Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

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Circlewave
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Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby Circlewave » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:21 pm

I've been hearing a lot about the awful job prospects, and debt, and admittedly, it's cooled my desire for law school some, but being 14 applications or so deep, I'll ride out this cycle. But, it seems like a lot of the problems and horror stories I've heard come from people who are paying exorbitant sticker prices for the most prestigious school they get into in the hopes of making biglaw buxx, and the fact that there's so many people leads to the whole 'don't go; no jobs; debt forever' mentality on a lot of law school forums.

Now, don't get me wrong, I could be pretty satisfied with 160k/yr, but I'm perfectly happy without it. Because of this, my law school search has mostly been focused on T2s (Tulane, Pitt, Temple) where I stand a good chance of getting a decent scholarship or could at least pay in-state tuition. Are the job prospects just as dismal for people who aren't even necessarily shooting for biglaw? Is taking a hit in prestige and rankings to lessen debt just as bad of an idea as taking on way too much debt for higher rankings? If I were to graduate from a lesser ranked school, isn't it likely I'd have a better chance of having a higher rank, and thus a better shot at a job (and less debt to boot)?

Sorry if this is a lot of questions :p

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TheThriller
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby TheThriller » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:38 pm

The reality is, going to these schools leave you with a significant chance of not only not landing biglaw, but not landing a job at all. Even in-state tuition or a 50% scholarship will still land you with 100K+in debt.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby dextermorgan » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:38 pm

The problem isn't the lack of biglaw prospects at lower ranked schools, it's the lack (for a lot of them) any job prospects.

rad lulz
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby rad lulz » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:44 pm

At T14 skoolz it's a coin flip or better shot at biglaw/federal clerkship and a pretty good chance at a real legal job . At a lot of other T1/T2 schools you almost assuredly won't get a legal job and its a coin flip or so shot at just getting a real lawyer job.

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BarbellDreams
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby BarbellDreams » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:48 pm

If you get into Temple, have in state and a half ride you're total CoA will be under 50K. I'll take that.

Circlewave
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby Circlewave » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:49 pm

dextermorgan wrote:The problem isn't the lack of biglaw prospects at lower ranked schools, it's the lack (for a lot of them) any job prospects.


I can easily see that being the case at barely-ranked JD mills, but is it really that bad even at T2s? IIRC, on lawschooltransparency, temple had pretty decent placement numbers for JD-req'd jobs...I don't expect to be top 10%, but I couldn't see myself below median. Would in-state tuition, or a fat scholly still be a worthwhile investment, or am I being naive?

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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby rad lulz » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:51 pm

Circlewave wrote:
dextermorgan wrote:The problem isn't the lack of biglaw prospects at lower ranked schools, it's the lack (for a lot of them) any job prospects.


I can easily see that being the case at barely-ranked JD mills, but is it really that bad even at T2s? IIRC, on lawschooltransparency, temple had pretty decent placement numbers for JD-req'd jobs...I don't expect to be top 10%, but I couldn't see myself below median. Would in-state tuition, or a fat scholly still be a worthwhile investment, or am I being naive?

Dude only about half of the people who go to Temple get real legal jobs

http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=temple

You have a 50% chance of being below median. HTH.

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francesfarmer
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby francesfarmer » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:01 pm

I have this same question but I'm (prematurely) stuck deciding between t8-14 at sticker or Brooklyn or Cardozo for COL. I dgaf about big law but my thought right now is generally "go big or go home." ~$60k in debt and no job prospects seems worse than ~$200k in debt and much better job prospects. But I will probably change my mind fifty times before deciding.

Circlewave
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby Circlewave » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:06 pm

francesfarmer wrote: ~$60k in debt and no job prospects seems worse than ~$200k in debt and much better job prospects.



this is generally what i'm wondering about. a much better way of making this thread would have been asking if this is the case, and whether 'no jobs' means 'literally no jobs', or 'no jobs that would make paying sticker worthwhile'. As Barbelldreams said, a 50k COA would be comparatively manageable, even if I was one of the unlucky ones, and ended up working a non-lawyer job

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dextermorgan
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby dextermorgan » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:11 pm

Circlewave wrote:
dextermorgan wrote:The problem isn't the lack of biglaw prospects at lower ranked schools, it's the lack (for a lot of them) any job prospects.


I can easily see that being the case at barely-ranked JD mills, but is it really that bad even at T2s? IIRC, on lawschooltransparency, temple had pretty decent placement numbers for JD-req'd jobs...I don't expect to be top 10%, but I couldn't see myself below median. Would in-state tuition, or a fat scholly still be a worthwhile investment, or am I being naive?

Yes, it is that bad at a lot of T2s.

