Careers

From Bachelor of Science in Computer Science to Law School

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 14th, 2012 12:27 pm
Tags:
None
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 29, 2012
743 posts
40 upvotes
MAPLE RIDGE
Icedawn wrote: 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.
I can't code for s**t here, although I think it may have to do with the particular curriculum here.
We are thrown projects, assignments, and work where we aren't even taught how to code anything at all, and we're to find out on our own.
Their argument is it prepares you for the "real CS world", and that caught me thinking: If it's that really how it is, I'm not going to survive as a coder because I just can't compete with the other students who are much more talented than me at this area.

What happens is I'll Google endlessly for help and I eventually find/learn what I need, but others will accomplish what I do in perhaps 1/4 or less of the time I take.
Conversely, if I were taught step by step from the basics, I think I'd fare much better. It's like learning how to add first before tacking calculus.

I've never had a problem with the math-related aspects at all... well, it may differ for other CS programs, but UBC's core CS program doesn't contain very much math apart from the four mandatory math courses and one statistics. It was just my luck I've had this bitter programming experience in the rest of it. Don't get me wrong- I enjoy programming when I make something that works, but I hate the demoralization process involved with doing terribly in my classes while trying so hard and watching people around me handle it with ease. Yes grades aren't everything, but fact is if I'm barely passing my CS classes with Cs and C+s I'm not going to get into the large firm I want with such a pitiful GPA, and getting into a large firm and eventually a high position has always been my goal.

First year CS I did well... second I got slaughtered

Yes, as someone mentioned above earlier, law would be somewhat of an "exit" for me.... and it's one of the only ones I have.
The alternative would to be to re-do 3 years of a Bachelor's Degree, which is precisely how long a Law degree is, so I'd prefer the latter.
The only options aside from law I can picture are:

a) Do something non-programming in CS, perhaps something in networking, computer architecture/Operating systems, non-programming IT... and suck it up for a few years of work experience and money, pay off my student loan, get a MBA, and hope things work out
b) Be an engineer and waste away 4 years more of my life (which isn't a very attractive option since this would take longer than law itself for perhaps a lower return)
c) Switch back into business and take 2-3 more years to grad, which is roughly the length of law as well

I can't conclude I'll do better, but it's worth a try because I know I'm not going to get far here, unless things magically turn around in my last 2 years here.
Member
Mar 11, 2012
327 posts
47 upvotes
forthewinwin wrote: 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.
Unfortunately, the LSAT is designed so that preparation will not significantly increase your score as it is a test that seeks to examine your innate skills such as reading comprehension and logical reasoning. In fact, the LSAT does not test any knowledge at all. Theoretically, people with absolutely no preparation can and often do score extremely well on the exam. Now, I am not saying that preparation for the LSAT is useless because of its design. Many LSAT candidates hone their basic reading comprehension and logical reasoning by reading proven strategies, understanding the core concepts that are examined and practicing these skills in real exam conditions with LSATs administered previously. With preparation over a long period of time, many candidates realize a jump in their score. However, for the vast majority, this jump tends to be slight, as one cannot study to improve his or her innate skills which are critical to this exam. As a result, it would be a grave mistake for one to heavily rely on the LSAT to make up for a poor GPA if he/she has never looked at a LSAT question.

Take a diagnostic LSAT and see how you do. This will measure your baseline reading comprehension and logical reasoning/analysis.
A sample LSAT can be accessed here: http://www.lsac.org/jd/pdfs/SamplePTJune.pdf
Do this sample in exam conditions -- 35 minutes per section.

Furthermore, during my application cycle (2010-2011), the average successful application to UBC was approximately 84% GPA and 165 LSAT if I recall correctly. To enter UBC with your current GPA, you would need a LSAT score that is greater than 165. UT is more competitive than UBC and so you will most likely need a LSAT score of 170+.

And as someone already pointed out to you, go read relevant threads in lawstudents.ca
Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2003
1022 posts
103 upvotes
Maple
I disagree, my experience is a person can expect to jump ~10 points with prep, and the lower off you start, the more room you have to improve with prep. Games would be imho the easiest thing to improve, and are often the part that most people get caught on. I do agree that it's significantly harder to improve on your reading comprehension part. If it's worth it to you, go take a class. Although classes are not necessary, they help keep you on track, provide the necessary books and answers, and keeps you motivated by surrounding you with other test takers and numbers.

I also do agree that perhaps one of your first steps ought to be to take a practice LSAT so you know what your next steps should be. If you score well, work on your LSAT and you can work on applying. If you score horribly...well then you'd need to think long and hard about if you can hope to get in.
Shunshin wrote: Unfortunately, the LSAT is designed so that preparation will not significantly increase your score as it is a test that seeks to examine your innate skills such as reading comprehension and logical reasoning. In fact, the LSAT does not test any knowledge at all. Theoretically, people with absolutely no preparation can and often do score extremely well on the exam. Now, I am not saying that preparation for the LSAT is useless because of its design. Many LSAT candidates hone their basic reading comprehension and logical reasoning by reading proven strategies, understanding the core concepts that are examined and practicing these skills in real exam conditions with LSATs administered previously. With preparation over a long period of time, many candidates realize a jump in their score. However, for the vast majority, this jump tends to be slight, as one cannot study to improve his or her innate skills which are critical to this exam. As a result, it would be a grave mistake for one to heavily rely on the LSAT to make up for a poor GPA if he/she has never looked at a LSAT question.

