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

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

Postby JCougar » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:10 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:Saying that people who miss BigLaw out of law school might still get BigLaw later isn't going to keep people from going to law school.


I think the reasonable reader can figure out that this was a rare and surprise exception. I'm just reporting what I heard. 5th year associate, $140K in debt, newborn child.

Bottom line is that even if you make Biglaw, with today's debt burdens, you'll have to choose between long-term financial stability, and "models and bottles." If you chose the former, you're working cumbersome hours and you're not either having a lot of fun or getting really rich. You're likely driving the same used car that you were driving in college and living in a small 1-br or studio apartment. So in other words, you're living like you would have lived without getting biglaw if you just went to a school that gave you a full tuition scholarship.

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

Postby sinfiery » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:17 pm

IAFG wrote:
sf2 wrote:When people say "typed" does that mean LS exams are done on a laptop/computer and no longer hand-written?

If some of the posters in this thread are telling the truth (Which I would really only believe form a HYSCCN Top 1%er) and this is the case, I may have just moved up 70% in class rankings.

wat and wat and wat


Still curious about this.

Are lawschool exams handwritten or are they typed on a laptop?

People keep saying typing speed which I would assume relates to a laptop.

JCougar wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:Saying that people who miss BigLaw out of law school might still get BigLaw later isn't going to keep people from going to law school.


I think the reasonable reader can figure out that this was a rare and surprise exception. I'm just reporting what I heard. 5th year associate, $140K in debt, newborn child.

Bottom line is that even if you make Biglaw, with today's debt burdens, you'll have to choose between long-term financial stability, and "models and bottles." If you chose the former, you're working cumbersome hours and you're not either having a lot of fun or getting really rich. You're likely driving the same used car that you were driving in college and living in a small 1-br or studio apartment. So in other words, you're living like you would have lived without getting biglaw if you just went to a school that gave you a full tuition scholarship.


This is only thinking of a person's actual accrued financial assets after 5-7 years.

Sure, you will have the same standard of living after 5 years, but your forcasted income for the next 40 years will be 500-5000% more than the others.

Stop basing things off of a 5-6 year forecast.
This is an investment for life, not until 2020.

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

Postby JCougar » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:23 pm

AllTheLawz wrote:Dude you picked the worst example possible.. I mean we understand that when people strike out at Biglaw they want to warn people about the dangers of doing so but being hyperbolic about it just makes it less credible. Anyone who can do basic math can figure out that if you get biglaw and live reasonably you can pay off $150k in 5 years.

Also, TLS needs to stop with this idea that leaving biglaw w/o making partner = back to poverty. Before OCI I used some data I had available to research people who were no longer at their original firms. The vast majority of them are now in positions that almost certainly pay six figures (women had somewhat "worse" salary outcome overall but its hard to tell if self-selection is involved).


People aren't taking out $150K for law school these days. They're taking out $220K, and the interest is starting to accrue sooner thanks to legislative changes. When you consider bar loans, accrued interest, undergrad debt, etc., it ends up being more like $250K if you are paying sticker where you go to law school.

I also happened to meet an in-house attorney this last weekend at a Fortune 100 corporation. He's still got substantial debt. He worked in Biglaw before and was laid off in 2009. It took him over a year of being unemployed and scrounging around for jobs but eventually he got his in-house position. It pays well, but it's substantially less than Biglaw and he had to defer his loan payments for over a year and a massive amount of interest accrued.

Getting Biglaw simply isn't enough to guarantee financial stability these days if you paid sticker for law school. Even if you get Biglaw, the debt it takes to get you there is a huge financial risk. "Anyone who can do basic math" should be able to see that.
Last edited by JCougar on Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Postby bk1 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:25 pm

JCougar wrote:Bottom line is that even if you make Biglaw, with today's debt burdens, you'll have to choose between long-term financial stability, and "models and bottles." If you chose the former, you're working cumbersome hours and you're not either having a lot of fun or getting really rich. You're likely driving the same used car that you were driving in college and living in a small 1-br or studio apartment. So in other words, you're living like you would have lived without getting biglaw if you just went to a school that gave you a full tuition scholarship.


