Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: If Not Law School, then what?The Info that is making me rethink everything  (Read 2941 times)

MisDirected

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
In the words of Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, "I GOT NO WHERE ELSE TO GO!"

I'm killing my LSAT PTs breaking 170 pretty often, studying my ass off, doing everything right, 4 hours a day,every day until 170+ becomes routine.  Then I got the news.  LSAC requires ALL records from ALL schools.  I was planning to just omit my bad grades from schools I thought were well in my past, and would just submit my BA 3.86 GPA.  that dream was dashed with horror stories of the bar finding old records, after graduation, LSAC finding out and people being expelled.  My GPA will take a hit a HUGE hit bringing me to 2.0 IF I'M LUCKY. 

If I destroy my LSAT like I know I can I still have a chance at a decent school according to the probability calculator on LSAC.org and even if I go full retard that day and get a 160 I will still have a chance at some lower end schools.

There is the matter of financial obligation to these schools, and a whole host of factors that may make it even harder.  So I'm thinking of scrapping the idea of law school.  Some guy even gave me a link to Inside the Law School Scam.  After all that work I may have heavy debt in a dying profession, oh great. 

So what are my options?  What would you do?  I have a degree in history, HISTORY, I run my family business which, while an excellent business, is not something I want to, nor should count on for a sustainable future.  I have a wife and two kids and law school was my ace in the hole.  Now I have nothing.

livinglegend

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 343
    • View Profile
    • legalmatch
Well first thing to realize is that when making a life altering decision as to whether or not to attend law school do not take advice from anonymous internet posters on this board or others myself included to seriously. Furthermore, websites on the internet have little credibility as well. I think Michael Scott from the Office does a good job of explaining why this is true (a little humor  :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFBDn5PiL00

With that said I will you I went to law school passed the bar and love my job. I did not go to a top law school and got a 157 on the LSAT, but your LSAT score has no indication on whether you will enjoy being a lawyer.

From your post it sounds like you are going to law school, because you think no other options exist. I will tell you that is a bad idea starting any career is difficult right now you have a B.A. in History it will be difficult to find a job, but you can find one. When you graduate from law school the same thing occurs people don't actively recruit you it is hard to start a career as a lawyer, businessman, history professor, etc. There is no route to a golden ticket so do not attend law school simply because you do not know what else to do. You will simply pay 100,000+ and spend three years of your life to be back in this same situation you are now having to look for a job, which sucks no matter what field you are in.

With that said if you want to be a lawyer and are capable of pulling a 170+ on the LSAT you can get a great scholarship at numerous schools.  I know plenty of lawyers myself included who are very happy and plenty that are absolutely miserable and whether you will enjoy it is a highly personal decision.

What I would recommend in your situation is to try and find a job at a law office. Be a paralegal or legal assistant for a year.  If your busy running the family business see if you can volunteer at a legal-aid clinic or possibly work part-time for a lawyer.  There is always work in a law office that can be done and you can talk to lawyers and see what the profession is about. I will tell you it is nowhere near as glamorous or lucrative as T.V. makes it out to be, but it can be a very rewarding career if you know what you are getting into.

Conclusion

In my anonymous internet poster opinion I recommend taking the LSAT seeing what score you get. Until you have an official score you cannot get into any law school. Once you have the LSAT score you don't need to enroll in law school right away and you can work for a law office or legal clinic and try it out. If you love it and want to pursue a legal career you have the LSAT score and can proceed. If you find being a lawyer is not for you then you are not obligated to enroll you will be out $100 for the LSAT fee and you will have saved yourself 3 years and 100,000 + dollars.

However, DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT go to law school simply because you do not know what else to do. No matter what profession you are in finding your first job is really difficult and starting as a lawyer is no different. Good luck.


MisDirected

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
First let me thank you for being frank, and for giving me at least some hope.  Most guys on the web are very negative. 

After weighing everything out in my head while showering today, I had a thought.  As it stands now I have nothing.  I have a crap degree an OK family business which will be carved up and divides between 5 of us if anything ever happens to my mom (God forbid).  9 years of work in this business making it what it is and I will end up having an equal inheritance as my sisters who went out and made their lives outside the business.

If I have a chance at getting in with a 2.0 and a 160 CUNY Law is a real possibility.  It is close to home and only 12K per year.  I can leave with between 36-60k in debt, closer to the lower end I'm guessing. 

T14 is not in my future unless I can get my records expunged, and even then I will be looking to go to a T14 to work for a great law firm and make 165k straight of too LS, lots of money and a set future, but do I really want to work 2300 hours a year to make money I can't enjoy?  Nah, not really.  I want to hang my own shingle, open an office in my rent free office space in Manhattan, and practice some kind of law.  In that case it won't matter where I went to LS so long as I am licensed.  If I can run the business right I can make a great living and still have relative freedom. 

