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Author Topic: Is law school even worth it?  (Read 4352 times)

harkkam

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Is law school even worth it?
« on: September 17, 2010, 06:49:55 AM »
I've been reading everywhere that Law school grads are having a hard time finding a job. Would going to one of the top 30 law schools make getting a job a little more certain.

Are those who are graduating from the low level law schools having a hard time finding jobs?

marcus-aurelius

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2010, 08:30:10 AM »
The higher ranking school you go to, the better your chances.  In the T20, I have not found a school with less than a 93% rate of employment  9 months after graduation.  Not to shabby for the poor economy.  I'd assume that the bottom 10% of many schools struggle to find jobs

Hamilton

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2010, 09:18:42 AM »
The key is to BOTH go to the highest ranked school you can AND rank as high in the class as you can.  Those 2 factors will be huge in improving employment odds.  Then you must balance whether you will take on more debt going to school A or school B.

It is tough out there - but if you truly want to be a lawyer, then your best bet is to excell lat law school and finish at or near the top of your class.  Middle 50% is not going to cut it these days.

WRT employment stats presented by m-a, one needs to dig much deeper and find out what "93% after 9 months" truly means.  93% as associates in firms, or 10% as associates, 30% in previous non-law jobs, 50% doing crap jobs scrounged up by the law school, and 13% in solo?  You can't take the law school employment numbers at face value.

harkkam

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2010, 09:28:51 AM »
My next question is that I have done some research about the lifestyle and working conditions of lawyers who work at big law firms.

I can come right out and say that I don't have the desire to earn 100K+ meaning making anywhere from 80k-95k will make me happy. I can spread the loan on a 30 year term even though it will cost me more in interest, it will increase my monthly cash flow.

I want to work 9-5 and have good vacation days etc. I know that its possible in the Federal Government as an attorney, along with job security which you cant put a price on.

If I was to attend a tier 1 law school, suppose a school ranking in the lower end 40-50 of the Tier 1.

What would be the odds that I could get a entry level position in the Federal government?

I looked at Usajobs.gov and they have positions for attorney advisor which start at 50k but have great promotional opportunity increasing in salary over time.

I have heard however that securing a federal job is difficult. I'm not looking to start working for the SEC or other high ranking departments. I just want to get my foot in the door.

Working the occasional extra hour or two or giving up on weekend a month is fine and I know that as a new lawyer even in the federal government you will have to make sacrifices, but 60-80 hour work weeks are not my thing.

Thats why I want to pursue law with the hopes of working for the federal government. I just want to know how hard that is? 

nealric

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2010, 10:21:07 AM »
Quote
The higher ranking school you go to, the better your chances.  In the T20, I have not found a school with less than a 93% rate of employment  9 months after graduation.  Not to shabby for the poor economy.  I'd assume that the bottom 10% of many schools struggle to find jobs
 

#1: You do realize that "employed" counts bartenders and Starbucks barristas?
#2: US news stats are very misleading/inaccurate (Especially with respect to salaries)


Quote
Thats why I want to pursue law with the hopes of working for the federal government. I just want to know how hard that is?
 

It's not easy. I would put your odds at 1/4 from a 40-50 ranked school. Odds are a bit better if you are willing to do JAG (but that's not a 9-5 job). You also have to keep in mind that the 80-90k 9-5 job is the snipe of legal employment for new gradates.
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Chief justice Earl Warren wasn't a stripper!
Now who's being naive?

Hamilton

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2010, 10:53:51 AM »
Perhaps law is not the career for you.  I am not reading anywhere that you really want to be a lawyer.  When you love what you do and have a passion, you dont put a limit on how many hours/week you are willing to do it.  Law school is a huge time and money commitment - it would be a waste to do it if there was no passion for it.

As I have said before - do something you love and that actually benefits society.

My next question is that I have done some research about the lifestyle and working conditions of lawyers who work at big law firms.

