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sunrunner's avatar

Is law school a good investment?

Asked by sunrunner (117 points ) December 27th, 2010

History major from top undergrad with no other real career prospects (my own fault, really). 1 year experience assisting attorneys in a law firm. Have sizable undergrad debt. GPA is too low to get into top 14 law school. However I do love the law, the practice of law, and could absolutely see myself practicing law for the rest of my life; at this point I’m very concerned I would be taking on more debt than I could reasonably repay. However I have no idea what else I would do.

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13 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Can you gain admission to your state university law school, if it has a reputable one? That would be the least expensive.

wundayatta's avatar

The debt load looks incredible from your vantage point. As you get older, it will get less and less significant. Your salary will increase, but your debt payments won’t. And given that a professional degree can increase your salary to two or three times the salary of someone with only an undergraduate degree, on average, you will have those loans paid off before you know it.

sunrunner's avatar

@wundayatta That’s good to hear, as everyone says don’t take on more debt, particularly for law school (unless you go to a top 14 school).
@gailcalled It’s possible but my state’s law school is very competitive. If I apply this year for 2012 admission my chances might be a bit higher than if I had applied this year.

wundayatta's avatar

@sunrunner I think that young people are overly in awe of debt. It just looks like a huge mountain. But people are willing to buy a house which gives them hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, but they look at a debt that is half that much and that will give them a huge increase in earning power for their entire lifetimes, and say it’s too much? I understand, but I don’t think people are really looking at the long term here.

john65pennington's avatar

Attorneys and law firms are a dime a dozen. this is why you see them advertise on television. a good attorney does not need to advertise.

sunrunner's avatar

@wundayatta Yes, but with a house, you can (usually) walk away from it (via foreclosure), or declare bankruptcy, if you get in real trouble. Plus, your mortgage payments build equity and provide you with a place to live (perhaps they’re a bit more than rent, but at least you don’t have to pay rent anymore). With student loans, you can’t walk away from them, and you can’t discharge them in bankruptcy unless you can prove undue hardship, which is typically a disability which precludes ever finding a job again, ever, which is a very difficult burden to prove. Plus, there is a tremendous amount of risk (you get sick and can’t complete school, or fail the bar, etc.) and you don’t get anything of physical value in return…

BoBo1946's avatar

Not a good field today. Market saturated with lawyers, but having said that, depends on your ability. If you good at something, there will always be a job. Here is a good aritcle on lawyers today.

http://www.businessian.com/hows-the-job-market-for-lawyers-in-2010-39204.html

wundayatta's avatar

@sunrunner Surely you don’t think houses are not risky investments? But, it’s up to you. Would you rather invest in a hunk of bricks and mortar, or in yourself? Which is more likely to pay off?

Ducati_MST's avatar

Aside from the debt, you said: “You love the law…the practice of law…and you could see yourself practicing law for the rest of your life”.

The only thing that I know from everything I’ve always read in my life is this: Having a law degree in your resume/history/life background, elevates your desirability for any field of any occupation you may hope to enter.

Think of it this way.

If you were seeking work as a video editor in a commercial advertising company and you had numerous degrees in your resume, one being medicine and another being law (any field of law) which degree do you think that the ad company would more likely feel comfortable with their new hire?

A law degree (no matter the negative connotation) is more valuable to career opportunities than any other degree. You can research this for more acceptable verification.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Only go to law school if you love the law. Don’t go for the money or because you don’t know what else to do.

sunrunner's avatar

@BarnacleBill I do love the law.

Anemone's avatar

If you think this is something you’d stick with for a while (and it seems you do), I’d say it’s definitely a good investment. It may be worthwhile to look into it further before going for the degree… maybe you could shadow lawyers in the fields you’re most interested in pursuing, just to be sure it’s really what you want to do.

mattbrowne's avatar

There are far too many lawyers in the US. It makes American products more expensive.

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