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Impact of Student Loans on Attorneys (Infographic)

2021 impact of student loans on attorneys (cover page)
The impact of student loans on new lawyers.

In 2021, the ABA Young Lawyers Division and AccessLex did a follow-up survey to a 2020 survey on student loans. Full details and report on the new survey will be available soon to

Here’s a preview of some of this year’s findings as an infographic (Download the Student Loan Infographic as a PDF).


90% of early-career lawyers have student loans, averaging $130,000, according to a 2021 ABA and AccessLex survey.

Impact of student loans on young attorneys.
Impact of student loans on young attorneys infographic.

Student loan debt makes it harder for recent law grads to …

Start a Family

45% of early-career lawyers with $100k-$200k in student debt, vs. 21% with no balance, postponed or decided not to have children.

Buy a House

Over 55% with $100k-200k in student loan debt postponed or decided not to buy a house compared to 40% with no balance.

Save for Retirement

Over 70% with $100k-200k reported they were unable to save for retirement. Around 50% of those with less than $100k reported the same.

Feel Optimistic

About 1/2 with $100k-$200k reported feeling depressed or hopeless. Just 1/4 of those with no balance reported the same.

Have Peace of Mind

About 3 in 4 with $100k-$200k reported high anxiety or stress. Only 1 in 4 with no balance reported high anxiety or stress.

Make a Difference

1 in 3 with student loan debt, compared to just 1 in 5 without, took a job less focused on public service than they were intending prior to law school.

An Added Layer of Difficulty

Navigating life with law school debt is often harder on lawyers of color. Black young lawyers are far more likely to carry high levels of debt, and 44% saw their student debt increase since graduation compared to just 27% of all young lawyers.

Head over to to read the 2020 law school student loan debt survey report, and watch for the release of the 2021 report soon!

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