Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

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

Best option?

Work and retake
41
71%
W&M
2
3%
UC Davis
2
3%
L&C
2
3%
GW
3
5%
BU
4
7%
Miami
2
3%
American
2
3%
 
Total votes: 58

mt90128
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Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:56 pm

Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby mt90128 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:29 pm

Hey TLS,

Was wondering if anyone could help me wrap my brain around the different potential options I have for law school, and maybe advise whether I should decide to go this cycle or not; here are the schools:

UVa <--denied early :(
W&M <--Accepted, waiting on $
UC Davis <--Accepted, waiting on $
L&C <--Accepted, $$, Joint LLM program
GW <--WLed
BU <--WLed
UMiami <--Accepted $$$
American <--Accepted $

And still waiting on BC, UCLA [fingers crossed!] and USC, but fear the results might be WL, reject, reject based on what I am reading on the forums and the acceptance decisions by other schools. Right now I have a job that I like but it is not something that I see myself doing for more than a couple years, nor is the income great enough to make large dents in my ugrad loans. I do want to go into law school, but am wondering if, from a fiscal standpoint, it would make more sense to stay in my job, study my a$$ off for the LSAT (the job has a lot of downtime) and then apply next cycle very early and with an improved score even though I HATE the idea of postponing my professional life by another year. Otherwise, GW, BU and W&M are looking like my best bets, though its somewhat hard for me to stomach the idea of paying sticker when I already have some debt to repay; I would effectively be putting myself in a biglaw or bust scenario. For anyone who takes the time to read all this, advice about making a choice (or getting off the WL for that matter) would be much appreciated. Thanks!

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Samara
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby Samara » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:33 pm

You should absolutely wait and retake. How much debt do you have from UG?

empyreanrrv
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby empyreanrrv » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:54 pm

Samara wrote:You should absolutely wait and retake. How much debt do you have from UG?


+1 Do not pay sticker for BU, GW or W&L. Even if you get into BC, UCLA or USC, do not pay sticker to these schools. Work, study, get money, go to school next year.

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piccolittle
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby piccolittle » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:02 pm

Stats? How many times did you take the LSAT? Career goals?

PRgradBYU
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby PRgradBYU » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:37 pm

You said it yourself: waiting a year to postpone your professional career sucks, but a significant LSAT increase could land you some great options. At this point, law school would make more sense for you if you retook. Good luck!

mt90128
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:56 pm

Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby mt90128 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:44 pm

Stats: 3.6, 164 (Was testing around 172 for at least 8 diagnostics, but might just test lower), double major w/ science and humanities

Career goals: $$$, Biglaw, IP law perhaps, just because of my extensive science background plus it seems to be hit less hard than other legal sectors by the recession [eventually, however, I want to get into politics, but that's way down the road]

Debt: ~65k after interest

Kind of expected the retake option to take the pie. I really don't want to pay sticker for one of those schools, though I have heard it is worth it for IP at GW, and there is still a chance I could get scholarship money at one of the schools (negotiating maybe) or transfer up (I know, I should never plan to do this); I am just concerned about the loss in opportunity costs for a year. I would also rather complete my education soon, cause it feels like time wasted when I'm in a job that has low relevance to my desired profession.

Thanks to contributions so far.

20141023
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:17 am

Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby 20141023 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:05 pm

.
Last edited by 20141023 on Mon Feb 16, 2015 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LRGhost
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby LRGhost » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:24 pm

I understand that you want BigLaw and the financial security of that career, but I hope you'll consider that even at T14 schools, less than half the kids who want 160k get it and that even those who do aren't privileged to an especially long career. Layoffs and the up-or-out model cut class sizes to nearly half by year 3 (some of it is willful attrition, but some of that willful attrition is also a soft layoff) and the exit options aren't necessarily great or bountiful.

It would be in your best interest to get your LSAT up and to take a year off from school to relax and enjoy yourself. If you get a strong LSAT score, you can get scholarships at some T14s which would obviously make BigLaw more lucrative. I also encourage you to read Paul Campos' blog, especially this post which deals specifically with what comes after BigLaw even for prestigious graduates.

Also taking a year off is not wasting time. If the market improves, you'll reap the rewards. If it sours, you were going to feel it anyway.

