Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

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coldfeet
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Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby coldfeet » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:23 pm

Alright, so I've been at this law school game for a while, but with about a month before becoming a full fledged 1L, I am getting some serious cold feet about attending law school in general. I'm headed to a school ranked in the 20's, and the school is the best in the state, so it's not like I'm attending a tier 4 school or anything.

I've always wanted to go to law school and was ecstatic when I was accepted, but I'm hearing so many negative things recently about attending law school at all. It seems like every week there is a new article from some news organization warning about the travails of law school and that there are no jobs. I'm hearing things like average salary has dropped 20%, students up to their eyeballs in debt, etc. I did get a nice scholly from the school, but I'll still be paying about 20k a year on tuition. My worst fear would be to invest 3 years in law school with 80k debt and either have no job or be stuck in a grueling doc review gig

I was hoping to do mid or big law, but a salary lower than 70k isn't going to cut it for me. I have a science background, so I could always go back to school to study engineering or pharmacy if this thing doesn't work out.

What should I do, TLS?

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Knock
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Knock » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:27 pm

coldfeet wrote:Alright, so I've been at this law school game for a while, but with about a month before becoming a full fledged 1L, I am getting some serious cold feet about attending law school in general. I'm headed to a school ranked in the 20's, and the school is the best in the state, so it's not like I'm attending a tier 4 school or anything.

I've always wanted to go to law school and was ecstatic when I was accepted, but I'm hearing so many negative things recently about attending law school at all. It seems like every week there is a new article from some news organization warning about the travails of law school and that there are no jobs. I'm hearing things like average salary has dropped 20%, students up to their eyeballs in debt, etc. I did get a nice scholly from the school, but I'll still be paying about 20k a year on tuition. My worst fear would be to invest 3 years in law school with 80k debt and either have no job or be stuck in a grueling doc review gig

I was hoping to do mid or big law, but a salary lower than 70k isn't going to cut it for me. I have a science background, so I could always go back to school to study engineering or pharmacy if this thing doesn't work out.

What should I do, TLS?


Go but keep the possibility open of dropping out if you are below median 1L.

theantiscalia
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby theantiscalia » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:28 pm

coldfeet wrote:Alright, so I've been at this law school game for a while, but with about a month before becoming a full fledged 1L, I am getting some serious cold feet about attending law school in general. I'm headed to a school ranked in the 20's, and the school is the best in the state, so it's not like I'm attending a tier 4 school or anything.

I've always wanted to go to law school and was ecstatic when I was accepted, but I'm hearing so many negative things recently about attending law school at all. It seems like every week there is a new article from some news organization warning about the travails of law school and that there are no jobs. I'm hearing things like average salary has dropped 20%, students up to their eyeballs in debt, etc. I did get a nice scholly from the school, but I'll still be paying about 20k a year on tuition. My worst fear would be to invest 3 years in law school with 80k debt and either have no job or be stuck in a grueling doc review gig

I was hoping to do mid or big law, but a salary lower than 70k isn't going to cut it for me. I have a science background, so I could always go back to school to study engineering or pharmacy if this thing doesn't work out.

What should I do, TLS?


Go, try it out. But be willing to drop out if you're not at the top of your class at the end of 1L.

With your science background, you're well situated for patent law, and that helps quite a bit with getting a job. But even then you'll need good grades.

If you're going to go, set a GPA limit (like a 3.4 or 3.5 or so) and if you don't make it, be willing to walk away.

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Heartford
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Heartford » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:33 pm

Law school is worth it if you are legitimately interested in being a lawyer. The stories you read about the economy and job loss are true, but if you want to practice law, you'll still be able to do so in some capacity with a law degree.

If you are mostly just interested in breaking $70k, it's absolutely not a good idea to go to law school. Seriously.

So if the promise of money is really the main thing that led you to law school in the first place, you'd be insane to choose law school over an engineering career.

coldfeet
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby coldfeet » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:45 pm

Don't get me wrong- I'm not studying law solely to make money. I do enjoy the subject matter. But money definitely has to be a strong factor given the debt I'll carry on and the desire to live a relatively comfortable life. All the stories about working $20 an hour doing doc review is getting to me I guess. Maybe I should stop reading TLS so much, haha. I'll keep an open mind about leaving if the grades don't work out. It's tough though since it is tempting to get into the mentality of "oh, i just finished the hardest year might as well just finish off the last two."

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Emma.
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Emma. » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:46 pm

coldfeet wrote: I could always go back to school to study engineering or pharmacy if this thing doesn't work out.

What should I do, TLS?


This.

de5igual
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby de5igual » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:50 pm

Emma. wrote:
coldfeet wrote: I could always go back to school to study engineering or pharmacy if this thing doesn't work out.

