All the hand-wringing about the value of a law degree tends to overlook the fact that graduates of the very best schools have had no problem landing well-paying jobs.
So what can you expect if you were fortunate enough to get into Yale Law School, consistently the top school in U.S. News’ rankings? The median pay for a Class of 2012 JD hit $100,188, up from $98,558 a year earlier, while the average pay was $64,729, up from $64,000 in 2011.
What’s more, Yale JDs–as you would expect–were a lock for an immediate job. Some 90.7% of the Class of 2012 had full-time jobs requiring Bar passage at graduation and 91.2% landed jobs nine months later.
Not surprising, the highest starting salaries went to law grads who went into private practice. For the Class of 2012, the median starting salary was a hefty $160,000, while the average was $156,320. These numbers are considerably higher than the median and average for the entire class: $64,729 and $100,188, respectively. And they’re fairly uniform across all of the very best law schools in the country where the $160,000 median for a private practice job is exactly the same at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago and UPenn, among others.
After those lucrative private practice jobs with big law firms, JDs who enter academia and judicial clerkships pull down the highest median salaries: $67,000 for academics and $61,612 for judicial clerks. That’s a good deal more than grads who move into the government or public interest jobs who in 2012 reported median pay of just $44,000.
Starting Salaries for Yale Law School’s Class of 2012