My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

A Debt-Free Graduate's Decision

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A Debt-Free Graduate's DecisionThe last three years have been great!  Being debt free, I've been able to save a bit toward retirement, travel, and things I've needed, without worrying about where money will come from, etc. 

I have recently made a decision, however, that will change my financial future, and that is to go to law school.

I've wanted to go to law school since I graduated from college 18 years ago.  At the time, however, I had some student loans and wanted to get them paid off.  Although I love my job, there is no opportunity for advancement because it is family-owned and operated, and I'm ready for a change. 

After hearing horror stories of students graduating from law school with over a hundred thousand dollars of debt and no job prospects, I realized I needed to do some thinking and planning before taking the plunge. 

There are many personal reasons why one should or shouldn't go back to school, law school or not, and here are the reasons for my decision.

1.  I don't plan to work for "big law."  Many law school forums talk about the dismal job opportunities for lawyers that graduate from law schools not listed in the top 20 according to U.S. News Rankings.  I already have a friend who is a practicing attorney in California and we will be starting a firm together.  Since I know I'll have some type of work waiting for me, it's worth going.

2.  I'm keeping my debt low.  I didn't qualify for any grants, so I will be financing the majority of my education - as most law students end up doing.  Even students accepted on full scholarships usually lose it the first year because it's so difficult to maintain the GPA requirement.  I will be going to school part-time in the evening and working full-time during the day.   If all goes well, I should only have to finance half of the tuition and won't need to finance my living expenses since I'm working.

3.  I've already worked in a law firm.   Before moving to California, I worked as a paralegal for a couple of years to get an idea of what it would be like to work as a lawyer.  It re-affirmed that I would ultimately go to law school.

4.  Creating a new budget.  I know for some younger students especially, it's difficult to keep your expenses low when you are given an opportunity to take out more than is necessary for living expenses.  Since I've been on the Debt Management Plan (DMP) before, I know what it's like to live on a tight budget, and hope to be as disciplined as I was while paying down my debt.

5.  If I don't love studying law, I still have a job.  If for some reason, I don't like law school or can't handle the pressure, I can drop out of school and continue at my current position.  Although I have no intention of doing that, it certainly makes me feel a bit more secure about my decision.

6.  I enjoy helping people.  One part of being a lawyer that interests me is advocacy work.  Attorneys can make money in private practice by helping businesses or as public defenders, and at the same time, assist non-profit organizations that really need the legal help.  In addition, it will be great to help out family, friends, and neighbors. 

So far, this is my plan.  I hope it sticks. 

More importantly, however, I'm hoping I will finish law school with minimal debt and a career that I love. 

I even look forward to hearing the bad lawyer jokes. 

If any of you have worked full time while going to school, I'd love to hear your thoughts and any tips you have to share. 

 Related Posts:

Straight Talk on Debt: The Future for Graduates

Should You Go Back To School?  

Your Debt-Free, But What do You Have to Show For it?

Cheryl BigosCheryl Bigos

Cheryl Bigos graduated from a CareOne Debt Relief Services Debt Management Plan (DMP) in 2008. She is now blogging about life as a DMP graduate in the My Journey out of Debt blog. She works as a Purchasing Manager in Los Angeles, teaches Pilates, and lives with her boyfriend of four years. Cheryl is looking forward to sharing what she has learned from her experience in the DMP and after! Look for great tips about life 'after' debt! Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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  • Great post and congratulations! I've considered going to law school for a while and interned for a lawyer, but I am still not 100% positive that I want to go and between tuition and lost salary it would be costing me a few hundred thousand dollars - so I want to be SURE before I decide to go. But because I have 3+ years left on my DMP, it's not even an option for me to think about quitting my job and enrolling yet anyway, and that makes me kind of mad that I don't have that freedom.

  • The Girl Next Door, Thank you!  When I was on the DMP, I didn't even consider law school for the same reasons you are.  If you are considering this for later, one thing you can do is start studying for the LSAT now.  If you score well on it, you may qualify for some scholarships.  I will be working fulltime and going to school at night part-time.  It will only take one year longer.  I've decided that if I can't handle the huge workload, I may go full-time.  The biggest complaint people have is graduating with lots of debt.  If you do decide to go, just be sure to have a plan and realize that unless you go to Harvard, people will not be banging down on your door offering you six figures a year.  If you really want to be  lawyer, then you should absolutely do it.  Best wishes on becoming debt-free soon and I hope you are able to go to law school if that is truly what you want to do!

  • So, my savings goal has certainly changed; however, the remaining habits have stuck and should continue not only throughout the rest of the year, but for the rest of my life.

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