Going from a good job to law school

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jingosaur
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Going from a good job to law school

Postby jingosaur » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:50 pm

How good of a law school would someone from my job type have to get into for it to be a good option? My impression is T14 or bust with Michigan on down requiring 60k+ in scholly money being the bare minimum.

I work at a prestigious consulting firm. It's not MBB, but it's a name that everyone knows. I was promoted to the post-MBA level (but get paid a little less than the MBA entrants) and job security is pretty solid although raises and promotions are pretty infrequent going forward.

Law and consulting are entirely different career paths, but many roles that my colleagues have are horribly mind-numbing which is why so many people look at other career options. NPV analysis aside, when is a law school a good idea for people in my position? I already have my situation planned out, but I'd like to see what other people think.

EDITED TO MAKE MORE GENERAL
Last edited by jingosaur on Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby Tiago Splitter » Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:57 pm

goldbh7 wrote:NPV analysis aside, when is a law school a good idea for people in my position?

It's probably never a great option if you use NPV analysis, and pretty much everyone saying that it's a terrible idea will be using NPV analysis to do so. Most of us go to law school for the money, but that obviously doesn't apply to you.

It makes sense if you want to change careers and move into the legal field. It doesn't make sense otherwise.

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Monochromatic Oeuvre
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:30 pm

I'm presuming you make six figures, or close, so correct me if I'm wrong.

If I were making $100k in my early-to-mid twenties, I wouldn't go anywhere at sticker, including HYS. Someone who makes $100k has an opportunity cost of $250k even if they go on a full ride. If maximizing financial well-being is the primary concern, then going to law school is far too risky a proposition unless a) You do without incurring a significant cost on top of the foregone wage/investment income and b) You do so at a school where you would have little trouble getting Biglaw. When considering the numbers/risk, a CCN full ride is the only thing I'd leave a very good job for.

RoaringMice
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby RoaringMice » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:36 pm

Are you saying you don't have an MBA? I'd suggest that rather than law school, you try to ace the GMAT and get into a top business school. That, or get your MBA part-time while you're working. But unless you love the law and know it's the right field for you, it seems like law school would be a waste of time and money for you.

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jingosaur
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby jingosaur » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:43 pm

RoaringMice wrote:Are you saying you don't have an MBA? I'd suggest that rather than law school, you try to ace the GMAT and get into a top business school. That, or get your MBA part-time while you're working. But unless you love the law and know it's the right field for you, it seems like law school would be a waste of time and money for you.


I got a 780 on the GMAT and I'm looking at JD/MBA programs. As I said, I have my situation under control and depending on how my cycle goes, I may drop one or the other depending on which schools I get into, the cost of attendance (I'm not taking out 300k in student loans), and how I believe each situation appeals to me.

I made that OP after a coworker told me that one of our coworkers left to go to Cordozo and then everyone asked why my jaw dropped.

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Monochromatic Oeuvre
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:50 pm

Why do you want a JD? The number of jobs where you actually use both a JD and a MBA is extraordinarily small.

timbs4339
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:55 pm

It depends on what your co-worker wants to do. If it's prosecute bad guys in the Brooklyn DA office or work for a small firm in NYC area, sure. If they want to use it as an easy to access MBA substitute- not so much. What do you want to do?

goldbh7 wrote:but many roles that my colleagues have are horribly mind-numbing which is why so many people look at other career options.


This comment just seems funny to me. I was on a MBB interview in law school and met a fourth year M+A associate at a New York biglaw firm. He told me he wanted to go into consulting for the same reasons you seem to want to go into law.

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t-14orbust
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby t-14orbust » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:57 pm

and then they realized that most high paying professional jobs suck in the same ways

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jingosaur
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby jingosaur » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:15 pm

My life goal is to start or purchase, manage, and sell companies to some capacity either on my own or in a partnership. This probably won't happen within the next 20+ years.

For now, I'm looking at transactional BigLaw and private equity. PE will be very difficult since I have no IB or PE experience. My specialization at my job is in financial markets and I've worked with a lot of big ticket clients, so I feel like BigLaw firms will love me for that.

And yes, I understand fully that every corporate/professional job will be just as mind numbing as my current job. It's just that my current job gives me no chance at my goal and I won't be learning anything new from here on out. At least with law, I'll learn more about how companies are structured and build up my network a little bit more. I also feel like the work that I do now is very similar to the work of BigLaw associates.

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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:26 pm

It sounds like you need to get an MBA and go work at a bank, PE or VC firm.

You're right that the only schools that are worth taking on 200K of debt for are the T13. Quitting your job to go to Dozo at sticker would be a bad move- to do it for free would still be a bad move but at least it wouldn't ruin your life (might make it harder to go back to your old job).

