Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

Realistic Law Opportunities (in Florida)

Hello everyone. I was wondering if any recent/new grads nameless07/06/17
ALSO I cant believe I missed these question(s) as they are i nameless07/06/17
I am a patent attorney, and we thought about moving from New blakesq07/06/17
wow....Honestly read this about 5 times..I'm actually a comp nameless07/06/17
"My understanding is that computer engineers automatically m latinforliar07/06/17
Absolutely. I have a security clearance as well so to be fra nameless07/06/17
"My salary right now is roughly 135, benefits, PTO etc." wolfman07/06/17
I wont lie to you - this is overall more daunting than I exp nameless07/06/17
Credited smallyer07/08/17
17 years. blakesq07/06/17
In your opinion would moving out of state be of any benefit nameless07/06/17
I guess we need some information from you. Are you currentl roadkingrider07/06/17
Just thinking about it (and have been for about a year now - nameless07/06/17
Please don't feel like this MUST pertain to me. Any experien nameless07/06/17
Options for people who don't get jobs as attorneys? Not good wolfman07/06/17
Can a JD be applied in some other indirect way towards other nameless07/06/17
There are lots of people in compliance and anti-money-launde wolfman07/06/17
Inside the law school scam is a must read. http://insidethel ipesq07/06/17
I will purchase and read this ASAP. I knew law school was a nameless07/06/17
Scam is accurate. The guy who published that blog is a law ipesq07/06/17
Thank you once again - I am learning a lot from you. For the nameless07/06/17
Other sources will tell you what you need to know, but on on wolfman07/06/17
Your honesty is most appreciated. Therefore the logic is nameless07/06/17
No, I am not saying that (schools ranked 10-50 love the idea wolfman07/06/17
Thank you for this. I appreciate your honesty. nameless07/06/17
You don't have to purchase anything. Campos site is free ju roadkingrider07/06/17
Just moved out of South Florida a couple of months ago. Ver sobeitunion07/06/17
Thank you for your honesty. Is it the same for all areas nameless07/06/17
Even back in the days of the good economy back in around 200 downwardslope07/06/17
Thank you for this. In your experience, is it possible to nameless07/06/17
I know people who do patents, but not in Florida. One thing downwardslope07/06/17
Hi - As I practice in Florida, I might be able to shed a lit lawdawg07/06/17
Yes - thank you for the insight. In your experience woul nameless07/06/17
There are some patent attorneys making 200k+ the largest maj thirdtierlaw07/06/17
I wouldn't say that the patent job market is under-saturated phillydoucherocket07/07/17
Pursue a career in tech: whether it be pure tech work like d vohod07/06/17
This has gotta be flame. wutwutwut07/06/17
It could be legit. The head of my office's kid is doing this downwardslope07/07/17
I was thinking the same thing, elaborate ruse. roadkingrider07/07/17
Might be an elaborate ruse, but I'll bite. Graduated Tier jd4hire07/07/17
If you are making 83k in total at a midsize ID firm doing hi nighthawk07/07/17
I was being a little facetious on the catastrophic - we have jd4hire07/07/17
Do you mean biglaw like Skadden or Weil or do you mean big I nighthawk07/07/17
Locke Lord and the likes. jd4hire07/07/17
"Ruse?" - No (But then if it was, would I actually say so?). nameless07/10/17
To the OP: "forgive me if this is naive, but is "scam" an wutwutwut07/07/17
Thank you for this. This has been a lot to take in. I honest nameless07/10/17
Well, of those above I'd say 1 and 3 are fairly objective an wutwutwut07/12/17
Wolfman and latinforliar are credited. You make 135k don't g smallyer07/08/17
hmmm this is actually interesting. Are you suggesting that F nameless07/10/17
" I have a hard time seeing a Big Law firm taking a UF grad wutwutwut07/12/17
Exactly - there is virtually no true BigLaw in Florida. wolfman07/12/17
"I wont lie - money is a big personal factor." Then make so smallyer07/14/17
It used time, and may still be, that Florida has no reciproc sanka07/12/17
A last bit of general information on the FL legal market. B wutwutwut07/14/17

nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 1:10 pm)

Hello everyone.

I was wondering if any recent/new grads (or anyone who is further along in their research than me) might possibly help shed some light on the legal job market (doesn't have to be Florida specifically, but it is of personal interest). Please feel free to answer based on your personal experience (but try to re-frame from sources ambiguously redirected(i.e things said by a friend of a friend of a friend...)

I was hoping for a candid discussion addressing concerns (not to be confused with a sole point) in the legal professional.

