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Messages - JG

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51
I don't get how the message of this is to go to a T14.  It sounds to me like this woman didn't really want to be a lawyer--whatever he job search was like, she thinks her current, non-law, job was one she was uniquely designed for, and she seems happy in it.  Her problem now is the debt. 

Going to a T14 might have been an even worse decision for her, because she'd have had more debt to pay off and would basically be required to be a biglaw lawyer, which she doesn't seem to want to do.  However, if she'd gone to some Tier 4 law school with a full-tuition scholarship and a stipend, she might be happily doing her non-law job now with no debt load.

52
General board for soon-to-be 1Ls / Re: What do you mean by "gunner"
« on: January 14, 2008, 06:36:53 PM »
Asking deep questions in your Modern Philosophy class is totally different from asking deep questions in your contracts class.  In philosophy, everyone is supposed to care about the deep questions.  In law school, the only thing that matters to 95% of the people is what's going to be on the test, and the deep questions are almost never going to be on the test.  So if you're asking about them, you are irritating 95% of the class.

And I agree with yoyodawg that the gunners are rarely at the top of the class.  One of the 1L profs at my school says something like, "The person who graduates #1 in your class is going to be a quiet girl you never notice who sits in the middle of the room and never talks unless she's called on."  That's pretty consistent with my experience--that girl is paying attention to what the professor thinks she needs to know, not looking for a way to jump into the conversation to show how smart she is.

Gunner-ish behaviors include (1) voluntarily speaking in a given class more than once every week or two, (2) continuing to press a point after the professor has given an initial answer (you should follow up after class), and (3) referencing anything you learned in undergrad (economic and political theories, etc.)

53
Financial Aid / Re: T6 (-200K) VS. T1 IN THE BLACK
« on: January 10, 2008, 11:55:23 AM »
Bouzie makes a good point about crunching the numbers.  That's really important.  It's easy, when you're in your early twenties, to have a vague notion that the money stuff will all work itself out and that your only goal should be getting the best possible credentials.  But when you are actually trying to support yourself/others, buy a house, etc., the money stuff matters A LOT.  Even my small amount of loan debt (which is tiny by comparison to the debt people talk about here) limits my lifestyle noticably.

Also, when you crunch the numbers, be sure to use real numbers that take into account things like payroll taxes, loan interest, and the specific amount your LRAP might help you with, not fantasy numbers involving gross income, principal, and a vague notion that the LRAP will make the debt irrelevant.  Then you can make an informed decision.

 

54
Financial Aid / Re: T6 (-200K) VS. T1 IN THE BLACK
« on: January 09, 2008, 09:31:15 PM »
No, I'm not missing the point.  What I'm saying is this:  People argue, correctly, that not going to a T14 limits your career options down the road.  However, taking on $200K in debt limits your career and life options too, just in different ways. 

No one who goes to a T6 school will be forced to make $40-50K/year.  But many of them will be unable to do certain things that people without debt can do--like taking desirable jobs that pay $50K a year without sacrificing their ability to buy a house or support a family.  Or taking time off to raise a family.  Or saying "Screw the law, I'm going to become an artist." 

All I'm saying is that no blanket statement applies to everyone--there are very good reasons to attend a T6 with debt, and very good reasons not to.  It just depends on which options you're most concerned about keeping open.

Also, LRAPs can help (though they often phase out at absurdly low salaries, and they don't help you if you decide to become an artist)--definitely read the details and consider them in any calculus.

55
Financial Aid / Re: T6 (-200K) VS. T1 IN THE BLACK
« on: January 09, 2008, 07:33:26 PM »
I'm an attorney working for the federal government, and if I were paying off $200K in loans over 10 years, I'd be living on less than $700/month right now.  For me, the knowledge that I was keeping my mid-career options open might be little comfort to me while I spent ages 25-35 living in my parents' basement and driving my car from high school. But that's me.

Wallace Stevens, it's good that you point out the sometimes-unanticipated benefits of going to a top school, but I'm curious about your persistent blanket assertions that massive debt is irrelevant.  Are you just assuming everyone who goes to a T14 will either start out in biglaw or be content spending the best years of their lives in abject poverty if they don't?  Or do you just assume everyone has a trust fund or will marry rich?  I don't get it. 

