Faculty Publications


Reducing Debt and Increasing Access to the Profession: An Empirical Study of Graduate Debt at U.S. Law Schools

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Legal education in the United States is in crisis because it is so costly and the number of law school graduates has consistently exceeded the number of entry-level law jobs by a wide margin, while starting salaries are low in comparison to student loan debt for most graduates. This article contributes to the work of addressing the current challenges by reporting the results of an empirical study of the nature and scope of law graduate debt across U.S. law schools. We statistically analyzed the correlations between the average (mean) amount borrowed by class of 2018 graduates who borrowed some amount to attend law school and a range of other law school characteristics, from tuition and estimated living expenses to entering-class credentials and employment outcomes. Included are analyses of the relationships between borrowing and the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of law school student bodies. In light of our findings, we highlight several potential reforms to reduce borrowing and increase access to legal education and the legal profession.