Almost all online searches I have done place attorneys/lawyers average salary in the 120-170,000.00 salary range (online) (look at this as more of an "observation" then reference). Yet all I hear from those actually in the field (the few I have access to) is how over-saturated the field is - with more averages in the 60-80 range (some lower).

Where did you (in the context of this discussion I'm using "you" figuratively) start in terms of salary? When did you break six figures (if not when do you estimate on doing so)?

What are some of the "more realistic" (not to be confused with good or bad) opportunities you have come across?

How do you feel the law school affect/effect opportunities? Can the school have an impact on your chance at "Biglaw?"

What are some of the harsher (relative) realities you have come across?

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:09 pm)

ALSO I cant believe I missed these question(s) as they are important:

In your opinion, what role do you believe your undergraduate major played in future opportunities (if any)?

How (in your opinion) does attending law school in one location - affect your ability to practice in another location? How does this affect job opportunities?

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blakesq (Jul 6, 2017 - 1:27 pm)

I am a patent attorney, and we thought about moving from New England to Florida. I spoke with a florida patent attorney, and he told me that there is very little work, and he is thinking of moving out of state.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 1:50 pm)

wow....Honestly read this about 5 times..I'm actually a computer engineer who had intention of going into this exact legal field... If you don't mind me asking how long have you been a patent attorney?

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latinforliar (Jul 6, 2017 - 3:13 pm)

"My understanding is that computer engineers automatically make six figures."

I'm being a little sarcastic, but there is some truth in there. When I look online, pretty much everyone says that computer engineers make tons of money and all you need to do is teach yourself to code and you can bring in the big bucks. I've even seen that attitude on this board.

So, my question to you is - do you believe that is true? If you don't believe it is true, then why would you believe that about lawyers the same way. Lots of lawyers make over six figures. Lots don't. I know a computer engineer making about 60k in the local government. Could he make twice as much but just doesn't choose to? I don't think so. He has discussed that he could make a bit more by leaving government, maybe $75k, but probably not double.

I am just trying to point out that if you are frustrated by your salary now, you probably will be as a lawyer as well. If you are thinking about moving over because you would enjoy being a lawyer more, you are doing the right thing by asking around to make sure you understand the job.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 5:23 pm)

Absolutely. I have a security clearance as well so to be frank - yes (based on my experience). My salary right now is roughly 135, benefits, PTO etc. Computer engineers don't usually deal in just code though, but I wont pretend I am completely in touch.

My current goal is to assess the return on investment (ROI) more so any perceived frustration(s).
Bear in mind this is personal (money wise):
Additional 30k == not worth it.
Additional 70k == maybe

Well I am not sure what to believe. I don't have enough experience or sample size to form (in my opinion) an accurate assessment.

Please don't feel as though this has to pertain to me. I am looking for various opinions and experiences.

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wolfman (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:28 pm)

"My salary right now is roughly 135, benefits, PTO etc."

Don't go to law school.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:44 pm)

I wont lie to you - this is overall more daunting than I expected (I am trying to remain objective). I was lead to believe patent attorney would supplement my background - the evidence is not lining up with that

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smallyer (Jul 8, 2017 - 4:06 pm)

Credited

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blakesq (Jul 6, 2017 - 10:23 pm)

17 years.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:18 pm)

In your opinion would moving out of state be of any benefit (logic is it must be if he is thinking about it), or is it just Florida with the over-saturation?

If I may ask (and I understand discretion) - what tier University did you attend?

My definition is of the tier law school ranking system is (but anyone feel free to use your own metric providing a definition):

1 - 50 == Tier 1
1 - 14 == T14 (Top 14)
51 - 100 == Tier 2
101 - 150 == Tier 3
150 - Unranked == Tier 4

How long did it take post graduation to begin practicing law as a patent attorney?

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roadkingrider (Jul 6, 2017 - 3:45 pm)

I guess we need some information from you. Are you currently attending law school or just thinking about it. What research have you done? I think you are going to find that most of us on this web site have a anti-law bent to our conversation. I will tell you this my son used to practice in Florida and those salaries your are seeing would probably not be the average salary of all practicing attorneys in Florida. The market is very tough, over 50% of people who graduate from law school will never find work as an attorney. You must read Inside the Law School scam by Paul Campos. If you need other sites to look at I can let you know. Read Paul's blob from the first one to the end.

Than come back and ask away.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 5:26 pm)

Just thinking about it (and have been for about a year now - I never make any long term decision without considerable research, opinion(s) and time). I appreciate all of the info and advice

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 5:45 pm)

Please don't feel like this MUST pertain to me. Any experience is relevant. I was somewhat vague because I never know how one clue may lead you.

