Now that a lot of schools are finally putting something like actual employment and salary data up on their web sites it's important for 0Ls to figure out how to read it.
I'll use GW as an example: http://www.law.gwu.edu/Careers/prospective/Pages/EmploymentStatistics.aspx
What should jump out to a prospective GW student? The most striking thing about this group of stats is the remarkable decline in the percentage of graduates for whom the school was able to determine a salary nine months after graduation. That percentage went from 67.9% in 2008 to 58.5% in 2009 to 36.7% in 2010. CSO collects salary data directly from graduates via surveys, but also from public information, which means that if you have a job with a big firm or a federal judicial clerkship your salary is going to be collected. And in fact if you add up the number of 2010 grads employed by big firms or with federal clerkships that total number (175) is very close to the total number of grads with reported salaries (188).
What this means, of course, is that the overlap between the 324 GW grads without reported salaries and the 337 GW grads not working for big firms or in federal clerkships is probably pretty close to 100%, and that GW in effect has no salary data for the two thirds of the class which didn't get BIGLAW or an Article III clerkship. It should be unnecessary to point out (but unfortunately it is) that GW's reported salary data thus has zero relevance for two thirds of GW grads. That two thirds of the class probably has a median salary in the neighborhood of one third of its average debt load.
(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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