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September 29, 2017

How should a Dean who understands academic freedom respond to public controversy about faculty writing?

So we know from the unhappy example of Dean Ferruolo throwing a faculty member under the bus what not to do:  you don't publish a statement on the homepage of the school singling out a faculty member's work, declare that not only do you, as Dean, disagree with it, but suggest that these are pariah views in "our law school community", and imply that the offending views may implicate "racial discrimination" and persecution of the "vulnerable" and "marginalized."  Making an obligatory reference to academic freedom in passing does not undo the damage that this decanal misconduct causes. 

The job of administrators is not to share their opinions about the views of members of the faculty, but to administer a university environment in which faculty and students may express points of view that do not otherwise violate anti-discrimination, sexual harassment or other laws.  (The silly op-ed did not violate any applicable law obviously).  So one obvious, and preferable, option would have been for the Dean to make no public statement at all.  He could have met with concerned student groups, and educated them about academic freedom and reaffirmed institutional policies about equal opportunity.  If a Dean makes any public statement in the context of such a controversy, it should not include any comment on a faculty member's views; it would suffice, for example, to simply reaffirm the institution's commitment to equal opportunity for all students and the like.

The Kalven Report got it exactly right fifty years ago, and all administrators ought to read and think about it.  The university sponsors critics, it is not itself a critic or advocate (except for that narrow range of issues central to the university's function).   A Dean, or other university administrator, forfeits his academic freedom upon becoming Dean--in part, because Deaning is not a scholarly enterprise but an administrative one, and academic freedom exists only to protect the scholarly pursuit of truth.  As an administrator, the Dean's job is to protect academic freedom and protect an environment in which faculty and students can express their views in the appropriate fora, such as the classroom, scholarship, and sometimes in the public sphere.   In order to preserve a community of open and vigorous debate, the Dean must not lend his authority to one side or the other.   That there is an uproar about a faculty member's scholarship or op-ed does not mean the Dean must speak out, except perhaps to educate people about what a university is and what academic freedom is and why it matters.

Recall two of the cases I discussed in my piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education last March:

 Chicago got this right, and Rochester got it wrong.  As I wrote:

Failing marks here go to Seligman, Rochester’s president. He, wrongly, invoked his own academic freedom to condemn remarks made by a member of the university’s faculty. But academic freedom does not protect the speech of administrators in their administrative capacities, nor should it: Administrators are not charged with applying disciplinary expertise to discover the truth, they are charged with administering, including sustaining an academic environment in which faculty can pursue knowledge without fear of censure.

Indeed, a federal appeals court has even ruled that a public college did not violate academic freedom by removing a professor from his administrative post (as chair) because of inflammatory speech he made off campus. (The professor did retain his tenured position on the faculty.) The trustees at Rochester would have been well within their rights to remove the president for publicly humiliating a faculty member who had engaged in protected speech. Had they done so, Seligman would have had no defense on academic-freedom grounds.

The same goes for the USD Dean, not to mention the Texas A&M Chancellor (another law professor!) who mishandled the fake controversy about a member of his faculty several moonths ago.  Administrators who feel the need to criticize the views of members of their faculty should step down from their administrative post and rejoin the faculty, where they may again speak freely, as, for example, several Penn professors have done regarding the silly op-ed.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 29, 2017 in Faculty News, Jurisprudence, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

September 28, 2017

The second FAR distribution came out today...

...with only 55 new applicants for faculty positions.  Altogether, there are fewer than 500 candidates seeking law teaching positions this year, one of the lowest totals I can recall.  There are some indications that hiring is up this year--or at least interviewing--but it's too early to say for sure.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 28, 2017 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

September 27, 2017

AG Sessions invited to talk about "free speech" (but not kneeling NFL players!) at Georgetown Law...

...but only to friends of Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett, with pre-screened questions.  Other Georgetown law faculty and students aren't happy.

UPDATE:  Various folks have sent me Prof. Barnett's lengthy explanation of the event and what actually transpired; it is below the fold for those who are interested:

The idea for this event originated with the DOJ who asked if the Center was willing to host a major policy address by the Attorney General on the subject of campus free speech. I agreed. Other than visiting the site to view the rooms, DOJ sought no further input into the planning process and were content to rely on my judgment. Our choice of the Hart Auditorium was somewhat compelled by their last minute commitment--late last week--to Tuesday's date. 


