i The Frugal Law Student | law school

Law School
Personal Finance

List of Law Schools With Repayment Programs at Law School Expert

Written by Brett McKay

Ann K. Levine, author of the Law School Expert, has put together an awesome list of law schools that offer law school loans repayment plans. Many schools will either forgive your student loans or help pay them back if you decide to go into public service. I think it’s a great idea that will encourage many talented law students to pursue their goal of public service work, instead of taking the big firm job in order to pay back their students loans. Unfortunately, my school, The University of Tulsa, is not on the list. Boo.

Featured Resource

Find out more about Law Schools and their various requirements when you peruse various Legal Resource sites on the web. If a traditional Law School isn’t an option consider Earning an Online Degree to get your foot in the door of a law office.

Get Ready For Law School With These Last Minute Tips

Written by Brett McKay

Law school starts in just one week. Here’s a list of articles that can help you get started on the right foot.

Featured Resource

Getting ready for Law Schools can be complicated so it is often wise to seek the advice of a professional Banking Lawyer. When dealing with an incorporation a Business Lawyer can give you the advice you need. For every Legal Issue there is an appropriate attorney.

Interview With Ann K. Levine, Law School Admissions Expert and Coach

Written by Brett McKay

Ann K. Levine was kind enough to take part in an interview about managing law school debt. Ann is a law school admission consultant and proprietor of www.LawSchoolExpert.net and http://lawschoolexpert@blogspot.com. Since starting LawSchoolExpert in 2004, Ms. Levine has helped more than 500 applicants gain acceptance to law school. Ms. Levine works one-on-one with law school applicants nationwide, calling upon her expertise as the former director of admission for two ABA law schools. She reviewed thousands of applications each year and was primarily responsible for making all admission decisions at Loyola Law School and California Western School of Law. She now uses this expertise to the benefit of applicants, helping them create applications that maximize their chances for admission. Her upcoming webinar, “I took the LSAT; Now What?” is being offered free of charge to readers of The Frugal Law Student (regular rate is $150). You can sign up at https://www.gotomeeting.com/register/403403332 . Ms Levine can be reached at alevine@lawschoolexpert.net.

1. Do you still have student loan debt? If so, when would you like to pay it off? What’s your plan to reach this goal?

Yes. I think I have a little over $40k left to pay off out of $60k. I graduated from law school in 1999. I’m not very concerned about when I pay it off because the interest rate isn’t even 4%, and (up to a certain income limit) there’s a little break on federal taxes for student loan debt. I pay $273/month. It’s roughly equivalent to my cable bill and cell phone combined; I don’t consider that too much to pay each month for a degree that allows me to earn my living.
2. When you were in law school, what action or habit do you think saved you the most money while in school?
I was stupid. I even had a full scholarship one year and still took out the full amount of federal loans. I didn’t understand what I was doing or the implications. I can think of lots of habits that wasted money when I thought I was saving like buying clothes at discount stores (but still buying clothes!). I remember justifying getting a manicure before every job interview. I don’t remember ever cooking dinner – I always ate out. I chose a very expensive private school over a very cheap state school. I chose an expensive city over a cheap city.Financially, I did it all wrong. I guess the point for your readers should be that your mistakes, if you make them, won’t kill you. Try not to make them, but know that (if you do) it won’t seem like a big deal once you’re earning your living and a few years removed from it all. But I never, ever had credit card debt and that is probably the best habit I started in law school.
3. As a law school admissions coach, what advice would you give pre-law students about preparing financially for law school?
Understand what you’re doing when you sign the loans on the dotted line. Every time you buy a drink, think about the interest you’re paying on that drink. Stop buying drinks – they are too darn expensive anyway. Manage your expectations – don’t spend your loan money thinking you’ll be rolling in dough during your first job. It just doesn’t happen that way. The more you make, the more you spend. And, usually, that first job isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and you don’t want to be a slave to it.
4. What advice would you give to a law student in school right now?
“If you live like a lawyer while you’re in law school, you’ll live like a law student when you get out.” Stop eating out. Just cook. Seriously. It’s not that hard. And absolutely no credit card debt.
5. What should law grads do about managing the debt load they may have taken on during school?

