Look, there is a bimodal distribution of pay among recent JDs! The mean, adjusted mean and average figures do not tell us much, as 34% of those who reported their income made between $40K and $65K. And 25% or 4,878.25 graduates reported incomes of $160,000 or more. Also, what about the MANY who are working part-time?!?!
“However, because some large law firm salaries cluster in the $160,000 range while many other salaries cluster in the $40,000–$65,000 range, relatively few salaries were actually near the median or mean, as the Jobs & JDs report details.” [Emphasis mine]
Here is Ilya’s weak-ass analysis of bimodal distribution of lawyer pay:
“The relevant time horizon for lawyers, however, is the entire 30 to 40 year period of their expected career. On that score, it is difficult to make any precise forecasts. Still, the continued growth in the scope and complexity of law suggest that the demand for legal services is likely to rise. The demand for lawyers is inevitably closely tied to the growth of government and law.
Furthermore, the NALP data for the class of 2009 show that the median graduate has a salary of about $72,000; in other words, 50% of first year lawyers can expect to make that much or more. Even if you adjust the figure downward a little to reflect reporting rates skewed in favor of large firms, you still get a level of perhaps $65,000 based on the formula that NALP used to recalculate the mean salary (reducing the initial estimate by about 9%). That’s not bad for an entry level salary in the middle of a deep recession.” [Emphasis mine]
Ilya, what about the tons of attorneys who never have the chance to practice law? Also, if law were such a great profession, why aren’t YOU out there putting your skills to use?!?! Instead, you teach “legal theory.” Don’t forget the number of lawyers who willingly leave the industry before the 5-10 year mark. What about the fact that the law school Class of 2009 had 44,000 members – competing for 28,901 jobs requiring bar passage? Apparently, Ilya is also not familiar with legal outsourcing. AND DON'T FORGET THE IMMEN$E DEBT LOAD TAKEN ON BY THE MAJORITY OF LAW STUDENTS, IN THIS COUNTRY.
"The combination of the rising cost of a legal education and the realities of the legal job market mean that going to law school may not pay off for a large number of law students. Dean David Van Zandt of Northwestern Law School estimates that to make a positive return on the investment of going to law school, given the current costs, the average law student must earn an average annual salary of at least $65,315.12 As the data above show, however, over 40% of law school graduates have starting salaries below this threshold. Thus, many students start out in a position from which it may be difficult to recoup their investment in legal education. Even students who do ultimately prosper over the course of a career face difficulties from high debt loads during the beginning of their career. High debt can limit career choices, prevent employment in the public service sector, or delay home ownership or marriage. In short, going to law school can bring more financial difficulty than many law students expect." [Emphasis mine]
“A good rule of thumb is that your total education debt should be less than your expected starting salary. If you borrow more than twice your expected starting salary you will find it extremely difficult to repay the debt.” [Emphasis mine]
So how many recent law grads will be able to reasonably afford to pay back their $160K in NON-DISCHARGEABLE student loans on their $45K salaries, Ilya?!?!
Apparently, Ilya only makes $130K as an “associate professor of law” at George Mason University’s public law school. However, he has also taught as a “visiting professor” at several law schools. Despite what he says, the little rat is CLEARLY looking to serve his own $elf-intere$t.
In the final analysis, Ilya Somin is engaging in intellectual dishonesty. How likely is it that a “law professor” is stupid enough to believe that fully half of all recent law grads can “EXPECT” to earn $72K? He is DELIBERATELY choosing to ignore reality of the bimodal salary distribution. In fact, he is FULLY AWARE that U.S. law schools are producing far too many JDs.