Should I even bother?

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DistantMirror

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Should I even bother?

Postby DistantMirror » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:20 pm

So, I'm 32 years old. I decided to take my GED instead of finishing my senior year of high school, because I was an idiot, and consequently went to community college. I proceeded to be an even bigger idiot. I spent SEVERAL years getting decent grades in classes I liked but then either failing or withdrawing from all of the others. I tried going back a couple of times and the same thing happened. I didn't know what I wanted to do, I didn't really care about my future that much.

Okay, so, I realized this last summer that what I actually wanted to do was be a lawyer. A public defender, specifically, and if not a public defender then I would love to be otherwise involved in public interest law. http://www.pisgahlegal.org/ is a local nonprofit that I have such immense respect for.

This last fall I went back to school and got all As, now that I actually have an idea of what I'm doing. This semester is young, but so far so good. My goal is another 4.0 semester. I finish my AA this Spring and should be attending one of the UNC system schools this fall. (Leaning towards a Statistics degree. My nightmare is ending up with an unemployable bachelors and then not getting into law school.) I intend to do whatever amount of studying is necessary to excel in my last five semesters of undergrad. I'm confident I can bring my GPA up to a 3.3. I know the LSAT is going to be critical to my chances of getting into law school, and I really want to aim for a high score on it. The kind of score that will make schools give me a shot.

However, I just found out my Ws will be counted as Fs for my GPA. Oops. I just counted them, and I have NINE of them.

So, my question is, considering all this, would I have an actual shot at a career as a public defender? I realize it's very competitive. Would I have a shot at getting into a good regional school with decent financial assistance? I really don't want to take on over $100,000 of debt, I realize the career I'm interested in is on the modest end of the legal pay scale. Would that be enough to have a chance at a real career?

sparkytrainer

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby sparkytrainer » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:24 pm

I mean, what is your actual GPA? If its sub-3.0, you are already looking at a hard time, but possibilities arise with a 170+ lsat. If its sub 2.6/.7, don't even bother.

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DistantMirror

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby DistantMirror » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:33 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:I mean, what is your actual GPA? If its sub-3.0, you are already looking at a hard time, but possibilities arise with a 170+ lsat. If its sub 2.6/.7, don't even bother.


It'll be 2.8 once I finish my AA, but is it true that Ws will count as Fs for law school admission? If so, with 9 Ws, that's absolutely going to be much lower.

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DistantMirror

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby DistantMirror » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:37 pm

DistantMirror wrote:
sparkytrainer wrote:I mean, what is your actual GPA? If its sub-3.0, you are already looking at a hard time, but possibilities arise with a 170+ lsat. If its sub 2.6/.7, don't even bother.


It'll be 2.8 once I finish my AA, but is it true that Ws will count as Fs for law school admission? If so, with 9 Ws, that's absolutely going to be much lower.


Without the Ws factored as Fs, if I'm doing this right, I should have a shot at a 3.3 by the time I have my bachelor's.

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby sparkytrainer » Sat Jan 27, 2018 7:43 pm

DistantMirror wrote:
sparkytrainer wrote:I mean, what is your actual GPA? If its sub-3.0, you are already looking at a hard time, but possibilities arise with a 170+ lsat. If its sub 2.6/.7, don't even bother.


It'll be 2.8 once I finish my AA, but is it true that Ws will count as Fs for law school admission? If so, with 9 Ws, that's absolutely going to be much lower.


I believe so. Honestly, it just doesn't sound like law school is in the cards for you. You can get involved in a lot of other ways, and I would pursue those.

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby sittykitty » Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:31 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:
DistantMirror wrote:
sparkytrainer wrote:I mean, what is your actual GPA? If its sub-3.0, you are already looking at a hard time, but possibilities arise with a 170+ lsat. If its sub 2.6/.7, don't even bother.


It'll be 2.8 once I finish my AA, but is it true that Ws will count as Fs for law school admission? If so, with 9 Ws, that's absolutely going to be much lower.


I believe so. Honestly, it just doesn't sound like law school is in the cards for you. You can get involved in a lot of other ways, and I would pursue those.

I had 3 Ws on my transcript. As long as they weren't academic dismissals, CAS doesn't count them at all.

