something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

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IAFG
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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby IAFG » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:24 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
IAFG wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Blessedassurance wrote:You can realistically pay 50 grand a year towards debt with Dallas/Phoenix/Seattle/Atlanta etc., BigLaw. You can live in the middle of downtown Dallas in a spacious apartment with a garage and walk to work for around $1,000-$1200 or thereabouts.


To the extent Phoenix BigLaw even exists, it pays 120K at most, usually lower, and with tiny raises. If you can sock away 50K in after-tax income on that then congrats. Dallas just isn't fair because the salary/cost of living ratio is ridiculously kickass, but you can pay $1200 a month for a (much shittier) place in NYC too. If paying debt matters then you make sacrifices, and around NYC you have lots of options for sacrifices. Cost of living calculators just don't do a good job of taking that into account.

If you're willing to make the sacrifice of living somewhere shitty though, you could pay really practically nothing in rent in places like Phoenix. Like $400 a month.

Realistically you can live with a roommate in the center of Phoenix (not necessarily even shitty) and pay $400 a month, but then you're only saving maybe $1000 a month while earning 50K less per year. Once you get past housing everything else is a wash, with NYC slightly cheaper for transportation unless you really go shitty in Phoenix and take the light rail.

$50k... pre-tax. you don't gotta save that much per year to come out ahead in non-NY since the difference in salary is all at a high tax rate.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:32 pm

IAFG wrote:$50k... pre-tax. you don't gotta save that much per year to come out ahead in non-NY since the difference in salary is all at a high tax rate.

Still advantage NYC if your primary goal is to pay down debt. Meanwhile, the difference rises quickly to the point that by year 5 you'll be pulling in 100K less pre-tax in Phoenix.

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IAFG
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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby IAFG » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:34 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
IAFG wrote:$50k... pre-tax. you don't gotta save that much per year to come out ahead in non-NY since the difference in salary is all at a high tax rate.

Still advantage NYC if your primary goal is to pay down debt. Meanwhile, the difference rises quickly to the point that by year 5 you'll be pulling in 100K less pre-tax in Phoenix.

I don't think your conclusion is warranted. And by year 5, you're probably not still at a firm in NY.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:51 pm

IAFG wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
IAFG wrote:$50k... pre-tax. you don't gotta save that much per year to come out ahead in non-NY since the difference in salary is all at a high tax rate.

Still advantage NYC if your primary goal is to pay down debt. Meanwhile, the difference rises quickly to the point that by year 5 you'll be pulling in 100K less pre-tax in Phoenix.

I don't think your conclusion is warranted. And by year 5, you're probably not still at a firm in NY.

I guess we'll agree to disagree. Having spent six years in Phoenix before coming to NYC 5 months ago I just don't see where the savings come from in a place like Phoenix once you get past housing. There are plenty of good reasons to move to the lower paying secondary markets like Phoenix and Minneapolis but if my first priority above all else is to get out from under my huge LS debt I'm taking the NYC firm job over jobs in those cities. Personally I'd take the secondary market because I prioritize having space for a pool table over paying down educational debt, but that's just me.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby sinfiery » Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:55 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:I guess we'll agree to disagree. Having spent six years in Phoenix before coming to NYC 5 months ago I just don't see where the savings come from in a place like Phoenix once you get past housing. There are plenty of good reasons to move to the lower paying secondary markets like Phoenix and Minneapolis but if my first priority above all else is to get out from under my huge LS debt I'm taking the NYC firm job over jobs in those cities. Personally I'd take the secondary market because I prioritize having space for a pool table over paying down educational debt, but that's just me.


Thank you for the NYC COL analysis because everyone and their mother plays that shit up and it scares me.

If the only real difference is in housing cost, that isn't unbearable.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Bronck » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:01 pm

sinfiery wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:I guess we'll agree to disagree. Having spent six years in Phoenix before coming to NYC 5 months ago I just don't see where the savings come from in a place like Phoenix once you get past housing. There are plenty of good reasons to move to the lower paying secondary markets like Phoenix and Minneapolis but if my first priority above all else is to get out from under my huge LS debt I'm taking the NYC firm job over jobs in those cities. Personally I'd take the secondary market because I prioritize having space for a pool table over paying down educational debt, but that's just me.


