Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Henderson & Morriss's "Bitter" Medicine for Law Schools in the Age of Rankings

Andrew Morriss (Law, Case Western) summarizes the recommendations here.  I would like to comment only on the first recommendation: 

Non-elite schools should emphasize scholarships over scholarship.

A law degree is an extraordinarily expensive investment (tuition, living expenses, foregone income). Understandably, students are price sensitive. If law schools outside the top tier want "better" (higher LSAT) students, cutting their price either by lowering tuition or by increasing scholarship awards is a pretty good strategy. Elite law schools face a pretty inelastic demand curve; non-elite law schools don't. They can fill seats at high tuition, but they will lose the competition for the "better" students.

Now, the LSAT is far from being the best measure of whether someone is going to be a good lawyer, let alone a good law student. (It is pretty good at predicting first year grades, not as good at predicting upper class grades, and, of course, says nothing about the other dimensions of a person that might make him or her a good lawyer or student.)

Cutting tuition or increasing scholarships will hit the faculty hard, if done in any serious degree. Faculty slots will have to be left open, teaching loads increased, support for research and travel curtailed. Maybe legal scholarship is better off from having 190+ schools with professors writing articles; but maybe it isn't.

Putting aside whether trying to raise LSAT scores is a sensible or worthwhile academic goal (though I invite others to address this aspect of the post in the comments), I do want to suggest why it might be thought a loss if scholarship were discouraged at schools outside the top ranks. 

It seems to me there are two main issues here:

First, most legal scholarship that is useful to practitioners is increasingly produced by faculty at lower ranked schools.  A generation ago, for example, treatise-writing was a prestige activity in the legal academy, and so the authors of the great treatises were all teaching at top schools.  Now treatise-writing is less favorably viewed by the elite academy, though treatises are probably no less useful to those in practice and on the bench.  As a result, the new generation of academics doing the work of Farnsworth and Wright & Miller and Prosser & Keeton are rarely at the most highly ranked schools.  But treatises are only one example; practitioner-oriented scholarship of all kinds comes out more frequently from the less highly ranked law schools.  If those schools cut back on scholarship, that will be a loss to practitioners.

Second, the legal academy is very bad at initial placements of new legal scholars.  Contrast this with academic philosophy, and no doubt any other academic field where the PhD is a requirement for the first job.  In academic philosophy, recommenders know the candidates deeply, and the hiring schools can avail themselves of a large body of work by the candidate to evaluate.  As a consequence, the norm in philosophy, like most of the academy, is for the first placement (or the first placement within 2-3 years of degree) to be the best (i.e., the most highly ranked unit, broadly speaking).  It is almost unheard of to see the "rags-to-riches" saga that unfolds all the time in the legal academy:  George Priest starts at Puget Sound and ends up at Yale; Patricia Williams starts at Golden Gate and ends up at Columbia; Jack Balkin starts at Missouri/Kansas City and ends up at Yale; Fred Schauer starts at West Virginia and ends up at Harvard; the list goes on and on.  (A partial listing is here.)   Why does this happen so often in academic law?  The answer is clear:  schools base their initial hiring decisions on insufficient information, and so make mistakes all the time.  (They also base their hiring decisions on a lot of information of dubious predictive value, which is why most top law faculties are full of undistinguished scholars who got good grades as students and made friends with the right faculty in law school...another day, I'll list some names, but today I'm feeling charitable [this can't last!].)

So the first worry is this:  if lower ranked schools de-emphasize scholarship, a lot of very talented individuals are not going to have the opportunity to produce work that, experience has shown, the academy values.

But there's another side to this point too, for it's not like the most highly ranked schools are perfect (or even especially reliable) guides to the quality work and intellectual talent.  The top law schools are prone to fads, favoritism of all stripes, in-breeding and the like.  As a predictable result, faculty at lower ranked schools are often doing higher quality work.  (Remember what Anthony Grafton [History, Princeton] recently reminded us:  the intellectual revolutions often come from outside the traditional seats of academic power and prestige.)

