April 15, 2013

Standard & Poor's Downgrades Albany Law School's Rating

Of course, the track record of these agencies is sufficiently poor that it's hard to know what to make of this, but it is still a "sign of the times," as it were.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 15, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Student Advice | Permalink

April 12, 2013

Post-graduation employment minus school-funded jobs

Interesting list here, though as we noted before, school-funded jobs are often the crucial route into public sector positions for many graduates, and schools with big investments in getting graduates into public interest will necessarily have a good number of these.  On the other hand, it is certainly true that in many other cases, school-funded jobs are make-work position meant to boost employment statistics, not help launch careers.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 12, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

April 11, 2013

Is hiring of labor and employment law professors disproportionately down?

I'm skeptical.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 11, 2013 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Student Advice | Permalink

April 08, 2013

Job Placement

Blog Emperor Caron has a useful set of links to the NLJ compilation of recent data about which schools had the best long-term employment rates, big firm placement, federal clerkship placement, and so on.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 8, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

U of Arizona Law Cuts Official Tuition Rate

Story here.  The reality, of course, is that actual tuition is being cut across the country, as I have heard repeatedly from Deans at a wide variety of law schools, all of which are spending more on financial aid to attract the students they want.  (I am surprised in the linked article by the comment attributed to Brian Tamanaha [Wash U/St. Louis], who is quoted as pronouncing that U of Arizon's tuition has to be even lower.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 8, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

March 04, 2013

Michigan Law's Debt Wizard

Looks useful.  Other schools with good LRAP should replicate this, so students can see how their school's LRAP affects their debt.

Posted by Brian Leiter on March 4, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

February 28, 2013

Georgetown's Report on the State of the Legal Market for 2013

Not good news (not surprising), and definitely worth reading.  It comes pretty squarely down in favor of Bill Henderson's longstanding hypothesis that the changes afoot are structural not cyclical.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 28, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Student Advice | Permalink

February 26, 2013

Applications to law school

So my earlier speculation has come true:  there has been an uptick in applications this year, as Dan reported.  A propos these developments, Jeff Gordon (Columbia) writes:

I would encourage you to write a blogpost aimed at some misinformation that media stories about the law school value proposition are purveying to the most qualified potential law school applicants.  The perverse thing is that the largest percentage application decline has been among the strongest applicants (by GPA/LSAT).  For students of at least the top X law schools (and I've done no science to identify the "X", but I suspect it's at least "10") employment opportunities remain strong, and given recent law firm hiring patterns, advancement opportunities for this generation of law firm associates should be very positive.  The question for those students should be, as always, do you want to be a lawyer, and, second, do you value the education that LS can offer for other things you might want to do.

I appreciate that a general message of caution for law school applicants is wise, but I think people should also get advice relevant to their situation. 

These are sensible points, and they do extend beyond "the top X."  Many state law schools are still reasonably priced, and have had, over the long haul, good professional outcomes for their graduates.  Many regional law schools, private and public, have strong market niches and, due to the competition for students, are discounting sticker price substantially.   Prospective students should, indeed, "get advice relevant to their situation," and that advice will mostly not be found on blogs or chat rooms, alas.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 26, 2013 in Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

February 25, 2013

NLJ 250 Hiring Report for 2012

It's here, with not many surprises (though UC Irvine is in the top 20--this was their first class of graduates, who were recruited with full rides).  Bear in mind that this only counts graduates who take jobs at the 250 largest law firms, and thus excludes those graduates who go into clerkships, PhD programs, government service, or elite litigation boutiques.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 25, 2013 in Legal Profession, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

February 15, 2013

National Jurist Now Back-Pedalling on its Thomas Cooleyesque Law School Rankings

Since it's obvious--and should have been obvious prior to anyone pointing it out--that using Rate My Professors as part of a ranking of academic institutions is preposterous on its face, National Jurist is now doing a partial mea culpa, though so far, it hardly goes far enough.  Mr. Crittenden, the editor, actually had the audacity to do a video interview 48 hours ago in which he defended the use of Rate My Professors, stating, falsely, that studies had found it to be a valid measure.  There are no studies that validate the use of Rate My Professors the way NJ has used it.  None.  Zero.

