So far, much of law school debt is still viewed as monopoly money, to be IBR-ed or PAYE-ed as a "side concern". It seems that many Deans, professors, and members of the establishment (NALP, ABA) seem to endorse this view – that while it is indeed a burden, most law graduates are young, have a lifetime to pay it off, so where is the harm in the final analysis? Isn’t youth wasted on the young, so why not pay some soft-bankruptcy student loan debt while you’re at it?
I’m a 40-something Gen-Xer, and I made the mistake of going back to law school early in my oh-so-vaulted STEM career (which is overrated itself, another story). I graduated in 2005 and have worked in a "JD preferred" career since, and I’m one of the lucky ones – debt was bad but barely manageable, and my interest rates are low. I’m on the 25-year plan, yet still pay a lot every month relative to my salary. The worthwhile ROI vis-à-vis my law diploma and bar license has not been there, as is the case for many similarly situated.
A cost I did not count ten years ago, though, is looking at my daughter today, who came along herself a few years ago. Every month that I write student loan checks, that is substantive money that does not go to my daughter’s education. Or to her extra-curricular activities. Or to clothes, for that matter.
There are things I will not be able to for her, due to my decision to believe the law school cartel and buy into the law school scam. Things every parent wants to do for their child. Things that are considered very "normal" or "simple", like "ballet lessons for tots" or small vacations, let alone larger concerns such as her own education. The saying "shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations" takes on a whole new meaning for me, for someone whose grandfather was a farmer and whose father was an engineer. Paul Campos recently opined on this trend, saying that law school is just for rich kids, now. Ah, how things come full circle.
Meanwhile, the Deans and other professors encourage students to take on even more and more debt and further perpetrate the scam. I’m reminded of Professor Henderson at University of Chicago a couple of years ago, who complained about "high taxes" while being a law professor, having a doctor wife, three kids in private school, and a house in Hyde Park. I see red sometimes thinking that pampered, silver-spooned whiners such as Henderson get to send his kids to Chicago Lab on the nickel of many, many students, K-JDs and non-trads alike, while complaining about his so-called problems. His wife told him to shut up and rightly so, as his own writings on the subject are curiously down (although many commented in the media at the time). At least Chicago seems to turn out good prospects for its students, but that is a rare thing in this legal market with high overproductions of JDs.
My own child will have fewer opportunities than Henderson’s, despite his "crushing" tax burden and other "difficulties." I find it hard to shed a tear for the likes of him, whose attitude seems to dominate the upper-eschelons at essentially all law schools. Pay no mind, however, as JDs are "versatile" and legal careers are "valuable," and $200k is a small price to pay for such advantages. ScamDeans and LawProfs have private school tuition and mortgages on very nice houses to pay, you know, so you JD applicants better be stepping up to the plate. They are our Promethian betters, and are deserving of their hard-earned accolades.
I attended a lower-ranked religiously-affiliated law school, and I have certainly learned one thing in my experience – "the sins of the fathers are visited upon the third and fourth generations", so far as legal education is concerned. This blithely glossed-over fact of creating economic harm down the line, while Deans and professors cash fat paychecks while writing articles to each other in the Law School echo chamber, needs to be heard much louder and clearer. Clearly, the Deans and profs aren't worried, as they have apparently never had to face real or significant economic difficulty in their lives - otherwise, they would not be so cavalier in their assessment of the situation.
By their fruits ye shall know them.