Is it worth it?

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Nothing but the Funk
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Is it worth it?

Postby Nothing but the Funk » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:28 pm

So I have been hearing more and more about how bad the Legal economy is and how it might never get better. The stats out there are horrifying. I know a lot of this has to do with the numbers being pulled down by schools like cooley and Florida Coastal. The only way I would go is if I got into a t-14 school but I am having a hard time finding any info that speaks directly to t-14 employment statistics and how they might differ.

So any insight on this would be great. Is the fabled $160,000 starting salary still out there? How likely is it from t-14? and do you think the legal economy will recover when the rest of the economy does? Or is it a dying thing?

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Danger Zone
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Danger Zone » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:32 pm

Everything is fucked.

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Bikeflip
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Bikeflip » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:35 pm

Make your own conclusions: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/

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Nova
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Nova » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:36 pm


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Nothing but the Funk
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Nothing but the Funk » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:51 pm

Bikeflip wrote:Make your own conclusions: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/



awesome thanks for the link

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smaug_
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby smaug_ » Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:53 pm

The real question you should ask yourself is whether landing biglaw is really that desirable to begin with.

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Nothing but the Funk
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Nothing but the Funk » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:26 pm

hibiki wrote:The real question you should ask yourself is whether landing biglaw is really that desirable to begin with.


My plan is to do it for a couple years after graduation so I can have a shot at transferring to in-house work

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dowu
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby dowu » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:28 pm

If you decide to go to law school, retake your LSAT.

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Nothing but the Funk
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Nothing but the Funk » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:42 pm

dowu wrote:If you decide to go to law school, retake your LSAT.


I've got to take it the first time, before I think about that

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dowu
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby dowu » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:08 pm

Nothing but the Funk wrote:
dowu wrote:If you decide to go to law school, retake your LSAT.


I've got to take it the first time, before I think about that

Retake.

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WhiteyCakes
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby WhiteyCakes » Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:47 pm

dowu wrote:Retake.

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Nothing but the Funk
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Nothing but the Funk » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:15 am

So does anyone have any theories about whether or not the industry will recover and when?

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thesealocust
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby thesealocust » Thu Sep 12, 2013 9:23 am

Retake and EV to UVA.

Also, the legal economy isn't dying wholesale, it's bifurcating. The firms with the best work still have it and are ridiculously profitable and busy, but the overall size of the pie is shrinking for a number of reasons (outsourcing, cost conscious clients, etc.). But there's still a need for high-end corporate lawyers and those in that field are still highly compensated and tend to have relatively bright job prospects.

Even at its worst, the number of entry level biglaw jobs dropped from something north of 5,000 to somewhere closer to 3,000 to 4,000. It's always been hard to get out of law school (roughly 50,000 started law school every year last time I checked) but they didn't disappear overnight, and large swaths of the class at any given T14 will still get it.

If you take out full debt to go to law school but have a career in law and six figure salaries, your "return on investment" will be astronomically positive, and thus arguably very worth it. The problem is that if you come up short, your RoI will be debtor's prison and the joy of having squandered your time with the worst people on the planet: law students and lawyers.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby blsingindisguise » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:18 am

Nothing but the Funk wrote:So I have been hearing more and more about how bad the Legal economy is and how it might never get better. The stats out there are horrifying. I know a lot of this has to do with the numbers being pulled down by schools like cooley and Florida Coastal.


No, "a lot of it" does not have to do with schools like Cooley and Florida Coastal. A lot of it has to do with the numbers being pulled down by the majority of the class at nearly every school outside the T-14.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby blsingindisguise » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:30 am

thesealocust wrote:Retake and EV to UVA.

Also, the legal economy isn't dying wholesale, it's bifurcating. The firms with the best work still have it and are ridiculously profitable and busy, but the overall size of the pie is shrinking for a number of reasons (outsourcing, cost conscious clients, etc.). But there's still a need for high-end corporate lawyers and those in that field are still highly compensated and tend to have relatively bright job prospects.


Incorrect. It was always bifurcated, and now the upper segment is getting smaller as well.


If you take out full debt to go to law school but have a career in law and six figure salaries, your "return on investment" will be astronomically positive, and thus arguably very worth it. The problem is that if you come up short, your RoI will be debtor's prison and the joy of having squandered your time with the worst people on the planet: law students and lawyers.


Not sure what method of calculating "ROI" you're using here. Full debt nowadays is something like $250,000, plus the lost opportunity cost of working for three years, so lets say your "investment" is about $400-$450,000. You have the substantial risk of not getting biglaw at all and winding up with virtually unmanageable debt. And even if you get biglaw, your time in a large firm will most likely last 3-5 years, after which you will almost undoubtedly take a significant pay cut in your next job. So the question is really whether biglaw earnings minus what you would have otherwise made in those three to five years gives you a significant return on a $400-450,000 investment, risk adjusted. I'd say in a lot of cases the answer is no, although it depends on what your other options were.

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thesealocust
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby thesealocust » Thu Sep 12, 2013 11:58 am

blsingindisguise wrote:although it depends on what your other options were.


I mean... it all depends, right? I had an art degree and went to a state law school without paying sticker, which makes me laugh a hearty laugh at your ballpark "investment" of $400-450,000.

