South Florida legal market and schools?

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jorgeapaez

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South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by jorgeapaez » Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:15 pm

Hello everyone.
OK so to make this story simple, I grew up in NYC, but currently live in Fort Lauderdale, and like it down here a lot--and honestly would prefer to stay down here.
I'm currently finishing my AA and have no student debt as I'm able to pay for it on my own at my local community college.
I will need loans for the last 2 years since I'll be doing that at FIU, and I messed up my FASFA early on when I was studying by failing too many classes.
My problem is I don't know if there is much of a legal market down here outside the criminal defense, personal injury, estate and first property practices, none of which interest me.
Any Miami attorneys or law students that can jump in and tell me otherwise?
My family keeps insisting that they are sure there are all kinds of opportunities down here since Miami is a big city, however I can't seem to find any data on that.
Also, the 2 law schools down here that seem to be any good at all are FIU (91 in the New US News ranking) and Miami (67 inn US News).
I know neither of them are T14, but they both seem to be regional powerhouses, specially Miami, and way better options than Nova Southeastern, which in my interactions with them did nothing but lie to me, on top of having a bad ranking and bad reputation in general, and St. Thomas University which seems to have an even worse one.
So my question is, is there enough of a legal market down here for private practice?
I really really considered public interest law, but they just introduced a bill to start off their new attorneys at 50k a year, and although I'm aware doing good would come with it's trade offs, should I choose that route, it's kind of hard to live in Miami with that kind of money, and even more when you have a family, which although not an immediate concern is something I'm planning for as well.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

decimalsanddollars

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:35 am

jorgeapaez wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:15 pm
I messed up my FASFA early on when I was studying by failing too many classes.
This is a huge red flag. Are you failing community college classes? It will be extremely hard to get into law school without good (if not great) grades, and if you have a record of failing multiple classes early on, the best law schools may be entirely out of reach regardless of how well you do later in undergrad.

Note that LSAC counts every credit earned (or attempted and failed) before graduation toward your LSAC GPA. I highly recommend focusing on your LSAC GPA, getting as many As as possible, and not worrying about the minutiae of law school applications until you're closer to the time to apply. If you're doing poorly at community college, you're likely to have an extremely difficult time forging a path to law school and to practice.

Assuming you can go to law school and get licensed, the South Florida legal market is pretty strong. Dozens of large firms have offices there, including several that pay NYC market rate for associates. The USAO there is quite competitive and draws candidates from all over the country. It is an insular enough market that it really helps to have ties to the market, which it sounds like you do. Miami and FIU place a handful of students in biglaw and clerkships, but most hiring for those jobs is from T14 schools, followed by nearby regional schools like Emory and Vanderbilt, and to a lesser extent UF and FSU.

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cavalier1138

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by cavalier1138 » Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:20 pm

decimalsanddollars wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:35 am
jorgeapaez wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:15 pm
I messed up my FASFA early on when I was studying by failing too many classes.
This is a huge red flag. Are you failing community college classes? It will be extremely hard to get into law school without good (if not great) grades, and if you have a record of failing multiple classes early on, the best law schools may be entirely out of reach regardless of how well you do later in undergrad.
Agreed.

In addition to that, you posted less than a week ago about NYC biglaw ambitions and which T13 schools gave the best opportunities. It sounds like you need to slow down, focus on your undergraduate studies, and start worrying about the LSAT/admissions generally once you're closer to actually graduating.

okhotnik23

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by okhotnik23 » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:38 pm

decimalsanddollars wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 10:35 am
jorgeapaez wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:15 pm
I messed up my FASFA early on when I was studying by failing too many classes.
This is a huge red flag. Are you failing community college classes? It will be extremely hard to get into law school without good (if not great) grades, and if you have a record of failing multiple classes early on, the best law schools may be entirely out of reach regardless of how well you do later in undergrad.

Note that LSAC counts every credit earned (or attempted and failed) before graduation toward your LSAC GPA. I highly recommend focusing on your LSAC GPA, getting as many As as possible, and not worrying about the minutiae of law school applications until you're closer to the time to apply. If you're doing poorly at community college, you're likely to have an extremely difficult time forging a path to law school and to practice.

Assuming you can go to law school and get licensed, the South Florida legal market is pretty strong. Dozens of large firms have offices there, including several that pay NYC market rate for associates. The USAO there is quite competitive and draws candidates from all over the country. It is an insular enough market that it really helps to have ties to the market, which it sounds like you do. Miami and FIU place a handful of students in biglaw and clerkships, but most hiring for those jobs is from T14 schools, followed by nearby regional schools like Emory and Vanderbilt, and to a lesser extent UF and FSU.
As someone in Central Florida who really isn't attracted to staying in the market for law school and beyond, I've never really understood where the Miami firms hire from. I've done my homework on UofMiami and have seen their abysmal debt stats and outcomes. I also know that UF is by-and-far the best in-state school with a great alumni network, but I would assume going to those regional schools or T14 would give you a much stronger chance/shot at Miami big law.

