sangr wrote:for those who dont make big law or who may not want big law
what is there? is it that there are no alternatives or is it that the alternatives are real shitty?
DISCLAIMER: OL here.
(But one that has spent the last 3-4 months aggressively researching law school...
...if that lends any credence to my response.)
The main issue with working outside of big law as someone mentioned earlier (I believe) is that you may struggle with paying back your school loans and any other debt you've accumulated. That to me seems one of the "Top 3" concerns (for me, at least) in deciding whether to attend law school or not.
Theoretically, I wouldn't mind working outside of biglaw doing any number of legal tasks in:
a.) a small private firm
b.) a legal aid/public interest firm
c.) doing government law (state/local & federal)
d.) working in "mid-law"
a.) thru c.) are open to new JD grads, but usually offer low starting salaries ($40-45K-ish) with some exceptions here and there.
NOTE: I'm not commenting on how difficult/easy it may be to obtain a.) thru c.), but just saying that they are open to new JD grads. viewtopic.php?f=4&t=183482"Big Law vs. ..."viewtopic.php?f=5&t=193923"Missing Big Law = Poverty?"
(has a good link to a chart showing the bi-modal starting salaries of law school grads)
[Also, I found the two threads above helpful in elaborating on what work options exist and what they are like outside of biglaw. You may want to check them out. The first thread is quite long, but gets better throughout from what I remember. I found some useful tips and perspective in it for possibly working in small law].
d.) usually requires previous experience working in biglaw for several years, but offers substantially better salaries than a.) - c.) on average ($80-120K-ish).
So, for all intents and purposes, d.) is not an option if you don't get into or want biglaw. So, you're mainly looking at a.) - c.) if you still desire to work in law after law school.
The problem with a.) thru c.) is that the starting
salaries can be quite low in relation to the typical law school grad's debt load after graduation. I believe median debt (all debt for that student) for law grads is somewhere close to $150K (you may want to double-check).
This seems to be the big risk with attending law school. If you have a $45K salary after graduation, it may be difficult to pay back your school loans while maintaining a desirable quality of life.
After taxes, you'd have $34K.
On a $150K outstanding loan balance, the annual interest alone (not including principal) at the going rate of 6.9 to 7.9 percent is about $11K. When you factor in principal loan payments, living expenses (rent, food, clothing, household supplies, utility bills, car bills, gas, insurance, entertainment, emergency funds, etc.) and savings, then that $45K/year job (with $150K student loan debt) may not go very far and may lead to poverty.