My main squeeze suggested that I write about this topic. Perhaps he thinks I'm too one sided when it comes to the law school debate. I probably am. However, there are a few people who I would suggest should go to law school--very few. If you fulfill the following criteria, then I am on board with you going to law school and I'll dance at your graduation.
- If you get into a T8 school;
- If you get get a full ride or borrow, at most, $40K;
- If you can live at home or with a spouse that will pay your living expenses or if you are independently wealthy; and
- If you worked for a small firm for at least a year, and still want to practice the law.
- You placed in the top 25% of your class and
- You secured a summer associate position.
|Notice #10, Duke Law? My point exactly. T8 or fugetaoutit.|
Let me explain:
- I think that a T8 will be prestigious enough to weather this financial storm.
- If you get a full ride, then you are free to work wherever you'd like or--more honestly--doing whatever you can find. You should never borrow more money than you think you will earn in a year. I think $40K is a safe bet for lawyers these days. That's a great starting salary in NYC from my observations.
- I had a substantial scholarship for tuition, but it's easy to lose site of the cost of rent and food and other expenses. Therefore, if you want to do it right, you should have all of your expenses paid for by your parents or by your spouse. When you're 22 years old and you have $10K in your bank account (from Sallie Mae), it's so easy to spend the money frivolously. But when you pay back that $10K, it will be be $30K. So, when you buy a Starbucks coffee for $4, if you're buying it with borrowed money, it's a $12 coffee. Remember that. Of course, if you're independently wealthy then these issues don't pertain to you.
- I worked for a small firm and there were many kids that worked there while in college. They all hated the small firm environment and what we did for a living, but still wanted to go to law school. Why? Did they think they were better than us? Here's the cold, hard truth--you will be lucky to find a job in shit law. So, if you work there, and you don't like it--don't bother going to law school. If you thrive in that sort of atmosphere, welcome to the profession! At least, by working in a small firm, you will have a good grasp of the worst case scenario. Well, that's not entirely true. The worst case scenario would be not finding a job at all.
- Once you've finished your first year, that's it. Your future is decided. If you didn't do well, there is no trophy if you keep on keeping on. You are screwed out of all of the great opportunities for law students. You won't land a summer associate position that will give you premier employment. You're done. Cut your losses and get out.