Missing Big Law = Poverty?

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jwinaz
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Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby jwinaz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:24 pm

Hi everyone. An 0L here trying to decide whether I want to attend law school (considering a regional close to home).

There's a lot of talk on these forums about how bad things are for students in the job market and how people are devastated if they miss the big law opportunity through OCI & summer associate positions.

I honestly had thought about just practicing law at a middle-size or local firm in my region of Virginia or even going into government legal work and never really considered going into a big law firm where you work 80 hours a week.

Out of curiosity, do people know what the salaries are like for non-big law types of jobs? What if I wanted to work either in government or a smaller, local/regional firm? I know I wouldn't be making like $150K, but would it be reasonable to make about $80K (I'd maybe be happy with that) after a few years at least?

What is up with these threads and comments with people saying you should drop out of law school after 1L if you miss the big law opportunities?? They're assuming you'll be in poverty if you don't get a big law firm job? Just seeing what to realistically expect in terms of jobs and salaries if I do go to law school and don't want to work or miss big law. Appreciate any help you guys can give.
Last edited by jwinaz on Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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luckyme
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby luckyme » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:30 pm

There are a lot of schools in Virginia, and competition for government jobs can be worse than for biglaw. I have friends with decent grades who are trying to get biglaw jobs as a stepping stone to government work. Summer class sizes for regional small-midsize firms are small (think under 5 people) and very competitive. It's also a lot harder to pay off $200k in debt while earning 80-120k instead of 160.

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Bronte
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby Bronte » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:39 pm

The problem is no so much that other jobs don't pay enough it's that other jobs are scarce. Government hiring has been very slow. Most importantly with regard to your question, the ideal of a midsize law firm that pays $80,000 to freshly-minted JDs is very rare. Midsize and small law firms do not have the resources to train new JDs and thus usually only hire experienced attorneys.

Here's a good article on law firm salaries: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/ ... wyer-jobs/. It will confirm that your $80,000 a year salary is very, very rare.

jwinaz
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby jwinaz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:42 pm

luckyme wrote:There are a lot of schools in Virginia, and competition for government jobs can be worse than for biglaw. I have friends with decent grades who are trying to get biglaw jobs as a stepping stone to government work. Summer class sizes for regional small-midsize firms are small (think under 5 people) and very competitive. It's also a lot harder to pay off $200k in debt while earning 80-120k instead of 160.



I definitely wouldn't have $200K debt from my local law school. For example, if I attended Regent Univ. here, then the tuition would be $32K/year. That's roughly $100K in tuition for 3 years - although I'm not counting potential scholarship aid or interest accuring on loans.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby Lawquacious » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:45 pm

Not at all--some of the richest attorneys out there were never biglaw lawyers. BUT, it probably means poverty for a while and could be longterm..
Last edited by Lawquacious on Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BlaqBella
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby BlaqBella » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:45 pm

jwinaz wrote: What is up with these threads and comments with people saying you should drop out of law school after 1L if you miss the big law opportunities?? They're assuming you'll be in poverty if you don't get a big law firm job?


BIGLAW is usually a rite of passage for bigger and better opportunities (for some that may be going in-house as general counsel at a private equity firm, bank, hedge fund or publically traded company, for others that may be working for a highly selective governmental department, etc.).

Overrall, the experiences gained in BIGLAW will be invaluable and it doesn't hurt to be paid 135-160k/year + bonus (as a START) with no real work experience (ie K-JDs). Also, some people love the elitism/perks/lavish lifestyle of the profession.

jwinaz
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby jwinaz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:53 pm

Bronte wrote:The problem is no so much that other jobs don't pay enough it's that other jobs are scarce. Government hiring has been very slow. Most importantly with regard to your question, the ideal of a midsize law firm that pays $80,000 to freshly-minted JDs is very rare. Midsize and small law firms do not have the resources to train new JDs and thus usually only hire experienced attorneys.

Here's a good article on law firm salaries: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/ ... wyer-jobs/. It will confirm that your $80,000 a year salary is very, very rare.



Are you sure about that? I would have thought smaller firms would want new grads (can pay them less)? Isn't that how people from the lower tiered schools get jobs? Basically at the smaller firms that aren't big law? I mean...where would graduates from smaller regional schools go then if they don't work the big law jobs and you're saying they don't even get into the medium/smaller firms?

