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Top 10 Debt-Inducing Private Law Schools

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on March 30, 2012 5:56 AM

Law school debt. It's what compels you to remain within the BigLaw ranks long after the job has destroyed your soul. It's what requires you to choose between Top Ramen and a juicy steak. And for some, it's what catapults you into the drudgery that is document review.

In other words, law school debt sucks. But luckily, you are not alone. Law students graduated with an average debt of $100,585 in 2011, according to data compiled by U.S. News and World Report. And those who graduated from the following schools have it the worst.

  1. John Marshall Law School ($165,178) 129
  2. California Western School of Law ($153,145) not ranked
  3. Thomas Jefferson School of Law ($153,006) not ranked
  4. American University ($151,318) 49
  5. New York Law School ($146,230) 135
  6. Phoenix School of Law ($145,357) not ranked
  7. Southwestern Law School ($142,606) 129
  8. Catholic University of America ($142,222) 82
  9. Northwestern University ($139,101) 12
  10. Pace University ($139,007) 142

Unsurprisingly, the top schools for law school debt are all private. And in case you haven’t figured it out, those last numbers represent each school’s most recent ranking. Yes, people actually pay $153,000 to go to an unranked law school. Waste of money? You be the judge.

U.S. News and World Report also took it upon itself to compile a list of the top least debt-inducing law schools. Georgia State University, ranked at an overall 58, topped that list with an average debt of $19,971. Brigham Young University, the only top 50 school on the list, comes in at number 10. But that may have something to do with the fact that members of the Mormon Church pay only a fraction of the school’s tuition.

All in all, both lists paint a pretty sad picture. No matter where you go to school, you will probably spend the rest of your life paying off your law school debt.

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