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SB4207

In need of advice. To be or not to be?

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Hello Everyone,

I am looking for advice from people currently in law school or who have recently entered the legal field. Here is a little bit of back story. I graduated from university 4 years ago with an 87% average in an arts program. In the year following I studied for the lsat while working in the banking sector. I scored a 165 and was eager to start applying for schools. However, while working on my applications I was offered a promotion and a large raise at the bank that I worked at. I took the new job and have since then moved even higher up on the corporate ladder. Right now I have a solid career and make a very comfortable living (85k/year, bonuses, 4wk paid vacation, and benefits). However, if I continue on my current path I will fail to fulfill my dream of practicing law (it is something I always wanted to do and I feel like a sellout). Put in my position would you give it up and go to law school? I am only asking now because next year will be the last year that my lsat score is valid for admission. 

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I would not give it up to go to law school. That's a solid career, great work-life balance, good pay, more vacation than you'd hope to get for years in law, and at a very early age.  

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2 minutes ago, whoknows said:

I would not give it up to go to law school. That's a solid career, great work-life balance, good pay, more vacation than you'd hope to get for years in law, and at a very early age.  

Thank you. That is what I am struggling with. One of my friends is a recent UBC grad working 80hrs a week in Vancouver making slightly more than me (I live in a smaller town thought so may paycheque goes farther) and looking at her situation I really appreciate what I currently have. However, I feel unfulfilled by my current line of work. I feel as though law is a noble pursuit worthy of one's time and energy while what I do it not. 

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7 minutes ago, Luckycharm said:

Your opportunity cost is at least 250,000

Probably much more than that. 250k in wages, 3yrs of advancement in my company/field, the cost of relocating, and law school tuition. However, I wouldn't be asking this question if I was thinking of costs/benefits strictly in monetary terms.

Edited by SB4207
Just wanted to add a bit more explanation

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Let's start with this. Law school is not a career, and it's not an alternative to the working life you have at present. It's three years of interlude between now and some other career, which is as yet undefined. Can you describe, at all, what you would like your career as a lawyer to look like? Do you have any idea what you would want to do, other than "be" a lawyer? if you're able to answer that question, it will provide a lot more context to the answers you'll receive.

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3 minutes ago, Diplock said:

Let's start with this. Law school is not a career, and it's not an alternative to the working life you have at present. It's three years of interlude between now and some other career, which is as yet undefined. Can you describe, at all, what you would like your career as a lawyer to look like? Do you have any idea what you would want to do, other than "be" a lawyer? if you're able to answer that question, it will provide a lot more context to the answers you'll receive.

I'm primarily interested in a career as crown counsel. I am also interested in wills, estates and family law. However, I am aware that most people come out of law schools with different career goals than they had going in. My dream has always been to work as a lawyer and then become a judge.

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I don't have stats nearly as good as yours so for me there is a big "if" I get in--but I'm in a similar situation, great job, pay, benefits etc. I've been contemplating posting something similar, so I'm interested to see what others have to say, but here is what I've gathered so far. 

I think it will depend on how much money you are willing to forgo (opportunity cost) in order to be fulfilled (or the chance of possibly being fulfilled because there are a lot of uncertainties). It would also make a big difference if you can minimize lost wages. I'm going to try and request an 8 month leave to do 1L, would ask about any education funds available through my employer, and would see if the school would let me do part-time studies thereafter. This would minimize my lost wages and overall opportunity costs substantially. To this point, it may also depend on whether you go to a school with reasonable tuition, how much they offer in scholarships, and how much money you could make during summers to minimize debt. 

I'm also in a position where I could leverage my current experience for some decent legal job prospects and higher earnings later on in life. So there is a chance it could pay off in the long run (but again, there are a lot of uncertainties). 

