Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

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rando
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby rando » Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:29 pm

crazycanuck wrote:
Action Jackson wrote:
avacado111 wrote:wtf is your problem? He is just trying to give advice. Go to JD Underground if you want to complain that badly. Besides, he says to consider the costs (you have a Reading Comp fail) before attending law school.


Dipshit, his math is fucked. Any of us that have looked at our loan paperwork could tell you that. Thinking of law school as an investment is almost universally stupid.

Pull your head out of your ass and get your facts straight.


And this is why attorneys don't come to TLS.


I would hope it is, for the most part, because they have better things to do.

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ck3
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby ck3 » Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:32 pm

Action Jackson wrote:
AJRESQ wrote:7. As for costs, $130k for undergraduate and law is steep. However, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that much money. It's hardly crippling debt -- the average cost of your first house will be about $230k. Law can be a real bitch at the beginning, paying only $50k a year for the first few years. However, once you're past those first few years, I would say the average salary is $75k - $120k, assuming of course, you're developed an area of practice and book of business. If you make $75k for 15 years, you've made a lot more than your initial $130k investment -- that's a lot better of a return that you would get on real estate. Who buys a house for $130k and then sells it 15 years later for over a million dollars? Not a lot of people. Your pay can vary a lot on the type of work you take on. Your practice area will dictate a lot of the $$$ you make in the next 10 years.





Your math is fucked.

First, LS debt (without UG debt) at a T14 runs between $100k-200k, and is comparable at lower ranked schools all the way down to tier 4. So you're underestimating the costs.

Second, your salary coming out of LS dictates how long you're going to be paying that debt off, and the longer it takes, the more money you lose to interest. $50k for the "first few years" means you're throwing a minimal amount of money at your interest, without ever having a chance to hit the principle.

Third, comparing a JD with real estate is nuts. Better is to compare a JD to not a JD. Without a JD you go straight into the work force. Then you have to estimate what your salary would be after 3 years of LS MINUS the loan repayments. So if you're estimating $50k (which might actually be generous ITE for people that don't get Biglaw) you can immediately take $10k off the top to go straight to the interest on your loan (assuming that $130k has been collecting interest while you were in school). Remember, this is without even touching the principle (interest only). So now after 3 years of LS you're only making $40k and you've got $130k in debt. It's not hard to imagine NOT getting a JD would be better.

The point of this isn't to dissuade people to go to LS, but this is why we keep telling people DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE A LAWYER. As an investment, LS is A VERY POOR investment. I'm sorry, but that's just it. If you're in it to make money you've screwing yourself. Even at a T14 school.



Not getting a JD would not be better if after working for 15 years you are still making low 40's or even 50. Law school is not necessarily alwasy bad financial investment, especially when you consider that your education and your career earning potential can last 40+ years. So even if it takes you 20 years to pay off the debt, if you are doing good work, you should still have much better earning potential for that next 20 years. When you are planning for a career, you can make all your decisions based upon what you think your starting salary is likely to be. For most of us, life is long and we have to earn a living for a long time, so that is why you have to take the long view. That can be hard to do when you are in your 20's or 30's.

I will agree that you should want to be a lawyer if you are going to law school, however, if you don't go to law school, you may have to do things to make money that you would like far less and it is likely that you will earn far less while being miserable doing those things. So if you are going to have a job that you don't like in order take care of the economic needs of yourself and your family, I would say having a career in law where you start at 45 and progress to 75K in 10 to 15 years is not bad considering that you won't do that well with many of the alternatives that are available to you with an non-specialized undergrad degree or if you are not good at sales.

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thuggishruggishbone
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby thuggishruggishbone » Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:36 pm

UnbornWidow wrote:
AJRESQ wrote:I know there is a lot of beef between this place and places like JD Underground. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle (law is great for some, bad for others)


JDUers never said law is bad for everyone. I think even the most angry scambloggers would say that if you get into a top 10 school, that is a rational gamble and that you should probably go.




What I'm saying is, you can be successful from a TT or TTT or TTTT based on your market.


The odds are against at least 30 percent of all law school grads unless they are willing to work side jobs in a nonlegal field for years while building their lemonade stand of a practice. I know whereof I speak.
This is why I recommend practicing in an area where you have ties, because your friends, family, and social network will become a source of referrals for you.


