Emory Law - To go or not to go...

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dandoe123
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Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby dandoe123 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:42 pm

So here's my dilemma -

I was recently accepted to Emory Law with $60K scholarship. I figure I would probably need to borrow approximately $40K/year (including cost of living). I have an additional $30K in loan from undergrad and so, by the time I graduate from law school, I would have amassed about $150K in student loan. With all the bleak news the past several years regarding job prospects of Emory Law graduates (and the legal field in general), I'm wondering if going to Emory Law is a "good" financial decision.

I have a PhD in the biological sciences (Immunology) and would pursuit a career in patent law if I were to go to Emory Law. The alternative is continuing my postdoctoral training and look for either an academic or industry job in 2-4 years. Of course, the job market isn't all that much better in the sciences and the potential salary isn't nearly as impressive, but I obviously would not have to take out any substantial student loans.

I'd appreciate if anyone would like to share their opinion (either for or against Emory Law) regarding this matter. I'd also like to know how others are coping with the idea of being in such a significant debt when they graduate from law school (outside of T14 law schools).

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by dandoe123 on Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

timbs4339
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:51 pm

The fact you have a Ph.D changes the calculus significantly in your favor assuming you are patent bar eligible. It means biglaw firms will have lower cutoffs and will open a whole range of good-paying IP-only firms for you. However, it also means you have to do much more research and ask more questions.

I would suggest looking through the Emory OCI threads over the last few years to see if IP people have fared better than average. If you visit the school, try to meet with members of the Science and Tech. club (that's what it is called at my school, but at Emory it may be different) or the Science and Tech. journal if they have one. Generally the science and tech organizations will have a disproportionate number of people with science, engineering, or technical degrees and you can get the inside scoop on how these people have fared.

Is Emory your only option?

Another thing I forgot to add is that will an extensive you have a better chance of securing BOTH a 1L and 2L SA position with a market paying firm. That's something you should ask about as well. A friend of mine scored about 100K total during law school by doing a 1L+2L SA and working part-time at a market paying firm during his 3L year.

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chup
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby chup » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:57 pm

Is the hiring market for someone with a PhD in immunology really so bad that it justifies sinking $120,000 into a JD from Emory?

rad lulz
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby rad lulz » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:11 pm

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dandoe123
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby dandoe123 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:19 pm

rad lulz wrote:Are PhD's in immunology even desirable to patent firms?


... obviously not as coveted as electrical or mechanical engineering, but as long as there is advancement in the biological sciences, i don't see why a PhD in immunology would not be an asset in patent law.

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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby rad lulz » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:20 pm

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tennisking88
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby tennisking88 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:22 pm

Also doesn't it totally not matter as much where you go to school if you wanna be a patent lawyer? I mean, the PhD would really be the reason any firm hires you..

dandoe123
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby dandoe123 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:26 pm

rad lulz wrote:
chup wrote:Is the hiring market for someone with a PhD in immunology really so bad that it justifies sinking $120,000 into a JD from Emory?

I'm inclined to agree with this. $150k is too much of a risk for Emory.


may i ask why? compared to other schools outside of T14, is Emory really that much worse off? if the problem is with the size of the student loan, don't most students have substantial student loan when they graduate from law school?

just trying to determine whether $120K loan from JUST Emory is bad or this is true for all school outside of T14.

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chup
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby chup » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:29 pm

dandoe123 wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
chup wrote:Is the hiring market for someone with a PhD in immunology really so bad that it justifies sinking $120,000 into a JD from Emory?

I'm inclined to agree with this. $150k is too much of a risk for Emory.


may i ask why? compared to other schools outside of T14, is Emory really that much worse off? if the problem is with the size of the student loan, don't most students have substantial student loan when they graduate from law school?

just trying to determine whether $120K loan from JUST Emory is bad or this is true for all school outside of T14.

As you move outside of the T14, substantial debt becomes a worse and worse idea. I'm fairly risk averse when it comes to debt, and I'm not even sure I'd take out that kind of money for anything below the top 10. Obviously everyone's is in a slightly different boat, and maybe the PhD means you're more of a commodity even at a school like Emory, but as a general rule of thumb I don't think six figures of debt from Emory is a good idea -- especially when you (presumably) have a number of options from the PhD.

dandoe123
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby dandoe123 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:31 pm

tennisking88 wrote:Also doesn't it totally not matter as much where you go to school if you wanna be a patent lawyer? I mean, the PhD would really be the reason any firm hires you..


is this really true? should i be looking towards any law school that would give me a full ride (e.g Tier 3 or 4) rather than trying to go to a school with the best ranking?

i read that for patent prosecution, grade cutoff is a bit more lenient, but for patent litigation, grades are critical. as for law school prestige, i just assumed better the school, better the job prospect... with or without a PhD.

timbs4339
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:32 pm

dandoe123 wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
chup wrote:Is the hiring market for someone with a PhD in immunology really so bad that it justifies sinking $120,000 into a JD from Emory?

