American law students are borrowing large sums of money. For graduates at many schools, cumulative debts of $40,000 from college and law school have become the norm, and debts of $50,000, $60,000, and even more are common. The sums students are borrowing are much larger today than they were ten years ago, even after adjusting for increases in the cost of living. They have risen at a considerably faster pace than the starting salaries at small law firms and government agencies. They have even risen at a faster pace than the starting salaries in many large firms. The new pattern of borrowing suggests some obvious questions. One is whether students' concerns about the burden of high debts affect the choices they are making about the kinds ofjobs to seek upon graduation. Another is whether those who are borrowing these large sums are likely to have difficulty making payments after they graduate. As a small step toward answering these questions, nine law schools agreed to administer the same brief questionnaire to the members of their graduating classes in April 1989. The nine schools, though diverse in many respects, cannot be taken as representative of all American law schools, but our findings can be seen. as suggestive of issues almost certainly arising in some form at nearly all American law schools. What follows is a report on the findings from the questionnaire.
Chambers, David L. "The Burdens of Educational Loans: The Impacts of Debt on Job Choice and Standards of Living for Students at Nine American Law Schools." J. Legal Educ. 42 (1992): 187-231.