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Board Lawyers/law students

  • tent84

    MisterSmiley said... (original post)

    Yeah, it's even those of us who like being lawyers and are happy with our career that are advising folks to not do it, probably because so many of our classmates are completely out of the legal field. I was middle of my class at Maryland and had a bunch of journal and other stuff on my resume and the only offers I got out of law school in 1999 were for small firms that would have worked me to death for ~$30-35k a year so I made the choice to start off at about that in an in-house position. It paid off for me and I now make pretty good money, but if a couple of things broke a bit differently in my life/career it could have been pretty disastrous for me financial-wise.

    I have a lot of classmates where it didn't work out so well, even the ones who were in the top 10-20% of our class. Most of us/them could have made a lot more money and probably have been happier in a non-legal position. It wouldn't surprise me if less than half my class is using their law degree at all and there are even a bunch that are "using their law degree" in a peripheral capacity to become sales reps working at legal services companies like Lexis, Westlaw, Robert Half Legal, etc. They seem fairly happy with their careers, but I don't think anyone goes into law school thinking "three years and $200k+ later I'm going to be a sales rep!"

    And then the ones that went to big firms and are financially set mostly hate their lives.

    Exactly. Lots of people decided to start their own businesses (not law firms), work in-house, become legal headhunters or sales reps, and a whole bunch became stay-at-home moms. Probably not the best use for $150K in tuition and three years of their lives.

    Almost everyone who makes bank at a big firm starting out saves up a bunch of money and uses their bonuses to pay off their student loans so they don't have to work there anymore.

    This post was edited by tent84 2 years ago

  • MisterSmiley

    Oh, and it's probably also worth mentioning that we are basing our experience on people who graduated a while ago, when the legal market was much, much stronger. I would hate to be a third-year law student or recent grad right now.

    And nothing is more annoying than being FB friends with a bunch of type-A attorneys who decided to become stay-at-home moms and have channeled their type-A legal training into their status update postings. I mean, I love mini-me and mention him enough to be obnoxious here, but it's nothing compared to the ex-lawyer SAHMs.

  • Probably depends on your debt situation and career outlook, as well as your interest in practicing locally.

    I'm a 1L and I enjoy it, but I knew going in I didn't have a clear "plan" in regards to the type of law I wanted to practice, so I eschewed "better" opportunities to go to Alabama. I had saved money from working for 3 years which should cover expenses here, so going to a good but not T14etc school and limiting debt was a priority. I had no clue my level of interest in biglaw, so taking out $225k to go to GW didn't appeal to me.

    I like my time here so far and believe I made the correct choice, but my best recommendation is, if you're set on lawschool, be realistic about what/where to practice, and try to limit debt to the best of your ability. Too many people seem to assume that a JD from any school is a ticket to get rich, and they find themselves pigeonholed and overloaded with debt. Even if you're smart and think you'll do well, you can't assume you'll be in the top 20%, so if you're school/financial situation doesn't allow being below that to be tenable I'd stay away.

    HoopheadVII: "Guess you won't say, "Sorry I'm a little off today" anytime again soon; Eaglesception is a bitch"

  • I don't know anything about ASU law, but I would imagine that limiting yourself to one school is probably a bad idea, especially if it's a middle of the pack school. I understand the regional aspect of it and if you want to live in Tempe all your life it may be a better move than going to a better, though still regional school, but why not try and go for a more nationally renowned school?

    I find that aspect of the question more curious than the becoming a lawyer in the first place.

  • FPTerp15

    Wouldn't recommend taking out more money in loans than your first year's salary post-graduation would be, let alone 3x that amount.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by FPTerp15 2 years ago

  • MisterSmiley

    FPTerp15 said... (original post)

    Wouldn't recommend taking out more money in loans than your first year's salary post-graduation would be, let alone 3x that amount.

    Well then that would rule out law school for almost everyone (which is fine, there are too many lawyers).

  • MisterSmiley said... (original post)

    Well then that would rule out law school for almost everyone (which is fine, there are too many lawyers).

