Law School, Debt, and Job Prospects

  • BIG_N_TALL

    Posts: 2190

    Jan 18, 2011 5:48 AM GMT
    So... what do y'all think? Is is a pointless pursuit given the state of the economy?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/business/09law.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general
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    Jan 18, 2011 11:54 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidThe great thing about law is that there are so many avenues to explore. Perhaps decide what area of law you want to focus on and then you can go from there.


    Good luck!


    I concur with the aforementioned gentlemen before me. I work in immigration law and educational law within the government. Though I do not have a law degree, a hefty consideration, I tangle with the idea. Washington, DC has blocks of lawyers. All lawyers attended a prestigious college or university and a line of contacts. If you have the confidence and strength to create a track record and do well in your field, you will be fine.

    Mike
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Jan 18, 2011 11:15 PM GMT
    I studied law to become a paralegal.
    Even in this George W. Bush Republican Great Depression, I still see endless numbers of job openings for attorneys.
    And, during a down economy, it's the best time to go to school.
    The economy (and all job prospects) should be better by the time you graduate and pass the bar.
    I say, go for it.
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    Jan 18, 2011 11:33 PM GMT
    Webster666 saidI studied law to become a paralegal.
    Even in this George W. Bush Republican Great Depression, I still see endless numbers of job openings for attorneys.
    And, during a down economy, it's the best time to go to school.
    The economy (and all job prospects) should be better by the time you graduate and pass the bar.
    I say, go for it.


    I wish you'd let me in on where these " endless numbers of job openings for attorneys" are located. I graduated from law school and May, passed the Bar in September, and I've yet to be able to find a full time position. I’ve been targeting DC as a main point of focus, but still no luck. While there certainly are ads for lawyers, they are almost exclusively for attorneys who have been practicing for at least 5+ years (some require 10+). Even with top of the class credentials most openings I've come across won't even talk to you unless you have that magic 5+ years experience first. And even then you’re going up against lawyers who have been practicing for decades, and the competition is nothing short of cut throat. Put yourself in the shoes of an employer: who would you want to hire? A newbie attorney fresh out of law school or a seasoned veteran with 20+ years of actual experience?

    Also factor in the debt you'll accrue in the process. My undergrad and law school debts total in the 6-figure range, and there's no way to get rid it- not even bankruptcy will help you cast off student loan debt. My point is make very, very sure that you want to go to law school and weigh out all the options first. If you're just interested in law school because you don't know what else to do with your life then I strongly recommend with no hesitation that you look elsewhere.
  • BIG_N_TALL

    Posts: 2190

    Jan 19, 2011 1:44 AM GMT
    BlueBlur saidMy undergrad and law school debts total in the 6-figure range, and there's no way to get rid it- not even bankruptcy will help you cast off student loan debt.


    Several of my undergrad friends are in a similar circumstance, and I do not want this to happen to me. Most now say that law school was a major lapse in judgement...
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    Jan 19, 2011 2:18 AM GMT
    Olympian said
    BlueBlur saidMy undergrad and law school debts total in the 6-figure range, and there's no way to get rid it- not even bankruptcy will help you cast off student loan debt.


    Several of my undergrad friends are in a similar circumstance, and I do not want this to happen to me. Most now say that law school was a major lapse in judgement...


    I don't know your friends personally, but it sounds like they too know what they're talking about. Be wise and learn from us young attorney fools icon_rolleyes.gif

  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jan 19, 2011 2:22 AM GMT
    Prospects vary after you get your JD.... when I received mine, things were pretty tough. I wanted to either go into Oil & Gas Law or do something with corporate. My Dad was legal director for Boeing, so I thought about being a contract negotiator. My Dad encouraged me to do something on my own since I'd taught horsemanship since I was in 9th grade.

    Ultimately I took the encouragement of the parent of one of my students and get some additional education and became a financial planner/ advisor.
    Really love what I do.

    Moral of story: Don't limit yourself, the JD makes you more marketable.
    Do something that is uniquely you and will make you happy in your life.
    Good luck with all of it!!

    icon_biggrin.gif
  • barriehomeboy

    Posts: 2475

    Jan 19, 2011 2:24 AM GMT
    I am SO glad I'm an old sexy guy with a job and a roof over my head. Even I am worried how long that roof will be there though.
  • BIG_N_TALL

    Posts: 2190

    Jan 19, 2011 2:30 AM GMT
    BlueBlur said
    Olympian said
    BlueBlur saidMy undergrad and law school debts total in the 6-figure range, and there's no way to get rid it- not even bankruptcy will help you cast off student loan debt.


    Several of my undergrad friends are in a similar circumstance, and I do not want this to happen to me. Most now say that law school was a major lapse in judgement...


