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Author Topic: irrational paranoia at top schools?  (Read 4074 times)

cisforcookie

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irrational paranoia at top schools?
« on: February 08, 2008, 11:59:57 AM »
I feel as though all the blogs and posts about people from t2, 3, 4 schools who can't even get interviews are poisoning my expectations for law school. I find myself suffering a lot of anxiety that I will have difficulty securing satisfactory employment as a lawyer even from a top25 school.

Is this common? Is this rational? On the off chance that it happens, is bottom half at texas or vandy or wustl or minnesota a one-way ticket to a lifetime of doc review? I'm sure that it isn't, but what does happen?

Everyone seems to talk about the upside, about getting top 1/3 and being set for biglaw out of oci, etc, but what's the downside? Any students at very good but not elite schools have any experience with what happens to those people who just don't distinguish themselves?

Thanks.

nbf

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2008, 12:27:36 PM »
Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news (Most people that post on this site only want reassurance), but bottom 1/2 (or maybe even bottom 2/3, depending on the school) at a T25 will land you some pretty grim job prospects.

thorc954

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2008, 12:29:51 PM »
Im at a top 25 school.  From my experience, job opportunities outside of the top 25% (maybe top 30%) are pretty hard to come by in the terms of "satisfactory employment."  That being said, my definition of satisfactory employment is different from that of many other people.  I wouldnt be content with anything paying less then 160K a year starting. 

People outside the top 25% manage to get jobs though.  Many will do DA jobs or PD jobs or something in public interest, the DOJ, or some other government entity.  Others will go to medium size firms.  There are job opportunities for everyone at the top law schools, but not necessarily in the best jobs.

Law school is like playing craps.  Its a complete gamble.  If you go into it thinking you are going to be a the top of your class, you could be extremely disappointed.  You have to go in thinking that you will be happy being a lawyer in any context and for any employer.  If not, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment.  I lucked out and got a respectable job, but I had to struggle to get the job.  Many of my friends are still looking for employment. 

cisforcookie

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2008, 12:47:37 PM »
Interesting. My notion of satisfactory employment has relatively little to do with pay scale and everything to do with interesting work with interesting people. A DA or PD office in a respectable location seems just fine to me. I won't be coming out of law school with any debt, so my situation may be uncommon. But if I wanted to get a firm job at some kind of mid-size firm in my region, that's entirely attainable?

1LMan

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2008, 12:49:48 PM »
We will agree to disagree, Thorc, as usual lol.

OP: I'm at a T25 and a seemingly average student, not in the top 1/3 and I have one of those coveted Biglaw Summer Associateships lined up that pays market rate.

Also, if you are going to law school and COUNTING on a $160k salary, then you shouldn't be in law school.  It isn't reality that everyone is going to make that much.  Making a household income of $150k per annum puts you in the top 2% of wage earners in America.  Do you really think a JD is going to guarantee that type of financial superiority?

thorc954

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2008, 01:21:41 PM »
Interesting. My notion of satisfactory employment has relatively little to do with pay scale and everything to do with interesting work with interesting people. A DA or PD office in a respectable location seems just fine to me. I won't be coming out of law school with any debt, so my situation may be uncommon. But if I wanted to get a firm job at some kind of mid-size firm in my region, that's entirely attainable?

well, you are very fortunate to have the free education and not have to worry about paying off loans.  With many students, the amount of debt incurred makes the salary a deciding factor.  I cant say whether you would have a shot at a mid size firm or not in your region, because I do not know what the hiring is like in that region or your stats, but it seems like the ones that are willing to hire are less concerned about grades.  The turnover isnt as large and i feel as though they only hire based on strict need to fill positions where big firms have the rotation and bring in huge classes. 

2L Man and I have some disagreements about the depth of recruitment, but I feel like he is the exception, not the rule.  It is very difficult to get a job paying market if you are outside the top of your class, but there are exceptions. (people with good prior work experience, IP people, people with connections, and people who are sleeping with hiring partners (2L Man)).  Just kidding, I think, from other posts he has written, he is a former military man which has gotta help out significantly in the job search. 