They will be your only source of referrals, in many situations.
YES, there are many grads who have made it solo in smaller markets. In fact, they are the only ones I know who have, save those who are black or hispanic and in an area where there is a large population of such.
But here is a very important and subtle point: these underserved, more rural areas, small or midsized cities, etc constitute a small percent of the population of america, relatively speaking, and so if all these jobless grads were to take your advice and move to these areas, this tidal wave of new lawyers would swamp the area and cause them to be even more saturated than the big cities.

It's called the 'turtles all the way down' logical fallacy.

Also, I want to add, I see where everyone who is anti-law school is coming from. In a tight market, it's easy to listen to all the law school "statistics", put a lot of $$$ into a legal education, and then find out all that's out there is document review.




As a lawyer who graduated from a TTT 2 years ago in the top 7 percent of my class, and who lives in a large metro, I would KILL to even get an interview for a doc review job. I have never even gotten a decent response for a lawyer job, even from the 100 or so resumes I sent out looking for contract work.

The most important things you need to know are this:
1) advertising does not work for legal clients, unless you have megabucks to spend.
Referrals are the only decent source for the most part.
2) there is a huge gulf between a lawyer with real training and experience and a law school grad who never has had a real law job.
3. The saturation really kicked in over the past 5 years. The advice that experienced lawyers have to give does not really apply to us.

Generally speaking if you are in a large metro area, you will have to work in some nonlegal night job or similar for a few years while your client base builds up to where you can live off of their referrals.

I am doing non-legal work now, pretty menial, low paying stuff. Could have done it right out of high school.


Ever considered an LLM?

istorm88
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby istorm88 » Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:02 pm

A'nold wrote:
Action Jackson wrote:
avacado111 wrote:wtf is your problem? He is just trying to give advice. Go to JD Underground if you want to complain that badly. Besides, he says to consider the costs (you have a Reading Comp fail) before attending law school.


Dipshit, his math is fucked. Any of us that have looked at our loan paperwork could tell you that. Thinking of law school as an investment is almost universally stupid.

Pull your head out of your ass and get your facts straight.


Actually YOUR math is a grossly overgeneralized blanket statement. Law school is a great investment for somebody coming out of a typical UG with a lib. arts major or some other worthless major. People always underestimate the earnings potential of even small firm lawyers and just assume that you will be making 50k forever. You would be lucky to EVER make over 60k a year (adjusted for inflation) within 15 years or so graduating with a BA. You will typically be well over 100k in a much shorter span of time.

Spare me the "lost earnings" argument. I think I can handle not making 25k a year for 3 years.


+1

EDIT: I probably wouldn't bother with law school if I had chosen a major with real potential. I think there's a decent amount of 2 year professional programs that are more valuable than a generic 4 year degree. Having learned that after I got the 4 year degree....law school seems worth the risk

AJRESQ
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby AJRESQ » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:23 pm

Action Jackson wrote:
AJRESQ wrote:7. As for costs, $130k for undergraduate and law is steep. However, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that much money. It's hardly crippling debt -- the average cost of your first house will be about $230k. Law can be a real bitch at the beginning, paying only $50k a year for the first few years. However, once you're past those first few years, I would say the average salary is $75k - $120k, assuming of course, you're developed an area of practice and book of business. If you make $75k for 15 years, you've made a lot more than your initial $130k investment -- that's a lot better of a return that you would get on real estate. Who buys a house for $130k and then sells it 15 years later for over a million dollars? Not a lot of people. Your pay can vary a lot on the type of work you take on. Your practice area will dictate a lot of the $$$ you make in the next 10 years.


Your math is fucked.

First, LS debt (without UG debt) at a T14 runs between $100k-200k, and is comparable at lower ranked schools all the way down to tier 4. So you're underestimating the costs.

Second, your salary coming out of LS dictates how long you're going to be paying that debt off, and the longer it takes, the more money you lose to interest. $50k for the "first few years" means you're throwing a minimal amount of money at your interest, without ever having a chance to hit the principle.

