Older evening student... What should I do?

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dionysius1
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Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby dionysius1 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:53 pm

I always thought of being an attorney, and I finally took the plunge and took the LSAT last Fall. I got a 160, and was accepted into the Touro Law School evening program. I am 47 years old and I currently work in a stable job making about $70k a year, without much room for growth or retirement savings.

The school offered me an annual scholarship of $23k, meaning I could graduate with around $40K in loans. Given my age, is this debt a good or bad decision? I am interested in Family Law, and want to become a divorce attorney here on Long Island.

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Ron Don Volante
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby Ron Don Volante » Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:58 pm

Why do you want to do this?

If you are completely unsatisfied with your current career and exclusively want to make this change for lifestyle/personal reasons, and completely understand that it will not be financially rewarding and will all but certainly result in a decline in your standard of living and make it more difficult for you to retire, then I still think this is a tough decision. Touro is one of the worst schools in the country: even if you are a fantastic student, it's still going to be a serious struggle to break into the more modest reaches of the profession.

dionysius1
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby dionysius1 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:08 pm

I thought that, given my age which will lend credibility, if I went into private practice, I would potentially make considerably more money than I am currently making. Is that inaccurate?

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Ron Don Volante
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby Ron Don Volante » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:11 pm

dionysius1 wrote:I thought that, given my age which will lend credibility, if I went into private practice, I would potentially make considerably more money than I am currently making. Is that inaccurate?

It's extremely inaccurate, unfortunately. There is almost no way you're going to make as much money as you do now as a first-year attorney practicing family law. Moreover, if you go to touro, there's a coin-flip's chance you'll never become an attorney, and have taken the debt and spent your time for nothing.

Check this site out, if you have not yet heard of it: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com

mvp99
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby mvp99 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:34 pm

dionysius1 wrote:I always thought of being an attorney, and I finally took the plunge and took the LSAT last Fall. I got a 160, and was accepted into the Touro Law School evening program. I am 47 years old and I currently work in a stable job making about $70k a year, without much room for growth or retirement savings.

The school offered me an annual scholarship of $23k, meaning I could graduate with around $40K in loans. Given my age, is this debt a good or bad decision? I am interested in Family Law, and want to become a divorce attorney here on Long Island.


Whats your work experience?

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby JohannDeMann » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:36 pm

You would be fucking up big time to become a lawyer. You're looking at 3 years of work to learn the ropes making about 50k a year, and then hoping you can somehow go out on a limb and open your own practice. That means at age 53 you are basically betting everything that you can succeed on your own shop. If your shop is successful, sure you can make $300k+ a year after 2-3 years of building your shop, but the timing of the risk seems much crazier, and the capital you will have accrued seems minor.

Giddy-Up
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby Giddy-Up » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:49 pm

Why do you want to become a divorce attorney? Having worked some divorce cases, it is not fun. You generally have two people who are completely irrational and interested in causing as much pain to each other as possible.

dionysius1
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby dionysius1 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:55 pm

My experience is in business management. I am not concerned so much about the time expended, as I will be 4 years older in 4 years anyway. I know I have the ability so successfully run a business, as I have done it numerous times. Only thing is, I do not have a specific skillset to apply it to. That's why I thought I could succeed at this.

If I get my degree at 51 years of age, I have plenty of time to practice. If I could make $125k or more within 2 or 3 years of hanging a shingle, it would be well worth the sacrifice and risk to me. I guess I just am asking if that is a reasonable expectation for a family law attorney in private practice on Long Island after a couple of years.

dionysius1
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby dionysius1 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:59 pm

The reason I am thinking family law is I got divorced 10 years back and I know the process. In the past 10 years, I have assisted 3 friends in drafting nearly a dozen of their pro se motions (orders to show cause, affidavits in support, and reply affidavits). Most of them were won, and on the last one, the judge even commented to my friend that it appeared as though an attorney had drafted the paperwork. That's what put it into my head.

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Ron Don Volante
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby Ron Don Volante » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:59 pm

dionysius1 wrote:If I get my degree at 51 years of age, I have plenty of time to practice. If I could make $125k or more within 2 or 3 years of hanging a shingle, it would be well worth the sacrifice and risk to me. I guess I just am asking if that is a reasonable expectation for a family law attorney in private practice on Long Island after a couple of years.

