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Author Topic: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!  (Read 43749 times)

FalconJimmy

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #70 on: July 12, 2012, 10:00:16 AM »
I wish more folks would post like the two of you.  I agree, a law degree is a long term investment and it may pay off in ways that you never imagined as a 1L.  The economy is crap right now, but in 15 years, it won't be like this.  If you plan on being alive then, you might want to set yourself up.

Also, the boomers will start retiring soon.  Granted, they're not retiring in the numbers they should.  They're a generation that will probably die at their desks.  Once they're gone, though, there should be a lot of job openings.

jack24

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #71 on: July 12, 2012, 10:50:13 AM »
I agree that this outlook is refreshing.   But let's crunch the numbers.

Consider $125,000 in loans, payable over 25 years at 7.2 percent.

$125,000 in principal
$144,845 in interest
$120,000 in opportunity cost (From not working those three years of law school)

That works out to $15,593 per year for 25 years.   To break even, you have to average $15,593 more annual NET INCOME per year for 25 years.

Who knows how much you would have made without law school... but it's plausible, maybe probable, that a legal education will pay off by the 25 year mark for the median law student out there.

The BLS says the median pay for lawyers (not starting salary) in 2010 was $112,760.  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Lawyers.htm
sales managers in 2010 was $98,530.  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm
computer systems analyst in 2010 was $77,740  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm
Network Administrator: $69,160  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm
Here's a list of some other business field careers and their medians.  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm#tab-7

A legal career pays off against almost all of those careers (for the median person).

I think it's a good investment in the long run for most people,  but:

1: A lot of people are below the median.  And a large portion (impossible to know how large) won't make enough money for it to be worth it.  However, maybe they would have sucked at everything else.
2: Law school doesn't teach you how to be a practicing lawyer or how to make money.
3: Law school is inefficient and the tuition was rising far too rapidly.
4: Legal jobs are so diverse, that it's extremely difficult to predict what kind of work you will be doing after graduation.
5: The first five years can be brutal for the massive portion of attorneys who start at less than 60k per year.




FalconJimmy

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #72 on: July 12, 2012, 01:23:10 PM »
I agree that this outlook is refreshing.   But let's crunch the numbers.

Consider $125,000 in loans, payable over 25 years at 7.2 percent.

$125,000 in principal
$144,845 in interest
$120,000 in opportunity cost (From not working those three years of law school)

That works out to $15,593 per year for 25 years.   To break even, you have to average $15,593 more annual NET INCOME per year for 25 years.

Who knows how much you would have made without law school... but it's plausible, maybe probable, that a legal education will pay off by the 25 year mark for the median law student out there.

The BLS says the median pay for lawyers (not starting salary) in 2010 was $112,760.  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Legal/Lawyers.htm
sales managers in 2010 was $98,530.  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm
computer systems analyst in 2010 was $77,740  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-systems-analysts.htm
Network Administrator: $69,160  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Computer-and-Information-Technology/Network-and-computer-systems-administrators.htm
Here's a list of some other business field careers and their medians.  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm#tab-7

A legal career pays off against almost all of those careers (for the median person).

I think it's a good investment in the long run for most people,  but:

1: A lot of people are below the median.  And a large portion (impossible to know how large) won't make enough money for it to be worth it.  However, maybe they would have sucked at everything else.
2: Law school doesn't teach you how to be a practicing lawyer or how to make money.
3: Law school is inefficient and the tuition was rising far too rapidly.
4: Legal jobs are so diverse, that it's extremely difficult to predict what kind of work you will be doing after graduation.
5: The first five years can be brutal for the massive portion of attorneys who start at less than 60k per year.

Jack, love the analysis, but the opportunity cost element of this equation is overstated if you ask me.

The reasons are:
1.  You will not save any of that money.  You'll consume 100% of it by living day-to-day.
2.  The day-to-day living is already accounted for in loans on the other half of the equation.

So, this is really taking the same variable and working against law school on both sides of the ledger.

Now, what is more accurate to say is that by working, you'll eat a little less ramen.  At the end of both periods, though, you won't have anything to show for it.  In the work case, you will break-even, in the LS case, you will have debt.  Once you account for the debt, you account for the entire impact of not-working.

Also, I am one of the majority of law students who, no way, no how, will get a lucrative job offer upon graduation.  Just won't happen.

I'm already resigned to starting my own practice, and I already know that's a road fraught with pitfalls.

