Law school, as all graduates know, is expensive. Forbes says alumni typically leave public law schools with $84,000 of debt, and the average debt load from private institutions totals $122,158. If you've recently graduated with a juris doctor degree and would like to pay your loans off quickly, seek a position as a corporate lawyer overseas.
Corporate Lawyers Command High Salaries
Across all specialties, lawyers are known for earning decent salaries. Corporate lawyers command an above-average wage when compared to other fields, though. According to Chron, corporate attorney's starting salaries range from around $100,000 to $160,000. In contrast, CNN Money reports that 50 percent of law-school graduates earn less than $62,000 in their first year.
In addition to commanding a high starting salary, corporate lawyers also have the benefit of working for large firms. In the legal industry, bigger organizations tend to pay better than smaller ones. Citing a study conducted by the National Center for Law Placement, the above-mentioned Chron article reports the following:
- first-year lawyers at firms with 101 to 250 attorneys earn an average salary of $105,000
- first-year lawyers at firms with 251 to 500 attorneys earn an average salary of $125,000
- first-year lawyers at firms with 501 to 700 attorneys earn an average salary of $120,000 (a slight exception to the trend)
- first-year lawyers at firms with more than 700 attorneys earn an average salary of $160,000
Working Overseas Will Set You Apart
Many law school graduates are tied down to a certain geographical region. For family or other reasons, they either can't or won't leave the United States for a job.
If you're able and willing to go anywhere in the world, you'll be more attractive to large international law firms. Additionally, you may be able to land a better-paying job than you'd otherwise be able to get if you stayed in the United States because
- you'll be competing with fewer law school graduates for open positions
- you'll be able to apply to the best-paying jobs, since you aren't limited to openings in just one region or country
- an employer may give you an additional financial incentive to work in a city or country that others aren't willing to go to
Your Salary May Go Further Overseas
Even if you don't end up making more per year than your domestic colleagues, you may be able to put more of your salary towards paying off your loans if you go overseas. The cost of living in many countries is lower than it is in the United States. If you take a position in a country, region or city with a lower cost of living, you'll have to spend less on housing, food and transportation. This will let you save more -- or pay down your law school loans quicker.
Sometimes, employers offer overseas employees allowances when they live overseas. A housing, car or travel allowance would further reduce how much of your salary goes towards living expenses. In effect, an allowance is additional income for you, although the allowance portion of your compensation must go towards an approved expense.
Even if you don't want to live overseas for the rest of your life, working abroad as a corporate lawyer for a couple of years can help you get a solid financial footing. Loans can be debilitating, especially when they total tens of thousands of dollars or even more than $100,000. Taking an excellent-paying position overseas, though, will let you direct a lot of your income towards these loans. In just a few years, you could greatly reduce your debt load -- or possibly even pay off your loans.
For more information about the kind of work a corporate lawyer does, check out websites like www.carterwestlaw.com.