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Question re: Access Application

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Hey guys,

This is my first post here, as I just discovered this forum recently. Without being excessively long winded, I am hoping to gain some insight on whether or not I should continue striving for LS or if it is time to be realistic and seriously explore other career paths. 

I am a 21 y/o third year undergrad in Ontario. My cGPA is absolutely brutal (around a 1.7) but my grades have increased fairly significantly throughout my third year thus far (currently around a 2.3 - I know this still isn’t “good”). I am being optimistic and anticipating a competitive score on the LSAT, which I know is never guaranteed. I don’t have any extra curriculars as I have always been a commuter student who works 20-30 hours a week. I am considering trying to squeeze in a club for my 4th year, or take on some volunteer work. I work at a law firm and have an extensive list of skills from this job with fantastic references from both of the lawyers I work for.

I have never considered applying under access until recently when I underwent a diagnostic surgery and was diagnosed with a chronic illness that has gone undiagnosed for years. I live with chronic pain, that “flares” frequently, and have struggled with severe anxiety and  depression prior to the official diagnosis (my condition can only be diagnosed with a surgery - doctors are hesitant to immediately offer surgery - you get it) due to the level of pain I was living with and how debilitating it is - many days I need to take high dose pain killers before I can even walk properly. I could talk about my condition and provide extensive details and my “story” forever but I will leave it at that. 

I’m asking: if you were me, would you continue striving for LS? Would you apply as access, or general? Would you extend your undergrad in hopes of getting in? 

Note: I am not overly willing to wait to apply as a mature student - my condition has placed a timeline on my ability to start a family. 

Schools I am most interested in: 

1. Osgoode

2. Western 

3. Windsor

4. UBC 

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help me out. I really appreciate your feedback. 

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, lawlova said:

Hey guys,

This is my first post here, as I just discovered this forum recently. Without being excessively long winded, I am hoping to gain some insight on whether or not I should continue striving for LS or if it is time to be realistic and seriously explore other career paths. 

I am a 21 y/o third year undergrad in Ontario. My cGPA is absolutely brutal (around a 1.7) but my grades have increased fairly significantly throughout my third year thus far (currently around a 2.3 - I know this still isn’t “good”). I am being optimistic and anticipating a competitive score on the LSAT, which I know is never guaranteed. I don’t have any extra curriculars as I have always been a commuter student who works 20-30 hours a week. I am considering trying to squeeze in a club for my 4th year, or take on some volunteer work. I work at a law firm and have an extensive list of skills from this job with fantastic references from both of the lawyers I work for.

I have never considered applying under access until recently when I underwent a diagnostic surgery and was diagnosed with a chronic illness that has gone undiagnosed for years. I live with chronic pain, that “flares” frequently, and have struggled with severe anxiety and  depression prior to the official diagnosis (my condition can only be diagnosed with a surgery - doctors are hesitant to immediately offer surgery - you get it) due to the level of pain I was living with and how debilitating it is - many days I need to take high dose pain killers before I can even walk properly. I could talk about my condition and provide extensive details and my “story” forever but I will leave it at that. 

I’m asking: if you were me, would you continue striving for LS? Would you apply as access, or general? Would you extend your undergrad in hopes of getting in? 

Note: I am not overly willing to wait to apply as a mature student - my condition has placed a timeline on my ability to start a family. 

Schools I am most interested in: 

1. Osgoode

2. Western 

3. Windsor

4. UBC 

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help me out. I really appreciate your feedback. 

If your conditions significantly impacted your academic ability, I'd say go for the access claim. That being said, ask yourself if you think you could cope with the demands of law school. 

Even with an access claim, a 1.7 is still very low. I'd look into schools that consider your last 2 or best 2 years, or schools that will drop courses.

Also, be weary about getting a "competitive score" , because the fact of the matter is half of test takes score 151 or lower

Extra: a lot of people are probably gonna say forget it. And maybe they're right. It may be time to start thinking about a backup plan because the odds are certainly not in your favour. But I suppose it's worth a try if you really have your heart set on it. Just my $0.02. 

Edited by Inconspicuous

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You are nowhere near being a competitive applicant for law school, as stands. Access categories for applicants are not pity awards for the hard live you've endured. That's not to dismiss your challenges. The idea behind these applications is that some applicants have not been able to fully demonstrate their abilities due to X, Y, and Z. But in order to suggest you are that kind of applicant, you do at least need to demonstrate your ability at some point. And that means grades in the A-range, and not grades in the C+ range which is where you currently stand.

