American Bar Association / ABA, Law Schools, Money, Student Loans, Unemployment

In This Economy, What’s the New Meaning of JD?

We write about depressing news for law students and law school graduates all too often these days, which is a very, very sad thing. We know that you don’t want to be reminded about the impending doom you may soon face. We really do wish that we had more positive news to report. But in this economy, it’s just not possible.

Gone are the days when earning a JD meant having automatic employment prospects. Gone are the days when having student loans wasn’t completely debilitating. These days, the JD has taken on a new meaning. It doesn’t just mean Juris Doctor anymore. These two are a little more fitting: Job Dilemma and Jumbo Dumbass.

The Connecticut Law Tribune has come out with an informative piece just in time for new 1Ls to realize that they may have embarked upon a six-figure mistake….

So, what else does JD stand for? The Connecticut Law Tribune has the following suggestions for the new meaning of JD: Just Debt. Job Disabled. Justifiably Depressed. And unfortunately, those suggestions are all woefully accurate. Especially the debt part.

James M. Harrington

The article goes on to profile two recent law school graduates and their experiences with student loan debt:

When Kristen Stumpo graduated with honors from Quinnipiac University School of Law last year, she not only had a degree to show for her efforts but a daunting student loan debt. . . . . “I would definitely say it’s a problem among all recent graduates,” said Stumpo, an associate at Tang & Maravelis in New London. “I lucked out a little bit. I know there are students who haven’t found jobs yet.”

James M. Harrington, a 2010 honors graduate of Western New England University School of Law, has about $80,000 worth of federal student loans to pay back, but says interest costs over the years will inflate that figure to $200,000. An associate at the law firm of Polito & Quinn, Harrington knows he is in a much better position than classmates who could not find jobs. Still, the loan payments compete with other bills.

At least someone from my alma mater is doing kind of sort of well for himself. But Stumpo and Harrington have highlighted one of the major problems that recent law school graduates are facing today. Debt paired with joblessness is a recipe for disaster.

A third of law students graduate with more than $120,000 in student loan debt. Perhaps the American Bar Association can offer some sort of a solution for all of the unemployed future lawyers of America who are drowning in nondischargeable student loan debt?

The latest ABA proposal calls for the federal government to allow students to take out additional federal loans to repay private debt. That would enable these graduates to qualify for the federal payback provisions — including deferments for unemployment and payment schedules tied to income.

To pay off our debts, we should become even more indebted. That’s kind of like a double negative. Yes, deferments for unemployment, income-based and income-contingent repayment, and lower interest rates are all wonderful options, but in the end, you’ll still have the same debt to repay.

This is the ABA’s magical solution to our debt problem. We should take out additional federal loans to repay our private loans. This is a serious proposition.

And we wonder why there’s a student loan bubble that’s about to burst.

So what do you think “JD” stands for? Let us know, in the comments.

The New JD: Just Debt? Job Disabled? Justifiably Depressed? [Connecticut Law Tribune]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of student debt issues

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