Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

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luckylady
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Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby luckylady » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:43 am

I hope I'm posting this in the correct section! I've contemplated applying to law school for several years, but when the economy started to suffer I pretty much ruled it out. I am a stay-home mother (and have never had a career), and I've always had an interest in law, but I have read so many horror stories of graduates unable to get jobs, pay their loans etc. in recent years that I have been too afraid to go any further. But based on everything I have seen and know, the attorneys I know of in my community seem to be doing well, even solo practitioners. Several of my children's friend's parents are lawyers, and they appear to be financially successful. I know that that financial success means different things to different people - the people i am referring to have all the outward signs of success: beautiful houses and cars, go on fabulous vacations, expensive camps for their kids etc. Granted, some of these people graduated 10 or 15 years ago and I know things are different now. I guess the bottom line is that I don't know of any poor lawyers - not a single one. Am I wrong in still believing that becoming a lawyer would MOST LIKELY equal more financial success than most other professions? Thanks for any opinions :)

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Shmoopy
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby Shmoopy » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:45 am

One problem is that a lot of poor law school grads aren't lawyers at all, so looking at lawyers won't tell you anything about them.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:58 am

There's a lot to point out in what you wrote. The two biggest things I saw:

1) The legal market is much different today than it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Cost of tuition was much, much lower and, thus, huge debt loads were not a concern. A JD was also much more of a flexible degree a long time ago. Now? Not at all.

2) You are seeing people who actually have legal jobs. A good chunk of JD graduates will not be able to find a legal job and many will find non-legal jobs (and many of those people will have substantial student debt).

Law school can be a good decision for the average person if you go to one of the best schools with very good job placement (there aren't many of these schools) or you go to a school with pretty good placement and limit your debt as much as possible so if you miss on biglaw, you aren't screwed.

The bimodal curve for legal salaries (see http://www.nalp.org/salarycurve_classof2011 ) means that if you are paying full tuition at a law school (meaning 150K-200K in debt), you better get biglaw or you're going to be probably drowning in debt for awhile. The thing is most law schools place very little grads into biglaw. Most people in biglaw come from the T14, with most of the rest coming from schools somewhere in the 15-30 range. (But keep in mind: Rankings won't tell you how well a school places its grads, you will need to look that up yourself.) So, law school probably isn't the best idea unless you are able to get a high enough LSAT score to become competitive at some of the top schools (and hopefully get a substantial scholarship as well).

On a side-note: This thread is probably better in the Ask the law student/grad forum, since the legal employment forum is reserved for current law students.

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BruceWayne
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby BruceWayne » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:01 am

The other problem is that you're looking at attorneys from a very different generation. Yes, attorneys who graduated 20 or even 10 years ago are generally doing OK. But recent grads (those from the last 4 years or so) are in terrible shape.

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Kronk
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby Kronk » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:04 am

Honestly, most graduates even at lower top ten schools are kind of fucked. You pay a lot of money, so you're not free to take whatever job you want. In order to repay my loans, I either need to make $90,000+ in the private sector or work for the government / non-profit and do PSLF and the IBR. So that eliminates a lot of the work that people might do that would be doing well by "most" standards.

Sup Kid
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby Sup Kid » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:12 am

luckylady wrote:I hope I'm posting this in the correct section! I've contemplated applying to law school for several years...

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=170603

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cinephile
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby cinephile » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:14 am

There was some study of lawyers in Alabama where it was determined that the median income was only 25k. So . . . that's not really doing well by any standard. I don't remember where I found it, somewhere linked to insidethelawschoolscam?

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thesealocust
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby thesealocust » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:15 am

Every year roughly 50,000 people graduate from law school.

Every year roughly 30,000 entry level legal jobs exist.

The employment rate for lawyers is tautologically high: people who stop being lawyers, or never become lawyers, aren't counted...

TheGreatFish
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby TheGreatFish » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:34 am

You should keep in mind that you're asking a forum that is mostly composed of law students. It would probably be a better idea to ask some of your attorney friends.

Myself
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Postby Myself » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:35 am

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Myself
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Postby Myself » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:36 am

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:25 am

Here's one little piece of anecdata that I think is relevant: someone who graduated from my law school in 2000 paid around $7,000/yr in tuition. Now, one year of in-state tuition is $31,495. (I know $7,000 was worth more in 2000 than it is now, but not THAT much more.)

OP, it's a reasonable question. I think one of the reasons so many people are even here (on this website) is because yes, if you succeed as a lawyer you can do well for yourself. The problem is exactly what everyone's already said - getting the job. So, attorneys (can) do well for themselves, but lots and lots of students who go to law school won't actually end up working as attorneys.

