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post #201 of 369
Never saw this tribe.

I started law school (at a top school) in 2001, hated school b/c all the people and profs seemed so boring, and as an anthropology major, I thought their ideas were so stupid.

Got a big firm 1L summer job and hated it. Cried under my desk every day, while cashing my big paychecks.

Met my husband that summer, and never went back to law school.

A shame, b/c I enjoyed my clinics, and just shouldn't have taken the high-paycheck job. I still think about going back, but at this point, I would have too go to school locally and only if I could get scholarships. Still toying with taking the LSAT again this fall. (My scores are too old to use.)

I was just too young and too lacking in self-confidence when I went. That is different now!
post #202 of 369

excited to find this thread

this is such a great resource for me...i've been thinking about law school. it would probably take me a year or two to get ready.
i actually took the LSAT 10 years ago but kind of lost my steam for a number of reasons. i guess i just wasn't ready.
i'm still not sure its the right option for me (cost, my age, my ability to parent and be in school and maintain my part time business?) but i love reading about all the different experiences you ladies have had. it's helping me get more clarity so thanks!
part of the challenge for me would the fact that i would be 41 or 42 and just getting started with law school and there are only two programs in my area. the public university is very competitive (not sure i could get in) and the private university is outrageously expensive.
i would have to be really fired up to move the whole family in order to make this dream a reality!

anyway, i could ramble on but let me just end by saying i'm glad to hear all the different experiences and we shall see what's ahead...

this thread makes me feel like it's really a possibility and not some crazy pipe dream.
post #203 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by changingseasons View Post
...that I keep forgetting to ask you smart attorney mamas.

Just thinking ahead to when I'm done with law school (in 2011), and taking the bar... I know nothing about the process. How long do people usually take to study for and take the bar? And do your student loans stay on deferment through that process?

TIA!
changingseasons--
Most people who follow the "traditional" schedule graduate from law school in May, then start studying for the Bar in May as well--Bar/Bri bar review classes sometimes even start the day after graduation! (For me, they started a week after graduation.) Classes run until mid-July or so, and then they give you a rigorous review program to follow for the last two weeks of July, until the Bar exam (which this year was July 29-30, for my state (GA)). With Bar/Bri, you can attend classes, or do self-study at home (I did self-study--it was easier for me, since I am nursing DD). You usually get a six-month grace period after graduation before you have to start paying your loans back, although that depends on the loan.
post #204 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Selesai View Post
I am really just starting my career (I am 2 years out) and am already struggling with balancing my finances (high COL area, lots of school debt) with good, quality work and reasonable work hours.
So glad to see this thread! (although it's an older one)

I am an aspiring attorney. I have been thinking of going to law school for a long time now (years and years) actually. I know I'd love it and I know that I'd be good at it because I've done work related to the law before and, well, I love it and I was good at it!

So, anyway, the post above kind of gets to the heart of my inner conflict. I already have a degree and an established career (although currently a SAHM). I had a long career before having a baby, and I liked it. It pays pretty well.

I could do that, and not have to take out any more student loans! Also, it's not extremely family friendly, but the hours are probably way more family friendly that a beginning attorney's hours would be. (I've heard horror stories and I know it takes quite a while to establish a career in law).

Also, I have a husband with a good career who is firmly established. He's not going to give up his career, nor is it very flexible, and he's not going to be a SAHP or do much more than he's currently doing in terms of child care responsibilities. He does help, but there's a compelling reason I'm a SAHM and that is inherent inflexibility in DH's career.

So, my questions are:

Is it worth it to go to law school if you have to take out student loans to do it (assuming mega student loans given the cost of law school)???

And is employment as a beginning attorney in any way family friendly?

And what if you already have a pretty decent career? I don't make as much as an attorney, but I make pretty good money and nearly have my existing student loans paid off.

And how much did it cost for you to go to law school? And how much do you make now as an attorney? And what are your hours? (family friendly)???
post #205 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post
Never saw this tribe.

I started law school (at a top school) in 2001, hated school b/c all the people and profs seemed so boring, and as an anthropology major, I thought their ideas were so stupid.

Got a big firm 1L summer job and hated it. Cried under my desk every day, while cashing my big paychecks.

Met my husband that summer, and never went back to law school.

