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Author Topic: Making around $100K now ... stupid for quitting and going to law school?  (Read 1226 times)

RageLaw

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I'm a 27 yo that's been working as a pharmaceutical sales rep for the past 5 years, currently making a salary of around $100K ... I'm concerned with the future of my industry, the ceiling on my earnings, etc. but mainly the fact that it's a line of work I'm not challenged by and not that passionate about.  I've always been interested in law/law school and the challenge it presents ... but I've now got a mortgage to consider, I won't be out of school until I'm 31 if I go, and chances are if I do graduate law school I'll be making significantly less than when I first get out.  Anyone else in the same situation or have any thoughts on this situation?

CCH

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I'm a 27 yo that's been working as a pharmaceutical sales rep for the past 5 years, currently making a salary of around $100K ... I'm concerned with the future of my industry, the ceiling on my earnings, etc. but mainly the fact that it's a line of work I'm not challenged by and not that passionate about.  I've always been interested in law/law school and the challenge it presents ... but I've now got a mortgage to consider, I won't be out of school until I'm 31 if I go, and chances are if I do graduate law school I'll be making significantly less than when I first get out.  Anyone else in the same situation or have any thoughts on this situation?

If you aren't happy now doing what you do, you won't be happy in 10 years. If law school is something you have always thought about, it sounds like it is time for a career change. With your numbers, you could get into a very good school and at 31, as an attorney, you could end up making what you do now, and will definitely have the potential to make even more later on. I say go for it.

TwinkyBean

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I'm a 27 yo that's been working as a pharmaceutical sales rep for the past 5 years, currently making a salary of around $100K ... I'm concerned with the future of my industry, the ceiling on my earnings, etc. but mainly the fact that it's a line of work I'm not challenged by and not that passionate about.  I've always been interested in law/law school and the challenge it presents ... but I've now got a mortgage to consider, I won't be out of school until I'm 31 if I go, and chances are if I do graduate law school I'll be making significantly less than when I first get out.  Anyone else in the same situation or have any thoughts on this situation?

If you aren't happy now doing what you do, you won't be happy in 10 years. If law school is something you have always thought about, it sounds like it is time for a career change. With your numbers, you could get into a very good school and at 31, as an attorney, you could end up making what you do now, and will definitely have the potential to make even more later on. I say go for it.

I agree!... And if you have a mortgage to worry about, maybe go part time to law school?.. It might take an extra year, but that way you'd still be making some sort of a living. Go for it! And good luck! :)
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jarhead

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first i'm assuming your single if so it's worth it, i'm doing the exact same thing. i don't wanna put my salary on this board but let's just i'm in your ballpark. take a long view, you will be giving up that 6 figure salary for 3 years of law school but your earning potential once you graduate will surpass what it would've have been in your present job. the going rate for major cities at big firms right now is 160K which, unless your getting a 20k pay bump every year, is more than you would make at your present job, assuming you get promoted every year. but all of that is extra if you don't like what you're doing and want to be a lawyer don't let money stop you. you are at an advantage the average JD applicant doesn't have access to that kind of money prior to grad school. save as much money as you can, which you'll find when you cut out all the extra stuff (dinner out everynight, weekend vacations, random BS that you spend your money on) is quite a lot. the only problem you will have is getting grants and scholarships most schools will look at your tax returns and point you straight to the loan department. my school was nice enough to tell me that grants were reserved for students who were "poor". don't sweat it save your money and take out minimal amount of loans. i have a nice cushion going into 1L year  
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Tetris

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A lot of this depends on your undergrad GPA and LSAT score.  If you have a decent undergrad GPA and can score fairly high on the test then I would say definately go for it.  However if you end up at a T4 or T3 schools I imagine that you may spend many many years just climbing up to your current $100,000 / year salary.  The average starting salary for my local T4 schools is $40,000/ year. 

Here's a listing of the USN&WR top law schools:
http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/law/brief/lawrank_brief.php

Here's an admissions probability calculator:
http://officialguide.lsac.org/UGPASearch/Search3.aspx?SidString=

Here's a matchup of LSAT score with aveage starting salary:
http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/help/salary.htm

The LSAC site also offers stats such as average starting salary for certain schools.  One way to generate a list of schools that you may be able to get into is to plug in your undergrad GPA and estimate your LSAT score based on your known percentile rank in other intelligence tests (IQ, ACT, SAT, etc.).  For example, if you scored in the 95th percentile on your ACT your projected LSAT would be 165.  If you know your IQ is 100 (50th percentile) then you can project an LSAT of 151.  Some on this board will disagree with projecting like this because the LSAT measures intelligence differently then other tests do.  However, I think it is a good way of estimating a range and cementing down on a list of schools. 