I informed DOJ that Georgetown University required there to be a question and answer session, but that we would follow our normal approach when Justices are visiting to have student questions submitted in writing and for someone--in this case me--to screen the questions. This is the procedure I have used for both of Justice Scalia's visits that the Center previously sponsored without any complaints. (I am told this procedure was also used when Justice Ginsburg appeared last week, but because I was not invited to that event, which was restricted to 1Ls only, I did not attend to witness this.) The DOJ had no objections to a question period, or to this procedure. Given that the event had to end at 12:40 pm so the AG could attend a luncheon he was hosting, at my request, they trimmed his speech a bit to allow adequate time for questions. (More on the questions below.)


The decisions to make this event by-invitation-only (as I am told was the case when Attorney General Holder spoke at GULC), and whom to invite, then, was entirely mine, though our Program Director kept DOJ informed of my decisions. When I learned of the more widespread interest in hearing the remarks, I asked that our event be simulcast for the benefit of any students and faculty who wished to hear the speech. So any faculty or student desiring to hear the talk in real time had that opportunity (as did viewers of CSPAN and CNN, which carried the event live in its entirety).


Because I did not want a speaker at an event the Center was hosting to be 'made as uncomfortable as possible,' and because I knew others in the community felt otherwise, I chose to limit attendance to the email list of 200-300 students who had attended previous Center events. Our speakers and subject matters are politically diverse, as are our attendees. For example, Brad Snyder and Mike Seidman were our first speakers of the year last week to discuss Brad's book on the Progressives. Next Monday evening, NYU law professor Barry Friedman will discuss his new book Unwarranted: Policing Without Permission. The students on our list had provided their email addresses to be notified of future events. And, if they attend 3 of our events they are designated a "fellow" of the Center and invited to our annual Salmon Chase Distinguished Lecture at the Supreme Court, which is hosted by a Justice and cosponsored by the Supreme Court Historical Society. (This year's lecture by Penn law professor William Ewald will be on the career of Justice James Wilson. Previous Chase Lectures have celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Salmon Chase becoming Chief Justice (by historian James Oakes); the 150th anniversary of the adoption of the 13th Amendment (by historian Eric Foner); and the 225th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights. (by political science professor Colleen Sheehan)) As many as 75 GULC students have attended the lecture in a given year.


To these students, I added my 85 Con Law II and seminar students, who are are also politically diverse. By electing to enroll in my classes, I believed these 2Ls and 3Ls had demonstrated their openness to hearing views with which they may disagree. And of course all of our current Faculty Scholars were invited, which is another politically diverse group. 


I should note that seven invited students--including some of my current ones--came in BLM t-shirts and sat together. I personally went up to their row before the event to thank them for coming. They in turn thanked me for inviting them. After the AG had completed his speech, but before the question period, they rose, silently put tape over their mouths, and then sat down. The event was in no way disrupted by their dignified expressive actions, but I assume the Attorney General saw them do so. 


The invitation solicited written questions for the Attorney General from the students. I identified three (asked in varying forms by upwards of 10 students) that concerned the freedom of speech, though none concerned the topic of campus speech. I was able to ask all three:

  1. Can you comment on the recent debate over NFL player protests. As attorney general, does it concern you that these players are being condemned by many, including the President, for exercising their constitutional rights to free speech and protest?
  2. If the methods citizens have thus far employed to register objection to policies, practices, and situations are unsuitable and divisive in the administration's eyes, what can citizens do to “properly” register their opinions?
  3. As an advocate of free speech, how do you feel about the use of Senate Rule 19 to limit speech on the Senate floor during confirmation hearings, as was done to Senator Warren when she was criticizing your nomination to be Attorney General? 

To these I added four of my own: 

  1. How much does context matter here? Are those whose viewpoints are in the minority in a particular community–such as a college campus–in need of any special protections? Will this be a factor that the DOJ will take into account when setting its policies?
  2. Can you describe your experience as a student expressing a minority political viewpoint on campus when, as an undergraduate at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1960s, you helped form a student Republican club to campaign against Governor George Wallace?
  3. Can you tell us more about the statement of interest you filed today in a campus speech case, which you mentioned in your remarks?
  4. Finally, there are many faculty and students protesting outside this auditorium or watching remotely by simulcast. Do you have any message you wish to address to them?

