Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Average Ohio Law Student Debt Approached $100K for the JD Class of 2015

The Numbers: On July 17, 2017, the Plain Dealer published a Karen Farkas piece, under the headline “Ohio law school grads face debt of nearly $100,000 and few job prospects, report says.” Take a look at this opening:

“Many Ohio law school graduates are facing high debt and few job prospects, according to a study by the Ohio State Bar Association. 

The average 2015 Ohio law school graduate has approximately $98,475 in law school debt, according to a draft report released this month by the Futures Commission. "Only approximately 58 percent of 2015 Ohio law school graduates are employed in jobs requiring bar passage." 

The commission was established by the association more than a year ago to study "a number of challenges surrounding the delivery of legal services in Ohio amid a time of great social, economic, and cultural change, and to offer recommendations for how best to meet those challenges." 

The 29-member commission considered the "unprecedented burdens faced by new lawyers; the need for acquisition of knowledge and the skills necessary to develop and carry on a successful practice; the lack of regulation for new legal service delivery options; and the widening access to justice gap." 

The report provides information on the four topics and provided recommendations. has recently issued Ohio law school information that includes an estimated average debt of about $132,000 to $271,000 when students who enter law school this fall graduate three years later.

The American Bar Association has posted employment information for 2016 graduates as reported by each law school.

A national study shows median law firm starting salaries have dropped more than 40 percent from 2009 to 2013.” [Emphasis mine]

A large portion, i.e. over 2/5 of that cohort, did not enter the “profession” after having accumlated huge amounts of student debt. Off the top of your head, name several non-legal jobs that would pay a recent law school grad about $98K per year. Remember, “requiring bar passage” does not necessarily mean an attorney position. Think of doc review. Furthermore, if you are not using your JD to practice law, then you will be viewed with more scrutiny.

Previous Ohio Ruling on Student Loans: Back on January 13, 2011, the ABA Journal featured a Debra Cassens Weiss article that was entitled “Law Grad with No Plan to Repay Debt Fails Character and Fitness Mandate, Ohio Top Court Says.” Here is the full text below:

“Ohio State University law grad Hassan Jonathan Griffin of Columbus, Ohio, has a part-time job in the public defender’s office and no feasible plan to repay his law-school and credit-card debt.

That combination means Griffin has so far failed to satisfy the character and fitness qualification to get a law license, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled. The opinion (PDF) upholds a recommendation by the Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Character and Fitness. 

Griffin had $170,000 in student-loan debt and $16,500 in credit-card debt. He earns $12 an hour at his part-time job with the PD. 

“We accept the board’s findings of fact and conclude that the applicant has neglected his personal financial obligations by electing to maintain his part-time employment with the Public Defender’s Office in the hope that it will lead to a full-time position upon passage of the bar exam, rather than seeking full-time employment,” the opinion says.

Griffin will be able to reapply, however, for another bar exam, in February 2011 or later, and he may submit a new character-and-fitness application, the opinion says.

Above the Law is outraged by the decision. “What the hell kind of legal education system are we running where we charge people more than they can afford to get a legal education, and then prevent them from being lawyers because they can’t pay off their debts?” the blog asks. “If Griffin can’t pass C&F, Ohio might as well say that half of the recent graduates in the state don’t have the ‘character and fitness’ to be a lawyer.” [Emphasis mine]

I suppose that the moral of the story is to not take out too many loans to pay for the ridiculously expensive and risky venture of law school – even if you are working in the field. Hell, Mr. Griffin graduated from the best program in the state and he was in a paid position at a public defender’s office. Even though the job was part-time, that is a better outcome than many JDs who attend TTTs and end up never entering this glutted “profession.”

Conclusion: As it becomes more common for recent law grads to walk away with $160K in student loan debt, expect more of these men and women to become professional students. If nothing else, they can at least put off their loan payments for several years. Interest will continue to accrue and the principle will balloon, of course. Perhaps, some of these fools hope that Congress will wipe out their debt by the time they earn another degree. However, students are not a vital voting bloc and they are not individually or collectively wealthy. Plus, bailouts are for large industries that hire thousands of people – not singular broke-asses with useless academic “credentials.”


  1. This has become absurd. How can anyone justify taking on that kind of student debt knowing that there's a very good chance of ending up in a low-paying, non-law related job? Couple that with the very real possibility that PSLF may soon be a thing of the past and you have a recipe for a lifetime of pure misery.