Answering the initial question. My research has been limited to online searches, and individuals I run into (small world ey), and friends of friends. I tried emailing several top law firms in my area (essentially cold-emailing) - none have responded (this is roughly 4 months ago).

If 50% don't find work as an attorney what are they're options (hypothetically)?

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wolfman (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:27 pm)

Options for people who don't get jobs as attorneys? Not good. Long-term unemployment, poverty, frequently depression, often continuing attempts to get into some other industry with their JD, which usually works badly (unless they spend the time and money to completely retrain) and rarely pays enough to make having gotten the JD worth it.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 7:03 pm)

Can a JD be applied in some other indirect way towards other opportunities? You mentioned other industries using the JD - can you elaborate on this? Did you mean specialties?

Can one hypothetically move from one legal specialty to another without going back for more schooling? How difficult is it to transition? What stops a tax attorney from being able to claim/market himself as an intellectual property attorney (please use the specialty analogously)?

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wolfman (Jul 6, 2017 - 7:14 pm)

There are lots of people in compliance and anti-money-laundering who have JDs. That does not mean you should get a JD to work in one of those industries.

You can generally market yourself as anything you want, and you don't need more schooling (outside the state bar rules about advertizing as a "specialist" and the Patent Bar situation) but typically no one will hire you for a specialty/area in which you don't have experience, or if you go solo in that area, the only clients you will get will be rubes and crazy people, and people who have no money... having said that, people practice in multiple complimentary fields all the time (like family, immigration and criminal), and in fact many do so in order to keep the lights on...

Someone else explain about the patent bar for patent prosecution specifically...

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ipesq (Jul 6, 2017 - 4:01 pm)

Inside the law school scam is a must read. http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com IF you do not read, you are acting severely negligent. As for me personally, I graduated in 2011 from lower tier 2 law school. IT took me 15 months to find any paying job. At my first job, I made $15 hr starting and then was increased to $25 an hour and bonus, which was around $55,000.00 annual. I received no other medical benefits but had a good vacation plan. At my new firm, i make $75,000 with no medical benefits. I hope to crack the 90,000s this year. I live in high col area.

Law school and chances of big law are severely intertwined. The better law school you go to, the less your grades matter and more opportunity there is. However, I hear big law is like winning a pie eating contest where the prize is more pie. It is a lot of hours and a lot of work.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 5:35 pm)

I will purchase and read this ASAP. I knew law school was a somewhat questionable investment - and forgive me if this is naive, but is "scam" an accurate description in your opinion? If you could do it all over again, would you?

I was lead to believe tier 1 and 2 schools have it easiest. For the sake of conversation - can you please define Tier 2(I do understand discretion and am simply asking for a ballpark vise specifics).

Thank you for honest thoughts. I didn't know the better the law school the more grades DON'T matter - I don't mean to sound the skeptic but can anyone else confirm this?

Which area do you practice in? This sounds like east coast (again no specifics). Did you apply to opportunities only in this location or nationally (or internationally?) - A year and change is longer than I estimated from a Tier 2 school (which I (perhaps ignorantly) define 50-100)?

Again "you" is analogous. Any perspective is credible. I feel anyone assessing law school should have the acumen to assess opinion(s) accuracy for themselves.

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ipesq (Jul 6, 2017 - 5:55 pm)

Scam is accurate. The guy who published that blog is a law school professor. Back in the day, law schools published disingenuous employment stats. Now, they have to disclose a lot more information. Read lawschooltransparency. org. IF I would do it again, I would not take out six figured of debt to attend. My recommendation to anyone who is applying to law school is it only makes sense if you fall into any of the following three categories; (1) you get accepted to Harvard, Stanford or Yale; (2) you get at least half scholarship with no strings attached to a Top 14 law school; or (3) full scholarship to strong regional law school in a geographic location you want to practice in.

Tier 2 is 50-100. I went to a school on the lower end of that range. If you get into Harvard or Stanford or Yale, you are all set, your grades really don't matter much. And it continues down the pecking order. If you got to a school ranked 100, you will need to finish in the top 5-10% of your class to have a chance to even sniff big law.

I practice in an expensive coastal city. I also applied for jobs in the area i went to law school but i did not have any ties to the community and my grades were pretty mediocre, so it was an uphill battle. also I graduated at pretty much the worst time to graduate. The economy still sucked and there were twice as many law school graduates that year as compared to this year due to the cratering of law school applications. There's a reason why law school application have cratered by 50%; the word is out, law school is not a solid bet to the models and bottles life.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:07 pm)

Thank you once again - I am learning a lot from you. For the sake of conversation can you please define: mediocre grades?

To be honest your definition alone is giving me a lot to think about. No opinion is formed without some rationale (irrelevant to what that is).

Apologies - if I sound redundant: But based on your experience and knowledge now - would you attend your same law school?

I believe you on the economy. Multiple research sources corroborates this. With twice as many grads then, as now - based on your experience, does/could that possibly suggest an improvement in opportunities now?

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wolfman (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:33 pm)

Other sources will tell you what you need to know, but on one particular point: there is no tier 2, or rather, while your definition of it is correct, it is not a real group of schools with real features but a marketing gimmick.

The law schools which produce visibly different outcomes from other law schools are:

T14 (some people, myself included, would say it's more like T6 or T8 now) - better outcomes (although NOT for everyone who goes there)

and

Bottom-of-the-barrel schools with essentially open admissions - MUCH worse outcomes
(I personally would never hire a recent graduate of a certain caliber of schools for ANY job, much less a law job - I would simply think the person is crazy or intellectually disabled)... perhaps an exception could be made for the #1 student in the class - not top anything, but actually the one highest-ranked person...

Grads of all other schools are largely in the same boat, with allowance for some local and regional differences.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:53 pm)

Your honesty is most appreciated.

Therefore the logic is if you are not 1-50 (optimism) you essentially don't exist? Is this in context to BigLaw or majority of firms?

Does legal specialty matter at all?

For the sake of conversation can you please define "bottom of the barrel" with respect to law schools?

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wolfman (Jul 6, 2017 - 7:00 pm)

No, I am not saying that (schools ranked 10-50 love the idea that 1-50 is a real group, and it's everyone else who should not exist).

What I am saying is that there is a small group on the top (1-14 or like I said maybe much smaller) which give you significantly better odds of BigLaw and long-term "prestige" (whatever that's worth)

and

a group on the bottom that is significantly larger and literally terrible (places like Charlotte and Cooley are the most obvious examples; there are others). It is difficult for me to talk about these schools in any sort of a rational way. They just should not exist. I would place any school with a significant number of students with LSATs below 150 in that category, but that's just my guess.

Everyone else is largely in the same boat, so a school ranked 40 and a school ranked 70 aren't really different in any significant way, unless one is located in your area or gives you a scholarship - and those ranking change significantly year to year.

Height is a good analogy for this: your exact height really doesn't matter all that much, unless you are either very tall or very short. This is not to say that the outcomes for people who go to schools in the "middle" are good - they are very bad for many people - but simply that your EXACT place in the largely made-up school ranking order doesn't matter very much, unless you fall into one of the extremes.

School ranking (or rather, a binary quality of either being or not being in the top 14/10/8/6 schools) does tend to matter a lot more for BigLaw, federal clerkships and jobs at well-known governmental agencies, especially federal ones.

Legal specialties and specialty rankings don't matter. Ever. At all. For anything. I think a long time ago IP was an exception to that, but those days are long gone.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 7:46 pm)

Thank you for this. I appreciate your honesty.

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roadkingrider (Jul 6, 2017 - 9:34 pm)

You don't have to purchase anything. Campos site is free just start reading it will become much clearer.

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sobeitunion (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:19 pm)

Just moved out of South Florida a couple of months ago. Very saturated market, especially new grads. The salaries you listed are certainly not average. I know a bunch of guys that graduated in the last year or two down there. Some weren't able to get jobs, those that could were starting around $45-$50K. Considering it's like the third highest cost of living (South Florida anyways), that's pretty bad money. I made more than double that as a bartender for reference.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:26 pm)

Thank you for your honesty.

Is it the same for all areas of law?

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downwardslope (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:21 pm)

Even back in the days of the good economy back in around 2006-2007, getting a biglaw job in Florida was tough even from the best schools in Florida (UF/FSU/Miami). People would complain that you'd need to be in the top 10% just to have a real shot. Most of the people I knew who had decent luck were law review types, probably in the top 10 (people) or so in their class. A lot of the biglaw slots are taken by T14 grads or top T25 grads, not by in-state grads. The reality is that there are simply too many law schools in Florida now (I think 12 or maybe even 13) and no one really wants to hire anyone who is entry level because clients aren't interested in paying big bucks for a first-year associate anymore, particularly in the smaller markets.

Ipesq's response isn't unusual. At the time he finished, the market was especially terrible (it took me about as long to find a job and I finished in 2009), but now there are even MORE law schools graduating students than there were when we started. For example, I think Florida added Ave Maria and a campus of Cooley. There may be fewer graduates, but the mobility isn't there within jobs for people to move around as much and many of the summer associate programs have been cut WAY back since they were when we were in law school. Ipesq was kind of at the tail end of the model where many firms had huge SA programs, and now those days are kind of over. They are still there, but not at the level that they were in previously where there was tons of out of control spending and lots more wining and dining.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:37 pm)

Thank you for this.

