American Applicant with English Degree(s)

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americaninlondon

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American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby americaninlondon » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:34 pm

Hey all,

I'm an American (born and raised), currently graduating with BA from a top London uni (a humanities degree), and pursing a Master's degree at another top London uni next year (in which law/jurisprudence is a major component). I am set to graduate with either a high 2:1 or a first class degree, pending final results, which I believe would merit an 'Above-Average' or 'Superior' rating from LSAC. I'm also considering pursuing a PhD in Law (specializing in legal history with a heavy emphasis on jurisprudence) in the UK, before applying to law schools in the US, at which point I would be 25. I've already started preparing for the LSAT (largely with the LSAT Trainer by Mike Kim) and have taken a couple of practice tests in which I've scored in the high 160s and low 170s. Given that my application is a bit untraditional, I have a few questions to which I'm looking for answers despite the fact that I won't be applying for (possibly) the next few years.

1. For international applicants, are LSAT scores given higher priority since GPA conversion is a bit complicated?
2. Will a Master's (MA) degree (in a law related subject) and PhD in Law help in any way?
3. I've taken a few courses in corporate law in my own time (Intro to Corporate Law; International Commercial Litigation and Arbitration), and plan to take more regularly over the next few years (mostly for personal enjoyment) - will such courses (taken for credit from a top English law school), help in any way?
4. Are some universities more open towards international applicants? (although I do have US citizenship)
5. If I pursue a PhD, one of the programs that I am currently discussing with a potential supervisor offers the opportunity to spend up to a year at YLS for a research exchange. Would such an experience be of any help when applying to US law schools?
6. How much would an 'Above-Average' rating of my undergraduate degree hurt my overall chances? (Taking into account a Master's and potentially a PhD)
7. A more general question, are there any hurdles, of which I'm unaware, that may come across in the future given my circumstances? Am I at any sort of disadvantage relative to more traditional applicants?

Thanks for any and all help!

LivHandsome

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Re: American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby LivHandsome » Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:58 pm

I don't think I can provide as thorough of answers as some, but I've taken a stab at it anyway:

1. Yes, especially since international GPAs don't count toward law schools' reported averages, and as a result, toward their rankings. They'll still take your GPA into account for sure, but your LSAT will matter more.
2. At the margins, but LSAT and GPA are far and away the most important factors in admission. Those are good softs, but with the exceptions of Yale Stanford, who can afford to be outrageously picky, they'll be far outweighed by your scores.
3. Not for admissions, no.
4. I believe American citizens are considered domestic students regardless of their residency--this was the case at my college, at least, and is supported by some light googling. Since your GPA is still international: some schools might value LSAT more heavily than most (Columbia comes to mind), which might help you a little.
5. I don't know enough about Yale's evaluation of soft factors to know whether a year spent at their law school through another program would give you any leg up. I am fairly sure that at any other school, the fact that this specific PhD program had a research year at YLS won't matter a whole lot except to make your PhD soft a little more interesting (see #2). Definitely don't go to this program over another simply because it might get a nod on the margins of the margins of the margins from an admissions officer.
6. I don't know enough to answer this one with any specificity. (Sorry.) Whatever the effect is, the Master's and PhD won't mitigate it.
7. Nothing I can think of. Most law school entering classes average 23-24 years old, so you're really not that far off. Other posters might be better prepared to pick out parts of the process that might be more complicated for you, but I don't think you'll be at a disadvantage in the evaluation of your application.

Hope this is helpful!

albanach

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Re: American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby albanach » Wed May 01, 2019 9:12 am

6. I'd expect an above average designation to have a negative effect at HYS and potentially some negative effect at the rest of the T6. As was mentioned earlier, however, there is no reportable GPA that would impact rankings, so your LSAT will play by far the biggest role in your applications, significantly outweighing any other part of your application.

I also don't think a masters or other postgraduate qualification would be helpful except at the slimmest of margins, and the cost of getting it would vastly outweigh any benefit.

yuant

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Re: American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby yuant » Wed May 01, 2019 9:26 am

americaninlondon wrote:
6. How much would an 'Above-Average' rating of my undergraduate degree hurt my overall chances? (Taking into account a Master's and potentially a PhD)

Thanks for any and all help!


As an international student, with the data points I have, AA would hurt your chance at Harvard and does impact chances at other top schools..LSAT is indeed more important though.

americaninlondon

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Re: American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby americaninlondon » Wed May 01, 2019 3:32 pm

Thanks for all the help!

I also have the option of pursuing something called a BA in Law with Senior Status (it's a 2-year LLB, which is a qualifying degree to practice law in England), instead of a PhD (I'd prefer the PhD honestly, all things considered). If I get an 'Above Average' on my current bachelors, would it make sense to go for the LLB? Would LSAC then derive my rating from the LLB, or would they still go from my first bachelors?

