Law School Discussion

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Messages - stateofbeasley

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11
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Your job can be outsourced.
« on: September 10, 2008, 09:15:11 PM »
This is like the fourth thread you've posted about how crappy the job market is and how tough a profession the law can be.

My 2 cents -- not everyone has read past threads.  There may be new readers who would be interested in knowing the facts about the poor state of the legal market.

For most people, law school is a serious financial mistake that will mortgage their lives (and credit reports) to Sallie Mae for the next 20-30 years.  Law schools are by and large a scam -- they publish misleading employment stats and create unrealistic expectations. 

12
Where should I go next fall? / Re: 50% of Law Student Grads
« on: August 19, 2008, 10:07:30 PM »
I have not seen law schools promise anyone a six figure income or even give the impression that a majority of students will make that kind of money fresh out of school. So, I'm not quite sure where you are coming from when you assert that. If you can give me examples of schools that have or are currently doing that, then, I might be more sympathetic to your position.

My own Temple University comes close.

http://www.law.temple.edu/servlet/RetrievePage?site=TempleLaw&page=Prospective_Profile_Enter_Clas

Quote
Career Placement Statistics (Class of 2007)
Placement Rate: 92%
Average Starting Salary: $77,567
Average Starting Salary for Private Practice: $108,303

The reality is that MOST private practice grads are barely scraping by on 40-60k, while the chosen few get away like bandits with $135,000 + bonuses at the big firms.  Temple doesn't tell you about the bi-modal distribution, until you're a desperate 3L and wondering where the hell the jobs are.  The only saving graces are that every other person in Philly went to Temple and that it was cheap if you were instate.

Temple's a great school if you want to be a DA or have the entrepreneurial guts to go solo.  Don't count on any of their employment stats though.

13
Where should I go next fall? / Re: 50% of Law Student Grads
« on: August 19, 2008, 09:59:17 PM »
but at the end of the day, law schools are businesses. In what other profession do we expect businesses to provide completely impartial information to consumers?

Law schools are in fact cash cows for universities, and you'll get no argument from me on that point.  But they hold themselves out to be nonprofits, and as far as I know, universities are generally exempt from many taxes because of their nonprofit status.

Rightly or wrongly, people generally tend to put more faith in what a school says because it is supposedly not out to make a buck.  Hopefully readers of this board will realize the truth, that most law schools are mere profit generators, and take this into consideration when reading those glossy brochures with huge starting salary stats.

14
Where should I go next fall? / Re: 50% of Law Student Grads
« on: August 11, 2008, 09:08:48 PM »
I agree that to get a big law job, a basic understanding of accounting and finance are necessary.

This is completely false.  I won't bother to address the rest of the post, some of which may be valid, and some of which appears designed to bolster an accountant's egao.

I agree that basic knowledge of accounting and finance is not necessary to getting a biglaw job, BUT I believe that most lawyers need to be good with numbers.  A corporate lawyer will need to know how the terms of an agreement will potentially affect a company's finances.  An estate or family law attorney needs to know how the terms of a trust or divorce will affect the client's financial well being.  A personal injury attorney needs to know about calculating losses.

Accounting and Finance are even more important for the small firm/solo person managing their own business.

People should not enter the legal field because they want to avoid accounting, finance, and the associated math, because the hard reality is that it is inescapable.

15
This is a great thread, and I think the OP is right on target. 

People need to realize that law is a tough market and not a path to easy money, despite the dazzlingly misleading employment statistics that law schools present. 

Expensive private law schools outside of the top schools are not worth the money.  If you really want to become a lawyer but can't get into a top program, go to a state school if you can and pay in-state tuition.  You'll save tens of thousands of dollars and have the freedom to take lower paying jobs when you graduate.

16
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Big Law in Philly
« on: August 10, 2008, 01:19:50 PM »

What kind of jobs did those in the top 20-33% get?

Government jobs are common, with pay starting in the $43-55k range.  Jobs at companies are also available, with pay in the high 50's to low 60's range.  Document reviewers who are direct hires at firms like Pepper Hamilton can pull in a base pay of approx 75-78k/year for a regular work week, and potentially a lot more if overtime is available.

I firmly believe that the "close to 6 figures" job at a medium to medium/large firm is a myth.  From what I am seeing, there are these general categories in the private law firm sector:
(1) Biglaw & Boutiques - $120,000+/year starting salary.  I remember that Stradley and Cozen were on the lower end of the pay scale, but with less onerous billables requirements, while firms like Morgan Lewis and Dechert payed $135,000 or more but at a cost in hours.
(2) Insurance Defense firms - $60,000-$70,000.  I've not met anyone that had anything good to say about ID firms.  One of my co-workers graduated from a T2 state school and took a job at an ID firm because it seemed like a reasonable starting salary.  His billable hours were a minimum of 2200/year for $60k, and he quit before the 2 year mark because he had to work too many hours every day of the week.  I thought he was kidding me, but its the same story over and over whenever I talk to an ex-ID attorney.
(3) PI and general firms - $30,000-$60,000.  This can be great if you have a good relationship with the partners.  Or it can be a complete nightmare if the people are horrible and your loan burden is crushing.

