Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

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budafied
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Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby budafied » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:19 am

Hello,

I'm originally from the Pittsburgh area. I'll most likely be entering law school Fall 2011, so it will be another 4 years until I have a JD, if all goes as planned. Although I'm not entirely sure where I would like to practice law, I'd definitely be open to working in Pittsburgh for the rest of my life.

I'd like to know what the market was like in Pittsburgh before the economy crashed, where it is now, and how it is expected to be in about four years. I know it's not a big market by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm wondering if I can pick up a good "mid-law" job that pays around 6 figures out of a T25 or so... (specifically: ND)

I know I'm getting way ahead of myself here, but I'd just like to know if a good legal career in the Pittsburgh area is feasible.

Thanks!

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:25 am

budafied wrote:Hello,

I'm originally from the Pittsburgh area. I'll most likely be entering law school Fall 2011, so it will be another 4 years until I have a JD, if all goes as planned. Although I'm not entirely sure where I would like to practice law, I'd definitely be open to working in Pittsburgh for the rest of my life.

I'd like to know what the market was like in Pittsburgh before the economy crashed, where it is now, and how it is expected to be in about four years. I know it's not a big market by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm wondering if I can pick up a good "mid-law" job that pays around 6 figures out of a T25 or so... (specifically: ND)

I know I'm getting way ahead of myself here, but I'd just like to know if a good legal career in the Pittsburgh area is feasible.

Thanks!


It would be foolish and a bit ignorant to think you will make 6 figures out of law school in this job market. If you want to be realistic, think closer to 60k a year instead. That is a goal that is more attainable. Either way, if you plan on practicing in Pittsburgh, you may want to consider going to law school there. Maybe then you will even get scholarships or financial aid so you will finish with less debt. Going to ND sounds great, but incurring over 100k in student loans with the same dismal job prospects sounds like a poor investment, in my opinion. I'm sure there are other on here who may disagree with me and advise you to go to the higher ranked school. Just remember, when you go to a higher ranked school, you will be competing among others who have the same goals as you. If you are outside the top 20% in your class, you will have a much harder time getting a job. If you go to Pittsburgh, you should hopefully be higher in class rank and that will help your chances of getting a job in that market area. There should be less competition for you there. That is assuming you could even get into ND.

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:29 am

I'm a Pitt 1L. If you know that you want to work in Pittsburgh, I would recommend trying to get a great scholarship from Pitt. Pittsburgh is one of those small, insulated legal communities that tends to look out for its own - check the bio's of BigLaw attorneys in Pittsburgh and you'll see Pitt represented quite well. I think it would be a mistake to choose a higher ranked, out of market school if you really want to stay in Pittsburgh and have a scholarship at Pitt. Then again, I'm probably biased because that's the exact decision I made. Having said all this, however, you still need to do well at Pitt to have a shot at BigLaw, if that's your goal. ITE, anything less than top-10% likely won't cut it, and who knows if even that will do it. Then again, it's pretty much a mystery how non-T14 schools fare in Pittsburgh. Other than maybe a few select "national" schools, ND possibly being one, I seriously doubt you would have any leg up on Pitt students. With a tiny legal community like this (it's slightly scary how everyone knows everyone), it's allllll about networking. That's tough to do when you have nothing in common with Pittsburgh or volunteer your time during the year/summer.

Anyways, on to your questions about the market. It's tough to read secondary markets like Pittsburgh. A few big firms are Pittsburgh based or have large offices in Pittsburgh: Reed Smith, K&L Gates, and Jones Day being the most prominent (I think). BigLaw pays on the lower end of the BigLaw spectrum (at least compared to the bigger markets). I think most places start around $125,000, probably running as low as $100,000ish. While there may not be much in the way of BigLaw, there are a ton of small firms. There's basically no way of knowing how well they pay and how much they're hiring, unfortunately. I wouldn't count on six figures or even being hired, but it seems that a bunch of our graduates go into "private practice," whatever that means. There are several corporations with headquarters in Pittsburgh, but you won't be hired out of law school from them (transfers later on are a possibility, though). There are a pretty decent number of government jobs as well. The pay varies at those and follows the gov't pay scale, that info you can find online.

