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Thoughts on Success as a "Splitter" and Attending Lower Tier Law Schools?

unicornbloodunicornblood Member
edited April 2017 in Law School Admissions 20 karma

I'll be studying the LSAT for several months, hopefully getting a high score. I've realized that 4.5 months until September may not be sufficient study time for the score I need. I also know early admission is ideal for splitters, so I may have to wait until 2018 application period for my best chance. (Thoughts? Does Early Admission matter that much?) I take my diagnostic this weekend.

I tanked my GPA at an average school, significantly improving during the last year, but that was obviously not enough to offset the average. (2.2 to be exact) This is a primary reason as to why I put off the idea of going to law school some years after college, aside from my serious concerns about debt and job prospects, but I'm finally going to apply. I'm also seeing if some MPP programs will accept the LSAT, just to maximize my options. (Due to my background experience, I qualify for scholarships and significant discounts for some other programs, including MPP programs.)

Has anyone here succeeded as a splitter with a low GPA?
Any tips for succeeding? I know the gist - addendum, great recommendations, and essay.
Does anyone here have good experiences with T3/T4 schools? (Education and Employment)
Is anyone else applying to such schools?

In my true nature, I've already read and analyzed the shit out of my dim prospects and the looming financial burden, but more advice is always welcome. I'm applying to schools way out my reach, mostly to see what happens. I may not get into any schools, and I know my best chance is with fourth/third tier schools. It seems like many lawyers have good careers after a T3/T4 education here in the MD/DC area. I'm also interested in possibly going back to NYC after school. I'm hoping the networks here would help with that, if I chose that route. Jobs in DC will probably be more accessible. In MD, we only have two schools and neither are top tier, so it seems that most of the attorneys here come from UB or UMD. I've heard that the strong local networks mean good job prospects in the MD/DC area. My idea is that doing well in a lower tier school + networking my bum off = getting a good job in MD or DC, which could provide more opportunities in NYC, if I chose that route.

Sorry for the long post. :)

Comments

  • tringo335tringo335 Alum Member
    3679 karma

    Thanks for sharing; I am interested to hear responses. I too will be a splitter (3.5 GPA) when I apply as I'm trying to get into a T10 school and most of those want 3.7s and above.

  • poohbearpoohbear Alum Member
    edited April 2017 496 karma

    Sounds like you've already done some research in terms of job prospects and what the law school application process would look like, and made a smart decision for yourself to take some time off--so props for that :)

    As you mentioned, you'd need killer recs, a great personal statement and addendums etc. But what I'd recommend is putting in A LOT of effort into your LSAT. I'm sure you know this already but your LSAT and GPA are the biggest determinants for law school acceptances. Since at this point, your GPA is already set and can't be changed, why not put in the appropriate time and effort into something so important? And remember, it is possible to improve greatly on the LSAT with the appropriate foundation and prep!! With a solid LSAT you can even potentially look past T3/T4 schools (which would increase your options, job networks etc) and even if that's not what you want, a great LSAT can help with scholarships from schools as well. There have definitely been splitters from 7Sage who are in T14 schools now. Whatever you decide to do, best of luck on your law school admissions journey-- we're all in this together!

  • TexAgAaronTexAgAaron Legacy Member
    1723 karma

    @unicornblood I agree with @poohbear with the LSAT. Work your tail off to get as high of a score as you can! That will offset your GPA a bit (not totally), but it will help.

    In regards to job prospects with regards to T3/T4 schools, I highly recommend resarching firms and see who they are hiring from. This can show you if there are any regional loyalties to local schools. For example, I'm looking to stay in Texas and many large firms do hire from lower tier schools, heck there's one that isn't even ranked and a couple of BL firms recruit from them due to local loyalty ties. Now this isn't always the case and your room for error is not very big at all, but it shows it isn't impossible.

    If you can research and maybe even talk to some attorneys and see if you can pick up how firms view lower tier, local law schools, you'll have a much better picture of what prospects are out there.

    Hope this helps!

  • Mellow_ZMellow_Z Alum Member
    1997 karma

    If you haven't read this before : work experience and years distanced from your GPA is the best thing you can do. I would recommend working 2+ years if you haven't already. SKip going K-JD and work. One of two things happens : 1. you realize you are fine without going to law school. Excellent. Save yourself the stress and debt. or 2. You save up some money, get a perspective on the real working world, and distance yourself from your gpa (and increase your softs/ability to be marketed as a good worker).

    If top schools are a long shot, you need to pick a school in the market that you plan on working. If you want to work in DC, pick a school near there that has hiring statistics that prove they place lawyers where you want to end up. As you said, hustle and network your ass off. If you go to a regional school that isn't ranked but finish top 10% you shouldn't have any problems finding work. I'm a super splitter myself, so I will wish you good luck (I know we both need it).