Third, comparing a JD with real estate is nuts. Better is to compare a JD to not a JD. Without a JD you go straight into the work force. Then you have to estimate what your salary would be after 3 years of LS MINUS the loan repayments. So if you're estimating $50k (which might actually be generous ITE for people that don't get Biglaw) you can immediately take $10k off the top to go straight to the interest on your loan (assuming that $130k has been collecting interest while you were in school). Remember, this is without even touching the principle (interest only). So now after 3 years of LS you're only making $40k and you've got $130k in debt. It's not hard to imagine NOT getting a JD would be better.

The point of this isn't to dissuade people to go to LS, but this is why we keep telling people DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE A LAWYER. As an investment, LS is A VERY POOR investment. I'm sorry, but that's just it. If you're in it to make money you've screwing yourself. Even at a T14 school.


Thanks for your post. I think the topic of "should I go to law school?" has been beaten to death and probably more appropriate for another forum.

The point of my post was to try and give some insight as to what to consider when selecting a law school. Given the varying and often unpredictable degrees of success most lawyers have, I don't think I could make blanket statements as to whether law school is a good idea for any particular individual.

I'm hopeful that my insight will be useful in considering law school to prospective attorneys, instead of simply attending the highest ranked school they are accepted to. I know when I was a prospective candidate, the wisdom was "go to the best school you are accepted to." In hindsight, I don't think that's the case, and I think there are a wide variety of other factors to be considered when selecting a law school. I tried to articulate the ones I thought were most important, but I'm sure I've left a few out.

Your opinion, however, is appreciated.

AJRESQ
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby AJRESQ » Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:41 pm

Action Jackson wrote:
AJRESQ wrote:7. As for costs, $130k for undergraduate and law is steep. However, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that much money. It's hardly crippling debt -- the average cost of your first house will be about $230k. Law can be a real bitch at the beginning, paying only $50k a year for the first few years. However, once you're past those first few years, I would say the average salary is $75k - $120k, assuming of course, you're developed an area of practice and book of business. If you make $75k for 15 years, you've made a lot more than your initial $130k investment -- that's a lot better of a return that you would get on real estate. Who buys a house for $130k and then sells it 15 years later for over a million dollars? Not a lot of people. Your pay can vary a lot on the type of work you take on. Your practice area will dictate a lot of the $$$ you make in the next 10 years.


Your math is fucked.

First, LS debt (without UG debt) at a T14 runs between $100k-200k, and is comparable at lower ranked schools all the way down to tier 4. So you're underestimating the costs.

Second, your salary coming out of LS dictates how long you're going to be paying that debt off, and the longer it takes, the more money you lose to interest. $50k for the "first few years" means you're throwing a minimal amount of money at your interest, without ever having a chance to hit the principle.

Third, comparing a JD with real estate is nuts. Better is to compare a JD to not a JD. Without a JD you go straight into the work force. Then you have to estimate what your salary would be after 3 years of LS MINUS the loan repayments. So if you're estimating $50k (which might actually be generous ITE for people that don't get Biglaw) you can immediately take $10k off the top to go straight to the interest on your loan (assuming that $130k has been collecting interest while you were in school). Remember, this is without even touching the principle (interest only). So now after 3 years of LS you're only making $40k and you've got $130k in debt. It's not hard to imagine NOT getting a JD would be better.

The point of this isn't to dissuade people to go to LS, but this is why we keep telling people DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE A LAWYER. As an investment, LS is A VERY POOR investment. I'm sorry, but that's just it. If you're in it to make money you've screwing yourself. Even at a T14 school.


Also, just to add a few things...

1. You're assuming that liberal arts grads can make $75k - $120k without a JD. I'm not sure that's usually the case. I know it wasn't for me.

2. The benefit of a law degree is that you can also make referrals, contingent fees, etc. A PI lawyer can make $800k in fees off of one case. Billing 900 hours a year at $200 h/r is still a gross of $180k. Most liberal arts grads don't have those kinds of business opportunities.

3. Based on the above, a lawyer with 3-5 years experience should be making over $50k a year.

I know there was a post on here about marketing dollars, and I think this is the issue: you have to tailor your marketing to your audience. Just advertising general legal services to the general public isn't a good investment. However, if you specialize in something, try advertising to a trade journal. For instance, if you want to represent dry cleaners, try advertising in dry cleaning magazines and writing a blog about issues that affect dry cleaning owners. It's more an issue of knowing your audience and targeting it.

