Is it still worth doing a degree in law?

There is a certain popularity that the law profession carries. Over the years, there have been television shows that are centered around law – legal dramas, as television executives call it. Large companies have their own team of lawyers to protect their business interests. Young children list down “lawyer” among the things they want to be when they grow up.

It is common knowledge that getting a law degree and practicing it as a profession can be time-consuming. It takes quite a number of years before the bar exams, and working for a firm or starting your own practice is an additional thing to consider. While it is a profession held in high esteem by some, there are also a lot of people who look down on lawyers because of a general reputation of dishonesty. Let’s examine if, at this point in time, it is still worth taking up a degree in law.

Not enough jobs

According to 2011 data from the National Association for Law Placement, less than 50 percent of people that graduated with a law degree actually landed jobs at a law firm. In addition to that, over 9 percent of all law graduates were not able to find a job within a period of nine months following graduation. Two years later, the number increased, as over 11 percent were not able to find a job after graduation.

Starting salary

In 2008, the starting salary for new lawyers was approximately $72,000. Four years after that, it went down to $61,000 average. Aside from the lower starting salaries, take note that loans have to be paid. The typical law graduate has to pay off $125,000, since going to law school is a very expensive option.

Choosing a law school

There are quite a number of law schools that have opened up all across the United States over the past several years. However, most of them are still in the lower tier when compared with the elite law schools such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the like. Statistics say that those who come from any one of the top 20 law schools in the country are twice as likely to hold full-time jobs when compared with those who come from schools ranked 21 and below.

However, getting into any one of these high-ranked law schools is more difficult, as the competition is much tougher.

Is it worth it?

Now that you know these things, ask yourself if it is still worth it to go to law school. The answer is different for each person. If you can get into an elite law school, there bigger chances to land a job after, and there is more prestige attached to you.

Graduating from an elite law school typically carries a higher starting salary, which can make paying off loans much quicker.

If you don’t feel like you can get into any of the elite schools, and you have a low chance of graduating in the top of your class – if you decide to go to a lower-tier school – then perhaps you should reconsider if the law profession is really for you, as you might encounter trouble getting a job.

However, Michael Anderson, who belongs to a group of criminal defense attorneys, summed it up best. He said that if law is really your passion, then nothing can prevent you from going to law school, finishing well, getting a job, and becoming the best lawyer you can be. If it is really your passion, you will work hard, study hard, and eventually reap the rewards of your effort.