Is it ever okay to talk about making money? Forum

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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HoangVN

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Is it ever okay to talk about making money?

Post by HoangVN » Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:56 am

Hey guys,
I'm applying this fall and my personal statement is largely geared towards public interest, which I want to do eventually. However, I want to give back to my family for all they've done for me and so I want to take a biglaw job for a couple of years before trying for gov/public interest.

Here's my question - is it ever okay to say this in an application/essay/interview? I don't want to come off as disingenuous to the school when they ask me where I want to work after law school, because the answer is biglaw. Is it okay to write something to the effect of "I want to give back financially to my parents after all they have done for me, and x school can help me achieve that. I eventually want to go into public interest, and this is the reason I have highlighted x clinics, but in the short term I want to give my parents what they deserve." I would like to think honesty is the best policy but this is a touchy subject so some more opinions.

crazywafflez

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Re: Is it ever okay to talk about making money?

Post by crazywafflez » Mon Sep 13, 2021 11:48 am

HoangVN wrote:
Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:56 am
Hey guys,
I'm applying this fall and my personal statement is largely geared towards public interest, which I want to do eventually. However, I want to give back to my family for all they've done for me and so I want to take a biglaw job for a couple of years before trying for gov/public interest.

Here's my question - is it ever okay to say this in an application/essay/interview? I don't want to come off as disingenuous to the school when they ask me where I want to work after law school, because the answer is biglaw. Is it okay to write something to the effect of "I want to give back financially to my parents after all they have done for me, and x school can help me achieve that. I eventually want to go into public interest, and this is the reason I have highlighted x clinics, but in the short term I want to give my parents what they deserve." I would like to think honesty is the best policy but this is a touchy subject so some more opinions.
Doesn't matter much either way- if you write well, they'll be cool with it. However, many of my peers (myself included) claimed they wanted to do PI type goals on all their apps, within the first year of study. Around the time when grades came out, and OCI was about to commence, about 60-70% of us who claimed to be PI types audibled to biglaw type stuff. Many due to the strains of debt and the ease of the pipeline (I mean, it isn't like PI groups are sending folks on campus and enticing us). Don't worry about it much either way.

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nealric

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Re: Is it ever okay to talk about making money?

Post by nealric » Mon Sep 13, 2021 1:36 pm

Just spitballing from personal experience: Around 2/3 of law students come to law school saying they are interested in public interest, and about 1/3 claim to be die hard public interest folks. Around 10% end up actually doing it for their career (perhaps 25% if you include all government lawyers as PI).

Access

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Re: Is it ever okay to talk about making money?

Post by Access » Mon Sep 13, 2021 9:57 pm

What's pretty astonishing is how ignorant we all were. Like sure, we knew T14 meant on avg high salaries but it takes time to register that the only structured career path is biglaw.

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nealric

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Re: Is it ever okay to talk about making money?

Post by nealric » Tue Sep 14, 2021 5:12 pm

Access wrote:
Mon Sep 13, 2021 9:57 pm
What's pretty astonishing is how ignorant we all were. Like sure, we knew T14 meant on avg high salaries but it takes time to register that the only structured career path is biglaw.
Timing is a huge part of it. Biglaw gets you in the door the summer after 1L year. Few non-profits are in position to extend a semi-permanent offer two years before you could actually start. So a lot of folks who think they really want PI do a biglaw summer so they have a summer gig and can cash in a bit. Then they get a return offer and are stuck between a guaranteed job paying $205k + bonus or chasing after an extremely limited number of PI fellowships that MIGHT pay $50k if they are really lucky and rarely offer any guarantee of employment past the initial fellowship period. Maybe they apply to a few PI jobs, but face some rejection and decide to just fall back on that lucrative biglaw offer rather than holding out. Soon, it's your bar summer and you accept that "free" Barbri course and summer stipend.

A few years go by and the reality of paying off student loans and living in an expensive city sets in. That $205k doesn't really feel like the insane amount of money you once thought. Maybe you get a spouse and some dependents, or start supporting older parents. You daydream about going back to public interest but can't stomach what it means for you and your family. So you grind away in biglaw or maybe take a half-step back to go in-house. Either way, life tends to get in the way of public interest dreams.

That said, all that is why I really respect PI lawyers with T14 backgrounds who don't come from family wealth (though a relatively high percentage do). It takes a lot of drive to get off that well trod path.

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