So I wanna attend Law School...but so many problems...

I’m looking for insightful advice on what my best course of action may be.

I graduated in May of this year with a business degree (Finance). I attended a 4-year State University and finished with a GPA of only 2.71, and of course I will state, as many do, that my GPA was not indicative of my intellect or abilities. It can best be summed up as a bad case of laziness and apathy with a spice of immaturity. Never being a star student I feel I could have easily excelled at any course I desired if I applied myself with even 80% effort. Long story short, my 2.71 GPA included 9 hours worth of F due to one particular very hectic/emotional semester. If adjusted, my GPA could have easily hovered around 3.1, not great but acceptable as I could have earned either an A or B in those courses. I might add that my major was certainly amongst the most difficult relative to others.

Being somewhat privileged, again lazy and apathetic, I never had an internship nor paying part-time job for any extended period of time. In short, my resume includes a couple of minor high school/college freshmen like jobs and offer virtually no complement to my degree.

So after still being jobless 6 months after graduation (not looking but basically broke) comes a realization that despite screwing around and being in essence a loser (pre and post graduation) I still have a chance to reconcile and repair my poor educational failures and attend law school. It has been an intense interest of mine since early childhood and really suits my personality and natural “skills”.

I’ve spent the past couple weeks reading everything I can about law school admissions, rankings, and even on SDMB threads. I would really like to attend a top school. While it may be difficult for most to attain a high LSAT, I am extremely confident I could break a 170 ( lets just say I am very good at studying for a given test).

How feasible would it be to get accepted into a top school (top 20) with my 2.71 GPA and rather blank resume. The worse part may be that I would have a lot of trouble getting (powerful) letters of recommendation. Even with a 170+ LSAT, I don’t like my chances. I am 24 years old and time is definitely ticking for starting my professional life.

Would it be possible to go back to undergrad to take a semester worth of (A’s) to boost my overall undergrad GPA? Would that be unethical? Would that even count for law school consideration since I’ve already graduated? Would a very high LSAT really help out?

I am at a crossroads in my life and have really set my mind on attending law school and would welcome advice and suggestions for the most optimal path to my goal.

Stop investigating what it takes to get into law school, and start investigating law as a profession. Only when you have thoroughly looked into that, and have an idea of how you would like to use your degree, should you go to law school.

I graduated from Harvard Law in 2002. Believe me when I say, even a low-tier law school is hard enough work to break even a motivated student. Find other challenges for yourself before you take this on, to be sure you are ready to do it. Law school is an expensive thing to fail at.

Do not go to law school on a hunch that you would like being a lawyer, or because you don’t know what else to do with yourself. That is a mistake many, many people make, including myself. You need to be 100% sure of your decision when you go to law school, because even people who are that sure will still change their minds later.

The people I knew who were best prepared for law school and lawyering worked as paralegals for a couple of years out of college. They knew what being a lawyer was really like. And that is something you need to know long before you decide to take the LSAT and apply to top schools.

Frankly, it sort of sounds like law school is your fantasy solution for the dissatisfaction you feel about your current unemployed state. Law school is no paradise. Get a job (it will eventually happen if you try), investigate what law careers are really like, and think about it again in a year or two, when it is less of an escapist fantasy.

That’s really insightful and good advice. You are right on the money in several areas but as far as “make sure you want to be a lawyer” part goes, I have read every post in other similar SDMB threads and have already strongly considered my commitment even before making this post, as I’ve seen many suggestions similar to yours.

Fortunately for me, I have an online business to supplement the need for a full-time job which I can do in the meantime while preparing for the LSAT. Part of my confidence in attaining a high score rests on the notion that I will have essentially 5 hours a day 6 days a week devoted to preparation. Once again, I wouldn’t do this if not at least 99.999565% convinced law school is right for me. And yes I have investigated the career itself and would most likely focus on corporate law and negotiations aspect.

So getting into school is my primary focus.

Experience as a Paralegal is definitely on my radar now Thanks…

Harvard Law? The one percentile of all the human beings in the world, NICE!!!

Everyone always insists they’ve thoroughly investigated law careers when I give this advice. BTW, posts on a message board don’t count. I mean real life encounters with actual lawyers.

