Law School Discussion

Unreliable Career Numbers?

SleepyGuyYawn

Re: Unreliable Career Numbers?
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2004, 11:01:53 AM »
I don't disagree that for lower ranked t1 schools and beyond this is true.

Re: Unreliable Career Numbers?
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2004, 08:21:38 AM »
I would take career mumbers provided by all law schools with a grain of salt.

First of all, it is pretty much a given that if you go to a top 14 school your career outlook is quite sunny. It doesn't really matter whether a school like NYU reports $125K or whether Georgetown reports $145K as their 75th percentile. You wouldn't choose one over the other based on that number alone anyway.

Number provided by lower ranked schools are dubious at best. Look at 4 schools: Brooklyn, St. Johns, Fordham, and New York Law School (NOT NYU Law). Their reported 25-75percentile salaries are quite similiar. For example, Fordham reports 60-125K and NY Law reports 56-118K. Does anyone think that you make the same $$$ by going to NY Law School as opposed to Fordham???

SleepyGuyYawn

Re: Unreliable Career Numbers?
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2004, 09:34:00 AM »
You have such a good point here mhkuang.  But it is so hard for us to not look at median or 25/75 salary numbers and not put a lot of weight into it.  This is especially true if we are getting ourselves in $100,000 + debt.

I see people making decisions based on little differences in career numbers.  You are so right with the Fordham example.  And I can totally see people making a decision to go to -- say Loyola Chicago over Iowa or Wisconsin because the jobs look better on paper.  What they probably would learn is that either Loyola overreports or that there is some other reason why Iowa and Wisconsin have lower numbers on paper (e.g. Wisconsin grads who stay in Wisconsin don't have to take the bar/ Iowa graduates a ton of lawyers who are Iowa residents and who would just rather work in Des Moines than Chicago).

And I always like to use Tulane and Miami as examples of this.  Because Tulane has something like an 85% 9 month employment rate and Miami's is like 89%.  But we know that Tulane and Miami aren't bad law schools, and there is nothing wrong with their career offices.  There are a couple of reasons for the lower employment rates -- one is that they have many, many more grads from out of state (Miami has over 70%/ Tulane I don't know the exact #) and those grads are anxious to find jobs back where they are from (in a recession, not an easy thing to do unless you graduate from a T14).  Then I have heard rumors about many of the Tulane/Miami students getting their education funded from family members -- making it much easier for them to hunt for that dream job longer.

In any case, it is so much more complicated than numbers, but it's so hard to ignore it.

Re: Unreliable Career Numbers?
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2004, 10:57:14 AM »
You have such a good point here mhkuang.  But it is so hard for us to not look at median or 25/75 salary numbers and not put a lot of weight into it.  This is especially true if we are getting ourselves in $100,000 + debt.

I see people making decisions based on little differences in career numbers.  You are so right with the Fordham example.  And I can totally see people making a decision to go to -- say Loyola Chicago over Iowa or Wisconsin because the jobs look better on paper.  What they probably would learn is that either Loyola overreports or that there is some other reason why Iowa and Wisconsin have lower numbers on paper (e.g. Wisconsin grads who stay in Wisconsin don't have to take the bar/ Iowa graduates a ton of lawyers who are Iowa residents and who would just rather work in Des Moines than Chicago).

And I always like to use Tulane and Miami as examples of this.  Because Tulane has something like an 85% 9 month employment rate and Miami's is like 89%.  But we know that Tulane and Miami aren't bad law schools, and there is nothing wrong with their career offices.  There are a couple of reasons for the lower employment rates -- one is that they have many, many more grads from out of state (Miami has over 70%/ Tulane I don't know the exact #) and those grads are anxious to find jobs back where they are from (in a recession, not an easy thing to do unless you graduate from a T14).  Then I have heard rumors about many of the Tulane/Miami students getting their education funded from family members -- making it much easier for them to hunt for that dream job longer.

In any case, it is so much more complicated than numbers, but it's so hard to ignore it.

