lowest ranked school you would settle for?

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JCougar
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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:07 pm

BigZuck wrote:I think not including, say, Duke as a school that is ok if you want big law is shark jumpy

Also, I'm sure that this is me being naive or whatever but I do think there is probably still a need for small firm/local government types and that state flagships are fine. Maybe they should cost less and maybe there should only be 1 law school per state (or, maybe states with small legal markets like New Mexico and Arizona would have one combined law school to cover the general region). I think we could probably lop off half the law schools out there and be ok. But less than 10? That's too much.


But a lot of those local government jobs are terrible cut n' paste type gigs where you're fighting through like 10 years of appeals/administrative hearings, etc. over like a $5,000 case. There's a few interesting jobs in the appeals/litigation divisions of larger cities, but it's hard to get those, as a lot of them go to people who get burned out of Biglaw.

Like if you have a useless humanities degree and just need something to support a family and don't care about having an interesting job, these are great gigs, especially because of the better hours. But it's not the kind of job most people have in mind when they try and decide whether going to law school is worth it. They usually pay a decent salary, especially considering the debt forgiveness, but most people don't end up ever making six figures. You're not financially screwed, but I think a lot of these people still mostly hate their jobs and wish they would have gone another route.

As far as small law, unless you can work your way into some boutique niche area (most of these niche people are Biglaw cast-offs anyway), the pay is basically the same except for no loan forgiveness. We recently had an opening at my agency that paid like $68K, and we were flooded with resumes of people with 20 years of experience who though this was a great salary. People with 15 years of experience didn't even get callbacks.

Duke is not a terrible school, but there's still a non-negligible risk of striking out if you graduate from there. Some people think 60/40 risk of success is worth it. But like I said, that's a risk MD's at almost all medical schools don't have to take.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby BigZuck » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:29 pm

JCougar wrote:Like if you have a useless humanities degree and just need something to support a family

I mean...
JCougar wrote:60/40 risk of success

It would really surprise me if only 60% of the people who wanted big law at Duke and jumped through the big law hiring hoops got big law. It would also surprise me if Penn is really that much safer than Duke to make one school's existence acceptable and the other school's unacceptable.

Brother Cougs, you're preaching to the choir here on most levels. I'm probably one of the, let's say, "less optimistic" posters here. But I think your bright line is much too bright and can really detract from the point you're trying to get across.

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JCougar
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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:32 pm

BigZuck wrote:
JCougar wrote:Like if you have a useless humanities degree and just need something to support a family

I mean...
JCougar wrote:60/40 risk of success

It would really surprise me if only 60% of the people who wanted big law at Duke and jumped through the big law hiring hoops got big law. It would also surprise me if Penn is really that much safer than Duke to make one school's existence acceptable and the other school's unacceptable.

Brother Cougs, you're preaching to the choir here on most levels. I'm probably one of the, let's say, "less optimistic" posters here. But I think your bright line is much too bright and can really detract from the point you're trying to get across.


Well, I didn't say that Duke shouldn't exist...just that I don't think I'd waste my time going to it unless I got a huge scholarship--if I could do it all again.

Of course, this is coming from someone who left a decent-enough-but-not-fit-for-my-personality career to go to law school, so I didn't have any useless humanities degree problems myself. I probably should have just stuck with it and gunned for consulting.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:46 pm

JCoug, you seem to have a fairly narrow definition of jobs that are worth it. And your really narrow band of schools ignores the possibility of going to a local flagship for free.

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JCougar
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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:49 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:JCoug, you seem to have a fairly narrow definition of jobs that are worth it. And your really narrow band of schools ignores the possibility of going to a local flagship for free.


The thing is, even without debt, the job options from the local flagships these days aren't great--to the point where it might not even be worth the lost salary over those three years. And let's be honest, it's probably lost salary for 4-5 years, since graduates from these schools often spend at least year after graduation waiting for bar results and looking for jobs.

It's a different risk calculus I guess for people who already have at least a mediocre career going for them.
Last edited by JCougar on Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:51 pm

That seems to go right back to "narrow definition of jobs worth having" though.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby Moneytrees » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:53 pm

Top 7 is such an arbitrary number.