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20130312
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby 20130312 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:55 pm

jwinaz wrote:
luckyme wrote:There are a lot of schools in Virginia, and competition for government jobs can be worse than for biglaw. I have friends with decent grades who are trying to get biglaw jobs as a stepping stone to government work. Summer class sizes for regional small-midsize firms are small (think under 5 people) and very competitive. It's also a lot harder to pay off $200k in debt while earning 80-120k instead of 160.



I definitely wouldn't have $200K debt from my local law school. For example, if I attended Regent Univ. here, then the tuition would be $32K/year. That's roughly $100K in tuition for 3 years - although I'm not counting potential scholarship aid or interest accuring on loans.


Plus cost of living. Plus interest. Plus unemployment if you attend Regent.

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby paulinaporizkova » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:57 pm

jwinaz wrote:
luckyme wrote:There are a lot of schools in Virginia, and competition for government jobs can be worse than for biglaw. I have friends with decent grades who are trying to get biglaw jobs as a stepping stone to government work. Summer class sizes for regional small-midsize firms are small (think under 5 people) and very competitive. It's also a lot harder to pay off $200k in debt while earning 80-120k instead of 160.



I definitely wouldn't have $200K debt from my local law school. For example, if I attended Regent Univ. here, then the tuition would be $32K/year. That's roughly $100K in tuition for 3 years - although I'm not counting potential scholarship aid or interest accuring on loans.


It is never a good decision to go to Regent Law. Michele Bachmann went there for god sakes

anonymuss
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby anonymuss » Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:58 pm

jwinaz wrote:
Are you sure about that? I would have thought smaller firms would want new grads (can pay them less)? Isn't that how people from the lower tiered schools get jobs? Basically at the smaller firms that aren't big law? I mean...where would graduates from smaller regional schools go then if they don't work the big law jobs and you're saying they don't even get into the medium/smaller firms?


People from lower tier schools who miss out on big law don't get (full-time, legal) jobs.

jwinaz
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby jwinaz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:01 pm

In terms of living experense, I do have family here I could stay with free. That would be the main reason I'd consider Regent, which is to reduce cost of living. But basically, I wouldn't mind working at all in a smaller area and away from big law and the city.

I kind of thought I'd enjoy working in a mid-sized city in a medium or maybe even a small firm. I'm just not very "big city" as a person. :lol:

jwinaz
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby jwinaz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:04 pm

anonymuss wrote:
jwinaz wrote:
Are you sure about that? I would have thought smaller firms would want new grads (can pay them less)? Isn't that how people from the lower tiered schools get jobs? Basically at the smaller firms that aren't big law? I mean...where would graduates from smaller regional schools go then if they don't work the big law jobs and you're saying they don't even get into the medium/smaller firms?


People from lower tier schools who miss out on big law don't get (full-time, legal) jobs.



What? I know of people working as prosecutors and family lawyers from Regent. You can look up local law firms and find Regent grads, for example, doing personal injury and accident law or other types. I don't think they're working part-time.

jwinaz
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby jwinaz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:08 pm

Here's one example of a firm with 4 full-time (it looks like) employed Regent lawyers: http://www.phillipspeterslaw.com/sub/our_attorneys.html

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20130312
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby 20130312 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:12 pm

jwinaz wrote:Here's one example of a firm with 4 full-time (it looks like) employed Regent lawyers: http://www.phillipspeterslaw.com/sub/our_attorneys.html

What about the other 300?

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby paulinaporizkova » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:14 pm

jwinaz wrote:
anonymuss wrote:
jwinaz wrote:
Are you sure about that? I would have thought smaller firms would want new grads (can pay them less)? Isn't that how people from the lower tiered schools get jobs? Basically at the smaller firms that aren't big law? I mean...where would graduates from smaller regional schools go then if they don't work the big law jobs and you're saying they don't even get into the medium/smaller firms?


People from lower tier schools who miss out on big law don't get (full-time, legal) jobs.



What? I know of people working as prosecutors and family lawyers from Regent. You can look up local law firms and find Regent grads, for example, doing personal injury and accident law or other types. I don't think they're working part-time.


No, they're working just as much as biglaw attys in NYC and getting paid about 25% of that salary and doing shit work on top of it. Probably not what they thought they were signing up for - no one loves the law that much.

