Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

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bedefan
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Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby bedefan » Mon May 31, 2010 4:42 pm

Hey all,

Heresy! Heresy! Here's the heresy: I'm beginning to suspect that t-14 might actually close some doors. Specifically, from talking to some Legal Aid people in small town Iowa, I'm getting the impression they're more interested in hiring new atty.'s from Iowa (and even Drake! Say it ain't so!) than somebody from, say, Duke or Berkeley. (I'm guessing they would take somebody from HYS, but it seemed ridiculous to ask.)

I'm wondering about this because I'm applying this fall and would like to have the option after school to pursue both "fancy" and "non-fancy" PI jobs in the Midwest, by which I mean, for the former, public policy and advocacy work for big nonprofits in Chicago/Twin Cities/StL/whatever, and for the latter, Legal Aid type work in small cities, Ames or Duluth or Lawrence or whatever.

I should have numbers, assuming something doesn't go horribly wrong at 1 pm Monday June 7, to get in to at least a couple t-14 schools, maybe even a lot of them. But I'm starting to get the jitters here, wondering if I should just apply to Iowa, ND, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana and see who offers me the most cash. It seems that these schools would actually offer me MORE flexibility to go either the fancy or the non-fancy PI route, at least in their respective regions...

Or should I just, you know, go to Berkeley or NYU if that's the best school I get in to?

(And of course I'm applying to Michigan. And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

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bk1
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby bk1 » Mon May 31, 2010 4:45 pm

I think the small firms are afraid that somebody from the T14 will jump ship the moment they are offered a better job (because they think that grads from these schools are "settling" for a smaller firm because they missed out on biglaw), whereas attorneys from lower ranked regional schools are more likely to stay put at the firm.

Just a thought.

EDIT: As for your situation, I think if you can demonstrate strong ties to the region then the firm probably won't mind if you come from Duke or Cal or the like. The point is that the firms are likely suspicious of people without strong ties to the region and who did not go to school in the region coming for a job in the area.
Last edited by bk1 on Mon May 31, 2010 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Core
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby Core » Mon May 31, 2010 4:46 pm

bedefan wrote:Hey all,

Heresy! Heresy! Here's the heresy: I'm beginning to suspect that t-14 might actually close some doors. Specifically, from talking to some Legal Aid people in small town Iowa, I'm getting the impression they're more interested in hiring new atty.'s from Iowa (and even Drake! Say it ain't so!) than somebody from, say, Duke or Berkeley. (I'm guessing they would take somebody from HYS, but it seemed ridiculous to ask.)

I'm wondering about this because I'm applying this fall and would like to have the option after school to pursue both "fancy" and "non-fancy" PI jobs in the Midwest, by which I mean, for the former, public policy and advocacy work for big nonprofits in Chicago/Twin Cities/StL/whatever, and for the latter, Legal Aid type work in small cities, Ames or Duluth or Lawrence or whatever.

I should have numbers, assuming something doesn't go horribly wrong at 1 pm Monday June 7, to get in to at least a couple t-14 schools, maybe even a lot of them. But I'm starting to get the jitters here, wondering if I should just apply to Iowa, ND, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana and see who offers me the most cash. It seems that these schools would actually offer me MORE flexibility to go either the fancy or the non-fancy PI route, at least in their respective regions...

Or should I just, you know, go to Berkeley or NYU if that's the best school I get in to?

(And of course I'm applying to Michigan. And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

IBR would make small town PI work affordable regardless of your school's LRAP.

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beef wellington
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby beef wellington » Mon May 31, 2010 4:49 pm

Core wrote:
bedefan wrote:(And of course I'm applying to Michigan. And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

IBR would make small town PI work affordable regardless of your school's LRAP.

Not to mention Northwestern's new LRAP is one of the best in the country, and Chicago's is also good.

CyLaw
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby CyLaw » Mon May 31, 2010 4:52 pm

What legal aid opportunities are there in Ames? I am off to Cornell this next year, but wanted to look for places to volunteer during my many trips back to Ames to visit my wife, so any research you have already done for this area would be really helpful to me.