I can come right out and say that I don't have the desire to earn 100K+ meaning making anywhere from 80k-95k will make me happy. I can spread the loan on a 30 year term even though it will cost me more in interest, it will increase my monthly cash flow.

I want to work 9-5 and have good vacation days etc. I know that its possible in the Federal Government as an attorney, along with job security which you cant put a price on.

... 60-80 hour work weeks are not my thing.

Morten Lund

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2010, 12:31:59 PM »

I want to work 9-5

Seconding the prior poster - the legal profession generally does not operate on a 9-5 schedule.  There are exceptions, but that is what they are:  exceptions.  Whether in private practice, government employ, or academia, most any legal job will have inconsistent hours.  You may not be doing 80-hour weeks, but even if you average 40 hours a week  or less, those hours are unlikely to come in even daily chunks.

I have spent many a late night working with federal employees, including government lawyers.

harkkam

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2010, 05:23:53 PM »
Yes, I think you guys are right about the passion needing to be there. However I doubt that there is anything that a person can be passionate about that makes working 60 hour work weeks acceptable. I don't see myself enjoying anything that would make me want to work that long.

Don't get me wrong I love the law, and I personally would love to work in law that deals with financial regulation as it interests me very much.

But I've also held enough jobs in my life to know that no matter how much you love your job if your life becomes your job you will start to hate it. Thats why I feel like the 9-5 aspect brings balance into your life.

Working long hours is not good for your mental or physical health. European employees don't get burnt out as fast. I've talked to many burnt out lawyers.

I am just trying to prevent my own burnout, while still owing over a 100k in loans. After three or four years of a 60 hour work week it gets difficult to do. Yet you still owe so much money and now you are forced to work even though you need to take a break.

I have talked with many burnt out lawyers. Thats why I feel like if I was able to secure a federal job, I could practice law and yet also have some balance in my life. Money is never really a motivator, as long as I am able to pay my loans and live a middle class lifestyle in which I personally was raised in.

What are the chances of landing a government job after having worked in private firms for a couple of years?

Saying you work in firm for a few years, how well will that experience translate into a job at the federal government.   

Thane Messinger

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2010, 05:30:53 PM »

I want to work 9-5

Seconding the prior poster - the legal profession generally does not operate on a 9-5 schedule.  There are exceptions, but that is what they are:  exceptions.  Whether in private practice, government employ, or academia, most any legal job will have inconsistent hours.  You may not be doing 80-hour weeks, but even if you average 40 hours a week  or less, those hours are unlikely to come in even daily chunks.

I have spent many a late night working with federal employees, including government lawyers.


Hark -

In addition to Morten, Hamilton, and Neil's posts, consider that "80-95K" is mostly a void.  Salaries in the legal profession are bimodal, meaning that there are a relative handful making excellent money, and a group making much less than "average"--but not all that many actually making that average.

At most firms, large, small, or somewhere in between, the salary can be decent or statospheric, but the job itself is far more than 9-to-5 (or even 9-to-7).  And in most government jobs, while the pay is decent, the benefits fair, and the hours generally better, those too are hard to get, especially now.

Hamilton's point bears triple emphasis:  if you absolutely, positively WANT to be a lawyer, all of this should be beside the point.  Mostly. 

Thane.

harkkam

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2010, 06:09:20 PM »
I think my interests lie more in the Financial Sector rather than the law itself. To me financial regulation seems to get close to what truly motivates me. Ive seen the destruction it causes to have companies skirt their investments around regulations designed to protect people.

I was wondering if getting a JD with a Master's in Finance would be something more beneficial in terms of the kind of jobs I got.

Ive been considering getting a Masters In Finance for some time now and I was wondering that if getting a JD degree would be worth the cost?

I could see myself working in a Financial firm for long hours but not working long hours deciphering the law for a living.

Perhaps I could get a JD and a Masters In Finance and use that to try and gain an entry level position in a Wall street Firm. I think that having a JD would make my prospects of promotion a lot better. But I'm not sure if its worth the cost.

What do you guys think?