A better question would probably be, how much does having ties to a particular area/region impact you in the hiring process?

decimalsanddollars

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:31 am

okhotnik23 wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:38 pm
A better question would probably be, how much does having ties to a particular area/region impact you in the hiring process?
As you'll see in many posts on this forum, where you go to law school matters a great deal for geographic placement in any market because most schools outside of the top 15-20 place primarily/exclusively in their immediate region, even with great grades. I assume you know that and that you're asking about the importance of ties to a market *given that* you are at a school that can place in that market.

South Florida isn't my area, but it really depends on the market. Certain markets like Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, South Carolina, etc. are very hard to get into without ties or, at the very least, a good and well-articulated reason for why you want to practice there for a long time. From what I've seen, Florida is less ties-focused than that, but ties still make a difference (this is also true for most large-ish markets in the Southeast like Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, etc. and the big cities in Texas). NYC doesn't really care at all, and markets like LA, DC, and Chicago hire mostly independently of ties (except that employers in each market will usually only dip below the t14 for schools in their immediate region).

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okhotnik23

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by okhotnik23 » Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:54 pm

decimalsanddollars wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:31 am
okhotnik23 wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:38 pm
A better question would probably be, how much does having ties to a particular area/region impact you in the hiring process?
As you'll see in many posts on this forum, where you go to law school matters a great deal for geographic placement in any market because most schools outside of the top 15-20 place primarily/exclusively in their immediate region, even with great grades. I assume you know that and that you're asking about the importance of ties to a market *given that* you are at a school that can place in that market.

South Florida isn't my area, but it really depends on the market. Certain markets like Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, South Carolina, etc. are very hard to get into without ties or, at the very least, a good and well-articulated reason for why you want to practice there for a long time. From what I've seen, Florida is less ties-focused than that, but ties still make a difference (this is also true for most large-ish markets in the Southeast like Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, etc. and the big cities in Texas). NYC doesn't really care at all, and markets like LA, DC, and Chicago hire mostly independently of ties (except that employers in each market will usually only dip below the t14 for schools in their immediate region).
Yea I should have clarified that I meant attending a regional school and searching for employment in that region. So as a hypothetical, say I go to UofMiami and I'm applying either for some summer internship or a job right before and after graduation, would ties really have importance if I've already attended a school in that area for 3 years? Since the school doesn't nationally place and primarily sticks to the Florida market, my assumption was that employers woudn't really question why you want to practice in said market.

Not really sure if you can answer that, but that's the question I have.

decimalsanddollars

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by decimalsanddollars » Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:48 pm

okhotnik23 wrote:
Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:54 pm
Yea I should have clarified that I meant attending a regional school and searching for employment in that region. So as a hypothetical, say I go to UofMiami and I'm applying either for some summer internship or a job right before and after graduation, would ties really have importance if I've already attended a school in that area for 3 years? Since the school doesn't nationally place and primarily sticks to the Florida market, my assumption was that employers woudn't really question why you want to practice in said market.

Not really sure if you can answer that, but that's the question I have.
I think it's less important under those circumstances, but having seen a few recruitment cycles at good regional schools in the south, having ties helps with OCI but isn't make or break. Beyond OCI, ties help mostly with networking, and you can begin to establish deeper ties while at that school. Choosing the right law school in the city/region is the best way to signal that you want to be there, so ties developed before or after you start would add to that.

wolfintally

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by wolfintally » Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:13 pm

Florida is the land of opportunity (or at least it was until Covid who knows now). Anyways you don’t need big law in Florida do Billboard ad plaintiffs law!!! I am five years out of TTT and make well over the current big law associate salary. That said I hustle but I don’t work weekends often and when I do it’s for like trial prep etc. (so rare) and close my laptop at 6:30 on weekdays. I also have friends who do insurance, family law, wills trust, and criminal defense and do ok. But unless you go out on your own in those areas you will never really make big money. In terms of Florida “shit law” I would say starting out family law/probate < criminal < insurance defense < tax(don’t know if this is shit but lotsa TTT peps < plaintiff. But it is hard to get in plaintiff without doing defense first so you gotta keep that in mind. In Florida bread and butter ID firms (bill mills) will pay starting associates 65-95 depending on the firm but you are billing in the coal mines.... if you can figure that reference out you might know where I used to work. Bill mill insurance defense is soul crushing but do it for 2-4 years and go plaintiff. You may have to start at a shit plaintiff firm but that will get you set up for the “big plaintiff firms” these are the high volume shops that you hear on the radio on every billboard and every commercial. These are where you want to work (unless you want to do it on your own). But honestly if you can get a slot at one of the big ones you are pretty damn set so I really have no plans to go on my own.
Now you can make a bunch of money on the plaintiffs side but it also depends on what you practice. Settling out pip is shit... first party I have heard can be pretty good. Bread and butter bi and um you can do really well. Employment/WC/SSDI/VA depends on which firm you are with. Anyways, in the area I practice our line attorneys make anywhere from 150-300. But like “big lit” Plaintiff attorneys at my firm can make 500-700 and beyond. These are bad faith wrongful death etc. In most firms one way or another you are getting a fee split with the firm so you can hustle and make good money or you can tread water. If you only tread water at most of the big plaintiff firms you will be out within a year so you do need to hustle...
Anyways, just thought I would circle back to this o so dreary site and report all us TTT Florida grads are not baristas. Most are attorneys in the areas I mentioned or in gov Or lobbyists or in political office or in-house counsel or in finance, or went into medicine. None I know work at Starbucks.. or Costco. Most if not all of us did not get a law job until after bar passage..