    This fairy tale that getting accepted into some third-tier law school is an automatic ticket into an exciting and high-paying career in law must be dispelled once and for all. Sure, there's a success story here and there. But for a large number of law school graduates, the reality of marginal employment and low paying jobs has become a real issue.

    Legal jobs are becoming harder and harder for grads of elite schools to land. Advances in technology and offshoring of mundane work will continue to drive down the demand for attorneys here in the United States and abroad. The internet and machine learning are already changing the legal landscape whether the ABA approves of it or not.

    Meanwhile, law schools still want to sell $200 casebooks to students even though they know that anyone with an internet connection can find the same damn information on Google Scholar. Think about that for a bit. That's the legal industry summed up--incredibly marked up prices for information that is becoming easier and easier to find online.

    For rich people, it's no big deal. It's just an initiation fee paid to get into a country club. And let's face it. Rich people, through their business and family connections, probably get a good number of the shrinking number of legal jobs created each year. But for people who come from more modest means, borrowing upwards of $100K to run with the country club crowd is just plain stupid. There just aren't enough jobs out there.

    1. Although the technology revolution has decimated the legal profession, other industries are growing because of technological advances. Silicon Valley and Wall Street are fighting over programmers and other top talent. Engineers are thriving. Technology is even generating more business for doctors. Surgeons can do a less invasive robotic surgery now, where they manipulate the surgical instruments from a computer. The robot did not put anyone out of the job. A surgical scrub tech, anesthesiologist, and nurse anesthetist are still needed.

      The market is clearly signaling that more toilet law grads are not needed. The economy is at full employment. Employers are complaining that they are having trouble finding talent. But many law grads cannot obtain legal employment. If the grad does find employment, they are making $12 an hour at the public defender’s office like that poor chap from Ohio. Employers are looking for people with real skills, not some dumb ass who read a case about the owner of a fox in 19th century America.

      If you are seriously considering law school, do yourself a favor and look at the salaries of other professions. There are higher paying in-demand jobs that don’t require an additional three years of mental masturbation, and will only lead to unemployment and financial ruin. Then again, the smart people are already going into the growing industries. The lazy and the incompetent are applying to law school.

    2. While new technologies will create opportunities for a few high aptitude/high skill individuals, for the rank and file, it’s bad news. Let’s take a look at retail. From yesterday’s WSJ:

      Nearly 16 million people, or 11% of nonfarm U.S. jobs, are in the retail industry, mostly as cashiers or salespeople. The industry eclipsed the shrinking manufacturing sector as the biggest employer 15 years ago… “The decline of retail jobs, should it occur on a large scale—as seems likely long-term—will make the labor market even less hospitable for a group of workers who already face limited opportunities for stable, well-paid employment,” said David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

      I’m old enough to remember a time when shopping malls were usually filled with people. On the rare occasions when I find myself at a mall these days, it’s a ghost town thanks to online shopping. And while this may have created some opportunities for UPS drivers, what happens when driverless vehicles become a reality? The UPS distribution warehousers are already staffed primarily by robots. Expect to hear a lot more about Universal Basic Income in the coming years.

    3. Yes, that, and also spend some time in an actual law office if you still want to go to law school (or THINK you want to "be a lawyer").

      A lot of kids think they want to be an attorney when most, if not all, their exposure to the profession is based on tv and movies. That is unfortunate. Do some time in an actual sh!tlaw shop: see what real clients are like, what the bosses are like, what the billing challenge is like.

      Look before you leap. In the other professions, a real practicum is required which physically places you into your first professional position. Not so the law. Lol schools are more than willing to graduate your ass out onto the street to solo it on your own, and that's what happens too most TTT grads.

      Really think about whether soloing it is for you, as it is your most likely outcome.

    4. Lots of people suggest spendnig some time in a shit-law shop or other law firm before going to law school. How is one supposed to arrange that? Do law firms really want to have miscellaneous lemmings hanging around, possibly creating liability by divulging confidential information?

      I admit that I didn't know much at all about the practice of law when I started law school. Perhaps I should have done what you suggest, but I wonder whether any firm would have given me that chance.

    5. Yes OG, how would you go about getting work experience, even unpaid, in a law firm? It wouldn't be very easy. Plus these lemmings are so delusional and hellbent on being loyers probably nothing could dissuade them. They need either the law schools or the lenders to deny them, for their own good, and unfortunately that's not happening.

    6. If a given industry or profession is at a point that you can't even find a position VOLUNTEERING in order to shadow and learn, that kinda tells you something about the state of that profession.

