PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

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FinallyGoing

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PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by FinallyGoing » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:11 pm

Looking for your assistance with a hypothetical:

Option 1: PT Program @ University of Houston, likely decent scholarship, keep $175k+ job

Option 2: Full Time Program @ UT Austin, $75k debt, leave job.

Option 3: GULC Full Time, $200k debt, leave job.

Considerations:

Working in non legal field, don't care for it much, mid 30's, almost went to Law School twice before, but never enrolled--at the point where its now or never and am as certain as possible that I want to pursue. Uncertain as to exactly what I want to practice. Have significant professional accomplishments to date.

Help me out here--what else should I be thinking about? What are some thoughts? Super appreciate it. Thank you!

BrainsyK

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by BrainsyK » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:45 pm

You should tell people what your goals are to get more specific help. If your goal is biglaw, I just wouldn't go at all.

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Pneumonia

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by Pneumonia » Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:56 pm

Depends on your goals, but I think you can safely eliminate Option 3. I don't see GULC being worth 100k+ more than UT if, as it looks, you're interested in staying in Texas. What kind of law do you want to practice?

FinallyGoing

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by FinallyGoing » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:44 pm

BrainsyK wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:45 pm
You should tell people what your goals are to get more specific help. If your goal is biglaw, I just wouldn't go at all.
As previously stated, I frankly do not have certain, specific goals with respect to a potential legal career. While I understand that is not optimal, it is the input..which is one of the key reasons I am seeking out POVs from others.

FinallyGoing

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by FinallyGoing » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:49 pm

Pneumonia wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:56 pm
Depends on your goals, but I think you can safely eliminate Option 3. I don't see GULC being worth 100k+ more than UT if, as it looks, you're interested in staying in Texas. What kind of law do you want to practice?
Gotcha. I am partial to staying in Texas yes, but not a deal breaker. Born in SoCal (roots there), college @ H/Y/P...so some slight Northeast connections. I don't know what law I want to practice, and while that may seem silly, it's the genuine answer. I don't harbor strong feelings one way or another but one area I mighthave a leg up in is technology; i.e., data, privacy etc..as I have a well accomplished career in that space already.

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The Lsat Airbender

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:51 pm

FinallyGoing wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:44 pm
BrainsyK wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:45 pm
You should tell people what your goals are to get more specific help. If your goal is biglaw, I just wouldn't go at all.
As previously stated, I frankly do not have certain, specific goals with respect to a potential legal career. While I understand that is not optimal, it is the input..which is one of the key reasons I am seeking out POVs from others.
In that case I would hedge financially and go with Houston here. UT and especially GULC are too expensive to just wander into in this economy. $175k/year is one of the biggest price gaps we ever see around here.

FinallyGoing

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by FinallyGoing » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:27 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:51 pm
FinallyGoing wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:44 pm
BrainsyK wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:45 pm
You should tell people what your goals are to get more specific help. If your goal is biglaw, I just wouldn't go at all.
As previously stated, I frankly do not have certain, specific goals with respect to a potential legal career. While I understand that is not optimal, it is the input..which is one of the key reasons I am seeking out POVs from others.
In that case I would hedge financially and go with Houston here. UT and especially GULC are too expensive to just wander into in this economy. $175k/year is one of the biggest price gaps we ever see around here.
Any compelling argument for NOT hedging, save for H/Y/S?

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:59 pm

FinallyGoing wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 8:27 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:51 pm
FinallyGoing wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:44 pm
BrainsyK wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:45 pm
You should tell people what your goals are to get more specific help. If your goal is biglaw, I just wouldn't go at all.
As previously stated, I frankly do not have certain, specific goals with respect to a potential legal career. While I understand that is not optimal, it is the input..which is one of the key reasons I am seeking out POVs from others.
In that case I would hedge financially and go with Houston here. UT and especially GULC are too expensive to just wander into in this economy. $175k/year is one of the biggest price gaps we ever see around here.
Any compelling argument for NOT hedging, save for H/Y/S?
HYS doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it. Situations where it makes sense to take on more debt for law schools involve some combination of these factors:

1) Concrete goals that necessitate higher-ranked (and therefore, generally, more-expensive) schools to achieve.
2) No path towards getting discounts at those schools (e.g., retaking the LSAT).
3) Realistic plan for repaying the debt (rich uncle, GI Bill, biglaw salary, LRAP, etc.).

Qtc

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by Qtc » Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:02 pm

I wouldn't leave your job. You are making a really nice chunk of change. Going part time will give you what you want (law degree) without forgoing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. seems like a no-brainer.

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nixy

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by nixy » Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:18 pm

I think UT for $75k is defensible, and the big advantage would be getting to do the traditional FT law school thing, and having the opportunity to do a bunch of different internships/jobs to figure out what you want to do in law.

But PT at Houston and keeping your job is awfully appealing, too. If you think there are ways you could use connections/experience from your current job to find a legal job, I would follow this route - it’s the safer route, in that if you end up hating law you can just keep doing what you’re doing now. I also think as a non-trad candidate you’ll be trading on your current experience/background in a way that K-JDs don’t, and can maybe get away with following a slightly less conventional path than they need to.

GT isn’t worth the debt, I don’t think.

(I do think that whether you want to make a clean break and transform yourself, or whether you want to make a gradual pivot from what you’re doing now, can make a difference for your choices.)

LandCrabLaw

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by LandCrabLaw » Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:20 pm

Qtc wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 3:02 pm
I wouldn't leave your job. You are making a really nice chunk of change. Going part time will give you what you want (law degree) without forgoing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. seems like a no-brainer.
I don't think you can say working full time and doing law school part time is a "no-brainer" in any financial circumstance. It takes some long, hard considering to determine if that challenge is something someone is up to. Law school by itself is hard enough but a full time job on top of that seems miserable. While financial it makes sense, I know that I wouldn't have it in me if I were OP.

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trmckenz

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by trmckenz » Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:21 pm

I agree that Georgetown should be off the table here.

Between UT and UH, I think it really comes down to how you envision the next chapter of your life. UT is the better school and will open up the most doors for you. It really is top dog in the state, plus its reach is not confined to Texas. From UT, you can absolutely go work for the most prestigious law firms in NY or CA (or anywhere else). If you are unsure of which area of law you like best, you may enjoy drumming up lots of options, and then finding the best fit as you interview. Austin is also a great place to live and go to law school.

On the other hand, UH obviously makes the most financial sense. The opportunity cost of quitting your job to go to law school full time is pretty massive. Just don't expect epic outcomes from UH. While UH grads break into the top Houston firms (and some in Dallas), there is a pretty big difference between UT and UH in terms of where graduates end up. It becomes even more apparent as you look outside of Houston and Texas more generally. I see the UH option as a path to obtaining a law degree to supplement your current work experience, and less as an opportunity to "rebrand" and splash into the law.

FWIW, my decision was different than yours, but I also left a solid job to go to law school. I am so happy that I went full time instead of slogging through a part-time program. Yes, I've "lost out" on hundreds of thousands of dollars that I would have made had I continued to work, but I've also placed myself on a new trajectory that is more aligned with my goals. And through the traditional law school experience, I've gained access to people and options in ways that, frankly, would not have been possible had I gone part time. Knowing what I know now, I'd only go part time if my employer was paying for me to go and I was absolutely sure about practicing in that area of law.

Ultimately I think you need to decide if going to law school is what you really want to do. If you just need a law degree to become a licensed attorney in Houston, and can rely heavily on your work experience to get a great job, then go to UH and save your money. But if you want to reset, and max out your options in the law, then go to UT.

To close, I must echo Ron Swanson: "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing." Best of luck!

FinallyGoing

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by FinallyGoing » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:41 pm

nixy wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:18 pm
I think UT for $75k is defensible, and the big advantage would be getting to do the traditional FT law school thing, and having the opportunity to do a bunch of different internships/jobs to figure out what you want to do in law.

But PT at Houston and keeping your job is awfully appealing, too. If you think there are ways you could use connections/experience from your current job to find a legal job, I would follow this route - it’s the safer route, in that if you end up hating law you can just keep doing what you’re doing now. I also think as a non-trad candidate you’ll be trading on your current experience/background in a way that K-JDs don’t, and can maybe get away with following a slightly less conventional path than they need to.

GT isn’t worth the debt, I don’t think.

(I do think that whether you want to make a clean break and transform yourself, or whether you want to make a gradual pivot from what you’re doing now, can make a difference for your choices.)
Greatly appreciate the perspective, as I think you're certainly helping me narrow down the true question(s) at hand here.

FinallyGoing

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Re: PT Program (Lower Ranked) keep job or FT (Higher Ranked) Leave Job?

Post by FinallyGoing » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:42 pm

trmckenz wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:21 pm
I agree that Georgetown should be off the table here.

Between UT and UH, I think it really comes down to how you envision the next chapter of your life. UT is the better school and will open up the most doors for you. It really is top dog in the state, plus its reach is not confined to Texas. From UT, you can absolutely go work for the most prestigious law firms in NY or CA (or anywhere else). If you are unsure of which area of law you like best, you may enjoy drumming up lots of options, and then finding the best fit as you interview. Austin is also a great place to live and go to law school.

On the other hand, UH obviously makes the most financial sense. The opportunity cost of quitting your job to go to law school full time is pretty massive. Just don't expect epic outcomes from UH. While UH grads break into the top Houston firms (and some in Dallas), there is a pretty big difference between UT and UH in terms of where graduates end up. It becomes even more apparent as you look outside of Houston and Texas more generally. I see the UH option as a path to obtaining a law degree to supplement your current work experience, and less as an opportunity to "rebrand" and splash into the law.

FWIW, my decision was different than yours, but I also left a solid job to go to law school. I am so happy that I went full time instead of slogging through a part-time program. Yes, I've "lost out" on hundreds of thousands of dollars that I would have made had I continued to work, but I've also placed myself on a new trajectory that is more aligned with my goals. And through the traditional law school experience, I've gained access to people and options in ways that, frankly, would not have been possible had I gone part time. Knowing what I know now, I'd only go part time if my employer was paying for me to go and I was absolutely sure about practicing in that area of law.

Ultimately I think you need to decide if going to law school is what you really want to do. If you just need a law degree to become a licensed attorney in Houston, and can rely heavily on your work experience to get a great job, then go to UH and save your money. But if you want to reset, and max out your options in the law, then go to UT.

To close, I must echo Ron Swanson: "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing." Best of luck!

Mind-reader! As I think trmckenz did as well, you are helping me key in on what the real questions at hand here are. I appreciate the food for thought and well wishes. Thank you.

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