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Messages - lawnecon

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1
Where should I go next fall? / Re: University of San Diego..part time
« on: August 01, 2008, 01:24:16 PM »
NOTE: the minimum I am willing to accept on my first real law job would be 70k


hahahahahahaahahahahahahahaah a.  no offense, but that is silly.   

also to the person who quoted average starting salaries...just wanted to clear that up for those of us who are interested in working in the public sector.

average starting salary for an assistant DA is 45,769.  in san diego it is more like 65,000.  where i live (dallas) it is 56,000.

average starting salary for a public defender is 44,660.



Yeah, DA salaries can fluctuate considerably. I think in New York state, it doesn't go much lower than $50k and in the city proper, it's more like $60k plus (with bar results). In PA, the counties tend to pay around $40k whereas Philly pays closer toe $60k. MA is pretty bad with starting salaries under $40k in almost every county.

$44k (Dallas figure) is pretty good for a public defender! Of course, in the big cities, I'm sure you earn it.

2
Where should I go next fall? / Re: University of San Diego..part time
« on: August 01, 2008, 04:05:57 AM »
Quote
so does this mean there are NO NONE ZERO chance of getting a law position between 70-90k job starting out? even if say we scored in the top quarter of the class?

Of course not, no. What it means is that the bulk of employers who hire on a regular basis (see above + biglaw) don't pay in that range. I've heard of people getting salaries in the 70-90 range (botique firms, coporations, employers hiring people w/ some significant work experience), but it's not something to bank on. See this link:

http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2007/09/distribution-of.html

My point is that many students reason to themselves that if the elite of the class will get $100k + jobs, then the middle of the class probably gets between $80-100k starting salaries. It doesn't work that way. US News adds to the confusion because they usually list average starting salaries in the 80 - 90's range for T2's and lower T1's. These figures are skewed by the eye popping salaries for those on the top and those starting out with $35 per hour contract jobs but who often move on to more stable (but less lucrative work.

In short, don't go to law school expecting a great starting salary unless you end up at the top of the class.



Please stop infesting the 0L class with your lack of knowledge of the SD legal market.  You have never lived here and you have no knowledge of USD or its placement.

You are just spewing generalizations based on a magazines rating of a school without knowledge of the truth.

Please disregard lawnecon's comments as he has no (zero) experience with USD or the SD market. 

StevePirates and theor have the more correct responses.

Uh excuse me, I'm a 3L who has experienced the job search process, seen other enter the job market from my school and others, and spent a good deal of time reading up on this very (most) important aspect of the law school - getting a job.

Am I the only person with a valid opinion? Of course not. Am I expert on all markets - particularly SD, clearly that's not the case. Nonetheless, there are concerns that all potential law students should take into account. I'm not a "wii mote" claiming that all T2 students (and lower) are looking at a life or unemployment, depression, and worse. I know for a fact that's not the case. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who have had rude, rude awakenings when they realize that even with good grades at good schools they're not going to walk into the big firm jobs they've been “promised”. Moreover, the statistics seem to back me up that once you get out of the big firm positions, the salary figures drop considerably - contrary to popular (and reasonably logical) opinion its not a slow, progressive decline from 100's to 90's to 80's in terms of salary.

Is San Diego some Nirvana that those of us chumps in Philly, LA, NYC, DC, etc. can only dream of where "also rans" are still pulling in big (not doc review) bucks? You'd know better than I would, and if so my congratulations to you, sir! Unfortunately, you haven't provided the OP with numbers that seem to prove the national trend is inapplicable to San Diego. Until that's the case, I think it's fair (and important) to remind 0L's that if they want to be lawyers, great - don't let the Wii Mote's of the world run you down, but be very cautious if you think law school (outside of the elite schools) is the path to immediate riches.

I think the point of these boards is to help us reason through decisions about law school. I think I've been quite responsible with my comments. I'm sorry you don't think so.

Edit: Also StevePirates wrote: "Just so you know, starting salaries for attorneys are a bimodal distribution, a big spike around the 50K mark, another big spike around $120K, and a large trough between the two.  It is more likely that you'll make either six figures, or 50/60K than 70/80K."

This is pretty much the point of my posts, so I'm not sure what the problem was with my statements anyway. Do you just have something against East Coasters?  :) 


3


The debt is pretty bad, but the new IBR plan should make the payments reasonable (even if the compounding interest isn't) until you can make it big. (As long as it's public debt.)

Good luck

Can you elaborate on this IBR plan you speak of?