This seems like an overstatement. Living on 50k/year (post tax, post loan paynments) is better than what people live off in college (and 50k/year is pretty aggressive loan repayment. This also ignores that once you pay off your loans your take home jumps.

I think the real thing is that you're right, you're not living the big life. But there's nothing wrong with that. You're living decently well (albeit with long hours). What this comes back to is whether you want to spend your life being a lawyer. You shouldn't be going to law school to get rich. I also question whether people who do get biglaw with full sticker are actually worse off financially than had they just gone out and got a job. I think that depends on UG and UGPA but the point is that it goes back to whether one actually wants to be a lawyer.

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

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:25 pm

sinfiery wrote:People keep saying typing speed which I would assume relates to a laptop.

The law schools I attended used laptops. Most do now, I think.

sinfiery wrote:This is only thinking of a person's actual accrued financial assets after 5-7 years.

Sure, you will have the same standard of living after 5 years, but your forcasted income for the next 40 years will be 500-1000% more than the others.

No it's not. This is ridiculous.

Many, and I'd venture to say most, people who get BigLaw don't stay in it for more than 5 years. They end up taking jobs elsewhere, often jobs that pay substantially less than their fifth-year BigLaw salary. Some will take jobs where they'll never hit $160K again. For many who leave, it's because they're being pushed out, not because they want to.

Forecasted income from being in BigLaw 40 years presupposes making partner. It's getting harder and harder to make partner in BigLaw now. And if you don't make partner, the 5-year mark is when they start pointing out where the door is.

sinfiery wrote:Stop basing things off of a 5-6 year forecast.

But 5 years or so is the farthest out you can reliably predict your income, as I just stated. You have to base things on a 5-year forecast, because that's the longest you can reliably predict staying in BigLaw.

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

Postby bk1 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:27 pm

sinfiery wrote:Still curious about this.

Are lawschool exams handwritten or are they typed on a laptop?

People keep saying typing speed which I would assume relates to a laptop.


It refers to a typewriter. There's actually a point of diminishing returns on typing speed because at a certain point the typewriter starts to jam.

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

Postby AllTheLawz » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:27 pm

JCougar wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:Saying that people who miss BigLaw out of law school might still get BigLaw later isn't going to keep people from going to law school.


I think the reasonable reader can figure out that this was a rare and surprise exception. I'm just reporting what I heard. 5th year associate, $140K in debt, newborn child.

Bottom line is that even if you make Biglaw, with today's debt burdens, you'll have to choose between long-term financial stability, and "models and bottles." If you chose the former, you're working cumbersome hours and you're not either having a lot of fun or getting really rich. You're likely driving the same used car that you were driving in college and living in a small 1-br or studio apartment. So in other words, you're living like you would have lived without getting biglaw if you just went to a school that gave you a full tuition scholarship.


Please stop talking as if you know what you are talking about. Making 160k, you could put 3k/month towards loans and still be left with ~$70k after taxes. Thats close to a $100k pre-tax salary, still doing well. Yeah you will work, on average, around 60 hrs a week. So what. I used to work 60hrs a week and made $55k and I was beyond comfortable. Hell, most people I know work 50-65 hours a week and make pre-tax around $50-70k/yr. My mother worked 60 hrs per week when I was growing up and made less than $50k/yr. All these 40 hr/week jobs making $60k with plenty of room for advancement are a MYTH. They exist but they aren't all that common. 90% of the people I know working out of undergrad have the EXACT SAME complaints people have about biglaw but they are making, at most, half the money. Biglaw isn't all that different from the rest of the corporate world. Work is boring, sometimes stressful, and it sucks.. welcome to life.

~$70k after taxes starting salary, very good shot at moving into a six-figure job that is a little less demanding, a relatively great degree of autonomy compared to other jobs (no clocking in and out, no one stalking your office), good benefits... that sounds like a really awesome job to me. People are getting screwed in EVERY sector of the economy. You think biglaw is unstable, tell that to my friend who was about to start at Lehman, or my friend who got laid off at Goldman, or my friend who had to intern at an engineering firm for $15/hr for an entire year, after graduating, before they even considered him for a full-time job, or the guys in accounting that got laid off from the business unit of a F500 company that we sold off.
Last edited by AllTheLawz on Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Postby minnbills » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:28 pm

JCougar wrote:
AllTheLawz wrote:Dude you picked the worst example possible.. I mean we understand that when people strike out at Biglaw they want to warn people about the dangers of doing so but being hyperbolic about it just makes it less credible. Anyone who can do basic math can figure out that if you get biglaw and live reasonably you can pay off $150k in 5 years.

