Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

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SeanB
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Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby SeanB » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:45 pm

I have a wife, dogs, and a mortgage in Boston, so I'm only looking at BC, BU, Northeastern, and maybe Suffolk.

I've been teaching (and developing programs for) at-risk teenagers for ten years. I'm applying for 2011. Do you think either school would be inclined to give more positive weight to work experience? Based my projections, both BC and BU will be a slight stretch.

Considering my age (mid 30's) and my personality (not corporate), I suspect I might be be suited in a mid-sized firm. Would that make Northeastern a more reasonable option than if I was targeting the big firms? I hear they like to give money to people with backgrounds in social justice.

My gut tells me BC should be my target, and Northeastern should be my second choice. Should I factor in BU if I'm not interested in the big firms? BC has more local clout for the top mid-sized and boutique firms. Therefore, it would clearly be worth the extra money. Northeastern could get me a job at a good mid-sized firm for less money. I'm not sure the advantages to BU (New York, national, big firms) matter to me that much, and if I can't get into BC, BU is unlikely anyway, right? Or am I being silly?

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adameus
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby adameus » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:49 pm

SeanB wrote:I have a wife, dogs, and a mortgage in Boston, so I'm only looking at BC, BU, Northeastern, and maybe Suffolk.

I've been teaching (and developing programs for) at-risk teenagers for ten years. I'm applying for 2011. Do you think either school would be inclined to give more positive weight to work experience? Based my projections, both BC and BU will be a slight stretch.

Considering my age (mid 30's) and my personality (not corporate), I suspect I might be be suited in a mid-sized firm. Would that make Northeastern a more reasonable option than if I was targeting the big firms? I hear they like to give money to people with backgrounds in social justice.

My gut tells me BC should be my target, and Northeastern should be my second choice. Should I factor in BU if I'm not interested in the big firms? BC has more local clout for the top mid-sized and boutique firms. Therefore, it would clearly be worth the extra money. Northeastern could get me a job at a good mid-sized firm for less money. I'm not sure the advantages to BU (New York, national, big firms) matter to me that much, and if I can't get into BC, BU is unlikely anyway, right? Or am I being silly?


I think you're just being silly.

SeanB
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby SeanB » Tue Feb 23, 2010 7:59 pm

adameus wrote:
SeanB wrote:I have a wife, dogs, and a mortgage in Boston, so I'm only looking at BC, BU, Northeastern, and maybe Suffolk.

I've been teaching (and developing programs for) at-risk teenagers for ten years. I'm applying for 2011. Do you think either school would be inclined to give more positive weight to work experience? Based my projections, both BC and BU will be a slight stretch.

Considering my age (mid 30's) and my personality (not corporate), I suspect I might be be suited in a mid-sized firm. Would that make Northeastern a more reasonable option than if I was targeting the big firms? I hear they like to give money to people with backgrounds in social justice.

My gut tells me BC should be my target, and Northeastern should be my second choice. Should I factor in BU if I'm not interested in the big firms? BC has more local clout for the top mid-sized and boutique firms. Therefore, it would clearly be worth the extra money. Northeastern could get me a job at a good mid-sized firm for less money. I'm not sure the advantages to BU (New York, national, big firms) matter to me that much, and if I can't get into BC, BU is unlikely anyway, right? Or am I being silly?


I think you're just being silly.


Silly because my target isn't BigLaw or silly for thinking the extra $$ for BU offer good rate of return if don't go with a big firm?

avacado111
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby avacado111 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:01 pm

Hmmm.... if your clear cut that you don't want big law... I would aim at getting the most scholly money that you can :)

SeanB
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby SeanB » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:28 pm

avacado111 wrote:Hmmm.... if your clear cut that you don't want big law... I would aim at getting the most scholly money that you can :)


That's at least constructive.

It brings up a point from another thread. Assuming BC's local prestige makes it worth sticker for better jobs in mid/small firms, what is the next move? Do you take a free ride from Suffolk or a $8500 scholarship from Northeastern? How big is the drop from #94 to locally well-regarded 3/4th tier. Even if apply to both BU and BC, is my choice between the other two all about the money?