  • unicornbloodunicornblood Member
    20 karma

    @Mellow_Z said:
    If you haven't read this before : work experience and years distanced from your GPA is the best thing you can do. I would recommend working 2+ years if you haven't already. SKip going K-JD and work. One of two things happens : 1. you realize you are fine without going to law school. Excellent. Save yourself the stress and debt. or 2. You save up some money, get a perspective on the real working world, and distance yourself from your gpa (and increase your softs/ability to be marketed as a good worker).

    If top schools are a long shot, you need to pick a school in the market that you plan on working. If you want to work in DC, pick a school near there that has hiring statistics that prove they place lawyers where you want to end up. As you said, hustle and network your ass off. If you go to a regional school that isn't ranked but finish top 10% you shouldn't have any problems finding work. I'm a super splitter myself, so I will wish you good luck (I know we both need it).

    Good luck to you! :)

    That makes me feel slightly better. I really don’t feel my GPA is any indication of my capabilities or my growth since then.

    I’ll have at least 3 years of post-college work experience, 4 years if I apply for admission to the fall 2019 class, in addition to two government internships at the end of college and a gap year teaching English abroad. I notice that my grades improved after I started interning, for whatever reason. I’m also involved running a chapter of a political organization and community revitalization initiatives. 2 of those 4 years of work were with AmeriCorps, so I’ve demonstrated public service and interest in nonprofit development (mostly grant writing). And I randomly helped run a start-up-stage farmers market in a food dessert in my city. I’ll keep building my narrative and hope someone throws me a few crumbs. lol

    AmeriCorps opens a lot of opportunities for significant scholarships outside of law. Brandeis has a half-tuition scholarship guaranteed for all AmeriCorps for some programs, for example. So I will take advantage of those opportunities and continue my thoughts of MPP+MBA, if law doesn’t work out.

  • Mellow_ZMellow_Z Alum Member
    1997 karma

    @unicornblood said:

    @Mellow_Z said:
    If you haven't read this before : work experience and years distanced from your GPA is the best thing you can do. I would recommend working 2+ years if you haven't already. SKip going K-JD and work. One of two things happens : 1. you realize you are fine without going to law school. Excellent. Save yourself the stress and debt. or 2. You save up some money, get a perspective on the real working world, and distance yourself from your gpa (and increase your softs/ability to be marketed as a good worker).

    If top schools are a long shot, you need to pick a school in the market that you plan on working. If you want to work in DC, pick a school near there that has hiring statistics that prove they place lawyers where you want to end up. As you said, hustle and network your ass off. If you go to a regional school that isn't ranked but finish top 10% you shouldn't have any problems finding work. I'm a super splitter myself, so I will wish you good luck (I know we both need it).

    Good luck to you! :)

    That makes me feel slightly better. I really don’t feel my GPA is any indication of my capabilities or my growth since then.

    I’ll have at least 3 years of post-college work experience, 4 years if I apply for admission to the fall 2019 class, in addition to two government internships at the end of college and a gap year teaching English abroad. I notice that my grades improved after I started interning, for whatever reason. I’m also involved running a chapter of a political organization and community revitalization initiatives. 2 of those 4 years of work were with AmeriCorps, so I’ve demonstrated public service and interest in nonprofit development (mostly grant writing). And I randomly helped run a start-up-stage farmers market in a food dessert in my city. I’ll keep building my narrative and hope someone throws me a few crumbs. lol

    AmeriCorps opens a lot of opportunities for significant scholarships outside of law. Brandeis has a half-tuition scholarship guaranteed for all AmeriCorps for some programs, for example. So I will take advantage of those opportunities and continue my thoughts of MPP+MBA, if law doesn’t work out.

    That all sounds awesome. You shouldn't have any issues building a strong resume with all of that experience.

    You said you qualify for a bunch of various scholarships - do you qualify as URM? Historically speaking, URM applicants have somewhat more lenient requirements getting into the middle tier of top schools. HYS don't lower their requirements but almost every other school would be more willing to overlook that GPA if you did qualify (to an extent).

    And thanks for the wishes! I had personal issues going on during my UG and also displayed an upward trend in grades. I've got 3 years of work experience under my belt as of July so I'm hoping that helps me as well. I know the T8 basically is out of the picture for me but I'd love to attend UVA/NU/Duke if I hit a grand slam on the LSAT and get a lucky cycle. Fingers crossed.

  • unicornbloodunicornblood Member
    20 karma

    @Mellow_Z said:
    If you haven't read this before : work experience and years distanced from your GPA is the best thing you can do. I would recommend working 2+ years if you haven't already. SKip going K-JD and work. One of two things happens : 1. you realize you are fine without going to law school. Excellent. Save yourself the stress and debt. or 2. You save up some money, get a perspective on the real working world, and distance yourself from your gpa (and increase your softs/ability to be marketed as a good worker).

