Law School Reality Check (Or: Cash Rules Everything Around Me)
As I’ve tumbled about before, I am a lawyer who went to a private law school and isn’t part of the landed aristocracy. Therefore, I graduated school with a ton of debt: approximately $180,000.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in biglaw (for the money, not the soul crushing) for a couple years and then transition to a great litigation boutique, so I have been able to make more than my minimum loan payments. And yet, after 3.5 years practicing, I still owe approximately $82,000.
However, I’ve paid far, far more than $100,000 to get to this point. For example, I did my taxes this weekend, and in 2011 I paid $47,000 of my income to student loans. Of that $47,000, $8,400 was interest, rather than principal. So, I really only paid down my loans $38,600. Play that out over the past 3.5 years, and I’ve paid more than $30,000 in interest alone. So the real price of my legal education is somewhere in the ballpark of $210,000, and it increases every day.
I mention this because when I took out my loans I understood, rationally, that loans accrue interest. However, I didn’t really internalize the fact that the interest would add years to the amount of time it will take me to pay them back. Knowing this, I would have still chosen law school because I like lawyering and have been fortunate enough to land great jobs. But anyone who doesn’t have the same job prospects and will owe what I did should get OK with the fact that the real price of their legal education is somewhere in the >$250,000 range—even with paying it off more quickly than you are required.
And this has been your daily depressing truth bomb….