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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

AccessLex And Gallup Release National Study On The Long-Term Outcomes Of A Law Degree

AccessLex Institute and Gallup Release National Study on the Long-Term Outcomes of a Law Degree:

With the recent decline in law school applications, AccessLex Institute commissioned Gallup to conduct a study on how the value of the law degree is perceived when compared to other higher education degrees. The study, Examining Value, Measuring Engagement: A National Study of the Long-Term Outcomes of a Law Degree, builds on AccessLex Institute and Gallup's 2016 report, Life After Law School.

The study adopted a holistic conception of value, encompassing not only employment outcomes, but also well-being and professional engagement. The study finds that the perceived value of the law degree is high among law graduates and recipients of other higher education degrees. Moreover, most law graduates report they would still get a law degree if they could go back and do it all over again.

Perceptions of the law degree differed, however, based on student loan debt and graduation date. Law graduates who accumulated $100,000 or more in student loan debt in order to obtain their law degree or who graduated during or after the Great Recession had less favorable perceptions of the degree's value.

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http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2018/01/accesslex-institute-and-gallup-release-national-study-on-the-long-term-outcomes-of-a-law-degree.html

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Comments

Search: "inflation." No results.

Posted by: Fake News | Jan 17, 2018 3:57:39 PM

@ Fake News,

There has been no inflation in wages for attorneys.

There has been minimal inflation by historical standards in the US economy as a whole.

There has been massive inflation in law school tuition.

You get zero credit for you response.

Posted by: JM | Jan 18, 2018 7:48:17 AM

Fake News is right; this would be like making a JD premium study whose headline figures were all pre-loan repayment and pretax....

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 18, 2018 8:39:39 AM

Geez, it's almost as if 2009 through the present was and remains a structurally different job market for law school grads than the dot.com bubble and securities bubble outcomes certain segments like to focus on. And from the ABA link:

"For respondents who graduated from law school during the Great Recession—which the report describes as being from 2009 and 2017—only 44 percent indicated that they had a “good job” waiting for them when they graduated.... For the financial well-being category, 48 percent of the JD respondents reported that they were thriving, 35 percent reported that they were struggling and 17 percent reported that they were suffering."

Apply now, kids!

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 18, 2018 8:42:26 AM

It's even worse if you don't go to law school, unless perhaps, you go to medical school.

Law school grads do better than most in a strong or a weak labor market. You can't change the labor market or go back in time to 2005. You can only improve your own credentials and marketability.

For all of the whining about law school, no one has come up with a serious proposal for what you should do instead if you can't or don't want to go to medical school and you can't or don't want to go to MIT or Stanford's engineering or computer science programs.

Posted by: relative | Jan 20, 2018 12:16:23 PM

NY jumped to $180K base as a starting salary. $200K+ with bonus. BLS data shows lawyer salaries up overall. That's wage growth.

Posted by: wage inflation | Jan 20, 2018 12:19:14 PM

Ah yes, wage inflation – let’s talk about it.

1) $180k isn’t even constant among large NYC law firms, let alone in other major legal markets and (especially) secondary legal markets.

2) Simpson Thacher set the previous $160k threshold way, way back in January of 2007. In real dollars, that’s $194,865.23 at the moment. Is $180,000 less than $194,865.23? Math is so hard!

3) Ah, bonuses. Let’s talk bonuses. Per various Above the Law articles, salary trend-setter Cravath gave its first-year associates $15,000 last year, which, pace your contention, does not push compensation over $200k. ($180k + $15k equals what now?). But in 2007, the first year associate bonus was $35,000, PLUS a special bonus of $10k. So the total compensation for the first year associate a decade ago was $205k in constant dollars, or $239,423.06 in real dollars (calculating from January of 2008). In fact, if one goes through the tables, none of the 2007-era Cravath classes had a smaller real dollar bonus than their counterparts today. Much the opposite, in fact.

So, “wage inflation,” which number is higher? $195,000 or $239,423.06? And that’s before we factor in the ~50% increase in tuition at feeder law schools like Harvard since 2006-07. Back to school with you!

