Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

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romothesavior
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby romothesavior » Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:53 pm

dihydrogenmonoxide wrote:But if I accept the view that only above median HYSCCN students have more than a small chance of getting a job that doesn't result in their going bankrupt and/or working as a temp, it seems like a terrible idea to go to LS for almost everyone.


This is a bit of an extreme view. But yes, things are really rough out there though. Knowing how rough it is is half the battle to making a good decision.

I'm looking at most likely a school in the Cornell - WUSTL range, probably sticker.


I would go to a slightly lower ranked school on large scholarship before I went to any of these at sticker.

jarofsoup
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby jarofsoup » Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:59 pm

Big law is not the only option. But it is the fastest way to get out of debt.

This is because you are working for a big big corporation and you are not finacially on the hook to the firm like you are in a small firm or a solo practicioner.

Pay checks are also nice. I have heard that after 4 years of big law and living modest you can majorly pay down your debt. So do not gradauate and buy that BMW you have always wished for.

A lot of time it is loan management that gets people not the capital of the loan.

I think it is mid law and big law are the best options.

xyzbca
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby xyzbca » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:00 pm

dihydrogenmonoxide wrote:It sure is tough trying to figure out what to do. I have two years WE, but am not saving much because I'm using the money I'm making to pay down my undergrad loans.

I'm looking at most likely a school in the Cornell - WUSTL range, probably sticker.

If I accept the positive end of the info and advice I've found here and elsewhere, it seems like those are good options. If I perform above median I have a good shot at a good job.

But if I accept the view that only above median HYSCCN students have more than a small chance of getting a job that doesn't result in their going bankrupt and/or working as a temp, it seems like a terrible idea to go to LS for almost everyone.

I wonder how financially viable relative to LS it would be to take some math classes at a community college (to satisfy engineering pre-recs), then get a 2nd bachelors in comp sci or engineering and just go into one of those fields. :?


Just my 2 cents. The worst case scenario is that you have no job and $150k in debt, right? The second worst case scenario is that you don't make very much money and still have $150k in debt.

Other outcomes range from going to a lower ranked school and having no debt or maybe a strong regional school and you end up in an area you hate, blah blah blah.

The only scenarios I personally couldn't live with are no job/low paying job and $150k debt. If I was in your shoes I would be looking for a way to eliminate those possibilities (looking at lower ranked schools, work while going to school, in state tuition, whatever).

If you think that three and a half years from now you would be okay with your personal worst case outcomes then go for it.

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BruceWayne
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby BruceWayne » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:17 pm

xyzbca wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:
Most people with a Bachelors degree can't make anything straight out of college approaching even many of the lower salaried legal jobs.


1. You are comparing somebody straight out of undergrad to somebody who has completed three years of professional schooling? I'm shocked that somebody at 25 with a graduate degree may be in a better position than a 22 year old!

2. The more apt comparison probably looks like this:

Option 1: Three years after undergrad and no grad school debt.

Option 2: JD + grad school debt only.

If you hit Biglaw, option 2 sounds great. If you miss Biglaw option 2 doesn't seem so appealing.


I'm not sure if you are purposely missing this to be a jackass or what, but to even have option number 1....YOU NEED A JOB THAT YOU CAN SUPPORT YOURSELF OFF OF. These are not being handed out to fresh college graduates at anywhere near the rate that you think they are (unless you're talking about retail, and even there it's rough. It's even harder if you are a minority). So many of you are from middle class or higher backgrounds and went to top undergrads that you don't realize that a 28-35K a year job is about the BEST one can hope for from an average undergrad if they did not major in engineering and do not know someone. If your choice is to take a job working retail at Macys full time vs. going to Cornell sticker, the latter is usually the better choice.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:23 pm

dihydrogenmonoxide wrote:0L here trying to figure out the situation with regard to employment options other than biglaw.

Conventional wisdom around here seems to be that if you pay sticker to attend law school, the only employment that will allow you to not "drown in debt" is biglaw. So what does that mean if you don't get biglaw? That you'll live in a van by the river? That you'll go bankrupt?

How is making 45-50k doing PI work not financially viable? Even if you go to a school with a crappy LRAP, doesn't IBR with the 10 year discharge for PI make it viable? Or is the idea just that PI is impossibly competitive, so if you don't go for biglaw you'll probably end up working as a waiter or doing some quasi-legal non-PI work for 25k a year or something?

In a nutshell:

1) What does it mean to be crushed with debt as the term is generally used around here?
2) Are there any non-biglaw jobs that allow someone going to a T20 and paying sticker to not be crushed with debt?


Thanks!


