Crowdfunding Law School?

crowdIf you’re in law school and you’re desperate for money, no one can really blame you: In the past 20 years, the price of a legal education has doubled. Fortunately, in the past 20 years, asking strangers for money has also become a hell of a lot easier. Crowdfunding is the practice of financing a project, product, or company by raising relatively small amounts of money from a large number of contributors—from the crowd, so to speak. 

A number of sites have sprung up to facilitate the process. Do those sites work for aspiring lawyers? Well, it depends: 

KICKSTARTER: “BRING CREATIVE PROJECTS TO LIFE” 

Getting funded on Kickstarter is all about producing cool, sleek videos promoting things like plays, albums, maintenance-free bicycles, and belts that help you maintain your posture. 

Unsurprisingly, then, searching “law school” yields scarce results. But some people still try. “I am a recent law school graduate with a mountain of debt,” writes Andrew McCabe, one of the few project creators focusing on law school debt. “I want to raise money to write about the injustice of the US Education system.” The description paints him as a pretty sympathetic character: He worked in landscaping as a teenager to save up for college and decided to “invest in [himself]” by going to law school. He now has to pay off $30,000 of debt per year (though for how long, he doesn’t specify).  

“Now I see [no] way out!” McCabe writes despairingly. “In my opinion, I find it unacceptable that the cost of higher education typically ranges from 30K-50K per year. This is a flaw in our system that I want to highlight to the world. My plan is [to] research and write an article to bring this issue to [the] forefront of the upcoming issues for the 2016 election.”

The problem: He’s asking for $50,000. Frankly, I’d love to live in a world where writing an article nets you that much money, but the reality is quite different. I think it’s safe to assume McCabe is less interested in raising awareness and more interested in paying off his debt however possible. Unfortunately, he’s got 38 days to go … and he’s still at zero.

INDIEGOGO: “THE WORLD’S FUNDING ENGINE” 

Indiegogo has a specific section titled “education,” so it’s a little friendlier to debt-ridden law school graduates. Most campaigns make no progress, but a few people here and there have managed to net over $1,000 through the site.

As far as titles go, “Law School To Better My Family” is pretty hard to argue against. Jennifer Lanier, who created the project in 2012, didn’t make a video, but she a) wrote a lot and b) put up a picture of herself surrounded by adorable children—always a plus. Reading her page, you learn that this aspiring public interest lawyer had spent 14 years as a social worker. During that time, she fostered 12 kids and adopted four. Going through law school with such a big family has been tough: “Right now, I have a hold on my student account and am barred from registering for next semester’s classes and will not be permitted to take final exams unless I pay it off.”