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Glossary of terms

  • 1L Attrition

    The percentage of students who left school, for any reason, after the first year.

  • 1L Enrollment

    Total students starting law school in a single academic year, whether they start in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, or attend class part time or full time.

  • Acceptance Rate

    The percentage of applicants during an admissions cycle who received an offer to attend the school, including those accepted off of the waitlist.

  • Admission Chances

    Based on your LSAT, GPA, and demographics, how likely are you to get admitted to the school? Note, this does not take into consideration individual aspects of your application such as character and fitness issues, work/life experience, interviews, or other factors. We use admission data from previous years to provide your estimate. When schools change admission standards, the admission market changes, or the law changes, e.g. the Supreme Court's 2023 affirmative action ruling, these estimates will be less accurate. While it makes sense to use this as a guide to where to apply, it should not be a controlling factor.

  • Admissions Data Quartiles

    Refers to the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles for all enrollees included in the admissions dataset.

  • Bar Passage Rate

    The percentage of graduates who passed the bar exam, which states typically require for a law license and thus the practice of law. For law schools, bar pass rates are measured among 1st-time takers and within two years of graduation (the "ultimate" bar pass rate).

  • Bar Passage Required Jobs

    Includes jobs as an attorneys or as judicial clerks. Except for clerks, these jobs anticipate or require that you pass the bar and be licensed to practice law. This category sweeps judicial clerks into the fray, whether or not they took or passed the bar.

  • Conditional Scholarships

    Any financial aid award, the retention of which is dependent upon the student maintaining a minimum grade point average or class standing, other than that ordinarily required to remain in good academic standing.

  • Cost of Living

    The cost of living figure usually reflects 9 or 10 months of living expenses and includes all non-tuition related expenses, such as transportation, books, housing, food, etc.

  • Debt Service

    Measures your ability to manage your monthly payments, i.e. to repay the money you plan to borrow. Debt service is calculated by dividing your monthly payment into your monthly income. A payment of $1,000 and monthly income of $5,000 is a debt service rate of 20%. The amount you devote each month to loan payment impacts your quality of life, although your debt service will decrease over time if your income increases and you make you full loan payment each month.

  • Direct Loan Interest Rate

    The interest rate for your first $20,500 of Direct Student Loans, originated by the U.S. Department of Education. The rate is calculated each year using the treasury rate plus 3.6%. This rate is fixed for the life of your loan.

  • Direct PLUS Loan Interest Rate

    The interest rate for your student loans originated by the U.S. Department of Education in excess of $20,500 each year. The rate is calculated each year using the treasury rate plus 4.6%. This rate is fixed for the life of your loan.

  • Employed Graduates

    Job Characteristics Matrix

    The job type, employer type, and school-funded job traunches are divisible into a four-part matrix.

    Long Term (LT)Short Term (ST)
    Full Time (FT)
    Part Time (PT)

    Long Term

    These jobs either have a fixed duration of at least one year or have no definite duration. Sometimes abbreviated as LT. A typical long-term job involves an employer hiring the graduate with no expectation or indication of how long the employer will employ the graduate.

    Short Term

    These jobs have a fixed duration less than one year. Sometimes abbreviated as ST. A three-month contract attorney job is classified as short term.

    Full Time

    These jobs are at least 35 hours per week. Sometimes abbreviated as FT.

    Part Time

    These jobs are fewer than 35 hours per week. Sometimes abbreviated as PT.

    Job Traunch: Job Type

    Categorizes employed graduates by the type of jobs worked, relative to the career path, as opposed to the type of employer.

    Bar Passage Required

    Includes jobs as an attorneys or as judicial clerks. Except for clerks, these jobs anticipate or require that you pass the bar and be licensed to practice law. This category sweeps judicial clerks into the fray, whether or not they took or passed the bar.

    J.D. Advantage

    Includes jobs as paralegals, law school admissions officers, and a host of other jobs such as consultants, bank examiners, and contracts administrators. A graduate falls into this category when the employer sought an individual with a J.D. (and perhaps even required a J.D.), or for which the J.D. provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but the job itself does not require bar passage, an active law license, or involve practicing law.

    Professional

    Includes jobs which require professional skills or training, but for which a J.D. is neither an advantage nor particularly applicable, such as an accountant, teacher, business manager, or nurse.

    Non-Professional

    Includes jobs that do not require any professional skills or training and is not viewed as part of a career path.

    School-Funded

    Includes jobs that are financed, directly or indirectly, by the graduate's school or university.

    Unknown

    The job type for these graduates were not reported to the ABA.

    Job Traunch: Employer Type

    Categorizes employed graduates through classifications that reflect the type of employer that employs the graduate; the categories do not reflect the type of job the graduate has with the employer. When a school reports 45% in "law firms," this means 45% of employed graduates work as an attorney, law clerk, paralegal, or administrator. Without access to the underlying data or another signal, you cannot evaluate which jobs graduates take in law firms.

    One signal comes from using the percentage of employed graduates in bar passage required jobs. If this number is 100%, you can interpret 45% in law firms to mean 45% of employed graduates work as an attorney in a law firm. Some of these might be short-term or non-partnership track jobs, but you would be assured they are lawyer jobs.

    Law Firm

    Includes all jobs in private practice, including jobs as an associate, law clerk, paralegal, or other professional or clerical staff. Private practice includes public interest law firms, which are private and for-profit firms distinguished from other private firms in that a majority of their practice involves clients that are typically underrepresented, or groups that advocate for community rather than corporate interests.

    Law Firm Size. Firm size refers to the total number of attorneys firm-wide counting all senior and junior partners, of counsel, staff attorneys, senior and junior associates, and the like.

    Business

    Includes for-profit organizations not fitting the Law Firm category and some not-for-profits, like political campaigns. This category is broad and includes most employers that are not law firms, schools, or government organizations. The category encompasses everything from short-order cooks to in-house counsel, with document review jobs and managing the local U-Haul in between.

    Judicial Clerkship

    Includes clerkship positions at the federal, state, or local level, or at international or foreign courts. The defining characteristic of a clerk is one who provides assistance to a judge in making legal determinations.

    Government

    Includes federal, state, and local government as well as jobs in military (whether JAG or other uniformed positions) and jobs with tribal governments, foreign governments, or the United Nations. This category does not include public defender or appellate defender jobs (which fall in the public interest category), jobs with political campaigns (which fall in the business category), or judicial clerk positions (which fall in the judicial clerkship category).

    Public Interest

    Includes publicly-funded jobs. Examples include organizations offering civil legal services, jobs as public defender or appellate defender, and jobs with private nonprofit advocacy, religious, social service, fundraising, community resource, or cause-related organizations. It also includes nonprofit policy analysis and research organizations, as well as jobs with unions but not trade associations or public interest law firms.

    Education (formerly Academic)

    Positions may be at any level, from elementary to higher education, including a law school in admissions or career services, and within either the private or public sector, e.g., private colleges, state universities, and local public education.

    Unknown

    The employer type was not reported to the ABA.

    Job Traunch: School-Funded Jobs

    Categorizes employed graduates by whether the jobs are funded by the law school or university.

    A position is law school or university funded if the law school or the university of which it is a part pays the salary of the graduate directly or indirectly and in any amount. Thus, a person employed by the law school in the law library or as a research assistant, research "fellow," or clinic staff attorney has a law school funded position. Similarly, if the position is in the university's library, the position is university funded.

    The position is funded directly if the graduate is on the payroll of the law school or the university. The position is funded indirectly if the law school or the university funds another entity in any way and in any amount to pay the salary. The position is also funded indirectly if it is paid through funds solicited from or donated by an outside supporter.

    The school funds are typically very modest stipends. At some schools, students may work in private positions, but the vast majority require that the student volunteer at a nonprofit or government office.

    Note: Some jobs that otherwise qualify as school-funded jobs are not included in this traunch. These jobs pay at least $40,000 and both the employer (school) and graduate intend the graduate to be there for at least a year, as opposed to expecting the graduate to move on as soon as possible.