Here's a list of the LSAT scores and percentile rankings for each score:
http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/help/scale.htm
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jarhead

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A lot of this depends on your undergrad GPA and LSAT score.  If you have a decent undergrad GPA and can score fairly high on the test then I would say definately go for it.  However if you end up at a T4 or T3 schools I imagine that you may spend many many years just climbing up to your current $100,000 / year salary.  The average starting salary for my local T4 schools is $40,000/ year. 

Here's a listing of the USN&WR top law schools:
http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/law/brief/lawrank_brief.php

Here's an admissions probability calculator:
http://officialguide.lsac.org/UGPASearch/Search3.aspx?SidString=

Here's a matchup of LSAT score with aveage starting salary:
http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/help/salary.htm

The LSAC site also offers stats such as average starting salary for certain schools.  One way to generate a list of schools that you may be able to get into is to plug in your undergrad GPA and estimate your LSAT score based on your known percentile rank in other intelligence tests (IQ, ACT, SAT, etc.).  For example, if you scored in the 95th percentile on your ACT your projected LSAT would be 165.  If you know your IQ is 100 (50th percentile) then you can project an LSAT of 151.  Some on this board will disagree with projecting like this because the LSAT measures intelligence differently then other tests do.  However, I think it is a good way of estimating a range and cementing down on a list of schools. 

Here's a list of the LSAT scores and percentile rankings for each score:
http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/help/scale.htm



yeah this is a good point, i was assuming you got into a top 50 school. if it takes you 10 years to get up to 100k out of law school than it may not be worth it.
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RageLaw

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I appreciate everyone's input!  For the record, I have a 3.95 UGPA and a 166 LSAT.  Most likely I'd be applying to Northwestern, UIUC, WUSTL, and SLU (have a mortgage and girlfriend in St. Louis ... probably would like to stay in the midwest, preferred Chicago), unless anyone else has any suggestions for applying ...

Tetris

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I appreciate everyone's input!  For the record, I have a 3.95 UGPA and a 166 LSAT.  Most likely I'd be applying to Northwestern, UIUC, WUSTL, and SLU (have a mortgage and girlfriend in St. Louis ... probably would like to stay in the midwest, preferred Chicago), unless anyone else has any suggestions for applying ...

Heck with a strong GPA and pretty strong LSAT score it looks like you would have a 10% shot at Yale!  I would consider applying to as many of the Top-14s as you would attend if accepted to.  A law degree at a T14 school would make this decision much much easier as you could expect to make $100,000 right out of school if you go to a T14.  Also your work experience makes for a good soft factor and the fact that you want to switch careers may demonstrate that you are really serious about law if you are willing to stop yourself in the middle of another career.

Also girlfriends shouldn't be factors in deciding where to go to school!  Imagine going to SLU instead of a better school and then having your girlfriend cheat on you or things just don't work out.  How dumb would you feel then?
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keelee

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I appreciate everyone's input!  For the record, I have a 3.95 UGPA and a 166 LSAT.  Most likely I'd be applying to Northwestern, UIUC, WUSTL, and SLU (have a mortgage and girlfriend in St. Louis ... probably would like to stay in the midwest, preferred Chicago), unless anyone else has any suggestions for applying ...

Forget WashU, forget SLU, forget UIUC. With your excellent GPA and better than average LSAT, you have a great shot at the lower T14s, and I bet you could get into a T6 (like uChicago) thanks to the fact you are a non-trad. Don't let geography restrict you here, and especially don't let a girfriend restrict you. Apply to all the T14s, throw in UIUC and WashU as safeties, and maybe Vandy/USC/UCLA/Texas if you wish.
Going to as of now...USC or Fordham.

qmmm

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I'd also round out your application list with MI, Vandy, MN, IA, and WI.  Although it certainly sounds like it'll come down to NU or WashU considering your situation and numbers.  But it wouldn't be a bad idea to send out a couple of other apps in case one or more gives you money -- leverage can be a good thing.

As for whether it's stupid to quit working an go to law school, it depends on what you want and why you're switching fields.  If it's only for the money, then you have to realize that the opportunity cost for you to go to law school is about $0.5M assuming that you're paying full price ($60k/yr), including interest of 7% paid back over 10yrs, and losing $0.3M in salary for 3 yrs.  It would take quite a while, even with a big law position, to make that a financially beneficial career switch.

If you're doing it because of excitement and challenge of practicing the law, then go for it.  Only you can know can make you happy.