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Was Your JD Worth the Cost? Survey Says 'No'

If law school debt left you with that sinking feeling, you are not alone.

According to a new poll, a majority of recent law school graduates think their degree wasn't worth it. Higher debt and fewer jobs are to blame.

The economy created a perfect storm, and the new lawyers fell into it. Yeah, that sinking feeling.

School Debt

In a study by AccessLex and Gallup, nearly 1,000 respondents said their legal education was not worth the cost because of increasing law school debt and job uncertainty. It wasn't always that way.

"There was a time when earning a law degree was assumed to be a sure path to financial security and prestige," the authors said.

But the Great Recession changed all that. Since then, law students have faced challenges that have overcome many.

According to the Consumer Price Index, college tuition and fees increased 63 percent from 2006 to 2016. In the last eight years, 60 percent of law school graduates left school more than $100,000 in debt.

Job Uncertainty

Fewer job opportunities had a lot to do with the problem. In the study, only 44 percent had jobs waiting for them when they graduated. Twenty-six percent couldn't find a job for over a year.

The American Bar Association assessed the situation last year, and launched an initiative to help lawyers cope with the emotional impact. The National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being seeks to help attorneys deal with depression, stress and substance abuse.

"Lawyers, judges and law students are faced with an increasingly competitive and stressful profession," said David Brink, past president of the ABA. "Studies show that substance use, addiction and mental disorders, including depression and thoughts of suicide -- often unrecognized -- are at shockingly high rates."

So yeah, that feeling.

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