Is law school worth the time and money?

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danelhombre
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Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby danelhombre » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:31 pm

I have been reading a lot of articles and blogs, trying to get an idea of the risks/rewards (or costs/benefits if you prefer) of attending law school. To be honest, it seems like there is a lot of pessimism out there. Here are a few recurring themes that I have noticed:

1: Law school is not worth attending unless you get into a Tier 1 school. Even at that, it seems that there are a lot of people that hold the opinion that it is not worth attending unless you go to a T25 or T14.

2: Law school is not worth attending unless you get some serious scholarship cashola, even if you get into a Tier 1 school. (Is it generally better to attend a lower ranked Tier 1 school for cheap/free, or pay full price to attend a T14?)

3: Even if you get into a good school, your job prospects are going to be limited unless you are in the top half/quarter/tenth of your class.

4: Good paying law jobs typically involve 70+ hour workweeks pushing a bunch of mundane paperwork.

There are other things that seem to be positive signs (some economic recovery, lower number of LSAT takers, and fewer law school applicants, which seems like it would lower the saturation a little bit). How do these factor in?

I am still trying to decide if law school is right for me. I have 3-4 years of work experience in the banking industry, and have no desire of making a career out of that. I am interested in law because I want a job that is challenging and intellectually stimulating. I like to read, and I find law and the application of law to be really interesting. I want to make decent money, but don't have a desire to be exorbitantly rich. Public service would be my ideal, but another common theme is that those jobs are extremely sparse and reserved for the top T14 schools.

I am a splitter with a 170+ LSAT but a sub 3.0 GPA (Its a bit above 3.0, but I failed a couple of classes in undergrad, so I suspect that LSAC is going to bump it down to a 2.9 or so). My understanding is that I might have a chance of getting into a lower end T14, but its not a guarantee. If I do get in, it doesnt look like I'd get much money, if any.

I know its a bit of a rant, but I really feel torn about the whole law school thing, and don't want to commit to 3 years and/or 6 figures of debt unless I'm really damn sure about it.

If you have any insights/opinions/hilarious smart-ass remarks, I'd appreciate them.

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Tom Joad
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Re: Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby Tom Joad » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:33 pm

Search for some of the splitter applicant threads. You probably won't get money at many places.

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dpk711
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Re: Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby dpk711 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:35 pm

with your GPA (despite the 170+ score) you're looking at T14s like Northwestern (assuming you have work experience) or maybe UVA or GULC. These schools are still a risky proposition at sticker price.

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dingbat
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Re: Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby dingbat » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:53 pm

danelhombre wrote:I have been reading a lot of articles and blogs, trying to get an idea of the risks/rewards (or costs/benefits if you prefer) of attending law school. To be honest, it seems like there is a lot of pessimism out there. Here are a few recurring themes that I have noticed:

1: Law school is not worth attending unless you get into a Tier 1 school. Even at that, it seems that there are a lot of people that hold the opinion that it is not worth attending unless you go to a T25 or T14.

2: Law school is not worth attending unless you get some serious scholarship cashola, even if you get into a Tier 1 school. (Is it generally better to attend a lower ranked Tier 1 school for cheap/free, or pay full price to attend a T14?)

3: Even if you get into a good school, your job prospects are going to be limited unless you are in the top half/quarter/tenth of your class.

4: Good paying law jobs typically involve 70+ hour workweeks pushing a bunch of mundane paperwork.

1) don't consider any law school that is not T1 unless it's the only school in a particular market (e.g. Wyoming) Within the T1, some schools are better than others.

2) Do not attend a lower T1 without a significant scholarship (except as noted above). How much to pay for a school is open to debate and there are many threads about it. It really depends on what you want out of life

3) your job prospects are dependent on 3 things:
i - which school
ii - class rank (and Journals)
At low ranked schools, you might need to be top 25% to have a good chance at a decent job, while at very good schools you might need to be bottom 25% to have real trouble.
Being last in your class at Yale will get you a job, unless there's something wrong with you. Being best in your class at any T1 should get you a job, unless there's something wrong with you. Which brings us to:
iii -other factors.
If you're socially awkward it's much harder to get a job, while a likable person with good softs will have an easier time.

4) this is not entirely true. However, if you plan on making 6 figures, you should expect that you're gonna have to put in a lot of time. This is basically true of any profession.
There are jobs that pay well and don't require a lot of work, but they're few and far between. There's not much information about them and there's not much chance of getting a job like that. At least, not fresh out of school

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danelhombre
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Re: Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby danelhombre » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:06 pm

Thanks for the info! Has anyone read the blogs by Professor Campos? http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com He paints a pretty bleak picture of the prospects for law school grads. How much validity do you think he has?

