Friday, March 24, 2006

The Costs of Partying

There is one class that is famous for its annual parties: Advanced Corporate Law. The practitioners who teach the course treat all the students (20) to dinner and drinks at the end of the course to celebrate. And when I say "celebrate", think steak and single malt Scotch. There are students who actually ballot the course simply to partake in this evening (and night).

It is tough to know exactly how much these celebrations cost. One student estimated about $1500. Another thought it was closer to $4000 or maybe even $5000. (The upper estimate would put it at about $200/head.) Remember: for one evening of drinking and merriment.

I imagine that an evening like this is not unusual for a Corporate lawyer in a big firm. If they're charging $800 an hour to their clients, the cost of the bill could be less than one day of billable hours. $4000 may not seem to be significant.

But how much is $4000 in the real world? I was talking to a student who was disgusted by the whole thing. She argued that these Corporate lawyers are completely out of touch with humanity. She notes that in 2005 the average salary for Chinese college graduates is only $196 a month. I'm sure you've heard all these statistics many times. What do they say? About 1.2 billion people live on less that $1 per day? Certainly to these people, $4000 would be incredibly significant.

Worlds apart.


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