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Author Topic: Is law school even worth it?  (Read 4417 times)

Thane Messinger

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2010, 10:47:38 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.

Harkkam -

The law is certainly a path to a career in financial regulation, but it's hardly the only one.  (And, for a variety of reasons, on average the criteria for admission via the law is likely at the top of the law school/grade curves.)  Especially now, any path to Wall Street is going to be narrow.

Among the other routes is auditing (via work experience and possibly a CIA--Certified Internal Auditor), accounting and finance (CPA/MBA), and the CFA, or Chartered Financial Analyst (not to be confused with the designations for personal financial planners). 

For the academic credentials, for Wall Street entre you should think Columbia/NYU or better.  That's pretty much it.

There are numerous possibilities, so one question is personal: which would you find most appealing as a path?  Think not only of destination but in how much you would enjoy doing the actual work.  If you're lucky to find this, 9-to-5 is far too short for doing what you enjoy.

Thane.

sad_wolverine

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2010, 09:35:51 PM »
No, law school is not worth attending. Statistics like "99% employment within 9 months of graduation" and "average salary of $125,000" are numbers that are, at best, massaged, and at worst, total fabrications. Working as a bike messenger for $10/hour? You're employed for the purposes of the first stat, but won't have your meager income included in the second stat. See how they get those mouthwatering employment stats? If corporate executives manipulated numbers in a stock issuance the way that law school administrators do on a regular basis, the SEC would hit them with suits in a heartbeat.

These are not "not for profit" institutions. I can only speak for Michigan Law but the whole school is a complete scam. Deans Caminker and Zearfoss should be locked up.

jack24

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2010, 12:17:38 PM »
This is an impossible question.  If you focus solely on money, then I can give a tiny bit of helpful information.  As to whether or not being a lawyer will make you happy, that's the impossible part.

Financially, you have to look at it this way.

Monthly Loan Payments on 125,000 of student loan debt.  (at 7%)

10 year term:  $1,451 per month.  ($17412 per year  $174,120 over lifetime of loan)

15 year term:  $1,123 per month ($13476 per year, $202,140 in total payments over lifetime of loan)

25 year term:  $883 per month (10,596 per year, $264,900 over lifetime of loan)


So will a law degree make you an average of $10,596 more per year over your whole life? 

I had a job offer before law school to make 45,000 with regular raises, and a cap of around 80,000.   If I get an offer from my current internship, I will start at around 65,000 (cap is unknown, but it's higher than my last industry)

It's scary being in this much debt, but I think it will actually pay off in the long run, but not by as much as I thought.

bankofmouse

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2010, 11:57:14 PM »
Look into becoming a JAG - where you go to school won't matter as much, you'll have a guaranteed job for at least 4 years and usually decent litigation experience (if you're willing to put up with the military and possible deployments).  A lot of JAGs transition into federal positions.  The JAG at the base where I was deployed to in Afghanistan is now a federal prosecutor.  I think the air force has some loan repayment programs if you're willing to re-enlist beyond four years.

jack24

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2010, 04:33:45 PM »
I think bankofmouse may be on the right track, but you have to be careful about assumptions relating to JAG.
It's extremely competitive.  The same goes for DA's offices.  People think that you can just "get in" to JAG, but the process is long and drawn out, and they go after very qualified applicants.  The vast majority of applicants are rejected.

Again, bankofmouse makes a really good point, but it only applies if you are good enough to get in.

Thane Messinger

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2010, 05:12:48 PM »
I think bankofmouse may be on the right track, but you have to be careful about assumptions relating to JAG.
It's extremely competitive.  The same goes for DA's offices.  People think that you can just "get in" to JAG, but the process is long and drawn out, and they go after very qualified applicants.  The vast majority of applicants are rejected.


Jack is exactly right.  Nearly any government position is going to have an extended intake process, of at least several months, and many of them are extremely competitive.  Not necessarily competitive in the same way as with firms, but competitive nonetheless.  (One friend's son-in-law started as a JAG.  The fellow went to Yale.  So, yes, competitive.)

Perhaps the most important point:  finding a job should not be a sequential search.  Because it does take so long, it's important to try EVERYTHING, and do so EVERYWHERE, and do so NOW.

Hang in there.  It will all work out.  But, now is the time to make your move.

derrick.hibbard

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2010, 07:45:38 PM »
I think one major misconception about law schools is that your high profile, high paying career will be handed to you on a silver platter--which is just not true.  As with anything, you've got to work at it.  The jobs are there--it just takes effort to get to where you want to be.  I'm at the tail end of law school right now, and it's been a rough road--but I'd say that it was most definitely worth it.  Like most people (probably), I had a good job before starting, and I'm currently experiencing the horrors of student debt--but that J.D. degree is always something to fall back on--and my earning potential is much much higher than it was before. 

MEMEMEME

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2010, 09:52:03 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.

A smaller firm and especially having your own firm eventually is the best way to go to have a 9-5 schedule. I know some attorneys that yeah, they do work a lot during trial time, but a lot of the year they go golfing half the day or take two hour lunches working 8 to 4. These are lawyers who are self-employed. It depends.

bigs5068

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2010, 09:58:01 PM »
I 100% agree with Derrick. I meet so many people that have never had a job doing anything period in my school and I just know they are going to be the type of people that create blogs like JD underground when they graduate. They will be disillusioned that 100k a year jobs were not waiting for them at graduation, but the legal profession is like anything else you have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Even if you graduate No #1 in your class at Harvard you are a long way from being named partner in a huge firm or to the Supreme Court. You will start out as an associate or judicial clerk or some great job, but you will still be answering to someone and you will not start out with a Mansion, Rolls Royce, and all that good stuff. Unless you have exorbitantly rich parents or a giant bank account you are going to be living in an apartment paying rent and your loans off even if you are making 100k at graduation.  The debt, taxes, etc will be a lot on your plate. You will also probably be asked to do some projects you do not find completely exhilarating and there may even be times you will not want to go to work or think it is hard. However, that applies to every single profession.

However, education is a LONG-TERM investment. For example  when you graduate high school you can go to college or an undergraduate degree you can start working full time in Construction or something right out of high school. At 23 years old the construction worker will have more money and 0 debt. The kid in college will have debt and not have 5 years of work experience and will even have to look for a job.  However, generally the college grad will find a job in a few months and if they are a halfway decent employee their salary will go up and in time they might work themselves into a decent career, but it will not happen overnight.

The same logic applies to law school you will have less money than your friend who just stopped at college when you are 28 years old. However, again it is a long-term investment if you have a somewhat successful career as a lawyer for 10 years you will probably then have more when you are 38, but from 28-32 when you are struggling to pay off everything and find employment it is going to be tough.  You may never make it there is always that risk, but if you are an attorney for 10 years (a long time) I know you will have some decent earning potential and be able to pay off your loan. However, if instead of dealing with it sucking for a few years and creating a blog like JD underground and complaining about how unfair everything is then nothing I said above applies. 

Thane Messinger

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Re: Is law school even worth it?
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2010, 11:02:11 PM »
A smaller firm and especially having your own firm eventually is the best way to go to have a 9-5 schedule. I know some attorneys that yeah, they do work a lot during trial time, but a lot of the year they go golfing half the day or take two hour lunches working 8 to 4. These are lawyers who are self-employed. It depends.


This can be true, but for anyone who's tried their hand at entrepreneurship will know, owning one's own business (including a law practice) means more work, not less.  Where it's less and with the narrow exception of a semi-retired senior practitioner, that's usually not by choice.

Thane.