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More on PayScale Salary Data

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We previously wrote about law school starting salaries collected by PayScale and published on Forbes in which no schools were found to have starting median salaries of $160,000, and only a dozen made it over the $100k mark.

The article had originally stated that PayScale had looked at 28,000 salaries from 98 schools, but an intrepid Con Daily reader took a gander at the data available on PayScale and noted that many schools have far fewer than the average of 286 salaries that number requires.  Yale only had 59 salaries listed, Stanford 70, NYU 36, and so on.

We contacted Kurt Badenhausen, author of the Forbes article, and he looked into the issue:

"I spoke to Payscale and they told me the PayScale Research Center [the source of the low sample sizes] uses a different data set and not the full data set that they use in their research projects.... [28000] is the total number of law school grads Payscale looked at from the 98 schools. There were roughly 8,500 of those that had less than 5 years experience and were considered for the median salaries of recent grads."

So, we're looking at about 87 students on average for each school.  Remember, these aren't the starting salaries published by schools and US News, but of students with less than 5 years (median 2 years) experience.  The numbers may be lower than what law schools report because of the high rate of attrition in BigLaw.  If so, we think PayScale paints a far more meaningful picture for prospective students.  Your starting salary is of course important, but not as important as what you're paid the rest of your career.

A spokesperson for Stanford contacted Forbes and defended their data:

"All of the private sector starting salary employment data we report to NALP, the ABA and U.S. News is 100% verified.”

PayScale reported a median of $125,000.  Stanford claims not only a median of $160,000 for its graduates employed full time upon graduation, but a 25th percentile of $160,000 as well, with a 94% response rate.


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