A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

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mgpalmer
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A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby mgpalmer » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:24 pm

Hello everyone. My name is Matt and I'm looking to go on to law school once I complete my undergrad. I'm currently enrolled at Rutgers and I'm studying criminal justice. I couldn't really find a "law" degree here so this was the closest to it. Anyway, I'm very interested in being either a criminal lawyer, civil lawyer or a defense lawyer. So I just have a few questions. I apologize if this is a bit unorthodox but I'm new to this forum and I'm just looking for some advice.

-I've read a lot about certain prestigious law schools, but what schools are specifically well-known for the criminal field that I'm interested in?

-While I'm finishing up my Bachelors, what should I be doing besides preparing for the LSAT?

-Are law schools similar to Universities as in they're more expensive to go out of state?

Thank you so much if anyone has time to answer me. Good luck to everyone.

Matt

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fatduck
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby fatduck » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:28 pm

take the easiest classes possible and get the highest gpa you possibly can. if you find criminal justice interesting and can get good grades then stick with it, but in general your undergrad major doesn't really mean anything as far as law school admissions.

most public law schools do have cheaper in-state tuition rates, much like undergrad schools. depending on the school it can be quite significant. out-of-state tuition is usually extremely high, as is private school tuition.

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FeelTheHeat
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby FeelTheHeat » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:41 pm

fatduck wrote:take the easiest classes possible and get the highest gpa you possibly can. if you find criminal justice interesting and can get good grades then stick with it, but in general your undergrad major doesn't really mean anything as far as law school admissions.

most public law schools do have cheaper in-state tuition rates, much like undergrad schools. depending on the school it can be quite significant. out-of-state tuition is usually extremely high, as is private school tuition.


FTFY.

mgpalmer
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby mgpalmer » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:53 pm

Thanks for responding. One more question and then I promise I'm done.

Much like other careers, going to a private law school (albeit more expensive) would usually increase your chances in this field, correct? A guy I used to give guitar lessons to went to Rutgers law school and is a successful attorney. 'Successful' is really an opinion these days, but let's just say he makes good enough money to afford what he wants and enjoys his job. Everyone has different goals, and if I make it through law school I would like to make good money...so in the hypothetical context that I'll have a choice in the future, is spending the extra money on a private school ultimately worth it?

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FeelTheHeat
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby FeelTheHeat » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:59 pm

mgpalmer wrote:Thanks for responding. One more question and then I promise I'm done.

Much like other careers, going to a private law school (albeit more expensive) would usually increase your chances in this field, correct? A guy I used to give guitar lessons to went to Rutgers law school and is a successful attorney. 'Successful' is really an opinion these days, but let's just say he makes good enough money to afford what he wants and enjoys his job. Everyone has different goals, and if I make it through law school I would like to make good money...so in the hypothetical context that I'll have a choice in the future, is spending the extra money on a private school ultimately worth it?


No. Never. Outside of maybe the T14, paying sticker for a private school will have a VERY hard time being justified. In terms of job prospects, no, no, and no. There is no difference between public and private. In Florida, UF and FSU are considered the two dominant schools and have better or equal job prospects than UM, Stetson, etc. Study hard, bust your ass for the LSAT, get scholly $$$$, study where you want to practice, profit!

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Verity
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby Verity » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:59 pm

mgpalmer wrote:Hello everyone. My name is Matt and I'm looking to go on to law school once I complete my undergrad. I'm currently enrolled at Rutgers and I'm studying criminal justice. I couldn't really find a "law" degree here so this was the closest to it. Anyway, I'm very interested in being either a criminal lawyer, civil lawyer or a defense lawyer. So I just have a few questions. I apologize if this is a bit unorthodox but I'm new to this forum and I'm just looking for some advice.

-I've read a lot about certain prestigious law schools, but what schools are specifically well-known for the criminal field that I'm interested in?

-While I'm finishing up my Bachelors, what should I be doing besides preparing for the LSAT?

-Are law schools similar to Universities as in they're more expensive to go out of state?

