Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

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dannyde7
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Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby dannyde7 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 6:58 am

I've been coming to TLS for about a year now, and was hoping someone out there could provide me with some honest, thoughtful advice that will touch on attending law school, life in law school, and job prospects.

Over a week ago, I was offered acceptance to a great school on an early decision application. For the purposes of not putting too much out there in this post, let's say the school is ranked in the lower T-14 (not Cornell). When I got the call from the admissions office, I was, maybe for the first or second or time in my life, shocked. Though my GPA was a 3.8+ from an Ivy, my LSAT was only a 165. I never thought I would get in. I had been at an office Christmas party when I got the call, and literally spent the next two hours stumbling around my office in a complete stupor, thinking that this school had called the wrong person. A few days later I got an acceptance call from two other great schools ranked in the twenties. Given the terms of my early decision application, I had to turn these offers down. Nevertheless, I was elated to have been admitted to three great law schools in the span of four or five days. I had spent a year of my life studying for the LSAT (I took it three times), writing personal statements and diversity statements (I literally worked about 4-5 days a week on these from July to mid-November) and applying to law schools. I used to go to bed at night worrying that no law school would accept me.

Anyways, I overnighted my deposit, withdrew from my other schools, and now I'm looking at starting at my dream school next year on a sticker price. Again, I'm incredibly excited and love the prospects of going (it was my first choice for law school and the best school I applied to), but I can't help but think about what I would be giving up, besides about $160,000.

Right now I live in New York City working at a large publishing company. The pay is what you would imagine-- very low. Nevertheless, I have a fairly prestigious editorial job working for a famous editor and working on high-profile books with some famous (not all, but some) authors. I don't love the career track at my company, but I have a great working relationship with my boss and a good proportion of my close friends live in the city. I live in a nice apartment in lower Manhattan with two roommates, date a lot of girls, and go out about 3-5 nights a week to great restaurants and bars and have free time on the weekends and in the summer to take trips to the beach and visit my family. In short, I'm having the time of my life.

I had been thinking about law school ever since I was an undergraduate, and I decided to become serious about applying after I found myself wanting a few things: more intellectually challenging work, a better paying job, and the chance to go back to school. Ultimately, like so many others, I want to end up back in NYC, but I would be happy to live and work in Boston or DC (I'm aware these are also two oversaturated and competitive markets). I love what this ED school would offer me, but I'm considerably worried (chalk it up to a Jewish upbringing) about giving up what I have going for me, going into debt, and then going to a school where I have to compete with others who may, on the whole, be smarter than me, while generally giving up my social life and my sex life. I suppose that, in many ways, I'm BigLaw or bust because I know that I'll have to pay off my considerable loans. On top of that, with all the awful things being said about going to law school, finding a job that pays well, and then working as a lawyer, I'm starting to feel some serious doubts (there's a reason I'm writing this at about 6 AM).

I know there must be more than few posts on this subject, and I know that, in the end, what I choose to do must come down to me being very honest with myself and deciding on what I want. However, it would be really nice to hear from others who have been in a similar situation and to see what choices they made, what their rationalizations were, and if they're happy or not. This has been an ongoing debate in my head for well over a year now, so I would appreciate candid and thoughtful responses. (Please don't call me a dumbass or something for not doing my research-- I've done a great deal of it and have talked to law students and lawyers, researched loans, read Above the Law, blah blah etc.). Thanks very much.
Last edited by dannyde7 on Sat Dec 25, 2010 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Veyron
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby Veyron » Sat Dec 25, 2010 7:44 am

The obvious answer is to defer. Another year of having fun, a slightly better economy when you do OCI.

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Kilpatrick
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby Kilpatrick » Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:05 am

Deferring sounds like a good choice. Law school will always be there and you sound like you are having fun. That being said, I love law school and am having a great time. So just because you start school doesn't necessarily mean you'll stop having fun. (You just have to work really hard too)

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starrydreamz3
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby starrydreamz3 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:46 am

I'm defering my admission to spend another year in NYC. C'mon, join the cool kids club!

dannyde7
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby dannyde7 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:30 am

For those who have deferred, what do you plan on doing for the extra year?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:44 am

Why did you ED to Duke if you were not willing to commit ? It seems that nothing has changed since you applied. Will Duke allow you to defer an ED acceptance ?