    I don't know your friends personally, but it sounds like they too know what they're talking about. Be wise and learn from us young attorney fools icon_rolleyes.gif



    Well, they are now loaded down with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt, and are seriously worried about their job prospects when the graduate. Some still have a year or two before they graduate, but in reality, that isn't long at all. The fact of the matter is that as time goes on, more and more graduates will be dumped on the market without any job creation to handle the influx of graduates. I don't want to be caught in this cycle again.
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    Jan 19, 2011 2:36 AM GMT
    BlueBlur saidI don't know your friends personally, but it sounds like they too know what they're talking about. Be wise and learn from us young attorney fools icon_rolleyes.gif

    You were considering military law. Still an option?
  • BIG_N_TALL

    Posts: 2190

    Jan 19, 2011 2:38 AM GMT
    HndsmKansan saidMoral of story: Don't limit yourself, the JD makes you more marketable.
    Do something that is uniquely you and will make you happy in your life.
    Good luck with all of it!!

    icon_biggrin.gif


    I had a K Street lobbyist tell me once that the biggest mistake people make - in her opinion - is that they get loaded down with student loan debt trying to get degrees they don't need for the jobs they want. I REALLY don't want that to be me. I don't want to waste time getting a JD, then not be able to be a practicing attorney.

    Yes, a JD might make me marketable, but is it really necessary? At least, that is what is going through my mind in context to jobs outside of law...
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    Jan 19, 2011 2:39 AM GMT
    There is no question that a JD shows one to be more educated, but I question whether or not it makes you either more qualified or more marketable - and then you have to judge/balance the dubious value with the substantial expense.

    Having worked with those in the world of finance no longer working as lawyers, these were the worst managers with the worst grasp of financial concepts - but that's just anecdotal.

    On why the legal market is changing:
    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2010/11/henderson-why.html

    Consensus emerging that law school model 'is not sustainable':
    http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202473648292&slreturn=1&hbxlogin=1

    Getting Schooled in Law Loans: The American Bar Association has officially issued a warning on its website.
    http://www.cnbc.com/id/40863598

    ABA Seeks More Law School Transparency: 'If You Don't Use Creative Accounting in Reporting Data to U.S. News, You're a Chump':
    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2010/12/aba-seeks.html

    U.S. News to Reform Its Disclosure of Surveyed Employment Information
    http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/2010/12/u-s-news-to-reform-its-disclosure-of-surveyed-employment-data/

    The Secret To Inflating Employment Rates? Only Survey Law Grads Who Are Employed
    http://abovethelaw.com/2010/11/the-secret-to-inflating-employment-rates-only-survey-law-grads-who-are-employed/

    Law Schools Imitate Enron: "I wonder how long it will be before some aggressive member of the trial bar finds an underemployed law grad to serve as plaintiff in a suit against one of the schools that fudge their numbers. That looks like fraud; it’s no different than a homeowner hiding the fact that his basement leaks from a purchaser."
    http://www.nationalreview.com/phi-beta-cons/256773/re-law-schools-imitate-enron-george-leef
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    Jan 19, 2011 2:44 AM GMT
    socalfitness said
    BlueBlur saidI don't know your friends personally, but it sounds like they too know what they're talking about. Be wise and learn from us young attorney fools icon_rolleyes.gif

    You were considering military law. Still an option?


    Indeed it is. The application for the Army JAG is March 1, and I'm in the process of getting my ducks in order to meet it. The $65,000 signing bonus and the $60,000 re-enlistment bonus if I agree to an additional 4 year term would definitely help with the 100K+ student loan debt. In fact, it might be the only realistic option at this point. Fingers crossed it works out.

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    Jan 19, 2011 2:49 AM GMT
    I graduated this past may and have my JD, but sometimes i wish i would have went another route. A JD shows dedication and looks great on a resume but depending on what you do with it and what field you flow into could decide if it was a plus or a big negative for you. I personally will be going hack to pursue an MBA. JB & MBA equals teaching chances. Long story short don't hope for the 6 figure job right away and know what you're getting into after.

    Goodluck
  • BIG_N_TALL

    Posts: 2190

    Jan 19, 2011 2:53 AM GMT
    soulmusicguru saidI graduated this past may and have my JD, but sometimes i wish i would have went another route. A JD shows dedication and looks great on a resume but depending on what you do with it and what field you flow into could decide if it was a plus or a big negative for you. I personally will be going hack to pursue an MBA. JB & MBA equals teaching chances. Long story short don't hope for the 6 figure job right away and know what you're getting into after.