A shame, b/c I enjoyed my clinics, and just shouldn't have taken the high-paycheck job. I still think about going back, but at this point, I would have too go to school locally and only if I could get scholarships. Still toying with taking the LSAT again this fall. (My scores are too old to use.)

I was just too young and too lacking in self-confidence when I went. That is different now!

actually i envy you for having the courage to quit. i wish i had. if you didn't like law school or the job you probably would have hated being a lawyer. quite honestly i really don't know any lawyer who likes it anymore. working at a big law firm sucks but so does hourly billing in general. working for the state is okay sometimes but where i live state workers haven't gotten a raise in seven years. and more is taken out each year for healthcare so you actually earn less each year!
so these things aren't always bad. i wish i had followed my gut and quit and found something i enjoyed before spending all the money and more importantly the time....
post #206 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
So, my questions are:

Is it worth it to go to law school if you have to take out student loans to do it (assuming mega student loans given the cost of law school)???

And is employment as a beginning attorney in any way family friendly?

And what if you already have a pretty decent career? I don't make as much as an attorney, but I make pretty good money and nearly have my existing student loans paid off.

And how much did it cost for you to go to law school? And how much do you make now as an attorney? And what are your hours? (family friendly)???
I would love to hear opinions about this too. Starting law school (3 months ago) was one of the hardest decisions I've even made. On one hand, it's something that I really want to do... but on the other hand, I don't want to get stuck in an 80 hour a week job and missing years of DD's life. I will have over $100K in student loans when I'm done (some of that is my undergrad though).
post #207 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by changingseasons View Post
I would love to hear opinions about this too. Starting law school (3 months ago) was one of the hardest decisions I've even made. On one hand, it's something that I really want to do... but on the other hand, I don't want to get stuck in an 80 hour a week job and missing years of DD's life. I will have over $100K in student loans when I'm done (some of that is my undergrad though).

I have about $85,000 in school loans now but I had over 6 figures when I graduated. I am with the biggest firm in my town which is a medium sized town. We have 11 attorneys. Certainly NOT big-law though.

My group of friends and I have all taken different paths. Two are big-law. One is single and childless. Loves her job and the hours. Loves entertaining clients. The other has 3 children. Her husband works part-time and her MIL helps out a lot. She rarely sees the kids.

One friend rotated through several firms and now has her own firm. She got divorced soon after that and she finds it really hard to balance work/home life. BUT she sets her own schedule of work and makes it to most family functions.

One friend does contract work from her home. She has two children. Her oldest is in school now and her youngest starts next year.

One friend just quit to become a SAHM. But she worked BIGLAW for many years and paid almost all her debt down.

Two of us went smaller/medium firm. My one friend worked 4 years in a 3 person firm (small town) made partner and then had a baby. She works from home some and takes the baby in with her some.

I cut my hours back last year. I also took myself off the partnership track. I work in the office 7:30 - 5 on weekdays. Very little evening or weekend work. My office is family friendly. With this baby I will be out of the office 4-6 weeks. Then work from home, bring baby here, husband will take 1/2 day off a week, combo type schedule until we put baby in daycare at 12 weeks. Then DH will take an earlier schedule and I'll do a later schedule. I'll also go to daycare at lunch to nurse the baby.

A lot of rambling to say this - you can be a successful attny and mom and wife if you go into things with your eyes wide open. Really think and research your career paths. Find an area of law that is more family friendly and a firm that is more family friendly. Also accept that if you want to pay off loans faster, you may sacrifice home life in the interim. As for me, I'll pay these loans off SLOWLY but have a better home life doing it.
post #208 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by LegalScrapper View Post
I have about $85,000 in school loans now but I had over 6 figures when I graduated. I am with the biggest firm in my town which is a medium sized town. We have 11 attorneys. Certainly NOT big-law though.

My group of friends and I have all taken different paths. Two are big-law. One is single and childless. Loves her job and the hours. Loves entertaining clients. The other has 3 children. Her husband works part-time and her MIL helps out a lot. She rarely sees the kids.

One friend rotated through several firms and now has her own firm. She got divorced soon after that and she finds it really hard to balance work/home life. BUT she sets her own schedule of work and makes it to most family functions.

One friend does contract work from her home. She has two children. Her oldest is in school now and her youngest starts next year.

