Law School Discussion

Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: Yossarian on February 15, 2008, 09:58:01 AM

Title: What about government jobs?
Post by: Yossarian on February 15, 2008, 09:58:01 AM
A lot of talk seems to focus on what it takes for BIGLAW and relating quality of schools in terms of placement ease in biglaw. I am primarily interested in working for the government after graduation [something along the lines of EPA, FERC, etc]. What is the general consensus of what it takes to land government jobs? Is it correct to assume federal is more competitive than state/city? DOJ, USAO, CIA toughest spots to land? Does T14 still dominant placement in govt positions? Does attendance at a public school have any impact? tyia!
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: tashakies on February 18, 2008, 09:04:34 PM
BUMP

Im also interested in working for the Federal Gov..
What would be a better choice.. UC Davis with in state tuition or BC with no grant?
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: botbot on February 18, 2008, 09:07:55 PM
DOJ honors, CIA, etc are competitive are dominated by T14 + super T1 students.

The common "go to the best school" generally applies to gov work too (although you should always consider your scholarship options)
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: botbot on February 18, 2008, 09:29:18 PM
Roughly how competitive are typical government jobs (i.e. are T14's auto-admits?  Top half of Georgetown?)?  What is the earnings potential after 2-3 years?  Typical # of hours worked?  Do LRAP and other similar programs consider government work "public interest" ?

$50k first year, right?

Gov != Public Interest, but this does not mean that LRAP won't cover it.

Salaries and competitiveness are highly dependent on the actual job - $40-60k for first years can be expected.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: Hammerstein on February 18, 2008, 11:15:11 PM
A possibly important fact to some people:  If you take a clerkship before you go to the Federal government, the government also counts that as a year of experience towards your pay (in other words, you come in as a GS-12 instead of GS-11)
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: BigLulz on February 19, 2008, 06:02:47 AM
Roughly how competitive are typical government jobs (i.e. are T14's auto-admits?  Top half of Georgetown?)?  What is the earnings potential after 2-3 years?  Typical # of hours worked?  Do LRAP and other similar programs consider government work "public interest" ?

$50k first year, right?

Bump. I am also extremely interested in this!
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: anyglen on February 19, 2008, 07:12:17 AM
And I wonder if anyone knows about the size of differences within the T14? Looking at school websites, my impression is that HYS send lots of students to jobs like DOJ Honors; NYU and Columbia seem to send far fewer. But the data are so limited that I'd love it if someone could confirm/disconfirm my impression...
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vap on February 19, 2008, 07:39:24 AM
I was a paralegal at DOJ before law school, and I spoke with a recruiter about my options.  He basically said that it's best to go to a top school, but if you don't hit that threshold, it doesn't matter so much.  They don't distinguish as much between T1 and T2 or T3.  It's most important to do well at school and take practical skills courses.  There was a huge amount of diversity among schools represented at my office (Yale through fourth tier).  However, there was a noticeable trend that grads hired in the last 5 years were typically from T14 or had phenomenal grades and previous experience.

I'm not making any claims that this is how other components of DOJ make decisions about new hires.  It's just one office.

A federal judicial clerkship helps very much.  But if you can get a federal clerkship, then your grades are high enough that you can probably get DOJ without the clerkship.

Last I checked, most components hired at about $60K in DC.  If your debt is pretty high, this is a manageable but not great salary in DC.  If you're planning on the house, spouse, and 2.3 kids, you certainly want to keep your debt as low as possible.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: BigLulz on February 19, 2008, 10:47:04 AM
A possibly important fact to some people:  If you take a clerkship before you go to the Federal government, the government also counts that as a year of experience towards your pay (in other words, you come in as a GS-12 instead of GS-11)

Do lawyers working for the Fed cap at GS-15? From the description of the Senior Level pay scale it doesn't sound like they would generally qualify. I don't think I would have a problem with this if it does stop there, as I would ideally like to do government work and then jump into private practice from the connections I make.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: chastened aspirations on February 19, 2008, 11:44:37 AM
I'm interested in a government job (DOJ Honors, AG, etc.) after law school as well. Does anyone have any information regarding whether going to one of MVP with a scholarship would limit my options compared to Columbia or NYU? If so, to what extent?
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vap on February 19, 2008, 01:22:49 PM
I'm interested in a government job (DOJ Honors, AG, etc.) after law school as well. Does anyone have any information regarding whether going to one of MVP with a scholarship would limit my options compared to Columbia or NYU? If so, to what extent?