Anyways, I have no concrete answers to the questions you have, probably because nobody knows those answers. Pittsburgh avoided the collapse moreso than most cities, but who knows how the legal community is doing. For what it's worth, I don't know many (or any) 1L's that don't have a job lined up for this summer.

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badwithpseudonyms
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby badwithpseudonyms » Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:48 am

I'll come back and edit this when I have more time.

For now, I'd tell you to check out nalpdirectory.com to view some of Pittsburgh's larger firms. The 2L SA numbers this year are awful. Making associate at those firms is doable isn't impossible, but even the guys coming out of ND usually need an editorial spot on LR or something else special in addition to stellar grades.
Last edited by badwithpseudonyms on Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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pjo
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby pjo » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:15 am

Badwithpseudonymns meant to send you to nalpdirectory (left out the “l”. Also, I might be able to help because I personally know someone who just this year graduated from ND and works and one of the bigger (but not the biggest) firm in Pittsburgh. First, I want to address something that was said by the anonymous poster. They stated that if you go to Pitt you’ll prob be higher ranked in your class than going to ND (assuming you could have gone to ND). Listen Pitt is a good school with smart kids, don’t let the rank fool you. The person I know from ND did their final year at Pitt through a visiting student program and their GPA was the same at Pitt as it was at ND. Also, I know another person that turned down admission at Cornell to attend Pitt and they finished median. Her husband on the other hand barely got into Pitt and finished top 10%. You CANNOT judge legitimately beforehand where you will end up in your class.
Getting back to the ND grad working in Pittsburgh. They said that ND is fairly well represented in Pitt. They didn’t have too much trouble finding a job in the city. They did say though that had they do it over it was a gamble and they might have taken the money from Pitt rather than pay full price at ND. (I guess every other person starting with them was a Pitt grad). They said the one year they spent at Pitt was actually more enjoyable than the 2 spent at ND, and the students at Pitt are more collegial. As far as the professors at Pitt vs. ND, they said it’s a wash. Both care about you and both are very knowledgeable. ND has a more conservative lean whereas Pitt leans more to the left (minimally). The big thing they said was it there was a lot of unnecessary stress with going to ND and looking for work in Pittsburgh. She had to fly to Pittsburgh right before finals for interviews. Also, a large percentage of ND’s class doesn’t even have jobs and they have over 100k in law school loans. Also, Pittsburgh is an insular market in that it matters a lot “who” you know,maybe moreso than “what” you know. Pitt kids have a chance to network the whole year with attorneys whereas you couldn’t really do this if you’re at ND. ND is a great school though and for myself it would be difficult to turn down, both I would NEVER underestimate the worth of a Pitt law degree in Pittsburgh.

O and one other thing. top 10% at Pitt > median at ND when looking for a job in Pittsburgh

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby sdv » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:50 am

I'm in a similar position as you, except going to be coming from Vandy. I spoke with several lawyers in the area before making my decision, and I was assured that, as a general rule, I should have no problem getting 2L work and eventual employment coming from Vandy. I love Pitt and won't say a word against it, but it might be the lowest ranked school with THE primary placement in a major city. I looked at a lot of lawyer biographies in the area, and there are a WIDE variety of schools represented. As long as you have ties to the region and demonstrate that you want to be there, and aren't just there because you have nowhere else to go, you'll be fine!

I do know that, like everything else in Pittsburgh, legal employment is down a bit but not too much. The great thing about the town is that things never get to high in the good times or too low in the bad times. you also have to take "well they pay at the low end of big law" into context. 120 k in Pittsburgh goes MUCH further than 160 k in ny - Reed Smith is king there, spoken in reverential tones by everyone I talked to. K&L is close in terms of NLJ 250 and is technically bigger (they have their name on a skyscraper) but doesn't have quite the same clout, and yes, Jones Day has a smallerish firm there as well. If I were you, I'd do some research on some lawyer directories and find ND alumni in the region and talk to them - they'll provide great insight!

