Student Loans - Worth it?

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wayhome
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Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby wayhome » Wed Jun 03, 2015 4:48 pm

I am a dual Canadian/US citizen, and will be graduating this year from McGill. I have the LSAT score and the grades to be competitive at Ivy League universities, and I'm wondering: is the legal debt worth it? Ultimately, I want to work in US biglaw. If I go to a Canadian school, like McGill or U of T, I can graduate debt-free, but I don't think I'll have a huge chance of making it to biglaw in the States.
Alternatively, with schools like Columbia, NYU, Harvard, etc., I know it's much easier (well, relatively speaking). Is the 250k in debt worth it, or should I stick with the Canadian schools and try to figure out how to get over to the US further down the road?

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fishbulb
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Re: Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby fishbulb » Wed Jun 03, 2015 5:16 pm

wayhome wrote:I am a dual Canadian/US citizen, and will be graduating this year from McGill. I have the LSAT score and the grades to be competitive at Ivy League universities, and I'm wondering: is the legal debt worth it? Ultimately, I want to work in US biglaw. If I go to a Canadian school, like McGill or U of T, I can graduate debt-free, but I don't think I'll have a huge chance of making it to biglaw in the States.
Alternatively, with schools like Columbia, NYU, Harvard, etc., I know it's much easier (well, relatively speaking). Is the 250k in debt worth it, or should I stick with the Canadian schools and try to figure out how to get over to the US further down the road?


(Disclaimer: 0L here with no background in making the move to practice in the US)

Seems to me that if you want to practice law in the US, you should probably target US law schools.

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TasmanianToucan
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Re: Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby TasmanianToucan » Wed Jun 03, 2015 5:21 pm

You will have a hard time finding anyone around here who will tell you that it is worth taking on that much debt to go to law school, except for the occasional HYS apologist who would shoot their own mother to go to one of those schools.

Reasonable minds can and do disagree about how much debt is appropriate for which schools, but there is general consensus that it is not worth going to any school other than a T-14 or strong regional, and that the price tag should be proportionate to your chances of getting a biglaw/fedclerk position. The specifics are up for debate.

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Fred_McGriff
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Re: Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby Fred_McGriff » Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:22 pm

$250k is an enormous sum of money, especially for something that comes with no guarantees or refunds, limits a lot of your other options, etc.

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esq
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Re: Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby esq » Wed Jun 03, 2015 7:54 pm

It's all funny money that nobody outside of Big Law expects to repay anyway (IBR and 10-20 forgiveness, depending on whether you're a public interest or private attorney, takes care of that issue). That said, 250k in debt or 100k in debt, doesn't matter. You'll never repay those loans unless you get Big Law.

The schools you are talking about give you a fantastic shot at Big Law, and I personally know many people from my school who are very happy with their decision to take on debt and who are now in Big Law firms. If you know that you want Big Law and understand what that means, I say take the shot. Going to any one of the schools you mentioned virtually guarantees decent employment even if you happen to miss the Big Law opportunity (unlikely if you end up at Harvard, just a little more likely at Columbia and NYU caliber schools).

Edit: If all else fails and you go entirely belly-up, you're Canadian...go back to Canada and forget that Uncle Sam ever loaned you the funny money.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 04, 2015 12:50 pm

No, it is not worth taking out $250,000 worth of loans. This is especially true if you can attend the University of Toronto & graduate debt free.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jun 04, 2015 12:58 pm

Harvard offers need based financial aid & Columbia offers scholarships. Among the top 14 US law schools, Harvard, Yale & Stanford & Georgetown offer need based financial aid. The others, along with Georgetown, offer scholarships to many students.
It would be helpful if you shared your LSAT score & your undergraduate GPA. The reason is that many posters can advise you on how much scholarship money might be offered by T-14 (exclusive of Harvard, Yale & Stanford) law schools. In short, if you have an LSAT score of 170 or higher & a GPA of 3.6 or higher, you should receive some substantial scholarship offers.

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Clemenceau
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Re: Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby Clemenceau » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:01 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:No, it is not worth taking out $250,000 worth of loans. This is especially true if you can attend the University of Toronto & graduate debt free.


Yeah I agree with this. I dont know a ton about the placement power of canadian law schools, but I know utoronto law has a good rep and us biglaw certainly recruits there (not sure of the extent tho). Graduating from there with zero debt seems like a pretty damn good outcome.

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Gray
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Re: Student Loans - Worth it?

Postby Gray » Thu Jun 04, 2015 1:04 pm

wayhome wrote:I am a dual Canadian/US citizen, and will be graduating this year from McGill. I have the LSAT score and the grades to be competitive at Ivy League universities, and I'm wondering: is the legal debt worth it? Ultimately, I want to work in US biglaw. If I go to a Canadian school, like McGill or U of T, I can graduate debt-free, but I don't think I'll have a huge chance of making it to biglaw in the States.
Alternatively, with schools like Columbia, NYU, Harvard, etc., I know it's much easier (well, relatively speaking). Is the 250k in debt worth it, or should I stick with the Canadian schools and try to figure out how to get over to the US further down the road?

I'm also US/Canadian Dual Citizen, and also a McGill Grad. If US biglaw is the goal, you should apply broadly, including U of T, Osgoode and McGill + T14 schools. If you have a strong enough GPA/LSAT score, you might find yourself with a full ride at a lower T14, which would actually mean much less debt than a U of T degree, for example. McGill Law is stupid hard to get into because they have a median GPA of 4.0 (last I checked), but their tuition is like $4,000 a year or something, so keep that option on the table.

As a US citizen you'll also be able to take out FAFSA loans, which is much better than the private bank loans that many Canadians end up using to attend US Schools.

At the end of the day, getting US Biglaw from top Canadian schools is doable, but not easy. I have a friend at Paul Weiss who just graduated from UofT, but he was one of only a handful in his class with SAs in the states and apparently a few got no-offered. So it's more of a crapshoot than a school like Cornell, for example, where you might get $$$$ in schollies and have a great shot at NYC biglaw.

I was in a similar situation (except a shitty GPA + 3 years out of school) and I only applied to US schools because I have no interest in working in Toronto or Ottawa. PM me if you want.




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