Look at it this way. For the sake of not offending you, I'm willing to believe that your condition has permanently limited your ability to perform, academically. But if that's true now, and true forever, it will still be true in law school. And God only knows how you'd expect to function as a lawyer with the limitations you describe. If it's possible to overcome your challenges entirely, to the point where you can perform at a high academic level, you should realize that you need to do that now, and for at least a couple of years, and to demonstrate it's possible before any law school will take you seriously. It can paint your past in a more favorable light that you've overcome your various conditions. But no one, and I mean no one, is going to believe that if you get into law school then that is the point in time when you magically become a far, far better student than you've ever been in the past.

Hope that's some help.

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16 minutes ago, lawlova said:

Hey guys,

This is my first post here, as I just discovered this forum recently. Without being excessively long winded, I am hoping to gain some insight on whether or not I should continue striving for LS or if it is time to be realistic and seriously explore other career paths. 

I am a 21 y/o third year undergrad in Ontario. My cGPA is absolutely brutal (around a 1.7) but my grades have increased fairly significantly throughout my third year thus far (currently around a 2.3 - I know this still isn’t “good”). I am being optimistic and anticipating a competitive score on the LSAT, which I know is never guaranteed. I don’t have any extra curriculars as I have always been a commuter student who works 20-30 hours a week. I am considering trying to squeeze in a club for my 4th year, or take on some volunteer work. I work at a law firm and have an extensive list of skills from this job with fantastic references from both of the lawyers I work for.

I have never considered applying under access until recently when I underwent a diagnostic surgery and was diagnosed with a chronic illness that has gone undiagnosed for years. I live with chronic pain, that “flares” frequently, and have struggled with severe anxiety and  depression prior to the official diagnosis (my condition can only be diagnosed with a surgery - doctors are hesitant to immediately offer surgery - you get it) due to the level of pain I was living with and how debilitating it is - many days I need to take high dose pain killers before I can even walk properly. I could talk about my condition and provide extensive details and my “story” forever but I will leave it at that. 

I’m asking: if you were me, would you continue striving for LS? Would you apply as access, or general? Would you extend your undergrad in hopes of getting in? 

Note: I am not overly willing to wait to apply as a mature student - my condition has placed a timeline on my ability to start a family. 

Schools I am most interested in: 

1. Osgoode

2. Western 

3. Windsor

4. UBC 

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help me out. I really appreciate your feedback. 

First and foremost, what diplock said. I was really hoping a senior member would chime in on this. So OP gives the advice the weight it deserves Diplock probably provides the best help you’ll be able to get on this forum on this kind of topic.

I think the above is really helpful, and I don’t make a ton of posts like this, but if it’s something you really want you can still get in; though it will take significant, time-consuming sacrifices I would think a lot about that shouldn’t be understated. Like diplock said, think about how you’ll do in law school and how you’ll perform as a lawyer. Also would think a lot about if you really want to become a lawyer; not that you do, but a lot of people seem to have this unfounded glorified view of lawyers that can make the job seem like something it largely isn’t. And it seems like when they find out it isn’t after it’s too late, it can be pretty upsetting.

Do the access claim, do everything you can to increase your gpa (take extra courses and try to work less if you can; anything to improve your average). Study more than everyone else by a lot for the LSAT. 

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I can guess what condition you're talking about, and I'm confused - are you able to work 20-30 hours a week consistently, work in a law firm, take classes etc with that condition? Or are you missing a lot of work and class? In law school and articling/ practice, in many workplaces you will not always be able to take sick days when you want/need to. Also having kids during law school or early in practice is very hard and limiting - I did it and I would never recommend it. Would you be having kids with a partner or alone? 

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I am a current access candidte myself at all the schools you mentioned 

If now.diagnosed perhaps a correct treatment plan could be designed assuming it is treatable ( if it isn't at all then this could be an issue as posters mentioned that law schools would assume.you would.not.be able.to.cope with the academic.rigor of law school), consider approaching various physicians and especially Someone who specializes in your particular condition, and then you could do REALLY well in your fourth year and take an extra 5th year you would have proved your illness is no longer a factor that would.stop you from law school success and you would have shown it really was the illness that prevented you from being able to focus etc.

