Law school, a ticket to economic security?

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romothesavior
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:56 am

AreJay711 wrote:I could happily live off 30K post-tax post-loan. Most law school grads can swing that.

I like you AreJay and I don't mean to sound like I'm coming at you, but this argument gets really old after hearing it about a hundred times. Every time the issue of debt and expenses comes up, someone feels the need to beat their chest and talk about how thrifty and simple they are capable of living. I come from a very middle-American, middle-class family too. I know what it means to live within my means and still be able to get by just fine. But I can tell you right now that if my hard work and debt incurred to get this degree (which isn't even that high) leave me with only 30k a year after servicing my debts and taxes, this whole thing will have been a big mistake.

The question isn't, "Could I get by after law school?" The question is, "Was law school the right call?" I imagine 3-5 years from now I'll be thinking about marriage, starting a family, building financial security, buying a home, etc. If my seven years of higher education and ~100k in debt leave me unable to buy a home, support kids, etc., then it wasn't worth it. Might as well have just skipped the law school thing and done something else. And that's the point the author of the article is trying to make.

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romothesavior
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:59 am

luthersloan wrote:The 30K figure posted above was post loan payments. If you lived with two roommates in Brooklyn you could live on that, who would want too, but you could do it.

Nobody goes to law school so they can live like a college student at 30, duder.

luthersloan
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby luthersloan » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:01 am

romothesavior wrote:
luthersloan wrote:The 30K figure posted above was post loan payments. If you lived with two roommates in Brooklyn you could live on that, who would want too, but you could do it.

Nobody goes to law school so they can live like a college student at 30, duder.


Yeah, that was my point.

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NinerFan
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby NinerFan » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:04 am

romothesavior wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:I could happily live off 30K post-tax post-loan. Most law school grads can swing that.

I like you AreJay and I don't mean to sound like I'm coming at you, but this argument gets really old after hearing it about a hundred times. Every time the issue of debt and expenses comes up, someone feels the need to beat their chest and talk about how thrifty and simple they are capable of living. I come from a very middle-American, middle-class family too. I know what it means to live within my means and still be able to get by just fine. But I can tell you right now that if my hard work and debt incurred to get this degree (which isn't even that high) leave me with only 30k a year after servicing my debts and taxes, this whole thing will have been a big mistake.

The question isn't, "Could I get by after law school?" The question is, "Was law school the right call?" I imagine 3-5 years from now I'll be thinking about marriage, starting a family, building financial security, buying a home, etc. If my seven years of higher education and ~100k in debt leave me unable to buy a home, support kids, etc., then it wasn't worth it. Might as well have just skipped the law school thing and done something else. And that's the point the author of the article is trying to make.


Right. If you were going to drop 150k on a legal education and spend 3 extra years in school, I should hope you'd make more than a guy with a high school education or the typical random liberal arts major in college. 30k post-taxes is less than what my friends at regular-joe type jobs make, and they didn't have to make the sacrifices I just mentioned, nor will they work as hard or be nearly as stressed as a lawyer.

luthersloan
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby luthersloan » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:06 am

romothesavior wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:I could happily live off 30K post-tax post-loan. Most law school grads can swing that.

I like you AreJay and I don't mean to sound like I'm coming at you, but this argument gets really old after hearing it about a hundred times. Every time the issue of debt and expenses comes up, someone feels the need to beat their chest and talk about how thrifty and simple they are capable of living. I come from a very middle-American, middle-class family too. I know what it means to live within my means and still be able to get by just fine. But I can tell you right now that if my hard work and debt incurred to get this degree (which isn't even that high) leave me with only 30k a year after servicing my debts and taxes, this whole thing will have been a big mistake.

The question isn't, "Could I get by after law school?" The question is, "Was law school the right call?" I imagine 3-5 years from now I'll be thinking about marriage, starting a family, building financial security, buying a home, etc. If my seven years of higher education and ~100k in debt leave me unable to buy a home, support kids, etc., then it wasn't worth it. Might as well have just skipped the law school thing and done something else. And that's the point the author of the article is trying to make.


I never would have racked up almost 200K in loans if I wanted to have a family, honestly I think the risks that attend going to law school now are only bearable (at sticker anyway) if you can afford to lose, i.e. if you are willing to be stuck with a big loan burden and a moderate income.