    I actually agree with him and think that's a pretty reasonable metric to use. For example, if you want to pay $$$$$$ to go to an elite school because you think you'll be making $160K in your first legal job working at a big firm, then fine, pay $50K+ a year to go to those schools. Similarly, taking out $80K total in loans if you anticipate your first job after becoming a lawyer to pay you $80K/year sounds reasonable. Similarly, if you want to work in public interest and/or with a small firm, taking out $40K in loans and then getting a job paying $40K/year sounds reasonable. But it's a pretty stupid idea to take out $150K in loans if you anticipate only making $40K/year.

    This post was edited by terps99 2 years ago

  • neal990

    If you actually want to be a lawyer, then don't let the talk of miserable lives and debt scare you away. they're just things to keep in mind. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, I had no clue what I wanted to do in the legal field, but I just found it to be a great match for my interests and skills. So like I said you should find a way to see if ASU has any good pre-law classes that might give you a taste, intern in a legal office, things like that. There's no substitute for the real thing but you'll at least have a better idea of what to expect than all of the people who go to law school because they didn't know what else to do and they think all lawyers get to work on exciting, world-saving cases while making big corn money.

  • Don't do it unless you go T14. I have many friends without job prospects and a lot of debt that regret the decision to attend to law school. I'm at Cornell Law School right now, and I am glad I made that decision. I wouldn't have gone if I wasn't accepted.

  • Terpgod said... (original post)

    Don't do it unless you go T14 [if you want to practice at very large law firms in very large legal markets.]

    Fixed.

  • Terpgod said... (original post)

    Don't do it unless you go T14. I have many friends without job prospects and a lot of debt that regret the decision to attend to law school. I'm at Cornell Law School right now, and I am glad I made that decision. I wouldn't have gone if I wasn't accepted.

    I work in big law (not as a lawyer) and every single lawyer I talk to here tells me the same thing. There are kids who come at my position and then go off to mid-low tier schools even after being told by literally everyone not to do it.

    I would definitely recommend for people who are really serious about law school taking a summer or even full time job as a legal assistant in big law. I know I had a totally different idea of what law was like and what all the jobs most prospective law students want before I did.

  • Terpgod said... (original post)

    Don't do it unless you go T14. I have many friends without job prospects and a lot of debt that regret the decision to attend to law school. I'm at Cornell Law School right now, and I am glad I made that decision. I wouldn't have gone if I wasn't accepted.

    I'm not sure I fully agree with this. If you're taking on tons of debt then I do, but my best friend here passed on GTown + 230k in debt to go to the 35th ranked school with a full ride and no stips. Obviously big law prospects are much smaller, but the options are expanded and debt minimized if you arent set on "biglaw".

    If you are willing to practice in the region the school is in + you can limit debt and still go to a good school I think going outside T14 is fine. You just have to be realistic. Dont take out 6 figure debt to go to a school with dim job prospects.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by EaglesLegendz 2 years ago

    HoopheadVII: "Guess you won't say, "Sorry I'm a little off today" anytime again soon; Eaglesception is a bitch"

  • JemoTerp

    The way I answer the question is very similar to what Smiley said - it worked out for me, but it didnt have to. I came out of a "meh" law school in 2008 with decent but not exceptional grades, ended up getting a great government job based on the quality of my work while working as an intern/paralegal there during law school. Am now working in the compliance department of a big hedge fund. A lot of people that I graduated with in similar or significantly beter circumstances were not quite as lucky - a large percentage of my classmates who got biglaw jobs got laid off in the 2009 purge. I ended up doing well, and I am one of the rare people who enjoy my job as a lawyer, but it just as easily could have screwed me for life.

    If you are going to law school to make a lot of money, don't go to law school. If you're going to law school because you don't know what to do next, don't go to law school.

    There's one good reason to go to law school - you really and truly want to be a lawyer.