You only wish you could bankrupt on your student loans. Students loans are like AIDS, they'll follow you around for the rest of your life.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:32 pm

BruceWayne wrote: So many of you are from middle class or higher backgrounds and went to top undergrads that you don't realize that a 28-35K a year job is about the BEST one can hope for from an average undergrad if they did not major in engineering and do not know someone. If your choice is to take a job working retail at Macys full time vs. going to Cornell sticker, the latter is usually the better choice.


I'm not sure why so many law students think like this. There are plenty of non-bullshit majors in college (e.g. any of the hard sciences, accounting, etc.). There are even bullshit UG majors that can land you jobs (e.g. physical education --> grade school PE teacher (they make decent money)). I also don't understand why people that picked bullshit majors decide to attend law school afterwards? Why not just pick another bullshit grad school degree like a masters in sociology? ... I guess I just find it odd that law students go from a BS major --> law school (what makes them decide all of a sudden that they need to go to school to do something that will eventually find them a job when they didn't have that common sense when they went to UG?). Anyways... /rant.

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AreJay711
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby AreJay711 » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:36 pm

jarofsoup wrote:So do not gradauate and buy that BMW you have always wished for.


:evil: I want my goddamn BMW!!!!

Anyway, I think that biglaw or bust only really makes sense when you factor in the reality that people that can go to law school, succeed academically, and keep a biglaw job without going crazy would likely have been successful at whatever else they would have done so legal job salary vs. average U.S. worker salary is not what we are looking at. You are comparing how successful YOU would be in another career (above average for most people in LS) vs. legal job salary. Many of us would be making 50-60K+ already so a legal job making that would suck.

xyzbca
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby xyzbca » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:02 pm

BruceWayne wrote:
xyzbca wrote:
BruceWayne wrote:
Most people with a Bachelors degree can't make anything straight out of college approaching even many of the lower salaried legal jobs.


1. You are comparing somebody straight out of undergrad to somebody who has completed three years of professional schooling? I'm shocked that somebody at 25 with a graduate degree may be in a better position than a 22 year old!

2. The more apt comparison probably looks like this:

Option 1: Three years after undergrad and no grad school debt.

Option 2: JD + grad school debt only.

If you hit Biglaw, option 2 sounds great. If you miss Biglaw option 2 doesn't seem so appealing.


I'm not sure if you are purposely missing this to be a jackass or what, but to even have option number 1....YOU NEED A JOB THAT YOU CAN SUPPORT YOURSELF OFF OF. These are not being handed out to fresh college graduates at anywhere near the rate that you think they are (unless you're talking about retail, and even there it's rough. It's even harder if you are a minority). So many of you are from middle class or higher backgrounds and went to top undergrads that you don't realize that a 28-35K a year job is about the BEST one can hope for from an average undergrad if they did not major in engineering and do not know someone. If your choice is to take a job working retail at Macys full time vs. going to Cornell sticker, the latter is usually the better choice.


*is a minority*
*family immigrated to USA with no money from non-English speaking, 3rd world country at age 8 and has no connections*
*graduated with BS major from average UG in the midst of the last recession and started out at less than $30k*
*still with same employer*
*by 25 had eclipsed 55k*

Call me a naive idealist that has lived the American dream, but I have a more optimistic view on life.

Aqualibrium
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby Aqualibrium » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:07 pm

Because law school is expensive.

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20160810
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby 20160810 » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:19 pm

Biglaw is hardly the only financially viable option. I'll be working at a mid-sized firm and making more than enough money to have an enjoyable quality of life. Just think it though ahead of time, and if you think biglaw isn't something you're into, consider taking a scholarship at a lower-ranked school so you don't have as much debt to worry about.

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sanpiero
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby sanpiero » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:21 pm

2LLLL wrote:BigLaw is the only financially viable option because law students commonly make the very irresponsible decisions to (a) go straight from UG -> LS without working for a few years and saving money, and (b) going to the highest ranked school, instead of one that offers $$$ or in-state tuition.


+1 trillion

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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:24 pm

I'm not sure if you are purposely missing this to be a jackass or what, but to even have option number 1....YOU NEED A JOB THAT YOU CAN SUPPORT YOURSELF OFF OF. These are not being handed out to fresh college graduates at anywhere near the rate that you think they are (unless you're talking about retail, and even there it's rough. It's even harder if you are a minority). So many of you are from middle class or higher backgrounds and went to top undergrads that you don't realize that a 28-35K a year job is about the BEST one can hope for from an average undergrad if they did not major in engineering and do not know someone. If your choice is to take a job working retail at Macys full time vs. going to Cornell sticker, the latter is usually the better choice.




What's wrong with $28-35k straight out of undergrad? That's pretty standard outside of finance or consulting.