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chargers21

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby chargers21 » Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:38 pm

The type of W matters. If you withdrew by the proper deadline for your school and have standard, non-punitive Ws then they will not count against your gpa. If they are WF, Incompletes, etc. then they will count

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Jan 27, 2018 9:47 pm

If your grades remain high throughout the rest of your undergraduate years, law schools' admissions will understand that you went through a growth & maturation process. The single most important factor, however, with respect to law school admissions is one's LSAT score. The LSAT score probably accounts for 70% of an admissions decision. GPA is the next most important factor.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby totesTheGoat » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:07 pm

DistantMirror wrote: I intend to do whatever amount of studying is necessary to excel in my last five semesters of undergrad. I'm confident I can bring my GPA up to a 3.3. I know the LSAT is going to be critical to my chances of getting into law school, and I really want to aim for a high score on it. The kind of score that will make schools give me a shot.


To be blunt, when other college sophomores show up here, the common advice give to them is to stop worrying about law school and focus on undergrad. This is doubly applicable for you. There are 2 things you need to focus on over the next 5 semesters: 1) getting the best grades you possibly can, and 2) getting yourself in position to start a career with your undergrad degree.

Put your law school dreams waaay way in the back of your mind and focus on the best outcome you can achieve with your bachelor's degree. If law school does become an option for you, start worrying about it during your senior year at the earliest.

However, I just found out my Ws will be counted as Fs for my GPA. Oops. I just counted them, and I have NINE of them.


According to https://www.lsac.org/aboutlsac/policies ... marization,

Grades Excluded from Conversion

Withdraw, Withdraw/Pass—only if the issuing school considers the grade nonpunitive.
Incomplete—only if the issuing school considers the grade nonpunitive.


Since your Ws are not considered nonpunitive (they're being treated as Fs for the GPA), it looks like they'll be taken into account for the LSAC GPA.


So, my question is, considering all this, would I have an actual shot at a career as a public defender? I realize it's very competitive. Would I have a shot at getting into a good regional school with decent financial assistance? I really don't want to take on over $100,000 of debt, I realize the career I'm interested in is on the modest end of the legal pay scale. Would that be enough to have a chance at a real career?


I think your $100k debt preference puts another nail in the coffin of your law school dream. Personally, I don't see it happening. I'm sorry to be blunt about things, but nothing sucks worse than being fed false hope. I think you should start planning for a career that doesn't involve law school.

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DistantMirror

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby DistantMirror » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:11 pm

Actually I'm pretty sure my school isn't counting those Ws on my GPA. I was worried that law schools would, but they're from classes where I withdrew from before the deadline. I believe I'm in the clear with those, after reading over the LSAC site.

But. Your first set of advice is pretty grounding. I'd been wondering if I should be orienting my extracurriculars towards a theoretical career with a statistics degree, or try to make them more useful for law school. It sounds like, at the very least, I should be doing everything in my power to make myself employable with my bachelors, or to prepare for graduate school in statistics. If I want to, and it's not unrealistic GPA-wise, I should still be able to study for the LSAT and try my best at that.

(And yes, please be realistic with me. I have an underlying anxiety that all the advisors and professors I talk to are trying to keep me upbeat and optimistic, but I 100% want accurate info.)

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totesTheGoat

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby totesTheGoat » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:43 pm

DistantMirror wrote:Actually I'm pretty sure my school isn't counting those Ws on my GPA.

I was worried that law schools would, but they're from classes where I withdrew from before the deadline. I believe I'm in the clear with those, after reading over the LSAC site.


Ah, I got you. This changes the equation quite a bit, but doesn't change my advice. Still focus on undergrad and on career outcomes based on your bachelor's degree.

I'd been wondering if I should be orienting my extracurriculars towards a theoretical career with a statistics degree, or try to make them more useful for law school. It sounds like, at the very least, I should be doing everything in my power to make myself employable with my bachelors, or to prepare for graduate school in statistics.


