Required Class: Avoiding Law School Debt

By William Vogeler, Esq. on June 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Before Rick Tallini went to law school in the 1990s, there was a film in driver's education class called "Death on the Highway."

It was an auto-accident documentary with color footage of accident victims to scare future drivers into safe driving. If it didn't traumatize them psychologically, at least it made them think twice before getting a driver's license.

Tallini, who is shouldering a student debt of more than $300,000, could have learned a thing or two from a class like that in law school. "Death by Student Debt" should be required before anyone gets a law license.

Death by Student Debt

Everybody knows that law school debt can crush you. After a home mortgage, it will probably be the biggest debt you ever carry.

Even so, students endlessly line up to enter law school expecting that someday they will get ahead of the interest payments. That's why Rick Tallini's story is required reading.

He borrowed $55,000 to get through law school, but didn't think much of it. After struggling to find steady employment, however, his loan balance ballooned to well over $300,000.

"They'll tack this thing on my coffin at this point," he told CNBC.

Plan for the Future

The thing is, interest never sleeps. It is accruing while you sleep, eat, drink, work, die ... You get the picture.

Law school can be a good investment, but like any investment it requires good decision-making first. Here are some pointers:

  • Research the future job market
  • Look for scholarships everywhere
  • Do the math on borrowing, repayment
  • Scrimp, hustle and get out of debt fast

Good law schools offer guidance, too. Notre Dame, for example, suggests living on a budget and working on breaks.

However, no law school has a class on "Death by Student Debt." That would probably be too traumatizing, or haunting for the future.

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