Regardless, your GPA and lack of excellent recommendations will keep you out of a top 20 law school. So, if that is your goal, you should still take a couple of years to work on things. Find a responsible job. Take some night classes at your local university in a related field to show you can get good grades and to find professors to give good recs. Do volunteer work. Build up the ol’ resume.

(BTW, not sure what state you’re in, but you should consider your state U’s law school if it is at all good. They can be an excellent value. I now wish I had given serious thought to Iowa over Harvard for this reason.)

And keep your mind open to other possibilities that come down the pike.

At least back in the day, most law schools had a floor for GPA and for LSAT. The GPA floor for top tier law schools hovered somewhere in the middle threes. I would not expect this to have gone down since. So even if you could get them to factor out the bad semester you aren’t in the neighborhood.

The good news is, those standards tend to be relaxed for non traditional students assuming they can show that they have done something useful in the mean time. So go do something else, preferably something related to the area of law in which you think you have an interest. Reading this board and thinking about it are not evidence of having explored your options. Yes, of course do some more course work and bring up your GPA.

If you still want corporate after that, I assume you want to start at a Big Firm and work for ten bucks an hour, :dubious: so in that case you need to reassess what counts as a top law school for you: the top 20 for Big Firm hiring are not the same as the Top 20 according to newspapers and so on.

Law school put me back $70K and I worked throughout so that did not include full tuition and fees. And that was back in the day. Annual tuition these days at a top law school could easily cost $35 to $40K per year. If you don’t like it, it’s a very expensive error to make.

No matter which school you decide to attend, make sure your admissions essay looks something like your post here. Your GPA and LSAT is often only a part of what a school is looking for, the essay is your chance to tell you story and why you belong at that school.

And, look around at schools. Your options after school are better if you are not saddled with huge amounts of debt.

Q.N. Jones said it best, and mind the advice about paralegal work. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will give you better insight into what your life might be like after school. Plus, you’ll be gaining valuable skills that law school really doesn’t teach with regards to civil and court procedure.

It’s low paying work but better than unemployment. Do a year as a paralegal and you’ll have a good idea if you can and want to do 30 more as an attorney.

Not very. I had a 172 LSAT and a 3.9 GPA from graduate school, but my 2.6 undergraduate GPA meant the top schools wouldn’t return my calls. However, my LSAT score got me a full scholarship to a less prestigious university (which has the highest rate of bar passage in the state and is nationally rated a “top value” law school). I graduated with some debt, but far less than I would have had otherwise, and I passed the bar on my first try.

Here’s a piece of advice given to me by my cousin, who is also a lawyer: Unless you want to go into politics or work for some big-name famous firm, which law school you attend will only matter when you’re getting your first job. After that, your accomplishments as a lawyer will be far more important.

I don’t know if that will jibe with others’ experiences, but it seems sensible to me.

I’m going to echo what has already been said above; to sum up, go to law school because you want to be a lawyer, not because you can’t think of anything else to do, because you think it’d be neat, because you love Law & Order, or because you think it’ll make you rich. Being a lawyer is difficult and tedious, and not everyone is cut out for that. In particular, I’m concerned about your desire for a “top 20 school”; in my experience, those who want to go to prestigious schools are more concerned about their after-graduation paycheck than whether they’ll be happy earning it. And there’s no point in making big bucks if you’re miserable and don’t have the time to enjoy it.

You should consider also exactly what you’re getting into with a “top 20 school”. People who go to those schools are driven and highly competitive. Making friends in college is tough, but in a competitive law school, it can be impossible. If you’re perceived as a threat, your fellow students will shun you, refuse to help you, and even actively sabotage you (I have heard of students cutting pages out of library books simply to keep other students from getting the same valuable information they have). There are a limited number of top grades and top jobs, and everyone’s shooting for them. And frankly, I would find that atmosphere absolutely poisonous. I went to a local school, with a fairly cooperative environment, and still experienced some of the above, though it wasn’t as harsh as I’ve heard at, say, Harvard or Yale. So, one more thing to consider.

