A new study conducted by the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association has revealed substantial and widespread levels of student debt and demonstrated a harmful effect on junior members of the profession in the US.
The survey has found that:
- Over 75% of respondents had at least $100,000 in student loans at graduation
- Over 50% had more than $150,000 in student loans
- Over 25% had $200,000 or more in student loans
More than 1,000 newer lawyers and recent law school graduates completed the survey, which was conducted March 1-31, 2020.
The survey data reveal six key themes:
- Nearly all law school graduates are impacted by student loan debt, with only a few exceptions
- For many students, their debt continues to grow after graduation
- Student loans deeply impact the personal lives and decisions of new lawyers
- Student loans force lawyers to take unwanted career paths
- Student loans take a disproportionate toll on lawyers from minority backgrounds
- Student loans are negatively affecting mental health
The report has suggested that more must be done around the issue of law student debt, in order to encourage a healthy and diverse profession. The report makes suggestions including giving students advice on how to manage debt, both financially and mentally, as well as exploring alternative financing models for law schools.