Student Debt? What Student Debt?

Student Debt - Starting your own firmWith the downturn in the economy and the upturn in law school tuition, the perfect storm was created for a bumper crop of extremely dissatisfied law school grads, saddled with debt and finding only poor job prospects.  On my Internet Defamation Blog, I wrote about the law student from Thomas M. Cooley Law School who was not happy with that institution, and started a blog called Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam, telling tales of wrongdoing.  (The school is not happy and is attempting to sue the student for defamation.)  Like many newly minted lawyers, he feels the law school lied about the employment opportunities he would find after graduation.  (Resentment toward your school after running up big debt and not being able to do anything with the degree is not limited to law school.  Read the insightful article, How a Dog Walker Paid off a 37K Student Loan in 6 Years, about the author's “naïve mistake of getting an MFA in creative writing . . . .”)

Today I came across another posting on the topic, although far less vitriolic, on the Above the Law blog, which was in turn reporting on an article in the National Law Journal by Jim Chen.  Chen, Dean of the Louisville School of Law, has come up with a formula for determining whether law school was a wise investment.  Chen uses qualification for a home loan while paying off student debt as his criteria for “financial viability”.  He suggests that your starting salary at your first position after law school should be no less than three times your annual law school tuition if you want “adequate financial viability”. If you want to achieve a “good” level of financial viability, then you need to land a job paying six times the annual tuition.  If your job only pays twice your annual tuition, then you have only “marginal” financial viability, according to Chen.  All of these calculations are based only on your law school debt; if you have undergraduate debt, then you need to adjust accordingly.

I can only chuckle when I read articles such as this, because they are based on what I consider to be false assumptions. Continue reading