I'll make this concrete with a field I know something about:  law and philosophy.  There is no question in my mind (and I know others share this view) that Bill Edmundson at Georgia State University and Robin Kar at Loyola Law School/Los Angeles--just to take two cases from the legal academy I know something about (no doubt there are others)--are doing work on a par with (in general, better than) a significant number of tenured and tenure-stream faculty at top-ranked law schools.  Perhaps law and philosophy is sui generis, and the same is not true in legal history or law and economics.  But I'd be skeptical if that was really the case.  My guess is that any expert can think of numerous instances in which the "irrationality" of the market has made itself apparent.  (I am assuming, arguendo, that in a "rational" market, candidates will select the highest rated school, more or less, at which they can secure an offer.  Obviously, this assumption is defeasible.)

Of course, none of this speaks to a final, possible objection:  namely, what is all this scholarly productivity really worth anyway?  The bottom line, in all disciplines, is that 99.9% of what is produced has no lasting value.  The problem, of course, is that it's very hard to determine in advance what will have the lasting value and what won't.  Thus, the real question is:  do we want the academy to produce the work of lasting value?  And if the answer to that question is "yes," and given our epistemic limitations, then I see no alternative than to hope that the academy as a whole encourages scholarship.

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Strictly speaking this is probably an off topic comment, since the topic of your post is balancing "scholarship vs. scholarships". But the mention of the cost of a law school education hits me hard.

By way of background, I have a J.D. from Northwestern, received in the early '80s. Hated every minute of my time there. Spent 10 years in various legal positions, in public service and private practice. Hated just about every minute of that. Finally got out of the profession, went to grad school in informations systems, and am much happier that I ever was as a law student or lawyer. However, owing to the fact that my Northwestern degree was so expensive, I'm still paying off my law school loans 20+ years after graduation (owing to a number of financial problems, some self-inflicted, others beyond my control).

Shortly after entering grad school, I was browsing in a bookstore and took a look a book of advice to undergrads contemplating law school. One chapter was by the then admissions dean of some law school, and the title was (IIRC) "You Can't Afford NOT To Go To Law School". The gist of his advice, as I recall it, was that even though you had to go way over your head in debt to attend law school (preferably the "best" school you could get admitted to), the princely salary you would eventually make would more than compensate, resulting in an overall win.

As I read that, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry (I compromised on a bitter laugh). Knowing what I know now (that my legal career was doomed to "failure"--though I don't personally consider leaving the profession "failure"), I'd have been much, much better off going to a much less prestegious (and much more inexpensive) law school. I wonder, though, how many lawyers out there are as miserable as I was in their career, but feel they can't afford to leave the profession because of a burdensome debt load.

To drag my comment back on topic, if law schools are supposed to be something more than glorified trade schools, I agree with you that the "scholarship" side of the equation should be given more emphasis than the "scholarships" side of the equation. I wonder though, how much of a problem is presented to the profession by the extraordinary investment that a student needs to make in acquiring a law degree.

Posted by: Len Cleavelin | Aug 23, 2005 6:05:23 AM

Since you mentioned me by name, I thought I'd at least add my two cents on one aspect of this topic: on the topic of "intellectual revolutions often coming from outside the traditional seats of academic prestige and power."

I do not happen to think that, in general, the higher ranked institutions necessarily promote better scholarship. I am reminded of descriptions that the really top-rate philosopher (and person) Jason Stanley has given me of his experiences as a graduate student at MIT, before they were a top-ranked school in philosophy, but when they were churning out a disproportionately high number of really good philosophers. Why was this? Because the climate was really intellectually healthy and vibrant, and people were really invested in pushing ideas forward, without all the accretion of internal politics having built up to provide obstacles. Michigan's department in ethics has this quality to it, which is part of what makes it so extraordinary: the people are not only doing some of the best work in ethics and value theory, but they talk to one another and push each other forward. The discussion is robust and exciting--each day.

