Average pay $197,000 despite employment crisis for lawyers
THE SANTA CLARA
Novemeber 6, 2014
Despite the blow to the job market for lawyers from the 2008 financial crisis and decreased enrollment to the Santa Clara School of Law, many alumni are still making six-figure salaries.
Payscale, a website that provides information about salary benefits and compensation using self-reported data, ranked the School of Law as third in the nation for the mid-career salary of alumni last month. According to Payscale, mid-career salary for alumni is $197,700 on average, according to Payscale.
While the economic downturn had an effect on job prospects for lawyers, the most successful law school graduates are still being hired to work in corporate law and intellectual property law, according to associate law professor Stephen Diamond.
“Legal deployment declined and then, as a result, undergrads have started having doubts about the value of a law degree,” Diamond said. “However, there is very good data that suggest a law degree has very strong long-term earning potential for students.”
In 2014, the School of Law received 2,228 applications and enrolled 154 students, according to Lisa Kloppenberg, dean of the School of Law.
Kloppenberg said that although they are a “small and select” entering class, new law students improved their median Law School Admission Test score and median GPA. Also, 47 percent of the entering students are minorities.
“The data is based on the last 15 to 20 years, so it reflects the enormous success of Silicon Valley, which is the most important advantage (Santa Clara) has over most other law schools,” Diamond said. “Lawyers in Santa Clara County are the highest paid in the country.”
According to Kloppenberg, the problem of low enrollment is not exculsive to Santa Clara. Fewer students are applying to law schools around the country, a figure indicated by the declining number of students who took the LSAT in the past four years.
Kloppenberg said she hopes to continue to attract top candidates looking to connect with law firms and businesses in the Silicon Valley — especially in the areas of intellectual property, Internet and technology law.
“We are in active regular and supplemental conversations about things we can do to improve the school’s reputation, job placement and bar performance,” said assistant law professor W. David Ball. “We are all aware of the tremendous difficulties of the job market right now and are actively developing new ideas and making a concerted effort.”
Diamond said to approach the ranking with caution, since PayScale bases its results on self-reported information from users, which can sometimes produce erroneous results.
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