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Your Debt for Law School Will Exceed $200,000; Plus,15 Law Schools to Cross Off Your List

Vivia Chen

May 7, 2012

  1. Sticker shock alert. Think you'll run just $150,000 in debt if you go to law school? Puhleez—that is so last year. Here's what Law School Transparency projects you'll owe if you graduate in the class of 2015: $210,769. And for the class of 2016: $216,406. Really, aren't there more fun ways to go into bankruptcy?

2. The Fabulous 15: More law schools to dodge. I got a lot of flak for posting "Nine Law Schools to Avoid," which lists poorly ranked schools that come with big price tags. Some readers thought it was unfair that their school was listed. Frankly, my mistake was that I should have expanded the list. So many crummy law schools—and so little time!

© vlorzor - Fotolia.comThankfully, Constitutional Daily is lending us a hand, crunching the numbers based on Law School Transparency employment data to come up with the 15 law schools that are bad investments—where there are more "underemployed" grads than "employed" ones. (Underemployment includes those who are "unemployed, in part-time jobs, nonprofessional jobs, or are pursuing another degree," says CD.) 

So here's the latest list of law schools to avoid:

1. Ave Maria School of Law

2. Thomas M. Cooley Law School

3.Thomas Jefferson School of Law

4. John Marshall Law School

5. University of Detroit, Mercy 

6. Florida Coastal School of Law

7. University of Toledo (see correction below)

8. Western New England College of Law

9. Chapman University

10. Whittier Law School

11. Barry University

12. University of San Francisco

13. Golden Gate University

14. Florida A&M University

15. Santa Clara University (see correction below)

You'll notice that there's some overlap with my previous list of nine schools to avoid (as always, Cooley is there, along with Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall). In any case, I urge you to click onto Constitutional Daily to get all the nitty-gritty stats.

2. Don't mess with Cooley Law School folks. The  ABA Blog reports that Aminur Khan, a Cooley Law School grad, is suing a Michigan photo studio for using his photo without permission to advertise how it can retouch imperfections.

The photo studio "sent an e-mail to Cooley law students, including Khan's entire graduating class, touting its ability to retouch photos, the suit says." Khan, who has severe acne, is suing for violation of privacy rights, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

So Cooley might not have the best academic reputation in the world, but it does seem to do a good job of teaching law grads how to sue.

Correction to "The Fabulous 15" post above: University of Toledo and Santa Clara University should be taken off the list. Both schools informed us that Law School Transparency has revised their employment and unemployment scores. 


Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The data that LST used to compute scores for Santa Clara Law was incorrect. LST has now pulled the data from the web site and will repost with corrected data soon.

For clarification, the John Marshall Law School referenced in the Constitutional Daily is the Atlanta John Marshall Law School, not the Chicago John Marshall Law School

I'm a legal recruiter who works with and employs contract attorneys who have attended some of these schools, and find many of them to be intelligent, hardworking, and professional. The legal markets where they live are still pretty depressed, so there aren't a lot of career prospects. I'm not defending these schools, but I hope this list won't be a deterrent to anyone thinking about hiring graduates from these schools.

For the worst schools, they certainly have the best advertising. I got a 72-page, full color, high-gloss book from one of the schools on that list. It consisted of complete faculty biographies, gorgeous pictures of the local beach, and more pretentious quotes than you could shake a stick at.

At least they have some form of financial transparency...at least you KNOW where your tuition dollars are going!

I graduated at one of those law schools on the list back in the 90s, Thomas Cooley, and realized that from experience the legal job market even back then had a glut of lawyers and there was hardly any hiring. So I worked only jobs that did not require a JD but had to take the JD off my resume for fear I would be turned down as being way overqualified. I even worked at a gas station for 2 years at minimum wage and it reminded me of the Youtube video "American Beauty Kevin Spacey applies for job drive through "

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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