Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?  (Read 130603 times)

b l a w g

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #150 on: December 18, 2006, 11:13:01 PM »
hahaha

marc

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #151 on: December 18, 2006, 11:20:02 PM »

The myth of the six-figure-plus salary for a top school top law graduate seems to be emblazoned into the collective unconscious. Every website mentions it, the US News and World Report articles report on it, and every watercooler kibbitzing session on law school invariably broaches it. This six-figure salary is often much higher than that of any law school grad. These rumors, conjectures, and statistics provide a quite alluring draw, so let's explore them a bit. In all fairness, there are many individuals who receive high salaries upon graduation.

Unfortunately, however, there is a flip side. Median compensation numbers are inflated since the schools only release statistics on self-reported information, and not all graduates reply to the survey. For example, the $115,000 median income could the average of 600 respondents, not of 778 graduates. This disconnect introduces what statisticians refer to as a "non-response bias", meaning that when it comes to reporting something as ego-sensitive as compensation, people receiving low salaries are unlikely to respond. Such a bias implies that the true average compensation is lower.

Secondly, one must beware of what I refer to as the "Keanu Reeves Factor" (in homage to his riveting performance in "A Devil's Advocate"). The Keanu Reeves factor dictates that in order to earn these six-figure salaries, one typically needs to land a job where one must sell one's soul to the devil. This underworld reference is not intended to refer to the "insert-your-favorite-corporate-crook-here" law graduates of yesteryear, but rather to the infernal quality of life that law firm associates lead. The hours are really, really, long and you completely surrender control over your life. It sucks even worse than people say it sucks.

Thirdly (if that's actually a word), the return on investment might not be as high as you might think. The student loan repayments will be a staggering, non-tax deductible $1,500/ month (assuming a 10 year repayment period). Think about it.


Wow! I did not know that investment banking was so stressful! I mean, everyone know that big law @ # ! * s the *&^% outta you, but investment banking and management consulting ??

furrious

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #152 on: December 20, 2006, 07:42:35 PM »
Of course they're stressful, manna, you're being paid (whatever you're really paid) for two jobs, not just one!

panera

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #153 on: December 21, 2006, 08:42:05 PM »

I think the most you could have possibly commmitted yourself to the law is 10 years.  After three years of law school, and seven years of practice.  At that point reciprocity kicks in to just about every state, you can go anywhere you want, and if you planned right your loans should be paid off.  You'll be in your mid-30's for most law students, and you have at least 30 years of your working career to reinvent yourself and do whatever you want.  Also at that point, if you've been working in a firm you should have a good idea of whether you're going to be up for partner.  So you have that added option which can be explored and might change your mind about the law.


There is a myth that a law degree is the most flexible of degrees insofar as it prepares you to do almost anything. This is utterly wrong. A law degree is not a general purpose degree. A law degree does nothing but teach you about practicing law. It does not teach you how to administer, nor does it teach you how to start a business (except in the narrow sense of how to file incorporation papers). The true multipurpose degree is the MBA.

Deciding to go to law school is a risky decision that is surprisingly hard to reverse.

Many people attend law school for lack of anything better to do or despite major misgivings. They do not drop out at the top schools, despite the fact that a fair-sized portion dislike law school itself. Those who dislike law school and those who are unsure of whether they're going to like practice (having not enjoyed their summer employment between their first and second law school years) nonetheless enter practice. They console themselves in the first few years of practice that the reason they dislike it is because they are simply at the bottom of the totem pole, learning necessary skills and establishing credibility. They assume that matter will improve. After three or more years, the natural instinct is to switch practice areas within the firm or switch firms. This guarantees another few years of hoping that matters will improve.

Those who enter law are generally goal-oriented to opt out; they will leave only when forced. It is only after a dozen or more years that such lawyers will finally admit that they made the wrong career choice. Thus, law represents a decade's committment, or more. Unfortunately, they discover how untrue that notion really is. They talk with friends in other fields, headhunters and so on. They learn that they will have to cut their salaries by two-thirds and be willing to start at the bottom of another field, unless they find a job closely related to law (if they take the latter, such as the exec dir of a public interest organization they still have to accept a substantial salary cut) Given that many lawyers still owe some $100,000 in law school loans, changing professions may not be feasible. Even if they're willing and able to take the massive salary cut involved in starting over -- that is, they can give up their long-held professional identity (and their pride can handle no longer being a "professional") despite their friends' and family's comments that they are wasting their degree -- they find that the barriers to doing so are massive.

Employers value legal training only in lawyers. High-tech firms, traditional companies and everyone else in business do not believe that lawyers, uniquely, have been "taught how to think." Nor do they find that lawyers have necessarily acquired non-legal skills worth paying for. Indeed, employers view lawyers as overly contentious, not team-oriented, and very narrowly focused. Employers grant that lawyers, at least from top schools, are probably pretty smart and willing to work hard. However, they also consider them to be damaged goods. They figure that such lawyers are running away from law rather than towards something else in particular. They may also figure that because lawyers have so little background of relevance to choosing another field, they are likely to make another poor career decision the next time around, just as they did in entering law.

