A question about law schools and salaries

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nealric
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby nealric » Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:51 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.


Nope, that's pretty much it. Perhaps bump up the 5-6 and 10 year salary a bit in large cities. But part of the reason why lawyer salaries are so much better 10 years out is that the ones who have the truly miserable legal jobs often leave practice.

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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 5:51 pm

notaznguy wrote: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.



Do your best in law school. Do your best in OCI. And do your best at your job, whatever it will be (so that you can get bonuses and promotion).
Last edited by tea_drinker on Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MrAnon
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby MrAnon » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:03 pm

Yup 45K is pretty much how it goes for most law grads. Most students don't want to hear it and they decide a whole host of grads out there are earning 80k, but there is no evidence for that. A poster cited a number of prestigious small or midlaw shops in the city of jackson or in his state, but the problem there is that each firm needs only a couple new associates each year. These are busy firms, but they are not teeming to the gills with work, and they cannot support a dozen new associates each year. More likely they will add 3-4 associates in a good year out of a pool of 10,000 or so in the southeast. They can set any salary they want and no one can do anything about it.

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ResolutePear
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby ResolutePear » Sun Sep 26, 2010 7:08 pm

MrAnon wrote:Yup 45K is pretty much how it goes for most law grads. Most students don't want to hear it and they decide a whole host of grads out there are earning 80k, but there is no evidence for that. A poster cited a number of prestigious small or midlaw shops in the city of jackson or in his state, but the problem there is that each firm needs only a couple new associates each year. These are busy firms, but they are not teeming to the gills with work, and they cannot support a dozen new associates each year. More likely they will add 3-4 associates in a good year out of a pool of 10,000 or so in the southeast. They can set any salary they want and no one can do anything about it.


It's basic economics. Supply outnumbers demand, hence price/salary goes down.

Besides, 45k is decent to start on with IBR ITE.

Think anybody else has it any better?

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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Pip » Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:45 pm

notaznguy wrote: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.


That's because you haven't started paying back any of the loans yet... a 150,000 in law school debt is going to cost you about 1,600 a month when you get out... but that is after tax dollars so your pretax cost is probably closer to 2,000 a month or 24,000 a year.... that means a 60,000 a year job is already cut to 36,000 a year because of your debt. Do you really think you went to 3 years of law school to live on less than a school teacher?

And you should realize that some people make even less from a regional school... try 40,000 to 50,000 a year for some.

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ck3
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby ck3 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 4:36 pm

It's not where you start, its where you finish. So even if you start at $35,000.00 with a law degree you have lifetime earning potential that far outpaces most people. True some do make such low salaries or for other reasons leave the profession, but some people fail in all professions.

Also true that if you make 35,000 and have a $1500 a month loan payment, things will be very austere for some time but for the long term potential for upward mobility, it may still be worth it. When you go to professional school you are preparing for a career. When you make career decisions, you should consider their impact after 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, not just how difficult the first years will be while paying off loans. It is good to consider those factors but you have to put into the perspective of a lifetime. Life is long and for most people who are going to law school in your 20's you will be working for 35 to 45 years after graduating so don't base your whole decision on the starting salary.

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nealric
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby nealric » Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:07 pm

It's not where you start, its where you finish. So even if you start at $35,000.00 with a law degree you have lifetime earning potential that far outpaces most people. True some do make such low salaries or for other reasons leave the profession, but some people fail in all professions


Sure, but the question is whether your potential to advance from that $35k salary is really all that much better than you would have gotten without the law degree. Honestly, nobody really knows how the people starting out at such jobs will fare in 10 years. Those who were on that path 10 years ago faced a different market than today.

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ck3
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby ck3 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:20 pm

nealric wrote:
It's not where you start, its where you finish. So even if you start at $35,000.00 with a law degree you have lifetime earning potential that far outpaces most people. True some do make such low salaries or for other reasons leave the profession, but some people fail in all professions


Sure, but the question is whether your potential to advance from that $35k salary is really all that much better than you would have gotten without the law degree. Honestly, nobody really knows how the people starting out at such jobs will fare in 10 years. Those who were on that path 10 years ago faced a different market than today.



Well you are correct but without the law degree and without some other advanced degree and with an undergraduate degree that is not that marketable or without the ability to get a good sales job, I would say your 10 year earning potential is not going to outpace that of most attorneys.

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ck3
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby ck3 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:32 pm

ck3 wrote:
nealric wrote:
It's not where you start, its where you finish. So even if you start at $35,000.00 with a law degree you have lifetime earning potential that far outpaces most people. True some do make such low salaries or for other reasons leave the profession, but some people fail in all professions


Sure, but the question is whether your potential to advance from that $35k salary is really all that much better than you would have gotten without the law degree. Honestly, nobody really knows how the people starting out at such jobs will fare in 10 years. Those who were on that path 10 years ago faced a different market than today.