There's not a lot between biglaw and the rest:

http://www.nalp.org/content/index.php?pid=618

The lower six-figure jobs you can find advertised in papers like the Legal Intelligencer are generally targeted towards experienced biglaw associates who want to lateral to a firm where they have more room to move up and less pressure.

I would also not make assumptions about only "soft" majors not finding jobs.  There were plenty of finance people who were not able to land any job in the law firm sector.  I would also not make any assumption about these people not being on the Moot Court team or published in a journal.  The truth is that Moot Court and publication in a secondary journal counts for little unless the experience there is directly related to the job you are applying for.  I personally think the Moot Court experience teaches people a lot more about the law than Law Review, but for some reason Moot Court lags in prestige. 

More substantive undergrad can help you in specific circumstances. For example:
(1) You have prior work experience as an engineer AND you are going to work in patent law.
(2) You are an accounting major who became a CPA and want to work in corporate law.

The "hard" major only helps you if it is related to increasing profitability for the firm.  An Insurance Defense firm is not going to favor a chemical engineer over a journalist just on the basis of undergraduate major.

Firms hire you based on what kind of money you can make for them. Biglaw hires prestige and class rank because that is how they can justify their outrageous billable rates to their corporate clients.  Boutiques, small firms, and ID hire based on the skills and knowledge you bring to the table.  Law is a Business first and practice second.  If hiring you doesn't make business sense, you won't be practicing at that firm.

17
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Big Law in Philly
« on: August 10, 2008, 09:09:00 AM »
Philly "Big Law" also generally includes the boutiques and not-as-big but still highly influential firms like Fox Rothschild and Ballard Spahr. 

I generally agree with Villefort, but disagree with Villefort slightly on the "top 1/5 to the top 1/3" assertion.  I know too many people who were in the top 20-30% who were unable to get jobs paying much better than those in the bottom half.

18
Where should I go next fall? / Re: 50% of Law Student Grads
« on: August 10, 2008, 09:03:08 AM »
This is huge number of people!! Do they go solo? Do they do public service? What is it that they end up doing? And any hope for them?? Any experiences/Advice 3Lers?

I graduated from Temple Law in 2006.  Here are my observations:

(1) A good number of my classmates entered law school because they majored in Political Science or other liberal arts, and thought that a law degree was a path to a high paying job.  They didn't go to law school because they wanted to be lawyers, but because they "didn't know what else to do".  I can't tell you how many times I heard this on the first day of each class when the prof asked people to tell a bit about themselves and why they went to law school.

(2) Most law students I met were poor at algebra and other basic maths.  In my tax and business basics classes, it was obvious that people had an irrational fear of numbers and financial data.  Their personal finances were also often a complete mess.  High credit card debt in addition to student loans were common.

As others pointed out earlier, those outside the top 10-15% can almost always forget about a job at a big firm.  That leaves small firm and solo as the only viable path for many graduates.  I think Matthies stated earlier that small firm and solo require business sense, and I believe this is true, because law firms are Businesses.  Law is a Business first and a practice second.  If you can't secure financing, build a client base, market, and manage your money, you can't  practice.  A small firm/solo person needs a certain amount of entrepreneurial guts to make it.

So we had a situation where people in my law school didn't want to go into business for themselves.  They just wanted a job in a corporate type setting.  And they weren't any good at math or finances.  They were without the grades for biglaw and therefore found themselves in a situation that requires business skill and entrepreneurial spirit when they had neither.  Document review or low paying government jobs are then the only options.

If you just want a high paying "job", law school outside of the top schools is a waste of time.  If you want to be your own boss, if you enjoy the hustle, and if you have business smarts, you can do very well whether you graduated from a T1 or a TTT.


19
Reviews, Visits, and Rankings / Re: Drexel
« on: July 20, 2008, 12:37:26 AM »
They will easily rise above Widener, but fail to achieve parity with Temple, Rutgers, and Villanova, at least in the immediate few decades.

Drexel will ultimately rise above Widener because of its location near the center of the Philadelphia legal job market.  It is easier for Philly firms to interview at Drexel, and easier for Drexel students to interview at regional firms.  This will ultimately draw away students at the top of Widener's LSAT/GPA range who couldn't get into Temple, Rutgers or Villanova.

Temple will stay ahead due to its relatively low cost combined with its established alumni network.  Villanova will win over those who want its alumni network and don't want to go to school in West or North Philly and likewise retain its position.  Rutgers will continue to attract NJ residents looking for a tuition break.

As the decades pass and Drexel builds its alumni network, it can probably make gains on Villanova.  Unless it can reduce tuition substantially, students looking for a bargain will almost certainly continue to go to Temple and Rutgers.

The biggest hurdle for Drexel making gains in the ranking game will be the USNWR reputation rankings.  Few biglaw hiring partners or judges will know much if anything about Drexel's law program, which will result in low scores. 

It is extremely difficult for a new school to rise in the rankings.  Consider also that Drexel's competition is not sitting still - they will continue to aggressively recruit new faculty and better students.

Ultimately, I don't think it matters much whether Drexel ever rises above T3.  The Drexel name is generally well known in the region and Drexel does not have to fight historical stigma like Widener does. 

20
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Temple vs. Villanova
« on: July 06, 2008, 02:04:26 PM »
Thanks for the comments.  I can't seem to find Temple's employment stats, but I did find Villanova's.

Tread carefully... those figures likely include both associates and document reviewers.

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