Question about Law School Decision


<p>First of all, I would like to thank everyone in this forum who has helped me shed light on the confusion of law school and the profession itself. I think this is a great website and it truly has helped me in many ways.</p>

<p>After reading many threads and posts on the cost of law school and how it is a tremendous burden upon graduating, I have been thinking if I should change my goals. </p>

<p>I am currently a sophomore in the university of nevada las vegas (Honors College) and one of the main reasons I decided to stay in state and go to this school for my undergrad was because that I received a full ride and extra money to go to this school. My family is quite poor since my mother raised me alone. My father passed away a couple of years ago. Going to the ivy leagues was my goal in high school but that seemed to be less and less likely due to my financial situation. I was in the top of my class in high school and my gpa was around 4.6 weighted while my SATs were pretty decent. I have always wanted to go to law school and part of the reason I attended UNLV was that I could save money and not be in such a big hole already before I attend law school. And if I could go to a better law school for my law degree, my undergrad won't matter as much. So attending UNLV, I believe was the best way for me to go since I'll still be debt free.</p>

<p>I am currently aiming to apply to Berkeley, UCLA, or USC. These are the three schools that I would like to attend and I would really like to live in CA. The problem is that let's say that I do get into one of these schools, (since I'm still not sure of my chances and haven't taken the lsat, currently have 3.92 GPA) I would have to pay $35,000 (first year--out of state tuition), ($25,000/year for the next two years--in state tuition) and be about $90,000 in debt just for tuition. If I put a minimum of living expenses to 2,000 a month just for rent and utilities, I'll be spending 24,000 a year and a total of 72,000 for the three years I'm in school. If I add that up, I'll be 162,000 in debt minimum plus interest for the next 10 years so roughly I'll be 250,000 in debt.
If I'm able to get into one of those three schools, I'll probably be earning 125,000/year + bonuses after I graduate assuming I do well in law school. </p>

<p>Due to the fact that I'll be in so much debt if I attend one of those schools, I have really been thinking of going to UNLV law school. I know that it's nowhere near ranked the three schools I mentioned above but if I do decide to attend law school here, I'll have a full ride (after doing research) and not be in any debt upon graduating. Since I'm staying in vegas, I'll be living in my mom's home which will also save a substantial part of my living expenses (rent, utilities, etc.)</p>

<p>My question is given the circumstances, what should I do? I'll probably graduate at the top at UNLV and let's say I do get a 170 on my lsat. Should I go to California attend a top ranked law school like Berkeley and then aim for a high paying corporate job to pay off my loans or is it better for me to get a full ride to unlv law school and be debt free upon graduating? I still want to take the California bar exam after graduating and practice law in CA. That's where I want to live. It's just that I'm not sure if I'll be able to get hired from a law firm in Ca. What do you think of the chance are for me to get hired into a Ca law firm that will pay me 80,000/year upon graduating from UNLV law school in the top 10 of my class? I'm just afraid that I'll eliminate my chances of getting hired in Ca. if I attend UNLV law.</p>

1.) Berkeley, UCLA, USC
Average salary: 125,000 +bonus
Loan debt: 250,000 (about 25,000 per year for 10 year repayment)
Corporate job: 70-80 hours of work</p>

<p>2.) UNLV
No loan debt
salary in CA?- 80,000?, $70,000
maybe smaller law firm, less hours worked (correct me if I'm wrong)</p>

<p>Any insight and comments on your experience, opinions, and knowlege will be sincerely appreciated. What road would you take? Are there chances for me to make a higher salary after a couple of years if I take option 2? Will other law firms hire me once I gain a couple years experience in Ca and allow me to eventually make the salary of a person who graduated from Berkeley or is it impossible for me to attain that? Am I weighing the debt factor too much?</p>

<p>Scenario 1)</p>

<p>If everything in your scenario is achieved, 170 on LSAT, G.P.A., then scenario 1</p>

<p>Though Debt is a huge factor, if you graduate and don’t drop out which it looks highly unlikely in your case, you will pay off that debt and in theory, make more money i.e. salary than graduating say UNLV</p>

<p>Reasons, connections to those who graduate and are well respected. CA is greater in NV sheer numbers show that</p>

<p>I’d take scenario 1 if I was in your situation. Yes, Debt factor seems above what is most significant in this situation namely you and your abilities to surpass any financial obstacles</p>

<p>No one here on this forum can possibly tell you what is best for you. I think that it's wonderful that you will come out of college debt free, and with a great education and high GPA! Congragulations, to you! </p>

<p>I think that you already recognize the issues before you -- debt plus top California law school OR debt-free and UNLV law school. As a first step, I would go and speak with someone at UNLV law school to determine what firms recruit there. The career office there will surely be able to help you determine whether it would be possible to begin a career in California after completing your law degree at UNLV. If your chances at getting a job at a California firm don't live up to your expectations, well then it probably starts to look a lot more like taking out some loans to go to law school may be a good idea. I don't know what the rules for in state tuition are at the California law schools, but don't underestimate the value of working for a year or two after graduation in California for both the work experience and the in state status there. Doing so may open up a lot of options for you.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone for the input. </p>

<p>Sallyawp, when you said to not underestimate the value of working for a year or two after graduation in California for both the work experience and the in state status there, did you mean graduating after my undergrad at UNLV? Are you suggesting for me to work for a year or two before I apply to law school in CA? Or should I go straight to law school in CA? I know that you can establish residency in CA within one year, so many students that go there pay in-state tuition after the first year.</p>

<p>I was saying that it may be helpful for you and give you more options if after you graduate from UNLV, you then go and work for a year or two in California. Not only will you get in state status for cheaper tuition at UC law schools (if you do things right), but you will also boost your resume for law school by working in the real world before applying.</p>

<p>I think you overestimated the cost of UC law schools.</p>

<p>Realize that you do get residency after attending for one year.</p>

<p>So the total shoudl be 35k===>25k==>25k for your 3 years at Berkeley Law school with a similar debt load at the other UC's.</p>

<p>In fact, many would be lawyers attend UCB for the cost savings alone in addition to the fact UCB is one of the very few top law schools on the west coast (with a number 1 ranking in the highest-grossing law specialty: patent law).</p>

<p>As such, you would only expect to be about 80k in hock for your UC law degree, which is quite a bargain for UCB or even UCLA.</p>

<p>Where did you get the 250k number from? To my knowledge, even Harvard law is like 60k a year now, not 83k, and I doubt it will rise by that much in the upcoming 2 years until graduation.</p>

<p>You could also do what sally suggested and just work in California for a year to get in-state status from the first year onward which would save you 10k but also defer your post-law school career by 1 year (and thus cost you more in the long run if you do well in law school).</p>