Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Going to law school to get rich?

Merry Chrismukkahwanzaa and Happy New Year!

At a recent holiday party I ran into an old co worker who was also laid off after our company went under in the "Great recession". He was going to do a paralegal program, but the decided on nursing. He is now an RN and makes over $35.00 an hour. Plus, he makes overtime pay which should bring him around 100k a year easily. The guy in the warehouse went back and did electrical training. He is now working with an electrician and trying to get into the union. He told me that his boss has his own electrician business and makes over $230,000 a year. I asked him if his boss wouldn't mind using another apprentice<grin> !

I have been working various jobs to make ends meet, taking classes in another in demand profession and trying to figure out what to do with my life. Recently, I ran into a prelaw student from UCSD and he told me that he is hell bent on going to law school and that all these "Scamblogs" are just BS! He thinks that the job market for attorneys is great, and that lawyers who can't get high paying jobs are just lazy! The naive pre law student seriously thinks that all lawyers make over $100k a year starting! He is in for one rude awakening. I told him that if money is his only motivator then FUCK LAW SCHOOL. If you want to make money , and lots and lots of money, there are 5 options that you should consider. They are..

1.)  - Health Care -

Good economy, Bad economy, Recession, Depression...People are always going to get sick, have babies, go to the ER, get cavities and need prescriptions. Become an MD, Pharm.D. Dentist, Optometrist, Physical therapist or Nurse. Even if you don't do a high end doctorate program in health care, there are always tons of jobs for nursing assistants and other jobs. Even if medicine gets socialized (which I doubt it ever will), you will still be able to make a decent living wage. Health care is the best recession proof industry to find a job. It is completely inelastic to every political, economic and social factor.

2.)  -Sales -

 While it may be cyclical, even with the economy, if you are good in sales you can make a lot of money. I know sales people at Saks, Neiman Marcus, Auto dealerships and pharm reps who make a ton of money. My other friend sells adult toys wholesale and pulls down over 120k a year at trade shows and conventions ( and no she is not hiring!)

3.) - Accounting-

We have all heard that old joke about death and taxes being the only two things guaranteed things in this world. Accounting is a very very hard major. In most undergraduate business schools there is a horrible attrition in Accounting. Many people either go to Finance , Business Economics or Marketing/Management. However, accounting is great because its a professional undergraduate degree and even if you never go on for an MBA or grad school you can still become a CPA and make a decent living. I read somewhere that experienced accountants make an average salary of $80k a year. This is good money considering the fact that you will never need grad school debt and every company needs an accountant. Also, they are usually the last people to get laid off in bad times.

4.) -Engineering-

Not all of us are very good at Math & Science, but if you are then major in Engineering! Getting a BS in Engineering a professional degree and you will average around 65-85k a year STARTING in various fields. The best fields in engineering are chemical, computer, civil and electrical engineering. There are always jobs in government, private industry and R&D firms. Engineers make a good salary and many go back to get MBA's and make great money in management. You do hear stories of how glamorous it is to become a "patent" attorney, but those jobs are far and few. There are many more opportunities in private industry as an Engineer.

5.) -Trades-

I know that we are living in an era where parents, professors and society constantly pushing more higher education, but you can make a great living in the trades. I think everyone should be somewhat educated, be aware of the globalized modern world and have a strong understanding of liberal arts. However, just because you have a college degree or even a graduate degree, it does not mean you should scoff at people who work in trades. I know plumbers, electricians, and other people in trades who make tons of money. If I could go back in time, I wish I joined a trade myself and made a lot of money like the electrician making 230k. While it may not be a prestigious as a JD, MD, Ph.D. etc., you do make great money and you will always find work. Just because something isn't very "White collar", it doesn't mean its a bad profession to be in!

 So all you pre law students looking to get rich, these are your best bets at earning good money, with stable jobs and lots of opportunities. If you can, avoid law school and all legal education programs like the plague!

- The Poor Paralegal


  1. Tell your friend that even law professors agree with the assessment that there are too many damn lawyers in the U.S.:

    This friend of yours should also talk to practicing lawyers. I have talked to a few prospective law students recently. They ALWAYS tell me, "I talk to lawyers I know, and they tell me not to go."

    Sometimes, I retort, "Then why the hell are you asking me? Are you trying to find one person with a law degree who will tell you that you should go?!?!"

  2. I know I sound like a broken record, but I feel my message is worth repeating:

    Student Debt will take away all of your freedoms as a US citizen.

    Freedom to find decent employment.
    Freedom to marry without involving the spouse in the debt.
    Freedom to take out a mortgage, car loan, or other type of loan.

    Default will make matters much worse.

    My default added 40 thousand dollars to my Student Loan debt.

    Today I owe 300K, and my life is OVER.

    Please kids, read this post carefully and heed the advice, or you will end up in debtors Hell for the rest of your adult life like me.

