Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:09 pm

Veyron wrote:Every time I hear something like this, my bullshit detector goes off. There is ONE way to make a lot of money that doesn't involve working that hard (besides inheriting it)... its called passive income from capital. Outside of that, there are wealthy people who work hard and wealthy people who lie about it.


No matter how you put it, if you plan to go into private practice, you are going to work a lot of hours. At least in the first few years. With that said, there are a number of large law firms that have 1800 hour billable hour requirements, which isn't that bad. When you get outside of the major markets, it's definetely not uncommon for attorneys to only work, on average, around 50 hours /week, which is a lot less than the 70 hours a week attorneys in NYC work. There are also firms that will let you get your feet wet a lot earlier on as well (e.g. simpson and W&C are both big about letting younger associates get more responsibility sooner).

Aqualibrium
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Aqualibrium » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:18 pm

Veyron wrote:
Every time I hear something like this, my bullshit detector goes off. There is ONE way to make a lot of money that doesn't involve working that hard (besides inheriting it)... its called passive income from capital. Outside of that, there are wealthy people who work hard and wealthy people who lie about it.


Not exactly sure what you mean here. I didn't imply that there are high paying jobs that require no work. I simply pointed out that these people act like I'M the one who is in an awful position because I'll be working at a large firm, and they are somehow martyrs who shunned big money for the good life.

I was fortunate enough to have worked in two major firms with very different cultures as a 1L. This let me go into the 2L OCI process knowing exactly what I wanted to do, and exactly the type of place I wanted to do it at. I didn't just interview at firms, I interviewed them. There were specific things I looked for, and if a firm didn't fit the bill, I withdrew my app. As a result, I was able to find firms where I'll be given early responsibility, substantive projects, and will have an opportunity to first chair cases very early in my career if that is something I feel ready to do. On top of that, I enjoyed the culture and environment at these firms, and genuinely felt like I fit in.

Will I have to bill 1800-2000 hours? Yes, but I'll be getting paid good money to do what I want to do with people I actually like.

So again, my point is that these so called martyrs really kill me.





prezidentv8 wrote:Semi-curious which firms these are and how exactly to conduct said "tailored job search."



Make a list of the things you want out of your legal career, the things you want in your workplace, your own strengths and weaknesses. Get comfortable with all those things, then network with people, research firms in areas you want to be in, and figure out which ones fit the bill. Most people approach the job search process by just blanketing all possible employers, and hoping they get one or two bites. I didn't. I applied to about 20 firms around the country total, and ended up with offers at 15.

Also remember that Vault and the NLJ250 are not the end all be all. The best firm for you to work at may not be a 900 man V100 firm. It may be an NLJ250 firm, it may not be. Hell in some markets, the best firm based on objective opinions may even be just a 100 man shop. Know what you want, and do your research.
Last edited by Aqualibrium on Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Veyron
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Veyron » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:35 pm

Aqualibrium --> You must have shit all over 1L year man. If my grades are as good as yours I may do that.

Also, yes, there are indeed firms in 2ndary markets with 1800 chillables (including some in my hometown). They do give more responsibility early. However, first year associates are still working uber hard at them, 1800 is a floor, not a ceiling.

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Aqualibrium » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:40 pm

Veyron wrote:Aqualibrium --> You must have shit all over 1L year man. If my grades are as good as yours I may do that.

Also, yes, there are indeed firms in 2ndary markets with 1800 chillables (including some in my hometown). They do give more responsibility early. However, first year associates are still working uber hard at them, 1800 is a floor, not a ceiling.



Honestly, not really. I'm in the top quarter, but not by much. I'm confident, I interview well, and I'm aggressive about what I want. Seems to work better or perhaps as well as killer grades imo.

It also helps that I knew I had an offer for 2L in hand before the job hunt really started in earnest. That allowed me to not have to worry so much about what would happen if my targeted strategy didn't work out.
Last edited by Aqualibrium on Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JazzOne
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby JazzOne » Sun Nov 14, 2010 3:59 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:
Veyron wrote:
Every time I hear something like this, my bullshit detector goes off. There is ONE way to make a lot of money that doesn't involve working that hard (besides inheriting it)... its called passive income from capital. Outside of that, there are wealthy people who work hard and wealthy people who lie about it.


Not exactly sure what you mean here. I didn't imply that there are high paying jobs that require no work. I simply pointed out that these people act like I'M the one who is in an awful position because I'll be working at a large firm, and they are somehow martyrs who shunned big money for the good life.