    Goodluck


    Ah well, I'm not really in it for the money. I am more into the work. If I can't do the work, then there is no point in me going to law school. I'd rather invest my time and money to go to an Ivy League school to get a PhD.
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    Jan 19, 2011 2:58 AM GMT
    As sad as it is to say none of us start out caring about the money, but not many of us have under 6figure debt. At some point it'll become a financial care because the path you chose is a price choice.
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    Jan 19, 2011 3:02 AM GMT
    Olympian said
    soulmusicguru saidI graduated this past may and have my JD, but sometimes i wish i would have went another route. A JD shows dedication and looks great on a resume but depending on what you do with it and what field you flow into could decide if it was a plus or a big negative for you. I personally will be going hack to pursue an MBA. JB & MBA equals teaching chances. Long story short don't hope for the 6 figure job right away and know what you're getting into after.

    Goodluck


    Ah well, I'm not really in it for the money. I am more into the work. If I can't do the work, then there is no point in me going to law school. I'd rather invest my time and money to go to an Ivy League school to get a PhD.


    If you really want to practice law, then I say go to law school and get your JD. Once you have it and get admitted to the bar, you can practice even if you don't land a job with a top tier firm. Actually, very few attorneys work for the really top firms and make the big bucks. Most just make a decent living. Do it if it is something that interests you and that you feel passionate about. Otherwise, you're likely to make a lot more money in another area of work, like sales, which won't require as much formal education.
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    Jan 19, 2011 3:22 AM GMT
    BlueBlur said
    socalfitness said
    BlueBlur saidI don't know your friends personally, but it sounds like they too know what they're talking about. Be wise and learn from us young attorney fools icon_rolleyes.gif

    You were considering military law. Still an option?

    Indeed it is. The application for the Army JAG is March 1, and I'm in the process of getting my ducks in order to meet it. The $65,000 signing bonus and the $60,000 re-enlistment bonus if I agree to an additional 4 year term would definitely help with the 100K+ student loan debt. In fact, it might be the only realistic option at this point. Fingers crossed it works out.

    That would be great. Sure hope it works out for both you and the Army.
  • BIG_N_TALL

    Posts: 2190

    Jan 19, 2011 3:28 AM GMT
    socalfitness said
    BlueBlur said
    socalfitness said
    BlueBlur saidI don't know your friends personally, but it sounds like they too know what they're talking about. Be wise and learn from us young attorney fools icon_rolleyes.gif

    You were considering military law. Still an option?

    Indeed it is. The application for the Army JAG is March 1, and I'm in the process of getting my ducks in order to meet it. The $65,000 signing bonus and the $60,000 re-enlistment bonus if I agree to an additional 4 year term would definitely help with the 100K+ student loan debt. In fact, it might be the only realistic option at this point. Fingers crossed it works out.

    That would be great. Sure hope it works out for both you and the Army.


    Yeah, I hope it works out for Blueblur too. I'm thinking if I don't go to law/grad school, the USN is my next stop....
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    Jan 19, 2011 4:01 AM GMT
    Olympian said
    socalfitness said
    BlueBlur said
    socalfitness said
    BlueBlur saidI don't know your friends personally, but it sounds like they too know what they're talking about. Be wise and learn from us young attorney fools icon_rolleyes.gif

    You were considering military law. Still an option?

    Indeed it is. The application for the Army JAG is March 1, and I'm in the process of getting my ducks in order to meet it. The $65,000 signing bonus and the $60,000 re-enlistment bonus if I agree to an additional 4 year term would definitely help with the 100K+ student loan debt. In fact, it might be the only realistic option at this point. Fingers crossed it works out.

    That would be great. Sure hope it works out for both you and the Army.


    Yeah, I hope it works out for Blueblur too. I'm thinking if I don't go to law/grad school, the USN is my next stop....


    My sincere thanks to you both, and best of luck to you as well, Olympian, with your decision. The US military won't know what hit it with the homo invasion of 2011 icon_wink.gif
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    Jan 19, 2011 6:16 PM GMT
    I say go for it if it is truly your passion. If your doing it for the money though and can't get into the top schools, NYU, Columbia, Duke, Penn, etc.....I would not waste my time. Those top tier jobs (160k jobs) though from what I hear you work like a dog so you need to think of work/life balance.

    Student loan debt though could financially ruin you like it has the guy in the article if you are unable to repay it. I know one thing if you do go for it, when you get out live modestly and pay down that debt as quickly as you can so if you end up losing your job in downward economy you don't have that to worry about. I watch Suze Orman (I think she has good advice for 50% of people to listen to who have no idea about personal finance but her advice like being debt free as quick as your able to, paying your house off, roth ira, blah blah), and I've seen people on her show who owed 50k in student loans ignored it turned into 75k, then 100k, then 200k.......that will haunt you for life.

    I explored the idea of law school in 2006, almost went for it, kinda 50/50 on if I should've or not at this point. I can tell you though, I know two recent law graduates of tier 2 schools with good grades, one works part time one day a week for an attorney, the other does contract review for $16.00 an hour. I'd say the average salary starting for an attorney if you can get a job around here is prob $50,000 a year.

    I think to be a good attorney is about having a good education, but also having charisma and setting yourself out from everyone else so you shine!