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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Taylor: Why Law School Is Still Worth It

Aaron N. Taylor (Saint Louis), Why Law School Is Still Worth It (National Jurist):

It’s open season on legal education — falling applications, lawsuits by former students and dooms day warnings about the legal job market. The rampant bad publicity has taken on a sensational flair. Popular blogs and even established news forums are peppered with anecdotes about law school graduates drowning in debt with no good options for the future.

But as is often the case with anecdotes, these compelling tales of woe represent exceptions. Worse yet, criticisms of the wisdom of attending law school are often based on flawed premises and faulty logic. You’ve likely heard many reasons why you shouldn’t go to law school. I’m going to give you a few reasons why you should.

  • Legal training helps in a tough economy
  • Student loans aren't all bad
  • Applicant environment is favorable
The last few years have been a boon for critics of legal education and the profession. Some of the criticism has been legitimate, but much of it has been uninformed. Law school is not a path to instant wealth — it never has been. But in terms of providing career and financial stability, few educational pursuits compare. And in an economy where workers are increasingly required to think, adapt and thrive in changing work environments, the flexible nature of legal training arguably makes it a better investment than it was 20 years ago. Don’t believe the hype. Law school is still worth it.

Update: Paul Campos (Colorado), Law Professor Solicits Fraud as a Recruitment Strategy

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For some, sure. However, for those in situations where law school did not make sense before (e.g., nothing else to do, no intention to practice law), it has become an exceptionally bad idea.

Posted by: Abogado | Oct 12, 2011 6:39:23 AM

Wow. This guy is WAY out of touch isn't he. School loans aren't all bad? Try taking out 150K and making 20/hour doing doc review.

Posted by: A | Oct 12, 2011 7:24:16 AM

well said as for society law school are still worthy instead of much criticism.Orange County Tax Relief

Posted by: LoganDylan | Oct 12, 2011 7:48:32 AM

Thank you Prof. Taylor. Reading the WSJ, ATL, and others, one would think few 2010 law grads were hired and it got worse for the 2011 class. Recently, I saw the BLS stats on lawyer employment/ unemployment similar to those referenced by Taylor and was shocked to learn that lawyers are doing exceptionally well compared to almost every other employment group. What is beginning to come out of this discussion is what I suspected early on. The whining and griping is coming from a small group of vocal law grads who sank large sums of money into tuition at second- and third-tier schools, expecting to swagger into $160k jobs in white-shoe firms. Others, like Elie Mystal of ATL "fame," sank large sums of money into top-tier schools, got the Holy Grail jobs, and then found that they didn't like sitting in windowless rooms culling documents for multiple years before being permitted to carry a junior partner's bags into a deposition room. Bottom line: if you want to be a lawyer because you want to be a lawyer, go for it. If you want to be rich, try opthalmology--I understand you can knock out 10 cataract surgeries in a morning at $3k per.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Oct 12, 2011 8:19:58 AM