    Job Traunch: Location (State)

    Categorizes employed graduates by the state in which their jobs are located. The ABA only publishes the three most popular states each year, though schools often choose to publish additional location data on their websites and on the LST Reports.

    Additional Job Traunches

    Schools collect additional data—and sometimes publish the resultant information—that categorize employed graduates by additional job characteristics.

  • Employment Data Categories

    All graduates either have a known employment status or an unknown employment status. There are three kinds of known employment statuses: employed, unemployed, and advanced degree. Unknown employment status means that the school did not know, either through survey or investigation, whether a graduate is employed, unemployed, or pursuing an advanced degree. All employed graduates can be categorized into a variety of job traunches. The ABA requires that schools collect data for four job traunches: job type, employer type, school-funded, and location (state). The first three traunches are further divisible by a job characteristic matrix.

  • Full-Time and Part-Time Jobs

    Full-time jobs are at least 35 hours per week. Sometimes abbreviated as FT.

    Part-time jobs are fewer than 35 hours per week. Sometimes abbreviated as PT.

  • Gender Diversity

    The ABA collects and reports gender data in three categories: men, women, and other. The other category includes non-binary and not reporting.

  • GPA

    You may have many GPAs to your name: undergraduate, degree, masters, PhD, etc. However, only your CAS GPA, calculated by LSAC, truly matters for law school admission. That’s the GPA that schools report to the ABA and other parties. The CAS GPA uses all college-level work, whether at your degree-granting institution or elsewhere, before your first undergraduate degree is granted.

  • GRE

    The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is a standardized test administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) for prospective graduate school candidates. It's designed to assess verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills. The test is accepted by more than 25% of law schools in the United States (as of the 2020-21 admissions cycle).

  • JD Advantage Jobs

    Includes jobs as paralegals, law school admissions officers, and a host of other jobs such as consultants, bank examiners, and contracts administrators. A graduate falls into this category when the employer sought an individual with a J.D. (and perhaps even required a J.D.), or for which the J.D. provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but the job itself does not require bar passage, an active law license, or involve practicing law.

  • JD Enrollment

    The total number of students enrolled at the law school pursuing a JD degree, the Juris Doctor, which is the "first degree" in law. In most jurisdictions, a JD from an accredited law school is required to sit for the bar exam and/or earn a law license to practice law.

  • Job Offer Timing

    Categorizes employed graduates by when each graduate received the offer for the job held as of March following graduation. The options are before graduation, between graduation and bar results, after bar results, and unknown.

  • Job Score

    Job Score for each school reflects how closely a school's job outcomes match your goals. Higher scores are better, all else equal. The numeric value is derived from your job preferences that you set for your personal report. We take into consideration the school's job outcomes, other school's outcomes, and benchmarks. We scale the final result, with a maximum value of 9.5. If you change your job preferences on your personal report, the Job Score for every law school will change. We recommend trying different preferences to better understand each school you're considering.

  • Job Source

    Categorizes employed graduates by how each graduate first made the contact that resulted in his or her obtaining the job. Some students enter law school expecting career services to hand them a job, while many others think the jobs will be funneled through on-campus interviews. Even before the economy crashed, many graduates found their jobs without the direct help of career services, either through connections or other self-initiated contact. When data are unavailable for a graduate, s/he is marked as unknown.

  • Job Type by Employer Type

    Looks at all graduates by the type of employer (e.g. Law Firm) and categorizes graduates by the type of job they work for that employer (e.g. Paralegal), producing data about the number of, for example, paralegals or associates employed by a law firm.

  • Judicial Clerkship

    Includes clerkship positions at the federal, state, or local level, or at international or foreign courts. The defining characteristic of a clerk is one who provides assistance to a judge in making legal determinations.

  • Key Statistical Terms

    A quartile is the result of spliting a populaion into four equal groups. The 50th percentile, or median, is the middle point between the smallest and highest value in a population. The 25th percentile is the middle point between the smallest value and the median value. The 75th percentile uses the same calculation, but with the highest value. The interquartile range is the range between the 25th and 75th percentile (inclusive). A median is a type of average; another common average is the mean.

