The Washington Post ran an interesting article on how indebted and unemployed law students are suing their alma maters or speaking out against them for running a "ponzi scheme." The students were enticed to go to law school and sign up for all this debt with the promise they'd make the money back as professional attorneys.
The reality is there are a lot of unemployed lawyers our there. Read on:
One Boston College Law School third-year - miraculously, still anonymous - begged for his tuition back in exchange for a promise to drop out without a degree, in an open letter to the dean published this month. "This will benefit both of us," he argues. "On the one hand, I will be free to return to the teaching career I left to come here. I'll be able to provide for my family without the crushing weight of my law school loans. On the other hand, this will help BC Law go up in the rankings, since you will not have to report my unemployment at graduation to US News. This will present no loss to me, only gain: in today's job market, a J.D. seems to be more of a liability than an asset."
He is one of dozens of law students who have gone public to chastise the schools they elected to attend for leaving them older and poorer. One popular medium is the "scam blog," where indebted, unemployed attorneys accuse law schools of being little better than tuition-sucking diploma mills. The author of one popular, if histrionic, such blog describes his law school as a Ponzi scheme.
Others have taken, perhaps inevitably, to the courts. Kenneth Desornes, for instance, named his law school in his bankruptcy filing. He asks the school to "[a]dmit that your business knew or should have known that Plaintiff would be in no position to repay those loans."
The students might be litigious and overwrought. But they've got a point. The demand for lawyers has fallen off a cliff, both due to the short-term crisis of the recession and long-term changes to the industry, and is only starting to rebound. The lawyers who do have jobs are making less. At the same time, universities seeking revenue have tacked on law schools, minting more lawyers every year.
That has caused some concern among lawyers who think the accrediting organization, the American Bar Association, is doing the profession a disservice by approving so many new schools. (Contrast that with medical schools. They come with much higher startup costs and tend not to be money-makers. Relatively few students get medical degrees every year, and demand far outstrips supply.)
Ayayay. All I gotta say is I am grateful not to be a college student today and, I am happy to announce, that 11 years out of school I just paid off my student loans. In 1999, I graduated with $20,000 in student loans from a private university. I know, I am lucky. I keep hearing and reading nightmare stories about young people graduating with this much debt in one year at even public universities. No thank you.
And, no, I will not be attending graduate school either. :)
Do you find yourself with student loans you can't pay back?