Hope that clarifies.

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kalvano
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby kalvano » Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:27 am

If you get a law degree and are making $50K a year 3-4 years after graduation, you fucked up somewhere along the way.

A lot of jobs may start out at $50K, but decent performance means higher salary.

I don't care what you read on the front page of Yahoo, the reality is that there are not a lot of higher-paying jobs without a professional degree, so law school is an investment, and typically a pretty decent one. The likelihood is that, a few years down the road, if you are even decently competent, you will be making a pretty fair salary.

Action Jackson
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:51 am

AJRESQ wrote:1. You're assuming that liberal arts grads can make $75k - $120k without a JD. I'm not sure that's usually the case. I know it wasn't for me.


This is the problem: you keep throwing around salary numbers (many years into the profession) without tempering those numbers by the debt the person takes on. $75k in salary 10 years out of law school is going to be a lot worse than $50k 13 years out of UG if you're still making huge loan payments, which might be the case.

My point isn't that people shouldn't go to law school, it's simply that people should do THE CORRECT MATH about it. I know several 3Ls who didn't honestly and sincerely take the debt into account when they went to law school, and now they're realizing that they're going to be making less money than their friends (with liberal arts degrees) that just went into the workforce and have moved up the ladder.

I'm hopeful that my insight will be useful in considering law school to prospective attorneys, instead of simply attending the highest ranked school they are accepted to.


Except that the very first thing you said in your post was: "If you get into a T14, go. Going to a T14 will open a lot of doors for you, regardless if where you practice."

While I'm here, I'd also like to address something someone else said:

Education is an investment. Law school is part of that.


People have different ways of using the word "investment." If you're in law school to become a better person then that's cute and fine (understanding that you might owe someone $200k for the privilege). But if we're talking about a FINANCIAL investment, then law school becomes a very, very, very, very bad idea for MOST people. If you're only paying $10k a year and you're at the top of your class at a T14, then sure, law school turned out to be a great moneymaker, but most people aren't in that boat. If you end up making $50-70k and you've got $100-200k in debt, you're going to have a lot of financial hardship, for a VERY long time. Now, if being a lawyer is your DREAM JOB, then that's wonderful, but DO NOT get into law to make money, and DO NOT try and rationalize the enormous cost as an investment.

That's it. Go because you WANT to do the job. But also make sure you understand what DEBT means for your take home and be prepared for dealing with it for a very long time.

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crazycanuck
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby crazycanuck » Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:35 pm

Action Jackson wrote:This is the problem: you keep throwing around salary numbers (many years into the profession) without tempering those numbers by the debt the person takes on. $75k in salary 10 years out of law school is going to be a lot worse than $50k 13 years out of UG if you're still making huge loan payments, which might be the case. .


After 10 years, doesn't the debt get forgiven?

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Mr. Matlock » Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:42 pm

crazycanuck wrote:
Action Jackson wrote:This is the problem: you keep throwing around salary numbers (many years into the profession) without tempering those numbers by the debt the person takes on. $75k in salary 10 years out of law school is going to be a lot worse than $50k 13 years out of UG if you're still making huge loan payments, which might be the case. .


After 10 years, doesn't the debt get forgiven?

That's for PI/Government jobs. For all others it's 20-25??? (depends on what that new law states)

lawschooliseasy
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby lawschooliseasy » Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:03 pm

Action Jackson wrote:
AJRESQ wrote:1. You're assuming that liberal arts grads can make $75k - $120k without a JD. I'm not sure that's usually the case. I know it wasn't for me.


This is the problem: you keep throwing around salary numbers (many years into the profession) without tempering those numbers by the debt the person takes on. $75k in salary 10 years out of law school is going to be a lot worse than $50k 13 years out of UG if you're still making huge loan payments, which might be the case.

My point isn't that people shouldn't go to law school, it's simply that people should do THE CORRECT MATH about it. I know several 3Ls who didn't honestly and sincerely take the debt into account when they went to law school, and now they're realizing that they're going to be making less money than their friends (with liberal arts degrees) that just went into the workforce and have moved up the ladder.

