Want to Incur High Student Loans and Have Grim Job Prospects? Go to Law School.

The New York Times published “Is Law School a Losing Game?” and raised some excellent points that I’ve certainly observed from people visiting this site.

In the NYT article, lawyers that have graduated with high student loan debt discuss the grim job prospects and reality of becoming a lawyer in the current economy.

In reality, and based on every other source of information, Mr. Wallerstein and a generation of J.D.’s face the grimmest job market in decades. Since 2008, some 15,000 attorney and legal-staff jobs at large firms have vanished, according to a Northwestern Law study. Associates have been laid off, partners nudged out the door and recruitment programs have been scaled back or eliminated.

And with corporations scrutinizing their legal expenses as never before, more entry-level legal work is now outsourced to contract temporary employees, both in the United States and in countries like India. It’s common to hear lawyers fret about the sort of tectonic shift that crushed the domestic steel industry decades ago.

While law schools are painting a positive outlook on employment after graduation it seems that the “devil in the details” is that graduating lawyers who get any job, even waiting tables, get counted as successfully employed.

And all those losers can remain cash-poor for a long time. “I think the student loans that kids leave law school with are more scandalous than payday loans,” says Andrew Morriss, a law professor at the University of Alabama. “And because it’s so easy to get a student loan, law school tuition has grossly outpaced the rate of inflation for the last 20 years. It’s now astonishingly high.”

Graduates who have been far more vigilant about their finances than Mr. Wallerstein are in trouble. Today, countless J.D.’s are paying their bills with jobs that have nothing do with the law, and they are losing ground on their debt every day. Stories are legion of young lawyers enlisting in the Army or folding pants at Lululemon. Or baby-sitting, like Carly Rosenberg, of the Brooklyn Law School class of 2009.

“But when the numbers are crunched, studies find that most law students need to earn around $65,000 a year to get the upper hand on their debt.” An income that is unobtainable for most law school graduates.

And of all the debts to owe, student loans have to be among the worst of the worst. Heck, at least a payday loan can be discharged in bankruptcy. Student loans are yours for life.

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