work one more year or attend law school

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novicejamED
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work one more year or attend law school

Post by novicejamED » Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm

Hi, I need some advice.
I have been asked to stay on at my current job if I do so I will make about 155 maybe more with OT. I will have to delay attending law school for a year but hopefully will have enough saved to pay for one of the 3 years. I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
I would like opinions on whether working an additional year is a financially sound decision especially for the long term ? Govt loans are at a min of 7% interest and I believe compound will in school. Also I graduated college a few years ago.

Let me add that this salary is only guaranteed for one year to entice me to stay for a year after which it may decrease to about 95-100K if I same on. Just in case it changes the opinions submitted
Last edited by novicejamED on Fri May 25, 2018 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PFInterest
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by PFInterest » Thu May 24, 2018 4:39 pm

will your school allow the delay?
what is the goal for going to law school? big law, in house counsel? 2 years of lost wages + tuition on top of that seems painful but definitely not the worst thing in the world to do.

mega317
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by mega317 » Thu May 24, 2018 5:04 pm

I gotta say, with the salaries so close, it may be that the most financially sound decision is to never attend law school. But more important than numbers is what you want to do in life. If the answer requires law school, then I don't think there's much difference when you start.

6 dollar ribs
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by 6 dollar ribs » Thu May 24, 2018 7:02 pm

Some things to consider:
Law is a mature and shrinking industry. Partners at the top firms make a lot, but there will probably be fewer people in that position 10 years from now.

You may make $190k after 3 years out of the workforce and paying tuition, but you may be making that much or more in 3 years if you stay in your current job.

You appear to make almost as much as a first year associate in a 40 hour per week job. At the firm I work at, associates are on call at all hours and average 60 hours per week at the office, though it’s not uncommon for people to bill 3000 hours and spend 70-80 per week in the office

I would not go to law school if I were you unless you see your current job as a dead end and you really want to be a lawyer.

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Socrates28
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if you can delay save the money to pay tuition

Post by Socrates28 » Thu May 24, 2018 7:20 pm

if not go. I have several friends who are attorneys and make $300,00 plus.

Private school can be very expensive. Also depends on your age too. Top 5 law school, you will make a lot!

ETadvisor
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by ETadvisor » Thu May 24, 2018 7:48 pm

I firmly believe a law degree is one of the greatest educations you can achieve. If you want to practice law do it and unlike some other professions most lawyers flourish with age/experience and gain job stability. Options (partner, of-counsel) are unlimited as you age and you can work into your 70's if you desire.

Further the law degree is invaluable to the business world in the event the private practice setting is not working out as you glamorized. You can easier land jobs in government/politics, banking/finance, academia, journalism or public interest, A law degree can be a springboard for a nice corporate consulting gig, corporate compliance roles, senior corporate managers or even a CEO. Of course this comes with a price but the degree allows you to work in private practice or provides powerful leverage into other professions and high-paying jobs in the event the practice of law is not for you or does not work out.

TheMadEph
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by TheMadEph » Thu May 24, 2018 11:38 pm

I would not go to Law School if you are going to have to take out a huge amount of loans, especially given the amount of money you are making now. I went to a top 5 law school, and except for clerking (which was Amazing!) the rest of the nonsense is not really worth it. Probably better off going to a worse law school, with a full ride, then crushing it and graduating 1 or 2% in class. Might even get a better clerkship, and then - if you love the clerking or the public interest work or the academia, you can do that with no debt. But if you have huge debt, you'll have to do the "big law" bullshit to pay off the debt.

I am now in-house making good money (not partner level, but better than associate money ($450K+)) and its still kind of not worth it. Even though I have good quality of life....!!!
So think long and hard about it and DEFINITELY take another year to make sure. Make sure you will want to do legal work that DOESN'T pay well. And (if you take another year) and build up savings/retirement accounts, it will be even easier to take a lower paying legal job if you want to after school.

Alternatively, if you are business-oriented and smart and a hard worker (which you may be all three) - I would go to a cheap law school, clerk for a few years in trial courts, learn how to be a plaintiffs attorney, and go out and hustle. You will likely end up making more money than the partners at big law. More risk, but much more reward (esp. for a smart and motivated person). I could never do it (not a hard worker), but it is something to consider....

