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Author Topic: University of San Diego..part time  (Read 2214 times)

OhSnapz

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University of San Diego..part time
« on: July 18, 2008, 12:17:45 AM »
hey people..ok so I accepted scholarship money (5k) and a space at the University of the pacific but was recently taken of the waitlist at USD for their part time program.

Im currently researching the school..meeting with administrators, current and former students etc. but with this short amount of time to make a decision about the school.my huge deposit is due soon..i'm casting a wide net and trying to get as much advice/info as possible!.. I read through the old threads about the school but im looking for fresh updated info from you guys.


first my goals and expectation for law school is this... my primary concerns are career placement after law school and earning power.

-graduate with the chance to enter biglaw and suffer the hours and pay.
-chance at federal or state law clerk positions
-if not big law... at least a law firm (medium size) that pays at least 70k pref. 80k up starting..
-areas of legal interest : Wills and Estates, Family law, PI, crim defense.. real practical law.. I'm not looking at international law or to change the world, just real law that I can turn around and apply to my own solo practice (something I intend to do in the future, but who knows).
-NOTE: the minimum I am willing to accept on my first real law job would be 70k up

will the University of San Diego offer me this? opinions? looking for current or former students or if you have experience with USD.

I know its not a T14 but will USD offer me these goals? or am I asking too much.

I've spoke to USD already about all this.. I just want a second opinion because I feel schools will only tell you the positives and never the negatives just to get you to pay that deposit.








lawnecon

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2008, 12:10:23 PM »


-graduate with the chance to enter biglaw and suffer the hours and pay.
-chance at federal or state law clerk positions
-if not big law... at least a law firm (medium size) that pays at least 70k pref. 80k up starting..
-areas of legal interest : Wills and Estates, Family law, PI, crim defense.. real practical law.. I'm not looking at international law or to change the world, just real law that I can turn around and apply to my own solo practice (something I intend to do in the future, but who knows).
-NOTE: the minimum I am willing to accept on my first real law job would be 70k up

I think think your assumption about the pay scale is somewhat unrealistic. I don't know anything about U San Diego or the CA market, but from what I know about other tier 2 schools and the legal market overall, you may be making a mistake. Like most similar schools, to break into Big Law, you'll need to be at the top of your class. Probably the top 10% for what most consider to be true big law. Maybe there will be some leeway for those ranked slightly lower for regional larger law firms that still have some sort of recruiting program, etc., but I wouldn't imagine you could rank any lower than the top 25%.

In any event, once you get out of Big Law, the average starting salary dips to well under $100,000 (and not just for public interest lawyers). Many people assume that if they can't score a job paying $140-160k, then the next tier of jobs will probably pay around $80 or 90k. This isn't the case. There's a chart floating around somewhere showing that law salaries are bimodal - A good chunk of people making 6 figures out of school and an even larger number making around $40-50k with very few making anything in between.

At my school, most people in small to mid size firms are making about $50-60k. It's not that it's impossible to do get higher paying jobs, but they're less plentiful. As for clerkships, state clerkships are usually available to people from almost any reasonably ranked school, but I'd be shocked if any pay $70k or more. Federal clerkship also (as far as I know) are relatively low paying, but they're usually very competitive. Chances are if you can get one, you can also get a biglaw gig (which usually follows most federal clerkships).

From what I can tell, here's the breakdown of salaries by poisition

Public Defenders: 20's to low 40's
Assistant DA's: Mid 30's to low 50's
Personal Injury: 40's to low 50's
Insurance Defense: 50's to mid 60's
Contract/Temp Doc Review: $70's to low 100 (High range includes overtime; no benefits)

It's important to remember that these are starting salaries, but if your sole goal is to make a big paycheck right out of law school, unless you're at the top of you class, it's going to be tough and there will probably be a few lean years. The real question is do you want to be a lawyer or do you just want to be a professional with a big paycheck. If it's the latter, there are easier paths to that goal than law school.
Villanova Law School Class of '09

"I don't believe in nothing, no more - I'm going to law school!" Jimbo Jones (The Simpsons)

StevePirates

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2008, 01:36:12 PM »
USD is a little special.  It's the big dog in a growing legal market.  I had a huge advantage in placing students in the "BigLaw" type firms in San Diego.  In San Diego, USD students compete very well with the top 15% or so from Cal Western, and people from the T14 and UC system who want to come practice law in paradise.  Outside of San Diego, it's just another mid-range school.

As the San Diego legal market grows, USD gets better and better placement opportunities at the top level.

