If you’re considering law school, you’re probably already weight the cost-benefit of attending another three years of school to earn your juris doctorate. It’s normal to ask the question of “is law school worth it?” when looking at law school tuition. It’s true that the cost of law school can add another $150,000 in debt to your existing student loans that you took out for your undergraduate degree. By the time you graduate with your J.D., you’re looking at a large amount of student loan debt to pay off, even with scholarships. It’s difficult to justify the cost of law school, especially when there’s no guarantee that you’ll be making a salary that covers your living costs as well as your student loans.
Is Law School Worth It?
Ultimately, if you’re asking “is going to law school worth it”, you may want to step back from your educational path and reconsider if you want to earn an advanced degree right away. Your undergraduate degree may be sufficient to get you started in your career field and enable you to pay down your student loans. Gaining work experience can help you make the decision to attend law school and refine your choice of legal studies. However, there is always the time cost that comes with not entering into law school after earning an undergraduate degree.
Students who want to go straight into law school after earning their bachelors degree should take the time to research their schooling options, talk to advisors about their chances at a high-paying career in the field of law, and determine if they have the aptitude to become a lawyer. Making an informed decision about attending law school sooner than later can help answer the question of “is law school worth it?”
Paying Off Law School Debt
Taking on a large amount of student loan debt for law school is a daunting task. Student loans enable students to attend schools they normally wouldn’t be able to attend and improve their employment opportunities, but there are no guarantees that a student will be able to gain access to either. When looking at how long to pay off law school debt, it’s estimated that a law school student will need 18 years to pay off their debt if they don’t land a job in a law firm that pays well. These numbers are daunting, but they are not insurmountable. Figuring out how to pay off law school debt is a matter of making the most of career opportunities and putting as much money as possible towards repayment to reduce both the principal balance and interest accumulation over time.
Once a student graduates from law school, they position themselves for a lifetime of higher-than-average earnings. Their income upon graduation may be in the high five-figures, but their income increases as they gain experience with the legal system. A law student can earn their total student loan balance in one year once they hit their stride. While it’s not advisable to devote a year’s salary to paying down debt of any kind, including student loans, a lawyer can find themselves paying off law school debt in less than 18 years by budgeting appropriately and refinancing their debt into lower interest rate loans whenever possible.
Employment Outlook for Lawyers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a lawyer was $126,930 per year in 2020. This amount represents the median income for lawyers with half of all lawyers making more than that and half of all lawyers making less than that. The profession is expected to grow 4% between 2019 and 2029 which is the average growth rate of all jobs in the U.S. The competition for employment is uncertain due to the effects of COVID-19 on the U.S. population and the impending mass retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. As it currently stands, more people graduate law school than there are jobs available, making it difficult to get employment for law school graduates.
Is going to law school worth it with the current issues facing law school students? There is no one answer to this question because it depends on aptitude, passion, and ability to handle the debt that comes with attending law school. A student who has a passion for the law, wants to seek justice on the behalf of others, and wants to help make the world a better place should consider attending law school. Paying off law school debt can be a drawback to attending law school, but it’s possible to save money through accelerated programs, scholarships, and grants to lower the overall amount that has to be repaid. Law school doesn’t have to be a dream; it can be a reality through careful financial planning.