And of course BLS data doesn’t include salary data for the plurality of America’s attorneys who are solo practitioners (more than 350,000 strong), with an average after-tax income of just $49,000. Sad!

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 20, 2018 3:11:43 PM

"It's even worse if you don't go to law school, unless perhaps, you go to medical school.
Law school grads do better than most in a strong or a weak labor market. You can't change the labor market or go back in time to 2005. You can only improve your own credentials and marketability."

1) Literally all of your comments cite to one study that pretends it still is 2005.

2) Good job writing anachronistic platitudes instead of even attempting to grapple with the findings of the survey. "Law school grads do better than most" in no way answers the troubling findings that "For the financial well-being category, 48 percent of the JD respondents reported that they were thriving, 35 percent reported that they were struggling and 17 percent reported that they were suffering."

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 20, 2018 3:14:12 PM

UNE believes that a subjective survey carries more weight than objective data. Most likely because the objective data contradicts his message. Graduates of top law schools earn $200K+ after graduation. That is significantly more than graduates of medical school and top engineering or computer science programs. According to NALP, mediocre law grads earn salaries in the mid $60K range. That is significantly more than the average salary of college grads.

Law graduates earn even more as they gain experience. UNE mentioned the BLS data and neglected to include the salary data. Mediocre attorneys earn salaries in the $118K+ range. The BLS data does not include solos. But we now know that solos earn on average about $100K+. Recent peer reviewed studies have proven that lawyers earn significantly more over their career than individuals with only a terminal Bachelor’s degree. Research has also demonstrated that foreign LLM graduates also earn significant salaries. Hard to believe law grads are “struggling” or “suffering” when they earn more than college grads and have lower default rates on student loans.

Posted by: peer reviewed | Jan 21, 2018 6:18:30 PM

Sigh.

Having corrected your earlier misstatements of fact, I find I must correct some more.

"Graduates of top law schools earn $200K+ after graduation. "

No, they don't. See how I provided facts and figures to support my argument while you didn't? Because others will have noticed. Which law firm(s) are currently paying above-Cravath levels to their first-year associates? Be specific. And what percentage of “top law school grads” got jobs at said law firm(s)?

"According to NALP, mediocre law grads earn salaries in the mid $60K range. That is significantly more than the average salary of college grads. "

1) "Mediocre." Classy. Way to win points with readers, sport.

1a) Per NALP, the median starting salary for Seton Hall, the former employer of the prof who wrote that "peer reviewed study," is in the mid $50k range. Are you calling all of his former students (I write "his" because surely you aren't the self-same man constantly plugging his studies in these comment threads while ignoring all contrary citations, facts, authors, etc.) mediocre? I mean, that would be the kind of thing I imagine a tenure board wouldn't take to too kindly.

2) Per the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for college graduates across ALL majors was over $50k, not that far off at all from the woeful mid-60s median for law school grads (a figure that was over $80k in real dollars before the Recession, just as real dollar starting salaries at large law firms are down from their 2007 levels as I proved in my earlier post). Once we account for student loan debt ($30k average for undergrads, $150k average for law students) and the crucial extra three years in their 20’s to starting earning and – much more importantly – putting away money and taking advantage of compounding interest – yeah, it’s no shock that law school applications are still in the toilet.

“Research has also demonstrated that foreign LLM graduates also earn significant salaries. Hard to believe law grads are “struggling” or “suffering” when they earn more than college grads and have lower default rates on student loans.”

Yeah, I googled that study and found a devastating three-part criticism of its ACS methodology written a year ago over at The Faculty Lounge. Whoops. And of course a low default rate is not the same thing as a high repayment rate; anyone even a passing understanding of student loans and reporting requirements knows better. Default plus “current and full repayment” don’t even account for HALF of student loan holders. And given that Access private law loans had a double-digit predicted default rate even back in the glory days when law firms were seemingly increasing their market rate salaries every year, yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb and say whatever everyone knows: a plurality (at least) of law grads have declared partial financial hardships and gone on an IBR plan.


Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jan 22, 2018 8:13:00 AM