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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2005
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    SF Bay Area
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    955

    Default Law School Grads - would you do it again?

    I ask for COTH wisdom and experience...

    I'm at a point where I am unhappy with my current career field - though I like the work - I'm financially not on a path that I see taking me where I want. I think my field is on a dying path, and I've learned that I'm just not comfortable always wondering if I'll be able to get enough work to pay the bills each month.

    Law is something that I have always been interested in. I'd like the kind of career that will give me financial opportunity to own horses, and I don't feel like the art world is gonna do it.

    If you could do it over again, would you choose Law School? What is the job market like (and yes, I've done some research, but I think the numbers don't always portray an accurate picture)? Do you think it was a good investment? What kind of law do you practice and do you enjoy it? Are you able to afford a horse(s)? Do you have time to enjoy them?

    My biggest concerns are 1. I feel like I made a huge mistake with my previous college decision - private art school - and have the debt that goes with it. I don't want to spend 4 years and accumulate another 6 digits of debt to still be unemployed and looking at dismal job prospects. I wish that someone had sat me down and said "Art school... maybe not the most practical idea" 7 years and 40k ago . If Law School at 27 is not a practical idea or investment, please tell me now!

    2. Am I too old? I'm 27, so I'd be 31 or 32 by the time I finished. Too old to enter the job market?

    I have some LSAT prep materials and I'm planning to take it in October to get an idea of what I would be looking at for admission options, and applying for fall 2014.


    Obviously, you can't tell me if I personally will or won't be successful, but I'd love some general thoughts and suggestions from those of you who have been there and done that.

    TIA!
    It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got.

    www.sararoxannephotography.com
    www.facebook.com/sararoxannephotography



  2. #2
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    Aug. 7, 2004
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    Default

    As a daughter of a lawyer who works for a big national firm, this is not a healthy time to become a lawyer. I can count on both hands the number of people I know/have met that have a law degree and no job and a whole lot of debt.

    If this doesn't scare you off, take the LSAT and see where you stand. Having watched only one out of my ten friends actually succeed in getting hired out of law school, my advice is that if you can't make it into a tier one or upper tier two school, then maybe consider another career option.

    And even then, if you are still extremely passionate about law, find something specific and maybe connect with a few lawyers who are practicing that branch of law (say you'd like to get into environmental law with a focus on beaver preservation in a certain state--clearly I'm making that up...) to see how they pursued their career path.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 1, 2007
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    648

    Default

    Wow -- lots of good questions.

    Would I go to law school again - absolutely! But, I went a long time ago and the legal market was a very different place. Still, I loved it and I would do it again. That being said, I was prepared to take a non-traditional approach to life after law school then and I would be now. I think hiring in traditional law firms is way down -- on the other hand if you are willing to cast a wider net, the skills from law school are invaluable in a variety of fields. If you can figure out how to combine that with the unique skills you already have, well it just might end up in a pretty interesting position.

    My best friend in law school was 37 when she started and her undergraduate degree was in graphic design from RISD. So... you are not too old and you may find your different background is an advantage if you approach it the right way. By the way, I had lunch today with a doctor who is in her late 40s and just finished law school. She is starting her clerkship this fall.

    These days there are a number of second or third tier law schools that are providing scholarships to qualified students - it is possible to go to law school without accumulating a ton of debt.

    So, if you think it is really a passion - go for it. And be realistic about what you want to do and how to position your unique skills while adding a law degree to them.



  4. #4
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    Jun. 12, 2007
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    Westchester County, NY
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    Well... yes and no. I graduated 5+ years ago, when the market was good. I had a good LSAT score, good grades, and got into a top 10 school. I did well and got a good job. I now work long hours, but manage to ride my one horse 6 days per week. He is in full training at a great barn. Does it afford me the lifestyle I wanted - yes. Do I truly enjoy the work - only occasionally.

    Age doesn't matter - but your school and grades do. Take a practice LSAT this weekend, under real test conditions. Use a stop watch and only take the breaks they provide during the test. See what you get. Then find your college transcript, calculate your GPA, and you'll know where you stand. The market out there is very bad for all but the very top group. Feel free to pm me if you want to talk.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
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    Jul. 28, 2004
    Location
    Texas
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    Default

    Do you by any chance have a science undergraduate degree? If so, patent law is a fabulous law practice.
    friend of bar.ka



  6. #6
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    Nov. 18, 2010
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    california
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    Mr. Stolen is starting law school in 2 weeks. He has helped the local DA with several arson cases and loves law. I certainly think it is worth it at 27 (Mr. Stolen is very much older) and it was what I wanted to do after getting my BA. However, we live in a very expensive area and I found a job in my field after college and found horses only 2 years after college.

