No, they don't.
rad law wrote:That's my whole point. We can do nothing better than conjecture, because school self-reported aggregate stats are basically worthless.
No they aren't. You just have to look at them with a critical eye. People DO make their decisions based on self-reported aggregate stats, even at T14 schools. T14 schools paint and are painting a rosier picture of career prospects than the reality probably is...
If we look at all stats with the same critical eye, then for purposes of comparison they become useful.
Yes, all employment stats are inflated. But the numbers are just so convoluted as to be nearly useless. Consider GW, a strong, regional T1 school (just picked randomly; the most recent stats were very easy to find
). Firstly, they're using the class of 2008 stats, who did 2L OCI in 2006, a very strong year. NY to 190 in 2007, anyone? This immediately arouses suspicion. It is a fair conjecture that hiring will have decreased ITE.
Anyways, in this exceptional year, GW neglected to say what % of grads reported salary. This makes me very, very suspicious, especially considering that only 359/529 submitted salary data. That's only 68%. Is the number who reported what kind of job they had lower or higher? Again, we don't know. We can only conjecture.
And here are the stats, for an unknown percentage of the class (see how fucked we are already?).
Law Firm Practice (all sizes) 65%
Judicial Clerkships 9%
Business and Industry 6%
Public Interest 4%
Not Identified 2%
So now what do we do with these? We have no idea how many people reported what job they had. We must make a conjecture. It is reasonable to assume that of the 359 who submitted salary data also must have submitted where they worked. Should we throw in a few more who said where they worked, but did not report salary? Maybe that's that "Not identified" 2%. I don't know. Gee, it would be nice if GW would have just told me, so I wouldn't have to make so many conjectures. Anyways, add 2% of 359 and you get 366. Is this the amount of grads who reported? Beats me. If it is, we get this:
Law Firm Practice (all sizes) 65% - 238
Judicial Clerkships 9% - 33
Government 11% - 40
Business and Industry 6% - 22
Public Interest 4% - 15
Academic 2% - 7
Military 1% - 4
So how much is everyone making? The problem is, again, we have no goddamn clue. Let’s start with private practice. Well, according to most recent NLJ250, who did OCI in 2007(?), 32% got NLJ250. It should be about the same for the year we’re looking at. However, NLJ250 can be anywhere from about 160ish IIRC lawyers at the bottom to many hundreds at the top. GW is not helpful in parsing out the differences and who went where, only giving mean salary info for general groups. Again, we have no idea how many are in what group.
Private Practice, (501+ attorneys), $125,000 - $175,000, Mean: $157,652
Private Practice, (251-500 attorneys), $110,000 - $160,000, Mean: $152,895
Private Practice, (101-250 attorneys), $90,000 - $160,000, Mean: $138,375
This ought to cover the NLJ250. So what is our range for biglaw? $90k-$175k? How many firm grads got paid this “range?” Did they all report to GW? If so, we’re talking maybe 155 grads? Out of 559? Where on the # of attys scale did they work? Do they cluster near the top, 501+, thee bottom, 101-ish of the scale, or do we just not know?
Ding ding ding! We don’t know. Means skew everything so much that I could almost make the numbers say almost whatever I want. I could make some conjectures, but my mind is so clusterfucked by this point it’s not even worth trying. Notice how I couldn't even use just the school's data, but had to bring in NLJ250, an incredibly crude approximation of the firms who big bucks to even make SOME sense of it all.
So now, we still no almost nothing about individual grads, or even what percentage of total grads got paid what. This is awesome, since we're all hoping to make money from school. And here’s some more great points to consider:
1. It is logical to assume that those who did not report made less and did not report due to anger at GW or shame. This would drive down the mean and median salaries.
2. Clerkship – how many Article III? These are the good ones. By not telling us, it seems like GW is trying to obfuscate something. It could be all Article III. It could be none. It’s probably somewhere in the middle. But I have no clue.
3. Business – barely anyone obtains in-house fresh out of school, so what are these jobs? Waiter at Chilis? No clue. We can always conjecture.
So what is the lesson? After parsing out GW’s stats, we have to make a bunch of conjectures just to get off the ground, for just 2/3 of the grads. Unreliable school stats don’t have some magical structural error we can always account for. After all this effort, I know barely anything about GW, other than some grads got some jobs with salaries that went from $35k-$175k. THIS INFO GAVE ME ALMOST NOTHING. NOTHING. AT. ALL.TL;DR version: If you rely on school self-reported stats to make decisions, you are fooling yourself. HTH