Thank you for the NYC COL analysis because everyone and their mother plays that shit up and it scares me.

If the only real difference is in housing cost, that isn't unbearable.


Shopping at TJs is clutch. Cheap groceries ftw.

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IAFG
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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby IAFG » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:04 pm

Rent & taxes, but they're both a big deal.

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Bronck
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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Bronck » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:05 pm

IAFG wrote:Rent & taxes, but they're both a big deal.


Taxes are a big one since you've got the NY State + NYC income taxes.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby dingbat » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:07 pm

sinfiery wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:I guess we'll agree to disagree. Having spent six years in Phoenix before coming to NYC 5 months ago I just don't see where the savings come from in a place like Phoenix once you get past housing. There are plenty of good reasons to move to the lower paying secondary markets like Phoenix and Minneapolis but if my first priority above all else is to get out from under my huge LS debt I'm taking the NYC firm job over jobs in those cities. Personally I'd take the secondary market because I prioritize having space for a pool table over paying down educational debt, but that's just me.


Thank you for the NYC COL analysis because everyone and their mother plays that shit up and it scares me.

If the only real difference is in housing cost, that isn't unbearable.

It isn't. I moved across the bridge to Jersey and food is cheaper, at any rate.
The big problem with NYC is that there is too much temptation. There are a million and one ways to separate you from your money and a million and two reasons to do so. Don't feel like cooking? There are 20 great restaurants within a 2 block radius, all of which deliver. Want to rage? There are a gazillion bars & clubs ranging from moderately priced to sickeningly expensive, and you don't need to worry about driving home. Want to see a show? Do you prefer plays, musicals, opera, ballet, or a singer/band? Comedy clubs are a dime a dozen (or at least their promoters are), there are more sports teams that most states can muster, dozens of museums, several parks.
And that's just the obvious ones. If you're even moderately interested in religion, there are events every day of the week; for nerds/geeks there are options a plenty; for athletic people, there are activities all the time. Whatever your interests, there's stuff to do.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby sinfiery » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:12 pm

dingbat wrote:It isn't. I moved across the bridge to Jersey and food is cheaper, at any rate.
The big problem with NYC is that there is too much temptation. There are a million and one ways to separate you from your money and a million and two reasons to do so. Don't feel like cooking? There are 20 great restaurants within a 2 block radius, all of which deliver. Want to rage? There are a gazillion bars & clubs ranging from moderately priced to sickeningly expensive, and you don't need to worry about driving home. Want to see a show? Do you prefer plays, musicals, opera, ballet, or a singer/band? Comedy clubs are a dime a dozen (or at least their promoters are), there are more sports teams that most states can muster, dozens of museums, several parks.
And that's just the obvious ones. If you're even moderately interested in religion, there are events every day of the week; for nerds/geeks there are options a plenty; for athletic people, there are activities all the time. Whatever your interests, there's stuff to do.

Dear, I cannot wait to live in NYC.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Cellar-door » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:12 pm

ChampagnePapi wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Blessedassurance wrote:You can realistically pay 50 grand a year towards debt with Dallas/Phoenix/Seattle/Atlanta etc., BigLaw. You can live in the middle of downtown Dallas in a spacious apartment with a garage and walk to work for around $1,000-$1200 or thereabouts.


To the extent Phoenix BigLaw even exists, it pays 120K at most, usually lower, and with tiny raises. If you can sock away 50K in after-tax income on that then congrats. Dallas just isn't fair because the salary/cost of living ratio is ridiculously kickass, but you can pay $1200 a month for a (much shittier) place in NYC too. If paying debt matters then you make sacrifices, and around NYC you have lots of options for sacrifices. Cost of living calculators just don't do a good job of taking that into account.