Libya

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by Libya » Fri Jul 31, 2020 8:02 pm

wolfintally wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 7:13 pm
Florida is the land of opportunity (or at least it was until Covid who knows now). Anyways you don’t need big law in Florida do Billboard ad plaintiffs law!!! I am five years out of TTT and make well over the current big law associate salary. That said I hustle but I don’t work weekends often and when I do it’s for like trial prep etc. (so rare) and close my laptop at 6:30 on weekdays. I also have friends who do insurance, family law, wills trust, and criminal defense and do ok. But unless you go out on your own in those areas you will never really make big money. In terms of Florida “shit law” I would say starting out family law/probate < criminal < insurance defense < tax(don’t know if this is shit but lotsa TTT peps < plaintiff. But it is hard to get in plaintiff without doing defense first so you gotta keep that in mind. In Florida bread and butter ID firms (bill mills) will pay starting associates 65-95 depending on the firm but you are billing in the coal mines.... if you can figure that reference out you might know where I used to work. Bill mill insurance defense is soul crushing but do it for 2-4 years and go plaintiff. You may have to start at a shit plaintiff firm but that will get you set up for the “big plaintiff firms” these are the high volume shops that you hear on the radio on every billboard and every commercial. These are where you want to work (unless you want to do it on your own). But honestly if you can get a slot at one of the big ones you are pretty damn set so I really have no plans to go on my own.
Now you can make a bunch of money on the plaintiffs side but it also depends on what you practice. Settling out pip is shit... first party I have heard can be pretty good. Bread and butter bi and um you can do really well. Employment/WC/SSDI/VA depends on which firm you are with. Anyways, in the area I practice our line attorneys make anywhere from 150-300. But like “big lit” Plaintiff attorneys at my firm can make 500-700 and beyond. These are bad faith wrongful death etc. In most firms one way or another you are getting a fee split with the firm so you can hustle and make good money or you can tread water. If you only tread water at most of the big plaintiff firms you will be out within a year so you do need to hustle...
Anyways, just thought I would circle back to this o so dreary site and report all us TTT Florida grads are not baristas. Most are attorneys in the areas I mentioned or in gov Or lobbyists or in political office or in-house counsel or in finance, or went into medicine. None I know work at Starbucks.. or Costco. Most if not all of us did not get a law job until after bar passage..
It's good to have perspectives like these on here. That being said, I think the problem is people go into the profession without a realistic perspective, thinking they'll have a real shot at a top firm from from a local school when in reality it's most likely not happening. Alot don't want to grind it out working as hard as the biglaw lawyers for 1/3 to 1/4 of the pay (I for one would not).


Plus, this doesn't get at the FL folks who go to the local schools thinking they will be corporate/transactional attorneys where you can't really strike it out on your own.

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wolfintally

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by wolfintally » Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:15 pm

Libya wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 8:02 pm

It's good to have perspectives like these on here. That being said, I think the problem is people go into the profession without a realistic perspective, thinking they'll have a real shot at a top firm from from a local school when in reality it's most likely not happening. Alot don't want to grind it out working as hard as the biglaw lawyers for 1/3 to 1/4 of the pay (I for one would not).


Plus, this doesn't get at the FL folks who go to the local schools thinking they will be corporate/transactional attorneys where you can't really strike it out on your own.