Oh, and one more little factoid: odds are you’re a very smart person. Getting a 170 on the LSAT is great. However, when you reach law school, the cruel truth is that just about everyone there did just as well or better than you on that test. In high school and college, you may have gotten used to being the smartest person in the class; in law school, everyone was the smartest person in the class, and you’ll be just another one of 'em. Some students never learn how to deal with not being the smartest person in the room anymore; many drop out because of that.

Okay, that being said, here’s some actual useful advice. You can deal with your GPA in your admissions essay when you start applying to law schools. I had a bad GPA as well, but I explained in my essay that as an undergraduate I’d started out in engineering school, but I hit my personal “wall of understanding” in the upper math classes, which I took twice but never passed (Differential Equations and Physics II, to be specific). I then demonstrated that, if you disregarded those two classes, my GPA came out to be much more respectable. So, explain your GPA and include a recalculated version in your application essay; it just might shift you from the “maybe reject” to “maybe accept” pile.

As the above would imply, the essay is important, because all that makes you stand out from the other faceless GPA/LSAT numbered applicants is your essay. Get books on writing a good application essay, read them well, and craft your essay carefully. Go through several revisions.

And don’t be disappointed if you have to “settle” for something other than top 20. Most lawyers aren’t rich. But you can make a perfectly comfortable living even with a JD from Florida Coastal.

That’s where my above-mentioned cousin went. :smiley:

I have known (and in many cases dated) many underemployed, unemployed, self employed (without clients), employed but have student loan debt up the ya ya, or employed but overworked for a piddling salary lawyers. Some who went to great law schools but decided not to practice. Some who went to great law schools and went into practice, but will be paying on their loans for years, some who went to great law schools and went into practice where money isn’t great (you don’t make a ton working for Legal Aid or the public defenders office).

(I’m not a lawyer, but I used to work in corporate law and tax).

SoulSearching , if you couldn’t keep your GPA above 3.0 in undergrad, I’d suggest you think long and hard about how you’ll do in law school. I’m a 2L at American University (not a top 20 school), and to echo what previous posters said - everyone here, almost without exception, did very well in undergrad. These are people with strong work ethics, superb study and organizational skills, and all the good habits you need to succeed in law school. And there are still a lot of people who really struggle just to get by.

Also - law school courses aren’t usually graded like college courses. There’s a final exam at the end of the semester, and that’s it, the bulk of the time. No midterm, no class project, no smaller tests or quizes - one final exam, and that’s your grade, sometimes with a modest bump for class participation if your prof is generous and you speak well in class. This makes it very, very tempting to coast through the semester until the end - and if you do that, again, you’re going to have real problems.

What’s going to stop you from being lazy and apathetic in law school? You did it for four years in college - the best thing you could do for yourself would be to demonstrate that that’s changed. Not by rationalizing that “oh, now I realize I need to change” - but by actually doing something challenging that isn’t a three-year, $100,000 commitment. Like, say, finding and holding down a job for a year or so.

Also - don’t be too confident of breaking 170 on the LSAT. If you can do it, great - but there’s a reason that’s considered to be a big deal. The LSAT is designed to be taken by very smart people, and it’s much, much harder than the SAT.

I’m sorry if I sound a bit too harsh here - I love law school, and I expect to enjoy being a lawyer, and if it’s right for you, then you will too. But it’s hard work, and everything in your OP suggests that your experience with hard work is very limited. This might not be the first place to try it.

Getting into a top tier Law School with a 2.71 gpa? Not gonna happen unless you have some kind of secret connections. Good thing is it does not matter, go to any school pass the Bar Exam and start practicing. I have found that you get out of a legal career what you put into it. Some people get much more. Law school does not teach you how to be a lawyer it teaches you how to learn to be a lawyer. If you become good in your field others will recognize it. The money and other nice things will come if thats what you want and are good at what you do.

I do think you are rationalizing your low gpa. Don’t forget that everybody else has to struggle with issues, many of them more worthy of sympathy than the ones you stated, that is part of going to school. I think it is silly to say I could have gotten better grades if…Definitely don’t mention it in applications or interviews. It sounds whiny. The fact is you got the grades you got and go from there, show by your actions that they are not indicative of your true abilities.

