Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

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LawPreview
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Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby LawPreview » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:50 pm

BLOG POST: http://bit.ly/Law-School-Debt-Strategies

For many prospective law students things are about to get real, real fast. As law schools begin offering acceptance decisions – welcoming students to join the Class of 2020 – the financial impact of those acceptances are starting to hit home.

According to a recent study by The Wall Street Journal, the average law school graduate will leave law school with $140,616 in student loans. That’s a sobering number, and one that should not be easily brushed aside. Perhaps you’re already banking on being among the top students who will land one of those coveted $180,000/year starting jobs at an elite BigLaw firm. You hope that’s the case, but like any important undertaking, “hope” is never a good strategy. In fact, according to NALP.org, the median starting salary for law school graduates is $64,800. Instead of banking on hope, you need to take affirmative steps now that will provide you “better-than-average” options when loan repayment kicks in 9 months after graduation. Here are a few things to consider:

http://bit.ly/Law-School-Debt-Strategies

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zot1
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Re: Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby zot1 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:52 pm

Not looking at my loan balance has been working out great for me.

LawPreview
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Re: Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby LawPreview » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:17 pm

zot1 wrote:Not looking at my loan balance has been working out great for me.


hahahahhaha, that only works for so long! I speak from experience on this one.

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nealric
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Re: Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby nealric » Thu Feb 23, 2017 4:33 pm

LawPreview wrote:. Perhaps you’re already banking on being among the top students who will land one of those coveted $180,000/year starting jobs at an elite BigLaw firm. You hope that’s the case, but like any important undertaking, “hope” is never a good strategy. In fact, according to NALP.org, the median starting salary for law school graduates is $64,800. Instead of banking on hope, you need to take affirmative steps now that will provide you “better-than-average” options when loan repayment kicks in 9 months after graduation. Here are a few things to consider:



This is meaningless. Biglaw jobs mostly go to the students at top schools, not necessarily the top of the class. If you are going to Harvard, biglaw is a safe assumption. If you are going to (random T3 school), it's probably not happening no matter how well you do. Using NALP medians as an estimate only makes sense if you are picking a school at random.

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Mr_Chukes
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Re: Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby Mr_Chukes » Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:59 pm

zot1 wrote:Not looking at my loan balance has been working out great for me.

Thanks for all the advice man!

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brinicolec
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Re: Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby brinicolec » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:14 am

Mr_Chukes wrote:
zot1 wrote:Not looking at my loan balance has been working out great for me.

Thanks for all the advice man!


honestly my plan :lol:

LawPreview
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Re: Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby LawPreview » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:08 pm

nealric wrote:
LawPreview wrote:. Perhaps you’re already banking on being among the top students who will land one of those coveted $180,000/year starting jobs at an elite BigLaw firm. You hope that’s the case, but like any important undertaking, “hope” is never a good strategy. In fact, according to NALP.org, the median starting salary for law school graduates is $64,800. Instead of banking on hope, you need to take affirmative steps now that will provide you “better-than-average” options when loan repayment kicks in 9 months after graduation. Here are a few things to consider:



This is meaningless. Biglaw jobs mostly go to the students at top schools, not necessarily the top of the class. If you are going to Harvard, biglaw is a safe assumption. If you are going to (random T3 school), it's probably not happening no matter how well you do. Using NALP medians as an estimate only makes sense if you are picking a school at random.


Hi @nealric -- While it's true that most BigLaw firms regularly recruit on top law school campuses, top students at most lower ranked law schools are eligible for those jobs as well.

Every year we have Law Preview students at lower ranked schools who end up in the top 10% of the 1L class and land summer associate positions at many AmLaw 100 firms (see, e.g., http://lawpreview.barbri.com/1l-success/testimonials/). Even if you think these students are anomalies, just take a look at Pace Law School (USNEWS Ranking #136) -- they had attorneys from many of the top NYC firms spend the time and money to conduct on-campus interviews (http://www.law.pace.edu/campus-interview-program). Having worked at one, I know BigLaw firms don't engage in wasteful enterprises and, therefore, wouldn't send associates who could otherwise be billing out at $500+/hour/person, to interview students at lower ranked schools if there's absolutely ZERO chance in hiring them. But, look, I agree that while you may have 20 BigLaw firms come to interview at Pace, you probably have 200 come to a school like NYU Law -- so your chances of getting hired would be far greater at NYU where an employer might dig a little deeper into the class.

