Is law school a profitable investment?

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uvabro
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby uvabro » Sat Nov 10, 2012 6:34 pm

Broseidon wrote:
uvabro wrote:
Broseidon wrote:Major in Finance/Economics/Business/Accounting/etc>>>Work for 3-5 years>>>Get MBA>>>Profit

certainly would be less work.

It's really the only education path that actually teaches you how to make money. Law and medicine try to minimize it (which is probably the right move, considering the nature of the professions).

I thought making $ was just about making other people like you (by learning their needs and satisfying them), offer them something of value and do it at a better cost <> quality than the competition? What else is there?

DoctorShawHi
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby DoctorShawHi » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:15 pm

esther0123 wrote:I was around this forum for some months, as some of you from LSAT prep discussion group may know. Due to a lack of preparation over the summer, I decided to postpone my writing until 2013 and take a gap year. I'm currently completing my final year in ugrad and with this time at hand, it got me thinking whether law school was really a realistic and practical investment of my time and money.

I find that a lot of law school websites are biased and inflated in their report of employment prospect and average starting salary so I come here to seek honest opinion.

I am 22 years old, have chemistry research experience all throughout undergrad with a thesis in completion. I am a mentor for a youth at risk for almost 3 years (and ongoing) and I too was from a disadvantaged family growing up. I have a 3.9 GPA (and hopefully will be better by the time I graduate) from a top 3 Canadian university.

My grades are good enough to apply to medschool in Canada. While medschool seems to be the more traditional route for someone of my background (BSc Hons), I've always felt that I had a stronger humanities bent -- I didn't really know what I wanted when I graduated highschool --, strong interest in social justice (owing to my personal background), and the prospect of going abroad (US) for law school appeal to me. I felt that JD from a hyper prestigious university (HYS CCN) would grant me further regional/career flexibility that a Canadian JD or MD could not. For instance, once you graduate with an MD, you are unlikely to be qualified for uch else than your specialization (if you have one)... plus, specialist positions in metropolitan areas for MDs are saturated, so most of the newly graduated MD's are either not finding placements or being positioned in rural areas. But despite the lack of mobility, MD market is far more stable than US JD market, from what I gather....

From a rough research I've done on legal market in the States seems like a bit of a disaster, and the only way to survive the storm is to graduate from a very prestigious law school. But even then, the employment prospect is not as glorious as before, and as an international student I imagine my loan repayment programs will be limited. The possibility of graduating with 200 000+ dollars in debt without a high paying job to balance it off within a few years really scare me, and it makes me question whether law school is in fact a good idea for me.

I had the hope of entering into policy or academia, but I realize both are extremely competitive fields that again, place high value on prestige of the school you graduate from.

Having said all this, I was hoping that someone can shed a (hopefully) unbiased view on whether shooting for the very top law schools is a good investment, as opposed to playing safe and trying out for Canadian MD where the job market security is intact.

Thanks in advance!



As someone who is now just totally in it for the prestige and money, I like the route that I'm taking.

Work for 3-5 years in business, and see if a respectable MBA program will take me, if not - see if a top 13 will take me. Preferably a T-6 + Northwestern and Cornell.

DoctorShawHi
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby DoctorShawHi » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:17 pm

uvabro wrote:I thought making $ was just about making other people like you (by learning their needs and satisfying them), offer them something of value and do it at a better cost <> quality than the competition? What else is there?


Well stepping on other people as you climb the ladder of success for one

esther0123
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby esther0123 » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:18 pm

AreJay711 wrote:If you are interested in policy or academia, law school probably isn't a good idea. It is really expensive and you can do something else -- either work directly for a policy organization and /or get a PhD -- to promote that career in a much more targeted and cost effective way. I'd also caution that law school isn't really that much like the humanities.

If you want to make the Benjamins find something you like doing and start your own business it it after you get a few years experience.


Hey, yeah, I was told that best route to academia or policy is generally a PhD in relevant field. But because of my undergraduate program, my options to even get admitted to a Master's program or get hired into a policy organization are very limited. I hope to get internships in local thinktanks -- and I will certainly give it a shot--, but all the positions prefer economics or political science majors and alike. So I figured the most feasible jump I can make from my BSc would be to a JD, and try to get my foot in the door that way... :S

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dingbat
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby dingbat » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:21 pm

JCFindley wrote:
dingbat wrote:
JCFindley wrote:Profitable return on your investment? HA! I would be better off playing blackjack in AC!

