Yesterday, we brought our readers some “startling” statistics about law student debt levels. It seems that average indebtedness for law graduates increased by more than $50,000 between 2004 and 2012, with a typical law student saddled by about $140,000 in loans.
In fairness, those statistics probably weren’t all that startling to our readers — many of them are heavily indebted themselves. In fact, we know that many of them are carrying debt loads that surpass even that six-figure number.
Which law school graduates have the most debt of all? U.S. News has a ranking for that…
I think we’ve long known that law is a refuge for people who are afraid of numbers. People who are good at math don’t borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars for a shot at winning the bi-modal salary distribution lottery and a job that they’ll most likely hate. I don’t think we needed a longitudinal survey to show that.
Studying law is hard, and your financial success is somewhat directly tied to the amount of hours you work. A banker can earn money in his sleep. A lawyer has only 24 hours in a day to bill. If your family makes a lot of money, aren’t you supposed to get an anthropology degree and work for an NGO? Why would you slum it with the social climbers trying to get into the upper middle class, one deal sheet at a time?
Some of the study’s more eye-popping statistics pertained to law school students, whose job prospects are famously declining. The level of indebtedness for this group rose by more than $50,000 from 200 to 2012, with the typical law student now owing $140,000, the study found — a jump that’s unprecedented in any other field, including medicine.
As we noted in Morning Docket, there’s a new survey out about corporate America’s legal spending in 2013. As noted by Am Law Daily, the LegalView Index “is based on actual dollars paid by clients, not on surveys of law firms” — so perhaps it’s more reliable than many of the other studies.
What does the survey say? Here are some highlights:
It’s one thing to say that you bill at $200 or $500 or $1,000 an hour; it’s another to actually collect those fees. Every time a client fails to pay a bill, you’re effectively discounting your overall rate. And while writing off $500 here or there may not seem like much, over the course of the year it can amount to several thousand dollars – which doesn’t take into account the added cost of chasing down clients to collect from them.
Of course, the best way to avoid getting stiffed is to obey Foonberg’s Rule: Get the money up front. Unfortunately, sometimes, you can’t predict the full cost upfront – and if the expected bill is mid-five figures or more, a client simply may not have that kind of money all in one place. Moreover, taking payment up front won’t guard against a client asking for a refund down the line if you haven’t vetted the client properly. So beyond upfront payment, here’s a list of tips to avoid getting stiffed:
Last week, we wrote about lawyers leaving Faruqi & Faruqi, the litigation boutique that’s locked in an ugly legal battle with a former associate, Alexandra Marchuk. Marchuk’s lawsuit accuses F&F partner Juan Monteverde of severe sexual harassment and alleges that the firm’s leaders turned a blind eye to his misconduct.
We asked our readers for more information about the recent Faruqi departures. Well, ask and you shall receive. We have the details on the lawyers who left — as well as info about how Faruqi is looking for laterals, and how much it pays them (hint: not enough)….
Biglaw firms don’t need to scam people. Or do they?
I did find a law firm in Denver. It’s called Gibson and Dunn, legitimately. When I called Gibson and Dunn, they said that I was their fifth call in that two-day period of other people who had called them and asked them why they were being accused of criminal charges.
Are you ready for MOAR rankings? We certainly hope so, because hot on the heels of the release of the 2015 U.S. News law school rankings, we’ve got yet another set of rankings for you to feast your eyes upon. These rankings, brought to us by Forbes, focus on one of the most-discussed areas when it comes to the value of legal education as of late: starting salaries.
Money makes the world go ’round, and that statement rings especially true today. From your ability to pay your loans to your ability to get a mortgage, your starting salary will likely determine your income over the course of your life — you better hope you start making bank as quickly as possible.
How can you get the best shot of making that happen? Not all law degrees are worth a million dollars, but you might come close to making that much if you attend one of these law schools…
* Dewey feel bad for Zach Warren? Totally. In the saddest revelation about his indictment, it seems D&L’s head honchos “had trouble remembering who [he] was” before arraignment. [New York Times]
* If you’re interested in going to law school (and if you want to pay off your loans), you’ll want to see the law schools where you’ll make the most bank after graduating. We’ll have more on this later. [Forbes]
* Fred Phelps Sr., founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, is near death. Not for nothing, but it would probably be fitting if people picketed his funeral in SCOTUS-approved protest. [Kansas City Star]
* The widow of Dustin Friedland, the attorney who was shot and killed during the Short Hills mall carjacking, has filed a wrongful death suit against the shopping venue’s owners. [Star-Ledger]
* Miley Cyrus is being sued… over her tongue. A man who helped build her tongue slide (a prop, not a sex maneuver) was injured — he claims he wasn’t warned about the potential dangers involved. [USA Today]
It’s almost mid-March, and you know what that means: broke law students are starting to freak out about the costs associated with their upcoming commencement ceremonies.
Most of them have already forked over six figures of government Monopoly money to their law schools, so why on earth are they so concerned about the cost of renting their caps and gowns for graduation?
To be honest, the loan money is starting to run out. While some schools have reasonable rental options (in the $50-$70 range), other schools are foisting very expensive graduation gear upon their graduates in some sort of a “gouge ‘em before they go” cash grab.
But how much is too much when it comes to one-day rental prices? Students at one top-tier law school have described what they’re expected to pay as jaw-droppingly “insane”…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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