ABA Warns of Law School Economics

Getting Schooled in Law Loans begins with these two sentences:

The American Bar Association has officially issued a warning on its website. The ABA is now making the case to persuade college students not to go to law school.

The “warning” is a paper titled The Value Proposition of Attending Law School.  It’s opening paragraph states

a proper understanding of the economic cost of a legal education is vital for making an educated decision. Far too many law students expect that earning a law degree will solve their financial problems for life. In reality, however, attending law school can become a financial burden for law students who fail to consider carefully the financial implications of their decision.

My executive summary of the paper:

  • “An average student considering enrolling in law school now should thus expect to graduate with debt well in excess of $100,000.”
  • “[T]hese costs often exceed the expected return on their investment in the job market . . . only 23% of the graduates of the class of 2008 started with such a high salary [$160,000], including only 37% of those who went into private practice. Shockingly, most of the rest of the graduates, about 42%, started with an annual salary of less than $65,000.”
  • “This year, the employment picture is even more bleak.”
  • “[T]o make a positive return on the investment of going to law school, given the current costs, the average law student must earn an average annual salary of at least $65,315. As the data above show, however, over 40% of law school graduates have starting salaries below this threshold. Thus, many students start out in a position from which it may be difficult to recoup their investment in legal education.”

No student entering law school expects to be in the “shocking” 42%.  Everyone thinks it will happen to someone else.  Two out of five are wrong.

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