Not only would last 2 schools ( eg queen and western among others) be open if you could do this and if you could score a solid lsat ( not saying this is guaranteed or easy but this is what will prob be needed) , but places with a holistic analysis could also look at your file and see your poential for law school if you were to pull this off

It  not.over by any means but as people have pointed out it will come with sacrifice and great difficulty but the door is still not closed, maybe try studying for lsat this summer and write it before September when your 4th year starts, if you don't do well write it again next summer before your hypothetical 5th year and hypoethically the year you would apply in this possible scenario

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10 hours ago, providence said:

I can guess what condition you're talking about, and I'm confused - are you able to work 20-30 hours a week consistently, work in a law firm, take classes etc with that condition? Or are you missing a lot of work and class? In law school and articling/ practice, in many workplaces you will not always be able to take sick days when you want/need to. Also having kids during law school or early in practice is very hard and limiting - I did it and I would never recommend it. Would you be having kids with a partner or alone? 

Thanks for your reply! To answer your questions, yes I am able to work consistently with a full time course load after being prescribed medication to manage the pain. To put it into perspective, I have worked for the law firm I with for just under a year and I have missed 3 days, due to being in the hospital and having surgery - both related to my illness. I only miss school and work if it is absolutely impossible for me to be there. In regards to having children, I meant that in the sense that I want to complete law school/articling/settle into a career at least somewhat before having children. I mentioned that because I figured some would suggest waiting and applying as mature. I would be having kids with a partner. :)

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9 hours ago, Timmies123 said:

I am a current access candidte myself at all the schools you mentioned 

If now.diagnosed perhaps a correct treatment plan could be designed assuming it is treatable ( if it isn't at all then this could be an issue as posters mentioned that law schools would assume.you would.not.be able.to.cope with the academic.rigor of law school), consider approaching various physicians and especially Someone who specializes in your particular condition, and then you could do REALLY well in your fourth year and take an extra 5th year you would have proved your illness is no longer a factor that would.stop you from law school success and you would have shown it really was the illness that prevented you from being able to focus etc.

Not only would last 2 schools ( eg queen and western among others) be open if you could do this and if you could score a solid lsat ( not saying this is guaranteed or easy but this is what will prob be needed) , but places with a holistic analysis could also look at your file and see your poential for law school if you were to pull this off

It  not.over by any means but as people have pointed out it will come with sacrifice and great difficulty but the door is still not closed, maybe try studying for lsat this summer and write it before September when your 4th year starts, if you don't do well write it again next summer before your hypothetical 5th year and hypoethically the year you would apply in this possible scenario

Thanks so much for your reply! The route you suggested has been the route that I am thinking would be the most effective. My illness is treatable thankfully so it shouldn’t continue to limit me as much as it has as I was living with it for a long time, untreated. 

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11 hours ago, Inconspicuous said:

If your conditions significantly impacted your academic ability, I'd say go for the access claim. That being said, ask yourself if you think you could cope with the demands of law school. 

Even with an access claim, a 1.7 is still very low. I'd look into schools that consider your last 2 or best 2 years, or schools that will drop courses.

Also, be weary about getting a "competitive score" , because the fact of the matter is half of test takes score 151 or lower

Extra: a lot of people are probably gonna say forget it. And maybe they're right. It may be time to start thinking about a backup plan because the odds are certainly not in your favour. But I suppose it's worth a try if you really have your heart set on it. Just my $0.02. 

Hey, thank you for your reply! I totally realize that I can not guarantee a competitive score - I just am remaining optimistic that it is possible. You are most likely correct though, I will only really be able to look at drop schools or best 2’s. I appreciate your input! 

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11 hours ago, Diplock said:

You are nowhere near being a competitive applicant for law school, as stands. Access categories for applicants are not pity awards for the hard live you've endured. That's not to dismiss your challenges. The idea behind these applications is that some applicants have not been able to fully demonstrate their abilities due to X, Y, and Z. But in order to suggest you are that kind of applicant, you do at least need to demonstrate your ability at some point. And that means grades in the A-range, and not grades in the C+ range which is where you currently stand.

Look at it this way. For the sake of not offending you, I'm willing to believe that your condition has permanently limited your ability to perform, academically. But if that's true now, and true forever, it will still be true in law school. And God only knows how you'd expect to function as a lawyer with the limitations you describe. If it's possible to overcome your challenges entirely, to the point where you can perform at a high academic level, you should realize that you need to do that now, and for at least a couple of years, and to demonstrate it's possible before any law school will take you seriously. It can paint your past in a more favorable light that you've overcome your various conditions. But no one, and I mean no one, is going to believe that if you get into law school then that is the point in time when you magically become a far, far better student than you've ever been in the past.

