Author Topic: Is there a mustachian way to do law school? Comments on my dilemma welcome  (Read 3134 times)

chacunsatasse

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
My dear Mustachians in the legal profession. I know that law school is often advised against in general, but if we are so inclined to risk life and limb (and future FI) to enter the gauntlet that is the pursuit of a legal education, would any of you that have been to law school and lived to tell the tale have any suggestions on going about it in a mustachian way? I.e. minimizing debt while also attempting to maximize experience, educational value, and future job prospects...?

I can offer my current dilemma on the choice between 2 law schools up for comment. I'd love any insight from mustachian lawyers out there.

Currently deciding between University of Louisville and University of Kentucky (Schools in my home state, I'm currently living abroad and need to return home to be closer to family). I've been offered a full scholarship at UL. I've been offered $18,500 out of $22,700 at UK. That would mean about 15k or so extra tuition at UK over 3 years. I will also have to fund cost of living at UK as I wouldn't be living at home and not sure I could work on the side to help fund myself. So potentially add another 30k over 3 years for cost of living- bringing me to around 45k to go to UK. There is the chance I'd have to take out minimal cost of living loans at UL, so lets say 15k as a safety net, bringing us to a difference in 30k over 3 years, UK being the more expensive option. Yikes... Just writing that makes my skin crawl, as I've learned from my undergraduate loans (currently down to 8k) that student loans are as a general rule of thumb, trash can...

I am from Louisville, have a ton of connections and family there. I feel like I could return home, live meagerly, network like crazy, pick up a weekend job catering bourbon events like I did in undergrad, and graduate nearly debt free and have a job to boot. Let's say UL represents the "safe" bet (relative term).... UK however, is the "higher ranked" school, with potentially better job prospects and a bit more "reach", or reputation, should I decide later in life to leave the state (though I wouldn't go far, I don't think- Cincinnati or Nashville would be about as far as I'd want to go from family). I am also intrigued by the possibility of meeting new people and making new connections in Lexington, Frankfort, and the surrounding areas. Cincinnati is only an hour or so north of Lexington, and UK generally seems to have a bigger draw of students from all over, while UL has bit more of a parochial, commuter school vibe and typically houses students from Louisville and its surrounding counties. UK represents the intriguing, slightly riskier, but potentially rewarding choice.

Of course whichever school I choose, I'll be living close to campus and rocking the bicycle- Mustachian principle numero uno, check :)

Thanks a lot in advance for making it this far in the post. If you want to comment on my dilemma, as I said before, I'd love any insight. If you'd prefer to comment more generally on a mustachian approach to law school, I think that'd be lovely as well and could potentially help future young, law school minded wanna-be mustachians. All the best- CST

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1646
Congratulations on your scholarship awards!  That is the key to becoming a Mustachian lawyer.  I am originally from Ky and am now a law prof in another state.  You probably already know this, but how well you do in law school is going to be a much more important factor in your future financial life than than which school you choose. I looked the schools up on US News and the one factor that seemed heavily in favor of U.K. Is the " employed at graduation rate." For Ky it is 59%, for Louisville only 40%.  That is a very significant difference.  Ky also has a higher bar pass rate. In 2016 79% of UK first time takers passed to U of L's 71%.  Again though, how you do will matter more than the school's average. 

Suggestions for being Mustachian in law school are similar to being Mustachian everywhere.  The big problem I see among students is they constantly spend money unnecessarily with a whole host of excuses, including, "My grades are too important to waste time cooking," (trust me, you can think about the latest S.Ct. case while cooking) ; "I can't work during law school because I need to study all the time," (study hard from 8am to 6 pm, get a job from 6-11 or on the weekends; "I need a new suit for interviews..." (no one is going to know if you bought your suit used or new....and tons of barely worn suits are available). "I need to go out drinking to network"...

