Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby IAFG » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:21 pm

JCougar wrote:
sinfiery wrote:A law student isn't able to break even in some way in the summer? Go work at McDonalds if you can't find a real job/internship for 3 months and the 9 month CoL stays at 9 months.


I think it's painfully clear that you've never lived on your own or supported yourself, nor have you ever worked a full time job. You have a lot to learn about life, and about law school. You have unrealistic notions about costs of living. You might be able to live on $20K/year as a professional in a mid-sized city if you are young and single and have a tiny apartment. But there's just no way to do that in NYC.

Regarding McDonald's, if you have an unpaid 1L internship, you really don't have time to work a second job. You can't afford to come into work burnt out if you want a good recommendation. Also, lets take some things into consideration.

1) A 40-hour a week internship means you work 8 hours a day, but you also have to add in an hour for lunch, so you will be at that job 9 hours a day. You will have to dress up, which means ironing a shirt and putting on a tie and maybe a suit. This means, along with shaving, shower, etc., it will probably take you close to an hour to wake up, have breakfast, and get ready for this job. Now we're up to 10 hours. Furthermore, you will have to commute back and forth. Most legal internships are in large cities. You won't have a car, because it is too expensive to pay for parking in these kinds of cities. So you will have to take public transportation. You won't have money to live close to your work where rent is high, so your commute will likely be 1 hour each way, so now you are up to 12 hours. If you want 8 hours of sleep, this leaves you 4 hours left in the day to eat dinner, change into your McDonald's clothes, and then take public transportation to and from your McDonald's job, which leaves you with, at best 3 hours left in the day to work at minimum wage.

2) You might be asked to work late on a project that is due the next day, in which case, you'd have to call in sick to McDonald's and earn no money.

3) Your weekends will be spent doing mostly errands, such as doing laundry, dry cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. You will also spend a lot of time sending out resumes or typing up cover letters, especially if this is your 1L summer and you plan on participating in OCI.

In summary, you just don't have the time to work a second job if your first job is a professional one and you are a law student. There are a decent number of people who work two jobs, but they either have families at home taking care of their ironing, laundry, meals, etc. or they don't have to spend so much time on a commute in a large city.

I worked an unpaid government internship in DC my 1L summer, and this was pretty much the story of my time there. I did not have very much free time. I was very lucky to have family in the area with a spare bedroom, so I could live for free, and some of the grocery shopping, etc. was done for me. I didn't have to take out any extra debt. I spent my free time writing dozens of cover letters. If I decided to work at McDonald's instead, my legal career would be over.

I was just gonna say "you seem dumb" but this is a good answer too.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:31 pm

vanwinkle wrote:LOL no.

What do you mean by "real" job/internship? The vast majority of internships for law students are unpaid. You'll be working a full-time, unpaid internship for 8-10 weeks and earning $0, but you need a full-time internship on your resume or else you're basically unemployable. (Since it's the job-related training most law students typically get, and it's a threshold measure of how much you want to practice law, legal employers will throw your application in the trash if they see you didn't do anything law-related during your summers.)

Do you really think, after working 8 hours a day at an unpaid job, you'll want to work a second job in food service for $6/hr? And if you're the type of person who can work two jobs, you'd increase your odds of finding actual paying work when you graduate by working two unpaid internships instead.

Okay, I can see that.
No, you won't want to. But you can. And you can't really find a second internship that doesn't coincide with the hours of the first, but you can a PT job.

If the people ITT really are as risk averse to debt as they say, they wouldn't think twice about following this path.
Personally, I would never do it because debt doesn't scare me, but if it does. It is an option to lower your CoL loan amount by ~10-12k.

bhan87 wrote:
ITT - Clueless 0Ls assert their speculations about the legal job market.

This was my personal experience from 1 person. He did both this summer.
JCougar wrote:I think it's painfully clear that you've never lived on your own or supported yourself, nor have you ever worked a full time job. You have a lot to learn about life, and about law school. You have unrealistic notions about costs of living. You might be able to live on $20K/year as a professional in a mid-sized city if you are young and single and have a tiny apartment. But there's just no way to do that in NYC.

I lived off of 9k a year for 4 years 9 months out of the year, and worked close to minimum wage jobs in the summer whilst saving money when my only expenses were CoL with a car.


You can work on weekends and get your errands done too. Work and send out resumes on the commute every day to and from work. Prioritize and there are ways to make enough money for rent/food.

