Thursday, February 11, 2016
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Some of you may have heard that the relatively new President of Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland has summarily fired a tenured philosophy professor: there are more details and links here. The urgent, immediate issue is, as I learned from philosopher Angela Schwenkler, "the students are interested in protesting, but are afraid that they will be expelled." She asks, "Can anyone contact me so that I can help them get some good legal and professional advice as they go forward? It is urgent - [President] Newman has called a meeting with the students at 7pm. You can email me at email@example.com." Recommendations of Maryland employment lawyers for the fired tenured philosophy professor would also be welcome.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
The latest unscientific fad among law school watchers is comparing job openings projections for lawyers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics* with the number of students expected to graduate from law school. Frank McIntyre and I tested this method of predicting earnings premiums--the financial benefits of a law degree--using all of the available historical projections from the BLS going back decades. This method of prediction does not perform any better than random chance.** Labor economists--including those working at the BLS--have explicitly stated that BLS projections should not be used to try to value particular courses of study. Instead, higher education should be valued based on earnings premiums.
Bloggers who report changes in BLS projections and compare projected job openings to the number of students entering law school might as well advise prospective law students to make important life decisions by flipping a coin.
Many law graduates won't practice law. Many engineering graduates won't become engineers. Many students in every field end up working jobs that are not directly related to what they studied. They still typically benefit financially from their degrees by using them in other occupations where additional education boosts earnings and likelihood of employment.
And if one's goal really is to practice law even if practicing law is not more lucrative than other opportunities opened by a law degree, then studying law may not be a guarantee, but it still dramatically improves the odds.
* BLS job opening projections--which are essentially worthless as predictors for higher education--should not be confused with BLS occupational employment statistics, which provide useful data about earnings and employment in many occupations, including for lawyers.
** There isn’t even strong evidence that changes in the ratio between BLS projected lawyer job openings and law class size predict changes in the percent of law graduates who will practice law, although the estimates are too noisy to be definitive. Historically, the ratio of BLS projected openings to law graduates (or first year enrollments 3 years prior) has systematically under-predicted by a wide margin the proportion of law graduates practicing law shortly after graduation, although it is clear that a large minority of law graduates do not practice law.
February 9, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Ludicrous Hyperbole Watch, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Science, Student Advice, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink
Monday, February 8, 2016
Friday, February 5, 2016
...in the Journal of Legal Education, but excerpted here. In 23 years in law teaching, I've never heard a law professor express "disdain" for legal practice, as Judge Edwards frequently asserts some law professors do. Of course, I never taught, unlike Judge Edwards, at Harvard or Michigan (and the two schools where I've spent most of my career, Texas and Chicago, are certainly not schools where one would hear such sentiments), but I do suspect this is an urban legend. Even in my year teaching at Yale, I never heard anyone express such disdain.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Can't blame them. What I always found mysterious, going back to being a lawyer in New York City in the late 1980s, and doing a lot of real estate litigation, was that even then Trump was viewed as such a noxious blowhard, it was hard to figure why anyone would want to be in a building with that name on it!
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Smaller or Larger Law Class Sizes Don’t Predict Changes in Financial Benefits of Law School (Michael Simkovic)
One of the most surprising and controversial findings from Timing Law School was that changes in law school graduating class size do not predict changes in the boost to earnings from a law degree.* Many law professors, administrators, and critics believe that shrinking the supply of law graduates must surely improve their outcomes, because if supply goes down, then price—that is, earnings of law graduates—should go up.
In a new version of Timing Law School, Frank McIntyre and I explore our counterintuitive results more thoroughly. (The new analysis and discussion appear primarily in Part III.C. “Interpreting zero correlation for cohort size and earnings premium” on page 18-22 of the Feb. 1, 2016 draft and in Table 10 on the final page).
Our results of no relationship between class size and earnings premiums were robust to many alternative definitions of cohort size that incorporated changes in the number of law graduates over several years. This raises questions about whether our findings are merely predictive, or should be given a causal interpretation.
We considered several interpretations that could reconcile our results with a supply and demand model and with the data. The most plausible interpretation seemed to be that when law class sizes change, law graduates switch between practicing law and other employment opportunities that are equally financially rewarding. While changes in the number of law graduates might have an impact on the market for entry-level lawyers, such changes are much less likely to have a discernible impact on the much larger market for highly educated labor.
Although law graduates who practice law on average earn more than those who do not, at the margin, those who switch between practicing law and other options seem to have law and non-law opportunities that are similarly lucrative. We found that the proportion of recent law graduates who practice law does decline as class size increases, but earnings premiums remain stable. This is consistent with the broader literature on underemployment, and supports the view of law school as a flexible degree that provides benefits that extend to many occupations. (See here and here).
A related explanation is that relatively recent law school graduates may be reasonably good substitutes for each other for several years, blunting the impact of changes in class size on earnings.
Interpretations that depend on law students and law schools perfectly adjusting class size in anticipation of demand for law graduates or future unemployment seem implausible given the unrealistic degree of foresight this would require. Offsetting changes in the quality of students entering law school—an explanation we proposed in an earlier version of the paper—seems able to explain at most a very small supply effect. Although credentials of entering classes appear to decline with class sizes, these changes in credentials are relatively small even amid dramatic changes in class size, and probably do not predict very large changes in earnings. Imprecision in our estimates is another possibility, although for graduates with more than a few years of experience, our estimates are fairly precise.
Even if there are effects of law class size on law earnings premiums, they are probably not very large and not very long lasting.
* The finding is consistent with mixed results for cohort size in other econometric studies of cohort effects, but nevertheless was contrary to many readers’ intuitions.
Monday, February 1, 2016
The current version is here. They write:
Dear Colleagues,We just updated our charts about law journal submissions, expedites, and rankings from different sources for the Spring 2016 submission season covering the 204 main journals of each law school.A couple of the highlight from this round of revisions are:First, again the chart includes as much information as possible about what law reviews are not accepting submissions right now and what dates they say they'll resume accepting submissions. Most of this is not specific dates, because the journals tend to post only imprecise statements about how the journal is not currently accepting submissions but will start doing so at some point in spring.Second, there continues to be a greater movement toward the number of journals using and preferring Scholastica instead of ExpressO or accepting emails submissions: 29 (compared to 22 six months ago) journals prefer or strongly prefer Scholastica, 11 more list it as one of the alternative acceptable avenues of submission, and 18 (compared to 10 six months ago) now listScholastica as the exclusive method of submission.Third, several law reviews have changed their names: McGeorge Law Review is now Pacific Law Review, Thomas M. Cooley Law Review is now WMU-Cooley Law Review, and William Mitchell Law Review is now Mitchell Hamline Law Review.The first chart contains information about each journal’s preferences about methods for submitting articles (e.g., e-mail, ExpressO, Scholastica, or regular mail), as well as special formatting requirements and how to request an expedited review. The second chart contains rankings information from U.S. News and World Report as well as data from Washington & Lee’s law review website.We’d welcome you to forward the link to anyone whom you think might find it useful. We appreciate any feedback you might have.Happy writing!
Wednesday, January 27, 2016