TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Is Law School Worth It?

FailingBaltimore Sun, Is Law School Worth It?:

With a hefty price tag and a shrinking number of jobs, is law school worth all the effort? The verdict's still out.

Infamously grueling, law school has long been perceived as a route to steady employment and high income. In the past four years, the paradigm has shifted. Lower employment rates, rising tuition and intense job hunts prompt the question: Is law school worth it? ...

"Some of us, I feel, were sold a pipe dream," said Sabrina Turner, a 2010 University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law grad. Turner, 30, currently has a document review stint with a Baltimore company that provides staffing for firms. Technically, her position requires a J.D. Practically, not so much. "I draw black boxes on documents," she said. "You have to have an active license because you're assisting in litigation, but it doesn't require anything I learned in law school." ...

Brian Tamanaha, author of Failing Law Schools, a forthcoming book, evaluates law school's worth with a simple formula: "It's a function of how much debt you think you'll have and your chances of landing a job that will allow you to pay that debt." ...

UMd Law's full-time, in-state tuition is $23,744; UB Law's is $26,156. According to Tamanaha's findings, 76% of UMd Law's class of 2010 is in debt, with the average debt amounting to $109,000. The average debt of a UB Law student is $105,000, he calculated, and 89% of the class reported being in debt. ... "Once you cross the six-figure mark, you think, what's a few thousand dollars more?" said Katherine Bagley, a third-year student at UB and a Maryland native.

According to Tamanaha, 45,000 new law graduates hit the market each year nationwide; however, recruiters project only 25,000 job openings each year through 2018.

(Hat Tip: Glenn Reynolds.)

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