What should I do, TLS?


This.


seriously. all the people i know who went to pharmacy came out with a guaranteed 100K+ job w/ benefits, great hours, and a ready supply of happy pills

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Icculus
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Icculus » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:50 pm

Knock wrote:
Go but keep the possibility open of dropping out if you are below median 1L.


This is my plan.

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Heartford
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Heartford » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:52 pm

Plenty of people pursue expensive graduate degrees without any assurance that they will be able to pay off the debt while living comfortably. Doctorates in philosophy, masters in fine arts or music or writing- none of those are free. In fact, they cost just about as much as law school, and the chances for finding gainful employment afterwards are MUCH worse than they are for law graduates. But people still attend these programs because they're really, truly motivated.

If you don't feel the same way about being an attorney, then you'd honestly be better off going for the engineering or pharm degree- either is a far safer bet.

dissonance1848
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby dissonance1848 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 5:07 pm

Try it. But if your rank isn't good, drop out after 1L and do something else.

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AntipodeanPhil
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby AntipodeanPhil » Sun Jul 17, 2011 5:25 pm

Heartford wrote:Plenty of people pursue expensive graduate degrees without any assurance that they will be able to pay off the debt while living comfortably. Doctorates in philosophy, masters in fine arts or music or writing- none of those are free. In fact, they cost just about as much as law school

Almost all Ph.D. students and most M.A. students in tier 1 equivalent liberal arts graduate programs pay no fees and receive a stipend to cover cost of living. The same is true in many other fields with awful employment prospects. I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and don't regret getting it because I acquired no debt, earned $20-$30k per year, and greatly enjoyed the time I spent working for it.

Taking on a six figure debt and spending 3 years of your life doing something few seem to enjoy involves entirely different considerations.

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Heartford
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Heartford » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:00 pm

AntipodeanPhil wrote:
Heartford wrote:Plenty of people pursue expensive graduate degrees without any assurance that they will be able to pay off the debt while living comfortably. Doctorates in philosophy, masters in fine arts or music or writing- none of those are free. In fact, they cost just about as much as law school

Almost all Ph.D. students and most M.A. students in tier 1 equivalent liberal arts graduate programs pay no fees and receive a stipend to cover cost of living. The same is true in many other fields with awful employment prospects. I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and don't regret getting it because I acquired no debt, earned $20-$30k per year, and greatly enjoyed the time I spent working for it.

Taking on a six figure debt and spending 3 years of your life doing something few seem to enjoy involves entirely different considerations.


Almost all? Really? Well maybe some are free after all. I certainly had to pay for my useless masters.

Anyway, the point of my post is that "few seem to enjoy" life after law school partially because lots of people go to law school for the wrong reason. If people believed that they could get a $160k gig after a philosophy PhD, or any number of other practically unemployable graduate degrees, then there would thousands more graduates from those programs who hated their lives too.

flexityflex86
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby flexityflex86 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:06 pm

70k is unrealistic at law school in the top 20s. is top14 that much better or are we all largely fucked?

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Heartford
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Heartford » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:17 pm

flexityflex86 wrote:70k is unrealistic at law school in the top 20s. is top14 that much better or are we all largely fucked?


If OP is drawing the line at $70k, saying he can't possibly survive on less, then it's unrealistic to bet on making $70k at a T20. That doesn't mean that some students at T20 schools don't make/won't be making $70k or more. Grades & class rank in law school are very hard to control (reference the 1000 threads here on that subject) and the economy is unpredictable at best.

To be honest, if I absolutely drew the line at $70k, I wouldn't even take a chance at a T14, especially if engineering was an alternative option.

flexityflex86
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby flexityflex86 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:21 pm

Heartford wrote:
flexityflex86 wrote:70k is unrealistic at law school in the top 20s. is top14 that much better or are we all largely fucked?


If OP is drawing the line at $70k, saying he can't possibly survive on less, then it's unrealistic to bet on making $70k at a T20. That doesn't mean that some students at T20 schools don't make/won't be making $70k or more. Grades & class rank in law school are very hard to control (reference the 1000 threads here on that subject) and the economy is unpredictable at best.

To be honest, if I absolutely drew the line at $70k, I wouldn't even take a chance at a T14, especially if engineering was an alternative option.

don't like 70%+ at t-14 make 70?

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Patriot1208
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Patriot1208 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:23 pm

Heartford wrote:
flexityflex86 wrote:70k is unrealistic at law school in the top 20s. is top14 that much better or are we all largely fucked?


