Go into law for the salary?

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physicsbro

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Go into law for the salary?

Postby physicsbro » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:00 pm

Hi, I am a college student soon to be finishing my senior year. I double majored in mathematics and physics and have made very good grades. I realize that I do not want to pursue physics nor math any longer, but am currently under prepared for the workforce. Assuming I get into a top tier law school, and then assuming I make good enough grades for the chance at the lucrative careers, does law school seem like such a bad choice?

I know I have a rather strong work ethic when it comes to grades. I'm not quite sure how my math and physics ability will transfer over to law courses but I am willing to work hard at it for the chance of a nice paying job. I know that the lucrative salary is only available to those in the top 15 percent of so, but I like my odds. Anyone else go into law for the money and regret it, or are glad they did so?

mrtux45

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby mrtux45 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:51 am

I think this has the potential to backfire on you if you're not careful.

How much research have you done about law school aside from salary stuff? The problem for you may not be getting in as much as making a financially sound investment or landing top 15% grades (which isn't a standardized requirement for a good outcome at all schools). Law school is very different from UG, and while I don't have a math or physics background, I'm sure LS is even more different from those UGs.

My advice would be to thoroughly research the day-to-day of law school/being a lawyer and if you're still interested, take a practice lsat and see how you score.

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nealric

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby nealric » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:26 pm

physicsbro wrote:Hi, I am a college student soon to be finishing my senior year. I double majored in mathematics and physics and have made very good grades. I realize that I do not want to pursue physics nor math any longer, but am currently under prepared for the workforce. Assuming I get into a top tier law school, and then assuming I make good enough grades for the chance at the lucrative careers, does law school seem like such a bad choice?

I know I have a rather strong work ethic when it comes to grades. I'm not quite sure how my math and physics ability will transfer over to law courses but I am willing to work hard at it for the chance of a nice paying job. I know that the lucrative salary is only available to those in the top 15 percent of so, but I like my odds. Anyone else go into law for the money and regret it, or are glad they did so?


It's a bit more complex than that. It's not the top 15% of grades that gets large starting salaries. The distribution of people getting those jobs is heavily tilted towards top ranked law schools. Almost ever single graduate from Harvard/Yale/Stanford has access to one of those jobs if they want them. By contrast, at some bottom-ranked schools, not a single graduate will get an offer at a large law firm paying "market" salaries of 180k to start. However, keep in mind that those high starting salaries do not necessarily translate into high salaries for the duration of your career. Staying in a large law firm means committing to long hours and high stress for the duration of your career. The vast majority of people who start at large law firms eventually burn out or are forced out prior to making partner. Some exit options like working in-house for a corporation can be high paying, but plenty of people who start at large law firms end up doing something that is not high paying at all.

If all you want to do is make money and you don't care how you do it, I would suggest banking or tech work. Law firm salaries are good, but they are nothing compared to the potential salaries in those fields. They are also probably more aligned with your STEM background. Moreover, they tend not to require as much debt as attending top law schools do.

totesTheGoat

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby totesTheGoat » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:57 pm

physicsbro wrote: Assuming I get into a top tier law school, and then assuming I make good enough grades for the chance at the lucrative careers, does law school seem like such a bad choice?


Not a bad choice if you're well informed. Currently you're not well informed. I can tell that by your choice of terms like "lucrative careers." Nothing wrong with that, but it's something to remedy before making a final decision.

Here's some unsolicited advice, go find a job in math/physics and work for 2 or 3 years. (Despite your assertion, you will be able to find a job with a BS in math and physics) You will be in a better position to approach law school after having some real world experience meeting deadlines, churning out work product, and paying bills. You may even find that you like your job.

The worst thing you could do is fall into law school as an escape from a career/situation that you don't like. You want to run TO law school, not end up in law school by running FROM something else. Why? Well, to make a long story short, law school is insanely costly in time, money and effort, and law is a profession of trade offs. If you go the right direction with your physics degree, you could easily find a job making $80k+ working 40 hours a week. With a law degree, you're either making $180k working 70-100 hours per week or you're making $70k working 55 hours per week. There is very little in between. (Go look at the entry-level legal salary distribution)

Beyond that, most of the $180k jobs are all-consuming. If you're not a workaholic who enjoys answering URGENT!!!! emails at 2:30 in the morning, you may not like the $180k jobs. Or you might like them. You won't know until you get some more info. I can tell you that I followed a similar path to you (STEM degree knowing that I eventually wanted to go to law school), and I HATED working in the biglaw environment. In patents, some of the mid-law and IP boutiques pay the same as biglaw, so you can tailor your working environment to your preferences, but it's still an always-on type of job.