    NYCTerp05: i guarantee you my child won't turn out gay

  • EaglesLegendz said... (original post)

    I'm not sure I fully agree with this. If you're taking on tons of debt then I do, but my best friend here passed on GTown + 230k in debt to go to the 35th ranked school with a full ride and no stips. Obviously big law prospects are much smaller, but the options are expanded and debt minimized if you arent set on "biglaw".

    Agreed in a big way on debt load. I know a lot of people who work at big firm jobs they hate just because they have to pay off their debt - and they're the lucky ones. I graduated from W&L in 2000 and they paid around half my tuition. So I took on some debt but not a lot, and though I haven't practiced law since 2004 what I do is quasi-legal and the degree has helped me to higher salaries. Would absolutely not have been worth $50k in debt.

  • FPTerp15

    MisterSmiley said... (original post)

    Well then that would rule out law school for almost everyone (which is fine, there are too many lawyers).

    Kind of what I was getting at. Not that no one should go to law school, but that law school in it's current state is a massive rip. Tuition is way too high in comparison to the average lawyer's salary. Either tuition should decrease, legal reimbursement should increase, job security should increase, or the number of law schools should drastically shrink. There's obviously a group of people that make it work for them despite the massive pile of debt, but It's just not worth it to go to law school for the average student accepted to law school (any law school, not just top 15).

  • gocaps1 said... (original post)

    Agreed in a big way on debt load. I know a lot of people who work at big firm jobs they hate just because they have to pay off their debt - and they're the lucky ones. I graduated from W&L in 2000 and they paid around half my tuition. So I took on some debt but not a lot, and though I haven't practiced law since 2004 what I do is quasi-legal and the degree has helped me to higher salaries. Would absolutely not have been worth $50k in debt.

    Almost all of the young lawyers I know here are aggressively paying down their law school debt. They make $160k+, but they don't really live like it considering how much of it goes their debt.

    Either way it's a miserable existence. Document reviewing out the ass, endless research on Lexis/Westlaw, and essentially being on call 24/7 in the case that some partner wants to bounce some asinine idea off you at 4:30AM on a Tuesday. All of that and virtually no chance of becoming partner unless they go somewhere and develop a niche or develop clients.

    I came into this job wanting to go into corporate law and now there's not a chance in hell I go back to law school.

  • MisterSmiley

    Devils0720 said... (original post)

    Almost all of the young lawyers I know here are aggressively paying down their law school debt. They make $160k+, but they don't really live like it considering how much of it goes their debt.

    Either way it's a miserable existence. Document reviewing out the ass, endless research on Lexis/Westlaw, and essentially being on call 24/7 in the case that some partner wants to bounce some asinine idea off you at 4:30AM on a Tuesday. All of that and virtually no chance of becoming partner unless they go somewhere and develop a niche or develop clients.

    I came into this job wanting to go into corporate law and now there's not a chance in hell I go back to law school.

    And they're the lucky ones.

  • MisterSmiley

    But all this being said, there's probably no chance that anyone reading this thread who wants to go to law school actually listens to any of our advice.

  • MisterSmiley said... (original post)

    But all this being said, there's probably no chance that anyone reading this thread who wants to go to law school actually listens to any of our advice.

    Exactly. There is no chance I would have read this thread and changed my mind about law school. I am "one of the lucky ones" and regret my decision every six minutes.

    In fairness I like doing M&A, but the work/life balance is just impossible. It really truly isn't worth it. There are plenty of jobs you will enjoy that will allow you to see your family and friends. #LawyerProblems

  • MisterSmiley said... (original post)

    But all this being said, there's probably no chance that anyone reading this thread who wants to go to law school actually listens to any of our advice.

    right. I do find all of the back and forth interesting though.

    Personally, I have a decent idea of what lawyers actually do (though have never worked in the field). I think the type of people who regret going to law school are those who have a misunderstanding of what they actually will be doing when they get out of law school. Like neal said, I have found that through experience the practice of law is something that genuinely interests me and aligns with my skill set. Still, I've heard the stories that Devils is talking about from a few people which has made me reconsider something that was once ironclad in my plans, ideally I could follow a similar path and work in the field before making such a decision.

