A question about law schools and salaries

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notaznguy
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A question about law schools and salaries

Postby notaznguy » Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:01 am

So from this board and all of TLS, most people are pretty set on wanting to get into Big Law and starting with $160,000 after graduation.

I'm not.

For anyone that is a lawyer or a law student from a regional school (i.e. Loyola Law School Los Angeles, Pepperdine, San Diego, etc.), how much do you or your average classmate actually make a year in regards to starting salary? I've mainly tried looking online on message boards, and it seems that many starting salaries at these type of schools begin at around $60-70k.

I guess my question is, if you are starting at $60-70k, is it likely that an attorney that graduated from a regional school will be making $60-70k for the rest of his life?! Or is it more like you make $60-70k for the first 2 years, then once you work 5 years you make about $90, and then by your 6th year you break 100k, etc. etc. If that is true, it wouldn't be so bad to go to one of these "lesser" named schools no? Why do people seem to go insane and suggest that if you don't go to a T-14, you will be unemployed and die from the $150,000 law school debt?

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Spinozist21
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Spinozist21 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:32 am

Because people are assholes.

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:38 am

Read this, and make sure you get to the very end: http://abovethelaw.com/2010/07/nalp-giv ... er-salary/

I seriously was not really that into the Biglaw thing when I came to law school, and I'm still not aiming for New York City biglaw, but am planning to go the large law firm route in a smaller city. This is because I took out insane amounts of loan money, and there simply aren't jobs out there that will leave me enough money to both live and pay back loans within 10 years (which I'd really, REALLY like to do) other than jobs at large firms. There are other reasons too, but they're not really relevant.

Also, going the biglaw route seems a lot more sensible once you've been in law school and realize that, apart from clerkships, it's pretty much the only door that shuts. Biglaw gives you more options, unlike most other career choices post-law school, which give you fewer. So it definitely seems worth a try, and one can get out of it if one hates it.

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kalvano
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby kalvano » Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:42 am

notaznguy wrote:I guess my question is, if you are starting at $60-70k, is it likely that an attorney that graduated from a regional school will be making $60-70k for the rest of his life?! Or is it more like you make $60-70k for the first 2 years, then once you work 5 years you make about $90, and then by your 6th year you break 100k, etc. etc. If that is true, it wouldn't be so bad to go to one of these "lesser" named schools no? Why do people seem to go insane and suggest that if you don't go to a T-14, you will be unemployed and die from the $150,000 law school debt?


Because $150K is a lot of debt. You don't make the same salary that you start at...most attorneys will be doing fairly well by 6-10 years in. The problem is getting that initial job, and paying off a huge debt load while you work.

$60K starting equals $5K a month. After taxes, it's somewhere around $3600 - $3900. Your monthly loan payment could be as much as $2K. That's not a lot of money left.

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ResolutePear
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby ResolutePear » Sun Sep 26, 2010 10:52 am

kalvano wrote:
notaznguy wrote:I guess my question is, if you are starting at $60-70k, is it likely that an attorney that graduated from a regional school will be making $60-70k for the rest of his life?! Or is it more like you make $60-70k for the first 2 years, then once you work 5 years you make about $90, and then by your 6th year you break 100k, etc. etc. If that is true, it wouldn't be so bad to go to one of these "lesser" named schools no? Why do people seem to go insane and suggest that if you don't go to a T-14, you will be unemployed and die from the $150,000 law school debt?


Because $150K is a lot of debt. You don't make the same salary that you start at...most attorneys will be doing fairly well by 6-10 years in. The problem is getting that initial job, and paying off a huge debt load while you work.

$60K starting equals $5K a month. After taxes, it's somewhere around $3600 - $3900. Your monthly loan payment could be as much as $2K. That's not a lot of money left.


Factor in some of that delicious IBR and the 2k drops to ~500 bucks.

MrAnon
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby MrAnon » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:32 am

The information that most regional law grads start around 60-70K is plain wrong. Most grads who do not start at 6 figures will start around 45K. Look up the bi-modal salary distribution. Starting at 60k-70k is a rare accomplishment. Schools report that as the median salary because when all the 45K salaries are averaged against a few 160,000k salaries, well, that's the median. But most salaries are skewed towards 45K. Yes there are incremental yearly increases, or at least, there used to be. You could reach 60-70k after 5 years. Maybe you could reach 100k after a decade.

