Is Columbia still worth it?

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KevinP
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Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby KevinP » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:50 pm

Greetings fellow TLSers,

I'm currently set to attend Columbia, but I've been having second thoughts after reading all the scam blogs and poor employment outcome threads. Although CLS gave me some money, I'll still end up with six-figures of debt. I initially had other law plans, but after seeing debt load, I'm pretty set on NYC biglaw (preference would be tax or IP). All I really want is a decent paying career in law. I'm perfectly fine working crazy hours.

I will be leaving an engineering gig that pays decently. As a result of the connections I made as an engineer, I'll still have a fall back plan that would allow me to live relatively comfortably if I strike out, even with the debt. I'll still be debt-pwned, however.

My question, therefore, is Columbia still worth it for my life goals?

I'm hoping that I'm not making a stupid life decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I've done a ton of extensive research, but I would like to hear some fresh opinions. Thank you for your thoughts.

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ben4847
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby ben4847 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:55 pm

If you want to be a lawyer, then go. If you don't, then don't. The employment prospects are well worth it.

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Law Sauce
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby Law Sauce » Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:58 pm

No question CLS is worth the money. The scam blogs ought not to scare anyone who is in at CLS, let alone with money and an engineering degree. You are over thinking this, enjoy LS.

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JamMasterJ
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby JamMasterJ » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:00 pm

If you're willing to take the law school risk, CLS with an IP background is one of the best situations to be in. So really, the only reason it could be not worth it is too personal for us to advise you on.

Dude, go to Columbia. You'll be fine.

kaiser
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby kaiser » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:04 pm

The scamblogs are aimed at stopping kids from taking out huge debt for TTT schools where they will likely end up unemployed. They aren't aimed at students attending T14 schools, and certainly not one as great as CLS. There are certainly pros and cons to attending, and many factors to consider, but the whole scamblog warning thing shouldn't really factor into your calculus if CLS is your intended choice.

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beachbum
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby beachbum » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:10 pm

What are your other (law school) options? With an IP background, I'd take the money and run at a lower T14.

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kwais
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby kwais » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:11 pm

You will have cold feet about a decision this big. If that is all it is, then enjoy CLS. Once you get there (as I'm sure is the case with other schools of its calibur) you realize that a big world exists outside of the internet and that this is an amazing place to be. If you are questioning law itself, then that is a different story.

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KevinP
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby KevinP » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:15 pm

Thanks guys! I just wanted some last minute opinions before I give my 2 weeks notice at my job this week. Anymore opinions would also be welcome.

kaiser wrote:The scamblogs are aimed at stopping kids from taking out huge debt for TTT schools where they will likely end up unemployed. They aren't aimed at students attending T14 schools, and certainly not one as great as CLS. There are certainly pros and cons to attending, and many factors to consider, but the whole scamblog warning thing shouldn't really factor into your calculus if CLS is your intended choice.

Yeah, I understand. I guess my worry was the result of the posts by some of the unemployed 3Ls at CLS, and the scamblog posts about CLS hiring around 10% of its own grads.

beachbum wrote:What are your other (law school) options? With an IP background, I'd take the money and run at a lower T14.

I withdrew from everywhere else. My other option would be to ED to NU next cycle. The problem with my IP background is that my Computer Science degree isn't ABET accredited (I did Comp. Sci/Math), so I can't sit for the patent bar. I *should* be patent-bar eligible if I take a few more science classes.

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KevinP
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby KevinP » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:17 pm

kwais wrote:You will have cold feet about a decision this big. If that is all it is, then enjoy CLS. Once you get there (as I'm sure is the case with other schools of its calibur) you realize that a big world exists outside of the internet and that this is an amazing place to be. If you are questioning law itself, then that is a different story.

Good point. Great to see that at least some CLS students enjoy their time there ;)

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camelcrema
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby camelcrema » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:24 pm

KevinP wrote:
kwais wrote:You will have cold feet about a decision this big. If that is all it is, then enjoy CLS. Once you get there (as I'm sure is the case with other schools of its calibur) you realize that a big world exists outside of the internet and that this is an amazing place to be. If you are questioning law itself, then that is a different story.

Good point. Great to see that at least some CLS students enjoy their time there ;)


What Kwais said. The problem at CLS is not employment prospects, it's living in New York on a student budget. There is so much STUFF.

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dingbat
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby dingbat » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:37 pm

Here's a calculation I did a few months ago re Penn.
I'm sure the results are fairly similar for CLS and I hope it'll be helpful to you

dingbat wrote:Based on NLJ250, 56.93% of UPENN class of 2011 is working at an NLJ250 firm. This is higher than the amount reported by the school. As such, let's take the school report for class of 2011 as being fairly accurate.

out of a class of 274:
12 did not report, which we shall assume are unemployed
19 in firms of less than 100, no salary reported, we shall assume they earn $0
14 in firms of 101-250 reported earning a median of $133,571
21 in firms of 251-500 reported earning a median of $151,400
125 in firms of 501+ reported earning a median of $154,837
18 in business reported a median of $83,300
41 clerkship, reported earning a median of $55,020
11 in gov/military reported a median of $55,421
10 in PI reported a median of $44,843
3 in academia, no salary reported; to be conservative, we'll call it $0

This gives a weighted average income of $106,632, in the first year.
Many clerks end up going into biglaw, and biglaw has lockstep salary increases, so in future years the weighted average income will probably increase. But, for argument's sake, let's not factor in any increase whatsoever
It appears to me that median income in the US is about $41k, but, for rounding purposes, let's call it $46,632

That means that the weighted average income of a Penn Law graduate is earning $60k/year more than a non Penn Law graduate.