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dingbat
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Re: Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby dingbat » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:26 pm

danelhombre wrote:Thanks for the info! Has anyone read the blogs by Professor Campos? http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com He paints a pretty bleak picture of the prospects for law school grads. How much validity do you think he has?

1) there is a lot of validity. there is a need for roughly 25000 new lawyers per year, but all law schools combined graduate about 45000 lawyers.
I'm not sure if these are the latest figures, but even if it's 20% more or less new lawyers per year, it's still dire

2) which law school you go to makes a big difference. No one will argue that Harvard at sticker ($250k) is a bad idea. No one can honestly argue Cooley for free (but out of pocket living expenses) is a good idea.

As an example, in New York City, there are 7 law schools. Going to Columbia (best) is a really good idea, while going to Touro (worst) is a really bad idea. Does that mean everyone from Columbia will make 6 figures upon graduation and that everyone from Touro will be unemployed? No. However, the chance of getting a good job out of Touro is very small, while there is a lot more room for error out of Columbia.

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2014
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Re: Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby 2014 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:34 pm

He is probably overly pessimistic, but most of his arguments have some statistical backing and deserve some consideration. Reading his blog can make it sound like going to law school at all for anyone is a bad idea and that is objectively not true.

There are still 30,000 jobs a year for law grads and for individuals who just really want to be lawyers, most of those jobs will probably suffice. The issue is that the majority of those 30k jobs have salaries in the 40-50k range which is not enough to make loan payments unless one went to law school at a steep discount. And of course then there are 15k law students left in the cold.

That's why the advice here tends to be basically go to school only if you want to be a lawyer, if you can get into a T14, if you can get into a T1 with $$$, if you can get into a local T2-T4 with $$$$ (including good stipulations) and do not go in with unreasonable expectations.

Not all of that applies to everyone, for example some here think you are crazy for paying sticker to the lower T14 and even get queezy thinking about sticker to CCN, and some think that going to a TTT even if you really want to be a lawyer and it is free is a bad idea. Just keep in mind though that the majority of the posts on this site dissuading people from applying are targeted at people who do not meet some or any of the characteristics above (I.e. they are from Connecticut and want to go to Arizona State at sticker because it shot up the rankings this year, or someone who thinks that a Top 10% stipulation for their 1/3rd tuition scholarship to Widener is reasonable)

timbs4339
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Re: Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby timbs4339 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:17 pm

2014 wrote:He is probably overly pessimistic, but most of his arguments have some statistical backing and deserve some consideration. Reading his blog can make it sound like going to law school at all for anyone is a bad idea and that is objectively not true.

There are still 30,000 jobs a year for law grads and for individuals who just really want to be lawyers, most of those jobs will probably suffice. The issue is that the majority of those 30k jobs have salaries in the 40-50k range which is not enough to make loan payments unless one went to law school at a steep discount. And of course then there are 15k law students left in the cold.

That's why the advice here tends to be basically go to school only if you want to be a lawyer, if you can get into a T14, if you can get into a T1 with $$$, if you can get into a local T2-T4 with $$$$ (including good stipulations) and do not go in with unreasonable expectations.

Not all of that applies to everyone, for example some here think you are crazy for paying sticker to the lower T14 and even get queezy thinking about sticker to CCN, and some think that going to a TTT even if you really want to be a lawyer and it is free is a bad idea. Just keep in mind though that the majority of the posts on this site dissuading people from applying are targeted at people who do not meet some or any of the characteristics above (I.e. they are from Connecticut and want to go to Arizona State at sticker because it shot up the rankings this year, or someone who thinks that a Top 10% stipulation for their 1/3rd tuition scholarship to Widener is reasonable)


Well, a lot of those 25,000 new jobs include 1) part-time or temporary positions, 2) positions for experienced graduates. And many of the entry-level jobs will be filled by lawyers who have already graduated. The 25,000 stat is inflated, while the 45,000 JDs is pretty accurate.

timbs4339
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Re: Is law school worth the time and money?

Postby timbs4339 » Sun Jun 17, 2012 5:23 pm

There can be good reasons to attend a non-tier one school. If you have a large scholarship. If it is low-cost or in-state. If you want to practice small-time law or work for the local government The general advice to avoid Tier 2-4 schools is because so many of those schools cost as much as expensive top-tier private schools. But if it is low-cost and you do not have dreams of biglaw or other prestigious employment, a lower-tier law school can still make sense. Your school and cost must match up with your ambitions.

The problem is that many people attending crappy law schools have ambitions that are way out of whack with their existing options and get very angry when you try to tell them otherwise.




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