Written by Mike
Given the economic crisis that is going on, the difficulty new lawyers are having getting jobs, and the soaring cost of law school, I’m doing a little analysis to see if law school is worth it for many prospective students. A lot of people go into graduate or professional school believing the debt and time spent will pay off in a more rewarding/higher paying career. While this may be happen for some, it’s by no means a guarantee.
Let’s break this down by numbers:
Cost of tuition (three years): $60k up to $140k depending on the school.
Opportunity cost of not working (three years, let’s assume $50k a year, which is by no means a guarantee but I think is a fair average assumption): $150k
So if you’re going to a state school, you’re looking at about $210k cost, and most private schools closer to $300k. Assuming a 30 year career (again a major assumption), it would seem law school would have to make you $9-$10k+ over a regular job to justify the cost. Of courese, this doesn’t assume the interest on the debt (and the interest you could theoretically make from your savings working a normal job), so it’s likely more around $15k+ a year.
The thirty year horizon also neglects that people often shift careers a lot. If you end up just using that law degree for 10 years, you really need to be making $35k+ a year from law school. That’s something that just won’t happen for most people.
Going to law school isn’t just a brunt calculation of future earnings. Most of all, it matters if you want to actually be a lawyer (or at least go to law school). But I think it’s a good question to ask yourself if that law degree really will open significant doors for you to justify that sort of cost.
Written by Brett McKay
In this guest post, Steve Schwartz, a professional LSAT tutor in NYC and blogger at LSAT Blog, gives 7 tips on how you can save money as you prepare for the LSAT.
1. Download free LSAT PrepTests from LSAC’s website
Two LSAT PrepTests are available to download for free from LSAC:
LSAC also provides an overview of the LSAT with sample questions and explanations (PDF).
2. Use Freecycle to get LSAT books for free
You can search your local Freecycle group’s message board to see if anyone recently offered LSAT prep books. You can post a wanted ad for LSAT prep books as well. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to give their (sometimes-unused!) LSAT books away.
3. Form an LSAT study group
Find people in your workplace, college, or community who are also studying for the LSAT. Craigslist and LSAT-related Facebook groups are great places to find potential study partners. Ideally, you’ll find study partners with strengths and weaknesses that complement yours. Even if you can’t find anyone studying for the LSAT, simply having a friend read or study with you can keep you focused, much like a workout buddy.
4. Only use books containing real LSAT questions
Don’t waste time or money using books with fake LSAT questions. If a book doesn’t explicitly say that it uses real LSAT questions, it doesn’t use them. It’s virtually impossible to write full exams that accurately mirror the complexity of real LSAT questions. These fake books contain several mistakes and cause students a great deal of frustration. Steer clear.
5. Only take the LSAT when you’re ready
Make sure your last few timed practice test scores are at or near what you want your actual LSAT score to be. You’re unlikely to see a significant jump on test day. Instead, postpone the exam until you’re in the ballpark of your desired score. Many students want to take it before they’re ready simply because they’re eager to get into law school. However, it’s often worth it to wait an extra year in order to get into a better law school.
6. Read reviews of LSAT test sites before registering
Not all test sites are created equal. All the preparation in the world won’t help if your test center is disorganized, uncomfortable, or noisy. If you have to retake the exam a few months later, you’ll have to get back “in the zone” and devote several additional months to preparing. This would cost you a great deal of time and money. This wiki contains reviews of several test centers to help you find the ideal LSAT test center. Read the reviews and post your own!
7. Read my LSAT Blog
This last tip is a bit of shameless self-promotion. I run an LSAT blog with free LSAT tips and tricks that I update every week. It includes sample schedules and tons of tips to help you tackle each section of the LSAT. Check it out!
Now it’s your turn. What tips, tricks, and strategies have you found to be most effective in saving money as you prepare for the LSAT?
Written by Brett McKay
I started blogging at the Frugal Law Student during my first year of law school. When I started it, I just thought it would be a fun way to share with my friends and family the ways I’m saving money in law school.
But my foray into blogging has actually helped advance my legal career. That’s why I think every law student should have a blog. Here are two specific ways a blog can help you.
1. It’s a great job marketing tool. A blog is the ultimate marketing tool for law stuents. When you go into a job interview, employers are looking for what distinguishes you from the dozens of other applicants they’re interviewing. On paper, most applicants look the same, especially when you apply for large firms. You and everyone else will be in the top of your class, you’ll all be on law review, and you’ll all be active in extracurricular activities.
One of the questions you’re guaranteed to get during the interview is “What do you do when you’re not doing law school?” You could give a vanilla answer that everyone gives like “I like to exercise” or “I like to read.” Or you could give an answer like this: “I author a blog that focuses on international environmental law; I’ve done guest contributions to the blogs of several environmental law scholars; and I’ve managed to attract a large enough following that I have commercial sponsorships for my blog.” Which answer do you think will stick in your interviewer’s mind?
The second answer packs in a lot more information than the first one. By blogging, you tell your interviewer that 1) you’re serious about environmental law; 2) you’ve networked with other attorneys and legal scholars in that field; 3) you know how to leverage technology; and 4) you know how to market yourself.
When you leave, the person who interviewed you is going to check your site out. They’re going to be thinking about you after the interview, which is good. By checking your blog out, they can get a better idea of who you are because your personality will show through your writing. They’ll probably send a link to the other attorneys in the firm.
All things being equal, who do you think is going to get an offer for a summer job? The person who just said they like to read or the person who said they blogged? I think the answer is obvious.
