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US T30 With Money Worth it?


Kobe
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Kobe
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Have an offer from a t30 with 80%+ scholarship, seems I would have far less debt using this option. I would plan to stay in the US post grad, I don't have a preference between living in either country, if anything I lean to being in the US for earning potential. Just trying to maximize bang for buck/time with earning potential. 

TN Visa seems easy enough to get, has anyone on this forum gone down this route? I know some say t14 is the only way to go but having literally less than half the debt I would in Canada with higher median salaries is tempting. Interest is in business law/transactional work, I realize there's lateral opportunities from Canadian firms to the US if I choose to stay here, but is it worth the extra cost for the added security of being able to practice in Canada?

For reference my tuition would be 9k*3 for the JD, haven't tried negotiating yet either. 

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Rashabon
  • Lawyer

What are the prospects of getting hired to a large firm out of the school? The salary might not be as high as you think if your school doesn’t place well in the big firms. Also these scholarships are designed to be nearly impossible to maintain for the life of the schooling. Be prepared to pay full sticker after year 1.

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Kobe
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20 minutes ago, Rashabon said:

What are the prospects of getting hired to a large firm out of the school? The salary might not be as high as you think if your school doesn’t place well in the big firms. Also these scholarships are designed to be nearly impossible to maintain for the life of the schooling. Be prepared to pay full sticker after year 1.

I think in terms of scholarship you are talking about tier 3 shitty schools, once you get into the T50 that's not really a thing. My scholarship is unconditional other than not failing of course, apparently even academic probation does not necessarily mean losing scholarship from talking with adcomms. It's only the predatory Bond/Leeds type of schools doing that sort of thing. 

At any rate 30% approx. get big law, median salary is 82k usd (inclusive of all outcomes). Obviously that 30% are above that median. 90% employment rate (5% seeking, 2.5% not seeking, 2.5% grad studies)

I was thinking mid law was the outcome to bet on which would be the 82k salary which is about the same as a bay street outcome from my research (100k cad). So seems top 30% have better outcomes and median outcome is the same vs best outcome in Canada. All of this though is for American's, my real concern is how much Visa status tempers these outcomes, if I were American and Canadian it would be a more simple bet. My lean is towards Canada for safety I just don't know much more I should be paying for safety. 

EDIT: Per adcomm "No student in the last 3 years has lost an entrance scholarship" go on to say its highly unusual someone would lose the scholarship. 

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Darth Vader
  • Lawyer

If you want to do US Big law, I would definitely look into accepting the offer. However, I would also bear in mind that the attrition rate is very high within the first few years. You rarely see US Big law Associates spend more than 5 years in Big law. I wouldn't pick a law school based on short-term monetary gain, but look into where you think you will live and work 5+ years out of law school. What does the exit opportunities out of US Big law and mid-law look like for you? How does that compare to exit opportunities from Canadian Big law firms? If you think you will settle down in the US in the long-term, then I would definitely take the T-30. If you think you prefer the exit opportunities and lifestyle in Canada, then I would attend a Canadian law school. 

Do not attend a school outside the top 15 hoping to come back to Canada, because many employers will likely not have heard of the school. Only make this choice if you are prepared to live and work in the US in the long-term.

There are lots of US Big law jobs and they don't just go to people from the T14. And not everyone at the T14 schools even want to pursue Big law jobs. I think it is very doable from a T30 provided you have above average grades and/or network really well.

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Kobe
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6 minutes ago, Darth Vader said:

If you want to do US Big law, I would definitely look into accepting the offer. However, I would also bear in mind that the attrition rate is very high within the first few years. You rarely see US Big law Associates spend more than 5 years in Big law. I wouldn't pick a law school based on short-term monetary gain, but look into where you think you will live and work 5+ years out of law school. What does the exit opportunities out of US Big law and mid-law look like for you? How does that compare to exit opportunities from Canadian Big law firms? If you think you will settle down in the US in the long-term, then I would definitely take the T-30. If you think you prefer the exit opportunities and lifestyle in Canada, then I would attend a Canadian law school. 

Do not attend a school outside the top 15 hoping to come back to Canada, because many employers will likely not have heard of the school. Only make this choice if you are prepared to live and work in the US in the long-term.

There are lots of US Big law jobs and they don't just go to people from the T14. And not everyone at the T14 schools even want to pursue Big law jobs. I think it is very doable from a T30 provided you have above average grades and/or network really well.

