The simple answer is graduate from Stanford Law School. Many students go to law school hoping to make the six figure salary that many associate with lawyers. In fact, 52,000 students enrolled in law schools during the 2009-2010 academic year. This is a HUGE improvement from the last decade. When a student researches which law school to go to, one of the important factors to consider is how your return on investment will be. Many top law schools advertise starting salaries for recent grads that are in the six figure range, specifically around $160,000. Earning this kind of a paycheck your first year out of law school would make one feel very comfortable racking up a few hundred thousand in debt. The problem is that these statistics are FAR from the truth.
According to Forbes, Payscale, which tracks compensation among its users, did not find one law school that actually had a median starting salary for its recent grads at $160,000, and only found three schools with a median starting salary at $125,000. Columbia law school apparently provides the highest starting salary with recent grads making about $157,000 a year, with University of Virginia following at $137,000, followed by Harvard and Stanford at $100,000. So the reality is, unless you are the top of your class at one of these awesome law schools, then your dreams of making six figures as a starting salary may not come true.
It seems that law schools are publicizing false numbers regarding their grads' starting salaries, which is an absolute sham. Many potential law students determine what school they are going to actually go to based upon the schools record.ranking, professors, and profitability after law school. Although some potential students don't have many choices because of their LSAT scores, those with decent scores are in fact weighing the options between which school to go to and which school will provide them with the best return in the end.
So, those dreams of being a rich lawyers don't seem very promising anymore. However, if you are not so concerned about your first year of pay, and are more concerned about how you will be compensated after you have some experience, it seems that Stanford is the school to graduate from. According to Payscale, the median salary for mid-career Stanford grads is about $236,000, which beats the number two paying law school for mid-career compensation Duke with a median pay of $221,000. Some of the Stanford grads include Sandra Day O'Connor, William Rehnquist, and provides many general counsel positions for big time tech firms such Ebay, Google and Microsoft.
So, if you want to be a rich lawyer either get lucky or graduate from Stanford. For the rest of us who didn't graduate from Stanford, we will have to make our own luck and our own riches. For those of you who think that lawyers are rich and make tons of money, generally this is not true, especially now-a-days.
Good luck applying to Stanford!
xoxo-Legal in the City