One friend just quit to become a SAHM. But she worked BIGLAW for many years and paid almost all her debt down.

Two of us went smaller/medium firm. My one friend worked 4 years in a 3 person firm (small town) made partner and then had a baby. She works from home some and takes the baby in with her some.

I cut my hours back last year. I also took myself off the partnership track. I work in the office 7:30 - 5 on weekdays. Very little evening or weekend work. My office is family friendly. With this baby I will be out of the office 4-6 weeks. Then work from home, bring baby here, husband will take 1/2 day off a week, combo type schedule until we put baby in daycare at 12 weeks. Then DH will take an earlier schedule and I'll do a later schedule. I'll also go to daycare at lunch to nurse the baby.

A lot of rambling to say this - you can be a successful attny and mom and wife if you go into things with your eyes wide open. Really think and research your career paths. Find an area of law that is more family friendly and a firm that is more family friendly. Also accept that if you want to pay off loans faster, you may sacrifice home life in the interim. As for me, I'll pay these loans off SLOWLY but have a better home life doing it.
THANK YOU!

This is really, really helpful information and it confirms what I've heard from other lawyers I've talked to.

I don't have any family to help, and it sounds like some of the women you talked about have a family member to help with the kids. Also, my husband has his own career, which is fairly inflexible in terms of time off, going part time, and working off peak hours. (which is exactly why I'm a SAHM now). My husband would never consider giving up his career for a few years or working part time.

I just looked again at law school tuition. I would graduate with at least $50k in student loans, probably much, much more.

So, I have to question whether another $50k in student loans is worth it, especially if I am not able to be on the partner track and most importantly since my baby is young and I have no help to juggle family-career.

Also, I had a pretty darn good career before I had a baby, which I spent years building and getting certifications in and I wouldn't mind returning to that. It pays well (not as well as an attorney) and I am almost done paying off my college education.

So, I'm just not sure.

I've not heard of many part time attorney positions. Most of the women I know who are attorneys either 1. don't have kids 2. have a lot more family and husband help/flexibility than I have 3. are the main breadwinner with a husband/partner who works part time or is a SAHP or 4. aren't practicing law anymore!
post #209 of 369
Based on your last comment, I just wanted to chime in.

I have been out of law school for 5 years (graduated in 2003). I am an attorney at a large law firm (600+ attorneys) and I work "part-time" on a 75% schedule. I stay home one day per week with my DS (almost 14 months), and then I am able to work reasonable hours the rest of the week (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and not work much on weekends or at night. I love staying home one day a week, and I love going to work 4 days a week. It may not be my perfect dream schedule, but it is really close!

My hours requirement is 75% of full-time associate attorneys, and my salary is also 75%. Everything is pro-rated. My firm allows part time attorneys to choose their schedule and percentage (between 60% and 100%), although the department chair has to approve it.

I am really lucky to work with a wonderful group of attorneys who are really supportive and who are willing to accomodate my schedule. My firm started allowing part time schedules because they were losing too many talented women and tried to come up with ways to retain more.

In some respects, I think large law firms can do this better, because they have greater resources and can spread work/resources around as needed. I have always maintained a good work/life balance (even before DS was born) by setting limits and making it clear what I was willing and not willing to do. However, I also am not gunning to make make partner early, if at all. I think that many large firms will work to accomodate bright, talented attorneys, particularly once they have invested several years in training them.

Every day, I consider whether my job is the right thing for my family and for me. It may change at any moment. But so far, I love being a PT WOHM.
post #210 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I've not heard of many part time attorney positions. Most of the women I know who are attorneys either 1. don't have kids 2. have a lot more family and husband help/flexibility than I have 3. are the main breadwinner with a husband/partner who works part time or is a SAHP or 4. aren't practicing law anymore!
I never see part-time positions posted, but I know a lot of people (including me) who had full-time jobs and transitioned to part-time after becoming moms. That could be one of the downsides of having a baby during law school, now that I think of it.

I accepted this job after telling the partners that I planned to have a family soon and work part-time. I worked full-time for about 2.5 years until I had DD. Now I work half-time (2.5 days per week), and make next to nothing, but I get to spend tons of time with DD. I have no career ambitions, though, so this might not work for someone who wants to do great things with their law degree. I'm just cashing my measly paycheck
post #211 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacucumber View Post
Based on your last comment, I just wanted to chime in.