For example -

I’m graduating in 2 weeks from a state school (granted not a hard one) with a degree in Accounting and a 3.93 GPA (depending how this last semester turns out). During my time in school I’ve held a full time job, parented two children (now eight and nine), traveled for work sometimes two or three times a semester (missing class), had a husband working regular 60 hour weeks, spent a week in rehab with one sister who had been sexually and physically abused by her boyfriend and helped my other sister go from being the Mom of one to the mom of two to a spending a year worth of treatment for breast cancer (her hair is just growing back now). Oh, and I’m extraordinarily lazy and have never spent more than a few hours a week on homework.

I’m not saying this as “whoot! look at me!” I’m letting you know I agree, you are rationalizing the low GPA.

(I’m hanging in this thread because law school is something I’ve toyed with, go back and forth on, and almost uniformly decide is too much work for this point in my life- MBA will be way easier - if I get that much motivation. Nothing I’m seeing is convincing me I’m going to regret not doing law school)

Law student at a top-25 school checking in here.

170 is HARD to get. I thought I could and didn’t.

The tough thing about law school is this: the LSAT and the admissions offices work together to guarantee intellectual parity within the institution.

That means that EVERYONE in there is as smart as you.

Furthermore, grades are competitive. If you get a 98% on the final, and everyone else gets a 99 or a 100, guess what? You get a C+, and, in law school, “B” stands for “Bottom Half.”

What all this means is that the people who work get ahead. The people who bust their ass get ahead.

I “know”/believe that I am more intelligent and might be a better lawyer than some people I see in class. However, I’m in my 30’s and didn’t want to devote the amount of time and effort that it necessarily takes to get over that hump. I work hard- don’t get me wrong. But the amount of work I put in has a very finite upside, and I am just slightly on the wrong side of the point of diminishing returns when it comes to work/reward.

I am right around the 55th percentile in my graduating class and I am there because a herculean amount of extra work would have gotten me into the 65th percentile and NO amount of work would have gotten me into the top quarter; the people here are just that much smarter and work that much harder than me.

I would never have had the maturity or the self-critique to type the above when I started law school.

If your problem is motivation, or if you have a problem getting worked up about little things, if you think that details and deadlines are fungible, then you are not going to like law school- and if you don’t like it, you better hope you wash out, because if you graduate, you’ve locked yourself into a life of unhappiness, or debt, or both.

Work wins in law school, not smarts.

I remember our first day of law school. There we all were, the new entering class, listening to various speakers welcoming us to the school. One speaker really got our attention when he said something lke, “Look around you. Each of you in this room came here as an A student. Enjoy that feeling because it won’t last. Here at law school, some of you will remain A students, but some will get Bs, some will get Cs, and some won’t make it through at all.” Now, I’m in 3L, and we have indeed seen a few Lisa Simpson types, with straight As in undergrad, freaking out over getting Bs or Cs. Indeed, we’ve seen a shrinking of our class over the past two years–we’re probably about 10% smaller than we were on that first day–because a few got Fs. Getting into law school was hard, but hacking it once we were there proved to be even harder.

I’d be concerned about the OP’s second paragraph, where we see such things as, “… my GPA was not indicative of my intellect or abilities,” and “I might add that my major was certainly amongst the most difficult relative to others.” These statements definitely won’t cut it at law school, because every law student had a difficult major in which they achieved high GPAs that did reflect their intellect and abilities. I should also point out that not everybody at our school came in straight from undergrad–a number spent some years working in other fields, while some came from doing gradate work and earning Master’s degrees. These folks, with plenty of life experience, should also be counted among your competition.

I don’t want to sound negative, but this is why the posters here are telling you to do some research and see if the law (not law school) is really your calling. Law school is not a place to kill three years while you decide what it is you really want to do–it is a grueling slog leading to the practice of law. Q.N. Jones has some excellent advice–I speak from experience, because she gave me pretty much the same advice when I was asking about law school a few years ago. SoulSearching, you would do well to heed it.

I will add one thing–you say you’re confident you could get 170 or higher on the LSAT. Well, you can buy books of past tests from LSAC for practice. Try a few LSATs from start to finish, under as similar conditions as possible as a real test (timed, fill-in-the-bubbles, etc.) and see how you do. If you really can achieve a 170, great! But if not, you may need some work. I guess what I’m saying here is don’t just “feel” confident; you must prove what you can do. Because that’s what you’ll have to do at law school, and with the 100% finals mentioned above, you’ll only get one chance.

