Here to hear some truth

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Nycsplitter

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Here to hear some truth

Postby Nycsplitter » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:27 am

Hey TLS,

I am contemplating my current options, and need some honest truth. I know I'm in the right place haha.

- Okay, I am accepted at Seton Hall with 15k/year. Total COA will end up being over 200k. WIll be attempting to negotiate but not in a very strong position.
- I am in at Pace, scholly offer in the mail, but I don't think even a full ride+stipend+living at home for a COA of $0 would be worth it.
- Waitlisted at Fordham and Cardozo
- Waiting to hear from CUNY and St Johns

Stats: 2.2 GPA/164 LSAT. Took the LSAT once. C&F issues including possession of marijuana and DUI.
Goals: Criminal defense. I want to fight for non-violent drug offenders, but also want to do criminal litigation for all kinds of jury trials. Civil rights is a passion.

My questions:

Would a retake even be worth it? I am above the 75% LSAT at every school I applied to (everything in NYC area under T14) except Fordham where I'm at their median. Even with a 180, my GPA precludes me from T14. I am also geographically limited to NYC and the surrounding areas. With my GPA and C&F, should I just be happy that I am in at Seton Hall, and that I get to be a lawyer at all? Seton Hall has impressive stats, but their job placement worries me. I really don't want to end up doing shitlaw in a basement in Newark after a year of a state or local clerkship. Do you think that, due to the strong economy, I could achieve my goals from Seton Hall? My UGPA inst an indicator of my academic abilities. I am 5 years removed from college and have been working as a Paralegal, and there were significant mitigating circumstances during undergrad.

Thoughts? Lay into me!

cavalier1138

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:40 pm

I think criminal defense is doable from Seton Hall. I think if you're not planning on doing public defense or another PSLF-eligible position, you should think very hard before taking on $200k in debt.

But one thing sticks out to me in your goals:

Nycsplitter wrote:I want to fight for non-violent drug offenders, but also want to do criminal litigation for all kinds of jury trials. Civil rights is a passion.


Those are very noble instincts, but the reality of criminal practice is that you don't get to pick your defendants when you start out (and you definitely don't get to pick if you go into public defense). So if you don't think you're comfortable representing violent offenders or litigating cases that are very much not about civil rights (unless you're a hardcore prison abolitionist), criminal defense might not be for you.

Nycsplitter

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby Nycsplitter » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:55 pm

Cavalier,

Thank you so much for your thoughts! I really appreciate it. I kind of am a hardcore prison abolitionist, and am more than happy to represent violent offenders. I think that the vast majority of those incarcerated don't belong there, and those that do still deserve the best possible defense. Bleeding-heart, I know.

Im not sure how to get into criminal law, though. Id like to start off working for a boutique litigation firm, and work my way up the ladder throughout my career. Im not sure what the best first job is, but its nice to hear im not losing my mind considering seton hall.

Npret

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby Npret » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:05 pm

Nycsplitter wrote:Cavalier,

Thank you so much for your thoughts! I really appreciate it. I kind of am a hardcore prison abolitionist, and am more than happy to represent violent offenders. I think that the vast majority of those incarcerated don't belong there, and those that do still deserve the best possible defense. Bleeding-heart, I know.

Im not sure how to get into criminal law, though. Id like to start off working for a boutique litigation firm, and work my way up the ladder throughout my career. Im not sure what the best first job is, but its nice to hear im not losing my mind considering seton hall.

I’m not a litigator but I don’t think boutiques do criminal law outside of white collar crime.

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UVA2B

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby UVA2B » Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:08 pm

Cav already mentioned how you best start your career: Public defense. If you’re set on representing clients who cannot otherwise provide for their legal defense (regardless of guilt), then you’ll want to pick the locale where you want to start that practice. You’ll want to get plenty of intern and extern experience in that jurisdiction, and you’ll absolutely want to get plugged into the local bar association. If you’re looking at NYC jurisdictions, Seton Hall could make some sense.