Think hard about your housing costs.  While it is nice to live near campus, it may also be far more expensive than living a few miles away (still in biking or bus distance).  Cheap living situations include being a resident advisor for undergrads (can be free room and board with an apartment if you are the head resident for the dorm), living with a family in exchange for driving their tweens around after school, living with an elderly person in exchange for providing a little transportation and company...etc.  I have known students who have done each of these.  One of my students got free rent in a garage apartment in exchange for cooking dinner 5 nights a week for an older woman. Live in a group house where cooking is shared.  Consider not having a car at all. Don't eat out.  I had a rule for myself in law school...I got to eat one lunch or dinner out per week and get one pizza carryout per week.  I never borrowed money for living expenses, only for tuition.

Best of luck to you!  I have had a wonderful career as a lawyer and hope you do too. Feel free to pm me if I can answer any questions.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2018, 06:51:32 PM by Dee18 »

MrThatsDifferent

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1567
Agreeing with the poster above that it means more how you do than where you go if the disparity isnít too great. Knowing what I know now, Iíd take the full scholarship and bust my ass to be in the top 5% of the class. Hire a tutor, talk to lawyers, avail yourself of every academic assistance resource they have. Get on the top journal, work in clinics and get to know your professors. Be kind and decent, but focused. Your first year is your most importantóno side hustles, no distractions. Tell friends, family and lovers you need to focus everything on that first year. Get to the top and then get job with a firm over the summer. Get a job with a judge if you can. Be ambitious and focused. Avoid as much debt as possible.

FIFoFum

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1896
    • Captain's Log - Mission to Puppy Waystation on Puppy Island
What are the scholarship terms?

It's common for law schools to offer a high scholarship that is conditional on maintaining a certain GPA. In some sketchier instances, more students will receive the scholarship than could mathematically reach that GPA as a 1L due to mandatory curves in grading.

The last thing you want is to choose based on a scholarship that you may not be able to retain beyond the first year.

If you are in the top 5% at either school, you'll be fine. You'll pass the bar. You'll get a job. If you are in the middle of the pack, you'll wish you were at UK or maybe hadn't gone to law school at all. Most students think they'll be able to be top 10% by working hard. That's how they got to law school in the first place. Most will not be in the top 10%. That's math.

Paul der Krake

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4664
  • Age: 11
  • Location: USA
Are you sure you would want to live 3 years with your parents?

chacunsatasse

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Wow, thanks a lot for taking the time to comment! You Mustachians do not disappoint! Dee18, my fellow Kentuckian! Thanks for taking the time to look up those numbers- funny, in all my research I'm slightly embarrassed to admit I had only been looking at employment numbers 6 months after graduation (those numbers, for obvious reasons, seem more readily available), in which UK still gets the nod, albeit with less of a margin. These are all great points you mention, and I feel like I've honed most of these to be more in line with a mustachian-ethos by necessity having lived abroad over the last 3 years on a slim pay check (Cook all meals myself, eat out twice a month max., no car, Never buy new clothes, etc.) The only one I definitely have not mastered is being able to network without invariably paying exorbitant sums for drinks in bars...

These are also some great tips regarding housing that I had not considered... And the fact that you managed to get through law school without taking out loans for cost of living attests to your economic wherewithal- that's really no small feat!   thanks again for your reply, I will definitely send you a PM for more insight!

MrThatsDifferent, I appreciate you chiming in. I definitely plan on adhering to this advice. I plan on hustling hard, but I'm also aware that my classmates are also potential colleagues for the foreseeable future, so definitely want to remain decent. I think you're right- it'd probably be a good idea to let my close ones know that the next year I'm going to have my head down. Thanks again for your post!

To answer you FiFoFum, the only stipulation for both schools is that I remain in "Good Standing" (2.0 gpa I believe). I guess another way to put it is there is no % or class ranking requirement, so as far as I can tell from my research neither of these schools are participating in the predatory kind of process that you're describing. Although when I was applying to law schools I did read about this practice at some schools and I decided to not even bother applying. I do appreciate the heads-up, though, and I'll make sure that I'm 100% sure on these details before I set anything in stone.