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balzern
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby balzern » Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:55 am

I know this is a little random but I am also considdering going to a law school in the Pittsburgh area...Any thoughts on how Duquesne grads do in the Pittsburgh legal market would be helpful also...

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pjo
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby pjo » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:09 am

balzern wrote:I know this is a little random but I am also considdering going to a law school in the Pittsburgh area...Any thoughts on how Duquesne grads do in the Pittsburgh legal market would be helpful also...


The top 5 students (not 5% I mean the top 5 ppl in the whole class) have a shot at the biglaw firms. Aside from that, the school’s grads are mainly looking at minimal chances at mid-law, with the majority finding work in small law and personal injury type of stuff. You’ll be able to find a job coming from Duquesne, although you might not have a pick from a bunch of them. I would say as a rule of thumb, top 30% at Pitt are looking at starting salaries of about 50-65k, top 30% at Duquesne are looking at starting salaries between 40-50k. Also, Duquesne’s claim to fame is that there are more PA judges that are Duquesne alums than any other law school (hope that’s understandable, didn’t really know how to state that properly lol). Another thing that I could never understand (and I always thought was dumb) is that Duquesne is on a C+ curve. This sucks for more reasons than one. Pitt, which is Duquesne’s biggest competition, is on a B curve. So, as an employer, if you weren’t to realize this the Pitt grad would like better on paper to an actually similarly ranked student at Duquesne bc of their curve.
The good about Duquesne - The school and campus of Duquesne is very nice. Its right on the outskirts of downtown Pittsburgh and right across from the new Pen’s stadium (which is awesome). It is a good school for finding a job in western PA.
The bad about Duquesne – The people in charge of the school are incredibly incompetent. A few years ago they fired the dean abruptly basically for trying to make it a better school. It seems they’re hell-bent on staying a T4 and have a “screw the rankings” mentality. As long as they can claim that statistic about judges, and also that they have a 97% bar passage rate (second to Penn in PA) that’s all the President/directors of the school care about.
I can answer other Duquesne Q’s if you have any and prob most Pitt Q’s.

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balzern
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby balzern » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:23 am

Yeah I just have heard from lawyers in the Pittsbrugh area that Duquesne and Pitt are equatable degrees in the Pittsburgh market, don't kill the messenger it is just what they have told me... I am really thinking that if my LSATs are at Duquesne's range I am just going to go there and see where that takes me...that test sucked (June) worked my A** off and couldn't have done more..prob apply Pitt ED with anything lower than a 158 (they have a 159 median)...what do you think pjo?

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby sdv » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:26 am

one would be astonished at how many lay people in Pittsburgh think Duquesne is a better law school than Pitt. I guess it's because the undergrad is better regarded, but still. FWIW, though, it probably has better employment prospects than many of its T4 peers bc of its location.

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pjo
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby pjo » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:34 am

balzern wrote:Yeah I just have heard from lawyers in the Pittsbrugh area that Duquesne and Pitt are equatable degrees in the Pittsburgh market, don't kill the messenger it is just what they have told me... I am really thinking that if my LSATs are at Duquesne's range I am just going to go there and see where that takes me...that test sucked (June) worked my A** off and couldn't have done more..prob apply Pitt ED with anything lower than a 158 (they have a 159 median)...what do you think pjo?