I need to figure out if the secondary options are even good options.

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daddymike
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby daddymike » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:08 am

Tough call.

I don't like to voice my opinion on these things because they are hard decisions.
If it helps, I know of somebody who is attending Suffolk on a full ride, but they are simultaneously pursuing a PhD at Harvard. Them getting the JD is not for prestige, it seems, but simply for the licensure required to do the type of work they want to get into.

Do you have a graduate degree (or perhaps another degree) from a well respected institution? If the answer is no, then you might consider getting the BU/BC degree. Keep in mind though that BU/BC is not HYS, so I am not sure if it is worth to you paying full sticker. (It is for many, however...) I remember running into an acquaintance recently and her telling me that she has a JD. I asked "really, where from?" Her response was "Boston College... but I got my bachelor's at Brown." She said it in a tone as if she was excusing the fact that BC was "only" a T25 school.

keg411
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby keg411 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:48 am

Honestly... it depends on your GPA/LSAT.

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ccs224
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby ccs224 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:58 am

keg411 wrote:Honestly... it depends on your GPA/LSAT.


+1 I had/have a 167 and 3.8, am in my late 20's and have a background in a similar type of student work and was able to pull some decent money from both BC (28/year) and BU (15/year). I would say that if you do well on your LSAT, you should have a similar shot.

notaname
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby notaname » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:14 am

I think the best advice that this board can give you is to study like mad for the LSAT. Depending on what kind of learner you are, that may or may not mean taking classes, but it will definitely mean a considerable time commitment. All of the schools are good places to go if you want a modest practice in Boston, but they are also all hungry for big LSAT numbers. Which means that a good LSAT score should get you offers from all of them. Don't fret about the decision now. Work hard so that the decision won't have to be so tough when you have to make it.

And, when you're thinking about LSAT prep, consider it an investment. A few hundred, or even thousand, bucks doesn't seem so much when compared to $30K or $45K or whatever else you are able to get out of these schools.

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TTH
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby TTH » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:17 am

Suffolk is pretty well regarded in Boston. A lot of judges in the area have Suffolk degrees. That being said, if you're not chasing the money, debt minimization should be your number one goal.

SeanB
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby SeanB » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:59 pm

daddymike wrote:Tough call.

I don't like to voice my opinion on these things because they are hard decisions.
If it helps, I know of somebody who is attending Suffolk on a full ride, but they are simultaneously pursuing a PhD at Harvard. Them getting the JD is not for prestige, it seems, but simply for the licensure required to do the type of work they want to get into.

Do you have a graduate degree (or perhaps another degree) from a well respected institution? If the answer is no, then you might consider getting the BU/BC degree. Keep in mind though that BU/BC is not HYS, so I am not sure if it is worth to you paying full sticker. (It is for many, however...) I remember running into an acquaintance recently and her telling me that she has a JD. I asked "really, where from?" Her response was "Boston College... but I got my bachelor's at Brown." She said it in a tone as if she was excusing the fact that BC was "only" a T25 school.


That's funny. I was just on the phone last night asking advice from a friend who was BC Law/Brown Undergrad. She turned down Duke to stay in Boston. Perhaps the Brown Degree makes that decision easier. Her firm (BIG law) has both NE grads (they take 1 NE intern per term) and Suffolk grads, though not nearly as many as BU, BC, and strangely, University of Michigan.

You make a good point about my other degrees. They are solid, but they are not from prestigious schools. BU or BC would add some sparkle to my resume. On the other hand, I love the setup of the Northeastern program. Even though I don't want to go into pure public interest law (I'm not going to law school to make the same 65K I make now!!), I like the public interest requirement and the opportunity to work in the clinics.

SeanB
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby SeanB » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:12 pm

notaname wrote:I think the best advice that this board can give you is to study like mad for the LSAT. Depending on what kind of learner you are, that may or may not mean taking classes, but it will definitely mean a considerable time commitment. All of the schools are good places to go if you want a modest practice in Boston, but they are also all hungry for big LSAT numbers. Which means that a good LSAT score should get you offers from all of them. Don't fret about the decision now. Work hard so that the decision won't have to be so tough when you have to make it.