Colleges specifically state 20k is the average COL for a student. They generally provide more than enough money for students to live. Many people live in NYC on less than 20k. It's a fact.

Sure, presenting yourself as a lawyer might cost a bit more, but if you think NYC COL at it's very bare minimum is 40k, you are surely mistaken.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Theopliske8711 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 2:59 pm

3) Your weekends will be spent doing mostly errands, such as doing laundry, dry cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. You will also spend a lot of time sending out resumes or typing up cover letters, especially if this is your 1L summer and you plan on participating in OCI.


The benefits of mommy. With the errands stuff. :lol:

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby bhan87 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:16 pm

sinfiery wrote:
JCougar wrote:I think it's painfully clear that you've never lived on your own or supported yourself, nor have you ever worked a full time job. You have a lot to learn about life, and about law school. You have unrealistic notions about costs of living. You might be able to live on $20K/year as a professional in a mid-sized city if you are young and single and have a tiny apartment. But there's just no way to do that in NYC.

I lived off of 9k a year for 4 years 9 months out of the year, and worked close to minimum wage jobs in the summer whilst saving money when my only expenses were CoL with a car.


You can work on weekends and get your errands done too. Work and send out resumes on the commute every day to and from work. Prioritize and there are ways to make enough money for rent/food.

Colleges specifically state 20k is the average COL for a student. They generally provide more than enough money for students to live. Many people live in NYC on less than 20k. It's a fact.

Sure, presenting yourself as a lawyer might cost a bit more, but if you think NYC COL at it's very bare minimum is 40k, you are surely mistaken.


Okay let's try this. Assume you get 30k for cost of living. Let's calculate what the bare minimums are.

First, an apartment, even a shitty small one, will be a bare minimum of $1500 / month. This is low balling it quite a bit. Just go to Renthop, and you'll see that most studios go for around $2000 / month. However, taking the $1500 figure, rent alone is going to be $18,000.

Second, this doesn't include utils! Let's assume you don't even need internet because for whatever reason you don't consider it an essential. Utilities will still be around $50 / month at least. That's $18,000 + 600 = 18,600.

Third, you'll need to have a way to get to places. Because we're talking bare minimums, that'll be the subway. Monthly commuter pass is $104 / month for $1248. Total $19848

Fourth, you gotta eat. There are a couple factors in play here. As an attorney you probably won't have that much time to cook, which means you'll have to do a lot of ordering out or eating instant stuff. Of course, the firm will pay for certain things like dinner for when you're in the office late night, but I suspect that you won't be able to survive without a food budget under $400 / month ($13 / day). One trip to the deli will cost you around $8-10. I suppose you could slob it up and live off the McDonalds dollar menu when in emergency mode. A trip to a decent restaurant will totally bust your budget for quite a few days, so you'll have to make that up with unhealthy cheap eats or relying on handouts from the firm if you every choose to do that. Total $24,284.

Fifth, aside from food there are plenty of essential supplies you just need to live comfortably (toiletries like toothbrushes and toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.). Also don't forget that you will be expected to wear a suit everyday to work (given you don't go to a firm like Quinn). You have to get those drycleaned regularly and yes, a shabby appearance will directly impact you at work as a partner can't send you into client meetings with a funked up suit. I'm just gonna estimate this to be $100. Total $25,484.

Sixth, the cell bill. You don't absolutely need one I suppose as your firm will likely provide you one for work, but it's bad form to be using that phone for personal use. I'm gonna lowball this and say you go with a pretty cheapo plan for $30 / month (btw T-mobile has an amazing prepaid deal for $30). Total $29,084.

So here we are, just about to the $30k mark living in a shithole type of life (assume crappy apartment, assume feeding off handouts or dollar menu, assume only the most basic of living necessities).

Edit: various typos and such.

Edit 2: Embarrassing math fart in step 6... Should be $360 for the year not $3600. However, the point still stands especially when you consider timbs4339's post below.
Last edited by bhan87 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Br3v » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:27 pm

I keep reading this thread title in the present tense, and thin correct myself by remembering it says read, not read.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Theopliske8711 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:30 pm

You can probably find single rooms in Brooklyn for about 800 a month. You don't necessarily need a studio. But ultimately, you will need at least 35k to be able to survive on your own in NYC.

