As law student debt continues to rise, it becomes increasingly important to analyze career prospects for law graduates. The Princeton Review recently released its annual 2018 Law School Rankings for “Best Career Prospects.”
The rankings are take into account “median starting salaries of graduating students, the percent of students employed in a job that requires bar passage (and not employed by the school) and the percent of these students who pass the bar exam the first time they take it.”
The New York University School of Law topped the 2018 rankings for “Best Career Prospects” with University of Chicago coming second and Harvard Law third. According to Forbes, at least 98% of 2016 graduates at these schools were employed within 10 months of graduating and “of those who landed at law firms, roughly three-quarters joined giant practices with more than 500 attorneys.”
Tuition costs and payoff
When you take tuition costs into consideration, there isn’t much difference among the schools. NYU tuition for the 2017-2018 academic year is $61,644. Compare that to the University of Chicago and Harvard Law, which charge $61,626 and $61,650 respectively. Factoring in room and board, books, and fees, total annual costs at each school ranges from $92,000 to $93,000.
If anything, The Princeton Review ranking shows that elite institutions offer high pay off. Yet, in other rankings, less prestigious law schools also show high career prospects for grads. According to a study by SoFi (Social Finance Inc.), an online student loan refinance company, The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Houston and the University of Georgia are among the 10 schools with the best salary-to-debt ratios.
SoFi’s rankings analyzed salary and debt ratios of more than 60,000 people, who according to The New York Times, “applied to refinance their student loans with the San Francisco company between 2014 and 2016.” At the University of Texas, a law graduate can expect to incur an average debt of $105,254 and earn an average salary of $147,444 after graduation. That’s the same ratio a Yale Law School graduate can expect, according to SoFi’s data.
On the other hand, graduates of prestigious law schools, such as Columbia University, Cornell University and New York University, earn an average salary over $175,000 three years after graduating. What do those three schools have in common? They’re all in New York.
Amanda Wood is SoFi’s director of business operations and strategy. Wood tells The New York Times that those salaries are “just one or two raises away from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ best-paid lawyer salary of $187,200.” The fact that all three schools are in New York, she says, “reinforces the idea that location matters when it comes to earning potential.”