Law School vs. boring, high salary job

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )

Life Decisions

T-14 at sticker/T18 w/ $ ($60k + opp. cost of ~$100k/year)
12
17%
Top regional (UW,Tulane) w/ $$ ($30k + opp. cost of ~$100k/year)
5
7%
Work for the job and make money, get MBA and do something cool
52
75%
 
Total votes: 69

User avatar
whitman
Posts: 819
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:08 am

Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby whitman » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:27 am

Current options:

1. Finance about 50k a year and go to a T14 + opportunity cost of roughly $100,000/year in foregone salary = $450,000 to go to law school.

2. Finance about 30k a year and go to a very strong regional T1 + opportunity cost of roughly $100,000/year in foregone salary = $390,000 to go to law school.

3. Continue working for this company making ~$100,000 for a few years until I'm likely bumped up in the company to President within a couple of years where I'd be earning closer to $200,000 plus get a huge amount of hands-on, baptism by fire work experience. Potentially, in a few years, I could either then go to law school once I've saved up some money, or take the GMAT and get a baller MBA.


These numbers are fairly accurate in context because my earning potential will not necessarily grow after law school. I will be able to more things, and my earning potential outside of my current job (family business in Phoenix) will certainly grow. However, I can stay in the company and likely earn close to $200,000 within five years and have much greater responsibility, etc. The thing is, as great as the money and responsibility are, I'm not that interested in the company. Plus, I have no peers within the company, and no one who I'm going to become good friends with (that sounds elitist, but it's due to age differences generally). On the other hand, I'll likely be over everyone fairly soon, so I wouldn't necessarily be making friends anyways.

The problem is I'm interested in law and business, but not necessarily the straight, normal law or business career path. I have no interest in working for a big law firm as a glorified researcher. I alo have no interest in working my way up the corporate ladder. However, I do like to be challenged and problem solve and create and think and that's why I was thinking law school might be a good fit. I was planning on going into environmental law for a few years, but I'm worried I'll find there are very few creative environmental jobs where you're not helping a company screw the environment. Any thoughts?

Oh, and lastly I'll mention that my reasons for going to law school are obviously not because I think it'll help me earn a lot of money down the line, but I do want to be able to earn a good living. My reasons are the ability to hopefully do the kind of work that will make me happy - right now that means environmental conservation. Also, a large part of me wants to prove that I can make it my own way without working for the family company.
Last edited by whitman on Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

krad
Posts: 1897
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:33 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby krad » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:43 am

Hmm... a few comments:

1. There are other routes to working in environmental conservation that do not cost nearly as much as law school. Environmental law often times does not pay much and is very competitive to practice privately (at least from what I've researched). If it's truly what you want to do, then I'd say do it, but it is probably not going to net you more $$$, or even equal $$$, when compared with your current job. I'd imagine that most of the best-paying environmental jobs involve defending the offenders.

2. What if you stay in your current, 'boring' job making $$$ then eventually try to transfer to a company that you find more interesting? Once you reach the level of President I'd imagine that other opportunities could be found within other companies? Or you could definitely do this post-MBA. Your opportunity cost of attending law school is quite high IMO.

Just some things to think about! If you're gung ho law, then go for it (I am). I would not do it expecting $$$ and environmental conservation- those two rarely go hand-in-hand, both within and outside of law. Coming from the environmental field, I've seen a handful of people making a decent living in environmental-related work. Most of them come from engineering/environmental eng backgrounds or have already put in 15+years. For example: My old boss at NASA was doing environmental-related work and making a veryyy good 6 figure income, traveling internationally, and living in LA, but he had a PhD in electrophysics and electrical engineering and was 50+ years old. Yeah...

Good luck regardless of what you decide to do! :)

edit:
whitman wrote:3. Continue working for this company making ~$100,000 for a few years until I'm likely bumped up in the company to President within a couple of years where I'd be earning closer to $200,000 plus get a huge amount of hands-on, baptism by fire work experience. Potentially, in a few years, I could either then go to law school once I've saved up some money, or take the GMAT and get a baller MBA.


Probably this, unless you're dead set on environmental law.

User avatar
whitman
Posts: 819
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:08 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby whitman » Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:35 pm

Thanks for the response, and I think you're probably right, though it's hard to let go of law school - even though I'm not sure it's the right path for me.

dougroberts
Posts: 223
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:18 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby dougroberts » Tue Nov 30, 2010 12:41 pm

You'd have to be delusional to bypass a $100K job. I think many people do not realize how tough the legal market is. Upon graduation, you have to be lucky to make $100K+ starting, as those associate positions in big firms are harder and harder to get. If you can make that kind of money in business, and up to $200K, that is better. I would pick #3 and do a money MBA later (or now) at a top 10 school.

I passed up a $55K financial job to take a full-ride scholarship to go to law school, but for me the decision was easy as I have no family and I would need either a JD or MBA to make $100K (moving from a $55K financial analyst job to $100K managerial job would have taken several years of which I did not want to do mundane bean counting). But if you can start off at $100K, then you are set.

dougroberts
Posts: 223
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:18 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby dougroberts » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:11 pm

whitman wrote:I have no interest in working for a big law firm as a glorified researcher.