You can also save money by cooking a week ahead: prepare a weeks meal on Sunday so that you have a meal for each day of the week saved in the fridge. Could save you quite a bit.
Last edited by Theopliske8711 on Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:34 pm

bhan87 wrote:
sinfiery wrote:
JCougar wrote:I think it's painfully clear that you've never lived on your own or supported yourself, nor have you ever worked a full time job. You have a lot to learn about life, and about law school. You have unrealistic notions about costs of living. You might be able to live on $20K/year as a professional in a mid-sized city if you are young and single and have a tiny apartment. But there's just no way to do that in NYC.

I lived off of 9k a year for 4 years 9 months out of the year, and worked close to minimum wage jobs in the summer whilst saving money when my only expenses were CoL with a car.


You can work on weekends and get your errands done too. Work and send out resumes on the commute every day to and from work. Prioritize and there are ways to make enough money for rent/food.

Colleges specifically state 20k is the average COL for a student. They generally provide more than enough money for students to live. Many people live in NYC on less than 20k. It's a fact.

Sure, presenting yourself as a lawyer might cost a bit more, but if you think NYC COL at it's very bare minimum is 40k, you are surely mistaken.


Okay let's try this. Assume you get 30k for cost of living. Let's calculate what the bare minimums are.

First, an apartment, even a shitty small one, will be a bare minimum of $1500 / month. This is low balling it quite a bit. Just go to Renthop, and you'll see that most studios go for around $2000 / month. However, taking the $1500 figure, rent alone is going to be $18,000.

Second, this doesn't include utils! Let's assume you don't even need internet because for whatever reason you don't consider it an essential. Utilities will still be around $50 / month at least. That's $18,000 + 600 = 18,600.

Third, you'll need to have a way to get to places. Because we're talking bare minimums, that'll be the subway. Monthly commuter pass is $104 / month for $1248. Total $19848

Fourth, you gotta eat. There are a couple factors in play here. As an attorney you probably won't have that much time to cook, which means you'll have to do a lot of ordering out or eating instant stuff. Of course, the firm will pay for certain things like dinner for when you're in the office late night, but I suspect that you won't be able to survive without a food budget under $400 / month ($13 / day). One trip to the deli will cost you around $8-10. I suppose you could slob it up and live off the McDonalds dollar menu when in emergency mode. A trip to a decent restaurant will totally bust your budget for quite a few days, so you'll have to make that up with unhealthy cheap eats or relying on handouts from the firm if you every choose to do that. Total $24,284.

Fifth, aside from food there are plenty of essential supplies you just need to live comfortably (toiletries like toothbrushes and toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.). Also don't forget that you will be expected to wear a suit everyday to work (given you don't go to a firm like Quinn). You have to get those drycleaned regularly and yes, a shabby appearance will directly impact you at work as a partner can't send you into client meetings with a funked up suit. I'm just gonna estimate this to be $100. Total $25,484.

Sixth, the cell bill. You don't absolutely need one I suppose as your firm will likely provide you one for work, but it's bad form to be using that phone for personal use. I'm gonna lowball this and say you go with a pretty cheapo plan for $30 / month (btw T-mobile has an amazing prepaid deal for $30). Total $29,084.

So here we are, just about to the $30k mark living in a shithole type of life (assume crappy apartment, assume feeding off handouts or dollar menu, assume only the most basic of living necessities).

Edit: various typos and such.


This is a good approximation of the bare minimum. Realistically, people will be going out a few times a month for dinners and drinks at which you will be expected to join in. Those excursions will run you a few hundred bucks. Realistically, you use a broker, which is 10% or so of your annual rent (also you need security deposit upfront). Realistically, you need internet so you can telecommute. You won't need a suit every day, but you'll need at least two suits for client meetings and court. You will also need a few pairs of good dress shoes, 10 or so dress shirts, an assortment of ties, slacks, etc. etc. Another $1K even if you want to get ill-fitting or poorly looking stuff.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:50 pm

bhan87 wrote:=
Okay let's try this. Assume you get 30k for cost of living. Let's calculate what the bare minimums are.

First, an apartment, even a shitty small one, will be a bare minimum of $1500 / month. This is low balling it quite a bit. Just go to Renthop, and you'll see that most studios go for around $2000 / month. However, taking the $1500 figure, rent alone is going to be $18,000.

Second, this doesn't include utils! Let's assume you don't even need internet because for whatever reason you don't consider it an essential. Utilities will still be around $50 / month at least. That's $18,000 + 600 = 18,600.

