Celebrating 10 years! 2007-2017

new grad median salary = 70k

http://www.abajournal.com/news/arti cle/median_salaries_for_n hankhill08/03/18
If BigLaw is up at $180k and the average is $70k, that tells soupcansham08/03/18
Well the average was 95k, the median was 70k. The real p dakotalaw08/03/18
There is a legion of problems with this “data.” To y wearyattorney08/03/18
Lemmings are meat and the law school professors will eat. wearyattorney08/03/18
"The salary statistics are based on information reported for wutwutwut08/03/18
This. Plus the long term viability or nature of the positio wearyattorney08/03/18
My post above was intended to include this consideration - i soupcansham08/03/18
A new prosecutor or public defender where I live starts in t fettywap08/03/18
That’s probably the same if not less than a teacher with d wearyattorney08/03/18
Average is of course useless because the average of 2 people onehell08/03/18
Excellent and correct points, but you can’t save the botto wearyattorney08/03/18
...But HBS is not an option unless you got an I-bank job out onehell08/03/18
I’m not suggesting going to business school over law schoo wearyattorney08/03/18
I recommend looking at your state bar association’s data themapmaster08/03/18
hankhill (Aug 3, 2018 - 9:13 am)

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/median_salaries_for_new_law_grads_jump_to_70k_as_biglaw_boosts_hiring/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_email

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soupcansham (Aug 3, 2018 - 9:44 am)

If BigLaw is up at $180k and the average is $70k, that tells you something about the non-BigLaw salaries.

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dakotalaw (Aug 3, 2018 - 11:51 am)

Well the average was 95k, the median was 70k.

The real problem is that these are self reported numbers and people with crappy jobs usually don’t share their salary.

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wearyattorney (Aug 3, 2018 - 12:10 pm)

There is a legion of problems with this “data.”

To your point, people that don’t get jobs do not report them.

70k in Ohio is different than 70k in San Francisco. In the former case, you can live comfortably, and in the latter case, you are close to poverty. A breakdown of geography is important.

How long do these jobs last, even the big law ones? What is the long term viability? Is this income a true “salary” or projected income based on an hourly wage that might not last the year?


The big piece of missing information fails to account for individual circumstance.

A person with a 180 on the LSAT and a 4.0 GPA in physics is better off doing something else rather than pursuing law school, even if he or she gets big law. That person can become an investment banker or surgeon or anything else.

A person with a 160 on the LSAT who speaks a second language and has military experience, can become a cop in wealthy municipality. So even if this guy or gal lands a 70k a year law job after shelling out 200k for the degree, he or she could have been a NJ state trooper, a California firefighter, etc. This person would be making 100k plus in such a job, with a pension.

A person with a 150 on the LSAT and a B+ average in history can become a teacher. The 40k as a teacher in a poor area or the 90k and up as a teacher in a rich area is going to be s***law wages by a mile. The quality of life will be better too.

A person with a 140 on the LSAT and a C+ average in communications is better off pursuing low end government work or working at Starbucks. In the latter case, at least he or she can reasonably compete for a management position and in the former case at least life won’t be so stressful. Working temp gigs in law is going to be worse than both of those options, especially when you factor in opportunity cost and student loans.

The law schools specialize in making incongruent comparisons, eg comparing the potential positive LAW outcomes for someone in the first or second category to the potential REAL world outcomes for people lower on the scale. That’s how the sale is made.

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wearyattorney (Aug 3, 2018 - 11:30 am)

Lemmings are meat and the law school professors will eat.

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wutwutwut (Aug 3, 2018 - 12:41 pm)

"The salary statistics are based on information reported for 72 percent of jobs that were full-time and expected to last a year. About one in five of the salaries were reported at $180,000."


72% of the 55% (give/take) graduates who actually got full-time lawyer jobs.

So the stats are based on about 40% of the new graduates.

Notably, "one in 5" report 180K. That's 20% of those reported salaries. 20%*40% is 8% of the class, which is pretty much every new grad who got biglaw, at historical rates.

So the data are skewed with all or nearly all of the very top people reporting salary. Of the other 92% of the class, far fewer than half reported.

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wearyattorney (Aug 3, 2018 - 12:44 pm)

This. Plus the long term viability or nature of the positions isn’t addressed.

I also didn’t mention above that some people can basically wind up with the same situation as before LS. A CPA that makes 150k as an accountant and then 150k as a tax attorney. They put that as a win, when it’s a massive loss.

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soupcansham (Aug 3, 2018 - 7:09 pm)

My post above was intended to include this consideration - it's even worse than assuming all of the class reported.

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fettywap (Aug 3, 2018 - 1:10 pm)

A new prosecutor or public defender where I live starts in the $40s. Also Legal Aid. And those make up a big chunk of the lawyer jobs.