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:15 am

In addition to all of the above, you have to remember that the ABA and NALP allow irresponsibly misleading employment data to be recorded. For example, if I report on my post graduation request for information from the school that I work at Mcdonalds, the school can report that as a full time, long time bar passage required job. They are able to do that because the ABA allows schools to fill in the blanks with the most positive outcome possible - this makes comparing schools using the % of grads in full time, long term legal jobs (almost) pointless. Also, volunteering is allowed to be called "employed" for the purposes of reporting jobs post graduation - this is terrible on its face and is another reason that all of this aggregated data is pointless. These two factors allow significant manipulation of post graduation employment data at the individual level at each school and at the aggregated level of employment data for all schools (here's to you, NALP). As a result of all of that, things don't appear to be nearly as bad as they are. It's why a new poster comes on this forum everyday talking about how it's not that bad, and how they don't understand what the big deal is.

(PS - I don't work at Mcdonalds haha)

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scifiguy
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby scifiguy » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:20 pm

Is it that hard to get a job post-biglaw even with 5 years of experience (Ivy undergrad, Top 5 law school)?:


http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot. ... ok-at.html
Two years ago I was on top of the world – at least from exterior appearances. Barely past 30, my salary was approximately a quarter million dollars per year, I was living in a luxury high rise with a view of Central Park from my balcony, and it seemed I was on the fast track to a successful career. Now 18 months after losing my job at the end of 2010, I've learned a lot of valuable life lessons but find myself wondering, constantly every day, is there any hope left? The Manhattan apartment is long-gone and replaced with a room at my father's house in the exurbs of Atlanta, a house I helped him buy five years ago. I've applied for over 750 jobs in the last year, but still I wait. This is my story... :cry: :?: :(

750 rejections????? :shock: :shock: :shock:

What chance do other people have then? :?: :?: :?:

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francesfarmer
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby francesfarmer » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:35 pm

scifiguy wrote:Is it that hard to get a job post-biglaw even with 5 years of experience (Ivy undergrad, Top 5 law school)?:


http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot. ... ok-at.html
Two years ago I was on top of the world – at least from exterior appearances. Barely past 30, my salary was approximately a quarter million dollars per year, I was living in a luxury high rise with a view of Central Park from my balcony, and it seemed I was on the fast track to a successful career. Now 18 months after losing my job at the end of 2010, I've learned a lot of valuable life lessons but find myself wondering, constantly every day, is there any hope left? The Manhattan apartment is long-gone and replaced with a room at my father's house in the exurbs of Atlanta, a house I helped him buy five years ago. I've applied for over 750 jobs in the last year, but still I wait. This is my story... :cry: :?: :(

750 rejections????? :shock: :shock: :shock:

What chance do other people have then? :?: :?: :?:

OMG don't steal my avatar!

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scifiguy
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby scifiguy » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:35 pm

francesfarmer wrote:
scifiguy wrote:Is it that hard to get a job post-biglaw even with 5 years of experience (Ivy undergrad, Top 5 law school)?:


http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot. ... ok-at.html
Two years ago I was on top of the world – at least from exterior appearances. Barely past 30, my salary was approximately a quarter million dollars per year, I was living in a luxury high rise with a view of Central Park from my balcony, and it seemed I was on the fast track to a successful career. Now 18 months after losing my job at the end of 2010, I've learned a lot of valuable life lessons but find myself wondering, constantly every day, is there any hope left? The Manhattan apartment is long-gone and replaced with a room at my father's house in the exurbs of Atlanta, a house I helped him buy five years ago. I've applied for over 750 jobs in the last year, but still I wait. This is my story... :cry: :?: :(

750 rejections????? :shock: :shock: :shock:

What chance do other people have then? :?: :?: :?:

OMG don't steal my avatar!


I told you I was though. Remember my PM?
<----------------- so cute!
Last edited by scifiguy on Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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francesfarmer
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby francesfarmer » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:37 pm

scifiguy wrote:
francesfarmer wrote:
scifiguy wrote:Is it that hard to get a job post-biglaw even with 5 years of experience (Ivy undergrad, Top 5 law school)?:


http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot. ... ok-at.html
Two years ago I was on top of the world – at least from exterior appearances. Barely past 30, my salary was approximately a quarter million dollars per year, I was living in a luxury high rise with a view of Central Park from my balcony, and it seemed I was on the fast track to a successful career. Now 18 months after losing my job at the end of 2010, I've learned a lot of valuable life lessons but find myself wondering, constantly every day, is there any hope left? The Manhattan apartment is long-gone and replaced with a room at my father's house in the exurbs of Atlanta, a house I helped him buy five years ago. I've applied for over 750 jobs in the last year, but still I wait. This is my story... :cry: :?: :(

750 rejections????? :shock: :shock: :shock:

What chance do other people have then? :?: :?: :?:

OMG don't steal my avatar!



