The average debt load of law school graduates is well over $140,000. That’s roughly the cost of purchasing a Maserati, or 88% of your first-year Biglaw salary. Couple that with a notoriously grim employment outlook and law school grads often find themselves tethered to mortgage-sized repayment plans, minus the actual house.
One thing law school doesn’t teach you is the variety of loans that are available and the advantages and disadvantages of each loan type. With a little foresight, law school students can select the proper loan and create a repayment plan that is best aligned to their career and lifestyle post-graduation.
Let’s start by breaking down each type of loan to better understand consolidation after graduation…
A prominent Canadian magazine, Maclean’s, ranks our Canadian law schools every year. Here are the categories it uses:
1. Trees per campus acre (15%)
2. Square footage of the law library (30%)
3. Number of left-handed professors (20%)
4. Proximity to Toronto (40%)
5. Supreme Court of Canada clerkships (2%)
Some call Maclean’s methodology suspect. But my law school, Queen’s, ranks third in the country, so who am I to argue? It’s not my fault Queen’s has a huge law library on a leafy campus just up the highway from Toronto in a region with the highest concentration of left-handed people in the country. We didn’t do so well on SCC clerks, but I am told that Queen’s is working diligently to improve in that area.
Anyway, Maclean’s says these are the top 5 law schools in Canada:
When it comes to paying for law school, most of us fill out paperwork to secure shiny loans that haunt us for years to come. But there are a few students who think outside the box. Law school tuition Kickstarter campaigns crop up from time to time. There was also a website set up to sell future income streams in exchange for debt payments. Generally, these efforts to outsource student debt are the work of narcissists unwilling to take personal responsibility and pay for their life decisions.
And then we see something like this:
God asked me to go to Law School for the good of the Kingdom of God. Help me raise $28,500 by 5/1/15!
Well, that’s a horse of another color! It’s not that you want a law degree without having to suffer the consequences of your actions, it’s that God wants it. Nothing reflects the model of Jesus Christ more than getting what you want without suffering at all.
Let’s check out this plea for a free law school education — complete with its own movie trailer!
Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner introduced a bipartisan student loan bill yesterday aimed at reducing default rates. The bill, called the “Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act,” would limit all student loan repayment to 10% of discretionary income.
The plan is terrible for the poorest students. Currently, the federal income-based repayment program, called Pay as You Earn or PAYE, also requires 10% of discretionary income, but it calculates “discretionary” at 150% of the poverty line. The Rubio/Warner plan kicks in at $10,000… which is a lot less than 150% of the poverty line.
Also under PAYE, if you have more than $57,500 of debt after 20 years of repayment, PAYE forgives your loan. Under Dynamic Repayment, that goal post is moved to 30 years out. I guess the upside is that under Dynamic Repayment, there’s a better chance that you’ll die still owing money.
Again, if you are poor, this new plan isn’t great. But since when do Republicans or even Democrats care about the truly poor?
The old ball and chain, dischargeable in bankruptcy only in the most limited of cases. Go ahead, try and prove you’ve got a ‘substantial hardship’ preventing you from paying. We dare you.
* Now that a federal judge has classified California’s death penalty as unconstitutional, it’s only a matter of time before the issue reaches the Supreme Court. We have a feeling the justices will likely roll their eyes. [National Law Journal]
* Word on the street is that Bingham McCutchen has got the urge to merge, and has apparently spoken to a handful of potential partners over the course of the past three months. We’ll have more on these developments later. [Reuters]
* As it turns out, it was neither Wachtell Lipton nor Jenner & Block that managed to snag the coveted GM litigation oversight job. Nice work, Quinn Emanuel — you’re considered a “well-respected outside law firm.” [WSJ Law Blog]
* Congrats, Flori-duh, you did something right. A state court judge has ruled that Florida’s ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution in the latest post-Windsor victory for equality. Yay! [Bloomberg]
* Thanks to their hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school debt, many graduates are considering declaring bankruptcy. Too bad most won’t be able to get their loans discharged. [Connecticut Law Tribune]
* Per the latest Gallup study, Republican approval of SCOTUS is up, while Democratic approval is down. Gee, considering how the biggest cases of OT 2013 went down, no one should be terribly surprised by this news. [New York Times]
* Will our leader make the grade? Law profs wrote a strongly worded letter to President Obama, asking that he not include a religious exemption in his executive order prohibiting anti-gay bias in federal contractor hiring. [National Law Journal]
* Hey guys, there’s a new report out that contains some pretty shocking information about the realities of life after law school. Seriously, who knew that would-be lawyers were poor? Oh wait, we did. [CNN Money]
* “Fret for your latte, and fret for your lawsuit.” Tool hasn’t put out a new album in in almost a decade, and it’s all because of one pesky little lawsuit filed way back in 2007 that just won’t go away. [Rolling Stone]
* Chris Kluwe intends to sue the Minnesota Vikings. He has a good chance because the Vikings can’t beat anybody. [Sports Illustrated]
* Judge Judy is suing a lawyer over advertisements. [ABA Journal]
* A-Rod is being sued by his lawyer for $380,000 in unpaid bills. Life’s hard for multimillionaires when the income stream is temporarily suspended. [NY Daily News]
* Breaking up is hard to do. But it doesn’t have to be difficult to dissolve a law firm ethically if you follow this advice. Dewey know anyone who could have used this advice earlier? [Legal Talk Network]
We give law schools a lot of flak for the way they take massive amounts of money and then have the gall to call us every week asking for donations. What did they do with the original $150K? I guess in my case it was “buy real estate.” But still.
So when I say there’s a law school out there nickel and diming its graduates, I’m not colloquially talking about $150K in tuition. No, I’m using “literally” entirely accurately. They are literally taking dimes and nickels off their alums….
In the legal profession’s “new normal,” it’s not uncommon for recent law school graduates to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in educational debt, all for a piece of paper that grants them the right to try to become practicing attorneys. With the employment landscape being less than desirable, the high debt that comes with a law degree can seem all but insurmountable, and at times, completely soul-crushing. Living paycheck to paycheck to pay down loans with what little money you earn is unbearable, and doing normal adult things like getting married, buying a home, and having children are nigh impossible — the albatross of law school debt will always be hanging around your neck.
How can you possibly survive in this world with six figures of law school debt? Well, it helps if you’ve got a generous friend who’s willing to pay off your loans in full — under the cover of secrecy, of course.
With six figures of law school debt of my own, I can’t help but be incredibly envious…
Ed. note: Above the Law will have a reduced publishing schedule on Friday, July 4, in observance of the day when Will Smith beat those aliens.
* Two state supreme courts rejected the bids of guns rights advocates to give felons the right to own guns. But if you outlaw guns, only outlaws… wait, that slogan doesn’t work here. [The Volokh Conspiracy / Washington Post]
* Hobby Lobby fallout. Religious groups are asking President Obama to accommodate their “sincerely held belief” that gay people don’t deserve jobs. [Talking Points Memo]
* On the other hand, Hobby Lobby opens the door to student loan forgiveness. [Tyler Coulson]
* People hated talking to Steve Jobs about their work. Was it because kids these days don’t understand the value of hard work? Or was it because computer geeks are notoriously introverted? [What About Paris?]
* Don’t discriminate against people getting divorces — they’ve got enough to worry about. [Adjunct Law Prof Blog]
* Some legal academics think bank executives should be paid in bonds. Here are some arguments against that. [Fortune]
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
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