Preeeeety sure the lifetime RoI for my decision to attend law school and forsake a career in bigart is through the fucking roof, and there are plenty of others who could say the same.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby blsingindisguise » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:50 pm

thesealocust wrote:
blsingindisguise wrote:although it depends on what your other options were.


I mean... it all depends, right? I had an art degree and went to a state law school without paying sticker, which makes me laugh a hearty laugh at your ballpark "investment" of $400-450,000.

Preeeeety sure the lifetime RoI for my decision to attend law school and forsake a career in bigart is through the fucking roof, and there are plenty of others who could say the same.



Well you can laugh as heartily as you want, but the post I was responding to says law school at "full debt.," and the thrust of the thread was about T-14, which are mostly full-price schools. Even if your expected earnings would have been 20k/year, you're still talking about an "investment" of over $300,000 with significant risk. Obviously there are other possible scenarios (scholarship, state schools, etc.). But you still have to make a realistic cost/benefit analysis to the best of your ability. That state school (assuming it's not UVA or Michigan), might only give you a 5% chance at biglaw and a far more likely chance at jobs starting in the 40-60K range. This might be worth it if your total cost of attendance was, say, $80K, and your opportunity cost was only like $60K because you'd only have been earning a meager living otherwise.

BTW, my "ballpark investment" of $400-450K assumed a $250K COA plus opportunity cost based on a jobs paying in the 45-70K range -- this isn't really that unrealistic for a lot of the target audience of the T-14.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Tiago Splitter » Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:35 pm

blsingindisguise wrote:BTW, my "ballpark investment" of $400-450K assumed a $250K COA plus opportunity cost based on a jobs paying in the 45-70K range -- this isn't really that unrealistic for a lot of the target audience of the T-14.

If someone making 45-70K could put 100% of their pre-tax income in the bank then your estimate would be correct. In reality, you're double counting cost of living by assuming someone in law school will have to pay it but wouldn't if they skipped law school. And you're completely ignoring taxes.

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DrStudMuffin
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby DrStudMuffin » Thu Sep 12, 2013 2:49 pm

Tiago Splitter wrote:
blsingindisguise wrote:BTW, my "ballpark investment" of $400-450K assumed a $250K COA plus opportunity cost based on a jobs paying in the 45-70K range -- this isn't really that unrealistic for a lot of the target audience of the T-14.

If someone making 45-70K could put 100% of their pre-tax income in the bank then your estimate would be correct. In reality, you're double counting cost of living by assuming someone in law school will have to pay it but wouldn't if they skipped law school. And you're completely ignoring taxes.


This is such a common error.

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Otunga
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby Otunga » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:17 pm

On a related note...

Generally speaking, what do attorneys tend to do following their 3-5 years of biglaw? Obviously this depends in some part on preference and self-selection, but what are some common routes? What they do following biglaw, since it's such a relatively small amount of time to take advantage of that hefty salary to chip away at your law school debt, seems to be pivotal to how they'll ultimately handle their debt.

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thesealocust
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby thesealocust » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:42 pm

Otunga wrote:On a related note...

Generally speaking, what do attorneys tend to do following their 3-5 years of biglaw? Obviously this depends in some part on preference and self-selection, but what are some common routes? What they do following biglaw, since it's such a relatively small amount of time to take advantage of that hefty salary to chip away at your law school debt, seems to be pivotal to how they'll ultimately handle their debt.


A number leave one biglaw firm and wind up in another, for a host of reasons (changed geography, shifting practice area, didn't like fit at first term, partnership prospects, etc.).

Many move go inhouse at corporations, especially clients, and especially for transactional/corporate attorneys.

Some move to smaller law firms, especially from litigation (there are many fewer boutique/small/mid-market corporate law firms).

Many move to the government - AUSAs, DAs, regulatory agencies, legislative bodies, etc.

Public interest is fairly common - an awful lot of public interest and advocacy organizations are brimming with people that did a tour of duty in biglaw first.

And a few flame out, either because they flame out or have attractive alternatives (going into business, going into parenthood full time, moving to academia, etc.).

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby blsingindisguise » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:56 pm

DrStudMuffin wrote:
Tiago Splitter wrote:
blsingindisguise wrote:BTW, my "ballpark investment" of $400-450K assumed a $250K COA plus opportunity cost based on a jobs paying in the 45-70K range -- this isn't really that unrealistic for a lot of the target audience of the T-14.

If someone making 45-70K could put 100% of their pre-tax income in the bank then your estimate would be correct. In reality, you're double counting cost of living by assuming someone in law school will have to pay it but wouldn't if they skipped law school. And you're completely ignoring taxes.


This is such a common error.


Fair, my quick and dirty guess did ignore these points. I'm also ignoring interest on the debt though.

blsingindisguise
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby blsingindisguise » Thu Sep 12, 2013 6:53 pm

Or, in other words, lets say your debt service is $2500-3000 monthly -- is that worth it to you for a 30% shot at a 3-5 year career in biglaw followed by a lower-paying job? A 60% shot? I'm not saying the answer is no, I just think full-price t-14 law school is expensive enough now that it can no longer be said that the ROI is clearly so great.

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moonman157
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Re: Is it worth it?

Postby moonman157 » Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:21 pm

I think the big factor here is opportunity cost. The advice I would give to a humanities major from an unremarkable undergrad (like me) would be very different than to someone with a steady job/salary in terms of going to law school.




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