"If you are in the middle of the pack, you'll wish you were at UK or maybe hadn't gone to law school at all." I really like this advice, and it's important to remember that everyone that's signing up thinks they're going to end up in the top half of their class, which of course is mathematically just impossible. I think I'll chew on this thought as the deadline for a decision gets closer. Thanks again for your post!

chacunsatasse

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Hey PDK- that's a fair question definitely worth considering. I haven't quite decided yet. It wouldn't be ideal, but then again neither are non dischargeable student loans to cover rent.

Laura33

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2406
  • Location: Mid-Atlantic
So based on a quick look at the rankings, looks like UK is ranked in the high 50s and UL is in the 90.  For that difference, and given your circumstances, Iíd go with U. of L.

When it may be worth going into debt for law school is when you have the opportunity to go to a top-tier law school (top 10-20) that may get you a national-level BigLaw job after.  At schools like UK and U. of L, you will largely see local firms hiring - and you will likely have comparable options at both schools for those kinds of firms.*  And in that case, being at the top of your class is going to be much much more important than which school you choose.  Both schools seem to think you have that ability, given the scholarships they have offered, so why not go with the one that wants you more?  But if youíre not sure, the answer is to find some folks at local law firms to ask - many people will take time out to give advice to a potential law student.

The other thing is that the way most people succeed long-term in the law is through networking - thatís how you hear about jobs, thatís how you get clients, and thatís how you add value to those clients.  If you have a pre-existing network in Louisville, you will probably do much better building on that than starting over from scratch.  The exception would be if you are eyeing a state government job (or have no desire ever to live in Louisville again).  Parochialism is a real thing.

Disclaimer:  both my parents are U. of L. grads, and Louisville basketball is my family religion.  So, you know, grain of salt and all that.  😉

*My firm interviews at two different kinds of schools: nationally-ranked law schools (either overall or in our particular practice area); and the local schools where our offices are located.  My office has several people from Local U, even though it isnít in the ďnationally-rankedĒ category.

Mrs.MLM

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 105
Former lawyer/law school career counselor here, married to former lawyer/law school director of admissions. I would go with the full scholarship and live with my parents all three years. You will hardly be home, so living with your parents is a small sacrifice to graduate without student loans. Then I would do these things:

1) Do your damnedest to be in the top 5-10% of your class. Look up your professors' sample exams, which are usually in the library, and write your answers under timed conditions. Take the answers to your professors to go over with you. One of the hardest things about law school is that for the most part, your final grade is 100% dependent on one exam at the end of the semester. If you practice, practice, practice, and get input from each professor on what they are looking for, you will be way ahead of your classmates.

2) If there is one class you REALLY want an A in, it's legal research and writing. Employers care about this class a lot.

3) Do as many experiential courses as you can. These would be externships, clinics, trial ad, opening and closing statements, etc. It doesn't matter if your school doesn't offer an externship or clinic in the area you THINK you want to practice (this will change), do it anyway. It's about the skills, not the practice area.

4) Grade on or write on to law review. It will be boring, but just do it. Don't listen to anyone who says you don't need it.  If you aren't on law review, doors WILL be closed to you. You may not want to go through those doors when the time comes, but at least you will have the option.

5) Go to all the networking events you can and this includes events put on by the career development office. I can't tell you how many times we held an event with a prominent attorney, judge, or politician, and had three people show up.

6) Do a judicial clerkship after graduation. You probably already know this, but a judicial clerkship is a 1-2 year position with a judge. If you end up being in the top 5-10 percent of your class, do a federal clerkship. Federal clerkships are insurance in case you want to: a) leave Louisville, b) work for the federal government at some point, or c) be a law professor. A federal clerkship will stay on your resume for life. Plus, it's an enjoyable job and you will probably get a lifelong mentor out of it.

