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Author Topic: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?  (Read 2249 times)

thechoson

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Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« on: April 18, 2004, 12:42:47 AM »
I read a lot of stuff, a lot of opinions.  It seems like the common consensus is go to the highest ranked school, no matter the debt load, because it will all pay off.  Ann Israel seems to be high on this advice.

Now I personally have not spoken to any lawyers about this issue (maybe I should).  Then again, a lot of the lawyers I know are really old and went to law school during a time when it was cheaper.

Have any of you actually talked to lawyers that are fresh out of law school or several years removed?  And the ones that took on a bunch of debt?  I mean, I am sure the ones that went to HYS and took out 150k are fine with it, but what about the ones that went to lesser schools?  Do they still think it's worth it, or would they have done it differently and gone to a cheaper school and kept debt lower?

I could be really wrong, but the private schools I am considering seem to have 2 kinds of students in the majority.  Ones that have major scholarships, others that have mommy and daddy still supporting them.  Since I'll be neither, it kinda is worrying me the more I think about 150k of debt...

Thanks!

little_old_lady

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2004, 01:36:17 AM »
Speaking as a soon-to-be lawyer (provided I pass all my classes and pass the bar - crossing my fingers) I am certainly not okay with debt.  It was all in the abstract until now.  Now I'm actually doing the math and estimating my monthly payments and it's freaking me out.  I'm certainly not the only 3L laying in bed at night wondering how in the hell I'm going to pay back my student loans. 

I've got to tell you, based on what I know now $150K in student loan debt is absolutely ridiculous.  If I owed that much I would be even more freaked out than I am now.  A guessimate of the monthly payment would be about $1500 a month. 

This will harsh (and I'm not addressing your particular situation) but if someone is choosing between lower ranked (meaning lower than about #30 excluding Fordham) schools and their only option is $150K in debt, then they need to find something else to do.  I completely agree with the conventional wisdom to go the better school but there comes a point where the added benefit of the better school isn't strong enough to outweigh the cost.  To illustrate my point, given the choice of paying $150K for HYS and giving up a big scholarship at UCLA, I'd definitely take HYS with the debt.  Given the choice between $150K at USC over a big scholarship at a BC/BU/Fordham, I'd take USC with debt.  Given the choice between a BC/BU/Fordham with $150K in debt over a big scholarship at a Brooklyn/Cardozo/St. John's I'd take the debt (this isn't as easy a decision though).  However, I would not choose Brooklyn/Cardozo/St. John's with $150K in debt over Hofstra.  I would not choose Tulane with $150K in debt over an American/Catholic.  Basically I'm contending that no school below #30 (excluding Fordham) is worth $150K in debt. 

thechoson

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2004, 01:42:34 AM »
Ok little old lady, so you'd think I'd be crazy to go to #67 USD (150k in debt) over #82 UNLV (60K in debt)?

little_old_lady

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2004, 01:50:51 AM »
No way would I pay $150K for a #67 law school.  Besides what's the difference between #67 and #82?  Like I wrote elsewhere I was looking at this year's rankings and noticed how much those lower 1st tier and 2nd tier schools move around in the rankings.  Until this year they didn't even rank the 2nd tier.  Of course there are big differences between 2nd tier schools.  For example, a school like Cardozo/Brooklyn will offer a lot more opportunities than a school like the University of Oklahoma. 

I have in my mind an idea of some 2nd tier schools being more 'elite' than other 2nd tier schools and I don't think of USD as being in the more 'elite' category.  Off the top of my head, examples of 'elite' 2nd tier schools are Cardozo, Brooklyn, Loyola-Chicago, Loyola-LA, and American.  What all these schools have in common is that they are in large cities with top law schools so they attract a higher caliber student.  An example of the absurdity of ranking is that Fordham is ranked #34.  Fordham is much harder to get into than at least 10 of the schools ranked ahead of it.  And NYC employers are not going to take a Illinois grad over a Fordham grad just because of the rankings.  A NYC employer is going to have a presumption that Fordham has good students so they won't even look at the new rankings.  Do you see how this works? 

thechoson

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2004, 01:53:28 AM »
Definitely.  Though USD does seem to have an excellent reputation in Southern California, though they seem to think they are freaking Harvard by the way they treat a lot of their applicants

thechoson

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2004, 01:58:18 AM »
Oh, and a lot of rankings, including Leiter, do have USD very high, even in top 30.  So I would think they are in that category with Loyola-LA at least, though I understand your point.

Dang, this money issue makes things so hard.  I mean everybody is saying, just go somewhere good, take on the debt.  But I can't shake the feeling that is NUTS.  It's one thing to have scholarships or rich ass parents.  But if I have to pay for this crap, dang.  100k difference, and 100k is a lot of money

little_old_lady

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2004, 02:03:35 AM »
But USD is different from those other schools I mentioned because it's in a lesser market thereby limiting the career options of its graduations. 

And $100K is a lot of money.  That's $1000 a month in loan payments.  And remember that's after tax so you'd need to make $1200 extra a month to make the loan payments just to break even. 

Revenant

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2004, 02:34:52 AM »
Heh, so how much additional debt would it take to make you go to a slightly lesser school (lesser as in based on your preferences)?  I notice that in each case you compare 150k debt with 0 (or something low), but when one school is 150k and the other is 120k, either way you're going to be hurting and wouldn't it be better to go to the school u like more then?

DOWNY

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2004, 03:00:24 AM »
So basically, Little Old Lady is an enrolled student or graduate of Fordham. I see how it works.  ::)

Revenant

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Re: Are lawyers REALLY ok with DEBT?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2004, 03:23:43 AM »
So basically, Little Old Lady is an enrolled student or graduate of Fordham. I see how it works.  ::)

Actually, she's not.  Fordham may or may not deserve to be ranked higher, but there's no arguing that its location definitely helps.