I know this isn’t my usual style post, but I have a brilliant idea – not for law applicants, but for the law school administrator who may be secretly reading this blog.
If you’re a private school with a considerable endowment and you’ve been trying to break into the top 50 or top 20 or top 10 for a while, seriously discount tuition.
Applications would flood in. Rankings would soar. Students would be fighting to get in, and wouldn’t be negotiating scholarships. You could actually avoid playing the rankings game and still benefit from the rankings game. You’d get better students knocking on your door. People submitting deposits would be more likely to actually attend. Students would be less disgruntled, and might actually have warm and fuzzy feelings about the school upon becoming alumni.
To the law school applicants out there – to me, more than ever, choosing a law school is about money. It’s a financial decision, and one that will impact a law student’s life for years and years and years to come. I’m 35 and I make a very nice living, but it’s still a 5-year goal for me to pay off my student loans. I chose a private school (and one I felt offered a fantastic education, by the way) instead of a public school. I’m able to pay my loans, and 10 years post-graduation I really don’t feel the payments, but that wasn’t always the case.
I was in line for BigLaw jobs, and clerked for BigLaw, but BigLaw didn’t agree with me. Instead, I took a job offering $35,000/year. A year later my salary doubled, and it continually grew from there. I share this information with my readers because I want you to remember that the $160,000 or even $100,000/year job probably isn’t going to be there for you when you graduate from law school. You need to make decisions right now that prepare you to start making $50,000 and then going up from there. It will go up, and you will have to hustle for every salary increase and bonus, but being a lawyer is hard work. Know that going into it.
Someone gave me sage advice (too late) when I was in law school: “If you live like you’re a lawyer while you’re in law school, you’ll live like a student when you get out.”
Some helpful and interesting links:
Tuition Secret: It Pays to Be Above Average (read the comments on this one!)