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by junior » Fri May 25, 2018 11:14 am

novicejamED wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Hi, I need some advice.
I have been asked to stay on at my current job if I do so I will make about 155 maybe more with OT. I will have to delay attending law school for a year but hopefully will have enough saved to pay for one of the 3 years. I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
I would like opinions on whether working an additional year is a financially sound decision especially for the long term ? Govt loans are at a min of 7% interest and I believe compound will in school. Also I graduated college a few years ago.
As other have said, going to law school in general is a questionable decision given your current salary, depending, of course, on what you really want to do with your life. Things to consider:

1) Will your work life balance be as good as your current job? (In other words, you might earn more after law school, but will you earn more because you work longer hours, not because they pay you more per hour?)

2) How do you know you'd enjoy being a lawyer? (Do you enjoy your current job? Might you enjoy it more than the job you'd get after law school?)

I don't see the decision on whether to defer a year to be important, the important thing is why are you leaving for law school?

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Pajamas
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Pajamas » Fri May 25, 2018 11:35 am

novicejamED wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Hi, I need some advice.
I have been asked to stay on at my current job if I do so I will make about 155 maybe more with OT. I will have to delay attending law school for a year but hopefully will have enough saved to pay for one of the 3 years. I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
I would like opinions on whether working an additional year is a financially sound decision especially for the long term ? Govt loans are at a min of 7% interest and I believe compound will in school. Also I graduated college a few years ago.
If you will make $155 and only be able to save enough to pay for one year of law school, seems like you have very high ongoing living expenses. How will you cover those while you are in law school?

If you are going to go to law school, harness your enthusiasm and go ahead and do it now. You're not getting any younger. You will also get an extra year's use out of the degree with the accumulated benefits of that. Why waste another year in your old career?

Loik098
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Loik098 » Fri May 25, 2018 4:23 pm

novicejamED wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Hi, I need some advice.
I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
How do you know this?

3funder
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by 3funder » Fri May 25, 2018 4:44 pm

Loik098 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:23 pm
novicejamED wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Hi, I need some advice.
I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
How do you know this?
I'm sure there's data out there somewhere. I have no idea if this is what the data says.

Loik098
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Loik098 » Fri May 25, 2018 5:09 pm

3funder wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:44 pm
Loik098 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:23 pm
novicejamED wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Hi, I need some advice.
I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
How do you know this?
I'm sure there's data out there somewhere. I have no idea if this is what the data says.
Salary data is useful only for wishful thinking, as it can't guarantee someone a job, in their desired field and location....particularly several years out. Unless OP has a promise of a future offer, I don't believe salary should play much of a factor in this decision-making process.

supalong52
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by supalong52 » Fri May 25, 2018 5:26 pm

If OP goes to a top 5, he or she is basically guaranteed Biglaw. I think with bonus, Biglaw starts at $200k+. The question is whether you will want to stay in Biglaw for very long. You won't know until you actually start working. So it's a bit of a Catch-22.

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celia
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by celia » Fri May 25, 2018 5:39 pm

It's one thing to graduate from law school, but it is another to pass the bar (I've heard). I know folks who took the review courses beforehand and studied like crazy but still couldn't pass them after multiple tries. Then they are still stuck paying off the loan(s).

I am guessing that those who went to the top law schools have the best pass rate, while those who went to their local public college may not fare as well. Some of the knowledge/skills learned may be due to one's own efforts while some of it may be due to how thorough the program is.

novicejamED
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by novicejamED » Fri May 25, 2018 8:54 pm

Loik098 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:23 pm
novicejamED wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Hi, I need some advice.
I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
How do you know this?
the average starting salary for graduates at the top ten law schools is 150-180K

novicejamED
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by novicejamED » Fri May 25, 2018 8:57 pm

mega317 wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 5:04 pm
I gotta say, with the salaries so close, it may be that the most financially sound decision is to never attend law school. But more important than numbers is what you want to do in life. If the answer requires law school, then I don't think there's much difference when you start.
The salary may only be close for one year. As it includes a company incentive for me to put off law school for one more year. Does this change your opinion?

novicejamED
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by novicejamED » Fri May 25, 2018 8:59 pm

celia wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 5:39 pm
It's one thing to graduate from law school, but it is another to pass the bar (I've heard). I know folks who took the review courses beforehand and studied like crazy but still couldn't pass them after multiple tries. Then they are still stuck paying off the loan(s).