I was fortunate enough to have worked in two major firms with very different cultures as a 1L. This let me go into the 2L OCI process knowing exactly what I wanted to do, and exactly the type of place I wanted to do it at. I didn't just interview at firms, I interviewed them. There were specific things I looked for, and if a firm didn't fit the bill, I withdrew my app. As a result, I was able to find firms where I'll be given early responsibility, substantive projects, and will have an opportunity to first chair cases very early in my career if that is something I feel ready to do. On top of that, I enjoyed the culture and environment at these firms, and genuinely felt like I fit in.

Will I have to bill 1800-2000 hours? Yes, but I'll be getting paid good money to do what I want to do with people I actually like.

So again, my point is that these so called martyrs really kill me.





prezidentv8 wrote:Semi-curious which firms these are and how exactly to conduct said "tailored job search."



Make a list of the things you want out of your legal career, the things you want in your workplace, your own strengths and weaknesses. Get comfortable with all those things, then network with people, research firms in areas you want to be in, and figure out which ones fit the bill. Most people approach the job search process by just blanketing all possible employers, and hoping they get one or two bites. I didn't. I applied to about 20 firms around the country total, and ended up with offers at 15.

Also remember that Vault and the NLJ250 are not the end all be all. The best firm for you to work at may not be a 900 man V100 firm. It may be an NLJ250 firm, it may not be. Hell in some markets, the best firm based on objective opinions may even be just a 100 man shop. Know what you want, and do your research.

+1

Good post. There is always more than one way to skin a cat. I was a bit higher in my class than Aqualibrium, so I employed the exact opposite strategy. I just applied everywhere. Throw it all up, and see what sticks! Basically, I let the firms choose me, and I lucked into this really lucrative job with a small litigation boutique. That firm wasn't even on my radar until they gave me a callback, and then it turned out that I really dig their business model and the type of cases they handle. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, so I used the hiring process as a way to survey the landscape and let the hiring partners weigh in on my employment potential.

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby prezidentv8 » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:14 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:Semi-curious which firms these are and how exactly to conduct said "tailored job search."



Make a list of the things you want out of your legal career, the things you want in your workplace, your own strengths and weaknesses. Get comfortable with all those things, then network with people, research firms in areas you want to be in, and figure out which ones fit the bill. Most people approach the job search process by just blanketing all possible employers, and hoping they get one or two bites. I didn't. I applied to about 20 firms around the country total, and ended up with offers at 15.

Also remember that Vault and the NLJ250 are not the end all be all. The best firm for you to work at may not be a 900 man V100 firm. It may be an NLJ250 firm, it may not be. Hell in some markets, the best firm based on objective opinions may even be just a 100 man shop. Know what you want, and do your research.[/quote]


I thought I had done most of this, minus the success part. Shitty networker ftl, I suppose. Oh well.

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AreJay711
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:09 pm

XxSpyKEx wrote:
Veyron wrote:
General Tso wrote:I am thinking of solo practice or small firm work. I also don't mind making 40-50k per year, which is something most TLS people consider insufficient.


40K with no LRAP = 20k takehome if you want to pay of your loans BRAH.


That maybe true if your loans aren't that big (assuming a normal 10 year repayment) AND you are planning on not paying things like federal taxes, state taxes, social security, medicare, medicaid, etc (i.e. in other words, you had better be getting paid cash). Realistically around $200K in loans will be around $25k /year in repayments (assuming a normal 10 year repayment). If you make $40k /year, after federal taxes, state taxes, social security, medicare, medicaid, etc you will be taking home roughly $27k. After your $25K /year loan repayment, that's roughly $2k /year to live off. Now if you only make $40k /year, I believe you get some tax deductions for interest expense on that loan (but it's not like you get to knock off the entire $16k of yearly interest and the cap for being able deduct interest I believe is around $50k /year). So you might be up to something like $5k /year to live off. Anyways, I digress; the point is this is how people get themselves into trouble because at that income level you literally can't afford to repay your loans. So they then start digging into 30 year repayment plans or 25 year IBR, and IMO both options are kinda retarded because with the 30 year repayment plan you wind up paying something like 3/4 of a million dollars for your law degree. With 25 year IBR, you get screwed in the long run if you become a successful attorney -- i.e. most attorney's don't just sit at $40-60k /year for the rest of their careers, even if that's where they started. So say you are successful and 8 years down the road you are making $100k /year (very realistic, even at a small firm, probably more if you make partner by then), then you are paying close to $15K /year in repayments (i.e. 15% of your income), and at that point you don’t have any choice but to stick with IBR since the principal your student ballooned since your payments for the first 8 year didn’t even cover the interest. IMO, this makes no sense because by the time you reach 25 years, you are still going to have paid a shitload more than you would have if you simply paid the $25k /year for the first 10 years (i.e. think about it, in 15 years when you are a partner, you might be paying $23k /year in payments (for 10 more years!), and at that point that $23k won’t even cover the interest still because of how large the principal on your loan got).