<----------------- so cute!

I thought you were joking! Please find another fat cat.

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scifiguy
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby scifiguy » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:38 pm

This one is the best though. :D

utlaw2007
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:25 pm

If you haven't pulled the trigger on going to law school yet, you certainly don't want to do it now. For one, you don't even know if you would really like it. Two, that's a lot of work and debt that you don't have to experience. Three, never do it for prestige. That's the wrong reason. That prestige that you might be chasing only exists for a small amount of lawyers. And even still, it's far from worth it if you don't like what you are doing. And there is really no way to determine if you would like what you will be doing as a lawyer until you are doing it. I love what I do, but I also understand that I'm part of a very rare group of law grads. I am also in a very unique position that is just not common among lawyers. That is not to say that no law grad can get there, that is to say that it is unlikely. And that assumes that you would even like what I do. If I were you, I would continue what you are doing or think about entering something that presents a better return on your investment. The reward present in a career as a lawyer is high. But the risk involved in getting there is even higher and the harm that can result is more probable.

Even when I decided to go to law school, I had researched all sorts of professions. I chose law, because at the time, it presented a great investment. That was in 04. Now? That is not the case unless you have a job lined up before you go. Otherwise, there is too much risk in attending.
Last edited by utlaw2007 on Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.

utlaw2007
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby utlaw2007 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:45 pm

I know countless young lawyers that have or had biglaw jobs and have left those jobs because they were miserable. So law is not something you want to do because the pay might be good. Assuming you defeated the long odds and got a biglaw job, there is a good chance that you would be one of those who don't like it and leave. I don't have the numbers, but a lot of young lawyers regret their decision to go to law school. And I'm just referring to the ones who have "made it." They have obtained their biglaw jobs but still hate it. It's not all of them. I don't even know if it's most of them. But it is a lot of them. The money is the only thing that keeps them involved with the practice of law in the first place. I think that is a huge gamble to take that you don't have to take.

If you aren't eligible for biglaw, it is possible to get a job as a lawyer, but nowadays, that is a gamble. That would really suck to spend all that money and time to become a lawyer and wind up working in Starbucks because you can't find a job. And the longer you can't find a job, the harder it will be to eventually find a job.

The problem is that Biglaw is extremely selective when it comes to hiring law grads. But nowadays, they are the only private employer who hires associates with no experience. It is true that smaller firms are not nearly as selective. You don't have to go to Harvard to get a small law job. But in this current economy, you have to have 3-5 years experience of doing a specific thing in law practice. If you don't, a smaller law firm is not going to hire you. So then the only other option is to go solo. I have my own law firm, but I won't even begin to tell you how hard that is and how special or fortunate you need to be to be successful. It is not a viable option unless you have professional contacts with experienced lawyers right out of the gate. And I don't mean lawyers who you have a casual connection with who can recognize your name at a party. I mean you need to have mentors right from the jump. And even if you have mentors, you still need to get business. And if you don't have a talent for marketing, you won't get clients unless you are incredibly fortunate. Otherwise, going solo will likely be a total disaster. And you will wind up as one of those career document reviewers who claim to actually practice law outside those gigs but doesn't know how to practice law.
Last edited by utlaw2007 on Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

luckylady
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby luckylady » Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:24 pm

Thank you all for your insights. I guess I'm wondering if the outlook is so bad, why are you all doing it?

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Lacepiece23
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby Lacepiece23 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:13 pm

luckylady wrote:Thank you all for your insights. I guess I'm wondering if the outlook is so bad, why are you all doing it?


Great Question...

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thesealocust
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby thesealocust » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:21 pm

luckylady wrote:Thank you all for your insights. I guess I'm wondering if the outlook is so bad, why are you all doing it?


Law school applications are down by like 20-30%. Many who do it didn't put much thought into it, and for others things worked out (I do know many thoroughly employed recent law grads).

dixiecupdrinking
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Re: Aren't most attorneys doing well by "most" standards?

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:23 pm

luckylady wrote:Thank you all for your insights. I guess I'm wondering if the outlook is so bad, why are you all doing it?

1. Lack of creativity/initiative/risk tolerance to do anything more interesting.
2. Got in too deep before understanding the realities of law school and the profession, now staying in because of sunk cost fallacies and/or because biglaw is the only plausible way to pay off the debt even if you drop out after two years.
3. Some people actually like law school, at least on balance, and reasonably feel optimistic that they'll be among those who don't hate being an attorney.

Some combination of those factors describes most law students.

Myself
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Postby Myself » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:32 am

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