Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Cost Of Legal Education

I met with a lawschool financial aid advisor the other day. She gave me the grand total price tag for my legal education. Are you ready for this? You should sit down. Really. My total debt for law school is $119,000.00. And I think I might be on the lower end of the scale because I only paid for one year of rent rather than three (thank you husband for paying the mortgage). AND I don't have any undergraduate debt- thanks to scholarships and the Bank of Dad.

It totally amazes me how much it costs to attend law school. I think education is the greatest equalizer when it comes to socio-economic issues. But how can it be an effective equalizer if only the rich can afford it? Sure, there are a bunch of great public schools. But because of our tax-financed public school system, the good public schools are in the rich neighborhoods. And public colleges aren't even affordable anymore.

Anyway, in addition to owing 120K to financial institutions for my legal education. I now owe Barbri (the bar exam prep people) my soul. Talk about life kicking you when you are down. I just signed away a huge chunk of my paycheck for the next 20 years to pay back my tuition loans and now They want to send me through the ringer one more time. It's like "Are you SURE you don't have some assets or trust fund money stashed away somewhere? Come on now- GIVE IT UP! How about pennies under your bed. I'll settle for your lunch money." The bar exam itself is about $600. Then you have to fork over enough to cover hotel and meal expenses for three days during the bar. But the bar exam prep course is what kills me. The month long course costs $2,700! Plus $500 extra to take advantage of the mobile option (I'm not commuting 5+ hours a day, five days a week to actually SIT IN on the course).

My whole financial outlook is bleak right now. And all of this just to be qualified for a job in which I will be earning less than my engineer brother with an undergrad education? Ridiculous. To make this bleakness a little darker, let's consider all the things I could have bought INSTEAD of my legal education:
  • Boob jobs for twelve people
  • One Diet Dr. Pepper every day for the next 329 years
  • A cozy four bedroom home in Gorst, Washington (with 20K to spare!)
  • Two Hummer H2 SUVs
  • 9,230 trips up the Space Needle
  • Half of a fast food restaurant franchise
  • 1/10th of a head of Brittany Spear's hair
  • The adoption of 3-12 children
  • A necklace once owned by Elvis Presley (sold on juliensauctions.com)
  • Clothing and accessories for Sara Palin during the campaign
  • 30 average sized engagement rings (about $4000 each)
  • I could charter a five room luxury yacht for a week
How is that for perspective?


Butterflyfish said...


Great post.

Butterflyfish said...

Since you don't tweet, I just tweeted your post.

Googie Baba said...

I hear you Cee. Next time I have a mid-life crisis, I'm buying a kick ass car.

Anonymous said...

Totally feel ya. I would add buying a Mercedes convertible to the list :P

Proto Attorney said...

Great post, exactly!

Yeah, I kinda feel like I'm working for free for the next 25 years. I should have joined the Peace Corps instead. :P

paragon2pieces said...

This is an EXCELLENT post. The 60,000+ people that took the LSAT in this fall need to read this and think twice. Given the expense of law school, it can't be something to do to bide yourself time. You should really love the idea of being a lawyer before taking on that kind of debt.

Thanks for putting the numbers out there!

paragon2pieces said...

on second thought... that last comment was a little soap-boxish. sorry :( sometimes my inner LSAT teacher comes out and i freak out that all of my students are heading blindly towards law school without contemplating the serious price tag.

Anonymous said...

if it's any consolation, i will owe more than you when i'm done. it's totally gross. especially when there is a possibility of interning FOR FREE. i was an engineer prior to this venture - and made really good money - so to me making about -$40K a year right now is a little rough...to say the least. cheers to making a difference though!

LEO said...

It was definitely the DDP for over 3 centuries that put it into perspective for me... WOW!

MLC84 said...

I'm 25 and I've been thinking about taking the LSAT next fall. I just started reading your blog tonight, thanks for laying it all out there and not sugar coating anything.

日月神教-任我行 said...