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francesfarmer
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby francesfarmer » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:30 pm

Circlewave wrote:
francesfarmer wrote: ~$60k in debt and no job prospects seems worse than ~$200k in debt and much better job prospects.



this is generally what i'm wondering about. a much better way of making this thread would have been asking if this is the case, and whether 'no jobs' means 'literally no jobs', or 'no jobs that would make paying sticker worthwhile'. As Barbelldreams said, a 50k COA would be comparatively manageable, even if I was one of the unlucky ones, and ended up working a non-lawyer job

The issue for me is not lawyer job v. non-lawyer job, but any job v. no job. And I'm also such a worrier that I'm thinking of how I will handle what is left over of the $200k debt when I'm 4-5 years out of law school and I get laid off.

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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby Granfalloon12 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:32 pm

dextermorgan wrote:Yes, it is that bad at a lot of T2s.


I could be wrong here, but wouldn't it be more accurate to take things on a case-by-case basis instead of blanketing the T2 and lower T1? From what I can tell there's definitely a handful of lower T1 and T2 schools with close-to-T14 job likeliness (even if those many of those jobs aren't as high-paying). Or are things really that abysmal across the board that it's fair to generalize that much?

Either way, thought I would chime in because I'm in a similar position as the OP, will be weighing T25 with minor scholly v. full-ride at a T2.

Circlewave
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby Circlewave » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:37 pm

given that T14 is totally out of the question for me this cycle unless I retook the LSAT and absolutely crushed it (currently a ~3.5 gpa, 163 lsat), isn't it better to take a lower ranked school with $$$ if job prospects are bad everywhere (besides T14) for all but the top 10-20% at T2s? if i'm going to have to work about equally hard at a #20 or a #50, seems like there would be sense in taking the lower ranked money...or should i just retake and reapply?

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TheThriller
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby TheThriller » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:40 pm

Circlewave wrote:given that T14 is totally out of the question for me this cycle unless I retook the LSAT and absolutely crushed it (currently a ~3.5 gpa, 163 lsat), isn't it better to take a lower ranked school with $$$ if job prospects are bad everywhere (besides T14) for all but the top 10-20% at T2s? if i'm going to have to work about equally hard at a #20 or a #50, seems like there would be sense in taking the lower ranked money...or should i just retake and reapply?


If these are your options I wouldnt got to law school at all.

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FlanAl
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby FlanAl » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:42 pm

francesfarmer wrote:
Circlewave wrote:
francesfarmer wrote: ~$60k in debt and no job prospects seems worse than ~$200k in debt and much better job prospects.



this is generally what i'm wondering about. a much better way of making this thread would have been asking if this is the case, and whether 'no jobs' means 'literally no jobs', or 'no jobs that would make paying sticker worthwhile'. As Barbelldreams said, a 50k COA would be comparatively manageable, even if I was one of the unlucky ones, and ended up working a non-lawyer job

The issue for me is not lawyer job v. non-lawyer job, but any job v. no job. And I'm also such a worrier that I'm thinking of how I will handle what is left over of the $200k debt when I'm 4-5 years out of law school and I get laid off.

Wondering why it's gotta be an NYC school, you could probably shave that number down. Or if that because its where your from/want to stay it might be worth living at home to save money.

That said I was in your situation when I was looking at schools. Shitty retail, local T2 for free or T14. I decided to go T14. Had zero interest in NYC big law. Main thing is that t14's hook it up in certain ways. Like they'll hook you up with $10/hr if you work public interest over your summers. Many of them have fellowship money to help you break into the non-profit sector by working in it for free (you get paid by school) for a couple of years. It also seems to me like its probably easier to get non-biglaw jobs from the bottom of the curve at a t14 than at your t2.

I think that the NYC market is different from most and probably more crucial to go to a better school considering all the competition from everyone to work there. I'm not at NYU but it seems like they set you up great for non-biglaw NYC work.

Feel free to pm

edited to also say that projecting into when you get laid off from biglaw is probably the smart thing to do since thats what happens to a lot of folks.

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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby dingbat » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:49 pm

Circlewave wrote:I've been hearing a lot about the awful job prospects, and debt, and admittedly, it's cooled my desire for law school some, but being 14 applications or so deep, I'll ride out this cycle. But, it seems like a lot of the problems and horror stories I've heard come from people who are paying exorbitant sticker prices for the most prestigious school they get into in the hopes of making biglaw buxx, and the fact that there's so many people leads to the whole 'don't go; no jobs; debt forever' mentality on a lot of law school forums.

