On the topic of cash, my earlier post to another thread may be relevant:
A NYT Editorial last week by Adam Cohen was pretty striking. He posits this recession will remake the current legal landscape, especially affecting T-20 students and BigLaw prospects. Even BigLaw are laying off attorneys at a staggering rate and old, venerable firms are failing. No longer will first-year associates at top firms start at around $160,000; he suggests they may go down to as low as $100,000, where they were about 10 years ago.
To be sure a huge gap exists between private BigLaw practice and public sector jobs, which start new attorneys at anywhere from $40k-$60k a year. There wasn't always such a gap, and it will certainly shrink.
I would add (from what I've read from Alan Blinder and other econ/fed/finance types) that the breakneck growth in the financial sector we've seen over the past 10 years will never happen again, as investment banks like Morgan Stanley are now legally considered "banks", which subjects them to greater regulation and scrutiny. We can be sure hedge funds will also be regulated more closely. The days of leveraging 30 to 1 are over, as are the days of making a 30% return on capital. Greater regulation will obviously greatly decrease fat financial sector profits and therefore affect salaries for BigLaw attorneys of all sorts in the long-run as well.
So those on this forum who are attracted to law principally for the cash may want to rethink their law school plans. Especially since most of us will graduate with around $100k in debt, much of it from private loans carrying a ridiculous interest rate. And those that aren't should take a look at the realities of paying steep loan payments on a lower-than-anticipated salary.
Check out Cohen's article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/opini ... u4.html?em