  • Large Regional Law Firms

    Law firms with between 101 and 250 attorneys total across one or more offices.

  • Loan Origination Fee

    An origination fee is a percentage of your loan amount charged by the lender for the processing of your loan.

  • Location (In-State)

    Categorizes employed graduates by whether their jobs are located in the state in which the law school is located. The three options are in-state, out-of-state, and unknown.

  • Location (Region)

    Categorizes employed graduates by the region in which their jobs are located. The possible regions are New England, Mid-Atlantic, East North Central, West North Central, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, Mountain, Pacific, U.S. Territories, Foreign, and unknown.

  • Long-Term and Short-Term Jobs

    Long-term jobs either have a fixed duration of at least one year or have no definite duration. Sometimes abbreviated as LT. A typical long-term job involves an employer hiring the graduate with no expectation or indication of how long the employer will employ the graduate.

    Short-term jobs have a fixed duration less than one year. Sometimes abbreviated as ST. A three-month contract attorney job is classified as short term.

  • LSAT

    The Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, is a standardized test administered by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) for prospective law school candidates. It's designed to assess reading comprehension, logical, and verbal reasoning proficiencies. The test is an integral part of the law school admission process in the United States.

  • LST Employment Score

    Reflects graduates with a successful start to a legal career: long-term, full-time jobs that require a law license, other than solo practitioners

  • LST Under-Employment Score

    Reflects graduates who are underusing their skills and credentials. These graduates have not started a professional career, legal or otherwise.

  • Median Discount

    The middle tuition discount received by those who receive tuition discounts. If 60% of the school's enrollment receives a $5,000 discount, then 30% of the school received at least a $5,000 discount. In this scenario, 30% also received between $0 and $5,000 and 40% received no discount. This discount is per year, although discounts are not always guaranteed to renew each year.

  • Median Salary (via the federal government)

    The middle amount earned by graduates who borrowed for law school, regardless of the type or number of jobs worked. Earnings data come from the U.S. Department of Education, which obtains data from the Department of the Treasury. The underlying dataset reflects actual earnings in the first full calendar year after graduation, e.g. the earnings were from 2017 for 2016 graduates.

    This measures something different from other salaries that appear on this site. Those salaries come from schools according to NALP's process, which measures the annual salary of a graduate 10 months after graduation (on March 15) and reports only on long-term, full-time jobs. A graduate who started their job on March 1, 2017 would report their starting salary (for example, $60,000) to NALP. If they held the job for the remainder of the calendar year, they would have earned $50,000 from that job in 2017. But if they made $4,000 from part-time work in January and February, they would report $54,000 of income to the IRS.

  • Monthly Payment

    The monthly payment based upon total law school debt as of six months after graduation, when the first payment is due. Based on a 10, 20, or 25-year term.

  • National Law Firms

    Law firms with at least 251 attorneys total across one or more offices.

  • Net Transfers

    The increase (or decrease) in the size of the previous year's class size based on how many students transfer in or out of the school.

  • Non-Discounted Cost

    This is how much you would owe if you borrowed the full cost of attendance, accounting for interest that accumulates during school.

  • Non-Employed Graduates

    These graduates are unemployed, pursuing an advanced degree, or have an unknown employment status. Otherwise, the graduate is employed.

    Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time

    The graduate is pursuing further graduate education as of the reporting date. Such academic programs include degree-granting and non-degree granting programs. Whether a graduate is enrolled full time is determined by the definition of full time given by the school and program in which the graduate is enrolled. Sometimes abbreviated as FTD.

    Unemployed – Start Date Deferred

    The graduate has accepted a written offer of employment by the March 15th reporting date, but the start date of the employment is subsequent to March 15th. In order to qualify in this category, the start date must be identified with certainty, or the employer must be compensating the graduate until actual employment begins.