    Law school is great, do it !



  7. #7
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    Jul. 22, 2011
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    Temecula, CA
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    Default

    I think the job market for new attorneys really varies on a state to state basis, although I believe overall it is down everywhere. However, California is especially bad right now, and even more so for first-year attorneys.

    I graduated from law school 6 years ago and have only just scratched at the surface of my $150,000 plus in student loans. So, would I go back to law school again? Probably not. I am fortunate that I have a job at a reputable firm with relatively low billable hours, decent pay and almost no commute. While it does give me the financial freedom to own a nice horse and be able to show, it doesn't give me the time I want to actually ride, even with my relatively low billable hour requirement. I only get to lesson once a week and am lucky if I can get in a quick hack once or twice a week on top of that.

    My field (civil litigation) is also stressful. It's not like I leave my work at the office when I go home at the end of the day. I'm constantly thinking about my cases and things that need to get done and often have to work in the evenings and on weekends. Another thing I wish I had considered too before I started law school was how to balance a career as a lawyer with being a mom. I now have a 4 year old and it is incredibly stressful when she is sick, or her school is closed, and I can't stay home with her because I have a deposition or court hearing that I can't miss.

    I don't mean to sound negative and there is a lot about the practice of law that I love and find very rewarding! But I think you are wise to really weigh the pros and cons before you just jump in and do it (like I did!). And you definitely are not too old! There were many students in my year that were in their 30's, 40's and even 50's.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
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    May. 4, 2003
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    Canada
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    Are you thinking of practicing law in a law firm? Our daughter is taking her LSAT's because it will help her in her current job, and they offer financial help for further education. Seems there are quite a few jobs in the business, government world...in Canada. Everyone in her department had their Masters, PhD or Law.
    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique



  9. #9
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    Apr. 28, 2010
    Location
    Louisiana
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    I'm currently thinking of Law school as well. The few friends I have in law school (one is a 3L, another a 2L and one just took the bar) all have said the economy and job market sucks for lawyers. Do not go into it thinking you wil make $$$ because you won't. All I've taken from them is, don't go. I haven't really picked their brains enough about why, yet. On the other hand, I have a few cousins that have been lawyers for 5+ years and they keep pushing me to go. Obviously, the economy was different when then got jobs.
    If the job market for lawyers gets better, I think it would be a good idea but if you already have student loan debt, adding another $100-200k worth of debt to become a lawyer with no job or a job paying close to teachers salary, I don't recommend it.



  10. #10
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    8,583

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by two sticks View Post
    (and yes, I've done some research, but I think the numbers don't always portray an accurate picture)?
    No, the numbers are definitely portraying an accurate picture.

    My friend from Cornell graduated, went into BigLaw (which sucks BALLS, btw), and is now pulling in $55k a year at the TX legislature. He has had one failed interview in 3 years, pays $2,500 a month towards his loans, and will essentially be scraping by for the rest of his life unless a miracle occurs.

    You are not even remotely safe graduating from the Top 10 anymore.


    10 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
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    Apr. 28, 2010
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    Louisiana
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    380

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    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    No, the numbers are definitely portraying an accurate picture.

    My friend from Cornell graduated, went into BigLaw (which sucks BALLS, btw), and is now pulling in $55k a year at the TX legislature. He has had one failed interview in 3 years, pays $2,500 a month towards his loans, and will essentially be scraping by for the rest of his life unless a miracle occurs.

    You are not even remotely safe graduating from the Top 10 anymore.
    This. Forgot to mention, A friend in law school says she knows someone who graduated from Wash U Law (lots of debt $$$$) and he is currently a non-paid intern at a state Attorny General's office.



  12. #12
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    Jul. 2, 2003
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    Woodland, Ca
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    Default

    No, I wouldn't go to Law School again. Definitely not.



  13. #13
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    Jan. 6, 2011
    Location
    Florida
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    Default

    I currently know three people who went to law school and graduated in the past five years. One graduated top 10 from UF law school, has a ton of student loans and worked for free, worked for her mother, and now makes $15 an hour at a small law firm. She regrets going to law school and was the one who convinced me not to go. The second graduated middle of his class and has no loans but also has no job offers. Works for someone in his family and does office work. The third has a mother in law and he works for her at her firm.

    Either have connections or prepare to be in a flooded job market with a ton of student loans. Sad reality at this time.
    I am on my phone 90% of the time. Please ignore typos, misplaced lower case letters, and the random word butchered by autocowreck.




  14. #14
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    Apr. 28, 2008
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    The legal market is brutal right now.

    I love being a lawyer and do not regret law school. However! When I graduated, basically anyone in my class who wanted a big law job got one. I did, and I liked it. Most people don't. After Three years, the economy hit and my firm imploded. I moved with my group to a new big law firm, then went in house after two more years and am still happily practicing law.

