« on: October 26, 2011, 09:36:32 AM »
"I have a liberal arts degree, but I don't want to be a plumber. If I wanted to be a plumber I would not have gone to college in the first place. I think most people would agree that there would be no point."
Well, what do you want to be? If you want to be a prosecutor - of course go to law school! If you do not know exactly what you want to be and just think you want to be a lawyer -- well, what kind of lawyer? Do you know what most lawyers do? Do you know that most lawyers hate what they do? Do you know what the salary ranges are? My point isn't to discourage, but I do want people to think more carefully about their choices. If you want to, f/e, be a "corporate lawyer", well ok, but I find most people who want to be that (a) don't know corporate lawyers work 90+ hrs/week and have high levels of drug and alcohol abuse and above avg rates of depression and suicide, and (b) how difficult those big corporate jobs are to get in the first place. If you go to Pace, you will not get a corporate job. So if that is your be all and end all, you should probably not accrue debt by going to that school. There are only so many jobs for so many people. With 40,000 graduates per year competing for 10,000 openings, your chances are not that great. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it -- if it is your passion and if you are sure about your prospects and the reality of being an attorney. But far too many of my friends and acquaintances find themselves unemployed or underemployed -- and they went to schools far better than Charlotte or Pace.
"It sounds like you are a competent person from a good family so I will let you in on a little secret, your affluent parents were not always affluent. At one point, someone in your family stopped raising chickens and started reading law books. That is what most people are doing in law school: making a transition."
Its not a little secret to me, my family began poor. I am first generation in North America. My father was however, exceptionally good in math and very entrepeneurial. He was able to turn that into a lucrative career. I am not as smart as he is, I will likely not make his income. That is just life, and genetics. "Most" people in law school are not in T1. Most are also taking on student loans. Most are competing for 10,000 jobs per year in a market where 40,000 JDs graduate per year. It is most certainly not B.A. + J.D. = Profit.
"Have you thought about the disappointment that entire families would experience if their law student called them to say they want to be a plumber? I think that is what I see many people encouraging students to do, especially if they attend tier 3 or 4 law schools. I think that is unreasonable insensitive to others. No family wants to see their college graduate become a plumber or handyman."
Do you think they are any less disappointed when their son or daughter has no job and $150,000+ in debt he/she must pay off but can't? Do you think they are any less disappointed when son or daughter is doing doc review for pittance? Second, what is wrong with being a plumber? It is a fine profession, we need plumbers and mechanics, etc. And, to boot, many plumbers and mechanics make more money than lawyers and work fewer hours. No family wants to see their college grad become a handyman? Sure, they'd prefer to see their son/daughter get a very lucrative and presitgious job -- but only a minority get those jobs (and the minority that does ends up extremely disappointed with it). To make a huge financial decision, one that will impact yourself and your family, based on perceived 'prestige' or on hope, is a dangerous game.
"A career as an attorney is far better than that of a plumber because attorneys have the ability to make more money and have social status"
Some attorneys have the ability to make more -- some, not all, only some. Many make less. You also need to look at the per hour salary one takes home. An attorney working at a big corporate firm makes $160K to start (in NY and DC). But he/she works 90+ hrs per week and has no vacation (vacation exists in theory only). A public school teacher on Long Island or Westchester, if he/she worked those hours and had next to no vacation days off, would also make that kind of salary, if not higher. For that matter, plenty of plumbers, if they worked such hours, would be in six figure salary range. Most lawyers of course do not work at big firms, or make $160K to start, but in the private sector (public, which I am in is different thankfully), most salaries outside the big firms range from $35,000-60,000, but even then attorneys are working more than 40 hrs per week -- maybe not 90hrs -- but still more than 40, 45. So really, are most attorneys better off than a good mechanic, handyman, or public school teacher? Doesn't look like it.
"In law, any client that walks in off the street could be the client whose fee is so large you can retire after the case."
You are conflating possibility for probability. Yes, in law it is possible that any client that walks in off the street could be the client whose fee is so large you can retire after the case -- but how probable is it? How probable is it that it will happen to you? One may as well spend $150,000 on lotto tickets because, after all, it is possible you can win and be a millionaire over night.