If you are Biglaw or bust, schools like NU, Duke and Cornell have very similar (and sometimes better) Biglaw placement numbers as HYSCCNP. If you are debt averse, then going to a lower T14 at a discount beats going to a top 7 school. I just don't really get why you are drawing a line at 7.

Plus, some people genuinely have no interest in Biglaw or clerkships. If you want to practice at a small firm in your hometown in a flyover state, going to a strong regional for free seems more defensible than going to an ivy league on the East coast for 250k.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby pancakes3 » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:53 pm

Re-reading Coug's post in the context of the OP asking what Coug personally thinks is worth it for him/her personally, I get it.

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JCougar
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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:53 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:That seems to go right back to "narrow definition of jobs worth having" though.


Maybe. It's just my opinion as to what is actually worth it.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Mar 06, 2015 1:56 pm

JCougar wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:That seems to go right back to "narrow definition of jobs worth having" though.


Maybe. It's just my opinion as to what is actually worth it.

Sure, not saying you personally have to feel differently.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby jever020 » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:08 pm

free top 50(ish)

If you're gonna settle for lower employment scores, at least do so with a near-free JD

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby romothesavior » Fri Mar 06, 2015 2:37 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:That seems to go right back to "narrow definition of jobs worth having" though.

Agreed. Jcoug, I get being down on the legal market. Most of us are. But you are way off the deep end here.

It's all a matter of personal choice, I suppose, but most people who go to state flagships for free will on average still wind up with a way better job and higher career earnings than someone who doesn't. You may find the risk too high or the jobs not worth it, but you're still overselling how bad things are.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby abl » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:13 pm

Having graduated and spent several years in practice, if I had to do it all over again with a different set of law school options, I'd probably go to any T14 at sticker and most of the roughly T30 that are in regions in which I'd be happy to practice at a substantial discount. I think the general TLS wisdom is too doom and gloom focused and too debt averse--just about all of the recent graduates who I know from respectable (T20-T30-type) regional schools have fairly rewarding and respectably lucrative law jobs, even if it took some hustle for them to get there. I would not trade my job for any of theirs, but I still think I'd be happier with one of their jobs making ~$60k/year with $100k in debt than I would in one of the other jobs I would have taken in lieu of law (with no debt).

Also, I really wanted to be a lawyer and now I really enjoy law -- so I would have gladly traded some financial security for the career of my choice. I want to barf when I think about the career alternatives cited most often by others here-- i-banking, consulting, or becoming an accountant. There's substantial value to liking your job, and I would have hated any of those jobs. Even if going to accounting school may have been a significantly better financial decision for me than, say, attending UW-Madison at half-sticker, I think the amount of misery I would have felt as an accountant would have more than compensated for whatever increase in risk/cost associated is with Madison. I haven't ever lived my life based solely on where I'm going to maximize my earning potential, and so far it's worked out great for me (for example, I'm currently working in a position that I love, making the world a better place, and earning six figures in a lower COL city--a position that I left six figures on the table elsewhere to accept). I do not think that line of thinking should justify going to, say, a crummy law school at sticker. But I do think that the sort of careers that most graduates of T30 schools end up having justifies some real but manageable amount of debt--at least for a prospective student who is pretty sure that she (1) wants to be a lawyer and (2) doesn't have some other close second alternative career.

Incidentally, if I hadn't gone to law school, I most likely would have tried my hand in a liberal arts masters program (and maybe ultimately in a PhD)--where the risk-reward tradeoff is far inferior to that at a strong regional law school. The sort of financially secure jobs most generally available to those considering law school are either unappealing to many for any number of reasons (like the financial sector jobs) or are even more of a financial risk than attending a strong regional law school with a substantial scholarship. Looking at what most of my friends who did not go to law school (or some other graduate school for which I did not have the prerequisites--like med school) are doing, I'm also basing my comments on my general perception of how tough the job market is for mid-20-somethings--it's not like there are just oodles of rewarding and lucrative alternative jobs waiting for prospective law students.
Last edited by abl on Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BigZuck
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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby BigZuck » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:19 pm

abl wrote:just about all of the recent graduates who I know
Cool

abl wrote:I want to barf when I think about the career alternatives
Neat

abl wrote:I'm currently working in a position that I love, making the world a better place, and earning six figures in a lower COL city
Really cool

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby abl » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:30 pm

BigZuck wrote:
abl wrote:just about all of the recent graduates who I know
Cool

abl wrote:I want to barf when I think about the career alternatives
Neat

abl wrote:I'm currently working in a position that I love, making the world a better place, and earning six figures in a lower COL city
Really cool


Your point?

