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Is Law School a Losing Game? Article

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

  1. crazyquik

    crazyquik Senior member

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    So, for my brother, who is going into a top 5 law school, is he making a big mistake?
    If you mean he's starting this year or next, and if it's a US News & World Report top 5 overall (and not some other ranking, or some specialty ranking), then no. No bigger mistake than anyone else, really. I presume he's going to Columbia or Chicago; otherwise you would have said he's going to HYS/Top 3. Columbia, not surprisingly, will continue to do well placing kids in New York, as well as other major metros (forgive me for forgetting where you originally hail from, and where your brother calls "home.") Chicago does exceptionally well in Chicago, as well as well above average in landing coveted federal clerkships. I think they are only second to Yale in clerkships. Of course, the law from the inside is generally much different than the law from the outside. It's the same way that a law school is like a castle under siege; everyone on the outside wants to get in and everyone on the inside wants to get out.
     
  2. djblisk

    djblisk Senior member

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    I just read through this whole thread and have to say 90% of the post are utter rubbish.

    T2 to T4 law school graduates can still be very successful. A majority of my friends are attorneys, including me, that graduating from T1 to T4 law schools. The most successful one is a mass torts/class actions attorney who graduated from Southwestern ( T3 to T4 ) and never worked big law in his life. He knew what he wanted, got his foot in the door at small firms to gain experience, then got his current job at a small/medium firm about 5 years ago. His salary is now 200K and is a partner with partner like bonuses. Another friend is an extremely successful tax an estate attorney making 200K before bonus at a small firm in southern California, she graduated from a T2 school. etc. etc.

    Law School is what you make of it. If you want to be a successful attorney, it will more than likely happen.

    All this other crap is bullshit.
     
  3. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    I just read through this whole thread and have to say 90% of the post are utter rubbish.

    T2 to T4 law school graduates can still be very successful. A majority of my friends are attorneys, including me, that graduating from T1 to T4 law schools. The most successful one is a mass torts/class actions attorney who graduated from Southwestern ( T3 to T4 ) and never worked big law in his life. He knew what he wanted, got his foot in the door at small firms to gain experience, then got his current job at a small/medium firm about 5 years ago. His salary is now 200K and is a partner with partner like bonuses. Another friend is an extremely successful tax an estate attorney making 200K before bonus at a small firm in southern California, she graduated from a T2 school. etc. etc.

    Law School is what you make of it. If you want to be a successful attorney, it will more than likely happen.

    All this other crap is bullshit.


    The richest guy I know got his money by running a business that sells gutter guards but he didn't even finish high school. Does that mean you shouldn't finish high school because I know one guy who didn't and makes over $1M a year?

    Of course, there will always be people who are outliers and make it in spite of the odds. The odds are the entire point of almost every post in this thread. The majority of new lawyers make equal to or less than the average undergrad-only educated person who has worked for 3 years instead of law school (factor in loans + lost wages and you get a very negative NPV).

    Please tell me how any of this is bullshit, please. I have hard facts supporting me. You have anecdotal evidence. Which one holds up in law (since you're apparently a lawyer) and which one is laughed at as not able to support anything?
     
  4. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    The richest guy I know got his money by running a business that sells gutter guards but he didn't even finish high school. Does that mean you shouldn't finish high school because I know one guy who didn't and makes over $1M a year?

    Of course, there will always be people who are outliers and make it in spite of the odds. The odds are the entire point of almost every post in this thread. The majority of new lawyers make equal to or less than the average undergrad-only educated person who has worked for 3 years instead of law school (factor in loans + lost wages and you get a very negative NPV).

    Please tell me how any of this is bullshit, please. I have hard facts supporting me. You have anecdotal evidence. Which one holds up in law (since you're apparently a lawyer) and which one is laughed at as not able to support anything?


    You forget what makes being a lawyer attractive for most people. We are all fucking English majors and shit. There is literally NO room for upward advancement.

    Lets assume, A and B. A has a liberal arts degree and works in HR or something; he starts out at maybe 35k? And over time could probably move to make 55k a year; lets average his salary at 45k a year. B on the other hand has a law degree from a decent school and lets assume his lifetime salary is a paltry 70k (which I understand is the average for lawyers?).