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ResolutePear
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby ResolutePear » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:35 am

MrAnon wrote:The information that most regional law grads start around 60-70K is plain wrong. Most grads who do not start at 6 figures will start around 45K. Look up the bi-modal salary distribution. Starting at 60k-70k is a rare accomplishment. Schools report that as the median salary because when all the 45K salaries are averaged against a few 160,000k salaries, well, that's the median. But most salaries are skewed towards 45K. Yes there are incremental yearly increases, or at least, there used to be. You could reach 60-70k after 5 years. Maybe you could reach 100k after a decade.


I don't care what anybody says - you deserve a gold star for comprehending and summarizing what was said in the linked post above.

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Lonagan
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Lonagan » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:44 am

MrAnon wrote:Schools report that as the median salary because when all the 45K salaries are averaged against a few 160,000k salaries, well, that's the median. But most salaries are skewed towards 45K.


That's how the mean works, not the median. Schools report artificially high median salaries because:

A) The people who get bad jobs and / or are not employed do not factor into their median calculation, and,

B) They are remorseless liars when it comes to employment data.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:46 am

There are a decent amount of jobs between $60,000-$110,000. Market pay in New Orleans and Jackson (MS) is $90,000-$100,000. Heck, North Carolina is $100,000-$140,000.

I'm not saying there are piles and piles of jobs in these pay ranges. I'm just saying that the market rate in non-primary markets (pretty much all cities that are not NYC, DC, Chi, LA- and other CA cities, Dallas, Houston, etc.) is less than $160,000 but more than $60,000.

About 1/3 of all salaries are between $60,000 and $160,000. Is it a rosy picture for people that take out more than $100,000 in loans? No. But doing that was a bad idea to begin with.

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ResolutePear
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby ResolutePear » Sun Sep 26, 2010 11:51 am

You just have to think about it like this:

You have the potential.


but,

You don't have the pontential.

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CGI Fridays
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby CGI Fridays » Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:05 pm

ResolutePear wrote:You just have to think about it like this:

You have the potential.


but,

You don't have the pontential.

:?: :?: :?:

MrAnon
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby MrAnon » Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:15 pm

There are a decent amount of jobs between $60,000-$110,000. Market pay in New Orleans and Jackson (MS) is $90,000-$100,000. Heck, North Carolina is $100,000-$140,000.

I'm not saying there are piles and piles of jobs in these pay ranges. I'm just saying that the market rate in non-primary markets (pretty much all cities that are not NYC, DC, Chi, LA- and other CA cities, Dallas, Houston, etc.) is less than $160,000 but more than $60,000.

About 1/3 of all salaries are between $60,000 and $160,000. Is it a rosy picture for people that take out more than $100,000 in loans? No. But doing that was a bad idea to begin with.


1. Calling it a decent amount does not quantify it. Look at the bimodal salary distribution. The numbers of jobs available in that range for people straight out of school are the smallest percentage of available jobs.

2. As you know, market pay goes to the top students in the class. Market pay does not go to students who finish in the top half or top quarter. It does not go to the top 20% any more. Market pay is reserved for the very top few students at regional schools. For every person earning market pay there are about 95 who are not.

3. 1/3 of all legal salaries are between 60,000 and 160,000. That is terrible when you keep in mind that this includes seasoned attorneys with 10+ or 20+ years experience. It may include NO persons straight out of school, but of course it in fact does include some. Maybe 20% of all graduates?

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:27 pm

MrAnon wrote:1. Calling it a decent amount does not quantify it. Look at the bimodal salary distribution. The numbers of jobs available in that range for people straight out of school are the smallest percentage of available jobs.

2. As you know, market pay goes to the top students in the class. Market pay does not go to students who finish in the top half or top quarter. It does not go to the top 20% any more. Market pay is reserved for the very top few students at regional schools. For every person earning market pay there are about 95 who are not.

3. 1/3 of all legal salaries are between 60,000 and 160,000. That is terrible when you keep in mind that this includes seasoned attorneys with 10+ or 20+ years experience. It may include NO persons straight out of school, but of course it in fact does include some. Maybe 20% of all graduates?


My point was just that it is not that bad when you factor massive debt out of the equation (which all students in the classes of 2012 and 2013 were advised not to do).

Also, many law school graduates majored in majors that would land them a job making less than $20,000 (i.e. non-business/science and majors that require an advanced degree to be relevant - psychology and so forth). So for most law school graduates, making $60,000 is way more than they would have made otherwise (even over 5 years). So for them, law school is a blessing even if they don't make "market" (heck, it would a blessing if they made 1/2 of market).

blsingindisguise
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby blsingindisguise » Sun Sep 26, 2010 12:29 pm

Of the people I know at my T2 who didn't get something at OCI (which was about 5%), virtually all are a month into their 3L year with still no meaningful leads on a job. Some of those people will ultimately find something in the Spring, others will graduate jobless (I certainly know graduates from last year who did). You are probably thinking "the economy will pick up again," but it will probably never get to the point where it can accommodate anywhere near the number of law graduates coming out every year. So a mythical median starting salary is bad enough, but no job is worse, and it's a realistic possibility.

