Wednesday, October 28, 2020
ABA Young Lawyers Division & AccessLex, 2020 Law School Student Loan Debt Survey Report:
Pulling from lawyers in the ABA’s database who were identified as having been licensed or graduated law school within the last 10 years, 1,084 newer lawyers and recent law school graduates completed the survey. The survey was conducted from March 1, 2020, to March 31, 2020. The ABA tapped AccessLex Institute to conduct a thorough data analysis of the survey results.
By the time we closed the survey at the end of March 2020, the chaos of a global pandemic had started to take hold. COVID-19’s potential impact was becoming apparent. Law schools were forced into remote learning. Bar exams would be postponed. Associateships and jobs would be rescinded. With COVID-19 as a backdrop, the survey’s results were especially eye-opening. Respondents to our survey were, by and large, people who graduated after the 2008 recession and before the 2020 pandemic. These respondents are a cohort of law graduates who entered our profession under a consistently improving — arguably, at times booming — economy. Yet the results give a view into a generation of lawyers deeply and personally affected by their debt. One can only speculate what the impact of student loans might be on the class of 2020 and subsequent graduates who will be subjected to, at this moment, unknown economic fallout due to a pandemic.
Our goal with this report is to underscore the student loan problem and reiterate the legal profession’s moral and ethical necessity to address it by focusing on the human element. We hope that its recommendations will serve as a guide for those in positions of power who actively choose to help address this issue.