It's probably no surprise that going to law school is a good way to ensure your future as a high earner. But where you earn your JD will have a big effect on your future paycheck. Your choice of law school will not only affect your education, but also affect the network you build and the connections you make, and those things contribute greatly to where you end up working.
PayScale's 2015-2016 College Salary Report ranks 51 of the most well-known law programs in the United States by how much their alumni earn. It is important to note that our salary data is mostly based off of students who work in public law or at second-tier law firms. The top law firms in the country tend to have standardized salary, especially below the partner level, so those workers are less likely to take the PayScale Survey.
You might be surprised by the name at the top of PayScale's list of the best law schools by alumni salary, because it isn't Harvard or Georgetown. Instead, it's the relatively small Emory University School of Law, where the median mid-career alumni salary is $201, 000. UCLA's College of Law is home to the second highest-earning alumni, beating out archrival USC. USC's Law School comes in fifth, just after fourth-place Harvard Law.
Highest Early Career Alumni Salaries
When we rank the best law schools by early career salary, Harvard Law rockets to first place. The median early career salary of Harvard Law alumni is $113, 000, over $23, 000 more than the early career salaries of second-place Hastings College of Law, part of the University of California system.
Geography seems to play a big part when it comes to law school earning potential, especially when we sort by early career salaries. Six of the seven law schools with the highest alumni salaries for workers with up to five years of work experience are adjacent to major tech hubs (Boston, the Silicon Valley, Austin and New York.)