Thursday, April 15, 2010

U.S. News Reports REAL NEWS: Consider the Return on Your Investment, or Lack Thereof, when Considering Law School!

Nothing makes a Thursday seem sweeter than a story on the real prospects of law school grads.  I am hoping some of these research whiz kids run into this article when deciding whether to proceed with taking the LSAT.

Of course, it covers NOTHING that my readers didn't already know.  But here are some gems:

The American Bar Association reports that from 2007 to 2008, average tuition rose 6 percent at private law schools, to $34,298, and 9 percent at in-state public schools, to $16,836. Add in living expenses and pricey books, and at least 80 percent of students now rely on student loans to fund their law education.

It may seem out of touch for law schools to be raising prices in a lousy economy, but it's a reflection of supply and demand. Indeed, an increasing number of people appear willing to take on six-figure debt to get a law degree. In 2009, the number of people who took the Law School Admission Test hit a decade high, up 6.4 percent from the year before. "As long as people keep applying to law schools in record numbers, (a) there's no incentive at all for the universities to charge less for the law schools that are already established, and (b) there's every incentive for other universities to open new law schools," says Elie Mystal, editor of the popular legal blog Above the Law.

Tuition raises have become necessary at many universities, especially top ones competing for higher rankings, according to the Government Accountability Office. The heated competition induces schools to ramp up their programs by hiring better faculty, reducing class sizes, providing enhanced student services, and offering more practical coursework.

Many do not research the real economic costs and benefits of a law degree, says Prof. Herwig Schlunk of Vanderbilt University. "It's kind of blindly accepted that education in general, and legal education in particular, is always worth the money," says Schlunk. "[But] there's a lot of kids who do go to law school who really have no business, at least not as an investment matter, in going."

"In their mind's eye, [law students are] thinking of hitting the lottery and getting one of these $160,000-a-year jobs, and it is a fiction," ... "By and large, it's just like the lottery. You're spending a huge amount of money in the hopes of hitting the jackpot, and there's relatively small chances, and the chances have gotten a lot smaller."

Of course, Lamm the Liar makes an appearance with some bullshit that the deferred associates are getting hired, so the market is improving.  Whatever.  The article also goes into some rant about networking and focusing on the skills you had BEFORE law school when finding a job.  Which begs the question, why did you go to law school to focus on skills you had before law school?

The facts remain, and  there are too many attorneys and it's harder to be a big fish in the ocean than it is in a pond.  However, that colloquialism goes.  I still maintain that I'm lucky with far less than a hundred grand of debt.  The biggest problem with graduating today is the debt load which precludes you from taking whatever salary you'd like.  And ignoring your debt load can severely compromise your future--because you won't be able to buy a house or a car with shitty credit.  

But hats off to U.S. News for its attempt at journalism.  Great job!


  1. What's ridiculous is all these people spazzing out about their ranking if it is outside of Harvard, Yale or Stanford. Outside of that who cares. It's amazing they even put the word 'Top' before "Top 100 Law Schools". Are you serious? That's like saying "Top 100 toilet paper".

  2. Chris and Christian, recent commenters on Third Tier Reality should see this article. They are vigorously defending the Third Tier Toilet, University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, MN.



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