Will Prospective Law Students Listen to the Hard Truth?
Too many unemployed (or under-employed) college graduates) choose graduate school as a default option. I have been consistent in this message, particularly as to those who aspire to earn MBA or law degrees. For many who earn these degrees, the return on investment is poor or non-existent. The burdens of student loans far outweigh the short or long term benefit.
The question is: Are prospective law students paying attention?
Here is someone you should listen to – the chairman of one of the largest law firms in the country – who was asked by the Wall Street Journal whether college grads should reconsider law school plans:
Yes. The business model of the U.S. law school doesn’t quite make sense to me. Law schools will bring you in from college and educate you, but they will encumber you with six-figure indebtedness at a tender age.
The assumption was that there was no problem, because law firms like K&L Gates would pay that off for you. And that is where the wheels are falling off.
I’ve heard that law school applications are actually increasing. We will be pouring tens of thousands of young people into a market that I suspect is not going to be able to absorb them at the remuneration levels that would have justified them taking on that debt.
That’s a diplomatic way of saying to those who are considering borrowing their way through law school: “Are you insane?”
Don’t be fooled into thinking that our little stock market rally has altered the landscape for law school grads. Here is yet another story about large firm revoking its employment offers to some 2009 law school graduates. These eager grads – fired from their first job before they even started – are being payed off with $20k. Try living on that and paying down six-figure student loans at the same time. Many other law firms have pulled similar bait-and-switch job revocations on their newest almost-lawyers.
There are societal costs involved here as well. No right-thinking person can believe that we need more attorneys, particularly those who are desperate for fees to repay student loans. We also have a surplus of MBAs. Instead, we need more folks who can design and build things other than financial derivatives.
If you are thinking of law school as an unemployment remediation strategy, listen to Mr. ToughMoneyLove. Stop. Now.
Photo credit: Blmurch