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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A National Study Of The Long-Term Outcomes Of A Law Degree

AccessLex Institute, Examining Value, Measuring Engagement: A National Study of the Long-Term Outcomes of a Law Degree:

The Gallup-AccessLex Institute study of Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree holders provides important insights for educators, employers, law school alumni and prospective students about the factors that contribute to great jobs, lives and experiences for law school graduates. A law degree is one of the most valuable advanced degrees as evaluated by law graduates and other degree holders. As described in the key findings, most law graduates strongly agree that they would still get a J.D. if given the opportunity to go back and do it all over again. Furthermore, nearly half strongly agree that their degree was worth the cost. While many recent law graduates have negative views of the J.D., graduates who are more advanced in their careers tend to have higher levels of well-being and more positive assessments of the value of a J.D.

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2018/03/a-national-study-of-the-long-term-outcomes-of-a-law-degree.html

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Comments

Mmm hmm. It is interesting that AccessLex found a smaller percentage of law school graduates who were strongly dissatisfied with their law school education’s cost and return than the 12% Nomura Securities was predicting would default on this organization’s very own private law school student loans (when they were d/b/a Access Group) back in the ‘glory days’ of 2005 – a number that doubtless understates the likely actual default rates, as law school students matriculating in the boom of 2005 would have been taking the bar exam in the summer of 2008, when everything went to pot. Perhaps Access will be willing to once again extend huge amounts of private student loans to the 142 / 2.7 enrollees at Cooley, NYLS, etc. after Congress finishes gutting graduate federal student loans with their PROSPER Act and law students are capped at a mere $28,500 per year in an age where law schools can soar as high as $95,000 per year in total cost of attendance?

Interestingly, of the mere handful of law school grads covered in this survey (813 out of >1 million), 182 hold another advanced degree. 182 of 832 is 21%. Call me cynical, but I very seriously doubt that on a national scale anything remotely as high as 21% of the nation’s attorneys have another advanced degree, even in this brave new era where American universities give away nearly one million advanced degrees per year, vastly oversaturating the market for most non-elite credentials. Also a quick perusal of the study does not break down how many of these people graduated at what time, even as it repeatedly talks about Great Recession-era grads in isolation. And boy, even the study can’t spin it:

Figures 6 and 7, as shown above, are hard to square with Figure 17 in the study, which shows 52% of JD holders are either “struggling” or “suffering” with regards to financial well-being (and 65% are struggling or suffering w.r.t. physical well-being, which doesn’t make for much of a sales pitch either). Perhaps a note just below Figure 6 in the study helps smooth the dichotomy: “pre-recession law graduates are 3.7x more likely to strongly agree that their law degree was worth the cost.” Almost as if the Great Recession triggered structural changes in the legal market!

“Recent graduates are least likely to find their degree valuable, even when controlling for student loan debt. Whether this is because of the challenges of being an early-career lawyer or the post-recession job market, there is significant pessimism among the newest class of J.D. holders…. hose who enter law school primarily to obtain a high-paying job are least likely to rate their degree as highly valuable… The biggest area of concern is well-being among J.D. holders. In most areas of well-being, this group trails other advanced degree holders and those who have a bachelor’s degree only. Purpose and financial wellbeing are most concerning. Law graduates significantly trail other advanced degree holders in liking what they do every day. Furthermore, they outpace those who hold only a bachelor’s degree in financial stress and insecurity.”

Ouch. So much for that purported wage premium being the be-all end-all of law school considerations. Anyways, um… Apply now! Supplies are not limited!

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 18, 2018 9:19:45 AM

UNE,

Of course there is a huge selection bias. People who respond to surveys are still engaged in the world. They provide updated addresses, take the time to fill out answers and return them, etc. Sadly, large swaths of indebted law grads disappear into apartments or parents' basements and just go into survival mode.

Posted by: UNE | Mar 19, 2018 6:35:08 AM

"Of course there is a huge selection bias. People who respond to surveys are still engaged in the world. They provide updated addresses, take the time to fill out answers and return them, etc. Sadly, large swaths of indebted law grads disappear into apartments or parents' basements and just go into survival mode."

1) In what way does this non sequitur explain why the study doesn't actually say what percentage of surveyed law school grads are post-recession despite talking about that cohort independently from everyone else throughout the linked study? For that matter, why don't we get a breakdown of alma maters, given the study's note that various satisfaction factors correlate with the pecking order of law schools?

2) This may be the greatest modern pitch for law school I have ever seen. Go to law school, and then to your parents' basements and survival mode!

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 19, 2018 10:40:40 PM