I am guessing that those who went to the top law schools have the best pass rate, while those who went to their local public college may not fare as well. Some of the knowledge/skills learned may be due to one's own efforts while some of it may be due to how thorough the program is.
Hopefully I would pass the pass rate at the law school i will attend is over 95%. However your point is well taken and a good one to consider thanks for posting

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Cycle
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Cycle » Fri May 25, 2018 9:19 pm

Invest in yourself, just go to law school now so you can begin your new career asap. You're earning personal capital, delaying savings. If you found this forum, you will be fine financially.

If you play with spreadsheets u may find not going to law school or going to law school part-time get you to FI quicker, but I'd just get the school out of the way if I were u.

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Big Dog » Fri May 25, 2018 9:26 pm

fwiw: if you have the numbers for a T5 law school, you have the numbers to attend a lower-ranked T14 for a LOT less. The ROI on that is much, much better.

novicejamED
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by novicejamED » Fri May 25, 2018 9:39 pm

Can you expound on why you think there is a greater return on investment to a attend a T14 they all seem to cost about the same and monetary offers are variable and does not linearly decrease as the rank increases?

Minty
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Minty » Fri May 25, 2018 9:49 pm

Have you tested the waters by actually applying?
Core Four with nominal bonds and TIPS.

Anon64
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Anon64 » Fri May 25, 2018 10:14 pm

If you can get into a top law school and you know you want to practice law, I would go to law school now. Biglaw firms start at 180k (depending on location) and if you can get into a top 5 school, you have a good shot at landing a high paying position.

desafinado
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by desafinado » Fri May 25, 2018 10:20 pm

novicejamED wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 9:39 pm
Can you expound on why you think there is a greater return on investment to a attend a T14 they all seem to cost about the same and monetary offers are variable and does not linearly decrease as the rank increases?
you can get scholarships for lower t14 if you have the numbers for t5 (especially if you have the numbers for hys)

Loik098
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Loik098 » Fri May 25, 2018 10:33 pm

novicejamED wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 8:54 pm
Loik098 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:23 pm
novicejamED wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Hi, I need some advice.
I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
How do you know this?
the average starting salary for graduates at the top ten law schools is 150-180K
Not my point. We can quote data all day long. We don't know this to be true for you, thus, there is no "should" here. As others have posted already, you have a shot at this salary range...but not a guarantee. You still have to (get accepted?), take those classes, graduate in the top range of your class, pass the bar, do well in interviews, know the right people, yada yada.

Your decision should not be based on money. Money doesn't bring happiness. It should be about what you want to do, and how hard you are willing to work to accomplish it. I don't think you'd be asking this question here if you had no doubt you could achieve the salary you are quoting and really wanted to practice law.

mega317
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by mega317 » Sat May 26, 2018 8:41 am

I think we're getting off track here. OP's question was should he delay a year or not.

gclancer
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by gclancer » Sat May 26, 2018 8:46 am

Big Dog wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 9:26 pm
fwiw: if you have the numbers for a T5 law school, you have the numbers to attend a lower-ranked T14 for a LOT less. The ROI on that is much, much better.
+1

Leemiller
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Leemiller » Sat May 26, 2018 9:04 am

Apply to more than just the top five. See how much money you can get. I got a free ride to a top fifteen - all tuition covered for three years. Also, consider geography and practice area carefully. Like others, I’m not sure why you can’t save a huge amount over the next year.

Leemiller
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Leemiller » Sat May 26, 2018 9:07 am

celia wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 5:39 pm
It's one thing to graduate from law school, but it is another to pass the bar (I've heard). I know folks who took the review courses beforehand and studied like crazy but still couldn't pass them after multiple tries. Then they are still stuck paying off the loan(s).

I am guessing that those who went to the top law schools have the best pass rate, while those who went to their local public college may not fare as well. Some of the knowledge/skills learned may be due to one's own efforts while some of it may be due to how thorough the program is.
I studied on my own over the summer and passed the bar first try. Frankly, I wasn’t very diligent. With a bar review course, I would have had more study time and structure. Op is a great test taker if he/she can get into a top 5, so I wouldn’t worry about this at all. I had a top 99% percentile score fwiw on my LSAT, which was better than my SATs.

