Studying for Sept LSAT & Application Process + softs question

spitzy11spitzy11 Alum Member
edited May 2017 in Law School Admissions 772 karma

Hi all,

(Background Info) I was originally going to sit for the June LSAT, allowing me (hopefully) ample time to perfect my applications to apply early cycle next fall. However, the semester and work got in the way and I did not want to sacrifice my grades to simply devote more time to studying LSAT when the LSAT can always be postponed. Thus, now taking in September. Being as that I plan to apply early cycle, can any fall LSAT takers share some advise on how they balanced both of these goals to crush the LSAT and also produce an awesome application? Please note that I work T-F 8-5 at a law firm as a legal assistant. FWIW, I have my past
Criminal Law professor that specifically offered to write me a LOR and am close with my Faculty Advisor who I plan to ask to write me a LOR. I also plan to ask one of the partners at the firm I work for to write me a LOR and have a great relationship with all of them.

Also, can someone please let me know if the following are considered medium/good/great softs? I am not sure how to accurately assess where I am on the soft scale.
- 3.91 cumulative GPA, Note Taker for Students with Disabilities, Deans list all semesters, Academic Excellence Award 2016 (I think this will be replicated for 2017 as well), Secretary of Psi Chi Honors Society, Secretary of Interdisciplinary Research Counsel, Cal Water Scholarship Recipient, founder of pre-law program at my university, Church Volunteer regularly since 2011 (do law schools even care about this??), and have worked as a legal assistant at a Labor Law firm throughout all of undergrad.

Thank you in advance!! :)

Comments

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    When it comes to softs, it matters to which schools you are applying to. The softs of the average HYS student will be far different from that of the average Hofstra law student.

    In a vacuum, I would say that they are average/medium softs. You do have a stellar GPA though! With a good LSAT there are no schools that are out of reach for you :)

  • spitzy11spitzy11 Alum Member
    772 karma

    Thank you!! I know a strong LSAT will be instrumental. My top school is Michigan but after that it's UCLA, USC, UC Boulder, etc.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @spitzy11 said:
    Thank you!! I know a strong LSAT will be instrumental. My top school is Michigan but after that it's UCLA, USC, UC Boulder, etc.

    Kill the LSAT and get a score at least in the high 160s and Mich will be a lock for you!

    Good luck :)

  • Daniel.SieradzkiDaniel.Sieradzki Legacy Member Sage
    edited May 2017 2301 karma

    Hi Spitzy11,

    Your softs are very nice. You have obviously done a lot to help your college and community. Unfortunately, at the top schools most people have great softs. Ultimately, in the law school application game, numbers are king. Softs only really help you in a borderline case where you and another applicant have basically the same LSAT score and GPA. Thus, softs are nice to have but do not really make a difference for this process unless you won a gold medal (maybe silver) at the Olympics or got a Nobel Prize.

    Your letters of recommendation also sound like they will be great. Again though, most applicants will have great letters of recommendation. They are likely not going to ask for a letter of recommendation from a professor that did not like them or gave them a bad grade. As David Busis says, LORs are important because bad ones can keep you out of law school but a great one just keeps you in the game.

    You GPA is awesome! That is a very big factor and will help you a lot.

    Basically, your softs, LORs, and great GPA put you in a great position. There is nothing in your way except the LSAT. If anything, this should make you even more motivated to crush the LSAT. All that stands between you and your dreams is a multiple choice test. In my experience, there are usually a lot more things in the way between someone and their dreams.

    As for creating a great application while you are studying, I found that it helped to take short breaks from my LSAT studies to work on apps. It is human tendency to want to complete one task before starting another. However, I have seen far too many people only start on the apps after taking the LSAT. They use the small window between the test and grey day (score release day). This is only about three weeks, which is not great for writing top-quality essays. It takes time and a lot of revisions to make an incredible essay. You want your essay to be the best one you have ever written! It is much better for your to spread out the process over the next four months instead of cramming it in after the LSAT. Write a great personal statement (maybe a diversity statement depending on your background), Why X essays (especially for Michigan if it is your top pick), and any additional essays.

    I would also recommend that you start the LOR process. You can add your recommenders on the LSAC website. In the past, I have had some professors procrastinate with scholarship LORs. Also make sure your transcripts are sent out to the LSAC. That process seems to take weeks. Get that all out of the way now so your apps are ready to go on grey day.

    Great job on your extracurriculars and undergraduate work. Now, crush the LSAT and go to your dream school. Let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!

