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From Bachelor of Science in Computer Science to Law School

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  • Jul 14th, 2012 12:27 pm
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[OP]
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May 29, 2012
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From Bachelor of Science in Computer Science to Law School

Has anyone done this before or thought about it?
I'm strongly considering it because I don't know if I see myself in CS for the rest of my life... I hate coding, but I love almost everything else about computers.
However, I really want to become a lawyer... It's just something I really want to do. Not just for money sake, but the sake of being in that field as well.
Is Law a considerably better career to get into than something in CS that's not programming-related?

However, I'm in my 3rd year of University at UBC. My first year average was 88%, second 63%. I know I still have a chance to improve in my last 2 years for GPA entrance purposes, but in the worst case scenario I don't pull my average to 85+ (AND score well on the LSAT), what would I have to do?
I'm just not very hopeful because I've had some core Computer Science courses where I would study 5+ hours into certain ones daily and I hit a brick at 80%- that is, no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to pull myself above it. Plus, I just took an Algorithms course and I really thought I would at LEAST get 75%... I got only 50%... I don't even know what happened...

Would I really need to get another Bachelor's Degree just to fulfill the admission requirements (i.e. don't show them my first degree)?
Is all that lost time (and the oppertunity cost associated with those years of lost income) really worth it in the end?

I also realize that when I first graduate, I will have to spend at least a couple years climbing the social/career ladder before I get to somewhere I want to be. I'm on a student loan as well. For these 2 reasons, I'm feeling a strong sense of urgency.
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Unless you want to go to UofT, an 80% avg. is very competitive for law school.
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Sep 13, 2005
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Take a stroll over to: lawstudents.ca/

You'll find way way more info and get a lot of help there. To be honest, make the right decision regarding what YOU want to do. If coding isn't your thing then it's best you switch. Law school is competitive and hard to get in. Many have their dreams destroyed so just keep this in mind as you might not get in the first time you apply.

Good luck. :)
[OP]
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May 29, 2012
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Jyeatbvg69 wrote: Unless you want to go to UofT, an 80% avg. is very competitive for law school.
That is where ideally I want to go.
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May 17, 2005
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I agree that an 80% average, along with a solid LSAT, will get you into most Canadian law schools. However, more importanly, ask yourself why you want to go to law school. The reasons you posted are very vague. As I found out, the practice of law, as opposed to my notion of what a lawyer does, are much more different than I ever imagined. It's nothing like what you see on TV. I suggest you talk to people in the field that you're interested and see if it's something that would keep you intersted for the next 20 or 30 years.

And please ignore the article that was posted. It's written from the perspective of an American lawyer in private practice. First, the Canadian experience is much different, and second, a law degree opens a lot of doors. Private practice is only one of them, and often rejected. Bar exams are also generally much easier in Canada, perhaps with the exception of Quebec, and tuition is a fraction of what it is in the U.S. (some exceptions apply). And finally, he suggests not going to law school because "top jobs are competitive"??? I dare him to name me a top job that isn't competitive. Also, if you think that not getting a job at a Bay street firm is a reason not to go to law school, I would suggest law is not the profession for you.

Good luck in your decision!
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fratello25 wrote: I agree that an 80% average, along with a solid LSAT, will get you into most Canadian law schools. However, more importanly, ask yourself why you want to go to law school. The reasons you posted are very vague. As I found out, the practice of law, as opposed to my notion of what a lawyer does, are much more different than I ever imagined. It's nothing like what you see on TV. I suggest you talk to people in the field that you're interested and see if it's something that would keep you intersted for the next 20 or 30 years.

And please ignore the article that was posted. It's written from the perspective of an American lawyer in private practice. First, the Canadian experience is much different, and second, a law degree opens a lot of doors. Private practice is only one of them, and often rejected. Bar exams are also generally much easier in Canada, perhaps with the exception of Quebec, and tuition is a fraction of what it is in the U.S. (some exceptions apply). And finally, he suggests not going to law school because "top jobs are competitive"??? I dare him to name me a top job that isn't competitive. Also, if you think that not getting a job at a Bay street firm is a reason not to go to law school, I would suggest law is not the profession for you.