Now, let's assume that tuition is $50k per year, and that this is borrowed at 7.9%
Let's assume that the extra $60k is taxed at 45% (combined federal and state)
Let's also assume that the entire extra salary (after tax) is used to pay down the loan
After 10 years (3 law school, 7 earning just the additional $60k), the student will have earned an additional $259,123, for an IRR of 23.44%

But, you say, we should include total COA (even though said person would incur living costs regardless). OK, let's call COA $70k. Well, after 10 years, the increased earnings would be $227,289

But, now we're only talking 10 years, not lifelong.

Let's say that this same person earns the JD at age 30 and works until age 60, for a total of 30 years (most will work longer). I will ignore any potential raises, income during 1L and 2L summer, and any other fancy stuff
Lifetime increased earnings would be $887,290

If we were to raise the cost of tuition to $200k per year, lifetime earnings would be $590k higher

Or we can look at it in terms of IRR.
Let's assume no loans. Cash flow in law school is -$70k
Cash flow thereafter is $33k ($60k increase minus 45% tax rate)
after 5 years working, 8 total, the IRR is positive.
After 10 years total (7 years working) the IRR is 9.31%
After working 30 years, the IRR is 18.30%
that's a damn good investment.

The breakeven after 10 years (IRR=0) would require tuition of $77k; IRR after 30 years working would still be 12.27%

the breakeven point, where IRR after 30 years of work is 0% would be if Penn were to cost $330k per year.

ok, that's unrealistic. Treasuries currently yield 2.53%; let's add a risk factor of 1.47%, so that we would need to earn a return of 4.00% for the investment to be reasonable.
COA would then be $182,805

Not a big enough risk factor? OK, let's say we need to earn an 8.00% return
That would justify an annual cost of $144,435

note that I earlier said
dingbat wrote:Top schools could probably raise tuition and would still have to turn applicants away.
while I said this based on demand, you can see above that this can be justified by the results.

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99.9luft
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby 99.9luft » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:39 pm

Kev, you already know what I think about your CLS cold feet...



Image

Love,
99.

timbs4339
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby timbs4339 » Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:40 pm

KevinP wrote:Greetings fellow TLSers,

I'm currently set to attend Columbia, but I've been having second thoughts after reading all the scam blogs and poor employment outcome threads. Although CLS gave me some money, I'll still end up with six-figures of debt. I initially had other law plans, but after seeing debt load, I'm pretty set on NYC biglaw (preference would be tax or IP). All I really want is a decent paying career in law. I'm perfectly fine working crazy hours.

I will be leaving an engineering gig that pays decently. As a result of the connections I made as an engineer, I'll still have a fall back plan that would allow me to live relatively comfortably if I strike out, even with the debt. I'll still be debt-pwned, however.

My question, therefore, is Columbia still worth it for my life goals?

I'm hoping that I'm not making a stupid life decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I've done a ton of extensive research, but I would like to hear some fresh opinions. Thank you for your thoughts.


Recently graduated CLS JD here. I certainly don't have much love for the school, most people who have been around the Legal Employment forum can tell you that. But even I'd say you need to relax about job prospects and enjoy yourself. I don't think you understand how big of a boost your IP degree/WE gives you over the average poly sci schlub at CLS. An example, I had a friend with an science background who grossed 100K+ during law school- he did a 1L SA, 2L SA (for 12 weeks since he split) and worked at his boutique market-paying IP firm during school for 1/2 salary and hours since they were so overworked. That kind of earning potential is usually not even available to people with grades in the top 20%.

If you mass mail and target IP boutiques, you'll probably have a 1L biglaw SA job and you will almost certainly get biglaw 2L. You should bust your ass 1L like everyone else so you can have the widest variety of options (especially if you want to work at a firm with a top tax practice too) but you will get something in biglaw. Nobody I know with an IP background struggled finding biglaw work.

CLS also has an amazing tax faculty.

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Bronck
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby Bronck » Mon Jul 16, 2012 10:47 am

Seriously dude!? With an engineering background, I don't think you're going to have trouble acquiring a biglaw job. 85% of EIP participants last summer got an offer (92% of the class participated). Enjoy CLS and see you in a month.

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KevinP
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Re: Is Columbia still worth it?

Postby KevinP » Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:13 pm

Was having cold feet, but now I feel good about my decision to attend. Appreciate it, guys!




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