Thank you so much if anyone has time to answer me. Good luck to everyone.

Matt


Hi Matt,

Before considering law, I would really look into the field much more thoroughly. You should have a pretty strong grasp of what you're about to get into, as law school will cost you three years and close to $150K (not including interest).

The job market right now is absolutely terrible for lawyers. Your chances for finding a job are directly tied into your law school class rank, and the school you went to. It is not as uncommon these days for people graduating at a top ten school to have severe difficulty finding employment. Many are saddled with a huge debt and little income, if any.

Thus, you should strive to attend the best law school possible, and do your best when you are there. In order to get there, you have to do very well in college (aim for a 3.7+), and absolutely nail the LSAT (aim for a 170, though that is very difficult). I'm only being realistic about this. Most current applicants and law students would agree that competition in this field is tremendous.

You need to study like crazy for the LSAT. Very smart people study for months, even a year or more, and still can't ace it. Only 2.5% of roughly 140K test-takers each year get over a 170. Don't think you can just wing it: Make sure you master the test, because it will weigh heavily on your future prospects.

If in spite of this you are still interested, go out and research, and prepare, because it will be a tough journey.

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prezidentv8
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby prezidentv8 » Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:00 pm

mgpalmer wrote:Thanks for responding. One more question and then I promise I'm done.

Much like other careers, going to a private law school (albeit more expensive) would usually increase your chances in this field, correct? A guy I used to give guitar lessons to went to Rutgers law school and is a successful attorney. 'Successful' is really an opinion these days, but let's just say he makes good enough money to afford what he wants and enjoys his job. Everyone has different goals, and if I make it through law school I would like to make good money...so in the hypothetical context that I'll have a choice in the future, is spending the extra money on a private school ultimately worth it?


Not solely for the fact that the school is private.

As you might have heard, the legal market is in shambles these days. So, more or less, your primary considerations should include (1) debt load, (1.5) job placement of a given school, and (2) geographic placement of the school. Everyone has various considerations involved (loan repayment programs, for example), but these three tend to predominate for mostly everyone. If you're interested in criminal work (admittedly, I'm not well-versed in the specifics of that particular sector of the legal market), you're going to want to research schools and the industry HEAVILY before applying. Also, note that high GPAs and especially LSATs lead to bigger scholarships in addition to admission, and that scholarships can generally be considered negotiable.

TheStrand
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby TheStrand » Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:16 pm

I would do a lot more research into what kind of criminal law you want to do. Do you want to be a prosecutor or do you want to work in plain defense? Do you want to practice at the city, state, or federal level? If you want to be a federal prosecutor (IMO they get a lot more interesting or larger cases: terrorism, organized crime, export/import crime, drug busts, prostitution, child pornography, health care fraud etc) then it is improtant you go to a prestigious school. If you want to do criminal defense a la Innocence Project, you still need to go to a prestigious school.

"Civil" can also mean a HUGE range of things so I would suggest doing more research into that. And by research, I really mean think about the different kinds of ways laws impact life and think about whether there are things that would interest you; there are a ton of things you would not think are related to the law, but lawyers actually have to deal with (for example, the state of wild horses in designated preserves in Colorado). Tax law, health care, real estate, natural resources, contracts, technology, construction, maritime etc.

I would second the suggestion to take easier classes and get higher grades but would also suggest getting an intership in the area of law you want to practice. A lot of District Attorneys' offices will take on unpaid college interns and you can learn from these experiences, and use them to write your personal statement if/when you do decide to go to law school.

Finally, I would suggest working your ass off and saving up a ton of money. Law school is very very expensive. Private or public.

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prezidentv8
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby prezidentv8 » Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:18 pm

TheStrand wrote:would also suggest getting an intership in the area of law you want to practice


This this this.

nigelfrost
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby nigelfrost » Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:32 pm

Verity wrote:Before considering law, I would really look into the field much more thoroughly. You should have a pretty strong grasp of what you're about to get into, as law school will cost you three years and close to $150K (not including interest).

