Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

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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 9:09 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.


Why use old data?

Nice tactic, though. Post data just before the financial meltdown and lead your audience to infer that the decline since then has been meteoric. According to this data 42% of students begin in the $40,000 - $55,000 range. The median and average are both better than the 2006 numbers. So essentially an 0L going to a top-50 school probably has a lot less to worry about than you think.

Congrats on getting into your T14. For building your self-esteem, might I suggest jogging or yoga?

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

Postby romothesavior » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:14 pm

lawschooliseasy wrote:
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.


+1,000,000

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

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:27 pm

TCS 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.


Why use old data?

Nice tactic, though. Post data just before the financial meltdown and lead your audience to infer that the decline since then has been meteoric. According to this data 42% of students begin in the $40,000 - $55,000 range. The median and average are both better than the 2006 numbers. So essentially an 0L going to a top-50 school probably has a lot less to worry about than you think.

Congrats on getting into your T14. For building your self-esteem, might I suggest jogging or yoga?


I didn't realize new data was out (the older data is first thing Google spit up when I looked for it). In any case, 2008 was still the boom, and the data from 2009 at the top firms is about half 2008, and 2010 looks like its going to be worse. I'm telling you, I go to a top10 law school and I know more than a few 3Ls that are still looking for jobs. It's a mess out there.

But, like I said, if you think you're going to start at $70k then I wish you good luck. Also, if you don't want to factor in your debt repayments in deciding whether or not that's a better salary than you could have gotten after 3 years of work, that's fine too. I really don't care. Like I said, I've got all my numbers worked out and I have nothing to worry about. If you don't want to do the math for yourselves, to see what you're getting into, that's fine. Good luck.

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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 9:32 pm

Action Jackson wrote:
I didn't realize new data was out (the older data is first thing Google spit up when I looked for it). In any case, 2008 was still the boom, and the data from 2009 at the top firms is about half 2008, and 2010 looks like its going to be worse. I'm telling you, I go to a top10 law school and I know more than a few 3Ls that are still looking for jobs. It's a mess out there.

But, like I said, if you think you're going to start at $70k then I wish you good luck. Also, if you don't want to factor in your debt repayments in deciding whether or not that's a better salary than you could have gotten after 3 years of work, that's fine too. I really don't care. Like I said, I've got all my numbers worked out and I have nothing to worry about. If you don't want to do the math for yourselves, to see what you're getting into, that's fine. Good luck.


Shit like that last paragraph makes you come off as something of a joke. Not agreeing with your opinion about what most lawyers make, without any proof at all =/= not doing our own math.

Action Jackson
Posts: 328
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Re: Advice on choosing a law school from a practicing lawyer

Postby Action Jackson » Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:47 pm

Drew2010 wrote:
Action Jackson wrote:
I didn't realize new data was out (the older data is first thing Google spit up when I looked for it). In any case, 2008 was still the boom, and the data from 2009 at the top firms is about half 2008, and 2010 looks like its going to be worse. I'm telling you, I go to a top10 law school and I know more than a few 3Ls that are still looking for jobs. It's a mess out there.

But, like I said, if you think you're going to start at $70k then I wish you good luck. Also, if you don't want to factor in your debt repayments in deciding whether or not that's a better salary than you could have gotten after 3 years of work, that's fine too. I really don't care. Like I said, I've got all my numbers worked out and I have nothing to worry about. If you don't want to do the math for yourselves, to see what you're getting into, that's fine. Good luck.


Shit like that last paragraph makes you come off as something of a joke. Not agreeing with your opinion about what most lawyers make, without any proof at all =/= not doing our own math.

The salary numbers fall in line with what I've been saying. You might not want to believe there's going to be a meteoric shift when the 2010 numbers come out, but there is. The guy doing these calculations even says the shift is going to be massive. If you think, based on these numbers and the way the legal market is headed, that $40k is unreasonably low then that's your business. If you expect $70k starting, I hope you get what you expect.

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

Postby swester » Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:43 pm

I get a real kick out of the 1Ls and 2Ls on here who think they have any clue whatsoever as to the state of the legal job market. Sigh. This isn't your moot court competition; you don't have to impress anyone with your clever argumentative skills. Reality is reality.

Some helpful guidelines:

1. Don't try to assume you understand the market because your uncle's friend's college buddy graduated in 198x or 199x and is now making $300,000 a year. A girl from my high school plays on the LPGA tour; it doesn't mean it's wise to start taking golf lessons.

2. Don't accept anything that you read in a glossy law school brochure or in the emails you get from Career Resources. Their interest is two-fold: boosting applicants and minimizing attrition rates. They don't care whether or not you make $30k or $70k or $0k when you graduate.

3. $150k+interest is a LOT of debt. Even on $100k (which, unless you are have very good friends in high places, you will under no circumstances see on your payslip in years 1, 2, or 3 post-grad). And due to this perverse system in which we live, you can walk away from an underwater mortgage but you can't discharge your education loans. Go figure.

4. Don't fight supply and demand. The market is over-saturated with attorneys. Attorneys that have years and years more experience than you have. Attorneys from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and whatever other Top-10 who have been deferred at firms for 1 and 2 years. Attorneys who have been fired in the past 3 years. And as if this weren't troubling enough, demand has simultaneously sunk under the weight of the sagging economy. Firms have no choice but to cut back.

This isn't optimistic, and this is not a blanket statement that tries to suggest that you will never be hired. But coasting on sails filled with delusion is no remedy for reality. Oh, and that summer job you got as a 1L or 2L? Nice work. The only person winning there is the firm. They get their grunt work done for 1/4 the cost of an associate. Just don't be surprised when that offer never shows up down the road.

Good luck to all.

Full disclosure: Graduated in 2008, T-14. Worked for 2 years, laid off in February. With a light debt load remaining, thankfully.




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