Truths vs. Exaggerations

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SHANbangs
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Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby SHANbangs » Tue Dec 21, 2010 1:55 pm

So I hear a lot of really sobering/down-right distressing talk from TLS. I assume a good amount is true and a good amount is exaggerated. I'm wondering what current lawyers/graduates of law schools have to say about these myths and truths. For example, there is the big-law or bust mentality. For me, big-law is a goal but it is not a highly likely one. My stats will probably only get me into the 20-30 school range ie. BU, BC, GW, W&M, Minn, ND, etc, and probably not much money. The consensus seems to be that in this market, unless you crack top 10%, you can kiss big law goodbye. If this is the case, what are people who graduated outside the T-14 and not in big law doing with your lives? Are you all working as temps and paralegals? And are you all in a massive shit load of debt? How do you plan to pay for it? And having not cracked big law, do you regret your decision to go to law school?

Note: people keep saying that if your only goal is big law, law school isn't right for you. But I think most people ARE interested in being a lawyer - tYhey just want a way to be a lawyer and pay for that debt.

Also, you are not obligated to respond if you don't like this question, so please don't respond if you do not have anything productive to say.

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bk1
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby bk1 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:00 pm

From what I've read from the BU/BC OCI thread at least, I've heard that as much as top 1/3 has a shot for NYC biglaw.

Fark-o-vision
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby Fark-o-vision » Tue Dec 21, 2010 2:13 pm

all depends on career goals and how much you plan to rely on OCI. It's true that there aren't enough legal jobs to go around--how short the industry is seems to be debated, but there is no doubt that there is a 25%-35% deficit at minimum. That said, Hastings grads are still finding good jobs and Loyola Los Angeles grads are still finding good jobs. From what I hear, although I have no connection to them, even Pitt and Hofstra grads are getting good jobs. In this economy it isn't about IF you can get a job, you can. It's about managing career expectations. It seems like the legal field is full of people with little interest in the law, but a lot of interest 190K out of professional school. Who wouldn't be? But if you are one of those people, the legal field has become exceptionally dangerous.

For my part, I'm managing expectations by being realistic about my own interests and desires. I know I'm interested in the law in a very academic way, but I'm not sure I'll enjoy the actual practice of it, or the lifestyle of mid-big law firms. Because of this I'll be attending a well respected school in my home market for nearly free. I won't pretend that I'm economist, but the cost-benefit analysis works out pretty well, too. My wife and I don't make a lot of money right now, and the money that I'll lose by missing out on the work I will for law school will be made up for in other ways, like the child care costs and medical coverage that we'll qualify for by moving down into that income bracket. If I had to guess, I'll lose out on 5-10 years in an industry where the accumulation of a post-graduate degree will more than make up for three years of lost experience (plus I'll probably work very, very part-time, meaning that I'll still be accumulating that line on my resume).

It doesn't mean my plan is perfect, or can't blow up in my face, but worst case seems to be that I end up with a 45K a year quasi-related business job that I hate, and then I'll just transition back into my old profession with very little skin off my back.

I only tell that story to indicate that, in my experience, law school can be worthwhile if you understand that you might not get rich from it.

83947368
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby 83947368 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:21 pm

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Last edited by 83947368 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mpj_3050
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby mpj_3050 » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:36 pm

I think it really is all about managing expectations. Taking on 150k+ debt at Seton Hall, NYLS, and other expensive privates in saturated markets all the while relying on top x percent to obtain biglaw is a recipe for disaster. I for one will not be able to get into an elite school and have decent offers from public schools that would leave me with 40k in debt which is completely manageable with a 40k starting salary in private sector work and even more so in government IBR and loan forgiveness qualifying positions. Of course you have to find a job and keep it. But if you have low debt 40k starting salaries are not that bad.

I have no opportunity costs with a useless B.A. so risking 40k of debt for a 40k starting salary isn't really too scary for me. I know I can't assume that I will place in top x percent of the class but unfortunately tons of students assume they will be the cream of the crop (know a few who have lost scholarships with insane stipulations). But I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that kids coming out of non-elite privates at sticker price are in a world of hurt if they are not at the top of the class. In my state (Ohio) I know it is not an exaggeration that Ohio Northern, Capital, and Dayton grads are hurting bad and most have huge debt figures. It is amazing how people don't understand how much money 150k is with interest.

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dood
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby dood » Tue Dec 21, 2010 5:44 pm

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Last edited by dood on Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nealric
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby nealric » Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:06 pm

some 400 firms outside of the nlj 250 pay market


Yeah, that's almost certainly not true unless by "market" you mean 90k in Omaha Nebraska.

MrAnon
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby MrAnon » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:38 pm

SHANbangs wrote:So I hear a lot of really sobering/down-right distressing talk from TLS. I assume a good amount is true and a good amount is exaggerated. I'm wondering what current lawyers/graduates of law schools have to say about these myths and truths. For example, there is the big-law or bust mentality. For me, big-law is a goal but it is not a highly likely one. My stats will probably only get me into the 20-30 school range ie. BU, BC, GW, W&M, Minn, ND, etc, and probably not much money. The consensus seems to be that in this market, unless you crack top 10%, you can kiss big law goodbye. If this is the case, what are people who graduated outside the T-14 and not in big law doing with your lives? Are you all working as temps and paralegals? And are you all in a massive shit load of debt? How do you plan to pay for it? And having not cracked big law, do you regret your decision to go to law school?