IMO, the only way 25 year IBR makes sense is if you plan on being a terrible attorney and never making more than $40-60k /year (think about it, even public defenders in Chicago break $100k /year after 8-10 years, so in private practice it is unlikely that you won’t break $100k in your entire career assuming you are good enough to stay on as an attorney). And even if you come out ahead with 25 year IBR, you still got that pesky income tax bill at the end of the 25 years, which might end up putting you into bankruptcy at that point (meaning you lose a lot of the assets you have accumulated up to that point and are back to scratch after 25 years of repaying law school loans). Anyways, that’s just my cynical opinion of 25 year IBR, and you are free to disagree with me and think it’s the greatest thing in the world (although, I really do think a lot people opting that repayment plan now are going to regret that decision in the future).


Yea but it depends if living off 2k a year is worth saving money down the stretch. There is no penalty for paying early so the smart thing to do would to take lower payments at first and just keep paying more and more in as your income goes up.

I know this Gtown undergrad grad who was telling me he makes $400,000 a year but keeps his student loan debt around for tax benefits (Approx 50% discount on money paid since it is written of his taxes).

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby im_blue » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:18 pm

AreJay711 wrote:I know this Gtown undergrad grad who was telling me he makes $400,000 a year but keeps his student loan debt around for tax benefits (Approx 50% discount on money paid since it is written of his taxes).

Hmm...but student loan interest deductions are not allowed for > $70k income or $145k joint income.

http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc456.html

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AreJay711
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:21 pm

im_blue wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:I know this Gtown undergrad grad who was telling me he makes $400,000 a year but keeps his student loan debt around for tax benefits (Approx 50% discount on money paid since it is written of his taxes).

Hmm...but student loan interest deductions are not allowed for > $70k income or $145k joint income.

http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc456.html


Lol he have been bsing about how much he was making then. It was a few years ago when I was trying to pick undergrads and I told him Gtown was too expensive.

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Aqualibrium » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:30 pm

AreJay711 wrote:Yea but it depends if living off 2k a year is worth saving money down the stretch.



Is that even possible? I don't pay taxes, healthcare, or anything like that and spend about 1000 a month on rent, bills, and food in a low col area.

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby General Tso » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:44 pm

Veyron wrote:
General Tso wrote:I am thinking of solo practice or small firm work. I also don't mind making 40-50k per year, which is something most TLS people consider insufficient.


40K with no LRAP = 20k takehome if you want to pay of your loans BRAH.

For people with little debt and an entrepenurial spirit, sure. However, most of these people went to B school or entered the workforce right out of HS/UG.


I am one of those, BRAH

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AreJay711
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:23 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:Yea but it depends if living off 2k a year is worth saving money down the stretch.



Is that even possible? I don't pay taxes, healthcare, or anything like that and spend about 1000 a month on rent, bills, and food in a low col area.

Not at all, unless you have a SO footing the bill. That post is a little pessimistic bc taxes would effectively be 0 beyond SS and Medicare though.

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Jeff Mangum
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Jeff Mangum » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:53 pm

The comment about IBR is a good reason to dig into the details of a school's LRAP, if you are serious about public interest work. The value of a more generous LRAP at one school may outweigh more $$ up-front at another.

Does anyone here actually know a practicing attorney living on $2000 a year because of debt? Or even, living below the poverty line, once adjusted for debt payments? Not due to unemployment or addiction or incompetence or other factors, but just from the debt alone. I'm genuinely curious.

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Noval » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:14 pm

canuck wrote:
im_blue wrote:
General Tso wrote:I am thinking of solo practice or small firm work. I also don't mind making 40-50k per year, which is something most TLS people consider insufficient.

40-50k is a livable salary in most areas, but debt payments are the killer


Not if you want to have a family. That is about $20 to $25 an hour. Do you really want to endure 7 years of university to make less than a mechanic with one year of college makes?


Have you considered your wife to have a job as well ? Or you're some loner who paid her to stay with you ?

+The average Small firm Lawyer will bring in at least 45$-50$/h after he spends a few years building his client base, if he's a Partner, it raises to at least 130-200$/hour and the hours aren't as brutal as in BigLaw...