I doubt it will limit... unless you want to work in New York.

Just on personal anecdote, I've seen way more Michigan and Virginia DOJ attorneys than NYU and Columbia.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: $Bill on February 19, 2008, 02:00:25 PM
State govt jobs arent as competitive tho right
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vap on February 19, 2008, 05:14:32 PM
Also, how does one move from one side (step 1) of the payscale in, say, GS-12, to the other side (step 10)?

DOJ attorneys typically don't go up steps until they've maxed out on GS.  Thereafter, steps typically increase on a yearly basis.  However, steps are often discretionary and can go up less than once per year.  Exceptional service can also increase a step.

In addition to the GS and steps, federal employees get a yearly inflation adjustment (pretty sure it's usually between 1 and 3 percent).
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vap on February 19, 2008, 05:29:17 PM
Is there any reason to believe DOJ attorneys make any more than other attorneys in the federal government?

You'd have to check each website and/or usajobs.gov.

I have no reason to believe DOJ attorneys make more.

For example, FEC hires at GS-11. (http://www.fec.gov/pages/jobs/08-011.pdf)
IRS hires at GS-11, Step 4.  (http://www.jobs.irs.gov/car_other_atty_honors.html)
According to usajobs.gov, several Homeland Security attorney positions also start at GS-11.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: $Bill on February 20, 2008, 06:33:12 AM
State govt jobs arent as competitive tho right

Depends. Are you applying to the Manhattan DA or a smaller county DA (as just one example)

Good thread, I'm keeping this stuff in mind.

Boston or county DA, or perhaps contracts/union work with construction or police/fire.  As much as the starting money sucks, the benefits and job security (as well as earnings after 5-10 years) of a Massachusetts state job simply cant be denied.  And there should be enough time after working 35 hours to do some part time work on the side for friends firms.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: tashakies on February 20, 2008, 02:55:16 PM

[/quote]

Depends. Are you applying to the Manhattan DA or a smaller county DA (as just one example)

Good thread, I'm keeping this stuff in mind.
[/quote]


Are you comparing the Manhattan DA to smaller counties because it is super competitive? How difficult is it to land a DA position in NYC compared to other large cities, like Boston, SanFran, San Diego, Los Angeles for example?
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vap on February 20, 2008, 04:15:59 PM
Yeah, that was kinda my point: the big cities are more competitive than DA offices that have smaller population centers (small cities, suburban, rural, etc).

I don't know if I would always agree with this assertion... As I understand it, Dallas is pretty easy to break into as a DA compared to the surrounding counties.  Big city DAs tend to have more turnover than the smaller population and suburban areas.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: tashakies on February 21, 2008, 02:39:21 AM
What about NYC DA? I think I read somewhere about it being 2000:1 or 200:1??? Anyways, it being ridiculously super competitive but I could be recalling a bad dream ;)
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: Future JDJiver on February 21, 2008, 11:26:44 AM
What about NYC DA? I think I read somewhere about it being 2000:1 or 200:1??? Anyways, it being ridiculously super competitive but I could be recalling a bad dream ;)

I received offers from the Manhattan DA and the DOJ HP, but ultimately decided to defer the decision and do a clerkship. I did not go to a T14 but had pretty good grades.

The Manhattan DA is highly competitive, but I think people have a misguided sense of what competitive means in the government/prosecutorial context. While some agencies are really hung up on School/GPA (DOJ, FTC, etc.), most, including the Manhattan DA, aren't so. They are competitive in the sense that they're looking for people with great judgment, courtroom presence and trial skills in addition to intelligence. To steal a quote from someone, they are looking for lawyers who are just as good handling a 4th amendment suppression motion at 2pm as they are interrogating a murder suspect at a local precinct at 2am. It's one of the best jobs out there, but also one of the toughest. Manhattan ADAs often have 175-200 cases, and when they start out it's not uncommon to do several minor trials a week. It's very different from the typical fed or state job that involves more writing and research. One former ADA said he never wrote more than 5 pages during his 3-year tenure at the office.