Dont you basically have to get roommates to get cheap places like that in NY?


You can get a 1 bedroom across the river in NJ for less than that probably significantly less if you don't mind it being in a mediocre part of town, pay a few hundred a month for ferry and transit passes and probably save on transportation over the guy anywhere else with a car. Only disadvantage is having to be out of the city by midnight or 1:30 on weekends, but you can always stay in a hotel on the rare days you need to be in the city that late.

Cost of living is higher in the NYC area for sure, but if you are smart about it the availability of far more high paying jobs and the bonuses can make up for it. Of course if you want to be somewhere else go there. NYC isn't paying enough more to be worth working in a city you don't want to, but neither is it so ruinously expensive that you should avoid it if you want to work there.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby IAFG » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:14 pm

Cellar-door wrote:
ChampagnePapi wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
Blessedassurance wrote:You can realistically pay 50 grand a year towards debt with Dallas/Phoenix/Seattle/Atlanta etc., BigLaw. You can live in the middle of downtown Dallas in a spacious apartment with a garage and walk to work for around $1,000-$1200 or thereabouts.


To the extent Phoenix BigLaw even exists, it pays 120K at most, usually lower, and with tiny raises. If you can sock away 50K in after-tax income on that then congrats. Dallas just isn't fair because the salary/cost of living ratio is ridiculously kickass, but you can pay $1200 a month for a (much shittier) place in NYC too. If paying debt matters then you make sacrifices, and around NYC you have lots of options for sacrifices. Cost of living calculators just don't do a good job of taking that into account.


Dont you basically have to get roommates to get cheap places like that in NY?


You can get a 1 bedroom across the river in NJ for less than that probably significantly less if you don't mind it being in a mediocre part of town, pay a few hundred a month for ferry and transit passes and probably save on transportation over the guy anywhere else with a car. Only disadvantage is having to be out of the city by midnight or 1:30 on weekends, but you can always stay in a hotel on the rare days you need to be in the city that late.

Cost of living is higher in the NYC area for sure, but if you are smart about it the availability of far more high paying jobs and the bonuses can make up for it. Of course if you want to be somewhere else go there. NYC isn't paying enough more to be worth working in a city you don't want to, but neither is it so ruinously expensive that you should avoid it if you want to work there.

In biglaw, needing to stay past midnight isn't exactly rare.

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Bronck
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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Bronck » Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:16 pm

IAFG wrote:In biglaw, needing to stay past midnight isn't exactly rare.


Does PATH run 24/7?

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Cellar-door » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:37 pm

Bronck wrote:
IAFG wrote:In biglaw, needing to stay past midnight isn't exactly rare.


Does PATH run 24/7?


It does, didn't even think of that, nice call I was looking at farther north in NJ, but year if you live in Hoboken like most people PATH runs 24 hours. (well it did, currently 5am-10pm because of Sandy related damages.)

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Blessedassurance » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:54 pm

If you commute from Hoboken for NY Biglaw, it'll only be a matter of time before you killself.

You greatly underestimate what sacrificing your life and still needing to commute from Hoboken just to break even will do to any creature professing sanity or the semblance thereof. If you can't even live comfortably, what's the point?

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:59 am

Astoria FTW.

Anyway, I think the cost of living is not quite as bad as what many of those calculators will have you believe, because they give you an apples-to-apples comparison, but people just live very differently in NYC. For instance, yeah, transportation will cost you a whole lot more in NYC... if you insist on having a car. But you really just shouldn't do that. And housing is more expensive, but the difference isn't quite as stark if you accept that you might have to live in a smaller or less luxurious place than you would in Houston.

The cost doesn't get really bad until you have kids.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby somewhatwayward » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:00 pm

Blessedassurance wrote:
somewhatwayward wrote: The amount you must pay back is the same whether you get paid 160K in NYC or 130K, or less, in a secondary market (TX being one of the exceptions where you are paid 160K but get that sweet COL). NYC COL will eat that extra post-taxes 20K (and probably more) right up, so you're not getting an advantage in paying back your loans by picking NYC, but NYC's increased salary does mitigate a significant amount of that discrepancy.


