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Hopefullawstudent11

Is becoming a lawyer worth it?

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A friend of mine works in some business side role at a big tech company’s Toronto office. He pulls in between $100 and 200k, works 9 to 5, no weekends, significantly less stress than my job, not to mention all the tech company perks.

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24 minutes ago, OnlyResident said:

Law Enforcement, Teaching, Firefighting, Transit Driver, CPA, CFA, anything in computer science, realtor,  any trade where you're running your own business (plumbing, electrical, carpentry, HVAC), any sales job, consulting, i-banking, Private equity, etc.

Idk if any of these are necessarily easier, but from an educational perspective, there's less debt and resistance involved.

Way, way lower ceiling and still very competitive - can take years to find the kinds of positions you're talking about (Transit driver I'm very skeptical of in general though). I'll grant you CPA, CFA, *some* compsci (the lucky ones who land big tech roles - a small minority), consulting, and IB (assuming you land these insanely competitive roles). However, the suggestion that running your own business in any way shape or form (be that in realty, trades, or whatever else) involves less debt and resistance than three years in law school is suspect. 

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As a 0L from another country, I can't quite comment on the realistic earning potential as a lawyer, but it does seem that while you won't be raking in millions a year, you would be making enough to be a comfortable middle class. Personally, factors other than earning potential also contributed to my decision to apply to law school in Canada.

Job nature. As someone fresh out of college and working an entry level job, the work you get to do can be quite boring and mechanical. And being the youngest, most junior person on the team, everyone would just hand over to you all sorts of meticulous administrative tasks that they don't want to do themselves. While I understand that as an articling student or junior lawyer, you would similar legal tasks, at least you are getting paid nicely to do that and at the end of the day, it'll still be tasks that only a lawyer can do.

Colleagues. One of the things that draws me to the legal profession is the amount of people that have said their classmates, their colleagues are some of the smartest people they know and they learn so much from them. I want to be surrounded by people like that, in an environment where I would constantly feel like I must improve myself to keep up. I've been in companies where I felt like I was surrounded by uninspiring people. They are competent in their jobs but very uninspiring nonetheless. That can feel rather suffocating. 

What your strengths are. Someone in this forum has said that if what you have to offer in the job market is your better than average intelligence, law would be a decent career. Most jobs that I came cross require people to be somewhat creative, and I am just not that. Other jobs I came across require a certain level of sales skills, and I just hate all sales roles. 

Great exit options. From what I've heard, even if you don't like being a lawyer, it is still an excellent springboard to other prestigious, high paying jobs.

I'm not too bothered by the long hours. Coming from the most overworked city where even those making 30-40K are doing NY biglaw hours, I'm just glad that at least as a lawyer, you get compensated nicely while working that much. And to get ahead in your career, there's no avoiding long hours anyways. 

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55 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

Engineering, certain business related positions (no, not finance, etc, since the hours are similar or even greater), certain trades, dentistry, and the list goes on.

OP (and any other pre-law reader) if you have the grades to go to dental school please do not pursue law. 

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Let me make this very simple and cut through the bullshit.

Your definition of "good" money isn't grossly unrealistic as an attainable goal, but it's also far above the average income for most people working most jobs. Start from those two basic facts, and everything else that follows is almost common sense.

There are many lawyers who do make that kind of money. There are also practicing lawyers who do not. There are many other examples of jobs where people make similarly good money. Those jobs are also competitive to either obtain or to get into the field at all. I've had a client hoping to become a firefighter and a nephew interested in it as well. Do you have any idea how competitive it really is? I sat down with the officers running a training school and they explained it to me. The jobs that do exist may pay well, but they are very hard to get.

Bottom line is this. You are hoping for an income that is far above average, and you're looking for a guaranteed way to get it. If there was some guaranteed way to do that, a lot more people would be doing it. Obviously.

So the only intelligent answer is this. It's possible to meet your goals in law. There's no guarantee that you will. It's possible to meet them elsewhere too. Again, no guarantees. So do what you're most motivated to do well and excel at. Every other answer is bullshit, including your own instinct to keep looking for some lock-in guarantee.