Third, you'll need to have a way to get to places. Because we're talking bare minimums, that'll be the subway. Monthly commuter pass is $104 / month for $1248. Total $19848

Fourth, you gotta eat. There are a couple factors in play here. As an attorney you probably won't have that much time to cook, which means you'll have to do a lot of ordering out or eating instant stuff. Of course, the firm will pay for certain things like dinner for when you're in the office late night, but I suspect that you won't be able to survive without a food budget under $400 / month ($13 / day). One trip to the deli will cost you around $8-10. I suppose you could slob it up and live off the McDonalds dollar menu when in emergency mode. A trip to a decent restaurant will totally bust your budget for quite a few days, so you'll have to make that up with unhealthy cheap eats or relying on handouts from the firm if you every choose to do that. Total $24,284.

Fifth, aside from food there are plenty of essential supplies you just need to live comfortably (toiletries like toothbrushes and toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.). Also don't forget that you will be expected to wear a suit everyday to work (given you don't go to a firm like Quinn). You have to get those drycleaned regularly and yes, a shabby appearance will directly impact you at work as a partner can't send you into client meetings with a funked up suit. I'm just gonna estimate this to be $100. Total $25,484.

Sixth, the cell bill. You don't absolutely need one I suppose as your firm will likely provide you one for work, but it's bad form to be using that phone for personal use. I'm gonna lowball this and say you go with a pretty cheapo plan for $30 / month (btw T-mobile has an amazing prepaid deal for $30). Total $29,084.

So here we are, just about to the $30k mark living in a shithole type of life (assume crappy apartment, assume feeding off handouts or dollar menu, assume only the most basic of living necessities).

Edit: various typos and such.

Edit 2: Embarrassing math fart in step 6... Should be $360 for the year not $3600. However, the point still stands especially when you consider timbs4339's post below.

Decent situation. I've eaten the $ menu from McDonalds for years lol..ain't that bad brah but I can see 7 years of it being bad.

timbs4339 wrote:This is a good approximation of the bare minimum. Realistically, people will be going out a few times a month for dinners and drinks at which you will be expected to join in. Those excursions will run you a few hundred bucks. Realistically, you use a broker, which is 10% or so of your annual rent (also you need security deposit upfront). Realistically, you need internet so you can telecommute. You won't need a suit every day, but you'll need at least two suits for client meetings and court. You will also need a few pairs of good dress shoes, 10 or so dress shirts, an assortment of ties, slacks, etc. etc. Another $1K even if you want to get ill-fitting or poorly looking stuff.


Adding on the 1k for clothes, ~31k. I don't know about this broker business. Is that NYC only? Why can't I use craigslist, etc. Many apartments here offer free internet with rent. Not sure about NYC.
Theopliske8711 wrote:You can probably find single rooms in Brooklyn for about 800 a month. You don't necessarily need a studio. But ultimately, you will need at least 35k to be able to survive on your own in NYC.

You can also save money by cooking a week ahead: prepare a weeks meal on Sunday so that you have a meal for each day of the week saved in the fridge. Could save you quite a bit.


Now, if the apartment part of this post holds true.
1500 - 800 = 700 x 12 = 8400
31,000-8400 = $22,600 a year if true.
Not to mention, why not get a roomate? Could be sub 20k very easily. Those dinners, broker costs, and other things mentioned aside. Sh*t happens and I understand it could and will probably be slightly more.


Even 30k isn't too much over the top. The real question is, how hard is finding a job after your JD in NYC that pays over a 7 year average, 80k base salary? From a T6? T14? T35? TTT?

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Theopliske8711 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 3:58 pm

I'm currently working fulltime on 32k and living with parents. Mind you that I splurge a lot (boxing gym, 120 a month, iphone, 130 etc.), and have wasted a ton of money on LSAT material, but even so, since I am not spending on any living expenses, I should have saved some, but I have barely 4k in my bank account at the moment after 8months working. Things happen, weekends happen, friends happen, and this is a very expensive city.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:04 pm

sinfiery wrote:Adding on the 1k for clothes, ~31k. I don't know about this broker business. Is that NYC only? Why can't I use craigslist, etc. Many apartments here offer free internet with rent. Not sure about NYC.


I looked on the CL no-fee section for about a month- there was nothing there. A lot of the ads were brokers trolling or scams. My friends who went no-fee applied right to the building management companies of luxury buildings which will run you about $2500-3000 per month for a studio in Manhattan, low-end. Long Island City, right across the river, has studios for about $2200 in some luxury highrises.