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby BigZuck » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:39 pm

abl wrote:
BigZuck wrote:
abl wrote:just about all of the recent graduates who I know
Cool

abl wrote:I want to barf when I think about the career alternatives
Neat

abl wrote:I'm currently working in a position that I love, making the world a better place, and earning six figures in a lower COL city
Really cool


Your point?

The first one, you're trying to rage against the hiveminded- machine with an anecdote that doesn't actually CHECKMATE the hivemind or really make any sort of point about it being wrong when it comes to debt/risk aversion.

The second one, I guess I'm probably just confused as to what this thread is supposed to be. Is it a collection of story time (cuz who cares and why would the OP make the thread but then again lots of pointless threads are made all the time) or is it a platform for people to make some sort of statement about legal education/the legal job market?

The third one, I think that actually is really cool. You're definitely winning at life.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:06 pm

romothesavior wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:That seems to go right back to "narrow definition of jobs worth having" though.

Agreed. Jcoug, I get being down on the legal market. Most of us are. But you are way off the deep end here.

It's all a matter of personal choice, I suppose, but most people who go to state flagships for free will on average still wind up with a way better job and higher career earnings than someone who doesn't. You may find the risk too high or the jobs not worth it, but you're still overselling how bad things are.


I really love what I do right now work-wise, and I'm finding that I am really good at it as well. My supervisors seem to agree, but there's not much they can do about it.

I would honestly be happy to do this for minimum wage plus a healthcare plan, but, of course, I can't even get that. So it's hard to over-sell how bad things are when there are 0 jobs to even apply for, and I gave up nearly 5 years of an average lawyer's starting salary just to get to this point. Plaintiff's firms need people with like at least 3 years of experience because they can't afford to train you. Governments have no budgets. And Biglaw is Biglaw--who cares if you know the subject matter as well as most Biglaw partners because of your previous career, but you weren't top third, your resume goes straight into the trash.

I'd be happy with my decision even at poverty level wages, because I just like this work more than what I did previously. But, like I said, I can't even have that. How do you put a positive spin on that?

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby Moneytrees » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:14 pm

What you just said is very different from saying "The only law schools worth going to are the top 7".

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:22 pm

Moneytrees wrote:What you just said is very different from saying "The only law schools worth going to are the top 7".


Not really. There's obviously this kind of downside risk at every school, except for possibly the top 7. My brother-from-another-mother on here BruceWayne went to a non-T7 T14 on here, and he can tell you that.

Going to law school, I realized the employment stats were juiced, but I really had no idea that the downside risk of striking out at OCI was this bad. And where I was previously volunteering, I was working with two T6 grads even--although one of them transferred in his 2L year. I also personally know someone who struck out from Michigan.

It's not just me, either, because at least half of my friends are either doing document review, trying to make it as a solo, or trying to scrape by at some "rent-an-associate" insurance defense or slip n' fall-type places. My roommate can't even afford to take an additional bar exam because his doc review outfit hasn't found a project for him for the last three weeks. He was trying to save up $1000 to pay for a second bar exam, but now he doesn't even know how he'll be able to pay for April's rent.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby Moneytrees » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:31 pm

You don't address the fact that lower T14 schools have basically the same job placement scores as schools such as NYU and Penn. For example, NU was routinely in the top 5 for Biglaw placement during the mid to late 2000's and is still a powerhouse when it comes to placing its grads into corporate jobs.