I can also speak from experience on this one: I attended Albany Law School (USNews Ranking #129) and I, like about 15 of my classmates, was able to secure a BigLaw job as an associate practicing Antitrust and Securities Litigation at a large NYC law firm. Was it harder? Most definitely -- and that was part of the reason why I left practice and founded Law Preview. To get an BigLaw OCI interview from my school you had to fall solidly within the Top 10% of students and be invited onto law review; while that's difficult, it's by no means impossible.

Now, years later, many of my former classmates are now partners who sit on the hiring committees of many large firms . . . and if you think they are not looking to find hard working, smart and scrappy students at T3 schools (like themselves), you're wrong. At many of the largest firms, the attorneys who come from lower ranked schools get some of the best work because of the strong work ethic it took for them to get there.

But, even assuming that your hypothesis is correct and that high-paying BigLaw jobs don't exist at all for students outside the most elite schools, the advice about transferring after the 1L year to a higher-ranked school (with more job opportunities), the ability to use top 1L grades (at any school) as a negotiating tool for securing 2L/3L scholarships, taking advantage of clerkship bonuses, etc. are all fantastic strategies for reducing student debt and maximizing the return on your law school investment.

Again, as that blog post stresses, regardless of what school you're attending top 1L grades are single thing within your control that will help shape your financial destiny. But, please don't take my word for it . . . take a look at some of what these lawyers and law professors have to say about 1L grades: http://bit.ly/2l4WeZq (Ironically, in this video, the Skadden partner attended St. John's University School of Law and the woman who is a 2L at Penn Law transferred from Brooklyn Law School after her 1L year - definitely two non-elite schools).

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nealric
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Re: Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby nealric » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:23 pm

LawPreview wrote:
nealric wrote:
LawPreview wrote:. Perhaps you’re already banking on being among the top students who will land one of those coveted $180,000/year starting jobs at an elite BigLaw firm. You hope that’s the case, but like any important undertaking, “hope” is never a good strategy. In fact, according to NALP.org, the median starting salary for law school graduates is $64,800. Instead of banking on hope, you need to take affirmative steps now that will provide you “better-than-average” options when loan repayment kicks in 9 months after graduation. Here are a few things to consider:



This is meaningless. Biglaw jobs mostly go to the students at top schools, not necessarily the top of the class. If you are going to Harvard, biglaw is a safe assumption. If you are going to (random T3 school), it's probably not happening no matter how well you do. Using NALP medians as an estimate only makes sense if you are picking a school at random.


Hi @nealric -- While it's true that most BigLaw firms regularly recruit on top law school campuses, top students at most lower ranked law schools are eligible for those jobs as well.



You are arguing against a straw man. I never said students from lower-ranked schools weren't eligible for biglaw jobs. During my biglaw career, I worked with plenty of fine attorneys who didn't attend elite schools. However, the ex-ante risk analysis is very different depending on which school you attend. At one type of school, the 180k jobs are a near certainty, at others they are a long-shot. It makes no sense to ignore this difference when considering law school debt.

It's like buying bonds. A bond that is rated AAA has a very different risk of default than a junk bond. Both bonds may indeed fully perform, and the AAA bond could indeed default, but nobody in their right mind would price the bonds the same.

I think you go too far when you say that students from lower ranked-schools are treated differently or get better work at big firms. Once you at the firm few people really care where you went to school (except, perhaps a weak alumni affinity). There's no evidence to suggest students from lower ranked schools are harder working in biglaw than their peers. Part of the reason people are able to attend highly ranked schools is because they were hard working in the first place.

LawPreview
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Re: Rock Solid Advice About Managing Law School Debt

Postby LawPreview » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:00 pm

Not necessarily a "straw man" just clarifying your comment that "If you are going to (random T3 school), it's probably not happening no matter how well you do" for non-practitioners (yet) on a law school discussion board.

That clarification aside, all of your most recent comments are completely valid -- including your criticism of how T3 grads/attorneys are treated at BigLaw; admittedly, my evidence for that statement was based entirely on my own experiences and, therefore, anecdotal.


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