Tell me why I shouldn't

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boilerplated
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Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby boilerplated » Sun Jul 24, 2011 9:16 am

Here's my situation: I'm about to take a dive from a regional T1 school to CUNY, which is fourth-tier but extremely cheap. I've done well but not spectacular (just inside the top third), will be on a secondary journal and do truly enjoy the faculty and school environment. However, the spate of "law school is a bad investment" commentary, including some very high profile articles from one of my own professors, has taken a toll on me. I want to do public interest law (preferably public defender), and I'm worried about the ~$75K in total debt I would be taking on here. While the academic environment wouldn't be as stimulating, CUNY would be ~$35K of total debt with in-state tuition and living with family. Primary reasons for making the move:

-Would pay about half of what I would here.
-The school has a public interest bent, which is what I'm aiming for.
-I worked in NYC nonprofits before coming to law school, and might be able to get back into that if I can't find legal work.
-Would reunite with my girlfriend, with whom I've been (unhappily) doing long-distance with for a year.
-Would feel less pressure to find meaningful employment right away and won't be completely drowning in debt if I end up working at Starbucks.

That's why I think I should. Can anyone tell me why I shouldn't?

ran12
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby ran12 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:07 am

75k is that not much in terms of debt for most people out of law school. I think it would be easier for you to find employment out of your T1 than CUNY. Plus, with things like LRAP and IBR, why would you transfer down esp. if you're planning on PI.

firemed
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby firemed » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:47 am

Because going from a T1 to a T4 is like shooting yourself in the foot as far as employment prospects go.

IMO, get your GF to move to where you are, and go on with your T1.

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knotoftoads
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby knotoftoads » Sun Jul 24, 2011 11:44 am

Yea since your goal is to become a public defender, is there a reason you are not considering IBR with public service loan forgiveness??

boilerplated
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby boilerplated » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:23 pm

I've looked into IBR, but I just don't think it's that spectacular of a deal. You are still getting charged interest on your unpaid balance, so you will pay more in the long run. On $75K, you're still putting yourself in quite a hole, even if it is less than a lot of people borrow. As for PSLFP, it requires that you be employed full-time by a public service organization for the length of the program. In this economy with this competition, I can aim for that, but I know I can't count on it.

I can't ask the GF to leave New York. She has an actual career there, which is more than I can say for myself right now.

I know this goes against the conventional wisdom, but I see it as kind of a convenient compromise. The truth is that while I want to be a lawyer, I somewhat regret going to law school in this environment. Yes, I should have done my research beforehand, but that doesn't help me now. I see this as a way to mitigate that. Am I just being a fool?

ran12
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby ran12 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:29 pm

I guess if you plan to marry your gf you can transfer to CUNY but if you don't see that as a high probability just suck it up and finish at your current school.

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kapital98
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby kapital98 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:44 pm

IBR is 10 years out of 25 being employed in public service. That's a considerable amount of flexibility. The sooner you start, and finish, the more money you will save.

That being said: Why is your only option CUNY???? With a T1 in the top 33% you could lateral to Brooklyn, Cardozo, Hofstra, St. John's, NY Law, etc... I'm amazed you haven't recieved a full scholarship from CUNY by taking such a dive.

Do it if you know exactly what you want to do and/or you are sure you're going to marry your girlfriend.

boilerplated
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby boilerplated » Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:26 pm

Thanks for the advice, all. I haven't made a final decision and am looking to be challenged, so this is good.

Why CUNY? Because cost is a major concern for me right now. Any of the other NYC law schools would have cost me ~$40-50K above what I'm paying now on a partial scholarship. Since I definitely wasn't going to swing NYU or Columbia, I couldn't justify that. Everything I've read (much of it on TLS) has signaled that paying full price for Brooklyn, Cardozo, St. John's, etc., is financial suicide. I researched CUNY quite a bit, and while it has many of the trappings of a TTT (low entrance scores, subpar facilities, zero lay prestige), it also seems to have a decent rep within the New York public interest community and is cheap. As tough as it is out there for JDs from anywhere, I see it as a practical option that may get me an ok PI job in the boroughs, but won't torpedo me financially if things don't work out. I'm trying to be realistic.

