Would law school consumers benefit from warning labels? With 14 class actions against law schools, the launch of scamblogs and LSAT takers referred to as suckers, perhaps it’s time that law school applications come with warning labels.

That’s what Abnormal Use’s Frances G. Zacher contemplates in Warning: Your J.D. May Not Be Worth What You Paid For It. Zacher builds her case by citing several sources that demonstrate just how inherently dangerous a law school degree can be and suggests the following warnings:

WARNING: You may not be able to pay these loans back during your lifetime.

We would argue, however, that this warning might not be adequate. Instead, consider this stronger, more accurate warning:

WARNING: Go to law school, and you may wind up bankrupt and still liable for the student loan debt.

And these are a great start. However, if we’re going to warn college graduates about “all” the dangers of getting a law degree, we probably need to go a bit further. Over at Legal Blog Watch, Bruce Carton brainstorms some additional warning labels for legal education:

WARNING: Go to law school, and a disproportionate number of your friends may be lawyers.

WARNING: Go to law school, and you may someday introduce yourself at parties as a “recovering lawyer.”

WARNING: Go to law school, and you may end up as a legal blogger.

But my personal favorite, thus far, has to be BL1Y’s entry:

WARNING: Go to law school, and a disproportionate number of your friends may be barristas.

This certainly isn’t the first time the law school warning label idea has been proposed. Back in November, 2010 over at The National Law Journal, Ari Kaplan explored who is to blame for what ails legal education. WARNING: unless you’re a LexisNexis subscriber, you can’t actually read Mr. Kaplan’s article.

Personally, I’m not big on warning labels. Like disclaimers, I’m skeptical that warning labels actually protect the public from being misled. This is primarily because I don’t think people read them.

But, if we’re going to warn folks about the inherent dangers of buying a law degree, and ultimately becoming a lawyer, here are two more labels for consideration:

Warning: Keep out of reach of children. – Perhaps a better warning for law school admissions counselors, this one will go a long way to increase the competence of the licensed.

Warning: May cause mental illness, substance abuse, divorce, suicide, poor physical health, and general unhappiness. – In Should Law-School Applications Include a Warning Label (.pdf), The Honorable David L. Baker explores law school warning labels of a different sort.

What say you Lawyerists? Looking back, what warning labels would you have liked to see on your law school applications? Would law school warning labels make any bit of difference in solving some of the problems facing the profession? With all the information out there about the climate for law school graduates, can today’s law school applicants reasonably claim to be misled about what their futures are likely to look like?


The Small Firm Scorecard example graphic.

The Small Firm ScorecardTM

Is your law firm structured to succeed in the future?

The practice of law is changing. You need to understand whether your firm is positioned for success in the coming years. Our free Small Firm Scorecard will identify your firm’s strengths and weaknesses in just a few minutes.

Leave a Reply