Yeah, I'm not sure why the word "trap" is so upsetting. It was an analogy to the concept of a "trap game" in college football. I have no interest in college football so maybe I got the analogy wrong- but the poster above probably has the right idea. The trap is based in part on the rankings system. These schools are "elite, or at least sub-elite" but still will end up in financial disaster for the majority of the class. Trap schools are the schools between the group of schools where paying sticker isn't "an extraordinary risky gamble" and the "huge numbers of schools where [paying sticker] is obviously risky behavior."
The employment numbers at these schools remain misleading. Campos estimates that a third (or fewer)get jobs that will enable them to repay their loans. You could also check the OCI threads for these schools from last august. A quick glance showed that about 30% at Fordham got biglaw jobs. On the GW website 188 salaries were reported out of a total of 484 employed graduates. That is a huge difference. From those limited 188 salaries they come up with the median of 160,0000. Note that gw doesn't just take the student reported numbers, but look at other factors.
I also don't know why understanding the reality of the job market before you spend tens of thousands of dollars is problematic. The posters here, Law school transparency and people like professor campos are trying to educate students. You can be upset by the realities, you can ignore the realities, but the job market is a fact- no one is making this stuff up.
Read those and don't tell me that you should be forewarned before going to GW or similar schools
The numbers I have seen show that a small number of overall grads from ANY school go Biglaw. Only four schools sent over half their class to NLJ250 firms: Chicago, Cornell, Columbia and Penn. http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/tag/nlj-250/
Now a lot of schools, like Yale, encourage students to self-select out of that life, and even offer insights into the Biglaw rat race, like this:http://www.law.yale.edu/documents/pdf/C ... e_hour.pdf
So if you (rightly) assume that many grads self-select OUT of Biglaw for smaller firms, different locations, public sector work and clerkships, sending 30% of the class to Biglaw seems much less terrible. Especially considering that Fordham and GW are #21 and #22 in the nation even by that metric (although neither is 30% at this point; they are 25.68% and 24.76%, respectively). GW is especially respectable, then, since it is very likely that a substantial number of students who pay extra for a DC law school experience will also self-select into public sector, public interest, clerkships etc.
I guess I just take issue with drawing an arbitrary line of distinction where some schools are traps and some are not. Minnesota especially blew me away; yeah, it is ranked #39 nationally and it sends just under 12% to the NLJ250, but that does not directly translate to a lower standard of living. Minnesota places its graduates in a smaller market, in a city that costs less. $140,000 a year in Minneapolis is much more than $160,000 in NY or DC. Ditto for Creighton (a TTT)... their average starting salary of $60,000 is probably more like $110,000 in DC or NY because of the extremely low cost of living in Omaha. Yet US News, and everything that is based on it, considers salary numbers to be the same... even though a person making $160,000 in SD would be VERY wealthy, whereas in New York, they would not be; especially since any job in NYC would likely require a nearby home that would cost over $3,000 a month, compared to the $1,000 a month that would get you into some of the nicer apartments/lofts in Sioux Falls or Omaha.
So I guess that is my issue. I'm not sure how you are making the distinction of trap schools. Even with how you explain it, it makes more sense to me to include schools like NYLS, Golden Gate, etc. Schools that truly lack the reputation to back up the cost. In the legal community, whatever the numbers may currently be, I do not think that group includes George Washington, Fordham and Minnesota... at least not in my case. Harvard and Stanford and the T14 may offer more reliably stellar placement opportunities, but not for me (I'd be turned away at the gate). GW and Fordham do have strong placement, even if it is not as good as the T14, and their geographically inflated salary and placement data are no different from most of the T14 (which GW misses by a whopping 6 spots).
Like I said, there is relevant data, and if you want to go Biglaw, all that data is daunting. Placing in the top half of your class at one of the most competitive schools in the nation for the guarantee? And that's best case scenario? I don't think you can call GW and Fordham traps just because they require top quarter. They are a step below the best, for sure, but that does not make them traps.