And, when you're thinking about LSAT prep, consider it an investment. A few hundred, or even thousand, bucks doesn't seem so much when compared to $30K or $45K or whatever else you are able to get out of these schools.


Good advice. I will take it.

CCS, thanks for the info. Very good to know - especially that BC gave you that much money. My GPA is 3.6, which is good enough for any local school not located in the PRC. It will all come down to the LSATs, and I'll make the investment in time and resources to do as well as I can.

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nealric
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby nealric » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:24 pm

Even though I don't want to go into pure public interest law (I'm not going to law school to make the same 65K I make now!!)


This is a huge red flag.

It is very unlikely you will be paid significantly more than 65k a year after graduation UNLESS you do biglaw. Most small firms and non federal government jobs will start below that. Federal government jobs start at that level. There are a FEW regional biglaw firms that I suppose could be called "midlaw" that start significantly above that number, but the job experience will often be very close to that of biglaw.

Royal68
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby Royal68 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:30 pm

shut up you idiot

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agentzer0
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby agentzer0 » Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:39 pm

Here's a practical question if your goal isn't BigLaw. Why isn't your goal BigLaw???

SeanB
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby SeanB » Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:25 pm

agentzer0 wrote:Here's a practical question if your goal isn't BigLaw. Why isn't your goal BigLaw???


That's a fair question. Maybe it should be.

The short answer is that most of my friends who are in big law aren't that happy and don't have lives. The happiest lawyers that I know work in smaller firms, acadamia, or government.

The long answer is as far as I know, most biglaw firms don't give associates much choice about their cases. I want to be able to draw on my experience in my law career. I'm not concerned with the amount of hours associated with biglaw. I'm more concerned about the culture and control over the type of work I do. You can make money in law without BigLaw. I have two uncles who are attorneys. One has been PD his whole career (he's at the top level now) and the other is a professor. They make much more than I do, even the PD. The professor could make 5x more in a firm, but he loves what he does and he is financially very comfortable. FYI, the PD graduated top 20% of a top 25 school (and the top school his area) and the professor was Law Review from a top 5 (and spend 2 years in biglaw. Hated it).

As for government jobs, yeah, they pay around what I make now, but the upside, long term, is much better. An old family friend is a Suffolk grad who worked for the state for years. He added to his income significantly with a small practice on the side. Now he focuses on that practice exclusively and does very well. There are plenty of smaller private firms who pay less than the biglaw where I can make start at 80K to 100K with better working environments. Let's assume low. If I start at a firm at 80K and I'm making 120K in a five years, in the long term I'll be WAY ahead of spending the rest of my life capped at 75K. Unless you are a total social crusader working for non-profits or a really lousy lawyer, law will be more lucrative in the long term.

That being said, I've had friends start in biglaw, make some money, then move on to different types of practice or careers. Maybe that should be my plan. They got experience, made a bunch of money to pay off loans, and then started doing what they really want to do.

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nealric
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby nealric » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:19 pm

Let's assume low. If I start at a firm at 80K and I'm making 120K in a five years,


That's not assuming low at all. In fact, that's very optimistic. More likely is about 35-40k at a small firm and 80k in five years.

You can't discount the structural changes in the legal market that have made the career paths of many established attorneys no longer viable.

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JDHopeful
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby JDHopeful » Wed Feb 24, 2010 9:34 pm

Yea, I'm working at a law firm during my 2 years between UG and law school.

It's midlaw; we have 4 partners and 21 attys.

The associates at my firm (they don't hire anyone with atleast 5 years experience) is $80K.

SeanB
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Re: Practical questions: If my goal isn't BigLaw

Postby SeanB » Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:52 pm

nealric wrote:
Let's assume low. If I start at a firm at 80K and I'm making 120K in a five years,


That's not assuming low at all. In fact, that's very optimistic. More likely is about 35-40k at a small firm and 80k in five years.

You can't discount the structural changes in the legal market that have made the career paths of many established attorneys no longer viable.


In Boston??? If I were teaching in Georgia, I'd be making 30% less. You can make 35K in Boston as a busboy.




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