That is reassuring, I think it needs more consideration like you said about what lifestyle I want. I was surprised at how generous the scholarship was so I am more strongly considering it now. 

I was offered some money to help with expenses to visit the school so I will look into doing that. Also have some t14 applications I am waiting on as well, in addition to Canadian applications. 

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Kobe
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11 minutes ago, erin otoole said:

When it comes to hedging your bets the ABA helps you out posting employment stats. Plug your school into the link below: https://www.abarequireddisclosures.org/EmploymentOutcomes.aspx. It will give you a better picture of the big law prospects out of your school. Regardless congrats on the acceptance 🙂

I’ll look through, will be useful for comparing if I get other acceptances. Thank you for this and for the congrats! I actually teared up getting the acceptance, it felt pretty special. 

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BlockedQuebecois
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@Kobe the other thing to consider is that a lot of lower-end T30 schools have very limited reach outside of their region.

The closer you are to T14 the better your reach will be, but as you work your way down the list you're often more-or-less locking yourself into the state the school is located in. For example, you can realistically get a job anywhere on the East coast out of Georgetown, but you're going to have a hard time getting out of Georgia from Emory. So you should think about whether you would be happy living long term in the state the school is in.

I disagree with @Darth Vader a bit on whether you can attend a T30 school and make your way back to Canada. If it's a T30 in Boston/Chicago/California, or it's one of the schools with a lot of mobility, you should be fine to make the transition back to Canada if you get into big law.

Canadian employers might not have a sense of how good a law school Boston University has, but they'll know that going to BU then putting three years in at the Boston office of Jones Day will prepare you just fine for working in Canadian big law. 

Some of the T30 schools also have inflated name brands in Canada for cultural reasons—a lot of lower information employers would recognize Notre Dame, Boston College, Vanderbilt and Georgetown over some of the T14 schools (Penn, Michigan, Virginia). 

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Kobe
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20 minutes ago, BlockedQuebecois said:

@Kobe the other thing to consider is that a lot of lower-end T30 schools have very limited reach outside of their region.

The closer you are to T14 the better your reach will be, but as you work your way down the list you're often more-or-less locking yourself into the state the school is located in. For example, you can realistically get a job anywhere on the East coast out of Georgetown, but you're going to have a hard time getting out of Georgia from Emory. So you should think about whether you would be happy living long term in the state the school is in.

I disagree with @Darth Vader a bit on whether you can attend a T30 school and make your way back to Canada. If it's a T30 in Boston/Chicago/California, or it's one of the schools with a lot of mobility, you should be fine to make the transition back to Canada if you get into big law.

Canadian employers might not have a sense of how good a law school Boston University has, but they'll know that going to BU then putting three years in at the Boston office of Jones Day will prepare you just fine for working in Canadian big law. 

Some of the T30 schools also have inflated name brands in Canada for cultural reasons—a lot of lower information employers would recognize Notre Dame, Boston College, Vanderbilt and Georgetown over some of the T14 schools (Penn, Michigan, Virginia). 

This is interesting, I was hoping in this case to stay in the location of the school, I really like it, but I imagine if I move a little bit higher in rankings it might help if I ever decided to come back to Canada like you noted. 
 

Seems like from what people are saying its not a bad option but to be prepared to stay in the US and possibly the region of the school, I don’t have a problem with this just something to think about. 
 

 

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Darth Vader
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I agree with @BlockedQuebecois and should have added that caveat in my post. No matter what law school you attend, if you spend some time in a well known Big law firm then it is not that difficult transitioning to another country to also work in Big law. Canadian Big law firms hire foreign trained lawyers with Big law experience all the time. I just do not recommend attending a lesser known T30 and coming back to Canada immediately out of school, unless you are fortunate to get a desirable position in the field you want to go into. 

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Kobe
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58 minutes ago, Darth Vader said:

I agree with @BlockedQuebecois and should have added that caveat in my post. No matter what law school you attend, if you spend some time in a well known Big law firm then it is not that difficult transitioning to another country to also work in Big law. Canadian Big law firms hire foreign trained lawyers with Big law experience all the time. I just do not recommend attending a lesser known T30 and coming back to Canada immediately out of school, unless you are fortunate to get a desirable position in the field you want to go into. 