I'm inclined to agree with this. $150k is too much of a risk for Emory.


may i ask why? compared to other schools outside of T14, is Emory really that much worse off? if the problem is with the size of the student loan, don't most students have substantial student loan when they graduate from law school?

just trying to determine whether $120K loan from JUST Emory is bad or this is true for all school outside of T14.


The question is whether the Ph.D is good enough to get you T6 or T10 chances at a biglaw or market-paying job out of Emory. For that I think you need to do some more digging with people who have science degrees and go to Emory.

dandoe123
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby dandoe123 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:40 pm

timbs4339 wrote:
dandoe123 wrote:
rad lulz wrote:
chup wrote:Is the hiring market for someone with a PhD in immunology really so bad that it justifies sinking $120,000 into a JD from Emory?

I'm inclined to agree with this. $150k is too much of a risk for Emory.


may i ask why? compared to other schools outside of T14, is Emory really that much worse off? if the problem is with the size of the student loan, don't most students have substantial student loan when they graduate from law school?

just trying to determine whether $120K loan from JUST Emory is bad or this is true for all school outside of T14.


The question is whether the Ph.D is good enough to get you T6 or T10 chances at a biglaw or market-paying job out of Emory. For that I think you need to do some more digging with people who have science degrees and go to Emory.


thanks for the advice. i guess i've been focusing more on overall job prospect rather than concentrating more specifically on individuals with a similar background as myself. i actually got my phd also from emory and have met/talked to several patent attorneys from the atlanta area. most of them seemed to have graduated from GSU, which may or may not suggest that the prestige of a law school may not have the same value as in other legal field. either way, i'll definitely heed your advice. thanks again.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:44 pm

Your situation is somewhat unusual, so it will be hard for most people on this site to give you on-point advice. You need to talk to patent lawyers, law students trying to become patent lawyers, and students at Emory who know how the patent people did. If your boost is comparable to the boost that electrical or mechanical engineers get, then I would say that Emory isn't a bad option. If most firms really don't want someone with a PhD in immunology (AKA it's not much of a boost), then Emory at that cost is not that good of a deal.

timbs4339
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:50 pm

dandoe123 wrote:
thanks for the advice. i guess i've been focusing more on overall job prospect rather than concentrating more specifically on individuals with a similar background as myself. i actually got my phd also from emory and have met/talked to several patent attorneys from the atlanta area. most of them seemed to have graduated from GSU, which may or may not suggest that the prestige of a law school may not have the same value as in other legal field. either way, i'll definitely heed your advice. thanks again.


That's an understandable place to start, but you have to realize you have an extremely rare card with the Ph.D. Play it right and your job search will be very different from that of your classmates. Good luck.

dandoe123
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby dandoe123 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:55 pm

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:Your situation is somewhat unusual, so it will be hard for most people on this site to give you on-point advice. You need to talk to patent lawyers, law students trying to become patent lawyers, and students at Emory who know how the patent people did. If your boost is comparable to the boost that electrical or mechanical engineers get, then I would say that Emory isn't a bad option. If most firms really don't want someone with a PhD in immunology (AKA it's not much of a boost), then Emory at that cost is not that good of a deal.


I don't mean to keep beating a dead horse, but this kind of brings me back to my original question - is it Emory specifically that a $120K loan is not a wise decision or is this true for most schools outside of T14? don't most students who attend law school have student loan in the $100K range?

rad lulz
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby rad lulz » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:58 pm

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GokartMozart315
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby GokartMozart315 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:41 am

rad lulz wrote:
dandoe123 wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:Your situation is somewhat unusual, so it will be hard for most people on this site to give you on-point advice. You need to talk to patent lawyers, law students trying to become patent lawyers, and students at Emory who know how the patent people did. If your boost is comparable to the boost that electrical or mechanical engineers get, then I would say that Emory isn't a bad option. If most firms really don't want someone with a PhD in immunology (AKA it's not much of a boost), then Emory at that cost is not that good of a deal.


