Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

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jason8821
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Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby jason8821 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:10 am

I know the polls on the internet tend to suffer from self selection, and I know the people who post on the subject matter often have a strong opinion one way or the other. None the less, this has still caused me to think about applying to law school.

When I was in college, I played football, and did work study at the school of law where I attended undergrad. I wanted to go to law school but I guess I never took it too seriously (hence the 3.3 gpa). When I finished my undergrad I kind of panicked. For the first time I experienced the professional world. I worked in public relations for a little bit, but didn't like it. One of the clients where I worked was the AIA (American Institute of Architects). I became really interested in architecture, but realized that the average salary for a starting architect was almost 33% less than that of the average attorney. To make a long story short I realized that Architecture was also an equally expensive expensive endeavor, and it was more of a phase.

At this point, I panicked more. I began looking into what career paths offered a legitimate salary and a good economic forecast for the future. I quickly found out that for every sing career path that was deemed lucrative (M.D, architects, Comp Science, even engineers) many of them were complaining about money, job security etc.

It was not until recently that I decided that law school was what I really wanted to do. There are a number of reasons for this, but for the sake of discussion, my question is:

Is the legal field really that much worse than these other paths or is it just a matter of perspective. Is it possible that lawyers regret going into the profession because they end up making 60,000/year and not 120,000/year? For those that don't have unrealistic expectations. I.E) those that are willing to work hard at t2/t3 and start out at 50-60,000, are they still in serious trouble?

Thanks.

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James Bond
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby James Bond » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:29 am

The career outlook for biglaw really is that bad ITE. Other jobs are harder to come by than usual because of the economy too, but people here sometimes don't understand that OMGBIGLAW!!!111 isn't everyone's dream. Just because making 40K out of law school as some ADA or Public Defender doesn't fit someone's personal formula for "is law school worth it financially" doesn't mean those people making 40K aren't happy as shit enjoying something they've always wanted to do.

There are plenty of lawyer job openings where I'm from. Some people practicing around where I live are from Harvard Law, others are from T3 and T4 schools like Duquesne Law. They charge about the same, and the Harvard grad doesn't have a better acquittal rate either. Not everything's about money, nor is biglaw the end-all, but this is Top Law Schools, so there's an obvious, and intentional, slant. :)

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby XxSpyKEx » Tue Nov 17, 2009 4:47 am

biv0ns wrote:The career outlook for biglaw really is that bad ITE. Other jobs are harder to come by than usual because of the economy too, but people here sometimes don't understand that OMGBIGLAW!!!111 isn't everyone's dream. Just because making 40K out of law school as some ADA or Public Defender doesn't fit someone's personal formula for "is law school worth it financially" doesn't mean those people making 40K aren't happy as shit enjoying something they've always wanted to do.

There are plenty of lawyer job openings where I'm from. Some people practicing around where I live are from Harvard Law, others are from T3 and T4 schools like Duquesne Law. They charge about the same, and the Harvard grad doesn't have a better acquittal rate either. Not everything's about money, nor is biglaw the end-all, but this is Top Law Schools, so there's an obvious, and intentional, slant. :)


I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is the cost/benefit factors. The cost of law school nowadays are ridiculously slanted to where schools charge tuition based on biglaw salaries (even at t4s, where maybe top 2% has a shot at biglaw in a good economy). Realistically you are looking at around $50K in debt to just cover the cost of living. There's nothing wrong with making $40K /year at graduation but if you don't get a full ride or close to it, it is pretty unrealistic to ever pay off your debt (the obvious exceptions are schools like HYS that essentially pay your loans for you if you don't make a lot of money after graduation). I mean you just can't feasibly repay a $25-30K yearly loan repayment w/ a $40K salary (which post-tax would be under your loan repayment for that year)-- assuming a typical 10 year repayment & $150-200K in debt. For most people getting a full-ride means attending a relatively low ranked school and then there is the worries because the person often actually wants to be a lawyer and not just drop out after their first year if their grades aren't great, and the problem is that the low ranked schools have tendency to attach GPA stipulations to the scholarship (sometime pretty steep ones). So as a result I think a lot of people are forced into aiming for biglaw just for the purpose of paying off their student debt even if that's not what they ultimately want to do for the long run. I mean if law school cost like $60K total, and it were possible to get into a lot of the jobs that biglaw associates exit into, I think a lot of the people that aim for biglaw right now would just skip that step (I mean there isn't a ton of people that actively shoot for working 60-70 hour weeks- so pretty much 12 hours a day, 6 days a week).

