Law School Discussion
Deciding Where to Go => Choosing the Right Law School => Topic started by: jiggedyjared on May 21, 2006, 02:01:19 PM

What do you guys think? I've heard a lot of attorneys say that the starting salaries listed by schools are manipulated in such a way with statistics to push them north of their actual amounts. Do you guys think this is right? I seem to recall UT's AVERAGE starting salary being somewhere around 110K for private practice, but I have to believe that is too high. I just looked at Mercer's (middle of tier 2) and they have there's listed at 55K  which seems pretty accurate.
I think HYS average is about 115K for private practice
314: 100K
15  30: 85K
40  60: 75K
60  90: 60K
90  tier 3: 50K
tier 4: 45K
That's my guess, anyhow. I also understand that the above is averages. So, a lot of it will have to do with how you do in your class and what area you live in. Agree, though?

What do you guys think? I've heard a lot of attorneys say that the starting salaries listed by schools are manipulated in such a way with statistics to push them north of their actual amounts. Do you guys think this is right? I seem to recall UT's AVERAGE starting salary being somewhere around 110K for private practice, but I have to believe that is too high. I just looked at Mercer's (middle of tier 2) and they have there's listed at 55K  which seems pretty accurate.
I think HYS average is about 115K for private practice
314: 100K
15  30: 85K
40  60: 75K
60  90: 60K
90  tier 3: 50K
tier 4: 45K
That's my guess, anyhow. I also understand that the above is averages. So, a lot of it will have to do with how you do in your class and what area you live in. Agree, though?
What do you mean by average?
There's no way that the median private sector starting salary for Harvard is 115K.
Nope, its much higher

What do you guys think? I've heard a lot of attorneys say that the starting salaries listed by schools are manipulated in such a way with statistics to push them north of their actual amounts. Do you guys think this is right? I seem to recall UT's AVERAGE starting salary being somewhere around 110K for private practice, but I have to believe that is too high. I just looked at Mercer's (middle of tier 2) and they have there's listed at 55K  which seems pretty accurate.
I think HYS average is about 115K for private practice
314: 100K
15  30: 85K
40  60: 75K
60  90: 60K
90  tier 3: 50K
tier 4: 45K
That's my guess, anyhow. I also understand that the above is averages. So, a lot of it will have to do with how you do in your class and what area you live in. Agree, though?
youre pretty out of touch. you do realize nyc market is $145k?

I know people who went to tier 3 and 4 and who do IP law and got starting salaries over $100... It really depends on so many factors.

I meant mean average, but median would work too.
youre pretty out of touch. you do realize nyc market is $145k?
No need to be a prick. I obviously don't know the market for NYC lawyers. That's kind of why I was asking. I still don't think that it's 145 for the average. I'm sure that there are some that top out around 160, but for an average? I can't see anyway that if you take the entire graduating class for any law school that it would be 145. Maybe I'm wrong. I guess that would qualify me as being "out of touch."

Median and average can yield completely different numbers.
As far as NYC if you take a look at NALP statistics less than half of the 147 firms offer 145k. Another 40% are between 115145 and the bottom 10% are between 90115. This would make the market rate closer to 125k. 115k is entirely within reason for Harvard. Not all graduates go to work in NYC and there are always people that prefer to go to smaller firms for a variety of reasons.

I would hope at this point that pretty much everyone understands what an average is. So, I think we can stop beating that dead horse.
I'm still not buying that 50% of any law school (assuming you are taking the median) make more than 140K a year starting out.

I meant mean average, but median would work too.
youre pretty out of touch. you do realize nyc market is $145k?
No need to be a prick. I obviously don't know the market for NYC lawyers. That's kind of why I was asking. I still don't think that it's 145 for the average. I'm sure that there are some that top out around 160, but for an average? I can't see anyway that if you take the entire graduating class for any law school that it would be 145. Maybe I'm wrong. I guess that would qualify me as being "out of touch."
average = mean, median, or mode... I take it you meant mean? Median is probably more useful, but either way.
Let's say that any Harvard student can get biglaw somewhere.
NYC market = 145k
I think DC is at 145
Philadelphia = 125
Atlanta = 115
Houston = 125?
Boston = 125
Chicago and SF, I'm not sure if it's gone up yet, it was 125, but they've started going up everywhere (hence 145 now being market in NYC)
Charlotte = 100
Depending on where you go, yes, salary will depend on how you finish in your class, and salary will definitely depend on location... but even in smaller legal markets like Minneapolis, Portland (OR), and Seattle, there are firms starting at over 100K.
This is biglaw, mind you. Medium sized firms pay less.
I don't know why UT's starting salary couldn't be 115K. Starting salary in Austin is 125, Houston and Dallas probably are too, and top Texas students can get jobs in any city, including the higher paying jobs in New York, DC, and the ones that are available in California.
Most DC firms are now paying 135, though some NYbased firms went up to 145. Keep in mind that these are salaries before bonus.
To the OP: the best way to evaluate the employment numbers is to ask about the response rate. An average reported salary of 145k sounds impressive, but if only 50% or so of the class responded to the survey, it may be misleading. Not to state the obvious, but keep in mind that if a school is using an average, that the high salaries received by the top students may skew the average a little, and this may be compounded by the fact that the students in the bottom of the class w/o jobs are probably the most likely not to respond to the survey.