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Bronte
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby Bronte » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:18 pm

jwinaz wrote:
Bronte wrote:The problem is no so much that other jobs don't pay enough it's that other jobs are scarce. Government hiring has been very slow. Most importantly with regard to your question, the ideal of a midsize law firm that pays $80,000 to freshly-minted JDs is very rare. Midsize and small law firms do not have the resources to train new JDs and thus usually only hire experienced attorneys.

Here's a good article on law firm salaries: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/ ... wyer-jobs/. It will confirm that your $80,000 a year salary is very, very rare.


Are you sure about that? I would have thought smaller firms would want new grads (can pay them less)? Isn't that how people from the lower tiered schools get jobs? Basically at the smaller firms that aren't big law? I mean...where would graduates from smaller regional schools go then if they don't work the big law jobs and you're saying they don't even get into the medium/smaller firms?


Yes, I'm quite sure. "Midsize" firms are sometimes in the summer associate and entry level hiring market, but there are not many midsize firms and they usually hire in very small summers. Small law firms generally hire seasoned attorneys.

Trust me, I've been doing this a lot longer than you. If don't want to trust me, take a look at the New York Times article I linked you to. If these mid-law firms are hiring a bunch of grads, why is there almost nobody who makes between $60,000 and $160,000 coming out of law school?

I can see that this is quickly turning into one of those threads where you want to go to a low-ranked law school and won't be talked out of it. Here's some reading for you to do (from some of the most reputable periodicals in the country):

- Only 20,000 out of 40,000 grads last year got jobs. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 58142.html.

- The legal market is as bad as it's been in at least 30 years. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012 ... job-market.

- Commentators are saying attending law school is the worst career decision that you can make. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureenhen ... ever-make/.

- Even top law schools are struggling. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/busin ... lawschools.

If you want to dig your own grave, go ahead. But you should not go to a low ranked law school in this market if you don't want to be debt-ridden.

jwinaz
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby jwinaz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:25 pm

Bronte wrote:
Yes, I'm quite sure. "Midsize" firms are sometimes in the summer associate and entry level hiring market, but there are not many midsize firms and they usually hire in very small summers. Small law firms generally hire seasoned attorneys.

Trust me, I've been doing this a lot longer than you. If don't want to trust me, take a look at the New York Times article I linked you to. If these mid-law firms are hiring a bunch of grads, why is there almost nobody who makes between $60,000 and $160,000 coming out of law school?

I can see that this is quickly turning into one of those threads where you want to go to a low-ranked law school and won't be talked out of it. Here's some reading for you to do (from some of the most reputable periodicals in the country):

- Only 20,000 out of 40,000 grads last year got jobs. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142 ... 58142.html.

- The legal market is as bad as it's been in at least 30 years. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012 ... job-market.

- Commentators are saying attending law school is the worst career decision that you can make. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureenhen ... ever-make/.

- Even top law schools are struggling. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/26/busin ... lawschools.

If you want to dig your own grave, go ahead. But you should not go to a low ranked law school in this market if you don't want to be debt-ridden.



Alright, let me take a look.

paulinaporizkova
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby paulinaporizkova » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:26 pm

jwinaz wrote:Here's one example of a firm with 4 full-time (it looks like) employed Regent lawyers: http://www.phillipspeterslaw.com/sub/our_attorneys.html

This is called hanging out your own shingle. I literally could do this right now. I could make a website and put a nice pic of me on there with my name next to it and all my credentials and offer to clean pools for 50 bucks a pop. It would look really cool and my mom would probably call and congratulate me but it wouldn't change the fact that I would be shit broke and have a completely unfulfilling life with zero career options moving forward.

rad lulz
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby rad lulz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:27 pm

BlaqBella wrote:
jwinaz wrote: What is up with these threads and comments with people saying you should drop out of law school after 1L if you miss the big law opportunities?? They're assuming you'll be in poverty if you don't get a big law firm job?


BIGLAW is usually a rite of passage for bigger and better opportunities (for some that may be going in-house as general counsel at a private equity firm, bank, hedge fund or publically traded company, for others that may be working for a highly selective governmental department, etc.).

Overrall, the experiences gained in BIGLAW will be invaluable and it doesn't hurt to be paid 135-160k/year + bonus (as a START) with no real work experience (ie K-JDs). Also, some people love the elitism/perks/lavish lifestyle of the profession.

I find it interesting that you have such reverence for large firms that you feel the need to capitalize the word.