    Unemployed – Not Seeking

    As of March 15th, the graduate is "not seeking" employment outside the home and is not employed. Graduates who are not seeking employment because of health, family, religious, or personal reasons are included. A graduate who is performing volunteer work and is not seeking employment is included. Also included is a graduate who was offered a position, turned it down, and is not seeking further employment as of March 15th.

    Unemployed – Seeking

    As of March 15th, the graduate is "seeking" employment but is not employed. A graduate who is performing volunteer work and is seeking employment is included. Also included is a graduate who was offered a position, turned it down, and is seeking another position as of March 15th. A graduate who is studying for the bar exam and is not employed as of March 15th is considered to be seeking employment unless classification of the graduate as "not seeking" can genuinely be supported by the graduate's particular circumstances. A graduate who is employed as of February 15th but seeking another job should be reported in an employed category.

    Employment Status Unknown

    The law school does not have information from or about the graduate upon which it can determine the graduate's employment status.

  • Non-Professional Jobs

    Includes jobs that do not require any professional skills or training and is not viewed as part of a career path.

  • Non-Transfer Attrition

    This figure includes academic dismissals and students who drop out for any reason.

  • Part-Time Program

    A part-time program allows you to complete your JD over a longer period than full-time counterparts, who usually do four or five courses per semester.

  • Percent Paying Full Price

    The percentage of all enrolled students (not just 1Ls) in a given academic year that receive no tuition discount, whether need-based or not, or with strings or without.

  • Percent Receiving Discount

    The percentage of all enrolled students (not just 1Ls) in a given academic year that receives some tuition discount, whether need-based or not, or with strings or without.

  • Professional Jobs

    Includes jobs which require professional skills or training, but for which a J.D. is neither an advantage nor particularly applicable, such as an accountant, teacher, business manager, or nurse.

  • Projected Debt at Repayment

    The projected debt owed by a graduate who borrows to attend the law school. The figure is as of six months following graduation when the first loan payment is due; assumes no interest pre-payments; and accounts for tuition increases based on previous years of change. Interest accumulation calculations are time-sensitive—based on semester disbursement periods—and use a blended rate based on projected interest rates.

    Various parts of this site allow you to factor in assumptions that adjust the maximum amount you may borrow, which is determined by the law school's self-reported cost of attendance. Factors include residency (for state schools), LDS faith (for BYU), tuition discounts, and monetary contributions. Each factor offsets the need to fully debt-finance the cost of attending a law school.

  • Public Service

    Jobs with the government (at any level) or with public interest organizations, such as charitable non-profits and unions. Unless otherwise specified, we count only jobs that are both long-term and full-time.

  • Published Cost of Attendance

    This is how much the school says it costs to attend, including tuition and cost of living. The cost of living figure usually reflects 9 or 10 months of living expenses. Generally, the school's published cost of attendance dictates how much you're allowed to borrow in student loans.

  • Racial Diversity

    The ABA collects and reports data about the race and ethnicity of every student enrolled in a JD program at accredited schools. Each student will fall into only one category below.

    Hispanics of any race: A person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

    American Indian or Alaska Native: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.

    Asian: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    Black or African American: A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

    Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: A person having origins in any ofthe original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.

    Two or more races: The category used to report a non-Hispanic person who selects two or more of the other racial categories.

    Nonresident alien: A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a visa or temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely. Note: Nonresident aliens are to be reported separately in the places provided, rather than in any of the racial/ethnic categories described above.

    Race/Ethnicity Unknown: The category used to report persons whose race andethnicity are not known.

    White: A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.

  • Salary Distribution

    Helps you peer underneath the average salaries and see how different graduates fare in greater detail. Pay attention to non-responses. The greater the percentage reporting, the more reliable the salary information will be. Keep in mind that salaries differ primarily by geography and employer type. Differences in salaries between schools generally reflect differences in job/geographic placement. Not all schools have access to the same jobs or locations.

  • Salary Information

    Schools can provide salary information for any job classification, but usually only provide it for graduates reporting a salary for long-term, full-time jobs in the following categories:

    • All Employed
    • Job Type
    • Employer Type
    • Job Type by Employer Type
    • Location (Region)
    • Location (In-State/Out-of-State)

    Splits graduate salaries into two categories: those employed (and reporting a salary) in the state where the law school is located and those employed (and reporting a salary) in other states/countries.