I have been out of law school for 5 years (graduated in 2003). I am an attorney at a large law firm (600+ attorneys) and I work "part-time" on a 75% schedule. I stay home one day per week with my DS (almost 14 months), and then I am able to work reasonable hours the rest of the week (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and not work much on weekends or at night. I love staying home one day a week, and I love going to work 4 days a week. It may not be my perfect dream schedule, but it is really close!

My hours requirement is 75% of full-time associate attorneys, and my salary is also 75%. Everything is pro-rated. My firm allows part time attorneys to choose their schedule and percentage (between 60% and 100%), although the department chair has to approve it.

I am really lucky to work with a wonderful group of attorneys who are really supportive and who are willing to accomodate my schedule. My firm started allowing part time schedules because they were losing too many talented women and tried to come up with ways to retain more.

In some respects, I think large law firms can do this better, because they have greater resources and can spread work/resources around as needed. I have always maintained a good work/life balance (even before DS was born) by setting limits and making it clear what I was willing and not willing to do. However, I also am not gunning to make make partner early, if at all. I think that many large firms will work to accomodate bright, talented attorneys, particularly once they have invested several years in training them.

Every day, I consider whether my job is the right thing for my family and for me. It may change at any moment. But so far, I love being a PT WOHM.
Thanks for posting- that is really encouraging to hear. I live in a big city with a LOT of law firms, big and small, so hopefully I can find something with a bit of flexibility when I get to that point.
post #212 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacucumber View Post
and I work "part-time" on a 75% schedule. I stay home one day per week with my DS (almost 14 months), and then I am able to work reasonable hours the rest of the week (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and not work much on weekends or at night.
That is a really great schedule, and it's nice to hear law firms accommodate that.

That is also a very big law firm with 600 employees...there must be multi-city locations or different branches (?).
post #213 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by mnj77 View Post
I have no career ambitions, though, so this might not work for someone who wants to do great things with their law degree. I'm just cashing my measly paycheck


Well, I would say just being an attorney is inherent ambition.

Also, please tell me that part time work as a lawyer comes with a paycheck a little more than measely.

I definitely don't want to invest $50k plus (not to mention 3 plus years of my life) going to law school to bring home a small paycheck.

post #214 of 369
I am at a large firm, had my child in law school.

I certainly couldn't have started at a big firm part-time right out of law school, although I believe there are some women here who work part time. My sense about the big firm/part time thing here is that you probably end up working just as hard, and feeling more torn and defensive about your contribution. Also, if you are in litigation, the part-time could not be based on specific days/hours, since the ebb and flow of litigation is unpredictable.

That said, I was upfront about my own priorities coming into the job, generally make it home for supper, generally have weekends free, and so on. Most litigators schedule trials and motions around school holidays, as well, by the way! Other than in emergency situations, things really grind down in March, over the summer, and at Christmas, for all concerned.

So far as making money working part-time goes, obviously if you were able to work on a pro rated business at a large firm the money would be good. Some of the other more 'mommy track' options can pay poorly, like doing editorial or case summary work for legal publishers.

Big students loans certainly can restrict your options fresh out of school, though. In my case, 'big law' was really the only way to go initially - I loved the extra time I had with my daughter from having had her while I was in school, but the debt that financed it meant that I couldn't just run off and work part time or do public interest work when I was done. I was also the sole breadwinner at home, though.
post #215 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
I certainly couldn't have started at a big firm part-time right out of law school, although I believe there are some women here who work part time. My sense about the big firm/part time thing here is that you probably end up working just as hard, and feeling more torn and defensive about your contribution. Also, if you are in litigation, the part-time could not be based on specific days/hours, since the ebb and flow of litigation is unpredictable.
This makes a lot of sense. This is kind of what I expected and what I've heard anecdotally from some of the attorneys I am friends with.
post #216 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
So far as making money working part-time goes, obviously if you were able to work on a pro rated business at a large firm the money would be good. Some of the other more 'mommy track' options can pay poorly, like doing editorial or case summary work for legal publishers.

Big students loans certainly can restrict your options fresh out of school, though.
I totally get what you are saying here. :

I would love to get my law degree, and have been thinking of doing so for years. However, I would love to work in public interest law and I think with law school loans, I would pretty much have to work for a regular law firm in order to pay back my loans and support myself and my child.