      Exactly the point.

      Stay away from professions that aren't interested in teaching you. That's a warning sign right there!

    7. Maybe the ivory tower and biglaw types can still call it a "profession," but most of us living case to case hardly consider this shit business to be a profession anymore.

    8. It has been a sentence.

      There is no parole, however.

      Ever wonder about the lawyers in their 70's who are still practicing at the 50 years-of-service mark?

      They NEED to-couldn't make enough money during a normal term working career to retire.

    9. Sort of; the attorneys who've been at it for 50+ years worked through the golden years. The problem for many of them is that they didn't bother to save a dime. Look at this recent article on F. Lee Bailey who just file for bankruptcy (again):

  2. I'm glad I avoided law school. And it wasn't because of these blogs. I didn't know about them. Anyway I took the LSAT in summer 2012 and I scored a 172. I only missed two in the logic games section. So I was looking at good schools. And I did a cost benefit analysis. I would've taken on about $150K in debt to go to a top 10 school. And I would've given up on close to $200K in income for the three years. No thank you. Instead I looked into an online master's from Stanford in my field. I was able to work albeit on reduced hours and go to school. The classes were interactive and the exams really tested your knowledge. It only cost me $8,000 for my master's degree. And now I make close to $250K a year. I know it's specialized and not everyone can get in. But I also know a lot of my classmates had similar results. And several had even better results. I still can't believe even bad law schools get away with charging $45K or more in annual tuition.

    1. What degree program was that?

    2. Exactly.

      When I would file a case against a tenant in arrears, or a small claims case, I would get a call..."I've spoken with my attorney..." "Who is your attorney???" (Having an attorney directory for my county and surrounding counties and knowing virtually every name.) "Well, I am not going to tell you that..." "Well, then you have NO attorney." (100% did not have an attorney.

      So, "What degree program???" There is none and the poster is a all hot air.

      Strange, how in the world of law, so many just ignore that the law acts on facts and evidence, not smoke.


  3. In the sidebar to the right, you will find the following related link:

    " The average 2015 Ohio law school graduate has approx. $98,475 in law school debt. Yet, only approximately 58% of Ohio law school graduates are employed in jobs requiring bar passage, and a national study shows median law firm starting salaries have dropped more than 40% from 2009 to 2013. In addition, without effective mentoring, many of these graduates may lack crucial “practice-ready” skills they need to competently serve clients.

    The conspicuous omission here is long-term salary earnings premium. Exactly how many peer-reviewed articles have to be published showing a lifetime lawyer boost before these hack journalists get it? Does it have to be more than one?

    Sure, there's $98,475 in debt now. Sure, only 58% are employed in jobs requiring bar passage now.

    But what about 20 years from now when the Boomers are drooling in nursing homes and these Millennial badasses are sipping gin and juice on beaches in the Balearic Islands? Are you going to be complaining about debt or jobs requiring bar passage then???"

    and this:

    From that entry, the author makes the following sage observation:

    "You're as employable as you'll ever be the day you graduate law school"

    PUTTING THE TWO TOGETHER: There will NEVER be any longitudinal studies on legal employment because it's an "up or out" System.

    It is not government work (unless you can get that before you're out..) or medicine (artificial scarcity)

    A given class size practicing law follows a predictable path 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 years out.

    That's another "dirty little secret" with law. So, the person coming out with $98k in law school debt - and it's more now that was in 2015 - has a very good chance of *never* being able to repay and principle on that debt. Ever. Combined with what the author discusses in that first article: "a national study shows median law firm starting salaries have dropped more than 40% from 2009 to 2013." and advances in outsourcing and technology, there is no reason to believe that debt will ever be repaid and every reason to believe that a 2017 graduate of law school will face chronic un/underemployment until they die and that they will die broke and in debt - exactly what the System was designed to do.

    And, the $98k (2015) doesn't include any undergrad debt. It's entirely likely that $200k is the norm going forward as tuition shows absolutely no signs of decreasing or even flattening out.

    There is negative demand for new attorneys from all but the very elite schools. The law school system, in cooperation with and the backing of the government is ONE GIANT SCAM.

