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Author Topic: Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)  (Read 1192 times)

mousqueton

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Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)
« on: March 14, 2009, 01:59:28 AM »
I've got a tough choice to make about where I'm going in the near future.

Background: I'm an Army officer who was accepted to the FLEP program (basically where the Army pays for my tuition and I'm obligated to be a JAG for 6 years after passing the bar).  I really want to go to the best school possible, but the poor job market for lawyers is definitely making me a bit nervous.  I'm not 100% sure of what type of law I want to do yet, but I'm gravitating towards criminal or civil litigation.

Here are the options:

#1).  I've been accepted to Georgetown(PT) & USC.  I'm also hopeful about Cornell/Duke/Michigan panning out into an acceptance.  I will probably not get anything but very minor grants to any of these schools.  FLEP will not pay for these schools because they only allow up to $20K annual tuition, and I am legally not allowed to pay the remainder.  Only the school can cover the rest, and like I said none of those schools will likely offer me anything more than a very minor grant.  So if I did one of these, I'd have to pay my way full-freight.

#2).  University of Washington, Seattle.  This is the best school I got into that FLEP will pay for.  I will have absolutely no student debt upon graduation and will be on active duty status during law school.  As such, I will collect about $80K/year captain's pay (in addition to not paying tuition/fees), will have full health/dental for myself/family.  I will also have a job in JAG waiting for me (pays about $90K/year and will not top out more than about $110K).  The cons are that I would have to serve at least 6 years after graduation.  I also have to spend my summers doing Army internships and would not be allowed to do a clerkship (something which interests me).

I've got to make the decision within 4 weeks(before most schools even require a deposit). That being said, I know I'm lucky to have this "problem", and I'd appreciate any input you guys have.  My goals aren't necessarily to serve exclusively in the military (I've already done the Iraq/combat thing).  I'd like to get either into a big firm or the USAO whether or not I go Army.

Edit: Also, in the military, I basically wouldn't have much of a choice as to where I'll be living.  Could be Hawaii, Europe or DC or alternatively Northern Louisiana, Kansas, inner-Georgia.  Tours are typically 3 years in length.  Civilian world, I'd be interested in LA or NY.

nerfco

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Re: Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2009, 02:13:54 AM »
So, if I understand correctly, if you go to U Dub, the army pays tuition and gives you 80k on top for three years and then you work for them for six years, at ~100k/year. you also give up the chance to work cool places in summer. So, net, $840k in 9 years.

Alternatively, say you attend USC or wherever, and you'll end up paying $40k/year tuition (note: I don't know what USC charges and am far too lazy to check). If we assume you did well and got biglaw, you could make roughly 200k/year average for those six years. Plus, you'd also get the 2L summer biglaw job for another 30k. So, by the numbers, it's 1,230k - 120k (tuition) = 1,110k vs 840k.

Of course, you'd make less if you clerked, but if you clerked, you'd be choosing that over biglaw anyhow, so it must be worth more to you than the salary anyhow. Also, assuming you'd get biglaw might be a big assumption from USC (I have no idea), but it likely much less of an assumption at some place like Michigan, if you get in.

So I guess it depends upon your chances of making biglaw, and which job you would prefer (JAG or biglaw). Personally, I wouldn't ever do JAG and they probably wouldn't take me, so I can honestly say I'd choose USC or GULC (p/t), but that isn't really meaningful. Paying stick is also a lot riskier, given the ITE.

darner

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Re: Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2009, 10:48:06 AM »
What would your duty status be if you attend a non-FLEP school? Would the Army be paying you any salary/benefits? What would be your remaining service commitment after finishing?

mousqueton

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Re: Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2009, 11:12:37 AM »
So, if I understand correctly, if you go to U Dub, the army pays tuition and gives you 80k on top for three years and then you work for them for six years, at ~100k/year. you also give up the chance to work cool places in summer.


Yes, exactly.

What would your duty status be if you attend a non-FLEP school? Would the Army be paying you any salary/benefits? What would be your remaining service commitment after finishing?

My service obligation expires this May, so I'd be a civilian- no pay or benefits from the Army, but no requirement to serve the military any longer.  I'm an officer, so I have minimal GI Bill benefits, only a few thousand/year.

vap

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Re: Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2009, 11:43:53 AM »
This seems like a very personal choice, dependent on many factors (like savings, expected debt, family obligations, age, and general happiness with staying with the Army).

If it were me, I'd go with UW and take the money.  You can always clerk after that and go into private practice if you want.  But, I've never served, so I don't know all that it would entail.

But again, personal choice.

Ah, and congrats!  You definitely have some great options.

Contract2008

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Re: Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2009, 08:50:03 PM »

#1).  I've been accepted to Georgetown(PT) & USC.  I'm also hopeful about Cornell/Duke/Michigan panning out into an acceptance.  I will probably not get anything but very minor grants to any of these schools.  FLEP will not pay for these schools because they only allow up to $20K annual tuition, and I am legally not allowed to pay the remainder.  Only the school can cover the rest, and like I said none of those schools will likely offer me anything more than a very minor grant.  So if I did one of these, I'd have to pay my way full-freight.

Who made that policy/rule?  It's just seem so stupid.  What's the reasoning behind this what seems to be a stupid rule?

Quote
#2).  University of Washington, Seattle.  This is the best school I got into that FLEP will pay for.  I will have absolutely no student debt upon graduation and will be on active duty status during law school.  As such, I will collect about $80K/year captain's pay (in addition to not paying tuition/fees), will have full health/dental for myself/family.  I will also have a job in JAG waiting for me (pays about $90K/year and will not top out more than about $110K).  The cons are that I would have to serve at least 6 years after graduation.  I also have to spend my summers doing Army internships and would not be allowed to do a clerkship (something which interests me).

If I understand this correctly, this seems like a very sweet deal.  Are you telling us that you will be going to law school for free in addition to getting paid $80K each year for attending?  And, you will have guaranteed job after graduation that pays about 100K? 

My question is, what will you be doing during those 6 years after graduation?  Will you actually be practicing law allowing you to acquire skills that are transferable to law firms or well-paying corporation jobs?  Do you have the option to stay after 6 years?  $100K a year is no pocket change even as an attorney. 

darner

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Re: Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2009, 01:23:07 AM »
Are you telling us that you will be going to law school for free in addition to getting paid $80K each year for attending?  And, you will have a guaranteed job after graduation that pays about 100K?

Yep, that's exactly what he's telling us. (Wow.)

In addition: at the end of the six-year JAG commitment, he'll be six years closer to his next promotion in rank and/or length-of-service-based upgrade in military retirement benefits (i.e., lifetime pension).

The FLEP option does indeed seem like a sweet deal. Only the OP can judge the tradeoffs of freedom-and-uncertainty (no 6-year commitment, go anywhere you want, no guaranteed job) versus the golden handcuffs of the JAG obligation.

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Re: Difficult Choice (T14 vs full-ride (& more) at T30)
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2009, 12:50:49 PM »
Just an FYI you donít have to clerk only right after law school. I know several attorneys who clerked after practicing for a few years. Usually they wanted to clerk for a specific judge and had to wait for the opining, but right after school is not your only chance to clerk, you could do it after your six years are up. This is a personal decision, so think about it as such. But me, personally, knowing that I know now, Iíd take the money and run, hell Iíd probably take the money even over Yale. No debt is no debt, I have not really borrowed that much for law school but I have burned though a good chunk of my savings and investments. But thatís just me. If youíre tired of the military then debt over another six years might be preferable. Good luck. 
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