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Author Topic: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)  (Read 3874 times)

adi1

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LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« on: January 08, 2009, 07:55:41 PM »
So its pretty much understood that the ive league grads as well as the students from the  top law schools get market jobs with biglaw firms if they desire it. In other words, its available to them. (of course if they choose publice service jobs, thats their own choice)...

And we know salaries for biglaw jobs- they are posted all over the web, vault.com, etc..


So what happens to the graduates of the other 150 law schools that the biglaw firms dont recruit from?? We know that SOME of these students get biglaw jobs, whether its cause they are in the top of the class or they have great hookups.  BUT WHAT THE HECK HAPPENS WITH THE OTHER STUDENTS?? We are talking like 45,000 graduates each year...and for the life of me I cant figure it all out.

The reason I cant figure it out is that according to this board and others , apparently these grads cannot get jobs. my friends in brooklyn law school cannot get jobs this year (top third of class).yet on the law schools websites, they all say that they place almost all their grads with jobs..

So whats the real truth??? do all these grads get jobs each year (NOT THE IVY LEAGUE GRADS..I AM TALKING ABOUT EVERYONE ELSE, DOWN TO THE GRADS OF THE LOWEST RANKED SCHOOL??  WHAT MONEY ARE THEY MAKING?? Where do they work?

EVEN AT THE LOWEST SCHOOL, a student has to put in so much work to get through law school. studying day and night and borrowing 150K to do it...and not to get a job offer?? THAT IS SOOOOOOO INSANE PEOPLE!! Its so sad..

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

SavoyTruffleShuffle

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2009, 08:04:09 PM »
Going to the lowest school(s) is insane, but that does't seem to stop people from doing it.

As for non-biglaw, there are plenty of smaller law firms, there are government jobs, there are public interest jobs, there are clerkships, there is academia, there is "business" (which can be anything from 'contract attorney' to 'bricklayer'), and there is unemployment/despair.

econtutorNV

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2009, 08:56:33 PM »
This has been posted a million times, but...

Here's a distribution of how the class of '07 fared in their job searches

http://www.law.com/img/nlj/charts/composite.pdf

Some things to note

1) Business- This, as Savoy Truffle Shuffle noted, could mean any number of things. It could mean that an individual ended up working compliance for a financial institution to (much more likely) busing tables at TGI Friday's.

2) The "Other Firm" jobs category- Could mean anything from another, well respected firm that didn't quite make the NLJ250 picked up these grads or "shitlaw" at an Insurance Defense mill making 35K/year. (Also, I think that "contract attorneys" end up in this category, not "business" as Savoy Truffle Shuffle stated, but he/she could very well be right, or we could both be right and pulling our numbers and methodologies from two different sources.)

3) Academia- Sure, some J.D.'s end up teaching right out of school, but more likely these are positions created by a student's law school in order to give them a job for a time (I would assume until shortly after the "employed at 9 mos." stats come out) in order for the school to pad their numbers.

Also, to answer your "what do they make?" question, from the class of 2006 graduating stats...

http://www.elsblog.org/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2008/07/16/nalp_2006.gif

This chart has changed slightly, the mode on the right has moved over to the 145K-160K range while the left mode has remained constant. Odds are that if you're friends are top 1/3 at BLS their looking at the left mode.

Why anybody hasn't thought to take advantage of the situation by hiring in the "Death Valley" range is beyond me, but as law (and soon to be law) students we don't have any power over firm hiring practices.

Why don't my friends have jobs?

Welcome to the worst recession in twenty years. While it's tough graduating below the top 10%-25% at any school (of course excepting the T14/Vandy/UCLA/UT) the market for new lawyers is downright horrible now. Also factor into it that BLS is located in what is the most glutted state for lawyers (DC has I think nearly 500% more J.D.'s per capita) and your friends are walking into what could only be described as one of the most hostile job markets outside of professional escort critic and video game tester. Check out http://www.abovethelaw.com to see the latest slash and burns at the big firms and keep in mind that cutting 1st year associates is a great signal to new grads to avoid your firm like the plague.

