Lawyerly Lairs, Real Estate, Student Loans

Lawyerly Lairs: Law Student Edition

Are you tired of reading about lawyers and law students struggling under massive educational loans? The debt-saddled law student has become something of a walking cliché — and the stereotype is not universally true. According to the 2009 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (p. 14), between 10 and 15 percent of full-time law students have zero law school-related debt.

One such lucky law student is “Jimmy,” featured this week in Urban Turf, a D.C. real estate blog:

[Jimmy is] a 27-year-old law student who is about to graduate and join a corporate DC firm with a starting salary of $160,000. Jimmy has excellent credit with a FICO score of 781, and has $140,000 in the bank for a down payment. He is in the fortunate position of graduating without any student loan debt. Given these factors, a loan for his target price of $450,000 to $550,000 (less his down payment) should not be a problem.

Wow — Jimmy is in a great position. He’s snagged a Biglaw job, in a job market that’s still a bit tough, in Washington, which ATL readers crowned the best city for lawyers. He has $140K in the bank, a strong credit score, and zero educational debt. Did he have a lucrative pre-law school career, some well-to-do (and generous) parents or relatives, or both?

Given his income and savings, his target price range is fiscally conservative — which is a good thing. If Jimmy ever wants to leave Biglaw, he won’t have to worry about golden handcuffs.

So what kind of digs can Jimmy get for his money? Help him decide between three options….

Let’s start with what Jimmy wants in a place:

Jimmy is looking for a two-bedroom, two-bath unit and would prefer something in the Dupont/Logan area but is willing to consider other neighborhoods with Metro access. He doesn’t want to have to do any renovations other than minor decorating updates, and he also wants something with plenty of windows and natural light. He doesn’t need parking, but would welcome it if it is available in in his price range. Similarly, he would love a unit that has a 24/7 concierge, given the long hours he will soon be working.

I lived in between Dupont and Logan Circles during my time in D.C., and they’re both great areas, especially for yuppie types like Jimmy. And he sounds like he’s cut out for Biglaw: he’s practical, he doesn’t want to be bothered with domestic stuff like interior decoration, and he expects to be slaving away as an associate. Partners are going to love this kid.

If you’re familiar with the Washington-area real estate market, help Jimmy out. Check out the three possible apartments selected for him over at Urban Turf, then comment or vote in our poll below.

(Or don’t help Jimmy out. To quote a commenter at Urban Turf, “You mean to tell me a corporate lawyer can’t decide between a couple of half-million dollar condos? Phew, what a tough decision to make. Should we be billing him at $600/hr for our advice?”)

My personal view: 1806 Riggs Place NW #2 sounds like the most appealing of these places, and even though it has the highest price tag ($599,000), it’s actually the cheapest per square foot ($460.77). Go for that, Jimmy, if you’re willing to take out a mortgage for more than $417,000 — or maybe see if you can bargain down the seller so you can don’t have to go over that number, which will give you the best rates and be the easiest to obtain.

(Even though credit markets are improving, financing a real estate purchase can still present complications. Just ask Christopher Chan, another young D.C. lawyer who recently bought his first place.)

Readers, what do you think Jimmy should do? Check out the options, then vote:

DC Buyer: Soon-to-Graduate Law Student Looking for First Home [UrbanTurf]

Earlier: ATL March Madness: Washington, D.C. is the best city for lawyers.
Lawyerly Lairs: A Finnegan Associate’s Televised House Hunt

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