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Author Topic: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...  (Read 34343 times)

legalized

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Re: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2010, 06:32:46 PM »
I see someone said something about gettinjavascript:void(0);g an MBA and becoming an entrepreneur if one wants to make millions.  MBA and start a business in what?  Question what if one wants to become an entrepreneur by opening a solo practice?  It does not take years under someone else's tutelage to handle, for example, immigration law and family law cases.  Especially if you've handled them already through personal experience or will handle them through pro bono law student clinics or externships.

Law is THE fastest way to working for yourself, if you plan it before you even get there and play your cards right.  There is no other graduate degree that you can get done in 3 years and be eligible to go out on your own the second you meet licensing requirements.  PharmD is 7 years including undergrad and you can't get a bachelor's in one thing and go back and get the PharmD, and you certainly can't go open your own pharmacy the way you can go open your own law practice.  Even if you work for someone else two years, four years, and then go on your own, if you made sure to get the fundamental business administration skills such as accounting, marketing, basic finance, and keep up with the trends in your field and develop some mentors and resources before you set up shop...it's a concrete plan.  Opening one's own business is very risky when you don't know exactly what you plan to do.  Technically one should be able to open one's own business with a business degree...but in what if you have no specific qualification and don't want to do something involving products to make or create?  My talent is inside my skull, I can't bottle it, sew it, or jar it and sell it.  An MBA is VERY EASILY a bull generic degree because it does not tell you exactly what you can do, and being able to become ANYthing is not such a blessing, that's like looking for one piece of information on Google using a general search phrase: the possibilities are too endless and the right answer for you personally could be so far down the list of options that you don't get to it in time to make use of it.

Some say the problem is getting clients to pay...that is easily an issue in any entrepreneurial endeavour unless you run a retail store where the payment has to be made right then and there.  Look at all the real estate investors who got screwed when the market tanked and houses couldn't close.  I see plenty of so-called poor immigrants, construction worker day laborer types, who FIND the hundreds or thousands they need for their immigration case to pay the lawyer.  And then people who don't have those kinds of obstacles who try to stiff their lawyer because they are sneaky bastards.  It's not always those who look like they don't have money that are going to be a problem client.  Sometimes they are the ones that don't have time to b.s. around because they are trying to get ahead in life versus people who feel they have already arrived and can treat people however.

I think there are plenty people out there who need a lawyer and can't afford one.  Plenty out there who should not be obligated to pay whatever is enough to cover one's student loan bill but instead a reasonable rate based on their income or a flat fee or such.  This of course means since going to a high priced law school forces you to need biglaw type of pay, if you really want to keep the option open to go solo out of law school, you have to be committed to go somewhere that pays for your schooling and strategizing ahead of time to graduate as close to zero additional debt as possible. That would actually skew in favor of going to the cheapest school you can find in an area in which you want to live and work (since you need to develop contacts in the legal world if you hope to have resources and contacts and your name already out there for that solo).

It takes research and planning but I think it can be done.  And if you position yourself right you give yourself the option of both the midlaw/smalllaw jobs AND to go solo straight out if you wish to or find the need to.  If you don't plan a strategy to make certain options open up for you and really plan it before you get to law school, as part of deciding what law schools to even apply to...you are going to have to follow the default path and try to outclimb everyone to the Biglaw exit.  Since biglaw is where all the blood and carnage is coming from, why aim for it if you are not in the very top schools?

Too many cooks trying to stir the biglaw pot.

Entrepreneurs can exist in law too.  If you going to be broke and unemployed and on food stamps you can use that time to get your practice off the ground and actually have a way out of the brokeness, unemployment, and welfare dependence.

And yes I'm an 0L.  I fully intend to ask BEFORE I start law school what I need to do to make sure the option of solo the day I pass the par is a viable and realistic option for me.  Of existing solos out there now.  Nobody is going to be able to fire me forever.  If anything I would even try and keep some of my financial aid aside towards investing in things such as malpractice insurance and access to westlaw/lexis-nexis and such...or to sublease access to an existing practice's law library of these materials.

I think people cannot think of these things when they are in the middle of the crisis and their student loans are upon them.  So clearly the time to think about all your options on the other end and how best one should get TO them is now, before one starts the journey.  How will you get where you are going if you don't know what it takes to arrive at any of the possible destinations?

taxguy

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Before you really decide to work for BigLaw: Read this
« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2010, 01:40:55 PM »
I know that many of your want to work in Big Law. You aspire to a top T14 school where you think you will have a great career and hopefully earn enough to pay for those law school debts. Let me share a recent story
that I heard yesterday.

I was sitting on the plane next to a gal who attended University of Taxas and worked for a large law firm in Texas. The law firm have had already two rounds of layoffs.
Most of those layed off were those that didn't meet the budgetary goals of 45 chargable hours per week. Be advised that to get 45 chargable hours, you really need to work at least 60 hours per week or more.

They were going to have another big round of layoffs when the staff voted en masse to allow a 20% pay cut if the firm would not lay anyone else off.Since the starting
salary for new lawyers was $160,000, they could still live on $128,000.

The partners thought about this and rejected the staff's proposal as being the result of "loser mentality." If you want to work in Big Law, you should at least know
what you are getting into for the rest of your life! Also, understand, my purpose for this post is NOT to talk you out of working for Big Law or even becoming a lawyer. That isn't my business. I just want everyone to be aware of the environment that they are getting into.


nealric

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Re: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...
« Reply #22 on: July 07, 2010, 02:26:25 PM »
I'm so glad that guy sat next to you so you could bequeath us with your boundless wisdom. We would all have made our live's folly if not for your warning!
Georgetown Law Graduate

Chief justice Earl Warren wasn't a stripper!
Now who's being naive?

bigs5068

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Re: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...
« Reply #23 on: July 07, 2010, 11:06:32 PM »
So the legal profession is hard?  You mean you have to do actual work when you get out of law school! I thought you just sat around and talked about how badass you were for going to law school and people just paid you 100's of dollars an hour while you told them how smart you were. From what you are saying you need to generate revenue to keep your job! What a crazy industry that is nuts I need to  to get into one of those careers where they pay you a lot of money to sit around and do nothing. I know those are abundant.