Edited by SciLaw
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18 hours ago, SB4207 said:

Hello Everyone,

I am looking for advice from people currently in law school or who have recently entered the legal field. Here is a little bit of back story. I graduated from university 4 years ago with an 87% average in an arts program. In the year following I studied for the lsat while working in the banking sector. I scored a 165 and was eager to start applying for schools. However, while working on my applications I was offered a promotion and a large raise at the bank that I worked at. I took the new job and have since then moved even higher up on the corporate ladder. Right now I have a solid career and make a very comfortable living (85k/year, bonuses, 4wk paid vacation, and benefits). However, if I continue on my current path I will fail to fulfill my dream of practicing law (it is something I always wanted to do and I feel like a sellout). Put in my position would you give it up and go to law school? I am only asking now because next year will be the last year that my lsat score is valid for admission. 

I love your story because it shares many similarities with my own journey to law school. I have been working in a great career for the past few years, with excellent pay > $100K and a bit less vacation time than you (3 weeks). While I cannot say that I have ever felt particularly "unfulfilled" in my career, which you said you were, I can say that my dream of attending law school was always in the back of my mind.

I chose to look at it like this: Option A) Continue on my current career trajectory and climb to the top of the corporate ladder in a capacity that did not involve becoming a lawyer. The work is inherently interesting, accompanied with a fairly large social impact, which is most important to me. Option B) Attend law school and attempt to make an even greater social impact in work that might be more challenging and even more interesting. Start at the bottom in a legal career, perhaps with slightly lesser pay than I am currently making, but work tirelessly to advance my career and make a real difference in the world.

Ultimately, I decided that I did not want to reach the age of 40, 50, or even 60, and have the thought in the back of my mind: "What if?" or "What could have been?" So here I am, set to attend law school in September. I realize that I don't meet the criteria that you prefaced your question with, but I do think that you have to consider everything and never regret the things that you do in life; regret the things that you don't do, instead.

Having said all that, there's nothing to lose if you do apply for September 2020 admission with your high CGPA and LSAT. Hopefully, you will receive an offer of admission, and then, you can really get thinking, ponder it all, and make a potentially life-changing, career altering decision. Good luck!

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19 hours ago, whoknows said:

I would not give it up to go to law school. That's a solid career, great work-life balance, good pay, more vacation than you'd hope to get for years in law, and at a very early age.  

Not commenting on what the OP should or should not do, but just wanted to comment that 4 weeks paid vacation isn't unusual in law. I got that in my first year of practice.

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4 minutes ago, erinl2 said:

Not commenting on what the OP should or should not do, but just wanted to comment that 4 weeks paid vacation isn't unusual in law. I got that in my first year of practice.

There's something to be said for  "usable" vacation though. Sure, plenty of my friends who are working have "3 weeks" or "2 weeks" or "4 weeks", they just seldom get to use it, and even when they do, it's not truly vacation, they're still working, just not going into the office. OP should be aware of that. 

Edited by whoknows

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LSAT score expires in 5 years so you have abundant time to make decisions (I assume you got your 165 recently ). 

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1 minute ago, whoknows said:

There's something to be said for  "usable" vacation though. Sure, plenty of my friends who are working have "3 weeks" or "2 weeks" or "4 weeks", they just seldom get to use it, and even when they do, it's not truly vacation, they're still working, just not going into the office. OP should be aware of that. 

That isn't what you said earlier. Your friends experience is not that of most lawyers I know. Let's not exaggerate here. Most lawyers take their allotted vacation time. It's true that, for some, there may be occasional calls or emails from the office while on vacation but it certainly isn't overwhelming to the extent that it ruins your vacation. I've been practicing for several years and have always been able to take all of my vacation, with very limited interruptions while I'm away.

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1 minute ago, erinl2 said:

That isn't what you said earlier. Your friends experience is not that of most lawyers I know. Let's not exaggerate here. Most lawyers take their allotted vacation time. It's true that, for some, there may be occasional calls or emails from the office while on vacation but it certainly isn't overwhelming to the extent that it ruins your vacation. I've been practicing for several years and have always been able to take all of my vacation, with very limited interruptions while I'm away.