The job market right now is absolutely terrible for lawyers. Your chances for finding a job are directly tied into your law school class rank, and the school you went to. It is not as uncommon these days for people graduating at a top ten school to have severe difficulty finding employment. Many are saddled with a huge debt and little income, if any.


Matt, these are words to live by right now. If law school is an investment, you've got to get a return that will make it "worth your while." In a US market full of 40,000+ law students and 200+ law schools (with more in the works), you've got to seriously consider the HIGH risks involved. Take seriously the cost/benefit analysis here (Should I try for a scholly at a lower ranked school? Should I shoot for the T14 at sticker? Where will I need to be class-rank wise in order to enter the job market to pay off whatever debt I'll have? etc.). At the end of the day, once your LSAT score is in, do some serious soul searching based on reliable information gathered from reading online commentary, talking to law students/lawyers, and looking at your own potential.

Sorry if that's beyond the scope of your thread.

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androstan
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby androstan » Mon Jan 31, 2011 6:43 pm

nigelfrost wrote:
Verity wrote:Before considering law, I would really look into the field much more thoroughly. You should have a pretty strong grasp of what you're about to get into, as law school will cost you three years and close to $150K (not including interest).

The job market right now is absolutely terrible for lawyers. Your chances for finding a job are directly tied into your law school class rank, and the school you went to. It is not as uncommon these days for people graduating at a top ten school to have severe difficulty finding employment. Many are saddled with a huge debt and little income, if any.


Matt, these are words to live by right now. If law school is an investment, you've got to get a return that will make it "worth your while." In a US market full of 40,000+ law students graduating per year and 200+ law schools (with more in the works), you've got to seriously consider the HIGH risks involved. Take seriously the cost/benefit analysis here (Should I try for a scholly at a lower ranked school? Should I shoot for the T14 at sticker? Where will I need to be class-rank wise in order to enter the job market to pay off whatever debt I'll have? etc.). At the end of the day, once your LSAT score is in, do some serious soul searching based on reliable information gathered from reading online commentary, talking to law students/lawyers, and looking at your own potential.

Sorry if that's beyond the scope of your thread.


Edited for clarity.

mgpalmer
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby mgpalmer » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:26 pm

Thank you everyone for responding. I'm seriously taking in to consideration all of the valid points you've made.

One thing I wanted to point out though...I think the job market is pretty bad right now no matter what career you decide to work toward. Cop, teacher, doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur...you can't really find a career choice that DOESN'T have a caution sign in front of it. But this is what I have grown to love...I'm not saying I'm going to graduate with a 4.0 GPA and score a 170 on the LSAT because I know myself and that's just unreasonable. However, I will work hard over the next year or two until I get my Bachelors, which also means I have a maximum of two years to get a good enough score on my LSAT and prepare the best I can.

I am well aware that this will not be an easy road and I'm fine with that.

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prezidentv8
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby prezidentv8 » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:29 pm

mgpalmer wrote:Thank you everyone for responding. I'm seriously taking in to consideration all of the valid points you've made.

One thing I wanted to point out though...I think the job market is pretty bad right now no matter what career you decide to work toward. Cop, teacher, doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur...you can't really find a career choice that DOESN'T have a caution sign in front of it. But this is what I have grown to love...I'm not saying I'm going to graduate with a 4.0 GPA and score a 170 on the LSAT because I know myself and that's just unreasonable. However, I will work hard over the next year or two until I get my Bachelors, which also means I have a maximum of two years to get a good enough score on my LSAT and prepare the best I can.

I am well aware that this will not be an easy road and I'm fine with that.


But you CAN find a career choice that does not cost 3 years worth of salary + $100-200k to break into. Not saying don't do it, but the point is to be very conscious of goals and cost-minimization.

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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby mgpalmer » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:38 pm

Of course I'll be conscious of that. I wouldn't get into the most expensive schools but even if I did I wouldn't go there.