    If top schools are a long shot, you need to pick a school in the market that you plan on working. If you want to work in DC, pick a school near there that has hiring statistics that prove they place lawyers where you want to end up. As you said, hustle and network your ass off. If you go to a regional school that isn't ranked but finish top 10% you shouldn't have any problems finding work. I'm a super splitter myself, so I will wish you good luck (I know we both need it).

    Saving money is definitely a consideration. Honestly, thinking about debt is probably the most significant reason I didn’t apply right after school. I have friends who have this passion for going to law school, and don’t seem nearly as occupied by the thought/obsessive research into the debt, how people are paying off the debt, jobs, etc. I thought something was wrong with me for the longest time. (Do they just want it more than I do?) But I think this is just my personality, and it's important either way.

    I’ve been living at home with my parents because AmeriCorps pays along the federal poverty line, and I didn't want the added stress, which is why I commute to DC now. In the event that I decide to end the torture and move out during law school, depending on where the school is located, I can still save up 20-30K to help repay the debt for some living expenses. It's not enough, but it's something.

  • unicornbloodunicornblood Member
    20 karma

    @poohbear said:
    Sounds like you've already done some research in terms of job prospects and what the law school application process would look like, and made a smart decision for yourself to take some time off--so props for that :)

    As you mentioned, you'd need killer recs, a great personal statement and addendums etc. But what I'd recommend is putting in A LOT of effort into your LSAT. I'm sure you know this already but your LSAT and GPA are the biggest determinants for law school acceptances. Since at this point, your GPA is already set and can't be changed, why not put in the appropriate time and effort into something so important? And remember, it is possible to improve greatly on the LSAT with the appropriate foundation and prep!! With a solid LSAT you can even potentially look past T3/T4 schools (which would increase your options, job networks etc) and even if that's not what you want, a great LSAT can help with scholarships from schools as well. There have definitely been splitters from 7Sage who are in T14 schools now. Whatever you decide to do, best of luck on your law school admissions journey-- we're all in this together!

    Thanks :)

    Yes, I’m finally going to take the diagnostic this Saturday. I’m debating on taking the LSAT in December or even possibly waiting until early 2018. I only want to take the LSAT once, when I’m as comfortable and confident as I can be. (I read some schools average your scores.)

    I’m considering the Ultimate+ package, which takes significantly longer to complete, based on the sample schedules. I can’t do 20 hr study weeks, as I work and commute between cities. 10-12 hr. per week is more reasonable for me. And I don’t want to rush through or cram.

    Do you recommend the Ultimate as a first step? Or should I start with Premium first and upgrade, if needed. I would like the more difficult test questions included. However, I’m not sure if that’s necessarily worth the money, if there are explanations for all the PT questions.

  • unicornbloodunicornblood Member
    20 karma

    @tringo335 said:
    Thanks for sharing; I am interested to hear responses. I too will be a splitter (3.5 GPA) when I apply as I'm trying to get into a T10 school and most of those want 3.7s and above.

    Good luck! I think your GPA is probably fine, as long as your LSAT score is great. You have a much better chance than I do anyway lol A friend of mine recently got into Columbia. I didn't ask her numbers, but I think I remember her saying her GPA was around 3.6 in another conversation

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited April 2017 23929 karma

    @Mellow_Z said:
    If you haven't read this before : work experience and years distanced from your GPA is the best thing you can do. I would recommend working 2+ years if you haven't already. SKip going K-JD and work. One of two things happens : 1. you realize you are fine without going to law school. Excellent. Save yourself the stress and debt. or 2. You save up some money, get a perspective on the real working world, and distance yourself from your gpa (and increase your softs/ability to be marketed as a good worker).

    >

    Agree 100% with this.

  • poohbearpoohbear Alum Member
    edited April 2017 496 karma

    @unicornblood said:
    I’m considering the Ultimate+ package, which takes significantly longer to complete, based on the sample schedules. I can’t do 20 hr study weeks, as I work and commute between cities. 10-12 hr. per week is more reasonable for me. And I don’t want to rush through or cram.

    Do you recommend the Ultimate as a first step? Or should I start with Premium first and upgrade, if needed. I would like the more difficult test questions included. However, I’m not sure if that’s necessarily worth the money, if there are explanations for all the PT questions.

    So sorry for the delay in response! I'd really recommend the Ultimate package! The 7Sage curriculum and materials have been invaluable to my studies so far. This is coming from someone who has tried Kaplan (don't do it) and various other self study books (powerscore, trainer). I find myself returning to 7Sage over and over again, whether it's to review the core foundational topics or using the analytics and taking advantage of the full explanations for all the problems. I understand money is a really personal thing for each person but if you can, I'd really suggest getting the maximum for what you can afford-- the way I see it is that the money for LSAT prep will be a drop in the bucket in comparison to how much money you might save with going to a top school/scholarships etc. Best of luck and I hope to see you around on the 7Sage forums :)

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