Law School Discussion

so what happens to the other 50%?

so what happens to the other 50%?
« on: April 18, 2006, 09:08:07 AM »
Here's the question I can't really get a good answer on--what happens to the bottom half of the class at a non T14, but still T25 Tier one school??

Ok, so we know that after the T14 firms don't tend to hire very deep. And yes, if you're not in the top half of your class finding a job will be really difficult. But HOW difficult? Difficult enough for me NOT to bother going to school??

I'm heading to Iowa, barring a waitlist miracle, and despite that infamous scholarship waitlist I will be paying full price tuition out of state (about 30k a year. Yes, I might be lucky enough to get an RA position my second and third years so they could be at the instate rate. But let's say I don't and I pay approx 90k plus living expenses for my degree.

I am an average person. My LSAT is average (165), my GPA was average (3.3)--I do not harbor any ideas that I will walk in and take the class by storm. I'm a realist who hates debts and has a parent that will need me to take care of her at least partially. Loan repayment will run me about 900/month; making 45k out of school will barely pay the bills. So what do the "rest" of us do??

Would I be better to take the partial scholarship (about 40% of tuition) at a much lower ranked T2 school?

I probably sound incredibly ignorant but it's driving me nuts--

and please, anyone who feels like replying "kill self" or "you're an idiot who can't get into a T14 so you have no future" please waste your time somewhere else.


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Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2006, 09:13:37 AM »
I am in a situation similar to yours except for the fact that my schools are much lower ranked than yours.  I am debating between a school near the bottom of the top 100 (very expensive/no scholarship) and a t4 with a scholarship.  I think my job prospects will be similar at both schools, so I will likely take the scholarship, where I could also live at parents house.

PS:  at more expensive school I'd be looking at about 130K in debt.  Other school about 60K

Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2006, 09:28:46 AM »
anyone else? this is an issue that is going to affect at least half of us? has anyone gotten a straight answer?

Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2006, 09:37:06 AM »
I think you're wise to have these concerns. 

First, needless to say, don't assume that you won't do well.  In LS, as in practice, the less credentialed person often smokes his/her competition.

Second, to answer your specific question, the other 50% do any or all of the following (based on my perceptions): (1) boost their credentials by clerking for a year for a less-competitive court (such as a state trial court) and/or getting an LLM and/or getting barred in several states; (2) take longer to find a job (perhaps 6 mos.); (3) wind up getting jobs with the government or with small firms that offer non-competitive salaries; (4) hang out their own shingle; or (5) if all else fails, get jobs as contract attorneys or paralegals or sales reps of legal products.

Since you've been admitted to schools above T4, I will say categorically that you will not be forced to accept option (5).  So don't even worry that that will happen.  You obviously have the aptitude to do (1) through (4).  The worst that will happen is that it will take you a while to find a job, and you'll have to take one that pays $50-70k instead of 6 figures.

Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2006, 09:38:11 AM »
Keep in mind that a lot of people get jobs through summer associate positions. If you can get yourself something paying during 1L before your grades come out (a possibility with Iowa), you may be able to secure a job at that firm regardless of your GPA. With 2L summer associate positions, you'll just be going with your 1L grades, and it's with those that you generally end up getting an offer. Iowa's a great school and I'm sure that you'll be able to find a job with no problem even if you aren't the best in the class. You may have to stay in Iowa for a few years, but you're certainly not going to be left out in the cold.


Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2006, 09:53:24 AM »
For what it's worth, Paul Pless at UIUC brought this up in the career services talk at the admitted weekend.  He noted that law school applicants seem to forget that it's impossible for everyone to be in the top 10% of the class.  He stressed that UIUC was committed to finding great jobs for every single student.

If I were you, I'd have a talk with the career services people, expecially if you are still deciding between schools, and see if they have this sort of can-do attitude regarding the "rest" of the class, or if they stress their employment success with only the top half...

Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2006, 10:07:30 AM »
You will be fine. Don't let the perfectionist attitudes on here (ie. ohmygosh if I don't go to a T14 and get A+s all the way, my life is over!) get to you. I've known plenty of people who've gone to schools in the lower T1s and T2s, not been in the top half of their class, and still graduate with a nice job. So relax and go to the best school you can and do the best you can!

Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2006, 10:17:52 AM »
Greengrl, I will say it again you are probably better off going to Iowa.  First off I am not sure what T2 school you are looking at, but I was in a similar situation.  I got accepted to DePaul with about a 40% tuition schlorship.  However, when I got my aid packages from both DePaul and Iowa, even with the schlorship DePaul was only $5,000 a year difference.  I am willing to go an extra $15,000 debt (that's assuming I don't get an RA position) to go to Iowa.  

Also, a big part of law school is not only learning the law but learning how to learn the law.  If you are going to have trouble with that (I am not assuming you will) you will have problems at either Iowa or a T2 school.  So at that point what is the risk of being in the middle of the pack at a T2 over a Top 25.  

I don't know where you want to work but I highly doubt you will get stuck in Iowa, unless maybe your in the bottom 5% of the class. In Chicago, at least, there are a lot of medium sized firms (100 attorneys or so) were you work decent hours and starting salaries are around $80,000.  I worked at a firm like that for awhile in Chicago, and 90% of the attorneys were DePaul and John Marsahll grads.  I'm sure at a firm like that an Iowa student in the bottom half of the class could get an interview. $70,000 - $80,000 out of law school does not sound like a bad worst case scernario.  

Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2006, 10:39:31 AM »
wow--you guys are really great. there's so many great suggestions here

byebyecville: it's not about an LSAT score--jeez! we all know that's only one of many things. you raise a really good point about regional placement and to be honest, I am a midwest girl, through and through. I will be very happy to find a job in the midwest and if I can do that I will consider myself blessed. the T2 I am considering has a phenomenal regional rep but I'm not sure I want to be stuck in that city (oh, school is SLU and no i'm not really interested in health law)

Esqnow: thanks for not misinterpreting my fear and anxiety as somewhat misplaced. afterall this is an investment and i wouldn't want to go into it with the naivete i admittedly did with my undergrad. maybe an array of options was what i needed to see as it's hard for me to think past firm life sometimes. not that i dont' know that these jobs exist just that i need to be reminded. so thanks :)

queencruella: intersting point on post 1L placements. I'm ok working for free all summer and waiting tables at night to pay my bills. i've done it before and i'm certainly not too good to do it again. that is a really good thing to keep in mind, though--getting good experience after 1L even if I'm not in the top half of the class would be a real advantage for my education

ljl3y: this is a great suggestion; i'm going to talk to their career office and get some concrete numbers when i visit next week. thanks for offering that information!

asalie: i'm an only child, i think perfectionism might be genetic :) i do intend to do the best i can b/c i've waited so long for this opportunity but nonetheless, it's a big undertaking.

gcs451: i do really like Iowa and I've been so impressed with the school faculty and admissions staff. they are so amazingly helpful and responseful.  interesting point about learning to learn the law.  i'm thrilled to start school and study the law etc.. but it's daunting to go so far in debt without a clear picture of where you might end up.

oh, and 70k out of law school would be beyond fine in my book. this definitely isn't one of those "well I'm not going to be making 125k and i won't get a 30k summer internship post" 70k a year is more than either of my parents EVER me that's a lot of money :)

Re: so what happens to the other 50%?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2006, 11:18:04 AM »