How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

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Mencken1

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How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

Postby Mencken1 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:02 pm

When considering which schools to apply to, one factor I include is geographic placement after law school (of course).

Now, as thrilled as I would be to get accepted to e.g. UVA, the first two major markets they place into are New York and DC, each of which is prohibitively expensive to live in. So my question is, if you get a job in Manhattan, where do you live for those first ~3 years out of school at a large firm?

Say I went to UVA and got a biglaw job in DC. I'm picturing myself living in a shoebox that is close to the office, or living really far away in a house that is very expensive while it is plain and would cost 1/2 of its price in a different market, say Philadelphia or Chicago.

I will have about 100k covered by parents, but the rest will be loans for wherever I go. Scholarships are very unlikely for me in the T13 (3.2 GPA and 171 LSAT). This makes me very open to considering $$ at e.g. Notre Dame, Emory, WUSTL, but would be hesitant even with $$ from say Boston College to attend there since I would almost certainly end up practicing in Boston.

I don't have any friends who have gone the biglaw route (just friends who have made bad decisions to go to local no-name law schools), so I'm very reliant on the internet/ dispersed knowledge for my information.

My ties are to Philly, and if pushed I could show tenuous ties to Chicago.

TLDR; I'm trying to get a better picture of years 1-10 after graduating and starting a biglaw position, especially when it's in a high COL city.

Thanks everyone,
Mencken

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Re: How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

Postby BrainsyK » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:58 pm

If you go through first-year biglaw, you'll probably end up making 205k--if you collect a bonus. After 401k, healthcare, taxes, and FICA, it's about 115k cash. Let's say you rent for 3k/mo and spend another 3k on expenses, that still leaves you with 55k in cash. Sticker costs 300k. You have 100k defrayed. Let's say you use your 1L summer funding and 2L SA money to cover summers and time between graduation and starting date. That's 200k of debt, which at 7.6% over a 10 year plan, would be 2.5 a month or 30k a year, leaving you with 25k in savings. If you refinance it to 3%, it would be 24k, leaving 31k in savings. Costs remain the same but pay goes up about 15k after tax/expenses every year. Assuming you last 3 years in big law, you'd come out with about 150k in debt and about 100k in savings.

A lot of things unaccounted for there, but that's a rough model of what might happen in NYC. It's not fantastic, but it's not the worst thing in the world either.

nixy

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Re: How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

Postby nixy » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:05 am

I mean, yes, those cities are expensive, but people in biglaw get paid a lot, and there are plenty of people who live in those cities on a lot less than what biglaw attorneys make. If your standard for acceptable housing is based on Texas or the midwest, yeah, you will have to make some adjustments. But you will be able to afford to live in the cities you cited.

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totesTheGoat

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Re: How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

Postby totesTheGoat » Mon Sep 17, 2018 10:29 am

Trade cash for commute time. My office is out in the DC suburbs, and I'm another 45 minutes out from the office. It's still expensive, but nothing like living in near the city.

If your standard for acceptable housing is based on Texas or the midwest, yeah, you will have to make some adjustments.


Yup. Sold a decent house in a nice suburb in TX and got a much worse house way out in the suburbs of the DC area for $100k more. Cost of living is no joke out here. Nothing like when I lived in Silicon Valley for a summer, though.

EminentDumain

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Re: How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

Postby EminentDumain » Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:09 pm

Just want to point out that a 3.2/171 would get you a sizable scholarship from BC. With 100k from your parents, you could survive very comfortably in manhttan on a biglaw salary, if that’s how things worked out for you.

Obviously now you’re rolling the OCI dice compared to T20/T14, but having 100k to start out with before even hearing from scholarships is a good place to be at for a T1 school. Remember that, assuming you land biglaw, a summer associate position will net you almost 40k pretax.

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Elston Gunn

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Re: How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

Postby Elston Gunn » Mon Nov 19, 2018 7:21 pm

Others have kind of said this, but this is an insane question. First year Biglaw associates make like 93rd percentile US *household* income. Yes, you have loans but come on. How do you think 8 million people manage to live in New York?

QContinuum

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Re: How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

Postby QContinuum » Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:59 pm

nixy wrote:I mean, yes, those cities are expensive, but people in biglaw get paid a lot, and there are plenty of people who live in those cities on a lot less than what biglaw attorneys make. If your standard for acceptable housing is based on Texas or the midwest, yeah, you will have to make some adjustments. But you will be able to afford to live in the cities you cited.

This is what it really boils down to. Yes, as a junior BigLaw associate you won't be living in a 2,000 sq. ft. midtown penthouse with floor-to-ceiling views of the Empire State Building, but you can definitely afford to live in NYC or a 'burb.

If you really want to save on rent, you could even live with a roommate - I know BigLaw associates who do that. It's less daunting than it sounds, because they're in the office all the time anyway, so they aren't really home that much.

caleb-law

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Re: How do people afford to practice in NY, DC, Boston, LA, and SF?

Postby caleb-law » Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:22 pm

If you live very modestly you can get by on less than 40k a year. Your salary will be near 200k including bonus during your first year and will only go up from there while in Big Law. After taxes you have about 110k left over. Subtract 40k from 110k and you have 70k left over. You can pay all your debt off in 3-4 years if you have 300k in debt.
You can get a better apartment, spend more money on yourself, etc... and spend more than 40k a year then it'll take longer to pay off your debt.
In the end most top law school graduates work at big firms and most big firms are in expensive areas like you mentioned and almost all of those graduates are able to get by.



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