    Assume both work til they are 70. A works 48 years, B works 45 years. A will make $2,160,000 in lifetime earnings. B will make $3,150,000- subtract $200,000 for 3 years of lawschool/books/living expenses and shit and B still comes out ahead.
     
  5. Eason

    Eason Senior member

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    If you mean he's starting this year or next, and if it's a US News & World Report top 5 overall (and not some other ranking, or some specialty ranking), then no. No bigger mistake than anyone else, really.

    I presume he's going to Columbia or Chicago; otherwise you would have said he's going to HYS/Top 3. Columbia, not surprisingly, will continue to do well placing kids in New York, as well as other major metros (forgive me for forgetting where you originally hail from, and where your brother calls "home.") Chicago does exceptionally well in Chicago, as well as well above average in landing coveted federal clerkships. I think they are only second to Yale in clerkships.

    Of course, the law from the inside is generally much different than the law from the outside. It's the same way that a law school is like a castle under siege; everyone on the outside wants to get in and everyone on the inside wants to get out.


    Thanks for the insight.
     
  6. Connemara

    Connemara Senior member

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    I think my Princeton Law degree has been the best investment i've ever made.
     
  7. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    You forget what makes being a lawyer attractive for most people. We are all fucking English majors and shit. There is literally NO room for upward advancement.

    Lets assume, A and B. A has a liberal arts degree and works in HR or something; he starts out at maybe 35k? And over time could probably move to make 55k a year; lets average his salary at 45k a year. B on the other hand has a law degree from a decent school and lets assume his lifetime salary is a paltry 70k (which I understand is the average for lawyers?).

    Assume both work til they are 70. A works 48 years, B works 45 years. A will make $2,160,000 in lifetime earnings. B will make $3,150,000- subtract $200,000 for 3 years of lawschool/books/living expenses and shit and B still comes out ahead.


    I agree that for the unemployable (liberal arts majors and whatnot) law could very well be a good move, even if you make $60k or less, as it will likely be more than you'd make 3 years out. And the average law salary is almost certainly more than the average BA in English salary.

    Boalt Law lists political science, history, English, economics, international relations, philosophy, and sociology as its top feeder majors. The only one there that is likely to make more than $40k to start is economics, I guess, so for the rest, yeah, law might be a step up, even at a huge cost.

    It's being able to pay those loans back on $50k/year that becomes an issue, no? Most schools don't have LRAP to help out.
     
  8. w.mj

    w.mj Senior member

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    Assume both work til they are 70. A works 48 years, B works 45 years. A will make $2,160,000 in lifetime earnings. B will make $3,150,000- subtract $200,000 for 3 years of lawschool/books/living expenses and shit and B still comes out ahead.

    You're not doing the net present value of 200k saved over a lifetime. Let's say you return 6% in real terms and retire at age 63. That's 200,000*1.06^40. $2.1m.

    That's not even taking into account the non-dischargeable debt that most go into for law school.
     
  9. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    I think my Princeton Law degree has been the best investment i've ever made.

    Not as good as my Princeton MBA.
     
  10. rnoldh

    rnoldh Senior member

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    I think my Princeton Law degree has been the best investment i've ever made.

    You really should work up a resume featuring the Princeton JD. And weren't you the editor of the Princeton Law Review, as well as in the top 3 of your class?

    No promises, but I think I have some leads for community organizer jobs for you down here in Texas. Lightning can strike twice!

    Connemara Hussein Kennedy. You would be a sure winner.
     
  11. Mr Herbert

    Mr Herbert Senior member

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    what i was thinking - NPV!

    not to mention the benefits of working in HR, which isnt exactly a male dominated area.
     
  12. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    You're not doing the net present value of 200k saved over a lifetime. Let's say you return 6% in real terms and retire at age 63. That's 200,000*1.06^40. $2.1m.

    That's not even taking into account the non-dischargeable debt that most go into for law school.


    That's the future value.