Well you are correct but without the law degree and without some other advanced degree and with an undergraduate degree that is not that marketable or without the ability to get a good sales job, I would say your 10 year earning potential is not going to outpace that of most attorneys.


Again you are correct that we don't know anything about the future but we tend to make decisions with the expectation that to some degree what has been true in the past will tend to be true in the future aside from some intervening factor. Now when we know about an intervening factor such as ITE and the economic analysis about the legal economy in the future, especially the near future, we tend to predict that legal hiring and legal salaries will not be as high as the past. Still, if you look at the economic factors of every other industry, it is probably not as rosy as the recent past. So I credit your statement that we don't know what the future of legal hiring is, but since we do know that the recession is affecting every industry, I think it is reasonable to believe that with a law degree your earning potential is greater than it would be if you were teaching English with just an undergrad degree. I know in my state, teachers are being laid off, so things are tough in every industry.

However, another persons analysis of their situation, debt aversion, legal hiring prospects may differ from mine. A person doing this analysis may determine that he is better off in the long run without the law degree and the law school debt. I am just saying that part of the analysis should be the historical lifetime earning potential of a law degree. Not just the starting salary.

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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Aqualibrium » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:44 pm

rayiner wrote:
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.


I agree with the overall tone of this post, but must point out that your data isn't totally accurate. Many NALP member firms, for whatever reason, aren't listed in the directory. As a result, I can name for you two firms from personal knowledge that pay ATL market and one that pays between 60k and 100k, but aren't listed in the directory. Similarly, I can guarantee you that Louisiana has way more than 10 firms there despite the fact that NALP only lists that number.

That doesn't change the fact that there are relatively few of those jobs available though.

Also, the below is correct, but I wouldn't necessarily call all those firms small or midlaw.

MrAnon wrote:A poster cited a number of prestigious small or midlaw shops in the city of jackson or in his state, but the problem there is that each firm needs only a couple new associates each year. These are busy firms, but they are not teeming to the gills with work, and they cannot support a dozen new associates each year. More likely they will add 3-4 associates in a good year out of a pool of 10,000 or so in the southeast. They can set any salary they want and no one can do anything about it.

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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby MrAnon » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:25 pm

It's not where you start, its where you finish. So even if you start at $35,000.00 with a law degree you have lifetime earning potential that far outpaces most people. True some do make such low salaries or for other reasons leave the profession, but some people fail in all professions.

Also true that if you make 35,000 and have a $1500 a month loan payment, things will be very austere for some time but for the long term potential for upward mobility, it may still be worth it. When you go to professional school you are preparing for a career. When you make career decisions, you should consider their impact after 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, not just how difficult the first years will be while paying off loans. It is good to consider those factors but you have to put into the perspective of a lifetime. Life is long and for most people who are going to law school in your 20's you will be working for 35 to 45 years after graduating so don't base your whole decision on the starting salary.


What admissions brochure was this ripped out of? The lifetime earnings may outpace many people, but they are offset by the cost of tuition to the point where law school is not a good rational choice for the vast majority of students. Some people fail out of all professions? Sure, but they don't spend $160,000 and 3 years of their life for the sole purpose of gaining access to those professions first.

Things will be very austere for a good long time unless you hit lotto.

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ck3
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby ck3 » Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:57 pm

MrAnon wrote:
It's not where you start, its where you finish. So even if you start at $35,000.00 with a law degree you have lifetime earning potential that far outpaces most people. True some do make such low salaries or for other reasons leave the profession, but some people fail in all professions.

Also true that if you make 35,000 and have a $1500 a month loan payment, things will be very austere for some time but for the long term potential for upward mobility, it may still be worth it. When you go to professional school you are preparing for a career. When you make career decisions, you should consider their impact after 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, not just how difficult the first years will be while paying off loans. It is good to consider those factors but you have to put into the perspective of a lifetime. Life is long and for most people who are going to law school in your 20's you will be working for 35 to 45 years after graduating so don't base your whole decision on the starting salary.


What admissions brochure was this ripped out of? The lifetime earnings may outpace many people, but they are offset by the cost of tuition to the point where law school is not a good rational choice for the vast majority of students. Some people fail out of all professions? Sure, but they don't spend $160,000 and 3 years of their life for the sole purpose of gaining access to those professions first.

Things will be very austere for a good long time unless you hit lotto.


So do you disagree with my statement that the lifetime earning potential and for that matter then 10 year earning potential should be factored into the analysis? As I stated earlier, you and any other person may decide that law school is not a rational choice for you. Especially if you have to borrow $160,000 in order to do it. I will stand by my statement that part of determining if it is a rational choice is considering not just the starting salary but the 5yr, 10yr, and lifetime earning potential. You can be screwed by going to law school with a lot of debt. You can also go to law school, come out with a lot of debt and pay it off with IBR. It takes longer and it is inconvenient. Some people may consider that a rational choice. Maybe you don't but each person has to make their own decision. I was just pointing out the fact that the bimodal salary distribution is focused on starting salaries and that overlooks the important factor of earning potential.
If the vast majority of students decide that law school is not a rational choice at sticker I think that is wise.