[disclaimer]I am absolutely NOT disagreeing with the above posts about investigating the legal profession! There is great advice in the thread and you’d be wise to heed it![/disclaimer]

Since this is IMHO I hope you don’t mind something of an outlying anecdote.

A brief Dvlish history:
[ul][li]I dropped out of high school in my senior year. [/li][li]I went to night school a couple years after that. [/li][li]I went to a community college for about two years. [/li][li]I transferred into Columbia University, where I graduated with honors. (degrees in Economics and Philosophy, and minor in Environmental Science). [/li][li]I spent two years working as an environmental analyst. [/li][li]I went to Georgetown Law School.[sup]*[/sup][/li][li]I passed the NY Bar (I passed the first time. I think that was mainly due to a major toy convention taking place next door at the Javits Center, leading to a very relaxed exam.) [/li][li]I have yet to join the bar. [/li][li]I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. [/li][/ul]
I run (with Mrs. Dvl) a communications consulting firm that specializes in non-profits. Do I miss some areas of practice? Sure, and I also miss not being a professional musician. We all make choices, and I’m terribly happy with what I do. I rely on many of the skills developed and honed in law school — especially research, writing, and analysis — and it’s what sets our firm apart from others. For example, imagine a client’s reaction on getting a document back from us, which includes extensive comments on how to make it analytically and internally stronger, compared to a document they received from a non-law school trained editor. Not that our equals aren’t out there, but much of our business comes from a client’s thirst for more of this.

The gist of all this is that while law school teaches you lots of skills using the law, remember that it does not actually teach you law. You will face TREMENDOUS pressure to become a lawyer out of school (it’s what everyone expects), but remember, just because you went to law school doesn’t mean you have to practice. This is not to say that there aren’t people who thought they wanted to be lawyers and found out they don’t too late (this is why so many people suggest learning about the legal profession), but that you can go into law school without being locked into the must-be-a-lawyer-on-exit mentality. You can do things that are as equally lucrative as working for a white-shoe firm. You can do things that are as rewarding as any public interest firm. You can do just about anything you want. It is your life, your professional path to follow, your possibilities are endless.

Of course, YMMV, and this brief post barely scratches the surface.

Good luck!
[sup]*[/sup] I have no idea what my grades in law school were. I still have no idea (won’t look at my transcripts). I avoided any hint of them like the plague. For feedback, I talked to the professors directly, which was much more effective (personally) because all grading was ostensibly done anonymously. This was probably the best piece of advice I had going in. Do not focus on grades!

[disclaimer]I am absolutely NOT disagreeing with the above posts about investigating the legal profession! There is great advice in this thread and you’d be wise to heed it![/disclaimer]

Let’s say that a few more times. I am not a lawyer, nor did I go to law school, nor did I even consider going to law school. But even I know that the above is true. What exactly makes you think you’re suddenly going to apply yourself at law school if you coasted (not even coasted - coasting people make over a 3.0) through undergrad? How were you planning on acquiring work habits? Study skills? Do you have a plan to practice consistent hard work? (Don’t laugh - it’s a skill you have to learn, you know.) I don’t want to be harsh at all, but judging by what you chose to present in your OP it looks like you’d be one of those people who’d say, “Okay, this time I’m going to make a fresh start! Let’s go buy notebooks!” and then six weeks later have not been able to acquire discipline as a habit. You need to take a long hard look at why you lazed through undergrad first, and then if you choose law school you need to prove to yourself that you’ll be able to handle the work.

Damn, Spoons, are you a 3L already? I feel so old. :stuck_out_tongue:

Unless you are absolutely driven to be a lawyer, I strongly suggest you consider other alternatives. Maybe a master’s in something you know you like.

If there is one thing America does not suffer from it is a shortage of lawyers. I’d recommend that a young person think long and hard before becoming yet one more.

The one exception would be if your undergrad was in engineering or a hard science. If that were the case, even your crappy GPA would give you an advantage few of your law school classmates would share.