Admission Advice - LLM in California


emily717
Hi all!

I am an English student in my 5th year about to graduate from my combined LLM and LPC (legal practice course) at the University of Law. I am planning to move over to the states because my long-term partner lives out there. He is planning to apply to complete his PhD at a university in California (likely UCLA) and I'd love to find a way to get out there too. I just wanted some advice about how likely I would be to succeed in my applications to American law schools as I have absolutely no idea nor does my mathematician partner.

I shall briefly sum up my position below.

Study:
I graduated from a mid/low-range university in England with a high 2.1 degree at 67% for my LLB - which from my research places me at the equivalent of about a 3.5 GPA. Whilst completing my undergrad I spent a year abroad at the Université Paris-Est Créteil where I studied French and European law. Whilst I was there I rented an apartment on my own, I was only 19 at the time, and through the culture immersion I became fluent in French. One of my professors was particularly impressed by my performance who I'm sure would write a good letter of recommendation.
My current university is the biggest law school in the UK but not necessarily prestigious. I imagine I will graduate with a commendation which is the equivalent of a 2.1.

Work:
I completed a mini-pupillage at a barrister's criminal defense chambers for a week four years ago. I spent two months in Savannah, Georgia as an intern at a Public Defender's office two years ago and my supervisor (Chief Public Defender) said he would be happy to write a glowing recommendation. Before graduating university I begun working part-time as a paralegal at a relatively unknown personal injury firm and am still working there now, they have also said they would be more than happy to write a fantastic recommendation as they have been very impressed with my work.
I have secured myself another internship at a criminal defense practice in Virginia this summer (clearly criminal defense is a running theme here... it's my passion) and I'm hoping I can impress them too!!

Hobbies/ awards:
I am the president of my university's Amnesty International society and have organised several events, I was also the secretary of the society at my undergraduate university. I have continued studying French and have also recently begun to learn Arabic. I have dedicated my time to the charity Help the Aged and volunteered for them several times. I have also recently been getting involved with the political party Green Party and plan to write some articles about their policies regarding the environment.
I won an award for the highest class performance for the module international law in practice at my undergraduate school.

This is a very brief overview, I am extremely passionate and dedicated about indigent defense and largely dream about becoming a public defender... I'm sure I could write a compelling personal essay about my motivations and ambitions.

I would appreciate any information about how likely it would be for me to get in to the universities in California. I am particularly keen on Berkeley (of course), I was initially interested in UCLA but it is my understanding that they aren't famed for their criminal study... I was interested in USC but they're tuition is outrageously expensive and I wouldn't receive any funding from there. I am more than certain I'm not good enough for Stanford. I've found some good scholarship possibilities for USD, Golden Gate Law School, Thomas Jefferson Law School and Pacific, McGeorge School of Law... but I haven't heard brilliant reviews of these schools.

I feel like I'm either looking at fantastic schools or mediocre schools, I can't seem to find my middle ground. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I am looking to apply this fall and would like to start directing my thoughts to which universities I should visit this summer while I'm in the states.

I apologize for the lengthy post!
Hi all!

I am an English student in my 5th year about to graduate from my combined LLM and LPC (legal practice course) at the University of Law. I am planning to move over to the states because my long-term partner lives out there. He is planning to apply to complete his PhD at a university in California (likely UCLA) and I'd love to find a way to get out there too. I just wanted some advice about how likely I would be to succeed in my applications to American law schools as I have absolutely no idea nor does my mathematician partner.

I shall briefly sum up my position below.

Study:
I graduated from a mid/low-range university in England with a high 2.1 degree at 67% for my LLB - which from my research places me at the equivalent of about a 3.5 GPA. Whilst completing my undergrad I spent a year abroad at the Université Paris-Est Créteil where I studied French and European law. Whilst I was there I rented an apartment on my own, I was only 19 at the time, and through the culture immersion I became fluent in French. One of my professors was particularly impressed by my performance who I'm sure would write a good letter of recommendation.
My current university is the biggest law school in the UK but not necessarily prestigious. I imagine I will graduate with a commendation which is the equivalent of a 2.1.