It's quite common in England to go down such a route (albeit with a GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law), which is a one year qualifying law conversion course, but some opt for the two year LLB as it's more substantial - many UK solicitors did not do law for their undergraduate degree). Unfortunately, Oxford is the only reputable university that offers such a degree (BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status), so getting in would be a challenge itself. I also don't particularly relish having two bachelors, as for some reason, that just seems to look bad in my opinion (coming from America). Apologies if I'm asking questions specific to England, as I know this is probably the wrong forum to do it - however, I'm hoping to get an idea of what the general sentiment in the US would be. For an admissions committee in the US, would they welcome such a degree, or for some reason hold it against me? At the end of the day, I would be a qualified lawyer in the UK (able to qualify that is, with a LPC, etc.)

albanach

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Re: American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby albanach » Wed May 01, 2019 4:54 pm

americaninlondon wrote:Thanks for all the help!

I also have the option of pursuing something called a BA in Law with Senior Status (it's a 2-year LLB, which is a qualifying degree to practice law in England), instead of a PhD (I'd prefer the PhD honestly, all things considered). If I get an 'Above Average' on my current bachelors, would it make sense to go for the LLB? Would LSAC then derive my rating from the LLB, or would they still go from my first bachelors?

It's quite common in England to go down such a route (albeit with a GDL (Graduate Diploma in Law), which is a one year qualifying law conversion course, but some opt for the two year LLB as it's more substantial - many UK solicitors did not do law for their undergraduate degree). Unfortunately, Oxford is the only reputable university that offers such a degree (BA in Jurisprudence with Senior Status), so getting in would be a challenge itself. I also don't particularly relish having two bachelors, as for some reason, that just seems to look bad in my opinion (coming from America). Apologies if I'm asking questions specific to England, as I know this is probably the wrong forum to do it - however, I'm hoping to get an idea of what the general sentiment in the US would be. For an admissions committee in the US, would they welcome such a degree, or for some reason hold it against me? At the end of the day, I would be a qualified lawyer in the UK (able to qualify that is, with a LPC, etc.)


If you want to be a US lawyer, why your focus on being admitted in the UK? Are you looking to practice in both jurisdictions - if so (and assuming you're aware that this is a unicorn career strategy) do you plan on working first in the UK?

Admission to a US school for a JD is going to be based on a GPA/LSAT combination. Each school places difference emphasis on the two components, but they are still broadly determinative. Postgraduate qualifications have marginal impact.

If you're admitted in the UK, a three year JD might not be necessary to be admitted in some US states, however you then face the challenge of finding work without having the typical on campus interviews at the start of 2L or the opportunity to summer at a firm. In other words, you're outside the normal biglaw hiring process for new graduates.

Assuming you're going down the JD route and, since you won't have a reportable GPA, all you need is a CAS report that gives you an equivalence that the school will accept to mean you're not going to drag down their class intellectually. For many of the T14, Above Average will be fine. At the top of the table, Superior is likely necessary.

Beyond that, the admissions committee are unlikely to care if you have two bachelors or a PhD. They simply won't award extra credit for your additional credentials.

americaninlondon

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Re: American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby americaninlondon » Wed May 01, 2019 5:39 pm

No, I don’t intend to practice in the UK. Pursuing the BA in Law with Senior Status would only be to rectify a possible ‘Above Average’ score from my first bachelors (if that would even be possible). Essentially, I would attempt to gain a Superior from my second bachelors. That being said, as a complete back up, I could always then use my UK law degree to get into an LLM program in the USA and try and enter biglaw that way – as albanach has mentioned, I’d be at disadvantage – so this is purely a backup (it would probably be better to get into a T14 that would accept an Above Average, should that be my final degree classification – I’ll find out in July).

Which schools would be out of my reach with an Above Average, given a LSAT score, say, in the 170s? I’m assuming HYS at the very least, as yuant has already mentioned Harvard. Does Columbia, Chicago, NYU also fall into this pile?

Also, forgot to mention, I was admitted to an LLM program (Commercial Law) at the University of Edinburgh (which would have taken place right after my current BA), I decided not to take it up since I thought it would look a bit odd to US admissions if I had an LLM without a primary law degree – was this a wise choice? Or does this just fall into the ‘postgraduate degrees are irrelevant’ pile – apologies if I’m being repetitive.

QContinuum

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Re: American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby QContinuum » Wed May 01, 2019 6:41 pm

americaninlondon wrote:Which schools would be out of my reach with an Above Average, given a LSAT score, say, in the 170s?

I'd get the LSAT score in the 170s first before worrying about this - by no means count your chickens before they've hatched.

americaninlondon

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Re: American Applicant with English Degree(s)

Postby americaninlondon » Wed May 01, 2019 7:40 pm

Entirely fair enough QContinuum, I'm getting ahead of myself. I am curious as to how much performance on practice tests (not in exam conditions) translates to actual test scores, but I'm sure this topic has been readily covered elsewhere on the forum. Cheers!



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