Thursday, January 28, 2010

Over 46% of Law School Class of 2013 Will Graduate With $120k+ of Debt?


Up from 29% in 2009.  Combine that with expected salary statistics and this is a recipe for a lifelong financial disaster for most of these students.  (Student loans are non-secured, non-dischargeable debt.) 

Here is a recent look at the salaries law grads can expect:

Of the 22,305 law school graduates in NALP's sample (over half of all 2008 graduates), a remarkable 23% (5,130  '08 grads) reported an entry-level salary of $160,000.  In contrast, 42% of entry level lawyers reported salaries in the $40,000 to $65,000 range.  Once again, the central tendencies are a poor guide to the distribution as a whole: whereas the mean salary is a $92,000, the median salary was $72,000.   Further, the two modes ($50,000 and $160,000) are separated by $110,000.

Put another way, if you decide to become a lawyer you are nearly twice as likely to make less than $65,000 as you are to make $160,000+.  lawyer_salaries

While I would not argue that law schools should have a legal duty to warn students about this potential disaster, I think there is a very strong argument they have a moral duty to do so.  It disturbs me that so few in legal academia seem to be making this effort.

Think long and hard if you’re considering going to law school and even harder before taking on too much in student loans.

Related:  Here are five myths regarding the practice of law many students entering law school tend to believe.

  1. Becoming a lawyer is a guaranteed path to financial success.
  2. As a lawyer, I can eradicate injustice and affect societal change.
  3. I will make a great lawyer because I am good at arguing.
  4. Litigators lead a thrilling, high-powered and glamorous life.
  5. The work of a lawyer is intellectually challenging.

Also, the New York Times had a recent article on the diminishing value of a law degreeSarah Waldeck responds by saying there are only three reasons you should consider going to law school:

  1. you have always dreamed of being a lawyer; or
  2. you are accepted by a very prestigious institution; or
  3. you are offered a full scholarship.

If none of these thee apply to you, I’d have to agree with Sarah.  Don’t go.

(HT TaxProf Blog)


thinking said...

It's interesting how those 5 myths are seen in almost all TV and movie portrayals of lawyers and law firms.

I wonder to what extent this is cause and this is other words, does the entertainment media reflect these myths, or does the entertainment media propagate and create these myths?

Kevin said...

Well, at least you qualify for one reason for what you are doing to yourself ... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Brian, do you have the citation information or source for the very top chart on debt? It appears that the original blog deleted the post.

Anonymous said...

Actually, with the original post deleted (which is suspicious), do we not have any information about the source for this data? Also, to be honest, that top chart is so poorly labeled that I'm not sure what it even purports to show. I'd love to know though if you happen to remember.