University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

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UniMelbStudent
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University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by UniMelbStudent » Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:50 am

Hello everyone,

I'm hoping someone here has some insight into the application process for someone wanting to apply to a US law school (Yale/Havard/etc) from a University of Melbourne Bachelor of Commerce background.

I have found the general requirements but I am interested into how they would translate for such an applicant. Suppose an undergraduate WAM of ~80 with a Finance Honours year (highly competitive with 30-40 students) and an LSAT score in the range of (177-180), and strong leadership positions (e.g. President of a prominent student finance society).

Note: my university does not use a GPA, our subjects are marked out of 100, and the "WAM" is the weighted average of all subjects, with a score between 80 - 100 being considered equal to the highest letter grade (H1).

I'm specifically interested in how the WAM would convert through the LSAC process considering that it isn't a GPA.

And of course assuming letters of recommendation and personal statement are solid, are there any specific necessities that are needed on a resume (e.g. are US name brand firms needed or is a range of work experience acceptable?)

I realise that applications for such schools (and probably more so for an international applicant) are always incredibly competitive, but I am hoping for some meaningful insight beyond ~give up or, don't bother.

Thank you to anyone who will take the time to provide some much needed insight into into this. And if I have posted this in the wrong forum, thank you to the mod that moves it to the right one!

Kind regards,

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Nony
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by Nony » Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:29 am

Because you don’t have a US GPA, LSAC will take your undergraduate transcripts and evaluate your grades on a qualitative scale, with “superior” being the highest ranking (I think the next is “above average” and then I’m not sure what they are. It’s only a 4 or maybe 5 level scale?). I don’t know what your WAM will translate to but it sounds promisingly high.

Because you don’t get a numerical GPA, though, it’s not reportable for the purposes of USNWR law school rankings. So while for HYS you will still probably need a superior, overall your LSAT will take on much greater importance. A 177-180 is of course excellent (is that a score you’ve already achieved or a projection?).

There are no specific required activities on your resume. For schools from H down, numbers are probably 97% of your application. Having some work experience is good, but no one will require it to even be at a law firm, let alone at a US name brand firm. And every year many students go to law school straight from undergrad, so work experience certainly isn’t required, but overall it does tend to help.

Y and S are a little different as they’re more interested in the soft factors (activities and accomplishments) that set you apart from just numbers. This is usually more than leadership of a student society, but your finance honours year may carry some weight (though the US doesn’t have an equivalent so I’m not really sure what that is).

Short version: depending on your grade evaluation, a 177-180 LSAT puts you in an excellent position for admission, particularly at H. Y and S are harder to predict and it will depend more on how well you can package your entire application to present a strong and compelling narrative about yourself.

Why do you want to come to the US for law school? Also keep in mind that AFAIK, international students aren’t eligible for loans to pay for law school, so you might be better off aiming for a full ride at schools just below HYS (who don’t offer merit aid and require all their students to take out at least some loans. That said, I can’t remember if they maybe have private loan options available to foreign students that other schools don’t, so maybe I’m wrong and there isn’t a real concern).

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heythatslife
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by heythatslife » Mon Jun 15, 2020 12:07 am

I echo what Nony said above and just want to add a few side notes:

1. Full rides for international students are rare because they don’t have a GPA that can be used for the purpose of boosting the school’s reported admission stats (and as Nony said, so much of the US law school admissions has to do with numbers, and the reason is the schools are all trying to outdo each other in the rankings). However, H and Y have need-based financial aid programs available to all students regardless of nationality and which include a loan component offered directly by the school, so as long as you get in, finances won’t be an obstacle to attending (although you will have some debt at graduation). I know Stanford has a similar program but never found out if that means they offer a loan out of the school as well.

2. If Trump is re-elected in November, I would highly encourage anyone who’s not a US citizen to re-think studying in the US. He’s been gutting visa programs that have enabled international students to get internships and eventually find full-time employment. I imagine things will only get worse with 4 more years of this administration.

UniMelbStudent
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by UniMelbStudent » Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:39 am

Thank you to both Nony and heythatslife for your insight, it has provided some much needed clarity.

In relation to why: It's something I have already been interested in pursuing because the long term "big picture view" of advising M&A transactions is something I want to be doing. I should also mention that I understand that corporate law vs investment banking is considerably different and am not conflating them when I say that I find both appealing.

Ideally I would like to land an investment banking summer associate position and come in at the associate level at an investment bank. However I would also be extremely happy to to land a summer clerkship and work in corporate law.