A blog can be a successful marketing tool even if you don’t write about law related stuff. Find something you’re passionate about and start writing. If you like to run, (one of those vanilla answers) start a blog and track your progress and share your tips on running. Then when you’re asked what you like to do outside of law school you can say, “I enjoy running and I write a blog offering tips on how runners can improve.” Your interviewer will be impressed with your tech saviness. When they check your site out, they’ll get a better idea of who you are.
Of course the effectiveness of a blog as a marketing tool depends on a few factors. First, while you can be less formal on a blog, remember that potential employers might be reading it. So don’t use vulgar language, don’t post pictures of you after a Thursday night partying, and don’t discuss your sex life. Be personal, but stay professional.
Second, edit! Your blog is basically another resume for employers to use to determine whether to hire you or not. If your blog posts are full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, it reflects poorly on you.
2. It improves your writing. Blogging has definitely helped my legal writing. When you write for a blog, your audience consists of internet users who have the attention span of a gnat. You have to capture their attention and maintain it through good solid writing. When you write on a blog, you want to use short sentences and paragraphs; you want to tell a story that draws people in; and you want organize your writing with headings that make it easier for the reader follow.
Do these tips sound familiar? It’s the exact same thing you’re supposed to do in legal writing! By blogging consistently, you can improve your legal writing immensely.
Also, knowing that hundreds or even thousands of people may be reading your posts forces you to edit it carefully. Producing content that’s free of mistakes shows you respect your reader. When you prepare a trial brief or a research memo, you’ll want to show that same respect. Blogging can help you get in the habit of editing more carefully.
Written by Tony Marrone
Welcome to the February 25, 2008 edition of twenty something finances hosted by The Frugal Law Student. There were many great submissions for this edition, and I’d just like to thank all of the authors for their submissions.
Steve Faber presents - Credit Score Ranges – Getting to the Next One Up Could Pay Off Big Time posted at Debt Free.
Sagar Satapathy presents How To: Manipulate Del.icio.us to Drive Visitors and Dollars to Your Site, 20 Tips and Tricks posted at Smart Shopper: Personal Finance Advisor.
Theories of Frugaltivity
Personal Finance Claims presents How You Might Soon End Up With A Blocked Credit Card posted at Personal Finance Claims.
The Investor presents The secret to investing when stock markets are falling posted at Monevator.com.
FIRE Finance presents $25 Signup Bonus from Revolution Money Exchange! posted at FIRE Finance.
Aussie Investor presents How To Start Investing In The Stock Market posted at Stock Market Investing For Beginners.
The Happy Rock presents Free 80 Hour Dual Tuner Series 2 SD Tivo Promotion Through Kidzone posted at The Happy Rock.
That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
twenty something finances using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. Be sure to check out the carnival in two weeks, which will be hosted by Her Every Cent Counts.
Written by Brett McKay
Photo by DRB62
Law students not only need supplements for their classes, they need supplements for their health.
Law school is taxing both on your mind and body. A law student can easily put in a 12 hour day of non-stop studying. When I was working on my law review article last semester, I often worked from 7 AM to 10 PM to get it done. If you’re not taking care of your body, all this work and stress can land you in the hospital. (Note: That’s what happened to me last year.) A law student cannot afford to miss a week of classes and studying!
In addition to exercising regularly and eating well, law students should consider taking a few nutritional supplements to help them make it through the law school experience. Vitamin/herbal supplements used in conjunction with exercise and diet can not only keep you from getting sick, they also might help you perform better come exam time.
Here’s a run down of supplements that I’m currently taking to keep me healthy and to boost my brain power:
- Vibrant C. Vibrant C is a drink mix full of vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals. I start drinking this during cold season in order to boost my immune system. I don’t have time to be sick in law school, so any way I can prevent coming down with something is welcomed.
- Daily Vitamin Supplement. While eating a well balanced diet to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need is ideal, sometimes law students don’t have time to eat healthy. That’s where a daily vitamin supplement can come in. You’ll get all your daily recommended vitamins in one little pill.
- Ginkgo Biloba. Studies have shown that regular consumption of Ginkgo helps improve thinking, learning, and memory. In law school, that’s all you do. Taking Ginkgo won’t turn you into a super genius, but every little thing helps. Studies also show that ginkgo helps ward off depression. This is particularly useful in law school where depression is unfortunately quite common.
- Fish Oil. Fish oil is full of omega 3 fatty acids. Research has shown omega 3 fatty acids have several health benefits. The benefits that law students should be interested in include better brain function and less depression. Omega 3 improves memory, recall, reasoning, and focus; all important skills on law exams. There is some evidence it boosts the immune system as well.
- Yerba mate. Yerba mate is a tea made from a shrub in South America. The benefits of yerba mate are similar to those of green tea. I’ve been able to kick my soda habit by switching to yerba mate. I get the benefits of the energy boost from the natural caffeine, along with health benefits from all the antioxidants. Plus it energizes you without the jittery feeling coffee or energy drinks can give.
- 5 Hour Energy. If this stuff was cheaper, I would take it everyday. It is an energy drink that actually lives up to its claim. It makes you feel energized, focused, and ready to take on the world. All without the jitters or the crash when it wears off. I take one of these shots before all my final exams and they power me through those stressful 3-4 hour periods.
Written by Brett McKay
Photo by Vicki
I know many FLS readers have blogs of their own. I try to check out the sites of those who comment and I’ve been really impressed with all of them that I’ve seen. I’m curious how many of you all have a blog of your own. If you have a blog, please post a link to it in the comments. It doesn’t have to be about personal finance or law school. Even if its about your family or your dog, I’d love to check it out. This is a great opportunity to brag about your blog and spread the word about it.
I’m looking forward to checking out all your sites!