Work:
I completed a mini-pupillage at a barrister's criminal defense chambers for a week four years ago. I spent two months in Savannah, Georgia as an intern at a Public Defender's office two years ago and my supervisor (Chief Public Defender) said he would be happy to write a glowing recommendation. Before graduating university I begun working part-time as a paralegal at a relatively unknown personal injury firm and am still working there now, they have also said they would be more than happy to write a fantastic recommendation as they have been very impressed with my work.
I have secured myself another internship at a criminal defense practice in Virginia this summer (clearly criminal defense is a running theme here... it's my passion) and I'm hoping I can impress them too!!

Hobbies/ awards:
I am the president of my university's Amnesty International society and have organised several events, I was also the secretary of the society at my undergraduate university. I have continued studying French and have also recently begun to learn Arabic. I have dedicated my time to the charity Help the Aged and volunteered for them several times. I have also recently been getting involved with the political party Green Party and plan to write some articles about their policies regarding the environment.
I won an award for the highest class performance for the module international law in practice at my undergraduate school.

This is a very brief overview, I am extremely passionate and dedicated about indigent defense and largely dream about becoming a public defender... I'm sure I could write a compelling personal essay about my motivations and ambitions.

I would appreciate any information about how likely it would be for me to get in to the universities in California. I am particularly keen on Berkeley (of course), I was initially interested in UCLA but it is my understanding that they aren't famed for their criminal study... I was interested in USC but they're tuition is outrageously expensive and I wouldn't receive any funding from there. I am more than certain I'm not good enough for Stanford. I've found some good scholarship possibilities for USD, Golden Gate Law School, Thomas Jefferson Law School and Pacific, McGeorge School of Law... but I haven't heard brilliant reviews of these schools.

I feel like I'm either looking at fantastic schools or mediocre schools, I can't seem to find my middle ground. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! I am looking to apply this fall and would like to start directing my thoughts to which universities I should visit this summer while I'm in the states.

I apologize for the lengthy post!
quote
Wavshrdr
Based on the limited amount you have written (even though a long post), I'll give you my best assessment of your chances. It will be a long-shot for you to get into Berkeley. It likely will be a stretch to get into UCLA.

The competition is pretty fierce for the top schools. You probably have a good shot at USC Gould (in Los Angeles), UC Davis, UC Irivine, Pepperdine & UC Hastings.

I would say UCLA is a "reach school for you". and shoot for USC as a relatively safe option but have some of the other schools as "safety schools" if you are set on California. Check the locations on a map to see if they are close enough to your partner.

General advice would be to get LORs from your current professors. Your relatively limited work experience in the US will count for almost nothing. Your personal statement had better be over incredible to help you have a real chance at Berkeley or UCLA. Please don't take this in the wrong way but your academic achievements will probably be the limiting factors for Berkeley and UCLA. If you apply to Stanford and get accepted I would immediately go out and buy a lottery ticket. :-)

If you have the time and money to waste, then apply to them of course. Just from what I've seen for people applying to the top schools with respect tor their academic achievements, credentials, CV, etc., you are at a disadvantage but some of that can be overcome with a tremendously well written personal statement. Think of each area worth about 30% (academic record, LORs and personal statement). Then there seems to be about a 10% intangible area such as sex, country, ethnicity, compelling situation in your country, etc.

A word of advice on your personal statement, make sure you write it yourself. In most schools there is a clause that if you don't write it yourself, they may reject your application later or bar your admission. Don't be tempted to use a personal essay service either. I have read that some try and extort money from you later after you have submitted their version. For example they will threaten to write the dean at XYZ university if you don't give them more money. Some of the people are very unsavory.

Take the time, write it yourself. Give plenty of thought to it and tell a story that they can't get from reading your CV or LORs. Bring yourself to life with the few words you have. Be compelling but not sappy, crisp but not truncated, and put your best food forward.

One last thing to mention, the lower ranked schools are more likely to give you decent scholarship if you are a very compelling candidate. I don't want to mention any schools or amounts in an open forum but I was offered some very enticing scholarships from some of the schools I mentioned as alternatives to UCLA or Berkeley. To go any lower than the previous schools I mentioned you are really wasting your time or money and I likely wouldn't consider going to those schools even if they were free.