Good luck.

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14 hours ago, Hopefullawstudent11 said:

I have always wanted to be a lawyer and was attracted to the field partly due to the high income earning potentials. I understand that for the first 4-6 years that may not be a possibility as I will still be learning but I definitely want to be making 100k-200k in my career. Please don't tell me to not go into law thinking only about money; I am not, but in this world you have to be realistic. No one is gonna go under debt and extra schooling for the pure passion of it. Yes I have passion and a desire to be a lawyer, but I definitely do want to be making money as no one is putting me through school and I will be exclusively depending on loans. 

You've always wanted to be a lawyer.  That's important.

Your salary range is achievable, although hardly guaranteed.  But short of being a doctor I can't think of any area where that salary range is guaranteed.  So if that's what you think you'd like to do then go for it.

It's not like you're telling us "I've always wanted to be a movie star so I'm going to move to Hollywood".  Becoming a lawyer and making six figures is a fairly reasonable career objective.

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Impossible to answer this question without knowing what the other options on the table are. If you have a useless undergrad degree, then law school will be worth it. If you already are in a comfortable career in finance / public sector / tech earning 80k and you have opportunities to advance to a 6 figure salary just by showing up, I don’t think going to law school for would be worth it tbh unless you have a real passion for law.

That being said, if your ambition is to top out at ~100k, there are easier ways to get there. But if your ambition is to top out at ~200k, I actually don’t know that there are much better options than law school (aside from med school obviously). MBA might be on par, but I wouldn’t say it’s better.

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6 minutes ago, besmackin said:

MBA might be on par, but I wouldn’t say it’s better.

From what I have heard from people that make good money with an MBA, it's only worth it in the executive stream at the right school.

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There does seem to be a lot of dissatisfaction expressed in this profession.  As an example, some Crowns in AB have recently (but pre-pandemic) expressed such dissatisfaction to the media:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-crown-prosecutors-justice-government-1.5393024

And here is a response from defence counsel who used to be a Crown:  https://calgary-law.ca/blog/stop-your-whinging-alberta-justice-in-crisis/.  In this response, the author gives an important reminder that making between $100k - $200k is actually a lot of money and those earning that type of money (which I assume is the vast majority of lawyers at least 5 years out) should be grateful.

I am now in my 5th year and I am very satisfied with this profession. 

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17 minutes ago, lawstudent20202020 said:

From what I have heard from people that make good money with an MBA, it's only worth it in the executive stream at the right school.

A buddy of mine created a spreadsheet that determines ROI for various degrees, it's exceedingly hard to make the MBA sheet go green. 

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1 minute ago, whoknows said:

A buddy of mine created a spreadsheet that determines ROI for various degrees, it's exceedingly hard to make the MBA sheet go green. 

Which degrees had the best ROI?

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2 minutes ago, Twenty said:

Which degrees had the best ROI?

Typically the undergrad STEM ones you can graduate with little debt and be close to a designation or tech job. 

Edited by whoknows
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Just now, whoknows said:

Typically the undergrad STEM ones you can graduate with little debt and be close to a designation or tech job. 

Outside of software/comp sci, which ones?

 

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2 minutes ago, lolnope said:

Outside of software/comp sci, which ones?

I've given a rough idea, but I'm not gonna pull an answer from my butt about a sheet I haven't seen in probably 18 months. Google isn't hard, people can do the research and draw their own conclusions.

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So often these comparisons seem to be between the average lawyer and the top end of another profession. For example, realtors were mentioned. Realtors who make a killing can clear 200k in their first year. But for every highly successful realtor there are five others scraping by with one or two sales per year. 

The career path I was on before law school would have maxed out at 100k per year if I was an absolute superstar, worked crazy hours, and got extremely lucky. But it was far more likely I'd have stayed in the 50-70k range for my career. At least in my case, law seems worth it.