Now, don't get me wrong, I could be pretty satisfied with 160k/yr, but I'm perfectly happy without it. Because of this, my law school search has mostly been focused on T2s (Tulane, Pitt, Temple) where I stand a good chance of getting a decent scholarship or could at least pay in-state tuition. Are the job prospects just as dismal for people who aren't even necessarily shooting for biglaw? Is taking a hit in prestige and rankings to lessen debt just as bad of an idea as taking on way too much debt for higher rankings? If I were to graduate from a lesser ranked school, isn't it likely I'd have a better chance of having a higher rank, and thus a better shot at a job (and less debt to boot)?

Sorry if this is a lot of questions :p

It depends on the school. There's a big difference in going to, say, West Virginia and St. Johns.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby dextermorgan » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:51 pm

Granfalloon12 wrote:
dextermorgan wrote:Yes, it is that bad at a lot of T2s.


I could be wrong here, but wouldn't it be more accurate to take things on a case-by-case basis instead of blanketing the T2 and lower T1? From what I can tell there's definitely a handful of lower T1 and T2 schools with close-to-T14 job likeliness (even if those many of those jobs aren't as high-paying). Or are things really that abysmal across the board that it's fair to generalize that much?

Either way, thought I would chime in because I'm in a similar position as the OP, will be weighing T25 with minor scholly v. full-ride at a T2.

dextermorgan wrote:Yes, it is that bad at a lot of T2s.


It's not necessarily a bad thing to go to a T2 on a full or near full-ride (I am). You just need to have realistic expectations going in.

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dingbat
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby dingbat » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:53 pm

francesfarmer wrote:I have this same question but I'm (prematurely) stuck deciding between t8-14 at sticker or Brooklyn or Cardozo for COL. I dgaf about big law but my thought right now is generally "go big or go home." ~$60k in debt and no job prospects seems worse than ~$200k in debt and much better job prospects. But I will probably change my mind fifty times before deciding.

If you're set on NY, see if you can get a decent scholarship at Fordham to create a third option (probably not a good option, but it could be middle ground)

Both Dozo and Brooklyn gave a few full ride + extra last year, which might be a good option if you're serious about keeping costs down.
It's a tough call to make, and a personal decision you have to make. Personally I would not have attended Bozo or Brooklyn either way, but wasn't prepared to pay sticker anywhere either.

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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby Circlewave » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:57 pm

dextermorgan wrote:
Granfalloon12 wrote:
dextermorgan wrote:Yes, it is that bad at a lot of T2s.


I could be wrong here, but wouldn't it be more accurate to take things on a case-by-case basis instead of blanketing the T2 and lower T1? From what I can tell there's definitely a handful of lower T1 and T2 schools with close-to-T14 job likeliness (even if those many of those jobs aren't as high-paying). Or are things really that abysmal across the board that it's fair to generalize that much?

Either way, thought I would chime in because I'm in a similar position as the OP, will be weighing T25 with minor scholly v. full-ride at a T2.

dextermorgan wrote:Yes, it is that bad at a lot of T2s.


It's not necessarily a bad thing to go to a T2 on a full or near full-ride (I am). You just need to have realistic expectations going in.


what, in your mind, count as 'realistic expectations?' and do you have a contingency plan in case you catch bad luck? i'm not being combative; i'm genuinely curious because it sounds like you are doing what i would like to be doing.

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bk1
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby bk1 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:58 pm

Granfalloon12 wrote:I could be wrong here, but wouldn't it be more accurate to take things on a case-by-case basis instead of blanketing the T2 and lower T1? From what I can tell there's definitely a handful of lower T1 and T2 schools with close-to-T14 job likeliness (even if those many of those jobs aren't as high-paying). Or are things really that abysmal across the board that it's fair to generalize that much?

Either way, thought I would chime in because I'm in a similar position as the OP, will be weighing T25 with minor scholly v. full-ride at a T2.


Things really are that abysmal across the board. Only 50 schools have long term, full time lawyer job percentages above 60%. Yet even this number is misleading since many of these schools employ their own grads just to increase this number so it is likely fewer than 50.

Circlewave wrote:I couldn't see myself below median.

So couldn't a lot of other people who end up below median.

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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby Circlewave » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:04 pm

bk1 wrote:
Granfalloon12 wrote:I could be wrong here, but wouldn't it be more accurate to take things on a case-by-case basis instead of blanketing the T2 and lower T1? From what I can tell there's definitely a handful of lower T1 and T2 schools with close-to-T14 job likeliness (even if those many of those jobs aren't as high-paying). Or are things really that abysmal across the board that it's fair to generalize that much?

Either way, thought I would chime in because I'm in a similar position as the OP, will be weighing T25 with minor scholly v. full-ride at a T2.