But seriously, think long and hard about taking out significant debt for these outcomes. They’re going to be difficult to swallow for 10-20 years when you consider what other life decisions you may want to make. And that’s independent of whether programs like PSLF will continue to cover your education debt (not saying it won’t, but federal programs are susceptible to revocation).

nixy

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby nixy » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:34 pm

Npret wrote:
Nycsplitter wrote:Cavalier,

Thank you so much for your thoughts! I really appreciate it. I kind of am a hardcore prison abolitionist, and am more than happy to represent violent offenders. I think that the vast majority of those incarcerated don't belong there, and those that do still deserve the best possible defense. Bleeding-heart, I know.

Im not sure how to get into criminal law, though. Id like to start off working for a boutique litigation firm, and work my way up the ladder throughout my career. Im not sure what the best first job is, but its nice to hear im not losing my mind considering seton hall.

I’m not a litigator but I don’t think boutiques do criminal law outside of white collar crime.

There are a lot of teeny criminal defense firms (like 2-4 attorneys sharing resources basically) but they’re certainly not what people on this site think of when they say “boutique.”

But mostly I agree that the place to start is as a public defender. I think most people who go into private criminal defense get experience with a PD’s office first. And I’m not exactly sure what the ladder looks like - even in federal court the criminal defense attorneys are basically public defenders, solos, or from small local firms.

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Wild Card

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby Wild Card » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:51 pm

Retake is always worth it until you get a 176+ or so.

cavalier1138

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:56 pm

Wild Card wrote:Retake is always worth it until you get a 176+ or so.


Normally, I would agree. But with a 2.2, OP is correct that he's locked out of the T13. He could score a 180, and he still won't have much better options than he has now (although a retake could potentially put Fordham in play).

Nycsplitter

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby Nycsplitter » Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:47 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
Normally, I would agree. But with a 2.2, OP is correct that he's locked out of the T13. He could score a 180, and he still won't have much better options than he has now (although a retake could potentially put Fordham in play).


That’s what I am thinking about Fordham, as I believe the lack of an outright rejection means that they may be willing to overlook my GPA. But with my goals, would Fordham put me in a much better position? I know Fordham will allow for biglaw, but I have no interest in corporate law. So it would really just be for ego, as Fordham is respected in NYC. Am I wrong? If Fordham would allow for a path other than the PDs office (I’d really like to know my clients better than 5 minutes per case) I would retake.

popgoestheweasel

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby popgoestheweasel » Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:17 pm

Nycsplitter wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:
Normally, I would agree. But with a 2.2, OP is correct that he's locked out of the T13. He could score a 180, and he still won't have much better options than he has now (although a retake could potentially put Fordham in play).


That’s what I am thinking about Fordham, as I believe the lack of an outright rejection means that they may be willing to overlook my GPA. But with my goals, would Fordham put me in a much better position? I know Fordham will allow for biglaw, but I have no interest in corporate law. So it would really just be for ego, as Fordham is respected in NYC. Am I wrong? If Fordham would allow for a path other than the PDs office (I’d really like to know my clients better than 5 minutes per case) I would retake.


Please google Scott Bullock. Look at "areyouinsane" posts on TLS. You really should read their work before conmitting to seton hall.

Nycsplitter

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby Nycsplitter » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:19 pm

Thanks for all the advice guys! I really appreciate it.

I have taken your advice and thought long and hard and practically about debt.

So I think I made a decision. I’m going to ask seton hall to let me enroll in their part time weekend program. Total COA goes down to 120k and I’ll keep making My current salary during school (more than a PD salary haha) so that COA may even creep below 6 figures if I can pay some tuition in cash. I think it’s my best option.

Bingo_Bongo

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby Bingo_Bongo » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:23 pm

Nycsplitter wrote:Goals: Criminal defense. I want to fight for non-violent drug offenders, but also want to do criminal litigation for all kinds of jury trials. Civil rights is a passion.


Hey NYCSplitter,

As somebody who works in the criminal law field, I want to echo what cavalier already brought up: you don't get to pick your clients. Believe me, after you've been practicing for a while, your clients will undoubtedly begin to irk you more than the prison industrial complex does. It doesn't take long to see why they keep somehow ending up on the wrong side of the law. A right of passage for defense attorneys is receiving your first work related death threat. A public defender I know once had her car (parked at home) get tagged by a disgruntled client's gang.