Seems like it's a good option from what you and @BlockedQuebecois said. From what I gather it really comes down to having the right expectations. I'll have to compare it against any other offers I may get. 

I just don't want to waste 3 years, but it seems like the visa situation is not really a concern that either of you raised. 

I asked the school if there's any Canadian alumni I could talk to about their experience so that will help if they can put me in contact with anyone. 

 

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VitalGiraffe
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On 10/16/2021 at 5:00 PM, erin otoole said:

When it comes to hedging your bets the ABA helps you out posting employment stats. Plug your school into the link below: https://www.abarequireddisclosures.org/EmploymentOutcomes.aspx. It will give you a better picture of the big law prospects out of your school. Regardless congrats on the acceptance 🙂

What's considered Big Law here? 101+? 251+?

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BlockedQuebecois
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In the US size is a lot more variable. Wachtell is definitely a big law firm, but it only has about 275 lawyers. There are 500 lawyer firms in the US you would only consider to be mid-sized regional firms, though. 

As a general rule, I think most US-based big law firms will be at least 500+ lawyers, with most firms concentrating in the 750 – 2500 range. 

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Kobe
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7 hours ago, VitalGiraffe said:

What's considered Big Law here? 101+? 251+?

As blocked said it's usually 501+ so that's what I look at when viewing these ABA disclosures. It is best to do Federal Clerkships + Big Law (501+) to get an accurate guess at what percentage of the class is landing their desired outcome. 

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Marco
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On 10/16/2021 at 5:25 PM, BlockedQuebecois said:

Some of the T30 schools also have inflated name brands in Canada for cultural reasons—a lot of lower information employers would recognize Notre Dame, Boston College, Vanderbilt and Georgetown over some of the T14 schools (Penn, Michigan, Virginia). 

That's an interesting point which I didn't consider. Which of the T14s carry the greatest currency in Canada from a branding / perception standpoint? Should this be a serious consideration for someone looking to attend a T14 with an eye to returning to Canada later? For example, attending Cornell which is ranked near the bottom of the 14 over a bit higher ranked institution that has a far weaker reputational reach in Canada.

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not not a lawyer
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On 11/25/2021 at 6:20 PM, BlockedQuebecois said:

most US-based big law firms will be at least 500+ lawyers, with most firms concentrating in the 750 – 2500 range.

Progressing through the ranks of a firm with 2,000 is much much harder than a smaller firm, right? If so, why big law is so popular (other than high-profile cases and compensations)?

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Rashabon
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42 minutes ago, not not a lawyer said:

Progressing through the ranks of a firm with 2,000 is much much harder than a smaller firm, right? If so, why big law is so popular (other than high-profile cases and compensations)?

... I mean didn't you just answer the question?

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Darth Vader
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1 hour ago, Marco said:

That's an interesting point which I didn't consider. Which of the T14s carry the greatest currency in Canada from a branding / perception standpoint? Should this be a serious consideration for someone looking to attend a T14 with an eye to returning to Canada later? For example, attending Cornell which is ranked near the bottom of the 14 over a bit higher ranked institution that has a far weaker reputational reach in Canada.

Does it matter if you're coming back here with US big firm experience? Who is going to care where you went to law school then, even if it were Bond? 

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not not a lawyer
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12 hours ago, Rashabon said:

... I mean didn't you just answer the question?

I guess what I meant to ask was if there is more to it

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BlockedQuebecois
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Your question doesn't make any sense. It's a bit like saying "winning an olympic gold medal is much harder than winning your local 5K, right? If so, why is competing in the olympics so popular?"

If you want to practice at the pinnacle of certain practice areas, that type of work is exclusively practiced at top big law firms. That necessarily means you're going to be working in a harder, more competitive work environment. 

It's also not exclusive to big law. It's undoubtedly easier to article and progress at a run-of-the-mill civil litigation shop than it is a Paliare Roland, where absolutely everyone has a lot of intellectual horsepower. Or to be an average criminal defence lawyer than to make partner at Henein Hutchinson. 

If you want to work at the pinnacle of the profession, you need be willing to put in the work. 

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Rashabon
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45 minutes ago, not not a lawyer said:

I guess what I meant to ask was if there is more to it

In addition to what BQ said, sure there are ancillary elements. You get good training typically, you have the value of the firm on your resume, lots of exit opportunities, certain work and clients are only available at big law firms (at least in Canada), you don’t need to be entrepreneurial off the bat if you don’t want to, administrative matters are taken care of (the last two being underrated aspects), etc.