While I can pursue both careers here in Australia, the market is considerably larger and more established in the US and that has been a driving a factor that has pulled me to pursue a JD there. While I have other reasons, this is one of the biggest.

If anyone has any information regarding what I have said, and perhaps want to provide a reality check I would appreciate it. My desire to land an investment banking associate role out of the JD might not be possible (something I do concede is unlikely).

In relation to the political climate of the US: It is something I have long considered to be a barrier and one of the key reasons why I thought my goal was unrealistic; however, as it currently stands I believe Australia has a good visa relationship with the US and that it would be possible for me to pursue this.


Kind regards,

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heythatslife
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by heythatslife » Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:58 am

Do you want to be a lawyer or do you want to go into an IB? If the latter, do an MBA. I’ve seen a few of my classmates go into consulting (out of HLS) but I do not know of anyone who was not a JD/MBA go directly into investment banking. I’m sure somebody has done it somewhere but it would be very rare and you’re not getting any benefit of institutional support or targeted recruiting so you’re essentially on your own to knock on banks’ doors.

Re: visa, the Trump administration is bent on screwing over international students left and right and it’s not country-specific. I will tell you that the international student community is currently in a state of panic (I was also an international student and am currently an H1B holder myself so I’m better plugged in than most people on this board in this regard). While I am aware Australians are exempt from the H1B quota and so you’d be better off in that regard than most other international candidates, even that I would not consider fully protected against the whims of Trumpian immigration policy.

UniMelbStudent
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by UniMelbStudent » Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:18 am

To my knowledge getting into an MBA program out of undergrad at a top 3 school is near impossible and seems to require some years of meaningful work experience and exceptionally strong "softs". By contrast it seems that getting into a JD program at a similar school is much more dependent of the LSAT rather than other factors. The LSAT for me has aligned with my strengths.

I have taken several law subjects as my breadth stream during my BCOM and have found them interesting. Rather than 3 years of being an analyst, I view getting a JD to align with my interests and I'd be happy to even study for the CFA and network hard to land a summer associate internship in IB. And as I mentioned, if that isn't realistic I would still be extremely happy going down the corporate law path.

If it so happens that Trump makes it impossible for me to study abroad then so be it I suppose, I can only work on the factors within my control.

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heythatslife
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by heythatslife » Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:35 am

If you’re happy with corporate law as a fallback, then a JD out of a top US program is fine. CFA would be a plus whether you do actually manage to land an IB job or not, but if you are considering it, probably best to get it done before starting 1L. Agree that US politics isn’t something you can control for, and at least you aren’t in school already so you can re-assess come this November. Good luck.

UniMelbStudent
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by UniMelbStudent » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:47 am

Thank you again heythatslife, I genuinely appreciate it!

On a side note and purely for my own curiosity, do you happen to know if my undergraduate university might preclude me from getting admitted at certain firms, even if I were to get in H/Y/S for law?

I recognise that some elite places (e.g. Wachtell) would be, statistically speaking, unreachable for all but the most perfect candidates, but on a more overall assessment of the corporate law and IB field in the US.

Kind regards,

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heythatslife
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by heythatslife » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:58 am

I don’t know for IB but as far as law firms go, as long as you have the requisite law school grades and interview well, your undergrad shouldn’t preclude you from getting offers anywhere.

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icechicken
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Re: University of Melbourne ----> US Law School

Post by icechicken » Mon Jun 15, 2020 12:43 pm

UniMelbStudent wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:47 am
Thank you again heythatslife, I genuinely appreciate it!

On a side note and purely for my own curiosity, do you happen to know if my undergraduate university might preclude me from getting admitted at certain firms, even if I were to get in H/Y/S for law?

I recognise that some elite places (e.g. Wachtell) would be, statistically speaking, unreachable for all but the most perfect candidates, but on a more overall assessment of the corporate law and IB field in the US.

Kind regards,
Your undergrad will make IB significantly harder than if you'd attended a "target" American school or at least a foreign school with a stronger presence in NYC finance like Oxbridge or UToronto. That's the main pipeline for those entry-level analyst jobs.

For law, undergrad doesn't matter as much. It certainly helps to be plugged in to the alumni network of Amherst or whatever, but that's a tiny nudge factor at most firms.

There is arguably a cultural bias against low-cost public American undergrads (Western Connecticut State, e.g.), but as a foreigner you'll get the benefit of the doubt if you get good grades at a T14. People assume that "University of [Major European/Canadian/Australian City]" is at least decent.

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