  • Have your monthly payments automatically withdrawn form your account. I don’t even feel my loan payments anymore. Each month, it’s a mere blip on my radar.
  • If having student loan debt bothers you, use half of every bonus you get to pay it off. But don’t try to pay it off your first year. You have to pace yourself.
  • Pay off credit card debt quickly, but remember that some debt is good debt. Make your monthly payments. I promise, even if that $400 sounds intimidating now, you won’t even feel it in 10 years – even if you don’t work for a big firm. Managing your finances does get easier, and you will make a lot more money 5 years out of law school than you do your first year. (I’m not convinced that’s the case at big firms, but I know it’s true at small and medium size firms).
  • Prioritize. Don’t pour all your money into student loans at the expense of waiting to buy a home or pay retirement. Pay yourself first, then everybody else.
  • Open a retirement account immediately. Max it out every single year. Live off what’s left and you’ll never miss it.
  • Don’t consolidate loans until you are happy with the interest rate because you can only do it once.
  • Practice living like an adult first. I made the initial mistake of trying to pay off my loan debt of $60k in 10 years and the payments were huge (at the time it was 8% interest). I was just learning how to live by myself in a new city on a salary for the first time and bit off more than I could chew. I suggest keeping things manageable – spread it out over 30 years, especially for those first few years.
  • There’s a lot of pressure in the real world to look like you’re making good money. Don’t buy that BMW right away. I know attorneys who waited until they made partner before they bought their first new car. They are the smart ones.

6. What do you tell a law grad who says they will only work at a big firm because they want to pay off their debt quickly? What other options would you suggest this person take?
I know lots of people who did this. They were all single. It’s not a great plan for someone with a family to support because you’ll never see your family working those kinds of hours.Just don’t expect to meet someone to start a family with while you’re working 90 hour weeks. There are other options. I really admire my brother who graduated from NYU with an offer from a very big NYC firm. He decided to be a Manhattan District Attorney instead. But, I’m not sure he would have made the same choice without NYU’s great loan forgiveness program. Live by your own priorities – don’t get too caught up in perceived prestige.
7. What is the biggest money mistake that law students make?
Not understanding that every dollar you spend is really that dollar plus interest.
8. How could using your coaching service save law students money?
I’ve seen applicants waste money on a lot of things – books they don’t need that offer generic, one-size-fits-all advice, “Pre-Law” workshops, getting a paralegal certificate, applying to the wrong schools, applying to too many schools, going back to school to try to beef up a poor GPA. These mistakes add up quickly. I work with people who applied the year before without help and didn’t get in anywhere, then after working with me they get into law school. Everything they did the previous year was a waste of time and money. And they lost out that year of attorney income too. One way I save people money is by helping them use their application-fee budget efficiently so they aren’t wasting a lot of money on impossible schools or schools that are all wrong for their ideals and goals. I can also help select schools that would be likely to offer scholarship money – I pay for myself thousands of times over this way! I pay an accountant to help me save money on my taxes. I pay a financial planner to help me save money for retirement. As a law school admission coach, I can save you a lot of money on the mistakes you won’t be making.

Thanks, Ann, for that informative interview! If you’re thinking about going to law school, go by Ann’s site. Also, remember to sign up for her upcoming webinar about law school admissions. This $150 service is free to Frugal Law Student Readers.

Featured Resource

When attending Law School it is important to figure out where you want to practice Law. The rules of law vary by locality so there is a difference between becoming an Illinois Attorney and having a law office as a Texas Attorney so find about that State’s requirements.

Free Law School Admissions Webinar For Frugal Law Student Readers

Written by Brett McKay

All you pre-law students or readers interested in going to law school, listen up. Ann K. Levine, law school admissions expert and coach, is offering a free webinar to Frugal Law Student readers called “I’ve Taken the LSAT; Now What?” You can attend this $150 webinar absolutely free if you mention The Frugal Law Student in your sign up e-mail.

Ann’s webinar will be August 4 at 12PM EST. She’ll take you step by step on what you need to do during your law school application process. Ann will also explain how to take advantage of rolling admissions and how you can be done with applying to law school by early November. I wish I knew this kind of stuff when I was applying. Sign up today so you can take advantage of this free offer. Remember to mention The Frugal Law Student.

