Zoe Berg, Senior Photographer

Yale Law School alumni rank amongst the highest earners across all law school graduates, according to a new study. 

The study, conducted by the Florida-based law firm Anidjar & Levine, found that graduates of Yale Law School have an annual salary of $204,668 four years post-graduation. This number makes Yale Law School alumni the second-highest earners nationwide of any law school, trailing only behind Cornell Law School, whose graduates have an average salary of $249,283 four years after graduation, according to the study. 

“While other metrics are certainly interesting, simple wage statistics are compelling and uncomplicated,” Connor Jack, a spokesperson for Anidjar & Levine, wrote in a statement to the News. “Students will make decisions about their studies based on a plethora of reasons, however salary represents a quantitative and inarguable takeaway that is likely to have at least some effect on the decisions of most.”

The study examined data from the American Bar Association’s accredited schools list, focusing on the earnings of graduates who held bachelor’s, master’s and/or doctoral degrees.  Additionally, they analyzed the data of graduates both two and four years after completing law school.

In the study, Yale and Cornell were the sole Ivy League law schools to secure spots in the top 10 earners. Duke Law School claimed the third position, while NYU Law School and Georgetown University Law Center followed closely in fourth and fifth place, respectively. The University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law, the highest-ranked public law school in the study, took the seventh position.

“I’m pleasantly surprised to see Yale Law ranked so highly,” David Lat LAW ’99 told the News. “Many YLS alums go into academia or public-interest work rather than law firm work, which pays better, so I’m glad to see Yale Law alumni aren’t just doing good in the world, but also doing well — financially.”

However, Cecillia Xie ’13, a graduate of Harvard Law School, told the News that she is unsurprised by the results of the study due to the outsized role of prestige in the recruitment process from the nation’s largest law firms, often collectively referred to as “big law.”

According to research conducted by the National Association for Law Placement, the salary distribution for law school graduates exhibits a bimodal nature, indicating that graduates tend to fall into two primary salary ranges. Over half of the salaries of law school graduates of the class of 2022 ranged from $50,000-$90,000, while 22.5 percent of graduates reported annual earnings between $205,000-$215,000. Per Anidjar & Levine’s study, the average Yale Law graduate is positioned well at the upper end of these salary brackets.

Kevin Brown LAW ’82, a professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, highlighted the importance of attending Yale Law School to his legal career.

“I could not have been either a law professor or an associate at a large corporate law firm without the YLS degree,” Brown wrote to the News. “When I went on the Law School academic market back in the Fall of 1987, over 70 law schools contacted me for interviews, and the only thing I had going for me was that I was an African-American with a YLS degree.”

Brown told the News that after transferring to Yale Law School after his first year at McKinney, his job prospects immediately increased. He said that at McKinney, he had the second-highest GPA of any first-year student in his class, but that none of the local Indianapolis law firms he contacted responded to his inquiries.

Brown said that if he had graduated from McKinney, he probably would not have been hired by an Indianapolis law firm, but after transferring to Yale, many national law firms began reaching out to him.

“It has made all the difference in my life,” Brown said of his degree.

Overall, when explaining why Anidjar & Levine conducted the study, Jack emphasized the significance of legal education.

He also underscored the pivotal role of the upcoming generation of American lawyers in shaping their country.

“The importance of law degrees in American society is huge,” Jack wrote to the News. “Lawyers serve as guardians of justice and the rule of law, ensuring the protection of individual rights and the effective and fair functioning of the legal system. Lawyers also engage in policy-making and advocacy, influencing the development of laws and regulations that shape society, making them instrumental in the democratic foundations of the United States.”

As of Sept. 2019, Yale Law School had 13,487 living alumni. 

Adam Walker covers Yale Law School for the University desk. Originally from Long Island, New York, he is a sophomore in Branford College double majoring in Economics and American Studies.