Good luck in your decision!
I just want to make the best living possible doing something I can stand (and would fare well in).
I don't watch TV, so wouldn't know the stereotype you're trying to address.
I'm more of a writer/paperwork and math/logic person.
I'm the type of guy to work very long hours.

I guess I could say the same for Computer Science, but I just can't see myself realisticly being competitive with all these other code-monkey students. I'm having a horrific experience so far in the cirriculum (excuse my spelling if incorrect). I understand that the real world may differ, but I've never been too much into coding in the first place (i.e. I don't want to do something that I'm only average at, don't care too much for, AND pays mediocre... which I see happening because my GPA is nowhere near top-tier. Here there are stories of kids score positions in Google, Microsoft, JP Morgan, etc. but they are usually top-GPA double-honors-majors... stuff I come nowhere close)
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forthewinwin wrote: I just want to make the best living possible doing something I can stand (and would fare well in).
I don't watch TV, so wouldn't know the stereotype you're trying to address.
I'm more of a writer/paperwork and math/logic person.
I'm the type of guy to work very long hours.
...
While I am sure those qualities will help, I think social or soft skills, such as relationship building, communication skills are far more important than the qualities you mentioned, especially if you want to move up in the field. I am not a lawyer but I work with many.
[OP]
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May 29, 2012
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Jyeatbvg69 wrote: Unless you want to go to UofT, an 80% avg. is very competitive for law school.
I've heard of stories about those who do well on the LSAT and get in with similar averages.
Now my question is: worst case my Computer Science average sucks... is it worth my time and effort to get a second BA for the purposes of getting a better average?
i.e. Would I make the money back that I spent on those extra 5 years of school (including law) and the money I could have earned by working instead of staying school longer?
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Jun 9, 2003
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I would finish your CS degree and go to law school after, if that's what you decide you want.

Having technical knowledge could be very valuable depending on what kind of law you want to do. A former classmate of mine (Comp. Eng) became a lawyer after completing his engineering degree and now does technology patent law, which is extremely lucrative.

If you dropped your CS degree a year away from finishing just to start law one year earlier, I imagine it's something you'd likely end up regretting many years later, when you'll realize that one year delay is really not that big of a deal.
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You'll probably find some threads on law school in the Students forum.
[OP]
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Kohanz wrote: I would finish your CS degree and go to law school after, if that's what you decide you want.

Having technical knowledge could be very valuable depending on what kind of law you want to do. A former classmate of mine (Comp. Eng) became a lawyer after completing his engineering degree and now does technology patent law, which is extremely lucrative.

If you dropped your CS degree a year away from finishing just to start law one year earlier, I imagine it's something you'd likely end up regretting many years later, when you'll realize that one year delay is really not that big of a deal.
I'll be finishing my CS degree regardless. I only have 9 CS courses left so might as well.
What I meant is if my CS degree's average is too low, I may have to take a second BA or maybe take an extra year to take BS courses to raise my GPA high enough for entry into law school.
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forthewinwin wrote: I'm Asian. We usually don't have a long list of reasons. I know the whole talk about how you should be your own person and break free from the norm, etc. etc., but being brought up from this background now we naturally always think this way.
Truth be told, you don't need to have to justify your decision to go to law school to anyone except yourself. But I see a drastic change in going from computer science to law. And the reason for this, as you put it, is because you "really want to become a lawyer". If you know what that means, then that's all that matters, but honestly, I don't. I see a person who is having a negative experience where they currently are, and are looking for an escape. If you really want to become a lawyer, what kind? Private practice? Public service? In-house? Academia? What area of law? Corporate/commercial? Litigation? Employment? Labour? What is it about the law that interests you? Helping people? Making money? Prestige? Where do you want to be in 20 years? In the trenches? Rainmaker? Broker? If you don't know the answer to these questions, however vaguely, I suggest you're more attracted to the image of a lawyer than to the reality of being a lawyer.

