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Applying to Law School in the States

Applying to Law School in the States

Old Apr 21st 2008, 5:39 pm
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Default Applying to Law School in the States

Hi,
I am wondering if anyone has been through the US law school application process with a British degree and could offer any advice. I'm currently studying up in Glasgow at the University of Glasgow (no idea if Glasgow is reputable in the US or if anyone has even heard of it at all). My school has very little information to offer and the Fulbright commission isn't very helpful either. My biggest questions are concerned with how grades are translated into GPA and how British, in particular Scottish, universities are perceived by admissions officers.

Thank You
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 5:52 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

I would think your best bet would be to contact a few of the law schools you are interested in attending and getting their take on the situation.

I hope that you are prepared for the high cost involved in attending law school. My nephew's cost just for law school was well over $100,000. He and his wife attended and graduated from George Washington University.
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 6:52 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

If you are getting an LLB at a UK university you might want to consider an LLM at an American school and then taking the bar in NY or another state that lets you sit for the bar with just an LLM. Would be considerably quicker (1 year vs. 3 years).

However, an American law school JD might prove more valuable when job hunting.

By and large, you are too late for the Fall Semester that starts next August. You'll probably also have to sit for the LSAT test in the next six months or so that is required my almost all law schools prior to admission.
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 7:11 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

Originally Posted by dadubois10 View Post
Hi,
I'm currently studying up in Glasgow at the University of Glasgow (no idea if Glasgow is reputable in the US or if anyone has even heard of it at all).

Thank You
I've heard of it!! Went to school there for a semester (on a study abroad from the US). I met my hubby while studying there, so I have very fond memories of Univ. of Glasgow.

British/Scottish uni's are all treated the same - as an international university. All international universities are treated the same (as far as I'm aware). You will need to meet the admissions/entry requirements, no matter if you attended uni in England or Scotland. There are different evaluators that are used to convert British grades to American grades (and then into a GPA). Depending on the uni you want to apply to here in the US, that will dictate which evaluator is used. Some uni's may require you to have this equivalency before you can apply (they will tell you where to send your transcripts), other uni's will tell you to send them your official grade transript and then they will evaluate it. From my experience, my grades at Glasgow uni translated into higher grades at my US uni. So if I got a 'B' in a class over there, it became an 'A' here.

As Rete stated, be prepared to pay out your arse for international tuition at any university you attend, unless you can qualify for an international scholarship. When I was getting prepared for studying in Glasgow, I went to my uni's financial aid office (I can't remember if you have the equivalent there) to enquire about scholarships.

In any regards, you will need an F1 student visa to study in the US. In order to get an F1, you will already need to be admitted to a uni here, and you will need to show that you have monetary funds to support yourself while here. I believe there is a restriction on how many hours/wk a student is allowed to work, as well as where they can work. I think many of my friends from India could only work for the university in some capacity (teacher's asst, office asst, etc).

I wouldn't count on getting here for this Fall's semester. I think most int'l student need to begin the process at least 6-9months in advance. For grad level studies (which law school is) probably a year in advance to make sure you can take all of the exams you need for entry.

One of the best ways to get your questions answered is to actually call the Admissions office, and from there possibly the Financial Aid office, of the university you want to attend here. Since policies and procedures will differ from uni to uni, it's better to get the info straight from them instead of us taking guesses at what you will need to do.

Good luck!

Last edited by Bluegrass Lass; Apr 21st 2008 at 7:16 pm.
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 7:17 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

Hi Dadubois10,

I can offer you some advice on applying to U.S law school as an international student as I am going through the process myself, although my situation differs in that I will be applying as a permanent resident but its essentially the same as all my education is from UK universities.

I think there are a number of issues you need to look at before you begin the application process:

1) Cost
As Rete mentioned above the cost of law school is huge and being an international student (i.e not a PR/U.S citizen) you will not be able to receive any financial aid. The cost of the school is going to be a main obstacle because even if admitted into a law school you will not be able to be granted a F-1 student visa until you can show significant funds to cover the costs. Also the visa limits you as to working in the states during your degree i.e you are only allowed to work at jobs on campus and only a certain number of hours per week.

2) Where do you want to practice law?

If you want to end up practicing in the UK/OZ/NZ/CANADA you should stay in the UK and get your law degree here. If you've already got an undergraduate degree you can either apply to do a 2 year l.l.b or a 1 yr g.d.l. These are offered at a number of universities across the UK and upon completion you are qualified to take the LPC (legal practitioners course) that everyone must take before they become a soliciter in the UK.

If however, you want to end up in the U.S this may not be the best way to do it. Although you will have an American J.D at the end of it you are still not a PR/U.S citizen and are still not entitled to work there. You may find a firm willing to sponsor you but I would not count on it. What I am trying to say is don't assume that because you have the j.d you will automatically be able to live/work in the U.S

3) The LSAT

This is a standardized test you will have to take before you apply to any law school. If you ever took the 11+ exam when you were younger its kind of like that apart from a million times harder. Most law school admissions councellors that I have been in touch with seem to stress that although a good undergrad degree will get you far, your LSAT score determines what law school you will end up at. You can take the test in June, Oct, Dec, Feb throughout the U.S. The only place that offers it in the UK is in London and it costs about £170.

4) Once you have an idea of your LSAT score you can start looking at schools that are within your reach. Again the application process takes a while. Normally first date of applications is in September, closing in March so basically you have to start the application process about a yr before you want to start. Along with Under grad transcripts, lsat scores, you will also need at least 2 letters of recommendation and a personal statement.

