Is Law School a Losing Game? Article

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Rugger, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    I hope you realize that $60,000 is a lot of money. That is quite a bit more than the annual salary of the average American.

    What he said.
     
  2. crazyquik

    crazyquik Senior member

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    LOL @ it doesn't have the same name rec on the East Coast. Maybe not to your mom and her mahjong partners but to law firms it carries a ton of prestige, be it in NYC, Chicago or in San Francisco.

    Apparently Sandra Day O'Conner and William Rehnquist don't count as "name rec"
     
  3. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    LOL @ it doesn't have the same name rec on the East Coast. Maybe not to your mom and her mahjong partners but to law firms it carries a ton of prestige, be it in NYC, Chicago or in San Francisco.

    Whaaaaat? Asians love Stanford.

    And does T14 not mean shit anymore?
     
  4. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    Whaaaaat? Asians love Stanford.

    And does T14 not mean shit anymore?


    Means less than it did in 2007. Sorry, I was playing mahjong solitaire when I typed that. Still, LOL at Stanford not being part of the "big 3" schools and there being a "top 5" for law school. Clearly, Scientific isn't in law, or hasn't applied to law schools, else he'd know the deelio.
     
  5. scientific

    scientific Senior member

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    never said it wasnt top 3. just that yale has best rep among nerds in the US and among common folk/outside US its harvard.
     
  6. bluemagic

    bluemagic Senior member

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    T14 does not mean what it used to, unless you are the actual *top* of the class (Top 1/3-20%). And way more people think they will be at the top than can actually do it.

    Or you could have a guaranteed job after graduation through a connection (I have a friend with poor grades who got a decent job this way), but if that were true, T14 is really irrelevant anyways.
     
  7. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    T14 does not mean what it used to, unless you are the actual *top* of the class (Top 1/3-20%).

    I would not go to law school unless it was Yale, Harvard, or Stanford, or I had a family member or friend *guaranteeing* me a job after graduation.

    Wouldn't this statement be a little naive then?

    As far as I know, Yale Law doesn't mean you get a goose that lays golden eggs- I'd imagine being competitive with your class is still very important.
     
  8. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    Wouldn't this statement be a little naive then?

    As far as I know, Yale Law doesn't mean you get a goose that lays golden eggs- I'd imagine being competitive with your class is still very important.


    Yale Law has no grades and it's small so it really is the goose that laid the golden egg in terms of law school: go there and you're probably set. Harvard and Stanford send about 50% of their students into BigLaw and another 20% (give or take - correct me if I'm wrong) to clerkships. That means the top 70% of their class gets something highly prestigious. A lot different than top third, no?
     
  9. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    Yale Law has no grades and it's small so it really is the goose that laid the golden egg in terms of law school: go there and you're probably set. Harvard and Stanford send about 50% of their students into BigLaw and another 20% (give or take - correct me if I'm wrong) to clerkships. That means the top 70% of their class gets something highly prestigious. A lot different than top third, no?

    Indeed. But all fields demand excellence and competitiveness for the good jobs anyway. Engineers need GPA+school rep; say a 3.3+, and that alone from a good school puts them in the top 33% I'd imagine.

    Getting into HYS is pretty baller no doubt, but I'm trying to rationalize how you can discount the opportunities that a "top" (if I had to pick an arbitrary cutoff point for prestige, I'd say t14 sounds like a nice number) law school can offer as long as you aren't somewhere at the bottom of your class.
     
  10. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    Indeed. But all fields demand excellence and competitiveness for the good jobs anyway. Engineers need GPA+school rep; say a 3.3+, and that alone from a good school puts them in the top 33% I'd imagine.

    Getting into HYS is pretty baller no doubt, but I'm trying to rationalize how you can discount the opportunities that a "top" (if I had to pick an arbitrary cutoff point for prestige, I'd say t14 sounds like a nice number) law school can offer as long as you aren't somewhere at the bottom of your class.


    A lot of firms set strict GPA/percentile ranks when they interview at a school. So you need to be well off of the bottom of the class to even get an interview, let alone an offer. That's the issue: you're competing against 200+ peers that are all type A, mostly cut throat, super smart kids at the top 14 schools. They, for the most part, all want to be in that top half of the class so you can't bank on just being smart will get you there. You need to kill yourself studying and even then you might not get it.

    Then comes the crappy bimodal nature of law jobs. If you don't get into one of those firms that only want kids from the top 1/3 of your class, you are now faced with:

    1) Getting a clerkship (harder than BigLaw in most cases...good luck)
    2) Taking a public defender/other government job
    3) Taking a small law job where you'll work just as hard as BigLaw but get way less money
    4) Try for non-law firms as junior in-house counsel
    5) Do copy work for a super small time lawyer making $15/hour

    Only options 1 and 4 lead to more than $50k/year generally, and option 4 doesn't always and it's hard as hell to get for most lawyers just because the jobs are rare.

    So, at a top school you either make it in the top 1/3 and get $160k/year or you get up with the above options, most of which lead to $50k/year jobs (low for what you put in and likely took out in loans).

    So, would you take $200k in loans for a 33% shot at making $160k when the alternative is making what an average college grad is making 2 years out of school?

    Replace that 33% with 5% or less for the majority of law schools.
     
  11. bluemagic

    bluemagic Senior member

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    ^ Good summary. What's even worse is that government hiring (both state and fed) sucks these days, and document review is quickly being outsourced, so the low-end is being squeezed at least as hard as the high end. These days, it's not only being sad at having a low-paying job, but having no job at all, which is the issue.