I know I have a rather strong work ethic when it comes to grades. I'm not quite sure how my math and physics ability will transfer over to law courses but I am willing to work hard at it for the chance of a nice paying job. I know that the lucrative salary is only available to those in the top 15 percent of so, but I like my odds. Anyone else go into law for the money and regret it, or are glad they did so?


It's a crapshoot as to how well you do in law school. You're surrounded by people who graduated top of their class in undergrad, and your grades hinge on your ability to write an exam using a method and style that is foreign to most people. Look at your options for graduating top 10%, top 25% and median. Make your decision based on all of those outcomes. There are websites that tell you what your chances are at each specific school.

Having said all that I have, part of the reason for me going into law was the paycheck, and I currently make significantly more than I ever could have as an engineer while still working in-house (complete with the commensurate corporate culture). I don't have to deal with the a-hole partner who sends urgent emails at 2 in the morning. I don't have to deal with back-stabbing coworkers angling for the one partner position open for our class. However, my job is a unicorn job. Nobody else in my graduating class at my school makes as much money for doing as little work (I work 45-50/week most of the time). My company offers 2 or 3 positions per year across all departments to graduating law students. The vast majority of mid-size and large companies won't even look at you until you have done 3-5 years in biglaw or midlaw.

All this to say, make sure to do your research so that you know what you're getting in to. The people who regret law school are the ones who dove in blindly looking for a paycheck, taking out a quarter million in student loans, meandering through school "looking for their passion", and graduating into a crap situation (either financially or firm culture-wise). I tell most college students looking into law school that admission to law school is the start line, not the finish line. Planning how to get to the start line is great, but doesn't help you get to the finish of the marathon.

silenttimer

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby silenttimer » Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:44 pm

If you want to make money, I suggest you look into management consulting, which you can do right out of undergrad. With your majors and good grades, I'm sure you can at least get into it. Also check out career as investment banker/finance. There are much better ways to make money than going to law school.

MaxMcMann

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby MaxMcMann » Mon Apr 02, 2018 3:45 pm

silenttimer wrote:If you want to make money, I suggest you look into management consulting, which you can do right out of undergrad. With your majors and good grades, I'm sure you can at least get into it. Also check out career as investment banker/finance. There are much better ways to make money than going to law school.


Those require internships in almost all cases. And "banking/finance" is waaaay more competetive, backstabby and stressful than law from what I've seen. Granted there are a lot more "unicorn" positions and unlike lawyers a fair amount of PE/HF guys go on to make 8 figures.

Management consulting is arguably more interesting than law and definitely has better exit options but is either on par or more stressful - generally better hours but a lot of travel.

James Crane

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby James Crane » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:54 am

Good advice has been voiced regarding management consulting, it`s a very narrow niche, and in it, you can realize oneself in the best way

woopig2017

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby woopig2017 » Thu Apr 19, 2018 1:10 pm

physicsbro wrote:Hi, I am a college student soon to be finishing my senior year. I double majored in mathematics and physics and have made very good grades. I realize that I do not want to pursue physics nor math any longer, but am currently under prepared for the workforce. Assuming I get into a top tier law school, and then assuming I make good enough grades for the chance at the lucrative careers, does law school seem like such a bad choice?

I know I have a rather strong work ethic when it comes to grades. I'm not quite sure how my math and physics ability will transfer over to law courses but I am willing to work hard at it for the chance of a nice paying job. I know that the lucrative salary is only available to those in the top 15 percent of so, but I like my odds. Anyone else go into law for the money and regret it, or are glad they did so?

Right now, about to finish up 1L, I would tell anyone else considering law school not to do it unless you are absolutely sure that you want to be a lawyer. There are plenty of other "lucrative" careers available to you that don't involve taking out tons of debt for school so unless you really want to be a lawyer I definitely wouldn't do it.

LockBox

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby LockBox » Thu Apr 19, 2018 6:20 pm

Currently a lawyer, with a physics degree. My response to you is the salary may be disappointing (may not be) but the bigger elephant in the room is whether you will enjoy reading/writing for the majority of your day. Also depends on whether you utilize your science background (I am not - litigation mainly).

The point is, are you willing to earn only $45k out of law school being a "lawyer?" If not, then why risk it spending all the time/effort for a chance to make more if you won't enjoy the work?



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