Good luck!
Based on the limited amount you have written (even though a long post), I'll give you my best assessment of your chances. It will be a long-shot for you to get into Berkeley. It likely will be a stretch to get into UCLA.

The competition is pretty fierce for the top schools. You probably have a good shot at USC Gould (in Los Angeles), UC Davis, UC Irivine, Pepperdine & UC Hastings.

I would say UCLA is a "reach school for you". and shoot for USC as a relatively safe option but have some of the other schools as "safety schools" if you are set on California. Check the locations on a map to see if they are close enough to your partner.

General advice would be to get LORs from your current professors. Your relatively limited work experience in the US will count for almost nothing. Your personal statement had better be over incredible to help you have a real chance at Berkeley or UCLA. Please don't take this in the wrong way but your academic achievements will probably be the limiting factors for Berkeley and UCLA. If you apply to Stanford and get accepted I would immediately go out and buy a lottery ticket. :-)

If you have the time and money to waste, then apply to them of course. Just from what I've seen for people applying to the top schools with respect tor their academic achievements, credentials, CV, etc., you are at a disadvantage but some of that can be overcome with a tremendously well written personal statement. Think of each area worth about 30% (academic record, LORs and personal statement). Then there seems to be about a 10% intangible area such as sex, country, ethnicity, compelling situation in your country, etc.

A word of advice on your personal statement, make sure you write it yourself. In most schools there is a clause that if you don't write it yourself, they may reject your application later or bar your admission. Don't be tempted to use a personal essay service either. I have read that some try and extort money from you later after you have submitted their version. For example they will threaten to write the dean at XYZ university if you don't give them more money. Some of the people are very unsavory.

Take the time, write it yourself. Give plenty of thought to it and tell a story that they can't get from reading your CV or LORs. Bring yourself to life with the few words you have. Be compelling but not sappy, crisp but not truncated, and put your best food forward.

One last thing to mention, the lower ranked schools are more likely to give you decent scholarship if you are a very compelling candidate. I don't want to mention any schools or amounts in an open forum but I was offered some very enticing scholarships from some of the schools I mentioned as alternatives to UCLA or Berkeley. To go any lower than the previous schools I mentioned you are really wasting your time or money and I likely wouldn't consider going to those schools even if they were free.

Good luck!
quote
giuggiu
I got accepted at Berkeley and Gould and my profile is not better than yours at all. I think you should apply at any school you like! I chose Berkeley and I would suggest it for obvious reasons!!! If you need some specific advises on the application (statement, LoR) sent me a pm.
I got accepted at Berkeley and Gould and my profile is not better than yours at all. I think you should apply at any school you like! I chose Berkeley and I would suggest it for obvious reasons!!! If you need some specific advises on the application (statement, LoR) sent me a pm.
quote
Wavshrdr
You can't compare just profiles. I think ethnic or country of origin can play a huge factor. For example, Asians (at least with respect to JD admission (likely LLM but I can't prove it) have to have a much higher LSAT, GPA, etc to get admitted to most schools. If you are something other than white or Asian, the admission standards can be lower from what I've seen.

Of course you can apply to every school in the T100 if you want assuming you have the time, inclination and $$$. But why not apply nearest to your partner? Wait until he is accepted someplace and then apply nearby if you have time to do it. From Berkeley to UCLA is not an easy trip. Even being in the same city can be a challenge in California as the traffic is horrendous and even public transport is quite time consuming and not exactly cheap.

Honestly I still think your credentials will be a stretch for Berkeley. Min GPA needs to be 3.7.-3.8 from what I've seen and they are pretty selective about other factors as well. I know people with a 3.9 GPA and impressive other stats that were waitlisted and in the 2nd quartile at that. It can also come down to the program you are trying to get into as well.
You can't compare just profiles. I think ethnic or country of origin can play a huge factor. For example, Asians (at least with respect to JD admission (likely LLM but I can't prove it) have to have a much higher LSAT, GPA, etc to get admitted to most schools. If you are something other than white or Asian, the admission standards can be lower from what I've seen.