Obviously the better the school and grades, the better your chances (The DA himself is a yale grad). Obviously a C+ in Crim Pro or Evidence is going to sting you, but they won't get hung up over a low grade in Trusts & Estates or something. Above all they're looking for smart people who have a fire in their belly but an even keeled head. They recognize that school and GPA aren't dispositive of that.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: Yossarian on February 21, 2008, 11:43:29 AM
Great post JDJiver, thanks for the helpful info. Obviously you got impressive offers coming out of school, did you demonstrate a "commitment to public service" while in law school? It seems that many govt job applications like to see a commitment to public service. Does this mean they do not like seeing you spend 2L summer at a big firm? Can you offset doing a summer associate position at a big firm by doing PI stuff during the school year?
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: Future JDJiver on February 21, 2008, 12:14:47 PM
Great post JDJiver, thanks for the helpful info. Obviously you got impressive offers coming out of school, did you demonstrate a "commitment to public service" while in law school? It seems that many govt job applications like to see a commitment to public service. Does this mean they do not like seeing you spend 2L summer at a big firm? Can you offset doing a summer associate position at a big firm by doing PI stuff during the school year?

Glad to help -- gov't jobs don't get nearly as much attention as they should on this board.

Obviously demonstrating a commitment to public interest is vital. It's absolutely important to do something related to the area you're interested in during your 1L summer. It doesn't have to be government, but should be something that gives you good practical experience. There were a ton of student orgs at my school that let you handle unemployment insurance hearings and family court divorce proceedings. I think those are a lot more valuable than advocacy or policy orgs simply because you're getting real experience it's just great stuff for interviews. Clinics are also great. Being able to have a clinical prof be a reference helps so much.

2L is tricky. I ended up splitting the summer with a DC firm and DOJ SLIP. I think spending part of the summer at the firm actually helped in my case, since I didn't go to a great school. In every office there are going to be some prestige whore types who may end up reviewing part of your app. If you went to a Harvard they're going to know you're smart enough. Splitting with a firm is a good way to get that BIGLAW stamp of approval but show that you're really committed to working after grad in the public sector. If you do work at a firm for the whole summer it's important to try to get as much pro-bono stuff in as possible and to start 3L strong with clinics and courses related to what you want to do. It's not a huge negative, but it's important to be prepared to address it.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: christianlawyer09 on March 15, 2008, 12:57:37 PM
What about NYC DA? I think I read somewhere about it being 2000:1 or 200:1??? Anyways, it being ridiculously super competitive but I could be recalling a bad dream ;)

I received offers from the Manhattan DA and the DOJ HP, but ultimately decided to defer the decision and do a clerkship. I did not go to a T14 but had pretty good grades.

The Manhattan DA is highly competitive, but I think people have a misguided sense of what competitive means in the government/prosecutorial context. While some agencies are really hung up on School/GPA (DOJ, FTC, etc.), most, including the Manhattan DA, aren't so. They are competitive in the sense that they're looking for people with great judgment, courtroom presence and trial skills in addition to intelligence. To steal a quote from someone, they are looking for lawyers who are just as good handling a 4th amendment suppression motion at 2pm as they are interrogating a murder suspect at a local precinct at 2am. It's one of the best jobs out there, but also one of the toughest. Manhattan ADAs often have 175-200 cases, and when they start out it's not uncommon to do several minor trials a week. It's very different from the typical fed or state job that involves more writing and research. One former ADA said he never wrote more than 5 pages during his 3-year tenure at the office.

Obviously the better the school and grades, the better your chances (The DA himself is a yale grad). Obviously a C+ in Crim Pro or Evidence is going to sting you, but they won't get hung up over a low grade in Trusts & Estates or something. Above all they're looking for smart people who have a fire in their belly but an even keeled head. They recognize that school and GPA aren't dispositive of that.

Hmmm...your previous posts indicate that you are currently a 2L at Fordham.  Seems like you're not being truthful somewhere.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: christianlawyer09 on March 15, 2008, 01:10:04 PM
2L is tricky. I ended up splitting the summer with a DC firm and DOJ SLIP. I think spending part of the summer at the firm actually helped in my case, since I didn't go to a great school. In every office there are going to be some prestige whore types who may end up reviewing part of your app. If you went to a Harvard they're going to know you're smart enough. Splitting with a firm is a good way to get that BIGLAW stamp of approval but show that you're really committed to working after grad in the public sector.