My own experience going on the law job market was that schools differed on this score, and not necessarily according to ranking. I had a very clear sense--for example--from my visit to Loyola Law School in Los Angeles (where I ended up) that Loyola had this kind of energy, but I couldn't have known just how true that was until I got here. I like to call this the "Loyola Renaissance"--since the culture is getting so vibrant here, and because I attribute some of these developments--rightly or wrongly--to our new Dean. But there are places like this, where there is really top rate support for research agendas that aim to push the envelope. These can afford some of the best atmospheres to develop thoughts that try to get people to see things a bit differently, and I would submit these fall along a rather different--and, to my mind, more important--ranking--at least if the goal is scholarship.

Posted by: Rob Kar | Aug 23, 2005 10:02:57 AM

"First, most legal scholarship that is useful to practitioners is increasingly produced by faculty at lower ranked schools."

Absolutely correct.

Posted by: John P. | Aug 23, 2005 10:04:54 AM

I feel like I ought to correct one small item in Robin Kar's post, since it alludes to my other hobby. In fact, when Jason Stanley was at MIT, it was a top ten department in philosophy, as it has been since at least the 1970s. They were so ranked in the 1982 National Research Council Report, and in the 1995 NRC Report, which was based on 92-93 surveys. With the exception of one year, it has been ranked in the top ten in my report on philosophy programs as well. MIT Philosophy was, and continues to be, a seat of "academic prestige and power."

Posted by: BL | Aug 23, 2005 10:13:07 AM

My real question is what else should law schools be doing? Should they be focused on real teaching of real skills or should that be random happenstance? I got to thinking about that again today. Had a hearing with a Texas Wesleyan graduate who is also an a.v. rated attorney after about ten years in practice.

What about a law school should be instrumental in its students being successful lawyers, or should that happen in spite of the law school experience (reprising your comment about Baylor and faculty who actually know how to practice law)?

How much experimentation should there be in law school approaches and efforts or do we have a best practice model that every school should copy, top to bottom, without a need to try other things?

Finally, as to faculty who do not publish and have not since they obtained a tenured status, is it really that wrong to ask them to spend a little more time teaching? Are they able to teach and should teaching skills be considered important, with at least as much training in teaching as goes into being on law review?

Interesting perspectives so far, though. I don't have any answers, but I've enjoyed reading the comments of others.

Posted by: Stephen M (Ethesis) | Aug 23, 2005 11:03:45 AM

Doesn't this beg the question of what the proper product of the legal academy actually is? Do journal articles do more for the world than capable and thoughtful practioners?

Posted by: Fall Downstairberg | Aug 23, 2005 11:29:14 AM

Three random points in agreement:

* Precisely because law is a less coherent field than are philosophy, or English literature, or accountancy, the "proper" scope of legal scholarship is necessarily going to be less coherent. That alone argues against any predisposition toward a certain designation of inherent elitism.

* The rush toward certain kinds of elite backgrounds seems to me to border on age discrimination (among other things). It is extraordinarily rare for law professors to have done much with their lives before entering the legal profession. I've seen too much ignorance of reality translated into bad teaching and bad scholarship to believe that this is unimportant.

* Within my own practice area, we've got some serious problems with reputation being more important than perspicacity (it's a pretentious word, but it accurately conveys the flavor of my meaning). A Certain Prominent Professor continues to misstate--in deceptive and turgid prose--the factual predicates and holdings in three increasingly significant subareas. Although this has been pointed out several times in practitioners' materials, it's been virtually impossible to get it noticed in scholarly materials (although one "young Turk" recently succeeded). I've been led to believe, second- or third-hand, that the Prominent Professor is incapable of admitting error. This problem will be exacerbated if we try to limit the origin of scholarship to "pre-vetted" sources--that is, any further than we do now.