.....

I've asked before, but does anyone know where I can get a comprehensive list of starting sallaries? Even if we have to be skeptical about the validity of the information given, I'm very curious to see it. I am particularly interested in starting sallaries for schools in California: Berkely, USC, UCLA, USD, Pepperdine etc. Thanks.
Princeton Review's website had starting salaries, I think, as does US News.

yup... princeton review definitely has it. ILRG.com also has it, but I think it's a little dated.

I'm still not buying that 50% of any law school (assuming you are taking the median) make more than 140K a year starting out.
First of all, we are talking about private practice. Certainly some dogooders will take public interest jobs. Also, I never even said the median make $140k+, I just implied that $115k is way to low of an estimate bc of what nyc market is. However, its very likely that the median private salary is $135145k. Everyone from H has that option, it would make less sense if more than half chose to work for under market rates.

Will you people stop doing that?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Average
if you're trying to distinguish the median from the mean, don't do it by contrasting "average" with median because median = average.
average = mean
average = median
(and average = mode)
mean != median
HTH
If this is to be accepted, then the question "what is the average x" can have many different answers, all of them correct. This would make the term almost meaningless. Until matters are resolved on this board (since I hold a strong opinion for a particular definition of average), should we all not agree to use mean, median and mode, rather than average?
This said, the two recent grads I know (COlumbia > SF, and Boalt > NYC) both got 125K, which seems to be both median and mode.
P.S. I also strongly advise about believing wikipedia without checking, since any idiot  self included  can edit the contents. I have personally noticed (and corrected) two flamboyannt errors that would have made the entries unworthy of a Junior high report.

And one could add this:
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Average
Two definitions are presented: one says its mean, the other says any of mean, mode and median. This seem like 1.33 votes for mean, and 0.33 each for mode and median.

In common usage, and in both my stats classes in college, "average" generally referred to the (arithmetic) mean. But the mean, median, and mode were all referred to as "measures of central tendency."

Here's my question about salaries:
So let's say two students coming out of law school get hired by the same firm, let's say King and Spaulding in Atlanta . One student came from Harvard and one came from University of Georgia. Does the Harvard graduate get paid more, or do both students get the normal first year salary of $115K?

Here's my question about salaries:
So let's say two students coming out of law school get hired by the same firm, let's say King and Spaulding in Atlanta . One student came from Harvard and one came from University of Georgia. Does the Harvard graduate get paid more, or do both students get the normal first year salary of $115K?
All other things equal, they should get the same amount. One good thing about law is the salaries are very transparent. I wish all industries were like this.

Here's my question about salaries:
So let's say two students coming out of law school get hired by the same firm, let's say King and Spaulding in Atlanta . One student came from Harvard and one came from University of Georgia. Does the Harvard graduate get paid more, or do both students get the normal first year salary of $115K?
See this is a good point, and in 5 years from their start at King anf Spaulding, they will both still be making the same amount, and someone who started at a Midsize for 3 years and then got hired by King and Spaulding, same amount.

Median and average can yield completely different numbers.
Will you people stop doing that?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Average
if you're trying to distinguish the median from the mean, don't do it by contrasting "average" with median because median = average.
average = mean
average = median
(and average = mode)
mean != median
HTH
I don't know what are you talking about. Median, mean, and mode are 3 different values.
Median is the number that, if you sort the list in either increasing or decreasing order, will appear in the middle of the list. That is, half of the sample are greater than or equal to the median, while the other half are smaller or equal to the median.
Mean is exactly the same as average.
Mode is the value that appears most frequently.
Knowing median, mean (average) and standard deviation would give you a pretty good picture of the whole sample.
w