This is a completely unreasonable expectation. There is a chance this could happen, sure, but the odds are seriously stacked against you. Again, the median outcome for Touro students is to not get a job -- ever. You think you can reasonably plan on making well above 100K after a few years? OK dude.

lawschoolftw
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby lawschoolftw » Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:01 pm

I think the issue is less about your age and more about the general investment of going to Touro--it's a bad one. I'd venture a guess that more than half of Touro's students don't find meaningful legal employment. If anything, I would study your ass off, re-take the LSAT, and see if you can get into a better school.

timbs4339
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby timbs4339 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 4:11 pm

Normally, I only recommend the "older law student > solo practice" track for people who have a large independent source of money that can (1) ensure they graduate with 0 debt, (2) fund them for several years while they get their practice off the ground, (3) provide a decent ad budget to get their name out there. Because you are talking about taking on debt, I assume you don't fit that bill. Here's why what you are doing isn't such a great idea.

Short version: You will not make even close to 125K running a solo practice in 7 years. You will probably not make that much money ever, and you definitely won't make it until you have been out of LS for 5-7 years. You will have to operate at a loss for several years and this is after you put in 3 years at a small firm working as an associate.

Long version: Running a solo shop is like any other small business. You need capital, you need clients, and you should have experience. Unfortunately, your experience drafting motions is not good experience to justify going to law school, nor does it mean you'll be able to start a successful practice. Drafting motions is a small part of litigation practice, and a smart pro se can usually find templates online. There are probably 100 other things a lawyer has to know how to do in the average contested matrimonial case. Normally you'd learn all that by spending at least 3 years at a small family law firm, making about 40-60K, then going out on your own perhaps with a couple of referrals. Obviously it's tough to get a job out of Touro but it's going to be really tough at your age, since unfortunately there is age discrimination in the profession when it comes to hiring entry-levels.

You could also work during your JD part-time, but since you'll presumably be keeping your current job I don't see how that will work.

Note: It is bordering on malpractice to run a solo practice on the side of a full-time job, especially a litigation practice. So you will have to quit your job.

As for capital, go to a loan officer, tell him what you're doing, and see whether you could get a small business loan to start your practice. My prediction is that they will not give you a loan unless you have a couple years experience without a personal guaranty, and you might not even get a loan with one. You're a business guy- you know putting yourself on the hook for your own small business loan is a dumb move.

Finally, clients. Ask yourself honestly: how many people do you know in your social circle who can actually pay you who would trust you to handle their divorce? The hardest part about being a lawyer isn't finding people with legal problems. It's finding people with legal problems who can pay rates sufficient to keep the lights on and to keep you from starving. That's really hard even for experienced people. It's almost impossible for new graduates. And on Long Island, there are much more experienced lawyers with better networks and ad budget lined up to represent those middle/upper middle class people who can afford to pay a few G for their divorce.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:46 am

dionysius1 wrote:My experience is in business management. I am not concerned so much about the time expended, as I will be 4 years older in 4 years anyway. I know I have the ability so successfully run a business, as I have done it numerous times. Only thing is, I do not have a specific skillset to apply it to. That's why I thought I could succeed at this.

If I get my degree at 51 years of age, I have plenty of time to practice. If I could make $125k or more within 2 or 3 years of hanging a shingle, it would be well worth the sacrifice and risk to me. I guess I just am asking if that is a reasonable expectation for a family law attorney in private practice on Long Island after a couple of years.


I mean none of us here know the actual percentage of you succeeding. Can you make $125k within 2 or 3 years of hanging a shingle? Absolutely. I mean if you make it to year 3 odds are youll be pulling in close to 300k. I'm a pretty big risk taker and I wouldn't leave 70k a year to pursue this dream, but yes it can absolutely pan out. Your plan is topen up shop immediately at graduation, correct?

BigZuck
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:55 am

JohannDeMann wrote:
dionysius1 wrote:My experience is in business management. I am not concerned so much about the time expended, as I will be 4 years older in 4 years anyway. I know I have the ability so successfully run a business, as I have done it numerous times. Only thing is, I do not have a specific skillset to apply it to. That's why I thought I could succeed at this.

If I get my degree at 51 years of age, I have plenty of time to practice. If I could make $125k or more within 2 or 3 years of hanging a shingle, it would be well worth the sacrifice and risk to me. I guess I just am asking if that is a reasonable expectation for a family law attorney in private practice on Long Island after a couple of years.


I mean none of us here know the actual percentage of you succeeding. Can you make $125k within 2 or 3 years of hanging a shingle? Absolutely. I mean if you make it to year 3 odds are youll be pulling in close to 300k. I'm a pretty big risk taker and I wouldn't leave 70k a year to pursue this dream, but yes it can absolutely pan out. Your plan is topen up shop immediately at graduation, correct?