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rickgrimes69
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby rickgrimes69 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:17 am

Voted American for the lulz

But in all seriousness, retake. All of these options are terrible.

timbs4339
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby timbs4339 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:52 am

I think you know the answer. You're looking at a potentially disastrous situation. One or two years is not a long time. 20 years on IBR is, and at the end of the rainbow you may not even get that professional job especially from a place like American.

mt90128
Posts: 13
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:56 pm

Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby mt90128 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:19 pm

For the record I am not really seriously considering American, just wanted to put my full range of options on the table. kappycaft1, thanks for the informative stats page. The 94.3% number for GW and the 93.1% number for UCLA for 9 months after graduation don’t seem that dismal, though it is interesting that GW LS employs such a large percentage of their graduating class. Maybe I’m beating a dead horse here, but there seems to be a lot of internet cynicism with regard to paying sticker for any college but HYS. If, say, I get into GW and do not manage to get any scholarship $$$, then I will be paying the TLS listed price of 70 k per year x 3 years plus my current 60 k debt = 270 k (most of which would be federally subsidized due to my financial situation). USNWR lists the median private salary at $160 k per year for GW grads, which I think is reasonable to expect (correct me if I’m wrong) if I take the IP law route and perform decently relative to my class. After an income tax of 30 k (estimate) that leaves me with 130 k raw income per year, so assuming I can live off of about 40 k per year (lived on much less in college) that means I’m able to put 90 k to loans. Then, even if my loans accrue 33% interest over a four year period, I should still be able to pay them off in those 4 years. Is something wrong with my math here?

I am certainly concerned about LRGhosts link to the ‘Inside the Law School Scam’ post, but it seems unrealistic to base a decision on online rants because the people who are actually making $160 k are much less inclined to voice opinions about prospects after law school. Which makes me think: Perhaps the fact that this is all online creates a bias towards cynics, over-achievers and others who have been inoculated by this site with little real experience under their belts? I’m not trying to flame everyone here, because I have certainly got a lot of help and good advice from people on TLS, including users who posted here, but hasn't ‘T14 or bust’ become an endemic mantra? I’m just wondering about the relative extents of truth vs online bandwagoning, because I imagine most peoples’ opinions tend to be based on the posts of others. But then again, maybe I’m just trying to justify wanting to go to law school sooner rather than later. Does anyone that’s read this far want to help me with this analysis?

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law chihuahua
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby law chihuahua » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:45 pm

Hi mt90128.
Could you clarify what you mean by the phrase that most of your debt would be federally subsidized?
If you haven't looked already, you should also check out the numbers on Law School Tranparency.
For example, you estimate the cost of attending GW if you get in off the waitlist with no money + your current debt as 270 k.

However, if you check out the cost on their page the non-discounted cost is $278,444, so you have to consider that your ultimate total debt could cost north of $338,444.

Most people assume that posters on TLS are more or less your average college graduate unless otherwise specified.

If you get biglaw, where IP capabilities can help but not necessarily guarantee, you'd be better off than most.
However, when deciding what to do in such a situation you should also look at the possible consequences of NOT getting biglaw, which could always result as a result of circumstances outside of your control.

In that case, since you already have undergrad debt, sticker at one of the non-T14 big city law schools can be quite risky.
You'll also have to think about other major purchases you may want to make in the future (house mortgages, cars, marriage + children, etc.).
300 k + in debt could seriously affect your choices in life in a painful way.

Good luck with your decision. Hope it works out well! :D

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Dr. Dre
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby Dr. Dre » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:48 pm

don't take TTT uc davis

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eav1277
Posts: 375
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby eav1277 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:53 pm

Dre...are we expanding the schools you identify as TTT, TTTT & TTTTT? :lol:

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francesfarmer
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby francesfarmer » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:55 pm

mt90128 wrote:If, say, I get into GW and do not manage to get any scholarship $$$, then I will be paying the TLS listed price of 70 k per year x 3 years plus my current 60 k debt = 270 k (most of which would be federally subsidized due to my financial situation). USNWR lists the median private salary at $160 k per year for GW grads, which I think is reasonable to expect (correct me if I’m wrong) if I take the IP law route and perform decently relative to my class. After an income tax of 30 k (estimate) that leaves me with 130 k raw income per year, so assuming I can live off of about 40 k per year (lived on much less in college) that means I’m able to put 90 k to loans.

There's a lot wrong with your larger statement (median salary at GW is $160k? that is wrong: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=gw&show=sals) but please note that your law school debt will accrue interest while you are in school so your total debt load after 3 years will be considerably higher than $270k.

timbs4339
Posts: 2733
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 12:19 pm

Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby timbs4339 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:57 pm

mt90128 wrote:For the record I am not really seriously considering American, just wanted to put my full range of options on the table. kappycaft1, thanks for the informative stats page. The 94.3% number for GW and the 93.1% number for UCLA for 9 months after graduation don’t seem that dismal, though it is interesting that GW LS employs such a large percentage of their graduating class. Maybe I’m beating a dead horse here, but there seems to be a lot of internet cynicism with regard to paying sticker for any college but HYS. If, say, I get into GW and do not manage to get any scholarship $$$, then I will be paying the TLS listed price of 70 k per year x 3 years plus my current 60 k debt = 270 k (most of which would be federally subsidized due to my financial situation). USNWR lists the median private salary at $160 k per year for GW grads, which I think is reasonable to expect (correct me if I’m wrong) if I take the IP law route and perform decently relative to my class. After an income tax of 30 k (estimate) that leaves me with 130 k raw income per year, so assuming I can live off of about 40 k per year (lived on much less in college) that means I’m able to put 90 k to loans. Then, even if my loans accrue 33% interest over a four year period, I should still be able to pay them off in those 4 years. Is something wrong with my math here?

