Putting Law School Debt in Perspective

Yesterday, I compared the value of law school (cost: $100,000+) to a bar review course (cost: about $3,000). In other words, the purchase price of a 41′ yacht versus less than a month’s salary for a McDonald’s store manager.

Today, Bloomberg Law tries to break down the debt numbers and put them in perspective.

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  • shg

    I’ve always enjoyed the deep fried onion appetizer at Outback Steakhouse, but it doesn’t seem to agree with me. I still order it on occasion, but always regret it afterward.

  • Andy

    Nothing good ever comes free. Bottom line, you are going to suck at every job you pursue if you think that the credential alone is the apex of success. Success comes through patience, persistence, network, and drive. Some influential contacts never hurt either.

    The effort of highlighting the risk of the investment of law school is valiant, however, you can replace law school with any other profession, (except computer programmer, I think) and return the same results of the top 50% of the profession working steadily and the bottom 50% constantly looking for work.

    Life is perspective and debt is unavoidable, unless you are independently wealthy. If you are pursuing what you love and have a plan to utilize your new found credential, the juice is worth the squeeze. Remember, if you care about what other people think of you, you may have a problem.

    Thanks to the Lawyerist staff for the informative and fun to read website.

    Stay fresh

    Andy (aka @brewery33)

    • There’s a long, long way between free and $153,000.

      • Andy

        Define free. I completed a State accredited apprenticeship, which qualified me as an HVAC Building Trades Journeyman. While no monetary costs, other than transportation to the training center (90 miles round trip two nights a week for five years), their were time costs and earning potential sacrifices. If I had chosen the non-union route of no time or monetary cost, my income potential would have suffered as well as receiving no formal recognition other than a resume contact for my efforts. Cost is subjective.

        I appreciate the cautionary tales that drive the debate of law school’s monetary worth, but emphasis placed on the plan for attaining a goal to practice in a desired area is prudent to recognize.

        Markets drive economies, and we can rest assured that legal work will not go away. It will just reconfigure itself. It is our duty as professionals to react to the market and find revenue streams that will supplement our debt to the almighty government.

        My SMWIA accreditation is only as good as the paper it is printed upon. The only reason I was able to enjoy a fruitful career in that market was due to persistence, patience, and network. As I hit the intellectual ceiling of the profession, I have decided to enter the legal realm of the industry. Law school is a necessary expense for my master plan.

        I agree with your foundational point, the market is horrible and pay is not what is expected. However, I have found that nothing is what is expected, but what I have made it.

        Again, thank you for providing this forum.

        Andy

  • I’m still cool with my decision, I guess. But if Bloomberg would have told me that I could have purchased my own rocket-pack with that money, I would be bathed in regret right now.

  • NC

    Law school is an investment in yourself. If you enjoy what you do, it will likely pay off in the long run.

  • Carl

    I’ve been reading these reports all over the place the last few days about “LSAT Test Takers” Dropping and “Law School Applications Down 20%”, and a few news outlets have posted this as good news for thinning the ranks of future lawyers. But I have yet to see anyone report on whether law schools will actually accept less students in their incoming classes, or rather lower their standards (further, some might argue) to keep the money flowing in? To summarize, will less law school applicants actually lead to less future lowers, or a further erosion of the standards of our profession?

  • Carl

    *Lawyers.

  • I’m surprised at how many people still want to go to law school despite all of the negative press it has received. I’m frequently asked about what law school is like, instead of being asked whether law school is a good investment. LSAT test takers are down 20%, but there are still a lot of people that want to go to law school despite the market and the cost benefit analysis of getting a law degree.