The ABA Journal has an interesting story on the problem of obtaining and paying for law school debt. As the article notes, many students must borrow greater than ever amounts to attend law school, with employment and income possibilities on the wane. Although law school applications are down this year, most schools will not have a problem maintaining their enrollment numbers. It does appear, however, that at some point in the near future, many schools will have to deal with the question of how to find an academically and financially qualified student body.
Here are a few of the article’s concluding paragraphs:
As today’s prospective law students survey their options, they see few career paths that are affordable and intellectually challenging, and that offer secure economic returns and the potential to be socially meaningful. Based on the other alternatives, many still argue that a law degree is as good a bet as any. This may be true. But the more vexing question is why a gambling metaphor now seems so apt for legal education.
Six figures of debt, a heavy interest burden and poor job prospects—this is no way to begin a legal career. Some graduates will no doubt hang their own shingles and build successful practices, but many others will start practicing law without proper capital or mentorship. This is dangerous territory for the profession. Dating back to the 1950s, research on lawyers has shown a strong link between lawyer misconduct and the economic stress of too many lawyers chasing too little, unsophisticated legal work.
The easy credit that feeds legal education will eventually exact costs that go beyond recent law school graduates.