or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Culture › Business, Careers & Education › Is becoming a lawyer a mistake?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Is becoming a lawyer a mistake? - Page 2

post #16 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bic Pentameter View Post
I attended law school and currently am reassessing the value of the J.D., both economically and psychologically. I went to a top 25-ish school, and graduated in the upper middle of my class.

Today, I will readily admit that I went to law school for the wrong reasons and that I had unrealistic expectations. The month before I graduated college, I took the GMAT, the MCAT, the LSAT, and all of the other ...ATs that opened graduate school doors at the time. I say only half jokingly that I went to law school because my scores were the highest on the LSAT.

I lived at home and paid in state tuition. My parents loaned me the money I needed while in school. I finished repaying those interest free loans a few years go.

Today, I make more on my single salary than both of my parents did. They were public school teachers, each of whom had masters' degrees. I feel odd to make more in my mid-thirties today than my parents did combined in the early nineties.

In 2006, I made the jump from a smaller comfortable boutique firm to big law. My salary increased by 50%, but my stress level tripled.

Last Wednesday, I was told that with the downturn in the economy, the big firm no longer needs me. Of course there is a bit of shock associated with losing my job, but the environment was taking quite a toll on my health. It feels good to be unemployed.

I would have been poorer, but probably happier had I gotten that PhD in modern Asian history.

Bic
Good post, man. I have been paying attention to the layoffs in biglaw and it is beginning to scare me. The firms themselves are partially to blame for it, starting associates at $140-165k. Good luck in your future endeavors, whatever they may be.
post #17 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by hi-val View Post
Isn't this yet another application of the 80/20 rule in sales and just about everything else? That is, 20% of the people make 80% of the money in the field?

Maybe, but there's still a ton of money in the legal field, and anyone should be able to make a good living there.

As others have indicated, I wouldn't necessarily make the decision based solely on the money. You can make more money elsewhere, if that's all you want from life.
post #18 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad View Post
Why? My intention upon entering law school was to work for the Federal PD's office. I may have sold out, but plenty of others did not.

I know plenty of people who entered with, and followed up on, a goal of public service or public interest law. One of the brightest members of my law school class was clear from day one that he wanted to be a DA, got that job out of law school, and still holds it. Others who easily could have secured high-paying positions sought out competitive but poorly-paying government jobs, or jobs with the ACLU, various environmental law groups, disability advocacy groups, anti death penalty organizations, and the like.

I can't really speak to the typical motivations of people entering B-school because I haven't been there, and am not really clear whether "something any less" has any meaning aside from "something less exclusively mercenary", but assuming "glorified social worker" means someone whose career goals are more about public service or social justice [however one might define that], it's simply not true that it's "disingenuous to say that anyone enters law school wanting to be a 'glorified social worker'". Far from being disingenuous, it's an undisputable fact I've seen with my own eyes.

Ya, but you went to Berkeley, no?
post #19 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQgeek View Post
Ya, but you went to Berkeley, no?

Exactly. I mean, if my classmates and I got jobs, then anyone should be able to.
post #20 of 397
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad View Post
Exactly. I mean, if my classmates and I got jobs, then anyone should be able to.

The point I was trying to make before with reference to the social worker issue is that many students leaving school have little or no choice but to take the PD job-- that's pretty much all that's available to them and regardless of your opinion, these aren't stupid people who somehow deserve to be in their situation.

In my opinion, law schools really misrepresent the job market and on top of that fail to train students adequately for actual practice and real world business.
post #21 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTGuy View Post
The point I was trying to make before with reference to the social worker issue is that many students leaving school have little or no choice but to take the PD job-- that's pretty much all that's available to them and regardless of your opinion, these aren't stupid people who somehow deserve to be in their situation.

In my opinion, law schools really misrepresent the job market and on top of that fail to train students adequately for actual practice and real world business.
?? I'm confused, especially by the bolded part.

I don't disagree with the point of your second paragraph. I honestly have no idea what "opinion" you're attributing to me in the first paragraph. I was making a joking response to Geek's joking disparagement of the school I attended. Beyond that, it has nothing much to do with the discussion.

It seemed to me that your social worker comment -- since it was phrased in terms of people's intentions upon entering law school -- was suggesting that an economic ROI analysis (albeit perhaps an inaccurate one) was the primary reason virtually everyone goes to law school, and that it was "disingenuous" to suggest anyone goes to law school for other reasons. In pointing out that many people enter law school with public service ambitions, and that many people who got good grades at reputable law schools and thus have more remunerative options choose to pursue such careers, I was taking issue with your "disingenous" assertion. In other words, far from suggesting that only "stupid" people take public defender jobs -- a job that I mentioned I once aspired to -- I was pointing out that very smart, academically successful people choose to take such jobs despite the fact that it means accepting salaries that are tens of thousands (or more) less than they could obtain in private practice.

I have no doubt that some people finish law school and find that the available options are not what they had hoped, or perhaps even what they had been led to believe. (Although someone about to embark on an expensive, demanding three-year course of study in any field really should do some basic due diligence.)

Perhaps I misunderstood your point, or perhaps I'm just hyper-sensitive because at this very moment I'm toying with accepting a public service job (and the accompanying drastic reduction in income) and wondering what it will do to my comfortably suburban, middle-aged lifestyle.
post #22 of 397
Thread Starter 
Sorry- I probably should not have quoted your last comment as it had little to do with my response other than the fact I was reply to you.

