Law School Graduates Are Drowning In Debt

Law School Graduates Are Drowning In Debt

According to the American Bar Association, the average law school student graduates with $140,000 in debt; that’s an average of $250,000 in debt per class. With such staggering numbers, you’d think we’d learn our lesson and become more careful about who we let into law school and what we teach them once they get there, right? Not, because it seems that even though these schools are graduating students who can’t find jobs and therefore default on their loans in droves, enrollment at these schools hasn’t dropped all that much.

The number of law school graduates from 2012-2016

Nearly half of new law school graduates are working in jobs that don’t require a law degree. That means they make less than $60,000 a year and they often have over $100,000 in student loans. One out of four graduates is making less than $40,000. Another 13% don’t have full-time work at all or couldn’t find any jobs after graduation. The average law school debt is just under $140,000–a record high.

It’s hard to imagine law school as a good investment when you look at these figures. It takes a great deal of dedication and hard work to become a successful lawyer, but many are failing before they even get started. People often go to law school because it seems like an easy way to make big money,

but it’s just not true. The competition is fierce and new lawyers have very little work experience; which makes it almost impossible for them to compete with more experienced attorneys who don’t have student loans hanging over their heads.

Employment status of law school graduates – Third Paragraph: More than 100,000 lawyers were unemployed in 2015—not counting those who took part-time jobs because they couldn’t find full-time positions.

The average debt per law student in 2017

The average debt for a law student graduating in 2017 is nearly $140,000. This is double what it was in the 1980s. It does not appear that this trend will slow down any time soon as many students are enrolling in more expensive schools to increase their likelihood of getting employed post-graduation.

One reason that law school debt has been increasing so steadily over the years is that there are fewer federal loans available to law students.

Top law schools with the highest average debt

Our list of the law schools with the highest average debt, starting with number ten:

-Loyola Law School of Los Angeles

-Suffolk University Law School

-Western New England College Law School, Springfield MA

-California Western School of Law (San Diego)

-Quincy College of Law

-Phoenix School of Law at Arizona Summit University

The best value schools according to Forbes

#1 – Villanova University School of Law: 75% employed, median salary $135,000

#2 – Syracuse University College of Law: 69% employed, median salary $87,600

#3 – Washington and Lee University: 71% employed, median salary $139,000

#4 – Vanderbilt University Law School: 73% employed, median salary $108,000

Average salaries for lawyers (2017)

The average salary for lawyers in the US is $141,000. Salaries can range from $48,000 to over $1 million depending on various factors such as location, experience, and type of job. How much you will earn after law school largely depends on where you are living, how hard your legal career is and what field of law you go into.

The average salary for lawyers in the United States is $141,000.

The Biglaw Blues

Despite the nearly impossible competition, with the paychecks to match, why do grads of such prestigious schools face these issues? The answer can be summed up in one word: debt. Law school graduates face an average debt load of $180,000 at graduation. With about 40% of those grads then entering Biglaw–with starting salaries now at $160,000 a year–it would be safe to say that those borrowed funds are quickly melting away.

For some law school graduates, though, their debt is so overwhelming that they choose to leave the legal field entirely. For example, around 20% of recent Stanford grads leave the law altogether after only two years out of school due to insurmountable student loans and low-paying jobs. Yet if you’re looking for ways to avoid this fate, don’t despair! There are ways you can reduce your student loan payments and minimize your debt while still retaining your career as a lawyer (check out our blog post How To Reduce Your Student Loan Payments).

How to make it as a lawyer with $100K in debt

So, you thought becoming a lawyer would give you an upper hand in life. Except, it turns out that being a graduate from one of these law schools might have set you up for failure in the long term. With an average cost for tuition, room, and board, and fees adding up to almost $60,000 per year at private schools and $40,000 per year at public schools for the three years required to earn the Juris Doctor degree.

The total will likely be more than $200,000 by the time you’re done. Now add on personal interest from school loans from say 5% -7% and that’s another $100-$200K over 30 years – so make sure your salary as a lawyer can sustain this amount of debt before rushing into a decision.

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