If you want to be a lawyer then you should anticipate doing it for the length of your career considering your giving up 3 years of your life to school and another 6 months etc to bar preparation. If you are going to invest that much time and money then you should anticipate being a lawyer for a long time. The odds are your pay well go up as you get experience baby lawyers or baby any profession generally need a lot of help at the beginning. If you are a lawyer for 20 years odds are you will know a thing or two and be compensated more than you were right after graduation. It will be stressful and maybe you won't even pass the bar there is no way to know, but baby lawyer seems to think working as a lawyer for the rest of your career after law school is a crazy proposition and I think you should expect to do it. There is the huge financial stress particularly after the first few years after graduation and maybe for the rest of your life if you don't do a good job. However, the risk of not getting a suitable job after spending a lot of time and money getting a degree is present in every field.
Tier 3/4 graduates usually make more than 40k if they find employment generally speaking.
You generally will go up most people are not contract attorneys their entire careers of course there are exceptions.
Many educations cost roughly the same law school is more, but at least in law school your out in 3 years many people take 5 years to get a B.A. and although the tuition is not as high 2 years of significantly reduced income is a bigger factor.
Basically law school is a risk, but if you stay in teh profession long enough and do a decent job your salary will increase particulalry if you work for a government agency that has a set pay increases.
I am going out on a limb here, but if a Cooley Grad has been a trial lawyer for 10 years and done over 100 cases from start to finish they will know a lot more than a recent Harvard Grad and I would rather hire the guy with 10 years of experience. Just like if I am having heart surgery and there is a guy from University of Phoneix Medical School who has done over 1,000 heart surgeries with a 98% success rate I would want him doing the surgery over a guy who just graduated and finished number #1 at Harvard at Medical School who never performed an operation. There really is no substitute for experience at least in my opinion.
I am basing the salary on GGU alumni I have met...
At your school are their people that have struggled to find jobs, or have low paying ones, or did not pass the bar yet? I know you said you went to a top 10, but I am sure there are graduates struggling from your school just like there are from GGU.