teacher to lawyer

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bobcatou
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teacher to lawyer

Postby bobcatou » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:08 pm

In the last week I've begun researching a possible career in law. I have a few questions:

-I've been a high school English teacher these past 6 years. I'm looking at a PT program where I would take classes at night and earn a J.D. in four years. What kind of career opportunities could I look forward to as a new lawyer with 10 years of teaching experience?

-I live and own a home in Savannah, GA. Last December, it was announced that Atlanta's John Marshall Law School would be opening a new branch here, called Savannah Law School. As an educator, I'm wary of for-profit schools and diploma mills and I don't want to attend a school and end up trapped in $100,000 in debt with a degree that's not worth the paper it was written on. What is the reputation of Atlanta's JMLS in terms of the employability of its graduates?

-It's not impossible for me to sell my home and move to an area with a more reputable school, but it would be very difficult. I currently earn 45k teaching and by the end of my time in law school (providing there are no more teacher pay freezes) I would be earning 50k. Can I earn something comparable or better as a recent law school grad? I'm burnt out from teaching and disgusted by the disdain administrators and the public alike have for teachers. I work with a woman who quit her job as a lawyer to become a teacher to spend more time with her kids. She regrets the decision and says she misses feeling respected and being treated as an adult who is free to work on her own time and take lunches rather than the regimented schedule of teaching in a public school. I must admit I was impressed by all the good things she had to say about being a lawyer. That being said, I understand the difference in the hours of work. I teach and coach and am used to putting in 55-65 hours a week. Summers off are nice but I get bored and find a part-time job anyhow. Teaching comes with its own set of stresses and I've been physically assaulted by two different students (who were not mine) these past two years!

-What is my marketability as a potential law student? I was a low-performing English undergrad at Ohio University and earned a dismal 2.7 gpa. I did better earning my master of education with a 4.0 gpa. I will take the LSAT in June.

Thanks for looking this over. I appreciate anyone's input. When it comes down to it, I would like a respectable career as a lawyer with pay that's at least comparable to teaching, if not better. I am not necessarily looking for a big bucks=long hours career.

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JCFindley
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby JCFindley » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:21 pm

Bob, you will get quite the education on this forum if you follow it and read through the back threads regarding all sorts of stuff but start with a search for Marshall and read what has been said.

There are a LOT of law schools out there that make a LOT of money selling three years worth of education that will not pay off with any more money than you are already making and leave you in a great deal of dept. That assumes that you can find a job that requires a JD at all with the degree.

There are a lot of folks here way more knowledgeable than me on how JM would be compared to the debt but my advice is to listen carefully and make an informed choice.

Oh, and if you haven't already been studying for the LSAT like it is a full time job you might consider starting now and maybe even delaying until October.

Best of luck,

JC

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danielhay11
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby danielhay11 » Sun Mar 18, 2012 9:46 pm

bobcatou wrote:-I've been a high school English teacher these past 6 years. I'm looking at a PT program where I would take classes at night and earn a J.D. in four years. What kind of career opportunities could I look forward to as a new lawyer with 10 years of teaching experience?


Your career opportunities will mostly depend on (a) the quality of the school you attend and (b) how well you do at that school. There are some careers that may give you a boost (finance for corporate law, science for IP). Outside those, you are unlikely to be helped or hurt by your work experience. (Fellow teacher here, by the way.)

bobcatou wrote:-I live and own a home in Savannah, GA. Last December, it was announced that Atlanta's John Marshall Law School would be opening a new branch here, called Savannah Law School. As an educator, I'm wary of for-profit schools and diploma mills and I don't want to attend a school and end up trapped in $100,000 in debt with a degree that's not worth the paper it was written on. What is the reputation of Atlanta's JMLS in terms of the employability of its graduates?

-It's not impossible for me to sell my home and move to an area with a more reputable school, but it would be very difficult. I currently earn 45k teaching and by the end of my time in law school (providing there are no more teacher pay freezes) I would be earning 50k. Can I earn something comparable or better as a recent law school grad? I'm burnt out from teaching and disgusted by the disdain administrators and the public alike have for teachers. I work with a woman who quit her job as a lawyer to become a teacher to spend more time with her kids. She regrets the decision and says she misses feeling respected and being treated as an adult who is free to work on her own time and take lunches rather than the regimented schedule of teaching in a public school. I must admit I was impressed by all the good things she had to say about being a lawyer. That being said, I understand the difference in the hours of work. I teach and coach and am used to putting in 55-65 hours a week. Summers off are nice but I get bored and find a part-time job anyhow. Teaching comes with its own set of stresses and I've been physically assaulted by two different students (who were not mine) these past two years!