I would like to add that it is SO EASY for any given law school to inflate the career numbers. If you think about it there really is no consequence to blatantly misreport the starting salaries. They are not going to be reprimanded by the ABA or any other agency. If you were a school not in the top25 wouldn't you inflate the numbers a little in an attempt to tip some undecided students towards your school when accepted to several very similar schools?

Another point regarding Fordham: I have a USNEWS grad school ranking magazine from 2003 which uses career numbers from 2002). Back then Fordham reported 23/75 percentile salaries as 60-125K. This yr Fordham reports starting salaries for last year's grads as 108K(or 118K) - $125K (or at least the online edition does. I don't have the paper version). So in two years the 25th percentile went from 60K to 118K, in a recession in one of the job markets hardest hit by the recession???? Am I the only one who smell something rotten here? My guess is that in 2002 Fordham was correctly reporting the starting salaries. Then Fordham sees that schools like St. Johns and NY Law School report similar salaries (the latter most likely inflate them). Then Fordham says: now wait a minute, we can't be ranked 25th while these T2 and T3 schools report similar earnings. Lets only report salaries we want to report to make our numbers look better. There you have it, $$$ inflation !!!

SleepyGuyYawn

Re: Unreliable Career Numbers?
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2004, 02:39:14 PM »
Interesting.  I smell a connection between the "__% reporting salary information" stat and the 25/75 and the median salary stats.

To add, I have a friend who goes to Brooklyn Law School who swears that Brooklyn overstates their salary information significantly.  She actually is a bit angry about it. 

I wonder if you could sue a law school for the cost of your legal education if you had evidence that it was actually true a school did that.


amelus

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Re: Unreliable Career Numbers?
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2004, 02:50:45 PM »
Here is New York University:
Private sector (25th-75th percentile): $125,000 - $125,000
Percent in the private sector who reported salary information: 98%

so why do your first year grades matter so much? (or do they?  certainly seems like everyone feels they matter a lot)  i know you're focusing on differences b/w schools (particularly non t-14 schools) but i couldnt help but notice this (and i assume it is also a pretty bright picture for many other t-14's if not all). 

if stats like these are legitimate (since 98% are apparently reporting their salaries) then do grades just matter for the big time clerkships and those who want to work at the top firms in nyc?

SleepyGuyYawn

Re: Unreliable Career Numbers?
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2004, 03:13:44 PM »
Well I believe that stats like that are certainly legitimate.  And in general for the top 14 schools it isn't the salary that matters as much.  In short, people from t14 schools are often competing for firm prestige, not salary.

To understand the t14 law school mentality I suggest you pick up a copy of Vault.com Top 100 Law Firms.  It is a huge book with tons of in depth information about the most prestigious firms in the country. What you'll learn is that just like our obsession with Law School rankings, t14 students have an obsession with Law firm rankings (well not all, but many if not most).

I have a friend who just graduated from Michigan.  He took a job with Cravath, Swaine and Moore, usually regarded as the most or second most prestigious firm in the nation.  When I asked him why it was so important to get a job there as opposed to another firm that paid the same thing he had a couple of answers.

The biggie was that it really isn't where you go to law school that will determine where you'll go with your legal career -- it is the first job you get out of law school.  There is a definate pecking order.  In "Big Law" you can always move to a less prestigious law firm from a more presigious one, but never the other way.  And even if you only plan on being in Cravath for a couple years, the Cravath name will be a golden star on your resume forever.  You will get headhunted for the most prestigious government, public interest, corporate, and firm jobs in the nation -- even in a bad economy.

He also said that the starting salaries are somewhat misleading.  What matters more, if you decide to stay in the firm, are how fast the salaries go up, bonuses, your chances of making partner, and how much partners earn.  In general, the more prestigious the firm the faster your salary rises and the more the partners earn.  At the top five firms, for instance, the partners pull down 3 or 4 million + I believe.  This is three or for times that of most firms ranked even in the teens or twenties. 

So there is always a ratrace, even if you go to harvard.