Undoubtedly, most of the client's you'll probably deal with aren't bad people at the core. But, a lot are, and again, you don't get to pick and choose. It's a very noble job, though, and I definitely wish you luck.

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LSATWiz.com

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby LSATWiz.com » Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:37 am

I'd just add that if I was you, I'd aim to put myself in position to get the offer that sets me up to practice law generally without assuming I am 100% going to practice criminal defense law. Many people with C&F issues are drawn to practicing this kind of law, and I think that's in part because of a subconscious desire to become the type of person you wish you had on your side when you had the problems that caused the C&F issues. This is a natural reaction, and is indicative of healing and self-actualizing, which is great.

The thing is, the more time passes and the more difficult it becomes to recognize the version of yourself that got the DUI, the less you are going to think about it and the less likely it is that you're going to want to devote your career to it. I'm not saying this is the case with you, but am saying that what you want to now is not necessarily a great predictor of what you will want to do in 10 years. That's why I'd be weary of saying I only need to attend x school because i have y interest. You really want to go to the best school possible with the most money possible to keep all the options open, particularly if your present goals are somewhat emotionally driven because our emotional choices are substantially less concrete than our rational ones.

BaronBarrister

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby BaronBarrister » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:36 pm

Hi OP,

I understand your situation, so forgive me if I come across as a bit harsh: I don't understand what you mean by "geographically limited." You need to be considering every possible option for law school with that GPA, because Seton Hall is not going to do you any favors. If you go to Seton and DO somehow make it, it will be due to your own drive and hard work, but it will be an uphill climb. Public interest firms are notoriously picky about law schools, and T2 will not impress in those environments.

Now WUSTL, ranked #19, places more grads in New York than does Seton, and in better positions. Compare the stats.

https://7gxsl10eqdj9anba1k3swtoo-wpengi ... y-2018.pdf

https://law.shu.edu/Admissions/upload/a ... duates.pdf

And guess what? That 2.2 won't hold you back at WUSTL, or at least won't be an absolute bar from admission. Check LSN. This cycle, they didn't deny anyone over 168. Last cycle, you would've needed a 170+ with a 2.2.

http://washu.lawschoolnumbers.com/stats/1314

So here are your options: you can go to a T2 law school, Seton, and it will be a struggle. It is not a school that will open many doors for you, and the best case and most likely scenario is that you end up in Jersey with a small firm job.

With WUSTL, you're looking at a school in the top 20, with a decent shot at midlaw and public interest, and WAY more prestige. WUSTL won't necessarily get you into Big Law, but you will find WUSTL lawyers in Big Law here and there, even in NY.

If I were you, I would buckle down on the LSAT, get that 170+ score, and apply to WUSTL. And in the meantime, try to move up in your career; it would give you a nice soft boost on the resume. Regarding the C&F stuff, that's not great for a T20 school. Your conduct needs to be unimpeachable from here on out, and I would even recommend doing something community-service related. I don't want to come off as presumptuous, but it sounds like substance abuse has been an issue, and I would note any treatment/therapy you sought in an addendum.

Good luck!

QContinuum

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Re: Here to hear some truth

Postby QContinuum » Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:20 pm

Why are you "geographically limited" to NYC? Is this because you want to save money by living at home (given your comments above about Pace)? Because you have a spouse and/or kids you can't uproot? Or because you have a personal preference for staying in NYC?

You're right that with a 2.2, you're more or less locked out of the T13. But the T20 - and strong T1s like Fordham - are very much within reach, especially if you crank up your LSAT by even a few extra points, as noted above ITT.

I would be very hesitant to go to CUNY, St. John's, Pace, or Seton Hall - even on a full ride. Your chances of securing legal employment - any kind of legal employment - out of those schools is just too alarming for me to advise attending. Further, you can't assume that the economy will still be strong in 2022. In all likelihood the current economic expansion will end before then - just look at historical data on how long bull markets last. I think it's dangerous to operate on the assumption that you'll graduate into a booming economy.

Fordham or Cardozo at a reasonable cost would be good options for you. I think a retake is your best shot at making that happen.

Best wishes!



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