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jbagelboy
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:31 pm

I just left my job in vault consulting for law school. I made similar considerations to you. Basically, I wouldnt have attended LS for a <50% chance of getting a good job or a >10% chance of being underemployed. This disqualifies all but a handful of schools.

Here's my calculus on the "money" issue: As an important caveat, I was at a staff consultant/analyst level (NOT post-mba). To get to the 6-figure manager level position (what it seems you've achieved), the following would have to occur: In ~2-3 years I would have a promotion to a junior manager, but in order to become a senior manager Id need an mba or significant (5+ years) industry experience. After 2-3 years and an MBA (2 years) OR 5 or more years inhouse as a supply chain manager, I would have the same workload and similar level of interest at still lower pay than a first year law associate, with worse raises, worse bonuses, and arguably equal exit options. And it would take more time (4-5 years) to get there.

This is in addition to the fact that 1) I like law, I will enjoy studying the law whereas mba programs are just networking opportunities and provide no new learning, and I want to be able to practice law, not just give corporate advice
2) Law school gives me the opportunity to live/work in Paris as a student again (3L at CLS/ENS exchange, plus Davis Polk 6-wk foreign office exchange, ect.), which is awesome and worth the investment in and of itself
3) FT Working blows for those of you who have actually done it, whereas school is pretty relaxed in comparison
4) my SO was going back to grad school and the timing worked out well for us so far
5) whatever Paul Campos and the pessimist brigade might say about a JD, it is an education that forces you to think in a unique way with a unique skill set, and that life reward that is consistently underappreciated on this forum. Many consultants Ive met wished they had JDs, and those with JD/MBA say the JD is the far better degree to have (some of that is boomer logic, but it does teach a hell of a lot more than an mba)

These reasons can be picked apart and negated to the ends of he earth, but if you want to be an attorney, any school that gives you a 90% chance of that is worth it (this just so happens to not be very many schools)

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paglababa
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby paglababa » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:29 pm

jbagelboy wrote:I just left my job in vault consulting for law school. I made similar considerations to you. Basically, I wouldnt have attended LS for a <50% chance of getting a good job or a >10% chance of being underemployed. This disqualifies all but a handful of schools.

Here's my calculus on the "money" issue: As an important caveat, I was at a staff consultant/analyst level (NOT post-mba). To get to the 6-figure manager level position (what it seems you've achieved), the following would have to occur: In ~2-3 years I would have a promotion to a junior manager, but in order to become a senior manager Id need an mba or significant (5+ years) industry experience. After 2-3 years and an MBA (2 years) OR 5 or more years inhouse as a supply chain manager, I would have the same workload and similar level of interest at still lower pay than a first year law associate, with worse raises, worse bonuses, and arguably equal exit options. And it would take more time (4-5 years) to get there.

This is in addition to the fact that 1) I like law, I will enjoy studying the law whereas mba programs are just networking opportunities and provide no new learning, and I want to be able to practice law, not just give corporate advice
2) Law school gives me the opportunity to live/work in Paris as a student again (3L at CLS/ENS exchange, plus Davis Polk 6-wk foreign office exchange, ect.), which is awesome and worth the investment in and of itself
3) FT Working blows for those of you who have actually done it, whereas school is pretty relaxed in comparison
4) my SO was going back to grad school and the timing worked out well for us so far
5) whatever Paul Campos and the pessimist brigade might say about a JD, it is an education that forces you to think in a unique way with a unique skill set, and that life reward that is consistently underappreciated on this forum. Many consultants Ive met wished they had JDs, and those with JD/MBA say the JD is the far better degree to have (some of that is boomer logic, but it does teach a hell of a lot more than an mba)

These reasons can be picked apart and negated to the ends of he earth, but if you want to be an attorney, any school that gives you a 90% chance of that is worth it (this just so happens to not be very many schools)


Great insightful post. I'd love to hear OP explain his complete cost-benefit analysis and risk analysis based on his specific situation. Essentially, his plan for this cycle.

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jingosaur
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby jingosaur » Wed Jul 31, 2013 4:59 pm

So from a cost-benefit analysis standpoint, I would have to exercise some serious special snowflake syndrome (which I have) to justify leaving my job and getting a JD/MBA. The numbers don't really add up and I'm fine with this because I'm willing to sacrifice financial gain for a legitimate chance at my long-term career goals.

For risk analysis, there are 2 major risks:
1. I don't get into any school at a respecible price. If this happens, I'll just stay at my job and maybe reapply. I'm not applying to any "safety schools" since this is already a very costly decision already and going to a non-elite school won't improve my chances at my long-term career goals.