Congress passed legislation last year that was designed to reduce the burden of repaying student loans for graduates who borrowed from the federal government. One of the provisions was an "Income Based Repayment" or "IBR" program. This allows graduates to pay back their federal students loans (Stafford and Gradplus) based on their annual earnings. It takes full effect next July. The forumula is 15% of your AGI less 150% of the poverty level. This usally works out to somewhere around 10% of your gross income. If you work for 10 years for a not for profit (and consolidate directly with the federal government), your debt will be forgiven. For everyone else, the debt is forgiven at 25 years out.

There are some other details. There are a bunch of pages/articles on the web that discuss the legislation. I think Equal Justice Works has a good explantion, IIRC. Some of the finer points are also still being hammered out by the Department of Education.

4
Where should I go next fall? / Re: University of San Diego..part time
« on: July 21, 2008, 06:35:04 PM »
Quote
so does this mean there are NO NONE ZERO chance of getting a law position between 70-90k job starting out? even if say we scored in the top quarter of the class?

Of course not, no. What it means is that the bulk of employers who hire on a regular basis (see above + biglaw) don't pay in that range. I've heard of people getting salaries in the 70-90 range (botique firms, coporations, employers hiring people w/ some significant work experience), but it's not something to bank on. See this link:

http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2007/09/distribution-of.html

My point is that many students reason to themselves that if the elite of the class will get $100k + jobs, then the middle of the class probably gets between $80-100k starting salaries. It doesn't work that way. US News adds to the confusion because they usually list average starting salaries in the 80 - 90's range for T2's and lower T1's. These figures are skewed by the eye popping salaries for those on the top and those starting out with $35 per hour contract jobs but who often move on to more stable (but less lucrative work.

In short, don't go to law school expecting a great starting salary unless you end up at the top of the class.


5
Like the last poster mentioned, having 10 years of work experience will likely be helpful, but it looks like you're somewhat ahead of the game in some other respects. You seem to have a lot of contacts at small firms, companies, a division of family court and potential contacts in a bunch of other areas you mentioned. You should get Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Job of your Dream for tips on how to leverage these contacts and emphasize your posiitve qualities. OCI and reume drops may not pan out, but working with your employers and others will probably help you find what you're looking for. The real trick for most law students is making those contacts and reaching out to potential employers in the first place. You've got that covered.

Of course, this depends on what you mean by "respectable" firm. The big firms are probably still off limits, and $80k is pretty optimistic (though you do have significant work experience).

The debt is pretty bad, but the new IBR plan should make the payments reasonable (even if the compounding interest isn't) until you can make it big. (As long as it's public debt.)

Good luck

6
Where should I go next fall? / Re: University of San Diego..part time
« on: July 18, 2008, 12:10:23 PM »


-graduate with the chance to enter biglaw and suffer the hours and pay.
-chance at federal or state law clerk positions
-if not big law... at least a law firm (medium size) that pays at least 70k pref. 80k up starting..
-areas of legal interest : Wills and Estates, Family law, PI, crim defense.. real practical law.. I'm not looking at international law or to change the world, just real law that I can turn around and apply to my own solo practice (something I intend to do in the future, but who knows).
-NOTE: the minimum I am willing to accept on my first real law job would be 70k up

I think think your assumption about the pay scale is somewhat unrealistic. I don't know anything about U San Diego or the CA market, but from what I know about other tier 2 schools and the legal market overall, you may be making a mistake. Like most similar schools, to break into Big Law, you'll need to be at the top of your class. Probably the top 10% for what most consider to be true big law. Maybe there will be some leeway for those ranked slightly lower for regional larger law firms that still have some sort of recruiting program, etc., but I wouldn't imagine you could rank any lower than the top 25%.

In any event, once you get out of Big Law, the average starting salary dips to well under $100,000 (and not just for public interest lawyers). Many people assume that if they can't score a job paying $140-160k, then the next tier of jobs will probably pay around $80 or 90k. This isn't the case. There's a chart floating around somewhere showing that law salaries are bimodal - A good chunk of people making 6 figures out of school and an even larger number making around $40-50k with very few making anything in between.

At my school, most people in small to mid size firms are making about $50-60k. It's not that it's impossible to do get higher paying jobs, but they're less plentiful. As for clerkships, state clerkships are usually available to people from almost any reasonably ranked school, but I'd be shocked if any pay $70k or more. Federal clerkship also (as far as I know) are relatively low paying, but they're usually very competitive. Chances are if you can get one, you can also get a biglaw gig (which usually follows most federal clerkships).

From what I can tell, here's the breakdown of salaries by poisition

Public Defenders: 20's to low 40's
Assistant DA's: Mid 30's to low 50's
Personal Injury: 40's to low 50's
Insurance Defense: 50's to mid 60's
Contract/Temp Doc Review: $70's to low 100 (High range includes overtime; no benefits)

It's important to remember that these are starting salaries, but if your sole goal is to make a big paycheck right out of law school, unless you're at the top of you class, it's going to be tough and there will probably be a few lean years. The real question is do you want to be a lawyer or do you just want to be a professional with a big paycheck. If it's the latter, there are easier paths to that goal than law school.

