Law Schools

April 19, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 15
Is a legal education worth its costs?
By Kenneth Jost


Harvard Law School graduates celebrate at commencement (Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Harvard Law School graduates celebrate at commencement on May 24, 2012. A law degree today often comes with high student debt and dim job prospects, prompting calls for reforms in legal education. (Reuters/Brian Snyder)

Rising tuition and declining job prospects are creating a crisis for law school students and graduates, who face the likelihood of earning incomes below what they need to finance staggering debt. Students leave law school these days with debts averaging more than $100,000. The legal job market is difficult, partly because of the recession and partly because of technological changes that allow outsourcing of legal work or do-it-yourself lawyering. Nearly half of the 2012 graduates failed to find a long-term, full-time legal job nine months later. The median income for graduates who do find jobs is about $60,000 per year. Law school tuition rose rapidly over the past decade, but schools are now facing pressure to cut costs as the number of applicants shrinks. Some professors and outside observers bluntly warn that law school is a bad investment for many students. But others insist that a legal education is still valuable as a path to a profitable career and an active role in public affairs.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education and Funding
Aug. 31, 2018  Education Funding
Jun. 27, 2016  Student Debt
Dec. 06, 2013  Humanities Education
Apr. 19, 2013  Law Schools
Nov. 20, 2009  The Value of a College Education
Dec. 10, 1999  Reforming School Funding
Aug. 27, 1993  School Funding
Dec. 24, 1948  Federal Aid to Education
May 05, 1948  Financial Support for Higher Education
Sep. 03, 1937  Federal Grants for Education
Aug. 20, 1934  Federal Aid to Education
College Financing and Funding
Cost of Education and School Funding