In your experience, is it possible to gain valuable experience through summer programs prior to graduation?

If you don't mind me asking what area of law do you practice? In your opinion does it matter (and forgive me ahead of time as I do realize how that question sounds)?

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downwardslope (Jul 6, 2017 - 9:21 pm)

I know people who do patents, but not in Florida. One thing to know about Florida in general, for ANY career path is that the wages tend to be way lower than what you can get in other states and you can't make up for it by a lack of state income tax. Some cities like Miami are some of the most expensive in the country, yet the wages are nowhere near what you'd find up north. Most people I know who do STEM jobs of any sort who are reasonably bright have left to go to places like the northeast, TX, or the west coast where they can make much higher wages. To do patent work, you really need to have some sort of development related to needing a patent, which is just not happening in Florida.

I had a friend who started out doing patent prosecution work and I think she made around $90K at a smaller firm in the Midwest. I had another friend who started out really low, but was able to move up to partner level at a larger firm fairly quickly down in TX, probably because he was able to bring in business. I've heard stories of other people who are quite literally twiddling their thumbs because there isn't enough patent work at the true biglaw firms because many companies decided they weren't willing to pay the biglaw rates for patents anymore and prefer to go to the smaller firms or dedicated firms that will charge more reasonable rates. I had a friend who SAed at a big patent litigation firm that essentially went under during the crash because of the same issue in patent litigation- no one wanted to pay the highest rates for litigation either. Part of the firm was absorbed by another general biglaw firm, but of course the business was much less at that point. That was in the northeast.

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lawdawg (Jul 6, 2017 - 6:56 pm)

Hi - As I practice in Florida, I might be able to shed a little bit of light into the legal market. First, if you want to practice patent law, I am not sure Florida is the state for you. This is a tourist-fueled economy. I think the biggest areas of law here are immigration and insurance defense - not a whole lot of mergers and acqusitions - but we do have a lot of foreigners and hurricanes. I know attorneys who practice patent law in the Northeast or D.C. and they do earn a lot - they didn't go to amazing law schools - but they had the STEM undergrad degree to allow them to sit for the patent bar.

Also, 'big law' in Florida is not really big law. We have large firms but they are pretty much known only in Florida. A few Northeast big law firms have branches in Miami - but not to the extent you find up north. Here, if you want a job with a big firm, you probably start out at $125k - as opposed to the $160k salary at legit big law firms in NY, Boston, etc. If you are making $135k now, why would you risk that to come here and 'maybe' start at $125k - assuming you graduate in the top of your class from a competitive law school competing with other gunners who want the same position.

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nameless (Jul 6, 2017 - 7:27 pm)

Yes - thank you for the insight.

In your experience would you say that specialty DOES matter more so than the law school tier system?

How big a role would you say the undergraduate major plays in the work you have access to as a attorney? How does a STEM major affect what law a lawyer can actually practice?

To be honest that risk is what I am personally hoping to better assess. My understanding was that some patent attorney's salary reach in the 200k+ range - with the job market for patent attorney's specifically being UNDER-saturated (especially in tech) (bear in mind this is roughly 40% of what I am trying to research).

In your experience, what do those Biglaw opportunities look like(both in state and out) for prospective graduates from Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 law schools? Do grades NOT matter (with this logic, one can deduce that getting into T14 is priority. Also follows - no matter your graduating position odds are against anyone in priority tier gets the position. Is this logic correct?)?

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thirdtierlaw (Jul 6, 2017 - 8:12 pm)

There are some patent attorneys making 200k+ the largest majority is likely making between 75k-85k in a not major city and 110-120k in a major city.

Most of those people do not receive any paid time off and only a so/so benefit package.

If you're not in a T1 one school you'll need to be almost to the top of your class if you want to go biglaw. Really anything below T14 you need to be in the top 15% percent. Your specialty in law school does not matter at all. Biglaw almost exclusively looks at grades, law review, and class rank. Your undergrad may set you apart slightly during OCI because you are patent eligible.

Even if you get biglaw, it is fairly miserable experience unless you're of a certain mold. I.e. enjoy selling your soul to the firm. This means missed planned vacations, missed weddings, etc. Sure you'll be making $200k+ by year 3, but then you're either on the partnership track or being told that you may want to start looking for other opportunities. For the large firms, only about 1-7% of the incoming class gets put on the partnership track.

So what most people do is kill themselves working biglaw to learn as much as they can and pay off their loans, then when they are shown the door they end up in a job making $100k a year.