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johnnyutah
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby johnnyutah » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:56 am

dannyde7 wrote:Right now I live in New York City working at a large publishing company. The pay is what you would imagine-- very low. Nevertheless, I have a fairly prestigious editorial job working for a famous editor and working on high-profile books with some famous (not all, but some) authors. I don't love the career track at my company, but I have a great working relationship with my boss and a good proportion of my close friends live in the city. I live in a nice apartment in lower Manhattan with two roommates, date a lot of girls, and go out about 3-5 nights a week to great restaurants and bars and have free time on the weekends and in the summer to take trips to the beach and visit my family. In short, I'm having the time of my life.

Pay can't be very low if you can afford 1/3 of a Manhattan apartment while handling Ivy League debt, especially if you're dating girls at the same time.

Ghost
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby Ghost » Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:32 pm

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Last edited by Ghost on Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

dannyde7
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby dannyde7 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 4:36 pm

johnnyutah wrote:
dannyde7 wrote:Right now I live in New York City working at a large publishing company. The pay is what you would imagine-- very low. Nevertheless, I have a fairly prestigious editorial job working for a famous editor and working on high-profile books with some famous (not all, but some) authors. I don't love the career track at my company, but I have a great working relationship with my boss and a good proportion of my close friends live in the city. I live in a nice apartment in lower Manhattan with two roommates, date a lot of girls, and go out about 3-5 nights a week to great restaurants and bars and have free time on the weekends and in the summer to take trips to the beach and visit my family. In short, I'm having the time of my life.

Pay can't be very low if you can afford 1/3 of a Manhattan apartment while handling Ivy League debt, especially if you're dating girls at the same time.


I got lucky on my rent and live in the converted living room of my apartment. I don't have any debt from undergrad, fortunately.

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nihilism is key
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby nihilism is key » Sat Dec 25, 2010 4:43 pm

from what i've read, most schools do not allow you to defer an ED acceptance.

dannyde7
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby dannyde7 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 4:45 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Why did you ED to Duke if you were not willing to commit ? It seems that nothing has changed since you applied. Will Duke allow you to defer an ED acceptance ?


I am willing to commit. I'm just taking a step back to re-evaluate things.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Dec 25, 2010 4:51 pm

Important to know whether or not Duke will permit an ED admit to defer without significantly changed circumstances in order to reassess your options.

dannyde7
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby dannyde7 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 5:05 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Important to know whether or not Duke will permit an ED admit to defer without significantly changed circumstances in order to reassess your options.


@CanadianWolf: The point of my original post was not to gain insight into figuring out whether or not I should defer (I called their office and they said it shouldn't be a problem)-- chances are I won't defer. I can't imagine that another year living contentedly in NYC will give me further insight into what I should do. Rather, I just wanted to see if others out there feel, or have felt, the same way that I do and if they could tell me why they chose to go to law school, or didn't.

@Kili: I'm aware of the added opportunity costs of taking myself out of the workforce, although with the low pay and slow promotion track of my current industry, I just about break even as it is. Part of this is my fault for choosing to have a very active social life. Of course, I could work to find a higher paying job (one that is substantially higher paying enough to make any material difference), but this is something that's hard to do for someone who has worked in the media for over two years and holds a degree in two humanities majors. But I do appreciate your heads-up.

-------

What I'd like to get from this thread is more an honest, open discussion about the pursuit of law from those who have left a job to do so. Why did those out there choose to apply? For those in school, what is the experience like? Is the competition in law school really that soul crushing and stress-inducing? I'm a very happy person right now and would like some reassurance -- or the opposite -- that I'm not setting myself up for an unhappy life.

I am aware of the ramifications of my early decision application -- I knew them going in (although I was very surprised by the outcome) -- and I know them now. I would love to get some constructive and honest feedback that is hopefully not too hyperbolic. Instead of telling me something like "law school is like poking your gums with toenail clippings" perhaps explain in as-best-you-can unbiased terms why it is difficult.

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Veyron
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby Veyron » Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:03 pm

^ I left a low paying (but fairly awesome) PI job in a low COL area to apply. I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was 12. If you don't really have the desire, it isn't worth it, just enjoy your life. Law school is too much risk with too little reward to be worth it if you don't have a burning desire to practice.

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IAFG
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby IAFG » Sat Dec 25, 2010 8:07 pm

why do you want to go to law school? is there opportunity for advancement in your field/company? do you have a realistic idea about what practicing law would mean?

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johnnyutah
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby johnnyutah » Sat Dec 25, 2010 9:48 pm

dannyde7 wrote:What I'd like to get from this thread is more an honest, open discussion about the pursuit of law from those who have left a job to do so. Why did those out there choose to apply? For those in school, what is the experience like? Is the competition in law school really that soul crushing and stress-inducing? I'm a very happy person right now and would like some reassurance -- or the opposite -- that I'm not setting myself up for an unhappy life.