Leemiller
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Leemiller » Sat May 26, 2018 9:13 am

TheMadEph wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 11:38 pm
I would not go to Law School if you are going to have to take out a huge amount of loans, especially given the amount of money you are making now. I went to a top 5 law school, and except for clerking (which was Amazing!) the rest of the nonsense is not really worth it. Probably better off going to a worse law school, with a full ride, then crushing it and graduating 1 or 2% in class. Might even get a better clerkship, and then - if you love the clerking or the public interest work or the academia, you can do that with no debt. But if you have huge debt, you'll have to do the "big law" bullshit to pay off the debt.

I am now in-house making good money (not partner level, but better than associate money ($450K+)) and its still kind of not worth it. Even though I have good quality of life....!!!
So think long and hard about it and DEFINITELY take another year to make sure. Make sure you will want to do legal work that DOESN'T pay well. And (if you take another year) and build up savings/retirement accounts, it will be even easier to take a lower paying legal job if you want to after school.

Alternatively, if you are business-oriented and smart and a hard worker (which you may be all three) - I would go to a cheap law school, clerk for a few years in trial courts, learn how to be a plaintiffs attorney, and go out and hustle. You will likely end up making more money than the partners at big law. More risk, but much more reward (esp. for a smart and motivated person). I could never do it (not a hard worker), but it is something to consider....
Maybe this is a good point to clarify for the OP, 400-500k can certainly be partner level income for a new partner or a service partner without a book of business. And partners are taxed at a high rate plus have to worry about their firms blowing up and getting stuck with liability (Howery comes to mind).

Becoming a partner is unfortunately more about right place right time, but I have seen a few people who have an uncanny ability to get people to hire them. They are like unicorns. One is a GC for a fintech firm, the other runs his own legal/consulting gig. Neither made it in biglaw despite bringing in business.

Personally, I’m also in-house, making the high 300s and I wish I would have taken the JD/MBA route or maybe done something else.

alfaspider
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by alfaspider » Sat May 26, 2018 9:56 am

celia wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 5:39 pm
It's one thing to graduate from law school, but it is another to pass the bar (I've heard). I know folks who took the review courses beforehand and studied like crazy but still couldn't pass them after multiple tries. Then they are still stuck paying off the loan(s).

I am guessing that those who went to the top law schools have the best pass rate, while those who went to their local public college may not fare as well. Some of the knowledge/skills learned may be due to one's own efforts while some of it may be due to how thorough the program is.
Bar passage is not an important consideration for a T5 graduate. First-time pass rates from those schools are over 90% for most states and eventual pass rates are essentially 100%. Even at the T14 school I attended, failing the bar basically only happened to people who blew off studying.

To the O.P.: If youbare able to reduce your loan burden by working an extra year, that might be worth it. Part of the reason why many are miserable in biglaw is that they feel trapped in the job by their loans. Without loans, you have freedom to do something else.

novicejamED
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by novicejamED » Sat May 26, 2018 12:34 pm

So I am accepted to law schools in the top 5 already. I have not asked about deferring yet as I am undecided. I have acceptances in the T14, T10, etc however I think I want to attend the highest ranked school. Also I am attending law school this year or next my current job does not have upward mobility and my increase is just for a year so I will put of law school for a year. There is very little money to be had in the top 5; full ride in top 10, T14 however my plan is to work in very competitive markets after graduation like NY or CA. I'm told its easier to lands those jobs the higher the school is ranked and if possible attending a school in the state you want to work or close by feeder states. Very interested in the in-house counsel gig. Is that salary first year out? That amount (300K) would make me not take the pay increase to work another year before attending law school. I am trying to get information on the financial pros and cons of waiting vs not. Plus waiting also has the added con of what if something comes up and starting has to be put off again I run the risk of maybe never attending. Can someone delve into the actually finances of the decision taking into consideration what you lose in not starting your career as a lawyer by a years vs starting a year earlier and maybe being one year closer to partner level pay?

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by FOGU » Sat May 26, 2018 2:17 pm

mega317 wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 8:41 am
I think we're getting off track here. OP's question was should he delay a year or not.
To the OP: If you can in fact delay your admission to this top 5 school, and they will in fact take you after a one year delay, I say work the extra year while living like an impoverished law student. Bank the money, and then live like an impoverished law student for the three years you are in law school. When you finish you should have a modicum of "FU" money, or at least be debt free as you indicated, and thus not be under the normal pressures to take a job based on a marginal difference in salary, say $150k vs. $175k vs. $195k. In other words, greater options = greater personal freedom.
~ Don't just do something. Sit there. ~

6 dollar ribs
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by 6 dollar ribs » Sat May 26, 2018 2:55 pm

Unless the top 5 school is Yale, you would be a fool to turn down a full ride to a top 10 school. There is almost no difference between Columbia and Duke or Virginia in terms of job prospects, and that small difference is not worth $250k. I regret turning down a slightly lower ranked school for a top 5 law school, even though I got a job at a top firm after graduating.

