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As 1L Ponders Cost-Benefit Ratio of Dropping Out Now, ATL Survey Says: Do It

Posted Nov 30, 2010 12:25 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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As an unidentified first-year law student comes to grips with the reality of his situation—a likely $150,000 in debt by the time he graduates, with no guarantee of a legal job that will make it easy for him to repay this money—he is thinking about dropping out now.

Owing only $21,000 in law school debt at this point, he tells Above the Law, he would probably be better off to call it quits now. That way, he will not only be better off financially, with far less to repay, but happier, since he won't have to work as hard.

About four out of five responders to an ATL reader survey seeking input about what the 1L should do agree that dropping out is the best option.

But his focus on finances in analyzing the situation shows exactly what the problem is, says Brian Tannebaum in a response to the ATL post on his My Law License blog. Like too many other law students, the 1L is interested in the money to be made as an attorney, rather than working as a client advocate.

"I read this post and all I could think was that this law student sounds much more like a stockbroker," Tannebaum writes. "His entire analysis is whether it's worth it to spend the money for an education that may not find him the darling of the Bar in terms of high fees and a life of luxury. There's nothing about the profession, except a bunch of whining about working hard."

Meanwhile, an unidentified member of the "Lost Generation" writes in an Above the Law column today that, after he graduated from law school without a job, even more legal education and even more educational debt eventually got him a job.

While he was earning his LLM, his work impressed a professor who recommended him for a job at a well-known law firm, the columnist writes. "Was it worth it? It’s easy to say doubling down on your nine when the dealer is showing a five is a good play. It’s a great play … so long as it works out."

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