7
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: Pepperdine v George Mason
« on: July 17, 2008, 08:57:16 PM »
If he wants to definitely work in California, Pepperdine - Mason is too new (particularly to the tier 1) to have much of an established alumni base in California. If your friend can be sold on staying in Virginia/DC, Mason would be the better choice. It's a respected school in the area, but moreover, if he can establish VA residency, the school is quite affordable (particularly compared to Pepperdine). If he's willing to put the effort into networking to get a job in CA, he could also benefit from the lower tuition at GMU.

8
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Best and Worst Advice
« on: July 17, 2008, 12:57:01 PM »
Best: If you're waitlisted and realy want to go to a school, politely keep in frequent communication with the school, let them know you'll definitely attend, and put youself in a position so you can accept an offer at the absolute last minute - I was accepted the week of claases, but I was already set up in another location, so I had to decline  >:( :'(

Worst: Go to a T2 or even lower T1 at full cost even if you have money at a lower ranked (but still respectable) school. Unless you're in the top part of the class, you're going to have to network, etc. to get good jobs anyway. Your schools name MIGHT take you a little further, but is it worth an $10, 20, 50 or 100k more in debt? Location, practical experience, and building contacts are far more important in your job search, anyway.

9
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Temple vs. Villanova
« on: July 08, 2008, 12:59:18 AM »
I would not be able to take advantage of the Temple In-State tuition since i'm from outside the Philadelphia area.  Why is this new building so important?  Everyone keeps talking about it...I won't even be in it until a year from now If I choose to go to Villanova.

I'm not sure having a brand buidling really matters per se. It's not like I've spent a ton of time at other law schools (at least during the year) to constantly be reminded about how much worse our building is. Once school starts, you tend not to work about such things.

That said, it isn't that Villanova's building just can't be described as state of the art. The building is really just plain horrible - Temperature control is a joke (some parts of the building are likely to be a furnace while others are freezing), the network doesn't work everywhere, I've actually had trouble breathing in the bottom level of the library, etc.

Having a brand new parking garage has really been a nice perk this year (as opposed to the horrible,  cracked up parking lot thzt pre-dated it).

In terms of rankings, IMO it's really hard to imagine that demand for Nova won't increase when it finally gets a new building. After Penn, there isn't a clear number two law school in the area. Temple will always have some advantage on price, but for people outside of PA, I think Villanova's location gives it a real advantage. It's in a very nice suburban community with a lot of little shopping areas and apartment around it. It's also convenient to the highway, making accrss to other area apartments and retail ares pretty easy. The mainline is clean, safe, and pretty quiet.

Unfortunately, I think when a lot students take one look at the building, this mitigates their good will towards Villanova. For out of state students, a really nice location + a brand new building will be probably be hard to turn do for other schools of comparable cost and comparable academic quality.

That said, as I mentioned before, even if this does somehow launch Nova into tier 1, I don't think much will change.

10
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Temple vs. Villanova
« on: July 06, 2008, 11:55:26 PM »
IMO, if you're a resident of PA, you'd be insane to turn down Temple for Villanova unless Nova offers some serious financial assistance - AND I go to Villanova. (Though I do know a bunch of people made this decision.)

The real rub when it comes to Temple is that Temple is in a rough part of town. I'm from out of state, and I didn't even consider Temple because of it's location and I got fee waivers from both schools. Villanova's big draw back has been that it's housed in the cross between a fifty year old parochial elementary school and a dungeon. Fortunately, for future classes, this will no longer be a problem.

If you're from out of state, it's kind of a draw. Temple tends to be known for its trial advocacy program and has a little bit better prospects in the city. Villanova has a strong tax program and focuses a bit more on the transactional side of things and places better outside of the region. Of course, these differences are negligible.

If cost isn't the issue, then I'd say if you want to go into tax/transactional law, don't want to stay in Philly, and like the suburbs, go to Villanova. If you're more interested in trial practice, want to stay in the city, and would rather live in the city (and commute by public transit), go to Temple.

I'd still stick with Nova just because I don't like cities and I'd like to have a nice new building.

The new building may cause Nova to jump in the rankings (though it currently lags behind  Temple), but this will probably be meaningless. The school may attract some more talented students who would have been turned off by the older building, but there really isn't that much difference between a low ranked T1 and the better T2's. I have hard time believeing, for example, that AU Law students have much better prospects than Nova and Temple students (discounting its regional advantage in the DC area).

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