I didn't want to make this too personal, but I've been with my gf for four years and we are indeed talking marriage. She's willing to support me if I struggle after law school, but we both agree that it's best to keep debt at a minimum.

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trotting
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby trotting » Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:45 pm

kapital98 wrote:That being said: Why is your only option CUNY???? With a T1 in the top 33% you could lateral to Brooklyn, Cardozo, Hofstra, St. John's, NY Law, etc... I'm amazed you haven't recieved a full scholarship from CUNY by taking such a dive.

I don't think transfers are given much scholarship aid from their new school. With the OPs main priority being limiting total debt - going to those listed above seems illogical.

boilerplated wrote:Would reunite with my girlfriend, with whom I've been (unhappily) doing long-distance with for a year.

Personally, I don't think significant others should be factors in professional decisions unless married or heading there. But if you do factor her in, as with all major relationship decisions: be sure to jerk off before you decide to ensure you're thinking with your head and not your dick.

firemed
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby firemed » Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:45 pm

boilerplated wrote:Thanks for the advice, all. I haven't made a final decision and am looking to be challenged, so this is good.

Why CUNY? Because cost is a major concern for me right now. Any of the other NYC law schools would have cost me ~$40-50K above what I'm paying now on a partial scholarship. Since I definitely wasn't going to swing NYU or Columbia, I couldn't justify that. Everything I've read (much of it on TLS) has signaled that paying full price for Brooklyn, Cardozo, St. John's, etc., is financial suicide. I researched CUNY quite a bit, and while it has many of the trappings of a TTT (low entrance scores, subpar facilities, zero lay prestige), it also seems to have a decent rep within the New York public interest community and is cheap. As tough as it is out there for JDs from anywhere, I see it as a practical option that may get me an ok PI job in the boroughs, but won't torpedo me financially if things don't work out. I'm trying to be realistic.

I didn't want to make this too personal, but I've been with my gf for four years and we are indeed talking marriage. She's willing to support me if I struggle after law school, but we both agree that it's best to keep debt at a minimum.


You need to send her to the law school scam sites, law school transparency, etc. Once she sees that you will have a HUGE 10% chance of a JD required job that isn't shitlaw.... well, hopefully she will change her mind.

Why the heck can't she move to where you are?


ETA: I am sincerely praying you are trolling us... because if not this has got to be, hands down, one of the dumbest decisions I have ever heard someone trying to talk themselves into. Doing this would, I think, be one of the stupidest things you have ever done in your entire life. Seriously.*

*I mean, I don't know what kind of stupid things you have done in your life, but you got into a T1 so there must be some sort of baseline non-idiocy going on here.

boilerplated
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby boilerplated » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:21 pm

ETA: I am sincerely praying you are trolling us... because if not this has got to be, hands down, one of the dumbest decisions I have ever heard someone trying to talk themselves into. Doing this would, I think, be one of the stupidest things you have ever done in your entire life.


I appreciate the blunt advice. I'm not trolling, I swear. And the dismal job prospects are exactly why I want to minimize my costs. Right now I'm at a non-elite T1, where I know plenty of seemingly bright 3Ls facing graduating with upwards of $100K in debt and no job in sight. They're looking at anything they can find, legal or non-legal, to make their payments. My school's employment statistics have been in decline, like everyone's. I'm fortunate to be looking at a little less debt than that, but it's still scary, and there's nothing that convinces me the economy will get better. I have given serious thought to dropping out, but I just can't let myself do that; it's not in me. This seems like a middle-ground approach where I can still get a degree but with about the same amount of debt I had out of undergrad, which I was able to pay off through odd jobs.

Basically, I'm preparing for very grim road ahead no matter what I do. I can either do that with ~$75K and a more respectable resume line, or ~$35K and a likely spouse. That's the call I'm trying to make.

(Also: I will not ask her to move because she has an actual career with advancement opportunity. I would tell her to dump me before I would tell her to follow me into this debt trap. I won't drag her into my mess.)

firemed
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby firemed » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:43 pm

Well... I know what I would do in your situation. You do what you think you need to do, I guess.