160k in NYC after taxes comes out to 90-something grand. There are seven states without taxes. Crossing out states without a relatively sizable Biglaw market, you still get Texas (Dallas, Houston, and to some extent Austin), Washington (Seattle) and Florida. 120,000 in Seattle/Florida still comes to about 90-something after taxes. People taking jobs in such secondary markets come out way ahead in the first year due to COL and can dedicate a big chunk of their paycheck towards the debt. The counter-point would be lockstep in NYC in subsequent years, the counter-point to that counterpoint is that on average you're more likely to stay longer in secondary markets. NYC is absurdly expensive. A 100 grand in Texas is the equivalent of over 200 grand in NYC. You could argue that property taxes in Texas are unusually high but lol at buying property in NYC.

Now if you compare Chicago, Atlanta and even DC and San Francisco you still come out way ahead etc etc. The point is that people coming out of hys have a fair shot at secondary markets are not necessarily gunning for NYC Biglaw. People forgo NYC for secondaries all the time and are not losing sleep over V5 versus V20 etc.


I'm not sure about FL but I have lived in Seattle and 120K did not equal more than 90K post-taxes. Someone later posted that 160K in NYC = 103K post-taxes while 145K in Seattle = 103K post-taxes which sounds closer to me. Also, there are a tiny handful of jobs in Seattle (if any?) that start at 145K. Then of course you have to take into acct the much slower raises as you mention. I didn't say you come out ahead in NYC; I just said that the discrepancy is not as bad as you were making it sound. You could put 35K to loans in NYC the first year, increasing each year after that, and live comfortably (and not move to Hoboken).

The reason people end up in NYC is that is has the most associate positions by far. I did a little cursory research and couldn't find a list of the # of positions per city, but it wouldn't surprise me if NYC had more, or not much less, than all other cities combined. Because the NYC market is so big, if you want a six figure job out of school, you have to face the possibility that it will be there, even if you go to H (SY might be insulated more from this by their small class sizes). Big law in a secondary market might be a marginally better outcome financially, but I don't think it makes sense to choose H bc of its pull for the 50 associate positions in Portland, OR or Phoenix, AZ or Minneapolis, MN, many of which will be reserved for the top local students. While you do stay longer at the firm in secondary markets, I also think it is easier to move NYC-->>secondary than vice versa. If your point is that people choose V20 in secondary markets over V5 in NYC, and that is a reasonable choice, I agree. I think choosing V5 in NYC over V20 in secondary is also reasonable, though.

TX is its own little financial paradise, except I don't think I could live anywhere but Austin, and I hate the culture of driving everywhere, obesity, Republicanism, and way too much air conditioning.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Blessedassurance » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:37 pm

somewhatwayward wrote:Because the NYC market is so big, if you want a six figure job out of school, you have to face the possibility that it will be there, even if you go to H (SY might be insulated more from this by their small class sizes). Big law in a secondary market might be a marginally better outcome financially, but I don't think it makes sense to choose H bc of its pull for the 50 associate positions in Portland, OR or Phoenix, AZ or Minneapolis, MN, many of which will be reserved for the top local students. While you do stay longer at the firm in secondary markets, I also think it is easier to move NYC-->>secondary than vice versa. If your point is that people choose V20 in secondary markets over V5 in NYC, and that is a reasonable choice, I agree. I think choosing V5 in NYC over V20 in secondary is also reasonable, though.

TX is its own little financial paradise, except I don't think I could live anywhere but Austin, and I hate the culture of driving everywhere, obesity, Republicanism, and way too much air conditioning.


That's my main point. People assume for some reason YS is somehow insulated from stuff where H is not. That is largely a tls myth. You can get Texas from H with absolutely no ties. I know people who got Seattle without grades (admittedly, with ties) and if you have ties to NorCal, grades don't even factor that much (if any). There are plenty of firms that hire from the top local schools and then H, period. Many Texas firms focus on UT and H etc. You could argue that is due to self-selection but the main point is that students from H frequently have other options besides NYC and many people actively hate the idea of having to work in New York, which is something the statistics do not show, not to mention the number of people that pursue other opportunities in Academia, business etc.

There are a surprising number of people whose main goal is to return to their hometown and NY is a fallback option. It will be a cause for concern if H, or Y or S was placing an unusually high number of people into NY Biglaw. Yale has abysmal numbers when it comes to the Vault, NLJ, AM stuff, but nobody questions that for good reason. Why do people assume H is substantially different? In fact, H actually comes ahead in surveys involving Law Firm recruiters, "real professionals" etc. See e.g., http://www.businessinsider.com/the-50-b ... 012-9?op=1

The above survey has numerous deficiencies of course but no more so than USNEWS. I guess the big take-away is that some people at hys have different concerns than gunning for NY Biglaw. Gunning for the 50 associate positions in Portland is a good enough reason to choose H actually because there's always NY if you fail to achieve that. It's better to choose H, gun for Portland and fall short by having to settle for NY than to choose somewhere, gun for NY and end up with nothing if you fall short.

In order to see why some otherwise qualified people strike out, you'd have to meet some of these people, man. Some people are just uhm super weird, even by Law School standards.

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The Brainalist
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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby The Brainalist » Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:36 pm

Blessedassurance wrote:
That's my main point. People assume for some reason YS is somehow insulated from stuff where H is not. That is largely a tls myth. You can get Texas from H with absolutely no ties. I know people who got Seattle without grades (admittedly, with ties) and if you have ties to NorCal, grades don't even factor that much (if any). There are plenty of firms that hire from the top local schools and then H, period. Many Texas firms focus on UT and H etc. You could argue that is due to self-selection but the main point is that students from H frequently have other options besides NYC and many people actively hate the idea of having to work in New York, which is something the statistics do not show, not to mention the number of people that pursue other opportunities in Academia, business etc.

...
In order to see why some otherwise qualified people strike out, you'd have to meet some of these people, man. Some people are just uhm super weird, even by Law School standards.


Ultimately, people do strike out at landing a big firm job from Harvard, though, right? I mean, class of 2011 had 4.5% non-employed. http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school= ... show=chars

I'm not saying the attorney who spoke to OP was right, but it seems to me the idea of being practically guaranteed anything is no more true for Harvard than it is for Columbia or Chicago.

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby Blessedassurance » Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:21 pm

The Brainalist wrote:.. but it seems to me the idea of being practically guaranteed anything is no more true for Harvard than it is for Columbia or Chicago.


Why stop at Chicago and not T14?

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Re: something a practicing big law lawyer told me: is this BS?

Postby The Brainalist » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:08 pm

Blessedassurance wrote:
The Brainalist wrote:.. but it seems to me the idea of being practically guaranteed anything is no more true for Harvard than it is for Columbia or Chicago.


Why stop at Chicago and not T14?


That would be beside the point. The point is that people do end up jobless from Harvard, at least 4.5%. To me, that's less than "almost certainly" or "almost guaranteed," and would be much less so for only Big Law. More than two dozen had a magical Harvard diploma and nobody rolled out the red carpet, probably a lot more ended up with something other than their dream job.

You said, "In order to see why some otherwise qualified people strike out, you'd have to meet some of these people, man. Some people are just uhm super weird, even by Law School standards." I think that's pretty unfair to these people. They all have to be smart and have good grades to get into Harvard. They probably expected to succeed, but the reality is that there is some percent of people each year from Harvard who strike out due to some combination of poor job-search strategy and grades or other things. Getting someone to hand out a job to someone with no experience is some kind of miracle to begin with, there isn't really anything shameful about the idea that even the almighty Harvard name can't assure every student a job on graduation (except potentially with a few funded positions, which I'm all for, given the alternative).




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