On Tuesday morning, I’m going to film a video for a major test prep company about how to choose a law school. In preparation, I’ve been doing a bit of research and wanted to share my results with you.
When you’re deciding how much debt is reasonable to take on in order to obtain your J.D., consider the following 5 things:
1: Median Salary by Years of Experience as an Attorney (remember – this information is only valuable if you understand what “median” means).
2: Law School Rankings by Median starting Salary (separated by public and private sector, but I don’t know how outdated this information might be)
3: The National Assocaition for Legal Career Professions released a comprehensive report last week on the job prospects, salaries and hiring trends for thos who graduated from law school in 2008.
4: An interesting analysis of the legal profession in the U.S. can be found on Harvard Law’s Program for the Legal Profession’s website.
5: This info from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is outdated, but we’re in a recession so perhaps dollars from 2005 are actually more fair to look at than dollars from 2007 (I’m not an economist, remember…)
Think About What You’re Getting Into
I don’t want to overwhelm you, but I do want you to think about what you’re getting yourself into. Understand that a career where you’ll probably top out at making $150,000 a year is still a good career, but not a way to get weathly. Lawyers are, in most cases, simply highly paid hourly workers. You make more if you have good business sense and bring business to your firm through relationships with clients. (This, of course, is a whole other discussion for a lot of other blogs). Spend some time doing your research and developing reasonable career goals and expectations so that you’re not one of the disgruntled and indebted lawyers when you obtain your law degree.
For additional insights, please see Chapter 17 of “The Law School Admission Game: Play Like an Expert” and the section entitled “A Realistic Look at Taking on Debt.”