    If you took that $200,000 (which you won't actually have in cash) and invest it at a rate of 6% you'd get 2.75 million after 45 years. In reality, you'd determine how much you could save annually and work out the cash flows on a yearly basis to come up with a solid FV. It'd take you years to save $200k; probably almost as long as it would to pay down a $200k student loan. So that value won't really work here.
     
  13. Mr Herbert

    Mr Herbert Senior member

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  14. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    what?

    What part didn't you get?
     
  15. Mr Herbert

    Mr Herbert Senior member

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    the bit where you seemed to exclude any interest on the borrowing of the 200k.

    unless you have some interest free student loan system?
     
  16. ConcernedParent

    ConcernedParent Senior member

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    the bit where you seemed to exclude any interest on the borrowing of the 200k.

    unless you have some interest free student loan system?


    Rich parents? /shrug.
     
  17. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    the bit where you seemed to exclude any interest on the borrowing of the 200k.

    unless you have some interest free student loan system?


    I didn't ignore it, it just wasn't germane to the previous poster's use of 200k and future value of not going to law school.

    He was using the 200k saved and determining its future value based on a 6% ROI. You wouldn't use the interest rate on the 200k in loans in this calculation.

    It would come into play if you were determining the net present value of the future payments of the loans when you're looking at the other side (going to law school).
     
  18. rjakapeanut

    rjakapeanut Senior member

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    the dumbest thing about this thread is that you guys are going "HURR DURR WHATS BETTER X OR Y", running all sorts of numbers and goofy shit like that. you're missing the big point here.

    maybe it's not always the wisest choice FOR THE MONEY to become a lawyer. some people, however, just want to practice law. and it can really be that simple. sure it may not make sense on your calculator, but are you really going to tell a lawyer who loves / is passionate about his work "bro you could've been making way more money if you'd done X, law school was a dumb career move for you financially."

    that's absurd. your calculations make sense for idiots who are just "going to law school" as an out but makes zero sense for someone who is going to law school to become a lawyer and practice law regardless of salary.

    if you want to get back to the law school debt argument then THAT works. but this career salary stuff is all bullshit and you know it.
     
  19. BC2012

    BC2012 Senior member

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    the dumbest thing about this thread is that you guys are going "HURR DURR WHATS BETTER X OR Y", running all sorts of numbers and goofy shit like that. you're missing the big point here.

    maybe it's not always the wisest choice FOR THE MONEY to become a lawyer. some people, however, just want to practice law. and it can really be that simple. sure it may not make sense on your calculator, but are you really going to tell a lawyer who loves / is passionate about his work "bro you could've been making way more money if you'd done X, law school was a dumb career move for you financially."

    that's absurd. your calculations make sense for idiots who are just "going to law school" as an out but makes zero sense for someone who is going to law school to become a lawyer and practice law regardless of salary.

    if you want to get back to the law school debt argument then THAT works. but this career salary stuff is all bullshit and you know it.


    Clearly, people who want to practice law (and are okay with years of crippling debt and small salary to deal with it) aren't the target of the discussion.

    It's people who believe law school is a route to a large salary and prestigious position at a top firm. Do you not believe that this is the majority of law school applicants to, say, the top 100 law schools? And, if you do believe this to be true, do you not feel it is worthwhile to breakdown the financial ramifications for those potential lawyers who have not done the number crunching?
     
  20. rjakapeanut

    rjakapeanut Senior member

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    Clearly, people who want to practice law (and are okay with years of crippling debt and small salary to deal with it) aren't the target of the discussion.

    It's people who believe law school is a route to a large salary and prestigious position at a top firm. Do you not believe that this is the majority of law school applicants to, say, the top 100 law schools? And, if you do believe this to be true, do you not feel it is worthwhile to breakdown the financial ramifications for those potential lawyers who have not done the number crunching?


    i do agree with you 100%. my angle is that on this forum many of these cynics assume that every law school applicant fits into the group you're talking about in the second part of your post: people who think law school is a route to a large salary etc.

    literally every law school thread i see is filled with individuals spouting off about how bad of an idea it is to go to law school. it's not a bad idea for lawyers, fuckheads.

    but in general yeah, you're completely right. i'm just a little aggravated at the pessimism here.
     

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