I don't mean to keep beating a dead horse, but this kind of brings me back to my original question - is it Emory specifically that a $120K loan is not a wise decision or is this true for most schools outside of T14? don't most students who attend law school have student loan in the $100K range?

Well you're going 150k in the hole, and that's generally not a good idea for schools of this caliber. Yes, average indebtedness nears $100k. But most students are stupid about money and have no idea (or are reckless to the fact) that this is a bad investment.



how does the calculus change if emory can be paid for? how does emory stack up vs. schools of comparable rankings in diff markets?

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BruceWayne
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby BruceWayne » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:59 am

GokartMozart315 wrote:
how does the calculus change if emory can be paid for? how does emory stack up vs. schools of comparable rankings in diff markets?


I hate to say this because I get tired of hearing this line myself, but the truth is, if you did not have the PHD in immunology I would say that Emory at that price is a downright horrible idea. The truth is that any school and that range should be attended only for close to free, or if you would be satisfied with working in that school's home market--and satisfied with NOT working biglaw.

Emory costs as much as a top 14, but it's job prospects are absolutely horrible in comparison. And it's home market is one of the absolute toughest in the country. I know people who go to Emory law. With that debt, if you didn't have the PHD I would say going would be an absolutely horrible decision. As it stands, with the PHD, I'm not really sure. Frankly, when considering the cost of attendance UGA is a better school, and Georgia State might be.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:12 am

Ask Emory for more scholarship money.

What are your other options regarding law school ?

dandoe123
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby dandoe123 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 5:04 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Ask Emory for more scholarship money.

What are your other options regarding law school ?


Still waiting to hear from UNC, Boston College and Cardozo. I'm thinking if I haven't heard from them by now, the odds of admission with a substantial scholarship is probably slim to none.

My other "option" is to do another year of postdoc and try applying to some of the "cheaper" schools with high probability of getting a large scholarship (e.g. lower ranked schools). When I started my law school applications, I was under the assumption that with today's job market, it'd be "wiser" to go the highest ranked school that I could get into. With a LSAT score of 167, the T14 schools seemed out of my reach. Having said that, I've learned during the past several weeks that to do patent prosecution, law school "prestige" (and grades for that matter) seems less critical compared to other legal fields.

Would this be a wiser alternative than to take on a $100K loan and go to Emory this year? Obviously, I'm not getting any younger (especially having done a PhD) and so if I'm going to make the transition into law, I'm thinking sooner the better.

Thanks again for all the helpful suggestions/insight so far!

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howell
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby howell » Sat Mar 24, 2012 12:55 am

Another option would be to pass the patent bar and try to find a job as a patent agent in Atlanta (or another city you're interested in). You could then go PT at GSU and pay your way through. And if you got into the patent agent job and hated it, you could quit with much less skin in the game.

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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby mattyboy7we » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:24 pm

rad lulz wrote:
dandoe123 wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:Your situation is somewhat unusual, so it will be hard for most people on this site to give you on-point advice. You need to talk to patent lawyers, law students trying to become patent lawyers, and students at Emory who know how the patent people did. If your boost is comparable to the boost that electrical or mechanical engineers get, then I would say that Emory isn't a bad option. If most firms really don't want someone with a PhD in immunology (AKA it's not much of a boost), then Emory at that cost is not that good of a deal.


I don't mean to keep beating a dead horse, but this kind of brings me back to my original question - is it Emory specifically that a $120K loan is not a wise decision or is this true for most schools outside of T14? don't most students who attend law school have student loan in the $100K range?

Well you're going 150k in the hole, and that's generally not a good idea for schools of this caliber. Yes, average indebtedness nears $100k. But most students are stupid about money and have no idea (or are reckless to the fact) that this is a bad investment.


OP, the truth is that law school is an investment in yourself. ^^ This guy above has no idea if going to Emory for 150K, or a cheaper school like Georgia is a good investment. While he is entitled to his opinion, I know plenty of students (including myself) that could serve as an example to disprove what he said.

In this economy and job market it is important to consider the risk of long term debt. But, simply choosing a cheaper/lower ranked school may not be the answer either. I have friends at schools ranked in the top 50 (lower than Emory) that are in the top 1/3 of their class and on law review that are jobless a month before graduation.

Instead, I suggest doing what some of the above posters have recommended and check into the schools patent programs if that is what you want to pursue.