In short T14 and a "good school" is only worth it if I want to work like a mule and earn great money if and when I'm hired. 100-200k in debt an at least 8 years to pay it off.  Probably not getting in anyway, so, sour grapes?

The schools I'm most suited for given my possible 1.8 GPA and 160+ LSAT are cheap, get me a degree and a career if I can hack it as a business man, and I've shown that I can do that running one business well, and creating another from scratch.

I have a flimsy job now, and need some stability to support a wife and 2 kids if my mom is ever taken from us.

jack24

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1050
    • View Profile
First let me thank you for being frank, and for giving me at least some hope.  Most guys on the web are very negative. 

After weighing everything out in my head while showering today, I had a thought.  As it stands now I have nothing.  I have a crap degree an OK family business which will be carved up and divides between 5 of us if anything ever happens to my mom (God forbid).  9 years of work in this business making it what it is and I will end up having an equal inheritance as my sisters who went out and made their lives outside the business.

If I have a chance at getting in with a 2.0 and a 160 CUNY Law is a real possibility.  It is close to home and only 12K per year.  I can leave with between 36-60k in debt, closer to the lower end I'm guessing. 

T14 is not in my future unless I can get my records expunged, and even then I will be looking to go to a T14 to work for a great law firm and make 165k straight of too LS, lots of money and a set future, but do I really want to work 2300 hours a year to make money I can't enjoy?  Nah, not really.  I want to hang my own shingle, open an office in my rent free office space in Manhattan, and practice some kind of law.  In that case it won't matter where I went to LS so long as I am licensed.  If I can run the business right I can make a great living and still have relative freedom. 

In short T14 and a "good school" is only worth it if I want to work like a mule and earn great money if and when I'm hired. 100-200k in debt an at least 8 years to pay it off.  Probably not getting in anyway, so, sour grapes?

The schools I'm most suited for given my possible 1.8 GPA and 160+ LSAT are cheap, get me a degree and a career if I can hack it as a business man, and I've shown that I can do that running one business well, and creating another from scratch.

I have a flimsy job now, and need some stability to support a wife and 2 kids if my mom is ever taken from us.

As I've said on many other threads, the work of a lawyer is unpredictable.   Saying you want to be a lawyer is like saying you want to work in a science field.  There are wildly different work environments, workloads, types of work, and fields of law that you might end up dealing with. 

I try to dissuade people from going to law school to practice a very specific type of law in a specific type of firm.  For example, if you said, "I want to go dominate law school, and do Mergers and Acquisitions for an international firm,"  I'd tell you that your chances are worse than playing roulette.   You are unique, however.  If you really want to be a solo practitioner, you can do it with a law degree.  If that's your dream, there's really no other way to do it.

One word of caution, however.  I don't know you, and I have now way to determine what your skill set is.  I will say that business management skills are important for a solo, but they are nowhere near as important as networking and marketing skills.   A new firm, especially one run by a baby lawyer, lives or dies depending on whether the lawyer can make quality contacts and find paying clients.   Such abilities are far more important than the ability to create a positive client experience, the ability to balance books, or the ability to manage support staff.

If you are sure you have rent-free space, and you are sure you would enjoy the awful grind that is solo practice, then your question comes down to math.  (Obviously, if you are only concerned with chasing your passion, the math won't matter)

If you have 60,000 in debt, your annual loan payments will be approximately $4992 per year for 25 years.   As a result, your financial decision comes down to whether your average salary will be $5000 more as a lawyer per year than it would be as something else.

The statistics out there are really bad.    (And cost of living in Manhattan is brutal)  But you don't see a lot of statistics for average salaries 10 years after law school.   It's my impression that lawyers still do quite well as opposed to bankers, managers, marketers, and the average salesperson.  If you can survive the first five years, I believe it would probably be a great financial investment, even though the market sucks.   That said, it takes a special person to survive five years as a solo.   

What kind of law would you like to practice?   Are you cut out for the grind that is family law or criminal law in the most competitive market on earth?  Do you have the education to take the patent bar?  Do you have the education and smarts to do estate planning and tax?   Why would someone trust you with their business, when there will be countless attorneys out there with a similar billing rate and more experience?   How many solo practitioners have you sat down with?  (They tend to be a social bunch, and they tend to be very honest with how things are going).
 

MisDirected

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
As I've said on many other threads, the work of a lawyer is unpredictable.   Saying you want to be a lawyer is like saying you want to work in a science field.  There are wildly different work environments, workloads, types of work, and fields of law that you might end up dealing with. 