Everything is relative, if you are going for free, you dont have much to lose.  If you are a 0L instead of a 1L I would seriously think about what you want to do and consider turning down the scholarship and going to a better school to open up opportunities unless you are positive you want to do a PD thing and money will be an issue.

cisforcookie

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2008, 01:55:14 PM »
I am a 0L, but I figured the students board would be a better place to ask about jobs. I have several friends at top14 schools, but I am still pending at the ones i applied to, and I am operating under the assumption that I won't be getting in. Pleasantly, I still got a pile of cash from UIUC, Minn, and WUSTL, because I can't see myself paying full price at anywhere outside the very top. I think I will do very well, but I am trying to get a handle on the risks if I don't. I have a good job as an analyst, but the work doesn't challenge or interest me, so I thought I'd try being a criminal attorney. Now I find myself wondering whether I would be better to stay put and try another line of work. Maybe finance.

thorc954

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2008, 02:21:56 PM »
I am a 0L, but I figured the students board would be a better place to ask about jobs. I have several friends at top14 schools, but I am still pending at the ones i applied to, and I am operating under the assumption that I won't be getting in. Pleasantly, I still got a pile of cash from UIUC, Minn, and WUSTL, because I can't see myself paying full price at anywhere outside the very top. I think I will do very well, but I am trying to get a handle on the risks if I don't. I have a good job as an analyst, but the work doesn't challenge or interest me, so I thought I'd try being a criminal attorney. Now I find myself wondering whether I would be better to stay put and try another line of work. Maybe finance.

well, if you are getting money from WUSTL, then i would assume you would break the T14 somewhere in which case I would definitely take that over any money from other schools.  I only asked if you were a OL because I find that so many people take the money over the school when there are ways to pay down your loans regardless of what you do after graduation and a degree from a better school will open up a lot more doors.

finance? ehh... law school is a tough decision to make.  I didnt know whether i wanted to go until the first week of classes. 

1LMan

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2008, 03:15:52 PM »
Also, being a criminal attorney is nothing like law and order, just so you know lol.  Sorry, but based on your posts it seems like you are the typical "I have no clue what to do with my life so I will go to law school" student.  This is why lawyers are disillusioned and end up bitter half the time.

Thorc: Georgetown, a T14 school, places no better than we do and that is reality.  They place well in the top 1/3-top half just like we do.  Personally, I think passing up scholarships at a T25 to go to Georgetown would be stupid.

Sure, taking that T14 school at full price seems worth it now, but when you are paying that 150k of debt off, your big 160k salary isn't going to seem so big anymore.....

vaplaugh

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Re: irrational paranoia at top schools?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2008, 03:18:52 PM »
well, if you are getting money from WUSTL, then i would assume you would break the T14 somewhere in which case I would definitely take that over any money from other schools.  I only asked if you were a OL because I find that so many people take the money over the school when there are ways to pay down your loans regardless of what you do after graduation and a degree from a better school will open up a lot more doors.

finance? ehh... law school is a tough decision to make.  I didnt know whether i wanted to go until the first week of classes. 

Does your opinion not come to you retrospectively on this topic?  Correct me if I'm wrong, but you attend the highest ranked school you were accepted to, got great grades, and now have a high paying job lined up that will allow you to easily control your debt.  If you hadn't gotten the good grades (let's say bottom 1/3 or 1/2) and didn't get the $160K "satisfactory" job, wouldn't you rather graduate from a lower ranked school with no to very little debt?

Law school is like playing craps.  Its a complete gamble.  If you go into it thinking you are going to be a the top of your class, you could be extremely disappointed.  You have to go in thinking that you will be happy being a lawyer in any context and for any employer.  If not, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment.  I lucked out and got a respectable job, but I had to struggle to get the job.  Many of my friends are still looking for employment. 

It seems to me like this statement supports taking the scholarship money.  If someone is happy without chasing the biglaw job (presumably to pay down the debt), then why take on the debt and limit your goal to that job?