Posted by: George Eliot | Aug 23, 2005 12:28:37 PM

I'm a practitioner who both produces and consumes practitioner-oriented scholarship, so I can second John P and third Brian. I have many more interactions with faculty at second-tier schools than top schools.

But . . . two points.

First, when I said "second-tier," this is precisely what I meant. Second-tier schools have serious pretensions to scholarship. Third- and fourth-tier schools--which often do not--tend to have weaker practice-oriented faculty than second-tier schools. There are exceptions, but I think that the rule negates one of Brian's points. (The practice-oriented faculty at first-tier schools is about as good as that in second-tier schools (maybe a tench better on average), but they are harder to find.)

Second, the practice-oriented scholarship of today is not what it used to be. There are some very sound practice-oriented scholars in the second-tier schools. But none of them is a Gilmore, Douglas, or Leff.

Posted by: Murple Gratz | Aug 23, 2005 12:34:37 PM

I'd just like to comment on another posters statement.

I would think that, knowing what he knows now (that law wasn't for him) he would've been better off skipping law school entirely, rather than spending 3 years at a school that would've presumably afforded him even fewer career opportunities.

If law really were his calling, he presumably would've enjoyed the work, and would've been able to benefit from the advantages of attending a higher-ranked school.

Given that it wasn't, he should've skipped it altogether. Even if it was completely free, he could've better spent those 3 years advancing his career, or even just loafing on a beach in Mexico.

The main point I took from his post (which I think was a very valuable and valid one), is that law school is in many ways a very large risk, in addition to a large investment, and students should think about it much more carefully before signing on. Even if they get into Yale, and get a top job, they may find they hate the work. However, at that point, the debt is already incurred.

(Many other students, of course, never even get much chance to find lucrative work that will justify their debt.)

In light of the above, I think it borders on criminal for any dean to make a statement like "you can't afford NOT to go to law school!" (This also, of course, sounds like a used car salesman's huckstering, and is essentially identical in terms of substance.) Law is simply not the secure, guaranteed profession many students think it is, and implying otherwise is misleading and potentially harmful.

In light of all that, I still think the best deal for most students (if they have the option, and are sure they want to practice law) is to attend a top school if possible (assuming they like the school), because in many ways, such schools are probably the nicest and most interesting places to study. In the alternative, if they can get a scholarship to a school like Loyola, that can also be an excellent option, given that such schools are also quality program that appear to possess a great degree of intellectual dynamism.

But the first and most important step, in any event, is to determine first whether or not this is really something you want to do. Most students today don't seem to take this step.

Posted by: John | Aug 23, 2005 12:42:12 PM

My view may be off-beam, since I did my first law degree in England and practise here: but I did my masters in the U.S. as a commercial lawyer I come into contact with a lot of U.S. law still.

It seems to me that for any institution that aspires to be part of a serious university to put scholarships over scholarship is a mistake. A quite separate question is what form that "scholarship" takes.

The trouble is surely the aspiration to produce something "of lasting value". That's hard enough in a subject like philosophy, or history. But in a "moving" subject (like "practical" law) almost nothing is of really lasting value. Does that mean it is not valid scholarship? I don't believe so. Surely we need to recognise that something that advances debate and practice may still be good scholarship, even if it is superseded in turn. I'm not talking about mere reportage, or the "scholarship" of sycophantic justification, but about according proper recognition to scholarship which makes a piercing, but it may be a rather specific and temporary, contribution to legal understanding.

There seems to be too much monumentalism in legal scholarship: not just in the treatise but in the law review article. There seems to be a fear of taking some relatively small problem and worrying fiercely at it. Instead, there's a lot of padding--whether that padding takes the form of grand theory or pedestrian recitation of "the law". I don't want to read (another) potted account of Kant's categorical imperative, or (another) description of the Coase theorem, any more than I want to be given (another) definition of a contract. In its own way the academy-directed scholarship is often as pedestrian as the practitioner-directed scholarship: each too often assumes that its reader is an intelligent amateur with no background knowledge of the subject. I want less "here is my grand theory of everything" scholarship and more "here is an interesting idea about a particularly difficult problem" scholarship.