Also, TLS needs to stop with this idea that leaving biglaw w/o making partner = back to poverty. Before OCI I used some data I had available to research people who were no longer at their original firms. The vast majority of them are now in positions that almost certainly pay six figures (women had somewhat "worse" salary outcome overall but its hard to tell if self-selection is involved).


People aren't taking out $150K for law school these days. They're taking out $220K, and the interest is starting to accrue sooner thanks to legislative changes. When you consider bar loans, accrued interest, undergrad debt, etc., it ends up being more like $250K if you are paying sticker where you go to law school.

I also happened to meet an in-house attorney this last weekend at a Fortune 100 corporation. He's still got substantial debt. He worked in Biglaw before and was laid off in 2009. It took him over a year of being unemployed and scrounging around for jobs but eventually he got his in-house position. It pays well, but it's substantially less than Biglaw and he had to defer his loan payments for over a year and a massive amount of interest accrued.

Getting Biglaw simply isn't enough to guarantee financial stability these days if you paid sticker for law school. Even if you get Biglaw, the debt it takes to get you there is a huge financial risk. "Anyone who can do basic math" should be able to see that.


Maybe people should make smarter choices about where they go to school . . .

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

Postby sinfiery » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:30 pm

vanwinkle wrote:But for the most part you can't tell which group you'll fall into as a 0L, especially when you're entering a class where everyone has a 98th percentile LSAT score and a high UG GPA. That's the sense in which I think it's arbitrary.

And since we're in a 0L forum talking about whether going to law school makes sense, and since grading is arbitrary relative to any predictive factors a 0L has to rely on, I think that's worth pointing out. Especially when law school grades dictate ITE whether one can even find legal employment at all.

True enough. This is a risk. Most things are. Undergrad was a very comparable risk to this. Same GPA/Softs/SAT/ACTs as you.

With even a greater risk as more students in UG drop out then in LS. Smaller debt cost, but smaller reward benefits too.
Most majors also have far worse job markets than LS.

LS is a risk. But so is everything, ever. If it wasn't, it would fail because the risk of failing is what helps push forward the standard within the industry, keeping it competitive in the market.

Yeah, but it takes going through a year of law school to know if you'll be an A student or a B student. By then it's too late to decide whether it's worth the cost, because you're already at least $50K in debt.


Life ain't perfect.

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

Postby JCougar » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:33 pm

sinfiery wrote:Stop basing things off of a 5-6 year forecast.
This is an investment for life, not until 2020.


I'm not basing it off a 5-6 year forecast. But I am saying that the kind of salaries Biglaw pays are much higher than most exit options--and most Biglaw attorneys (close to 85%) will have to rely on those exit options after 5-8 years, if not sooner.

After 5-6 years, if you have survived in Biglaw for that long, you probably will get a long-term job that pays six figures. But it's low six figures, and you still might have a ton of college debt. But that's pay you could have gotten as an engineer or simply by working yourself up the corporate ladder in retail management or sales.

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

Postby minnbills » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:36 pm

JCougar wrote:
After 5-6 years, if you have survived in Biglaw for that long, you probably will get a long-term job that pays six figures. But it's low six figures, and you still might have a ton of college debt. But that's pay you could have gotten as an engineer or simply by working yourself up the corporate ladder in retail management or sales.


Most people who try to work their way up don't make it.

There's no reason people can't make smart choices to limit their debt- like going to a state school or taking a scholarship over the highest ranked school you get into that asks for sticker. Moreover, if you're making six figures, you should be able to cover any school debt. It won't be great but if people can pay a mortgage on 100k, they can pay school loans instead.

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

Postby JCougar » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:37 pm

minnbills wrote:Maybe people should make smarter choices about where they go to school . . .


