True confession: The only class of people I find more annoying than law students are prospective law students.
I had a conversation with someone recently that told me she had "deferred law school" for three years.
Me: What brought you to Denver?
Her: Law school.
Me:Oh, which one?
Her: DU, but I've deferred for three years now.
Me: Wow, I didn't realize that they let you defer for that long.
Her: Oh, well I haven't actually applied yet.
She went on to tell me that she wanted to do intellectual property law because her facebook page got shut down one time. I asked what she wanted to actually do in IP law. Did she want to work in a law firm? She wasn't sure. Would you do something different than what you're doing now? She still wasn't sure. She then told me that many of the jobs she wanted required a JD or a masters degree and that she could make "a lot more" money if she had an advanced degree. "How much more?" I asked. She wasn't sure. "For instance, at my current job I'd make a significant amount more," she told me. "About $2,200 a year more, based on the pay scale they publish," I told her, "that doesn't even cover your monthly loan payment." "Well, sure" she said.
Well sure!? Well, you sure are bad at math.
Because if you're going to spend over $3,000 a year to make $2,200 a year more, that's a bad deal. A law degree isn't the cash cow it once was and legal education continues to be under fire. Sure, if getting an advanced degree allows you to do something you really love (and you've actually worked in that environment before and know you like it) then do it, get an advanced degree. Shell out ten or hundreds of thousands of dollars on your education.
But do the math, run the numbers on what you can afford, and research what your future job might look like. It's probably the most important piece of legal research you'll ever do.