Just so you know, starting salaries for attorneys are a bimodal distribution, a big spike around the 50K mark, another big spike around $120K, and a large trough between the two.  It is more likely that you'll make either six figures, or 50/60K than 70/80K. 

The areas of law that you're interested in right now probably put you closer to the 50K range, and not in BigLaw world.  If you're a true believer (i.e. you KNOW what you want to do), then I'd go to UoP.  You'll have a lower debt load, so making 50/60 won't be the end of the world.  At USD part time, you'll pay more in tuition, plus extra cost-of-living for the extra time it takes.  With that sort of debt load, you'd feel a lot more pressure to land on the other spike... which coming out of USD you can certainly do....  but from what you've written, you don't seem to want to.

StevePirates

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2008, 01:37:08 PM »
Oh, for what it's worth, I took a full ride at Cal Western rather than admission at USD.
I've got friends at both schools.  Everyone is happy with either place.  I've got friends at McGeorge who are happy there to.

OhSnapz

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2008, 09:09:01 PM »
Thank you everyone for your help and insight.

Yea I totally understand that the legal field , esp starting .. there is a huge disparity between avail income jobs.. I thought the gap was more a lot of 60k-70k private practice and a lot of 120-160k jobs? but I didn't know that it was so clear cut as to make it impossible to find a 70-80k starting. Anyone have access to that salary chart? or direct me to where to find it?

so does this mean there are NO NONE ZERO chance of getting a law position between 70-90k job starting out? even if say we scored in the top quarter of the class?

I also do understand that law clerk, etc positions pay little, but I would like a shot at an opportunity to clerk for a state/federal as I believe you can gain valuable experience/real hands on knowledge esp. in the legal field in these positions. In addition I have heard that it is an excellent position to add to your resume and make you much more appealing to larger firms and other employers.

also quick question

I mean.. I assume only so many people per class per year can get that biglaw 100k up job... I know others will start making 50-60k...that is fine my first year.. but I assume most 50-60k associates will move up in the salary grade after a year or two correct? like more into the 70 possibly 80k range? please correct me if I'm wrong.

My goal isn't about making the most money my first year out.I know that I want to try my hardest my first year to come out on top..but so is everyone else in your class, we can't be all at the top, I just want to know if I do end up in the middle will I be stuck with unemployment and crappy law jobs forever? What I'm saying is that will a USD degree allow me to transition after my first 1-2 years into another higher paying (i.e 80k up) position?



lawnecon

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2008, 06:35:04 PM »
Quote
so does this mean there are NO NONE ZERO chance of getting a law position between 70-90k job starting out? even if say we scored in the top quarter of the class?

Of course not, no. What it means is that the bulk of employers who hire on a regular basis (see above + biglaw) don't pay in that range. I've heard of people getting salaries in the 70-90 range (botique firms, coporations, employers hiring people w/ some significant work experience), but it's not something to bank on. See this link:

http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2007/09/distribution-of.html

My point is that many students reason to themselves that if the elite of the class will get $100k + jobs, then the middle of the class probably gets between $80-100k starting salaries. It doesn't work that way. US News adds to the confusion because they usually list average starting salaries in the 80 - 90's range for T2's and lower T1's. These figures are skewed by the eye popping salaries for those on the top and those starting out with $35 per hour contract jobs but who often move on to more stable (but less lucrative work.

In short, don't go to law school expecting a great starting salary unless you end up at the top of the class.

Villanova Law School Class of '09

"I don't believe in nothing, no more - I'm going to law school!" Jimbo Jones (The Simpsons)

Einstein

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2008, 10:16:35 PM »
Quote
so does this mean there are NO NONE ZERO chance of getting a law position between 70-90k job starting out? even if say we scored in the top quarter of the class?

Of course not, no. What it means is that the bulk of employers who hire on a regular basis (see above + biglaw) don't pay in that range. I've heard of people getting salaries in the 70-90 range (botique firms, coporations, employers hiring people w/ some significant work experience), but it's not something to bank on. See this link:

http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2007/09/distribution-of.html

My point is that many students reason to themselves that if the elite of the class will get $100k + jobs, then the middle of the class probably gets between $80-100k starting salaries. It doesn't work that way. US News adds to the confusion because they usually list average starting salaries in the 80 - 90's range for T2's and lower T1's. These figures are skewed by the eye popping salaries for those on the top and those starting out with $35 per hour contract jobs but who often move on to more stable (but less lucrative work.