The real world is tough and if you want to be a lawyer it is a lot of work.  That should not be news to anybody.

the white rabbit

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Re: Before you really decide to work for BigLaw: Read this
« Reply #24 on: July 08, 2010, 05:19:09 AM »
I know that many of your want to work in Big Law. You aspire to a top T14 school where you think you will have a great career and hopefully earn enough to pay for those law school debts. Let me share a recent story
that I heard yesterday.

I was sitting on the plane next to a gal who attended University of Taxas and worked for a large law firm in Texas. The law firm have had already two rounds of layoffs.
Most of those layed off were those that didn't meet the budgetary goals of 45 chargable hours per week. Be advised that to get 45 chargable hours, you really need to work at least 60 hours per week or more.

They were going to have another big round of layoffs when the staff voted en masse to allow a 20% pay cut if the firm would not lay anyone else off.Since the starting
salary for new lawyers was $160,000, they could still live on $128,000.

The partners thought about this and rejected the staff's proposal as being the result of "loser mentality." If you want to work in Big Law, you should at least know
what you are getting into for the rest of your life! Also, understand, my purpose for this post is NOT to talk you out of working for Big Law or even becoming a lawyer. That isn't my business. I just want everyone to be aware of the environment that they are getting into.

I'm trying to figure out what exactly was so negative about the environment.  You think the fact that the firm would rather have layoffs than pay cuts is a problem?
Mood: Tired but cheerful.  :)

bigs5068

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Re: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...
« Reply #25 on: July 08, 2010, 11:49:49 AM »
I think that is kind of messed up to layoff people instead of reducing pay rates from 160,000-128,000 since that is what the associates wanted.  If the associates didn't want that then it would be fine, but it is their law firm and their business and they can do what they want. The bottom line is when you are being paid by someone to do something you need to make it worth there while and if you have people that are meeting the billable hour requirements and generating revenue you want to keep them around. If you have people that are not meeting the requirements that other people in the same situation are then you want them gone.  If you are seeking a job where you are being paid 160k or 128k you better be worth it. The more money you make people will have higher expectations. So if you go into BigLaw you better be willing to work an insane amount of hours and be productive.

Morten Lund

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Re: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...
« Reply #26 on: July 08, 2010, 02:16:22 PM »
taxguy's warning should be well-heeded, within context.  This may surprise you, but there are in fact many new associates at BigLaw firms who really had no idea what they were in for.  And BigLaw firms are in fact (generally speaking) more mercenary and ruthless than most people might like their workplace to be. 

Many law students also drastically overestimate their future prospects at large firms, when BigLaw is in some ways like the NBA - few are drafted, and even for the lucky few the average career is only 4ish years long.  Going to law school with the expectation of a 40-year BigLaw career is very optimistic, no matter where you go to school.

That said, BigLaw is not monolithic.  There are drastic differences in culture, associate treatment, partnership prospects, workload, and income, all within the AmLaw 100 alone - the differences increase if you count the next batch of firms.  Learn your firm, for they are not all the same. 

But also be realistic about what you will be doing.

bigs5068

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Re: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...
« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2010, 03:03:16 PM »
I could not agree more with the NBA analogy Morten. When I played basketball everybody that got a scholarship to college thought they were going to the NBA, but most people did not. However, a lot of those did end up playing overseas or getting jobs as high school basketball or college basketball coaches. If you do actually make it to the NBA it is cutthroat and you better be f'ing good or else you will be booed and criticized because someone is paying you exorbitant amounts of money you are not performing.  See Jamarcus Russel #1 pick who is now unemployed and in jail apparently.

Just like law school most people think that they are guaranteed to get a 200k a year job when they get into a law school, but few will make that in their career and if they do actually get a really high paying job they better earn it or else they will be on the street. However, like the college scholarship players who dedicated 4 years of their life to basketball most of them got some kind of job in basketball just like people who spend 3 years in law school will generally find some kind of employment in the legal field. 

the white rabbit

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Re: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...
« Reply #28 on: July 10, 2010, 09:44:24 AM »
I think that is kind of messed up to layoff people instead of reducing pay rates from 160,000-128,000 since that is what the associates wanted.

Why?  A pay cut would benefit most the associates most likely to be laid off, and it would probably harm the firm in terms of being able to recruit.

More to the point, it doesn't make the big firm especially bad compared to plenty of other employers in other industries.
Mood: Tired but cheerful.  :)

bigs5068

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Re: For Those of You Asking "Should I Go to Law School"...
« Reply #29 on: July 10, 2010, 07:04:35 PM »
I didn't say it doesn't make sense. I just meant it was kind of messed up that the associates wanted to help their colleagues, but the higher ups did not respect it. However, the higher ups are running a business and it makes sense that they would want to pay one person 160,000 that was really productive and then keep 128,00 for themselves by laying off a guy that wasn't worth the money. It's business and why keep someone around that isn't pulling their weight and the answer is you shouldn't.

A lay off just means you are not worth keeping around. It is not like you did some horrible thing, but if you cost more to keep around than you are making you get laid off. So it makes perfect sense that this firm let people go that were not meeting the billable hour requirements.