You are right to be skeptical of JMLS. Take a look at the salary statistics for the Atlanta campus on Law School Transparency. (LST links never seem to work on here, so go to lawschooltransparency.com and select JMLS Atlanta from the drop-down menu.) A few takeaways:
-Nearly one-in-ten graduates are unemployed
-They don't have salary information for more than three-fourths of the class and, well, let's put it this way: schools don't lose track of graduates on a partner track.
-Even assuming you get a legal job, you'll likely only make marginally more than in your current job and will have monthly loan payments somewhere between $500 and $1,000.
-The Georgia legal market (and by that, I really mean Atlanta) is still hurting, and it's recovery is lagging behind other markets.
-The greatest likelihood is that, at last initially, you'll be stuck in a string of part-time or contract jobs. You will be lucky to make what you make now but with significant debt obligations, and you'll also lose the intangibles of being a teacher, namely consistent employment, excellent benefits, and the opportunity to supplement your income during the summer.

bobcatou wrote:-What is my marketability as a potential law student? I was a low-performing English undergrad at Ohio University and earned a dismal 2.7 gpa. I did better earning my master of education with a 4.0 gpa. I will take the LSAT in June.


It's hard to say without an LSAT score. 2.7 isn't fantastic, but you should still be able to do much, much better than JMLS. Take some practice LSATs and spend some time on lawschoolnumbers.com and lawschoolpredictor.com to see what your options are. If you decide to attend law school, I'd recommend taking the October test and treating LSAT prep as your job this summer.

CanadianWolf
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby CanadianWolf » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:01 am

OP: Your graduate GPA will not be included in the LSDAS calculation of your GPA. Your GPA will be 2.7 for purposes of law school admission.

Do not go to JMLS (Atlanta). Call John Marshall in Chicago & count the seconds before they proudly inform you that JMLS (Chicago) is not in any way related to JMLS (Atlanta).

You need to attend the best law school that you can. This will be primarily determined by your LSAT score.

P.S. The grass is always greener....

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nealric
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby nealric » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:11 am

JMLS at sticker is tantamount to financial suicide. If you go there, you will pretty much going to have to make your own way in the legal world. That could involve several years of next to no income.

It could be an OK option in the event of a full ride. But grass is always greener. Perhaps a career move in teaching might help?

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spleenworship
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby spleenworship » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:10 am

Get good LSAT score. Study hard this summer, very hard (I recommend the LSAT prep threads on TLS).

Go to reputable 4 year program, or better yet a 3 year program like the 3 high school teachers at my school. Do not go to JMLS in GA.

Job opportunities will be exactly the same as any new graduate. Strict curve means grades will be pretty hard to predict. They will also be the determining factor in your future career when combined with the prestige of the program you attend.

ETA: in Atlanta you have Emory and Georgia State, Athens has UGA. All are doable with a 2.7 provided you do well on LSAT (very well for Emory). Don't know if they have 4 year part time programs.

ETAx2: the only good schools anywhere near you are the ones listed above, and according to most of TLS, only Emory is worth attending, and even then only with a scholarship. If you really want to be a lawyer, you seriously need to consider moving. Either sell or rent your house and go do a three year program somewhere else would be my advice. Get into the best school you can, and start a new life. If you are very attached to Savannah, go to one of the 3 GA schools, then move back. You can visit on the weekends, and maybe intern/clerk in Savannah during the summer.

ETAx3: yes, comparable or better is definitely possible. Also you wouldn't have to be a teacher anymore, which every teacher I have talked to says is just an awful job despite the definite upsides like teaching/mentoring kids.

ETAx4: I got into Georgia State... and I was very tempted. They only offered a small scholarship and I was out of state though, so I couldn't do it. Shame, really....

Alan
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby Alan » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:13 pm

Saw this in another thread:

imbored25 wrote:Savannah law school

153+ 3.0+ gets you a full ride. wtf



I know you have a 2.7 but I bet a 160 LSAT would compensate and get you that free ride!

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KMaine
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby KMaine » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:17 pm

I taught high school English for 13 years. I will be starting work at a big law firm in Boston this fall. Too bad about your GPA, but everyone is right about the LSAT thing (kill it)! PM me if I can answer any questions.

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danielhay11
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby danielhay11 » Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:46 pm

Alan wrote:Saw this in another thread:

imbored25 wrote:Savannah law school

153+ 3.0+ gets you a full ride. wtf



I know you have a 2.7 but I bet a 160 LSAT would compensate and get you that free ride!


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/busin ... wanted=all

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20160810
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Re: teacher to lawyer

Postby 20160810 » Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:03 pm

1.) You're right to be skeptical of John Marshall Law School. It's garbage. Shoot for UGA or Emory at the very least.

2.) Your bad GPA is going to hurt you, your good MA GPA won't help you, but if you do well enough on the LSAT (with that GPA, you're going to want to shoot for 170+ to have a shot at decent schools) it won't matter.

3.) Your MA and work experience will be a minor boost in admissions and, if you write a good personal statement, could help mitigate the bad GPA in terms of admissions effect.

4.) I was a teacher prior to law school, and it was marginally helpful in terms of finding jobs once I was in law school. Don't expect legal employers to care too much, but it will give you something to talk about in interviews and might do you well in a tiebreaker type situation.




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