A study at the University of Maine, involving more than 400 ratings by undergraduates, found that their scores on Rate My Professors generally matched internal Maine evaluations in two categories:  overall course evaluation and easiness/difficulty of the course.  But NJ used the results for the teaching quality categories, not these other categories.  The Maine study found no correlation with teaching quality, and they also found that the correlations that did exist in the other categories broke down outside the highest rated courses. 

Since law students barely use Rate My Professors, and since in some cases identified, the Rate My Professors score was based on non-law faculty and just a a few dozen responses (not 400!), it's clear that the data has no validity.  None.  It's worse than garbage. 

Mr. Crittenden even told an assistant dean here that if they dropped the fraudulent Rate My Professors data, Chicago would have gone from something like 50 to the top 5.   Since the data they used for Chicago included less than two dozen evaluations for actual law faculty, and twice as many evaluations for non-law faculty (including the lowest scores), this is a remarkable admission.   But this is almost surely just the tip of the iceberg!  As I noted earlier this week, Rate My Professors is driving all the variance among schools with very similar employment and other results.  (I learn from Mr. Crittenden's partial mea culpa that Princeton Review gives a very different portrait, but I know nothing about the methods by which PR compiles its data.)

Although National Jurist is now actually reviewing the "accuracy" of the Rate My Professors data, the question is why didn't they do that before publishing the ranking?  NJ says "we believe that the voice of students is essential."  But that's not in dispute.  The point is that Rate My Professors is not "the voice of students," and a magazine with any integrity, as opposed to an interest in generating hype, never would have utilized such an absurd source.  (I'm not even sure what it means to check the accuracy of Rate My Professors data:  anyone with Internet access on the planet earth can fill out a Rate My Professors survey, how could that be meaningful?)

As I indicated in an earllier post, I spoke with Mr. Crittenden just a few weeks ago about what would be required to do a sensible alternative to U.S. News.  He never let on that he and his staff had already concocted this nonsense ranking, and that he was going to use my quotes in an article accompanying this ranking, whose existence he had not disclosed to me.  Mr. Crittenden is clearly not an honest man or journalist.  He can only redeem his reputation by repudiating this whole fiasco.

NJ was always a bit of a joke, a magazine so unneeded that it is given away free in piles at every law school in the country (most copies end up in the trash).  But now they've done something perniciously stupid, which doesn't help students, and groundlessly defames dozens of law faculties.  I hope it marks the end of a pointless magazine.

ADDENDUM:  Professor Scott Bauries (Kentucky) writes:

I am enjoying your skewering of the obviously ridiculous effort of the National Jurist to create a new ranking system.  One further flaw with the use of Rate My Professors occurs to me that, to my knowledge, has not yet been reported (perhaps because it is obvious).  Other than by logging the IP address of the rater’s computer, Rate My Professors does not appear to ask its users for any personally identifying information or proof that a rater ever took a class from the professor rated.  This means that literally anyone who knows a professor’s name and institution can “rate” that professor. 

Therefore, if a school were of a mind to game this set of rankings, then it would be as easy as (1) pulling up the site; (2) searching for the school’s own professors; and (3) giving each one as many fraudulently high ratings, from as many unique IP addresses, as possible.  The site does ask for the course number and textbook, but these would be easy to communicate to false raters.  From the perspective of the unethical school, this sort of fraud would be perfect because it would be completely undetectable by outside observers (at least without a discovery request).  Given all of the efforts (both yours and those of the Law School Transparency folks and others) to eliminate opportunities to game the US News system, this flaw in the National Journal’s system should be particularly troubling. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 15, 2013 in Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink