Unprecedented, Enormous Law School Debt

by Vault Law Editors | May 09, 2011

  • My Vault

Six figures to sit in a classroom and get publicly ridiculed in front of dozens of other people all so that you can take some bell-curve-graded exams on a bunch of theory that you’ll never use in real life. Sounds ridiculous when put that way, but thousands of students break the bank each year and give their lives over to the time-(and self-esteem)-suck that is law school.

Of course, several years ago, those six figures may have been an investment on a long, lucrative career at a top law firm. But the Hartford Business Journal reports that “[t]oday’s law school graduate has more debt than ever before, and is facing a market where getting a job is an extensive, grueling process.”

Not exactly surprising news to the legal world: law students aren’t just facing a depressing job market, they’ve got loads of debt. “The large debt is what sets this recession apart from all others,” said James Leipold, executive director for the National Association for Law Placement. Just how much is this unprecedented debt? According to the Hartford Business Journal,

From 2001 to 2010, the average amount borrowed annually by law students for their three-year degrees increased 50 percent, according to the American Bar Association. This past academic year, law students borrowed an average of $68,827 for public educations and $106,249 for private educations.

That’s one year, folks, not all three years of law school. In the words of Above the Law, “law school is expensive. Really, really expensive. Much more expensive than it used to be.” Indeed.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to law school. It just means that you have to be extremely thoughtful in your decision whether to attend. For attorneys featured in the Hartford Business Journal’s piece, some factors they considered were lower tuition offered by an in-state school and the ability build local networks by remaining in the location in which they desired to practice. For others, considerations may include placement statistics in their careers of choice, overall career placement, internship opportunities, location, specific programs at the school, scholarship money, and many others.

What is clear is that given the significance of the investment, prospective students must fully investigate the impact of law school on their finances and future career and weigh whether it makes sense for them (Join Vault’s discussion on whether to attend law school next week in NYC). I think we all understand that law school is no longer an easy fall-back option.

Hartford Business Journal source
Above the Law source

Read More:
To Law School or Not?
5 Arguments For & 5 Arguments Against Going Law School
Law School Applications Plummet

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Filed Under: Law

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