I took that test also, it was tough. I'm hoping for a 165 but I'll take anything above 161. If I could guess I’d say most lawyers that you’re talking to are older and are so far into their careers that the rankings are basically moot (I’ve talked with very successful lawyers who have mentioned Princeton law or asked if GW or BU were ranked high) Once you get so far out and are established rankings just don’t matter, so to them yea Pitt and Duq are the same. Don’t take for granted though what I said about the curve at Duquesne. A C+ is a tough curve and whether or not a hiring lawyer thinks Duq and Pitt are peer won’t over look a 2.8 at Duquesne vs. a 3.2 at Pitt (which because of the schools’ curves these are actually the SAME, employers won’t realize this) I think that’s the biggest thing. Hmm in your case though, I know I’ve given you advice before but I forget your GPA. Regardless, I think if you pull higher than a 157 on the LSAT I would apply on sept 1 when Pitt’s admission apps go up and NOT apply ED. If less than 157 or if you get less than 160 and have a really low GPA then I would apply ED, but only consider ED if you’re a PA resident! I really think even a 158 lsat has a chance at money from pitt, just apply early. For duquesne, I think anything above a 152 you’ll get money. As far as costs I think duquesne is like 20K/yr and Pitt is 24k/yr. Honestly, even if Pitt ended up costing 10k more per year, I’d still take Pitt.

Just wondering, what liberal arts college do you go to? PM if you don’t want to make it public.

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pjo
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby pjo » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:37 am

sdv wrote:one would be astonished at how many lay people in Pittsburgh think Duquesne is a better law school than Pitt. I guess it's because the undergrad is better regarded, but still. FWIW, though, it probably has better employment prospects than many of its T4 peers bc of its location.


haha YES! This is funny but incredibly true. The red "D" ring has a characteristic all of its own in the city (and actually worldwide...so they claim)

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balzern
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby balzern » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:42 am

pm sent pjo thanks!

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:43 am

(2nd Anon here again)

Duquesne is definitely not a bad choice if you want to practice in Pittsburgh, but it is not better regarded than Pitt either for undergrad or law school. You can trust me on that. Nobody looks down on Duquesne, but it lags behind Pitt in the Pittsburgh legal community as far as "prestige" goes. I'm not trying to puff up my school, just setting the record straight. Duquense for sure has a presence in the market, though.

As for jobs coming from Duquesne, take this with a big grain of salt if you will, but I heard from a Duquesne 1L that their career services told them only 20% of their students had legal-related jobs this summer. I'm pretty sure that most of them take courses over the summer instead of working.

edit: I will say that Duquesne should not be lumped in with many of those other T4's. I'm not entirely sure why it's not a T3 but I suspect it's because of some serious rankings gaming by other schools.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

sdv
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby sdv » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:46 am

my dad and best friend are both Duquesne grads, so I don't want to kill their dreams, but I never met a single person anywhere I've ever lived (including 4 years in Philly) outside of Pittsburgh who has ever even heard of Duquesne. Super awesome ring though...

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balzern
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby balzern » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:49 am

Yeah I realize that Duq. is pretty concentrated in Pittsburgh, but as of now I think I want to stay in the area...I had a question before about after locking down your first job, how much does your degree matter?

edit: degree's name
Last edited by balzern on Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

sdv
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby sdv » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:51 am

Anonymous User wrote:(2nd Anon here again)

Duquesne is definitely not a bad choice if you want to practice in Pittsburgh, but it is not better regarded than Pitt either for undergrad or law school.


Well that's just not true. I agree that no one in the legal community would consider Duquesne Law better than Pitt (it's not close), but lay people definitely do and unless something has changed significantly, Duquesne was regarded in high school as a better undergrad than Pitt (though not by much). I'd chalk it up to Pittsburgh's large Catholic population.

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby sdv » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:55 am

pjo wrote:
sdv wrote:one would be astonished at how many lay people in Pittsburgh think Duquesne is a better law school than Pitt. I guess it's because the undergrad is better regarded, but still. FWIW, though, it probably has better employment prospects than many of its T4 peers bc of its location.


haha YES! This is funny but incredibly true. The red "D" ring has a characteristic all of its own in the city (and actually worldwide...so they claim)


I recently ran into an old middle school friend's mother, who asked what I was doing, and when I told her I was going to Vanderbilt Law her response was "oh that's nice, I hear that's a good school. Are you going to try to transfer to Duquesne if you do well?"

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:56 am

sdv wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:(2nd Anon here again)

Duquesne is definitely not a bad choice if you want to practice in Pittsburgh, but it is not better regarded than Pitt either for undergrad or law school.