[/quote]

Actually, this is completely wrong.  I actually have been selected for DOJ SLIP for this upcoming summer, and everything I know about the process so far is that a demonstrated committment to public service is of the utmost importance.  They do let you split summers because they know there is no guarantee that you'll get a funnel offer for DOJ Honors and they also recognize that a lot of students need money.  But it has nothing to do with getting a "BIGLAW seal of approval".  This guy is pretending to be somebody he's not and doesn't know what he's talking about. Best advice would be to find someone on your faculty that has DOJ experience (bound to be at least 1) and see what insight they can give.  They'll likely be able to put you in touch with someone who knows even if they don't.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: Betsy 1 on April 03, 2008, 08:33:50 AM
I'm very interested in this as well.  Would I be better off doing the scholly at WUSTL and having a pretty teeny debt (relatively), or the partial tuition at Michigan w/LRAP?  My question is for the fed gov. positions, as with the DoJ, EPA, etc.  Anybody actually have any idea?
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: zdub378 on April 03, 2008, 08:47:26 AM
Quote
Is there any reason to believe DOJ attorneys make any more than other attorneys in the federal government?

I'd doubt it-there are websites you can check, but my bet is that the staff counsel for House/Senate committees probably make more and/or get better benefits. I think I saw somewhere that the average salary for committee counsel was around $80-90 a year plus bonuses, and they may also get split salaries-some may come from a member's office. Senior staff on the Hill get treated pretty well, from what I've seen.

Of course, they also have much less job security than the average DOJ attorney. 
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: Yossarian on April 03, 2008, 09:20:19 AM
I'm very interested in this as well.  Would I be better off doing the scholly at WUSTL and having a pretty teeny debt (relatively), or the partial tuition at Michigan w/LRAP?  My question is for the fed gov. positions, as with the DoJ, EPA, etc.  Anybody actually have any idea?

I don't really know but I would guess by virtue of having greater prestige and being a public school Michigan would be the better choice. Please don't take my word for this, maybe someone with more experience could comment.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: Betsy 1 on April 04, 2008, 05:31:17 AM
Hmm, I hadn't thought of the public school angle...
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: zdub378 on April 04, 2008, 07:28:57 AM
I don't think going to a state school matters that much, frankly.

Eugene Volokh's blog has a post on hiring patterns under the current administration-basically a critique of an NY Times article, but there are still some numbers and useful information in the comments section. 

http://volokh.com/posts/1181854141.shtml
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: observationalist on April 13, 2008, 01:56:56 PM
I'm very interested in this as well.  Would I be better off doing the scholly at WUSTL and having a pretty teeny debt (relatively), or the partial tuition at Michigan w/LRAP?  My question is for the fed gov. positions, as with the DoJ, EPA, etc.  Anybody actually have any idea?

I'm plugging Vandy again regarding connections to gov't/regulatory jobs in DC. The head of the Environmental/Regulatory Law programs was former chief of staff of the EPA, and his wife is a director at the Environmental Law Institute in DC and runs an externship program offered exclusively to Vanderbilt law students. They just had a conference on the Hill last Friday and it went very well, and I'm looking forward to working on it next year. The president of the Land Trust for Tennessee in Nashville (where at least three of us will be interning at between this summer and next fall... office is in a sweet refurbished building on Demonbreun) was general counsel of the EPA under Clinton, and her husband is a professor at Vanderbilt (teaching Internat'l Environmental Law) with current board positions at the WWF, NOAA, and prior work experience at the UN FAO.  Between those two super couples alone, you have direct connections into multiple federal agencies and legal institutes in Washington.  Out of the 1Ls we have people interning in various departments at the DoJ, at the FCC and other fed agencies, and multiple 3Ls that have done or are doing externships in DC this year. The Vanderbilt/DC connection is very strong right now and the Regulatory Law Program does a great job at preparing 1L students for seeking regulatory/gov't. work. In my interview I was able to speak at length about my understanding of administrative law thanks to having had Dean Rubin for the new Reg. State class last fall, which essentially puts us ahead of where most first-year students are on the regulatory front. And as the faculty continue to strengthen the program they've been very ambitious about promoting it to employers and helping us get into the jobs we want... the support I've received from all the aforementioned people has been amazing.

Also, it looks like we might have another student coming next year who just finished up a Peace Corps stint in Paraguay, and a second student who worked for IJM in D.C. and might be deferring for a year if they decide to work on an IJM project in Guatemala. It looks like you might have already dropped Vanderbilt from your list, but if you haven't I wanted you to know you'd be in good company if you came here. And for anyone else interested in the environmental/regulatory programs, PM me and I'll put you in touch w/ the director. He wants to speak with interested prospectives since he missed the chance at the last ASW.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: latinlord on April 13, 2008, 02:21:39 PM
Bump... intersting thread... especially since i'll be working for the DA's office this summer... haah
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: justadreamer on April 14, 2008, 12:27:28 PM
how about going to a school like CUNY law which is a state school as oppose to an average school like New York Law school for a govermental job in NYC?
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: da82167 on May 01, 2008, 08:50:58 AM
um...

