Am I missing a something here??

<p>This thread paints an overly bleak picture, IMO.</p>

<p>First, the salary for a Supreme Court clerk is NOT $53,000 a year. That's off by about $10,000. If you should be one of the VERY few people who gets that job, count on a signing bonus from a firm when you finish in the neighborhood of $200,000. Mere mortals who clerk for district and circuit court judges also get signing bonuses, albeit much, much less. </p>

<p>Next, the starting salary in NYC is $145,000 plus bonus, not $135,000. It is not just Cravath that pays that well. While it is certainly true that if you don't go to a top 14 law school you're not "guaranteed" such a job, there are lots of people from other law schools who get such jobs.</p>

<p>Apartments ARE expensive, especially if you insist in living in a brand new doorman building in Manhattan. But you can live in nice buildings in Astoria and other neigborhoods for under $1,000. You can even--GASP--choose to live in Jersey and take the PATH to work on Wall Street. That cuts taxes.</p>

<p>When you work late at night, the firm will pay for the cab ride home, as someone else said. It doesn't take any longer to get from Astoria to Soho than it takes to get from the Upper West Side to Soho. Most of your dinners will be paid for too. </p>

<p>There are many discount places to buy clothes. There are also things like charity sales and consignment shops. Yeah, I know, it sounds weird, but, believe me, the folks serious about paying off their debts quickly learn how to save $ and still look good. </p>

<p>Most of the top 14 law schools have good loan forgiveness. </p>

<p>You can earn part of the cost of law school before and during law school. </p>

<p>So, while I think the OP's first post was sort of naive, I assure you can live in NYC on a first year associate's salary.</p>

<p>Actually, I think that I painted a very realistic picture - particularly because I actually live in NYC and see how all of the junior associates live and work. </p>

<p>As I said earlier, if you are fortunate enough to get a job that pays a starting salary of $145,000/year, you will do okay. If, however, you are paying off student loans, you will not be living the lifestyles of the rich and famous, you won't be buying a fancy car (at least not if you are living within your means), you won't be eating out at Gramercy Tavern on a regular basis (unless you are entertaining clients or schmoozing law student interviewees) and you won't be shopping at Barney's. </p>

<p>Could you live in Astoria and save a few bucks? Sure, but the time it takes to commute home at 2 a.m. won't be worth it. Most unmarried junior associates that I know live either in Manhattan or perhaps Brooklyn Heights, if they are working at a downtown firm. Oh, and it does take a lot longer to get from Astoria to Soho than it does from the Upper West Side to Soho -- it's the difference between an express subway ride and taking three subways or a cab ride including the potential traffic tie-ups at either the Triboro or Queensboro Bridge (or maybe even the Midtown Tunnel). </p>

<p>There is nothing bleak about the picture, except for the amount of hours you will be working as a first year associate at a firm that pays $145,000. You DO sell your soul for that money.</p>

<p>No one's doubting that you can live in NYC on a first year associate's salary - what we are pointing out is that, if you want to pay down those loans quickly, you cannot live well. You are not living like a student, but you are not living much better, either.</p>

<p>Yes, S. Ct. clerks get signing bonuses - if they come early in the term, great. Otherwise, you still have to make ends meet during that time. Yes, you can structure your loans so that you pay off more as you get older (so it's not evenly distributed over 10 years) but clerkship salaries have not kept pace with tuition. </p>

<p>Harvard, Yale, and Stanford do help out with loan payments if you clerk. Beyond that, I'm almost certain that every other law school requires you to be doing "public interest" for loan repayment. </p>

<p>I do hope that you can agree with me on this, Jonri: before a student goes to law school, he should know where recent graduates have worked and clerked (at all levels of academic acheivement, from summa law review editor to the guy who is last in the class); how much it will cost; how much repayment will be, per month; and how much it costs to live. </p>

<p>I think that what you find out is that you aren't going to have the high-flying lifestyle, or you aren't going to pay your loans off very quickly. If you really do your research ( actually has a relo calculator), you find out that some cities cost much less to live in but have a very similar salary structure - i.e. Chicago v. NYC.</p>