Mr. Pablo
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby Mr. Pablo » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:00 am

I am not sure why, but people seem to think that you either make $160k or $40K and that there are no jobs that pay between that. You could find work that pays better than 40K, but that depends on the area you are looking in. You do need to be realistic about salary, the average law school graduate makes somewhere between 50-60K. You can find this statistic anywhere.
Secondly, it is not impossible to find one of those instant six-figure jobs outside of the t14, just more difficult. I know that the plural of anecdote is not data, but I happen to know a large number of lawyers, almost none of whom went to T14 schools. They all live in very nice homes in very nice areas and make well into the six figures- granted we are talking about New Yorkers, but that is where the money is.
There are a lot of holes here, but I have to get ready for work. good luck.

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Cupidity
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby Cupidity » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:41 am

Non T-14 students will have to settle for regional jobs, thats all. If you are going to UCLA, you'll make six figures in LA, but don't even dream about NYC these days.

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rayiner
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby rayiner » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:46 am

Cupidity wrote:Non T-14 students will have to settle for regional jobs, thats all. If you are going to UCLA, you'll make six figures in LA, but don't even dream about NYC these days.


I'd love it if six figures was a reasonable expectation for even T14 students...

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JazzOne
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby JazzOne » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:58 am

Mr. Pablo wrote:I am not sure why, but people seem to think that you either make $160k or $40K and that there are no jobs that pay between that.

You are aware of the bimodal distribution of attorney salaries, are you not? There may be jobs that pay in between, but not for first-year lawyers.

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rayiner
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby rayiner » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:00 am

JazzOne wrote:
Mr. Pablo wrote:I am not sure why, but people seem to think that you either make $160k or $40K and that there are no jobs that pay between that.

You are aware of the bimodal distribution of attorney salaries, are you not? There may be jobs that pay in between, but not for first-year lawyers.


Not really true. The bimodal distribution shows a lot of salaries between $75k and $135k (as many as are in the second peak). Those are first-year salaries for secondary-market biglaw. Unfortunately, those smaller "biglaw" firms are not hiring ITE.

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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby JazzOne » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:04 am

rayiner wrote:
JazzOne wrote:
Mr. Pablo wrote:I am not sure why, but people seem to think that you either make $160k or $40K and that there are no jobs that pay between that.

You are aware of the bimodal distribution of attorney salaries, are you not? There may be jobs that pay in between, but not for first-year lawyers.


Not really true. The bimodal distribution shows a lot of salaries between $75k and $135k (as many as are in the second peak). Those are first-year salaries for secondary-market biglaw. Unfortunately, those smaller "biglaw" firms are not hiring ITE.

Point taken. It is an exaggeration to say that there are no jobs of that sort, but the graph never gets above 4% in the range you indicated, and it's well below 2% for much of that range. It doesn't look like there are as many jobs in that range as there are in the second peak to me, but without the actual data, I'm not sure. Plus, I bet many of the people in that middle range could have gotten biglaw and chose midlaw instead. It's the bottom group that I'd be worried about.

Mark71121
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby Mark71121 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:08 am

Cupidity wrote:Non T-14 students will have to settle for regional jobs, thats all. If you are going to UCLA, you'll make six figures in LA, but don't even dream about NYC these days.



making 6 figures out of UCLA is unlikely ITE.

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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby PoliticalJunkie » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:08 am

JazzOne wrote:
Mr. Pablo wrote:I am not sure why, but people seem to think that you either make $160k or $40K and that there are no jobs that pay between that.

You are aware of the bimodal distribution of attorney salaries, are you not? There may be jobs that pay in between, but not for first-year lawyers.


Ummm have you seen the curve? The two humps only take into account about 40% of the market. 60% of first years will not be either in the 30K-60K or 160K humps. Most will be in the middle..........

http://www.nalp.org/salarydistrib

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Matthies
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby Matthies » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:56 am

There are jobs out there in mid markets for graduates of regional school. Some of those jobs pay decent starting salaries. BUT OCI as the primary way of getting these jobs (or most jobs) is in the tank.

So my advice is ONLY go to law school if you want to be a LAWYER. You’ll have to work pretty hard to land a mid law job, you will have to network, stick your neck out and get involved in the legal community from day one and make friends with lawyers and judges. All that comes naturally if the LAW is what you’re interested in more than the MONEY.

If money is your primary motivator then you might not be happy with what you will have to give up, starting salary wise, to get your foot in the legal door and get some experience. So make sure you will be happy as a lawyer, even if being a lawyer means you make less than 50k.