I think they should think more comprehensively about what career path--both within the legal industry and without it--is best for them. The problem is that's really hard to have enough information to make this decision without beginning an irreversible decision to embark upon one such path.

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

Postby sinfiery » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:38 pm

vanwinkle wrote:The law schools I attended used laptops. Most do now, I think.
Oh dear god, yes.

No it's not. This is ridiculous.
Many, and I'd venture to say most, people who get BigLaw don't stay in it for more than 5 years. They end up taking jobs elsewhere, often jobs that pay substantially less than their fifth-year BigLaw salary. Some will take jobs where they'll never hit $160K again. For many who leave, it's because they're being pushed out, not because they want to.


Forecasted income from being in BigLaw 40 years presupposes making partner. It's getting harder and harder to make partner in BigLaw now. And if you don't make partner, the 5-year mark is when they start pointing out where the door is.


The 5,000% was based on making partner at a BigLaw firm.
The 500% relies on the person with a T6 degree and Biglaw experience for 3-6 years earning more than 12.5% per year then the scholly + T100 graduate.
This is NOT a ridiculous assumption, in my ignorant opinion. Please tell me the pedigree is worth over 12.5% a year.

But 5 years or so is the farthest out you can reliably predict your income, as I just stated. You have to base things on a 5-year forecast, because that's the longest you can reliably predict staying in BigLaw.


That 5 year analysis is so ridiculously biased in terms of the zero-cost investment, the analysis is worth nothing to a person.

Can we both agree that your LS education/experience will likely not become useless within 5 years?
Then we can agree the payout summary from the action will keep being useful past 5 years.
The costs stop after 5 years.

One has no cost, one has a cost.
5 years, the one without a cost will have a ridiculously inflated relative worth.
That means nothing because none of us plan to live for 5 5 years or make this assumption based on a 5 year forecast.

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

Postby sinfiery » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:40 pm

JCougar wrote:
sinfiery wrote:Stop basing things off of a 5-6 year forecast.
This is an investment for life, not until 2020.


I'm not basing it off a 5-6 year forecast. But I am saying that the kind of salaries Biglaw pays are much higher than most exit options--and most Biglaw attorneys (close to 85%) will have to rely on those exit options after 5-8 years, if not sooner.

After 5-6 years, if you have survived in Biglaw for that long, you probably will get a long-term job that pays six figures. But it's low six figures, and you still might have a ton of college debt. But that's pay you could have gotten as an engineer or simply by working yourself up the corporate ladder in retail management or sales.


Working your way up as an engineer or in the retail management department or definitely in sales is very difficult.

To even earn 100k is difficult and would likely take over 8 years of WE.

bk1 wrote:
sinfiery wrote:Still curious about this.

Are lawschool exams handwritten or are they typed on a laptop?

People keep saying typing speed which I would assume relates to a laptop.


It refers to a typewriter. There's actually a point of diminishing returns on typing speed because at a certain point the typewriter starts to jam.

Us neurotic LSAT students are bonded in blood.

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

Postby JCougar » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:42 pm

minnbills wrote:Most people who try to work their way up don't make it.


Kind of like most people who go to law school don't make biglaw or keep biglaw long enough to service their debt.

Even if most people in retail management don't make it, there's no downside risk. You don't have to take out massive loans. I did HR for a large retail chain before law school, and we had store managers that routinely made into six figures. Almost none of them had more than a high school degree. Not only did the have no school debt, they also started their careers 4 to 7 years earlier than most, and thus had no opportunity cost. They started paying a mortgage by age 20, and by the time most people graduate from grad school, they already have their house nearly half paid off.

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

Postby AllTheLawz » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:46 pm

I think some people here have a fundamental misunderstanding of what a very good career path is for someone straight out of undergrad. A very, very good starting salary is $55-$65k (yes, this includes engineers). You work your way up to middle-management over 5-10 years and make $75-85k (slightly higher top-level for engineers). From there you either pray for some luck or go get an advanced degree or certification if you have any hopes of moving up. That's right people, a VERY GOOD mid-career salary is something like $75-85k. Yes, people make above that but they are the straight out of undergrad mathematical equivalent of law students who get biglaw.

