An academic study measures the economic viability of a legal education. The paper, by Jim Chen, dean of the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, is titled “A Degree of Practical Wisdom: The Ratio of Educational Debt to Income as a Basic Measurement of Law School Graduate’s Economic Viability.”
Chen uses debt standards set by mortgage providers as guidelines, and concludes that law grads need to earn three times their annual law school tuition to meet “adequate” financial viability. Earning twice as much as the yearly tuition would mean “marginal” financial viability, while earning six times the annual tuition would give the graduate a “good” level of financial viability, which Chen defines as being able to easily secure loans and be “very financially secure.”
New law school graduates earn an average of $68,500 a year, according to the National Association of Law Placement. That would make most of them unable to purchase a house and repay loans
Even with annual tuition at the lowest level (Chen uses $16,000/year as an example), a graduate would need to earn $96,000 a year to achieve “good” financial viability, which is quite a way off from the average earnings of recent grads.