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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby Oblomov » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:02 pm

Just to add my own two cents, I'm also tired of seeing this salary graph be misinterpreted. There is no discreet point with many objects between the two modes, but if you add up all the object is that fall between them it's significant. Non-major market firms and non-big law firms (and govt) don't have the salaries set by the firm willing to go the highest so they spread out a lot more. Are there lots of jobs that pay 95K? No. But is there a significant number between, say, 75-105? Yes. Is this 160k plus bonus? No, but it's also not too bad when you consider that you'll be working fewer hours (more determined by market than big/mid distinctions), and living in a cheaper place.

That said, if you're going to be paying off 180k in loans, 160 is pretty nice.

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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby Posner » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:11 pm

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Last edited by Posner on Sun Apr 11, 2010 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby Kohinoor » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:21 pm

rayiner wrote:I'd love it if six figures was a reasonable expectation for even T14 students...

jason8821
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby jason8821 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:54 pm

I know I brought this up in another thread, but when I look at the issue of debt, I have to imagine that by the time I graduate law school, the typical debt will probably increase. I am inclined to think that it will be around $110,000-120,000+ (assuming it is around 100 right now). If you are in the small minority of people who have parents that can fully fund your education, or the poor who performed well academically and got a scholarship than it is very likely that you are less than 20,000 in debt just from undergraduate. Assuming you take out a $40,000 loan for living in law school alone. When calculating in interest, there are very few people that will graduate with less than $80,000 debt. For the few years before the recent recession it seemed (anecdotal) that everyone was forcing their children to go to college/university even if they were not "university material', and so my guess is that the average student debt over the next few years will make a drastic jump from 20,000 to probably over $30,000 for ug. I doubt 15 years ago anyone knew UG's that were $50,000 in debt when they left. However, I know at least 2 people that will be over $100,000.

So as far as law school goes, it leads me to believe that plenty of people will be over 150-200,000 in debt and I wonder if everyone is struggling that much with this debt or if people just have a different picture of what it should be like to be a lawyer. I mean if you have 150,000 in student loans. You will likely be expected to make a payment somewhere in the range $1500-1700/mo. for 10 years. Let's say that the typical lawyer should start out at about $50,000/year, and 70-80k by the time you your 10 years is up. (these are all arbitrary) correct me if i'm wrong. You will start out your law career making the same salary as someone who makes in the low thirties, no debt. At the end of the 10 years you will make the same as someone who makes 50k with no debt, and then if your the typical law graduate, you could/should be making close to six figures in your late 30's with no student loans and hopefully no significant credit card debt. With inflation you should definintely be making six figures.

With the recent culture shift, it seems that people are not expected to get families going until much later in their life, and if you wanted to wait until debt is paid off, or if you wanted to suffer earlier in your career, you could still be living a "very" comfortable life by most people standards by your late 30's. Yeah, a six figure job with two kids can hurt in NYC, or silicon valley, but in 90% of the country you will be perfectly fine. All of this is assuming that you are the typical law graduate.

To start out in the low 30's to do what you really want to do is not THAT bad. Tell a musician he can make 30 thousand dollars/year to start and by the time he's 35-40, he will likely be making six figures+, if he/she is any bit realistic they will understand how unlikely this is. Also, after doing my research on architects, they have it quite a bit worse than attorneys. Imagine having a figure that is close to the law school grad (100+ in student loans) and only making 29-38,000 on average your first year out of undergrad. Also, you can only aspire to ever make in the low six figures if you are very lucky.

I know a lot of this is based on speculation, and I am certain that there are loopholes, exceptions etc. but when looking at the general picture, it just seems that plenty of people who go into law do so with the mindset that they should skim that upper class line if not gain full membership after receiving a J.D.

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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby JazzOne » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:04 pm

Thanks for the analyses of the bimodal curve. I think I have misinterpreted it slightly, but when the sword of LS debt is hanging over your head, it's hard to be optimistic. I would rather underestimate my chances of 6 figures than overestimate.

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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby digitalcntrl » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:11 pm

jason8821 wrote:
At this point, I panicked more. I began looking into what career paths offered a legitimate salary and a good economic forecast for the future. I quickly found out that for every sing career path that was deemed lucrative (M.D, architects, Comp Science, even engineers) many of them were complaining about money, job security etc.


I have never heard of a M.D. complain about job security. They do complain if they make less than 150-200K/year.

jason8821 wrote:I know the polls on the internet tend to suffer from self selection, and I know the people who post on the subject matter often have a strong opinion one way or the other. None the less, this has still caused me to think about applying to law school.