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

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:56 pm

AllTheLawz wrote:Please stop talking as if you know what you are talking about. Making 160k, you could put 3k/month towards loans and still be left with ~$70k after taxes. Thats close to a $100k pre-tax salary, still doing well.

It depends on where you're living, honestly.

In NYC, $160K pre-tax becomes $90-95K post-tax. If you put $3K/mo. towards loans, then that's $90K - $36K = $54K.

The September 2012 average rental for a no-doorman 1-bedroom in Manhattan is $3100/mo, or $37K/yr. So, after rent, you have $54K - $37K = $17K.

A monthly MetroCard is $104/mo. or over $1K/yr. $17K - $1K = $16K.

Here's where things get harder to break down, but let's assume you actually want to eat well. Most people do when they're making six figures.

Food is more expensive in NYC, as the cost of groceries in NYC is 48% higher than the national average, and working long hours you'll probably eat out a lot since you won't have as much time or energy to cook. If you don't cook at night then you probably won't prepare a lunch to take to work the next morning, either, so let's assume you're buying your lunches too. A single meal can run you $10-15 at even a cheap place; if you spend $10 on breakfast and a latte, $10 on lunch and $15 on dinner, all of which is cheap for Manhattan, that's $35/day for 20 days a month. Maybe on the weekends you can cook for cheap and make giant pots of pasta that you can get 4 or 5 servings out of, but since this whole debate is about whether you can really enjoy yourself and still pay your debts off, let's assume you want to eat decently on the weekends too, maybe have a bottle of wine or a couple of beers. Even if you cook for yourself, you're probably buying quality ingredients which means shopping at one of the more expensive grocery stores. Now you're up around $20-30/day again at a minimum.

The first place a person wants to live truly comfortably is with food. If you do, then averaging $30/day then you're looking at $900/mo. or $11K/yr. $16K - $11K = $5K.

Okay. You've covered basic expenses, you don't even own a car and you're living in an average (small) 1BR apartment. Other than eating fairly well, you're not spending frivolously at all. And you have $5K at best for non-food living expenses. And that's with paying off your loans at a rate of $3K/mo., which would still take more than 5 years to pay off $190K of debt plus interest at 7-8%.

Or you can assume you eat ramen three times a day and have $15K to play with, but then you're back into frugal and miserable territory again. Either way, $160K is not that much for NYC.

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

Postby AllTheLawz » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:00 pm

JCougar wrote:
minnbills wrote:Most people who try to work their way up don't make it.


Kind of like most people who go to law school don't make biglaw or keep biglaw long enough to service their debt.

Even if most people in retail management don't make it, there's no downside risk. You don't have to take out massive loans. I did HR for a large retail chain before law school, and we had store managers that routinely made into six figures. Almost none of them had more than a high school degree. Not only did the have no school debt, they also started their careers 4 to 7 years earlier than most, and thus had no opportunity cost. They started paying a mortgage by age 20, and by the time most people graduate from grad school, they already have their house nearly half paid off.


Those store managers were among the tops in the nation. The average store manager in large retail makes in the $60-80k and many of them work their tails off to get it. This is especially so now that the corporate offices are pushing more expenses onto the individual store accounts and making it more difficult for store owners to hit their comp targets (I know b/c at my company I was on one of the teams that recommended it). I am talking hours that put biglaw to shame.

Also, there is downside risk. It comes from being a guy with only a high-school diploma in an economy where a BA is required to be a secretary. These days you are describing an outcome more unlikely than making biglaw.

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

Postby sinfiery » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:04 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
AllTheLawz wrote:Please stop talking as if you know what you are talking about. Making 160k, you could put 3k/month towards loans and still be left with ~$70k after taxes. Thats close to a $100k pre-tax salary, still doing well.

It depends on where you're living, honestly.

In NYC, $160K pre-tax becomes $90-95K post-tax. If you put $3K/mo. towards loans, then that's $90K - $36K = $54K.

The September 2012 average rental for a no-doorman 1-bedroom in Manhattan is $3100/mo, or $37K/yr. So, after rent, you have $54K - $37K = $17K.

A monthly MetroCard is $104/mo. or over $1K/yr. $17K - $1K = $16K.

Here's where things get harder to break down, but let's assume you actually want to eat well. Most people do when they're making six figures.

