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Author Topic: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!  (Read 24263 times)

byron2008

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Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« on: February 19, 2010, 05:40:17 PM »
I am pondering whether or not to enroll in law school this fall. I have been reading a number of horror stories on a blog called "Exposing the Law School Scam" which claims that the job market is overly saturated, that the demand for legal jobs is actually shrinking, and that even graduates from top schools are being forced to take insultingly low salaries (I saw one posting on Craigslist in NYC that offered $15/hr. to an "experienced litigator") or even having to wait tables since they are unable find any work. This seems like a nightmare when one has to consider taking on a debt load that approaches $100k. I would love to hear people's thoughts, especially recent graduates and 2/3L's who are preparing to enter (hopefully) the workforce. On a personal note, I have been accepted at four law schools- LSU, Ole Miss, Rutgers Camden, and Hofstra, and have been waitlisted at George Mason and American. Should I press on or choose a different career path? Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!

SA Goon Squad

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2010, 05:53:32 PM »
don't go, no jobs, die alone.

Julie Fern

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2010, 06:19:55 PM »
most of better restaurants prefer waiters with j.d.

bigs5068

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2010, 09:16:04 PM »
Education is a risk, there are people with bachelor's degrees that only go on to become bartenders, but most don't and go on to do something with their degree.  There are lot of b.s. websites out there that say it is saturated and so on, which it is somewhat.  I mean getting jobs are competitive when you graudate 40 law firms are not going to be begging to hire you it is a rat race no matter what you get a degree in. There are unenmployed biologists, engineers, architects, the list goes on and on, but in general education is a good investment if what you are learning is something you enjoy.

The media portrays lawyers as leading jet-setting millionare lifestyles right out of law school and that is far from the truth.  Law school is a lot of work and not that many get rich. I worked for a lot of lawyers and none of them were RICH, but they were all living upper-middle class lifestyles, but they didn't pay off the loans for years.

If you are soley concerned about making money DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL, if you find the law interesting then by all means go.   

byron2008

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2010, 09:57:30 PM »
bigs5068, thanks for your reply. I am not interested in making big bucks as a lawyer, I'd be perfectly fine with earning a salary that could provide the basic necessities for me and my future family. What I am concerned about is being saddled with crippling debt that will follow me around for the rest of my life. Since our society is based on consumerism, buying unnecessary crap on credit, and incurring debt,I want to try my best to avoid attending a vocational school that would not only put me in a similar financial hole but also not even be able guarantee me a job. I would like to get a better idea about how graduates manage their law school debt, what their repayment options are, the length of time it takes to repay, and so forth.

bigs5068

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2010, 11:35:36 PM »
You could apply to lower ranked schools and you will get a scholarship like I did and nothing you read about T-4's etc is true they don't get kick out half the class etc. Realistically if you are deciding between T3-s and T-4's I would say take the scholarship. Or you could go to a state run school and it is way cheaper like Florida International University, you will only pay 10,000 a year instead of 30,000 elsewhere. 

The debt is huge factor and consider you won't be making any substantial income for three years either. Best people to talk to are the financial aid offices at your school. You will get the stafford loans, which are 6.8 percent and the interest does not start running until you graduate. In all honestly you will have to take a grad plus loan out to unless you get a substantial scholarship to cover your living expenses and this is 8.5% annually and it runs while you are in school.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2010, 03:28:22 AM »
I am pondering whether or not to enroll in law school this fall. I have been reading a number of horror stories on a blog called "Exposing the Law School Scam" which claims that the job market is overly saturated, that the demand for legal jobs is actually shrinking, and that even graduates from top schools are being forced to take insultingly low salaries (I saw one posting on Craigslist in NYC that offered $15/hr. to an "experienced litigator") or even having to wait tables since they are unable find any work. This seems like a nightmare when one has to consider taking on a debt load that approaches $100k. I would love to hear people's thoughts, especially recent graduates and 2/3L's who are preparing to enter (hopefully) the workforce. On a personal note, I have been accepted at four law schools- LSU, Ole Miss, Rutgers Camden, and Hofstra, and have been waitlisted at George Mason and American. Should I press on or choose a different career path? Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!

Byron -

You raise important questions, both as to the income side and as to the very real expense side.

There are technical answers, and then there are real answers.  The technical answers are addressed ad nauseam in terms of rankings, grades, extracurriculars, etc.  Yet the real answer should focus on those and on something more important.  That something is your motive for going to law school. 