56
An argument could be made for either option, but don't let anyone on this board tell you "what you should desire."  $180K may or may not be miniscule, depending on what you actually care about.

Suppose you really want to practice public interest law, but you think there's a significant possibility you'll decide to become a stay-at-home parent a few years down the road.  Going to a T14 school with $180K in debt will probably make that impossible because you have to work to make your loan payments.  Is the $180K still miniscule?

Or suppose you know you want to live permanently in a small midwestern city where even law firm salaries are modest and 95% of the lawyers are from the local Tier 2 school.  Also suppose that you plan to be the sole support a growing family in the years immediately following law school.  If you choose a T14 school with $180K in debt instead of the local Tier 2 school with a full ride, your family will be worse off for the first several years.  That's at least something to weigh. 

Not thinking about the possibility of life circumstances like this is just as short-sighted as thinking about nothing more than your first job out of law school. 

(Also, the fact that 80% at GULC get biglaw and 50% at GW get biglaw doesn't mean those are YOUR chances at biglaw coming out of those schools.  The relevant question: how does someone with a given set of qualifications do after going to GULC vs. GW?  If you're a person who's going to be in the top 80% at GULC, you're probably going to be higher up in the class at GW.)
 

57
If GULC gives you nothing (unlikely), I'd take the full ride unless you want to be an academic or something.

Incidentally, don't forget that full ride doesn't equal no loans, unless you have a spouse or parent supporting you.  Many people take out $20K/year just to live on.

I posted this on another thread, but this site will help you figure out roughly what various amounts of debt will mean in repayment: http://www.finaid.org/calculators/loanpayments.phtml.  A $180,000 loan for Georgetown ($40K tuition + $20K living) at 6.8% interest (note that it may be higher for non-staffords), means around $2000/month for 10 years or $1400/month for 20 years.  That's a lot out of pocket if you might be a government/public interest employee making in the mid-50's and taking home around $3K/month.

58
Yeah, you have to be amazing if you're not from HYS, and really amazing if you're not from T14.  I went to the DePaul site and the St. Louis University site and clicked randomly on a few faculty pages.  Of the roughly 10 non-clinical/LRW/etc. professors I looked at, all had JD's or LLM's from T14 schools.  But it is important not to over-rely on Leiter, given the large number of other law schools.

Also--if you're looking at different schools to see where professors came from, only pay attention to hires in the last several years, since the market has changed a lot.


59
Yeah, what indyguy said.  No legal academics read this forum (or the graduate board, I'd guess). Try finding and contacting professors who've gotten jobs in the last couple of years--worst case scenario, they ignore you.  Also, read law professor blogs both for substantive information and to get ideas about profs to contact--Concurring Opinions is great and has lots of links to other law prof blogs.  It also archives by category--you might be interested in some of the posts in this one: http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/law_school_hiring_laterals/ 

For the very limited amount that it's worth--I did a Ph.D. before law school and did very well at Wash U, and a young professor suggested to me the possibility of academia. He made it sound like coming from a non-elite school, it might be possible if I did everything perfectly--#1 in my class, high-up law review board position, a couple of publications in addition to my note, a court of appeals clerkship, maybe one of the teaching fellowships, and a year or two at one of the most prestigious law firms.  I decided not to pursue it, but I have a friend from a similarly-ranked school who's basically following that path.  He's currently clerking, writing articles, and planning to go on the professor job market after a short stint at a law firm. 

60
Where should I go next fall? / Re: Seattle Area Legal Scene?
« on: January 07, 2008, 12:35:11 PM »
Here's a post from Above the Law about the Seattle legal market:  http://www.abovethelaw.com/2007/06/nationwide_pay_raise_seattle.php

I lived in Seattle for several years, and it's a wonderful place. 

As for the commute/traffic, it's far worse than, say, St. Louis (or other comparably sized midwestern cities), but it's nowhere near as bad as Chicago.  If you can afford to live in the city, it's not bad at all.  The bus system is pretty good (I commuted by bus for seven years), but it still involves waiting around outside in the cold Seattle rain, which is a pain.

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