Fair enough. 

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20 hours ago, SB4207 said:

I'm primarily interested in a career as crown counsel. I am also interested in wills, estates and family law. However, I am aware that most people come out of law schools with different career goals than they had going in. My dream has always been to work as a lawyer and then become a judge.

I feel compelled to address this - you don't "work as a lawyer and then become a judge." It isn't a natural, inevitable progression. Becoming a judge is very political and there is almost an element of luck / being in the right place at the right time. You need to belong to the prevailing political party and get on the short lists. You can't plan to be a judge by doing a good job and getting promoted. Lots of excellent lawyers will never become judges. 

Crown counsel, wills and estates and family law are all very different areas. I don't really understand how or why you dream of being a lawyer to the point that you are considering leaving a good job and incurring significant expenses because "it's something I always wanted to do." I mean... law is law... there are great things about it but it's just a job. I wonder if you're romanticizing it too much by looking at it as "noble", "fulfilling" etc without really knowing what it entails. What do you think a career in law will look like? The comment you made about becoming a judge gives me a concern that you don't really know the answer to this and you shouldn't leave a good career without finding out. 

1 hour ago, whoknows said:

There's something to be said for  "usable" vacation though. Sure, plenty of my friends who are working have "3 weeks" or "2 weeks" or "4 weeks", they just seldom get to use it, and even when they do, it's not truly vacation, they're still working, just not going into the office. OP should be aware of that. 

I think it depends where you work. As Crown counsel or any lawyer in a government position, there will be a lot more "usable" vacation than in private practice, especially if you are a sole or in a small office. I can take vacation when I want, but I can't completely unplug and I do sometimes have to answer emails and calls and put out fires. It doesn't ruin or take over my vacation and it doesn't usually bother me, but if getting completely 100% away from your office on vacation is a must, you would find my situation unacceptable. 

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26 minutes ago, providence said:

I think it depends where you work. As Crown counsel or any lawyer in a government position, there will be a lot more "usable" vacation than in private practice, especially if you are a sole or in a small office. I can take vacation when I want, but I can't completely unplug and I do sometimes have to answer emails and calls and put out fires. It doesn't ruin or take over my vacation and it doesn't usually bother me, but if getting completely 100% away from your office on vacation is a must, you would find my situation unacceptable. 

This was pretty much my point, and I think it's probably pretty dependent on small vs. big shop situations or even based on practice group. I said it mostly as a way to get OP to consider the intangibles of what he may be giving up. I went into law with some rose-tinted glasses and have come to accept certain elements of what my future life will look like, but I wish I had known before entering. 

Edited by whoknows

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I’ll share my perspective:

20 year successful career making well over 100k for over half that time and always wanted to do law as my career. I could have continued to move up through the ranks of my career but frankly wasn’t interested - not what I wanted to do. Tried to convince myself many times over the years  that law school makes zero sense due to opportunity cost etc. But here I am, will start somewhere in Sept 2019 and can’t wait!  Dal and Oz on table so far. It’s a very personal decision with big financial implications. 

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Unless you have people you need to support in your life (kids, family), I would say, why the hell not?? It's your dream to practice law and you have the stats to get into a great law school. Law school is an exciting and fun journey, you'll meet lots of new people and learn a lot. There are also opportunities for scholarships and work opportunities through school and during the summer. Also,  you might end up working a lot more and have less vacation time, but you will have the opportunity to make a heck of a lot more than you are making right now... once you graduate... like a lot... depending on what you want to do.

I would also keep in mind though that the Ontario PCs intend to eliminate free tuition for low-income students... so if you're planning to take out student loans you might have to pay all of it back (aka no grants).

Edited by Orches

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I am with Orches on this one.

You may end up back at the bank - but what do you really have to lose?

In the grand scheme of things 4ish years of your life is a blink of an eye.  

Does it make financial sense?  No, probably not, but not every life choice does (*cough* kids *cough*)

 

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