It is natural and expected to be freaked about about law school, for any number of reasons.  The real question is whether one continues to go back to the basic assumption that law school is simply for them.  If so--if you are upset by the notion of not going--then that's a very good sign that you should go.  If your reasons for going have to do with money, power, prestige, family pressure, and so on . . . those can be okay, but only if they're not the only reasons, and if they're not otherwise wrong for you.  Even if Daddy Warbucks is paying for law school, three years is a long time anywhere if it's not where you want to be.

So, the real answer to your question is deeply personal.  Do you really, truly WANT to go to law school?  (Don't answer this here.  This is answered in front of a mirror.)  To paraphrase the Oracle in a certain matrix, this is something you have to know for yourself, balls to bones, that law school is for you and you are for law school.

Also, your selection of law schools is quite eclectic.  At least one of those is very likely to lead to a good career, all else being equal.  Most are, however, likely to lead to careers (roughly) in their local areas.

I hope this helps,

Thane.


BikePilot

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2010, 09:11:54 AM »
I'd second everything above.
I'm a 3L now and am doing fine wrt getting a job (DC, biglaw, start in the fall), however friends at schools outside the top 3 but in the T14 don't have it easy terribly easy, though still do fine if their grades are decent (and there's quite a bit of variation in this group, Chicago, NYU and Columbia seem to do better than the rest - of course there are always a few outliers - students with good grades and no jobs and vice versa).  For T14-~T30 really good grades are needed to get a biglaw job.  Outside the T30 or so and it gets to be quite a long shot.  I think whether it is worth it or not depends a lot on what you want to do, what sort of standard of living you want and what your next best alternative is.  I did my undergrad in econ and had a reasonably good job doing economic analysis work at a think tank - pay wasn't amazing, but I had a huge window office, secretary and a 40hr work week.  When I applied to law schools I only applied to my four favorite schools as I wasn't interested in attending anywhere else - just wouldn't have been worth the time or cost.  At that time the economy was a lot better than it is now.  If I were doing it over again now I personally wouldn't go to law school if I couldn't go to a T3 school. My fall-back options weren't bad - I could have stayed at the think tank or moved to consulting where I'd make more (though less than starting big law) or gone to an econ PhD program (my intentions if LS didn't work out).  If you get into GMU and place at the top of the class biglaw is possible, but outside the top few percent and its a bit of a long shot. Just from observing the composition of summer classes in DC last summer, I think American didn't do as well as GMU, but that's not remotely a scientific observation. I went to GMU undergrad and have a bit of a soft spot for them:)

The job market is pretty tight right now and there are a ton of new law grads and recently laid-off associates. The ROI for most law schools is really not so great. 

There are other reason than big law to go to law school that are probably not as school-sensitive - if you want to work for a local PD, do small town work or that sort of thing I suspect most of what I said doesn't apply (but realize you could probably make more $$ at mixing drinks at starbucks).

Also, take a realistic look at the cost of law school - its easy to rack up more than $100k in debt - figure tuition tends to be around $45k/yr (GMU will be a lot less for in state though), then you'll probably have another $5k in fees/healthcare insurance etc, then you'll need to eat and sleep somewhere - in a lot of cities that'll run $2k+/month.  Bottom line is law school in a big city can easily cost %70k/yr.  You probably won't make any $$ your 1L summer, if you get biglaw for 2L that's about $30k then you'll be studying for the bar your 3L summer (for which you might or might not get a stipend from a firm).

Good luck!
HLS 2010

byron2008

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2010, 01:16:18 PM »
Thanks again guys for your input, I really have a lot to think about. BikePilot, I'm actually from Fairfax so if I were to go to GMU I could live at home and pay in-state, this seems like the most affordable option. Unfortunately, I am on the waitlist and I don't know what my chances of getting off of it are or even how to get off of it to begin with.

BikePilot

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Re: Is law school worth it?- Freaked Out!
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2010, 03:54:37 PM »
That's what I did for undergrad there.  The law school is at the Arlington campus fyi (you probably know that already, but thought I'd mention it just in case - it should only take about 30 minutes to drive there from the fairfax area - I think there may even be a shuttle that runs regularly from the main campus, but not sure). As for getting off the wait list, I think that mostly depends on how many students accept offers vs go somewhere else.  It couldn't hurt to show continued interest and, if true, indicate that you'd accept an offer if they gave you one. Just don't be a pest about it:)

good luck!
HLS 2010