Dumb to choose non-big law?

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radon5

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Dumb to choose non-big law?

Postby radon5 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:25 pm

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Last edited by radon5 on Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

cavalier1138

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Re: Choosing non-big law

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:39 pm

radon5 wrote:I apologize if this is a dumb question but I'm going to ask it anyway. As a 0L reading most of these threads, there seems to be a big law or bust mentality for a lot of people. I don't know if I'd be able to get into a t-14, which most people seem to say is just about the only chance I'd have at BL. I'd like to think I could do well enough somewhere lower and give myself a shot but I also get that most people feel like that and the top 10% (if not 5%) at a given school doesn't leave room.

If I go to somewhere like a large state school and want to practice in that state or the near region, will I still have good opportunities to work as a litigator in maybe mid-sized to small firms (not public interest)? Is that something I should absolutely only do if I don't have many loans coming out of school? I just feel like there have to be good jobs outside of strictly big law where I can make a good living practicing an area of law I like, but I haven't seen much discussion about that on threads. Is that out there or is it just wishful thinking? Thanks


This actually comes up occasionally, but most people don't come to this forum with the ambition of getting a mid-to-small-sized firm job. So it's hard to find the specific threads on it.

You're right to doubt yourself in the first paragraph, because you simply can't count on doing that well. And to answer your specific questions:

Yes, you can get those regional opportunities from a flagship state school. Yes, you should only take an offer from one of those schools if you will not be in any real amount of debt coming out. Yes, you are engaging in slightly wishful thinking when it comes to salaries, but it depends on what you mean by "make a good living". Biglaw salaries in NYC start at $180k plus bonuses. Small or midlaw salaries anywhere are probably more along the lines of $45-60k to start. The problem is that, with the exception of a few higher-level government jobs, there really aren't any starting salaries in between those points. Attorney salaries are bimodal. You're generally either making huge amounts of money or barely making more than a paralegal at a big firm.

Now, if you stick with a midlaw job for some time, your salary will obviously go up, and you might eventually be pulling down six figures (depends on where you are and how high you get in the firm). But that's long-term, which is why you can't take out a significant amount in loans and plan on paying it off in 10 years with that job.

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mjb447

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Re: Dumb to choose non-big law?

Postby mjb447 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:52 pm

I think it's less that people intend to be in biglaw as a long-term career path and more that biglaw is, for many people, the quickest path to paying off law school debt. Honestly, there's not a lot of "long-term career" talk here generally; most TLS talk is focused on the immediate obstacles in getting into law school, doing well there, and paying off any debt incurred to do it.

radon5

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Re: Dumb to choose non-big law?

Postby radon5 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:04 pm

Thanks. It sounds like if I'm pretty debt averse and don't get a great scholarship to some state school, the advice would be to avoid law school. I think law would be a really interesting/fulfilling career but maybe I should be t-14 or bust (most likely bust). That's a little demoralizing.

cavalier1138

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Re: Dumb to choose non-big law?

Postby cavalier1138 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:09 pm

radon5 wrote:Thanks. It sounds like if I'm pretty debt averse and don't get a great scholarship to some state school, the advice would be to avoid law school. I think law would be a really interesting/fulfilling career but maybe I should be t-14 or bust (most likely bust). That's a little demoralizing.


There's no need to be T14 or bust if you aren't set on a career that can only be realistically attained with a T14 degree. And you don't need T14 numbers to get a full scholarship to a good state school.

You just need to make sure that you have realistic career goals for your options and that you aren't taking on more debt than you can realistically pay off.

albanach

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Re: Choosing non-big law

Postby albanach » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:39 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
This actually comes up occasionally, but most people don't come to this forum with the ambition of getting a mid-to-small-sized firm job. So it's hard to find the specific threads on it.


It's important that OP also understands the bimodal salary distribution for lawyers. Law is typically not a field where you can say, "how about I just work 8-6 and you only pay me $100k instead of the massive demands of biglaw and $180k?"

Those low six figure jobs with reasonable hours do exist, but they're rare and very competitive. Often a few years of biglaw is the prerequisite (think in house in the lower fortune 500).



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