To be clear, this is the same advice I give to all undergrad underclassmen. There's nothing about your specific situation making me tell you to put law school on the back burner. So many undergrads make the mistake of spending 4 years and $75k getting a degree with terrible employment prospects with a laser focus on going to law school. This is bad for a few reasons: it's super risky, law tends not to be as awesome as 0Ls think it is, life tends to get in the way between freshman (or sophomore) year and graduation, etc.

If I want to, and it's not unrealistic GPA-wise, I should still be able to study for the LSAT and try my best at that.


Like you say, it's all going to depend on GPA. If you kill it and graduate with a 3.3, a top-notch LSAT score could get you decent money at a decent school. Best of luck! I'm glad that the GPA misunderstanding was resolved in your favor!

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DistantMirror

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby DistantMirror » Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:54 pm

So many undergrads make the mistake of spending 4 years and $75k getting a degree with terrible employment prospects with a laser focus on going to law school.


This is my biggest fear. I spent a long time working retail. I had my GED, but I cannot tell you how many of my coworkers had History or English degrees, working the same shitty job. History is my #1 interest, but I'm in the process of switching my intended major to another interest of mine, statistics, because I actually want a career. From all the info I can find, most STEM majors don't do any worse on the LSAT, so that makes the decision easy.

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby sittykitty » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:01 am

DistantMirror wrote:
So many undergrads make the mistake of spending 4 years and $75k getting a degree with terrible employment prospects with a laser focus on going to law school.


This is my biggest fear. I spent a long time working retail. I had my GED, but I cannot tell you how many of my coworkers had History or English degrees, working the same shitty job. History is my #1 interest, but I'm in the process of switching my intended major to another interest of mine, statistics, because I actually want a career. From all the info I can find, most STEM majors don't do any worse on the LSAT, so that makes the decision easy.

You should certainly pursue an employable degree, if only because you should consider taking a year or two to work before going to law school. I see you have some prior work experience, but law schools want to know that you're employable, and retail might not count. So this time, maybe try to find legal employment (legal assistant, paralegal, intern at a PD's office, etc.) to get a hang on what your life is going to be like as an attorney. Admissions for people going straight from undergrad to law school are way down this year, and I would say from my experience, my classmates who did not work in between undergrad and law school (KJDs in particular) had a lot of trouble adjusting to the workload, the stress, and the idea that law school is a professional school, not just undergrad round 2.

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DistantMirror

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby DistantMirror » Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:20 am

sittykitty wrote:
DistantMirror wrote:
So many undergrads make the mistake of spending 4 years and $75k getting a degree with terrible employment prospects with a laser focus on going to law school.


This is my biggest fear. I spent a long time working retail. I had my GED, but I cannot tell you how many of my coworkers had History or English degrees, working the same shitty job. History is my #1 interest, but I'm in the process of switching my intended major to another interest of mine, statistics, because I actually want a career. From all the info I can find, most STEM majors don't do any worse on the LSAT, so that makes the decision easy.

You should certainly pursue an employable degree, if only because you should consider taking a year or two to work before going to law school. I see you have some prior work experience, but law schools want to know that you're employable, and retail might not count. So this time, maybe try to find legal employment (legal assistant, paralegal, intern at a PD's office, etc.) to get a hang on what your life is going to be like as an attorney. Admissions for people going straight from undergrad to law school are way down this year, and I would say from my experience, my classmates who did not work in between undergrad and law school (KJDs in particular) had a lot of trouble adjusting to the workload, the stress, and the idea that law school is a professional school, not just undergrad round 2.


This is something I hadn't considered and will really think about. Thanks.

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:15 pm

sittykitty wrote: So this time, maybe try to find legal employment (legal assistant, paralegal, intern at a PD's office, etc.) to get a hang on what your life is going to be like as an attorney. Admissions for people going straight from undergrad to law school are way down this year, and I would say from my experience, my classmates who did not work in between undergrad and law school (KJDs in particular) had a lot of trouble adjusting to the workload, the stress, and the idea that law school is a professional school, not just undergrad round 2.


I think it's important to get real work experience, but I don't know that working as a legal secretary/paralegal helps out as much as it seems on first blush. Perhaps it gains you admission to a better school, but I've found that such legal work experience blends into the background once you get to OCI. I can't count the number of resumes I've seen that include some sort of gap year employment in a law firm. Usually, those aren't the folks who got extended the offer (or, at least, that's not why they were extended the offer). Getting legal experience before law school helps set your expectations and gets you much closer to fluency in legalese, but that advantage quickly melts away after a semester or two.

