More and more people are beginning to realize that the high cost of a law degree these days is frequently a very bad investment.  Law is a great field and can be very lucrative for many, but thanks to a combination of two factors (recession and more law school graduates than available law jobs) many recent law school graduates are finding that not only are jobs few and far between, but too often the pay is not great.  Everybody who is considering going to law school should read an informative white paper just produced by the American Bar Association called “Value Proposition of Attending Law School.”  This article begins:

“Choosing to attend law school is a big decision that prospective law students should not take lightly. Although many factors may influence one’s decisions about whether and where to attend law school, 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. . . . most of the rest of the graduates, about 42%, started with an annual salary of less than $65,000.”

Here are some blogs that tell prospective law school students about the reality of law school and legal employment.

  • Big Debt, Small Law – Dirt poor lawyers in a filthy rich town.  “We prefer not be crammed elbow to elbow in document review gulags for less money than an ex-con gets paid to stamp holes in sheet metal. We prefer not to run around toilet courts and haggle over $500 whiplash cases for 45 K a year and no health benefits. Our sole purpose is to dissuade, deter and prevent more hapless lemmings from repeating the mistake of law school. Law has no rewards. Instead of pots of gold, you’ll find only piles of sh*t.”
  • Exposing the Law School Scam – “This blog is written by a coalition of lawyers dedicated to exposing the ‘law school scam.’ In particular, we are interested in exposing the dramatic oversupply of lawyers, and how that oversupply has been caused by bogus employment and income/salary statistics used by most law schools to induce applicants to apply to law school. Also, we are concerned with how the legal establishment is complicit in this ‘law school scam’.”
  • The Jobless Juris Doctor – “A blog to vent about the evils of the legal profession, the law school scam, and being jobless with a JD.”
  • JD Underdog – “Be careful with law school, you might just graduate! – JD Underdog graduated from law school in 2005. He worked the doc review circuit before finally landing a permanent job that he could have gotten with a college degree. His mission is to humor you, but warn you of the dangers of going to law school with the deck so heavily stacked.”
  • Temporary Attorney: The Sweatshop Edition – “Temp Life at Some of America’s Most Notorious Legal Sweatshops.”
  • But I Did Everything Right! – “Everyday is a cloudy day in the life of a disenchanted lawyer.”
  • Esq. Never –  “One law school graduate’s attempt to find a fulfilling career in spite of his legal education.”
  • Waitress, JD – “Random musings of an underemployed law school grad looking for her place in or out of the law and in the world.”
  • Third Tier Reality – “My goal is to inform potential law school students and applicants of the ugly realities of attending law school.  Do not attend unless: (1) you get into a top 8 law school; (2) you get a full-tuition scholarship to attend; (3) you have employment as an attorney secured through a relative or close friend; or (4) you are fully aware beforehand that your huge investment in time, energy, and money does not, in any way, guarantee a job as an attorney or in the legal industry.”
  • Law School Must be Debunked
  • Toiletlaw

Makes me wonder when the class action lawyers will start filing lawsuits against law schools and law professors as co-conspirators.  I believe it is morally wrong for a school to collect $90,000, $120,000 or more in tuition without first giving prospective students adequate warnings about the legal job market, especially the actual experience of the school’s recent grads.  My advice to law schools

[which of course won’t pay any attention to me] to lessen the potential damage is to:

  1. Warn incoming students in writing about the economic realities of incurring big debts.
  2. Compile detailed salary and job information for all recent graduates.  This could be done many different ways.  One way is by the law schools entering into written contracts with all incoming students requiring the students to give annual job and salary information to the law schools and imposing liquidated damages if the students/future graduates fail to supply the information.  Alternatively, the schools should pay money to the graduates each year for at least five years in exchange for job and salary information.
  3. Give every prospective and current student detailed information about jobs and salaries of all people who graduated within the last five years.