Arthur Digby Sellers
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Arthur Digby Sellers » Sat May 26, 2018 3:40 pm

novicejamED wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 12:34 pm
full ride in top 10
If you have a full ride to a top 10 school, you should definitely go there versus paying full price at a top 5 school. I say that as someone who went to the law school currently ranked #5 in the country. It is only marginally easier to land prestigious jobs in NY or CA coming from (say) Columbia than it would be coming from (say) Virginia. And without debt, your flexibility will be infinitely greater.

High-level in-house counsel is (often) a very difficult job to get. It is much easier to get a job at a big law firm. And most in-house counsel do not hire straight out of law school, and those that do usually pay far less than law firm salaries. In-house counsel is the dream job for every mid-level and senior associate who is miserable at his or her big law firm and searching for a way out. There are legions of those people, many of whom who will have resumes as sterling as your own.

To answer your original question, though, I would not delay law school for a year to work a job that you are definitely leaving. I don't see the point of putting off your real career for a year just to make less than you will likely make immediately out of law school.

Big Dog
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Big Dog » Sat May 26, 2018 5:34 pm

So I am accepted to law schools in the top 5 already. I have not asked about deferring yet as I am undecided. I have acceptances in the T14, T10, etc however I think I want to attend the highest ranked school. Also I am attending law school this year or next my current job does not have upward mobility and my increase is just for a year so I will put of law school for a year. There is very little money to be had in the top 5; full ride in top 10, T14 however my plan is to work in very competitive markets after graduation like NY or CA.
Getting to NYC from any of the T14 is relatively easy. Sure, the 'odds' are higher if you attend say, Columbia, but paying sticker over a full ride at a lower 14 is crazy (unless you have a wealthy family).

Getting to California can be a little more tricky, particularly if you don't have any ties to the state (family, etc). And if you don't have any ties, you are much better off attending Boalt or UCLA/USC to establish some connection. No ties and a Columbia degree is definitely less good than no ties and a UCLA JD.

If those merit offers are still on the table, take one and go to LS in the fall. Otherwise, work for a year and re-apply for big merit money.

Don't forget, merit money is tax free. It will be the easiest money that you will ever make in your life (outside of winning the lottery).

golfCaddy
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by golfCaddy » Sat May 26, 2018 6:33 pm

If you have been admitted to a top 5 law school, it makes no sense to delay.

alfaspider
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by alfaspider » Sun May 27, 2018 7:57 am

Arthur Digby Sellers wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 3:40 pm
novicejamED wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 12:34 pm
full ride in top 10
If you have a full ride to a top 10 school, you should definitely go there versus paying full price at a top 5 school. I say that as someone who went to the law school currently ranked #5 in the country. It is only marginally easier to land prestigious jobs in NY or CA coming from (say) Columbia than it would be coming from (say) Virginia. And without debt, your flexibility will be infinitely greater.

High-level in-house counsel is (often) a very difficult job to get. It is much easier to get a job at a big law firm. And most in-house counsel do not hire straight out of law school, and those that do usually pay far less than law firm salaries. In-house counsel is the dream job for every mid-level and senior associate who is miserable at his or her big law firm and searching for a way out. There are legions of those people, many of whom who will have resumes as sterling as your own.

To answer your original question, though, I would not delay law school for a year to work a job that you are definitely leaving. I don't see the point of putting off your real career for a year just to make less than you will likely make immediately out of law school.
I think this is a rather difficult playing the odds type decision. Placement rates between a top5 and top10 may be only 10–15% different, but it could be the difference between being shut out of biglaw or not, which could make a multi-million career earnings difference. I don’t think there’s a clear answer, and I know smart folks who have gone both ways.

Regarding in-house jobs, I think competitiveness really depends on location and niche. I recently helped hire an in-house attorney at my company (3-5 yrs experience targeted) We actually only received a small handful of qualified applicants (tons of applicants, mind you, but most weren’t qualified). Your odds are much better if you have a speciality and industry experience that dovetails with the company’s.

