3) Get a car, plus do one of the above
2) Start saving/investing for a down payment, so I don't have to rent for very long once I graduate
1) Take out less loans next year/start paying off UG loans (< 20k)
If you don't need it, don't buy it. Cars depreciate. Loans appreciated.
Depends on how long you will stay at that location. There are significant costs associated with buying and selling a home, which means that staying for a short period of time can wipe out your gains (while subjecting you to unnecessary risk). Depending on the market, a home will probably be expensive, so you wouldn't buy until 1-2 years after starting the firm job anyway. If you think you might leave the firm within 5 years of starting (which I'm pretty sure happens to somewhere near 80-90%), I would not pursue this option. If you are looking at purchasing property, definitely buy below your means so that you are not in serious financial trouble if you switch jobs.
Eh, don't count on staying at the same firm for a long time until you have actually worked there. I am sure you can handle Biglaw, but you have no idea at this time what place has the firm culture you seek while paying well. Also, associates are their most mobile at 3-8 years experience, you would have to be pretty sure it was your dream job not to move.
While associates are most mobile from 3-8 years of experience...
I'll second what the other poster said about Roth. Definitely max it. If you don't know much about it, check it out. It coincides with your housing plan: for purchase of new home, so long as you have had a Roth for 5 years, all earnings are tax free.
If you want a house, go for it. But I stick by my advice from before about buying well below your means. Also, I know it seems strange that a big firm might fire you outright after investing $20K+ for a summer and several years of $160K-$200K salary (plus other expenses), but it happens. Biglaw jobs are not any more secure than at a profit driven company that seeks to cut fat during periods of economic downturn. Combine the profit motive of the firm with the fact that most associates leave voluntarily, and there is significant turnover.
I haven't thought about mobility from biglaw very much, but why do you say 3-8 years? My understanding is that you become more mobile after making partner. That is, more mobility from firm to firm.
Does anyone know a competent lawyer who has been fired from big law in mass layoffs?
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