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romothesavior
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:11 am

luthersloan wrote:I never would have racked up almost 200K in loans if I wanted to have a family, honestly I think the risks that attend going to law school now are only bearable (at sticker anyway) if you can afford to lose, i.e. if you are willing to be stuck with a big loan burden and a moderate income.

I agree. I took out like 10k for undergrad and another 80k or so for law school, and it is looking like my SO and I (if we stay together) will be able to pay this off in just a few years. I think it is going to work out for me. But I still look back and feel like maybe I made a mistake. It's almost like sucking out on the river in poker... yeah it worked, but was it the right play?

Higher and higher student debts (not just for law students), fewer and fewer jobs that pay respectably... I don't think this ends well for our generation.

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Grizz
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby Grizz » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:28 am

romothesavior wrote:I agree. I took out like 10k for undergrad and another 80k or so for law school, and it is looking like my SO and I (if we stay together) will be able to pay this off in just a few years. I think it is going to work out for me. But I still look back and feel like maybe I made a mistake. It's almost like sucking out on the river in poker... yeah it worked, but was it the right play?

Higher and higher student debts (not just for law students), fewer and fewer jobs that pay respectably... I don't think this ends well for our generation.


The bold is the best description of law school I've ever heard.

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NinerFan
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby NinerFan » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:31 am

Was that really supposed to be "sucking out on the river" instead of lucking?

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Ty Webb
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby Ty Webb » Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:56 am

Yes, it was.

I've never heard anyone refer to a "luckout."

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sunynp
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby sunynp » Wed Dec 14, 2011 8:52 am

Even employed law grads go back to live with their parents just so they can live cheaply and repay their loans. I guess that isn't always a problem - but is that something most students contemplate having to do when they sign the loan papers?

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IAFG
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby IAFG » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:06 am

sunynp wrote:Even employed law grads go back to live with their parents just so they can live cheaply and repay their loans. I guess that isn't always a problem - but is that something most students contemplate having to do when they sign the loan papers?

Oh my god I wish I could... I LOVE living with my parents.

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20130312
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby 20130312 » Wed Dec 14, 2011 10:12 am

The title of this thread is lulzy.

REALLYBIGLAW
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby REALLYBIGLAW » Wed Dec 14, 2011 1:00 pm

AreJay711 wrote:I could happily live off 30K post-tax post-loan. Most law school grads can swing that.


$30,000 per year after taxes and after loans? That is $2,500 per month for living expenses. Unless you have a spouse or significant other also sharing expenses, I don't see how a professional lawyer makes it on that income. Being a lawyer actually costs money. Bars fees and CLE run a few thousand dollars per year. Constant travel to get to and from court, meet clients, mediation, depositions, etc. All of that adds up.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby BeautifulSW » Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:30 pm

I'm awfully glad to see this thread. Sometimes I wonder if ANY 0Ls ever consider the math. If even half did, half the law schools in the country would go paws up.

Law isn't the best way to "riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice". An MBA in Finance from Harvard/Stanford/Wharton/Chicago or wherever is much more likely to lead to the glittering peaks of American economic success. Well, that and picking your parents carefully.

Being a lawyer should convey substantial material benefits, I absolutely agree. If law school isn't likely to do that for you, DON'T GO!

ignatiusr
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby ignatiusr » Thu Dec 15, 2011 3:52 pm

NinerFan wrote:
romothesavior wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:I could happily live off 30K post-tax post-loan. Most law school grads can swing that.

I like you AreJay and I don't mean to sound like I'm coming at you, but this argument gets really old after hearing it about a hundred times. Every time the issue of debt and expenses comes up, someone feels the need to beat their chest and talk about how thrifty and simple they are capable of living. I come from a very middle-American, middle-class family too. I know what it means to live within my means and still be able to get by just fine. But I can tell you right now that if my hard work and debt incurred to get this degree (which isn't even that high) leave me with only 30k a year after servicing my debts and taxes, this whole thing will have been a big mistake.

The question isn't, "Could I get by after law school?" The question is, "Was law school the right call?" I imagine 3-5 years from now I'll be thinking about marriage, starting a family, building financial security, buying a home, etc. If my seven years of higher education and ~100k in debt leave me unable to buy a home, support kids, etc., then it wasn't worth it. Might as well have just skipped the law school thing and done something else. And that's the point the author of the article is trying to make.


