While the past five years have been trying for recent law school graduates some of whom were strapped with debt and unable to find legal-related work, I do believe that law school still offers significant value, though consumers still need to be very careful about the cost of their education (giving scholarships and state schools with lower tuition rates serious consideration). Like in other industries, job prospects for law graduates are improving. And even in these darkest of years, the vast majority of law school graduates (over 80%+) have found financial stability.
LIFETIME INCOME FOR THE AVERAGE LAWYER: A COOL $3.6 MILLION
Returning to the idea of the long-term value of a law degree, let’s consider the costs and lifetime benefits. The cost of law school for three years comes to an average of $150,000 (note that this does not account for any financial aid). Factoring in the cost of foregone income during that time (approximately $135,000), and loan interest, the total cost of law school is a little over $300,000. While at first glance that represents a huge sum for most students, it is only a small percentage of your lifetime earnings as a lawyer. According to The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study, an average lawyer will make over $3.6 million in his or her lifetime, nearly double the lifetime earnings of someone with a bachelor’s degree alone. Based on these numbers the value of a law degree is close to $2 million which represents a strong return on a $300,000 investment.
I firmly believe that a law degree will maintain its value despite the economic challenges and that there has not been a more advantageous time to start filling out your law school applications (especially in terms of admissions and scholarship possibilities) in the last twenty years. So if you want to pursue law, don’t let the naysayers dissuade you.
Shawn P. O’Connor is the Founder and CEO of Stratus Prep, a New York-based admissions counseling and test preparation firm serving a global clientele of applicants to the world’s premier business and law schools. O’Connor is a graduate of Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar.