Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

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Which would you choose?

T14 with $150,000 in debt
27
18%
T40 with 0 debt + $9,000 stipend
123
82%
 
Total votes: 150

Anonymous User
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Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 07, 2012 2:47 pm

I'm having a tough time making this decision, and I wanted to open this up to the wisdom of those who've been through the job market. My situation is that I'm 29 years old, I'm going to be married soon, and my wife to be and I live together. We live together in the town of a T40 school, and I've been accepted to law school at this school (strong regional) with full tuition, plus books, plus $3,000 per year stipend. She has a good job here, we own a house here, and her moving is not a good option. Since we live here already I can live with her, attend the strong regional, and take on zero debt. I would plan to tutor LSAT on the side, and between that and her job we could continue to pay the mortgage, put food on the table, etc., without depleting our savings or taking out loans. The award from the T40 is given to one person in each class, and while the placement for the school is what you would expect, the placement for the top 10% of students has been excellent, and the people who have had this award in the past are all at elite big law firms (vault 50 or 100). The alternative to this is attending a lower T14 school. I got a scholarship there, but Coa will still be ~$150,000 over three years. The school is an hour away from where we live, so I would have a long commute every week day. Given that it's lower T14, as you would expect at least 2/3 of the recent graduates have had very good job placement, but a number of people have graduated with six figures of debt and no job.

other factors:
-I'd love to end up at a mid-sized firm or as in house counsel six or more years from now. I think I will like big law for at least a couple years, but I'm not sure I want that kind of job in the long term.
-We would like to have children in the next 2-4 years, and this will obviously be much harder if I'm commuting.
-We like the region where we are living. It seems that if I go to the T40 I have a good chance for a very good job in this market.
-In the long term, the T14 will give bigger geographical flexibility, which could help both of us professionally.
-I've talked to recent grads (2008-present) from the T40, who all did well (law review, order of the coif) and are in big law jobs within a radius of 600 miles of the school.
-I have every reason to think I will enjoy working as a lawyer. I've read a number of academic law books recently, and I have worked in a firm and talked to many people in the region working big law and other legal jobs. So I am not questioning the decision to go to law school at all, but I'm concerned about the oversupply of lawyers and outsourcing of legal work. I think the amount of debt I will take on at the T14 makes it either a bad choice or just barely a reasonable choice.

Has anyone on here turned down a T14 for a strong regional full ride, and have you been satisfied with this decision? I was elated to get this offer, but now that I'm on the verge of accepting it I'm having some doubts because I can financially afford the T14 (use all my savings + borrow $70,000), but my quality of life will be lower for the next three years, and after graduation I would absolutely need a big law job for it to make sense as a financial decision.

Thanks for your thoughts!
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Apr 07, 2012 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Br3v
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Br3v » Sat Apr 07, 2012 2:51 pm

People are going to want to know the specific schools, or at least more about them.

A few things worth mentioning:
Did you included cost of commute every weekday for t14?
What are the stipulations on the scholarship for the t40?
Do not bank on being top 10% at any school.

If you do not mind practicing in the area of the t40, I would probably for sure take graduating with no debt at all plus making a little $. Worse case scenario is you graduate debt free, have a law degree, but don't work as a lawyer.

Anonymous User
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 07, 2012 2:57 pm

Br3v wrote:People are going to want to know the specific schools, or at least more about them.

A few things worth mentioning:
Did you included cost of commute every weekday for t14?
What are the stipulations on the scholarship for the t40?
Do not bank on being top 10% at any school.

If you do not mind practicing in the area of the t40, I would probably for sure take graduating with no debt at all plus making a little $. Worse case scenario is you graduate debt free, have a law degree, but don't work as a lawyer.


-The stipulations for the t40 is that I need to remain in top 25% to keep it. If I drop below top 25% I still get to keep the full tuition, but they stop paying for books and giving the stipend (which is given out in six parts, one each semester).

-I did include the cost of the commute, although I have no idea how high gas is going to go.

-The T40 is what I'm leaning toward. For personal reasons (as above), and because it's a hedge against the law market weakening further and other possibilities.

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Br3v
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Br3v » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:06 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Br3v wrote:People are going to want to know the specific schools, or at least more about them.

