« on: August 29, 2007, 12:37:29 PM »
As someone who once held a job for a decade because I was too afraid to do something else with a pay cut, I concur completely with LawDaddy. As an older law student attendint a Tier 3 law school (by choice and necessity due to financial and geographic considerations), I also agree with LawDaddy about his observations regarding the legal field. And contrary to the poster that said it is next to impossible to get a BigLaw job out of a non-T14 school . . . he doesn't know what he's talking about. I will acknowledge that it is considerably more difficult, but to say it is impossible is a gross overstatement.
Further, there is so much more to the field of law than working BigLaw. There are mid and small-sized firms. There is the D.A.'s office. There are countless non-profit and government opportunities. The key is that when you apply to law school, you MUST realistically consider 1) the financial burden you are taking on, and 2) the realities of the schools' placement record, to determine whether or not you can pay back your financial obligations somewhat comfortably. This means that you must not take the schools' career services departments' claims and statistics for placement at face value; you must do your homework, research, and speak with ACTUAL graduates of the programs you have been accepted to. You must also consider the possibility of taking a lower ranked school if it offers you a significant scholarship (which was my choice.) For example, if you think your passion may be working for the D.A.'s office, you must accept the fact that even with a loan forgiveness program offered by your school, you will not be able to really afford to pay back the loans you have (minimum of $80,000) on the salary. What are the options then? You go to a Tier 3 or 4 with a good regional reputation, with a 50%-or-more scholarship (if you get one) where you end up with $50,000 or less in loans after graduation, and work your tail off in school to get in the top 25% of your class.
One other piece of advice - I HIGHLY recommend taking a couple of years, at least, between college and law school to get some real-world experience. Most of the top students in my program are older students, and I believe that it is because they have 1) the ability to treat law school like a job and be efficient in their work, and 2) practical adult experience needed to understand some legal concepts that a young person cannot yet appreciate. Not saying that's true for every young student, but it's hardly a rash generalization.