The perfect vehicle for this, the case note or around 5,000 words or so, is sorely under-valued by the academy, though in practice often immensely useful, functioning as a sort of concurrence or dissent written by a person who may often be at least as expert, well informed, as and articulate as the judges who decided the case.

So I would say: not "less scholarship", but perhaps some more thinking about what "scholarship" really amounts to. Sometimes radical and innovative scholarship can be built up better by being secreted in the interstices of detailed, technical work (by worrying away at what seem to be little problems) than by attempting to produce, right off, more or less monumental works conceived for their "lasting value". The result would I think be likely to bridge the gap between academia and (the intellectual side of) practice. But I wouldn't aim to do that so that the law schools could "better serve" practitioners: I'd do it because I have a hunch that it would also lead to more interesting scholarship in the long run.

That's not to decry the longer work, of course, when it is ripe. Over time work on the little problems naturally leads to reflections on the bigger problems, on issues of structure and broad principle and so forth. But in most cases this needs to come from the bottom up, not the top down. That is probably especially true of younger scholars: it takes time to acquire real expertise and authority.

Posted by: Paul Stanley | Aug 23, 2005 4:11:25 PM

My sense is that most of the work relevant to practitioners – at least, to high-level transactional lawyers – now comes out in practitioner journals (like M&A Lawyer) and practitioner-written treatises, rather than second-tier law reviews or faculty-produced books. When I was a summer associate at a top New York firm, I basically worked as an RA for a partner who was writing an article on merger agreements. Most senior partners at that firm published in industry magazines, and many published (or contributed to) major treatises.

Posted by: Kate Litvak | Aug 23, 2005 6:58:08 PM

The quote that kicks off this thread is Andy Morriss’s musings at the Volokh Conspiracy, which is based on a paper I co-authored with Andy.

I certainly agree with Brian that “scholarships” rather than scholarship would be bad for many law professors, especially those that are trying to write their way up the law school hierarchy. And Brian is definitely right that the law school hiring market is notoriously inefficient.

For example, in their review of Moneyball in the Texas Law Review last year (note: Moneyball refers to the story of the Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, who used statistical analysis to field a championship caliber team on 1/3 the budget of his large market rivals), Paul Caron and Rafael Gely create a statistical model to predict scholarly productivity based on placement and volume of scholarship.

Guess what they found? Law school pedigree, graduate degrees, and Supreme Court clerkships (the leading hiring-committee heuristics) had no predictive value, but publishing a student note and pre-academy journal articles (regardless of placement) did.

To mitigate hiring mistakes, Brian likes the “rag-to-riches” potential of our current system. And so do I. But that misses a more fundamental point that Andy and I were trying to make.

Law school’s care about rankings because it affects applicant volume, alumni giving, and employer hiring patterns. Faculty also care about rankings because they care about prestige–a non-monetary form of compensation. Certainly, no one disagrees with me here.

So if a law school below the first tier of U.S. News rankings wants to go up in the rankings, our article poses a simple choice: (1) keep your tuition low, or offer more scholarships, to attract students with better entering credentials, or (2) raise tuition, reduce teaching loads, and expand research and travel budgets for faculty on the premise that a bump in academic reputation will increase the school’s ranking. Our regression results offer empirical support for strategy 1 and no empirical support for strategy 2. (Think Moneyball.)

However, since most law school are governed (at least indirectly) by faculty, who care deeply about scholarship and reputation, we have no doubt that most law professors will scoff at our suggestion and favor strategy 2. The end result is that tuition goes up much faster than inflation and virtually all schools in Tiers 2-4 tread water.