    Education has become simply another tool of debt enslavement and a profit center for the Dept. of Education and the government.

    and see also:

    1. That first article you cited in your post was entitled “This Summer I Hear the Grumbling. More Debt in Ohio.” It was published on July 19, 2017. Here is my favorite portion:

      "Setting aside the chicken little debt bitching, it's a fairly comprehensive report with a sui generis poetic grammar. For example, there are concerns about legal pedagogy connected to a nut-licking of large law firms:

      The traditional Socratic method of teaching law students to “think like a lawyer” is more widely scrutinized than ever as law schools and the practicing bar acknowledge that law school graduates are not graduating practice-ready. They enter a field of law which remains highly interdisciplinary and entrepreneurial, but the economics have shifted. Fewer attorneys, for example, are being hired by large firms, which have historically provided invaluable, on-the-job training and mentoring to help new lawyers learn the business.

      There's a bizarre and awkward interjection of the opioid crisis.

      [W]ith Ohio facing an opiate epidemic and knowing that so many Ohio lawyers, like the rest of the population, continue to struggle with substance abuse, chemical dependencies and mental health issues, there is still a need to educate attorneys on how to recognize the symptoms and seek help when necessary.

      Chet, of course, can lay off the Hydro and go to a rural part of Ohio, because they drop that white lightning, too:

      OSBA should continue to offer and expand upon its “Rural Practice Initiative” to encourage new lawyers to practice in nonurban areas of Ohio, where there is a growing access to justice need due to the diminishing number of attorneys practicing in these areas. Many new lawyers aren’t willing or able due to debt to re-locate. We must develop a program to entice them to do so.

      One may wonder how debt prevents someone from living in a low-cost area with a market need for legal services, but it's best to simply not ask questions and go with the mojo.

      See, the good thing about these Task Force! reports is that they always find a way for the important people to have their cake and eat it, too. With just a few minor changes, poor folks can find affordable representation and new lawyers can get themselves easy payable work. One has to admire the sheer pluck of the liberal reformer."

      Ohio is a Rust Belt state, but colleges, universities, and law schools still charge ridiculous sums in tuition. Also, that average law school debt amount presumably includes those students who did not take out any loans for their degrees. And do you think those wealthy, connected graduates are going to have more or fewer connections than those from modest backgrounds?

  4. ^^^^^ Care to tell us your field, job and position? 250K is a rare salary these days unless you are in the financial field and are good at fleecing the public.... We talk about the law school scam. How about the Financial Management Scam... charing a 1% management fee to place people in ETFs.

    1. And the ETFs in turn have management fees.

    2. I don't care to tell you the field, job or position. I did consider law school. Then I realized all the really successful lawyers I knew came from connected families. My parents came here from Vietnam. And I hardly saw any Asian partners in Biglaw firms when I was deciding whether to attend a T10 law school. I'm pretty sure I made the right decision. I sympathize with you guys and I think it is awful the law schools charge such high tuition.

    3. If you don't care if you tell us, why don't you tell us.

    4. Anon @ 6:32 sez: "If you don't care if you tell us, why don't you tell us."
      Probably because he fears that his profession would then become flooded with desperate people (including lawyers desperate to become ex-lawyers); in which case, I wouldn't blame him. I've actually seen people say stuff like that before, like "No, I'm not telling you which field I switched to, because I don't need thousands of desperate losers flooding this profession either."

    5. It will be ruined soon enough, whatever it may be.

      Let's say that you read in a magazine that petroleum engineering is a hot field, with great salaries and benefits and paths for professional growth. You go off to become qualified as a petroleum engineer. By the time you achieve that goal, lots of other people have done the same, and there's a glut in the field that seemed promising just a few years earlier.

  5. Very few non-legal jobs would pay a recent law graduate $98k a year, but it is also true that very few legal jobs would pay that much—and that those in the main do not go to the graduates of Ohio's many law schools, all of which are toilets.

    I have to agree that borrowing huge sums of money with no plausible plan to repay it speaks ill of character and fitness. Lawyers are supposed to honor our obligations.

  6. Off topic, Pig Allard from Crooklyn has written a intellectually dishonest piece lamenting the awful, monopolistic, racist bar exam. I wish I was exaggerating, but those are some of his points.

    I'm pretty sure the picture of Allard on tax prof blog was the same picture Nando used when he flushed Allard some time ago. Allard "defended" his poor grads against the awful, profitable, expensive, bar prep courses. But he failed to mention that tuition at his toilet is $50k this year. Allard bemoaned his poor grads because they go without paychecks while waiting for bar exam results. Only about 2/3 of Brooklyn grads obtained FT, LT, BP employment last year. And 10% of the class was unemployed 10 months after graduation. The pig is getting desperate.