Hope that's some help.

 

11 hours ago, hopefulcanadianlawyr said:

First and foremost, what diplock said. I was really hoping a senior member would chime in on this. So OP gives the advice the weight it deserves Diplock probably provides the best help you’ll be able to get on this forum on this kind of topic.

I think the above is really helpful, and I don’t make a ton of posts like this, but if it’s something you really want you can still get in; though it will take significant, time-consuming sacrifices I would think a lot about that shouldn’t be understated. Like diplock said, think about how you’ll do in law school and how you’ll perform as a lawyer. Also would think a lot about if you really want to become a lawyer; not that you do, but a lot of people seem to have this unfounded glorified view of lawyers that can make the job seem like something it largely isn’t. And it seems like when they find out it isn’t after it’s too late, it can be pretty upsetting.

Do the access claim, do everything you can to increase your gpa (take extra courses and try to work less if you can; anything to improve your average). Study more than everyone else by a lot for the LSAT. 

 

11 hours ago, Diplock said:

You are nowhere near being a competitive applicant for law school, as stands. Access categories for applicants are not pity awards for the hard live you've endured. That's not to dismiss your challenges. The idea behind these applications is that some applicants have not been able to fully demonstrate their abilities due to X, Y, and Z. But in order to suggest you are that kind of applicant, you do at least need to demonstrate your ability at some point. And that means grades in the A-range, and not grades in the C+ range which is where you currently stand.

Look at it this way. For the sake of not offending you, I'm willing to believe that your condition has permanently limited your ability to perform, academically. But if that's true now, and true forever, it will still be true in law school. And God only knows how you'd expect to function as a lawyer with the limitations you describe. If it's possible to overcome your challenges entirely, to the point where you can perform at a high academic level, you should realize that you need to do that now, and for at least a couple of years, and to demonstrate it's possible before any law school will take you seriously. It can paint your past in a more favorable light that you've overcome your various conditions. But no one, and I mean no one, is going to believe that if you get into law school then that is the point in time when you magically become a far, far better student than you've ever been in the past.

Hope that's some help.

Thank you both for your input! It’s really appreciated. I think one saving grace is that my condition is treatable, and the limitations I mentioned have lessened and should begin to diminish now that I am receiving proper treatment for it. The problem resided in the many years I suffered with it without a diagnosis, as I was dismissed by health care providers. I also am fully aware that my improved grades from last semester are still not good in the spectrum of law school applications - all I wanted to state with that was that it was a considerable improvement that came with experiencing less limitations. As for having a glorified view of being a lawyer, I would say like most, I used to. But, that image was quickly replaced with reality when I began working for lawyers and getting to know many of them. I am not offended - I posted knowing that I would receive criticism. Thanks again. :) 

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12 hours ago, lawlova said:

...I don’t have any extra curriculars as I have always been a commuter student who works 20-30 hours a week. I am considering trying to squeeze in a club for my 4th year, or take on some volunteer work. I work at a law firm and have an extensive list of skills from this job with fantastic references from both of the lawyers I work for....

[portion only quoted]

While generally agreeing with others and having much less specific or current information, this bit concerned me.

Let's say, and I hope this is the case, you get treatment and your pain is reduced and your grades shoot up in your fourth year, you get glowing references, do well on your LSAT, can show a clear and direct link between your previously undiagnosed condition and your grades then versus your grades afterwards, wonderful.

But, shouldn't your focus be (1) your health and life generally; (2) your marks? How does squeezing in a club or doing volunteer work do anything more than stress you out, reduce the time you have for studying, and lower your marks?

Now, I assume you need to work, okay I understand many people need to, and at a law firm isn't a negative (well, except as you note for the downside of getting to know some lawyers!). But why in the world would you take on additional unpaid drains on your time given how much you need to address your marks in fourth year?

Caveat, if joining a club or doing volunteer work that inspires you improves your mental outlook and happiness significantly, then it's not a drain, just don't go overboard. But it sounds like you may be trying to do too much in 4th year? How about just focus on your health, happiness, existing paid work, and marks.

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I'll just say working 20-30 hours a week on top of schools probably does the same thing, if not more, for your admission as say the president of the pre law student association who puts in (at best!) 10 hours a week. I don't think adding another club should be your focus. 

