Does Law School Debt Equal A Job?

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US News recently ranked the Top 10 law schools where graduates carry the highest student loans. For over half the schools listed, the job prospects for graduates are unfortunately under 50%. Though general suspicion indicated this outcome for some time, it was no more welcome news when it hit.

With average student loans for law graduates ranging from $84,000 (public schools) to $122,158 (private schools), this begs the question – is this high debt really worth it?

The answer? Probably not when you are talking about a low ranked law school. As expressed in Above The Law’s coverage on this story, “…the differences between having high debt from a T14 [Top 14] law school and high debt from a second-tier law school are quite stark in terms of employment outlooks.”[1]

Law schools are responding to these daunting statistics in a myriad of ways. As reported by the New York Times in February, Brooklyn Law, Cornell and the University of Maryland have added business courses including accounting, financial statement analysis and corporate finance to equip students to compete for jobs. These schools “are offering focused sessions that aim to bring students up to speed on business practicalities.”[2]  More than ever, law students are focused on landing jobs to pay off student loans.  “There’s a broader shift for law schools to prepare students to be more practice ready when they graduate.” 2 While these “practice ready” efforts are a strong trend, many agree fellowships and externships continue to be the best means to gain better experience to compete for jobs.

While business courses and externships may increase a graduates’ job prospects, it remains important for those contemplating law school to consider whether undertaking high student loans is a wise bet in light of these employment statistics.


Sadie Madole Founder and owner of Madole Legal Search
Sadie Madole
Founder and owner of Madole Legal Search

About the Author

Sadie Madole has been recruiting associate level candidates for law firms and in-house positions in Washington, DC since 2006.  A licensed attorney, Sadie previously practiced law for ten years as a litigation associate at a boutique firm, and as an attorney advisor with the Treasury Department.  Sadie is the owner of Madole Legal Search (


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