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:31 pm

Jeff Mangum wrote:Does anyone here actually know a practicing attorney living on $2000 a year because of debt? Or even, living below the poverty line, once adjusted for debt payments? Not due to unemployment or addiction or incompetence or other factors, but just from the debt alone. I'm genuinely curious.


I don't think anyone in his or her right mind would dump his or her entire salary, except $2k into student loans. Most people in that situation would opt a 30 year repayment or IBR. My point was just that a 30 year repayment or IBR is definetely not something anyone should be planning on utilizing going into law school because of how much you wind up paying for your law degree in the long run (which is contrary to what a lot of people on TLS think -- i.e. so many people just look at as a way to go waste $200k on a degree, such as a t50 degree, because it gives them a small shot at making $160k /year, and if doesn't work out they figure, "oh well, there's IBR").

AreJay711 wrote:I know this Gtown undergrad grad who was telling me he makes $400,000 a year but keeps his student loan debt around for tax benefits (Approx 50% discount on money paid since it is written of his taxes).


A lot of people who graduated a few years back opted for 30 year repayment plans and simply pay the minimum payment because they consolidated their loans and locked in at rates of around 2-3% interest. At those rates it makes sense to borrow as much as you possibly could and repay it as slowly as possible because the interest rate is lower than anything you will ever find again, and the realistic rate of return you can make investing the money (as oppose to repaying your loans) pretty heavily exceeds your interest rate on your loans. Even with a relatively safe investment on an index of large cap stock across any 25 year period in the past 80 years will give you around a 10% rate of return (the standard deviation is really small across that legnth of time). So it's basically like free money because you make a 7-8% rate of return off that borrowed money (i.e. by investing the money you earn, as oppose to repaying it). But things are a lot different now because with a 8% interest rate on your loan, there's not much to be gained by not repaying your loans (i.e. you're taking on risk for fairly small returns).

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General Tso
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby General Tso » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:39 pm

Noval wrote:+The average Small firm Lawyer will bring in at least 45$-50$/h after he spends a few years building his client base, if he's a Partner, it raises to at least 130-200$/hour and the hours aren't as brutal as in BigLaw...


45-50k is good money where I come from, and before long, it will be good money where everybody comes from. Get used to living on less, folks.

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Aqualibrium » Sun Nov 14, 2010 7:52 pm

General Tso wrote:
Noval wrote:+The average Small firm Lawyer will bring in at least 45$-50$/h after he spends a few years building his client base, if he's a Partner, it raises to at least 130-200$/hour and the hours aren't as brutal as in BigLaw...


45-50k is good money where I come from, and before long, it will be good money where everybody comes from. Get used to living on less, folks.



Is 45-50k good money after spending nearly 200k on eduction?

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ck3
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby ck3 » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:05 pm

canuck wrote:
im_blue wrote:
General Tso wrote:I am thinking of solo practice or small firm work. I also don't mind making 40-50k per year, which is something most TLS people consider insufficient.

40-50k is a livable salary in most areas, but debt payments are the killer


Not if you want to have a family. That is about $20 to $25 an hour. Do you really want to endure 7 years of university to make less than a mechanic with one year of college makes?





You can have a family and live off less than 50,000 per year in many parts of this country (probably not in the Northeast), especially if your spouse works and adds to the 50,000 per year. Also, even in this economy I have read articles about how there is a shortage of practicing attorneys in some areas like South GA and in South GA you can live like a king off $50,000 or at least you can pay your debts and still have a really nice house. But with the average income that people make in South GA, it would be difficult for you to charge enough to make 50,000 even if you have a lot of clients.

I still think that is very difficult to take these types of risks when you have 50K to 200K in law school debt. But then again, our free enterprise system runs off people taking risks to start businesses, even though the large majority of those businesses fail.

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby General Tso » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:14 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:
General Tso wrote:
Noval wrote:+The average Small firm Lawyer will bring in at least 45$-50$/h after he spends a few years building his client base, if he's a Partner, it raises to at least 130-200$/hour and the hours aren't as brutal as in BigLaw...


45-50k is good money where I come from, and before long, it will be good money where everybody comes from. Get used to living on less, folks.



Is 45-50k good money after spending nearly 200k on eduction?


In this economy, perhaps. Of course their are wiser alternatives, but the 200k is a sunk cost for most of us at this point. There are tax deductions and IBR, and LRAP for some.