I majored in Economics/History and started as a legal assistant at a firm in Virginia making $33k in July, 2007. By the end of the year I had been elevated to a paralegal position and was making $37k. In May, 2008 I moved to a different firm in DC which bumped my salary to $43k. By the time I left for law school in August, 2009, I was at $45k. Add about $1.5k in bonuses over that period. Had I stayed at that job, or leveraged my experience to go to a 3rd firm, I would almost certainly be in a higher position making $50k +.

You start low coming out of undergrad because you have no skills. Once you show that you're a capable and hard working employee you can easily rise quickly. I've seen the same thing from college friends who went into non-legal fields.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby Kohinoor » Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
I'm not sure if you are purposely missing this to be a jackass or what, but to even have option number 1....YOU NEED A JOB THAT YOU CAN SUPPORT YOURSELF OFF OF. These are not being handed out to fresh college graduates at anywhere near the rate that you think they are (unless you're talking about retail, and even there it's rough. It's even harder if you are a minority). So many of you are from middle class or higher backgrounds and went to top undergrads that you don't realize that a 28-35K a year job is about the BEST one can hope for from an average undergrad if they did not major in engineering and do not know someone. If your choice is to take a job working retail at Macys full time vs. going to Cornell sticker, the latter is usually the better choice.




What's wrong with $28-35k straight out of undergrad? That's pretty standard outside of finance or consulting.

I majored in Economics/History and started as a legal assistant at a firm in Virginia making $33k in July, 2007. By the end of the year I had been elevated to a paralegal position and was making $37k. In May, 2008 I moved to a different firm in DC which bumped my salary to $43k. By the time I left for law school in August, 2009, I was at $45k. Add about $1.5k in bonuses over that period. Had I stayed at that job, or leveraged my experience to go to a 3rd firm, I would almost certainly be in a higher position making $50k +.

You start low coming out of undergrad because you have no skills. Once you show that you're a capable and hard working employee you can easily rise quickly. I've seen the same thing from college friends who went into non-legal fields.
It's pretty standard as a legal assistant. There are worse jobs and no jobs.

Anonymous User
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:10 pm

Kohinoor wrote:There are worse jobs and no jobs.



I feel like most of my friends coming out of college (class of 2007) started in the 25-35k range.

Aqualibrium
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby Aqualibrium » Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:25 pm

I have UG classmates at T-Mobile stores making 60-80k with commissions, bonuses, intensives. All it takes is a high volume store; the stuff sells itself...

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Seally
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby Seally » Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:41 pm

2LLLL wrote:BigLaw is the only financially viable option because law students commonly make the very irresponsible decisions to (a) go straight from UG -> LS without working for a few years and saving money, and (b) going to the highest ranked school, instead of one that offers $$$ or in-state tuition.



More like:

Dumb and ignorant UG Graduates who studied Philosophy/History/P.Sc. because they couldn't enter any other fields since they sucked at Maths, so to make their parents a bit more proud, they decided to enter Law School, even if the only place that accepted them was the lowest ranked TTTT.


That's the case with a rough 60% of Law Students out there.

OT: Since Economy is lame, high paying jobs disappeared, leaving BigLaw among one of the few that offers a decent salary.Most do not make it there and out of those who are lucky enough to get a job, most end up leaving because they simply don't have the stamina to work 80 hours a week.

If you cannot get used to anything other than BigLaw or BigGov, don't go to Law School unless you got accepted to HYS by god knows how.

dihydrogenmonoxide
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby dihydrogenmonoxide » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:35 am

I am not just interested in LS due to being a humanities major... I actually think I'd really enjoy legal work (and that is after having read everything I can on what it is actually like... I'm not like thinking I'll be doing "international law" or something). I'm not just doing it for lack of other options, but if there is something like a 20% chance of getting a decent job at schools in the Cornell-WUSTL range, well that is extremely distressing!

I'm surprised by this idea that it would be better to attend a lower ranked school with $ over a higher ranked school, unless that higher ranked school is HYSCCN. I mean, if you have a low chance of getting a job (that will allow you to manage debt) at schools like Cornell/Texas/Vandy/etc., then you must have a REALLY low chance of getting a job at a T30-T50 type place. And since the conventional wisdom is that there is no reason to have any confidence that you'll get good grades, that means you're looking at 3 years of your life (and probably at least some debt) for a 1 in 10 dice roll that you'll be able to get a job that pays better than working full time as a waiter in a good restaurant.

I have a steady full time job in a prestigious PI organization right now, but I HATE the work and so the thought of taking a year to up my LSAT is also extremely depressing.

I guess I'll just see where I get in and take it from there... thanks for the info folks!

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nealric
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby nealric » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:18 pm

BigLaw is the only financially viable option because law students commonly make the very irresponsible decisions to (a) go straight from UG -> LS without working for a few years and saving money, and (b) going to the highest ranked school, instead of one that offers $$$ or in-state tuition.


