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SoFi Ranks Best and Worst Law Schools of 2017
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Summary: Personal finance website, Sofi, ranks the best and worst law schools based on graduates’ finanacials.

There are plenty of articles that try to scare people away from going to law school, but it’s not that all law schools are bad. Some have good return on investment while others … not so much. Luckily, the folks at personal finance company SoFi have created a list of the best law schools based on salary to debt ratios. Using over 60,000 loan refinancing applications submitted to them from January 2014 to December 2016, they created a ranking of the best and worst “return on education” law programs.


“After taking a long, hard look at the average salary and student debt load of law school graduates three years out of school, we compiled objective data that can’t be found anywhere else—verified income and debt, not just reported figures,” SoFi stated.

The following is their list of best law schools and the 10 worst.

SOFI’S TOP LAW SCHOOLS (based on highest average starting salaries)

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  1. Cornell – avg starting salary $183,377
  2. Columbia – avg starting salary $177,962
  3. New York University – avg starting salary $177,203
  4. University of Chicago – avg Vstarting salary $174,238
  5. Harvard – avg starting salary $173,578
  6. Georgetown – avg starting salary $173,464
  7. Yale – avg starting salary $171,779
  8. University of Pennsylvania – avg starting salary $170,954
  9. Duke – avg starting salary $169,096
  10. University of Virginia – avg starting salary $166,396

Graduates from Cornell, Columbia, and New York University make on average over $175,000 as starting salaries, Sofi reports. All three schools are located in New York City, which is a hub for BigLaw. Sofi added that 309 of 413 of Columbia’s 2015 graduates stayed in the Big Apple to work while New York University’s graduates mostly worked in New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania. The majority of other schools on the list were also east coast, proving that sometimes money is about location, location, location.

SOFI’S TOP LAW SCHOOLS (based on the best salary to debt ratios)

  1. Brigham Young 
  2. University of Texas–Austin
  3. Yale
  4. University of Houston
  5. University of Georgia
  6. Harvard
  7. Stanford
  8. University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign
  9. University of Connecticut
  10. University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill 

Brigham Young University’s graduates start with an average salary of $108,916, but they top the list of best salary to debt ratio because the school’s a bargain, especially if you are a member of the Mormon church. With most students averaging less than $65,000 in debt, BYU Law grads have a 1.7x salary to debt ratio, which puts them at the top spot on this list.

University of Texas-Austin, Yale, and the University of Houston were the next best law programs with a salary to debt ratio of 1.4x. Austin graduates had average starting salaries of $147,444 with average debt amounting to $105,254. Yale grads may have topped BYU and Austin students when it came to their starting salaries, but their average debt amount was much higher at $123,793. The University of Houston’s graduates had an average debt of $100,160 and an average starting salary of $136,370.

In fifth through ninth place, University of Georgia, Harvard, Stanford, University of Illinois, and University of Connecticut had 1.3x salary to debt ratios. The University of North Carolina had a 1.2x salary to debt ratio.

SOFI’S WORST LAW PROGRAMS (based on poor salary to debt ratios)

  1. Florida Coastal School of Law
  2. Charlotte School of Law
  3. Saint Thomas University
  4. Barry University
  5. Appalachian School of Law
  6. Thomas Jefferson School of Law
  7. Roger Williams
  8. Elon
  9. Texas A&M
  10. Phoenix School of Law

It’s disheartening to have to compile a list of “worst” law schools; but unfortunately, some schools cost as much as the top ranked ones but leave their students without jobs and a ton of debt. To no one’s surprise, Sofi’s list of worst programs included Charlotte School of Law and Thomas Jefferson, which both have faced class action lawsuits from angry students who felt mislead into paying tuition.

The average salary to debt ratio for the law schools on the Worst list is .5x to .6x. Florida Coastal School of Law leaves graduates with an average debt of $158,427, but graduates end up only starting with an average salary of $84,664. According to Sofi, the school has a 72% acceptance rate and allows students entrance with LSAT scores as low as 148. Despite this almost open enrollment system, the school charges $44,000 in tuition a year.

The other schools on this list had similar average starting salaries, ranging from the mid-80s to a little over $100,000. These programs left graduates with similar debt numbers, ranging from about $143,000 to almost $176,000.

Source: Sofi

What do you think of Sofi’s list? Let us know in the comments below. 



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