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Author Topic: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?  (Read 642 times)

CowboyLawyer

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So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« on: February 13, 2007, 09:56:06 PM »
Alright, so if I decide not to attend a school that has offered me scholarships, it looks like I am going to be paying around 50-60 grand a year for law school. I plan on taking out loans in order to pay for this, but it looks as if I'm going to wind up with around 150,000 in debt by the time I graduate. I plan on practicing Big-Law and have gotten into some schools that give me good placement. How much of a problem is this debt going to be if I'm making around 125 grand a year? I've gotten some good money offers from solid schools like W&L and W&M but nothing from my top choices BC, BU or GW. How hard should I consider saving some money by going to these schools but then limiting some of the chances I have in attaining a higher salary later on. Basically I'm asking for some cost-benifit analysis. Thanks!
Spaghetti Westerns (Pending): Cornell, Duke,
The Man with No Name (Attending):
The Good(Accepted): BC $$, George Washington $,Notre Dame $,BU, Washington and Lee $$, William and Mary $$, American
The Bad(Rejected):Georgetown,UPenn,Harvard 
The Ugly(Waitlisted):Vandy, UTexas, Washington U

Booyakasha2

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Re: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2007, 10:15:52 PM »
Keep in mind that to be in BIGLAW you need to be close to top of your class.  Theres are staff attorneys at my firm who went to GW and GTown who didnt do as well and then there are associates and partners who went to Maryland and Baltimore who were at the top of their class.
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vercingetorix

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Re: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2007, 10:20:35 PM »
never assume you will make law review, graduate in the top 10% of your class and go on to a "big law" job that pays over 100k a year.  assume worst case scenario and plan up (unless you are attending one of the truly national schools...all 6-8 of them, in which case some of the pressure to perform is off but not much).  it always mystifies me when someone is given the option to graduate from a solid (tier 1) program with tens of thousands of dollars less debt but they choose a school which, according to some subjective ranking system is maybe 5 places ahead and is still a "regional power" and incur huge amounts of additional debt.  here is a simple equation: unless you get into one of the aforementioned national schools, pick a solid regional program where you will incur the least amount of debt, work as hard as you can to get the best grades you can, and plan on living within 200 miles of that school.  if you don't like these answers perhaps you should think about other employment.  i will offer up a personal example in case you assume i am blowing smoke down at you from mount olympus.  i am a non-trad student (i was a military pilot for 10 years).  i was accepted to a number of top tier schools (MN, IA, WI).  i have in-state tuition at WI.  i have the GI bill which pays for that in-state tuition.  why in God's name would i go to MN or IA just because they are ranked a few spots above WI and incur huge amounts of debt?  so i can tell my friends i'm going to a t20?  this is all nonsense.  as soon as i got into WI it was game over as far as i was concerned.  i could get into Northwestern and i'd still choose WI (i want to live here, why would i go $200k+ into debt only to come back to WI and then fight against the WI and Marquette mafias for jobs....and that doesn't even begin to explore the whole issue of having to postpone your dream job for years while you toil away in some high-power firm/galley as a miserable associate making money for the partners all in the name of paying off your law school debt before beginning a job you really want). i digress.  most are too ratings obssessed to realize what they are doing. it makes me laugh.  a little credence to the rankings? sure.  going 100k more into debt to attend 15 over 20? you decide man.

latenitesession

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Re: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2007, 10:23:47 PM »
Keep in mind that to be in BIGLAW you need to be close to top of your class.  Theres are staff attorneys at my firm who went to GW and GTown who didnt do as well and then there are associates and partners who went to Maryland and Baltimore who were at the top of their class.


this is how it is.... so, if you aren't confident that you'll finish in the tops of a lower-ranked school (compared to the others u have been accepted to/pending) then go to the top school u get accepted to. Most will tell you to always go to the best school you get accpted to, no matter what... Consider that you'll be STARTING at 125K minimum in BL, likely w/ bonuses... This will only go up. If you do get a position like this, I wouldn't worry so much about the loans. They'll be paid off quicker than you think so long as you don't buy a bentley and bling bling w/ your newfound paychecks....
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bamf

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Re: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2007, 10:32:26 PM »
Keep in mind that to be in BIGLAW you need to be close to top of your class.  Theres are staff attorneys at my firm who went to GW and GTown who didnt do as well and then there are associates and partners who went to Maryland and Baltimore who were at the top of their class.


this is how it is.... so, if you aren't confident that you'll finish in the tops of a lower-ranked school (compared to the others u have been accepted to/pending) then go to the top school u get accepted to. Most will tell you to always go to the best school you get accpted to, no matter what... Consider that you'll be STARTING at 125K minimum in BL, likely w/ bonuses... This will only go up. If you do get a position like this, I wouldn't worry so much about the loans. They'll be paid off quicker than you think so long as you don't buy a bentley and bling bling w/ your newfound paychecks....

no bling? crap ... I really am only going to school to get more bling.
But yeah, the better the school the better your chances are of getting that higher paying job.  But it matters how hard you work and how well you interview.  BC, BU and GW will all give you the chance to make 125 starting out even below the top 1/3.  The average starting salary of private sector folks at these schools is 125.  Also, starting salaries seem to be going up at the top law firms, a trend that will probably trickle down to other national firms by the time we are out of school.
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latenitesession

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Re: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2007, 10:40:38 PM »
Also, starting salaries seem to be going up at the top law firms, a trend that will probably trickle down to other national firms by the time we are out of school.

