Careers

Only 23% of law school grads say their education was worth the cost

Going to law school and becoming a lawyer used to be seen as a golden ticket to career and financial success but today, few lawyers believe this to actually be the case.

In a Gallup poll of over 4,000 American adults who earned a postgraduate degree between 2000 and 2015, just 23 percent of law school graduates said that their education was worth the cost and only 20 percent said that their schooling prepared them well for post-grad life.

Today, the average cost of attending law school varies greatly by institution. According to the U.S. News and World Report annual survey of over 197 law programs, the average cost of attending a private law school is $43,020 and attending a public law school costs an average of $26,264 for in-state residents and $39,612 for out-of-state students. At the top 10 law schools in the country, the average cost of attendance is $60,293 per year.

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These costs, however, are relatively modest compared to those incurred by medical students. Even though it can be significantly more expensive to earn a medical degree, 58 percent of graduates with medical degrees said it was worth the cost.

"While both medical and law degrees are expensive, law degree holders may be less likely to say their degree was worth the cost because of the weak job market for those with a law degree in recent years," hypothesizes Gallup.

U.S. News reports that the median private sector salary for J.D. recipients is $68,300, and the median public sector salary is $52,000.

Another reason that law school graduates have such a negative view of their education is their relationships — or lack thereof — with their professors. Just 24 percent of J.D. holders felt that their professors cared about them as a person and only 19 percent said they had a collegiate mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams.

These negative experiences were not consistent across other types of graduate students.

Graduates with a doctoral degree were the most likely to say that their education was worth the cost, with 64 percent feeling positive about their investment and almost 50 percent saying they had a supportive college mentor.

Law school admissions and career counselor Laura Hosid says students should consider the job market, their career goals and their ability to get into a top-tier program before they take the law school plunge.

"Yes, technically you can do anything with a law degree," she tells CNBC Make It. "But that doesn't mean you should."

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