Renzo wrote:jcl2 wrote:Renzo wrote:jcl2 wrote:That is an exaggeration, there is certainly a bimodal curve, but median starting salary for the class of 2008 was $72,000 and though it is difficult to read the graph with any precision, it looks like roughly 35-40% of jobs for first year graduates were 6 figures, over 20% where at $160,000.
Here is the source: http://www.nalp.org/salarydistrib
From your source:The new reality is that very few law school graduates actually make either the median or mean starting salaries, and so it is neither helpful nor accurate to describe starting lawyer salaries using those modalities... It is important for anyone considering a legal education to understand that half of all starting lawyer salaries are less than $72,000 and in fact 42% of them are between only $40,000 and $65,000.
I wasn't disputing that. Yes not many earn salaries right around the mean or median, but half earn salaries of more than 72k, which doesn't seem too terrible. Again, I'm not saying things are great out there, especially ITE, but the idea that most first year lawyers earn only 40-50k is inaccurate.
I still think that you are unreasonably reassured by these statistics. Essentially that report says, "T14 or bust" in that it says 26% of new lawyers are making exactly 160k as biglaw 1st years, while almost half are making less than $65k, and the amount of jobs anywhere in between is small and shrinking. This is also a survey of 1st year lawyer salaries, so it doesn't count those who can't find legal work, or find they can make more money doing non-legal work.
I'm not really taking a stance on whether these statistics should be reassuring to anyone, they are not particularly reassuring to me since it doesn't tell me anything about how graduates of the school I will be attending fare or how the legal market where I intend to practice is doing. Again, just pointing out that there are still plenty of of law school grads doing ok.
Going to law school can be a very risky investment, I'm not arguing with that, and I think the NALP salary distributions are evidence of that. If you are going to be taking out 200k in loans to finance your legal education you need a six figure salary after you graduate, so T14 or bust is the appropriate attitude, and there is even a bit of risk in that ITE. Personally I would not pay that price to attend anything lower than a T10 at worst, and I would not attend, for any price, anything other than T14, well maybe 15-18, or a top regional where I wanted to practice.
Personally, I am going to a T30 with in-state tuition that is the best school within 800 miles. I feel reasonably assured that I will be ok, but the NALP salary surveys are not the reason for that assurance, rather it is an evaluation of my personal circumstances and the prospects for graduates of the school I will be attending that lead me to feel that way. I won't have unreasonable debt and my wife also earns a good living, so I will be fine even if I only earn 40-50k out of law school, that is not what I am hoping for nor is it the most likely outcome, but I am fully prepared for that worst case scenario.