Right. If you were going to drop 150k on a legal education and spend 3 extra years in school, I should hope you'd make more than a guy with a high school education or the typical random liberal arts major in college. 30k post-taxes is less than what my friends at regular-joe type jobs make, and they didn't have to make the sacrifices I just mentioned, nor will they work as hard or be nearly as stressed as a lawyer.


Even supposing this article's numbers are accurate (which is a shaky assumption, IMO), it's worth acknowledging that monthly loan repayments do not extend interminably. Without a scholarship of any kind, graduates will still be ~45 when their loans are either repaid or forgiven (assuming Obama's repayment policies aren't significantly reconfigured by future administrations, for better or worse). It's difficult to think ahead more than a decade, but people in their 40s are still relatively young men and women. There is an obvious difference between someone with a high school education making 30k post-taxes and an attorney in their late 20s making 30k post-taxes: the former's income will increase only marginally over time, while the latter's income will increase markedly after they pay off their loans. If I have to rent a moderately nice condo in the years immediately following graduation, cutting some corners and saving in small increments, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. I'm sure not everyone feels that way, but I also don't think these scenarios are as miserable or hopeless as many have painted them.

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romothesavior
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby romothesavior » Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:37 am

ignatiusr wrote: There is an obvious difference between someone with a high school education making 30k post-taxes and an attorney in their late 20s making 30k post-taxes: the former's income will increase only marginally over time, while the latter's income will increase markedly after they pay off their loans.

You come after the OP's numbers, but then make this comment like its gospel truth. It's far from truth. First of all, you fail to take into account the number of law students who graduate without a job and end up doing a job they could have done without a law degree (anything from Starbucks barista to retail, or maybe their old career or a decent BA-required if they are lucky). Law school wasn't worth it for these folks.

Second, the growth opportunity for lawyers used to be pretty damn good, but it remains to be seen how it plays out moving forward. The market is so oversaturated that it is really a huge assumption to think that someone starting out at 30-50k will be able to make it rain 5, 10, even 20 years down the road. We'd like to hope so, and saying it over and over makes the 1Ls think the investment is a wise one, but it is a bold claim to make. I'm sure a lot of us will be killing it at 40, but some may still be struggling, some may be living modestly (at a level they could have achieved without law school), and some may never have gotten a legal job at all.

Sure, things will be a lot better after those loans are paid off, but that still may not make the whole endeavor worth it. Being 30 or 35 with no savings, no investments, and no real estate is not a good position to be in for most of us, especially if we're starting our legal career in our mid to late 20s. There is this assumption out there that people may have to start out on a low salary, but it is worth it in the long run. I'm not convinced that is true for most current law grads. Looking at the rags to riches lawyers as evidence of what the average law school student can expect is naive, and it is especially naive when we're talking about a market that has changed so dramatically from when today's 40-50 year old lawyers went to school.

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erico
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby erico » Fri Dec 16, 2011 3:58 am

romothesavior wrote:
Being 30 or 35 with no savings, no investments, and no real estate is not a good position to be in for most of us...



crap.

BeautifulSW
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby BeautifulSW » Fri Dec 16, 2011 11:22 am

No, not "crap" but maybe a trifle unrealistic. What you should have by your mid-thirties is a retirement plan of some sort. That was one great lure of State employment for me, that it came with good retirement package. And now, years later, I'm in a better place that way than most of my classmates who went solo or small firm. For some of those folks, their retirement plan consists of Social Security and a parade of lottery tickets. Pretty grim.

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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby blsingindisguise » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:50 am

REALLYBIGLAW wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:I could happily live off 30K post-tax post-loan. Most law school grads can swing that.


$30,000 per year after taxes and after loans? That is $2,500 per month for living expenses. Unless you have a spouse or significant other also sharing expenses, I don't see how a professional lawyer makes it on that income. Being a lawyer actually costs money. Bars fees and CLE run a few thousand dollars per year. Constant travel to get to and from court, meet clients, mediation, depositions, etc. All of that adds up.


This. Not to mention your clothing and grooming budget goes up sharply. I'm not talking about anything high-end, just the basic cost of a few ok suits, a rack of dress shirts, a couple pairs of dress shoes, dress belts, ties etc., plus the dry-cleaning, shoe-shining and repair, etc. Even low-end business casual stuff costs more than you'd think when you actually have to maintain a large enough variety in work-ready condition.

flcath
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby flcath » Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:19 am

Lotta anger in this thread. And what's with blaming the applicants/students? In addition to being unproductive, I don't think it's overly fair.