Malinois000
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Malinois000 » Sun May 27, 2018 9:11 am

My daughter attending a top 5 law school. It will open a lot of doors; however, she received a generous scholarship and we paid the remainder and living expenses so she graduated with no dept. Many of the students graduate with a heavy debt load.

desafinado
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by desafinado » Sun May 27, 2018 9:28 am

alfaspider wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 7:57 am
I think this is a rather difficult playing the odds type decision. Placement rates between a top5 and top10 may be only 10–15% different, but it could be the difference between being shut out of biglaw or not, which could make a multi-million career earnings difference. I don’t think there’s a clear answer, and I know smart folks who have gone both ways.
now consider the risk that one doesn't get biglaw at either school, or that one isn't suited for it and is counseled out quickly. the worst case scenario is much worse if you have 200k of student loan debt.

PoundCake
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by PoundCake » Sun May 27, 2018 9:29 am

As someone who taught law for many years, I encourage you to try to familiarize yourself as much as possible with the type of work you anticipate doing after graduation. If you think you may want a job as in-house counsel, contact your prospective school's career services office, and ask for the names of alumni who work in that area. Call these attorneys and ask if you can shadow them for a day or two (or more). Ideally, you should try to shadow several attorneys. Find out what they do.

In addition, recognize that plans change. I've known students talk about wanting to be sports agents, only to later realize that such work involves a combination of contracts and babysitting -- neither of which they find remotely interesting. I've known students gear themselves up to be prosecutors, thinking of themselves as crusaders who would "do justice," only to learn that as a line prosecutor, they have very little discretion and are required to follow the charging practices of the elected official. I've also known a lot of students who come to law school with one career goal and graduate with a completely different one.

If you have the credentials to be accepted at a Top 5 or 10 school, you have the ability and work ethic to pass the bar. But there's no point to becoming a lawyer if you don't fundamentally enjoy the work. I love the work I do as a lawyer, but some areas of law are -- to me -- dry as toast, and I wouldn't work in those areas for any salary.

The cost of law school is so high that you should do your homework before investing that kind of time and money. And part of that homework involves recognizing that you might change your mind about in-house work after graduation. Research the in-house counsel track, but also do the math and figure out if you can afford law school if you decide to be a public defender.

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Leemiller » Sun May 27, 2018 9:42 am

novicejamED wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 12:34 pm
So I am accepted to law schools in the top 5 already. I have not asked about deferring yet as I am undecided. I have acceptances in the T14, T10, etc however I think I want to attend the highest ranked school. Also I am attending law school this year or next my current job does not have upward mobility and my increase is just for a year so I will put of law school for a year. There is very little money to be had in the top 5; full ride in top 10, T14 however my plan is to work in very competitive markets after graduation like NY or CA. I'm told its easier to lands those jobs the higher the school is ranked and if possible attending a school in the state you want to work or close by feeder states. Very interested in the in-house counsel gig. Is that salary first year out? That amount (300K) would make me not take the pay increase to work another year before attending law school. I am trying to get information on the financial pros and cons of waiting vs not. Plus waiting also has the added con of what if something comes up and starting has to be put off again I run the risk of maybe never attending. Can someone delve into the actually finances of the decision taking into consideration what you lose in not starting your career as a lawyer by a years vs starting a year earlier and maybe being one year closer to partner level pay?

No, you don’t make 300k+ in-house straight out of of law school. Why would a company pay a first year attorney that much? Attorneys with a lot more experience will apply to jobs in the 150-200 range. Frankly first year associate salaries are bizarre considering how little first years actually know. Very few attorneys are hired in-house out of law school. Looks like most come from biglaw, some from the Hill and regulatory agencies. I’m about 15 years out and my pay is high, from what I’ve heard. It is also bonus heavy, so who knows. I have biglaw and extensive regulatory agency experience. Therefore, I’m very marketable in my industry due to my specific background.

Just the fact that you are looking at partner pay makes me think that the reality of how one gets there isn’t clear. I would not go to law school assuming that I’d make partner in a law firm. I have friends at the top firms in my market and very few made partner. Lock step increases are mostly dead. Firms will bring in former agency leaders at partner level in a sink or swim for a few years to see who can bring in the business. As an associate, why make you partner when they can get a new (cheaper) crop and push out more experience counsel? The problem is the reality for many attorneys is they make more when they are younger, in biglaw, then less when they get pushed out and take an in-house or government job ranging usually 130-200.

