Algebraic retard -- no law school 4 u?
November 26, 2007 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Algebra moron -- wants to go to law school?

So I recently re-enrolled in a 2 year college, hoping to get a decent GPA and transfer to a real school. So far 4.0 GPA in everything but Algebra. I am. an algebraic. retard.

So my question is, are my chances at getting in to a good law school dashed? Has anyone passed the bar as algebraically challenged as I?

Please, only answers from people in the know, I don't need guesses.

Thanks :)
posted by aleahey to Education (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Please, only answers from people in the know, I don't need guesses.

You know, I sympathize with this, I really do. But it seems peremptory given that your question requires guesswork. We don't know how badly you did in Algebra, how far you've gone in your schooling (second year there, maybe?), how reputable the institution is, what you mean by a "real school," what your likely proficiency is at the LSAT, etc.

Given all this, and aware that you may regard what I say as guesswork: (1) Many have attended great law schools despite blowing a class in undergrad (often language, sometimes math); (2) in your case, I would focus on how it's affected your ability to transfer into a four year program, and worry about law school once you see how that goes and how you perform at the "real school" -- which I expect will be considered quite salient by an admissions office at a a law school.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:06 PM on November 26, 2007

Law school will look more at your grades from the 4 year college you transfer to, and at your LSAT scores, than they will at one grade in your 2 year school.

If you transfer into a decent 4 year school, get good grades there, (fill your math requirement with stats or computer science or something other than algebra), practice a lot for the LSAT, you should be fine for law school.

There are many steps between now and law school. It is great that you already know you want to go, but you have lots of time and good grades ahead before you even apply. Even when law schools do look at your transcript, they look at the overall GPA, the GPA in your major (not algebra, I assume), and your grades in the subjects related to law such as English and History. Don't sweat the algebra.
posted by rmless at 4:07 PM on November 26, 2007

I can't math my way out of a paper bag, and my law school and bar passage dreams came true!
posted by The World Famous at 4:07 PM on November 26, 2007

As far as I'm aware, no State Bar tests for algebra specifically. However, you may have to use math to answer questions on the Bar Exam, when you apply the relevant law to the question.
posted by Pants! at 4:13 PM on November 26, 2007

You don't need algebra to pass the bar.

But you're getting ahead of yourself if you're worrying about that; you're going to need to pass the LSAT first, where you'll face logic problems galore. A non-mathematical mind could be a hindrance for that.

Luckily, you can pick up books full of sample tests pretty easily and score yourself; you've got plenty of time to practice.
posted by bcwinters at 4:13 PM on November 26, 2007

Don't worry about the algebra. Do your best. Just pass the class. Take an LSAT prep class. You'll be fine.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 4:15 PM on November 26, 2007

I am also in the path of the horrid train called Math for grad school. I say duke it out and find a really good program that's very intensive for what is essentially high school math.
posted by parmanparman at 4:16 PM on November 26, 2007

Does your 2-year school offer a class in symbolic logic? I was allowed to take that for my math requirement and it not only helped me think more critically but it helped me learn other sorts of math as well.
posted by Electric Elf at 4:33 PM on November 26, 2007

My wife went to law school, in part, because it had minimal math requirements. In three years, she never asked me (engineer) a single math question related to school. One classmate asked my input (MBA) on an accounting issue.

Most of her classmates are perplexed and amazed to even know someone who can do math. Mostly, they were a bunch of history, sociology, humanities, philosophy, language majors.. not a single engineer among the few hundred in her graduating class.

Not that they are dumb, they are just not math oriented for the most part. Their reasoning skills, retention, comprehension, writing and communication skills... all way above average. Math ability is not an impediment, apparently.
posted by FauxScot at 4:35 PM on November 26, 2007

OK, so to add to the guesswork, have you already taken Algebra and received a less than stellar grade? I assumed you had, but several comments suppose not.

I also assume you're not interested in the question whether algebra is relevant to law school once you've been admitted, let alone to passing the bar (as some have addressed) or to practice. It is not at all relevant to the bar. Math aptitude helps in some classes (any with a tinge of law and economics, involving damages calculations, and whatnot) and certainly helps in practice, but again I assume you don't care.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 4:39 PM on November 26, 2007

are my chances at getting in to a good law school dashed?

Define good law school. Some law schools are very, very exclusive. Many are not exclusive at all.

But n-thing what others have said ... it's all about total GPA across four years and LSAT scores.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:46 PM on November 26, 2007

the most useful mathematical skill in practicing law is being able to multiply the number of billable hours by the hourly billing rate. you don't need algebra to pass the bar, and its only influence on your law school chances is its overall contribution to your gpa.
posted by bruce at 5:47 PM on November 26, 2007

Generally, lawyers are bad at math. It's one of the reasons we didn't become accountants.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:01 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

At least half of law students went to law school precisely BECAUSE they suck at math. It's one of the few professional fields that requires pretty much zero math skills other than what every human needs to live in the 21st century.

I urge you to read some of the other law school related AskMes before you apply. Now isnt a great time to be going to law school, tuition continues to go up up up and the job market continues to tighten for all but the very best canidates, thousands of new lawyers graduate every year. Think it over and make sure you know what you're getting in to.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:24 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have no working knowledge of algebra whatsoever. I'm 27 years old and I'm still not exactly sure how to define the term "integer". Nor, for that matter, can I add and subtract fractions. I was okay at other maths, but my brain does not mix with algebra.

I didn't choose law school for that reason, it just seemed more interesting than an MBA and more useful than my first preference of PHD in research psychology.

I went to a top-25 law school. I was offered a full scholarship to a well-respected 2nd tier law school. I had a good GPA in law school, and passed the bar on the first try with minimal torture.

But I'm REALLY, REALLY smart (j/k).
posted by bunnycup at 7:04 PM on November 26, 2007

However, you may have to use math to answer questions on the Bar Exam, when you apply the relevant law to the question.

I'm trying to imagine a situation in which you'd have to apply math to a bar exam question and am coming up blank. At least the bar exam I took (NYC). I mean, it's conceivable that you might need to add up some numbers, or know how to figure out contributory negligence (plaintiff is 30% contributorily negligent and defendant is 70% contributorily negligent), or figure out whether one third of a sum is greater than $50,000 (for intestacy) but that's hardly algebra, and just barely math at all.

I agree with all the other lawyers who've already answered -- it sounds like you have a general idea of what it's like to be in law school, which is a great start. Spend some time figuring out what it's actually like, by talking to people who went or are going through the process, and maybe scouting around on Ask Metafilter.
posted by lassie at 7:16 PM on November 26, 2007

Seconding figuring out logic for the LSAT. That's all the math you'll need. If you can handle it, you're set.

And what T.D. Strange said.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:53 PM on November 26, 2007

Some large percentage of lawyers and law students choose law school over any other graduate or professional education exactly because they are math-averse.

That said, while it isn't a necessary requirement for studying or practicing law, having some basic amount of understanding of math (particularly as used in finance and microeconomics) wouldn't hurt.
posted by andrewraff at 7:18 AM on November 27, 2007

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