Also, you major worry for PI jobs in smaller cities and areas should not be if the school you attend is local or not. The major worry for these markets is how often there is even an opening. I imagine that for rural Iowa areas you are going to see less job openings for PI work than in major cities due to lack of funds or lack of need for another body.

Another factor to weigh for PI jobs is the ability to repay loans for law school. top schools on average have great LRAP programs whereas lesser ranked schools seem to be lacking in loan repayment programs. Also, be careful of strings attached to full tuition loans at these other schools. The class rank or gpa requirements can make accepting a full ride at these schools to be a greater risk than trying to manage the debt from higher ranked schools with a good LRAP.

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bedefan
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby bedefan » Mon May 31, 2010 4:52 pm

Core wrote:
bedefan wrote:...And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

IBR would make small town PI work affordable regardless of your school's LRAP.


I was under the impression that for very high debt loads + small incomes, even the minimum monthly payments could still be prohibitive... Or are the payments solely scaled to income? E.g. if I'm making 32k for Nebraska Legal Aid, I pay the same whether I owe 50k or 250k?

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bedefan
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby bedefan » Mon May 31, 2010 4:55 pm

CyLaw wrote:What legal aid opportunities are there in Ames?


Sorry, was just listing small Midwestern cities off the top of my head. Haven't done any research on Ames aside from that they don't have a legal aid satellite office there. Nearest one is in Des Moines.

CyLaw
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby CyLaw » Mon May 31, 2010 4:57 pm

bedefan wrote:
Core wrote:
bedefan wrote:...And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

IBR would make small town PI work affordable regardless of your school's LRAP.


I was under the impression that for very high debt loads + small incomes, even the minimum monthly payments could still be prohibitive... Or are the payments solely scaled to income? E.g. if I'm making 32k for Nebraska Legal Aid, I pay the same whether I owe 50k or 250k?


http://www.ibrinfo.org/calculator.php has a good calculator to help you determine this. But beware of the situations where IBR is not that useful such as if you are married or if you don't do ALL 10 years in public interest (since it just defers payment in most cases and only really benefits you if you do the public service loan forgiveness which requires 120 monthly payments in a PI job and working in a PI job when the forgiveness happens).

CyLaw
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby CyLaw » Mon May 31, 2010 4:57 pm

bedefan wrote:
CyLaw wrote:What legal aid opportunities are there in Ames?


Sorry, was just listing small Midwestern cities off the top of my head. Haven't done any research on Ames aside from that they don't have a legal aid satellite office there. Nearest one is in Des Moines.


Thanks anyways. :) Just trying to plan out my spring and fall breaks.

d34d9823
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby d34d9823 » Mon May 31, 2010 4:58 pm

bedefan wrote:
Core wrote:
bedefan wrote:...And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

IBR would make small town PI work affordable regardless of your school's LRAP.


I was under the impression that for very high debt loads + small incomes, even the minimum monthly payments could still be prohibitive... Or are the payments solely scaled to income? E.g. if I'm making 32k for Nebraska Legal Aid, I pay the same whether I owe 50k or 250k?

You need to research IBR. The basic premise is that you pay no more than 10-15% of your salary.

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bedefan
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby bedefan » Mon May 31, 2010 5:02 pm

d34dluk3 wrote:
bedefan wrote:
Core wrote:
bedefan wrote:...And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

IBR would make small town PI work affordable regardless of your school's LRAP.


I was under the impression that for very high debt loads + small incomes, even the minimum monthly payments could still be prohibitive... Or are the payments solely scaled to income? E.g. if I'm making 32k for Nebraska Legal Aid, I pay the same whether I owe 50k or 250k?

You need to research IBR. The basic premise is that you pay no more than 10-15% of your salary.


Yes, apparently I do... A quick swing through the calculator indicates it's almost entirely based on income, which is what I'd thought. But it does seem that spousal income can have a very big impact on it, just from the hypotheticals I ran, so that would be a reason for me to be wary of IBR. Well, more to read I suppose...

d34d9823
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby d34d9823 » Mon May 31, 2010 5:05 pm

bedefan wrote:Yes, apparently I do... A quick swing through the calculator indicates it's almost entirely based on income, which is what I'd thought. But it does seem that spousal income can have a very big impact on it, just from the hypotheticals I ran, so that would be a reason for me to be wary of IBR. Well, more to read I suppose...

