Well, the data that exists for ‘mid career’ is decidedly all over the place. And almost no one goes to law school thinking “I’m shooting to NOT be in the bottom quarter” — almost everyone thinks they are going to graduate with honors.
Plus, we’re only just getting to the point were current applicants knew (while growing up) mid-career lawyers in the era of the great divergence in pay — 30 years ago, a federal judge made more than (almost) any law firm associate, and prosecutors made almost as much as law firm associates in their markets. By 2001, the Chief Justice was paid about the same as a hardworking 3d year in New York (it’s gotten *slightly* better for the judges since then). And local prosecutors now make less than half as much as a first year associate. And law firm associates get crushed with work, and partners get fired. 15 years ago, that wasn’t the common experience of the “lawyers my parents know” — now it is.
Then, the schools take advantage of the incomplete/incoherent stats, and imply that their grads do grrrrrrrrrrr-ate! And the crap schools prey on the kids who have no personal/family knowledge of what working in the profession is really like.