Without working in a big law firm, it will be EXTREMELY difficult to make $100K+.

So, if you want this:
whitman wrote:I do want to be able to earn a good living.


then generally you need to do this:
whitman wrote:working in a big law firm


I see that you are interested in law and not so much in working at the company, but when you present the financial info and consider the opportunity cost, it is hard to walk away from a guaranteed $100K+.

krad
Posts: 1897
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:33 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby krad » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:17 pm

whitman wrote:Thanks for the response, and I think you're probably right, though it's hard to let go of law school - even though I'm not sure it's the right path for me.


No problem!

Also, the good thing to keep in mind is that law school isn't going anywhere! You can always work for another year or two (making BANK btw!) and then see where you're at/see what happens. You're in a position envied by many, including myself, in that you're earning good $ now in a stable position, so you've got time to decide what you'd like to do.

Good luck!

User avatar
James Bond
Posts: 2349
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 12:53 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby James Bond » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:18 pm

Keep the job. A guaranteed job, much less on around 100k, is infinitely better than law school debt and a horrible legal market

concurrent fork
Posts: 669
Joined: Sun Mar 21, 2010 9:40 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby concurrent fork » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:20 pm

Dear god please stay. You aren't missing anything.

User avatar
icouldbuyu
Posts: 254
Joined: Sun Oct 24, 2010 3:52 pm

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby icouldbuyu » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:22 pm

My bad I thought the job was for 50k/year, which is why I voted for law school. Deff stay at the job. If you're still unhappy down the line even when you do get promoted, then you can go to law school. Hopefully, at that point, the legal market would have improved significantly.

User avatar
paratactical
Posts: 5961
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:06 pm

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby paratactical » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:29 pm

3. For the love of all that is holy, 3.

Reasoning:

Law school is a huge opportunity cost for you because of the income you are already making. Further, you're in a position now where the T14 requires substantial debt. If you can stay at your job longer and get more power and prestige there, you can always apply to law school later and the greater experience could potentially change the debt required to attend an elite school. Further, if you like the area that you are located in now, waiting to attend law school can assist you with networking and your ability to find the position of your dreams and know that it could actually be yours when you graduate as opposed to hoping to land something.

OP, I am in a very similar position and I've chosen to wait ~3 years and see if I still want to go to law school then. Taking time and making money is *never* a bad thing, particularly at the place you're at now. Law school isn't going anywhere and since you aren't interested in the biglaw/partner track, it won't hurt you to take a little more time.

User avatar
buckilaw
Posts: 840
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 1:27 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby buckilaw » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:30 pm

This has to be a flame.

User avatar
whitman
Posts: 819
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:08 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby whitman » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:38 pm

Nah dude, no flame. Maybe I'm nuts for considering anything but option 3. However, the job just isn't that interesting. Not very challenging and not in a field I'm interested in. Thanks for all the feedback. Option 3 is certainly the smart choice financially. Obviously. However, of course, the company could fail. It happens all the time. Plus, I want to do something I enjoy and that I've created for myself. I also want to practice environmental law.

User avatar
James Bond
Posts: 2349
Joined: Sun May 31, 2009 12:53 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby James Bond » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:40 pm

whitman wrote:Nah dude, no flame. Maybe I'm nuts for considering anything but option 3. However, the job just isn't that interesting. Not very challenging and not in a field I'm interested in. Thanks for all the feedback. Option 3 is certainly the smart choice financially. Obviously. However, of course, the company could fail. It happens all the time. Plus, I want to do something I enjoy and that I've created for myself. I also want to practice environmental law.


How about this...you tell me what you're doing to make $100k and I'll take that job off your hands

User avatar
paratactical
Posts: 5961
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:06 pm

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby paratactical » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:44 pm

whitman wrote: I also want to practice environmental law.

I'm curious as to what kind of position you're hoping for/what you think this entails. Not intended to be a dick question, but there are a lot of "oh I want _______ law" statements around here without understanding the realities of the field they are looking at (frequently that there are oh, 1-5 jobs in that field in the US).

User avatar
whitman
Posts: 819
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:08 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby whitman » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:46 pm

You're right. That's one of the reasons I wanted to post. I'm fairly certain people go into environmental law hoping to do conservation, etc, and end up working for a corporation trying to find legal loopholes for their sometimes unsavory practices.

User avatar
oldhippie
Posts: 538
Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:41 pm

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby oldhippie » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:50 pm

OP - i'm in a somewhat similar position minus the opportunity to make $200k a year (ever!) but i make decent money now, could live off it forever and do this job until i retire.......
but i'm bored half the time and burned out the other half and it's time for a change. i'm very lucky in that i qualify for the GI bill and will get a large percentage of my tuition paid and some money for living expenses, but i'll be giving up my salary for 3 years and will have to incur some debt to live and pay the remainder of tuition (barring any scholly $$)....but i have no kids and no obligations other than to myself and my S.O.
so, from the persepctive of someone older........i'm choosing to take a risk and challenge myself in a new field, hoping i'll get the chance to do what i want (environmental law, ironically enough) but knowing that the odds of getting the kind of environmental law job i want is very low and feeling ok about the idea of going into a different area of law and probably make close to what i make now relatively soon. OR to just return to my current field and be in a different location geographically, which is really what i want....
this doesn't really answer any questions, i just wanted to throw a different perspective in here...quality of life and job satisfaction do matter a LOT!