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phillydoucherocket (Jul 7, 2017 - 5:25 am)

I wouldn't say that the patent job market is under-saturated. Some patent attorneys make 200+ a year, sure. Most don't. Other than patent prosecution, any undergrad major can practice any kind of law.

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vohod (Jul 6, 2017 - 8:46 pm)

Pursue a career in tech: whether it be pure tech work like development or project mgmt, sales, or finance.

Law school is always there later on. But once you go to LS many many of these traditional tech jobs won't be in the picture. Either they won't hire a JD who they fear will quit for a law job, or you won't be able to service your debt and recoup 3 years of lost income/savings with their offers.

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wutwutwut (Jul 6, 2017 - 10:32 pm)

This has gotta be flame.

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downwardslope (Jul 7, 2017 - 7:49 am)

It could be legit. The head of my office's kid is doing this route now and is already a registered patent agent. I am not sure why anyone in their right mind would give up a perfectly good career in engineering, but it appears that people are still doing it!

Meanwhile my sister/BIL work in tech and they make WAAAAAY more than I can ever hope to make. Yes, they are in Silicon Valley where housing prices are insane, but they also have no student loans and work ~40 hours a week. (Despite the hype that people there work 70+ hours a week, that does not have to be true.) Given the choice, it seems like the latter is a no brainer.

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roadkingrider (Jul 7, 2017 - 10:13 am)

I was thinking the same thing, elaborate ruse.

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jd4hire (Jul 7, 2017 - 10:42 am)

Might be an elaborate ruse, but I'll bite.

Graduated Tier 4 LS in 2011. Worked at Ivy League University in their General Counsel office for 52k. Left there and then went to small insurance defense firm. 52k, 10 days vacation, crappy health benefits.

Left small firm after ~ 4 years to join staff counsel for large insurance company defending stupid cases involving very stupid people (99.9% of the time). Pay was good for an attorney in my area - went to 70k, small bonus potential, strong 401k contribution match, 4 weeks vacation, and a pension system (not defined benefit, but almost an annuity formula). Couldn't stand the case load and how it was forcing me to practice. Left after 5 months for my current firm.

Current firm is mid-sized insurance defense (don't kill me nighthawk, I don't think I'm BigLaw nor do I think my gig is glamorous even though I do litigate high catastrophic medical malpractice matters...). Hired at 78k, got a strong bonus my first year (18k), decent 401(k) and health benefits (I'm on my wife's though as she got a rare attorney gig as a union member and her health bennies are well above the norm). I'm on year 2 at my firm - gave me a 5k raise and hope to get an 18-25k bonus this year. With my 83k salary, I really hope to break into the 6 digits.

I'm 6 years out from a T4 LS. I would not do it again. I graduated with my wife who is in public interest working for 67k a year. Only doing it for loan forgiveness, but does not have a strong income potential. Her job is very advantageous for mothers and we expect to start a family soon.

She gets mad when I say I regret LS. I don't regret having the degree, obtaining the knowledge, etc., but the economics don't work. Cost benefit analysis skews high costs, low benefits.

As a note, the billable hour is a soul crushing concept that causes me significant stress and anxiety nearly every day (weekends included). I plan on putting a solid 7 hours in on Sunday to prep for a vacation in September. While I get 4 weeks vacation, it's all fake. I still have to hit my hours, which means I work weekends to take a vacation (probably have worked 10 sundays since Jan. 1).

And while I love JDU and the collective wisdom, it can be a little soul crushing in its own right.

I would not go to LS if I were you. If you insist, get a scholarship, minimize cost of living loans, and go to the best school possible and work hard for the grades. And while people are right that Harvard, Yale, etc. are pretty set, there are people there who struggle to get decent paying jobs as well.

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nighthawk (Jul 7, 2017 - 12:39 pm)

If you are making 83k in total at a midsize ID firm doing high catastrophic med mal, how much would an associate at a big law ID firm doing super catastrophic med mal make?

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jd4hire (Jul 7, 2017 - 1:43 pm)

I was being a little facetious on the catastrophic - we have some, but there are plenty stupid, less than 10k claims as well. We do have plenty of wrongful deaths, wrongful births, TBIs, and paralysis cases. And of course, I'm the associate so I'm not steering the ship on the more "complex" matters.

My salary is 83, but bonus should be 18-25k this year (don't want to jinx myself, but that's my hope and I know the firm is in a stronger position this year). So, years end, I hope my gross is 108k.