I actually go to Emory, and I would suggest looking into out TI:GER program: http://www.law.emory.edu/academics/acad ... tiger.html

Hope that helps.

rad lulz
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby rad lulz » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:43 pm

Well Mattyboy, I can say that $150k debt practically requires biglaw or similar to pay off. In 2010, Emory had 31% go into firms of 100+ or Federal Clerkships. Outside of big firms, chances are you make about $50k (bimodal salary distribution). With a $50k starting salary, unless you live like a pauper, you will barely hit the principal on $150k loans.

So if your shot is about 1/3, then it doesn't seem like a good investment there, does it.

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:52 pm

Unless you can be certain that the job prospects are substantially better for someone with a PhD in immunology, don't go. $150k is a lot to risk.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that someone with a PhD from Emory can only manage a 167. I strongly suspect you could improve your score through further study. With a few more LSAT points, everything would change.

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Re: Emory Law - To go or not to go...

Postby mattyboy7we » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:02 pm

rad lulz wrote:Well Mattyboy, I can say that $150k debt practically requires biglaw or similar to pay off. In 2010, Emory had 31% go into firms of 100+ or Federal Clerkships. Outside of big firms, chances are you make about $50k (bimodal salary distribution). With a $50k starting salary, unless you live like a pauper, you will barely hit the principal on $150k loans.

So if your shot is about 1/3, then it doesn't seem like a good investment there, does it.


Well thats a good analysis, except for the fact that your numbers are wrong and misleading. But I would be glad to help with that.

First off, I'm assuming you obtained this data from the Emory law career services website, so the numbers I will use are also from there.

1. "In 2010, Emory had 31% go into firms of 100+ or Federal Clerkships."

- To start, the website states that "Of the 237 students who are employed or in an advanced degree program, we have
detailed employer type information regarding 206 students."

- So assuming those not in the 206 are still in school in an advanced degree program, 206 is our base number.

- Private law firms: 101-250 = 7 students, 251- 500 = 12 students, 501+ = 43 students.
- Federal clerks = 17 students
- The total % there for = 206/ 79 = ~38%.

But I assume you meant that ~31% get "big law" jobs since even federal clerks make only ~50k a year straight out of law school (https://oscar.uscourts.gov/drupal/conte ... d-benefits).

2. "Outside of big firms, chances are you make about $50k "

- The first problem here is your assumption that unless you are in a firm with 100+ lawyers, you are not going to make a lot of money coming out of school.

- Yes, when people say "biglaw" they tend to refer to firms of 100+ lawyers. But you do not have to be in a firm of 100+ lawyers to make over 50k a year. In fact, my room mates and I are working in firms with 10 or less attorneys are all of us are making well above 50k coming out of law school. The reality is, I don't know of anyone making 50k or less that is going into private practice.... which brings me to my next point.

3. The OP has a PhD, and would like to go into patent law. Unless he plan on working for the PTO (patent and trademark office) he will be working in a private practice. So this "50k" estimate you somehow derived hopefully does not include those who are working for the government, or those in public interest, which according to the 2010 Emory stats is about ~32%.

I dont want to discredit everything you said though, being 150k in debt on a 50k salary would be very tough to get by on.

However, assuming that the OP will not go work for the government (which would qualify him for debt forgiveness but thats neither here nor there) or public interest, and the fact that making more than 50k out of school is not contingent on working in a large, or even a medium sized firm, I think it is safe to say that your comment of "Outside of big firms, chances are you make about $50k" is incorrect to say the least.

And to add some support, rather than just my own opinion and limited knowledge, the NALP found that for 2010 the median range of salary for new graduates going into private practice was anywhere from $55,001-74,999 (http://www.nalp.org/salaries_for_full-t ... e_practice) in the state of Georgia.

This of course includes those from other law schools, which just in the Atlanta area include Georgia (rank 32), Georgia st. (rank 58), and John Marshall (TTT). So unless you are saying that going to Emory provides the same job prospects as those going to school at John Marshall, it is probably safe to say those graduating from Emory are more likely to be on the higher end of that figure.

So please, do not throw out numbers that are unsupported or guesses when a person is asking about an important decision such as choosing a law school. Why would you tell someone that " I can say that $150k debt practically requires biglaw or similar to pay off," when you in reality have no solid basis for that statement. I am in fact over 150k in debt, not in the top of my class, not working in "biglaw," and still making well over 50k with no issues on repaying my debt after graduation.

Also since you now know that you don't have to be in "biglaw" to make over 50k or some other amount necessary to pay of a 150k in debt, I would say the OP has more than a 1/3 "shot." So yes, it may in fact be a good investment.

Sorry to go on a rant, but no one on this site is an expert on the job market, nor are they a mind reader who can guess the future. Do some due diligence, the information is out there.




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