Will a Law Degree Make You Rich?

Why now might be the best time to consider Law School.

"Is it too late for me to go to law school?," both you and Elaine Benes, Julia Louis-Dreyfus's character on the hit 90s sitcom Seinfeld, have probably asked at some point in your non-law school attending professional life. Much like college, law school is known to provide a jumble of personal and professional skills that are said to set you apart from candidates who don't. But, also like college, law school carries a steep price tag: average tuition at a private university's law school runs at an average of $45,467 per year. Even public law schools run from an average of $25,890 and $38,885 per year, in-state and out-of-state costs respectively.

So, will it make you rich?

As of last month, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the legal industry currently employs 1,125,300 people, 1,500 more than in October of 2015. Last year, the Times reported that the starting salary for first-year hires at law firms almost universally range in the triple-figures. James Leipold, of the National Association for Law Placement, told the Times that, in New York, "the $160,000 starting salary is almost universal." So, yes.

In fact, now just might be the time to get into the legal sector. Susan Beck, writing for no less an institution than The American Lawyer, reports that, "Nearly all [law firm leaders] said that Trump's presidency will initially mean more work for many lawyers." One of those leaders that Beck quoted, Kim Koopersmith of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, one of the most profitable law firms in the country, admitted that "because [Trump] has an agenda that is kind of unprecedented and untested, it does raise the prospect of significant legal needs in a variety of practices."

Choices, Though

It's not just a matter of taking classes and passing the right tests, however. The legal world is a far cry from the slammed-down briefs of the criminal justice world. The kind of law you decide to focus on, however, depends as much on your personal interests as where you plan to practice. A great resource, even before you start looking at law schools, is BCG Search, a legal placement service that closely monitors current legal opportunities all over the country. Right now, for instance, you can access their State of the Law Firm Hiring Market for Spring-Summer 2016 and find out which fields are hiring and where.

Wendy Siegel, Director of Recruitment & Marketing at the NYU School of Law's Office of Career Services, reiterates the sheer importance of doing your homework before sitting down for that LSAT. "Students need to do some investigative research and soul-searching," she told me when I asked her how potential students should approach considering law school. It's essential, she said, "to speak with as many people as possible to make sure they understand what law school is like, which school would be the best fit, and speak to lawyers who are doing the type of work that they might be interested in doing down the road."

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