A few things worth mentioning:
Did you included cost of commute every weekday for t14?
What are the stipulations on the scholarship for the t40?
Do not bank on being top 10% at any school.

If you do not mind practicing in the area of the t40, I would probably for sure take graduating with no debt at all plus making a little $. Worse case scenario is you graduate debt free, have a law degree, but don't work as a lawyer.


-The stipulations for the t40 is that I need to remain in top 25% to keep it. If I drop below top 25% I still get to keep the full tuition, but they stop paying for books and giving the stipend (which is given out in six parts, one each semester).

-I did include the cost of the commute, although I have no idea how high gas is going to go.

-The T40 is what I'm leaning toward. For personal reasons (as above), and because it's a hedge against the law market weakening further and other possibilities.


hmm. I would talk to T40 and see if you can make the stipulations a little less restricting? Worth a shot. Though I think even if you dropped out of top 25%, the fact you have full tuition is still great.

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NoleinNY
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby NoleinNY » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:17 pm

Br3v wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Br3v wrote:People are going to want to know the specific schools, or at least more about them.

A few things worth mentioning:
Did you included cost of commute every weekday for t14?
What are the stipulations on the scholarship for the t40?
Do not bank on being top 10% at any school.

If you do not mind practicing in the area of the t40, I would probably for sure take graduating with no debt at all plus making a little $. Worse case scenario is you graduate debt free, have a law degree, but don't work as a lawyer.


-The stipulations for the t40 is that I need to remain in top 25% to keep it. If I drop below top 25% I still get to keep the full tuition, but they stop paying for books and giving the stipend (which is given out in six parts, one each semester).

-I did include the cost of the commute, although I have no idea how high gas is going to go.

-The T40 is what I'm leaning toward. For personal reasons (as above), and because it's a hedge against the law market weakening further and other possibilities.


hmm. I would talk to T40 and see if you can make the stipulations a little less restricting? Worth a shot. Though I think even if you dropped out of top 25%, the fact you have full tuition is still great.


Yeah, I'd take the T40. Those stips are actually fairly generous (in that all you'd lose would be the stipend.)

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bernaldiaz
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby bernaldiaz » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:20 pm

Also, is the T40 the top in its market? Some T40's are a lot better than others. It really doesn't hurt to give the schools, people would actually be able to help you

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:20 pm

Sounds like this is something along the lines of UMD versus Georgetown/UNC versus Duke/W&L versus UVA.

Not trying to out you, OP, sorry if this is too detailed. But I would take the T40 if this is the kind of decision you're looking at.

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Br3v
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Br3v » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:21 pm

I can see how OP would not want to say t40, that scholarship is awarded to one person, himself.

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bernaldiaz
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby bernaldiaz » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:22 pm

Br3v wrote:I can see how OP would not want to say t40, that scholarship is awarded to one person, himself.


That's true. Still it's really hard to give meaningful advice without the schools

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:24 pm

dixiecupdrinking wrote:Sounds like this is something along the lines of UMD versus Georgetown/UNC versus Duke/W&L versus UVA.

Not trying to out you, OP, sorry if this is too detailed. But I would take the T40 if this is the kind of decision you're looking at.


I don't want to give the schools but your guesses above are very close. I don't live in a major metro region and the T40 is very solid within the state and neighboring states (many local big law firms have more lawyers with jds from the t40 than the t14).
Last edited by Anonymous User on Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Br3v
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Br3v » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:Sounds like this is something along the lines of UMD versus Georgetown/UNC versus Duke/W&L versus UVA.

Not trying to out you, OP, sorry if this is too detailed. But I would take the T40 if this is the kind of decision you're looking at.


I don't want to give the schools but your guesses above are very close. I don't live in a major metro region and the T40 is very solid within the state and neighboring states (many local big law firms have more lawyers with jds from the t40 than the t40).


take t40 unless you are in love with t14 then

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bernaldiaz
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby bernaldiaz » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:Sounds like this is something along the lines of UMD versus Georgetown/UNC versus Duke/W&L versus UVA.

Not trying to out you, OP, sorry if this is too detailed. But I would take the T40 if this is the kind of decision you're looking at.


I don't want to give the schools but your guesses above are very close. I don't live in a major metro region and the T40 is very solid within the state and neighboring states (many local big law firms have more lawyers with jds from the t40 than the t40).


