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Three Florida Law Schools Make Top Ten for Grads With Most Debt

Law school costs a lot. Duh.

But did you know which law schools sack their grads with the highest average debt? You probably didn't, and because U.S. News & World Report has made a franchise out of ranking every possible thing related to the sophisticated criminal enterprise known as American higher education, the magazine has also made a list for that.

Three Florida schools landed in the top ten, including that institution down the road in Coral Gables. One, the for-profit Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, which ranked eighth on the debt list, is even being sued by former students who claim the school misrepresented its graduate employment statistics.

According to Elio Martinez Jr., a lawyer representing the students, the Florida Coastal grads are upset because they took on upward of $200,000 in loans under the mistaken assumption -- propagated by Florida Coastal -- that after they graduated, they would quickly gain employment in the legal profession.

The case, one of many similar suits being brought by former students against law schools, has stalled while the courts work out in which Florida district it will proceed. (Florida Coastal did not return a request for comment from Riptide.)

"It's disappointing," Martinez said of Florida Coastal's alleged deceptive marketing. "But it's not unusual."

The U.S. News ranking hints at why the grads might be upset. Florida Coastal's 2013 graduates were saddled with an average $150,360 in debt, the magazine found; University of Miami grads, who ranked tenth on the list, carried an average of $148,513; and grads from St. Thomas University (you know, that Catholic school in Miami Gardens) carried an average of $150,166, good for ninth on the list.

The Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego ranked first overall, with the average debt among grads at $180,665, and the next highest Florida institution was Stetson University, which ranked 25th with an average debt of $136,738.

So who's ready for the LSAT?

Send your tips to trevor.bach@miaminewtimes.com, or follow @trevorbach.

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