Take a diagnostic LSAT and see how you do. This will measure your baseline reading comprehension and logical reasoning/analysis.
A sample LSAT can be accessed here: http://www.lsac.org/jd/pdfs/SamplePTJune.pdf
Do this sample in exam conditions -- 35 minutes per section.

Furthermore, during my application cycle (2010-2011), the average successful application to UBC was approximately 84% GPA and 165 LSAT if I recall correctly. To enter UBC with your current GPA, you would need a LSAT score that is greater than 165. UT is more competitive than UBC and so you will most likely need a LSAT score of 170+.

And as someone already pointed out to you, go read relevant threads in lawstudents.ca
Deal Addict
Apr 1, 2004
1582 posts
34 upvotes
Re. the LSAT, I tend to agree it's more of an innate thing. I used to tutor the LSAT a lot, and while I was able to get one person from the low 150s to the low 170s, the vast majority only improved a few points even after intense studying. Could be a measure of my poor tutoring though - hard to know.

Again, for the Op, I hear your comments, and what I'm reading is that you're thinking very much "within a box". The world of possible careers and jobs is very very large - you've identified only a few quite narrow niches, all of which seem to have significant drawbacks for you. What do you actually LIKE doing? What do you excel at? Is there anything that you think you both excel at and that you like?

I'm saying this because, frankly, being a lawyer is not easy, and it's not at all clear that it's something that you would excel at, and if you don't, it's a very hard slog. From personal experience, and from my many software developer and lawyer friends, I'm very comfortable saying that the avg. lawyer is much less happy than the avg. software developer.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 3, 2007
5672 posts
809 upvotes
Calgary
forthewinwin wrote: can't code for s**t here, although I think it may have to do with the particular curriculum here.
We are thrown projects, assignments, and work where we aren't even taught how to code anything at all, and we're to find out on our own.
Their argument is it prepares you for the "real CS world", and that caught me thinking: If it's that really how it is, I'm not going to survive as a coder because I just can't compete with the other students who are much more talented than me at this area.
Yes, you have to learn new techs (languages, tools, methodologies, etc.) all the time if you were to follow a developer career. As for coding, it should come naturally for you. If you are struggling, programming is probably not for you. And that's nothing wrong with that. Everyone is good at something, you just have to find it.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 29, 2012
743 posts
40 upvotes
MAPLE RIDGE
Thanks for the replies.

Perhaps I'll try out the LSAT first and see how that goes. If I'm close to the 160-170 mark, then I will consider this further. If I do terribly- that is, not even close, perhaps that's one factor that will make me reconsider law.

As what I enjoy doing, I never really found a particular preference. As a child and up to now, I enjoyed writing (all non-fictional material), number crunching, tearing apart, diagosting, and working with computers, photography, cars, and most technical stuff... All somewhat equally. However I've always found myself to be marginally better than average at all of those, but never the best at anything. All these years my IQ has always been slightly above average but nowhere near extraordinary.

As for life... My dream is to become a big tall guy in a suit, getting to travel to professional meetings all over the world and drive a nice car... Have enough money for both my own and some to my family. Of course a fantasy at best and I recognize I probably have to eventually settle for whatever my fate is.

I don't have a particular xxxxxx salary or x job I want. I just want something like the above description and continuous opportunities to advance. However to be blunt, I do want something in the 6-digit range (and yes I do know in order to obtain one, I'll have to stand out, which makes me concerned at this time since I can't see that happening with how things are going). While doing something that won't make me completely miserable of course.
Jr. Member
Jul 16, 2009
175 posts
43 upvotes
mucat wrote: Yes, you have to learn new techs (languages, tools, methodologies, etc.) all the time if you were to follow a developer career. As for coding, it should come naturally for you. If you are struggling, programming is probably not for you. And that's nothing wrong with that. Everyone is good at something, you just have to find it.
That's just giving up too easily. People can and will struggle when they see new concepts. Its normal. Everyone is stubborn in their own ways. If someone's passionate at something, they'll get over the hurdle and it'll slowly becomes second nature. Practice makes perfect =)
forthewinwin wrote: I don't have a particular xxxxxx salary or x job I want. I just want something like the above description and continuous opportunities to advance. However to be blunt, I do want something in the 6-digit range (and yes I do know in order to obtain one, I'll have to stand out, which makes me concerned at this time since I can't see that happening with how things are going). While doing something that won't make me completely miserable of course.
I wouldn't be too concious about whether you'll obtain the salary range your looking for. Take one step at a time. First find something you like doing which hopefully is something you do well at. Then, see if you can see yourself doing that for the rest of your life. After, worry about the 6 digit salary.
Deal Fanatic
Dec 3, 2007
5672 posts
809 upvotes
Calgary
mikeygt wrote: That's just giving up too easily. People can and will struggle when they see new concepts. Its normal. Everyone is stubborn in their own ways. If someone's passionate at something, they'll get over the hurdle and it'll slowly becomes second nature. Practice makes perfect =)
I have to disagree. Programming is a way of thinking. You either think that way or you don't. I have never seen a bad programmer become good later in their life. Also, technology changes every few months, if you are not good enough, you will be struggle and trying to overcome hurdles all the time. Heck, even seasoned programmers run into problems everyday. It is fun and challenging and all that but if you struggle with the school programming assignments, you will have no chance in the real world.