I'm sorry if the part in bold seems confusing-- perhaps I am not being as clear about my views here as I could be. My feeling is that when there begins to be a discussion about law school there is a response by some that if people graduate and only have frankly insulting low paying jobs available available to them, well then that must be there fault somehow for not being smart enough, not working hard enough, etc. This may not be the popular view, but when facing over 100k of indebtness I think that ROI is pretty damn important, especially since the vast majority of books, lawyers, profs. etc. all generally explain the high cost by saying that eventually raised earning potential will offset it. My view is that ultimately law school should be more like a trade school in that upon graduation you are trained with a certain skill that will guarantee you a certain pay regardless of class rank, law review, etc. I think the examples you are citing are in the extreme minority and I would also venture to say that they may even be nonexistent today.

I have massive respect for people who want to do the public defender thing, but let's be honest-- most people cannot afford to save the world when they own 150k a year and want to have a family some day.
post #23 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTGuy View Post
The point I was trying to make before with reference to the social worker issue is that many students leaving school have little or no choice but to take the PD job-- that's pretty much all that's available to them and regardless of your opinion, these aren't stupid people who somehow deserve to be in their situation.

In my opinion, law schools really misrepresent the job market and on top of that fail to train students adequately for actual practice and real world business.

I've never seriously considered applying for law school, but my understanding is that there has been "too many" lawyers for quite some time. Hasn't it always been the case that the top 10% of the class get great jobs and that everyone else struggles? If you're choosing a school/career on a ROI basis, you should factor in the probability of getting in to that 10% before making a decision imo.
post #24 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQgeek View Post
I've never seriously considered applying for law school, but my understanding is that there has been "too many" lawyers for quite some time. Hasn't it always been the case that the top 10% of the class get great jobs and that everyone else struggles? If you're choosing a school/career on a ROI basis, you should factor in the probability of getting in to that 10% before making a decision imo.

I think you're off on the specifics, but generally right in concept. For people who attend one of the 15 or so schools considered to be "Top Ten", I don't think you need to be at the top of your class. To the best of my knowledge, most of the folks I graduated with were able to get good-paying jobs if that's what they wanted. I think it's generally true that if you did not either (1) attend a very well-regarded school; or (2) do very well at a reputable "second tier" or regional school, it's probably tough to find a starting job that pays you a lot.

That said, there are lots of people with less-than-stellar academic resumes who have been able to do very well, because they were able (for example) to build a solid book of business or build a successful contingency practice. That route obviously takes more hustle, time, and sometimes some luck as well.

But I don't know that law is very different in this way from, say, accounting, finance or sales. Someone alluded earlier to the 20/80 rule. Jobs that pay you a huge amount of money straight out of school obviously are limited in number and are going to be monopolized by folks with the most impressive resumes. But there are many people out there who didn't go that route but are still making plenty of dough.

However, as several people have mentioned, coupling huge amounts of student debt with a low starting salary can be daunting, to say the least.
post #25 of 397
I'm not a lawyer, but I have to completely disagree with the premise of the linked article. Having a father, father-in-law, best friend and numerous other friends who are lawyers, I think the concept that if you don't get in with a top firm, you are doing something that doesn't require a law degree is ridiculous. You can be very successful working for a smaller firm, doing corporate law or just hanging out your own shingle and you wouldn't be able to do any of those things had you not gone to law school.

Going to law school is a great way to ensure higher earnings throughout your lifetime and if you live anywhere other than New York, LA or San Francisco, to put yourself into one of the highest income brackets.

This article is just another example that sometimes the WSJ (as much as I love that paper) needs to get out into "flyover" country once in a while and understand how the world outside of NYC lives.
post #26 of 397
Would it be fair to say that an LLB (Canadian equivelent of JD) is more valuable if it's accompanied by an MBA?
post #27 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stazy View Post
Would it be fair to say that an LLB (common law equivelent of JD) is more valuable if it's accompanied by an MBA?

Do you mean in terms of trying to find a job in the U.S.?
post #28 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawyerdad View Post
Do you mean in terms of trying to find a job in the U.S.?
Yes. I'm also interested in knowing how much more salary (if any) is commanded by individuals graduating from school with those two degrees.
post #29 of 397
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stazy View Post
Yes. I'm also interested in knowing how much more salary (if any) is commanded by individuals graduating from school with those two degrees.

I'm afraid I don't know that. I'd think that an MBA is going to expand your options and enhance your marketability regardless of what your "other" degree is, but I really have no idea what the numbers would look like. Presumably it's going to depend on the type of job and the size of firm you're targeting.

If you're talking about an actual lawyer job rather than just a law-related business job, do you need an LLM from a U.S. school, or can you sit for the bar without one? If you're talking BigLaw firms, entry-level salaries tend to be standardized, so the immediate advantage there would be in securing a good position as opposed to commanding higher starting salary for the same position.
post #30 of 397
My understanding is that a JD-MBA doesn't really help accelerate your career in law or in business, but rather gives you the choice between them. Some big law firms actually don't like lawyers with MBAs: they're more likely to leave.

My classmates who selected to get a joint degree after enrolling in the law school did it to go into business because they decided they didn't like law.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Business, Careers & Education
Styleforum › Forums › Culture › Business, Careers & Education › Is becoming a lawyer a mistake?