As you probably know, the excellent Abnormal Use blog covers product liability issues. As such, AU occasionally features discussions of inherently dangerous products and analyzes whether there should be warnings on such products and what those warnings should say. Today, AU's Frances Zacher looks at the bleak statistics facing people purchasing the product known as "law school education" and ponders whether law schools should design a warning for the legal education product they are selling.
Zacher summarizes some recent data on law school tuition and the expected earnings of new law graduates:
- tuition at top private law schools can top $30,000 per year.
- the average educational debt for graduating law school students is $106,000 at private schools and $70,000 at public schools.
- the median starting salary in 2010 for law school graduates was $63,000.
- According to Jim Chen, dean of the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, a law school graduate must earn six times the amount of annual tuition he or she paid for school in order to attain a "good" level of financial viability, i.e., private schools grads must earn approximately $180,000 per year.
Looking at these statistics, Zacher asks readers, "if we were to design a warning for a legal education, what would it say?" Zacher offers two potential warnings:
WARNING: You may not be able to pay these loans back during your lifetime.
WARNING: Go to law school, and you may wind up bankrupt and still liable for the student loan debt.
I think we need to add some non-financial warnings, too:
WARNING: Go to law school, and a disproportionate number of your friends may be lawyers.
WARNING: Go to law school, and you may someday introduce yourself at parties as a "recovering lawyer."
WARNING: Go to law school, and you may end up as a legal blogger.
What other warnings should be tacked on to legal education?