texas man wrote:I agree that LST is making an admirable effort, but there is a lot of unknown data, and it has to be looked at in context. The LST data is really more reflective of the markets than the schools. I think it is more valuable to look at the salary ranges in the location you plan on working. My starting salary in Lubbock would be very different from Dallas/Ft. Worth or Austin (assuming, of course, a similar position in each city).
I think your explanation of the data is flawed.
Assuming your explanation is correct that the salary data reflects the different markets of the respective schools you, it doesn't explain the clear differences between STCL and Houston or SMU and TW. Those schools respectively share markets yet their salary data is very different. Clearly, something other than "primary market" is influencing the data. Furthermore, Houston and DFW aren't all that different as legal markets yet STCL and SMU have different salary data as do Houston and TW. LST clearly reflects more than just the markets of the schools. At best, your theory only explains part of the difference between the TTU SOL salary data and any of the other schools.
I'm also left questioning the accuracy of your explanation on a different level. You've stated multiple times on TLS that Dallas is the primary destination for TTU SOL grads (followed by Lubbock and Austin). If TTU SOL grads are going to DFW and Austin and securing the same types of jobs as similarly qualified STCL, TW, UH and SMU grads, the data at the 75th percentile probably shouldn't be as different as it is. I don't expect the 75th percentiles to be exactly the same but the difference between TTU SOL and the other four schools at the 75th percentile is too significant to overlook.
Your explanation that the salary data reflects pay differences in different markets makes sense at the 25th percentile and median of the data. But if Dallas and Austin are two of the three major destinations for TTU SOL grads and TTU SOL grads are competing on even footing with TW, UH, and SMU grads, the 75th percentile data from TTU SOL should probably be much closer to those other schools. Something isn't adding up here.
Well, at least we’ve made some progress; this is really just one point in contention (and I don’t think we actually disagree).
As you bolded above, I said that the data is “really more reflective
of the markets than the schools.” I didn’t say that the data is only
reflective of the markets and not the schools. I agree with you that “LST clearly reflects more than just the markets of the schools.” It’s also important (when evaluating salary data) to look at the percentage of grads that move on to big, mid-sized, and small firms from each school. Like you’ve pointed out, the NLJ250 could be used as a rudimentary measuring stick for big firms (these percentages will probably move up if you include the NALP firms). It could be true that 25% or more of the grads from SMU are hired by NALP firms. It might also be true that 25% of UH grads are hired by NALP firms (but this is less likely compared to SMU). It is also true that Dallas and Houston are large legal markets, and each of these schools feed a majority of their grads to their respective markets. I think it’s also true that less than 25% of TT and STCL grads are getting jobs at the NALP firms (so the 75% salary number is reflective of the salaries of the mid-sized firm jobs that TT/STCL grads are getting).
Now look at UNM. (We could look at LST for the data (46.8% reported), but I’ll use the USNWR data since it’s more recent and hopefully more complete.) UNM’s median private sector starting salary is $50K. TT’s is $82.5K. STCL’s is $92.5K. UH’s is $100K.
The difference here is based on how these schools place in their respective markets—these numbers reflect mid-sized firm salaries in their markets. The mid-size salary range is different in Houston than Austin, Lubbock or Albuquerque. It looks like UH is on the upper end and STCL is on the lower end. TT’s is reflective of the Lubbock salary (or the lower end of Austin’s mid-size salary).
This explanation might have been unnecessary, but there is a stark difference between LST’s data and USNWR's data for the medians—TT’s median on USNWR is higher than their 75% on LST. At 75%, TT’s number is probably reflective of the mid-size salary range in DFW (because of the higher starting salaries for mid-size in DFW and the fact that a higher percentage of TT grads go to DFW), and STCL's is reflective of that range in Houston.
Here is a hypothetical breakdown of where TT grads might go:
10%: San Antonio
5%: El Paso
(Keep in mind that DFW could be the destination of less than 25% of grads, still more than any other city, but I think that’s unlikely.)
With this breakdown, I think that the numbers could easily make sense (less sense using the LST data—I think this is due to lack of data reported).
The numbers are simply a reflection of what markets a school’s grads go to, what percentage of those grads work in the private sector, and the percentage of those that are competitive for big/mid-sized/small firm jobs in those markets.
Also, I never said that TT grads are competing on even footing with UH, SMU, or TW. This is really more dependent on where you are in your class.
So, as I’ve said in the previous posts, if I want to work in Austin at a mid-sized firm, I’ll look at the salaries for those firms. The same for DFW, San Antonio, or Lubbock. To be competitive for jobs at big law firms, I’ll probably need to be in the top 10% of my class. I hope this makes sense.