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prezidentv8
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby prezidentv8 » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:43 pm

mgpalmer wrote:Of course I'll be conscious of that. I wouldn't get into the most expensive schools but even if I did I wouldn't go there.


This is almost every law school. Very few exceptions.

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androstan
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby androstan » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:49 pm

mgpalmer wrote:Of course I'll be conscious of that. I wouldn't get into the most expensive schools but even if I did I wouldn't go there.


I'm not sure you quite understand how this works. The cheapest LS is the one to which you gain a big merit scholly and/or in-state tuition.

A school without either of those two attributes will cost at least 30k/year in tuition alone. The "expensive" schools are 40k/year in tuition. With cost of living factored in, you're looking at 140-170 thousand dollars plus interest. Additionally, you have the lost income of not working.

When it's all factored in including interest, lost income, tuition, living, you're looking at a 350k investment if you go to any ABA accreditted school that does not give you in-state tuition and/or a big merit scholarship.

About half of the 40,000 law graduates each year do not find work as a lawyer. Roughly 60% of employed lawyers make 35-65 thousand per year. Roughly 10% make the vaunted 155-165 and the rest make somewhere in the middle.

Find any other field with such grim statistics.

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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby wildcats2008 » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:09 pm

"Find any other field with such grim statistics."

Unless you're in healthcare (md, dds, pharmacy etc.) or have a phd in business or engineering, the market is very tough. MBA employment figures are bad too. It's a tough economy all around.

mgpalmer
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby mgpalmer » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:33 pm

androstan wrote:
mgpalmer wrote:Of course I'll be conscious of that. I wouldn't get into the most expensive schools but even if I did I wouldn't go there.


I'm not sure you quite understand how this works. The cheapest LS is the one to which you gain a big merit scholly and/or in-state tuition.

A school without either of those two attributes will cost at least 30k/year in tuition alone. The "expensive" schools are 40k/year in tuition. With cost of living factored in, you're looking at 140-170 thousand dollars plus interest. Additionally, you have the lost income of not working.

When it's all factored in including interest, lost income, tuition, living, you're looking at a 350k investment if you go to any ABA accreditted school that does not give you in-state tuition and/or a big merit scholarship.

About half of the 40,000 law graduates each year do not find work as a lawyer. Roughly 60% of employed lawyers make 35-65 thousand per year. Roughly 10% make the vaunted 155-165 and the rest make somewhere in the middle.

Find any other field with such grim statistics.


I understand exactly how it works, but there is a big difference between an ABA accredited public law school and a private school such as Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and all of the rest of the 'prestigious' schools. I'm not looking at those schools. I'm looking at in-state tuition schools. I'm in NJ so it's between Rutgers (public) and Seton Hall (private).

I know law school is expensive no matter what...I'm not arguing that. But you're basically making a point that no one should enter law school because the numbers are so bad. Maybe they're worse in this field, but they're bad everywhere. I'm not going to give up and become a car salesman, I'm going to do what I've decided is a good career choice for me.

uwgbluedevil
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby uwgbluedevil » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:51 pm

mgpalmer wrote:
androstan wrote:
mgpalmer wrote:Of course I'll be conscious of that. I wouldn't get into the most expensive schools but even if I did I wouldn't go there.


I'm not sure you quite understand how this works. The cheapest LS is the one to which you gain a big merit scholly and/or in-state tuition.

A school without either of those two attributes will cost at least 30k/year in tuition alone. The "expensive" schools are 40k/year in tuition. With cost of living factored in, you're looking at 140-170 thousand dollars plus interest. Additionally, you have the lost income of not working.

When it's all factored in including interest, lost income, tuition, living, you're looking at a 350k investment if you go to any ABA accreditted school that does not give you in-state tuition and/or a big merit scholarship.

About half of the 40,000 law graduates each year do not find work as a lawyer. Roughly 60% of employed lawyers make 35-65 thousand per year. Roughly 10% make the vaunted 155-165 and the rest make somewhere in the middle.

Find any other field with such grim statistics.