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Peculiar Frond
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1 hour ago, Rashabon said:

In addition to what BQ said, sure there are ancillary elements. You get good training typically, you have the value of the firm on your resume, lots of exit opportunities, certain work and clients are only available at big law firms (at least in Canada), you don’t need to be entrepreneurial off the bat if you don’t want to, administrative matters are taken care of (the last two being underrated aspects), etc.

Everything Rashabon said is right, but I'll add on a more general one: The bigger the firm, the more likely it is to be 'corporatized,' at least as far as associates and junior partners are concerned. For some, this is definite negative. The old-school partnership model has its charms. But lots of people who have worked in small-firm environments would tell you there are negatives that come with that territory. For example, awkward office politics, a reliance on one or two partners to bring in the work, etc. 

Additionally, large firms have resources that small firms just can't reasonably afford. For example, it's not uncommon for even mid-sized firms to lack a dedicated HR group. Small firms may lack IT and document services support, whereas large firms almost always have 24/7 in-house support. Larger firms have access to a broader range of research materials (subscriptions, e.g.) and dedicated teams of legal librarians. Small firms may have poorly defined benefits, such as parental leave. The bigger the firm, the more likely a given benefit is to be there. And American firms are the largest out there. One recent trend, at some of the larger NYC firms, is to provide a personal concierge service. So there is someone on-call to book reservations, plan holidays, and even (I'm not kidding) organize your kid's birthday party. (Yes, I find this last one deeply depressing. Chalk it up as a negative.)  

I work at a large firm in the US. I see the attraction in moving to a small shop, back in Canada, down the line. But I'm grateful for a lot of the fringe benefits at my current workplace. I doubt there would be an 'easier' place to practice law and, at the end of the day, that's what I want to do. 

Edited by Peculiar Frond
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Rashabon
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57 minutes ago, Peculiar Frond said:

Everything Rashabon said is right, but I'll add on a more general one: The bigger the firm, the more likely it is to be 'corporatized,' at least as far as associates and junior partners are concerned. For some, this is definite negative. The old-school partnership model has its charms. But lots of people who have worked in small-firm environments would tell you there are negatives that come with that territory. For example, awkward office politics, a reliance on one or two partners to bring in the work, etc. 

Additionally, large firms have resources that small firms just can't reasonably afford. For example, it's not uncommon for even mid-sized firms to lack a dedicated HR group. Small firms may lack IT and document services support, whereas large firms almost always have 24/7 in-house support. Larger firms have access to a broader range of research materials (subscriptions, e.g.) and dedicated teams of legal librarians. Small firms may have poorly defined benefits, such as parental leave. The bigger the firm, the more likely a given benefit is to be there. And American firms are the largest out there. One recent trend, at some of the larger NYC firms, is to provide a personal concierge service. So there is someone on-call to book reservations, plan holidays, and even (I'm not kidding) organize your kid's birthday party. (Yes, I find this last one deeply depressing. Chalk it up as a negative.)  

I work at a large firm in the US. I see the attraction in moving to a small shop, back in Canada, down the line. But I'm grateful for a lot of the fringe benefits at my current workplace. I doubt there would be an 'easier' place to practice law and, at the end of the day, that's what I want to do. 

Very much agreed on all this (from the Canadian standpoint as well, though not as comprehensive on things like concierge services). I was having a discussion with some juniors the other day and they were shocked when I said working in big law was easier than the alternative, until I was able to finish and explain that while the hours, work and stress are by no means easy, all the other stuff is a lot easier. Everything is handed to you.

Adding on to the above, my firm and most big law firms have in house marketing departments that will help you build your profile, keep on top of developments, maintain client connections. Big firms have tons of CPD for free internally. Conferences are often paid for, travel expenses reimbursed, you get a business development budget/reimbursement, etc.

My firm shut down immediately when COVID was declared a pandemic. Within a week, they had made arrangements for every associate to have a work from home set up. Smaller firms were still going in as "essential services" for months, often unhappily.

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easttowest
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I’d have a hard time getting used to practising outside of big law if it ever came down to that. I’m practically spoonfed, and I enjoy it. 

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