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knotoftoads
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby knotoftoads » Sun Jul 24, 2011 3:55 pm

You say you've looked into IBR so Im assuming you know that if your annual income was about $40,000 (typical for public defenders where I live but you're in NY so it could even be more there) your monthly payments would be $295. Now make 120 payments of $295 and you've paid only $35,400 back on $75,000. Now, I know theres risk involved at least in keeping your public defenders job for the course of those ten years but worse comes to worse there are thousands of jobs that qualify as public service. I think the risk is worth it if your only other option is to leave a T1 (where those employment opportunities would be far greater) for CUNY.

Zazelmaf
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby Zazelmaf » Sun Jul 24, 2011 4:18 pm

You can't take the scamblogs that seriously. Most of them are made from people who won't even give their rank/gpa out. I have read through most of those, and they are made by people who really enjoy being miserable. Most people giving advice here are students and have not had much experience with the post grad job market. I would take the advice with a grain of salt, but not much more. There is seriously way too much negativity with the law school internet crowd, some of which is warranted, much of which is not.

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sunynp
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby sunynp » Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:32 pm

What exactly are your odds of getting a job from your current school? And I mean real numbers based on this years 2l SA class, did anyone with numbers like you get jobs? Is it true that everyone is scrambling?

Do you have any connections who can help you get a job out of your current school that makes your chance of a 2L SA better than others?

Would your girlfriend have to move to be with you anyway if you do get a job from your current school?

If you see absolutely no future from the T1 you are in, I guess go to CUNY. I understand your thinking. I am also extremely debt averse, but I would only make this move if I was certain that I had no real future coming out of my T1.

scammedhard
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby scammedhard » Sun Jul 24, 2011 5:55 pm

boilerplated wrote:Basically, I'm preparing for very grim road ahead no matter what I do. I can either do that with ~$75K and a more respectable resume line, or ~$35K and a likely spouse. That's the call I'm trying to make.

I think you have 2 issues here: law school; and your GF with an actual career, unlike you. Decide which one should be your top priority and then you will reach a decision very easily. I see no problem with transferring to CUNY if it's for the well-being of your future family.

Zazelmaf wrote:You can't take the scamblogs that seriously. Most of them are made from people who won't even give their rank/gpa out. I have read through most of those, and they are made by people who really enjoy being miserable. Most people giving advice here are students and have not had much experience with the post grad job market. I would take the advice with a grain of salt, but not much more. There is seriously way too much negativity with the law school internet crowd, some of which is warranted, much of which is not.

I love the scamblogs. Once you get past their colorful pictures and all their drama, you will see that they claim that:
1. Law school is extremely expensive and not a sound investment for most students;
2. Law schools misrepresent their employment data with impunity.
I agree with both claims.

And I think that the "negativity with the law school internet crowd" is valid. 25K JD jobs for 50K JDs seekers per year. That's sound pretty tragic by itself. But to make matters worse, most new JDs also have 100K+ debts because of law school.

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sunynp
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby sunynp » Sun Jul 24, 2011 6:46 pm

The thing is, I don't know if you can get a job in NYC from CUNY. But I don't know if you can get one from your current school either. If you are preparing for the reality of having to struggle to pay back debt - I guess go to CUNY.

boilerplated
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby boilerplated » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:09 pm

sunynp wrote:The thing is, I don't know if you can get a job in NYC from CUNY. But I don't know if you can get one from your current school either. If you are preparing for the reality of having to struggle to pay back debt - I guess go to CUNY.


Nor do I, honestly. My current school has a good reputation in its region, but I very much doubt that it has any recognition in NYC, particularly given that New Yorker convention of ignoring the rest of the country. I have read that CUNY does have good connections with the PI community in the outer boroughs, and I'm perfectly fine with (and might prefer) working in Queens, Brooklyn or even the Bronx. I've done a lot of inner-city nonprofit work/volunteering in the past, so I'm comfortable in that environment. My thinking is that CUNY would offer a little better shot at that kind of thing simply because I would be present and could make connections through their clinical program, externships, professors, etc. If I stayed here, I would be parachuting into one of the most incestuous cities in the world and hawking my degree from Middle of the Country University.