I understand exactly how it works, but there is a big difference between an ABA accredited public law school and a private school such as Harvard, Columbia, NYU, and all of the rest of the 'prestigious' schools. I'm not looking at those schools. I'm looking at in-state tuition schools. I'm in NJ so it's between Rutgers (public) and Seton Hall (private).

I know law school is expensive no matter what...I'm not arguing that. But you're basically making a point that no one should enter law school because the numbers are so bad. Maybe they're worse in this field, but they're bad everywhere. I'm not going to give up and become a car salesman, I'm going to do what I've decided is a good career choice for me.


If you were able to get into a top law school, you probably arent going to pay any more than you would if you got into either of those in-state schools at sticker. While you have the opportunity, you might as well shoo for those schools because they give you the best chance for the future.

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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby nigelfrost » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:58 pm

Matt,

No one on this forum will tell you one way or the other about whether your choice of profession is the "right" or even a wise one (nor am I implying that that's what you're asking about). What I think many of the posters here are hinting at (or making blatantly clear) is that the legal profession is different from most professions. The same hubris that drives people to take out a mortgage that they can't afford can drive a person to go to law school with unrealistic expectations. A resident of NJ attending Rutgers Law can expect an annual cost-of-living of about $40,000. For three years, that's a total of ~$120K without interest. And that's just the BASIC cost-of-living. Figure in the salary loss for those three years and that's an investment that better have a pretty good return.

You have an altruistic criminal law goal, but recognize that at some point your career has got to make that initial investment "worth it." Yes, that isn't just a financial calculus; job satisfaction is an important part. But an abstract pleasure in a particular field is cold comfort to a Rutgers grad that faces serious market competition. (That last sentence would make a good meme.)

I realize these things mean very little at this point and, in the end, you'll do what everyone does going into law school (i.e. think that law school will somehow be a different experience). But all that the posters on this thread are saying is start learning more about the externalities of this profession you've "chosen" before you leap in with both feet. That's what you should be doing "besides preparing for the LSAT" or be thinking about instead of "what schools are specifically well-known for the criminal field."

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fatduck
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby fatduck » Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:25 pm

nigelfrost wrote:A resident of NJ attending Rutgers Law can expect an annual cost-of-living of about $40,000. For three years, that's a total of ~$120K without interest. And that's just the BASIC cost-of-living. Figure in the salary loss for those three years and that's an investment that better have a pretty good return.


keep in mind that you have to live whether you go to law school or not :P salary opportunity cost is important to consider, however, as is long-term salary differential with/without law school

mgpalmer
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby mgpalmer » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:26 am

nigelfrost wrote:Matt,

No one on this forum will tell you one way or the other about whether your choice of profession is the "right" or even a wise one (nor am I implying that that's what you're asking about). What I think many of the posters here are hinting at (or making blatantly clear) is that the legal profession is different from most professions. The same hubris that drives people to take out a mortgage that they can't afford can drive a person to go to law school with unrealistic expectations. A resident of NJ attending Rutgers Law can expect an annual cost-of-living of about $40,000. For three years, that's a total of ~$120K without interest. And that's just the BASIC cost-of-living. Figure in the salary loss for those three years and that's an investment that better have a pretty good return.


Yearly tuition for Rutgers-Newark as a NJ resident is a little over $20K. I know that a lot of other things get thrown onto that but that's a heck of a lot less than other schools. Maybe to you this sounds like I've taken pleasure in one aspect of my studies...but isn't that how the beginning of a good career should start? I realize you're all trying to help and Im a firm believer in honesty being the best policy, so I do appreciate that. And I would like to look into the profession more, maybe through an internship or something. I guess the point Im trying to make is, dont sell me short. This might end up being what I really want to do. Of course I dont know everything about the job thats why I came here asking questions. But what I do know about it catches my interest and thats what brought me here.

