[L]aw school is a very risky (and expensive) investment; it should not be entered into lightly…. [E]ach potential student’s calculus will be based on a host of factors unique to him or her. For some, like an English major (relatively low opportunity costs) who gets some scholarship assistance (somewhat lower out-of-pocket costs) to attend Harvard Law School (relatively high pay-off), the investment in a legal education is almost surely a no-brainer.

– Professor Herwig Schlunk of Vanderbilt University Law School, in a new working paper entitled “Is a Law Degree a Good Investment Today?”

(Additional excerpts and discussion, plus links, after the jump.)

Here is the abstract for Professor Schlunk’s paper, from SSRN:

There continues to be an active debate on the question of whether or not law school is a good investment. I prefer to think of the question not in terms of “whether,” but in terms of “when.” In this essay, I conduct an analysis for three current undergraduates who are considering attending private law schools. I demonstrate how such individuals should take all known costs and all expected benefits into account in making their “investment” decision. As the calculation necessarily differs dramatically from one potential law student to another, my conclusions are far less important than my methodology.

In other words, your mileage may vary. There is no “one size fits all” answer to the question of “Should I go to law school?” It can be a bad idea for many people, but for other people, it is the correct choice (or at least a correct choice).

For most folks, however, Professor Schlunk’s bottom-line conclusion is that law school does not make sense, at least from a narrowly financial perspective. You can check out a concise summary of his analysis by Paul Caron of TaxProf Blog, or you can download the full article from SSRN.

Mamas 2011: Is a Law Degree a Good Investment Today? [SSRN]
Schlunk: Is a Law Degree a Good Investment Today? [TaxProf Blog]

Earlier: In Defense of Going to Law School
Pay to Go to Law School or Get Paid to Quit: You Won’t Be Learning Anything Either Way


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