As you cited there are currently about 45 thousand J.D.'s graduating every year! There just isn't enough demand to support that. Add into it that fall backs such as doc review are going the way of the dodo (http://temporaryattorney.blogspot.com/) and things are looking to only get worse.

I'm truly sorry to hear about your friends' plight, I hope this goes a little way to explaining what's going on.
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adi1

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2009, 09:14:25 PM »
thanks for the insights.. its truly crazy out there. I have to believe that all these 45,000 grads do indeed find real work and not TGI Fridays.

I have another question- we all know the stats that the graduate degree, especially a law degree, does indeed help the person earn much more over their career.

SO what exactly is the career path like for these 45,000 grads from the lower ranked schools?? they obviously are not starting off with a biglaw salary. But after 5 years or 10 years or whatever, does the income from the grads of a top law school and a lower ranked law school become equal ??  Or are the grads from the lower ranked schools set for a life of struggle and 35K jobs proofreading docs?

Because if the answer is the latter, all these 1L hopefuls (including myself) need to really reconsider if its really worth it. I mean seriously- 3 years of hard schooling, day and night studying, a ridiculously hard bar exam, HUGE DEBT of usually over 150k, etc... and all of it for what?? to struggle your whole life to make an income that a shoe salesman makes? Why Why WHY?? it makes no sense!

If you told me that although its a struggle initially, the grads from the lower ranked schools will eventually earn nice money, then it makes sense and I understand it. Anyone have any info on this or have friends who graduated TEN or FIFTEEN years ago from the lower schools ? where are these people working today? income??

I have applied to some lower ranked schools, but I am reconsidering the whole thing based on what I am hearing and reading ...

 

econtutorNV

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2009, 09:39:39 PM »
My god I'm starting to sound like a jdundergrounder...

I don't have any data to back it up but no, I do not think that the incomes of students graduating from the top schools and students graduating from lower ranked schools ever comes close to parity. One thing to consider is that this is a prestige driven field, it is the reason that the top schools all place incredibly well and that the drop off is so sharp once you leave the top 15-20 schools. There isn't a reason that an income disparity would be lessened with time, in fact, I think that it would probably widen as the elite grads pick up ever more (financially) rewarding positions.

This isn't to say that you can't make it if you come from a "bad" school, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Just keep in mind that the odds are incredibly stacked against you if you go to a school in a glutted market that isn't in the "elite" category and you fail to place at the very top of the class.

I'm not going to tell anybody not to go to law school, I know the risks involved and hell, I'm still looking at going. I know that trying to talk a 0L out of showing up is like trying to tell the wind which way to blow. Truth be told though, unless you want a chance to practice law, not to be a lawyer, but merely a chance at it, don't go to law school. If you want to make money there are better ways to do it, pharmacists and dentists are two easy examples that come to mind and both profession's average salaries are far larger than the average attorney's, and with better hours. I repeat, if you want to go to law school simply for the money you are making a huge mistake, there are far more lucrative careers that both pay better and are in heavy demand.

As for people who graduated ten to fifteen years ago, they came out of school in a different era. I know a few graduates who came out in the early 90's, they're doing well, but they came into a sellers' market for J.D.'s.

I know it's harsh to hear but someone should show you the downside of it before you spend 3 years and possibly 150K in order to get a job (if you're lucky) that pays roughly equal to managing a pizza place.
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SavoyTruffleShuffle

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2009, 09:49:12 PM »
You just have to remember that those attorneys making crazy $#!%loads of money really prop up those sorts of "average lawyer earns X" statistics. If one guy is making 220k and 4 others are making 20k, you'll see that the average salary is 60k and think "wow, that's more than i'm making! being a lawyer sounds pretty sweet!"... but then you look closer and realize that your chance of actually making that 60k is lower than you first thought.