Hey, that's my view too, but I actually found some dictionaries stating otherwise, i.e. that average applies to all three

I meant mean average, but median would work too.
youre pretty out of touch. you do realize nyc market is $145k?
No need to be a prick. I obviously don't know the market for NYC lawyers. That's kind of why I was asking. I still don't think that it's 145 for the average. I'm sure that there are some that top out around 160, but for an average? I can't see anyway that if you take the entire graduating class for any law school that it would be 145. Maybe I'm wrong. I guess that would qualify me as being "out of touch."
average = mean, median, or mode... I take it you meant mean? Median is probably more useful, but either way.
Let's say that any Harvard student can get biglaw somewhere.
NYC market = 145k
I think DC is at 145
Philadelphia = 125
Atlanta = 115
Houston = 125?
Boston = 125
Chicago and SF, I'm not sure if it's gone up yet, it was 125, but they've started going up everywhere (hence 145 now being market in NYC)
Charlotte = 100
Depending on where you go, yes, salary will depend on how you finish in your class, and salary will definitely depend on location... but even in smaller legal markets like Minneapolis, Portland (OR), and Seattle, there are firms starting at over 100K.
This is biglaw, mind you. Medium sized firms pay less.
I don't know why UT's starting salary couldn't be 115K. Starting salary in Austin is 125, Houston and Dallas probably are too, and top Texas students can get jobs in any city, including the higher paying jobs in New York, DC, and the ones that are available in California.
market in houston is (was) 115k, unless it increased recently

This site has some law firm salary info
http://www.studyworld.com/law_firm_salaries.htm

Hey, that's my view too, but I actually found some dictionaries stating otherwise, i.e. that average applies to all three
Median, Mean(average) and Mode are three different values describing three different aspects of a sample. They are related insomuch that they serve similiar purpose. Median and mean are usually close to each other, that is, if the median is 145k, it is unlikely for the mean to be only 80k.
On the other hand, 'mean' and 'average' are the exact same thing. The turn mean is used more in stats, while average is more frequently use in everyday life.

Does anyone not understand what average, mean, median, and mode are? I think we can stop going through the explanations. Originally I said average (meaning mean OR median) because they should give about the same thing. Median is probably more correct. However, let's be clear... one does not have any sort of intellectual, mathematical, or statistical bragging rights because he or she knows the various meanings of "average." That merely means you remember your intro to stat class.

Does anyone not understand what average, mean, median, and mode are? I think we can stop going through the explanations. Originally I said average (meaning mean OR median) because they should give about the same thing. Median is probably more correct. However, let's be clear... one does not have any sort of intellectual, mathematical, or statistical bragging rights because he or she knows the various meanings of "average." That merely means you remember your intro to stat class.
Average equals mean as far as math is concerned, it does not have 'various meanings', it only has a single, clear meaning.
The average is not the same as the median, and they do not give about the same thing.
I agree that one does not have any sort of intellectual, mathematical, or statistical bragging rights because he or she knows the various meanings of "average." (let me point out againt, lest you make the same mistake again, average in our case, does not have various meanings). This knowledge is supposed to be so basic that most high school grads should know.

Does anyone not understand what average, mean, median, and mode are? I think we can stop going through the explanations. Originally I said average (meaning mean OR median) because they should give about the same thing. Median is probably more correct. However, let's be clear... one does not have any sort of intellectual, mathematical, or statistical bragging rights because he or she knows the various meanings of "average." That merely means you remember your intro to stat class.
Average equals mean as far as math is concerned, it does not have 'various meanings', it only has a single, clear meaning.
The average is not the same as the median, and they do not give about the same thing.
I agree that one does not have any sort of intellectual, mathematical, or statistical bragging rights because he or she knows the various meanings of "average." (let me point out againt, lest you make the same mistake again, average in our case, does not have various meanings). This knowledge is supposed to be so basic that most high school grads should know.
e discrepency between the mean and the median, the median is often the more representati
I'll add to yiplong's comments, because it seems few of you had any sort of engineering, finance, or business major. The reason we look at both mean and median is that they provide different information about a sample. The mean is the number we often look to to find the center of a sample, but it is very easy to skew a sample average by throwing in a few high or low numbers. To ascertain whether the mean is representative of the sample, we look at the median, which is the number in the exact middle of the sample, or the average of the two middle numbers if the sample size is even numbered. Ideally, you'll look at both when trying to determine whether a salary is representative.

