Law School - Is it Worth the Cost?

Is Law School Worth It?

Becoming an attorney can be very rewarding financially, intellectually and career wise. Should you make partner in a big corporate law firm, you may well be privileged to charge over $1,000 per hour and earn at least $2 million a year in salary. To achieve this is not necessarily an easy feat. Most have to excel academically in gaining their law degree, and be hired by a big corporate firm. It usually takes working your way up from the grunt work assigned and long tedious, dedicated hours demanded by the firm. Even doing all this, is not a guarantee of such great financial rewards.

However, over the last year law schools have seen a significant drop in applications. Enrollment for the academic year of 2011 is down sharply, over 11% , compared to 2010, according to the Law School Admission Council, Inc.  Applications are the lowest since 2001. Law schools have had ever increasing tuition rising costs

Why Have Applications Have Been Declining?

Investing your time and money in getting a law degree may not pay off. The job market for those looking to enter the legal profession is plagued with certain challenges of job opportunities and high debt from student loans. Most law school graduates entered the choice field of corporate law. But many big and small firms have cut back on new hires in the recent past. Many law firms have not seen salary increases for new lawyers joining their companies. Law schools have had ever increasing rising cost, and with the abundance of lawyers already out in the job market, and the scarcity of jobs, students are rethinking about their career choices.

The American Bar Association in a report from 2009, stated that the average law school graduate could anticipate being debt for more than $100,000 from the school loans to get their degree. There is becoming an increasing concern about the value of obtaining a law degree and the benefits one may see from their schooling. With the economy making it increasingly difficult to find jobs in the legal field, some potential law students are wondering if they really need the amount of schooling that is required in order to get a better career. They are seriously questioning and evaluating if getting an advanced degree will give them better odds at furthering their job opportunities.

Graduate business school applications are also declining, although actual tabulations by the Graduate Management Admission Council have not been finalized for the 2011 academic year. In 2010, the applications declined by almost 2%, which was the first drop in business school applications since 2005.

Getting a Law Degree Is a lot of Hard Work

Initially, when the economy started to stumble, many students believed law school may offer the entrance into a field that would provide some better career opportunities. Now, it appears that law school does not givethat protection. Fordham Law School, in New York, for example saw a 15% decrease in student applications for 2011. Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, saw an 11% decline. Across the United States, students are looking closely at the benefits and risks of getting a law degree. Law school may not give the financial payback it used to, and may not have the allure it once had to entice students.

Getting a law degree is not an easy accomplishment. First of all, enrolling in law school has many challenges that can be frustrating and discouraging, anxiety provoking, intimidating and overwhelming. Attempting to get into a good law school means heavy competition in order to be selected for one of the very limited slots. There are strict admission procedures and entrance exams, interviews with school administrators, and the work it takes to make yourself stand out above the hundreds of other applicants.

You have applied, get in, and then the arduous work begins. As soon as law school begins, you will be inundated with volumes of books, reading about law cases, plentiful research, and the never ending study of facts. Upon completing law school, a graduate must take an extremely difficult bar exam and other tests that grant a license to be a practicing attorney.

Choose Your Career to Fit Who You Are

If you have a strong desire to become a lawyer, and there are limited job opportunities at the moment, you can pursue other avenues upon graduation. Getting a law degree gives you great versality to do many other things from working in the business world. There are many opportunities in the financial and technology sectors for lawyers. Consulting is another field that offers many opportunities, as does teaching as a professor. Public service and non profit also open up job possibilities.  

When students look at all this effort, stress, and committment it takes and consider the expense of tuition for law school, many are looking at other career options.  Entering law school, is a very important decision that someone needs to base many factors on.
Choosing a career is a very personal decision. It needs to be based on your own vision of what you want for yourself. You need to know what you want for yourself, where you want your dreams to take you and what your own passions are. Life is full of opportunities. Whatever your chosen profession, make yourself happy above all. Evaluate your choices, but remember you can always change things along the way. Learn as you go, and do what you love, then you will find contentment.

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Comments 22 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I agree that choosin a career has to include a basis in wanting to do that kind of work.

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Toknowinfo this is a greatly needed reference to the economics of a college education concerning Law,but raises the reality that one know the economics of education in gerneral.;)

rpalulis profile image

rpalulis 5 years ago from NY

Very interesting, great advice,"choose a career that fits who you are"- the cost of careers are getting high- crazy!

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Dah, Thanks for stopping by and for adding your comments.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Mentalist, You are right. With the cost of college and post graduate tuition and with the economy, there are no guarantees anyone will come out with a high paying job. Students need to look at the whole picture. But higher education is a very important tool.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi rp, It is a harsh world out there for young people just starting out. A college degree and beyond is very important, but the expense makes things very hard, and decisions need to be well thought out.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

Good information for anyone considering a law career. Thanks for sharing.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Ang, Students are weighing many things now before they continue on with professional degrees. Cost and job opportunities are a big part of the decision. Glad you stopped by.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

Terrific advice. My daughter is an attorney and you just can't take this on unless you are committed.

amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK

This is wise council toknowinfo - I doubt if I'll go to law school at my time of life or with the amount of grey matter I have to make-do with, but I can appreciate the wisdom of, "Whatever your chosen profession, make yourself happy above all. Evaluate your choices, but remember you can always change things along the way. Learn as you go, and do what you love, then you will find contentment."

Up and useful.

A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 5 years ago from Texas

Fascinating hub. I'm considering law school, and I'm studying for the LSAT now. THank you for the informative hub.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi BP, Being an attorney is a very demanding career. I think it is especially difficult for women who are trying to balance their families and their careers. My greatest admiration to your daughter and to you.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Amillar, I am always honored to be quoted. When all is said and done, and we look back on our lives, our careers are but just one part of the pie. Happiness, and feeling self satisfied with how we spend our days and the contribution we give is part of what we need to look at for ourselves. Thank you for the up rating and by the way, I think your matter is doing great!

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

HI AA, Good luck in studying for the LSAT. Your hard work is just beginning, but you can do it! Best of luck.

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

my college freshman son is thinking about career in law....I have forwarded this hub to his e-mail account...thanks for posting this informative and interesting hub

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Cog, I am glad my hub is so helpful. Thanks for the kind comments.

Chatkath profile image

Chatkath 5 years ago from California

Great info., and something I always wished that I had accomplished, there are so many specialties now!

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Kath, Well it is never too late. With the applcations down, you might get a good deal on tuition. I am always pleased when you stop by.

GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 5 years ago from USA

Hi toknowinfo - Now, while this article is a super article and full of useful info of importance to folks seeking a career (this one being a legal profession career) I would not be too far off target to point out that I have known zillions of lawyers and had to work with many of them. Of the lot, I believe I knew one attorney who was happy, many who were drunks, and most of whom were rather incompetent. Some were charlatans. The happy one was really good at his work. I suppose the mix was on a par with professionals in other fields of endeavor.

So, your advice was good in that you point out the difficulty of becoming a good lawyer and how "sliding through law school" does not work well.

Gus :-)))

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Gus, Good to see you again. There are a lot of lawyers out there, maybe too many. And I agree the people you described can apply to other professionals and non professionals. But the idea of this article, is that people are reconsidering if a law school is worth it, given the cost of tuition and job salary prospects.

susannah42 profile image

susannah42 5 years ago from Florida

Choosing a career like law requires dedication and passion, I agree.

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 5 years ago Author

Hi Susannah, You are the expert when it comes to education. I am glad you agree.

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