    As for why ASU, while it is a fairly middle of the pack law school it is improving (fairly rapidly too) but more importantly it carries more cache in the region than most law schools do (i.e. non-top ten) and I'm aiming to practice in the area. Probably the most important aspect is cost though. The only way I'll go to law school is if I get scholarship money in some form, I'm trying to minimize the debt as much as humanly possible and I'm certain I'd be able to get scholarship money from ASU.

  • MisterSmiley said... (original post)

    But all this being said, there's probably no chance that anyone reading this thread who wants to go to law school actually listens to any of our advice.

    They don't look at me as a cautionary tale, but as a role model.

    As they should.

    On the first day of school I make sure to tell my students that I was the Manuscripts Editor at the Journal of Health Care Law and Policy at the University of Maryland School of Law. They're so impressed that the rest of the year is smooth sailing.

    This post was edited by mattw75 2 years ago

  • patterp09 said... (original post)

    right. I do find all of the back and forth interesting though.

    Personally, I have a decent idea of what lawyers actually do (though have never worked in the field). I think the type of people who regret going to law school are those who have a misunderstanding of what they actually will be doing when they get out of law school. Like neal said, I have found that through experience the practice of law is something that genuinely interests me and aligns with my skill set. Still, I've heard the stories that Devils is talking about from a few people which has made me reconsider something that was once ironclad in my plans, ideally I could follow a similar path and work in the field before making such a decision.

    As for why ASU, while it is a fairly middle of the pack law school it is improving (fairly rapidly too) but more importantly it carries more cache in the region than most law schools do (i.e. non-top ten) and I'm aiming to practice in the area. Probably the most important aspect is cost though. The only way I'll go to law school is if I get scholarship money in some form, I'm trying to minimize the debt as much as humanly possible and I'm certain I'd be able to get scholarship money from ASU.

    You are talking out of your ass until you have actually worked in a law office. Read what you just wrote in your first paragraph and examine how contradictory it sounds.

    Also, what's your GPA and your latest LSAT practice score? What year in college are you? What is your major? I guarantee you are already lacking the experience most of your law applicant peers have.

  • mattw75 said... (original post)

    Jesus Christ

    indeed.

    As for getting into ASU law school -- my wife's sister went there from UGA undergrad, and she's an idiot.

    This post was edited by NOD6216 2 years ago

  • patterp09 said... (original post)

    right. I do find all of the back and forth interesting though.

    Personally, I have a decent idea of what lawyers actually do (though have never worked in the field). I think the type of people who regret going to law school are those who have a misunderstanding of what they actually will be doing when they get out of law school. Like neal said, I have found that through experience the practice of law is something that genuinely interests me and aligns with my skill set. Still, I've heard the stories that Devils is talking about from a few people which has made me reconsider something that was once ironclad in my plans, ideally I could follow a similar path and work in the field before making such a decision.

    As for why ASU, while it is a fairly middle of the pack law school it is improving (fairly rapidly too) but more importantly it carries more cache in the region than most law schools do (i.e. non-top ten) and I'm aiming to practice in the area. Probably the most important aspect is cost though. The only way I'll go to law school is if I get scholarship money in some form, I'm trying to minimize the debt as much as humanly possible and I'm certain I'd be able to get scholarship money from ASU.

    While you're at it, re-examine your first paragraph for the type of lazy grammatical effort that law schools and your potential legal employers WILL NOT tolerate.

    What exactly about your skill set makes you exceptional in the least? What makes you think you are worthy of a scholarship? These are the questions about which you need to do some serious soul-searching.

  • ledterrapin said... (original post)

    While you're at it, re-examine your first paragraph for the type of lazy grammatical effort that law schools and your potential legal employers WILL NOT tolerate.

    What exactly about your skill set makes you exceptional in the least? What makes you think you are worthy of a scholarship? These are the questions about which you need to do some serious soul-searching.

    You need to re-examine your first paragraph for the type of unnecessary douchebaggery that is expected of lawyers, but not tolerated by message board posters.