Edited by chaboywb
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1 minute ago, whoknows said:

Google isn't hard, people can do the research and draw their own conclusions.

My conclusion is that your friend is about a 5-10 behind the market reality.

I could easily go into pharmacy, but the market reality is that the wages from ten years ago have halved and continue to dwindle. A lot of the "average salaries" considers the wages that the older generations made, and ignores the most recent market dynamics. STEM outside of certain engineering fields has been significantly affected in the last 10 years. Right now, at the moment, may graduates struggle to find jobs that can (a) pay them well; and (b) aren't capped once they reach the early six figures.

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1 minute ago, lolnope said:

My conclusion is that your friend is about a 5-10 behind the market reality.

Thanks. I'll be sure to let him know that lolnope says his spreadsheet is wrong. 

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24 minutes ago, Ptolemy said:

There does seem to be a lot of dissatisfaction expressed in this profession.  As an example, some Crowns in AB have recently (but pre-pandemic) expressed such dissatisfaction to the media:  https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-crown-prosecutors-justice-government-1.5393024

And here is a response from defence counsel who used to be a Crown:  https://calgary-law.ca/blog/stop-your-whinging-alberta-justice-in-crisis/.  In this response, the author gives an important reminder that making between $100k - $200k is actually a lot of money and those earning that type of money (which I assume is the vast majority of lawyers at least 5 years out) should be grateful.

I am now in my 5th year and I am very satisfied with this profession. 

That is very true. Being a lawyer is a very high stress and demanding job, which is probably why many lawyers complain and express dissatisfaction with it, however it is well paying. Earning $100k+  is easily achievable. I would guess that most lawyers who have been at least moderately successful and haven't dropped out of the profession are earning at least that much within 5 years of their call to the bar. I would be surprised if there are many lawyers who have practiced more than 10+ years not earning at least that much. Sure, there are other jobs that pay as well, some of which may be less demanding and less stressful, however I'm sure those other jobs also have their own challenges and lawyers do still earn more than most.  

There's no doubt that it can be tough sometimes, but I am overall very satisfied with my career. 

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10 minutes ago, whoknows said:

Thanks. I'll be sure to let him know that lolnope says his spreadsheet is wrong. 

Am I wrong though? Most people on this forum seem to be completely oblivious to the market realities outside of their profession, and thus conclude their profession  is terrible. Go check out the pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, etc forums or subreddits. It's the same conclusion that lawyers make, and they similarly completely disregard  that people in their profession can easily become top 1-10% of earners across Canada.

The odds of earning 150K plus with a BSc in Chemistry or Mechanical Engineering alone are worse than earning that much as a lawyer. There's a reason why pretty much every non-engineer in STEM has to do a PhD. Because the market is shit and nobody will hire you if you don't have a PhD.

 

 

Edited by lolnope
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7 minutes ago, lolnope said:

Am I wrong though? Most people on this forum seem to be completely oblivious to the market realities outside of their profession, and thus conclude their profession  is terrible. Go check out the pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, etc forums or subreddits. It's the same conclusion that lawyers make, and they similar completely disregard  that people in their profession can easily become top 1-10% of earners across Canada.

The odds of earning 200K plus with a BSc in Chemistry or Mechanical Engineering alone are worse than earning that much as a lawyer. There's a reason why pretty much every non-engineer in STEM has to do a PhD. Because the market is shit and nobody will hire you if you don't have a PhD.

The spreadsheet is for determining a time horizon for ROI positivity of a degree. It's not meant for a pure comparison, though it's useful for that point. It's not for comparing pure earning potential. Opportunity cost is factored in. 

I have no need to go and check out those forums, I'm not trying to make a choice here. In fact, I've not even responded to the OP's question. My only point was that making an MBA ROI positive in a decent time horizon is difficult. I got asked a question about the ones that weren't as difficult, it should be no surprise that relatively cheap STEM undergrads that raised the income floor without tacking on huge debt become ROI positive quicker. 

Edited by whoknows
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