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Law School, Work, Law School, Work, that is the question...


ofe1818

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I have applied to 8 law schools and been accepted to 4 so far. Here is the list:

 

Hamline (MN)-24K/year

William Mitchell (MN)-20K/year

Mercer (GA)- 13K/year

CUNY (NY)- no scholly but NYC cost of living

 

The 4 schools I am awaiting are:

 

Georgia State

U Tennessee Knox

U South Carolina

Alabama

 

Of these Georgia State is my top choice, but I have no better than a 20% chance there with my numbers. If I got in it would be tough to turn down because of the cheap cost and the connections I have to the Atlanta law community.

 

That is where I stand with law school so far. Also on the table are a couple potential job offers following my graduation in December from some people I know who are willing to vouch for me.

 

Both jobs would be relatively entry level sales positions (the companies are HP and General Mills) paying anywhere from $40K-$60K per year pending on hitting quotas and bogies. I am 30 and have entrepreneurial experience along with loads of sales experience. I enjoy work and school and typically find quick success with jobs. I feel a great urge to continue my education and do have an interest in law, particularly in the environmental field. Big law is not really something I dream of at all. I would also be interested in an MBA and I know that both of these companies would help pay for that.

 

I am currently debt free and do not like the idea of 100K for law school, but I understand that investing in education is a good thing.

 

Obviously, I have a lot on my mind and feel very fortunate to be in a position to have some great options. If anyone can offer any advise at all on direction I would love to hear it. I am hoping to make a decision either way by April and make a move to a new place.

 

Thank you in advance!

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If your concerns are financial, take the job offers. At the tier of law schools you are applying to, most graduates will not be making much more than the salaries you quoted as being available to you right now. Personal anecdote: I dated a guy who went to a T25 law school and got at job immediately after graduation (2010) at a successful mid-size firm (it was actually exapanding into the recession) in a more expensive city than Atlanta. He said that maybe a quarter of the lawyers there were from T25 schools, and the rest came from two of our city's two top 100 "regional" law schools. Starting pay was 55k. A lot of his former classmates couldn't even find jobs, or had to take jobs as glorified paralegals working for hourly pay! The New York Times has published at least half a dozen articles about this phenomenon: the highly indebted, un- or underemployed law school grad. Unless you can get into a top program, or cannot see yourself doing anything else besides being a lawyer, don't go.

 

ETA: He didn't have crazy hours like the "Big Law" people do, but he complained a lot about being bored, even though the job was in a field that sounded interesting from the outside.

Edited by ridofme
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Do not go to law school if you are not 100% sure you want to be a lawyer.

 

I'm an attorney, largely because I was a good student with a liberal arts education and didn't know what else to do. That was a terrible reason to go to law school. I can't stand practicing law. I've tried big law and two very different types of public interest, and that's been enough to convince me to leave the field; this summer, I will start a PhD program in computer science.

 

My experience of law is far from unique. I know many lawyers personally who are very unhappy with their jobs. A lot of them feel trapped by debt, or by the same sense of not knowing what else to do that led them to law school in the first place. The profession as a whole has unusually high rates of depression, suicide, and self-medicating behaviors.

 

This is not to say no one should ever go to law school. I have good friends and colleagues who love their jobs practicing law, and if it's a good fit for your personality and interests, law can be a rewarding (not to mention lucrative) career. What is essential, however, is knowing before you decide to go to law school whether the practice of law (note: this is different from the practice of being a law student) is a good fit for you.

 

One of the best ways to do this is to work in the field before you decide whether you want to go to law school. True, you can't be a lawyer yet, but many firms hire recent college grads as paralegals, and there may be business-related support positions (marketing, training, IT, and so on) at large firms. You say you might be interested in practicing environmental law. Start looking for law firms that have an environmental practice, and apply there. See if there's a public interest group that does the kind of work you'd like to do, and apply there. If they can't afford to hire you, can you volunteer for them in your spare time? Work side by side with people who are doing today what you'd like to be doing in five years. Understand what they do from day to day. Ask them what they like about their jobs and what they don't like. Ask what they'd do differently if they'd known when they applied to law schools what they know now. If you do decide the practice of law is right for you, you will have a stronger application to law school after a year or so of this. And if you realize law is not for you, you've spent a year earning a salary, rather than three years racking up debt.

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