taxman128 wrote: why do so few report their salary?
That's a really good question, and one law school career offices are confounded by every year. Again, nothing below is specific to Texas Tech.
I think the short answer that covers the majority of people that don't report is they feel it's none of anyone's business how much they make. Simple as that. Of course, there are other reasons specific individuals might have for not reporting their salary to a school, but I don't think any of them really describe any nationwide or Tech Law specific trend. I don't think it is the case that "most" of those not reporting salaries are in unpaid internships. (If they're unemployed, they aren't counted at all; salaries are only for those counted as "employed" by definition. What you're seeing is students that we know are working, but do not know how much they are making.)
Some students aren't making high salaries, but sometimes it's not so much that the salary isn't high. For some students, it's just lower than they think they are "worth" so while the salary might be considered "good" by most people, the student is disappointed because they think they deserve (rightly or wrongly) a higher salary.
Other students use not reporting their employment or salary is a kind of "protest" against a school they're unhappy with or a career office they don't think helped them (again, rightly or wrongly so).
Career Services Offices around the country are scrambling right now trying to contact all their graduates prior to the Feb. 15 deadline. If a high percentage of students responded to these requests, the overall quality of information would be much higher. Unfortunately, I've heard stories of students flat out refusing to participate even if they are employed in good jobs. They might think they are protesting the "gaming of the system" by law schools (without any real evidence that their particular school engages in such activity) or they just want to stick it to the law school they feel has done them wrong in some way. The sad part is that they're not just hurting the school, but their fellow classmates and future students who want the information. The argument could be made that not reporting actually contributes to inaccurate information because schools are left to "fill in the blanks" on their own.
I didn't realize how complicated this data collection effort really was until recently. For example, some schools place the majority of their students in large or mid-sized firms in big cities. These kinds of firms are more likely to have lockstep salary structures that are known to CSOs so if a CSO knows a student is working at a particular firm, but the student did not report a salary, they might feel comfortable in filling in a salary for that student. In the case of public employees who's salaries are public information, offices can often find out how much an Asst. DA in a particular county or a deputy AG makes. For schools that place the majority of their graduates in one or two states, CSOs might spend hours scouring the state bar directory or other public sources for information looking for missing students in hopes of finding them in the directory (with an employer) or on a law firm's website.
In the past, USNWR counted 25% of the students schools had no information on as unemployed. On the assumption that most of the people that couldn't be found were probably unemployed, schools actually had a disincentive to find them. That changed a while back and now "Unknowns" are counted as unemployed (as are students getting LLMs, which I'm not sure I agree with) so schools (on average) are much more diligent about tracking people down. Schools are also now required to indicate how many of the students they are listing as "Employed" are in positions funded by the schools themselves. (We clearly indicate this on our Fact Sheet, available on our website, but LST somehow wasn't able to locate it and incorrectly has us listed as not providing that information. We've since put more employment data on the main Statistical Profile/FAQ page. http://www.law.ttu.edu/prospective/admissions/faq/