Back in March, we brought you news on the law schools with the most heavily indebted graduates. It was quite shocking to witness the depths to which these poor souls went to finance their legal educations. Take, for example, the average graduate from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, who has $180,665 in debt — and also has a 29 percent chance of working as an attorney nine months after graduation. That’s absolutely terrifying.
But in a world where the average class of 2013 law school graduate carries a debt load of $108,815 (up from an average of $108,293 for the class of 2012), there must be a few schools out there that won’t destroy a would-be lawyer’s financial footprint forever.
Which law school graduates have the least debt of all? U.S. News has a ranking for that…
Feast your eyes upon the law schools with the lowest average indebtedness for 2013 grads:
Congratulations to BYU, which appears on both this list and the ATL Top 50 Law School Rankings.
Just because you’ll be likely to leave these law schools with a lower debt load doesn’t mean you should drop everything and run to apply. Here are the relevant employment statistics for the class of 2013:
- University of the District of Columbia School of Law: 26% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- Barry University School of Law: 39.8% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- University of Arkansas Bowen School of Law: 51% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- University of South Dakota School of Law: 61.9% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- Brigham Young University School of Law: 64.6% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- University of Arkansas Fayetteville School of Law: 68.1% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- University of Nebraska College of Law: 66.1% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- University of North Dakota School of Law: 59.4% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- University of Wyoming College of Law: 67.1% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
- Southern Illinois University School of Law: 72% employed in full-time, long-term law jobs
It’s worth mentioning that I had to double-check my math on Southern Illinois Law’s employment statistics. I couldn’t believe that a school whose U.S. News rank isn’t even worth publishing had the best job turnout of the bunch. Way to go, SIU Law. You’re an anomaly among the other rank-not-published schools listed.
Here are some brief notes on the other RNP law schools: Perhaps this Barry Law professor’s bitchy email about bar passage was sent out to the entire school in vain, as not a whole lot of its graduates seem to be working as attorneys. When it comes to UDC Law, we know that a lot of its graduates want to work in public interest law, and that low average debt is certainly helpful with a low average PI salary — but you can’t exactly get your loans forgiven under the public service exception if you don’t have a job.
As for the law schools in the Midwest, your guess is as good as mine as to why more of their graduates aren’t employed as lawyers when the only competition comes from the local bison population. In fact, the State of South Dakota is willing to repay people’s tuition for five years if they go to work as lawyers in rural communities, and the school still can’t get people jobs. That doesn’t even make any sense!
Alas, it seems that even if you attend a law school that leaves its graduates with a lower than average debt load, it’s still a toss-up as to whether you’ll be employed as a lawyer. But hey, at least if you don’t have a job, your overall debt burden won’t be as worrisome as it could’ve been — and that’s a good thing.
10 Law Schools Where Grads Have the Least Debt [The Short List / U.S. News & World Report]