I try to dissuade people from going to law school to practice a very specific type of law in a specific type of firm.  For example, if you said, "I want to go dominate law school, and do Mergers and Acquisitions for an international firm,"  I'd tell you that your chances are worse than playing roulette.   You are unique, however.  If you really want to be a solo practitioner, you can do it with a law degree.  If that's your dream, there's really no other way to do it.

One word of caution, however.  I don't know you, and I have now way to determine what your skill set is.  I will say that business management skills are important for a solo, but they are nowhere near as important as networking and marketing skills.   A new firm, especially one run by a baby lawyer, lives or dies depending on whether the lawyer can make quality contacts and find paying clients.   Such abilities are far more important than the ability to create a positive client experience, the ability to balance books, or the ability to manage support staff.

If you are sure you have rent-free space, and you are sure you would enjoy the awful grind that is solo practice, then your question comes down to math.  (Obviously, if you are only concerned with chasing your passion, the math won't matter)

If you have 60,000 in debt, your annual loan payments will be approximately $4992 per year for 25 years.   As a result, your financial decision comes down to whether your average salary will be $5000 more as a lawyer per year than it would be as something else.

The statistics out there are really bad.    (And cost of living in Manhattan is brutal)  But you don't see a lot of statistics for average salaries 10 years after law school.   It's my impression that lawyers still do quite well as opposed to bankers, managers, marketers, and the average salesperson.  If you can survive the first five years, I believe it would probably be a great financial investment, even though the market sucks.   That said, it takes a special person to survive five years as a solo.   

What kind of law would you like to practice?   Are you cut out for the grind that is family law or criminal law in the most competitive market on earth?  Do you have the education to take the patent bar?  Do you have the education and smarts to do estate planning and tax?   Why would someone trust you with their business, when there will be countless attorneys out there with a similar billing rate and more experience?   How many solo practitioners have you sat down with?  (They tend to be a social bunch, and they tend to be very honest with how things are going).

Excellent post Jack24, and you pose some great questions.

I quoted you above just for reference, I want to be sure to answer everything.  Before I do that, let me give you an idea of what I'm going through.

I am in the real estate business, we have a residential building in Manhattan,  run it with my mother and it makes good money, about 220k a year we do ok.  Whether I go to law school or not, the building will be there, it will no doubt be the money maker for years to come while I get my footing in law, if I can get into law school.  My job is not hard, I run things on my phone and computer, but I don't feel challenged, I feel like I have a lot more to offer than writing emails in my underwear and making a good living at it.    I have a side business as well which will also stay around if I go to law school. 

Can I make 5k a year in law?  Probably, I just saved a bundle on car insurance, from $500 to $100 by dropping one of my vehicles from full coverage to liability only and that will save me 4800 a year by itself.  If nothing else I just made my law school payments for a few years after graduation.  My other option would be to get my certification and become a grammar school teacher, as bad as the legal profession is now, it can't be worse than an elementary school history teacher.  Plus, everything sucks now, we're in a economic slump, my guess is, once everything else picks up, so will the legal field.

What kind of law am I interested in?  For a while I thought about 2nd amendment law.  Very useful in NYC, esp. since only one lawyer in NYC does that exclusively, and NYC also has some of the worst gun laws in the nation.  Pistol permits applications are up and it is a long, hard and tricky process.

In addition to that, perhaps immigration law?  My property is in East Harlem and with new immigration laws coming down the pipe, and a large Latin American community, it might be lucrative, esp. since I speak Spanish, (I'm Hispanic myself) and my name is very very well known in the area.  Not only because of my own business dealings but my father spent 40+ years in the area, built a serious reputation as a great and honest businessman, and that can take me far.

The office space is on a busy street in Manhattan, and would be 100% free as we own it and can not use it for any other purpose except an office for the use of building owner according to the zoning laws. 

Landlord tenant law might work too, I have spent YEARS in this business and have been in and out of housi g court and know the system pretty well already.  One landlord tenant lawyer I dealt with charged $300 an hour, lived in the Hamptons and had a brownstone on East 74th street.  That is ALL he did. 

Also, on a side note, I don't live in Manhattan, the property we own is there, but we live outside the city and the house is nearly paid off.

I wouldn't mind being that guy with the office, the guy with the respect of the neighborhood, nada good, if not great living.  I would love to be like my dad in that respect.  He wasn't a lawyer,he was an insurance broker/driving school instructor/income tax preparer/livery cab base owner, I would love to bethe next Generation of X's ( using X to keep anonymity, I'm not related to Malcolm) in East Harlem running a business that makes money but also takes care of the community.

Patent law?  No, I have. A degree in history, and almost no science credits in UG.  Criminal?  Not really interested, but possible.  Tax and estate planning is an idea, but don't you need to be a CPA as well?  Family law might work esp. In that area.




livinglegend

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 343
    • View Profile
    • legalmatch
There are numerous options and I won't sugarcoat starting out as a solo practioner is difficult, but what in life isn't.