I'm hopeful that my insight will be useful in considering law school to prospective attorneys, instead of simply attending the highest ranked school they are accepted to.


Except that the very first thing you said in your post was: "If you get into a T14, go. Going to a T14 will open a lot of doors for you, regardless if where you practice."

While I'm here, I'd also like to address something someone else said:

Education is an investment. Law school is part of that.


People have different ways of using the word "investment." If you're in law school to become a better person then that's cute and fine (understanding that you might owe someone $200k for the privilege). But if we're talking about a FINANCIAL investment, then law school becomes a very, very, very, very bad idea for MOST people. If you're only paying $10k a year and you're at the top of your class at a T14, then sure, law school turned out to be a great moneymaker, but most people aren't in that boat. If you end up making $50-70k and you've got $100-200k in debt, you're going to have a lot of financial hardship, for a VERY long time. Now, if being a lawyer is your DREAM JOB, then that's wonderful, but DO NOT get into law to make money, and DO NOT try and rationalize the enormous cost as an investment.

That's it. Go because you WANT to do the job. But also make sure you understand what DEBT means for your take home and be prepared for dealing with it for a very long time.


Having $100k in debt and a $70k salary does not equate to financial hardship.

daviddel03
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby daviddel03 » Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:15 pm

this is exactly why this place sucks sometimes. this guy is trying to give people advice, and some bums have to come in and disturb the thread and give their opinions when no one asked. let this guy say what he wants to say, let the people WHO ARE INTERESTED ask the questions they want answered, and let this site fulfill its purpose. no one cares if you don't think going to law school is a good investment, i think everyone here has heard that enough.

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Eric_Arthur_Blair
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Eric_Arthur_Blair » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:21 pm

I think we need to be aware that there is a lot of rage and anger at the current economic climate and the changing landscape of the legal profession. For the most part, people like to think of the "changes" of unemployment, decreased job prospects and the like happening to that shapeless mass called "everyone else" and when they find out that they are actually part of the changes, the reality is harsh and bitterness ensues.

We should be willing to take these concerns into account when deciding our futures instead of just turning a blind, idealistic eye and saying general banalities like; "go to a school with a good job market" or "choose a situation where you graduate with the least debt possible." People do these things and still fail and they are rightfully angry about it. Let's not discount the naysayers just because they burst our bubbles of idealism.

keg411
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby keg411 » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:34 pm

Yes, there are horror stories, but I'm worried that some of the posters may have scared off a valuable resource by picking a fight with a practicing lawyer who wanted to share his/her own opinions. Opinions which are just as valuable to 0L's as the "sky is falling" negatives.

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FunkyJD
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby FunkyJD » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:37 pm

keg411 wrote:Yes, there are horror stories, but I'm worried that some of the posters may have scared off a valuable resource by picking a fight with a practicing lawyer who wanted to share his/her own opinions. Opinions which are just as valuable to 0L's as the "sky is falling" negatives.

+1,000.

Action Jackson
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:37 pm

lawschooliseasy wrote:Having $100k in debt and a $70k salary does not equate to financial hardship.


Excluding the fact that you picked the highest salary and lowest debt we were talking about, you should sit down and actually figure out what the loan repayment on that is, then deduct from that taxes and living expenses, and then we'll talk.

And that's all I'm telling people to do here. DO THE MATH. Then you are able to make the an intelligent decision about what that MEANS to you. To some, it means they still want to go to law school, and that's great. To others, particularly the ones that think they're making a good investment, this might make them rethink their choices. In either case, at least you're doing it intelligently.

My criticism with OP was simply that the math he or she was using is misleading. It paints a rosier picture than it should. You shouldn't be doing "best case scenario" math.

I understand that for some of you this is like shitting in your cereal. You think you're going to graduate and make $70k and you assume you'll just pay off the debt no problem (so you don't do the math) and it'll be great. I'm sorry, but that's really stupid, and I've met enough 3Ls who regret thinking like that to want to point this out here. Don't gloss over the math. Don't just assume your debt will be forgiven down the line (unless your parents have put that in writing and show you the bag of money set aside). Make sure you're making an informed decision about your future.