I'm not sure you really understand how crappy the rental market is in Manhattan and NYC in general. It's bad. You'll likely have to pay gas and electric. Internet...LOL, unless you want to live in a luxury building. The roommate thing will get you down to $1500/month in a decent neighborhood.

Dinners/drinks/going out, etc are not "here or there." It's expected of you, so you have to build it into the budget. You remind me of a friend in college who was convinced he was going to save $1 million by age 30 and then retire by living off bread and milk and saving every penny of excess income. It made sense when everyone was eating at the same dining hall and living off the same CoL budget in the same dorms. It just didn't happen when he started working.

That being said, I know someone renting a room in Bushwick for $500/mo. This person is an extreme outlier and doesn't have biglaw. Most people working biglaw, even those with substantial debt, have 2K+ apartments before utils, eat out a lot, go drinking on the weekends, go to the occasional very chic place, invested more than 1K in their clothing, take vacations, etc etc.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:14 pm

timbs4339 wrote:I looked on the CL no-fee section for about a month- there was nothing there. A lot of the ads were brokers trolling or scams. My friends who went no-fee applied right to the building management companies of luxury buildings which will run you about $2500-3000 per month for a studio in Manhattan, low-end. Long Island City, right across the river, has studios for about $2200 in some luxury highrises.

I'm not sure you really understand how crappy the rental market is in Manhattan and NYC in general. It's bad. You'll likely have to pay gas and electric. Internet...LOL, unless you want to live in a luxury building. The roommate thing will get you down to $1500/month in a decent neighborhood.

Dinners/drinks/going out, etc are not "here or there." It's expected of you, so you have to build it into the budget. You remind me of a friend in college who was convinced he was going to save $1 million by age 30 and then retire by living off bread and milk and saving every penny of excess income. It made sense when everyone was eating at the same dining hall and living off the same CoL budget in the same dorms. It just didn't happen when he started working.

That being said, I know someone renting a room in Bushwick for $500/mo. This person is an extreme outlier and doesn't have biglaw. Most people working biglaw, even those with substantial debt, have 2K+ apartments before utlis, eat out a lot, go drinking on the weekends, go to the occasional very chic place, invested more than 1K in their clothing, take vacations, etc etc.

Lol, I probably wouldn't follow my own advice. I was just trying to setup an extreme situation one could preserve themselves in when they are facing bankruptcy.
That being said, I don't know the NYC rental market but others ITT have specially said you can find rent for as cheap as $800 for a single room. I would expect it to be more. Although having it be in a decent neighborhood isn't as important when facing bankruptcy as when you aren't.

Every single $ past 80k that you average in those 7 years can go towards improving your CoL in such a situation. Then after 7 years, an extra 36k after tax income to help with CoL or as you please. Assuming you don't get a raise past inflation rates.

I'm still curious about the 80k number. I don't think finding a legal job is that difficult considering the average LSAT being ~150 (albeit higher for the average LS student), 22k new jobs, and for the class of 2015, approx 38k new graduates. I mean, that includes all ABA accredited schools. TTTs and all.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Theopliske8711 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:24 pm

You can find rooms in inner-Brooklyn or Queens for 600-800 a month, don't know how long that will last though. Williamsburg will be at least 1200 but more realistically 1500. There is also the poorest area: Bronx. All in all, it makes one wonder, just what are you working for if your goal is to stay in the slums, though?

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:29 pm

Theopliske8711 wrote:You can find rooms in inner-Brooklyn or Queens for 600-800 a month, don't know how long that will last though. Williamsburg will be at least 1200 but more realistically 1500. There is also the poorest area: Bronx. All in all, it makes one wonder, just what are you working for if your goal is to stay in the slums, though?

JD with no debt at age 31 (Changes per person) is your worse case scenario if 80k a year is a floor for your job placement after LS in NYC.

Worth it, to me.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:34 pm

sinfiery wrote:
timbs4339 wrote:I looked on the CL no-fee section for about a month- there was nothing there. A lot of the ads were brokers trolling or scams. My friends who went no-fee applied right to the building management companies of luxury buildings which will run you about $2500-3000 per month for a studio in Manhattan, low-end. Long Island City, right across the river, has studios for about $2200 in some luxury highrises.

I'm not sure you really understand how crappy the rental market is in Manhattan and NYC in general. It's bad. You'll likely have to pay gas and electric. Internet...LOL, unless you want to live in a luxury building. The roommate thing will get you down to $1500/month in a decent neighborhood.