Things really are that abysmal across the board. Only 50 schools have long term, full time lawyer job percentages above 60%. Yet even this number is misleading since many of these schools employ their own grads just to increase this number so it is likely fewer than 50.


looking at the link you posted, Wash U's rate is about 1% better than Tulane's, which is only about 2% better than Temple's. If I got into all 3, there'd be huge cost differences between them; is it better to go to T14 or bust and attend none of them?

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Kikero
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby Kikero » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:11 pm

Circlewave wrote: is it better to go to T14 or bust and attend none of them?


Yes.

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bk1
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby bk1 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:11 pm

Circlewave wrote:looking at the link you posted, Wash U's rate is about 1% better than Tulane's, which is only about 2% better than Temple's. If I got into all 3, there'd be huge cost differences between them; is it better to go to T14 or bust and attend none of them?

You're looking at it too simplistically. You can't just boil it down to 1 number and use that to compare these schools. The full time, long term lawyer percentage is important. But so are the types of jobs that fall within that range, such as the percentage of people who get large firm jobs. For example, 20% of WUSTL's class worked at a firm of 50+ lawyers whereas only 10% of Temple's class did.

You're also ignoring that these schools place in drastically different areas. This matters for 2 reasons. First, it is important for where you want to live. If you want the midwest then WUSTL is a better choice. If you want the South then Tulane would be a better choice. Second, and arguably even more important, is that employers care about ties. If you're from Pennsylvania, it's going to be easier to get employment out of Temple than someone who isn't. If you're from the midwest the same is true for WUSTL. If you go to a regional school in a region you aren't from, you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot since you have an uphill battle to climb in convincing employers you aren't going to bolt.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby dextermorgan » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:22 pm

Circlewave wrote:
dextermorgan wrote:
Granfalloon12 wrote:
dextermorgan wrote:Yes, it is that bad at a lot of T2s.


I could be wrong here, but wouldn't it be more accurate to take things on a case-by-case basis instead of blanketing the T2 and lower T1? From what I can tell there's definitely a handful of lower T1 and T2 schools with close-to-T14 job likeliness (even if those many of those jobs aren't as high-paying). Or are things really that abysmal across the board that it's fair to generalize that much?

Either way, thought I would chime in because I'm in a similar position as the OP, will be weighing T25 with minor scholly v. full-ride at a T2.

dextermorgan wrote:Yes, it is that bad at a lot of T2s.


It's not necessarily a bad thing to go to a T2 on a full or near full-ride (I am). You just need to have realistic expectations going in.


what, in your mind, count as 'realistic expectations?' and do you have a contingency plan in case you catch bad luck? i'm not being combative; i'm genuinely curious because it sounds like you are doing what i would like to be doing.

Realistic expectations mean understanding that a lot of those "bar-required" jobs are in things like personal injury and family law shops. No one goes in wanting to do stuff like that, but a lot will. Everyone hopes that they will be working at the nice mid-law firms in the city making 90K, but the vast majority of the class won't. Luckily for me it will be pretty easy for me to go back into my previous career if I can't find a legal job.

FWIW I wouldn't take out 250K for most T-14s. I chose my school because lower debt, and location were more important to me than marginally better career prospects. This doesn't hold true for everyone, and too many of my classmates are paying sticker and/or have unrealistic expectations about employment (both the type and ease of getting it). I have nothing against T2s per se, but I do have something against people going into them without understanding the likely outcomes.

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Re: Non-Biglaw, minimum debt: does T1/T2 really matter?

Postby francesfarmer » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:05 pm

Wondering why it's gotta be an NYC school, you could probably shave that number down. Or if that because its where your from/want to stay it might be worth living at home to save money.

That said I was in your situation when I was looking at schools. Shitty retail, local T2 for free or T14. I decided to go T14. Had zero interest in NYC big law. Main thing is that t14's hook it up in certain ways. Like they'll hook you up with $10/hr if you work public interest over your summers. Many of them have fellowship money to help you break into the non-profit sector by working in it for free (you get paid by school) for a couple of years. It also seems to me like its probably easier to get non-biglaw jobs from the bottom of the curve at a t14 than at your t2.

I think that the NYC market is different from most and probably more crucial to go to a better school considering all the competition from everyone to work there. I'm not at NYU but it seems like they set you up great for non-biglaw NYC work.

Feel free to pm

edited to also say that projecting into when you get laid off from biglaw is probably the smart thing to do since thats what happens to a lot of folks.

All of your points are good, and I am constantly debating this my head (and have been doing do for several years!). I am not interested in Fordham because there is no way I would get out of there with less than $100k in debt and in that instance I would rather just go to a t14. I live in New York and I wouldn't leave for anything outside of the t-14, since I am not open to leaving NYC long term. I guess I will have to think this over for the next four months until seat deposits are due.




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