Law student, worried about debt, wants his money back

Boston College law SchoolFrustrated by high debt, poor job prospects and his wife's pregnancy, a Boston College Law School student has offered to quit school in exchange for a tuition refund.

The student, who is in his third year, spelled out his concerns in an "Open Letter" to George D. Brown, the school's interim dean, posted on the website of EagleiOnline, the Boston College Law School student newspaper. His name was not disclosed but his story probably is not unusual.

These days, lawyers often graduate with six figures worth of debt. According to US News & World Report, 2009 graduates of Boston College Law School owed an average of $96,806. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the median salary for graduates 9 months after graduation is $68,500. Lawyers in private practice earn $108,500, though the specter of layoffs continues to loom. BLS data shows that the legal sector lost more than 22,000 jobs in the past year,

For the anonymous student, his dream of being a lawyer has turned into a nightmare. Indeed, he sounds desperate.

"With fatherhood impending, I go to bed every night terrified of the thought of trying to provide for my child AND paying off my J.D, and resentful at the thought that I was convinced to go to law school by empty promises of a fulfilling and remunerative career," he writes. "I'd like to propose a solution to this problem: I am willing to leave law school, without a degree, at the end of this semester. In return, I would like a full refund of the tuition I've paid over the last two and a half years. This will benefit both of us: on the one hand, I will be free to return to the teaching career I left to come here. I'll be able to provide for my family without the crushing weight of my law school loans."

A Boston College spokesman declined to comment. Judging from the comments on the website, many law students and lawyers are sympathetic to the views of the commentator, though some argue that he should have had a more realistic view of his career prospects. Nonetheless, many people continue to view a law degree as a golden ticket to prosperity.

"Law school applications increased by 7 percent and the number of applicants by 3 percent nationwide for this year's incoming class compared to last year, according to the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC)," The National Law Journal recently reported. "A handful of law schools saw their applicant pools swell by 30 percent or more. "
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