I'd love to know what a BigLaw guy or gal makes doing the same. I have a few cases with BigLaw co-defendants, but zero insight as to their salary. In my area, I'd guess 120-150k for associates at the BigLaw firms. Partners, who knows. I really don't know of a reliable salary resource for my area (or any area, really). RobertHalf, GlassDoor, Salary.com, and LinkedIn salaries are all skewed high, IMO. In New England, not Boston.

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nighthawk (Jul 7, 2017 - 2:26 pm)

Do you mean biglaw like Skadden or Weil or do you mean big ID firm with 130 lawyers fighting slip and fall cases in the subway?

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jd4hire (Jul 7, 2017 - 3:46 pm)

Locke Lord and the likes.

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nameless (Jul 10, 2017 - 11:39 am)

"Ruse?" - No (But then if it was, would I actually say so?).

How was the case load during your 4 year period in terms of working schedule immediately following law school? And if its not too personal, how did it force you to practice a particular way (as opposed to how you prefer)? Can you explain how you define "Billable hour" a bit more - I feel like this is so simplistic I may be missing something. Is this consistent across all law firms you have worked at?

Congrats and best wishes on starting a family soon. When I get my s*** together perhaps I will find myself as blessed. Money is important in any realistic scenario - not to be confused with the only importance.

This may sound hypothetically ridiculous but if you would not do it again, knowing what you know now - what would you do? Better Tier? Different field? Hypothetically, what advice would tell your hopeful son/daughter looking to attend law school?

Quote: "And while people are right that Harvard, Yale, etc. are pretty set, there are people there who struggle to get decent paying jobs as well."
I believe this to be true (personal).

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wutwutwut (Jul 7, 2017 - 7:05 pm)

To the OP:

"forgive me if this is naive, but is "scam" an accurate description"

Yes, in the sense that schools prior to 2012 were permitted to aggregate all sorts of jobs data and paint rosy pictures that "96% of our graduates were employed 9 months after graduation", which when broken down turned out to be: 60% working as lawyers, the others working retail. But their "price insensitive consumers" (one LS dean actually referred to students as such) had no way to learn these real numbers.

They also would report out that "median salary is 120K" without explaining the basis, which was often less than 25% of the class reporting.

Once they were required to start reporting who actually got law jobs (full-time, JD-required) vs. others, a better picture emerged. Also they were required to start being more granular and honest about salary information.

Until recently, they were permitted to include kids who had "full time, JD-required" jobs in the LS library or LS's career services office in the law-jobs category (despite the fact that they weren't really law jobs, and lasted precisely one year). Many law schools started funding huge numbers in these supposed full time law jobs. Even "good" schools like Emory and GW had upwards of a quarter of their classes being employed by the school after graduation.

Of course, people accused them of gaming the system so as to report higher % law jobs, and of course, the schools claimed they had only altruistic motives.

But guess what? As soon as the reporting requirements changed again and those jobs no longer counted as full time law jobs, their numbers plummeted. Altruism my fat butt.

The above behaviors are why many say the law school racket has been pretty scammy.

Even still, though, the scammy behavior continues. You see LS deans writing op-eds being published by the NYT (etc.) rah-rahing about how "NOW is the best time, EVER, to go to LS".




Another question you asked was if UG matters. Yes and no. If English/History/PoliSci, no, it doesn't matter. But if you're a BSCE, as I think I understand from the above, you can sit for the patent bar. CEs are certainly more valuable in patents recently than Chemists or MEs or ChEs. Maybe not so hot right now as EE, but still better than most. Not sure of the demand curve as between CEs and ABET-accredited CS majors, maybe similar but not sure.

One thing you can do is go ahead and take the patent bar and start marketing yourself as a wannabe patent agent, while continuing to work your day job. That will give you a chance to assess how much demand you may find for yourself (as a CE patent agent or patent attorney, but without spending time/$ on LS first). Assuming any interest at all, it'll also put you in contact with people who know a heck of a lot more about CE patent salaries than people who aren't involved in CE patent prosecution.

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nameless (Jul 10, 2017 - 10:50 am)

Thank you for this. This has been a lot to take in. I honestly cannot say that law school sounds very appealing - and right now feel as though no school is really trust worthy. My interest in attending has gone from about 65% to somewhere around 5% (I do still find the logic, and debate is quite interesting/stimulating).

I've spent a lot of time with research this weekend coming across sites which might aid others in a similar position. I've included those below (any comments, suggestions, or insights on them are indeed most appreciated):

http://abovethelaw.com/law-schools/
http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/
https://www.lstreports.com/
https://lawschoolsewagepitprofiles.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/trash-pits/
http://lawschoolnumbers.com/

Pretty overwhelming stuff - yet not something I think any serious minded potential can really ignore (at least in my opinion)

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wutwutwut (Jul 12, 2017 - 7:56 pm)

Well, of those above I'd say 1 and 3 are fairly objective and useful to you. 2 and 4 have their, uh, "charm" but aren't so objective. The 5th, I can't really speak to.


