Thursday, March 28, 2013

So you want to be a K-JD? Not so fast

I'm a K-JD, unfortunately.  I knew that most people wait a year or two before enrolling in law school after they graduate college.  I reasoned that because I wanted to be a lawyer (or so I thought), it would be better to get through law school faster so I could start my legal career.  I scored at about the 80th percentile at 160 after studying moderately over a few months (which I thought at the time was a good score, and I eventually get a full-ride at a school with a median of 150).

In a thread I recently read at Top-Law-Schools, a TLS regular told someone who had scored a 157 and was asking for law school advice that their LSAT number is more important to law schools than someone's college GPA.  Because of that, the TLS regular reasoned, the original poster (OP) should spend at least four to six months of hard studying in order to see what he or she could acheive before attending law school.

A K-JD is, by definition, someone who was in school from kindergarten through college, and begins attending law school the Fall semester after they graduate.  Unless the K-JD is someone who graduates a semester early and spends the off-semester prepping for the LSAT, they do not have the clear schedule needed to adequately prepare for the LSAT.  Adequate, in this use, would mean putting forth the same effort into mastering the LSAT that the person put getting their undergraduate degree.

The LSAT, as many of us know, is a very learnable test.  In my case, the very first practice test I took I scored a 150, and after a few months of moderate study I was getting high 150's and low 160's, ending with 160.  Some people's first practice test is much lower, and some people score much higher. 

Because the LSAT is so important to law school admissions; where you get in, how much money you are offered and at what schools, which will have profound effects for the rest of someone's life, it is a wonder why there are so many K-JD's.  Using my situation as an example, if I had spent a year after college working full-time and studying 30 hours a week on the LSAT, I probably could have scored high enough to get accepted to at least some of the lower T14's (the area where I had the most trouble were the logic games, which are some of the most learnable sections), and significant money offers from Tier 1's.

Many law students, including K-JD's, use the transfer game to make up for underperforming on the LSAT.  This isn't as good as performing up to their LSAT potential the first time around: they will miss out on scholarship money, law review, moot court, developing peer and professorial relationships, and be in a weaker situation for OCI.

My misinformed self figured a 160 was "good enough."  After all, lawyers make good money, and even if you are not making six figures, many mid-to-high five-figures legal jobs were there.  Law schools outside the level of Harvard still will adequately prepare you for the practice of law, and because all law schools teach the same things, a retake isn't necessary.

Talking to non-scholarship receiving 1L's last year made it clear to me that the LSAT itself was not very important to many of them.  I wonder what the LSAT talks are like at schools with higher medians.  Are the people attending schools with medians of 160+, many of which have employment statistics that are similar or worse than mine, scoring at the top of their potential?  http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=american 

Us scambloggers are often stereotyped as trying to steer everyone away from law school.  I'm not sure that that is true.  I think we support and even encourage people who adequately inform and prepare themselves for law school to apply.

K-JD's, by-and-large do not adequately inform and prepare themselves for law school.  If they would, they would spend more time researching law schools and fully devoting themselves to getting a good score on the LSAT, and that simply is not possible unless someone graduates early.  This group is the youngest and least-informed of all who apply and attend law schools, and their indifference to the LSAT and ability to borrow enormous amounts of federal student loans makes them attractive targets for law schools who feed on marginal candidates.

As others have noted, outreach and activism for K-JD's group can be achieved at colleges through pre-law classes and clubs. Think about using your status as an alumni to help a few people make sure they prepare and inform themselves about law school.

16 comments:

  1. I'm going to disagree with this - kind of. You're right. I don't dispute what you say at all. I just think that it's not a failure to prepare for the LSAT and law school that is the problem. It's a failure to look beyond that and research legal careers that is the problem.

    You can prep for the LSAT and research law schools until the cows come home, but that tells you nothing. Three years of law school is great, but it's the thirty years of career thereafter that we need to focus on. The misery of successful lawyers and the misery of the failures.

    And that's what K-JDers fail to realize because they just don't know what working in the real world is. They don't connect their JD with the fact that they actually have to get a real job in the real world afterwards.

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    1. I agree. My LSAT was "good enough", but I didn't really care too much becuase I was looking at the JD as a valuable credential. I was trying to enhance my career, not get into mega-white-shoe law firm.

      Hoo boy, did I learn a terrible lesson. The truth is that a JD is not "valuable" and the job market is full of pitfalls, whether you are "successful" or "not successful" as an attorney.

      Money and the right connections will cover a multitude of LSAT "sins".