For some reason, making an informed decision seems to be synonymous with "LAW SCHOOL IS TERRIBLE! ZOMG!!!" Once again, that is not what I'm saying. I'm in law school and I love it. I made the right decision. I did my math correctly. Make sure you can say the same thing down the road.

ram jam
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby ram jam » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:31 pm

Action Jackson wrote:
lawschooliseasy wrote:Having $100k in debt and a $70k salary does not equate to financial hardship.


Excluding the fact that you picked the highest salary and lowest debt we were talking about, you should sit down and actually figure out what the loan repayment on that is, then deduct from that taxes and living expenses, and then we'll talk.

And that's all I'm telling people to do here. DO THE MATH. Then you are able to make the an intelligent decision about what that MEANS to you. To some, it means they still want to go to law school, and that's great. To others, particularly the ones that think they're making a good investment, this might make them rethink their choices. In either case, at least you're doing it intelligently.

My criticism with OP was simply that the math he or she was using is misleading. It paints a rosier picture than it should. You shouldn't be doing "best case scenario" math.

I understand that for some of you this is like shitting in your cereal. You think you're going to graduate and make $70k and you assume you'll just pay off the debt no problem (so you don't do the math) and it'll be great. I'm sorry, but that's really stupid, and I've met enough 3Ls who regret thinking like that to want to point this out here. Don't gloss over the math. Don't just assume your debt will be forgiven down the line (unless your parents have put that in writing and show you the bag of money set aside). Make sure you're making an informed decision about your future.

For some reason, making an informed decision seems to be synonymous with "LAW SCHOOL IS TERRIBLE! ZOMG!!!" Once again, that is not what I'm saying. I'm in law school and I love it. I made the right decision. I did my math correctly. Make sure you can say the same thing down the road.


Why is the $70k engraved in stone? Most schools' median and average starting salaries are well above 70k. Also, I have worked at two medium sized law firms, and the associates' starting salaries were $90k + signing bonus! Not to mention, the firms are still hiring first year associates....

We have all heard many horror stories about unemployed lawyers. Job prospects are not good, and likely, will not be good for some time. However, there is still legal work to be done, and those that do the best job will rise to the top. I think we can all agree that law school is risky, but it is not deal breaker risky.

A partner in a firm that I worked for once told me, "Don't go to law school if you want to make money. If you want to make money, get an MBA. Go to law school because you feel at home in a law library." Yet this conversation occurred while I was driving him in his new Audi A5 to the Federal Courthouse. FWIW.

Action Jackson
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:42 pm

ram jam wrote:Why is the $70k engraved in stone? Most schools' median and average starting salaries are well above 70k. Also, I have worked at two medium sized law firms, and the associates' starting salaries were $90k + signing bonus! Not to mention, the firms are still hiring first year associates....

We have all heard many horror stories about unemployed lawyers. Job prospects are not good, and likely, will not be good for some time. However, there is still legal work to be done, and those that do the best job will rise to the top. I think we can all agree that law school is risky, but it is not deal breaker risky.

A partner in a firm that I worked for once told me, "Don't go to law school if you want to make money. If you want to make money, get an MBA. Go to law school because you feel at home in a law library." Yet this conversation occurred while I was driving him in his new Audi A5 to the Federal Courthouse. FWIW.


The $70k number popped up, but it's actually an overestimate. MOST attorneys start at around $40k. The salaries schools report are, unfortunately, total bullshit.

Here's the thing, you need to get your head straight really fast or you'll quickly find yourself seriously fucked. Yeah, there are great opportunities for people at the top of the law school class. But only a few people get there, and regardless of the wonderful stories you might read on this board, its not always as simple to get to the top by just following a checklist posted on some forums. It's tough, and outside of T14 schools falling outside the top 10% of your class dramatically changes your job prospects. Expecting to be at the top is foolish.

That partner gave you great advice, and its sad you're being stupid by dismissing it. It is, btw, the exact same thing I've said repeatedly here. That partner driving the Audi A5 probably can't count how many associates he's seen come and go, burn out or fail to ever make it to a $70k a year salary, and he's basing his advice on that. Sure, he did well, but how many associates ever make partner? You're talking about the tippy top of the elite molehill. It's like Bill Gates warning you against dropping out of college. Yeah, he's the richest man in the world, but the 99.9999% of college drop outs are SOL, not billionaires.