    But it is a different world out there, and the old days are not coming back. This is the best article I have seen on the demise of the big firm: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/1...n-money-dries#

    It is worth a read to understand why this option, and the myth of the high-flying legal job, will probably not be there for you. But the debt will, unless your folks are paying. How will you pay off $150k in loans on $50 or $60k a year? Not by horse showing, let me assure you.

    I used to advise students to go to the best school they can. Now I tell them to consider how good a school they can get serious financial assistance at, and weight that against their top admit. I would not advise anyone to go to a school out of the top 25 or so, even then.

    Consider that Georgetown is a top 15 school and only 60ish percent of its grads last year had law jobs nine months after graduation. That is shocking. Meupatdoes' friend is not an anomaly from good schools--he is almost the norm. Scary.

    Don't do it unless you can't bear to do anything else. You have to really want to be a lawyer. Have you worked in a law office? Spend a year as a paralegal to be sure you aren't making a mistake.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
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    Aug. 9, 2007
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    9,039

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    Yes. I spent decades in the courtroom. It was fun and rewarding. I loved most of my jurors and victims and witnesses and cops. I loved all but a couple of judges. It was a great way to meet people. And the gratitude of victims and their families was so fulfilling. When a murder victim's teenage son and nephew walk up and shake your hand, it's moving. And when jurors call you after trials for free legal advice, it means they respect you. I even liked most of my defendants. My rep, according to my defendants, in the prison system was that I was "a (girl dog), but a fair and honest (girl dog)." This when I once asked a snitch if he wished for me to put our deal in writing before he snitched on a double murder/armed robbery at a liquor store.

    (My first choice was rock and roll singer, but I was shy growing up. I got over my shyness in college and law school.) My second choice was vet school. I was accepted, but did not wish to experiment on dogs and cats and then kill them.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
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    Feb. 8, 2008
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    Delaware Valley
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloudyandcallie View Post
    My first choice was rock and roll singer, but I was shy growing up.
    Ha-ha, you were more ambitious than me. My first choice was to be the wife of a rock and roll singer. My second choice was to write a great novel. I'm still working on it

    I went to a Top Ten law school, clerked for a federal judge, and got a job at an elite law firm. But I hated the law firm life (no time to ride, among other things) and became a prosecutor. After many years, my salary is in the six figures, but that's because I started when it was easy to get merit raises. Those days are gone.

    I work with a lot of really good young attorneys, but rumor has it that morale is low. Last week, we lost 5 attorneys in one day. The attorneys who are happiest are those who have a full life outside of work - e.g., children (usually with a spouse who makes more $$), write, sing in a group or are into serious sports.

    Crazy as it sounds, I would go to law school all over again.



  17. #17
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    May. 11, 2010
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    PA
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    855

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    Not a lawyer, but there are about 8 that ride at my barn. Not one of them recommends becoming a lawyer when the college kids are trying to figure out what they want to do. I've never seen a group so unanimously and passionately agree on one point.

    Generally I think it's the debt load and crazy hours.



  18. #18
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    Jun. 4, 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
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    267

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    No, I would not do it again. As others have said the job market is not good for attorneys and generally you will not make a lot of money.

    If you have an interest in law try to obtain a job as a paralegal or legal assistant for a few years and make sure that it is what you really want to do - if after working in the legal field you discover that you absolutely love it and want to become an attorney then look into law school.

    In my opinion law school is a long expensive commitment that does not pay off in the end. Do not go to law school for this reason - I'd like the kind of career that will give me financial opportunity to own horses - as for the most part becoming an attorney will not allow you to do this.



  19. #19
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    Oct. 3, 2012
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    Don't do it unless you can't bear to do anything else. You have to really want to be a lawyer. Have you worked in a law office? Spend a year as a paralegal to be sure you aren't making a mistake.
    This. I would not go to law school again. A law degree is not a golden ticket to work in other fields or a guarantee of a sizable income. I went to law school because I didn't really know what else to do. Not a good reason to go.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
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    Sep. 10, 2008
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    366

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    Quote Originally Posted by meupatdoes View Post
    No, the numbers are definitely portraying an accurate picture.

    My friend from Cornell graduated, went into BigLaw (which sucks BALLS, btw), and is now pulling in $55k a year at the TX legislature. He has had one failed interview in 3 years, pays $2,500 a month towards his loans, and will essentially be scraping by for the rest of his life unless a miracle occurs.

    You are not even remotely safe graduating from the Top 10 anymore.
    THIS! Don't do it unless you are 1. independently wealthy or 2. love the law and don't mind being poor and worked to death



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