Sounds like the t40 is a no-brainer.

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NinerFan
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby NinerFan » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:34 pm

Take the almost-free education dude. As their top named scholly student, I'm sure the school's admin and alums will do whatever they can to help you, even if you're not top 10%. Go to the T40, live with your wife, have children, live happily ever after, etc.

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rayiner
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby rayiner » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:37 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:Sounds like this is something along the lines of UMD versus Georgetown/UNC versus Duke/W&L versus UVA.

Not trying to out you, OP, sorry if this is too detailed. But I would take the T40 if this is the kind of decision you're looking at.


I don't want to give the schools but your guesses above are very close. I don't live in a major metro region and the T40 is very solid within the state and neighboring states (many local big law firms have more lawyers with jds from the t40 than the t14).


As a general rule this is not something you should take into consideration. One of the things you hear over and over again, particularly in law but generally, is "I would not have been hired here today." The level of competition is just completely different than it was 20-30 years ago, especially post-recession. This is the product of massive, consolidation in the legal industry, a decline in the real wages of solo practitioners and a sharp increase in the wages of lawyers at big firms.

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby lobolawyer » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:42 pm

NinerFan wrote:Take the almost-free education dude. As their top named scholly student, I'm sure the school's admin and alums will do whatever they can to help you, even if you're not top 10%. Go to the T40, live with your wife, have children, live happily ever after, etc.

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:46 pm

Rayiner, your point is well taken. I'm not arguing that this reflects the likely job outcomes of current t40 grads, but that it may give a slight edge in hiring in that all things being equal people like to hire grads from their Alma mater.

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby lobolawyer » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:48 pm

rayiner wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
dixiecupdrinking wrote:Sounds like this is something along the lines of UMD versus Georgetown/UNC versus Duke/W&L versus UVA.

Not trying to out you, OP, sorry if this is too detailed. But I would take the T40 if this is the kind of decision you're looking at.


I don't want to give the schools but your guesses above are very close. I don't live in a major metro region and the T40 is very solid within the state and neighboring states (many local big law firms have more lawyers with jds from the t40 than the t14).


As a general rule this is not something you should take into consideration. One of the things you hear over and over again, particularly in law but generally, is "I would not have been hired here today." The level of competition is just completely different than it was 20-30 years ago, especially post-recession. This is the product of massive, consolidation in the legal industry, a decline in the real wages of solo practitioners and a sharp increase in the wages of lawyers at big firms.


Church. On this Easter weekend, this is the gospel according to Rayiner. That being said, I'd still go with the T40. Alumni generally put in work for students who get this type of scholarship, and if you do extremely well biglaw isn't out of the question. However, according to the goals you laid out, you'd prefer a midsized firm, which should be achievable from a T40, and in the worst case scenario if you end up bottom 1/3 of the class you won't have to bear the weight of crushing debt.

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby LawIdiot86 » Sat Apr 07, 2012 3:49 pm

Take the T40 and bust your ass the first year. See if you can get a 1L SA being the top dawg there and consider transferring to a T10 and only paying 2 years of tuition.

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:00 pm

LawIdiot86 wrote:Take the T40 and bust your ass the first year. See if you can get a 1L SA being the top dawg there and consider transferring to a T10 and only paying 2 years of tuition.


I could get in to a t10 now, but i only applied to schools within this region. It's not a question of getting in to an elite school.

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rayiner
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby rayiner » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:02 pm

lobolawyer wrote:Church. On this Easter weekend, this is the gospel according to Rayiner. That being said, I'd still go with the T40. Alumni generally put in work for students who get this type of scholarship, and if you do extremely well biglaw isn't out of the question. However, according to the goals you laid out, you'd prefer a midsized firm, which should be achievable from a T40, and in the worst case scenario if you end up bottom 1/3 of the class you won't have to bear the weight of crushing debt.


I don't disagree in this case. I think a lot of people at that T40 have an incentive to find you a position at least at a local mid-size firm.

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NinerFan
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby NinerFan » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:27 pm

LawIdiot86 wrote:Take the T40 and bust your ass the first year. See if you can get a 1L SA being the top dawg there and consider transferring to a T10 and only paying 2 years of tuition.


He's staying in the area to be with his wife, so transferring would defeat the purpose.