    Never, ever take out student loans. If you cannot pay cash for a higher education--Don't go!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. If your friend is hell bent in going to law school, he should try working in a law firm first (granted if he could find employment as a paralegal). As a paralegal, I got to experience some of the real pressures in having to be perfect all of the time, working on average ten to twelve hours a day, and bringing work home with me every weekend, . I also heard countless tales of woe regarding student loan debt and the pressures in having to pay off that debt from the attorneys I have worked with. Working as a paralegal was enough to convince myself that taking the extra step to go to law school was not worth it.

    The big problem however is that schools (including UGC’s which offer paralegal programs) continue to provide inaccurate information regarding starting salaries. During my stint in being unemployed, I audited two paralegal courses (Legal Research and The Constitution) at a local community college which offers an ABA Paralegal Program. First night of class, the professors preached in how the paralegal profession is projected to continue to grow (false information provided courtesy by the US Labor Department). The Constitutional Law professor (who is also the chairperson for the college’s Paralegal Program) even provided a Power Point presentation that paralegals typically earn an annual salary in the $50K-$60K range (which of course is not the case in today’s job market). It was pretty hard for me being unemployed with ten years of experience sitting in class with 18-20 year olds and some return to work parents and older displaced workers listening to all of this. I approached the department chair at the end of the class and introduced myself. The professor admitted that his law practice was struggling and his teaching gig was helping him make his ends meet.

    I came to the simple conclusion that in the US, higher education is no longer about preparing kids for the real world; it’s all about the Benjamins baby with these schools. Some of the professors and school administrators even have the audacity to demonize CEO’s which these professors and school administrators far worse than your average CEO. At least a CEO honestly admits it’s about making money.

  5. I respectfully disagree with engineering. I know multiple young engineers right now and it appears that to succeed in the field, you have to get a master's, and both your master's and undergrad have to be from fairly reputable schools. If the economy picks up, being an engineer with only an undergrad may actually get you that 65k starting salary, but if you have to attend 6 years of school just for the privilege of fighting for the position, I'm not sure it has any long-term benefits. The math/science people in my generation who didn't inherently want to be doctors all high-tailed it to engineering school and I've got to think at some point that's going to cause those salaries to drop to where it's not worth the extra expense of getting a master's.

    Nursing is an outstanding field to go into right now. Constant demand and good salaries after only 1-2 years of extra schooling.

    If your prelaw student acquaintance really believes people routinely pass on 100k jobs they're otherwise qualified for, he's so dumb he deserves to fail.

  6. Your "the grass is greener on the other side of the fence" argument is not necessarily wrong nor correct.

    In Engr, I can affirmatively say that 1/2 the staff of the local Lowes and Home Depot have BS in Engr degrees. Further, my auto mechanic and tow truck driver has BS in Engr degrees. It's hanging on his wall. And no, he does like fixing cars. These Engrs say unless you go to a know techn undergrad school and have an MS; the market is closed. The noted exceptions to this are those with Chem E and Petroleum E degrees.

    In Acctg, where my undergrad is in, the market is sparse. Even with a CPA and MBA, you can't compete with the outsourcing. You can even make it working out of the trunk of your car.

    PharmD are crying. Since the doubled the number of school and admissions, their profession has gone to pot.


  7. In nearly every jurisdiction you have to get 150 credit hours to become eligible to take the CPA exam. Then in a lot of states you need a year of experience. The requirements are getting more stringent and within 10 years I guarantee every state will have the 150 credit hour requirement.

    I just graduated from a top 25 undergrad accounting program. I decided to go get a job, which was a mistake because an undergrad accounting degree is useless without a master's. I got my job on Craigslist (yes...desperation) and was selected out of 150 applicants including CPAs. I make 30,000 a year and I am lucky to even have a job.

    The $80,000 average salary for "experienced accountants" is probably a lot like the estimated law salaries...bullshit. It's so hard to estimate because there are so many places an accountant can end up. The best position as an accountant is to get some cushy controller position making 6 figures, but you have to suffer quite a bit before landing that and a lot of luck is involved.

  8. Yuppieattorney says some very interesting stuff.

    I wonder just how many people at my local Lowes and Home Depot, McDonalds, Radio Shack, Starbucks etc etc. hold College and/or more advanced degrees.

    I wonder now if I could spot them with some careful Sherlock Holmes-like scrutiny. Or tell by their manner of speaking or vocabulary.

    I always try to hide the fact that I have a higher education because I have found it only served to alienate me from my peers in the construction trades.

    And I believe that most people deal with me as if they believe I never went past High School.

    But now I am wondering, if, by striking up a conversation, I could learn that the guy who just rang me up, or is working at the courtesy desk holds a degree in something like: mechanical engineering. And does his boss know about it?

    Very interesting.

  9. Accounting and engineering, yeah right! I have several friends that are CPAs with "Big Four" experience that were laid off in 2008 and have YET to find a job after countless hours of networking, hundreds of resumes and numerous bullshit career fairs. It's as a saturated as a wet towel. Engineer is also a saturated field. I own an environmental company and after a post advertising a spot I received about 600 applications in a two day period. I would say out of that number about 250 had engineering or some other hard science degree. Many had very good experience, but were laid off due to the recession. My hint to you all: head to Asia

  10. @JDPainter Guy,

    I worked at Trader Joe's for the past two months prior to receiving a job offer for an in-house legal assistant position. You would be amazed by the number of educated people I have worked with who have either been downsized or unable to find gainful employment upon completing course work.

