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 menkenj
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#81689
I am debating on whether to push for the 20/21 cycle or wait a year to apply for law school.
3.85 GPA graduated in 2011 and have an established career in a well-respected field.

I think my story is strong enough that I can manage a solid personal statement and diversity statement. However, I am taking the LSAT for the first time this January. Started studying a few weeks ago so there is a chance I won't score high enough to get substantial scholarship funds. If I manage to get the numbers, does applying late in the cycle impact scholarship funds or would it be better to wait for the next cycle?
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 Dave Killoran
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#81692
Hi menkenj,

Thanks for the message! The short answer here is: go take your LSAT in January and see how you do, work on your apps as a distraction when you need a break from LSAT studying, and be ready to apply in January if it goes well. The longer answer is: it will depend almost entirely on how well you do.

First, January is not to late to apply. Every US school accepts the results of January (and many accept much later tests as well). I've talked about this multiple times in recent week on our podcasts and in free online webinars. This is try for the T14 on down.

Second, we are in a very unusual cycle and what we are seeing is a slower announcement of results. This actually bodes even better for those depending on financial aid and applying later since it means there will be more of it around for longer.

So, you'd be fine in January anyway, and even moreso this year. I'd keep churning away and see how things shape up LSAT-wise, and be ready if needed.

I hope that helps. Thanks!
 menkenj
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  • Joined: Dec 02, 2020
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#81808
Dave Killoran wrote:Hi menkenj,

Thanks for the message! The short answer here is: go take your LSAT in January and see how you do, work on your apps as a distraction when you need a break from LSAT studying, and be ready to apply in January if it goes well. The longer answer is: it will depend almost entirely on how well you do.

First, January is not to late to apply. Every US school accepts the results of January (and many accept much later tests as well). I've talked about this multiple times in recent week on our podcasts and in free online webinars. This is try for the T14 on down.

Second, we are in a very unusual cycle and what we are seeing is a slower announcement of results. This actually bodes even better for those depending on financial aid and applying later since it means there will be more of it around for longer.

So, you'd be fine in January anyway, and even moreso this year. I'd keep churning away and see how things shape up LSAT-wise, and be ready if needed.

I hope that helps. Thanks!
Thanks, Dave!

Very helpful advice. I am putting a lot of pressure on myself to score high in January and get apps in for fall 2021. It doesn't feel healthy at the moment. I still plan to study my ass off for January but I may still delay for the next cycle so I have more time to get recs and apply for independent scholarships. I will let January results be the gauge and keep working on my personal statement in the meantime!

Another struggle is that I am interested in a very niche area of law in that most law schools don't even offer courses yet. I am not sure how to choose which schools to even apply to because it's a field of law that is fast developing and I have no idea which law professors in the country are currently working on this problem. I found a lawyer in the UK but I want to stay in the US. Any advice of how to move forward in my search? I've done countless hours of research at this point and currently stalled.
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 KelseyWoods
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#81926
Hi menkenj!

It's a little difficult to give specific advice without knowing exactly what niche area of the law you're interested in. But, generally speaking, the basic principles of the law should apply to whatever niche you're trying to get into. You don't necessarily have to go to a school that offers courses in it or work with a professor who specializes in it. And, based on the research you've done so far, it definitely seems possible that there aren't any schools or professors specializing in this area just yet. Think more about the underlying skills you'll need to be successful in this area. Those underlying skills will be more important to you in the long run anyway as they will make you more versatile and open up more opportunities, especially if you end up deciding this niche area isn't for you (it's common for people to change their minds once they get more experience!). If there are other specializations that are related to your niche, you might look into schools that are strong in those specializations. And you should look into potential internship opportunities that will help you get more specific experience in your niche area.

I'll give you an example. I have a good friend who really wanted to be a jury consultant. But there aren't exactly degrees in jury consulting because it's a very specific area. So he got his PhD in Communication at a school that offered no classes specifically in jury consulting and had no professors who worked as jury consultants. Instead, he took classes and worked with professors specializing in related areas like decision-making, persuasion, and small group communication. He learned the underlying research methodology and statistical analysis skills he would need as a jury consultant, but that would also be helpful to any kind of research. He sought out summer internships working for jury research firms, he got involved with professional organizations for jury consultants, and he asked for informational interviews with jury consultants. And when he graduated he had multiple offers from jury consulting firms. You don't have to go to a school that will train you in this one very specific area to prepare yourself to work in that very specific area. Think more broadly about the skills and experiences you'll need to be successful. And look for opportunities outside of your school that will help you gain more specific experience and network with professionals working in your area.