Well that's just not true. I agree that no one in the legal community would consider Duquesne Law better than Pitt (it's not close), but lay people definitely do and unless something has changed significantly, Duquesne was regarded in high school as a better undergrad than Pitt (though not by much). I'd chalk it up to Pittsburgh's large Catholic population.

Discussions of "lay prestige" are bound to be a little vague and really mean jack anyways, but I can honestly say that I've never heard of anybody lumping together Pitt and Duquesne. Your mileage may vary, I suppose, and I don't doubt your experiences.

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pjo
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby pjo » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:56 am

sdv wrote:my dad and best friend are both Duquesne grads, so I don't want to kill their dreams, but I never met a single person anywhere I've ever lived (including 4 years in Philly) outside of Pittsburgh who has ever even heard of Duquesne. Super awesome ring though...


I’m just going to out my UG in this statement but I think its worth it to respond to this lol. I’ve been stopped on numerous occasions in airports and cities as far south as Florida and in St Louis and other Midwestern states bc I was wearing a Duquesne Tee. So from personal experience, although it’s not a widely known school, I think ppl sometimes underestimate how many ppl have heard of it elsewhere. I think its one of those things that bc its small, when ppl see you wearing the stuff they know you have to go there or no someone who goes there and therefore they aren’t afraid of approaching you to talk about the school. Whereas when you wear a Pitt or WVU or Syracuse tee it could just be because you like their teams, not necessarily that you go there.

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balzern
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby balzern » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:59 am

pjo, i can see that....did you get my pm by the way? I would really like to hear what you think about some things I feel better pming instead of posting...thanks!

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pjo
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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby pjo » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:00 am

balzern wrote:pjo, i can see that....did you get my pm by the way? I would really like to hear what you think about some things I feel better pming instead of posting...thanks!


I'm at work so give me a bit. I will get to it tho as soon as i can

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby sdv » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:02 am

pjo wrote:
sdv wrote:my dad and best friend are both Duquesne grads, so I don't want to kill their dreams, but I never met a single person anywhere I've ever lived (including 4 years in Philly) outside of Pittsburgh who has ever even heard of Duquesne. Super awesome ring though...


I’m just going to out my UG in this statement but I think its worth it to respond to this lol. I’ve been stopped on numerous occasions in airports and cities as far south as Florida and in St Louis and other Midwestern states bc I was wearing a Duquesne Tee. So from personal experience, although it’s not a widely known school, I think ppl sometimes underestimate how many ppl have heard of it elsewhere. I think its one of those things that bc its small, when ppl see you wearing the stuff they know you have to go there or no someone who goes there and therefore they aren’t afraid of approaching you to talk about the school. Whereas when you wear a Pitt or WVU or Syracuse tee it could just be because you like their teams, not necessarily that you go there.


That's a good point - I certainly wear Pitt clothing and never went there...

Honestly I think the bottom line in this discussion is to go to Pitt if you can but if you can't Duquesne will do just fine for your goals and don't lose any sleep over it...

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:10 am

Someone mentioned Duquesne's bar passage rate at 97% and I have to say that's a little misleading. It wasn't long ago that Duquesne had a bar passage rate of about 60% and it was the worst in the state. They have made great strides to improve this figure, but it shouldn't be indicative of the school.

I applied to Duquesne last cycle and they were the only school I applied to that required 1) a paper app and 2) a photo. I guess they thought I was cute though bc I was given a full ride. But I'm choosing Pitt at half price.

I know grads of both Pitt and Duquesne. I understand most lay people think they're peers, but that doesn't matter, lay people don't make hiring decisions. Immediately out of school, Pitt grads have a significant leg up.

And it's absolutely not true that DU is a better UG than Pitt. I went to Pitt UG and my wife went to Du, I had WAY better opportunities, and interviewed with WAY more elite companies.

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Re: Pittsburgh Area Legal Market

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Jun 09, 2010 10:13 am

yeah. i'm from pittsburgh, and (imho) pitt UG is respected MUCH more than Duq's. The race to glory is not even close.




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