Why is irresponsible to do biglaw?


It would have taken me the better part of a decade to save enough even to put myself through the local T2 that was offering me money. Going to my school at sticker was the best financial decision I ever made.

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20160810
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby 20160810 » Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:33 pm

Also depending on the mix of grants and subsidized loans you're getting, a lot of people are able to borrow for law school at what amounts to about a 5% interest rate, which is less than the 7% you're likely to make after inflation investing in a market-tracking index fund over time. Student loan debt really ain't that bad if you're making money.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:54 pm

SBL wrote:Also depending on the mix of grants and subsidized loans you're getting, a lot of people are able to borrow for law school at what amounts to about a 5% interest rate, which is less than the 7% you're likely to make after inflation investing in a market-tracking index fund over time. Student loan debt really ain't that bad if you're making money.


How do you do that nowadays? Last I checked stafford was at 6.8% and gradPLUS was at 7.9 (down from 8.5% a year ago). Private loans with a floating interest rate?

FWIW, 5% interest ain't bad. It's not as crazy insane good as the 2-3% people locked up a few years ago, but 5% is still really good. 8%, on the other hand, is not so good (particularly when you are borrowing $200K since that comes out to roughly $16k /year in interest alone until, and if, you start repaying the principal).

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AreJay711
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby AreJay711 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:01 am

XxSpyKEx wrote:
SBL wrote:Also depending on the mix of grants and subsidized loans you're getting, a lot of people are able to borrow for law school at what amounts to about a 5% interest rate, which is less than the 7% you're likely to make after inflation investing in a market-tracking index fund over time. Student loan debt really ain't that bad if you're making money.


How do you do that nowadays? Last I checked stafford was at 6.8% and gradPLUS was at 7.9 (down from 8.5% a year ago). Private loans with a floating interest rate?

FWIW, 5% interest ain't bad. It's not as crazy insane good as the 2-3% people locked up a few years ago, but 5% is still really good. 8%, on the other hand, is not so good (particularly when you are borrowing $200K since that comes out to roughly $16k /year in interest alone until, and if, you start repaying the principal).

Maybe I'm paranoid but I'm really skeptical about taking out a floating interest rate loan. I know it could work out but clearly the only place interest rates are going in the near future is up. Id hate for a strong economic recovery to sprout up out of nowhere and then get hammered with 12%+ interest rates.

thegor1987
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby thegor1987 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:11 am

General Tso wrote:PI work used to be something that mid-level candidates (lower T1, T2) students could get fairly easily. In this economy, those jobs are highly sought after even among T20 students, both those who want the work for ideological reasons and those who struck out at OCI and are looking for a way out of 200k worth of loans. Long story short....today's PI is only slightly less exclusive than big law. Don't forget the effect that dwindling gov't budgets are having on PI jobs as well.

So once you take PI and big law off the table, 75-90% of what is left is either going to be working in small firms or in other sectors. Usually that translates into 40-65k salaries. That kind of salary will not support debt of 130k+. It is not all bad though, I believe both IBR and tax deductions on student loan interest kick in once you are earning less than 70k.


by my calculations 65k salary will pay off a 130k debt in 2 years.

HamDel
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby HamDel » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:20 am

Cavalier wrote:Big law is the only thing that makes law school worth going to. There's no point in dropping $150K on law school just to make the same amount of money that someone with a bachelor's degree could make.


Quoted for ignorance.

09042014
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby 09042014 » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
General Tso wrote:PI work used to be something that mid-level candidates (lower T1, T2) students could get fairly easily. In this economy, those jobs are highly sought after even among T20 students, both those who want the work for ideological reasons and those who struck out at OCI and are looking for a way out of 200k worth of loans. Long story short....today's PI is only slightly less exclusive than big law. Don't forget the effect that dwindling gov't budgets are having on PI jobs as well.

So once you take PI and big law off the table, 75-90% of what is left is either going to be working in small firms or in other sectors. Usually that translates into 40-65k salaries. That kind of salary will not support debt of 130k+. It is not all bad though, I believe both IBR and tax deductions on student loan interest kick in once you are earning less than 70k.


by my calculations 65k salary will pay off a 130k debt in 2 years.


This is why you couldn't get a real job.

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General Tso
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Re: Why is Biglaw the only financially viable option?

Postby General Tso » Tue Dec 07, 2010 12:28 am

Anonymous User wrote:by my calculations 65k salary will pay off a 130k debt in 2 years.


yeah if you plan to live in the cave down by the train tracks and bathe in the cow pond. all the while convincing your employer not to withhold taxes from your paycheck.

Sure..




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