I am certainly concerned about LRGhosts link to the ‘Inside the Law School Scam’ post, but it seems unrealistic to base a decision on online rants because the people who are actually making $160 k are much less inclined to voice opinions about prospects after law school. Which makes me think: Perhaps the fact that this is all online creates a bias towards cynics, over-achievers and others who have been inoculated by this site with little real experience under their belts? I’m not trying to flame everyone here, because I have certainly got a lot of help and good advice from people on TLS, including users who posted here, but hasn't ‘T14 or bust’ become an endemic mantra? I’m just wondering about the relative extents of truth vs online bandwagoning, because I imagine most peoples’ opinions tend to be based on the posts of others. But then again, maybe I’m just trying to justify wanting to go to law school sooner rather than later. Does anyone that’s read this far want to help me with this analysis?


This is all kinds of fail.

USNWR salary stats are meaningless. 160k median starting salary is wrong, rendering the entire analysis you did following it moot. Those blanket employment rates include people working as baristas and people being paid $15/hr by the school- one can claim a 95% employment rate and 160K median salaries if only 5% of those employed report their salaries. There are no such thing as "federally subsidized loans" anymore. 160K salaries are OVERREPRESENTED in the salary data because they are quasi-public info. All the school needs is the name of the firm, which they can get through the firm site, Google or Linkedin. Somebody working for a small 1-4 person firm in Western Virginia making 45K is not going to report his salary and the school will have no way of knowing and won't want to find out.

What is your science background?

Here are real stats for GW: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?school=gw.

The school could only confirm 24% of graduates making over 65K per year.
The school places around 24% in biglaw or AIII clerkships.
The school employs 15% of their graduates at around 20K per year.

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rickgrimes69
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Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:56 am

Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby rickgrimes69 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:02 pm

mt90128 wrote:For the record I am not really seriously considering American, just wanted to put my full range of options on the table. kappycaft1, thanks for the informative stats page. The 94.3% number for GW and the 93.1% number for UCLA for 9 months after graduation don’t seem that dismal, though it is interesting that GW LS employs such a large percentage of their graduating class. Maybe I’m beating a dead horse here, but there seems to be a lot of internet cynicism with regard to paying sticker for any college but HYS. If, say, I get into GW and do not manage to get any scholarship $$$, then I will be paying the TLS listed price of 70 k per year x 3 years plus my current 60 k debt = 270 k (most of which would be federally subsidized due to my financial situation). USNWR lists the median private salary at $160 k per year for GW grads, which I think is reasonable to expect (correct me if I’m wrong) if I take the IP law route and perform decently relative to my class. After an income tax of 30 k (estimate) that leaves me with 130 k raw income per year, so assuming I can live off of about 40 k per year (lived on much less in college) that means I’m able to put 90 k to loans. Then, even if my loans accrue 33% interest over a four year period, I should still be able to pay them off in those 4 years. Is something wrong with my math here?

I am certainly concerned about LRGhosts link to the ‘Inside the Law School Scam’ post, but it seems unrealistic to base a decision on online rants because the people who are actually making $160 k are much less inclined to voice opinions about prospects after law school. Which makes me think: Perhaps the fact that this is all online creates a bias towards cynics, over-achievers and others who have been inoculated by this site with little real experience under their belts? I’m not trying to flame everyone here, because I have certainly got a lot of help and good advice from people on TLS, including users who posted here, but hasn't ‘T14 or bust’ become an endemic mantra? I’m just wondering about the relative extents of truth vs online bandwagoning, because I imagine most peoples’ opinions tend to be based on the posts of others. But then again, maybe I’m just trying to justify wanting to go to law school sooner rather than later. Does anyone that’s read this far want to help me with this analysis?


Christ

Do not pay sticker for any school outside of HYS. Arguably CCNP as well (only if you're dead set on biglaw).

Those 9X% employment stats are incredibly misleading. Look at the % of students employed in long term, full time legal jobs - that is what should matter to you. 81% for GW, 61% for UCLA.

Median salary is a worthless statistic. You will probably not make $160k from either school. Legal salaries are super bimodal, see: http://www.nalp.org/salarycurve_classof2011. Neither school places more than ~25% into Biglaw, which are basically the only jobs on the higher end of that curve.

IP will give you a boost, particularly from GW - do you have a STEM background which is patent bar eligible? If not, IP is a pipe dream.

You should probably do a little more research before you go drop a quarter million dollars in debt.

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Homelandsagreatshow
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Re: Help choosing: Law school or not? and which one?

Postby Homelandsagreatshow » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:04 pm

Don't forget to subtract the 20 percent gw places into school funded minimum wage jobs :-)




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