Seems like the law is a great career for people who are either ultra-brainy (can pull a high class rank) or highly entrepreneurial.  It is not necessarily a great move for people who are merely moderately bright and get a minimal set of credentials.  (Unremarkable class rank and bar passage.)  Those folks might have had a great career in the law 50 years ago.  Not so much today.

legend

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #73 on: July 12, 2012, 02:19:30 PM »
No doubt there are "BETTER" ways to make money and anyone is going to law school solely for the purpose of being rich there much better ways to do it. During undergrad and a little after I worked for a Clinical Psychologist who wanted to take me under his wing.  He had a thriving practice he was making 15,000 or more a day. I don't know if this is common in that profession, but he really liked me and wanted me to get my Ph.D work alongside him. I am sure I would have made more money than I do now, but Clinical psychology is not my passion. It was a job I had in college to pay the bills and it was interesting enough, but not for me.

Something about being a lawyer appealed to me and it still does. I love the rush of arguing a case in court it just makes me feel alive and I would pay money to have that rush and I am lucky enough to get paid to do it. This goes to my overall point is each person's situation is unique there are likely plenty of lawyers who never want to be in court. They might think drafting a will/trust etc that saves 2,00,000 in taxes is fascinating. I don't, but there are people that do.

However, look at the list of 500 wealthiest people in the world I don't think any are practicing lawyers. If you want to go rich work on wall street, be a garbageman (I imagine many of them do make more money than lawyers, etc. Point is there are much better ways to make money than being a lawyer, but it is one of the only jobs where only a law license can allow you do certain things. If your friend gets a arrested you can't represent them in court unless you have a law license. If a family member's friend is going through divorce you can't represent them unless you have a law license. Etc, etc.

Is law school a golden ticket? No. Is it a fascinating career? For me yes, but for many others no.

Always remember your career is a highly personal choice and there is often a lot more to career satisfaction than having an extra 0 on your account balance.

Just my two cents as an anonymous internet poster.

jack24

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #74 on: July 12, 2012, 02:54:58 PM »

Jack, love the analysis, but the opportunity cost element of this equation is overstated if you ask me.

The reasons are:
1.  You will not save any of that money.  You'll consume 100% of it by living day-to-day.
2.  The day-to-day living is already accounted for in loans on the other half of the equation.

So, this is really taking the same variable and working against law school on both sides of the ledger.

Now, what is more accurate to say is that by working, you'll eat a little less ramen.  At the end of both periods, though, you won't have anything to show for it.  In the work case, you will break-even, in the LS case, you will have debt.  Once you account for the debt, you account for the entire impact of not-working.

Also, I am one of the majority of law students who, no way, no how, will get a lucrative job offer upon graduation.  Just won't happen.

I'm already resigned to starting my own practice, and I already know that's a road fraught with pitfalls.

Seems like the law is a great career for people who are either ultra-brainy (can pull a high class rank) or highly entrepreneurial.  It is not necessarily a great move for people who are merely moderately bright and get a minimal set of credentials.  (Unremarkable class rank and bar passage.)  Those folks might have had a great career in the law 50 years ago.  Not so much today.

It is probably overstated, but opportunity cost should at least include any money you could have saved, any assets you could have developed, and any interest you accrued during law school that I didn't include in the calculation.  Plus the better lifestyle during those years counts for something, at least.

Either way, over the long term, law school can make financial sense.

Legend makes some great points as well, but I'm not so sure people can identify whether they are right for law before trying it.   I love going to court as well.  I did it all the time during my internships, but I don't get to in my current job.
I have a good job for a fair wage doing assignments that bore me to tears.   If I wanted to be bored all day long I would have been a pharmacist.

PublicServiceAnnouncement

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #75 on: July 12, 2012, 06:42:13 PM »
I appreciate the sane replies. 

I will add though that I am very, very fortunate to live in a low regulation, low tax state where the unemployment rate is nowhere near what it is elsewhere (hint: it has about 32 electoral votes and shares a border with Mexico).  My opportunities would not have been available in new england or california.  AND I didnt have high student loans.  I think in-state tuition at my state school is now double what it was when I went.  That's pretty brutal.  I would really advise people to find a good business outside the law and volunteer somewhere if they want to help people, or just work for a non-profit if making money is not a huge necessity.

On the other hand, the job market will indeed pick up in ten or fifteen years when the boomers retire as another poster mentioned.  But, who can wait so long?  Also, boomers will be retiring from every industry, not just law.

I still advise against the law to young people in high school planning their careers. 

haus

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #76 on: July 12, 2012, 08:32:58 PM »
On the other hand, the job market will indeed pick up in ten or fifteen years when the boomers retire as another poster mentioned.  But, who can wait so long?  Also, boomers will be retiring from every industry, not just law.