  7. (w/apologies to Steve Marriott and Humble Pie)

    Roll my tape
    Ooh, ooh, ooh

    Anyone doin' that one?
    (Which one?)
    I'm doin' that one
    $98,475 in the hole
    (Yeah, that's nice)

    $98,475 in the hole
    $98,475 in the hole
    (Lord have mercy)
    'Come on in man, that's it. Yeah. Right.

    Out of work, I’m the world’s biggest jerk
    A dirty room and a life of gloom
    Can’t get no release, debts non-dischargeable
    Owe thousands a month, compounding with ease
    Food pantries and dumpsters to eat on
    You know it's hard to believe

    $98,475 in the hole
    $98,475 in the hole
    $98,475 in the hole
    That's what a law degree will getcha
    $98,475 in the hole

  8. Why hasn't the Federal government implemented limits on how they lend money for legal degrees? I suspect because the bloc of people who would support such limitations is also very small. In federal government terms, the amount of money lent for legal degrees would be quite small. Even those concerned with reining in federal spending wouldn't notice.

    So only those people concerned about the fate of underemployed and overly-debted lawyers would support such limitations, and those would be a small number of people with limited clout. On the other hand you'd have law schools, the ABA, minority groups concerned about "elitists" trying to limit access to this "prestigious" profession, etc. all opposing such limitations.

    1. I have been asking the same question for years. . . .
      My guess is that the law schools have their side of the issue well articulated, but the recent, heavily indebted law grads are either too disunited to have an effective voice or still believe it's their own fault being unemployed and in debt. The federal government is, as usual, clueless, although the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been reporting for years that there are too many recent law graduates without jobs.
      . . . And I've always said the only way to fix the problem starts by handing out NO MORE NEW LOANS until the employment picture improves.
      So there you have it.

    2. Ejookayshun is big business in Uhmerica. Why does the federal government continue to subsidize the law-school scam? Because of all the well-connected people that grow fat off this governmental boondoggle. Much the same is true of the odious (indeed, criminal) military scam and other corporate rip-offs of the public coffers.


    Ohio Accredited Law Schools

    1. The University of Akron School of Law
    2. Capital University Law School
    3. Case Western Reserve University School of Law
    4. University of Cincinnati College of
    5. Cleveland State University—Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
    6. University of Dayton School of Law
    University of Dayton School of Law
    7. Ohio Northern University—Claude W. Pettit College of Law
    8. The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
    9. The University of Toledo College of Law

    Now let's look at the respective current rating of each of these nine ABA-accredited diploma mills, from US "News" & World Report:

    30. Ohio State
    62. Case Western Reserve University
    72. University of Cincinatti
    127. Cleveland State University
    132. University of Toledo
    134. University of Akron
    TTTT Capital University
    TTTT Ohio Northern University
    TTTT University of Dayton

    Of the nine diploma factories in the state, only one damn school is rated in the top 50 in the nation. Hell, a mere three landed in the top 100 law schools. What great odds facing those students, huh?

    1. Ohio State is the only one of those nine that was worth attending ten years ago. Today, no school in Ohio is worth attending.

      Ohio calls itself the Mother of Presidents (although Virginia also claims that title). Really, it's the mother of toilet law schools. Nine law schools but not a single good one? Disgraceful.

    2. Top 20 or Forget It.

    3. Top 2 or forget it.

      Better yet, just forget it.

  10. More from that Plain Dealer article:

    The bar association report's recommendations regarding law schools are:

    1. Provide more mentoring opportunities

    2. Reduce the cost of law school and debt

    3. Examine the bar exam process

    4. Encourage law school deans and lawyers to work together

    5. Provide more more hands-on experience

    As you can see, most of these suggestions are mere window dressing. For instance, the last point:

    "The association should work with the Ohio Supreme Court to expand student licenses to include second-year students so they can gain hands-on experience working in legal clinics or with legal service organizations while under proper supervision and in appropriate circumstances.

    The association should offer even more low-cost practice management resources and skills-based training to new lawyers, the report said."

    The legal "profession" in this country is glutted. Everyone with a functioning brain stem is aware of that fact. Do you really think, for one second, that current practitioners in Ohio will allow such an expansion? Many licensed attorneys are already struggling to make ends meet, especially when you take their monthly student loan payments into account.

    1. 6. Shut down at least 2/3 of the law schools; keep enrollment down at the rest.

      7. Raise standards for admission dramatically.

      8. Disregard 1, 3, 4, and 5.


Web Analytics