The October 2nd edition of The Tennessean says the average law school student now graduates with $100,000 in student loan debt. And the average starting salary for a law school student is $40,000. Add to that the fact that the American Bar Association tells us that only 88% of the law school class of 09 has found work of any kind in the legal field.
Taco Bell manager — $52,333
Plumber — $39,217
UPS driver — $75,000
Garbage Truck driver – $52,000
Meg Whitman’s nanny – $47,840
Graphic Designer — $43,560
And the last I checked, none of these required seven years of in-school training.
Add to the seven years of school the “opportunity cost,” meaning what was given up to spend those years sitting in a classroom. Assuming you could have gotten a job that already paid $40,000 – that would add $280,000 to the $100,000 in debt. And certainly the $100,000 didn’t cover all the costs – perhaps another $50,000 in real money was added to the mix. So somewhere in the neighborhood of $430,000 has been “invested” in the process of becoming an attorney – for the opportunity of making $40,000 – if you could find a job at all.
Okay, that’s not an attractive scenario.
Yes, I talk about fulfilling and meaningful work and you may not think some of the above options are that meaningful. But the most common frustration I hear from attorneys is that their work is not meaningful.
Our academic system is broken. They are selling a myth and false dreams. I predict we are going to see a revolution in our traditional educational system as people continue to discover alternative methods of “education” that do lead to meaningful, purposeful and profitable work. And oh yeah, there really is a book titled, Running from the Law.