I'd say you should also start reading at http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php (general IP forum index), particularly at http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php/board,22.0.html ("Becoming a patent agent/lawyer") and at http://www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php/board,23.0.html ("Patent agent/lawyer careers").


This board is definitely in decline, but still has a lot of useful aggregated information. Note the search feature is gorked so if you want to search for any particular key words like "computer science", do the standard google workaround in the URL from chrome or anything else you've designated google as your default search (below, on the wild chance you're not familiar with it).

site:www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php "computer engineering"

Or

site:www.intelproplaw.com/ip_forum/index.php "day in the life" (should pull a lot of posts with information re some of the other questions you've been asking here)

Or do similar searches on the more specific "Becoming a" and "Careers" boards I listed above.

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smallyer (Jul 8, 2017 - 4:11 pm)

Wolfman and latinforliar are credited. You make 135k don't go to law school, at least don't do it for the money as you will probably have a worse outcome. I and many other attorneys make more than that but the hours and stress required to make good money in law are soul crushing.

Former Florida practitioner here. My sense of Florida is
T1: UF & FSU,
T2: UM & Stetson,
T3: Everyone else including high ranked out of state schools.

Yes you can find a job a job in FL but making over 135k will likely only come after years of gaining experience and building your practice.

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nameless (Jul 10, 2017 - 11:06 am)

hmmm this is actually interesting. Are you suggesting that Florida is possibly operating on its own Tier metric which takes overall precedence? Do any other states operate like this? In your opinion what is the rationale to this? All of the research I have done corroborate pretty conclusively, Top 5 usually get their picks. I have a hard time seeing a Big Law firm taking a UF grad over a Harvard (Just my uninformed opinion so please do not misunderstand).

I wont lie - money is a big personal factor.

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wutwutwut (Jul 12, 2017 - 8:04 pm)

" I have a hard time seeing a Big Law firm taking a UF grad over a Harvard "

From all of my readings over the years (not personal experience, though), smallyer's pecking order is spot on.

The problem with what you wrote that I quoted above is that there's not really any "biglaw" in FL. If there were biglaw firms in FL like there are in NY/Boston/DC/SF/LA etc., then your point would certainly be valid.

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wolfman (Jul 12, 2017 - 10:28 pm)

Exactly - there is virtually no true BigLaw in Florida.

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smallyer (Jul 14, 2017 - 12:19 am)

"I wont lie - money is a big personal factor."
Then make some investments or find a side hustle or start a side business and see if it builds to where you can quit your day job. $135k plus benefits you are VERY likely going to do worse in the legal field long term. How many hours per week do you currently work? The thing they don't tell you about biglaw is most associates wash out within 5 years and work for the government, stay at home mom, or in house counsel if they're lucky. You're more likely to win the lottery than become a full equity biglaw partner even if you go to a great school. I run my own practice and I love the freedom and control of it but I would trade my salary for $135k with benefits and 50 hours per week if I didn't have to deal with having a boss and the office politics b.s. (a key component of most law firms btw). I worked corporate before law and it's hard to contemplate or understand the mental exhaustion that comes from practicing law until you've actually done it.

"Are you suggesting that Florida is possibly operating on its own Tier metric which takes overall precedence?" Yes I am. HYS matter but if you go to a T20 like Wash U St. Louis or Iowa then you might as well have gone to Florida Coastal.

"Do any other states operate like this?" None that I've practiced in although I suspect Texas may be this way too.

"In your opinion what is the rationale to this?" Florida is a peninsula and likes to pretend it's a separate country sometimes, especially in the legal field. With that said I loved my time in Florida and might go back there some day moved for personal reasons.

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sanka (Jul 12, 2017 - 3:27 pm)

It used time, and may still be, that Florida has no reciprocity.

You have to sit for an exam to be admitted to the bar.

Florida doesn't want every big Boston, NY,and DC admitted lawyer to retire to Florida and hang up a shingle.

Florida protects its home grown lawyers that way.

So that colors the economics of practice in Florida, somewhat.

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wutwutwut (Jul 14, 2017 - 4:54 pm)

A last bit of general information on the FL legal market. Below linked is the 2016 salary and economics of law survey. Check enumerated pps 31 et seq.

My paralegals make more than the median salary of FL attorneys at the 6-8 year experience mark.


https://webprod.floridabar.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/tfb-2016-economics-survey-report.pdf

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