Dinners/drinks/going out, etc are not "here or there." It's expected of you, so you have to build it into the budget. You remind me of a friend in college who was convinced he was going to save $1 million by age 30 and then retire by living off bread and milk and saving every penny of excess income. It made sense when everyone was eating at the same dining hall and living off the same CoL budget in the same dorms. It just didn't happen when he started working.

That being said, I know someone renting a room in Bushwick for $500/mo. This person is an extreme outlier and doesn't have biglaw. Most people working biglaw, even those with substantial debt, have 2K+ apartments before utlis, eat out a lot, go drinking on the weekends, go to the occasional very chic place, invested more than 1K in their clothing, take vacations, etc etc.

Lol, I probably wouldn't follow my own advice. I was just trying to setup an extreme situation one could preserve themselves in when they are facing bankruptcy.
That being said, I don't know the NYC rental market but others ITT have specially said you can find rent for as cheap as $800 for a single room. I would expect it to be more. Although having it be in a decent neighborhood isn't as important when facing bankruptcy as when you aren't.

Every single $ past 80k that you average in those 7 years can go towards improving your CoL in such a situation. Then after 7 years, an extra 36k after tax income to help with CoL or as you please. Assuming you don't get a raise past inflation rates.

I'm still curious about the 80k number. I don't think finding a legal job is that difficult considering the average LSAT being ~150 (albeit higher for the average LS student), 22k new jobs, and for the class of 2015, approx 38k new graduates. I mean, that includes all ABA accredited schools. TTTs and all.


80K average over the first 7 years of work is a pipe dream at most (90%) ABA schools. Your most likely outcome is between 40-60K or unemployed/working non-JD required. 80K is a ridiculous number, because there aren't very many legal jobs that start at 80K. The tracks at a T6 school (again, I went there) is usually between biglaw or a 40-60K government/PI/clerkship LRAP qualifying job.

You'll never be "facing bankruptcy" with student loans since you can't discharge them in bankruptcy. The more likely scenario is that you go on IBR and watch your debt load skyrocket as interest accrues much faster than principal. In that case you are caught in what the government has determined is "partial financial hardship." Not exactly where most law students thought they would end up after three years, no?

The problem is that you've gone from saying "idk how anyone could turn down law school if the outcome is 80K" to "well, if you live like a pauper for years, you can do it." People don't go to law school because they want to live like paupers for a decade, especially when we have no idea what the legal market will look like in seven years. They don't go to law school so they can live in Bushwick or East New York. They go to law school expecting to graduate into the middle-class.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 23, 2012 4:44 pm

timbs4339 wrote:80K average over the first 7 years of work is a pipe dream at most (90%) ABA schools. Your most likely outcome is between 40-60K or unemployed/working non-JD required. At a T6 school, 80K is probably a fair assumption.

You'll never be "facing bankruptcy" with student loans since you can't discharge them in bankruptcy. The more likely scenario is that you go on IBR and watch your debt load skyrocket as interest accrues much faster than principal. In that case you are caught in what the government has determined is "partial financial hardship." Not exactly where most law students thought they would end up after three years, no?

The problem is that you've gone from saying "idk how anyone could turn down law school if the outcome is 80K" to "well, if you live like a pauper for years, you can do it." People don't go to law school because they want to live like paupers for a decade, especially when we have no idea what the legal market will look like in seven years. They don't go to law school so they can live in Bushwick or East New York. They go to law school expecting to graduate into the middle-class.

That 10% number is a tad bit scary. Although that still equates to roughly the top 20 schools, I realize the pay dispersion isn't unified to 100% of #14 than 1% of #15 receive said salary. This has to be for NYC though because COL changes do change the salary needed to meet circumstances. Favorably for LS grads. But 80k is the minimum. If T6 is the only schools that can give you a very good chance at receiving just the minimum, this is very terrible news. I hope you are misinformed.

IBR with the loan amount and said interest rates is absolutely terrifying. I don't even want to consider that. I suppose I meant to use the term bankruptcy loosely to mean something you definitely don't want to do.