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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Aqualibrium » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:21 pm

General Tso wrote:
Aqualibrium wrote:
General Tso wrote:
Noval wrote:+The average Small firm Lawyer will bring in at least 45$-50$/h after he spends a few years building his client base, if he's a Partner, it raises to at least 130-200$/hour and the hours aren't as brutal as in BigLaw...


45-50k is good money where I come from, and before long, it will be good money where everybody comes from. Get used to living on less, folks.



Is 45-50k good money after spending nearly 200k on eduction?


In this economy, perhaps. Of course their are wiser alternatives, but the 200k is a sunk cost for most of us at this point. There are tax deductions and IBR, and LRAP for some.



I really have a hard time with the IBR and LRAP argument. Does the fact that you can get some assistance in paying back those loans make them a worthwhile investment? Even with IBR and LRAP, debt like that, coupled with many people's expectations going into law school, has to be a huge emotional and mental struggle.

I'm happy I took the full ride over glitzier options. With 160k+ in debt, I just wouldn't be very happy, even if I was to get a job paying 160k somewhere. Everyone is different though...

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Noval
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Noval » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:37 pm

Aqualibrium wrote:
General Tso wrote:
Noval wrote:+The average Small firm Lawyer will bring in at least 45$-50$/h after he spends a few years building his client base, if he's a Partner, it raises to at least 130-200$/hour and the hours aren't as brutal as in BigLaw...


45-50k is good money where I come from, and before long, it will be good money where everybody comes from. Get used to living on less, folks.



Is 45-50k good money after spending nearly 200k on eduction?



Considering the possibility of Scholarships from low ranked schools, 200k is almost impossible to reach, at least learn to spell "education" if you want to make an argument.

If you can't even have a full ride in some TTT School, well, you obviously should have worked harder in school, not trying to be harsh, but that's the truth.

Aqualibrium
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Aqualibrium » Sun Nov 14, 2010 8:55 pm

Noval wrote:
Aqualibrium wrote:
General Tso wrote:
Noval wrote:+The average Small firm Lawyer will bring in at least 45$-50$/h after he spends a few years building his client base, if he's a Partner, it raises to at least 130-200$/hour and the hours aren't as brutal as in BigLaw...


45-50k is good money where I come from, and before long, it will be good money where everybody comes from. Get used to living on less, folks.



Is 45-50k good money after spending nearly 200k on eduction?



Considering the possibility of Scholarships from low ranked schools, 200k is almost impossible to reach, at least learn to spell "education" if you want to make an argument.

If you can't even have a full ride in some TTT School, well, you obviously should have worked harder in school, not trying to be harsh, but that's the truth.


1. It was obviously a typo, and you are obviously a douche bag.

2. Really not sure what "the possibility of Scholarships from low ranked schools" has to do with anything. People take out 160k+ in loans for schools all over the rankings. There are also people with undergraduate debt to consider. Furthermore, some people pass up full rides at lower ranked schools to attend higher ranked schools at sticker. It happens. General Tso said that 45-50k was good money...I won't argue with that generally speaking, but after 7 years and nearly 200k in loans spent on education alone, is 45-50k good money? Doesn't seem like a very good return on investment to me.

leap_your_bar
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby leap_your_bar » Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:02 pm

I know a graduate of cooley who has her own practice, makes over 100g's and loves life (minus her student loans).

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Veyron
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby Veyron » Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:13 pm

[/quote]


Considering the possibility of Scholarships from low ranked schools, 200k is almost impossible to reach, at least learn to spell "education" if you want to make an argument.

If you can't even have a full ride in some TTT School, well, you obviously should have worked harder in school, not trying to be harsh, but that's the truth.[/quote]

COA at Penn, NYU, CLS prob some others is almost 70k a year. Someone paying sticker would owe 210k unless they got an SA and paid some of that towards their loans.

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General Tso
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Re: Good, Old Fashioned Small Law Firm

Postby General Tso » Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:38 pm

Aqualibrium wrote: General Tso said that 45-50k was good money...I won't argue with that generally speaking, but after 7 years and nearly 200k in loans spent on education alone, is 45-50k good money? Doesn't seem like a very good return on investment to me.


It isn't a very good return on investment. That's why many people in this thread are advocating a TTT w/ full scholarship. If I had it to do over, that's probably what I'd do too.

There are other benefits to desk jobs besides the $$. Health, intellectually stimulating work, less physically demanding, etc. Sure you can make $50 as a truck driver or maybe as a construction worker (in the past at least), but in the long run you'd probably be happier and healthier doing some kind of professional work.




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