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WhiteyCakes
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby WhiteyCakes » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:35 pm

paulinaporizkova wrote:
jwinaz wrote:
luckyme wrote:There are a lot of schools in Virginia, and competition for government jobs can be worse than for biglaw. I have friends with decent grades who are trying to get biglaw jobs as a stepping stone to government work. Summer class sizes for regional small-midsize firms are small (think under 5 people) and very competitive. It's also a lot harder to pay off $200k in debt while earning 80-120k instead of 160.



I definitely wouldn't have $200K debt from my local law school. For example, if I attended Regent Univ. here, then the tuition would be $32K/year. That's roughly $100K in tuition for 3 years - although I'm not counting potential scholarship aid or interest accuring on loans.


It is never a good decision to go to Regent Law. Michele Bachmann went there for god sakes


We must use the capitalized God when referencing Michele Bachmann

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sunynp
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby sunynp » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:39 pm

You won't get a job practicing law of you go to Regent.

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RedBirds2011
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby RedBirds2011 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:13 pm

anonymuss wrote:
jwinaz wrote:
Are you sure about that? I would have thought smaller firms would want new grads (can pay them less)? Isn't that how people from the lower tiered schools get jobs? Basically at the smaller firms that aren't big law? I mean...where would graduates from smaller regional schools go then if they don't work the big law jobs and you're saying they don't even get into the medium/smaller firms?


People from lower tier schools who miss out on big law don't get (full-time, legal) jobs.


Lol yes, they do. They are often smaller firms that don't pay much. Also, about half or so won't get legal jobs at all.

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RedBirds2011
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby RedBirds2011 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:18 pm

paulinaporizkova wrote:
jwinaz wrote:Here's one example of a firm with 4 full-time (it looks like) employed Regent lawyers: http://www.phillipspeterslaw.com/sub/our_attorneys.html

This is called hanging out your own shingle. I literally could do this right now. I could make a website and put a nice pic of me on there with my name next to it and all my credentials and offer to clean pools for 50 bucks a pop. It would look really cool and my mom would probably call and congratulate me but it wouldn't change the fact that I would be shit broke and have a completely unfulfilling life with zero career options moving forward.



Also, this particular example is not one of somebody hangng a shingle after graduating.

OP, regardless of this, people here are still right. I wouldnt go to regent unless you can go for free.

jwinaz
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby jwinaz » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:33 pm

Bronte wrote:The problem is no so much that other jobs don't pay enough it's that other jobs are scarce. Government hiring has been very slow. Most importantly with regard to your question, the ideal of a midsize law firm that pays $80,000 to freshly-minted JDs is very rare. Midsize and small law firms do not have the resources to train new JDs and thus usually only hire experienced attorneys.

Here's a good article on law firm salaries: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/ ... wyer-jobs/. It will confirm that your $80,000 a year salary is very, very rare.



Hmmm. This is interesting.

I'm very surprised that a lawyer could make $40K or less. I'll try to confirm these numbers elsewhere. My only question is how this looks, if it's true, years later for these graduates? Let's suppose a new law graduate really does make $50K a year, but what about 5 years down the line? I noticed that data was for the class of 2011. So, these are entry level salaries.

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sunynp
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Re: Missing Big Law = Poverty?

Postby sunynp » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:42 pm

jwinaz wrote:
Bronte wrote:The problem is no so much that other jobs don't pay enough it's that other jobs are scarce. Government hiring has been very slow. Most importantly with regard to your question, the ideal of a midsize law firm that pays $80,000 to freshly-minted JDs is very rare. Midsize and small law firms do not have the resources to train new JDs and thus usually only hire experienced attorneys.

Here's a good article on law firm salaries: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/ ... wyer-jobs/. It will confirm that your $80,000 a year salary is very, very rare.



Hmmm. This is interesting.

I'm very surprised that a lawyer could make $40K or less. I'll try to confirm these numbers elsewhere. My only question is how this looks, if it's true, years later for these graduates? Let's suppose a new law graduate really does make $50K a year, but what about 5 years down the line? I noticed that data was for the class of 2011. So, these are entry level salaries.

Plenty of law grads don't even get jobs practicing law ever. At least half the grads last year don't have full time paid permanent jobs. A lot of people work unpaid for a year or more after they graduate just to get experience. Many grads would be happy to get a job paying $40,000.

You need to learn a good deal more about the employment market for lawyers before you go to law school.




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