For those lawyers who wish finally to get the true multipurpose degree, an MBA, the outlook is also discouraging. The only lawyers able to get into top business schools are those who have had very substantial business experience along the way. Business schools value experience much more highly than do law schools. Thus, lawyers with top GPAs and GMAT scores flop in the business school admissions game because they have wasted (by business school standards anyway) many years.

Learn in advance whether law and law school are for you.

Law school is the default option for those who are bright and don't know what to do. If you you're choosing law because you like to argue, get married instead. If your parents want you to be a lawyer, then you are, by definition, immature to choose a career. If you do not know what else to do, sample, do not go to law school. Your early twenties are made for sampling. Discuss matters with friends, shadow people working in jobs that sound as if they might fit for you. And if you are choosing law because you want to help people, you might as well join the Mafia and you would be accomplishing towards that goal just as much as by becoming a lawyer.

deming

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 2
    • View Profile
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #154 on: December 21, 2006, 08:56:46 PM »
Awesome post, panera!

jarhead

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 2747
  • "i keeps it reeaal!"
    • View Profile
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #155 on: December 23, 2006, 11:10:19 AM »
i have zero regrets - this degree is a means of empowerment... i worked for 3 years after finishing UG - i came to realize during my limited time spent in the rat race that your career success, advancement, etc. isn't necessarily linked nor dependent in any functional way upon how smart you think you are (i.e. how well you perform your particular role / delegation of duties withinin the corporate scheme) but more related to how smart you have *proven* yourself to be - which means, in terms of a modern-day work force translation, that you: you better have a professional degree (and if you do, it better be from a good school). this is all that matters. this is how johnny Q moron ends up running company X. he has the degree, smart guy doesn't - johnny Q gets the job. this time last year i was playing my part in a very tidy hierarchy of subservience. 1L is finished and out of the way and i'm now i'm writing minute entries on summary judgment motions for a judge - he gives me the briefs, etc. and i decide the issue. granted, i'm getting paid zero (1L summer judicial internship position) but the power being placed in my hands is semi-scary ...

and i like it :) it's a step in teh right direction - last year just another automaton in a collared shirt, this year i'm deciding actual issues that actively effect people's lives ...

no - regrets - whatsoever

this time next year 2L SA position with that very handy salary of several g per week ...

yeah, i'm crying a river


so true...those of you with all the complaints about law school and the law what did you expect...i've got news for you most jobs suck no matter how how up you are... how much you get paid there will be some aspect of your job that sucks...why would you think the law would be any different...i mean who goes to law school at this point thinking that its about truth and justice...do you live in the world or what...take it from someone who's been working for 10 years a JD is a good thing to have... it will give you an advantage over anyone who doesn't have one period...all this only get get paid 100k 90k stuff is ridiculous check out the top salaries for most professions/jobs/trades etc... it isn't anywhere near 100K...it takes most people 10 years to reach that salary level and thats if they play the game well
...man, you was who you was before you got here

unlvcrjchick

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 249
    • View Profile
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #156 on: December 24, 2006, 02:44:24 PM »
Panera, I agree with most of your post except for one of your assertions.  Law school does NOT teach you about practicing law...it teaches you how to THINK, period.  You only learn about practicing law by actually practicing law.  Law school does not teach you one whit regarding how to accomplish the "how"; law school is about the "why."

johns259

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 188
    • View Profile
    • GW Law
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #157 on: December 24, 2006, 06:04:25 PM »
Assuming you're not including clinics, skills courses, etc. There are several clinics at my school where you're given primary responsibility over cases, e.g. vaccine injury clinic. IMHO, these are the exceptions to the "how," yet the conventional wisdom is that you learn more in your first year after law school than you did throughout all of law school.

unlvcrjchick

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 249
    • View Profile
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #158 on: December 24, 2006, 09:00:10 PM »
Assuming you're not including clinics, skills courses, etc. There are several clinics at my school where you're given primary responsibility over cases, e.g. vaccine injury clinic. IMHO, these are the exceptions to the "how," yet the conventional wisdom is that you learn more in your first year after law school than you did throughout all of law school.

Yes, excluding clinics, skill courses.  I'm talking about the curriculum that is actually required of students, a curriculum that does not adequately prepare them for the practice of law.

mantoytano

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Re: 1 year later....still glad u went to law school?
« Reply #159 on: December 25, 2006, 04:50:53 AM »

Panera, I agree with most of your post except for one of your assertions. Law school does NOT teach you about practicing law ...


I guess that's what the poster meant, unlv .. law school does not teach you how to practice law, it just gives you a general idea what practicing law is all about ...