Food is more expensive in NYC, as the cost of groceries in NYC is 48% higher than the national average, and working long hours you'll probably eat out a lot since you won't have as much time or energy to cook. If you don't cook at night then you probably won't prepare a lunch to take to work the next morning, either, so let's assume you're buying your lunches too. A single meal can run you $10-15 at even a cheap place; if you spend $10 on breakfast and a latte, $10 on lunch and $15 on dinner, all of which is cheap for Manhattan, that's $35/day for 20 days a month. Maybe on the weekends you can cook for cheap and make giant pots of pasta that you can get 4 or 5 servings out of, but since this whole debate is about whether you can really enjoy yourself and still pay your debts off, let's assume you want to eat decently on the weekends too, maybe have a bottle of wine or a couple of beers. Even if you cook for yourself, you're probably buying quality ingredients which means shopping at one of the more expensive grocery stores. Now you're up around $20-30/day again at a minimum.

The first place a person wants to live truly comfortably is with food. If you do, then averaging $30/day then you're looking at $900/mo. or $11K/yr. $16K - $11K = $5K.

Okay. You've covered basic expenses, you don't even own a car and you're living in an average (small) 1BR apartment. Other than eating fairly well, you're not spending frivolously at all. And you have $5K at best for non-food living expenses. And that's with paying off your loans at a rate of $3K/mo., which would still take more than 5 years to pay off $190K of debt plus interest at 7-8%.

Or you can assume you eat ramen three times a day and have $15K to play with, but then you're back into frugal and miserable territory again. Either way, $160K is not that much for NYC.


How does the average single~26 year old live in NYC with a $78,000 salaried job?

I'd do that.

Hopefully they don't eat ramen all day.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographi ... ity#Income

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

Postby AllTheLawz » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:07 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
AllTheLawz wrote:Please stop talking as if you know what you are talking about. Making 160k, you could put 3k/month towards loans and still be left with ~$70k after taxes. Thats close to a $100k pre-tax salary, still doing well.

It depends on where you're living, honestly.

In NYC, $160K pre-tax becomes $90-95K post-tax. If you put $3K/mo. towards loans, then that's $90K - $36K = $54K.

The September 2012 average rental for a no-doorman 1-bedroom in Manhattan is $3100/mo, or $37K/yr. So, after rent, you have $54K - $37K = $17K.

A monthly MetroCard is $104/mo. or over $1K/yr. $17K - $1K = $16K.

Here's where things get harder to break down, but let's assume you actually want to eat well. Most people do when they're making six figures.

Food is more expensive in NYC, as the cost of groceries in NYC is 48% higher than the national average, and working long hours you'll probably eat out a lot since you won't have as much time or energy to cook. If you don't cook at night then you probably won't prepare a lunch to take to work the next morning, either, so let's assume you're buying your lunches too. A single meal can run you $10-15 at even a cheap place; if you spend $10 on breakfast and a latte, $10 on lunch and $15 on dinner, all of which is cheap for Manhattan, that's $35/day for 20 days a month. Maybe on the weekends you can cook for cheap and make giant pots of pasta that you can get 4 or 5 servings out of, but since this whole debate is about whether you can really enjoy yourself and still pay your debts off, let's assume you want to eat decently on the weekends too, maybe have a bottle of wine or a couple of beers. Even if you cook for yourself, you're probably buying quality ingredients which means shopping at one of the more expensive grocery stores. Now you're up around $20-30/day again at a minimum.

The first place a person wants to live truly comfortably is with food. If you do, then averaging $30/day then you're looking at $900/mo. or $11K/yr. $16K - $11K = $5K.

Okay. You've covered basic expenses, you don't even own a car and you're living in an average (small) 1BR apartment. Other than eating fairly well, you're not spending frivolously at all. And you have $5K at best for non-food living expenses. And that's with paying off your loans at a rate of $3K/mo., which would still take more than 5 years to pay off $190K of debt plus interest at 7-8%.

Or you can assume you eat ramen three times a day and have $15K to play with, but then you're back into frugal and miserable territory again. Either way, $160K is not that much for NYC.


