5 Reasons Not to Get a Law Degree

Last Updated Jan 13, 2011 11:16 AM EST

Should you go to law school?
Faced with a dreadful job market, plenty of young college grads are considering law school. But should they spend the money on a law degree?

For most young grads, the answer is a resounding no. At least that's the conclusion you could easily draw from a lengthy story in The New York Times on Sunday. The article, Is Law School a Losing Game?, provided a devastating look at how law schools market themselves and manipulate their employment statistics to make their law degrees look like a great investment.

Why You Shouldn't Get a Law Degree

From a variety of sources, I've pulled together 5 reasons why you should not get a law degree:

1. Law schools are misrepresenting their grads' job success.

According to the article in The New York Times, schools appear to be cooking their employment numbers to do better on US News & World Report's rankings of the best law schools. The real employment numbers are grim.

2. There's a lawyer glut.

This attorney glut could remain even if the economy improves. The number of law schools in this country continues to grow which is creating an even bigger pool of unemployed lawyers. As one law observer put it: Today American law schools are like factories that no force has the power to slow down- not even the timeless dictates of supply and demand.

3. The cost of law school is high.

Law school costs are obscene. For the top 10 law schools, the price is more than $43,000 a year. Far less prestigious private law schools charge prices that aren't much less. According to the American Bar Association, the average private law school cost $34,300 a year in 2008 and for public schools the cost is more than $16,800 annually.

4. The expense of a law degree doesn't pencil out.

Many students will have a hard time recouping their law school investment. Even the American Bar Association has acknowledged this reality in its paper, The Value Proposition of Attending Law School, that it has posted on its home page. The ABA is warning college students to reconsider law school.

It's also a topic that Herwig J. Schlunk at the Vanderbilt Law School focused on in a paper entitled, Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be...Lawyers.

Many law school grads are struggling with six-figure law school loans. The average private law school student borrows $91,000, while law students attending public school borrow an average of $71,400.

5. You might not be a lawyer for long.

While there isn't a lot of data on how long attorneys stay in the profession, it isn't uncommon to change professions after five years.

More on CBSMoneyWatch:

Top 50 Schools That Produce Science PhDs
10 Hottest Careers in America
Law school image by Joe Gratz. CC 2.0.
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.

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