As for the living standards, that's 7 years of that type of life. This is a life-long investment you took out loans for. I don't think it's too preposterous to assume such a life. Sure, you will have a rough 7 years but after 20 years I doubt you are going to live anything but a Good life. You will likely be a 1-3%er.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Tiago Splitter » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:03 pm

sinfiery wrote:That 10% number is a tad bit scary. Although that still equates to roughly the top 20 schools, I realize the pay dispersion isn't unified to 100% of #14 than 1% of #15 receive said salary. This has to be for NYC though because COL changes do change the salary needed to meet circumstances. Favorably for LS grads. But 80k is the minimum. If T6 is the only schools that can give you a very good chance at receiving just the minimum, this is very terrible news. I hope you are misinformed.


Salary information is pretty widely available. Look at what's out there for the schools you can get in to, and then make your determination from that. For some people, 70% of the class making 130-160K with the rest making 60K or less just isn't good enough to justify debt and three years of life in law school. For others, those are great odds.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:06 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:Salary information is pretty widely available. Look at what's out there for the schools you can get in to, and then make your determination from that. For some people, 70% of the class making 130-160K with the rest making 60K or less just isn't good enough to justify debt and three years of life in law school. For others, those are great odds.

I was under the assumption all salary data was generally useless because of the sampling bias and other oddities the universities use to their advantage.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Swimp » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:11 pm

I generally side with the cautious side on issues like this, but there are some people in this thread who are wildly overestimating how much it costs to live in NYC. I've been here for almost four years and I only started making about $40K a year ago. Before that it was $20K or less per year, and I did just fine living in Manhattan. You just need to find a few roommates, cook all your own food, and not go out to fancy bars. If that lifestyle is unthinkable for you, then you might be in trouble, but you can live comfortably, if not luxuriously, on much less money than a lot of you seem to think.

EDIT: I should add that I've taken on no debt while living here.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:15 pm

Swimp wrote:I generally side with the cautious side on issues like this, but there are some people in this thread who are wildly overestimating how much it costs to live in NYC. I've been here for almost four years and I only started making about $40K a year ago. Before that it was $20K or less per year, and I did just fine living in Manhattan. You just need to find a few roommates, cook all your own food, and not go out to fancy bars. If that lifestyle is unthinkable for you, then you might be in trouble, but you can live comfortably, if not luxuriously, on much less money than a lot of you seem to think.

EDIT: I should add that I've taken on no debt while living here.

I said 20k pure untaxed cash for cost of living in my first assumption.

Good info to know.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby Tiago Splitter » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:19 pm

sinfiery wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:Salary information is pretty widely available. Look at what's out there for the schools you can get in to, and then make your determination from that. For some people, 70% of the class making 130-160K with the rest making 60K or less just isn't good enough to justify debt and three years of life in law school. For others, those are great odds.

I was under the assumption all salary data was generally useless because of the sampling bias and other oddities the universities use to their advantage.


You can often count the number of people making a certain salary, as Law School Transparency does. Being conservative is always advised. For example, if a class of 100 students reports a 75th percentile salary of 160K, but only 40 people reporting, we can be sure that at least 10 people made 160K. Don't assume any more than that.

The nice thing about T-14s is that they usually have a very high reporting rate. That issue only comes up as you go further down the rankings. But with the improvements in transparency all of the T-14s and many other schools will give you plenty of information on which to base a decision, including salary info. Gone are the days of the bullshit excuses about going to New York Law School because you fell for the scam.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby sinfiery » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:24 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
You can often count the number of people making a certain salary, as Law School Transparency does. Being conservative is always advised. For example, if a class of 100 students reports a 75th percentile salary of 160K, but only 40 people reporting, we can be sure that at least 10 people made 160K. Don't assume any more than that.

The nice thing about T-14s is that they usually have a very high reporting rate. That issue only comes up as you go further down the rankings. But with the improvements in transparency all of the T-14s and many other schools will give you plenty of information on which to base a decision, including salary info. Gone are the days of the bullshit excuses about going to New York Law School because you fell for the scam.

Good to know.

The decision isn't nearly as difficult for me as others being that I have UT Austin with in-state tuition + very low COL and my other alternatives besides law school aren't worth exploring.

I will use said resources to dictate where I should position myself within the T16 (depending on my new LSAT being higher)

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby timbs4339 » Tue Oct 23, 2012 5:58 pm

Swimp wrote:I generally side with the cautious side on issues like this, but there are some people in this thread who are wildly overestimating how much it costs to live in NYC. I've been here for almost four years and I only started making about $40K a year ago. Before that it was $20K or less per year, and I did just fine living in Manhattan. You just need to find a few roommates, cook all your own food, and not go out to fancy bars. If that lifestyle is unthinkable for you, then you might be in trouble, but you can live comfortably, if not luxuriously, on much less money than a lot of you seem to think.

