June 30, 2016
June 24, 2016
Last week I wrote an open letter to New York Times reporter Noam Scheiber discussing problems with his law school coverage and his reliance on low quality sources such as internet blogs and "experts" who lack relevant expertise rather than peer reviewed labor economics research. By email, Scheiber insisted that there was nothing wrong with his coverage, but he'd be happy to hear of any specific factual problems I could identify.
I identified 6 clear factual errors and multiple misleading statements. I also reinterviewed his lead source, John Acosta and found important discrepancies between how Scheiber depicted Acosta as someone who was suckered into un-repayable debt, while Acosta describes his own situation as hopeful and law school as a worthwhile and carefully researched investment. New York Times Dealbook reporter and U.C. Berkeley Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon weighed in, citing my research and supporting my points.
Scheiber posted a response to his facebook page, after running it by his editors at the New York Times. The New York Times agreed to correct the most minor of the six errors I identified. They also "tweaked" two sentences so that the language was less definitive.
Scheiber's response includes some good points (many students from Valparaiso might be below the 25th percentile of law school graduates) as well as strained interpretations of the language of his original article: "fewer" did not actually mean "fewer"'; "Harvardesque" did not actually mean "similar to Harvard." Scheiber describes my presentation of data that contradicts his factual claims as "strange", "bizarre", "odd", "overly-literal" and (on Twitter) "gripes." Interestingly, Scheiber thinks that "most law school graduates who pass the bar are going to have at least a few hundred thousand dollars in assets like 401k and home equity by the time they work for 20 years." This level of savings would make them far more financially secure than the vast majority of the U.S. population.
My response to Scheiber is below. I explain why The New York Times has an obligation to its readers to correct the remaining uncorrected factual errors in Scheiber's story.
Scheiber embedded his response in my explanation of the 6 clear factual errors in his story, and I in turn embedded my response within his response. To ease readability, I have color coded Scheiber's response in orange, and my new response in blue. Scheiber's response is indented once, and my new response is indented twice. The least indented black text at the beginning of each thread is from the list of 6 clear factual errors, and can be skipped (scroll down until you see orange or blue text) by those who have followed the discussion thus far.
UPDATE: June 25, 2016: Yesterday, The New York Times posted an additional minor correction to its discussion of taxation of debt forgiveness, stating that debt forgiveness would "probably" be treated as taxable income. This is an improvement over the original, but could still mislead or confuse readers. It also leaves many of the most important errors uncorrected.
Scheiber tells me that the "tweaks" to the language which he communicated to me in his facebook post from Tuesday 6/21 actually happened on Friday evening 6/17. This would make them coincide with the timing of my open letter, but before my more detailed explanation of 6 clear factual errors. Scheiber tells me that these "tweaks" were not made in response to my letter, although he has not specified when on Friday evening the changes were made. They appear to have been made after I sent him the letter.
June 09, 2016
Journalism researcher: To correct misinformation, essential to monitor and respond immediately (Michael Simkovic)
Scholars Strategy Network's No Jargon: 13: The Misinformation Age
Professor Brian Southwell explains why people tend to believe false information and discusses strategies for correcting the public perception of misinformation. Southwell is a professor of Mass Communication at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
June 07, 2016
This is the first hike in first-year associate salaries in nearly a decade. All the major New York firms will have to follow suit, and one can expect that the leading firms in all other markets will also raise their salaries as well.
ADDENDUM: The amusing typo in the original headline ("startling" to "starting") has been fixed!
May 31, 2016
May 17, 2016
News release. I hope this works out (being a big SSRN user myself). Elsevier, alas, has a terrible reputation in various academic communities.
UPDATE: For some concerns, see this post. I'm opening this for comments from readers, in law or other fields.
May 13, 2016
May 11, 2016
Sarah Lawsky's entry-level hiring report for 2015-16--plus the percentage of successful job seekers from each school
Professor Lawsky (currently UC Irvine, moving this fall to Northwestern) has produced her annual, informative report on rookie hiring this year. As she notes, it reflects only those who accepted tenure-track jobs, not tenure-track offers. (This matters for Chicago this year, since two alumni turned down tenure-track offers for personal reasons; as I noted earlier, 75% of our JD and LLM candidates on the market received tenure-track offers.)
Here are the statistics based on the percentage of JD, LLM and SJD (or Law PhD) seekers from each school who accepted a tenure-track position this year (I excluded clinical and LRW jobs, since that market operates differently from the market for "doctrinal" faculty--there were 80 of the latter, as I had estimated--a 20% uptick from recent years, but still about half of the pre-recession numbers); only schools that placed at least two candidates and which had at least nine job seekers* are listed:
1. University of Chicago (58%: 7 of 12)
2. Yale University (50%: 21 of 42)
3. Stanford University (42%: 8 of 19)
4. Columbia University (29%: 6 of 21)
5. Harvard University (27%: 12 of 45)
6. New York University (24%: 7 of 29)
7. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (22%: 2 of 9)
8. University of California, Berkeley (19%: 3 of 16)
9. University of Virginia (17%: 2 of 12)
UCLA had just five job seekers, but two (40%) got tenure-track jobs.
*I used 9 rather than 10 is the cut-off, since Michigan was just under ten, but still had enough candidates to make the figure somewhat meaningful.
May 09, 2016
Briefly: the University of Arizona decided to admit some students using their GRE scores, rather than the LSAT; LSAC, protecting its LSAT monopoly, threatened to oust Arizona from the LSAC system (which includes the application system); nearly 150 law deans protested (rightly); LSAC is backing down, at least for now. (Blog Emperor Caron, to whom I link, has at the end of his post links to other items about LSAC's bad behavior.)
May 08, 2016
At SSRN; the abstract:
This essay discusses a lengthy review by Professor Michael McConnell of the Stanford Law School in the Yale Law Journal of my 2013 book WHY TOLERATE RELIGION? (Princeton University Press). I identify two important objections that Prof. McConnell raises, but also identify eight different mistakes or misunderstandings that mar other parts of the review. I conclude by taking Prof. McConnell to task for several rhetorical cheap shots that, together with the other errors, suggests that his essay was more a partisan brief than a scholarly evaluation of the arguments. Most surprisingly, the fact that Professor McConnell, in his lengthy review, never actually responds to my book's central thesis--namely, that the inequality between religious and non-religious claims of conscience is not morally defensible--suggests that there may really be no serious argument on the other side.