And try not to burn yourself out studying for the LSAT! Honestly, overstudying and stressing yourself out can hinder your progress and prevent you from getting your best score. This is not a typical test where just cramming information into your brain will allow you to score well. Your mindset and mentality going into the test can have a major impact on your performance. So remember to allow yourself time to rest and breathe. Consider that time as an important part of your preparation for the test.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Best,
Kelsey
 menkenj
  • Posts: 88
  • Joined: Dec 02, 2020
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#81939
KelseyWoods wrote:Hi menkenj!

It's a little difficult to give specific advice without knowing exactly what niche area of the law you're interested in. But, generally speaking, the basic principles of the law should apply to whatever niche you're trying to get into. You don't necessarily have to go to a school that offers courses in it or work with a professor who specializes in it. And, based on the research you've done so far, it definitely seems possible that there aren't any schools or professors specializing in this area just yet. Think more about the underlying skills you'll need to be successful in this area. Those underlying skills will be more important to you in the long run anyway as they will make you more versatile and open up more opportunities, especially if you end up deciding this niche area isn't for you (it's common for people to change their minds once they get more experience!). If there are other specializations that are related to your niche, you might look into schools that are strong in those specializations. And you should look into potential internship opportunities that will help you get more specific experience in your niche area.

I'll give you an example. I have a good friend who really wanted to be a jury consultant. But there aren't exactly degrees in jury consulting because it's a very specific area. So he got his PhD in Communication at a school that offered no classes specifically in jury consulting and had no professors who worked as jury consultants. Instead, he took classes and worked with professors specializing in related areas like decision-making, persuasion, and small group communication. He learned the underlying research methodology and statistical analysis skills he would need as a jury consultant, but that would also be helpful to any kind of research. He sought out summer internships working for jury research firms, he got involved with professional organizations for jury consultants, and he asked for informational interviews with jury consultants. And when he graduated he had multiple offers from jury consulting firms. You don't have to go to a school that will train you in this one very specific area to prepare yourself to work in that very specific area. Think more broadly about the skills and experiences you'll need to be successful. And look for opportunities outside of your school that will help you gain more specific experience and network with professionals working in your area.

And try not to burn yourself out studying for the LSAT! Honestly, overstudying and stressing yourself out can hinder your progress and prevent you from getting your best score. This is not a typical test where just cramming information into your brain will allow you to score well. Your mindset and mentality going into the test can have a major impact on your performance. So remember to allow yourself time to rest and breathe. Consider that time as an important part of your preparation for the test.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Best,
Kelsey

Thanks, Kelsey. I found your response incredibly helpful! Especially the story about your friend and focusing on the skills needed rather than specific courses.

I would like to become an international human rights lawyer and help to end the war on drugs. I'd like to focus on psychedelics and the law through the lens of the human right to conscious liberty. Domestically I would like to help with the civil rights movement. Beyond this narrow focus, I want to make it to the UN and eventually be a law professor. I am considering a JD/MPH or a JD/PhD Psychology. Does this ring any bells for you? Do you know anyone who can point me in the right direction?

Thanks for the advice on the LSAT burnout. I am doing my best to balance and pay attention when I'm off center and need a break.

Thanks again!
Julie
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 KelseyWoods
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#81948
Hi Julie!

Definitely an interesting area of the law to get into! My advice from yesterday still holds--focus on those underlying skills and look for opportunities to get field experience in your area. You should go to the best law school you can get into (taking costs/scholarships into account) because that will open the most doors for you. Virtually any school will offer courses on civil rights, international, and constitutional law and that will be the foundation you need. Specialization comes more from the firms you work with than from the law school curriculum.

Continue to research your specific area of interest. Look up current cases related to your topic and you can find lawyers and organizations who are working on these issues. For example, here's a brief for a case the ACLU is working on that's related to drug law reform. The first page lists the brief authors and the organizations they are affiliated with: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/bir ... icus-brief. Follow cases like this. Read all you can about your area and learn about the cases as well as the individuals and groups working on them. And when you have opportunities to choose your own topics for papers, write about your area of expertise!

As for a joint JD program, a PhD program might be helpful for becoming a professor, but it is also not totally necessary, especially if you want to get several years of experience practicing in your field before you become a law professor. Consider that a PhD will add a significant amount of time to your degree, time that you might feel would be better spent getting out there and getting experience in your field. A PhD program will train you in academic research which may not be immediately helpful to you as a practicing lawyer. So you have to carefully consider whether you think the additional time and monetary investment is worth it

I think the takeaway here is that you don't have to have your entire career planned out just yet! You'll be exposed to a lot of ideas in law school and as you learn more and gain more experience, you might find other specialty areas or career opportunities that pique your interest. So the first step is really just to focus on getting the best LSAT score you can so that you can get into the best law school you can so that you will have the opportunities to do everything you are planning and/or some things that you haven't planned out yet!

Good luck!

Best,
Kelsey

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