Debt is horrible. What that statement lacks in depth and profoundness, it makes up for in veracity. Debt causes unrest and the stress it creates can ruin lives and relationships. A vast number of law students acquire debt during their time in school. The most recent stats from the American Bar Association show the average law school student debt for a graduate of a public institution is $84,000. For a private school graduate the number is $122,158.
There was a time when debt didn’t matter as much. Virtually every graduate would land a well-paying job. In 2007, 91% of law school grads could get a job. In 2013, the number was 84.5% but only 51% of those jobs were at law firms. An increasing number of students are turning to public sector or non-law related jobs. And that is where the problem occurs. The jobs at law firms are ideal for paying back debt.
Additionally, the majority of loans taken out by law students are private loans. Those are less forgiving than public loans. What’s more, even if recent grads land those Big Law jobs and finds themselves on the partner track, it often isn’t glamorous like T.V. shows portray. It is tough work. And it is long work. Forbes cites a recent University of Texas-Austin graduate who took on about $110,000 in debt but was fortunate to land a partner track job. After three years of late nights and weekend hours, he quit. And he still had debt to pay.
What’s a broke and indebted recent law grad to do? First, look into the generous federal public service student loan forgiveness program. Another option is the income-based repayment plan, another government plan that caps loan payments at a reasonable level based on salary. Students could also just endure a Big Law job for five to 10 years or however long it takes to be completely debt free.
The options are there. And it is still a possibility to take on debt and have a successful career in which the debt is paid off and the lawyer feels satisfied. It just might take some work, creativity, and willingness to not live the glamorous life for a few years.
DON’T MISS: HOW TO CONSOLIDATE LAW SCHOOL DEBT
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