  • Mellow_ZMellow_Z Alum Member
    1997 karma

    Everything mentioned is accurate. Softs are good, but on average with other T13 applicants for the most part. This isn't an issue though, because your GPA is amazing.

    Here's a breakdown of applicants with a 3.9-3.92 GPA and a 168-172 LSAT (which I think is definitely obtainable if you can pull a 3.91 GPA)

    http://mylsn.info/2ipgyv/

    As you can see, you have an awesome shot at everything outside of YS, most of those with incredibly large scholarships as well. If you were to break 172+ on the LSAT I think you have a reasonable chance at acceptance to any school you want.

    As far as application timelines, I would recommend focusing on the LSAT primarily, while occasionally working on a personal statement and maybe diversity statement (if you have something good to write - it's not required). There are a lot of guides on how much time/when to work on PS, but you'll want to at least start it before sitting for the test if you plan on applying immediately after getting your scores back. There are a lot of revisions you need to do, and a lot of editing. After you take your test, you can work on the rest of the application process while waiting on scores to get back. A rough timetable of application dates is :

    Halloween - Early
    Thanksgiving - On Time
    Christmas + - Late

    You obviously will still have a great shot at any school you want if you were to apply after Christmas, but the earlier you apply, typically the better scholarships/acceptances you will receive (and faster responses).

  • spitzy11spitzy11 Alum Member
    772 karma

    @"Daniel.Sieradzki" and @Mellow_Z Thank you so much for your advice! I was thinking of something similar to what you both advised on integrating PS work throughout this summer while studying. I figure it can provide a little mental break in the midst the world of LSAT. I'll be taking 17 units in the fall so I definitely would rather avoid any heavy lifting for the app process besides the test if possible. I'll send out my LOR emails really soon!
    Related to LOR, I forgot to include one more question. I understand that academic LORs are weighed much heavier than work experience LORs. Given that I have been able to work substantially while attending undergrad at a law firm, would you recommend I still submit the 2 academic LORs and 1 work experience LOR? I absolutely do not want it to come off as odd that I submitted 3. I've seen comments going both ways. Or should I assess how many LORs to submit on a school to school basis, based on what the school recommends or prefers?

    Again, thank you so much for your help and advise! This definitely gave me the confidence boost I needed since jumping back into studying after a somewhat brutal semester. :blush:

  • Mellow_ZMellow_Z Alum Member
    edited May 2017 1997 karma

    @spitzy11 it depends. If the app says they want 2-3 LoR, then a third from work superior is good. If they only want two, never submitted a third. If there isn't any numerical indicators then I don't think sending a third will ever harm you. Just make sure that all of your LoR's will be strong. If both academic letters aren't strong, and the work one is, it would be more beneficial to send only the strong academic letter and the work one. You'll kind of have to get a feel for the writers to determine if they will provide positive letters or not.

  • Daniel.SieradzkiDaniel.Sieradzki Legacy Member Sage
    edited May 2017 2301 karma

    @spitzy11 I totally agree with @Mellow_Z. It is crucial that you follow the instructions of each school. On every law school application, there is an instructions page for the entire application. You might want to print it out and make sure you follow it carefully. While I am not a lawyer, my friends that are lawyers tell me that the practice of law has a lot of rules and procedures (e.g. filing a legal document has a strict set of rules). Thus, law schools really do not like it when applicants cannot follow a simple instructions page. If the law schools says only two LORs, send only two LORs. If they say to send only academic LORs, do that. Also, if they only allow two LORs, make sure they are two academic LORs. Do not send one academic letter and one employer letter. The academic letters are much more important.

    Now if they do not specify a limit or say that they are fine with employer LORs, I would send two academic letters and one employer letter. More than two academic letters is kind of redundant (they start repeating stuff, which is boring even when it is glowing praise). More than one employer letter is also often a waste. The most recent employer or the longest-term employer should be all you need.

    Law schools definitely weigh academic letters more heavily. They want to know that you are a great student that will succeed at their school. Good employees do not necessarily make good students. That being said, law schools also want you to be a good employee so that you reflect well on the school. It does not look good if a Harvard Law graduate gets fired after two weeks of work because they stole staplers. It just is not as important as your academic prowess, which is why you should always send two academic letters.