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wearyattorney (Aug 3, 2018 - 1:27 pm)

That’s probably the same if not less than a teacher with double the work load and debt.

Law Professors be feasting!!!!!!

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onehell (Aug 3, 2018 - 4:04 pm)

Average is of course useless because the average of 2 people, one making 100k and the other making 0, is 50k.

Median is only slightly less useless because that's the point where half make more and half make less. The half that make less though, make a LOT less, and that's the point. Plus, biglaw does a lot of hiring and some top 14s have pretty big enrollment so that's 20% of the JDs right there. Another 30% with somewhat decent salaries is easy enough to find - there are a lot of rich kids with guaranteed jobs from family connections at law schools both good and bad.

So, 30% connected + 20% biglaw = half (of those who report) making a decent median salary. The other half, however, are in the 30s or 40s if they're lucky enough to be employed at all. If you don't have a family connection and you're not at a top 14, chances are you will be in the bad half, and that's the fact that statistics like these miss.

In short, due to law's unusual bimodal distribution of salaries and absolute obsession with prestige, you really can't evaluate the value of JDs writ large across all schools because any statistic you come up with will mislead. You'd have to completely break out the top 14 grads from everyone else and do totally different medians for each to get anything a prospective student could actually use to actually evaluate their chances.

The prospects for an HLS JD are simply so different than those of "regular" law school that you really have to treat the two as if they were just totally different degrees. They're on totally different salary curves, they enter very different jobs, and the people on one curve would rarely if ever interact personally or professionally with those on the other. It's really two totally different professions that each type of school fuels: one devoted mostly to corporate (mostly transactional) work and the other to representing individuals and small/medium sized businesses (which only hire lawyers when stuff hits the fan and which is therefore mostly litigation). These two professions hire from almost entirely different places and rarely make exceptions. It's just two totally different professions that should not be combined for any purpose. Heck, there ought to be two different bar exams and perhaps even two completely different curricula during LS.

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wearyattorney (Aug 3, 2018 - 5:00 pm)

Excellent and correct points, but you can’t save the bottom feeders. Those kids are the ones that are most committed to “pursuing their dreams.” You can only save people with reasonable intelligences and humility.

Also, and this is equallly important, an HLS grad is not best served by law school. Someone that can get into HLS can get into HBS or maybe even HMS. Both of those will offer better outcomes than any law school.

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onehell (Aug 3, 2018 - 7:18 pm)

...But HBS is not an option unless you got an I-bank job out of undergrad, and HMS isn't an option without the hard science prereqs no matter how elite your background may otherwise be. But HLS? A 4.0 in liberal arts from Directional State U and a 175 LSAT will get you there. Take the easiest nonsense you possibly can in undergrad and coast for four years. So long as you ace the LSAT it won't matter. There's no other career path like that.

Bad law schools are about the most life-destroying decision you can make, but I simply don't paint HYSCCN type places with remotely the same brush. Top law school still has a lot going for it. Compared to med school, the path to making real money is much shorter: 1 year less of school plus AT LEAST 4 years of residency (more if you want a real high-paying specialty i.e. not primary care). So you're out making that six figs like 5-8 years quicker. So when the top law school grad is finishing out his biglaw time as a senior associate and getting ready to go in-house with his student loans paid off, the doc is just finally finishing all his residencies and fellowships and whatnot and JUST beginning to make real money. And, he's like a half-mil in debt.

B-school might be a different comparison, but it will also likely be an irrelevant one. Even if you ace the GMAT, if your first job out of undergrad was at anything other than an I-bank, your b-school options are going to be as scammy as the scammy law schools, the only advantage being you have one year less of tuition to pay back for the next 40 years while fighting 100 other applicants from crap MBA schools for 60k middle manager jobs at Dunder Mifflin or whatever.

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wearyattorney (Aug 3, 2018 - 11:48 pm)

I’m not suggesting going to business school over law school. I’m suggesting someone that can get into HLS can get into HBS, and I believe the options are better from HBS if someone is reasonably young. That’s my opinion. I also believe if you can get into HLS, you have the intellectual horsepower to get into an American medical school. And if you don’t have the work ethic to get through medical school, then you won’t survive big law long enough for the legal field to be a positive experience. And even if you survive big law, there is a reasonably chance things won’t work out as the field gets worse. That won’t happen in medical school. That’s my opinion though, and I am not suggesting the top 10 are the same level as the bottom.

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themapmaster (Aug 3, 2018 - 7:34 pm)

I recommend looking at your state bar association’s data for all lawyers in the state reporting salary. The salary survey that my state bar puts out has a good response rate. It also breaks down salary by size of law firm, which is super enlightening.

Even if you’re a law student going into big law and you know market rate, it’s nice to know the above stats because chances are you will not be in biglaw for long.

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