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prezidentv8
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby prezidentv8 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:53 am

mgpalmer wrote:
nigelfrost wrote:Matt,

No one on this forum will tell you one way or the other about whether your choice of profession is the "right" or even a wise one (nor am I implying that that's what you're asking about). What I think many of the posters here are hinting at (or making blatantly clear) is that the legal profession is different from most professions. The same hubris that drives people to take out a mortgage that they can't afford can drive a person to go to law school with unrealistic expectations. A resident of NJ attending Rutgers Law can expect an annual cost-of-living of about $40,000. For three years, that's a total of ~$120K without interest. And that's just the BASIC cost-of-living. Figure in the salary loss for those three years and that's an investment that better have a pretty good return.


Yearly tuition for Rutgers-Newark as a NJ resident is a little over $20K. I know that a lot of other things get thrown onto that but that's a heck of a lot less than other schools. Maybe to you this sounds like I've taken pleasure in one aspect of my studies...but isn't that how the beginning of a good career should start? I realize you're all trying to help and Im a firm believer in honesty being the best policy, so I do appreciate that. And I would like to look into the profession more, maybe through an internship or something. I guess the point Im trying to make is, dont sell me short. This might end up being what I really want to do. Of course I dont know everything about the job thats why I came here asking questions. But what I do know about it catches my interest and thats what brought me here.


You're on the right track in those respects (underlined). And that's important. But bear in mind: we aren't saying not to go. Most of us have made the decision to go, and I'd imagine that many of us are happy with that decision so far. But what we're saying is that you definitely need to educate yourself further about the costs, benefits, and risks inherent in different schools and the legal profession more broadly. Tuition is one aspect of that. So are your post-grad job prospects, which will vary greatly by school and region. Rutgers might be a good choice, and it might not be a good choice. There are many other factors to consider. You are off to a good start to getting informed, but you're not there yet. Keep it up, and bring more questions.

mf980
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby mf980 » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:37 am

mgpalmer wrote:
nigelfrost wrote:Matt,

No one on this forum will tell you one way or the other about whether your choice of profession is the "right" or even a wise one (nor am I implying that that's what you're asking about). What I think many of the posters here are hinting at (or making blatantly clear) is that the legal profession is different from most professions. The same hubris that drives people to take out a mortgage that they can't afford can drive a person to go to law school with unrealistic expectations. A resident of NJ attending Rutgers Law can expect an annual cost-of-living of about $40,000. For three years, that's a total of ~$120K without interest. And that's just the BASIC cost-of-living. Figure in the salary loss for those three years and that's an investment that better have a pretty good return.


Yearly tuition for Rutgers-Newark as a NJ resident is a little over $20K. I know that a lot of other things get thrown onto that but that's a heck of a lot less than other schools. Maybe to you this sounds like I've taken pleasure in one aspect of my studies...but isn't that how the beginning of a good career should start? I realize you're all trying to help and Im a firm believer in honesty being the best policy, so I do appreciate that. And I would like to look into the profession more, maybe through an internship or something. I guess the point Im trying to make is, dont sell me short. This might end up being what I really want to do. Of course I dont know everything about the job thats why I came here asking questions. But what I do know about it catches my interest and thats what brought me here.


Prepare as much as you can for the LSAT, take the test and then apply to the school's you're interested in, as well as a handful of competitive schools and schools that give you application fee waivers.

At the end of your cycle, your options should be clear and you can decide if any of those options presents a situation that you are comfortable with. If not, then put that decision off and try again in a year or two (retake the LSAT, take on a job or grab yourself a graduate degree if you think those scenarios could provide better choices); who knows, that time may actually reveal a new dream.

But if this is today's dream, then chase it and see how far it takes you. The only burdens you will bear prior to matriculating are the cost of the LSAT, the LSAC's service costs, the application fees and the time you spend on this process; it is a small price to pay to see what potential doors will open for you!

mgpalmer
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Re: A few questions for whoever might be able to answer

Postby mgpalmer » Tue Feb 01, 2011 12:09 pm

Like I said, I'm very much considering everything that you all have pointed out and I appreciate it. We'll see where the road takes me.




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