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Gill » Sun May 27, 2018 9:44 am

Was it US News that started all this stuff about top five, top ten and so on law schools? Many years ago I was accepted at four law schools and chose one of the four based on size, location, state where located and other criteria without having any idea where that school might fall in any kind of ranking. I don't believe there was any such ranking at the time. Possibly I'm behind the times in questioning all the emphasis being put on law school ranking, but it seems to me there are many other more important criteria on which to base this decision.
Gill

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Big Dog » Sun May 27, 2018 9:51 am

I think this is a rather difficult playing the odds type decision. Placement rates between a top5 and top10 may be only 10–15% different, but it could be the difference between being shut out of biglaw or not, which could make a multi-million career earnings difference.
Do you not see the incongruity to your post? Making partner (for a multi-million career) is a whole LOT less odds of making Big Law. Even the middle of GULC the bottom of the T14 -- make Big Law, and that's at a school which has a lot of students who are interested in Government service and/or Public Interest. In other words, they could have top grades but choose to not go Big Law.

From a statistical standpoint, its much better to assume that you will be at the midpoint of a LS class, than assuming that you would be the tippy top of the First Years who actually have a chance at Partner. IMO, attending a T14 for cheap is a much safer bet. The only time that it is not is if the student is interested in a unicorn job: SCOTUS, clerkship with feeder judge, ACLU, etc., where pedigree does matter.

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by smectym » Sun May 27, 2018 11:54 pm

Yes, if OP goes to a top 5 school and doesn’t crash and burn, and assuming OP decides to go the conventional route and interview OCI in Fall as a 2L, OP will likely get a job at a large law firm paying $180,000, or more if Cravath has upped the ante in the meanwhile. After that, nothing is guaranteed. The so-called “BigLaw” (ugly term) business model is fragile and tottering. Rationalization, cost-cutting, globalization and automation are ruthlessly thrusting poisoned tentacles into every conceivable industry, and those who believe that the at-risk and threatened are “merely” fast-food workers and truck drivers already demonstrate they’re not worth the BigLaw paycheck. Who knows how or if things will work out for any special one of the “best and brightest” among us. If the world is at your feet, it may be just to trip you up.

Smectym

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by FireProof » Mon May 28, 2018 5:00 am

Loik098 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 10:33 pm
novicejamED wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 8:54 pm
Loik098 wrote:
Fri May 25, 2018 4:23 pm
novicejamED wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 2:48 pm
Hi, I need some advice.
I plan to attend a top 5 law school. And should start at $150-180k per year after graduating.
How do you know this?
the average starting salary for graduates at the top ten law schools is 150-180K
Not my point. We can quote data all day long. We don't know this to be true for you, thus, there is no "should" here. As others have posted already, you have a shot at this salary range...but not a guarantee. You still have to (get accepted?), take those classes, graduate in the top range of your class, pass the bar, do well in interviews, know the right people, yada yada.
Not really. He's already accepted. He just has to show up for his first year finals and avoid the bottom 10% (OR interview well), then he'll get his 180K job.

You get your job based on your first year, long before taking the bar (which is just a formality anyway), and from a top 5 school, easily 90% of those who want Biglaw get it. The firms come to campus to interview you (and you choose which firms to interview with, rather than viceversa), so you don't have to know any people, and the interview is mostly irrelevant.

The bigger problem is that most people who get Biglaw don't last more than 3 years, and tend to be miserable both before and after.

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by alfaspider » Mon May 28, 2018 7:13 am

desafinado wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 9:28 am
alfaspider wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 7:57 am
I think this is a rather difficult playing the odds type decision. Placement rates between a top5 and top10 may be only 10–15% different, but it could be the difference between being shut out of biglaw or not, which could make a multi-million career earnings difference. I don’t think there’s a clear answer, and I know smart folks who have gone both ways.
now consider the risk that one doesn't get biglaw at either school, or that one isn't suited for it and is counseled out quickly. the worst case scenario is much worse if you have 200k of student loan debt.
That is true, although a T5 graduate is more like to find an escape hatch to a good smaller firm or interesting nonprofit that is PSLF eligible. Also, especially at HYS, it’s very unusual for someone who wants biglaw not to get it. The difference really comes out during a recession. In the 2008-9 hiring seasons, placement from lower T14 schools dropped off a lot more than at the tippy top ones.