Listen, the reason I'm being hard on you is because I'm worried that after 3 years of law school, a year of articling, many hours spent studying for bar exams, and a hefty debt, you'll decide that being a lawyer doesn't make you happy. Then you face the option of doing something you don't like for the next 30 to 40 years, or starting from scratch. That would be a disservice to the profession and, more importantly, to yourself.

And whether you're Asian or not, you still have to decide for yourself what you're going to become, just like everyone else. In fact, that you're relying on racial stereotypes makes me think that you haven't done the necessary research to find the answer, or are unwilling to do so. Then again, I may be entirely wrong, and becoming a lawyer has been a lifelong passion for you and you just don't know how to express it. Ultimately, the decision on what to become falls on you and you alone.
[OP]
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May 29, 2012
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fratello25 wrote: Truth be told, you don't need to have to justify your decision to go to law school to anyone except yourself. But I see a drastic change in going from computer science to law. And the reason for this, as you put it, is because you "really want to become a lawyer". If you know what that means, then that's all that matters, but honestly, I don't. I see a person who is having a negative experience where they currently are, and are looking for an escape. If you really want to become a lawyer, what kind? Private practice? Public service? In-house? Academia? What area of law? Corporate/commercial? Litigation? Employment? Labour? What is it about the law that interests you? Helping people? Making money? Prestige? Where do you want to be in 20 years? In the trenches? Rainmaker? Broker? If you don't know the answer to these questions, however vaguely, I suggest you're more attracted to the image of a lawyer than to the reality of being a lawyer.

Listen, the reason I'm being hard on you is because I'm worried that after 3 years of law school, a year of articling, many hours spent studying for bar exams, and a hefty debt, you'll decide that being a lawyer doesn't make you happy. Then you face the option of doing something you don't like for the next 30 to 40 years, or starting from scratch. That would be a disservice to the profession and, more importantly, to yourself.

And whether you're Asian or not, you still have to decide for yourself what you're going to become, just like everyone else. In fact, that you're relying on racial stereotypes makes me think that you haven't done the necessary research to find the answer, or are unwilling to do so. Then again, I may be entirely wrong, and becoming a lawyer has been a lifelong passion for you and you just don't know how to express it. Ultimately, the decision on what to become falls on you and you alone.


I understand. Well it's too early to tell whether I'm going to like it until I actually get my foot in there. For now, that is all I can worry about.
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May 25, 2012
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forthewinwin wrote: I understand. Well it's too early to tell whether I'm going to like it until I actually get my foot in there. For now, that is all I can worry about.
The joint MBA/JD programs grabbed my attention (4 years for both), so I may work for 2-3 years first doing something non-programming in CS perhaps in Alberta or somewhere that pays higher than average, and perhaps even work a weekend labour job to save up as much $$$ as possible AND meet the work experience requirement for a MBA. I don't mind driving an old car and living cheaply for those years.
This way, I can see how working in non-programming CS is like AND save up money to be able to go to school with less debt.

Although knowing my family and instincts, I'd probably end up going straight to law and they'd frown at the idea of "taking time off school".
But I'm not going to worry about that part for now- the primary focus at this time is to raise my GPA and plan a Plan B in case my GPA is mediocre at best.
As for what kind of law, something on the business side (corporate/commercial). I used to be a former business student and I enjoyed business, so it would be nice to get into something I know will be (partly) friendly to me.
Your average matters, but I think all of this is frivolous at this point because a low LSAT score will end your dreams of law school way before a low GPA. You need to ace your LSAT and thats all that matters in the interim. You can study for that and complete it well before your done university if you can handle studying and your reg. courseload.
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Practically anything is probably better than the very poor job prospects facing CS grads these days. If you can get into Law school, by all means, go for it. But they tend to receive so many applicants these days that admission is around 1 in 10.

For engineers, the policy at many law schools is to bump up grades by one letter, but I'm not so certain that would apply to B.Sc. studies.
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forthewinwin wrote: I've heard of stories about those who do well on the LSAT and get in with similar averages.
Now my question is: worst case my Computer Science average sucks... is it worth my time and effort to get a second BA for the purposes of getting a better average?
i.e. Would I make the money back that I spent on those extra 5 years of school (including law) and the money I could have earned by working instead of staying school longer?
I would not take an extra degree just so you have a chance of achieving a higher average in order to have a chance at getting into law school.