Our time then expired.


To my knowledge, no students were intentionally "disinvited" from the event. The students who were not permitted to attend had never been invited in the first place. Instead, someone posted to the Georgetown Law Student Facebook page the RSVP link contained in the emails that were sent to invited students. (Apparently, it was a technical glitch that allowed this link to work, but I am not sure of this.) The student Facebook page provided no notice to students who clicked on link that the event was by invitation only and that the invitations were not transferable--though this information was, I am told, contained in the original email from which this unknown person took the link. 


Having discovered what was happening, the administration informed me that these uninvited students were being notified that they could not attend the event. (Although I was informed of this after it had happened, I fully supported the decision.) In addition, a handful of of my students who had been invited were inadvertently told they could not attend. This was corrected when these students contacted me to let me know and I told staff. I should stress that all this was being done by staff under very short time considerations the evening before the event, and they worked on this matter well into the night. 


Those students who were informed they could not attend were in no way "screened" for their viewpoints--which staff had no way of knowing--and I know they included members of the Federalist Society because one member wrote to apologize for having registered by using the Facebook page link. He asked if he could attend, but I told him he could not.


My apologies for the length of this message, but it seemed best to address all the "process" questions about the event of which I am aware in one message. Of course, any information which was provided to me by others could be inaccurate. But this is my best understanding of the sequence of events. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 27, 2017 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

September 25, 2017

Gelbach on the Wax & Alexander op-ed (UPDATED)


Jonah Gelbach, a law & economics and empirical scholar at Penn, has now taken the time to set out in detail the problems with the silly op-ed.  You can safely ignore the self-serving preface from the empty Jonathan Haidt, and just go straight to Gelbach's patient discussion.   In the broader scope of things, it was surely not a good use of Professor Gelbach's time to have to write this in response to an opinion piece so slight, but given the controversy that has been generated, we should all be grateful that he did it.

I have no doubt that this won't stop Heather MacDonald and others from making absurd claims about Professor Wax's great wisdom and expertise, but at least those of us actually invested in the scholarly enterprise can learn something from Prof. Gelbach's analysis.

(Thanks to Jonathan Klick for the pointer.)

UPDATE:   Haidt, given his great commitment to the free exchange of ideas and arguments, decided to edit out one part of Prof. Gelbach's original response to the Wax & Alexander op-ed, after Prof. Wax objected--apparently to Prof. Gelbach's devastating scrutiny of their lack of empirical evidence.  In any case, Prof. Gelbach kindly offered to let me make available his actual, uncensored response, which is here:  Download Facts v. Wax Part I.A - The Uncut Version.  It begins with an explanation of what Haidt did and of his efforts to find out if there was, I fact, evidence for some of the curious claims in the op-ed.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 25, 2017 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

The law school monopoly myth (Michael Simkovic)

It is often assumed that the only way to become a lawyer is to attend an ABA-approved law school.  That is true in some states and, indeed, the ABA has at times expressed the view that it should be true in all states.  But it is not the case in large jurisdictions such as New York or California, nor is it the case in the majority of jurisdictions.  Claims that ABA-approved law school have a monopoly on entry into the legal profession are exaggerations.  Rather, the most popular—and probably most likely—way to become a lawyer is to graduate from an ABA-approved institution. 

In leading jurisdictions such as New York, California, and Virginia, an individual who wishes to become a lawyer may sit for the bar examination with between zero and 1 years of law school and between 3 and 4 years of apprenticeship and study under the supervision of a licensed attorney (this is also known as “law office study” or “reading for the bar”).  In California, graduates of non-ABA-approved law schools are eligible to sit for the bar examination.  This includes schools with extremely low-cost, technology-driven approaches to teaching, such as online and correspondence schools.

In fact, non-ABA law school graduates are eligible to sit for the bar examination in most jurisdictions (31 in total as of 2017) according to the National Conference of Bar Examiners.**  This includes extremely large and important jurisdictions such as California, Florida, New York, Texas and Washington D.C.  Graduates of online and correspondence law schools are eligible to sit for the bar examination in 4 jurisdictions.

Very few people choose the apprenticeship route, and only a minority opt for non-ABA law schools.  Among those who do, relatively few successfully complete their courses of study or pass the bar examination.  But those who do will have the same license to practice law as someone who graduates from an ABA-approved law school and successfully passes the bar examination.

