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Law School Debt Far Outweighing Lawyer Salaries
The National Association for Law Placement has released new data that shows half of lawyers are starting with a salary that is less than $62,000 per year, according to CNN.
Over the previous six years, starting salaries have also dropped by 13 percent. The salary was sitting at $72,000 back in 2008. As the starting salaries drop, student debt for lawyers continues to be high.
“The third quarter of 2008 [it] was just like the spigot got turned off,” says James Leipold, executive director of the NALP.
Associates working at large firms in 2008 were making $125,000 right out of law school. As of last year, that number dropped to $95,000. The majority of lawyers work at smaller firms for less money. Compare this to local prosecutors, who make $50,000 during their first year on the job, and the numbers are incredible. Even prosecutors who have been working for 15 years make just $80,000.
“In American culture, our sense of being a lawyer is so much driven by television,” Leipold says. “Sure, there are a handful of people making a lot of money, but it’s not the rule.”
The American Bar Association said that there are some 1.3 million licensed lawyers in the country.
Half of law school graduates from 2012 carried student debt totaling more than $141,000, according to New America Foundation. This is an increase from the $50,000 that students carried just 10 years ago.
“The reality is it’s going to take them a lot longer to pay back these loans than it would have 10, 15 years ago,” says Kathryn Randolph, financial aid editor at FinAid.org. “It’s harder to get a mortgage. If you also have credit card debt, that’s a huge problem too.”
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