If you are planning to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), there are high chances that you are gunning for the prestigious Harvard Law School (HLS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One of the most prestigious law schools in the country with alumni as distinguished as Barack Obama, a stint at the school is a dream come true for the aspiring lawyer.
However, a seat at Harvard does not come easy. Extremely large applicant pools make the admissions process a highly competitive affair. While there is no official LSAT cut-off score for admission in HLS, judging by historical numbers, a score of 170+ should give you a great chance. Additionally, if you have a GPA in the range of 3.75 and above, your odds of getting a seat increase highly.
The school itself provides no clear indication of admission barometers. Harvard states on its website – “At no point on the GPA or LSAT scales are the chances of admission to Harvard Law School 0 or 100 percent. As reported to the ABA, the 75/25 percentile GPAs for the class entering in 2013 were 3.95/3.77 and the 75/25 percentile LSATs were 175/170.” This essentially means that an LSAT score in the range of 170-175 with a GPA of 3.77-3.95 would make your case very strong.
That being said, applicants with slightly lower GPAs but high LSAT scores have also got a seat at the law school. Probably it’s down to some basic math. If you have an excellent LSAT score, a slightly lower GPA would do. On the other hand, if you have a good LSAT score (around 170), you would need a much higher GPA. The median LSAT scores for Harvard have been reported at 173.
It would be a good idea to give your best shot at Harvard in your first take itself. Reports have indicated that retakers do not find as much representation in the school as the first time test takers. The school states – “The LSAT need be taken only once. If you take the test more than once, all scores will be received but we will use the highest score in our evaluation.” The ambiguous line serves as a worthwhile indicator of the school policy towards retakers. This is not to say that they do not get admitted. Many of them have found a seat at the law school.
Since Harvard Law School admits on a rolling basis, it would be a good idea to submit the application as soon as it opens in September. This will give you better chances of admission at the institute. Another point to note is that LSAT scores taken within 5 years are considered valid for admission.
While LSAT scores and GPA do play the most important part in the admissions, it is important to understand there will be a large pool of applicants who would have scored high on both the fronts. A good work experience and strong personal statement might just give you the extra edge in such a scenario.
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When you got your Juris Doctor, you were elated beyond means but a part of you did know that life after it was far from being a John Grisham novel. As reality would have it, you would probably work unethical and unimaginable hours for a big firm bearing the partners’ names in gilded letters and intimidates you everyday you enter the workplace. Apart from that, what though? This question needs answers because not everyone was born to disappear behind cases and document reviews of silver haired senior partners behind gloomy cubicles while your student loans chip away gradually.
What employment Prospects do Law graduates have?
Solo Practise/Small Firms: Yes, it is terrifying to start on your own but with today’s tools of networking it is a lot easier than it used to be. You don’t need billboards and bench signs, all you have to do is to keep a good website and a Linked-in profile and voila! Start-up.
The flip side is that there are a huge number of people who can’t afford the retainers and billable rates of big firms. Hence, there’s a much-improved prospect for solo practitioners/small firms.
Legal Publishing: If courtrooms and arguments aren’t your thing you can try your academic brain at Legal Publishing and build a brilliant and strong career out of it. What is more, your legacy will live on after you through your published material. Think of the enormous help you will be to the upcoming legal generation.
Government/Politics: What is common between Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Arun Jaitley and Salman Khurshid? Lawyers. The political career may be distant career option but not a completely unattainable one if you wish for one. It is an uphill battle and into very murky waters but then you can make that rewarding for you if you really put your heart to it.
Whenever find yourself doubting, just chant Obama’s mantra and say, “Yes we can.”
Teaching: Mundane? Maybe. Fulfilling? Certainly. And who says you can’t teach and practice at the same time? That way, you could utilise your law degree in a nobler way than most people can and have brilliant tenured position at a university along with the respect that automatically comes along with it.
Investment Banking/Legal advisor: When you know the law ford, backward and sideways, you can be a pretty nifty investment banker and advisor on fiscal matters. A career in financial firm maybe even more lucrative than one in a law firm with none of the competition or the stresses.
Select your path wisely!
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Getting in a Law School with No or Low LSAT Scores
Getting in a Law School with No or Low LSAT Scores
Low LSAT Scores may not go down too well among parents, peers and key motivators, but sometimes it can work in your favour. Especially when looking at getting into a law school, you can make sure that you have at least one or two options in your bag to get your legal career kick-started.
Your LSAT scores can be a great route to get into an Ivy League, but honestly, there is no guarantee that you will get into one. Your chances of getting into a good school depends on a number of other factors. It is natural to worry about low LSAT scores . However, that does not have to mean that you cannot get into a good law program.