Yeah it is a grind those first few years... Especially It was for me in insurance defense in Florida... most firms really want 180-200 hours a month. They will give you some bs 155 or 160 but you will never make non-equity with those numbers or make bonuses. Anyways for me I wanted out of insurance defense and went into plaintiff and it worked out really well but I have a bunch of friends who are now non-equity or senior associates still at defense firms trying to figure out how they are going to build a book with no prospects. There are exceptions to this like a 3rd year associate I knew who through connections was able to take one of the largest national retailers to rep all gl lines in the state. He is equity in that firm now and made non-equity that year. But that is not the norm. I will say you can make really good money as well as an equity and ok money as a non equity at a defense firm but most very by the size of the book. We had rainmakers who really didn’t practice law and just flew around the country getting insurance execs let’s say to party a lot. The rainmakers can make millions and millions but in a form of let’s say 100 there are probably 3-4. Then you have the run of the mill equity partner who maybe has 3-4 carriers etc. for that offices territory who can come out really well in the long run if that is what you want to make your carrier.

I have also heard family law at least from the attorneys I know pays like real real bad first couple years like 45-65.... but if you convince the small family firm to make you partner later on or go out on your own you can make really really good money. Almost dishonest money for what you are really doing for the client but that is something else. But all of that take a whole lot of work and little bit of creating your own luck.

Tax by far seems like it can pay off (out of the areas I interact attorneys with). I know tons of even TTTT grads that actually moved over into boutique international firms in So Fla that do really really well.

Probate/Wills/Trust I thought sucked (I like the facts I’m a facts guy). But a bunch of people from law school seem to like it.

I have only heard bad things out of foreclosure mills and mass bankruptcy firms.... most people don’t stay long in that area it seems. but there are some local pretty good small law chapter 11 focused shops in central and south Florida.

You also have like in the smaller towns think lakeland or Gainesville or pensacola they have old timey firms that really do everything. I never worked at one of these but from what I understand if you stick around it can be a good career but for me the idea of changing from defending a dui to working on business transactions or a divorce in the same day freaks me out... but it works for some people especially it seems for people who are from the small towns in Florida.

Libya

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Re: South Florida legal market and schools?

Post by Libya » Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:24 pm

wolfintally wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:15 pm
Libya wrote:
Fri Jul 31, 2020 8:02 pm

It's good to have perspectives like these on here. That being said, I think the problem is people go into the profession without a realistic perspective, thinking they'll have a real shot at a top firm from from a local school when in reality it's most likely not happening. Alot don't want to grind it out working as hard as the biglaw lawyers for 1/3 to 1/4 of the pay (I for one would not).


Plus, this doesn't get at the FL folks who go to the local schools thinking they will be corporate/transactional attorneys where you can't really strike it out on your own.

Yeah it is a grind those first few years... Especially It was for me in insurance defense in Florida... most firms really want 180-200 hours a month. They will give you some bs 155 or 160 but you will never make non-equity with those numbers or make bonuses. Anyways for me I wanted out of insurance defense and went into plaintiff and it worked out really well but I have a bunch of friends who are now non-equity or senior associates still at defense firms trying to figure out how they are going to build a book with no prospects. There are exceptions to this like a 3rd year associate I knew who through connections was able to take one of the largest national retailers to rep all gl lines in the state. He is equity in that firm now and made non-equity that year. But that is not the norm. I will say you can make really good money as well as an equity and ok money as a non equity at a defense firm but most very by the size of the book. We had rainmakers who really didn’t practice law and just flew around the country getting insurance execs let’s say to party a lot. The rainmakers can make millions and millions but in a form of let’s say 100 there are probably 3-4. Then you have the run of the mill equity partner who maybe has 3-4 carriers etc. for that offices territory who can come out really well in the long run if that is what you want to make your carrier.

I have also heard family law at least from the attorneys I know pays like real real bad first couple years like 45-65.... but if you convince the small family firm to make you partner later on or go out on your own you can make really really good money. Almost dishonest money for what you are really doing for the client but that is something else. But all of that take a whole lot of work and little bit of creating your own luck.

Tax by far seems like it can pay off (out of the areas I interact attorneys with). I know tons of even TTTT grads that actually moved over into boutique international firms in So Fla that do really really well.

Probate/Wills/Trust I thought sucked (I like the facts I’m a facts guy). But a bunch of people from law school seem to like it.

I have only heard bad things out of foreclosure mills and mass bankruptcy firms.... most people don’t stay long in that area it seems. but there are some local pretty good small law chapter 11 focused shops in central and south Florida.

You also have like in the smaller towns think lakeland or Gainesville or pensacola they have old timey firms that really do everything. I never worked at one of these but from what I understand if you stick around it can be a good career but for me the idea of changing from defending a dui to working on business transactions or a divorce in the same day freaks me out... but it works for some people especially it seems for people who are from the small towns in Florida.
I have to say, something about hanging a shingle seems cool/attractive. I don't think I'm the especially entrepeneurial type though; perhaps it could happen if I can amass enough savings that law can be more of a hobby than a career, and I've made enough of a name for myself that I can get the high $$$ or interesting cases


Needless to say, I am always inspired by the people who grind and make something for themselves

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