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PayScale Claims No Schools Have $160k Median

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[Editor's Note: This story has been updated here.]

For the most part, statistics about law school graduates’ starting salaries has come from one of two sources, either the schools themselves, or from some third party just parroting what the schools tell them.

And, the elite schools say exactly what you’d expect them to, that the median starting salary for recent grads is $160,000.  In fact, you have to venture out of the top 14 (er, 15, hey Texas!) to find a school reporting a lower number, Vanderbilt, at $147,500.

But now there’s a new data set on the scene, coming from PayScale and what they report may shock even some of the cynics:

No school has median starting pay of $160,000.

Even those of us who long accepted that many schools were inflating their employment rates and salaries still believed that at least the kids graduating from the top 10, or even the top 5, were pulling in $160,000.  After all, BigLaw is hiring people, and even many firms in the AmLaw 101-200 range offer $160k for first years.

PayScale reports that top median private-sector pay is only $157,000, coming from Columbia.  (Public-sector workers were excluded.)  UVA comes in at a distant second, with $137,000.  Only one other school, Harvard, managed to crack the $125,000 mark.  $125,000 is what schools reported as their median starting salary for the class of 2005.

PayScale found only nine other schools that managed to even break $100,000.

Some of the discrepancy is likely due to differences in data being collected.  Law schools tend to have an easier time collecting salary data than outside sources, and schools that send a lot of students to BigLaw are going to have plenty of people eager to brag about their big shiny paychecks.

Perhaps PayScale’s numbers tip more towards the folks who go into non-law jobs, which aren’t starting at $160,000 across the board?  Possibly, but Columbia reported only 2% of its students went into jobs that did not require bar admission.  Stanford reports 3%, NYU 3%, Chicago 2%, Penn 3%.

The difference can’t be entirely attributed to small sample sets either.  PayScale looked at salaries from 28,000 graduates of 98 schools, an average of 286 per school, and only considered graduates who held private sector jobs.  Even if everyone at NYU who took a non-law job was counted, it there simply aren’t enough of them to pull the median down.

One difference between the law school data and PayScale data is that PayScale looked at graduates with less than 5 years experience, and not merely the most recent class of graduates.  The median work experience for this group was 2 years though. The numbers may be lower due to high attrition rates among junior associates; BigLaw is known to chew people up and spit them out, but 2 years is awfully quick to do that, and many of them will land in other similarly-paying jobs, and those who aren't given the boot should be earning in the $170,000-$185,000 range after 2 years.

There may be some problems with how PayScale collected data or nuanced difference in what they and the law schools look at, but nothing that can account for Texas's self-reported median of $160,000, and the PayScale reported median of $83,500.

Given all the other hanky-panky that's been revealed about law school employment stats, there is only one option left for law schools to regain any sort of credibility in reporting salary data: external auditing.

Wait, a second comes to mind: close.


(If the article doesn't load, try the Bing cached version)

Colorado Considers THC Limit for Drivers

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HB1261, a bill working its way through the Colorado legislature would place a legal limit on the amount of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) a driver can have in their blood, similar to the 0.08% BAC limit for alcohol.

The current proposal would set the limit at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.  ...We have no idea what that amount means.  But, it does appear that where there is reasonable suspicion that a driver is mellow, they will be subjected to a blood draw.  Just a bit more invasive than a alcohol breath test.  Everyone get your civil rights law suits ready.

An amendment that would raise the limit to 8 nanometers was defeated, and an amendment that would lower the level to 2 nanometers was withdrawn.  Again, we have no idea what these levels mean, except that the first one is higher, and the second one is lower.

The bill makes it a crime to be over the legal limit for THC up to 2 hours after driving, but an allows for an affirmative defense of smoking after parking.  Credible evidence of smoking up after parking would force the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the THC level of the driver while still operating the vehicle.

[Pueblo Chieftain]

[Text of the bill]

California Gets Its First Trust and Will Litigation Blog

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The Riverside, CA law firm of Albertson and Davidson has announced that it is launching the "First Trust and Will Litigation Blog in California."  The site is  Not exactly Twitter-friendly.

We looked through the ABA Journal's Blawg directory for blogs focusing on trust and will litigation in California, and we believe Albertson and Davidson may be correct that there are no others focusing on will and trust litigation in California.  Unfortunately, the rest of their press release wasn't so exact as the title.

Here's the press release's lead (the little explanation that comes after the title, and before the main body of text):

"Riverside law firm of Albertson & Davidson, LLP lauches the first legal blog discussing Trust, Will, Estate and Probate litigation issues:"

And here's the first sentence of the main text:

"The Riverside law firm of Albertson & Davidson, LLP launches the first legal blog focusing on Trust, Will, Estate and Probate litigation."

Notice these lines doesn't mention California.  We're pretty certain that somewhere in the ABA Blawg directory of Will and Trust blogs is one that discusses litigation issues.  Oh look, there it is!  The New York Probate Litigation Blog.  We only had to read down to the fifth one in the list, and we're pretty sure plenty of others discuss litigation, even if they're focused on planning issues.

We counted nine blogs in the directory that discuss wills and trusts in California specifically, and with how many small firms have blogs these days, there are almost certainly more that are not in the ABA Journal's directory.

Maybe we're being overly critical here though, after all, those two inaccurate lines appear within view of the more specific title.  Surely readers won't be confused.  There may be other California trust and estate blogs, and other trust and estate litigation blogs, but no other California trust and estate litigation blog.

Except that the Albertson and Davidson blog doesn't fit their own billing.  There are currently 10 posts on their blog.  Only 5 discuss litigation (and some are mixed litigation-planning issues), 2 discuss planning only, 2 are pure service advertisements, and 1 is a PR fluff piece about their efforts to help children.  It's as much a "litigation" blog as any of the others.

Hell, the second line of the text abandons the idea that it's a litigation blog:

"The site is geared towards Trust and Will issues, including lawsuits (called litigation) relating to Trust and Will issues."

It's a blog that includes issues relating to trusts and wills.  That's different from a trust and wills blog.  Con Daily deals with legal issues, including ethics and professional responsibility, but we wouldn't bill ourselves out as an ethics blog.

(By the way, thanks for telling us that a lawsuit is called litigation.  We were so freaking confused for a minute there.)

Maybe there's some very narrow interpretation that would make the title of the press release not false, but it doesn't exactly reflect well on the quality of the law firm.  If they write your will and it one day gets challenged, you don't want them to have to go before the judge and say "One moment, your honor.  If you'll just stand over here, and look at it from this angle, and ....Bailiff!  Could you dim the lights a bit?"

[Press Release]

Virginia Thomas Joins Conservative Website's News Team

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Virginia 'Ginni' Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has announced that she will be joining the staff of The Daily Caller as a special correspondent.  Her role will be focused on interviewing politicians and activists from outside the beltway.

Her addition to The Daily Caller is sure to bring about renewed calls for Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from politically heated court cases, such as the on-going challenge to Obamacare.  A quick look at The Daily Caller's website shows a pretty obvious political leaning, and it's not hard to tell why.  The site was founded by Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, and Neil Patel, a former adviser to Dick Cheney.

Virginia Thomas has long been politically active and outspoken, defending her actions by saying: "I did not give up my First Amendment rights when my husband became a justice of the Supreme Court"

True.  But, the rest of us likewise did not give up our right to a judiciary free from bias when you decided to get involved in politics.

[Daily Mail]

Page 298 of 338

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