So should a law school outside the first tier emphasize scholarship so that its faculty develops terrific publications ... and leaves? This should resonant with anyone who reads this blog! Legal scholarship is a highly perishable asset. Scholars who produce it naturally gravitate to schools that offer the most money and prestige.

One last point. The legal academy’s viability depends upon the employment prospects of our students, and most professors have their head completely in the sand. Here is a stunning statistic: in 1975, the median Chicago solo practitioner earned approximately $99,000 (in 1995 dollars) per year; by 1995, that number plummeted to $55,000, and 32 percent were working second jobs compared to 2 percent in 1975. See Heinz, et al., Urban Lawyers (2005). This economic reality is why, in our study, students with marginally higher LSAT scores are favoring lower-priced law schools.

I am a Realist, not a Philistine.

Posted by: William Henderson | Aug 23, 2005 10:31:24 PM

Many good points in Professor Henderson's rejoinder, for which my thanks. One small clarification of my own: I was making a case for supporting scholarship *independent* of its effect on rankings.

Posted by: BL | Aug 24, 2005 5:58:05 AM

Brian, you made that clear at the outset of your post. And my comments obscured that point. Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by: William Henderson | Aug 24, 2005 6:44:59 AM

The academic bickering creates nothing but worry for students like myself. I am attending a third-tier law school student, but I have found most of the conventional wisdom amongst commentators to be completely unfounded.

My school has over 110 employers interviewing on campus in the fall and spring, 99% employment within 6 months after graduation, and students from my school are spread over 35 states, with the median starting salary for private practice entrants hovering around $70,000.

Yes, law school is expensive. That is designed to keep the numbers of new attorneys low.

Moreover, in terms of investment, education in general is worth far more than one has to pay, regardless of the tier. Spending $100,000 over three years -- even if you average $50,000 over the course of a 30 year career, you will have earned 1.5 million over the course of your career.

What other investment gives that type of return?

Posted by: Eric | Aug 24, 2005 6:50:59 AM

I don't find much to disagree with regarding Prof. Leiter's comments - Bill & my recommendation is aimed at schools that want to move up in the rankings and want to use higher entering class LSAT statistics to do that. I think there are lots of reasons why schools should NOT want to do that. But if a lower tier school wants to go up in the USN rankings, emphasizing faculty scholarship is unlikely to be the most effective way to do it.

This will, undoubtedly, lead to two major losses. First, there will likely be proportionaly and absolutely less doctrinal work done because doctrinal work seems to be out of favor at the top schools, and certainly at the very top. Second, the individuals who are mismatched at the lower tier schools by the initial hiring market will find it harder (but not impossible) to write their way out. I don't think it is going to be quite as hard as Prof. Leiter worries it may be, since one key attribute of such people is that they will write no matter what. Thus, they may not write as much or as quickly, but I suspect they will write. All those are very real costs nonetheless. And they are good reasons why a world in which lower tier law schools are obsessed with moving up in US News rankings is not necessarily the best possible world. So I (like Bill) agree with Prof. Leiter that there is a good case for supporting scholarship independent of rankings. What is happening, however, is a conflict between rankings and scholarship has developed. Schools will have to make a choice about which matters more.

Posted by: Andrew Morriss | Aug 24, 2005 11:05:15 AM

Paul Stanley writes:

"[T]he case note ... is sorely under-valued by the academy, though in practice often immensely useful, functioning as a sort of concurrence or dissent written by a person who may often be at least as expert, well informed, as and articulate as the judges who decided the case."

Along these lines, I would note that in years past the jurisprudence of state courts was superintended, after a fashion, by the law schools of the various states (public and private), whose professors would give serious attention to the opinions of the state courts. This mostly no longer happens, and more's the pity. Local bar journals to some extent serve this function, but a practioner is rarely in a position to inform the judges he/she practices before that they have horribly bollixed up the state's contract law.