I still advise against the law to young people in high school planning their careers.
So your recommendation to the young folk out there is what... be born at a different time, place yourself in some form of stasis? Simply avoiding something is not much of a plan, offering suggestions of something that you suspect would work is likely to be much more useful.

legend

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #77 on: July 12, 2012, 10:58:22 PM »
@Jack I am guessing your still young I am just about to be 30, but that is still pretty young in the legal profession. I have been out for a few years and am finally starting to get to go to court. There horrendous doc-review jobs, contract jobs, etc coming out, but a legal career can span over 30-40 years. I can't tell you how many things have changed being out in 5 years for me personally and I speculate in 5 more years the landscape will change in my career again. However, I will still have that license to practice law which only law school can give you.

As for most people in law school and so forth online to tier 4 to Harvard really take a look around the rest of the world and realize you are quite lucky. I played a lot of sports growing up and didn't come from any kind money. Everybody's parents just wanted their kids to go to a university to get a 4 year degree and nobody expected a doctorate for any of us. Not to mention I was still an American Citizen and my parents had a car an ugly POS car, but 90% of people worldwide don't even have that.

It is common and I do it myself sometimes, but everybody is constantly looking up at what others have and not appreciating what they do have. The reality is if you have made it into law school your life has been pretty fortunate and a lot of people would love to be a licensed lawyer.

Maybe a little to philosophical, but just something to consider.

-You are correct that you can't really know if law school is for you or not. Being a paralegal or something might give some insight, or doing mock trial in college could help, but you can't understand law school until your in it I suppose. It is something that works out for some and not for others, but you could say that about any career.

Again happy to hear everything worked out for OP, your making a fair wage, and my legal career is going alright, I hope the same for everyone else that is chasing the J.D dream, or  working out there in the crazy world.


PublicServiceAnnouncement

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #78 on: July 13, 2012, 12:40:12 AM »
On the other hand, the job market will indeed pick up in ten or fifteen years when the boomers retire as another poster mentioned.  But, who can wait so long?  Also, boomers will be retiring from every industry, not just law.

I still advise against the law to young people in high school planning their careers.
So your recommendation to the young folk out there is what... be born at a different time, place yourself in some form of stasis? Simply avoiding something is not much of a plan, offering suggestions of something that you suspect would work is likely to be much more useful.

Good question.  Basically where I went wrong was to get a liberal arts degree in a subject I was interested in which is pretty typical advice to be given even if not going to law school.  Then, my plan was just to rely on law school to get me a great career via the typical job interview process.  I would be a lawyer and then be making lots of money.  That didn't work.  There was a lot of pain and uncertainty in that plan.

What I would have done differently in high school is focused in on an undergrad degree that gave me a marketable skill set set such as engineering, business, finance, geology, etc, ie jobs that employ lots of people.  For people already on the liberal arts degree path, I would tell them to talk to people who are successful in their grg area in order to find industries where there is a clear defined path to making money.  In better times that could have been commercial real estate.  It could be anything though.  If your state has lots of paper mills for example, what are the white collar jobs that go into producing paper for the masses?  How do you get into that field?  Are there professional associations to network into?  Do you live in LA?  What are the business sides of the film business that are in demand?  Identify the bread and butter industries for your region and find out how to get into those industries before you get locked into a career path.  Try it for a few years and learn everything about the business.  If you fail to get ahead, you can always go to law school in a few years. 

If money isn't important and you want to help people, work at a nonprofit and actually help more people than you would as a debt impoverished attorney.

Also, I would recommend night law school to anyone over regular law school.  If you just absolutely have to go to law school, get a job in that city first and then apply to go at night so you get income and experience and can take the best job you get upon graduating, not the first job offered.  Night law is a great option and is largely exempt from my critiques of law school.

Finally, I would recommend traditional law school if you get into a fantastic school like Harvard or Stanford or something like that.  Then, it's still a strong bet.  BUT, anything short of that and I would recommend what I'm telling you here.




haus

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Re: DO NOT GO TO LAW SCHOOL!!!
« Reply #79 on: July 13, 2012, 10:41:25 AM »
@PSA,

I find your (relative) support for night school to be an interesting angle (disclaimer: I am a non-trad considering a night school program, because I am finding my job/career/field is getting moving into an era where law/policy/contract details are becoming more important factors). I am a big fan of the idea that many of the great opportunities in the near future (e.g. next 30-50 years) will be an the intersection of multiple disciplines, and those people that find successful combinations of skills across disciplines can be in a nice position to capitalize.

An obvious downside to this is the amount of time and effort this takes. Not only does one need to develop skills in multiple fields, be prepared to stay relevant in these area, and the need to make and maintain contacts across said fields. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

One generic modification I would suggest to your career advice would be for those people who are starting out to consider things outside their region. There is no reason to limit your opportunities due to happenstance of your current residence.