lot of researching/finding stuff.
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  • PublisherPublisher 7977 replies82 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Small firms do whatever they want. It can be okay so long as the students do not meet with clients, and do not sign any papers or documents. And do not violate any other DC or other jurisdictions bar rules (Ethics cases can be very complex.)

    In one or two states--Vermont is the one with which I know for certain--students can sit for the Vermont state bar without going to law school if they serve an apprenticeship for several years under a member of the Vermont State Bar. Of course, this may have changed with the introduction of the UBE--but I do not know for sure.
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  • lostaccountlostaccount 5330 replies90 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    My understanding from coming from a family of all lawyers is that you should go to the most highly rated law school you can get into-without consideration of other aspects of the school. And that the LSATS and GPA determine what that will be. The difference between going to to a highly ranked law school and some other law school is marked. Unlike with college, the rank of the law school really does matter forever after. If a student attends a top school, they will do well regardless of where in the class rankings the student ends up falling-top of class or middle (not sure about very bottom). True a student who goes to a mediocre law school can do well-if they are ranked #1 or #2 in their class but it falls off quickly after that. For law school, loans make more sense than they do for college because those graduating from top ranked law schools make very good salaries-and can pay loans off quickly.
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