Here is information posted by the law firms themselves. This is a very helpful webpage to see what is out there for jobs.
They have salaries, number of people hired, what schools they go to in order to interview, and contact information.
http://www.nalpdirectory.com
It is cool too because you can see how many of these firms come to your school. This will probably not be an exhaustive list because smaller firms and a lot of regional firms west of the Mississippi don't register, but it can still give you a good idea.
By the way, ALMOST everyone who was willing to do biglaw that I know can get AT LEAST 125 from UVa. The only reason almost every single person doesn't get that much is self selection. I would guess that this is even more so the reality at Harvard.
A lot of places have raised salaries there are firms in Houston and Dallas paying 130+ in DE people are getting 130145 and some national firms pay their attorneys in secondary markets the firm wide salary (Fish and Richardson Dallas, Atlanta, and elsewhere Wilson Sonsini Salt Lake City etc. there are a few like this)
At top schools it is surprisingly possible to get a very high paying job.

Nice to see you're bringing new arguments to this side discussion.
Now, if I ask you what the average BMI of males age 30 in the city of New York, there would be many possible correct answers, all equally valid? Is that it now? You cited earlier wikipedia; if I go change it right now to say that the definition of average is only mean and not others measures of central tendency, would that convince you? Most likely not, so I think we can agree to disregard that source. I actually checked other dictionaries (with onelook.com), and there is certainly no consensus.

Oh. My. God.
Average refers to a number that typifies a set of numbers. It can be measured in a various number of ways, the three most common being mean, median, or mode. Depending on the set, and depending on the need, any one of the three or more may be most helpful.
Average is another name for the mean, while median and mode are different concepts. Check with your high school math teacher please, not wikipedia. I hope you cite more authorative sources than an online body of text in your future practice of law, otherwise your client would be quite unfortunate to have you as his legal representative.

Hey, all I pointed out is that, IN COMMON USAGE, when you say the "average" of a set of numerical data, it is almost always taken to be the arithmetic mean. This seems to support a presumption that, if you mean something else by "average" then you should be more precise, and specify whether you mean "median," "mode," etc. (especially since the technical definition is ambiguous anyway).

Webster's dictionary  a number of definitions, among which 
Quote
"an arithmetic mean", "a number or value of a set of values carefully defined to typify the set, as a median or mode"
Of course, one of the other definitions says its the mean. Not the best source to resolve the issue. I looked at the other two I was familiar with (from the list of onelook): American Heritage agrees with you, while Oxford Compact gives the mean. Thus, verdict: unclear.
As for Dr. math, that's very cute. Should I contact the stats faculty I know at my local college and have a debate of expert? It would certainly be instructing for future lawyers thinkinh of specializing in trial practice. I realize this will get nowhere on this specific issue, but just think of it in the legal sphere ... who would get more credibility with a jury?
Now for the ultimate question, I suggest, without knowing if this is at all possible, looking through the jurisprudence to find if courts have statued on the meaning of average. Would that clarify things? I'm going to guess that when nonnumerical issues are involved, the term can be used loosely (i.e. 'the average man'), but that when numbers are involved, it refers to the mean unless otherwise explicitely specified. Would that put an end to this?

Sooooo, we're not going to check the jurisprudence? Ok. You seem to agree that using experts (the faculty at my local college) in this case might resolve our issue. That's doubtfull, since we could most likely each find experts for our points of view. Which is why I had proposed jurisprudence in the first place. But you didn't respond to that, so I'll propose something else.
Got a credit card? Good. Read your agreement with them. The interest charges are probably calculated in the following way: 13.99% (whatever your rate is) of your average daily balance during the cycle. Notice that word? 'Average'.
Now about the law of contracts. The contract you accepted with them is referred to as a contract of adhesion: that means you don't get any say about what goes in it; you can only say 'yes' or 'no'. In such contracts, if any term is ambiguous, it will be judged contra preferentem (i.e. against the idiotic party who didn't amke it clear in the first place). The standard for ambiguity is: if the writer had a reasonable expectation that a reasonable reader who understand it correctly. Let me make this clear: credit card company writes the agreement, you sign up > that means the burden of proof is on them to show that it was clear and that no reasonable person would have understood it any other way.
Are you starting to see where I'm going with this? It involves you, your mouth, and your money. Here's the plan:
1  Clear a credit card to a balance of $0
2  For the first two days of the cycle, spend nothing
3  For each day from 3 to 16, spend $1 each day
4  On day 17 of your cycle, spend $13 less than $5000 (or whatever your limit is)
5  For each day from 18 to 30, spend $1 every day
At the end of your cycle, your average daily balance will be, according to you:
Either $0 (the mode)
Or 13$ (the median)
or the juicy sum of about $2400 (the mean)
In conjunction with the above discussion of contracts of adhesion, if any reasonable person would understand it your way, the contract would mean just what you say it does. If however the meaning of average is clear and unambiguous, you'll be stuck with a moderate fee.
Now, it is entirely possible that credit card companies take care to define 'average' as 'mean'; that would support your case, but would only mean that they perceive that someone could interpret it another way ... not that it can actually mean what you say it does. And I haven't checked this, but I'm pretty sure that my monthly statement reads 'average monthly balance'.
So ... would this be a valid test of your hypothesis, or do you want to posture once more with no original argument and no suggestion other than to go see my local faculty?