7) Don't drink too much. Substance abuse is a real problem in law school and the legal community.

Good luck! Even though being a lawyer wasn't my thing, I am thankful for my legal education. My mind works differently now.

Mrs.MLM

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 105
Also, if you decide you want to go to UK instead, scan your scholarship letter from UL and send it to your contact in the admissions office at UK. Don't be a jerky entitled millennial, be a humble, polite millennial (if you are even one), and ask if UK's admissions committee can review your scholarship offer given the fact you received a full ride to UL. The worse they can say is no, but trust me - the majority of the other applicants are doing this.

kaizen soze

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 130
Law grad here. I practiced for about 10 years, then FIREd. Have you done a campus visit, talked to students and sat in on classes? I ask because when I was looking at law schools, I thought I knew which one I should attend based on it offering the best scholarship money and it being in a very low COL town. My second choice was going to cost more and was in a more expensive and larger city. Both schools were somewhat comparable in the rankings, but my first choice was ranked slightly behind my second choice. Then I visited. I honestly just couldn't see myself spending three years of my life at my first choice and gladly went with option 2 instead.

I'm not sure I agree with the "do your damnedest to be in top 10%" advice. You should try hard, but you can't fully control how you will stack up. Everyone tries hard. Grades may be based on a single final exam, which leaves little room for error. Some law students just "get it" on day one and know how to study, how to take law exams. Others, perfectly intelligent people, often struggle to know what they're supposed to do. Grades are pretty arbitrary. And I say this as someone who did pretty well, although it was a struggle at first. You should be doing this at least partly because you want to, and you should know what your outlook will be if you're not in the top of your class. This might counsel for UK, but I can't really say. Just something to think about.

I got lucky and had a good, quiet roommate all three years. I saved a lot of money and hassle as a result. Other than that, the usual MMM stuff applies.

And one last thing, don't go to law school!! ;)

Oh and one more thing for real, if you want some advice on how to study for a class where the entire grade is based on a single final exam, PM me and I'll share what worked for me.

chacunsatasse

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Hello again, and sorry for the late reply! I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to share their input and advice- I'm certainly taking it into consideration and I'll continue to mull everything that you guys have mentioned here as I get closer to making the decision in the next few weeks. Again, you guys have been lovely and I really appreciate your insight. All the best, CST

MrThatsDifferent

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1567
Former lawyer/law school career counselor here, married to former lawyer/law school director of admissions. I would go with the full scholarship and live with my parents all three years. You will hardly be home, so living with your parents is a small sacrifice to graduate without student loans. Then I would do these things:

1) Do your damnedest to be in the top 5-10% of your class. Look up your professors' sample exams, which are usually in the library, and write your answers under timed conditions. Take the answers to your professors to go over with you. One of the hardest things about law school is that for the most part, your final grade is 100% dependent on one exam at the end of the semester. If you practice, practice, practice, and get input from each professor on what they are looking for, you will be way ahead of your classmates.

2) If there is one class you REALLY want an A in, it's legal research and writing. Employers care about this class a lot.

3) Do as many experiential courses as you can. These would be externships, clinics, trial ad, opening and closing statements, etc. It doesn't matter if your school doesn't offer an externship or clinic in the area you THINK you want to practice (this will change), do it anyway. It's about the skills, not the practice area.

4) Grade on or write on to law review. It will be boring, but just do it. Don't listen to anyone who says you don't need it.  If you aren't on law review, doors WILL be closed to you. You may not want to go through those doors when the time comes, but at least you will have the option.

5) Go to all the networking events you can and this includes events put on by the career development office. I can't tell you how many times we held an event with a prominent attorney, judge, or politician, and had three people show up.

