"Is it too late for me to go to law school?," both you and Elaine Benes, Julia Louis-Dreyfus's character on the hit 90s sitcom Seinfeld, have probably asked at some point in your non-law school attending professional life. Much like college, law school is known to provide a jumble of personal and professional skills that are said to set you apart from candidates who don't. But, also like college, law school carries a steep price tag: average tuition at a private university's law school runs at an average of $45,467 per year. Even public law schools run from an average of $25,890 and $38,885 per year, in-state and out-of-state costs respectively.
So, will it make you rich?
As of last month, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal industry currently employs 1,125,300 people, 1,500 more than in October of 2015. Last year, the Times reported that the starting salary for first-year hires at law firms almost universally range in the triple-figures. James Leipold, of the National Association for Law Placement, told the Times that, in New York, "the $160,000 starting salary is almost universal." So, yes.
In fact, now just might be the time to get into the legal sector. Susan Beck, writing for no less an institution than The American Lawyer, reports that, "Nearly all [law firm leaders] said that Trump's presidency will initially mean more work for many lawyers." One of those leaders that Beck quoted, Kim Koopersmith of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, one of the most profitable law firms in the country, admitted that "because [Trump] has an agenda that is kind of unprecedented and untested, it does raise the prospect of significant legal needs in a variety of practices."
It's not just a matter of taking classes and passing the right tests, however. The legal world is a far cry from the slammed-down briefs of the criminal justice world. The kind of law you decide to focus on, however, depends as much on your personal interests as where you plan to practice. A great resource, even before you start looking at law schools, is BCG Search, a legal placement service that closely monitors current legal opportunities all over the country. Right now, for instance, you can access their State of the Law Firm Hiring Market for Spring-Summer 2016 and find out which fields are hiring and where.
Wendy Siegel, Director of Recruitment & Marketing at the NYU School of Law's Office of Career Services, reiterates the sheer importance of doing your homework before sitting down for that LSAT. "Students need to do some investigative research and soul-searching," she told me when I asked her how potential students should approach considering law school. It's essential, she said, "to speak with as many people as possible to make sure they understand what law school is like, which school would be the best fit, and speak to lawyers who are doing the type of work that they might be interested in doing down the road."
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When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.
A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.
One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.
The Federal Reserve
The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.
This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.
The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.
Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.
Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.
With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.