Of course you can apply to every school in the T100 if you want assuming you have the time, inclination and $$$. But why not apply nearest to your partner? Wait until he is accepted someplace and then apply nearby if you have time to do it. From Berkeley to UCLA is not an easy trip. Even being in the same city can be a challenge in California as the traffic is horrendous and even public transport is quite time consuming and not exactly cheap.

Honestly I still think your credentials will be a stretch for Berkeley. Min GPA needs to be 3.7.-3.8 from what I've seen and they are pretty selective about other factors as well. I know people with a 3.9 GPA and impressive other stats that were waitlisted and in the 2nd quartile at that. It can also come down to the program you are trying to get into as well.
quote
giuggiu
well my gpa is not high at all and i am italian, if i understood correctly this girl is english so there shouldn t really be a difference between us. And as i wrote if i compare my profile with hers i don t really think that mine is better, not only in terms of gpa but also of work experiences and everything else. But i am a student at UC Berkeley. I agree with the fact that she should try to go close to her boyfriend but since admission criteria change a lot every year and since there is not a real rule to get accepted i think she have good opportunities.
with my profile i got accepted in many schools of the top 20 so in my opinion she should try with good high ranked schools because she can definitely make it!
well my gpa is not high at all and i am italian, if i understood correctly this girl is english so there shouldn t really be a difference between us. And as i wrote if i compare my profile with hers i don t really think that mine is better, not only in terms of gpa but also of work experiences and everything else. But i am a student at UC Berkeley. I agree with the fact that she should try to go close to her boyfriend but since admission criteria change a lot every year and since there is not a real rule to get accepted i think she have good opportunities.
with my profile i got accepted in many schools of the top 20 so in my opinion she should try with good high ranked schools because she can definitely make it!
quote
Why are you not good enough for Stanford?

You should apply for both, There are different criterias each year, as mentioned by our colleague above.

You should visit the campus, talk to alumni... and choose the universties that match with you profile, values and what you are looking for!

As there are no objective criteria besides good LORs, grades (I know many people who got accepted into TOP10 schools with B) and TOEFL (try to reach at least +105)... you never know what each university will consider...

You are good enough for whatever you decide to do.
Let us know if you need any help!
Why are you not good enough for Stanford?

You should apply for both, There are different criterias each year, as mentioned by our colleague above.

You should visit the campus, talk to alumni... and choose the universties that match with you profile, values and what you are looking for!

As there are no objective criteria besides good LORs, grades (I know many people who got accepted into TOP10 schools with B) and TOEFL (try to reach at least +105)... you never know what each university will consider...

You are good enough for whatever you decide to do.
Let us know if you need any help!
quote
Wavshrdr
Just to add something I've noticed about Stanford from reading through other forums and this one. Near as I can determine, Stanford typically only takes one person from a given country. From looking back posts I can't seem to find any exceptions to this though there may be one somewhere. I assume it is to promote more diversity which I think is a great idea. So unless you happen to be the best overall candidate (however they determine that) from a particular country, you don't have much chance.

While Stanford maybe a little more relaxed than say Columbia or NYU, it is still very demanding. In addition they don't give any scholarships for LLM students either. The cost of living there and going to school there is pretty significant. I think they estimate one year's overall cost about $85,000 USD. Obviously just one of many factors to consider.
Just to add something I've noticed about Stanford from reading through other forums and this one. Near as I can determine, Stanford typically only takes one person from a given country. From looking back posts I can't seem to find any exceptions to this though there may be one somewhere. I assume it is to promote more diversity which I think is a great idea. So unless you happen to be the best overall candidate (however they determine that) from a particular country, you don't have much chance.

While Stanford maybe a little more relaxed than say Columbia or NYU, it is still very demanding. In addition they don't give any scholarships for LLM students either. The cost of living there and going to school there is pretty significant. I think they estimate one year's overall cost about $85,000 USD. Obviously just one of many factors to consider.
quote

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