If OP is drawing the line at $70k, saying he can't possibly survive on less, then it's unrealistic to bet on making $70k at a T20. That doesn't mean that some students at T20 schools don't make/won't be making $70k or more. Grades & class rank in law school are very hard to control (reference the 1000 threads here on that subject) and the economy is unpredictable at best.

To be honest, if I absolutely drew the line at $70k, I wouldn't even take a chance at a T14, especially if engineering was an alternative option.

An expected value calculation at cornel would undoubtedly come out to over 70k

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Heartford
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Heartford » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:25 pm

OP has as good a chance making $70k out of a T14 than out of engineering or pharmacy school? I don't want to argue about it but if I were a betting man I'd bet on the healthier industries.

flexityflex86
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby flexityflex86 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:27 pm

would be nice if i could know how much i could realistically expect to make from a t-10. would also be nice if i had an education that allowed me to understand how to read the law school transparency graphs.

lalala21
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby lalala21 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:28 pm

flexityflex86 wrote:would be nice if i could know how much i could realistically expect to make from a t-10. would also be nice if i had an education that allowed me to understand how to read the law school transparency graphs.



:D

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Patriot1208
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Patriot1208 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:31 pm

Heartford wrote:OP has as good a chance making $70k out of a T14 than out of engineering or pharmacy school? I don't want to argue about it but if I were a betting man I'd bet on the healthier industries.

Can't really compare Cornell JD v. any engineering school, especially because of ther difference in upside. But all that was said is that an expected value calculation woild be over 70k at cornell.

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Heartford
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Heartford » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:34 pm

Patriot1208 wrote: But all that was said is that an expected value calculation woild be over 70k at cornell.


I guess I just don't understand what one of those is. Is there some calculation you can do, outside of just speculating by looking at (questionably accurate) law school employment statistics? (I'm not being sarcastic)

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Patriot1208
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Patriot1208 » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:42 pm

Heartford wrote:
Patriot1208 wrote: But all that was said is that an expected value calculation woild be over 70k at cornell.


I guess I just don't understand what one of those is. Is there some calculation you can do, outside of just speculating by looking at (questionably accurate) law school employment statistics? (I'm not being sarcastic)

An expected value calculation is just taking your chance at all outcomes and adding them together. Without more detailed info I couldn't do a legit one with cornell, but look at their employment situation I can guarantee it would be above that.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Lawquacious » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:45 pm

Law isn't the best field to be going into for sure, but you got into a very strong regional school. Assuming that you want to be a lawyer/ have a strong interest in law, I think that law school could be a very good investment for you. It's easy to idealize other fields (such as pharmacy), but I've heard that can have drawbacks as well (weekend and odd hours; also, I think after a few years of simply filling prescriptions over and over again with no real other career options I would start to go nuts even if it did pay well).

I generally disagree with the 'plan to drop-out' crowd. I think if you do go you should plan to finish. If you are set on biglaw, then yeah, if you finish the first year below (or at) median then your goal is very unlikely to be met. But I didn't hear you say you are biglaw or bust, and I think ultimately you would probably have decent career options coming out of that level of school even if you had below par grades. I think you would be better off finishing out the JD than spending tons of money and a year of opportunity with only something negative to show for it (a drop-out, which could be interpreted as lack of perseverance and maturity, whether or not that is really the case). That said, if you really bombed your first year or decided you absolutely hate law school or law, then I think dropping out could be the right move.



-----------------
Edit: It looks like you said you basically do want biglaw or midlaw, with a 70k+ salary. I would imagine you have a good shot at that, though if you are inflexible in this goal then maybe dropping out could be indicated. But if you aren't able to get a 70k plus job it is possible your school has a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) that can help you manage your debt (by paying some of it back for you) while you are below certain income thresholds. You may want to look into that. I personally think that dropping out would be a fairly devastating experience, even if for the right reasons. But I also think that if you're going with certain clear-cut goals that end up being more-or-less impossible to meet, then maybe it would be the right decision.
Last edited by Lawquacious on Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Verity
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby Verity » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:54 pm

If you're not in the top 1/3rd after 1L, just drop out, because the odds of getting a good paying job with decent long-term prospects would not come close to justifying another two years worth of debt.

I'm guessing you're going to UMN or Iowa. Also be prepared to stay there, if you don't do better than top 10%.

scammedhard
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Re: Getting some serious cold feet about attending this fall...

Postby scammedhard » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:58 pm

Patriot1208 wrote:An expected value calculation is just taking your chance at all outcomes and adding them together. Without more detailed info I couldn't do a legit one with cornell, but look at their employment situation I can guarantee it would be above that.

And therein lies the problem. To assess if the investment is worth it, first one needs reliable, accurate employment and career stats. Frankly, I don't think Cornell (or any other law school) offers such data. My bet is that their data is wildly inflated.




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