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Is Law School a Good Investment?

JD2B, a blog for law students, has a survey of its readers on its front page. What is surprising is that when asked whether “gaining a law degree is a good investment,” over half the readers in the survey answered, “no, in fact, I think it is not an investment at all.”

What do you think? Is a law degree a good investment? Also, what is the reason for your opinion? Please add your comments below.

I believe a law degree is a good investment even though law school costs three years of law students’ lives and nearly $100,000, and many attorneys make surprisingly little money (see Why Most Law School Graduates Earn Less Money Than They Expect, The Amount of Money Law School Graduates Actually Earn, and More on Graduating Law Students’ Employment Prospects).

A law degree is more than a degree. The law degree represents years of learning how to analyze intangible thoughts and concepts (often called “thinking like a lawyer”). A law degree also involves years of training in legal writing, research, and studying the writings of some of the brightest minds in history. These aspects will benefits students for the rest of their lives whether they are a lawyer or not.

Law school helps people make decisions in life, analyze factors and information, and articulate these decisions. This helps in the role of parent, friend, co-worker, and whatever profession the law school graduate eventually chooses.

In short, law school is expensive, but its value far exceeds the mere value of a lawyer’s salary.

For a somewhat contrary view, discussing the consequences of law school, consider reading Are Law Students Emotional Wrecks?

11-23-07 Update: This article has been updated. Please read Many Law Graduates Disappointed: Few Jobs, Low Salaries, High Stress.

Leave a Comment

  • Susan Cartier Liebel July 22, 2007, 10:49 pm

    This is a very interesting poll. When I went to law school I did a cost/benefit analysis financially to see if it made sense. Back then the return on investment dollar-wise was good. Three years of no income plus law school debt and then projecting my income over the next decade offset by my three year loss of income and debt-service. It made financial sense. But, I didn’t go to law school for that reason. I wanted a legal degree to help me navigate through life never expecting to actually practice law. I was a second career lawyer so I wonder if this makes a difference?. I find it striking 51% say they don’t see it as a good investment. It would be interesting to discern if it is not a good dollar investment or not a good investment in themselves as individuals. I realize this is hard to quantify. The better question would be to ask, “If you had it to do all over, again, would you get your JD?”

  • RossK February 5, 2008, 11:21 am

    No way would I do it again. Years of not earning followed by years of low pay, only to hear, “law is a profession with a long tail – it takes a while bfore you get the big money blah blah blah”. From a financial perspective worst investment ever. Mind you I believe that is true for most degrees nowadays. What we need now is a long (very long) period of low inflation and rising professional wages to put graduates back where they should be.

  • Sugar September 29, 2010, 3:39 pm

    I think a law degree is a total waste of time and money. I graduated one year ago and am still trying to find a job. I have been doing contract work for a few attorneys for shitty pay. All this after 3 years of school is ridiculous!