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2014
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby 2014 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 2:40 pm

MrAnon wrote:The information that most regional law grads start around 60-70K is plain wrong. Most grads who do not start at 6 figures will start around 45K. Look up the bi-modal salary distribution. Starting at 60k-70k is a rare accomplishment. Schools report that as the median salary because when all the 45K salaries are averaged against a few 160,000k salaries, well, that's the median. But most salaries are skewed towards 45K. Yes there are incremental yearly increases, or at least, there used to be. You could reach 60-70k after 5 years. Maybe you could reach 100k after a decade.

You have median and mean confused.
Median is the number in the middle, mean is the average.
If the school has exactly 5 students who make 45,000, 45,000, 45,000, 160,000, 160,000 their median is 45,000 not 70 or whatever.

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tea_drinker
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby tea_drinker » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:04 pm

Spinozist21 wrote:Because people are assholes.


TITCR

3. 1/3 of all legal salaries are between 60,000 and 160,000. That is terrible when you keep in mind that this includes seasoned attorneys with 10+ or 20+ years experience. It may include NO persons straight out of school, but of course it in fact does include some. Maybe 20% of all graduates?


Seriously, I don't think those with 10+ or 20+ years of experience would settle for any jobs that pay them less than 120K, unless they are judgeship or prestige positions (i.e.AG).

Here is my two cents: Go to the school that you feel most comfortable academically and financially. Do your best to rank as high as you can, and get whatever job you will enjoy working. People don't know your situations any better than you do.

whymeohgodno
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby whymeohgodno » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:33 pm

tbldc2009 wrote:
Spinozist21 wrote:Because people are assholes.


TITCR

3. 1/3 of all legal salaries are between 60,000 and 160,000. That is terrible when you keep in mind that this includes seasoned attorneys with 10+ or 20+ years experience. It may include NO persons straight out of school, but of course it in fact does include some. Maybe 20% of all graduates?


Seriously, I don't think those with 10+ or 20+ years of experience would settle for any jobs that pay them less than 120K, unless they are judgeship or prestige positions (i.e.AG).

Here is my two cents: Go to the school that you feel most comfortable academically and financially. Do your best to rank as high as you can, and get whatever job you will enjoy working.(Must keep in mind if you don't graduate top 10% at a TTT school, the best job you can find probably pays less than full time flipping burgers at McDonalds) People don't know your situations any better than you do.

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rayiner
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby rayiner » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:40 pm

Aberzombie1892 wrote:There are a decent amount of jobs between $60,000-$110,000. Market pay in New Orleans and Jackson (MS) is $90,000-$100,000. Heck, North Carolina is $100,000-$140,000.

I'm not saying there are piles and piles of jobs in these pay ranges. I'm just saying that the market rate in non-primary markets (pretty much all cities that are not NYC, DC, Chi, LA- and other CA cities, Dallas, Houston, etc.) is less than $160,000 but more than $60,000.

About 1/3 of all salaries are between $60,000 and $160,000. Is it a rosy picture for people that take out more than $100,000 in loans? No. But doing that was a bad idea to begin with.


Jobs between 100k and 160k tend to be biglaw in secondary markets. Eg: Alston & Bird pays $135k in Atlanta. These jobs aren't easy to get --- classes are small enough that they can be filled with people with top grades at T25s and very good grades at T14s.

Eg: there are 8 firms that pay market or above in Atlanta. Between them, they hired 51 people last year. If you expand the search to firms paying $100k+, then you get 19 firms, hiring a total of 71 graduates between them. If you expand the search to $60k and above... you get the same 19 firms. There are *no* NALP firms paying between $60k and $100k in Atlanta...

Now to put this into perspective, Emory and UGA together have about 450 students in each year, not including transfers. That's not including the people at Duke and UVA who will target Atlanta (and get preference over Emory/UGA grads), or the people at other T14s who are from the area and want to come back.
Last edited by rayiner on Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unemployed
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Unemployed » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:41 pm

MrAnon wrote:
About 1/3 of all salaries are between $60,000 and $160,000. Is it a rosy picture for people that take out more than $100,000 in loans? No. But doing that was a bad idea to begin with.


