TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

National Jurist: When Is Law School a Wise Investment?

When Is Law School a Wise Investment?, National Jurist, Feb. 2012, at 24:

What if your legal education were a stock or bond. Would you buy it?

What if your education debt were treated like a home mortgage -- would your future earnings potential allow you to get the loan?

While most students don't use such standards to gauge whether they want to be a lawyer, two law professors argue that they should -- so long as one of their goals is to make money. ...

Jim Chen, dean at University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, ... and Herwig Schlunk, a tax professor at Vanderbilt University Law School, both share their views on whether law school is a wise investment in recent papers. In both cases, the authors go to great lengths to apply a financial investment strategy to the decision of whether to pursue a law degree.

So is it always unwise to go to law school given these studies? The ABA addressed this issue in 2009 with a report by its Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crisis:

The lack of a financial return does not mean that it is not valuable to go to law school. ... Many lawyers receive intrinsic benefits from a satisfying career that cannot be easily quantified. It does mean, however, that students should think twice before going to law school simply for the money. All too often, students who bank on reaping a positive financial return from law school lose out.

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When tens of thousands dollars of dollars of non-dischargeable debt are nothing to you because mommy and daddy are loaded and will pay to see you realize your *their* dream of being a lawyer, or when you score in the 170s on the LSAT, take that full ride at the lower ranked school, and get grades good enough to keep it throughout, that's when...

but for the remaining 99%, it's a tough call. There are exceptions, but for most, it is not, has not been, and will not be a "wise investment." But i state the obvious.

Posted by: anon | Feb 23, 2012 12:22:51 AM