Note: people keep saying that if your only goal is big law, law school isn't right for you. But I think most people ARE interested in being a lawyer - tYhey just want a way to be a lawyer and pay for that debt.

Also, you are not obligated to respond if you don't like this question, so please don't respond if you do not have anything productive to say.





If this is the case, what are people who graduated outside the T-14 and not in big law doing with your lives?

Working at smaller firms. Making roughly one-quarter what biglaw students make. It is not hard to adjust expectations and learn to be happy with such outcomes when you are really forced to. Being 2 years into law school and learning you won't get biglaw forces that onto many students.

Are you all working as temps and paralegals?

Some work at temps. There is more money in this. But career prospects are dead-end. Generally people who are older with families might do this. Career is less important to them than is feeding their family and paying the debt off.

And are you all in a massive shit load of debt? How do you plan to pay for it?

Parents and IBR.

And having not cracked big law, do you regret your decision to go to law school?

People will not necessary regret law school because they didn't get biglaw. They will probably never make any connection. Having not seen biglaw, it is hard to know what it would have been like so they dont know what they are missing. Many people simply find that they develop other interests as they age and they may leave law to pursue those. Still others will stick it out.

eth3n
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby eth3n » Tue Dec 21, 2010 9:54 pm

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Last edited by eth3n on Mon Dec 02, 2013 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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dood
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby dood » Tue Dec 21, 2010 10:34 pm

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Last edited by dood on Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

83947368
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby 83947368 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:36 am

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Last edited by 83947368 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby OperaSoprano » Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:06 am

dood wrote:
G. T. L. Rev. wrote:My gut reaction to the OP is to re-frame the issue as follows: is law school cost-justified for someone who will be paying sticker or near-sticker at a BU/BC/Fordham tier school and who really just wants to practice law, whether in biglaw or some other setting?

My answer would generally be "no." Not at least from the standpoint of income maximization, as the opportunity cost + loan payments + chances of graduating with not much increase in earning potential all militate against attending one of those schools at sticker. There is, of course, more to life than income maximization, and over the duration of one's entire career the three factors mentioned above take on diminishing significance. Assuming OP has not worked after UG, I would suggest going out and doing something you find worthwhile for a few years and then revisiting the law school question. Law schools aren't going anywhere, after all. You will likely become a more informed purchaser of higher education after gaining some post-grad experience and a better student as well.


TBF, i worked for a while as a corporate slave after UG, and found that law school [at BU/BC/fordham's peer GW] was worth it. to me, "income maximization" could no longer justify putting my life on hold. in fact, believe it or not, no amount of money would have discouraged me from doing wat i really wanted to with my life: practice law, whether in biglaw or any other setting.

but to OP: either way, as GTL says, just make sure u are an informed purchaser.


This. I am another who paid sticker for a school in this range, and I have no regrets, even though I'm not sure what I want to do post graduation. It's already been worth it to me in the larger sense, because I'm doing something with my life that I truly enjoy, which has intrinsic meaning to me (I'm interning two days a week, volunteering, and going to my classes.) I realized I didn't want to work for a firm. I was told I had the grades, and I did OCI because it was the thing to be doing, but it didn't pan out for me. Perhaps my background made me a hard sell, or maybe it was just bad luck, but it was a blessing in disguise, because I have always put personal happiness above $$$. In just that way, it's freeing. If I had had the chance, I would have lacked the courage to walk away and figure out what I want.

I can honestly say I never thought about income maximization. I thought about paying my rent and my bills, but I thought more about finding a job that would be the right fit, and that led me to Fordham. I'll likely work for a nonprofit or a company in my field, if all goes well when the time comes.

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Sentry
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby Sentry » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:11 am

Nightrunner wrote:
nealric wrote:
some 400 firms outside of the nlj 250 pay market


Yeah, that's almost certainly not true unless by "market" you mean 90k in Omaha Nebraska.

For the record: $90K is a lot of money in Omaha, Nebraska.

QFT 90K in Omaha is like 200K in NYC.

83947368
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby 83947368 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:36 pm

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Last edited by 83947368 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SHANbangs
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby SHANbangs » Wed Dec 22, 2010 6:13 pm

Maybe a better set of questions to ask is this:

If you are a recent grad of GW/BU/BC/WUSTL/UIUC/ND/Minn-type schools...

what are you doing now?
Are you happy with you life?
How is your financial situation?
And would you have still have gone to law school, knowing the situation you are in now?

Renzo
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby Renzo » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:17 pm

Adm.Doppleganger wrote:Hey guyz found where i read it. Not saying it's authoratative but unless I'm reading it wrong nealric has some 'splaining to do! Jk.

http://www.lawschooldiscussion.org/inde ... =4018222.0


That statistic is just plain crazy.