Is the legal field really that much worse than these other paths or is it just a matter of perspective. Is it possible that lawyers regret going into the profession because they end up making 60,000/year and not 120,000/year? For those that don't have unrealistic expectations. I.E) those that are willing to work hard at t2/t3 and start out at 50-60,000, are they still in serious trouble?

Thanks.


The issue is not only the number of open positions (whether they be mid law or not) but also the number of students competing for those positions. The school I transferred from accepted 500 students as 1Ls this year (up from 300 the previous year) and I assume the class of 2013 will be just as large. You also have to take into account current 2Ls and 3Ls, if these people are unable to secure positions they will work as volunteers and will compete with you for paying jobs later on (and will have more experience then you on their resumes). You are also forgetting that unemployed attorneys, who have a significant advantage over law students since they have experience and you do not, will also be competing with you. There will be an oversupply for at least another 5 years IMO.

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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby jason8821 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:52 pm

I certainly never intended for my previous post to be bullet proof. None the less, I am just trying to figure out whether or not the typical lawyer is actually suffering more than anyone from any other careers. To the best of my knowledge (knowing med and law students). Medical school is much longer, and in some sense more difficult. It also requires one to take out even more student loans. There are plenty of doctors that are 250,000+ in debt when beginning their careers. The careers that really make the big bucks 250-300k will require longer residency, and in some cases you will not begin your career until you are in your mid thirties, which can obviously hurt your chances of starting a family younger (if that is important to you), and other experiences. People in the medical field also have other things they must worry about. For instance, the rising cost of malpractice insurance, what will happen with universal health care etc. Job security is not an issue, but they definitely have other concerns.

Architects suffer extremely bad in a recession, and with a similar education to attorneys (especially if one gets an M.Arch), it is hard to get certified as an architect until you are 27-30 years old. There are also plenty of starting architects who have $100,000 + and are attempting to pay it off making >35k/year in a profession that lacks job security.

Many people, in many different careers are worried for a number of reasons, If anyone googles Should i get a MBA, M.D ,J.D, B.Arch, M.Arch, Comp Science degree etc. they will find out that plenty of people are complaining about either job competition/security and lack of pay for their education etc. People will tell you that an MBA is a horrible idea while others will support it, and then some will say just make sure you go to a good school like Wharton or Kellogg, but if you can't get a top school I wouldn't consider it. This may lead someone who is rational to look back and say perhaps if I was going to end up in 50k in loans from an undergrad that was not incredibly prestigious, I may have been alot better of joining the military or getting an associates and working, but then you will see tons of people telling you how bad of an idea it is to do either of those (for reasons not related to money)

When I originally started the thread, I wanted to see if people who look at the big picture believe that Lawyers of the future will indeed suffer more than those in other professions, and it seems the general consensus is yes.

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MC Southstar
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby MC Southstar » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:09 pm

To the above post, yeah, every job market is suffering, but some will grow and others will diminish. Need for physicians will grow, need for lawyers will remain stagnant for a while. Need for comp sci remains high, but it has shot down dramatically because most companies that use comp sci for infrastructure drop their IT department first. There is no supreme job in the universe.

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General Tso
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby General Tso » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:12 pm

JazzOne wrote:
Mr. Pablo wrote:I am not sure why, but people seem to think that you either make $160k or $40K and that there are no jobs that pay between that.

You are aware of the bimodal distribution of attorney salaries, are you not? There may be jobs that pay in between, but not for first-year lawyers.


But that bimodal chart only encompasses first-year lawyers

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rayiner
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby rayiner » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:20 pm

swheat wrote:
JazzOne wrote:
Mr. Pablo wrote:I am not sure why, but people seem to think that you either make $160k or $40K and that there are no jobs that pay between that.

You are aware of the bimodal distribution of attorney salaries, are you not? There may be jobs that pay in between, but not for first-year lawyers.


But that bimodal chart only encompasses first-year lawyers


And salary increases are proportional, by and large, to your previous salary.

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rayiner
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby rayiner » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:20 pm

I have never heard of a M.D. complain about job security. They do complain if they make less than 150-200K/year.


This. Plus, MD's are a lot smarter than JDs.

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General Tso
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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby General Tso » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:30 pm

according to this article, the career outlook for ALL Americans may really be bad:

http://money.cnn.com/2009/11/11/news/in ... tm?cnn=yes

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Re: Is the career outlook for a non t-14 lawyer really that bad?

Postby MC Southstar » Tue Nov 17, 2009 3:32 pm

rayiner wrote:
I have never heard of a M.D. complain about job security. They do complain if they make less than 150-200K/year.


This. Plus, MD's are a lot smarter than JDs.


If by smarter you mean workaholic android, then yes, I agree.




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