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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Pip » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:35 am

ck3 wrote:It's not where you start, its where you finish. So even if you start at $35,000.00 with a law degree you have lifetime earning potential that far outpaces most people. True some do make such low salaries or for other reasons leave the profession, but some people fail in all professions.

Also true that if you make 35,000 and have a $1500 a month loan payment, things will be very austere for some time but for the long term potential for upward mobility, it may still be worth it. When you go to professional school you are preparing for a career. When you make career decisions, you should consider their impact after 5 years, 10 years, 30 years, not just how difficult the first years will be while paying off loans. It is good to consider those factors but you have to put into the perspective of a lifetime. Life is long and for most people who are going to law school in your 20's you will be working for 35 to 45 years after graduating so don't base your whole decision on the starting salary.


I'm pretty sure if I was looking to maximize lifetime earning and was faced with two options, 1) go to law school for 3 years leave with 150,000 in debt and take a 35,000 a year job... or 2) spend a year getting my plumbers license and maybe have 10,000 in debt but be able to start making 50,000 a year.... I would be the plumber. Even if your fictional lawyer makes steady progress in pay, my fictional plumber will also be making steady progress and if he invest his excess money (which your lawyer wont have for years), my plumber will likely be able to retire first.

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FlanAl
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby FlanAl » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:12 pm

ITE plumbing is a saturated market. prestigious firms like roto-rooter have slashed their SA classes.

but seriously though I find it super annoying when people use trade jobs for cost benefit analysis to law jobs. it seems like so many people on here think that construction workers etc. have it super rosy ITE. No one ever takes into account these job's risk factors and health issues which add up tremendously in medical bills. I'd say it would probably end up being the same cost as students loans.

MrAnon
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby MrAnon » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:23 pm

Whether you borrow the money or receive it as a gift, you are still giving it to law school for a diploma worth substantially less than its cost. Nobody knows what the lifetime earnings potential is. After everyone is faced with the reality that they will not earn the $80,000 salary on their first year out then they rationalize that their $38,000 salary will by the time they are 40 be $200,000. Chances are better that they will quit law within 5-10 once they realize that will never happen.

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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Oban » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:52 pm

I think a better way of thinking of thinking about it is that our generation of lawyers/plumbers/whatever has it a lot of worse than our parents. Not just because of ITE, but because of years of shifts in the global/national economy and public policy. There are no cheap mortgages, affordable housing/land, guaranteed employment, pensions, etc. We have a lot stacked up against us compared to a lawyer graduating in the 60s-80s, but i still think a law degree is better than hustling your non harvard/MIT/etc BA degree. With IBR it's all monopoly money anyway! yuk yuk.

Hell our economy has been monopoly money for years now.

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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Pip » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:39 pm

Oban wrote:I think a better way of thinking of thinking about it is that our generation of lawyers/plumbers/whatever has it a lot of worse than our parents. Not just because of ITE, but because of years of shifts in the global/national economy and public policy. There are no cheap mortgages, affordable housing/land, guaranteed employment, pensions, etc. We have a lot stacked up against us compared to a lawyer graduating in the 60s-80s, but i still think a law degree is better than hustling your non harvard/MIT/etc BA degree. With IBR it's all monopoly money anyway! yuk yuk.

Hell our economy has been monopoly money for years now.


Actually there are cheap mortgages and cheap housing galore... the only down side is there are no jobs out there to provide people with a salary to pay for them.... remember mortgages rates are below 4.5% compared to a 8% in 2000 or 10% in 1990.

Oban
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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby Oban » Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:28 pm

Cheap doesn't mean affordable, if you have to move to the ghetto or another state where they're arent jobs to get a house, it's not exactly affordable. On the up side, states with recent job growth(TX etc) have more affordable housing than the rest of the nation.

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Re: A question about law schools and salaries

Postby AreJay711 » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:04 am

It is true that you have to look at life time earnings but it is also true you have to look at life time earnings for your alternatives too. Yea a lot of lawyers will crack 100,000 at some point but most of them would have cracked 100,000 anyway without a law degree. As a liberal arts major you could get a gov't job and over 40 years you could do the same with nowhere near as much struggle early on. Plus, it's hard to judge how well you are going to do in law school class rank wise -- even at local schools there might be some people who just slacked off for the LSAT and didn't retake that are mad smart (I know some). There's also a difference between choosing Vandy over Duke or GW over GULC vs just saying screw it and enroll in your local school.




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