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Author Topic: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait  (Read 3880 times)

PAStudent 2010

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Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« on: June 22, 2010, 11:23:39 AM »
I am a student who attended a small private undergraduate institution in PA and graduated with a 3.8 overall GPA, 3 internships (large finance firm, large accounting firm, private equity), various awards / memberships / positions, yet scored low on the LSAT (153). 

At this point I have been accepted to Duquesne Law as well as Widener Law (Harrisburg).  It is my goal to one day practice corporate law (firm or in-house counsel), most likely near a metropolitan area.  I am now choosing between one of the two schools or working for one year at most (as an Accountant) and reapplying with work experience besides internships.

My first question is which would be the better choice (Duquesne or Widener)?

My second question is between the two, will I be able to be successful in finding a job in corporate law with a salary high enough to pay off any student loan debt? (This is NOT saying I want to get rich by becoming an attorney, but rather get a job which will pay enough to cover student loans over a number of years and still be able to support a family sometime in the future).

My third question is would be be helpful in any way to wait one year and work / would it even make a difference in applying to schools?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

bigs5068

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2010, 12:39:48 PM »
Your probably not going to get a high paying corporate job right after graduation from either school. Law school is not a road to riches and if that is your main concern it probably won't turn out well.  The one and only reason you should go to law school is if you want to be a lawyer and that being said you should choose the school in the location you want to live in. I would say Duquesne is better, but it really doesn't make to much of a difference outside of the top 25 maybe 50 schools rankings etc mean absolutely nothing.

In regards to waiting it won't make much of a difference schools care 95% about LSAT & GPA they might say they care about other things, but that is it. You might want to try taking the LSAT one more time and applying then if you improve you can get some scholarship money. 

PAStudent 2010

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2010, 12:52:03 PM »
This intent of the salary question was not intended to say I want to get rich by becoming an attorney.  This career path has been a goal of mine since a very young age.

I just need input on whether going to one of these schools will allow me to get a position which will compensate enough to pay off any student loans taken on over a number of years after law school (most likely $120K) and still be able to support a family sometime in the future.

Cicero

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2010, 02:29:17 PM »
I don't know whether you should stay or wait; that's really just something you will have to decide. As to whether work experience will help, I doubt it will make much of a difference. Schools seem to care almost exclusively about your GPA & LSAT score. If there is a particular school that you want to attend, other than these 2, you could call the admissions office and inquire about their acceptance formula and whether a year of work would help you gain acceptance. Another thing you could do is talk to the career services departments at Duquesne & Widener about some of your questions and concerns regarding employment after graduation. I can't tell you first hand how the job market is for lawyers at this time (I just finished 1L), but based on friends and accounts of others, it seems to be really rough right now. No one can tell you that you will definitely have a job when you graduate. On a side note about financial aid, there are some things you can do to deal with the debt if you have trouble finding a job after law school. If you work for 10 yrs in a public service position, which even includes teaching, and you pay your portion of it over that time, then the government will forgive your loans. Another thing that seems to be more popular these days is paying back your loans based on your income, rather than the traditional minimum payment. This might be a good idea, if for example you have a job at Barnes & Noble for a year while trying to find a job. So, there are some things you can do if you cannot find a legal job or a corporate job immediately. Like I said, you should contact career services, and probably the financial aid department, and they can probably give you more options and more information to help you make your decision.

SASS

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2010, 05:31:22 PM »
If your goal is to be a corporate lawyer, then coming from either one of these schools will make that particular goal very difficult.  Plus, corporate law has been hit pretty hard in this recession, although it is impossible to say what it will be like once you graduate.  Even if it does pick up though, corporate law from one of these schools is difficult to say the least.

The LSAT if a very learnable test.  I am not trying to sway you one way or the other here, you should make this decision for yourself.  But I would consider taking an LSAT class or getting a tutor.  Spend a significant amount of time studying for it.  I don't know what you did to prepare, but I feel a 153 is something you can build on, if you choose that route.  My personal experience was I did not study really at all and went to a T4. That was a mistake for me.  Luckily, I did well enough to transfer out.  If I could do it all over again, I would spend my time killing the LSAT.  Transferring is very difficult to do, I don't recommend entering school with that thought in mind at all, absolutely no guarantees there.

Morten Lund

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2010, 07:13:45 PM »
I agree with the previous posters.  Moving into BigLaw, or anything close to BigLaw, from either of those schools will be difficult at best.

I also agree that doing the LSAT over could be worth your time, if you are determined to go to law school.  The LSAT is mostly about preparation and practice.  Which is why I am always surprised at how casually this test is approached by many students (not suggesting that OP did this).  The LSAT basically counts the same as your GPA, and you spent four years working on your GPA.  Why would anybody take a cavalier view of the LSAT?

/rant

Moreover, in this economy, a little time "off" will not necessarily be held against you, by either schools or future employers.  There are a lot of people with gaps in their resumes right now.  To the contrary, you can make it work for you.  Spend a year prepping for the LSAT and doing something useful.  It doesn't have to be a "law job" or anything like it, or even a job at all - just don't go off to find yourself in Nepal or flip burgers.  Start a new community social program, volunteer at the state penitentiary, work with a dot-com startup - whatever, just do something that shows initiative and determination.  And then pummel the LSAT into the ground, and go to a law school that will get you the job you want.

bigs5068

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2010, 09:17:40 PM »
This intent of the salary question was not intended to say I want to get rich by becoming an attorney.  This career path has been a goal of mine since a very young age.