<p>I just know a lot of people who say that they never thought about the loans until they went to exit loan counseling and were shocked at what they would have to pay.</p>

<p>Finally, as a girl, I do feel really creeped out at the idea of having to make a long commute at night. I also get creeped out at the idea of living in sketchy neighbourhoods.</p>

<p>I too "actually live in New York." I know lots of young people who are recent college and law school grads. Not all of them earn $145,000. Gee, some are teachers and social workers. Some are paralegals. I stand by my previous comments. It's not easy to pay off law school debt...but it is not as hard as this thread makes it sound.</p>

<p>You know this point is all moot if you consider how much extra you earn over your lifetime if you are a fairly compotent lawyer from a top-14 law school. Yes, you will be living frugally after law school. Even if you don't make partner, you should at least be able to get 3-4 years associates experience which will allow you to at least lateral to a decent job at lower tier firms or as in-house counsel for corporations. If you are 25 when you enter law school, and exit at 28, then you will probably pay off your loans by 35. You're still middle-aged and able to have kids and a good family life because your loans will not only be paid off, you will be making a solid six-figure salary.</p>

<p>If you want to live the good life, you have to pay your dues.</p>

<p>"It's not easy to pay off law school debt...but it is not as hard as this thread makes it sound."</p>

<p>I must have missed something, because as far as I can see, all the posters here seem to be saying is that you won't be buying a BMW or an apartment or a big screen plasma TV your first year out. No one said you would be eating out of the garbage. Remember -- student loan payments coming out of law school, even when consolidated, will be a minimum of $1500 a month. Those are after tax dollars, right off of the top, before you pay rent, before you buy groceries, before you buy a Metrocard for the subway and before you pay your ConEd bill. I'm sure you have friends in the City who make a lot less money, but they must also have a much lower amount of student loans or there would be no way for them to live in the City.</p>

<p>Look, the point here is that people thinking of going to law school need to understand what it truly means to have large student loan payments that need to be made every month. You absolutely cannot escape these loans -- not even through bankruptcy. Not everyone will get a job at Wachtell, S&C or Cravath, and not everyone will want to stay there, slaving away, for long enough to pay off their loans. If all of this still sounds good to you, by all means, go to law school and embark upon what I consider to be an outstanding career path. I did it and so have thousands of others. </p>

<p>Yes, one day you will be free of those loans and everything may seem rosy, as the immediately previous poster mentioned. That day, though, will seem like a terribly long way away when you're pulling your third all nighter in two weeks and you haven't slept more than five hours in a night in a month. Most new associates at these top firms that pay $145,000/year to start don't last three years. If you are frugal, you may be able to pay off your loans in 5-7 years, but lasting long enough to pay off your student loans at a firm that pays the big bucks may be quite a challenge.</p>

<p>Thank you to everyone for the very informative posts.</p>

<p>Now, keeping all these posts in mind...are there any benefits to going to law school? Is there any chance of living better than a schoolteacher?</p>

<p>Once you pay off your loans, you may or may not live better than a school teacher. It depends on where you choose to work. Many careers in law will pay six figures, which would almost certainly give you the opportunity to live better than a school teacher financially (though you will never get summers off!). A lawyer will almost certainly spend more hours in the office than a school teacher (though teachers spend a lot of time outside of the classroom grading papers, putting together lesson plans, etc.). Many careers in law -- with the government, office of the public defender, public interest -- will almost never pay you six figures. Many lawyers don't even practice law -- in fact, I know two former lawyers who are now teching elementary and high school, and I have heard of many others like them. </p>

<p>On average, a lawyer will make more money than a school teacher, but at what cost? That's a question to which all prospective lawyers should have an answer before going to law school.</p>


<p>I know that you live in NYC. So do a million other people. None of that changes the fact that many law school applicants are 21 years old and have never lived in NYC nor lived on their own and therefore have no clue what their expenses will be.</p>

<p>I'm a nerd. Before I went to law school, I figured out my worst-case scenario job (realistic), my loan payments after consolidation, taxes, and cost of living, and made sure that the numbers worked. It really astonishes me that people go into law school blithely assuming that everything will be fine.</p>