Loyola Law School – A Case Study in Reputational Collapse

Programming note – Since it is now mid-April, many 0Ls have received acceptance letters from various schools with financial aid packages. So I decided that for the next few months, I will focus my writing to pre-law students in the hopes that they will 1) understand the true economic reality of going to law school and becoming a lawyer, 2) be very aggressive about negotiating tuition discounts in its various forms, and 3) either not go to law school at all or defer attending for at least another year. The law school scam continues.

Once upon a time, Loyola Law School (a tax exempt entity affiliated with Loyola Marymount University) used to be a decent alternative for those seeking to practice law in Southern California. Most Loyola Law School students either did not have the GPA/LSAT numbers to go to USC or UCLA law or received tuition discounts to attend. But almost everyone believed that even a marginal graduate of Loyola Law School would be able to get a job after graduation and later use their alumni connections to lateral to a reputable firm in a few years. It might be harder to make BigLaw partner but most graduates made good money and a lot of their alumni were on TV, including the late Johnnie Cochran. It seemed like everyone was happy and were bragging about their success at the alumni events and all of the graduates were hopeful about their career opportunities.

And then in 2007, Loyola 2L (L2L) appeared on the internet. L2L claimed to have ranked in the top 25% of his 1L class. But when he submitted his resume to major law firms for a summer associate position at Loyola Law School’s on-campus interview program, none offered him an interview.

L2L must have felt like a failure and a loser. But he later learned that he was not alone and a number of his classmates were having the same problem. Nobody talked about it because they wanted to “stay positive” and not look unemployable. L2L posted on many legal website message boards and blogs complaining about the poor job market and how Loyola Law School’s good reputation was a lie. His story received national attention and formed the beginnings of the law school scam movement.

Six years later, the true employment realities of Loyola Law School are being known. The 2013 US News and World Report Graduate School Rankings ranked Loyola Law School at 68th – way below the its traditional rank between 40th and 50th, putting it in the traditional first tier category. In addition, 22.9% of graduates were reported to have found full-time positions requiring the JD degree after graduation with most of these graduates earning an average of $75,000 per year. Prior to the ABA’s call for more detailed employment statistics, Loyola Law School – like the others – reported that over 90% of their graduates were employed, presumably in Biglaw.

Tuition is $44,320 per year and with interest, anticipated incremental tuition increases and no discounts scholarships, a Loyola Law School graduate will leave with $150,000 in nearly non dischargeable debt which translates into $1,190 per month over 25 years or $1,950 over ten years. If cost of living and undergraduate debt is added in, the debt could exceed $250,000 which means paying $2,000 per month for 25 years of $3,100 per month for ten years. 

So if you’re considering going to Loyola Law School, do you really know what you’re getting yourself into? Did you negotiate an aggressive discount for your three year stay? Because if you haven’t, you’re most likely better off going to nearby Southwestern on a near free ride or one of those shittier schools in Orange County for a full ride. Do you want to spend $150,000 to $200,000 for a 22.9% chance at a job that pays on average $75,000 or $50,000 after taxes? Are you that brave? Do you really think you’re the shit? Do you really think you will be the one of the few magna cum laude graduates that makes biglaw? If you do and fail, I will laugh at you as I see you struggle and live a life of poverty. 

If I were to interview a Loyola Law School student or graduate, I would be tempted to ask about his or her total student loan debt and (while it is still legal) demand his credit report to see his total student loan debt. Because if he has a mountain of debt and he qualifies for PAYE or IBR, I as an employer would have no incentive to pay him more than $3,500 per month if I hire him. It actually works out for everyone. I get cheap labor. The employee would qualify for PAYE or IBR and would qualify for a very low monthly payment. In other words, paying him more would be wasteful for both of us as the extra money will go to the government.

Don’t take my word for it – look at Nando’s blistering and more truthful review at Third Tier Reality.

So go to Loyola Law School at your own risk. As I mentioned before, I will have no sympathy for the Class of 2016.

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