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Drew83
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Law School Debt
« on: Jan 21st, 2007, 6:06pm »
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Greetings,
 
I'm currently applying to law school with the hopes of practicing intellectual property law.  I am a mechanical engineer, so I am looking into dual degrees with a masters in electrical engineering to help in finding a job, come graduation.
 
As I send my applications and review tuition/living expenses, I wonder if its worth going to a law school with a $30,000/yr tuition rate and end up with at least a 100K debt (living expenses included) after graduation.   My alternative, would be going to an in-state tier 3 school, having a much lower tuition rate (~$17,000).    
 
I understand that going to a good school makes finding a job significantly easier, however, that's only for your first job, correct?  After that, it depends on experience.  
 
So I guess, my options are 1. going to a nationally known school giving me at least 100K in debt, or 2. going to a tier 3 school, meaning I would have to network much more to find my first job.   Option 2 seems that it would also not force me to join a big law firm working 70-80 hrs/week to pay off my debts.  
 
Any thoughts/suggestions/words of wisdomHuh
« Last Edit: Jan 22nd, 2007, 7:25am by Drew83 » IP Logged
Drew83
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Re: Law School Debt
« Reply #1 on: Jan 23rd, 2007, 11:18am »
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Anything?
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forest
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Re: Law School Debt
« Reply #2 on: Jan 23rd, 2007, 11:51am »
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I too am in the midst of applying to law schools, and nearly all the law students I talk to almost ALWAYS say to go to the best school possible. You can make up your loans when you are getting paid, which is in turn more likely to happen if you get a decent job, which is more likely to happen if you go to a top school. I'm still on the fence as to how true this is, but so think it has some merit.
 
I think you need to consider some other things...  
 
-If you plan on going into IP, will you try to go P/T and get a job as a tech spec during the days? This can help offset the costs of school, especially if you land in a firm w/ tuition reimbursement.
 
-Will you get scholarship $$ from a T2 or T3 school? If you think you could get into a better, more "prestigious" school, then I would think the lower-ranked ones would definitely give you money. This might make your decision harder.
 
-If you don't get scholarship $$, do you think the $40K less you'll owe in debt from going to a T3 is worth the extra work and time and headache you might experience when trying to land that 1st job? I personally don't, and others I've talked to seem to agree.
 
-Do you have any proof that those attorneys not in BigLaw aren't still working their butts off and putting in long work weeks, albeit for less pay? I'm not sure this is the case.
 
These are only some of the factors to consider. In sum, you have a lot to think about (as do I). Hope this helps.  
 
Anyone else who has gone thru this- all you lawyers- please give your insight!!
 
Good luck.
« Last Edit: Jan 23rd, 2007, 11:52am by forest » IP Logged

"Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it." ~Albert Einstein
jigordon
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Re: Law School Debt
« Reply #3 on: Jan 23rd, 2007, 2:10pm »
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Drew:
 
Here's my own experience, YOMMV.
 
I went to a private undergrad and a private law school.  I walked out of my graduation ceremony with a little under $100K in loans to pay back, as you estimated in your post.
 
I wasn't in the top 10% of my class and my first job out of law school was for $40,000.  I knew some of my classmates who were in the top 10% were making $100K+/yr at that same moment in time (across a variety of firms in different large cities).  Over the years, I've talked with a large sample of other law grads.  They have all had relatively similar experiences with respects to salary after school... but there is a wide variety in terms of the schools these grads attended.
 
So my own personal belief is that it's your ranking, not your school, that gets you the better paying jobs.
 
The exception I've heard (but have no data to support) is for students from top tier schools (Harvard, Princeton, Duke, etc).  They get good jobs apparently regardless of their ranking - a function of the alumni network and the school's reputation.
 
Thus, if I had it to do all over again, I would go to a state law school (no offense to my alma mater, it's a good school... it was just darn expensive).
 
As far as your work/life balance after law school... well, frankly, I would've done the 70-80 hour/week if there would've been a big-city firm willing to hire me on partner-track.  But there wasn't, I had burned out anyways... and 10 years later, I love what I do and don't regret my path at all.  My partner-track fellow alum are still on the track - not one has yet made partner at a big firm to the best of my knowledge.  And they're still working 70-80 hour weeks... while I head to Disney World on a regular basis.  Smiley
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Drew83
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Re: Law School Debt
« Reply #4 on: Jan 25th, 2007, 11:15am »
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thanks for your comments!
 
I am considering going part time.  But this depends on what school I get into, can I find a law firm position, etc...so I still need to do a lot of thinking.
 
If anyone else would care to share some thoughts that would be great.
 
I also had one other comment.  Let's say I do go part time while working at a law firm.  Being a mechanical engineer, am I still at a disadvantage because I'm not an EE (assuming I dont get the EE masters)?  It seems the 3-4 years experience would overshadow this come graduation...  
« Last Edit: Jan 25th, 2007, 11:21am by Drew83 » IP Logged
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