AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

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

Smartest school choice

American WCL
9
28%
WASHINGTON & LEE
22
69%
EMORY
1
3%
 
Total votes: 32

wfudeacons2005
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 2:08 am

Re: AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

Postby wfudeacons2005 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 10:22 am

When he decided to become a lawyer, Jose Aponte followed a familiar path: He took the LSAT, spent more than $100,000 on law school, took a grueling bar exam and paid for continuing education.

But the work the 37-year-old New York lawyer, a graduate of American University's Washington College of Law, is getting is a far cry from the stable, lucrative type he originally envisioned.

The grunt work in corporate litigation is being farmed out to contract attorneys. More and more law school graduates, steeped in student-loan debt, are settling for this unsteady, monotonous work for surprisingly low pay. WSJ's Vanessa O'Connell and Jason Bellini report.

Mr. Aponte is part of a growing field of itinerant "contract" attorneys who move from job to job, getting paid by the hour, largely to review documents for law firms and corporate clients. These short-term jobs, which can pay as little as $15 an hour, have increasingly become a fixture in the $100 billion global corporate legal industry as law firms and clients seek to lower their costs.

This new "third tier" of the legal world illustrates the commoditization of the legal profession, which once offered most new entrants access to prestige and power, as well as a professional lifestyle. It also shows how post-recession belt-tightening is permanently altering some professions.

For 10 to 12 hours a day—and sometimes during graveyard shifts—contract attorneys such as Mr. Aponte sit silently in a big room, at rows of computer monitors. Each lawyer reads thousands of documents online and must quickly "code" every one according to its relevance in litigation or an investigation.

Supervisors discourage talking and breaks are limited. The computer systems count each lawyer's speed. Some law firms use their own contract attorneys, while others hire them through third-party agencies.

The increasing reliance on temporary workers comes as the industry continues to struggle from a downturn that has produced a glut of unemployed U.S. lawyers, including crops of indebted recent law school graduates. About 10% of all private practice jobs accepted by last year's law school graduates were reported as temporary, a steady increase from 5.4% in 2007, according to the National Association for Law Placement.

To make a living, Mr. Aponte, who works for a variety of agencies, must scramble for the next gig. He has worked for as little as $33 an hour and has endured up to seven months' unemployment. The duration of a job is unpredictable. "A case can settle at any time. One night they'll call you, and the next day the project ends," he says.

A typical contract lawyer with an average flow of work can make $40,000 to $50,000 annually, according to Veronica Maldonado, a contract attorney in Chicago who recently started a website for contract lawyers. That compares with an average starting salary of $160,000 for associates—who may also get bonuses of $10,000 or more annually— at some of the big corporate law firms in New York.

Temporary legal staffing in the U.S. is projected to increase by 25% cumulatively over the next two years, according to Staffing Industry Analysts, a temp-industry tracking group. The hourly rates that temp agencies charge for contract attorneys are just a fraction of what a first-year associate at a big law firm typically bills per hour.

Large firms are billing $325 to $550 for an hour's work this year by freshman associates, while smaller firms bill them as low as $100, according to research firm Valeo Partners. Temp staffing agencies, in contrast, might bill around $50 an hour or less for document review work by contract attorneys.

There is no count of the total number of lawyers working as contract lawyers. The Posse List, an online clearinghouse for contract-lawyer job postings, has more than 14,000 registered U.S. users seeking work as temp attorneys.

More than a third of top legal officials at 876 companies said they used contract attorneys in the previous fiscal year, according to a June survey for The Wall Street Journal by the Association of Corporate Counsel, a bar association for in-house lawyers.

Dozens of corporate law firms including Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, are turning to staffing agencies such as De Novo Legal and Hudson Highland Group Inc., HHGP +2.70% for document review, sometimes at the behest of cost-conscious corporate clients. Spokesmen for Wachtell and Davis Polk said they couldn't immediately comment. Cravath declined to comment.

At De Novo Legal, founded 11 years ago, document review work, by hours, was up more than 40% so far this year, said CEO Robert Singer. It has document review centers in Washington, D.C., New York, Dallas and Houston.

The Posse List said it saw a 66% increase in document review job postings this year. AT&T Inc.'s T -0.60% proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA alone has resulted in the use of 200 contract lawyers, it said. Both companies declined to comment.