Featured Resource

One of the most important decisions a Law Student makes is choosing where they will eventually practice Law. It requires a different set of certifications to become a New York Attorney than it does to qualify as a California Lawyer, and an bar requirements vary by State.

5 Ways To Save Money On A New Suit

Written by Brett McKay

For attorneys, a nice conservative suit is the required uniform. If you haven’t started law school yet, you’ll want to include a new suit in your list of back to school supplies. You’ll not only need it for job interviews, but if you plan on taking part in moot court, you’ll have to wear one, too.

But at $200-$300 a pop, suits are expensive, especially for a starving law student like yourself. Here are 5 tips on how you can save tons of money on your next suit, but still look like a million bucks.

  1. Buy suits on sale. Read the department store newspaper inserts religiously. Stores like Dillard’s or JC Penny have suit sales quite regularly. You can easily score a sharp looking suit for less than $200 if you keep your eyes open.
  2. Avoid add-ons. Remember that department store salesman are paid on commission, so they’re going to try to up-sale you with belts, socks, and cufflinks. Buying in store will set you back. Say “no thanks” and go to a discount department store to buy your accessories.
  3. Stick with classic designs. Don’t buy trendy suits for two reasons: 1) law is a very conservative profession. If you show up in suit that looks like it should be on a run way model, you’ll probably get funny looks from judges; and 2) trends come and go. If your suit goes out of style, you’ll probably be tempted to fork over more money to buy another. Go with a classic. You’ll never go wrong.
  4. Don’t have your suit custom made. Custom made suits will have to wait when you are charging clients $400 an hour. In law school, saving money comes before luxury. Just buy your suit and have them tailor it in store. You’ll get the same custom made feel for a fraction of the price.
  5. Buy a gently used thift store suit and have it tailored. Finding a nice thrift store suit will take a lot of patience and time; however, if you have both, you can save big bucks. I found a really sharp looking suit at a consignment store for $10. I took it in to a local men’s clothing store and they tailored it to my measurements for another $10. Total cost: $20.

Law School Myth: You Don’t Need A Big Name Degree To Land A Big Firm Job

Written by Brett McKay

One of the many things future law students have to fret over is what rank their law school is in the infamous U.S. News and World Report College Rankings. The rank of your law school often determines whether you can land judicial clerkships or big firm jobs after graduating.

If you’re one of the thousands of law students who didn’t get into a top school and are worried your legal career has no chance of seeing time at a big firm, I’m here to tell you shouldn’t worry.

A law school myth

You don’t need a degree from a big name school to land a job with a big name firm. Sure, having the sheep skin from Harvard or Yale will give your more opportunities to get your foot in the door, but with a little creativity and some hard work, you can land a big firm job with a degree from any law school.

Think local

Instead of applying to big national firms, focus on applying to the bigger firms in your geographic area. Hiring partners will cast a favorable eye on you because you have some ties to the area by attending law school there.You might not start out at $150,000, but you’ll definitely be making good money.

If you really want to practice at a big firm in LA or New York, but can’t get into a top ranked school, go to law school in those geographic areas. While the big firms do take grads from nationally prestigious schools, they also hire associates from lower ranked schools in the area. Show your commitment to staying in the area by getting your drivers licence from there. Change your area code to a more local one. Become a resident of the state.

Of course, you’ll have to be the top of your class if you want to land an interview with the local big firms. So, focus on doing the best you can.

It’s about who you know

It’s all about networking. Make as many contacts as you can with people at big firms. Your contacts can help you get in through the backdoor at larger firms. Attend social meetings for lawyers, do moot court and talk to the guest judges, just start contacting.


Another thing you can do to land a big firm job on a low ranked degree is specialize in less common areas of law. When a high demand arises for a particular kind of associate, but there aren’t many associates to fill the spot, big name firms will start looking to lower ranked schools.

Talk to attorneys in your area to find out which area of law has a high demand that isn’t being filled. Market yourself as an attorney specializing in that area and you’ll find yourself at a big firm.

If you enjoyed this post, then make sure to subscribe to my RSS Feed to get daily updates.