As for converting UK degrees to GPA, what I have found is that a high 2.1 normally converts to around a 3.3, a first is 3.5 and above etc. This is all on a 4.0 scale so will give you some idea of where your marks stand.

You should check out www.lawschoolnumbers.com as this enables you to look at schools that depending on you lsat/gpa are within your reach.

I hope I have provided useful information. Personally, I would stay in the UK and get a law degree at a fraction of the price and without all the hassle of the U.S application process. The only reason I am doing it is because I will be marrying my US fiance in a yr or so and will then be living in the U.S and as a current law student in the UK I want to practice law in the future + the only way to do that is to get the j.d!

Sophie

Last edited by yorkieuk; Apr 21st 2008 at 7:21 pm. Reason: typo
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 9:37 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

Originally Posted by penguinsix View Post
If you are getting an LLB at a UK university you might want to consider an LLM at an American school and then taking the bar in NY or another state that lets you sit for the bar with just an LLM. Would be considerably quicker (1 year vs. 3 years).

However, an American law school JD might prove more valuable when job hunting.

By and large, you are too late for the Fall Semester that starts next August. You'll probably also have to sit for the LSAT test in the next six months or so that is required my almost all law schools prior to admission.
Sorry,
Should have clarified a few points:
1. I'm only a second year.
2. I will hopefully be doing an honors in philosophy, but won't know until after exams.

Since I have quite a bit of time before I need to apply I'm trying to figure out if the grades I've earned already will keep me from being accepted to the top tier law schools. I've done well enough to get in to honors, mostly B's, but if I was at a US university I'd need mostly A's. I've heard that UK Bs=As in the US but am not sure how universal this is. Also will they look at the uni work that I did before I even got into honors?

Thanks So Much
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 9:39 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

I have been studying for a long time in the US, not law, but I am familiar with the application process of getting into universities here. Basically, there are a lot of hoops to jump through just to get ready to apply. Many schools have prerequisites courses you need to take, then there's the LSAT and then there are the applications (some of which are so long and involved, plus the application fee. If you apply to several law schools, the fees can add up). Then you have immigration issues. If you have never experienced US immigration, you are in for a treat! Basically, it can take years to get everything lined up so that you can apply. Then there's the cost. American colleges are frighteningly (is that a word?) expensive. I mean, you can be looking at a 6 figure debt! My point, and I do have one LOL, is that you would be better off staying in the UK. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 9:49 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

Each university will have its own methodologies for converting overseas grades into US-style GPA's and their ranking of undergraduate schools. Their applications should include a summation of how each of them approaches the GPA conversion.

The LSAT score is absolutely critical to your application; a high one can help to offset a mediocre GPA, while a low one will be a barrier to admission. Take the exam well ahead of time, so that you have an idea of how competitive your application is before applying. Allow several weeks to study for it, and seriously consider taking a reputable preparation course (Kaplan or Princeton Review) to study for it.

Given the exceedingly high cost of US programs, I would seriously consider studying at a UK university, instead. There are ways to pass the bar without attending a US program -- for example, in California, you need not attend law school at all to sit for the exam, while in other places, a 1-year US LLM program might suffice. Check the bar rules for whichever states in which you would consider practicing, and plan accordingly.
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 10:04 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

I think the two crucial things are:

1) LSAT score - get a high one of these and you'll be looking good. Aim for a good 2.1 in the UK and you should be fine in regards to gpa/lsat.

2) Cost - you have yet to say how you plan on financing the 3 years at law school. Without the option of financial aid you are looking at costs of between $40,000-$60,000 per year!!
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Old Apr 21st 2008, 11:58 pm
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

Originally Posted by yorkieuk View Post
I think the two crucial things are:

1) LSAT score - get a high one of these and you'll be looking good. Aim for a good 2.1 in the UK and you should be fine in regards to gpa/lsat.

2) Cost - you have yet to say how you plan on financing the 3 years at law school. Without the option of financial aid you are looking at costs of between $40,000-$60,000 per year!!
I have US citizenship, so will probably go to a public school and apply for a federal loan.
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Old Apr 22nd 2008, 12:49 am
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

Originally Posted by dadubois10 View Post
I have US citizenship, so will probably go to a public school and apply for a federal loan.
OK - that little detail makes a big difference!

One thing that you should do, however, is check into what the residency requirements are in the state or states where you might want to study.

For example, I believe that the University of California uses a multi-part test which requires physical presence in the state for 1 year prior to enrollment, evidence of intent to make California your permanent residence, and evidence of financial independence.

See, for example, this page from the USCB web site
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Old Apr 22nd 2008, 1:08 am
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

Originally Posted by md95065 View Post
One thing that you should do, however, is check into what the residency requirements are in the state or states where you might want to study.
Throughout the country, residency for the purposes of determining in-state tuition typically requires twelve months of residency prior to the beginning of the school term.

I would suggest getting an address here as soon as possible. If you can borrow a friend or relative's address, do so. Getting a state driver's license or ID card as soon as possible should be enough to get the residency clock started.
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Old Apr 22nd 2008, 3:17 am
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Default Re: Applying to Law School in the States

Originally Posted by dadubois10 View Post
I have US citizenship, so will probably go to a public school and apply for a federal loan.
Hope you've been filing your tax returns to Uncle Sam.
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