Just talked to a statistician who works at my company, average means precisely the mean. The median and mode are just what they are, the median is the median, and the mode is the mode, they are not the average.

I'm still trying to defend the view that's it's not all that clear and that very many sources would state that average is only mean, and not median or mode. Before you rant again, notice I have acknowledged that some sources agree with you. But to state that only source #2 below agrees with average=mean is not exactly accurate.
1. I, a few dictionaries, every math teacher I've ever had, the DrMath.org website, and numerous other sources are all wrong.
2. Your statistician is wrong.
I could very well introduce you to a stats faculty who happens to be a member of the National Academy of Science. In court, his opinion would far outweigh all of yours in number 1. But I've already said that that is not really going to resolve this, which is why I was looking at jurisprudence. I'm not very skilled at that yet, so the best I could find (which is pretty lame, before you point it out), the website from SCOTUS. A search for 'average' shows many cases where 'average person' is discussed, but very few deal with numbers. I found this one, where the use of average seems pretty unambiguous. And I wouldn't mess with the person saying it ...
Kansas v. Colorado (10/4/04)
p.8
10 JUSTICE SCALIA: I understand that  that the
11 master concluded that even as to a particular year, the
12 model will be more accurate if you use the average from
13 the previous 10 years than if you just applied the model
14 to a single year, that even as to the real results for
15 that single year, the model will be more accurate if you
16 use a 10year average.
Now, that probably doesn't establish that the court has a clear definition of what average means, but if you ever are in a position to tell Scalia he just doesn't understand what an average is and tell it to his face in a court of law, I will give to you a nice Chateau d'Yquem 1995.

I'm still trying to defend the view that's it's not all that clear and that very many sources would state that average is only mean, and not median or mode. Before you rant again, notice I have acknowledged that some sources agree with you. But to state that only source #2 below agrees with average=mean is not exactly accurate.
1. I, a few dictionaries, every math teacher I've ever had, the DrMath.org website, and numerous other sources are all wrong.
2. Your statistician is wrong.
I could very well introduce you to a stats faculty who happens to be a member of the National Academy of Science. In court, his opinion would far outweigh all of yours in number 1. But I've already said that that is not really going to resolve this, which is why I was looking at jurisprudence. I'm not very skilled at that yet, so the best I could find (which is pretty lame, before you point it out), the website from SCOTUS. A search for 'average' shows many cases where 'average person' is discussed, but very few deal with numbers. I found this one, where the use of average seems pretty unambiguous. And I wouldn't mess with the person saying it ...
Kansas v. Colorado (10/4/04)
p.8
10 JUSTICE SCALIA: I understand that  that the
11 master concluded that even as to a particular year, the
12 model will be more accurate if you use the average from
13 the previous 10 years than if you just applied the model
14 to a single year, that even as to the real results for
15 that single year, the model will be more accurate if you
16 use a 10year average.
Now, that probably doesn't establish that the court has a clear definition of what average means, but if you ever are in a position to tell Scalia he just doesn't understand what an average is and tell it to his face in a court of law, I will give to you a nice Chateau d'Yquem 1995.
Do you honestly think that supports the idea that 'Average' is only 'Mean'? Of course 'Average' and 'Mean' are synonyms, but 'Median' is also an expression of 'Average' (and frequently a more accurate depiction of 'average' in a given sample).

I said:
Now, that probably doesn't establish that the court has a clear definition of what average means,
You said:
Do you honestly think that supports the idea that 'Average' is only 'Mean'
I say: no comments ...
And thank you for this:
Of course 'Average' and 'Mean' are synonyms,
Thank you for stating authoritatively what we've been arguing about for quite a while now. You're lack of evidence or supporting arguments only makes it more convincing.

This thread is completely off topic. lol. It went from starting salaries to the definition of average.