300k seems kind of weirdly specific, where are you drawing that from?

03152016
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby 03152016 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 12:58 am

JohannDeMann wrote:I mean if you make it to year 3 odds are youll be pulling in close to 300k.

lol

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:31 am

200 bucks an hour times the number of hours most small lawyers work. By year 3 if you've made it, you're gonna be booked up. Also I've worked for solos and have friends that have worked for solos. It's not uncommon to see tax returns and figure out what they make. Other than PI lawyers, solos or small shops under 3-5 people seem to cluster around 300k per partner.

03152016
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby 03152016 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:43 am

yea i worked in a family/matrimonial firm and that's wildly optimistic
are you talking revenues or take-home

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:55 am

Revenues. But take home shouldn't be that far off. Lawyers don't have that many costs. Regardless I'm not gonna nitpick the numbers, it's a comfortable living if you make it and miserable if you don't. There's really not much room for middle ground here. It's either bankrupt or successful after grinding hard for a couple years. As shitty as touro is the school won't matter for what op wants to do (open up a practice) and the debt really don't matter because it's either gonna be paid off or be another unpaid bill.
This is a trip to Vegas and going all in on something.

03152016
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby 03152016 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:14 am

my former employer was well-established and didn't make that
i'm sure you could save money by not renting an office downtown, not having a secretary, not marketing, etc
even if you did all of that, $300k by year 3 as the standard outcome for solos is absurd

it's unmistakably clear that op should not go to ls
he says he has a $23k scholly and expects to graduate with $40k in loans
since he says he doesn't have savings, my guess is that he starts repayment with nearly twice that amount
he says he has a stable job paying $70k per year
he's trading it to go to ls with the dream of hanging a shingle
if he wants to make this a reasonable goal, he should aim to work at a firm first, that would somewhat mitigate the high risk of failure
tho at a school like touro, even that is a gamble

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fats provolone
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby fats provolone » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:35 am

i mean being 50 y/o with no savings/retirement and no earnings growth potential is a rough situation. but i dont think the answer is to go to ls and take on a ton of debt? if u want to go into business there are a lot of ways to do that w/o being a lawyer. and you said you've successfully run businesses numerous times before.

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JohannDeMann
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby JohannDeMann » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:03 am

If you can't save from making 70k a year then you are doing something bizarre.

Prolly says something about his business skills too

timbs4339
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby timbs4339 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:49 am

JohannDeMann wrote:If you can't save from making 70k a year then you are doing something bizarre.

Prolly says something about his business skills too


He lives on LI and we don't know his family situation. 70K is solidly middle-class there.

Your 300K estimate is wildly off. There is absolutely no way the median salary for solos 3 years out is 300K- the median salary for all lawyers is 112K and 51% of lawyers are solos. I just don't even know where you come up with these numbers. Stop lying to OP.

Paul Campos
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby Paul Campos » Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:00 am

Here is a far more realistic career path for a successful family law lawyer five years out of law school (Note: the large majority of Touro graduates who pursue this path won't be successful):

Hello everyone, it's time for my year 5 update. I have provided updates every year since I started my practice in 2009. Here is a link to last year's update:

http://www.jdunderground.com/all/thread ... adId=63708

To recap, I am in a 2 attorney firm (i.e. I have a business partner). We are in a mid-sized city in the Pacific Northwest. We do about 90% family law, with a few personal injury cases, and a few other civil litigation cases.

My earnings (what I paid myself after paying the firm's overhead) have been as follows:

Year 1: 19,000 for about 60 hrs of work/week
Year 2: 30,000 for about 55 hrs of work/week
Year 3: 40,000 for about 50 hrs of work/week
Year 4: 53,000 for about 45 hrs of work/week

I just got some documents back from our accountant for year 5 (2014). It was our best year so far. I earned $75,000 last year.

I worked about 40 - 45 hours per week average. I also took about 4 weeks of vacation last year.


The belief that the OP has a realistic shot at making $300K (!) two or three years after law school by soloing on Long Island is the kind of thing that keeps a school like Touro in business.

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rondemarino
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby rondemarino » Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:07 am

JohannDeMann wrote:If you can't save from making 70k a year then you are doing something bizarre.

Prolly says something about his business skills too


Just worry about your math skills, Holmes.

BigZuck
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Re: Older evening student... What should I do?

Postby BigZuck » Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:29 am

JohannDeMann wrote:the debt really don't matter because it's either gonna be paid off or be another unpaid bill.


This sentence was criminally under appreciated




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