Pricing people out?

July 29, 2009
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To continue with the theme of law school tuition, I want to know if the astronomical amount people spend to become an attorney has hurt the profession.

Law school costs a lot of money. Students spend more than what the average worker at a minimum wage job would earn annually to go to law school for a year. When it’s all said and done, many students graduate thousands of dollars in debt. According to an April 2009 New York Times article, the average graduate leaves with more than $80,000 in debt.

Some students are lucky – they get scholarships, can work to help pay off their loans while still in school, or have a relative helping out.

Not everyone is so lucky, which brings me back to my original thought. With law school tuition being so high, are we pricing people out of the profession who may make great lawyers but just can’t afford the cost of law school?

Diversity is something law firms strive for. Not only diversity in race and gender, but also in people’s backgrounds and experiences. A white male who grew up attending private school and living in a 5-bedroom house may bring something different to the table than a white male who grew up on welfare.

The profession is making strides in being more diverse, but obviously, there is still more to be done. A co-worker told me she read a blog online that made the argument that law schools are becoming “too elitist” because they are pricing people out of school.

The high price of tuition may be hurting the diversity of the profession, but it also may cause graduates to forgo their idea of working as a public defender or at a legal services organization. If you’ve got $80,000 of law school debt, and your job as a public defender only pays half of that a year, but being a first year at a private firm pays $100,000, suddenly the private firm becomes more attractive. That same NYT article said two-thirds of students said debt prevented them from considering a non-private firm job.

There will always be people who want to be lawyers and people willing and able to pay for it. I do wonder that if law school was more affordable, whether the profession would look differently from a diversity perspective than it does today.
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  • The other important issue is if a private law school is worth it, when you can go to a state school for much cheaper.
  • Law schools are failing the justice system by graduating too many students. Med students pay much more for school because they know they\'ll earn back their investment in a reasonable time. The AMA regulates the number of seats to med students to fit the market. High prices won\'t scare away students if they know its worth it. For many law students, they incur $35,000 in debt for 3 years only to land a job that pays $40,000. The economics don\'t make sense. Slow down the flow of new lawyers. Thanks!
  • Nothing new about this at all. Increased use of student loans to get through law school started when I was in law school in the late Eighties. Combined with Indian\'s declining economy, law students wre going to firms and/or out of state. In the past twenty years, I think Anderson and Madison County has seen only maybe a half dozen new attorneys. Of the other counties I practice in most (Grant, Delaware, and Henry) I suspect the same is true but not so true in Howard and Hamilton Counties. Skip the public defender/firm comparison, we will see fewer (are seeing?) solos as people need to have salaries to pay their educational debt. I expect to see a lot of people unavailable to get legal services in the near future.

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  1. A traditional parade of attorneys? Really Evansville? Y'all need to get out more. When is the traditional parade of notaries? Nurses? Sanitation workers? Pole dancers? I gotta wonder, do throngs of admiring citizens gather to laud these marching servants of the constitution? "Show us your billing records!!!" Hoping some video gets posted. Ours is not a narcissistic profession by any chance, is it? Nah .....

  2. My previous comment not an aside at court. I agree with smith. Good call. Just thought posting here a bit on the if it bleeds it leads side. Most attorneys need to think of last lines of story above.

  3. Hello everyone I'm Gina and I'm here for the exact same thing you are. I have the wonderful joy of waking up every morning to my heart being pulled out and sheer terror of what DCS is going to Throw at me and my family today.Let me start from the !bebeginning.My daughter lost all rights to her 3beautiful children due to Severe mental issues she no longer lives in our state and has cut all ties.DCS led her to belive that once she done signed over her right the babies would be with their family. We have faught screamed begged and anything else we could possibly due I hired a lawyer five grand down the drain.You know all I want is my babies home.I've done everything they have even asked me to do.Now their saying I can't see my grandchildren cause I'M on a prescription for paipain.I have a very rare blood disease it causes cellulitis a form of blood poisoning to stay dormant in my tissues and nervous system it also causes a ,blood clotting disorder.even with the two blood thinners I'm on I still Continue to develop them them also.DCS knows about my illness and still they refuse to let me see my grandchildren. I Love and miss them so much Please can anyone help Us my grandchildren and I they should be worrying about what toy there going to play with but instead there worrying about if there ever coming home again.THANK YOU DCS FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE. ( And if anyone at all has any ideals or knows who can help. Please contact (765)960~5096.only serious callers

  4. He must be a Rethuglican, for if from the other side of the aisle such acts would be merely personal and thus not something that attaches to his professional life. AND ... gotta love this ... oh, and on top of talking dirty on the phone, he also, as an aside, guess we should mention, might be important, not sure, but .... "In addition to these allegations, Keaton was accused of failing to file an appeal after he collected advance payment from a client seeking to challenge a ruling that the client repay benefits because of unreported income." rimshot

  5. I am not a fan of some of the 8.4 discipline we have seen for private conduct-- but this was so egregious and abusive and had so many points of bad conduct relates to the law and the lawyer's status as a lawyer that it is clearly a proper and just disbarment. A truly despicable account of bad acts showing unfit character to practice law. I applaud the outcome.

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