Young lawyers trapped by debt, says survey

December 24, 2013 With tuition fees pushing student debt into the realms of the unmanageable and biglaw jobs still in short supply, law school is not looking to be quite as smart an option it once was. But there is one metric that can give prospective law students a clear insight into whether studying law is a good idea, and that is whether young lawyers are glad that they did the degree.

A new survey by the State Bar of Wisconsin has found that more than 40 percent of young lawyers in the state would not go to law school if they had their time over again, in light of what they know now. The survey further found that young lawyers in the state still owed a median of $90,000 for their law school studies.

About 600 lawyers in the bar’s Young Lawyer’s Division responded to the survey. Around 72 per cent of respondents graduated from law school since 2008. Nearly 80 percent reported they were earning less than expected in law school; lawyers in this group had an average law practice compensation of about $41,000.

The report pointed out that young lawyers may be trapped in the profession because of debt, that financial pressures were having an impact on life and career decisions, and that such large measures of unrest among young lawyer may have a negative impact on the profession as a whole.

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