Low Service Academy GPA to Law School


New Member
Jun 28, 2022
Good Afternoon,

I'm trying to gather some information concerning the "weight" of a degree from a Service Academy. I graduated from the Coast Guard Academy with a degree in Government (Political Science), with around a 2.7 GPA. My first two years were spent mainly in STEM and my previous major, Electrical Engineering. After making the switch to Government, my GPA rose drastically but not enough to significantly cover the damage of my days in Electrical Engineering. Is my low undergrad GPA going to sink my chances of ever getting into Law School?

To offset my Undergraduate GPA, I enrolled in Graduate School at American Military University in which I currently maintain a 3.9 GPA. I have also taken the LSAT and scored over a 155+.

Has anyone had a similar experience or know anyone who has? Just looking for some advice as I plan on transitioning out of Active Duty soon.
Lots of friends with similar stats, including me. I looked at law school heavily, but decided against it. Crush your LSAT, that is the key.
Better retake that LSAT, you are in the "average" range, and your undergrad 2.7 is not going to help when they look. AMU is an online, not in person school, but if you got your Masters, in Legal Studies with a 3.9 that may help. But generally online schools are not what the better Law Schools are going to weigh heavily. The LSAT's matter, get them up to above 160 if you can.
Nearly anybody who wants to can get into law school somewhere, so that's not really your problem. The issue is whether you can get into a law school that is worth paying for what they are going to charge you. If you have access to service-related educational benefits, I'd strongly encourage tailoring your applications toward using those benefits. You do not want to go into any kind of significant debt coming from a school that will accept you with those stats.
Think long and hard about what type of law you want to practice and for what kind of firm. Law remains a very hierarchical profession, with much emphasis placed on which law school you attended and what kind of grades you earned. (There’s a saying, by the way, that in law, A students become professors, B students become judges, C students become practicing attorneys.)

Podunk Law will cost you nearly as much as Harvard or Yale or Stanford. Yet the career prospects, generally speaking, will be very different. The latter is a direct pipeline to elite, high-paying, white-shoe law firms. The former, far from it. Again, generally speaking, but something to be considered.

While the subject matter is the same across schools, the pecking order among grads is not. Do the cost/benefit analysis because student loans are insidious things. Only pay for what you really need.
Fully agree that, if you don't attend a "good" law school, you're wasting your time and money. Most law schools (other than certain state schools for in-state residents) cost about the same. It's A LOT. Graduate from a crappy law school and you might be lucky to earn $50,000 per year before taxes. Your loans (tuition, fees, room & board) can easily top $150,000 -- do the math.

What is a "good" law school? If you are CERTAIN you want to practice in a particular state, law schools in that state may be your ticket. They tend to be cheaper and will give you the contacts you need to secure a good job in that state. I suggest you look up / talk to successful lawyers in your state and find out where they went to law school.

If you want to work at a major law firm ("big law") and earn the big money that comes with it, you either need to attend a nationally recognized law school or graduate in the very, very top (i.e., top 5%) of your class in a Tier-2 school. The reason is that this is where big law recruits. Everyone can argue that Univ. of X law school is just as good as Harvard law or Univ. of Michigan law, but big law doesn't agree. There is obviously a lot of competition for these schools. SA grads have some advantages (see below), but you still have to make yourself stand out.

Law schools recognize that SA grads had to take a lot of STEM courses and thus a lower GPA isn't necessarily fatal. If you got all As in humanities courses, this will get noticed. If you got mostly Bs and Cs in humanities, it will be more of a challenge. Also, law schools like to see students who have a STEM background -- it's actually helpful for law school.

(Most) law schools like the maturity and work history of military members. They like the fact you know how to work hard and that you can work and play well with others. Thus, your resume should emphasize what you did in the USCG in terms not only of work but of leading people. Consider writing your essay about a military experience, keeping in mind that most law school people are very liberal politically, so you want to write it in terms of your maturity and experience, not necessarily the pure military attributes.

Also agree that you need to do better on your LSAT. Take a prep course. The LSAT isn't just about being smart, it's about knowing how to take the test. Be careful about retaking without studying. Unlike colleges and the SAT/ACT where you can take them multiple times without penalty, law schools may discount your second (and subsequent) test scores b/c they know you'll do a bit better just by retaking. Thus, you want to make a substantial improvement in your next attempt. A 155 won't get you into a Tier 1 school and probably won't get you into a Tier 2 or top state school.

Finally, consider why you want to be a lawyer and what type of lawyer you want to be (government, in-house, private practice, etc.). It's not what you see on TV. If you don't have lawyers in your family, try to find some to talk to. Maybe family friends or even JAGs where you work.
add to above there is a nationwide glut of lawyers and the competition for jobs is intense. Not quite the attractive career it may sound.
A lot of good advice above, the most salient of which is to get your LSAT score up. Most law school applicants take the test multiple times. Other comments:
Law schools love military vets (as do law firms). You have discipline, maturity and, as an officer, leadership experience
I don't know how much weight schools will give your AMU GPA, but getting your LSAT up will help your case (sorry to be redundant) .
There is a law school admissions reddit where you might get some feedback.
There is also a volunteer organization of law school grad/military vets who aid aspiring law school applicants. Can't hurt.
I'm hoping you haven't used up all your GI-bill benefits for the lower cost AMU tuition. The combo of Post-911 GI bill benefits and various schools' yellow ribbon programs is a powerful financial tool.

The attached chart is a bit dated but provides some benchmarks

Many years ago, I thought about being an attorney. I mentioned it to my father, a senior chief. He pulled out a phone book (yes, it was that long ago) and pointed to all the lawyers listed. I finished my political science degree, went to business school, got into investment industry and never looked back.

Good luck to you wherever you land.