In short, don't go to law school expecting a great starting salary unless you end up at the top of the class.



Please stop infesting the 0L class with your lack of knowledge of the SD legal market.  You have never lived here and you have no knowledge of USD or its placement.

You are just spewing generalizations based on a magazines rating of a school without knowledge of the truth.

Please disregard lawnecon's comments as he has no (zero) experience with USD or the SD market. 

StevePirates and theor have the more correct responses.
Practice LSAT: 147(d), 150, 151,143,152, 156,161,163,161,160,157,163,158,162

University of San Diego School of Law!

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2008, 02:49:46 PM »
USD '09.  Sunny San Diego, baby!

lawnecon

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2008, 04:05:57 AM »
Quote
so does this mean there are NO NONE ZERO chance of getting a law position between 70-90k job starting out? even if say we scored in the top quarter of the class?

Of course not, no. What it means is that the bulk of employers who hire on a regular basis (see above + biglaw) don't pay in that range. I've heard of people getting salaries in the 70-90 range (botique firms, coporations, employers hiring people w/ some significant work experience), but it's not something to bank on. See this link:

http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2007/09/distribution-of.html

My point is that many students reason to themselves that if the elite of the class will get $100k + jobs, then the middle of the class probably gets between $80-100k starting salaries. It doesn't work that way. US News adds to the confusion because they usually list average starting salaries in the 80 - 90's range for T2's and lower T1's. These figures are skewed by the eye popping salaries for those on the top and those starting out with $35 per hour contract jobs but who often move on to more stable (but less lucrative work.

In short, don't go to law school expecting a great starting salary unless you end up at the top of the class.



Please stop infesting the 0L class with your lack of knowledge of the SD legal market.  You have never lived here and you have no knowledge of USD or its placement.

You are just spewing generalizations based on a magazines rating of a school without knowledge of the truth.

Please disregard lawnecon's comments as he has no (zero) experience with USD or the SD market. 

StevePirates and theor have the more correct responses.

Uh excuse me, I'm a 3L who has experienced the job search process, seen other enter the job market from my school and others, and spent a good deal of time reading up on this very (most) important aspect of the law school - getting a job.

Am I the only person with a valid opinion? Of course not. Am I expert on all markets - particularly SD, clearly that's not the case. Nonetheless, there are concerns that all potential law students should take into account. I'm not a "wii mote" claiming that all T2 students (and lower) are looking at a life or unemployment, depression, and worse. I know for a fact that's not the case. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who have had rude, rude awakenings when they realize that even with good grades at good schools they're not going to walk into the big firm jobs they've been “promised”. Moreover, the statistics seem to back me up that once you get out of the big firm positions, the salary figures drop considerably - contrary to popular (and reasonably logical) opinion its not a slow, progressive decline from 100's to 90's to 80's in terms of salary.

Is San Diego some Nirvana that those of us chumps in Philly, LA, NYC, DC, etc. can only dream of where "also rans" are still pulling in big (not doc review) bucks? You'd know better than I would, and if so my congratulations to you, sir! Unfortunately, you haven't provided the OP with numbers that seem to prove the national trend is inapplicable to San Diego. Until that's the case, I think it's fair (and important) to remind 0L's that if they want to be lawyers, great - don't let the Wii Mote's of the world run you down, but be very cautious if you think law school (outside of the elite schools) is the path to immediate riches.

I think the point of these boards is to help us reason through decisions about law school. I think I've been quite responsible with my comments. I'm sorry you don't think so.

Edit: Also StevePirates wrote: "Just so you know, starting salaries for attorneys are a bimodal distribution, a big spike around the 50K mark, another big spike around $120K, and a large trough between the two.  It is more likely that you'll make either six figures, or 50/60K than 70/80K."

This is pretty much the point of my posts, so I'm not sure what the problem was with my statements anyway. Do you just have something against East Coasters?  :) 

Villanova Law School Class of '09

"I don't believe in nothing, no more - I'm going to law school!" Jimbo Jones (The Simpsons)

snarkygirl

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Re: University of San Diego..part time
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2008, 10:26:33 AM »
NOTE: the minimum I am willing to accept on my first real law job would be 70k


hahahahahahaahahahahahahahaah a.  no offense, but that is silly.   

also to the person who quoted average starting salaries...just wanted to clear that up for those of us who are interested in working in the public sector.

average starting salary for an assistant DA is 45,769.  in san diego it is more like 65,000.  where i live (dallas) it is 56,000.

average starting salary for a public defender is 44,660.