There are lots of great reasons to be a lawyer. Buying an Audi A5 is not one of those reasons.

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TCScrutinizer
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby TCScrutinizer » Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:30 pm

I'd love to see some supporting evidence for the assertion that the majority of attorneys start at $40k/yr. My father graduated from Houston law school in the 1980's and made more than that at a small law firm.

Action Jackson
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Mar 28, 2010 7:27 pm

TCS wrote:I'd love to see some supporting evidence for the assertion that the majority of attorneys start at $40k/yr. My father graduated from Houston law school in the 1980's and made more than that at a small law firm.

Because if it was true in the 1980's for one guy, then it MUST be true of everyone today...?

Ahem, http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_le ... on-of.html

That's from 2006, when the legal economy was booming. I'm sorry to shit in your cereal, but $40k starting is the new normal.

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kalvano
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby kalvano » Sun Mar 28, 2010 7:51 pm

Again, if you're still making that same $40K in 2, 3, 4 years...you fucked up big time.

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jrstephens1991
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby jrstephens1991 » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:31 pm

That was a great read.

Thanks for the insight.

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Drew2010
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Drew2010 » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:43 pm

Action Jackson wrote:
TCS wrote:I'd love to see some supporting evidence for the assertion that the majority of attorneys start at $40k/yr. My father graduated from Houston law school in the 1980's and made more than that at a small law firm.

Because if it was true in the 1980's for one guy, then it MUST be true of everyone today...?

Ahem, http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_le ... on-of.html

That's from 2006, when the legal economy was booming. I'm sorry to shit in your cereal, but $40k starting is the new normal.


That link does not in any way support your baseless assertion.

In 2006, in a survey made up 55.8% by private practice, and 25.6% by a combination of government work, judicial clerks, and public interest law, the median starting salary was $62,000, with 27.5% making between $40-$55k per year.

From there you just throw out the word "economy" and conclude whatever the fuck you want.

Action Jackson
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:58 pm

Drew2010 wrote:
Action Jackson wrote:
TCS wrote:I'd love to see some supporting evidence for the assertion that the majority of attorneys start at $40k/yr. My father graduated from Houston law school in the 1980's and made more than that at a small law firm.

Because if it was true in the 1980's for one guy, then it MUST be true of everyone today...?

Ahem, http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_le ... on-of.html

That's from 2006, when the legal economy was booming. I'm sorry to shit in your cereal, but $40k starting is the new normal.


That link does not in any way support your baseless assertion.

In 2006, in a survey made up 55.8% by private practice, and 25.6% by a combination of government work, judicial clerks, and public interest law, the median starting salary was $62,000, with 27.5% making between $40-$55k per year.

From there you just throw out the word "economy" and conclude whatever the fuck you want.

No, you're right. The economy right now is the same as it was in 2006. The same number of people are getting biglaw now (aka the upper peak) as back in 2006. And all those salaries below $40k on that graph don't exist anymore.

I did all my homework and my math before I got to law school, so I'm fine. The rest of you are free to do whatever the hell you want. I hope you end up with what you think you're going to end up with.

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Drew2010
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Drew2010 » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:03 pm

Action Jackson wrote:
Drew2010 wrote:That link does not in any way support your baseless assertion.

In 2006, in a survey made up 55.8% by private practice, and 25.6% by a combination of government work, judicial clerks, and public interest law, the median starting salary was $62,000, with 27.5% making between $40-$55k per year.

From there you just throw out the word "economy" and conclude whatever the fuck you want.

No, you're right. The economy right now is the same as it was in 2006. The same number of people are getting biglaw now (aka the upper peak) as back in 2006. And all those salaries below $40k on that graph don't exist anymore.

I did all my homework and my math before I got to law school, so I'm fine. The rest of you are free to do whatever the hell you want. I hope you end up with what you think you're going to end up with.


You're right that the economy isn't the same as it was in 2006, and I know I never said it was. However, pointing out the economy has changed doesn't mean you can just conclude whatever the hell you want and people are going to take it as fact, or even as supported opinion.




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