6) Do a judicial clerkship after graduation. You probably already know this, but a judicial clerkship is a 1-2 year position with a judge. If you end up being in the top 5-10 percent of your class, do a federal clerkship. Federal clerkships are insurance in case you want to: a) leave Louisville, b) work for the federal government at some point, or c) be a law professor. A federal clerkship will stay on your resume for life. Plus, it's an enjoyable job and you will probably get a lifelong mentor out of it.

7) Don't drink too much. Substance abuse is a real problem in law school and the legal community.

Good luck! Even though being a lawyer wasn't my thing, I am thankful for my legal education. My mind works differently now.

Everything here is brilliant. #1 is th best advice for succeeding in law school. Always go to the professorís office hours, always talk to the professor and ask for past exams if possible. Legal educators are generally very giving and helpful, they want to see the people with initiative and they want people to be successful. They hate the lazy, despise them. Donít be lazy. Also, like most lawyers, they have egos and if they know youíre listening, processing and asking them questions on what theyíve shared, they love it. You will be surprised at what they reveal in office hours.

chacunsatasse

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Hello again Mustachians. I want to thank you again for all of you that took the time to comment and share your advice! It's been nice to have some outside input to chew on for the last week or so (currently living abroad, so apart from emailing a handful of professionals and friends that are lawyers back home, I'm not able to get much external input)

Some new information has come to light that I thought I'd share, and see if anyone that has already posted (or new posters, for that matter) would like to comment further. Ok, so here it goes: The US News Rankings have recently been released (leaked from a source that has done so over the past few years with 100% accuracy) Linke here:

http://blog.spiveyconsulting.com/2019-usnwr-rankings/

UL has fallen from 92 to 113 in the rankings. No longer inside the top 100. I'm aware of the questionable validity of the methodology to accurately rank schools. How much importance should be placed on these rankings (especially this far down in the pecking order) is definitely debatable. I've had attorneys tell me everything from "it doesn't matter at all" to "until the fall of capitalism this stuff matters. A LOT."....

I'm not too worried about the "prestige" side of things. I just want to be an attorney to make a difference in my community, as well as find work that is meaningful and engaging and isn't poorly paid. I don't need the job title to inflate my self worth. I do however, want to be able to find employment after law school. I know that employers will look at these ratings, and I don't want someone to potentially turn their nose up at where I got my JD. I am after all going to spend 3 years of my life wherever I choose. Any comments on how much stock should be put in these rankings, my mustachian lawyers? To what extent should I be letting this weigh on my decision?
Thank you all in advance for your insight on this!

P.s. I know this is probably a post suitable for "top law schools" or something like that, but in general I've found the posts over there to be pretty snarky, and not always helpful. That being said, because I had such a positive response here, I thought I'd go ahead and try my luck once again! All the best- CST

meghan88

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 719
  • Location: Montreal
Hello EachOneTheirCup (your choice of ID makes me curious as to where you're working abroad):

You have a lot to chew on, and lots of good advice above.  A few more thoughts:

- If you are concerned about the ranking and how it can affect your chances, then go for the higher-ranked school.  You'll be investing a lot of time and effort in your future.  You'll be staring at your alma mater's name on your diploma/CV/LinkedIn profile for a long time.  There are many ways to mitigate the extra cost if you're dedicated to doing so.

- If your heart (and maybe also your wallet) is set on U of L, can you reach out to any local firms with U of L grads to ask questions re. employment prospects and other things you might want to know?  If you're open, diligent and transparent in your fact-finding mission, you might even find a mentor or two.  Or even a potential employer.

- Sounds like you have a few years under your belt since your undergrad.  Do you know what the prospects are for sightly older law school grads in your area?  There's a tendency, at least in the bigger markets, to hire and exploit (in the truest sense of the word) the younger graduates.  "Mature students" can be mercilessly ignored unless their law degree is accompanied by some other skill such as an engineering or science undergrad, or languages such as Mandarin or Russian (again, depending on the market).

Bonne chance!