2. I get in and don't get the job that I want. This is very likely for PE, but I think I'll be able to find a career worth pursuing at whichever program I matriculate at. JD/MBA placement stats are much better than the stats for those receiving either degree on its own. This is a calculated risk that I'm fine with taking. Here's Northwestern's JD/MBA placement stats. http://www.law.northwestern.edu/career/ ... jdmba.html

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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:10 pm

goldbh7 wrote:So from a cost-benefit analysis standpoint, I would have to exercise some serious special snowflake syndrome (which I have) to justify leaving my job and getting a JD/MBA. The numbers don't really add up and I'm fine with this because I'm willing to sacrifice financial gain for a legitimate chance at my long-term career goals.

For risk analysis, there are 2 major risks:
1. I don't get into any school at a respecible price. If this happens, I'll just stay at my job and maybe reapply. I'm not applying to any "safety schools" since this is already a very costly decision already and going to a non-elite school won't improve my chances at my long-term career goals.

2. I get in and don't get the job that I want. This is very likely for PE, but I think I'll be able to find a career worth pursuing at whichever program I matriculate at. JD/MBA placement stats are much better than the stats for those receiving either degree on its own. This is a calculated risk that I'm fine with taking. Here's Northwestern's JD/MBA placement stats. http://www.law.northwestern.edu/career/ ... jdmba.html


Keep in mind your prior WE will help you obtain these positions so your chances are substantially higher than average. There are schools where these positons are attainable. You arent sacrificing everything you've accomplished in consulting via this transition.

Then again Im honestly not trying to be a shill for law school. There are many people who should not attend (over half of those who attend shouldnt). There are also other routes to your goals. HOWEVER it should be acknowledged that many on TLS who throw out alternate career routes dont realize how competitive and uncertain those tracks are as well. You rarely get a big payoff without incredible effort and a bit of luck

Paul Campos
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby Paul Campos » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:27 pm

jbagelboy wrote:5) whatever Paul Campos and the pessimist brigade might say about a JD, it is an education that forces you to think in a unique way with a unique skill set, and that life reward that is consistently underappreciated on this forum. )


Despite not actually having spent a minute in law school you're already displaying the cognitive style law school produces, or more accurately reinforces, which is to say a tendency to talk out of one's ass about something one knows nothing about, while maintaining an air of tremendous self-confidence.

Seriously, what is this unique intellectual skill set that law school supposedly bequeaths on its adepts? Thrill me with your acumen, 0L.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby jbagelboy » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:37 pm

Paul Campos wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:5) whatever Paul Campos and the pessimist brigade might say about a JD, it is an education that forces you to think in a unique way with a unique skill set, and that life reward that is consistently underappreciated on this forum. )


Despite not actually having spent a minute in law school you're already displaying the cognitive style law school produces, or more accurately reinforces, which is to say a tendency to talk out of one's ass about something one knows nothing about, while maintaining an air of tremendous self-confidence.

Seriously, what is this unique intellectual skill set that law school supposedly bequeaths on its adepts? Thrill me with your acumen, 0L.


You mistake my point as an insult to you and your work. Couldn't be farther from the truth, I respect you and what you've brought to this community.

I don't feel the need to justify anecdotal reports, just as they serve zero utility as persuasive evidence. OP is trying to make a decision on a particular basis, I am providing elements of my own thought process. As I said, they can (and will) be chopped up and carried, but it makes little difference to the advise: figure out both quantitatively and qualitatively what a JD will do for you, don't attend for the wrong reasons and without careful considerations.

I have nothing to prove to you on this point or any other. I am an incoming 1L at CLS, and I have a sufficient idea of the nature of legal instruction to know that it is different from anything I have studied up to this point. Attorneys, whether they hate or love their job, acknowledge that law school teaches you to think in a particular way. The ROI of that cognitive process is not relevant to this point, as I have made quantitative judgements elsewhere.

ETA: moreover, your sarcasm aside, Im glad to hear you think Ill make a good law student (despite the fact that the profession relies heavily on a set of written fact and precedent and the application of that black letter and precedent, not just speaking out of your ass).

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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:42 pm

Good grief.

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bk1
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby bk1 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:45 pm

I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about what people think law school is like or what law school will do to them.

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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:01 pm

TBF I think for people whose majors didn't involve as much *rigorous* analytical thinking, law school might up your analytical thinking skills a bit. It also improves your ability to see things from multiple perspectives. But ultimately, if anything, it left me a bit cynical about the judicial process (though not nearly as cynical as actual practice is making me) -- even very smart judges seem to make unwarranted logical leaps and assumptions all the time, and a lot of so called legal "reasoning" is circular or sophistic. Ultimately, many judges seem to decide things the way that just "feels" right to them, for whatever reason, as long as they can find ample cover in so-called "legal reasoning." Of course this doesn't always happen -- caselaw and statutes are often clear on a certain point, and most judges will respect that. But where something is at all ambiguous, the decision becomes about concocting a plausible sounding basis for the decision they already want to reach.

