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Recently, The New York Times ran a piece entitled "Is law school a losing game?" that, in part, profiled a law school graduate with over $250,000 in law school loans and few job prospects. The article explored how the market for lawyers is collapsing, and how law schools have become dishonest when discussing the employment status of graduates, counting students as "employed after nine months" even if they are merely slinging lattes at Starbucks.
Just last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that many law school graduates have been unable to find fulltime positions and are now taking low-paying temporary jobs. These temporary jobs can pay as low as $15 an hour. New lawyers forced to go this route must constantly be scrambling for their next gig, while suffering through stretches of unemployment, all while paying back student loans that are amounts often exceeding six figures.
At The Best Colleges one of our primary missions is to help students make informed decisions. Part of our challenge in doing this is exposing real, hidden risks in education. For the last six months we have been investigating what we believe is a very real education bubble that students need to take seriously: the law school bubble. This infographic is our attempt to express what we believe is the very high-risk of law school to prospective students so they can make an informed decision before taking on a lifetime of debt.
So why do we think that there is a law school bubble? It's the simple disconnect between the vision that students are sold by the marketing departments at law schools (the prospect of a mid six-figure job) and reality. The fact is that less than 5% of attorneys work for the large firms, which are the ones that pay the big bucks. That percentage keeps falling because the big firms are opting to hire fewer recent grads, given the steep learning curve to the profession and the high costs associated with training young lawyers (i.e. paying them to learn on the job for years before they provide value). Students seem willing to go to law school and take on huge debt because they assume all lawyers make great money. And law schools are eager to capitalize on this myth in their marketing. But that's simply not true as less than 1 in 2 graduating law students even end up with a job in law. Tthe truth is if you're not part of that shrinking 5% working at the big law firms, then you'll be lucky if you have a job making mid-five figures, while saddled with a lifetime of debt (the equivalent of a house mortgage). We prefer to call it a 40 year debt sentence.