So, I'm still torn.

With my bachelor's degree and experience I can make in the range of $40k to $60k, depending on what type of job I get. I am almost done paying off my students loans. So, I'm sitting pretty good.

If I go back to law school, it will cost at minimum about $50k. And then I'd need to establish myself and build a career, which would most likely include long hours and time away from my child, right at the time my child probably needs me most.

Plus, how realistic is it that I could make ends meet by working part time as an attorney? I might make more money, but the student loans might take up a good portion of the extra salary for a few years.

As much as I would love to become an attorney, I feel like it's more practical to jump back into the career I've already built, with a fairly comfortable salary, and almost no student loan debt.

But I just don't know!!!
post #217 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I totally get what you are saying here. :

I would love to get my law degree, and have been thinking of doing so for years. However, I would love to work in public interest law and I think with law school loans, I would pretty much have to work for a regular law firm in order to pay back my loans and support myself and my child.

So, I'm still torn.

With my bachelor's degree and experience I can make in the range of $40k to $60k, depending on what type of job I get. I am almost done paying off my students loans. So, I'm sitting pretty good.

If I go back to law school, it will cost at minimum about $50k. And then I'd need to establish myself and build a career, which would most likely include long hours and time away from my child, right at the time my child probably needs me most.

Plus, how realistic is it that I could make ends meet by working part time as an attorney? I might make more money, but the student loans might take up a good portion of the extra salary for a few years.

As much as I would love to become an attorney, I feel like it's more practical to jump back into the career I've already built, with a fairly comfortable salary, and almost no student loan debt.

But I just don't know!!!
What about being an attorney excites you? How can you get that with your current degree? Unless you can go for free, or go to a school with loan repayment assistance, I would hesitate.
post #218 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post
What about being an attorney excites you? How can you get that with your current degree? Unless you can go for free, or go to a school with loan repayment assistance, I would hesitate.
Thanks! Yes, I actually do quite a bit of law related work in my current field. Always have, and I've always enjoyed it. Immensely, actually.

What attracts me to the law is my intense interest in public service, public interest law, and policy. I love being involved in law and policy work. I've always enjoyed classes in civics, government, sociology, environmental law, economics, political science. Law just seems like the most natural field that brings all these interests and issues together.

I'm hesitating for the same reasons you suggested hesitating.

Going to law school for free is a stretch and a long shot, I think. Not too many people get a full ride to law school these days and I've been out of school a number of years. Law school itself is so competitive just to get into these days...I don't anticipate a full scholarship...maybe some scholarships but not a full ride.
post #219 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
Thanks! Yes, I actually do quite a bit of law related work in my current field. Always have, and I've always enjoyed it. Immensely, actually.

What attracts me to the law is my intense interest in public service, public interest law, and policy. I love being involved in law and policy work. I've always enjoyed classes in civics, government, sociology, environmental law, economics, political science. Law just seems like the most natural field that brings all these interests and issues together.

I'm hesitating for the same reasons you suggested hesitating.

Going to law school for free is a stretch and a long shot, I think. Not too many people get a full ride to law school these days and I've been out of school a number of years. Law school itself is so competitive just to get into these days...I don't anticipate a full scholarship...maybe some scholarships but not a full ride.
It is doable, though. Apply lower than you rank in order to get scholarships. Write a bang-up essay. I had 3 free ride offers before. It can be done. Or, really look for those LRAPs. At my school, if you earned less than $45,000 after graduation, they paid all your loans, and it was prorated up from there.
post #220 of 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post
It is doable, though. Apply lower than you rank in order to get scholarships. Write a bang-up essay. I had 3 free ride offers before. It can be done. Or, really look for those LRAPs. At my school, if you earned less than $45,000 after graduation, they paid all your loans, and it was prorated up from there.
Thanks. That is good to know.

I can't apply to a bunch of law schools though and follow the best scholarship offers.

I'm pretty much limited to going to law school where I live now. And it's a top ranked school so scholarships are very competitive. Just getting in is competitive.

If I could go anywhere and just follow the offers, that would be easier. I'm not single, childless, and footloose and fancy free anymore.

I'm tied down a little since I'm established here and my husband is established here. But, oh, to be 22 or 23 again. I would certainly do things very differently!
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