I chose to take the $160k in a non-NYC market. If you are comparing Biglaw in NYC to Biglaw outside of NYC by the numbers then your life sucks. But if you wanted to live in NYC anyway (you are getting a NYC premium so to say) then you should be comparing it to an NYC-based outcome. Compared to the average person living in NYC or your likely outcome living in NYC straight out of undergrad you are still doing pretty well. Again, most people in NYC live on around $60k or less pre-tax (I mean individual income, not household).

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

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:11 pm

sinfiery wrote:True enough. This is a risk. Most things are. Undergrad was a very comparable risk to this.

Undergrad is less difficult and costs less, and there are far more jobs that require a bachelor's than require a JD. This makes the reward for UG much higher and the risk much lower.

You can't just say everything's a risk. It matters how much risk for how much reward. Otherwise you're just gambling, and at $200K to play, law school is one hell of a ridiculous gamble.

sinfiery wrote:The 5,000% was based on making partner at a BigLaw firm.

Right, the odds of which are ridiculously low from the 0L starting point.

sinfiery wrote:The 500% relies on the person with a T6 degree and Biglaw experience for 3-6 years earning more than 12.5% per year then the scholly + T100 graduate.

Okay, well, on the 0L front, even if you go to a T6 you can't assume you'll get BigLaw, and even those who have T6 and work BigLaw for a while will not keep making over $160K/yr. They will not necessarily make "500% more" over 40 years than those that didn't make BigLaw, because they'll ultimately end up in non-BigLaw jobs with salary bands that overlap what the folks who didn't make BigLaw are earning. If you do BigLaw for 5 years and then go be a public defender, you're making as much for the following 35 years as everyone who started out as a public defender is making.

sinfiery wrote:This is NOT a ridiculous assumption, in my ignorant opinion. Please tell me the pedigree is worth over 12.5% a year.

It's not, necessarily. It's worth it in terms of odds and chances, but not making more money in the same job. If you make BigLaw you'll make similar money as everyone else in BigLaw. If you leave BigLaw and go do gov't/PI work then you'll make the same as other people doing gov't/PI work. If you leave and go join a small practice then you'll make as much as anyone else in that practice. The pedigree may be good for helping you land those jobs, but it won't be good for helping you make more money than other people in those same jobs.

It is a ridiculous assumption to think going to a T6 will guarantee you long-term riches.

sinfiery wrote:Can we both agree that your LS education/experience will likely not become useless within 5 years?
Then we can agree the payout summary from the action will keep being useful past 5 years.
The costs stop after 5 years.

This is only true if you pay off everything within 5 years. And if you do, then yes, the costs stop then.

What you're missing is that there is no guarantee the income will keep flowing at higher and higher levels after 5 years. Hell, it's a mistake to assume that if you get BigLaw you'll be allowed to stay 5 years. Some people get pushed out faster or burn out faster. A lot of people can't take BigLaw hours forever; they start leaving around the 3-4 year mark and move to jobs that pay less but are survivable to them. If you haven't paid off all your debts by then, you're still going to have costs continuing for much longer because you're likely settling for a lower income in exchange for better quality of life, and lower income means less money to put toward your debts each year.

As a 0L, even going to T6, you can't assume you'll get BigLaw. Or that you'll stay in it for 5 years if you get it. Or that you'll get a job that will ever pay as much as BigLaw did after you leave. Because even among those who get BigLaw there are a significant number of people who end up not making that kind of money for long.

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

Postby vanwinkle » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:14 pm

AllTheLawz wrote:Again, most people in NYC live on around $60k or less pre-tax (I mean individual income, not household).

Yeah, but a lot of those people don't have to dress well or work 80 hours per week or deal with $200K in debt.

Someone who makes $60K pre-tax in NYC makes $42K post-tax. Someone who makes $160K pre-tax in NYC makes $90K post-tax, and then after paying $3K/mo. toward their debt they make $54K post-tax.

So the "most people" who live on $60K/yr in NYC are actually making only about $12K/yr less post-tax than your first-year associate. They cover that $12K/yr difference by living in the cheaper parts of Brooklyn or Queens. You could do that too, but again, goes back to that whole frugal-or-not point JCougar was making.