My girlfriend has the kind of job that really only exists on any significant level in a few cities, and I'm not in one of them. If we're going to be together, it'll probably have to be NYC at some point.

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kapital98
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby kapital98 » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:19 pm

boilerplated wrote:Why CUNY? Because cost is a major concern for me right now. Any of the other NYC law schools would have cost me ~$40-50K above what I'm paying now on a partial scholarship.



Did you apply to any of these schools? I would be very surprised if none of them gave you a decent scholarship (especially the T3/T4 schools where they should be handing you nearly a full ride.) You finished in the top 1/3rd of a T1. That's not too shabby and would warrant at least a lateral to a similarly ranked school. Going down in the rankings makes you go from having decent transfer potential to having decent scholarship potential. You have to apply to the schools and then negotiate your scholarship between them to get the money.

Good Luck :)

Kimberly
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby Kimberly » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:35 pm

I will say this: I am 250K in the hole after medical school and now going to law school and I insist on T1 if I am gonna go. And, believe you me, I am not gonna make as much money as I would have had I stayed practicing medicine. I have a great advisor who is was in a similar situation starting his T1 JD education. It is a SFT amount of money, no doubt. But, give yourself the best chances you can. Facts are: #1) getting a job outta T1 is by far a higher likelihood than your alternative, #2) if you love what you are going to do then the money will come because you will be good at it, #3) if you hate what you are gonna do then cut your losses, finish your jd at either place just to have the cred and move on to achieving your real dreams (jd doesn't have to be your stopping point!), #4) if you have a ring on your finger, find a way to be together, #5) if you don't already have a ring on your finger- trust me on this one- ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

Whatever you choose, DONT MAKE IT ABOUT THE MONEY! For the love of Jeebus, 75K is way less than a house and totally manageable. And, if your GF is encouraging you to make it about the money instead of your potential career satisfaction or marketability, she has her priorities effed up! Hope it helps.

Kimberly
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby Kimberly » Sun Jul 24, 2011 7:40 pm

I forgot to mention, my advisor is doing just fine. living in an expensive city, not practicing at a huge legal firm or for higher than average salary, in a loving marriage, and happy as a clam.... debt be damned.

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IrwinM.Fletcher
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby IrwinM.Fletcher » Sun Jul 24, 2011 8:26 pm

Ignoring debt is a horrible idea. People say otherwise until they have to start paying it off.

boilerplated
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby boilerplated » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:10 am

Kimberly wrote:Whatever you choose, DONT MAKE IT ABOUT THE MONEY! For the love of Jeebus, 75K is way less than a house and totally manageable.


"It's cheaper than a house" is my new favorite rationalization for the law school financing scheme.

firemed
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby firemed » Mon Jul 25, 2011 12:32 am

Um, she is talking about taking $400K in debt if she isn't a flame/troll.... so obviously less risk averse than us.

But I have to agree with her to some degree.

I have to wonder, though, why you didn't just apply and get a scholly in NYC in the first place.

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Heartford
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Re: Tell me why I shouldn't

Postby Heartford » Mon Jul 25, 2011 1:51 am

I dont think OP's reasoning is stupid or crazy. He says he is only interested in public interest work- that alone reduces the importance of usnwr rankings. He further stipulates that he wants to be a public defender, which means relative school rank is even less important. I'm not certain but it feels like this thread is full of 0Ls who are placing way too much emphasis upon rank. News flash: the difference between a "regional T1" (ie not T30) and a 3rd, or even 4th tier school is not that great. Median and below at T31-T50 are likely just as jobpwned as TTT and TTTT grads. In fact, hiring for anyone outside of the top 20% of the class is looking pretty grim at any t1. If the choice is between paying $75k for an education that very likely won't land OP a job straight out of school, vs. paying half that for another education that probably won't land him a job, he's not crazy for choosing the cheaper of the two.




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