Posted by: alkali | Aug 24, 2005 2:35:46 PM

I am impressed, over all, by the thinking here, though a third-tier law school student, ... found most of the conventional wisdom amongst commentators to be completely unfounded.

My school has over 110 employers interviewing on campus in the fall and spring, 99% employment within 6 months after graduation, and students from my school are spread over 35 states, with the median starting salary for private practice entrants hovering around $70,000.

has me curious. What third tier school has 99% employment at 6 months?

Posted by: Stephen M (Ethesis) | Aug 24, 2005 6:31:50 PM


Opportunity cost and discount rate.

The return on a JD is not the salary you earn over your career as a lawyer, but the difference between the salary as a lawyer and the salary as whatever-else-you-would-have-done.

Second, $100,000 today is a lot more than $100,000 in 30 years. You need to discount the future earnings stream to get the present value of that stream.

Combined the investment seems less of a sure thing.

Posted by: Isaac | Aug 24, 2005 9:45:37 PM

"What third tier school has 99% employment at 6 months?"

Loyola -- New Orleans, which is where I attend, and several others.


"Combined the investment seems less of a sure thing."

That comment, I think, misses the point. It isn't that the investment is a sure thing. It is that the return on investment (keep in mind that I am speaking in imprecise generalities) is going to beat most other conservative investments over the long-term.

Opportunity costs, in my opinion, require looking at personal factors. I was reluctant to generalize about the people capable of performing present value calculations, and I am even more reluctant to generalize about personal opportunity costs. Hence, I won't.

Posted by: Eric | Aug 26, 2005 10:34:42 AM

"though a third-tier law school student, ... found most of the conventional wisdom amongst commentators to be completely unfounded."

Oh, before I go, let me comment on the tone. The intellectual snobbery evident from that tone is pitiful. I received a BS from Rice and an MS in Economics from SMU prior to entering law school. My experience with commentators and academics is sufficient to discriminate between good and bad opinion.

If you have an argument to counter my comments, please feel free to post it. Otherwise, you should keep the subtle ad hominem to yourself.

Posted by: Eric | Aug 26, 2005 10:49:06 AM

Sorry to offend you Eric, I was attempting to use italics to indicate a quote, and the posting engine strips html.

My real question was about the law school having 97% employment, and if it has truthful statistics, I'm impressed.

I've posted else wheres that even bottom of the fourth tier law schools can produce excellent attorneys (referring to an a.v. rated attorney I met who was nine years out of Texas Wesleyan). Sorry you felt snobbed against. As someone who writes pretty much only "accessible" things these days, I don't have much to snob from.

Other than having done an inelegant job of quoting you that seems to have offended you. My apologies. My goal was not to engage in a "subtle ad hominem" but to enquire about the employment statistics, something that Leiter has addressed on this blog in some contexts.

Posted by: Stephen M (Ethesis) | Aug 28, 2005 7:06:05 PM

The impact of scholarship aid is far more significant than the absolute dollar amount. In the 90s, when I was teaching Digital Legal Practice Skills, I had students learn about spreadsheets by giving them an assignment they'd have incentive to try. Figure out the present value difference between graduating college and earning $x per year, with annual raises of n%, with deferring that income stream for three years and paying $y in law school tuition, to earn $x1 per year, with annual raises of n% or m%. Figure out what $x1 needs to be to make law school economically worthwhile or break-even. Compute the impact of delaying law school for 2 years. COMPUTE THE IMPACT OF LOWERING LAW SCHOOL TUITION BY $5,000 (if doing this now I'd use $10,000). A small scholarship can have a huge impact. Not that all law students go to law school to make more money, but making the road easier for those wanting to do a public service practice surely is something a non-elite school can turn into a big program that perhaps begins to shake out the legal academy out of its philosophical doldrums.

Posted by: Jim Maule | Sep 9, 2005 11:24:50 AM

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