St. Thomas reporter: Why students should reconsider law school

TommieMedia reporter Patrick Roche warns that those thinking of going to law school should think again, considering some sobering local figures:

St. Thomas law students graduate with around $97,000 in debt. At the University of Minnesota Law, average debt is around $91,000. Everyone seems to think lawyers get paid the big bucks. Given the fact law students graduate, on average, with around $100,000 in debt, we should hope so. Median salary for St. Thomas law students is about $52,000 a year. The bottom quarter make around $45,000–about what students make after graduating with a bachelor’s–is it even worth it graduating $100,000 in debt? …

The U of M graduates a class with a median salary of $120,000, with the lower end making around $100,000. U of M Law is considered a ‘top-tier’ law school. St. Thomas Law falls under what is known as a ‘third-tier’ law school–at least the school is in this category, as opposed to the new creature: ‘fourth-tier’ law schools.

Read his full commentary here.

  • tommiegirl

    I don’t think the article was speaking strictly about debt, but more about choosing law school “just because” rather than as a true career.  Since graduating St. Thomas, (with about $40,000.00 in debt, if you are wondering) I have been able to help many people pro-bono or lo-bono.  These people come from all walks of life.  Some clients will be able to remain in the country, with their families because of my work on their criminal cases.    I’m not rich, and sometimes my “bonuses” come by way of homemade egg rolls, but I am happy.  If you want to go to law school because you think getting the skills and training to help others will make you happy, go to law school, and you’ll always be rich.

    • Tommie Mocker

      How exactly did you graduate from Saint Thomas Law with “only” $40,000 of debt?  If you received a full tuition scholarship or a scholarship covering a majority of law school’s costs you are in a minority of new law students.  Not to mention, many law students enter law school with some level of student debt from their undergraduate studies.

      I think it is wonderful that you are able to do public interest at the moment, but I know many law students who are struggling to even find public interest work.  For one, the demand for these sorts of jobs has risen in recent years.  This coupled with a drop in private and public donations to many of the non-profits that do public interest work has caused many legal aid groups to downsize.  I know someone that works for legal aid in Minneapolis and since he was hired two years ago they have not hired a single new attorney! 

      The article’s main focus may not be debt, but beware the bill collector.  Going into six figures debt without even a strong possibility of public interest or private sector employment seems like a poor decision, regardless of a students strong desire to enter the legal field.