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1646
I think you are smart to look behind the ratings.  Online there is a lot of information about U of L Law's recent struggles. It seems there was an interim dean for 5 years (something I have never heard of) and then a somewhat divisive dean search.  This was accompanied by a problem 5 years ago when the admissions director promised way more in scholarships than was available in the budget.  The school is apparently having serious financial problems.  Given all of this, I would probably go to U.K. if I were in your position. 

One route to consider: one of my classmates in law school took his 4th semester off to work for a firm then went 2 more semesters, took another one off, and then completed his last semester.  His work periods were well paid and financed his living expenses.  More importantly, he gained tremendous experience and was very sought after by firms.  The rest of us thought he was crazy, until we saw how beautifully his plan worked.  Keep an open mind on doing things like this as you proceed. 

WalkaboutStache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 139
Also, if you decide you want to go to UK instead, scan your scholarship letter from UL and send it to your contact in the admissions office at UK. Don't be a jerky entitled millennial, be a humble, polite millennial (if you are even one), and ask if UK's admissions committee can review your scholarship offer given the fact you received a full ride to UL. The worse they can say is no, but trust me - the majority of the other applicants are doing this.

THIS CAN'T POSSIBLY WORK!!!!! Except that it does.  I did it, and got one of my schools to sweeten the pot.  Be nice about it, make a contact in your campus visit and do it in person or in an email thanking them.  Stress how much you liked the school, mention that the deck is already stacked because of living with your parents, that you really would like to go there but cost intimidates you, bla bla.  If they are into you, they will come close to matching. Bear in mind that they may not like you so much as to give you extra money, but hey, that does not change your current baseline.

The best advice I got was to make my choice and not look back.  Sage advice.

Then work as hard as you can.  Do not sacrifice your first year grades for anything else (including work during school).  In the grand scheme of things, the additional debt you incur in that first year (provided that it is reasonable and you are not eating caviar pizza) will pale in comparison to your potential income if your first year is stellar.

I am not particularly in love with being a lawyer, but if you want to FIRE, few other gigs will get you there faster (again, if you are sensible and keep your caviar pizza taste in check).

Slow2FIRE

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 246
Okay, I didn't read other responses...
Having said that:

Mustachian ways to do law school that I personally know of or have personally had the opportunity to pursue -
1.  Federal Job that is law focused but doesn't explicitly require a law degree with law school tuition as a benefit (USPTO definitely does this, I'd imagine other agencies may as well).
2.  Get an offer from a law firm to hire you as an "agent" and pay for your law school.  This required that I have federal service which qualified me to be a "Patent Agent" and two separate law firms offered law school to me as a recruitment tool in one year (I promptly removed my linkedin profile after this and stopped receiving job offers).

chacunsatasse

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Hello everyone. Some very thoughtful responses here and I want to sincerely thank everyone that took the time to contribute. I've been checking back on this post periodically over the last few weeks and reflecting on what has been said. I think there is a lot of good info here that maybe someone in a similar predicament might find useful in the future. For those of you that are wondering, I actually ended up selecting a different school when a surprise offer came in that offered me a full ride scholarship with a living stipend that will allow me to graduate nearly debt free. During the application process, I asked a lot of people for their advice throughout this process, and some of the best of it came from this forum. I think there seems to be a general consensus among mustachian lawyers that you are better off coming out toward the top end of your class than you are relying on the name/prestige factor of whatever school you attend to get you where you need to go. Maybe it's convenient for me to like this mustachianesque advice because it bodes well with the formula for success I've subscribed to up to this point in my life; work hard, be friendly and personable, network like crazy, and generally just say "yes" to opportunities as they present themselves... Oh well, I think I'll stick with it going forward anyway.

I wanted to share a few resources that might help those that stumble across this post in the future. Below are some detailed guides written by people that claim these methods have resulted in them finishing in the top rungs of their class in year 1. Apparently there is some significant prep that can be done to help your chances of starting out on the right foot your 1st year. From what I've heard, you can really set yourself up to be in a good position if you do strongly your first year. And now, the advice, from the dreaded toplawschool forums...