    By the way, what does happen to engineers with <3.3? Unemployment? I know two with poor undergraduate grades and no graduate degree who are in decent jobs, but they went to top programs.
     
  12. crazyquik

    crazyquik Senior member

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    Then comes the crappy bimodal nature of law jobs. If you don't get into one of those firms that only want kids from the top 1/3 of your class, you are now faced with:

    1) Getting a clerkship (harder than BigLaw in most cases...good luck)
    2) Taking a public defender/other government job
    3) Taking a small law job where you'll work just as hard as BigLaw but get way less money
    4) Try for non-law firms as junior in-house counsel
    5) Do copy work for a super small time lawyer making $15/hour

    Only options 1 and 4 lead to more than $50k/year generally, and option 4 doesn't always and it's hard as hell to get for most lawyers just because the jobs are rare.


    More or less agree but want to add:

    3, 5 (small law) are more likely to be populated with older attorneys from lower-ranked schools. Assuming you did go to a 'vaunted' T14, your prestige doesn't mean jack to them (nor their clients). In fact, they are probably worried that if they do hire you, you'll jet at the first opportunity to a larger firm/larger market/NYC.
     
  13. Svenn

    Svenn Senior member

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    There are no labs or expensive equipment to maintain. So much money flows into law schools that law professors are among the highest paid in academia,

    I remember my contracts professor telling us how he sacrificed a lucrative career so he could teach, and he waxed and waned about how rich all the lawyers were these days while he drove around in his humble Honda... I figured he must make $80k a year or something like other professors... I looked it up once and he makes $350k [​IMG]

    I agree with the gist of this article that you really shouldn't go to law school if you don't have connections OR are fairly confident you'll be at the top of the class. I think outside the major metropolitan areas there is indeed a lot of work, especially as the baby boomers retire, but most law grads don't wanna live there and I don't blame 'em. The first year out of school is tough, and hell it should be considering that, unlike doctors, we don't have a residency or training period. Eventually positions open up, I don't know any lawyers who 10 years into it are still struggling to find work, and I haven't heard anything yet (fingers crossed) about lawyer's rates going down because of over-saturation of the market. But it's so relative, some lawyers are happily making 60k a year at the prosecutor's office, others complain about how low their 200k a year firm salary is [​IMG]
     
  14. rjakapeanut

    rjakapeanut Senior member

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    i'm disappointed that everyone on styleforum thinks that there are literally _zero_ jobs available for lawyers right now. it's bad but it's not like there's nothing out there and if you graduate law school ZOMG U HAVE NO PROSPECTS

    there are just way fewer big $$$ prospects for dickheads who took out $250k in loans
     
  15. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    i'm disappointed that everyone on styleforum thinks that there are literally _zero_ jobs available for lawyers right now. it's bad but it's not like there's nothing out there and if you graduate law school ZOMG U HAVE NO PROSPECTS

    there are just way fewer big $$$ prospects for dickheads who took out $250k in loans


    Nobody is saying there are no jobs [​IMG]. Rather there are a dearth of jobs comparable to the investment you have to put in.

    A lot of firms set strict GPA/percentile ranks when they interview at a school. So you need to be well off of the bottom of the class to even get an interview, let alone an offer. That's the issue: you're competing against 200+ peers that are all type A, mostly cut throat, super smart kids at the top 14 schools. They, for the most part, all want to be in that top half of the class so you can't bank on just being smart will get you there. You need to kill yourself studying and even then you might not get it.

    Then comes the crappy bimodal nature of law jobs. If you don't get into one of those firms that only want kids from the top 1/3 of your class, you are now faced with:

    1) Getting a clerkship (harder than BigLaw in most cases...good luck)
    2) Taking a public defender/other government job
    3) Taking a small law job where you'll work just as hard as BigLaw but get way less money
    4) Try for non-law firms as junior in-house counsel
    5) Do copy work for a super small time lawyer making $15/hour

    Only options 1 and 4 lead to more than $50k/year generally, and option 4 doesn't always and it's hard as hell to get for most lawyers just because the jobs are rare.

    So, at a top school you either make it in the top 1/3 and get $160k/year or you get up with the above options, most of which lead to $50k/year jobs (low for what you put in and likely took out in loans).

    So, would you take $200k in loans for a 33% shot at making $160k when the alternative is making what an average college grad is making 2 years out of school?

    Replace that 33% with 5% or less for the majority of law schools.


    Where do the midsized law firms come in, in terms of employment of freshly minted law-grads? I just don't believe everything has to be OMG-NYC-SKADDENARPS OR 50K A YEAR!!!!!

    And secondly, even if you do start out at a plebeian wage I'm sure your opportunities for advancement and higher career earnings is much, MUCH greater than those prior to entering lawschool. Think about the kind of kids that go to lawschool; many are social science (excluding econ) or humanities majors. They make dicksquat coming out of college at their HR jobs or whatever, and continue to make dicksquat for the rest of their employable lifetimes.

    By the way, what does happen to engineers with <3.3? Unemployment? I know two with poor undergraduate grades and no graduate degree who are in decent jobs, but they went to top programs.

    Mediocrity. The average GPA of an engineering major at my school and the one across town is roughly 3.0- I'm sure they find jobs, just not at companies I have ever heard of.
     

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