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  2. Actually, those who have essentially sat in a classroom for 20-21 straight years might be better off than their non-traditional counterparts, in this field. Law firms - especially the fancier ones - typically avoid hiring summer associates or interns who are 30 years or older. Such people are not as easy to manipulate.

    The younger law students generally do not have much work experience, other than meaningless restaurant jobs. These boys and girls eagerly buy into "the law." They want to impress their superiors, and they often lack the backbone to stand up for themselves - if they are bullied or demeaned by a boss.

    Non-trad students have their own views on the workplace. Many are willing to stand up for themselves, since they usually have a lower tolerance for BS. I have also seen non-trads who performed strong academically be passed over for summer positions. What a great "profession," huh?!?!

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    1. A lot of truth to this.

      The K-Jder has no real work experience, no clue what is BS or not, and likely lacks the assertiveness or confidence of someone who's worked full-time.

      So the partners at the firm can more easily bully someone who is 25 and doe-eyed ("this is paying your dues") than someone who is 32 and knows better ("no, I am not working at 6:30 on a Saturday")

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    2. Absolutely correct. There is a great deal of age discrimination in legal hiring. It should be one of those decision points all prospective law students should consider: will I be over 30 when I graduate? If the answer is yes and you don't have an obvious and assured way to get a job, do not go to law school. Simple as that. I wish this aspect of the law school scam were better publicized.

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  3. I did not take the K-JD route but I would agree with this post. I think that the underlying point is that most K-JD think that law school is itself a prestigious step in the right direction and that a few points on the LSAT is not so life shattering. They do not realize that a few points on the test can be the difference between T14 or not T14 or the difference between a huge scholarship and sticker. In other words, a few points can make the difference when it comes to unemployment and lifelong debt.

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    1. Let's not forget the ridiculous game being played with the LSAT score, which is directly related to the 'rankings' part of the scam. The fact that the score can be the difference between a "scholarship" (primary price manipulation tool)and sticker is a joke. If there were no rankings, then there would be far fewer 'scholarships', just as if there were no easy loans there would be far fewer schools and students.

      on a another note, the fact that being able to solve one more 'logic game' than your neighbor means more to admission than earning a high GPA over the course of four years is another element of the amazing stupidity in this racket. Can anyone tell me how a high LSAT transfers to any level of potential success or real intelligence in school or as a working professional?

      Similarly there are a million PhD's in the Education sector, and that has to be the most screwed up industry in the country, except when it comes to fleecing the public.

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  4. My main point was that because the LSAT is more important than four plus years of undergrad grades and extra curricula, if someone is truly serious about law school they will take the LSAT seriously and thus, not be a K-JD.

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  5. I should've been more clear: it's a symptom of the law school "scam" that people don't spend more time on the LSAT. I thought my tongue-in-cheek paragraph would've made it more clear:

    "After all, lawyers make good money, and even if you are not making six figures, many mid-to-high five-figures legal jobs were there. Law schools outside the level of Harvard still will adequately prepare you for the practice of law, and because all law schools teach the same things, a retake isn't necessary."

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    1. Certainly true. The LSAT is apparently all that matters when it comes to minimizing everybody's costs. Had I known how de-valued a JD actually was, I would have spent years prepping for the LSAT.

      Scratch that. I would have avoided law school. But, the LSAT is critical to getting out of law school as unscathed as possible.

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  6. First commenter here. I still disagree. Yes, a few LSAT points can make the difference between T14 and T50, but does that matter when the outcome is 30 years of shit no matter what?

    The discussion should NEVER be about how to get into a better school, at least not on this blog. The discussion should be about getting people to avoid the scam altogether.

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  7. @1:30 PM

    Keep up the good work Tony.

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  8. Antonio is withholding his custom.


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  9. Why do you think that those working full-time find it easier to do 30 hours a week of studying than a college student? That's a really odd assertion that sounds, frankly, like whining about how those who work for a living have it easier than college students, and that if only you took time off from college to kick back with a real job, you'd have a more awesomer LSAT score

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    1. Exactly. That is easily the dumbest sentenance in the entire article. I had to quit my full time consulting job to study for the LSAT. Most people can't do 40-50 hrs of a full time job + 30 hours of LSAT prep a week. The smartest way to go about it is to take the LSAT right after undergrad is over after having studied for it full time 6 months AND THEN get a full time job for a year before beginning one's JD.

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  10. A lot of the books on your list for this one have mysteriously found their way onto my wish list…
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