User avatar
whitman
Posts: 819
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:08 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby whitman » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:52 pm

oldhippie wrote:OP - i'm in a somewhat similar position minus the opportunity to make $200k a year (ever!) but i make decent money now, could live off it forever and do this job until i retire.......
but i'm bored half the time and burned out the other half and it's time for a change. i'm very lucky in that i qualify for the GI bill and will get a large percentage of my tuition paid and some money for living expenses, but i'll be giving up my salary for 3 years and will have to incur some debt to live and pay the remainder of tuition (barring any scholly $$)....but i have no kids and no obligations other than to myself and my S.O.
so, from the persepctive of someone older........i'm choosing to take a risk and challenge myself in a new field, hoping i'll get the chance to do what i want (environmental law, ironically enough) but knowing that the odds of getting the kind of environmental law job i want is very low and feeling ok about the idea of going into a different area of law and probably make close to what i make now relatively soon. OR to just return to my current field and be in a different location geographically, which is really what i want....
this doesn't really answer any questions, i just wanted to throw a different perspective in here...quality of life and job satisfaction do matter a LOT!


You're right, and my posting on this board during work hours is probably a sign that I am bored and a little burnt out. Plus, I'm effing sick of Pheonix. Good luck with your career change. Happiness is the goal, and I hope you achieve it.

User avatar
oldhippie
Posts: 538
Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:41 pm

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby oldhippie » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:54 pm

right back atcha :D
good luck with whatever you decide...

User avatar
paratactical
Posts: 5961
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:06 pm

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby paratactical » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:55 pm

Is there a reason that you can't wait 2 more years and get more experience, more money, potentially a better LSAT and further distance from your GPA (if your GPA isn't stellar)?

czelede
Posts: 689
Joined: Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:54 pm

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby czelede » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:12 pm

paratactical wrote:3. For the love of all that is holy, 3.

Reasoning:

Law school is a huge opportunity cost for you because of the income you are already making. Further, you're in a position now where the T14 requires substantial debt. If you can stay at your job longer and get more power and prestige there, you can always apply to law school later and the greater experience could potentially change the debt required to attend an elite school. Further, if you like the area that you are located in now, waiting to attend law school can assist you with networking and your ability to find the position of your dreams and know that it could actually be yours when you graduate as opposed to hoping to land something.

OP, I am in a very similar position and I've chosen to wait ~3 years and see if I still want to go to law school then. Taking time and making money is *never* a bad thing, particularly at the place you're at now. Law school isn't going anywhere and since you aren't interested in the biglaw/partner track, it won't hurt you to take a little more time.


+1

PS: Para, I'm liking the cuntasaurus addition to your profile.

nonprofit-prophet
Posts: 844
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:10 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:18 pm

buckilaw wrote:This has to be a flame.


why? I'm in a similar position. Not making quite as much money, but on a path where I could. Also, i'm gaining a ton of political strategy experience that could easily translate into major opportunities in 2012 and beyond. Yet, still heavily considering law school.

User avatar
paratactical
Posts: 5961
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2009 1:06 pm

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby paratactical » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:21 pm

czelede wrote:+1

PS: Para, I'm liking the cuntasaurus addition to your profile.

:mrgreen: <3

User avatar
buckilaw
Posts: 840
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 1:27 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby buckilaw » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:31 pm

nonprofit-prophet wrote:
buckilaw wrote:This has to be a flame.


why? I'm in a similar position. Not making quite as much money, but on a path where I could. Also, i'm gaining a ton of political strategy experience that could easily translate into major opportunities in 2012 and beyond. Yet, still heavily considering law school.


Right now at MVP through the rest of the lower T14 it is estimated that about half of the graduating class at a given school gets biglaw. Gambling 160k on a coin toss is not an ideal financial situation to be in. The OP wants to do PI and get a change of secenery; however, since the economy is so bad PI jobs have become much more competitive. Meaning that, numerically speaking, the odds are stacked against the OP's preffered outcome. Since the OP has a six figure job where he must have at least some free time, the sensible thing to do would be to stay at his job and not gamble with massive amounts of non-dischargable debt and 3 years of his time.

Which is why I thought the post may be a flame, albeit a very well executed flame.

User avatar
whitman
Posts: 819
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:08 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby whitman » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:45 pm

Fair enough.

User avatar
buckilaw
Posts: 840
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 1:27 am

Re: Law School vs. boring, high salary job

Postby buckilaw » Tue Nov 30, 2010 2:50 pm

@ OP. You could always join a board of an organization, volunteer, create your own organization for environmental advocacy, or do any number of things to adovacate for the environment. A J.D is not necessary to advocate for public interest causes.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest