somewhatwayward wrote:PunkedbyReality wrote:I received scholarships of $15,000 per year and $18,000 per year from UT and Michigan respectively; this also goes much farther at UT for me because I have in-state tuition of $33,000. Based on this information and the total costs provided on the website, I have done net present value (NPV) analysis on the cost of attending. My numbers are below. Here are my assumptions:
Chances of getting $160K starting salary:
UT - %30
Michigan - %40
I simply assumed that if I don't get a BigLaw salary then I would take a public service job with a starting salary of 55K.
EXPECTED VALUE WITH AN 8-YEAR OUTLOOK:
UT Austin: $308, 041
The value of UT is higher because it will cost so much less, but Michigan is not far behind because it provides roughly a 10% better chance of getting $160K starting. If I don't get BigLaw, then Michigan will put me in a tricky debt situation. But, Michigan is also a stronger school with more legitimate national reach. National reach and other qualitative criteria like this are making the decision a hard one. I would ideally like national reach, a collegial environment, and a moderate/liberal culture.
Where would you go?
You are pretty off with some stuff here. This is kinda long so before I get into it, I want to say I am not advocating Mich over UT. I think you should negotiate with UT using the T14 acceptances/scholarships (if Mich gave you 15K, seems like UT should give more than 18K), and then go to UT and live with your parents to keep costs down as much as possible.
Now onto the issues....first, you can't assume a 55K/year salary (whether in PI or not) if you miss big law. The most recent numbers show that 2/3 of UT's class reported a salary with the 25th percentile of those who reported at 57K. This means that 57K is about the median salary out of UT, so about half the grads make less than that (while about 1/3 make almost 3x the amount - welcome to the craziness of legal hiring). You can quibble about whether 57K is the median or the 40th percentile or whatever, but the point remains that you have a close to 50% chance of less than 57K (and they are not all 55K jobs down to the 1st percentile - see peak at 40K on a bimodal salary distribution chart). There are several reasons I assumed that the 1/3 who don't report have low/no salaries. First, common sense and human nature suggest that the people who don't report a salary either don't have one or are embarrassed by how low it is. Also, schools are allowed to track down salaries for people who don't respond, and it's pretty easy to track down the person working in big law and figure out their salary, all online, while it is harder to find the grad working as a cashier at BestBuy since they don't bother putting them on the website, and their salaries aren't plastered all over the Intenet. Plus, the schools obviously have an incentive to track down every last big law grad, and the numbers will reflect that.
I'm sorry if I sound a little harsh because you seem more informed than the people who come traipsing on here asking whether they should go to Cardozo at sticker bc of the shot it will give them at big law and say 'oh yeah I'm like totally cool with a 70-80K mid law job or an ADA position in the Manhattan DA's office if big law doesn't work out.' But you said that yur chances of getting the 55K/year PI job were 1-(chance of big law), and that is flat out wrong. You are not accounting for the possibility that you get no full-time long-term JD-required job (at least 17% of UT's class had this outcome) or a PI job or small firm job that pays 40K. If you recognize that there is a not insignificant chance that you end up with no legal job or a 40K/year insurance defense gig, then you truly understand the worst outcome. Perhaps a better way to say it is a 55K/year PI job is a good outcome, not a fallback option.
Also, a small point, but UMich's 40% big law is 33% more than UT's 30%, not 10%. 10% more would be if Mich was at 33% big law at which point we would all say they are essentially equivalent. I don't think this means you should go to Mich, but just sayin'....you're confirming the dreaed stereotype that law students are bad at math
Anyway, you're not in a terrible place, but think of these offers as the starting point for negotiation. Schools are going to be petty desperate this year come May with the gigantic drop in applicants. It is completely a students' market, so don't sell yourself short. Maximizing this advantage may require hardball negotiating where you basically (nicely) say I'd love to attend but it is not financially feasible for me at this price so I am withdrawing. I think this year that tactic will result in an increased offer pretty frequently. Obviously it is risky since the school could say 'fine, too bad.' But that is what I would do if I were applying now. If you think you can squeeze a few more points out of the LSAT, do it by all means. If you bumped your score in June you could go to UT and ask for more money or you could decide to reapply next year.
I wasn't sure exactly how much valuable feedback I'd get in posting this, but after people have taken the time to look critically at my situation and respond, it's proven valuable and makes me wish that I would have been more engaged with TLS sooner. Thanks for taking the time.
For your first point, I think I am leaning towards UT. And I think you just mistyped the numbers because I'm getting 15K from UT and 18K from Michigan. But, since I'm a Texas resident, UT's tuition for me is only 33K, which means I'll only be paying 18K per year for Texas. Whereas, Michigan's non-resident tuition is 51K which, despite the 18K being greater, would leave me paying 33K per year. And this is where the negotiating part might get sticky in my mind, because I'm thinking UT must realize that 15K from them, compared to Michigan's 18k, still means it significantly cheaper for me to attend UT.
I agree with you that my assumption that it would be big law or PI/55K is not, by any means, the most accurate way to predict what I will make after law school. I think this is the case because: 1) I didn't take into account the 11% of graduates who end up unemployed or still going to school (I genuinely thought unemployment was less likely and didn't look closely), and 2) because the 59% of graduates who are not making 160K or unemployed/in school, are not accurately represented by the arbitrary salary of 55K. I knew that this was a very crude assumption when I made the model, but I made it because I thought it might be an accurate reflection of my law school options. In other words, I was assuming that, since I would be fighting with almost all the other most-capable students, then I would have the same chance of getting BigLaw that everyone would have. And if I didn't get BigLaw, I was assuming that it was pretty much certain that I would go into PI rather seamlessly and make about 55K. However, this was a model with A LOT of subjectivity and assumption, and one that I recognize was not born purely from looking at the numbers as you've rightly suggested would be the best way to objectively make predictions.
Since only 74% or roughly 2/3 of employed graduates reported their salaries, I agree that the true median salary for employed graduates is surely lower than the reported median of $82,500. But, I don't think it's 57K. Not to quibble, but for this to be the case, it would require 87 of the 89 students who did not report their salaries to be making less than 57K (then 50% of the 382 total graduates would be making less than 57). It's possible, but pretty unlikely because 39 of those 89 who didn't report their salary would have firm jobs, and I want to think that most of those are making over 57K. I agree with the point though, and because you pointed this out, I'm noticing how optimistic the depiction of employment data is at first glance. I would even say the median is closer to 57K than it is to the reported median. It's shitty how misleading this could be.
Like I said though, I recognize that I did not model accurately the salary-related outcome if I don't get BigLaw. Actually, therein lies the tricky part in this process. One thing I do know is that I've got roughly a 30% chance at 160K. As far as the other 70%'s of graduates go, I guess the next surest thing is that roughly 11% of the total graduates will have a salary of 0, either because they're going to more school or unemployed. Then, for the remaining 59% percent of graduates, it's hard to know how much you'll make. There's really no way to model it because of what could be happening with the unreported graduates and because they don't show the raw data by salary. After your post I've thought about the best way to model it, but there's just a lot of uncertainty. Either way I'll be considering the downside more now though.
I think a lot of it will come down to negotiating. So we'll see how it goes. Maybe even another LSAT, who knows. Thanks again for taking the time to respond.