3. 1/3 of all legal salaries are between 60,000 and 160,000. That is terrible when you keep in mind that this includes seasoned attorneys with 10+ or 20+ years experience. It may include NO persons straight out of school, but of course it in fact does include some. Maybe 20% of all graduates?


If you are basing this off of the famous bimodal distribution chart, I'm pretty sure that chart dealt only with starting salaries (i.e. no seasoned vets in the mix).

MrAnon
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby MrAnon » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:49 pm

Seriously, I don't think those with 10+ or 20+ years of experience would settle for any jobs that pay them less than 120K, unless they are judgeship or prestige positions (i.e.AG).


It is not like they really have a choice in the matter. Your average solo or small practice attorney working in the suburbs or the exurbs simply is not making much money. Their clients are very small business or individuals. Those groups are not swimming in money to spend on legal services. New York State judges earn $120,000. I guess they have decided not to settle for that because the chief judge recently announced that it is okay for such judges to get second jobs to increase their incomes. In other words they can work at Starbucks on the weekend now.

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bk1
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby bk1 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 3:53 pm

tbldc2009 wrote:Seriously, I don't think those with 10+ or 20+ years of experience would settle for any jobs that pay them less than 120K, unless they are judgeship or prestige positions (i.e.AG).


If you mean right now you clearly have not met tons of small firm lawyers. If you mean 10-20 years from today then it's kind of hard to end up with that kind of experience when you start jobless.

MrAnon
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby MrAnon » Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:24 pm

Look the stat says that 1/3 of all lawyers earn within a certain of amount. 2/3 earn outside of that amount presumably. Maybe all small firm lawyers are balling on 250K incomes. Most don't. I know lots of small firm lawyers that have folded after several years in the business. I don't know how much they made. I can make some guesses. The truth of the matter is that if you meet a small firm lawyer he is not going to tell you what he makes and you are not going to ask. He may drive a BMW but he may be heavily in debt and the presumption about what he earns could be wrong. I know of partners in crap firms nobody never heard of in the NYC and LA suburbs that gross 175-225. They have a number of associates working for them and some of their clients are corporations.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:37 pm

Rayiner - I see where you are coming from. However, many employers are not even listed on nalp - even ones that pay between $60,000-$160.000 that are not nlj250. Granted, many nlj250 firms in secondary markets pay in this range as well (as you said). I'm not trying to say nalp is useless - but it should be used as a guide and not the end all be all.

I'm going to pick on Jackson, MS because one of my classmates went to school there. On nalp, there are three employers listed:
phelps dunbar
butler snow
forman perry
However, those are hardly all of the firms there:
Bradley Arant
Baker Donelson
McGlinchey Stafford
Balch and Bingham
Adams and Reese
Burr & Forman
Watkins Ludlam
Watkins and Eager
Brunini
Hand Arendall
The Cochran Firm
Glover Russel
Ott
Salu
Wise Carter
etc.

My point is just that there are many, many employers not listed on nalp. Yet, nalp is an excellant training ground for understanding what to ask about/look for in employers that are not listed there.

notaznguy
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby notaznguy » Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:39 pm

So basically, if you go to a non T-14 school, and do not end up in the top 5% of 10% or whatever % the Big Law cutoff is in your class, you are most likely going to make $45,000 a year? And then you must work 5-6 years to get into the $60,000. And then 10 years in total to be close to $100,000? Even in large markets like Los Angeles?

Sounds a bit exaggerative.

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tea_drinker
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby tea_drinker » Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:44 pm

MrAnon wrote:
Seriously, I don't think those with 10+ or 20+ years of experience would settle for any jobs that pay them less than 120K, unless they are judgeship or prestige positions (i.e.AG).


It is not like they really have a choice in the matter. Your average solo or small practice attorney working in the suburbs or the exurbs simply is not making much money. Their clients are very small business or individuals. Those groups are not swimming in money to spend on legal services. New York State judges earn $120,000. I guess they have decided not to settle for that because the chief judge recently announced that it is okay for such judges to get second jobs to increase their incomes. In other words they can work at Starbucks on the weekend now.


I think you take my response out of context. The poster was referring to law firm jobs. Of course private practice lawyers make within this range (i.e. 60K-120K), but I assume (1) their work inputs would be less compared to mid-size to large firms, which mean more enjoyable working conditions and (2) their clients are not those who would go to or can afford the cost mid-size to big law firm.

Then, I dont understand your points of nitpicking on a NY judge that get paid 120K. Sure they can work a second job, but it is only if they prefer and have the time to do so. It does not mean they would live in poverty without that second job.




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