My earlier point on millions of salary is not assuming one might make partner (although that’s a small possibility), but that a good first job (biglaw or not) can be very important to whatever you do down the road.

alfaspider
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by alfaspider » Mon May 28, 2018 7:18 am

Gill wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 9:44 am
Was it US News that started all this stuff about top five, top ten and so on law schools? Many years ago I was accepted at four law schools and chose one of the four based on size, location, state where located and other criteria without having any idea where that school might fall in any kind of ranking. I don't believe there was any such ranking at the time. Possibly I'm behind the times in questioning all the emphasis being put on law school ranking, but it seems to me there are many other more important criteria on which to base this decision.
Gill
It’s not really U.S. News so much as the institutionalization of the “Cravath model” among large firms nationwide. Although there’s more to the Cravath model than recruiting, one aspect is they traditionally hired only from top schools and got almost all recruits from on campus interviews at such schools. Most firms with ~250+ lawyers follow this recruiting system to one degree or another. While they will hire from local school, they tend to only hire the tippy top of the class, and it’s incredibly difficult to know if you will be in the top beforehand.

It’s not that large firms are the be-all end-all, but the salary difference between small and large firms is immense. It’s not unusual for a small firm to pay a fresh attorney $40k. Meanwhile large firms pay first years $180k. Obviously, life isn’t all about money, but when you consider even state schools put you in $100k+ debt, it’s not something that is easy to ignore.

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by afan » Tue May 29, 2018 9:10 am

I am not a lawyer. I have friends who are and I get the impression that where you went to law school remains an important part of your resume for your entire career. Someone who is 45 and highly accomplished in their area of law will still be treated differently if they went to Yale than to whatever is #14 that year. If you want to end up on the Supreme Court decades later, you had better go to Yale or Harvard. This does not make sense to me, but if my friends are right and that is the way it is in law, then this is worth taking into account.

Some of the questions should be answerable with data
What proportion of the graduating class at Yale and Harvard end up going to Big Law? That should be known. Add in those who do federal clerkships right out of law school, since I assume any Y or H graduate with a federal clerkship can get a Big Law job if they want one.

Longer term, what proportion of the graduates of the top schools end up as partners in Big Law? I have the impression that this will be a much smaller number. Any computation of financial reward has to look far beyond starting salary as a Big Law associate since so few end up as partners.

For those who do not become Big Law partners, what do they do? From the top law schools, I assume some become law school faculty, some become judges, I gather many Yale people end up in government.
You should be able to get an idea of the incomes associated with these career outcomes.

Get the same information for the still prestigious schools that are outside of the top 5 and compare. That will give you some idea of the effect on career options.

At the top law schools undergrad grades and LSAT scores are both highly compressed up against the maximum. There is not much variation in how people did in college. They were all near straight A students with sky high LSATs. So there is no way to predict going in where you are likely to stand within your law school class. Everyone is smart, hardworking and ambitious. So you cannot assume you will end up in the upper half of the class.

What job opportunities are available to the lower ranking people from Yale? from #14? I have no idea, but this may be knowable.

I gather the problem with passing the bar is a feature of much lower ranked law schools. Due to what it takes to get in, I think the passage rate for graduates of the top schools is essentially 100%. I don't remember my friends thinking this was a meaningful hurdle when they started work or for the people they hire now. They assume everyone they hire will pass. It does not even come up.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

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Sandtrap
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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by Sandtrap » Tue May 29, 2018 9:12 am

Go to law school . . . "If". . . . law is your passion.
Regardless of finances.
Later in life, you would not want to regret not going down that road.

Choose your career path based on your interests and passions, not what is on a spreadsheet.
Doing this, the finances will work out.

j :D

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Re: work one more year or attend law school

Post by afan » Tue May 29, 2018 9:31 am

On the specific question of work another year- probably working another year at that salary would be worth it.

You get to save a lot of money and graduate law school with less debt. Yes, you delay the start of your high income career by a year and you would have to subtract that from the improved financial status of getting more money under your belt by working. But as this discussion has made clear, you don't really know how much money you will make when you graduate, or for how long. If you throw in the clerkships and other less well compensated things that graduates of top schools do, that $150,000 may be right in line with your predicted average likely first year income.

Again, you should be able to get data on this.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

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