The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog had a good post today entitled The Dark Side of the Legal Job Market. It concerns law firm salaries and the disparity between the top of the class and the rest of the class--and also between top schools and regional schools. The gist is that the top grads get great salaries, but the rest don't--and that when this is combined with mounting student debt loads, it's a structural tension that will have to be resolved in one way or another. In other words, the message is that things can't go on as they are now, and that changes may be substantial.
I blogged about law grad salary disparities in another recent post. As I discussed in that post, these figures have interesting implications for the future of law schools beyond mere graduate salary distributions.
When reading the WSJ Law Blog post above, bear in mind that it blends two points that are actually distinct:
1. Grads of top law schools tend to get more of the "Big Law" (read: Big Money) jobs.
2. Top grads at any law school tend to get more Big Law jobs than their classmates with lower class rank.
In other words, if you go to a national school, you have improved your odds of landing the big paycheck, but you have not guaranteed it. Conversely, if you go to a regional school, fewer people from your school will land these big jobs. But some will. These are obvious points, perhaps, but I think they are worth making, since the WSJ article jumps between the two without distinguishing them.