There are not 400 firms period (let alone outside the NLJ 250) that pay "market" if "market" means matching the big lockstep firms (i.e. 160k base). Even if you looked at firms paying 160k in major markets, and 130k+ in smaller markets, there still probably are not 400 of them.

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nealric
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby nealric » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:21 pm

QFT 90K in Omaha is like 200K in NYC.


True, except student loan payments aren't indexed for local COL.

Renzo
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby Renzo » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:27 pm

nealric wrote:
QFT 90K in Omaha is like 200K in NYC.


True, except student loan payments aren't indexed for local COL.


If 90k in Omaha=200k in NYC, I would need to make 350k to induce me to live in Omaha.

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Blindmelon
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby Blindmelon » Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:33 pm

Its a tough question. I think TLS and a lot of sites are more down on GW/BC/BU, etc. than need be, but in a lot of ways its justified. I have a lot of friends that are really, really happy with what they got for 2nd year summer jobs. But, I also have people with little to no prospects, and those who are working for free this summer (unless something better comes along).

The problem you hit when you get to law school is your realize that there isn't much outside biglaw. Its sad, but small firms, etc. just don't pay enough to pay off your loans. There are mid-sized firms out there that pay market-rate depending on the city that are less prestige whore-y (like Choate Hall in Boston), but they're small and don't take many people.

I did OCI after realizing that its one of the few ways to break into other areas of law like going in-house, etc. and its almost a necessity to get the skills pedigree needed. I lucked out and will be at a bigfirm, but I had 0 desire before law school. But, I want to work at the DOJ, and the only way to do that is to have work experience at a prestigious firm, clerk, or honors program. Schools like BC/BU/GW, etc. don't really give you the opportunity to clerk so your options for even gov. work is limited (anecdotally, in Mass., the career office told us that the mass. d. courts were so swamped with applications they only read H, Y, BC, BU apps - and BU I think has 2 fed. clerks in all of mass [yikes]).

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SteelReserve
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby SteelReserve » Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:02 am

My gut reaction to the OP is to re-frame the issue as follows: is law school cost-justified for someone who will be paying sticker or near-sticker at a BU/BC/Fordham tier school and who really just wants to practice law, whether in biglaw or some other setting?

My answer would generally be "no." Not at least from the standpoint of income maximization, as the opportunity cost + loan payments + chances of graduating with not much increase in earning potential all militate against attending one of those schools at sticker. There is, of course, more to life than income maximization, and over the duration of one's entire career the three factors mentioned above take on diminishing significance. Assuming OP has not worked after UG, I would suggest going out and doing something you find worthwhile for a few years and then revisiting the law school question. Law schools aren't going anywhere, after all. You will likely become a more informed purchaser of higher education after gaining some post-grad experience and a better student as well.


I don't post as much as I used to, but I have to say GTL Rev continues to be on point with his posts.

Simply put, it's a serious, serious financial risk to go to those schools at sticker. You have a reasonable shot at a biglaw job, but not a good or great shot, and staring down the barrel of the gun that is 150k in loans while making a 50k small firm/government job is just not a pretty sight.

Now I realize plenty of people don't want to do biglaw, or don't care all that much about money, but I really wonder how many of those people truly understand what it would be like to live under those financial circumstances, what it would be like without your parent's help, or what it would be like trying to raise a family under those circumstances.

Only a person who truly loves, eats, and breathes being a lawyer could tolerate such a situation . . . and who can really know they are that type of person until they've already graduated, passed the bar, and worked for a few years?

To answer your original question, it really is that bad out there. It's not hyperbole. To be honest, TLS has always been the overly optimistic law forum, the one which paints the brightest picture for law students, and even now, the site has come around to the point you are noticing that there really are problems in the legal employment market.

In the end you need to evaluate what you want to do, what your goals are, how you can finance those goals, what your back up is, how you can live in the worst case scenario, etc.

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megaTTTron
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Re: Truths vs. Exaggerations

Postby megaTTTron » Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:22 am

OperaSoprano wrote:
This. I am another who paid sticker for a school in this range, and I have no regrets, even though I'm not sure what I want to do post graduation. It's already been worth it to me in the larger sense, because I'm doing something with my life that I truly enjoy, which has intrinsic meaning to me (I'm interning two days a week, volunteering, and going to my classes.) I realized I didn't want to work for a firm. I was told I had the grades, and I did OCI because it was the thing to be doing, but it didn't pan out for me. Perhaps my background made me a hard sell, or maybe it was just bad luck, but it was a blessing in disguise, because I have always put personal happiness above $$$. In just that way, it's freeing. If I had had the chance, I would have lacked the courage to walk away and figure out what I want.

I can honestly say I never thought about income maximization. I thought about paying my rent and my bills, but I thought more about finding a job that would be the right fit, and that led me to Fordham. I'll likely work for a nonprofit or a company in my field, if all goes well when the time comes.


OS giving me that warm fuzzy feeling again, even though I have come to the exact opposite conclusion.




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