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Where has All of my Money gone ???


One could say that the law profession is governed by contract (K) law; however, the fine print on the K is more often than not, unconscionable (to the law student’s pocket) and unfortunately, binding (unless you decide money is no object!). There comes a moment in a particular breed of individuals’ lives when they take the plunge to become a lawyer. However, the thought to suppress ones dreams only comes after financial realities. And more often than not, no one else dares to intervene because they too truly have no concept of what lies ahead.

“I want to take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).” Great! That will be $165; better do well your first time around!

“HMmm? How will I prepare for the exam? I should probably enroll in a preparatory course.” That will be a couple of thousand dollars depending on what company you enlist to help.

“To increase my chances of actually attending law school, I should apply to as many schools as possible.” Sure, that’ll only be about $50-$80 per application.

“OKAYYY. Now that I have taken the LSAT, finalized my list of schools I want to apply to, and organized my application let me mail it to my desired schools.”

Sorry, it is not that simple. In order to apply to a majority of ABA accredited law schools within the U.S., an applicant must register with the Law School Admission Council, for a pretty penny of course: $160 to be exact. After finalizing your LSAC membership, additional fees ensue. A report fee is taxed for each application the Council sends on your behalf (approximately $25 as of 2014, which is a substantial increase from $12 in 2011).

“Just to make it crystal clear – you’re saying that I have to pay $25 to send out each application (something I clearly could have done by myself) AND pay the application fee for each school on top of that?” Why, Yes. Yes you do.


The legal profession is expensive from the point of entry to the time of retirement. Even after gaining admission to law school, many depend heavily on financial aid. And unbeknownst to them, the financial aid amount awarded each year is usually significantly more money than what is truly needed. Most law students fund their three years with loans, credit cards, and the help of family and or friends. Summer employment is not always, and increasingly less, an opportunity that is paid. In fact, the more prestigious non-law firm jobs are unpaid.

By the time the third year has rolled around, a large lump sum of money is necessary to prepare for – none other than – the bar examination. The bar examination is the final examination that certifies and validates the law students’ own three year struggle for himself, for all of those who watched on the sidelines and for the rest of the legal profession. Unfortunately, law school is not the ultimate preparation tool for the bar examination. Yes, I know what you are thinking and even law students have the same thoughts, you’re not alone – “But thats what law school is for, right?” Yes and No.

The reality is this: Law School prepares you to think like a lawyer, to write like a lawyer, to read like a lawyer, to analyze as a lawyer would . . . with a bit of content mixed in. But, in order to prepare for the bar, more in-depth content based preparation is necessary. To achieve this many sign up for bar review courses, which can range anywhere between $2,500 to $3,500 for a ten week course meant to cover what students did or should have covered in law school. And for those who did not lock in prices their first year with these popular companies because of uncertainty about whether they would take the bar, about where to take the bar, or even what the bar was, they will incur higher bar preparation costs.

Even to sit in the room and take the bar examination costs money; the fees vary depending on the state. West Virginia, for instance is $675. Those prepared enough to pass the bar on the first try have the privilege of joining the ranks of attorneys who pay . . . MORE MONEY . . . in the form of annual fees to remain active members of their state bar. In order to remain active and licensed to practice in more than one state, attorneys must pay fees in each state where they passed the bar examinations. The legal profession is expensive from the time of entry to the point of retirement.

And just to be clear, this blog is NOT meant to read like a pity party for law students and attorneys alike; however, it is meant to inform those who are unaware or those considering the legal profession. Hopefully, those who wish to apply will have a better understanding of the financial responsibilities associated with becoming a lawyer. And for those who have no desire to step foot near a law school, I hope this post has helped inform you of the non-publicized financial burdens associated with the legal profession.

And a note for those who still wish to apply: before embarking on this journey you may want to prepare those around you, your bank account, and your expectations. It is a difficult journey that needs nurturing, support, diligence, and a bit of faith. It will all pay off in the end . . . but do not underestimate or be mistaken because the road is long and the journey hard. With a little bit of passion and a lot of hard work, you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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