The only schools where you are essentially guaranteed an elite outcome are YHS. That's it. Drawing the line at 7 schools is just an odd proposition. Especially since you could attend a non top 7 schools at a significant discount if you have the numbers to get into YHSCCNP.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:44 pm

Moneytrees wrote:You don't address the fact that lower T14 schools have basically the same job placement scores as schools such as NYU and Penn. For example, NU was routinely in the top 5 for Biglaw placement during the mid to late 2000's and is still a powerhouse when it comes to placing its grads into corporate jobs.

The only schools where you are essentially guaranteed an elite outcome are YHS. That's it. Drawing the line at 7 schools is just an odd proposition. Especially since you could attend a non top 7 schools at a significant discount if you have the numbers to get into YHSCCNP.


NU does better than its lower T14 peers at placing people into Biglaw, true. But I think this is because it admits people with more work experience in the first place.

However, the last LST report shows a total employment score of 78% when you subtract the school-funded jobs. That's a bigger downside risk than CCNP.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby JCougar » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:11 pm

And like I said, 78% placement into actual lawyer jobs and 55% placement into high-paying lawyer jobs is seen as "elite" in the law school realm, but would be considered terrible in the medical school realm.

School isn't supposed to be a financially ruinous risk. It should not be like investing in the stock market. The AMA gets this. The ABA simply doesn't.

I mean, is playing Russian Roulette a great decision? Hey, five of six chambers are empty, so you have a pretty darn good chance of success! Sometimes the depth of the downside overrides even a fairly good chance of success.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby abl » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:34 pm

BigZuck wrote:
abl wrote:
BigZuck wrote:
abl wrote:just about all of the recent graduates who I know
Cool

abl wrote:I want to barf when I think about the career alternatives
Neat

abl wrote:I'm currently working in a position that I love, making the world a better place, and earning six figures in a lower COL city
Really cool


Your point?

The first one, you're trying to rage against the hiveminded- machine with an anecdote that doesn't actually CHECKMATE the hivemind or really make any sort of point about it being wrong when it comes to debt/risk aversion.

The second one, I guess I'm probably just confused as to what this thread is supposed to be. Is it a collection of story time (cuz who cares and why would the OP make the thread but then again lots of pointless threads are made all the time) or is it a platform for people to make some sort of statement about legal education/the legal job market?

The third one, I think that actually is really cool. You're definitely winning at life.


Gotcha. I guess I did think that this thread was some mix of story time and a platform to make statements about the field of law more broadly. I was trying to blend the two in my comments. Obviously anecdotes can only get you so far, but I think one thing that's sorely missing from the TLS discussions re debt and law school is any actual illustration of what happens to most graduates of schools outside of the top 14. We know that they don't generally do biglaw or a federal clerkship. And we know that many of them haven't secured full-time jobs at the time of graduation. And we know that some of them are trapped in an eternity of horrible contract work. But I'm not sure that the accepted TLS wisdom that all (or most or even more than a reasonable minority) of non-T14 grads do nothing besides contract work is accurate--and that's a point that really can only be highlighted by anecdotes given the lack of hard evidence differentiating between the various types of non-biglaw employment outcomes.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby Moneytrees » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:36 pm

Sure, even top law school employment numbers leave a lot to be desired. Part of the problem has been the recession, which hit all law schools hard. If you look up employment data from 10 years ago, you'll be surprised to see how robust employment numbers were back then.

Law school is probably not a wise choice, financially, for the vast majority of people applying. However, if someone is set on going to law school, I'm not sure how helpful it is to say "If you don't get into X school", you shouldn't go to law school. Everybody has different career goals and different degrees of aversion to debt. Prospective students should educate themselves and be realistic about their ability to attain their career goals/pay back their student debt. If somebody is dead set on Biglaw, then sure, a non-T14 school is probably the wrong choice for them. But if somebody would be content with working at a smaller firm, a local regional school for free (or close to it) seems defensible. It all depends on the person's career goals.

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Re: lowest ranked school you would settle for?

Postby BigZuck » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:54 pm

Abl-

Undoubtedly toplawschools.com skews toward TOP law schools and the types of outcomes people get there. But I've read the anecdotes/stories from non-T14 grads that you're talking about. You're not reading enough of TLS or digging very deeply.

Also, what you're calling the "Accepted TLS wisdom" is a strawman. It doesn't exist. Just a head's up.




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