EDIT: I should add that I've taken on no debt while living here.


I don't deny that you can live on 20K in NYC, I did it while I was a student. But I think it's ridiculous to assume I would be able to do it at 30 as a young professional. As ridiculous as my friend who thought he would eat bread and dry cereal for a decade to save money.

Several of my friends are engaged and married and therefore don't want to live with roommates (also they do not want to share a 250 sq ft a studio apt with their SO), and so are paying a lot of money (3K/mo) for decent apartments in a good neighborhood, for example. Now *could* they live with roommates? Sure! But that may not be what they consider a reasonable outcome for a three-year, 250K investment in a JD. Ditto with skipping nights out, dinners, vacations. Like I said earlier, it is extremely personal. Budgeting 19K for living expenses in NYC is going to restrict your living options and lifestyle- that's worth it for some and not for others.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:13 pm

sinfiery wrote:I lived off of 9k a year for 4 years 9 months out of the year, and worked close to minimum wage jobs in the summer whilst saving money when my only expenses were CoL with a car.


I live off about the same amount in St. Louis right now, so I understand how to live on a budget. I also worked about 25 hours a week during undergrad at a commissioned job and full time in the summers (where I earned an average of $12-13/hour, so I never had to take out loans for living expenses. My first semester tuition was also $1,881, which I basically paid for with work. As a result, I have zero debt from undergrad. I did rack up about $8,000 of credit card debt during that same period, but I paid that off after a year or so of working. I had a decent interest rate on that credit card (that was before the financial crash) so it wasn't too bad of a financial decision.

However, neither my undergrad nor my law school COL was in NYC, nor did I have to be a professional while doing that. A lot of things you take for granted add up. Dry cleaning will be about $50 every two weeks, unless you work at a business casual firm where you can wear washable, wrinkle-free business clothes. Your train pass will be about $100/month. This with dry cleaning adds up to $2,500 per year. If you own a car, your expense will be far greater even if you have made all the payments, with parking, insurance, parking tickets, gas, etc. Wardrobe will be $1000/year. You'll need to get a professional-looking haircut, which means at least once a month. Also, because you will be working so much, you may face many nights where you can't go home for dinner and have to order out. And instead of bringing in your own lunch to work, you may be forced to go out with clients or partners, who may or may not cover your bill.

Also, you will probably want a girlfriend. And you know what that does to budgets. :D I think people underestimate how much living a professional life increases your living expenses compared to living a college student's life. I think I generally can live on less than most people. But I doubt $20K in NYC is very doable for a practicing lawyer.

Edit: You'll also probably want to join a gym...if you don't exercise and get out your stress somehow, law can be a psychologically unhealthy field. This will cost another $1000/year at best. Utilities will be $1000/year. Cell phone will be similar if you want a data plan, which you will need as an attorney. As you can see a lot of things you get for free as a student (transit pass, gym, library to use the internet, etc.) are no longer free when you are working. They all add up.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby megagnarley » Tue Oct 23, 2012 8:58 pm

It's blowing my mind that people are approaching these numbers as if they will be subject to them as if by an unalterable force.

30% (arbitrary) of people don't make big law therefore any one person's odds are 30%? Sure, if you assume that it is based entirely on factors outside of your control.

The fact is that it is in your control to a large extent. If you are awful at interviews, not the best student, having drinking problems--the concern is elevated. And even if you are a complete stud, there is always a chance you will "strike out."

But the fact of the matter is you have far more control than is assumed by looking at these numbers and assuming you can do nothing to affect them.

The ball is in your court. Swing.

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Re: Just read Don't Go to Law School (Unless)

Postby JCougar » Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:29 pm

megagnarley wrote:It's blowing my mind that people are approaching these numbers as if they will be subject to them as if by an unalterable force.

30% (arbitrary) of people don't make big law therefore any one person's odds are 30%? Sure, if you assume that it is based entirely on factors outside of your control.

The fact is that it is in your control to a large extent. If you are awful at interviews, not the best student, having drinking problems--the concern is elevated. And even if you are a complete stud, there is always a chance you will "strike out."

But the fact of the matter is you have far more control than is assumed by looking at these numbers and assuming you can do nothing to affect them.

The ball is in your court. Swing.


You must be an 0L. Welcome. You're in for a surprise.




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