Just another good reason to give the girlfriend for not taking the plunge :P

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romothesavior
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby romothesavior » Mon May 31, 2010 5:10 pm

I do think there is some truth to this. I think a lot of PDs and state's attorneys in smaller towns and cities prefer local kids from local schools, especially state schools. I know the local SA in my town (of 100,000-150,000 people) is full of UIUC and Southern Illinois grads. Just based on anecdotal evidence and my own personal experiences, it seems that smaller markets prefer local talent, perhaps even over a T14. There is no doubt that smaller firms and non-prestigious PI firms in non-major markets don't care nearly as much about rankings, but whether they actually seek them over the top schools is hard to know for sure.

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bedefan
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby bedefan » Mon May 31, 2010 5:12 pm

beef wellington wrote:
Core wrote:
bedefan wrote:(And of course I'm applying to Michigan. And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

IBR would make small town PI work affordable regardless of your school's LRAP.

Not to mention Northwestern's new LRAP is one of the best in the country, and Chicago's is also good.


Well, I'll be darned. I'd listed NW'ern in the middle of the pack (of t-14'ers) for LRAPs when I started my research. But reading through it in a bit more detail, it seems at least to be better than two schools I'd had it behind (G-town and UVA). Like G-town and UVA it's tied to IRB, which I"m not crazy about (because this means you can be left hanging with a huge amount of interest if you don't stay in PI for 10 years), but the fact that NW'ern pays down 75% of your interest while you're in their program is an enormous bonus.

Thanks for the all the great responses, btw.

Oh, and I've been married 5 years, so unfortunately I can't use IRB as a means to stave of the inevitable. The inevitable is here!

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beef wellington
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby beef wellington » Mon May 31, 2010 5:35 pm

bedefan wrote:
beef wellington wrote:
Core wrote:
bedefan wrote:(And of course I'm applying to Michigan. And I don't even think I'll bother with Chicago and Nw'ern since their LRAPs are so poor I'd effectively be barred from going into small town PI work, which pays < 40k starting off.)

IBR would make small town PI work affordable regardless of your school's LRAP.

Not to mention Northwestern's new LRAP is one of the best in the country, and Chicago's is also good.


Well, I'll be darned. I'd listed NW'ern in the middle of the pack (of t-14'ers) for LRAPs when I started my research. But reading through it in a bit more detail, it seems at least to be better than two schools I'd had it behind (G-town and UVA). Like G-town and UVA it's tied to IRB, which I"m not crazy about (because this means you can be left hanging with a huge amount of interest if you don't stay in PI for 10 years), but the fact that NW'ern pays down 75% of your interest while you're in their program is an enormous bonus.

Thanks for the all the great responses, btw.

Oh, and I've been married 5 years, so unfortunately I can't use IRB as a means to stave of the inevitable. The inevitable is here!

GULC and UVA both have new LRAPs this cycle too. I'd put GULC's about even with NU's, they're both excellent but very different. At the rate T14 schools are upgrading their LRAPs they'll probably all be pretty comparable by the time we graduate. CLS and Chicago are rumored to be next in line.

keg411
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby keg411 » Mon May 31, 2010 8:44 pm

OP, there is no reason not to apply to some of the local schools if those types of jobs are a potential long-term goal. You can worry about your choice once you get accepted/get $$$ offers. No reason to stress about things like that now since you haven't taken the LSAT yet.

articulably suspect
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Re: Non-fancy PI jobs heresy

Postby articulably suspect » Mon May 31, 2010 9:18 pm

A demonstrated interest in the field(s) or similar PI/public service fields, is always a plus and shows your future employers that you have are real desire to work in said field(s) and it's not just some layover for you until something bigger and better comes along(ie not simply a fall back option.) If you're able to demonstrate your interest in PI/PS, having a T-14 degree shouldn't hurt your chances.

Depending on the PI/PS field and location, law school prestige means much less than it does in the private sector, based on what I've observed and researched.




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