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.

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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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bretby

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby bretby » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:22 pm

MaxMcMann wrote:
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.


Depending on your math background, I would look into hedge funds as a quant. You make more money than you do in law (and money seems to be your main concern), you can use your math background, and you won't be committing to a career that is almost exclusively reading and writing, skills with which you probably don't have much experience.

Aptitude

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby Aptitude » Sat May 12, 2018 11:38 am

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?



With your math and physics background, you'd be a good candidate for coding bootcamps. If you don't mind more school, a graduate degree in computer science or a related field.

Software engineering careers puts you in cool cities with great pay, and perks that blow the best law firms out of the water (I've been to the offices of and have friends that work at all the big 4 tech companies, and worked in the industry myself for a short while).

yooyoo

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby yooyoo » Sun May 13, 2018 6:45 pm

I think its fine to go into law for the salary. If you have good grades, do well on the LSAT and then get in the top 30% at whatever T14 school you go to, then yeah you can get a Big Law job at $180k starting salary. I think some of the other posters on here are making it seem a lot harder to do well in law school than it is. If you are motivated, smart and just work your ass off it is quite doable. Just go to the T14 which gives you the most in scholarship money and then graduate with as little debt as possible. That being said, money isn't everything so make sure you wouldn't hate the daily work of being a lawyer.

SamuelDanforth

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby SamuelDanforth » Sun May 13, 2018 10:17 pm

Folks are also being rather flippant with their advice that you should go work at a hedge fund. Quant jobs at hedge funds are incredibly competitive, even with strong math credentials. If you're at a top university, then sure, quant work at a hedge fund or other investment management company might be available to you, but that won't be true of most math majors. Likewise, if you haven't done on-campus recruiting, then jobs at top tier management consulting firms are closed, at least for the time-being.

But if you're not a bad interviewer you might look to management consulting firms that tend to hire outside of the normal on-campus recruiting cycle (BTS, etc). I also agree that you ought to look into tech jobs, although they needed be coding jobs in particular. I have friends with math degrees who got entry-level jobs as biz analysts or operations analysts at places ranging from Criteo to salesforce to facebook to walmart. Start applying for jobs and contacting alumni in your school's network (even better if they were in your department).

As to your question, don't go to law school right away. Work for a year or two -- it will greatly improve your chances of landing one of the highly paid jobs you covet. Second, start studying for the LSAT and don't stop until you're comfortably in the 170+ range. If you received top grades in a difficult subject that you shouldn't expect anything less of yourself. Don't apply until you have a score that gets you into one of the top schools. By then you'll have work experience, and will be better positioned to decide whether it's worth leaving the professional path that you're on to go to law school.

Npret

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby Npret » Wed May 16, 2018 7:31 am

You haven’t done anything law related so this sounds like a terrible idea until you have some idea of what being a lawyer entails. Do something else for a few years and research law and the oversupply of lawyers.

Don’t look at the high initial salary, for many lawyers the salaries they make at Biglaw firms when they graduate is the most they will ever make. Also, the cost of law school in terms of tuition and lost earning years doesn’t justify going. If I had to go to law school now, instead of years ago. I would do something else. It’s just too expensive for an uncertain return.

Find something else and build a career.

scubasteve310

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby scubasteve310 » Thu May 17, 2018 7:48 am

I also have a physics degree and went into law, not for the salary, but am in a pretty good position in terms of pay. I'd recommend looking at patent prosecution in an IP boutique. Some pay the same as general practice firms ~180k, but don't carry the same stressful environment. Of course it'll involve long hours, but I haven't been faced with 70 hours a week - more like 50-60 maybe. It's also going to involve work related to your background but will be a variety of things so you won't have the same feel of working in a lab on the same project for months. Prosecution is much steadier than litigation in terms of hours and how you set up your schedule.

As far as doing well in law school, I wouldn't worry. A physics/math combination means you should be good at problem solving and explaining how to get to an answer rather than memorizing information and regurgitating it for the exam. Honestly I was worried too thinking people with english backgrounds would have a leg up but that was not the case even though I didn't have previous law experience beyond 1 undergrad class. You will be doing more writing than before likely, but legal writing is a lot closer to technical writing than the writing done in a history or english paper because there is no room for fluff and things need to be precise. Transactional writing is even more aligned. As far as what school to go to, I'm at a T2 and had no issues finding a big law job. With your background I think the science is what matters more - not that 1L grades won't be important so absolutely do your best and get law review, etc. However, I don't think a B will make or break you. I assume you'll do fine in the statutory based classes and struggle in the more case law related ones like torts which will seem wishy washy. Anyway, good luck if you decide to go. It will be hard so try to find some other reason for coming besides money especially to recite during OCI because you will be asked.

TrustMeImALawStudent

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Re: Go into law for the salary?

Postby TrustMeImALawStudent » Thu May 17, 2018 2:42 pm

I like this video for this discussion:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXRiOsvptww

(It's from 2015, so it might be dated now, but I think it is still relevant)



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