Getting In

Here is my second Writer-in-Residence post from the Ms. JD website.  The original can be found here.

I have lots of other blog post ideas, so I just need to find the time to sit down and write them out.  Hopefully I’ll be posting a couple more times in the next week or so!

-A.

I’ve been doing my homework over here in the frigid Minnesota winter. And I keep reading one thing over and over again: The ranking of your law school is sometimes the most important factor in whether or not you’ll be hired as a lawyer later. They don’t teach you that in Legally Blonde, where Elle Woods had no trouble getting into Harvard Law (what, like it’s hard?).

Well, it is hard. And it’s something that is constantly on my mind when I think about the possibility of law school.

Looking back at my time in college, it’s all a blur. And that’s not because I was the hard-partying type—no, no, I was just the busy type. My senior year, I took a full load of credits, worked three part time jobs, and was applying and interviewing for PhD programs. I never sat still. But that also means that I was stretched a little thin. My grades could have been better, but who has time to cram for tests when she’s jet-setting across the country interviewing for PhD programs? Well. This is why I’m concerned, now.

I hold a chemistry degree with an English minor from a small liberal arts school in Michigan. My GPA is above average, but it isn’t great (it’s a 3.2, if I remember correctly). I have very fond memories of my time in college, but I could have done better. Even if I get a stellar score on the LSAT, will I get into a top tier law school? And if I don’t get into a top tier law school, is it even worth it?

I’ve done quite a bit of (internet) research on this topic. And it does still sound like pedigree matters a great deal when it comes to getting hired out of law school. So what does that mean for people like me? I didn’t get into any trouble in college. I worked hard, and I was in a tough major. I had a life, but I also studied a lot. I’m in that middle area, that section of graduates who did just above average, but not stellar. Will that get me into a good law school?

Another factor to consider is that I’m in the top of my class in a Master’s degree program in technical and scientific communication. In all of the reading I’ve done, I’ve learned that law schools care very little about Master’s degrees earned before applying. So that won’t help me at all? It’s been improving my communication skills, my ability to stand up in front of people and speak, and my confidence in my abilities as an employee and team member. It’s only been helpful to me, but yet it may still not help my applications to law school. What’s up with that?

Based on everything I’ve read, you’d think I’d be discouraged. I’m not. I’m a nontraditional applicant, coming from a nontraditional field to enter law. Everything about me is different from what law schools will probably be expecting. Yet I’m determined. It’s going to be a challenge, that’s for sure. But it’s one that I’m excited about. Challenges are supposed to be fun and exciting, right?

They are for me.

Have you been in this position before? Do you have some insight? I’d love to hear from you. You can comment below, or you can shoot me an email: amanda.gernentz@gmail.com.

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2 thoughts on “Getting In

  1. This is an interesting facet to law school (and med school and business school) and people often think it carries over to graduate school, but it really doesn’t. The ranking of your grad school will only take you so far. Realistically it’s what you do in grad school (and who you know) that gets you the job after gradation. But with law school (and the other two I mentioned), I think it definitely is more about what school you go to. It’s interesting because at a school like Wake, where many of the students go on to one of those three “grad” schools, undergrads who want to pursue PhD routes are convinced that they have to go to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, or Johns Hopkins. Really, it doesn’t matter. You should go where you are going to be happy, meet the most people in your specific field, and be the most productive, because if you struggle at one of the top schools because they don’t give you enough support, you will never find a job. I know this isn’t at all helpful to your situation, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I try to help guide the undergrads into their next challenge and it’s a tough mindset to break with them (I’ve not been successful as of yet haha).

  2. I was a nontraditional applicant to law school, and from my perspective schools do put a premium on having students who show that they can handle the rigors of being in law school because of how they’ve been able to handle life outside of college. However, there are so many factors that go into a school’s decision to admit/deny/waitlist that there really isn’t one sure fire answer. The LSAT does provide an easy-to-gauge metric for schools, so it’s very important to take it seriously, but an applicant’s “soft” qualities can give them a good boost!

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