    It sounds like all of your recommenders have been in recent contact with you. It still might be a good idea to meet with them and discuss your passion for the law and share details about yourself. It can lead to better letters. Also, they might share their letters with you before they send it. It sounds like your recommenders should be good writers. However, I have been surprised in the past. Even professors can be bad writers or be far too general in their praise. For example, there is a big difference between "she is a great student" and "she delivered the best term paper I have ever seen in my 35 years of teaching Criminal Law. It overflowed with insight, careful legal analysis, and.......(other great specific things)."

    I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Also, only 1 karma point for this Tolstoy-length post!?!?!? @"Dillon A. Wright", what is up with that? I know it is not an Elmo GIF, but still.

  • David.BusisDavid.Busis Member Moderator Admissions Consultant
    edited May 2017 6837 karma

    @spitzy11 your résumé sounds great! The LSAT is, as you know, your first priority, but you might want to pick one day out of every week to work on your app before you start studying. Applying in October or November will definitely give you a leg up.

    Also, ahem, the Admissions Course (https://7sage.com/enroll-admissions/) has a lot of guidance on writing the essays.

  • spitzy11spitzy11 Alum Member
    772 karma

    @"david.busis" said:
    @spitzy11 your résumé sounds great! The LSAT is, as you know, your first priority, but you might want to pick one day out of every week to work on your app before you start studying. Applying in October or November will definitely give you a leg up.

    Also, ahem, the Admissions Course (https://7sage.com/enroll-admissions/) has a lot of guidance on writing the essays.

    Thank you for your reply! I have definitely thought about purchasing this as well. Depending on the course obviously, if I purchased the course now, would I still have full access until I apply? Is there a time period in which the course can be accessed like the 7Sage LSAT courses are? Thank you in advance!

  • Daniel.SieradzkiDaniel.Sieradzki Legacy Member Sage
    edited May 2017 2301 karma

    Yeah, you should listen to this Busis guy. Seems like he knows his stuff even though he is always pushing that admissions course for some reason (I hope he is at least getting a commission from the creator).

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @"Daniel.Sieradzki" said:
    Yeah, you should listen to this Busis guy. Seems like he knows his stuff even though he is always pushing that admissions course for some reason (I hope he is at least getting a commission from the creator).

    @"david.busis" is one of 7 Sage's professional admissions editor/consultant

    Here is his bio:

    "David earned his BA from Yale University, where he received a prize for excellence in the English major, and his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was awarded a teaching fellowship. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic online, and elsewhere, while his fiction has won two national contests, received notable mention in The Best American Short Stories 2014, and been anthologized by Autumn House Press. He has taught writing at the University of Iowa, Southern New Hampshire University, and Phillips Andover Academy. A veteran of the law school application wringer himself, David was admitted to the JD programs at Harvard and Yale before he decided to pursue editing."

  • Daniel.SieradzkiDaniel.Sieradzki Legacy Member Sage
    edited May 2017 2301 karma

    Haha. I know who he is. I have talked with him and attended his webinars. I was just joking, but thanks for reminding me that he turned down Yale and Harvard.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @"Daniel.Sieradzki" said:
    Haha. I know who he is. I have talked with him and attended his webinars. I was just joking, but thanks for reminding me that he turned down Yale and Harvard.

    Haha. Got ya!

  • spitzy11spitzy11 Alum Member
    772 karma

    @"Daniel.Sieradzki" said:
    Yeah, you should listen to this Busis guy. Seems like he knows his stuff even though he is always pushing that admissions course for some reason (I hope he is at least getting a commission from the creator).

    haha I heard the humor in the tone.

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    @Mellow_Z said:

    Halloween - Early
    Thanksgiving - On Time
    Christmas + - Late

    This is very helpful. Thanks!

  • David.BusisDavid.Busis Member Moderator Admissions Consultant
    6837 karma

    @"Daniel.Sieradzki" the Admissions Course has a lot of good info on who this Busis guy is.
    jk

  • David.BusisDavid.Busis Member Moderator Admissions Consultant
    6837 karma

    @spitzy11 I realized I forgot to answer yout actual question about the Admissions Course.

    If you buy the Admissions Course on our new admissions website (https://7sage.com/admissions/enroll/), it lasts 3 months, but we're happy to extend it, for free, as long as you want.

  • Niner PapaNiner Papa Alum Member
    47 karma

    For what it's worth, I cannot overstate the level of service, professionalism, and personal investment that I have received from David Busis since I purchased the admissions comprehensive course (a month or two ago) and began working with him. The guy is incredible. I honestly feel like the money I spent to receive his insight and guidance is a bargain.
    Good luck @spitzy11 with your LSAT and admissions. You appear to be very driven and conscientious. You will do great!

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