Don't get me wrong, I wish the ABA or the federal gov't would reform the profession as much as anyone does, but we didn't really choose to be here. It's a rough economy--I personally lost my (~$30K/yr.) job, that I enjoyed very much--and it's not like any of us had med school acceptances we tore up to be here.

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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby Borhas » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:09 am

NinerFan wrote:
romothesavior wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:I could happily live off 30K post-tax post-loan. Most law school grads can swing that.

I like you AreJay and I don't mean to sound like I'm coming at you, but this argument gets really old after hearing it about a hundred times. Every time the issue of debt and expenses comes up, someone feels the need to beat their chest and talk about how thrifty and simple they are capable of living. I come from a very middle-American, middle-class family too. I know what it means to live within my means and still be able to get by just fine. But I can tell you right now that if my hard work and debt incurred to get this degree (which isn't even that high) leave me with only 30k a year after servicing my debts and taxes, this whole thing will have been a big mistake.

The question isn't, "Could I get by after law school?" The question is, "Was law school the right call?" I imagine 3-5 years from now I'll be thinking about marriage, starting a family, building financial security, buying a home, etc. If my seven years of higher education and ~100k in debt leave me unable to buy a home, support kids, etc., then it wasn't worth it. Might as well have just skipped the law school thing and done something else. And that's the point the author of the article is trying to make.


Right. If you were going to drop 150k on a legal education and spend 3 extra years in school, I should hope you'd make more than a guy with a high school education or the typical random liberal arts major in college. 30k post-taxes is less than what my friends at regular-joe type jobs make, and they didn't have to make the sacrifices I just mentioned, nor will they work as hard or be nearly as stressed as a lawyer.

the typical random liberal arts majors aren't employed

though that's no reason to go to law school

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romothesavior
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby romothesavior » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:24 pm

flcath wrote:Don't get me wrong, I wish the ABA or the federal gov't would reform the profession as much as anyone does, but we didn't really choose to be here. It's a rough economy--I personally lost my (~$30K/yr.) job, that I enjoyed very much--and it's not like any of us had med school acceptances we tore up to be here.

You have a strange definition of the word "choose." Every single 1L or 2L (and maybe 3Ls, but definitely 1Ls and 2Ls) knew what they were doing or should have known what they were doing when they went to law school. The warnings have been front and center on TLS and even in the national media for years. I don't subscribe to the "blame the students" mentality either, although at least a small portion of it belongs on our laps. But to say we didn't "choose" to be here is silly.

pasteurizedmilk
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby pasteurizedmilk » Wed Jan 04, 2012 3:34 pm

According to the National Association of Law Placement, new law graduates earn, on average, $68,500. That means many would be unable to purchase a home and repay their loans, according to Chen's analysis. Lenders generally frown on educational debt that represents more than 8 percent to 12 percent of the borrower's monthly gross income, he wrote.


I think this is exaggerated, and if it isn't then the article should be about college in general, not law school in particular. Everybody under 30 owes more than 10% of their monthly gross income in student loans.

bdubs
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby bdubs » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:00 pm

pasteurizedmilk wrote:
According to the National Association of Law Placement, new law graduates earn, on average, $68,500. That means many would be unable to purchase a home and repay their loans, according to Chen's analysis. Lenders generally frown on educational debt that represents more than 8 percent to 12 percent of the borrower's monthly gross income, he wrote.


I think this is exaggerated, and if it isn't then the article should be about college in general, not law school in particular. Everybody under 30 owes more than 10% of their monthly gross income in student loans.


That is clearly not true. Many people graduate from undergrad with minimal debt. Far, far fewer graduate from law school with the same.

redbullvodka
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Re: Law school, a ticket to economic security?

Postby redbullvodka » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:08 pm

romothesavior wrote:
luthersloan wrote:The 30K figure posted above was post loan payments. If you lived with two roommates in Brooklyn you could live on that, who would want too, but you could do it.

Nobody goes to law school so they can live like a college student at 30, duder.


This is precisely what doctors do all the time. Graduate 25-27ish, residency until probably at least 31, and that's when the six figs starts to roll in.

No one should go to law school (or med school) because they expect to live large at 30.




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