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bk1
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby bk1 » Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:23 pm

I had an unrigorous major. The idea that law school teaches you a fundamentally new way of thinking is laughable. The only thing more laughable is the idea that, even if law school did teach you a fundamentally new way of thinking, it would be worth forking over 50k/year just to get 3 years of classroom instruction on it.

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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby Paul Campos » Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:36 pm

My sarcastic response to JDBB doesn't convey the real point, which is this:

Law school propagandists love to claim that law school "teaches you how to think like a lawyer," or even more grandiosely, "teaches you how to think," period. These claims aren't just largely empty boasting (although they are that). They have an important ideological function, which is to legitimate the increasingly absurd and unjustifiable expense of the enterprise.

Law school doesn't train people in the basics of how to practice a profession, in the way medical and dental schools do, and it doesn't train people in an academic discipline, in the way that PhD programs do. So why exactly are people being charged $40,000 and $50,000 and $60,000 per year? (CLS is now at $60,000+ per year if you count mandatory health insurance). What are they supposed to be getting in return for those staggering sums of money?

The answer, of course, is they are supposedly gaining some sort of uniquely valuable (and versatile!) intellectual skills, that are apparently impossible to describe straightforwardly, and indeed take on an almost mystical quality when they're described at all. ("You come here with minds full of mush. You leave thinking like lawyers.") That's what you're paying for . . . some mysterious sort of intellectual "rigor" which can be found no place else.

But if that's all basically nonsense (and it is), then what?

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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:09 pm

I basically agree. If anything I think what you learn is more the rhetoric and "language" of law, what I sometimes call "how to speak (and write) lawyer." The only thing this is really useful for is being a lawyer, and at that it's only applicable to litigation.

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jingosaur
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby jingosaur » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:38 pm

If I do a JD/MBA program, which is likely at this point, I would definitely do something that requires a law degree. However, I think that some of the better JD Advantage jobs are worth getting a law degree for. The problem, of course, is that about 95% or more of people who have JD Advantage jobs out of law school are doing something that's not one of those jobs and the vast majority of law schools try to promote that every JD Advantage job is worth getting a law degree for.

More on topic, I guess the original question I was asking was whether a young professional who has a stable job and pulls in between $70k and $110k a year should have higher standards on which law schools they should attend, and if so, what should those standards be assuming that they would use that degree for JD required or the very very small amount of JD advantage work that's worth getting a law degree for?

Once again, this is a general question to see what the TLS hivemind thinks about this. I've already given my input.

Here's the Campos post that pretty much highlights my question: http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot. ... l-now.html

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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:45 pm

To answer your question, I think the person made a pretty bad decision leaving a 70-110K job at a prestigious consulting firm to go to Cardozo unless s/je had some burning desire to be a lawyer regardless of the financial outcome.

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Monochromatic Oeuvre
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Re: Going from a good job to law school

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:17 pm

As you might guess, the standards ought to be very stringent. If you are giving up a very high opportunity cost to attend law school, then you need a school producing a very high expected benefit to justify the expense.

Here's a back-of-the-envelope calculation: Assume a Biglaw career is five years (about the longest you can stay on if you really want to before being sort of forced out, though it's worth noting the median Biglaw career is shorter than five years). Current market wage and Cravath scale bonuses get you a total five-year income of just over $1M, and call that $650k after taxes. Then subtract law school expenses--tuition, other fees, any cost you wouldn't incur outside of law school.

Then, plan out an eight-year (for comparative time purposes) chart estimating your after-tax income if you stay in your current position. Someone who makes $100k and gets modest annual pay increases is looking at probably somewhere in the range of $900k over eight years, and call that around $600k after taxes.

That analysis would suggest you only attend law school for cost X where (650 - X) > 600, or essentially only on a full ride or very close. And that doesn't begin to factor in interest on your debt, foregone investment opportunities, and the notion of a riskier path (leaving a job you have for sure, and you know you're decent at) for a reward that isn't really higher. And, most importantly, that analysis assumes you have a 100% chance at Biglaw, which you don't at any school that offers scholarships. That's why I say $100k income is about the point where no one should go to law school under any circumstances unless there is a darn good non-financially-based reason to do so. If you make a little less (75-100k), it might depend on your specific math, but the range that would make it a reasonable decision is still extraordinarily narrow.

To reiterate the upshot of all that: I would advise you not to go to law school on anything besides a CCN full ride.




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