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby thexfactor » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:37 pm

I would go T14 at sticker vs T40.
Avg T40 places less than 6.5% in nlj250 firms. Add up all the semi ok jobs and it prob equals out to around 15%.

Lower T14 places roughly around 35% in biglaw + another prob 15% in clerkships/"midlaw" or big gov.

There is a very good chance that if the OP goes to the T40, he will not be employed at graduation or will be making less than 40k a year. Going to a T14 is more of a coin flip.

Also, the downside of "losing" at a T14 school is dramatically decreased due to IBR.

These are the following outcomes:

1. Go to t40 and get biglaw/midlaw. 15%
2. Go to t14 get biglaw/midlaw 50%
3. Go to T40 get shitlaw or unemployed 85%
4. Go to T14 get nothing. 50%

Outcome 1 is only slightly better outcome 2 because the marginal utility of happiness is only slightly worse when you have to pay 25k a year for 5 years. IE making 160k vs 130k. You are only slightly less happy making 130k vs making 160k.

Outcome 3 is only slightly better than outcome 4. You make shitlaw at 30k a year. IBR takes away 10% of your income for 20 years. Paying 10% of your income when making shitlaw would only make yourself slightly more unhappy.

However the biggest difference is between outcome 2 and 3. Making over 100k (even after paying your student loans every year) is day and night better than going to a T40 without debt and getting a shitlaw job.

Therefore, theoretically if you add up the expected payout of each option, your best option will be to attend the T14 with debt.

Lastly, once you miss the biglaw/midlaw boat in the beginning of your career, it is very difficult to get the position later on. This will make it difficult to attain your goal of being corp counsel later on in your career.
Last edited by thexfactor on Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Rowinguy2009
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby Rowinguy2009 » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:47 pm

OP, I was in a very similar situation two years ago. Took the money and haven't regretted it once.

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IAFG
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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby IAFG » Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:54 pm

Rowinguy2009 wrote:OP, I was in a very similar situation two years ago. Took the money and haven't regretted it once.

It's easy to say in hindsight. If you'd lost the law school game, you might feel differently.

It's a really personal decision that you're going to have to agonize over. The nice thing about elite school is that you have a better margin for error. If, in spite of your best efforts, you land in the bottom half at a T14, you still have a decent shot of landing a good job in your home market with your strong ties. If you go to the T40 and your hard work pays off, you'll be thrilled to have the reduced debt and same job you would have taken out of the T14. If you do well at the T14, you may ultimately regret your decision to pay so much for the prestige safety net. No one knows from where you stand now how that's going to shake out.

I will say though that I think thexfactor's percentages aren't really a fair assessment of the T14 risk. I think you have a much better shot than he suggests at getting big or midlaw out of the T14 as long as it's one of MVP DCN; more like 65-75%.

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Re: Huge money + named scholarship at the T40 vs. T14 + debt

Postby truevines » Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:26 pm

thexfactor wrote:I would go T14 at sticker vs T40.

These are the following outcomes:

1. Go to t40 and get biglaw/midlaw. 15%
2. Go to t14 get biglaw/midlaw 50%
3. Go to T40 get shitlaw or unemployed 85%
4. Go to T14 get nothing. 50%

Outcome 1 is only slightly better outcome 2 because the marginal utility of happiness is only slightly worse when you have to pay 25k a year for 5 years. IE making 160k vs 130k. You are only slightly less happy making 130k vs making 160k.

Outcome 3 is only slightly better than outcome 4. You make shitlaw at 30k a year. IBR takes away 10% of your income for 20 years. Paying 10% of your income when making shitlaw would only make yourself slightly more unhappy.

However the biggest difference is between outcome 2 and 3. Making over 100k (even after paying your student loans every year) is day and night better than going to a T40 without debt and getting a shitlaw job.

Therefore, theoretically if you add up the expected payout of each option, your best option will be to attend the T14 with debt.


OP has a full ride, a wife with a job and a house in the city of the T40. Even if OP graduates with nothing or ends up in shitlaw, he will not have to be worried because he has ZERO debt. Not to mention OP may get Biglaw/midlaw jobs.

He won't have to stress himself out come the finals; he won't be worried to death when he receives rejection letters from his callbacks; etc.

This serenity of mind, in my opinion, will help OP do well in law school.




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