I'm not sure if there are any current law students who would know this, but are the background investigations for ADA jobs as tough as they are for the DOJ and other federal agencies, especially regarding marijuana use in the past? Anyone know how many years back they go? I ask only because a lot of federal agencies spell out quite explicitly how much and how recent they will tolerate it when looking at applicants. Most DA web sites just say that a full background investigation is done on all applicants, but say nothing more. And this is hardly something you can ask in person:). if I'm screwed from the outset, don't want to bother.

Anyway, I deserve all the sarcastic comments that are coming to me for asking this, but given most of us are 20somethings, I'll bet I'm not the only one with this question:)
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vap on May 01, 2008, 09:31:38 AM
um...

I'm not sure if there are any current law students who would know this, but are the background investigations for ADA jobs as tough as they are for the DOJ and other federal agencies, especially regarding marijuana use in the past? Anyone know how many years back they go? I ask only because a lot of federal agencies spell out quite explicitly how much and how recent they will tolerate it when looking at applicants. Most DA web sites just say that a full background investigation is done on all applicants, but say nothing more. And this is hardly something you can ask in person:). if I'm screwed from the outset, don't want to bother.

Anyway, I deserve all the sarcastic comments that are coming to me for asking this, but given most of us are 20somethings, I'll bet I'm not the only one with this question:)


If you have no arrests and can pass a urine test, you are probably fine.  However, this will differ depending on office.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: RoughRider on May 01, 2008, 11:53:57 AM
um...

I'm not sure if there are any current law students who would know this, but are the background investigations for ADA jobs as tough as they are for the DOJ and other federal agencies, especially regarding marijuana use in the past? Anyone know how many years back they go? I ask only because a lot of federal agencies spell out quite explicitly how much and how recent they will tolerate it when looking at applicants. Most DA web sites just say that a full background investigation is done on all applicants, but say nothing more. And this is hardly something you can ask in person:). if I'm screwed from the outset, don't want to bother.
Anyway, I deserve all the sarcastic comments that are coming to me for asking this, but given most of us are 20somethings, I'll bet I'm not the only one with this question:)


I obviously can't speak for any DA's office, but I work in HR for a large law enforcement agency that does extensive background investigations for all our employees.  We receive calls all the time from folks asking about these types of things.  We don't look upon those applicants differently.  It saves everyone's time to know up front.  But again, this isn't exactly comparing apples to apples, so take it for what it's worth . . . .
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: AUSA on May 02, 2008, 02:34:22 PM
I'm an Assistant U.S. Attorney, ten years out of law school.  Isn't it sad to think that you may continue to look at this site that far out?

Anyway, having worked in two different districts, let me offer this analysis:

In my current district, pedigree matters.  I went to a top 25 school, and there's only one guy here who went to a lower ranked school than mine.  In my last district, pedigree of law school appeared to be irrelevant.  I'm currently in a bigger district in a major city, so maybe that plays a role.

If you can do a federal clerkship, do it.  That appears to be the easiest way to get into an AUSA slot.  If you have a judge who loves you that is willing to bug the US Attorney until he/she hires you, you're golden.

AUSAs are paid on an "administratively determined" pay scale.  Although there are ranges of what they can pay you based on years you've been an attorney, the US Attorney has broad discretion. 

I'm happy to answer any specific questions you may have. 

Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: Yossarian on May 02, 2008, 02:42:15 PM
What kind of jobs/internships did you work at while you were still in law school?
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: AUSA on May 02, 2008, 02:44:42 PM
I interned in a rather large DA's office my first summer and for the Army JAG Corps my second. 
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: da82167 on May 02, 2008, 03:16:46 PM
what was your first job out of law school? Aside from the clerkship, would you recommend doing DA work straight out of school or being a litigation associate at a major firm?

I don't know if you can answer this, but how much does pedigree matter for summer jobs at DOJ in DC?
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: AUSA on May 02, 2008, 03:39:36 PM
I joined the JAG Corps out of law school, as did one of my associates in this office. 