Also keep in mind that many law schools way GPA differently; some take last 2 years, some drop worst credits, some take best 2.
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jacksmomma27 wrote: Your average matters, but I think all of this is frivolous at this point because a low LSAT score will end your dreams of law school way before a low GPA. You need to ace your LSAT and thats all that matters in the interim. You can study for that and complete it well before your done university if you can handle studying and your reg. courseload.
Most schools do 50% GPA, 50% LSAT, so in reality you need both. But I honestly think the former will be much more difficult since it is harder to obtain sufficient performance over 3-4 years of time versus one mere exam. True it may be difficult, but I'd imagine if I spent months preparing for it, the probability of me being successful on the exam instead of my GPA will be much higher. Hence my GPA worry. Not to mention I can re-take it, although I'd imagine after one more attempt that'd be my last since it'd look funny to have one guy take the exam many times.
Jyeatbvg69 wrote: I would not take an extra degree just so you have a chance of achieving a higher average in order to have a chance at getting into law school.

Also keep in mind that many law schools way GPA differently; some take last 2 years, some drop worst credits, some take best 2.
U of T (my ideal choice) drops the last year. UBC drops the worst 1/10 of your degree. And the elite schools down south I doubt it since they only want the best, but then in regards to that, I'm dreaming of course... otherwise I wouldn't even be posting this thread. Of course I WISH I were that smart and yes I do study lots... in fact aside from work, eating, and sleeping, that's all I do... but fate has made me otherwise
Mark77 wrote: Practically anything is probably better than the very poor job prospects facing CS grads these days. If you can get into Law school, by all means, go for it. But they tend to receive so many applicants these days that admission is around 1 in 10.

For engineers, the policy at many law schools is to bump up grades by one letter, but I'm not so certain that would apply to B.Sc. studies.
Most things nowadays that have a chance at making a good living/money excluding trades, labour, etc. are all difficult...

I don't feel like getting optismic about that. Here the class averages are somehow always ridiclously high (in my opinion anyways), and UBC's Vancouver campus is known to be much harder than the other campus to get good grades because of the talented body of students. For engineering I could see why, however.

There was one computer science course where I consistently studied 5+ hours for it everyday. I ended up with only 80%. Conversely, I know people who slacked off taking heavier courseloads than me at the same time, and seemed extremely easygoing and obtained well into the 90s. This is what I'm competing with. Looking over my experience in that course, I had a perfect grasp of the concepts. It was just that others were more skilled than me at taking Computer Science exams, and I somehow feel that these people are to ultimately be my demise.
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forthewinwin wrote:
U of T (my ideal choice) drops the last year. UBC drops the worst 1/10 of your degree. And the elite schools down south I doubt it since they only want the best, but then in regards to that, I'm dreaming. Maybe if I didn't switch out of business then I could have had a chance..
I highly doubt you will get into UofT with your GPA unless you get 178+ on LSAT and/or have some sort of special achievement that differentiates yourself from everyone else. I think perhaps you might be blinded by the prestige factor a little too much. UofT, the elite USA schools, they're all great. But in Canada law schools are fairly on par with each other and there is no such thing as low-tier.

I suggest finishing your degree, doing the LSAT, and applying law school in Canada if you're serious about this. Everyone wants to go to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and in your case, UofT law, but sometimes you have to compromise. I think if I were you I wouldn't bid too highly on any of those schools.
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Why do you think you'll be better at being a lawyer than coding? To be frank, it surprises me to hear that you consider yourself a "math/logic" person and yet have the problems you're facing in CS. That being said, I definitely hear you when you say you want to excel at whatever you do, and I commend that, but what about law lets you think you're more likely to excel at it than CS? Based on your comments, I think you need to more seriously investigate this question before committing to such a path, particularly because I see a lot of parallels to myself in your comments.

Happy to provide more details by PM if you're interested.

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