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=157830

http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=189333

All advice should be taken with a grain of salt, of course. There is probably a lot to be said in favor of just relaxing your summer before law school and getting in the right mind set to begin studying. I hope to find a good balance between preparing/ taking an appropriate amount of time to see friends and family after having been abroad for some time.

One last thing: one bit advice that sticks out in my mind (although I can't necessarily place where I heard it from) was this:

"Go to the cheapest law school that will get you to where you want to go"

Some people may disagree with this mentality, but I think it keeps things in perspective. What do you want to do with your law degree? If you want to go into a specific field of work in a specific city, it would probably be wise to go to that city's law school, and make connections in your desired field. Perhaps if you're not sure where you want to end up, or you are aiming for academia, or a very competitive field, or just want to impress people at dinner parties with where you got your JD, then maybe you should shoot for a school with more name recognition.

All that is to say, is that coming from someone that just went through the process of applying to law school, once the acceptance letters start rolling in containing scholarship offers with a few 0's attached to them, it is easy to forget the real reason you're applying to law school in the first place. It's easy to forget that accepting a $75,000 scholarship from prestigious school X still translates into roughly $150,000 in non-dischargeable student debt after you take into account tuition and loans for cost of living. You're not even talking about interest yet.

When I was weighing my scholarship offers toward the end, I began thinking in terms of loans + interest. So if school A was offering me $15,000 more than school B, instead of thinking of this in terms of
"School A's offer saves me $15,000 over school B", I thought of it in terms of, "$15,000 that I would have to borrow at school B would actually end up costing me $20,714 after interest over the standard repayment period of 10 years at 6.8%, and would require a payment of an additional $173 a month"

(I used this calculator : https://studentloanhero.com/calculators/student-loan-payment-calculator/ )

In the end, you have to make the decision that coincides with what you want to do as a lawyer while remaining below a threshold for debt that you are comfortable with. For me, that threshold is very low. There is something liberating about being able to graduate near debt free with a law degree. As MMM has mentioned, having enough leverage to be able to decide what kind of career you want, or choosing to leave a position if you need to/want to walk away at some point is a powerful thing. It allows you to operate from a position of plenty as opposed to a position of scarcity. A little "f*** you" money goes a long way, I think, and student debt, or any kind of debt for that matter, is the antithesis of said f-you money...

Anyway, I leave you with that. Thank you for all those that contributed to the post, I thoroughly enjoyed reading through the advice and opinions. May somebody else applying to law school find this thread useful in the future. Best, CST
« Last Edit: April 03, 2018, 07:31:13 AM by chacunsatasse »

Snowman99

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 57
I took the full ride to a "less prestigious" school than others I got into, and I am SO GLAD I made that decision.  I have been practicing for over ten years.  Reasons to take the full ride, etc. from my perspective ten years out:

  • You will be able to take a law job you actually enjoy rather than one targeted just to service your law school debt (i.e. Biglaw).  With debt, you have less options and can't take as many exciting risks/opportunities.
  • There are no guarantees you will land that "Biglaw" job by going to a more prestigious school anyway.  Many of my friends who turned down scholarships ended up with a pile of debt and no job leads after going to that "prestigious" school
  • I live in a much nicer house and have a much higher standard of living than my contemporaries (even those who make more money than me) because I had very little law school debt
  • My only regret is that I didn't live with my parents (was entirely possible) and took out a small amount of loans for "living expenses."  Keep in mind the interest rates for school loans were lower then, and so were the "living expenses." 
  • You will want to concentrate on your studies, especially the first year, as much as you can.  This is literally money in your pocket if you do well.  Living with your folks will mean less distractions and more time to study

From my perspective, taking the full ride and living with the folks is a no brainer.  You literally have nothing to lose with this option.  Go for it, network like hell, and get the best grades you can.  Good luck!