Law Schools that Accept Low LSAT Scores
Having started in New Orleans, today the Southern University campus sits in Baron Route and is best known as one of the first American universities for African-Americans. Since the past few years, the college has been accepting law students with a score between 143 and 150 in their LSATs.
North Carolina Central University
If you would like to get into public service, this university is a great one to consider. With a rather diverse law student body, you will also be able to participate in a host of extra-curricular activities. Since 2009, this university too has been accepting students with LSAT scores between 143 and 151.
Thomas M. Cooley law School
If you wish to study in Michigan, this is the school to consider. They offer law programs in the Grand Rapids as well as the Ann Arbor and the Grand Rapids campus. Students with a full-time job can also apply for the weekend program.
Applying for Law School Without an LSAT
Many students avoid taking the LSAT out of the fear of not doing well. However, in reality, scoring low is quite harmless. On the other hand, not taking your LSAT at all can close down a host of academic avenues for yourself. That said, in some states such as California, USA, it is possible for you to take the bar exam without actually going to a law school. Many times, they don’t even ask students for a college degree. That said, this route may not open too many doors of employment for you.
There are a few ABA-Accredited law schools that will accept a student without an LSAT score, but be prepared for a very challenging road ahead with slow progress, lower salaries and few chances of growth.
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In recent years, enrolment to law schools have slumped, owing to the job outlook for new law graduates. However, the trend might be reversed this year thanks to signs of improvement in the legal industry. According to a report, 95% of summer associates working for law firms received full-time job offers at their respective firms after graduation. If you had put away plans of pursuing law school education, now is the right time for a rethink!
So, what about all the news reports and blogs suggesting a bleak marketplace for young lawyers? While it is true that the overall percentage of law school graduates who have found employment are low, the number of people finding jobs after finishing law school is on the rise. An ever improving economy, coupled with the fact that the number of students applying to law school is on the decline, opens up the market for newer law school graduates.
Niche legal areas
In order to improve their chances of success, younger law school students or prospects should look at niche areas such as securities and tax law. Complex business regulations and pressure from the IRS will increase demand for prospective tax attorneys. As corporate legal departments get busier, there will also be great opportunities for newer graduates at law firms as well as in-house corporate offices, technology and healthcare companies. Some other areas which will see momentum are IT and intellectual property law.
If you are planning law school, now is the right time to get into the grind. While the job market may not be at its peak levels, it may just be your best chance to time the market correctly. However, make sure you do your research and speak to some experts regarding the trends in the industry. You may also explore one of the niche specializations mentioned above to make sure that you are a cut above the rest.
Many students think that a low GPA can seriously dent their chances of a good law school. Well, the good news is that they are only partly right. For most law schools, the two most important things are your GPA and LSAT score. Scoring a low GPA does put you at a slight disadvantage because of the stiff competition, especially from applicants in the higher ranked schools.
If you are one of those law school applicants who has scored below 3.5 (generally considered a below-par GPA), you will most likely be trailing behind students in the admission process. For you guys, it is extremely important to focus on other parts of the admission process. If you can make your application stand out, you will still be in with a good shot at your dream law school. It is not unheard of for students with low GPA to make the cut for the top five law schools in the US
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Here’s what you can do to get into a good law school with low GPA:
LSAT it is:
Yes, LSAT will be your biggest saving grace in such a situation. Whatever maybe the reason for your low GPA, you have to simply overcome that for your LSAT. Begin your preparation early, refer to the best study material, join great resources like QS LEAP online study groups and take many practice tests. Since LSAT is a huge factor in the admissions process, a good score in the exam can probably offset a low GPA. You are not guaranteed admission but in the worst case, at least the admissions committee will take notice of your candidature. And that cannot be a bad thing! A good LSAT score will also help you secure scholarships.
Get the best recommendations:
Get hold of the best recommenders in town. If you are a working professional, your immediate supervisor can speak volumes about your work. If you are not working, get it done from a professor who has been witness to some of your academic accomplishments.
Work on your application:
Develop a good resume and personal statement. Highlighting on something interesting in your application may push the admissions committee to sit up and take notice. There is no messing up on this one if you have a low GPA.
Apply high and wide:
The sad reality is that you indeed have a low GPA. So, you have to put in those extra dollars and apply to many law schools. Apply to a wide range of schools to give yourself the best chance. Apply to a few top ranked schools, a few in the middle range and a few where your numbers are stronger than historical data. This will give you the best chances of admission.
Take additional courses:
If you want to showcase yourself as an academically inclined individual, a few extra classes won’t hurts! While it may not impact your undergraduate scores, a good score on these courses demonstrates your ability to perform in an academic setting.
So, all is not lost folks. If you have a low GPA, give your best shot on the LSAT and the application. Who knows? You might just walk through the gate of your favourite law school. Buy us a coffee if that happens :)