 

When writing your personal statement, focus on showing your ability to manage almost full time work with school.

 

Everything else about grades and access I have nothing to add to.

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5 hours ago, epeeist said:

[portion only quoted]

While generally agreeing with others and having much less specific or current information, this bit concerned me.

Let's say, and I hope this is the case, you get treatment and your pain is reduced and your grades shoot up in your fourth year, you get glowing references, do well on your LSAT, can show a clear and direct link between your previously undiagnosed condition and your grades then versus your grades afterwards, wonderful.

But, shouldn't your focus be (1) your health and life generally; (2) your marks? How does squeezing in a club or doing volunteer work do anything more than stress you out, reduce the time you have for studying, and lower your marks?

Now, I assume you need to work, okay I understand many people need to, and at a law firm isn't a negative (well, except as you note for the downside of getting to know some lawyers!). But why in the world would you take on additional unpaid drains on your time given how much you need to address your marks in fourth year?

Caveat, if joining a club or doing volunteer work that inspires you improves your mental outlook and happiness significantly, then it's not a drain, just don't go overboard. But it sounds like you may be trying to do too much in 4th year? How about just focus on your health, happiness, existing paid work, and marks.

Hey, thank you for your reply! Your post is really reassuring. I have always been under the impression that relevant work experience is great, but extra-curriculars like clubs/sports/volunteer work are very important as well. I've always felt like I had to incorporate volunteer-work somewhere, even though although I wish I had the time to, I just don't. So I think I will take your advice. :)

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4 hours ago, pzabbythesecond said:

I'll just say working 20-30 hours a week on top of schools probably does the same thing, if not more, for your admission as say the president of the pre law student association who puts in (at best!) 10 hours a week. I don't think adding another club should be your focus. 

 

When writing your personal statement, focus on showing your ability to manage almost full time work with school.

 

Everything else about grades and access I have nothing to add to.

This is so reassuring! Thank you so much. :)

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You should consider U of C! They really value candidates with a lot of work experience. I also recommend taking another year of classes extra to your degree and working hard to achieve some A grades. An upward trajectory will help your application. I agree with the OP who said that you have to show that you've taken steps to "overcome" (as much as possible) the things that held you back from achieving good grades in your undergrad and you have to show that you are capable of achieving those grades at least in a few classes.

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There is literally no way you will ever get in to law school with a 1.7 cGPA. 

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18 hours ago, Prospero said:

There is literally no way you will ever get in to law school with a 1.7 cGPA. 

Come on man. If you're going to pile on try to add at least a little bit to the conversation. This is needlessly mean considering this point has already been covered in the thread.

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I agree with others saying you should take a fifth year and aim for a GPA of 3.5+ in your last 2 years. I’m sure you already know but a 2.3 GPA isn’t nearly high enough to be remotely competitive either. 

 

I couldn’t tell from your post if you’re doing this already, but have you thought about taking medical leave from school for a term or longer? Since you say your illness is treatable, it might be an option worth looking into so you can focus on making sure your treatment plan is effective before tackling school again. 

 

Apply broadly to as many schools as possible since Access categories are very competitive and hard to predict. 

 

Don’t worry about ECs.

 

 

 

 

 

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On 2018-03-12 at 9:33 PM, Prospero said:

There is literally no way you will ever get in to law school with a 1.7 cGPA. 

Lol. This was so clearly addressed in the original post, and it seems I made it rather clear that if I did not improve my GPA I would not even bother applying... but thanks for your input! 

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On 2018-03-14 at 10:28 AM, Starling said:

I agree with others saying you should take a fifth year and aim for a GPA of 3.5+ in your last 2 years. I’m sure you already know but a 2.3 GPA isn’t nearly high enough to be remotely competitive either. 

 

I couldn’t tell from your post if you’re doing this already, but have you thought about taking medical leave from school for a term or longer? Since you say your illness is treatable, it might be an option worth looking into so you can focus on making sure your treatment plan is effective before tackling school again. 

 

Apply broadly to as many schools as possible since Access categories are very competitive and hard to predict. 

 

Don’t worry about ECs.

 

 

 

 

 

Hey! No, I haven't considered taking a medical leave just for the sake of time. I only wanted to consider that as a worst case scenario, and I am still managing to bring my grades up currently so I think only if I were to severely struggle and start declining (because of my illness) I would consider it. A fifth year is looking like the route I'm gong to take! It makes the most sense. Good to know about EC's! Thanks for your reply :)

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