I'm not sure how much pedigree matters for summer hires in DC.  At our office, it didn't play a huge role in "hiring" since we don't pay anyway.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: aquachic on May 02, 2008, 08:45:27 PM
I'm interested in working for the CIA, DOD, DOS after graduation.  I'm currently trying to decide between a T-30 school with a moderate scholarship that would result in manageable debt or a T-14 school with no financial aid that would result in about 300K in total debt (this would include a 100K that I already have from undergrad and grad school).  I'm wondering if the pedigree is worth paying this much more money?  I'm worried that by taking the money at the T-30 school that I would be hurting my chances of getting the typ of job that I want in the end, but I'm also worried that 300K in debt is not manageable with a government job.  If you have any thoughts on this, I would really appreciate it!!  I'm having a horrible time trying to make this decision.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: AUSA on May 05, 2008, 08:02:26 AM
When I was considering LS, the money issue seemed unimportant.  It is.  In today's world, having 300K in debt will reduce your odds of taking a government job because you won't be able to afford it.  Are you married?  Plan to be?  If so, I'd go with the lower ranked school.  If you're planning on staying single and don't mind a one room apartment while you pay off debt, you'll be fine.  If you want to send me a message listing the two schools, I might be able to give better advice.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vjm on May 05, 2008, 08:07:25 AM
I'm interested in working for the CIA, DOD, DOS after graduation.  I'm currently trying to decide between a T-30 school with a moderate scholarship that would result in manageable debt or a T-14 school with no financial aid that would result in about 300K in total debt (this would include a 100K that I already have from undergrad and grad school).  I'm wondering if the pedigree is worth paying this much more money?  I'm worried that by taking the money at the T-30 school that I would be hurting my chances of getting the typ of job that I want in the end, but I'm also worried that 300K in debt is not manageable with a government job.  If you have any thoughts on this, I would really appreciate it!!  I'm having a horrible time trying to make this decision.

You know about the federal LRAP program, right? Not that it removes money from your calculations, but I bet many of the jobs you are considering qualify. It's a beautiful thing.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vap on May 05, 2008, 08:08:24 AM
I'm interested in working for the CIA, DOD, DOS after graduation.  I'm currently trying to decide between a T-30 school with a moderate scholarship that would result in manageable debt or a T-14 school with no financial aid that would result in about 300K in total debt (this would include a 100K that I already have from undergrad and grad school).  I'm wondering if the pedigree is worth paying this much more money?  I'm worried that by taking the money at the T-30 school that I would be hurting my chances of getting the typ of job that I want in the end, but I'm also worried that 300K in debt is not manageable with a government job.  If you have any thoughts on this, I would really appreciate it!!  I'm having a horrible time trying to make this decision.

Difficult to compare your two options when you've only listed your debt from one of the two schools.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: aquachic on May 05, 2008, 03:02:44 PM
To reply to your question about debt...if I choose the lower ranked school I will have about 190K in total debt (this includes my debt from undergrad and grad school).  If I choose the higher ranked school I will have a little less than 300K in total student debt.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: CoxlessPair on May 05, 2008, 08:06:04 PM
Tag.

And holy *&^% to $300,000 in loans. That's at least $3,000 a month over 10 years. Even BigLaw will mean some frugal living. Consider what you would be taking home after taxes, rent, insurance, etc, and then try and subtract $3K from that.  $190,000 of debt at a GS-9 pay grade seems absolutely impossible.
Title: Re: What about government jobs?
Post by: vap on May 06, 2008, 08:45:17 AM
To reply to your question about debt...if I choose the lower ranked school I will have about 190K in total debt (this includes my debt from undergrad and grad school).  If I choose the higher ranked school I will have a little less than 300K in total student debt.

I'd say a 50% increase in your debt is probably a justifiable increase to choose the school with better employment options.  I am usually a big proponent of taking a scholarship at a lower ranked school, but to me the difference between $190K and $300K (in terms of whether you can afford to take a government job) seems minimal.  It's going to be difficult either way, and if you have the opportunity to do biglaw and pay a chunk down, you might as well take it.

I think someone mentioned the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, but keep in mind that only federal loans are covered.  I'm guessing your loans will be largely private.

Certainly, I'd suggest creating a spreadsheet and plotting your repayment schedule for various possibilities (biglaw, government, etc.).  Factor in the income-based repayment plan from the CCRAA for federal loans.

It's a big decision. Good luck.