IMO, OP need to figure out what he is good at and go for that.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jan 5, 2006
5006 posts
266 upvotes
Toronto
In regards to the LSAT, improvement definitely is possible if you invest enough time and effort into it. This is not only true for the LG but for the whole exam. I wrote my LSAT this June after 600-700 hours of prep and I increased my score by 12 points (mid 90s percentile) AND I completely bombed the Logic Games (10 misses) which is usually considered the easiest section to improve in. I am still deliberating on rewriting it or not as I know I could easily crack the 99th percentile if I didn't choke up on the LG section (I averaged 0 to 1 misses on practice exams, I was thrown off by the new form factor in the latest exam :facepalm :) .

Like the majority of things in life; if you lack the "smarts" naturally, you can make it up with hard work and dedication. I do have to emphasize the dedication part though as it requires a ton of repetition and pattern recognition to improve.
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.
I completely disagree with you on the job prospects of CS grads. CS grads are in high demand (definitely moreso than lawyers in America) and it will continue to remain that way for the forseeable future. Yes, outsourcing might pose a concern for job outlook but this is something that should be a concern in most fields (including law).

Also, what law schools actually have that policy of bumping you up a letter grade for an engineering undergrad? I have never heard of a Canadian law school doing this. The most some law schools will do, per their admission standards, is take the difficulty of your undergraduate degree into consideration. However, I doubt this would amount to an entire letter grade bump.

In regards to the OP, I think you might want to invest more time into looking at what lawyers actually do before you decide on pursuing law (especially if you are set on doing corporate law). If you think writing lines of code in an entry level CS job doesn't look interesting, I am not sure the typical tasks assigned to a 1st/2nd year associate are going to be much better.

I think CS offers an excellent job outlook (you can apply a CS degree to a wide variety of IT jobs) and you have the ability to have a work life that most people could only dream of. My brother is a pretty successful programmer (makes a similar salary as an average Bay St. lawyer, astronomically more if you convert it to an hourly rate; ha) and has a work life that allows him to work where and when he wants (i.e. on a beach, or take a day off to go to the park or be on call while half way across the globe, etc.). Given the nature of programming, I don't think he could have achieved that in any other field (definitely not as a lawyer! :lol :) .

I also don't think you need to be the best programmer out there to be successful but just possess a drive to succeed and make the right connections (probably applicable to most job fields). If your heart is really not set on programming though, I guess you would be served best to make the switch.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 29, 2012
743 posts
40 upvotes
MAPLE RIDGE
I can do well at most CS related things, bearing programming... Just wondering how I'd get into something like that though. I know networking requires a few certifications like the CISCO one. Not sure about other fields... Perhaps my attitude of it would change if I went into the real field, because I can't stand the extremely theoretical and self-directed project curriculum...
I.e. I have trouble doing well on projects that introduce something completely new that I have no clue and am never taught how to code.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 29, 2008
3450 posts
625 upvotes
Mark77 wrote: 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.
I'm curious where you heard this from.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 13, 2005
6831 posts
344 upvotes
Ottawa
random pattern wrote: I'm curious where you heard this from.
He's talking out of his ***** . I have not heard any law school doing this and publicly admitting they do this. Probably do it secretly as nobody really knows the magic formula to get accepted.
Newbie
Jan 2, 2012
1 posts
RICHMOND
An 80 isn't going to cut it any longer without a really high LSAT score and your GPA might even be lower than that.

Your average for your first two years (assuming 30 credits each year) is 75.5. That is really low for someone considering law school in Canada. Also keep in mind that if you plan on applying during your fourth year, most law schools will only look at your first three years thus giving you less of a chance to pull up your GPA.

Most if not all law schools also only look at courses you finished that count towards your first undergraduate degree so taking a masters or a second undergrad won't help.

If you think you can score 170+ in the LSAT (score in the 98th percentile or above) then your chances are better.
[OP]
Sr. Member
May 29, 2012
743 posts
40 upvotes
MAPLE RIDGE
^^ So then if I applied after I graduated with 4 years, don't some schools only take the best 3 years? In that case if I fared better in year 3 and 4, and say if I did a 5th year for a double major degree, I'd still have a chance, wouldn't I?

I mean another solution is to just forget computer science and do what most other law students do- get a BA. Acheiving a high average in an Arts major would be considerably easier than in... Computer Science. For me at least. But it seems like a stupid thing to do because with a couple years of experience down the road, IT wouldn't be too bad, and it serves as a much more stable backup than an Arts undergrad.

I feel the message up to now is to just suck it up and do something in Computing... XD

Top