ABA Journal Discovers U.S. News’ Debt Rankings

Debra Cassens Wiess, “Average Debt of Private Law School Grads Is $125K; It’s Highest at These Five SchoolsABA Journal

The average education debt for law grads at private schools last year was nearly $125,000, while the average for grads of public law schools was more than $75,700, according to new figures released by the ABA.

This refers to the numbers found in this ABA document (PDF). No, the law schools don’t send 45,000 graduates’ debt numbers to the ABA, they take the average of their students’ debt loads and send that, which the ABA then averages again. It’s a deceptive number, and the ABA never says how many law schools are reporting their average student’s debt levels each year. Thus for the average of private law schools’ average student’s debt to go from $106,246 to $125,000 is completely incredulous. Indeed the average of the average private law school that reported to U.S. News was $116,744 (112/116 reporting). Speaking of which…

Meanwhile, U.S. News & World Report has released its own figures on the “10 law schools that lead to the most debt.” At those 10 schools, average student debt was more than $147,000 in 2011.

This has been out since the rankings. I know because I looked at this and dorked it into my spreadsheets before bothering with “Oh my God, Harvard’s number three! Wowohwowohwow, &c.” Actually, I didn’t do that. Point is, this is old news.

Also, take a good look at how many people took on debt at John Marshall (IL): 50%. Bullshit. It didn’t have or send all the data.

<editorial mode> Omitting detailed debt figures for each law school from the Official Guide is utterly irresponsible. Why the public gets more accurate numbers from a for-profit magazine before the non-profit accrediting authority is similarly baffling. Maybe people would’ve flinched at law school if they’d seen how much it cost, but instead, they get the Official Guide we know and love, which shills things like this in its “Types of Employment” section (PDF page 42):

Business and industry jobs may include positions in accounting firms; insurance companies; banking and financial institutions; corporations, companies, and organizations of all sizes, such as private hospitals, retail establishments, and consulting and public relations firms; political campaigns; and trade associations.

TheGuideforgets to mention it may include retail. It gets better:

Law-trained individuals also pursue a wide variety of nonlegal careers outside the practice of law itself. Lawyers also work in the media and public relations; as teachers at colleges, graduate schools, and law schools; and in politics and administration.

Again, this what the ABA says. It does not come out and say, “There aren’t enough lawyer jobs for everyone, many of these careers don’t need law degrees, and the people who don’t report their employment or salaries do so because they were hosed.” See for yourself; it’s a gold mine. Between U.S. News‘ “5 Ways to Strengthen Your Law School Application” and the ABA’s whitewashing of legal education’s value, I wonder why there aren’t more scam blogs. Pravda has nothing on contemporary American institutions. </editorial mode>

One comment

  1. This is comical. Apparently, Campos has pointed this out recently. I have been relying on US “News” & World Report’s law student indebtedness rankings, for over two years now.

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