Many people in the legal industry (including law school professors) say law school often isn’t worth the hefty tuition given these bleak prospects. But there is a vocal group of lawyers and legal educators who have defended the institutions that are their livelihoods.
In a New York Times op-ed called “Law School is Worth The Money,” Case Western Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell acknowledged the job market for lawyers is bad — right now. But, he writes, “We educate students for a career likely to span 40 to 50 years. The world is guaranteed to change in unpredictable ways, but that reality doesn’t keep us from planning our lives.”
Though the job market for lawyers is bleak and there are definitely horror stories, many law grads do find well-paying jobs after school. The mean annual wage for lawyers is still $US130,880 — that’s more than many top executives make in America, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics. One recent study found law school grads make about $US1 million more in their lifetimes on average than people with just a bachelor’s degree. That extra income even dwarfs the average debt load of $US168,000 carried by students at America’s “most indebted” law school.
A law degree isn’t just valuable because of the extra income it provides, though. Some bright young people desperately want to practice the law — to be public defenders or prosecutors or Supreme Court litigators — and a law degree is the only way to do that.
For people who can’t see themselves doing anything else, a law degree may be totally worth a monthly check to pay off their loans — even if they’re writing those checks for a very long time.
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