I am here because I really want to be a lawyer. As a return for an investment there are FAR better ways to do it.

Investing in death tends to do very well. Other than that, I know very few investments that are as good as a top law school


If by top LS you mean YHS, probably. Any other LS at sticker, may or may not be a good investment.

Speaking purely economically, our school is a good investment. There are schools lower down the food chain than ours that are an acceptable investment. Whether someone is comfortable with the risk profile is a different matter.

Think of it this way: Junk bonds can be a good investment. If you invest in a portfolio of junk bonds, you will do fine. If you invest in only one junk bond, there's a chance you make a good chunk, but there's also a large chance you lose your entire investment (or, as I'd tell people about investing in only one stock - congratulations, you just bought Enron)

The problem is, while the weighted average return investment in a law school might be good, a student isn't gonna get the average outcome. Maybe they'll outperform and be the one Cooley grad to score biglaw, or maybe they'll underperform and be the one Yale grad in the unemployment line.

DoctorShawHi
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby DoctorShawHi » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:23 pm

esther0123 wrote:Hey, yeah, I was told that best route to academia or policy is generally a PhD in relevant field. But because of my undergraduate program, my options to even get admitted to a Master's program or get hired into a policy organization are very limited. I hope to get internships in local thinktanks -- and I will certainly give it a shot--, but all the positions prefer economics or political science majors and alike. So I figured the most feasible jump I can make from my BSc would be to a JD, and try to get my foot in the door that way... :S


Probs not. Most likely best case scenario is that you get into a T6 and have a feasible chance of landing big law. Work for 3 years, and have enough money and network to transfer into a policy organization.

If you can land HYS doors open much wider everywhere though.

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dingbat
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby dingbat » Sat Nov 10, 2012 7:24 pm

uvabro wrote:I thought making $ was just about making other people like you (by learning their needs and satisfying them), offer them something of value and do it at a better cost <> quality than the competition? What else is there?

nothing - but that's easier said than done.

Also, there are plenty of ways to make money without doing any of those things (just watch wall street)

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twenty
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby twenty » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:46 pm

The problem that I see isn't the fact that you have a 50-50 chance of getting a biglaw job, it's the fact that you had to spend 150k plus COA and interest to do so. I feel like for those odds, law school just isn't worth it. On top of that, the market is changing too much to estimate this in actuality. Four years ago, going to Columbia meant you had an almost 100% chance of biglaw, now not so much.

That said, any T14 with an 100k+ scholarship is perfectly acceptable, minus GULC since you're not a US Citizen and will have a hard time getting a federal spot. It's really hard to go wrong if you're going to only end up with about 50k down no matter what. Personally, I think Cornell with an 100k scholarship is a better option than NYU at sticker.

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lisjjen
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby lisjjen » Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:51 pm

If I could go back and pick any brain I wanted, I would be designing robots. This is not a joke.

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Rahviveh
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby Rahviveh » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:35 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:The problem that I see isn't the fact that you have a 50-50 chance of getting a biglaw job, it's the fact that you had to spend 150k plus COA and interest to do so. I feel like for those odds, law school just isn't worth it. On top of that, the market is changing too much to estimate this in actuality. Four years ago, going to Columbia meant you had an almost 100% chance of biglaw, now not so much.

That said, any T14 with an 100k+ scholarship is perfectly acceptable, minus GULC since you're not a US Citizen and will have a hard time getting a federal spot. It's really hard to go wrong if you're going to only end up with about 50k down no matter what. Personally, I think Cornell with an 100k scholarship is a better option than NYU at sticker.


A 100+k scholarship still leaves you with around $150k of debt at most T14's, which you'll need biglaw to pay off.

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lisjjen
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby lisjjen » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:57 pm

ChampagnePapi wrote:
twentypercentmore wrote:The problem that I see isn't the fact that you have a 50-50 chance of getting a biglaw job, it's the fact that you had to spend 150k plus COA and interest to do so. I feel like for those odds, law school just isn't worth it. On top of that, the market is changing too much to estimate this in actuality. Four years ago, going to Columbia meant you had an almost 100% chance of biglaw, now not so much.

That said, any T14 with an 100k+ scholarship is perfectly acceptable, minus GULC since you're not a US Citizen and will have a hard time getting a federal spot. It's really hard to go wrong if you're going to only end up with about 50k down no matter what. Personally, I think Cornell with an 100k scholarship is a better option than NYU at sticker.


