Law School Discussion

Summer Earnings

Summer Earnings
« on: August 12, 2013, 08:30:35 PM »
I am about to be starting law school and I'm trying to work out a rough budget for my law school career, figure out how much I'm going to have to take out in loans, etc.  I've heard that you can make pretty good money over the summers, especially your 2l summer.  I was just wondering if people could provide some sort of rough estimate.  I'm going to UCLA, but obviously, since I haven't even started school yet, I don't really know what my grades or class rank will look like.

Re: Summer Earnings
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2013, 11:00:56 PM »
Honestly, it's impossible to even guess what you might make during your 1L or 2L summer at this point. The range is very broad, and your options will largely be based on grades and connections.

That said, there are some general rules which are applicable to just about everyone. First, many summer internships (especially nowadays) pay little or nothing. There are so many well qualified law students competing for experience in big cities like L.A that employers don't have to offer high pay (or any pay) to entice good applicants. Most government internships will pay nothing, or maybe a small stipend.

I was fortunate enough to work at a very good, highly regarded government office during law school. Even though the internship was unpaid we had something like a few hundred applicants for three or four spots.

Big firms can pay well, but the competition to land those positions is intense. It helps that you're at UCLA, which has a great local reputation and strong alumni network. Nonetheless, the big firms will be inundated with applicants from UCLA, USC, Stanford and Berkeley, not to mention Harvard, Yale, etc.

I don't know if biglaw firms are still doing this, but a few years ago I knew 2Ls who were getting paid the same monthly salary as first year associates for the summer. I think they were making about $20,000-$25,000 total for the summer (10K per month, or so). Again, I would caution that these positions are highly sought after, and they will expect stellar grades to even be considered.

Obviously, small and midsized firms re going to pay a lot less.

Re: Summer Earnings
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2013, 09:12:06 AM »
Maintain is right on point there is absolutely no way to predict what you will earn during in your Summers. There are a few firms that pay $2,000 a week or more to their summer associates and there are a number of places where you would be an unpaid intern. That is the spectrum of earnings you can expect and as you can see it is a wide spectrum.

The $2,000 a week job is unlikely to obtain you will need to be in the top 10-20% of your class and nothing against you, but there is a 80-90% chance you won't be and even if you are the interview will need to be nailed and other factors need to fall into place so don't count on that happening although if that is what you want I will root for you.

Just so you know what you are getting into if money is a #1 concern for you law school may not be the best profession. I am a lawyer and love my job, but I am not rolling in dough and am still paying off law school loans. I had different options before I went to law school and could have more an extra 0 or two at the end of my account, but I would hate I was doing. I know for some money is priority #1 over job satisfaction and there is nothing wrong with that, but just so you know there are much more lucrative options than the legal profession.

However, if you really want to be a lawyer it can be a great gig.