Where to start…
I dropped out of high school in 2004. Got a GED in 2005. Started and stopped community college in 2007. Join the Army, got med discharged by 2008. Early separation, no benefits. Worked full-time while I went to community college on and off between 2010-2013 wracking up only C’s, D’s, and F’s. Worked in different office jobs with growing responsibility. Matured. Got married in 01/2020. Retuned to school Summer 2020. First born 10/2020. Second child born 05/2023. I’ve stacked a crazy number of classes, 21-26 units during full semesters and 15-18 each summer. I will complete my degree this fall. All while working full-time and managing my department and team. Work life is very successful and fruitful. Wife and family are incredibly supportive. Since returning I mainly get A’s and B’s, an occasional C slips in with science based classes but with my grades from 10 years ago LSAC gpa sits at 2.66. I’m taking the LSAT is October, been studying for a month, practice test have grown from 158 to 166 and feel I can keep studying able be able to score high 160’s low to 170’s on the actual test. How can I put my best foot forward to show law schools I am committed and determined to go to law school and become an outstanding attorney in the community?
tl;dr: was immature most of my life, graduating college in my 30’s after being on and off school for 13 years with 2.66 gpa and would like to attend a decent law school. What can I do?
When I was transferring from community college, my transfer school did not count grades, for the 10 units of algebra I & II which I got C’s in, they did not count the classes I retook a class or did academic renewal for.
LSAC counts ALL grades on transcripts. For classes that were retaken, it averages the F with the A and boom it is now a C. They have their own system.
I think you’re asking the wrong question, as I don’t think the issue is whether you could get into law school, but whether, if you got in, would you be putting yourself in real financial jeopardy? I’m going to be really blunt about your potential financial risk. With a GPA of 2.66, even if you score a 170 or higher on the LSAT, your chances of getting into a even a T3 law school are pretty low. Assuming your LSAT score is fairly high, you could possibly be admitted to a fairly low-ranked law school (the schools in US News that don’t have a “number” ranking, generally referred to as T4 schools). You’d likely not be eligible for any scholarships or merit aid at those schools, so you’d be paying full tuition, and, assuming you don’t have the funds to pay for it, graduate with a lot of debt - well over $100-150k.
If you graduate from a T4 school, the chances of getting a very high paying job in a large law firm (generally called Biglaw) are very slim. Not impossible, as there are usually a few students (like 5 or under) from each graduating class that score a job with BigLaw at T4 schools. So, you’re almost certainly looking then at a job in government, public interest, or a mid-sized or small law firm. Your starting salary at most of those options will be somewhere between $45,000 (for some public interest) up to maybe a high of $80,000 for a mid-sized firm. Many law school graduates who rack up a lot of debt really struggle financially after law school if they are working in a job with those types of salaries, and that six figure law school debt is a financial anchor on them for most of the rest of their life.
I do understand you are passionate about your desire to be a lawyer, but I would really encourage you to seriously crunch the numbers before making any sort of a commitment, and understand that going to a T4, or even T3 school means it is very unlikely to get a job in BigLaw, which would likely mean therefore a much lower starting salary after you graduate. Sit down with a financial planner and really crunch the numbers to be sure you could handle the debt on an $80k or lower salary and still have enough money for the lifestyle you want to have.
Disagree regarding OP’s chances for admission to a Tier 2 law school if OP scores a 170 on the LSAT.
A 2.66 GPA and a 170 LSAT score with work experience should earn admission to many Tier 2 (law schools ranked 51 to 100 by US News) law schools.
OP’s application will receive serious consideration at Tier 2 law schools with a top 10% (typically a 164 or higher) LSAT score. The time separation between OP’s low grades and more recent improved grades will work in OP’s favor.
Ok. I think a T2 is very unlikely and a T3 definitely not a guarantee. But, either way, OP can take their shot and, before they have to make a final decision, they will know what their options are. Maybe they’ll get into a T2, in which case I’m glad I was wrong. But, if their options are only a T3 or a especially a T4 and they are full pay, they should very seriously consider whether law school makes financial sense.
What matters here is your career goals. Unless I missed it, you don’t say what legal job you’re aiming for. That’s super important, because there are many schools without strong brand names that prepare you very well for certain jobs in certain markets. A T3 or T4 law school may be a great choice if your desired employer regularly hires from there, or if you want to start your own firm in a field (family law, personal injury, criminal defense) where your hustle as an entrepreneur is far more important than your law school brand name.
So let us know what field and what market you have in mind, and we may be able to give you more useful advice.
You also need to factor in the opportunity costs of 3 years of law school if your intention is to do that fulltime, both in terms of salary foregone and possible advancement in your current job/career where it sounds like you are having success. What do you hope to gain with a law degree and license? Is it realistic? A lot of lawyers and former lawyers on this board can help you assess the realistic prospects.
I’m a lawyer and graduated from law school when I was 30, after an on and off college career. I agree with others that you need to think carefully about why you want to be a lawyer and what your career might look like. I think you can have a good career graduating from any law school depending on your career objectives. But below the top tier of law schools/law firms, law does not pay top tier wages, so if you were to take on a lot of debt, you could indeed put your family situation at risk. On the other hand, talent will tell over time, so if you become a gifted lawyer, you will do well no matter what law school you go to. So if I were you, I would think broadly about law schools that will be accessible to you with your stats and will not cost you an arm and a leg. Can you go to a local school at night, for example? But also think about what sort of career you would like. Do you want to work in a small local firm that handles real estate deals, divorces, local disputes, etc.? Or, as another example, would you be interested in a public service career? And be mindful of the obligations associated with these different types of careers. I worked in big law for many years, and the burden on my family was very substantial.
Agree with Publisher. I ran some numbers on myLSN, and (I was surprised), I found some admissions to several top 50 law schools. Granted, the applicants at that level were few, but a 170 non-trad adds some value to the class. That said, I would expect the OP to be full pay, i.e, full loans, and that would give me pause as the debt is huge and OP is unlikely to find a legal job that pays enough to pay off that debt.