I just need input on whether going to one of these schools will allow me to get a position which will compensate enough to pay off any student loans taken on over a number of years after law school (most likely $120K) and still be able to support a family sometime in the future.

If you want to be a lawyer then either of those schools will help you achieve your goal of becoming a lawyer. Any ABA schools will sufficiently give you the basic knowledge to be a somewhat competent attorney and give you the basic knowledge to adequately prepare for the bar. No school can guarantee you a job though.

So in regards to the second question if you go to law school there is no way to know if you will ever find a job that will justify 100k or more in student debt. If you do really well and rank in the top 5% or something at any school you will have some pretty good opportunites, but there is a 95% chance you will not be in the top 5%. If you finish in the bottom 10% of Widener your job prospects at least right after graduation probably won't be to hot. If you have some special skill even if your at the bottom 10% maybe you will find a special niche I mean who knows. At the end of the day law school is basically a mystery door and law school could turn out great, good, ok, not so good, or horribly and there is no way to know how it will turn out for you unless you go to law school. It is a huge risk, but if being a lawyer is really want you want to do then go for it. The longer you wait the less likely you are to ever start.

the white rabbit

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2010, 06:26:23 AM »
I am a student who attended a small private undergraduate institution in PA and graduated with a 3.8 overall GPA, 3 internships (large finance firm, large accounting firm, private equity), various awards / memberships / positions, yet scored low on the LSAT (153). 

At this point I have been accepted to Duquesne Law as well as Widener Law (Harrisburg).  It is my goal to one day practice corporate law (firm or in-house counsel), most likely near a metropolitan area.  I am now choosing between one of the two schools or working for one year at most (as an Accountant) and reapplying with work experience besides internships.

My first question is which would be the better choice (Duquesne or Widener)?

My second question is between the two, will I be able to be successful in finding a job in corporate law with a salary high enough to pay off any student loan debt? (This is NOT saying I want to get rich by becoming an attorney, but rather get a job which will pay enough to cover student loans over a number of years and still be able to support a family sometime in the future).

My third question is would be be helpful in any way to wait one year and work / would it even make a difference in applying to schools?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

I believe that tuition for either is somewhere between $25k and $30k? 

Even assuming the low figure and very low living expenses, you'd still be spending $40k a year.  If you're looking to borrow the full amount, that's $120k in student loans when you graduate. 

Assuming that you choose to pay this back over 30 years, according to finaid you'd need an income of upward of $90k a year to repay this amount, which would hang over your head until when you're roughly in your 50's.

Given the bimodal distribution of income for entry-level lawyers, and given the school options you've listed, it's unlikely that you'll make this amount at the outset even if you found a full-time position as a lawyer.  (If you are not sure what I mean by the bimodal distribution, google bimodal distribution lawyers; it should give you more info than I can provide in this post.)

There is no reason to assume that even if you found a full-time position as a lawyer, that you would be able to stay in that position or a comparable one over the course of 30 years.  There is also no reason to assume that your income would increase on a year-to-year basis.

If you don't find a full-time position as a lawyer (a distinct possibility), you would be relegated to non-legal work or temporary, contract work.  Contract work is increasingly being outsourced to India, and has faced downward price pressure as a result.

So to answer your second question, it's actually pretty unlikely that you will be able to find employment that would justify even the low end of your projected student loans.  Unfortunate for true.  Bigs is right that there may be exceptions.  Everything's possible.  The question you need to ask yourself is, what's probable?

Bigs often likes to say that the only thing that matters is whether or not you want to be a lawyer.  I disagree.  Do you want to be a lawyer so bad that you are willing to spend the next 30 years of your life with a massive amount of non-dischargeable debt hanging over your head and probably without job opportunities that would allow you to comfortably pay off this debt?

If you are, in fact, determined to become a lawyer, I would suggest trying to take the LSAT again.  Extra preparation can make a huge difference.
Mood: Tired but cheerful.  :)

bigs5068

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2010, 07:09:16 PM »
If you want to be a lawyer then you should anticipate doing it for the length of your career considering your giving up 3 years of your life to school and another 6 months etc to bar preparation. If you are going to invest that much time and money then you should anticipate being a lawyer for a long time. The odds are your pay well go up as you get experience baby lawyers or baby any profession generally need a lot of help at the beginning. If you are a lawyer for 20 years odds are you will know a thing or two and be compensated more than you were right after graduation. It will be stressful and maybe you won't even pass the bar there is no way to know, but baby lawyer seems to think working as a lawyer for the rest of your career after law school is a crazy proposition and I think you should expect to do it. There is the huge financial stress particularly after the first few years after graduation and maybe for the rest of your life if you don't do a good job.  However, the risk of not getting a suitable job after spending a lot of time and money getting a degree is present in every field. 

SASS

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Re: Duquesne Law vs. Widener Law vs. Wait
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2010, 08:20:37 PM »
Just to give the OP some perspective: Widener costs over $33K/yr and they estimate $15K for living expenses.  That means $48k/yr.  $144k after you get your degree, plus the 6.8-8.5% interest you will be paying on this amount.  The avg starting salary coming from Widener, Harrisburg is $49k. 

My first concern is that you said you wanted to practice corporate law.  Because you are unlikely to be able to achieve that from either of these schools, I would retake the LSAT.  You have a very good GPA, with the right LSAT score you can attend a school with better prospects.