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Law school debt: It’s broke, why won’t anyone fix it?

Mark Cohen//September 21, 2010

Law school debt: It’s broke, why won’t anyone fix it?

Mark Cohen//September 21, 2010

Kelly Francis has a great post today on JDs Rising called “Law School Debt and the Mortgage Meltdown.”

There’s been a lot of heated exchange on this blog — and throughout the blogosphere — on who exactly is at fault for the plight of over leveraged and underemployed (or unemployed) law grads. Is it it the student loan industry? (SallieMae take your bow, thank you very much.) The law schools that profit from that sweet, sweat tuition money? The ABA for accrediting more law schools than you can shake  a stick at? The media for glamorizing the lives of lawyers? The economy for collapsing at an inopportune time? Or the grads themselves for being naive for enrolling in law school in the first place or for “expecting a job” without … [insert whatever appropriate step you think they did not take here]?

After noting how heatedly some young employed lawyers choose to come down on their struggling colleagues, Francis sagely points out:

It is certainly easier to believe that others are unqualified, that they are being unreasonable in their job searches, and that they have somehow overextended themselves beyond typical tuition expenses than it is to believe that cracks are forming in the system.  That it is no longer that simple to pull yourself out of a working class existence by enrolling in school and applying yourself to your studies.  That you can graduate from a top 20 law school with honors and still find yourself unable to make ends meet. 

There is something going here that stretches far outside the law school realm. We live in a society in which undergrads are getting out of school with tens of thousands or, in some cases, more than a $100,000 in debt, only to find no job that will allow them to survive. The New York Times recently had the story of a man who ditched his fiancee after finding out that she had racked up well more than $170,000 in student debt, mostly pursuing a B.A. in photography.

If you have any thoughts about this debt phenomona, and how its impacting the lives of lawyers, read this post on JDs Rising and weigh in!

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