If you want killer work experience on your resume, find a job related to your undergrad that also gives you an advantage in a related legal field. I leave it vague intentionally. Sometimes there's a direct relation. I was a software engineer for a few years prior to law school, and the patent lawyers treated that work experience like gold. Sometimes it's a less direct relation. Interviewers tend to look at military service as a massive positive in a candidate. They also like to see people management work experience as well as jobs that involve direct responsibility for quality and timeliness of work product (accounting comes to mind).

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby sittykitty » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:24 pm

totesTheGoat wrote:
sittykitty wrote: So this time, maybe try to find legal employment (legal assistant, paralegal, intern at a PD's office, etc.) to get a hang on what your life is going to be like as an attorney. Admissions for people going straight from undergrad to law school are way down this year, and I would say from my experience, my classmates who did not work in between undergrad and law school (KJDs in particular) had a lot of trouble adjusting to the workload, the stress, and the idea that law school is a professional school, not just undergrad round 2.


I think it's important to get real work experience, but I don't know that working as a legal secretary/paralegal helps out as much as it seems on first blush. Perhaps it gains you admission to a better school, but I've found that such legal work experience blends into the background once you get to OCI. I can't count the number of resumes I've seen that include some sort of gap year employment in a law firm. Usually, those aren't the folks who got extended the offer (or, at least, that's not why they were extended the offer). Getting legal experience before law school helps set your expectations and gets you much closer to fluency in legalese, but that advantage quickly melts away after a semester or two.

If you want killer work experience on your resume, find a job related to your undergrad that also gives you an advantage in a related legal field. I leave it vague intentionally. Sometimes there's a direct relation. I was a software engineer for a few years prior to law school, and the patent lawyers treated that work experience like gold. Sometimes it's a less direct relation. Interviewers tend to look at military service as a massive positive in a candidate. They also like to see people management work experience as well as jobs that involve direct responsibility for quality and timeliness of work product (accounting comes to mind).

Certainly didn't mean to imply that legal employment is the only or even the best option! I agree with totesTheGoat that work experience in your field can be really valuable -- you might even enjoy that job so much that you decide not to go to law school at all. All I wanted to say was that if you want, say, Big Law, sometimes working in that environment for a while helps you set realistic expectations. I have a close friend who was a software developer, and worked startup hours (10-6, with an hour for lunch, from home most days), and knew that Big Law meant an adjustment in work/life balance. But I don't think that reality really hit him until after he did his first summer, and then he realized that the high-powered lawyer lifestyle was just not for him. That's not a position you want to be in after 2L -- you wanna figure that out before you decide to go at all.

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby 181plz » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:48 pm

A 3.3 is a reasonable gpa to pursue law school. I have a 3.4 and am in at a few t13s with small scholarships, and near full rides out of the t13.

As others said, getting As from this point on and doing well on the LSAT will be critical in attaining some good options.

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emkay625

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby emkay625 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:12 pm

You certainly have a chance. Study hard for the LSAT.

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby OldCollegeTry » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:58 pm

Yes, you have a chance. Especially if you know that you want to do the PD route. Contrary to what you might have heard (on here :roll: ), you don't have to go to HLS to be a public defender. Going to a regional school and keeping costs down is perfectly acceptable. If you can get your GPA into the high 2's, like 2.9 or preferably into the 3's, you are within striking distance to achieve your goals. A solid LSAT score will also do wonders, but note that it doesn't have to be absolutely spectacular. The lower your UGPA, the higher your LSAT will need to be though to be admitted to a decent school. Be mindful that if you go to a regional school you will likely not be a public defender in a large city such as Chicago, New York, or the like. But it is both possible and realistic to believe that you will have a shot somewhere, especially if you are willing to move and/or drive a decent bit daily.

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Re: Should I even bother?

Postby Yulifus » Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:19 pm

You have a chance with a low GPA, but you're gonna need to score high on the LSAT. Good luck!



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