    • Sector

    Splits graduate salaries into two categories: those employed (and reporting salary) in the private sector and those employed (and reporting a salary) in the public sector. The private sector includes jobs at law firms and in business & industry. The public sector includes jobs in education, public interest, government, and judicial chambers (clerkships).

  • Scholarship Terms and Definitions

    Offer Status:

    • Received, Intend to Negotiate: You plan to ask the school to increase the amount of the offer and/or change the scholarship conditions.
    • Received, Do Not Intend to Negotiate: You do not intend to ask the school to improve its scholarship offer.
    • Received, Not Sure: You have not yet decide what to do.
    • Currently Negotiating: You have started to negotiate, but have not yet heard a response.
    • Attempted Negotiation, School Does Not Negotiate: The school told you that it does not negotiate its scholarship offers.
    • Attempted Negotiation, School Declined to Negotiate: The school considered your request to negotiate, but declined to change its offer.
    • Attempted Negotiation, Revised Offer: The school changed at least one term of its offer after you asked the school to revise the offer.

    Scholarship Type:

    • Merit: The selection criteria tend to look similar to the school's admission criteria, where both the LSAT and undergaduate GPA weigh heavily.
    • Need-Based: These scholarships go to students with the most financial need.
    • Hybrid: These scholarships, also called "need-plus" scholarships, consider both merit (as defined by admissions criteria) and need in determining whether and how much to offer.
    • Criteria-Based: These scholarships are based on certain criteria that you meet. These criteria can be anything because they're often based on endowments. It might be based on race, gender, sexual identity, undergraduate, demonstrated interest in a particular career or area of law, and much more.

    Trigger:

    • Automatic Consideration: You did not need to do anything more than submit your application for admission to the school to receive this scholarship offer.
    • Scholarship Application: You needed to submit a separate application for this scholarship. It may have required one or more essays, answering demographic questions, an interview, and/or more.
    • FAFSA or CSS: You needed to submit your FAFSA or CSS profile to the school in order for them to consider you for this scholarship offer.
  • School-Funded Jobs

    Includes jobs that are financed, directly or indirectly, by the graduate's school or university.

  • Search Status

    Categorizes employed graduates by whether each graduate continues to look for a new job, despite already being employed. The options are seeking, not seeking, and unknown.

  • Small Law Firms

    Law firms with 10 or fewer attorneys, including solo practitioners.

  • Small Regional Law Firms

    Law firms with between 11 and 100 attorneys total across one or more offices.

  • Star a School to Add to Your List

    To add a law school to your list, you may star it from this page. Add a school to your list when you're interested in attending or tracking their performance. You can do many things with this list and add schools to it from all over this site.

  • Target Salary

    Given a target debt service figure, i.e. the percentage of your (pre-tax) salary you hope to devote to monthly student loan payments, how much you must earn to meet that debt service target. Increasing the target debt service decreases the target salary (and vice versa).

  • Treasury Rate

    Student loan interest rates change annually based on the U.S. Government 10-year Treasury yield. As such, to project your actual cost of attendance and monthly payment, you must forecast the 10-year Treasury yields for each of your three years in law school. The default Treasury rate we use across this website is the most recent yield used for student loans, which is set annually based on the high yield of the final 10-year Treasury Note auction in May.

  • Tuition

    The amount (including fees) you pay a school for their educational services for a defined term, i.e. each quarter, semester, or year. Unless otherwise indicated, tuition prices we list are the sticker price. The sticker price is tuition witout any discount (or scholarship) applied. For public schools, in-state residents usually receive a lower price than non-residents.

  • Tuition Discount

    Sometimes referred to as scholarships. The discount is the amount of need-based or non-need-based discount a student receives to attend the law school. These often come with strings attached. When an amount is listed, that amount is the total discount in one year.

  • Unknown Job Type

    The job type for these graduates were not reported to the ABA.

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