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

Postby WhiskeynCoke » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:19 pm

I did HR for a large retail chain before law school, and we had store managers that routinely made into six figures. Almost none of them had more than a high school degree. Not only did the have no school debt, they also started their careers 4 to 7 years earlier than most, and thus had no opportunity cost. They started paying a mortgage by age 20, and by the time most people graduate from grad school, they already have their house nearly half paid off.


What retail chain was this? My roommate has been a retail manager for years in places like Banana Republic, Cole Haan, Club Monaco, and Armani. Almost no one makes 6 figures a year in retail management (highest paid manager he saw was making ~80k). To move into the 6 figure range, you need to be promoted into corporate (then move up the "ladder" for atleast a few years), which requires a bachelors degree(every major chain has this requirement, which is what kept him out).

You seem to be suggesting that if one just works in retail, one of the most dead-end underpaying jobs in the country, you have a reasonable (comparable to biglaw from T14) shot at 6 figures in 4-7 years. You also seem to be suggesting that with this retail job, you'll be able to not only get approved for a mortgage at the age of 20, but be able to pay that mortgage off before you're 30.

Dude, this is an absolutely ridiculous claim to make. people who work in retail get paid minimum wage and are kept at low hours so they don't get benefits. You get a 10 cent raise per year until you shoot yourself.

Get real....

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

Postby AllTheLawz » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:31 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
AllTheLawz wrote:Again, most people in NYC live on around $60k or less pre-tax (I mean individual income, not household).

Yeah, but a lot of those people don't have to dress well or work 80 hours per week or deal with $200K in debt.

Someone who makes $60K pre-tax in NYC makes $42K post-tax. Someone who makes $160K pre-tax in NYC makes $90K post-tax, and then after paying $3K/mo. toward their debt they make $54K post-tax.

So the "most people" who live on $60K/yr in NYC are actually making only about $12K/yr less post-tax than your first-year associate. They cover that $12K/yr difference by living in the cheaper parts of Brooklyn or Queens. You could do that too, but again, goes back to that whole frugal-or-not point JCougar was making.


Honestly, if you go to NYC w/ 200k debt because that is your only option then that sucks. I still think the financial position you are in if you make it 4-5 years, pay debt down to a reasonable amount, and then take a 6-figure exit option is pretty good. Obviously, a lot has to go right for that to happen but I don't think it is any more likely that you would be in NYC making more money if you had not gone to law school.

The NYC examples are hard to argue with b/c I have done the math and even with my $150k debt I didn't see how it made any sense for me to choose NYC over a BOS/ATL/CHI/TEX type secondary market or even DC where I could be debt free in 5 years if I wanted to and still have the law degree upside opportunities potentially available.

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

Postby Rahviveh » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:38 pm

AllTheLawz wrote:
vanwinkle wrote:
AllTheLawz wrote:Again, most people in NYC live on around $60k or less pre-tax (I mean individual income, not household).

Yeah, but a lot of those people don't have to dress well or work 80 hours per week or deal with $200K in debt.

Someone who makes $60K pre-tax in NYC makes $42K post-tax. Someone who makes $160K pre-tax in NYC makes $90K post-tax, and then after paying $3K/mo. toward their debt they make $54K post-tax.

So the "most people" who live on $60K/yr in NYC are actually making only about $12K/yr less post-tax than your first-year associate. They cover that $12K/yr difference by living in the cheaper parts of Brooklyn or Queens. You could do that too, but again, goes back to that whole frugal-or-not point JCougar was making.


Honestly, if you go to NYC w/ 200k debt because that is your only option then that sucks. I still think the financial position you are in if you make it 4-5 years, pay debt down to a reasonable amount, and then take a 6-figure exit option is pretty good. Obviously, a lot has to go right for that to happen but I don't think it is any more likely that you would be in NYC making more money if you had not gone to law school.

The NYC examples are hard to argue with b/c I have done the math and even with my $150k debt I didn't see how it made any sense for me to choose NYC over a BOS/ATL/CHI/TEX type secondary market or even DC where I could be debt free in 5 years if I wanted to and still have the law degree upside opportunities potentially available.


Is COL really that much cheaper in LA/SF/CHI/DC markets? I can't imagine its much better




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