Well, I can't really speak to leaving a job to come to law school. I did have two jobs when I chose to go, but they were crappy (substitute teaching and 3rd shift at a gas station), so I wasn't giving anything up. In fact, it was working at the gas station that made me decide to go to law school in the first place, which speaks to your second question. I went to law school because I wanted to have a decent paying job (50k or above) that allowed me to work with my mind and wasn't in the service or sales industries.

As far as my experience in law school...well, there was good and bad, but mostly good. I didn't really feel the soul crushing competition, but I think a lot of my classmates did. In general, I thought (and think) that law classes can be a whole lot of fun. If you like playing around with ideas, then you'll get a kick out of law school and the Socratic method. I will say that I feel like I've learned a lot in the past three years, and am a better thinker than I was when I came. The parts of law school I liked less mostly had to do with the social culture, but that's easy enough to avoid if you don't want to be a part of it.

I lucked out, in the end. I came to law school just cause I didn't have anything better to do, but I wound up really loving litigation. Any way you can hang out with a couple of lawyers before making the decision so that you know what you're getting yourself in to?

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paratactical
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby paratactical » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:11 pm

To speak to the other side of the argument, I decided not to attend law school despite having a job that had things that frustrated me and what I thought was low pay. I have since gotten a major promotion, moved to a different company in a different city and gotten another promotion and pay raise and am now reconsidering what I want to do. I may still consider law school, but now I will be going to school with a much better idea of what I would want to do with a law degree and a much better ability to manage the debt. I am also at a point where I am considering other options for furthering my education and advancing my career prospects. I may be in the minority, but if I had gone to law school when I initially considered it, I am 99% that I would not be anywhere near as happy and satisfied with my life as I am now.

dannyde7
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby dannyde7 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:32 pm

Veyron wrote:^ I left a low paying (but fairly awesome) PI job in a low COL area to apply. I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was 12. If you don't really have the desire, it isn't worth it, just enjoy your life. Law school is too much risk with too little reward to be worth it if you don't have a burning desire to practice.


Veyron, what do you mean by too little reward?

Also, it looks like you're going to Penn law (my undergrad institution by the way). What do you want to get out of law school there?

rapstar
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby rapstar » Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:20 am

it seems like there are mainly two drawbacks that you are worried about: 1) the hard work the law school requires; 2) the $160,000 in debt you will have.

the second concern is the easiest to address. it seems like a reasonable alternative to attending duke this year (as you would be required to do) is to live in nyc for one more year and then reapply next year to different schools. if you received money to other schools then you could at least cut your debt down considerably. i understand that you would probably have to attend a t25-t50 to do that though. and i understand that the job prospects are on the whole not nearly as good at those schools. but, you're obviously not guarenteed to get biglaw out of duke either. if you choose to attend a school where your debt may only be half as much, you may still at least be able to pay off that debt without biglaw. and it seems that quality of life is particularly important to you anyway so maybe biglaw isn't what you'll want anyway. if you do land biglaw out of a lower school then you'll be better off in the sense that less of your paycheck will go to paying off debt.

as for the first concern, law school is competitive. i chose to attend a t25-t35 on a full scholarship instead of attending duke with 20k per year. although i had higher numbers than most people at my school, after one semester i realize that almost everyone is still smart enough to have beaten me on exams. (i'm still waiting on grades). but, all that being said, i still have to believe that my school is slightly less competitive and slightly more fun than a t10 would have been. so, maybe a lower ranked school would offer you a tiny bit more fun than your ED option would. in all fairness though some people say competition is more intense at low ranked schools because everyone knows that they "have" to be at top of the class.

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Veyron
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby Veyron » Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:26 am

[/quote]

Veyron, what do you mean by too little reward?

Also, it looks like you're going to Penn law (my undergrad institution by the way). What do you want to get out of law school there?[/quote]

As in, the expected value of law school is low. 50%-60% chance of snagging a 95k (after tax) biglaw job in NYC [at Penn]. Add 20K in loan payments, you are talking 75K. Miss biglaw and you are pwnd. High risk, for what, a 20-30K pay increase and a huge increase in hours worked? Everyone comes in thinking they are going to own the curve, I did, I had a well above median LSAT and worked my ass off, 90-120 hours a week for the last 2 months of the semester. I'm pretty sure I turned in a below median 1st semester.

If you don't have a burning desire to be a lawyer it simply isn't worth it, enjoy your life, the time you have to be young and in NYC, etc. Things will work out for you.