EXACTLY. these numbers will only go up, and the better the school, the better the odds of earning them.

And yes, no bling. You can only get bling after achieving partnership. It's a new ABA rule that was overlooked due to the new LSAT rule...
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ksigman123

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Re: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2007, 11:00:53 PM »
Keep in mind that to be in BIGLAW you need to be close to top of your class.  Theres are staff attorneys at my firm who went to GW and GTown who didnt do as well and then there are associates and partners who went to Maryland and Baltimore who were at the top of their class.


this is how it is.... so, if you aren't confident that you'll finish in the tops of a lower-ranked school (compared to the others u have been accepted to/pending) then go to the top school u get accepted to. Most will tell you to always go to the best school you get accpted to, no matter what... Consider that you'll be STARTING at 125K minimum in BL, likely w/ bonuses... This will only go up. If you do get a position like this, I wouldn't worry so much about the loans. They'll be paid off quicker than you think so long as you don't buy a bentley and bling bling w/ your newfound paychecks....

no bling? crap ... I really am only going to school to get more bling.
But yeah, the better the school the better your chances are of getting that higher paying job.  But it matters how hard you work and how well you interview.  BC, BU and GW will all give you the chance to make 125 starting out even below the top 1/3.  The average starting salary of private sector folks at these schools is 125.  Also, starting salaries seem to be going up at the top law firms, a trend that will probably trickle down to other national firms by the time we are out of school.


Keep in mind that BU, BC and GW are notoriously known for fudging job stuff (report rates at these schools for salaries is 50-70%)...

I mean T14 is probably a nobrainer but the margin of error at 15-30 is still not that impressive...

COL has to be taken into account as well, at the state schools in small towns it will cost less to live in general..

mathlete

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Re: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2007, 11:56:05 PM »
never assume you will make law review, graduate in the top 10% of your class and go on to a "big law" job that pays over 100k a year.  assume worst case scenario and plan up (unless you are attending one of the truly national schools...all 6-8 of them, in which case some of the pressure to perform is off but not much).  it always mystifies me when someone is given the option to graduate from a solid (tier 1) program with tens of thousands of dollars less debt but they choose a school which, according to some subjective ranking system is maybe 5 places ahead and is still a "regional power" and incur huge amounts of additional debt.  here is a simple equation: unless you get into one of the aforementioned national schools, pick a solid regional program where you will incur the least amount of debt, work as hard as you can to get the best grades you can, and plan on living within 200 miles of that school.  if you don't like these answers perhaps you should think about other employment.  i will offer up a personal example in case you assume i am blowing smoke down at you from mount olympus.  i am a non-trad student (i was a military pilot for 10 years).  i was accepted to a number of top tier schools (MN, IA, WI).  i have in-state tuition at WI.  i have the GI bill which pays for that in-state tuition.  why in God's name would i go to MN or IA just because they are ranked a few spots above WI and incur huge amounts of debt?  so i can tell my friends i'm going to a t20?  this is all nonsense.  as soon as i got into WI it was game over as far as i was concerned.  i could get into Northwestern and i'd still choose WI (i want to live here, why would i go $200k+ into debt only to come back to WI and then fight against the WI and Marquette mafias for jobs....and that doesn't even begin to explore the whole issue of having to postpone your dream job for years while you toil away in some high-power firm/galley as a miserable associate making money for the partners all in the name of paying off your law school debt before beginning a job you really want). i digress.  most are too ratings obssessed to realize what they are doing. it makes me laugh.  a little credence to the rankings? sure.  going 100k more into debt to attend 15 over 20? you decide man.
That's all well and good until you realize not many people get full rides at a school and no money at a school ranked 5 or so higher.

The difference is usually a lower T1 with T20, which is a pretty big difference in job prospects. It's not as cut and dry as you make it... yeah, if you're getting $120k to BC, you take it over BU, but that's usually not the case.

CowboyLawyer

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Re: So How Much Debt We Talking About Here?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2007, 01:13:11 AM »
Thanks guys, I guess this is all a big relief. I mean I'm young too, which should work to my advantage with paying off debt. It just sounds like so much money when you start adding up numbers. I have always wanted to work in big law to begin with so I guess that helps. It's just a relief you can get that kind of job even if you aren't the best of the best. To work for a big firm IS my dream job, so I guess it's a win-win. I know that probably sounds crazy, but hey if I didn't like work, I wouldn't be going to law school right?
Spaghetti Westerns (Pending): Cornell, Duke,
The Man with No Name (Attending):
The Good(Accepted): BC $$, George Washington $,Notre Dame $,BU, Washington and Lee $$, William and Mary $$, American
The Bad(Rejected):Georgetown,UPenn,Harvard 
The Ugly(Waitlisted):Vandy, UTexas, Washington U