Many lawyers turned to temporary work after losing full -time jobs. Deania Marie Jackson, 52, was laid off as general counsel of a small company in 2007, but figures she may be able to make $65,000 to $80,000 from document review projects this year.

"The pool of candidates willing to work as contract attorneys is bigger this year than it ever has been," says Mark Yacano, executive vice president at Hudson Legal, which has 10 project facilities around the country, including St. Louis, where lawyers are willing to work on a temp basis for hourly pay in the low $20s. Hudson Legal is a part of Hudson Highland.

For the lawyers themselves, the short-term jobs can sometimes come with medical coverage or retirement accounts but they offer little chance of advancement. Some document reviewers also believe they become stigmatized.

Chevita Phifer, 26, has worked in Charlotte, Moyock, N.C., New York and Los Angeles at regular rates of $20 to $40 an hour. Ms. Phifer, a 2009 graduate of Southern University Law Center, recently overheard another attorney refer to her as a "coder." A term, she says, she doesn't like.

User avatar
Robespierre
Posts: 512
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 7:02 pm

Re: AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

Postby Robespierre » Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:30 pm

Sounds like you've got low-cost, but not free, COL at American, and 15K per year with a stipulation at W&L. W&L already has low COL so the total COA there will be somewhat lower. I don't know if that is enough to offset American's advantage of actually being in D.C. Probably not. I'd rate them:

American > W&L >> Emory.

But as others have pointed out, none are really good choices in this environment since they're at sticker or close and don't compare for D.C. placement with the T14 + GW. You're gambling.

jjlee
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:33 pm

Re: AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

Postby jjlee » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:57 am

Thanks a lot for everyone's contributions. Please keep it coming if you'd like to add anything.

Im not sure what I'll do yet, but this has been beyond helpful!

Appreciate it!

jjlee
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:33 pm

Re: AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

Postby jjlee » Sun Apr 15, 2012 3:36 am

tennisking88 wrote:Wow. Do not attend American at sticker. Under any circumstances. I would take WL over the two options. WL may actually place better in DC than American.


Deposit time coming up and wanted to bump this. Is this true?
Everyone I speak to in dc (I live there) speak highly of American but everyone here hates it.


So one more time...... Is American that bad and not an option at all at sticker?

Last day to deposit at American is today :/

rad lulz
Posts: 9844
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:53 pm

Re: AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

Postby rad lulz » Sun Apr 15, 2012 6:21 am

jjlee wrote:Is American that bad and not an option at all at sticker?

Terrible. If you get a job, at all, it will likely be in the $50k range, since biglaw chances are almost nil. Timbs 4339 a page ago is absolutely correct.

Just even getting a job as a lawyer is far from assured. In 2010 from American, only 65.4% of those reporting got bar passage required jobs. Also these jokers didn't say what percentage reported. Shady as hell. Also consider that people who have good outcome are more likely to report to their school. It's unlikely that there are a bunch of bros with solid legal jobs who didn't report, while a bunch of people with shitty outcomes did.

Jeffleo7
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:43 am

Re: AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

Postby Jeffleo7 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:03 am

Hi,
I'm new here.

I have paid some deposits to save my spot, but can't choose where to go.
need to decide before 2nd deposit's due.

I want to practice in California, pref Southern CA
My interest is public interest, women's rights, just want to use the law to help the downtrodden.

My choices are:

Emory
UW
Loyola $
U of Miami $$
Michigan State $$$


What's the best choice for internships & jobs in 2015? -

Thanks

User avatar
sunynp
Posts: 1899
Joined: Tue May 24, 2011 2:06 pm

Re: AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

Postby sunynp » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:49 am

Jeffleo7 wrote:Hi,
I'm new here.

I have paid some deposits to save my spot, but can't choose where to go.
need to decide before 2nd deposit's due.

I want to practice in California, pref Southern CA
My interest is public interest, women's rights, just want to use the law to help the downtrodden.

My choices are:

Emory
UW
Loyola $
U of Miami $$
Michigan State $$$


What's the best choice for internships & jobs in 2015? -

Thanks


You should just start your own thread instead of asking the same question in 3 different threads. And add a poll. I'm telling you now, though, that getting to California from those school is not going to be easy.

User avatar
flem
Posts: 12949
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:44 pm

Re: AMERICAN WCL vs W&L vs. EMORY

Postby flem » Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:16 am

tl;dr

Attending American at sticker price is financial suicide. Don't do that.




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