However, if you go to law school it is intense! You will not be able to juggle all these different businesses as a 1L you will need to put the brakes on those businesses or find someone to run it for you.

If you want to be a solo CUNY is one of the best options out there. It is CHEAP one of the few schools to offer in-state tuition and if you qualify for that you have options.

As for respect that is something you do get as a lawyer. You know a lot of things and people will seek your advice it is one of the things that employment statistics don't show, but one of the things I truly love about being an attorney.

Nobody can say what the right choice is, but first step is to get an LSAT score and see if law school is even an option. If you end up with a 142 then the options out.

MisDirected

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Legend, I have heard a lot about first year law students going a little nutty.  My mom and wife are totally on board and unless there is something major during that first year, I doubt I will be allowed to even deal with the general management of the business,  we have a super, and the place runs itself.

The other business is kind of cool because I is busiest in the summer and during the holidays.  Winter and fall are very very slow, dead really. 

I did read a cool article about how one guy got to the top of his class by concentrating on the final exam as it was 100% of his grade, lol.

Jack had a question I forgot to answer,  I do know many solos.  I know several solo lawyers.  One is a divorce lawyer who does very very well.  He has grown that business to a mini empire.  The other does all general practice and he seems to do well too.

There is my long time L/T lawyer, he was in his 80s, a real curmudgeon, not at all social, but he had a well established business with small landlords.  He is semi retired now, has a young man who runs the business.  they're on the low end of the solo train I guess. 

I can get out there and sell myself.  I can be a real whore.  What's also nice is that my neighborhood has very few lawyers.  I have a feeling that a sign that says ABOGADO will attract quite a number of people. 

I'll spend years doing immigration forms, pistol permit forms, closings, holdovers and evictions, fine by me.  I grew up in an office like that, it'll bring back nice memories.   

jack24

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 1050
    • View Profile
Live cheap during law school + Free Rent + Hispanic + willing to do family law, permits, and immigration?
That's about as good a recipe as I've seen.    There is no guarantee you'll like it, but it sounds like you are more cut out to go to law school than 90% of those inquiring on this board.

MisDirected

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Live cheap during law school + Free Rent + Hispanic + willing to do family law, permits, and immigration?
That's about as good a recipe as I've seen.    There is no guarantee you'll like it, but it sounds like you are more cut out to go to law school than 90% of those inquiring on this board.

Good to hear from an actual attorney.  The guys over at top-law-schools.com don't seem to think I have a good plan.  Then again, they're the deluded types who think that once they go to a T14 they're going to be at the top 10% of their class, and the big law firms will flock to them.  That may happen to some, but there are too many ifs involved. 

I remember reading somewhere that the bigger law firms are usually started by C students who went to less than prestigious schools, because those guys are willing to take risks, where the A students from the top schools either end up in academia, or at a big firm too scared to leave their 6 figure jobs to do something bigger.  Do I think I'll build the next big law firm in Manhattan?  No, but if some C students from lower end schools can build those firms I can certainly build a business to support myself with a similar background. 

My biggest obstical now is how LSAC will calculate my GPA.  My pre transfer gpa from community college was 3.01 and my graduating GPA 3.86 but in between those two I had  DDFF DCBB AND DF in three different semesters at three different schools.  I was caring for my dad, and not in a good place in my life.

Thane Messinger

  • Sr. Citizen
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
    • View Profile
Conclusion
In my anonymous internet poster opinion I recommend taking the LSAT seeing what score you get. Until you have an official score you cannot get into any law school. Once you have the LSAT score you don't need to enroll in law school right away and you can work for a law office or legal clinic and try it out. If you love it and want to pursue a legal career you have the LSAT score and can proceed. If you find being a lawyer is not for you then you are not obligated to enroll you will be out $100 for the LSAT fee and you will have saved yourself 3 years and 100,000 + dollars.

However, DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT go to law school simply because you do not know what else to do. No matter what profession you are in finding your first job is really difficult and starting as a lawyer is no different. Good luck.


Abolutely right, and especially as to the second paragraph.  Know, too, that simply scoring well on the LSAT . . . even sufficient to get into Yale . . . will NOT translate automatically into great grades (although those are somewhat . . .  somewhat . . . less crucial at a top 5 school), nor will it translate into a career that you actually like. 

I'm working on something with the author of Later-in-Life Lawyers that addresses this point.  And, if you'd like a good look at the Go/No-Go question (which every student, even stellar ones, should consider), one of the best write-ups is in The Slacker's Guide to Law School, which as it happens is a pretty good book for non-slackers too. 

Thane.