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April 16, 2008

What Law School Rankings Don't Say ......

This is a very interesting article from Law.com discussing what law school rankings don't say about this life altering and very expensive decision.

During the last three decades, the size and geographic dispersion of the global economy has dramatically increased the demand for sophisticated corporate legal services. In contrast, the demand for personal-services legal work -- wills and estates, personal injury, family law, simple business contracts, etc. -- has grown at roughly the rate of population growth.

These dynamics have resulted in a "bimodal" income distribution, in which there is a heavy concentration of salaries in two distinct ranges, based on salary figures provided by NALP. At the high end are the large corporate firm starting salaries that so interest the media. In 2006, salaries in the largest firms in major markets jumped from $125,000 to $135,000 to $145,000. Thus out of 22,684 starting salaries reported for 2006, 4,809, or 21.2 percent, were in the $125,000 to $145,000 range. (In 2007, this mode moved further to the right due to associate "salary wars.") Yet prospective lawyers need to remember that most new lawyers do not earn $160,000 a year at a large firm. Many earn $40,000 to $55,000 per year in small to midsize firms and solo practice. In 2006, 8,577 reported salaries, or 37.8 percent, were in this range out of the 22,684. The payments on $100,000-plus worth of law school debt look quite different to someone earning $50,000 than they do to someone earning $160,000 a year.

This is a very important read. Take the time.  However, understand it is very difficult to determine salaries of solos because it is a highly individualized, seldom reported experience as most solos do not participate in salary surveys nor are receiving a W-2.

Here is the ABA's take on this survey.

Links of Interest:  How Much Do Solos REALLY earn?


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» ls TMaybe You Should Tell Some Law Schools To Take Their Rankings And Shove Them ... from Chuck Newton
We all know lawyers who planned big only to be disenfranchised by the size of the obligations they ran up. That is nowhere more true than choosing an overpriced law school because of the image that you believe it reflects due to its U.S. News rankings.... [Read More]



Another thing that law school rankings don't make any mention of is that when I was walking around in the halls of my small state sponsored law school I met one of our excellent state supreme court justices and had a nice conversation with her.

We also get to meet and visit with 8th Circuit judges on a fairly regular basis, and the school is small enough where we can actually get to know these fine people. Right here in law school.

So, I go to a fine little law school that ranks in the 4th tier of the U.S. News rankings, but when Judge Myron H. Bright tells me that he thinks this is a "very good law school" I'll take his word for it. There might not be anybody over at U.S. News qualified to shine that guys shoes, as far as I am concerned.

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