A 100+k scholarship still leaves you with around $150k of debt at most T14's, which you'll need biglaw to pay off.


And that is a horrible existence.

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twenty
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby twenty » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:00 pm

ChampagnePapi wrote:
twentypercentmore wrote:The problem that I see isn't the fact that you have a 50-50 chance of getting a biglaw job, it's the fact that you had to spend 150k plus COA and interest to do so. I feel like for those odds, law school just isn't worth it. On top of that, the market is changing too much to estimate this in actuality. Four years ago, going to Columbia meant you had an almost 100% chance of biglaw, now not so much.

That said, any T14 with an 100k+ scholarship is perfectly acceptable, minus GULC since you're not a US Citizen and will have a hard time getting a federal spot. It's really hard to go wrong if you're going to only end up with about 50k down no matter what. Personally, I think Cornell with an 100k scholarship is a better option than NYU at sticker.


A 100+k scholarship still leaves you with around $150k of debt at most T14's, which you'll need biglaw to pay off.


An 100k scholarship means you're paying about 18k in tuition a year max, plus room and board. If you work your summers, have a roommate, pull from savings, cash in on all those treasury bonds your aunt gave you for your first birthday, etc., I think it's totally reasonable to graduate with less than 40k of debt.

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IAFG
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby IAFG » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:16 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:
ChampagnePapi wrote:
twentypercentmore wrote:The problem that I see isn't the fact that you have a 50-50 chance of getting a biglaw job, it's the fact that you had to spend 150k plus COA and interest to do so. I feel like for those odds, law school just isn't worth it. On top of that, the market is changing too much to estimate this in actuality. Four years ago, going to Columbia meant you had an almost 100% chance of biglaw, now not so much.

That said, any T14 with an 100k+ scholarship is perfectly acceptable, minus GULC since you're not a US Citizen and will have a hard time getting a federal spot. It's really hard to go wrong if you're going to only end up with about 50k down no matter what. Personally, I think Cornell with an 100k scholarship is a better option than NYU at sticker.


A 100+k scholarship still leaves you with around $150k of debt at most T14's, which you'll need biglaw to pay off.


An 100k scholarship means you're paying about 18k in tuition a year max, plus room and board. If you work your summers, have a roommate, pull from savings, cash in on all those treasury bonds your aunt gave you for your first birthday, etc., I think it's totally reasonable to graduate with less than 40k of debt.

I love "don't any of you have any money?" responses. I can't imagine very many people have more than a few thousand in savings or t-bonds, good fucking luck finding paid employment your first summer, after living expenses, you'll only walk away with a few grand from 2L summer (oh, and again that assumes biglaw).

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dingbat
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby dingbat » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:19 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:An 100k scholarship means you're paying about 18k in tuition a year max, plus room and board. If you work your summers, have a roommate, pull from savings, cash in on all those treasury bonds your aunt gave you for your first birthday, etc., I think it's totally reasonable to graduate with less than 40k of debt.

so people can scrounge together 3 years living expenses plus 5k/yr?

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twenty
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby twenty » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:52 pm

I'm sorry, I'm not purposefully attempting to make anyone mad here. I personally don't see why "don't any of you have any money" isn't valid. I worked for a year after college in a fairly low-paying position and ended the year with about 17k. By no means great, but hey.

I get that a lot of graduates can't/won't find jobs, have UG debt, hate their parents, whatever. I just think not having any money going into LS could be the exception, not the norm.

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sinfiery
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby sinfiery » Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:53 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:I'm sorry, I'm not purposefully attempting to make anyone mad here. I personally don't see why "don't any of you have any money" isn't valid. I worked for a year after college in a fairly low-paying position and ended the year with about 17k. By no means great, but hey.

I get that a lot of graduates can't/won't find jobs, have UG debt, hate their parents, whatever. I just think not having any money going into LS could be the exception, not the norm.

Most presume their earning ability would increase by a rate greater than ~7% over the 3 years they spend in lawschool, so why bother?

At least, that's what I presume and why I don't find any financial incentive to save up money before LS.

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Lawquacious
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby Lawquacious » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:02 pm

twentypercentmore wrote: I worked for a year after college in a fairly low-paying position and ended the year with about 17k. .



Fairly low-paying position and you saved 17k? If by that you mean 50k/year and it was your first year out of a dorm then I can see that (or 30k/year and living at home with parents), but for most people ITE having ANY extra cash lying around is unusual, nevermind being able to put 17k under your mattress in a year.