    The produce manager and the store manager both have MBA's. I also work with an IT specialist with a Masters degree from Columbia, non-profit casualties who possess master degrees, music and art teachers (yes they have master degrees) and several recent UGC grads who have various bachelor degrees from some top tier schools including NYU, Binghamton, Fordham, and BU. There are also a number of people whom I worked with who have directly lost their jobs due to outsourcing to China, India, and Mexico. There are also a number of kids who are currently attending college (Westchester County, NY has its fair share of colleges with various USNWR's tier ranking). I can honestly say that these kids who are in school right now are scared that there will be no jobs when they graduate.
    Fortunately for those of us who are educated and displaced due to the economy, Trader Joe's prefers to hire college educated workers as most of TJ's clientele have advance degrees. I didn't have to lie too much about my background (I did mention on my application that I have a BA, but I negated to put down I was a manager at my last job). Only a small percentage of the staff does not have college degrees. I love my co-workers, but most of them are making the best of their situation. We have had discussions in how difficult it has been to adjust in earning such a low income (despite that TJ's pays quite well for food markets). For the recent grads, student loans are a real issue. There are some kids who decided to put off their post-grad degrees until the economy picks up.

    I find that with today's job market, the American worker is up against a lot. Americans now have to compete with Asians who make 50% less than what most Americans used to make. The big elephant in the room is of course the cost of living in the US which makes it quite difficult to function on salaries close to poverty level. It seems the only way the Americans will get their jobs back if Congress enacts some type of legislation which prohibits US companies to outsource over a certain percentage and slow down on issuing HB1 visas. Until that happens, I expect the unemployment rate to only come down a small percentage. I don’t see the possibility of job creation to match the large percentage of people out of work any time soon.

    1. You really don´t expect congress to prohibit outsourcing do ya? Girl you should never have dreamed of becoming a lawyer. You should be a painter or a singer or a poet. Every body here expects to get a job just because they got a flashy degree, but the job market doesnt work that way. The first rule you have to understand is that it´s all about offer and demand. Take a deep moment to understand the meaning of offer and demand and you will understand what i mean. Best of luck to you all.

  11. Newsflash: people who are graduating now with their nursing degrees (BSN and ASN) are finding a horrible job market. Hospitals simply don't want to hire and train new nurses, for a whole bunch of reasons. And any place else, IF you can get a job, pays terrible wages. Read it and weep:

  12. Wow this is probably coming a bit late but here goes. I found this blog because my husband is an under employed attorney. He graduated in Dec 08 and just found a part time job last May 2010. I have a degree in civil engineering and just got laid off for the second time in a little over two years. I do transportation. My state gets most of its money for transportation on the state level and since they run a balanced budget their is no more money for transportation projects at the moment. Civil Engineering is not a good field right now due to the fact that it is about building infrastructure which nobody has any money for at the moment unless you want to move to the rich oil countries in the middle east. Right now when I look for a job I see a ton of postings for computer engineers although I don't know how well that field really is doing. I think I should of gone into computers.

  13. Healthcare- Is good if you have the ability (read: are smart enough) to enter the professions. Med school debt is killing people....but for now, they can get jobs and get paid. $100,000 plus and that's just school debt. Opening a practice and getting residency is... brutal.

    Engineering- works if you are good enough to get experience and savvy enough to make connections while IN school. Engineering is pure experience, and the best get a job through interning and showing good work.

    Accounting- my acct teacher gave us this equation:
    " auditing + computers = $$$$"
    Which means checking data plus knowing how to build a network will mean cash. BUT-
    He also said older people are leaving because the technicalities and laws are driving people out of the field. If you have a head to go all the way, it can reward well.

    Sales- I thought it would be obvious the most important person in a business is the one who can get money in fast.

    Trades- I can't speak on this. It seems you get good business if you have updated skills and know people who will hire you.

  14. Law school actually is the default option for college graduates with some otherwise lifeless degree in English or Political Science. There aren't all that many other practical options"..sure there are, if the individual is able to avoid the snobbery trap.

    law degree courses

  15. It is a few years since most of these comments have appeared. I work in HR in a hospital, and the party is now over for the health care industry.

    It is not unusual to see resumes from nursing school grads who have been looking for work for over 6 months. Hospitals do not want to take the time and money to train these people. Also, technology has greatly reduced the amount of stay time for patients. Certain procedures can be done in a doctor's office cutting the cost and time of what a hospital has to offer.

    Bottom line, there is no longer any profession that is going to give you a stable future and immediate employment. Whatever profession you are in, we are all in the same boat1

  16. I approached the department chair at the end of the class and introduced myself. The professor admitted that his law practice was struggling and his teaching gig was helping him make his ends meet. profitable internet business ideas 2013

  17. Thanks for taking this opportunity to discuss this, I feel fervently about this and I like learning about this subject. If possible, as you gain information, please update this blog with more information. I have found it really useful. how to catch striped bass