As far as what I hope to achieve. I'd like Biglaw, but ultimately, I went to law school to be a lawyer. As long as I get a legal job that is interresting and pays decently (hardly a sure thing - even at Penn), I'll be alright.

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johnnyutah
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby johnnyutah » Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:07 am

Veyron wrote:I had a well above median LSAT and worked my ass off, 90-120 hours a week for the last 2 months of the semester. I'm pretty sure I turned in a below median 1st semester.

No way, dude. It might feel like that, but if you were putting in 90-120 hour weeks, you did above median. Guarantee it. Just wait until you get your grades.

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Veyron
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby Veyron » Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:58 am

johnnyutah wrote:
Veyron wrote:I had a well above median LSAT and worked my ass off, 90-120 hours a week for the last 2 months of the semester. I'm pretty sure I turned in a below median 1st semester.

No way, dude. It might feel like that, but if you were putting in 90-120 hour weeks, you did above median. Guarantee it. Just wait until you get your grades.


I appreciate it Johnny, but I studied really unintelligently. I spent way too much time outlining and reading supplements and too little taking practice exams. It really showed. I made a lot of really stupid and obvious mistakes.

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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby SupraVln180 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:23 pm

First off, congrats, you are part of an elite group of people who can say they went to a Top 14 Law School, so stop stressing and pat yourself on the back. I've lived in NYC my whole life and all I can say is, if you really want to stay for another year (IDK why you would, NYC gets old quick) then attempt to defer your acceptance, however if you can't, go to Law School and go back in NYC once you get Big Law. Profit.

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Malcolm8X
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby Malcolm8X » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:22 pm

The OP has a mindset SOMEWHAT like my own. BTW, JOHNNYUTAH, I feel you on the 'needing work that's challenging' bit. You're my hero for that one. Working at Target as a cashier while studying for the LSAT was my biggest motivator. (I plan to substitute teach next semester while I wait for law school to start in the fall of 2011).

Well, you're either going to Duke or no law school at all, EVER, with that ED contract. Find out how the Duke culture is. There should be some boards here that discuss the experiences of Duke 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls. Law school is challenging but from what I read, at least from t14 schools, is that it's not as hellish and competitive as people make it out to be.

Aside from that, the debt load is another factor. You have to know what type of law you want to do though. Biglaw? PI? If you go for Biglaw, will there be a job waiting for you is the second question? Personally, the economy is cyclical. Things will bubble up again in about 4-5 years and there should be an economic boom by the time we graduate. I predict that by the time we're 5 to 7 yrs into paying our loans, there'll be another recession.

But you can always fall back and do PI work and pay off all your loans in 10 yrs. I doubt that the work is as stressful and with the IBR and LRAPs (check out Duke's LRAP btw), you're still making a good handful of money. You can find something you truly like to do with a good work/life balance. It just sucks that it's usually a 10 year commitment. That's what you have to research. Your school's culture, LRAP, and what YOU see yourself doing..

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joemoviebuff
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Re: Need Some Considerate and Thoughtful Advice

Postby joemoviebuff » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:27 pm

Malcolm8X wrote:The OP has a mindset SOMEWHAT like my own. BTW, JOHNNYUTAH, I feel you on the 'needing work that's challenging' bit. You're my hero for that one. Working at Target as a cashier while studying for the LSAT was my biggest motivator. (I plan to substitute teach next semester while I wait for law school to start in the fall of 2011).

Well, you're either going to Duke or no law school at all, EVER, with that ED contract. Find out how the Duke culture is. There should be some boards here that discuss the experiences of Duke 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls. Law school is challenging but from what I read, at least from t14 schools, is that it's not as hellish and competitive as people make it out to be.

Aside from that, the debt load is another factor. You have to know what type of law you want to do though. Biglaw? PI? If you go for Biglaw, will there be a job waiting for you is the second question? Personally, the economy is cyclical. Things will bubble up again in about 4-5 years and there should be an economic boom by the time we graduate. I predict that by the time we're 5 to 7 yrs into paying our loans, there'll be another recession.

But you can always fall back and do PI work and pay off all your loans in 10 yrs. I doubt that the work is as stressful and with the IBR and LRAPs (check out Duke's LRAP btw), you're still making a good handful of money. You can find something you truly like to do with a good work/life balance. It just sucks that it's usually a 10 year commitment. That's what you have to research. Your school's culture, LRAP, and what YOU see yourself doing..


Um, I'm reasonably sure that he just can't go to another school in the same application year as his ED. If he just waits another year, he can apply somewhere else and go there.




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