You may be an exception, and it may be that the reason so many people struggle comes down to poor money management (and that you are very good at money management), but even many of those who are good with money have significant debt from undergrad, car payments, rental costs, insurance, health costs, and other debt that will absorb the type of savings ability you are suggesting.

It may also be that you are exceedingly frugal, but many would argue being too frugal can reduce quality of life in a way that isn't worth the savings at a certain point. Finally, if you have a trust fund or very wealthy parents to fall back on that could also explain why you seem so confident the debt will be very manageable to you.

All that said, the economy is crap for almost all areas, and I think law school can still be a good investment compared to other options--but it is risky, and at least for the average person is going to be a very costly proposition.

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twenty
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby twenty » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:17 pm

sinfiery wrote:Most presume their earning ability would increase by a rate greater than ~7% over the 3 years they spend in lawschool, so why bother?

At least, that's what I presume and why I don't find any financial incentive to save up money before LS.


This makes more sense than anything, and I definitely understand this reasoning. Frankly, I don't think I'd be super motivated to work before going to HYS, either. The unfortunate downside is, coming out of many T14 schools, biglaw is far from a sure thing. In the tragically-possible scenario I'd come out of T14 with no LRAP/biglaw/etc job, I'd much rather be 50-70k in the hole than 70k<

You may be an exception, and it may be that the reason so many people struggle comes down to poor money management (and that you are very good at money management), but even many of those who are good with money have significant debt from undergrad, car payments, rental costs, insurance, health costs, and other debt that will absorb the type of savings ability you are suggesting.


I'm a fairly normal guy in this sense. I worked part time during undergrad to avoid UG debt, bought a '95 Avalon with 100k miles on it for about 6k, moved back with my parents to save money for law school, and go to my community college for health-related stuff. I'm far from living large on a little less than 30k a year gross, but I'm cool with this, since future-me won't be paying more than 5k in student debt interest.

Finally, if you have a trust fund or very wealthy parents to fall back on that could also explain why you seem so confident the debt will be very manageable to you.


A company I started a year ago makes a boatload of money, but startup expenses are still destroying my net. That's about as close as I have to a fallback. :|

EDIT> None of this is so I can toot my own horn or anything -- I'm just saying it doesn't seem impossible to actually have money before law school.

riverofbbq
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby riverofbbq » Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:35 pm

Jimbo_Jones wrote:Engineers I know say "Don't go into engineering, your job will just get outsourced to India or China"
Doctors I know say "Don't go into medicine, it will be 10+ years before you start making good money and all your patients will try and sue you"
MBA's I know say "Don't go into business, you'll be a dime a dozen manager at a McDonald's and have your life sucked away"
Lawyers I know say "Don't go into law, there are no jobs and the hours will suck your life away"


I call b.s. on this one. I've never heard of/read about someone getting an MBA from a reputable school getting a job at McDonalds.

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IAFG
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby IAFG » Tue Nov 20, 2012 10:46 pm

riverofbbq wrote:
Jimbo_Jones wrote:Engineers I know say "Don't go into engineering, your job will just get outsourced to India or China"
Doctors I know say "Don't go into medicine, it will be 10+ years before you start making good money and all your patients will try and sue you"
MBA's I know say "Don't go into business, you'll be a dime a dozen manager at a McDonald's and have your life sucked away"
Lawyers I know say "Don't go into law, there are no jobs and the hours will suck your life away"


I call b.s. on this one. I've never heard of/read about someone getting an MBA from a reputable school getting a job at McDonalds.

Well now you have put the stipulation "reputable" on it.

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sinfiery
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Re: Is law school a profitable investment?

Postby sinfiery » Wed Nov 21, 2012 1:19 am

riverofbbq wrote:
Jimbo_Jones wrote:Engineers I know say "Don't go into engineering, your job will just get outsourced to India or China"
Doctors I know say "Don't go into medicine, it will be 10+ years before you start making good money and all your patients will try and sue you"
MBA's I know say "Don't go into business, you'll be a dime a dozen manager at a McDonald's and have your life sucked away"
Lawyers I know say "Don't go into law, there are no jobs and the hours will suck your life away"


I call b.s. on this one. I've never heard of/read about someone getting an MBA from a reputable school getting a job at McDonalds.

Yeah but most reputable MBA programs require you to have a job you are well embedded in before you can even be admitted.

MBA's don't really get you good job prospects, they make your good job prospects potentially great.




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