Best law schools for standard of living

Recent graduates of the University of Texas who enter private practice take home more pay that their counterparts at every other ABA law school, according to an exclusive study by National Jurist magazine.

In the study, The National Jurist used median private practice starting salaries and subtracted average debt payments, and estimated federal and state taxes, and then modified the net salary by cost of living adjustments for the regions where graduates were employed.

“This study is designed to give law students and prospective students a good understanding of what their standard of living could look like on a school-by-school basis,” said Jack Crittenden, Editor In Chief of National Jurist. “Students need to understand that a high starting salary does not always translate into the most money at the end of the day.”

New York University is a prime example. The Manhattan law school is tied for first for the highest median salary. But higher debt, taxes and living in the most expensive city in the U.S., significantly erodes the school’s final take home pay. It ranks only 19th for net income and 50th for adjusted net income.

The National Jurist did a similar standard of living study in 1999 and reported that graduates who entered private practice at six law schools at that time had a lower standard of living than they did as students. Since then, salaries have increased dramatically, improving the standard of living at almost every law school in the nation. Debt repayment options also improved in 2009 with a new federal law.

Graduates at the University of Texas take home a net of $101,308 after debt and taxes, and modifying for cost of living adjustments. Yale University ranks 16th and Harvard Law School 17th in the study.

More than half of the schools in the study netted less than half of that amount, with six lower than $25,000.

Sixty-three law schools in the study were excluded from the final ranking because the percent of graduates with a known salary was below 40 percent. Seven schools were omitted due to lack of data.

Cost of living adjustments had significant negative impact on schools in California and the northeast, especially New York law schools. For example, Columbia University’s

The National Jurist used Class of 2009 salary data from NALP, debt data from U.S. News & World Report, tax data from the Tax Foundation, cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, and debt repayment information from Jeffrey Hanson Education Services.

Best Law Schools for Standard of Living (private practice):

1 University of Texas $101,308
2 University of Georgia $84,757
3 Vanderbilt University $83,988
4 University of Virginia $82,334
5 Northwestern University $82,327
6 University of Chicago $82,034
7 University of North Carolina $81,949
8 University of Michigan $81,886
9 Washington University in St. Louis  $81,058
10 Duke University  $80,848
11 Southern Methodist University $80,701
12 Emory University  $80,664
13 University of Notre Dame  $80,356
14 Stanford University  $78,559
15 Washington and Lee University  $78,374
16 Yale University  $77,915
17 Harvard University  $77,608
18 University of California-Berkeley   $76,467
19 Boston University  $76,404
20 University of Pennsylvania  $76,403
21 Catholic University of America $76,118
22 Boston College  $75,653
23 University of Illinois $75,623
24 Wake Forest University  $75,267
25 George Washington University  $74,199

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