Don’t Pay for Law School

Don’t Pay for Law School

This week’s lesson was prompted by my man Ben Olson:

Hey,

Do we have a lesson on the scholarship estimator?

Potential applicants should be using it more.

Can you go to a decent school for free? If not, keep studying or quit.

Doesn’t mince words, does he?

“Can you go to a decent school for free? If not, keep studying or quit.”

Yes, this means you.

Here at LSAT Demon, we believe firmly that you should go to law school for free or not at all. That’s because law school tuitions are wildly inflated, J.D. job outcomes are far from certain, salaries are bimodally distributed, and most law schools—including schools in the T-14, the T-100, and outside the T-100—give lavish full-tuition or greater-than-full-tuition scholarships to students who are smart enough to take them.

You don’t even have to be particularly overqualified to get a scholarship. You just have to decide you want one. No matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter what type of law you want to practice—don’t pay for law school.

Either you’re getting one of these scholarships or you’re paying for them.

If you don’t believe me, please follow Ben’s advice and check out our LSAT Demon Scholarship Estimator. I’ll run through a few examples, but there’s no substitute for plugging in your own numbers and finding your own target schools.

Can I still get a scholarship if I’m a good, but not great, candidate?

You bet your ass, you can. Applicants with 3.5 GPAs and 165 LSATs are a dime a dozen—but law schools across the country throw money at them nonetheless. Put 3.5/165 into the estimator, hit “update,” and scroll down until you start seeing green. Look:

A school within the top 30 probably isn’t going to offer a full ride to this good-but-not-great candidate. But before we exit the top 50, we start seeing green. Green means full ride. And when we scroll down a bit further, we start seeing not only green but purple—that’s when schools start paying you.

That’s right—not only can this fairly unexceptional applicant go to law school for free, they can actually get paid to go. And it’s not just one or two fluke schools, either. Sort by total cost of attendance and you see this:

There are dozens of schools all across the country—even Hawaii!—falling all over themselves to give this moderately good applicant full tuition, plus a stipend, to attend their school. Can you imagine getting paid to go to school in Hawaii?

But what if I have bad grades?

A good LSAT can cover a lot of undergraduate sins. Let’s imagine a bad undergraduate GPA like mine—2.54—along with an excellent LSAT of 170. Can this splitter go to law school for free?

Yup.

But what if I have a low LSAT?

Let’s try a good undergraduate student—3.75 GPA—with a bad LSAT of 150. Can this student go for free?

Yes, but their options are more limited. This applicant really needs to improve their LSAT score. Your LSAT score is the one thing in your application that you can really change. Let’s imagine a typical 10-point improvement—this is the minimum that we expect from our students at LSATDemon.com. How do the scholarship estimates change? Dramatically for the better:

A 10-point improvement on the LSAT would expand this high-GPA/low-LSAT student’s prospects significantly. More full-ride-plus-stipend offers, more full-ride offers, and at much better schools. It’s not a stretch to say that 10 LSAT points are worth $100,000 or more in free tuition. Study harder! Retake the LSAT! Get every single point you can. Each point is worth about 10 grand in scholarships.

But what if I have bad grades and a low LSAT?

Improve your LSAT, or just don’t go to law school. The scholarship estimates for a 2.5-GPA/150-LSAT applicant are grim:

The money for those scholarships we were salivating over has to come from somewhere. At every school, everywhere along the spectrum, there are suckers lining up to pay for law school. Don’t be one of those suckers. Get good grades in your remaining classes if you’re still an undergrad—grades absolutely do matter.

But whether you can change your GPA or not, you need to get the best LSAT score you possibly can. Schools all across the country back up the Brinks truck and shower cash on high-LSAT applicants in every single cycle. And yes, this does happen at the very top of the pyramid as well.

What if I’m a baller?

Let’s see the options for an elite applicant—one with a 3.95 GPA and 175 LSAT:

Now we’re talking. A 3.95/175 applicant is very likely to get in to the Yales, Stanfords, and Harvards of the world. The rest of the T-14 know this, so they use money to entice these students away from the elite-of-the-elite law schools. This student takes their pick from a ton of amazing options. Should they pay for Harvard? Or take a full ride to Columbia? It’s a good problem to have. Ben and I, of course, would always default to “don’t pay for law school.” Take the money. You’ll do just fine.

Your results will vary, of course. The estimator is just an estimator. But we’ve sent thousands of students to law schools across the country. These students had widely varying GPAs and LSATs, and they’ve racked up millions of dollars in scholarships. Try the LSAT Demon scholarship estimator and see for yourself.

If you have questions about this lesson, please email me: I’m nathan@lsatdemon.com, and I love to hear from my readers. And please join my free August 2021 LSAT Study Group! We meet on Zoom at 7ET/4PT each Thursday. All you need is a Demon Free account—come to class and share your scholarship estimator results.

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