June 17, 2008 3:35 PM
Law School: A Ticket to Massive Debt?
Posted by Zach Lowe
There is apparently an endless appetite for stories about new lawyers buried in debt and clawing for any job in the credit crunched job market.
Today The Associated Press used last week's accreditation by the American Bar Association of the nation's 199th and 200th law schools to remind readers of a truism in the world of lawyers-in-the-making: too many new associates are struggling, especially those unlucky enough to have graduated from a law school that falls beyond the top 20.
The Am Law Daily and our sibling publications have been covering the mounting layoffs nationwide for some months now. Thacher Proffitt & Wood has cut about 60 associates since the fall, according to this National Law Journal story. And late last month, the Am Law Daily picked up on the news that Sonnenschein Nash & Rosenthal laid off more than 100 staff members, including 37 lawyers.
The AP report delves into the issue of lawyers whose starting salaries right out of school are well below $100,000--many of these lawyers might be carrying debt of $80,000 or more. That's a burden that won't easily be paid off.
An interesting question in all this is whether or not more law schools are needed in such a competitive climate. Leigh Jones explored this very issue in the National Law Journal earlier this month. She reported on the possibility that as many as 10 new law schools will be launching in the northeast in the next two years. "This is beyond absurd," said William Henderson, a professor at Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington about the planned school openings.
Makau Matua, interim dean at the University of Buffalo Law School, echoed the sentiment in today's AP report. "There's no question that we simply have a glut of law schools," Matua said.
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