A law degree isn’t the guarantee of success that it used to be, but if you choose the right law school, you stand a much better chance of earning a high salary, both after graduation and over the long term. That doesn’t mean that you need to set your sights on the Ivy League, however. This year’s College Salary Report includes plenty of programs from non-Ivy schools.
(Photo Credit: Emory University School of Law, via Tim Evanston/Flickr)
In fact, of the top five law schools, only one spot went to an Ivy League institution. Harvard Law School, at No. 1, offers its grads an early career salary of $130,000 and a mid-career salary of $201,000. Early career earnings drop sharply after the top spot, with Emory grads commanding $72,600 right after graduation and Santa Clara University School of Law grads earning $76,900 — but things even out after ten years, with Emory alums raking in $200,600 in annual income at mid-career, and Santa Clara alums earning $197,700. From a salary perspective, in other words, you don’t necessarily need to go to Harvard in order to make bank in the long run.
But what if you can’t get into one of the top five law schools — or top 10, or top 100? Then your decision hinges on other practical considerations.
“If you go to Harvard Law School, you can probably get away with going to law school because you ‘want to be a lawyer,'” writes Elie Mystal at Above the Law. “…But if you are going to the 150th best law school in the country (however defined), you best be able to point to a specific job, with specific people, who specifically said, ‘Yes, I’d probably hire you if you had a law degree.'”
Annual pay for alumni with a JD. Typical early career graduates have 0 to 5 years of experience; mid-career graduates have 10 years or more. See full methodology.
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