Thinking about attending law school?

Law school application and enrollment rates have been dropping for several years. A growing conventional wisdom has been that a law degree doesn’t have the value proposition it once had, and that times are tough particularly for new law school grads.

Law school is not inexpensive, and many have come to doubt that a law degree can pay off in either higher immediate or life time earnings. People who are actually curious about the field of law question whether they should go to law school.

I tend to gravitate toward contrarian points of view, to zig where others zagging, particularly when strong evidence supports taking a different course than what most are doing. Here is a data-driven argument by authors of a published study on the question. Their conclusion is that the law school value proposition remains a good one.

“The optimal strategy to get the most out of law school financially is to go to law school as soon as possible after deciding that you eventually want to go to law school.”

The idea is a simple one: The sooner you get through law school, the sooner you will step up on a track to earn more income than you would with your bachelors degree.

I’d add one more point to this well-written argument. In a national survey of current graduate students that we are conducting, irrespective of academic field of study, over 90% say that their main motivation to get an advanced degree is to fulfill their academic curiosity.

In other words, they specialize in what they study because it interests them.

Another conventional wisdom is that there is no such thing as a sure thing. However, if you are truly curious about the law, if you can see yourself practicing law or doing the work that law school grads do, and if you are willing to bet on the average improved lifetime earnings outcome that law school grads enjoy, then there is no reason not to think about applying and attending as soon as you can mobilize the effort.