Now, those numbers are completely made up and everything. I think (and sincerely hope) that there are few people with JDs making 20k/year, but it shows what I'm talking about (and made the math easy).

econtutorNV

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2009, 10:02:13 PM »
You just have to remember that those attorneys making crazy $#!%loads of money really prop up those sorts of "average lawyer earns X" statistics. If one guy is making 220k and 4 others are making 20k, you'll see that the average salary is 60k and think "wow, that's more than i'm making! being a lawyer sounds pretty sweet!"... but then you look closer and realize that your chance of actually making that 60k is lower than you first thought.


Now, those numbers are completely made up and everything. I think (and sincerely hope) that there are few people with JDs making 20k/year, but it shows what I'm talking about (and made the math easy).

Another good point, do not ever take a school's self reported data seriously, they (outside of the top schools) have no incentive to be 100% honest. In addition, the figures that are reported to the schools from their graduates' surveys can be remarkably skewed.

I remember that Tulane led the pack with an average starting salary of $135K a year back. The catch? A 27% response rate and who do you think was more likely to respond, the guy who walked into a Biglaw! job making 160K his first year or the practically unemployed barista? Even the ABA data on the LSAC website is screwy. Go off of the NLJ numbers if you want some accuracy and count "unknown" as unemployed, NLJ firms as the guys making the six-figure jobs, and be very skeptical of the "other firms" and "academia" categories.
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Connelly

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2009, 10:14:42 AM »
Truth be told though, unless you want a chance to practice law, not to be a lawyer, but merely a chance at it, don't go to law school. If you want to make money there are better ways to do it,

Wisdom.  A JD is not a blank check.  If you are in it for the money and do not think you have a solid shot at getting hired by a good/big firm, you might want to consider other more lucrative endeavors. 

Quote
pharmacists and dentists are two easy examples that come to mind and both profession's average salaries are far larger than the average attorney's, and with better hours.

One thing I would note with respect to pharmacists is that it seems that their pay range is in a very tight (although high) band.  So perhaps 80% of them are in the $90-150k range, but very few make Biglaw senior associate or partner money.  This is one of the reasons given to me by the pharmacist in our law school class for why he is there.

adi1

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2009, 03:21:06 PM »
i wonder if the market will ever change to a sellers market for JD's...I guess that as long as even the lowest tier schools keep reporting avrg $160k salaries for its grads, there will always be more 1L's taking the bite and believing it....

I have to wonder about this whole thing though- Lawyers are supposed to be logical and what I dont get is: Why wont big law hire from the lower 150 law schools (in general, not just the top student)??? Do they really believe that the JD's coming out of the top 20 schools are the only good JD's out there?? the other 45,000 JD's suck? Gosh, cause they missed a few more questions on some logic game on an LSAT, does that truly make them terrible lawyers??  Is that logical???????

Its freakin insane and the more I study this whole thing, it really leaves a bad taste...

econtutorNV

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Re: LAWYERS & INCOME - some thoughts for the board (or bored)
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2009, 03:34:04 PM »
i wonder if the market will ever change to a sellers market for JD's...I guess that as long as even the lowest tier schools keep reporting avrg $160k salaries for its grads, there will always be more 1L's taking the bite and believing it....

I have to wonder about this whole thing though- Lawyers are supposed to be logical and what I dont get is: Why wont big law hire from the lower 150 law schools (in general, not just the top student)??? Do they really believe that the JD's coming out of the top 20 schools are the only good JD's out there?? the other 45,000 JD's suck? Gosh, cause they missed a few more questions on some logic game on an LSAT, does that truly make them terrible lawyers??  Is that logical???????

Its freakin insane and the more I study this whole thing, it really leaves a bad taste...

Easy answer to that question, the Cravath system-http://www.elsblog.org/the_empirical_legal_studi/2008/07/how-the-cravath.html


Will firms ever change their hiring practices? Is there a market out there for firms willing to hire from lower schools for fewer billables (or, god forbid, killing the billable altogether and replacing it with a flat-fee structure) and passing their savings on to their clients? I don't have the answer to these questions, no one does. In the interim we all have to deal with the employment market we're given, better to go in with a better picture of what it's like then to be blindsided by the realities of the market.
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In- Tulane ($$), Baylor, USD, Santa Clara ($), IU-B ($), Loyola
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