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Searching for the TRUTH..:
Two part question.

1)  What do people have to say about the claim made in Law School Confidential, and by many others, that if a prospective student doesn’t make it into a top 14 they should reapply or kiss their legal future goodbye?  Its seems that they are talking about employability, especially with respect to big firm/big $$$ jobs.

Law School Confidential does say that there are a few exceptions, is BU one of them???  Going on their employment numbers it seems to be.

2)  Is the reported median income for first year grads at BU accurate?  If so, where does one have to finish in their class ranking to have a shot at such a position?


Bah! Law School Confidential sounds like a steaming pile. Be skeptical.

Of course you don't have to be in the "top 14" to get a big salary. That doesn't stand up empirically. There are tons of BUSL grads with big bank accounts. I'm just beginning the job search myself, so maybe I've got blinders on for the sake of my own sanity, but only the top 14? That just can't be!

First of all, top 14 according to whom? U.S. News? Leiter? You probably mean U.S. News -- I tell you what: of the lists out there, U.S. News is the shiniest and the most famous (and the source of all kinds of amusing BUSL neuroses), BUT it's REALLY NOT the be all end all in the legal market. There are just too many variables involved in getting a job: location, personal charm, grit, nepotism, &c.  

Also, why the "top 14"? That's pretty arbitrary. It's not like first 14 are teaching law while the rest are teaching VCR repair.

Will you have a better chance finding a job if you go to Harvard? Will you have a better chance if you're in the top 10%? Will you have a better chance getting a summer associate spot if you're dad is a partner at Ropes & Gray? Will you have a better chance of getting a clerkship if you save Souter from a hungry bear? The answer to all of these questions is, of course, DUH.    

Are you doomed if all you have is a boring J.D. from BU? Only a little. The painful answer is that a J.D. from ANY school is only a tool. It will help open a few doors. No matter who you are though, you still have to go through the arduous miserable process of selling yourself. You haven't chosen an easy career. Even if you are the Harvard grad with the silver spoon and Souter on a bear-skin rug, it's not easy. You will be tested. You will be ranked. You will compare yourself to your peers. You will doubt yourself.  It will never stop.

The job that pays you 125K a year will require you to work 90 hours a week just to keep your head above water. There aren't any secrets to success. There aren't any short cuts. Not only aren't there any people in the top 10 who didn't work hard, there aren't any people in the top HALF who didn't work hard. Guess what. All the kids in the bottom half were working really hard too.  

The ethereal fantasy of big money is one of the methods we use to divert ourselves in this grueling lifestyle, but if money is the only thing compelling you to go to lawschool, get out now. Don't do it. There are easier ways to get rich.

I'll stop ranting now . . .

To answer your question more directly, if you go into the private sector with a J.D. from BUSL, the odds are pretty good that you will be able to make a lot of money.

If you really want to be a lawyer go to law school.  It helps if you know where you want to work.   For instance, Boston is a market that likes Boston students.  A student at ANY Boston school has a shot.  It is true that the "worse" the school the higher you need to be in the class.  Also, think about what you want to do.  Some of the lower ranked schools are very good places for people who want to go into government or politics.  Suffolk in Boston is a good example of this.  

There are a lot of factors.  The most important thing is to go to law school because you want to be a lawyer.  It's not really something to do for shits and giggles or even because some lawyers make a lot of money.  If you aren't sure, take some time and work.

First of all, let me echo the sentiments above. If you don't absolutely love everything about law, don't go to law school. The law is not a sure-fire shortcut to big money. Most lawyers start out making 40-50k. While it is true that some graduates from some schools make more than graduates from others, the "top-14" mentality is a sham that is encouraged by... lets see... about 14 law schools. If you want a law degree that is portable, i.e. which will get you a job in any market in America, then you should go to a top-10 ish school. If you want to work in Boston, you are better off at BU than at Georgetown or GWU, even though both are "ranked" higher. If you want a job in in L.A., you are better off going to USC or UCLA rather than Duke, for the same reason, so figure out where you want to live before you try to figure out where you want to go to school.

I was just like you a year ago when I was trying to figure out where to go (currently starting 2L at BUSL). I was obsessed with rankings, and attending a top-14 school. I certainly agree that the USNEWS rankings are the only ones that matter to the public at large, but I don't think lawyers and recruiters care at all what a school is ranked. Every market will prefer certain schools over other schools, and that's why determining which market you want to live in is so important. If you don't know, and don't get into a "national" school, just make sure you are ok with spending the rest of your life in the city where you attend law school. I decided that I wanted to live in Boston, and even though I was accepted into Georgetown and GWU, I came to BU.

AGAIN: If you aren't absolutely sure you want to be a lawyer (regardless of whether you make 40k or 140k), then get your MBA or skip grad school altogether. Law school is a MISERABLE experience if you don't enjoy studying the law. The hours are very long, the material very difficult, and every student (and I mean EVERY student) is eventually humiliated by a professor in front of 100 of his section-mates. The pressure to make law review and journals is intense, as is the pressure to get good grades, and every single person here is brilliant and qualified, so don't think that YOU are a shoe-in. Finding and keeping a high-paying job gets more difficult every year as law school continue to saturate the market with newly minted JDs.

And don't forget to consider the massive debt you have to incur to attend most good law schools. What if you graduate and take a BIGLAW job that pays six figures only to discover that you HATE IT? You won't be able to quit, and in 20 years you'll wonder where your life went.

Sorry to be so negative, but people need to be prepared for the rigors of law school and life after law school. I absolutely love law school, but it is not a glamorous life, and I would recommend to most people that they find some other way to spend 3 years of thier lives.

My whole mindset about law school has changed a lot over the past few months since my acceptance into law school. At first, like many others unfamiliar with the level of competition for high paying jobs, I was pretty psyched at the prospect of possibly making six figures by graduation as the median salary on the website was 125k. Then from my own research through Nalp, I realized the summer associate class size at Boston Biglaw are no more than 50 per year. With no fewer than half a dozen law schools in the New England region competing for these positions, the odds does not seem favorable. I therefore find the median salary info a little hard to believe. I am still going to attend law school, but have a more realistic expectation about job prospects. I think you  have to hope for the best but prepare for the worst which isn't all that bad considering you will have a paying job.


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