Why then do so many prospective lawyers choose ABA-approved law schools?

The most likely explanation is that prospective lawyers choose ABA-approved law schools because those law schools provide a valuable and worthwhile service that supports a higher price point than other options.* 

Many employers value legal education.  That’s why they typically pay law school graduates tens of thousands of dollars more per year than they pay similar bachelor’s degree holders, even in occupations other than the practice of law.  When law school graduating class sizes increase, and a lower proportion of graduates practice law, graduates don’t typically see a noticeable decline in their earnings premium. 

In other words, the benefits of law school are versatile. Graduates of ABA-approved law schools also seem to be much more likely to complete their studies and pass the bar examination than students attending more lightly regulated and lower cost alternatives.

As in other markets, ABA-approved law schools aggressively compete with each other for students.  As in other markets, students face tradeoffs between cost and quality.  Gross tuition at ABA-approved law schools ranges from $9,000 to $65,000 dollars per year (not counting lower in-state tuition).  Because of scholarships, many students have the option of attending at least one ABA-approved law school for free.  But students routinely choose more expensive options precisely because they believe that there are differences in quality.

The labor market is telling us that law schools are doing many things well.  There may be opportunities to do things even better.

I encourage those advocating bold changes to legal education to carefully study law schools and jurisdictions that have already implemented approaches that are similar to their proposals.  With more than 200 law schools and more than 10,000 law professors in the United States, there is bound to be underappreciated variation and innovation.  Have those who believe that ABA-regulation renders legal education monolithically uniform and unchanging reviewed materials from tens of thousands of curricula before reaching this conclusion?  Shouldn’t advocates of innovation find and highlight examples of it?

Proposals that at first seem innovative may resemble things that have been tried before.  For example, proposals for paraprofessional programs to handle routine aspects of legal practice resemble programs to train paralegals, legal secretaries, court reporters, tax preparers, accountants, investigators, bankers, real estate agents, social workers, and compliance officers, all of whom already do work that overlaps with lawyers.  In some of these roles, graduates of traditional law schools may have advantages over graduates of slimmed-down occupation-specific training programs.

Proposals for online legal education may be similar to what Kaplan University’s Concord Law School has been doing for almost 20 years.  Concord’s lecturers have included well respected faculty who have taught at Harvard and NYU.  Concord had the financial backing of the Washington Post Company (and may be acquired by Purdue).

Nevertheless, student completion rates (11%) and bar passage rates (recently around 25% in California) remain below the range that the ABA finds acceptable.  Graduates of other distance learning institutions seem to perform worse on the bar exam than graduates of Concord.

Online education may improve with time or may be implemented better elsewhere.  The economies of scale, convenience and consistency it offers seem promising, particularly for large institutions that have highly specialized faculty and staff, extensive resources, and long time horizons for investment.  But for now, there remain serious concerns about student completion rates and knowledge retention, limited interaction, distracted learning and cheating, and limited opportunity to form friendships, mentoring relationships or community.

Reform proposals should not be adopted based on rhetoric and appeals to theory, but rather based on pilot programs that can be evaluated dispassionately and impartially with well-established statistical methods of causal inference.   These should be followed by replication studies and validation studies to avoid mistakes or over-generalizations based on specific experimental conditions.  The empirical labor economics literature is replete with studies of seemingly promising interventions and programs that ultimately proved ineffective. 


*It’s also possible that prospective law students are not aware of other options, but this seems unlikely—the apprenticeship option has been covered by the New York Times, Slate and Business Insider.  Moreover, the large proportion of law school graduates who have family members who are lawyers or attend colleges with pre-law advising programs are likely to be familiar with alternatives to ABA-approved law schools.

Some may argue that apprenticeships are hard to come by.  This is simply another way of saying that law school provides a valuable service.  Few lawyers may be willing to pay a trainee with no education beyond a college degree a living wage if the lawyer is obligated to devote substantial time and energy to train that individual for legal practice.  As a result, such training must be purchased, which is why law schools exist.  Many more lawyers are willing to pay to take on apprentices who have completed law school.

An ABA-approved law degree is more portable than other options because it qualifies an individual to sit for the bar examination in any jurisdiction in the United States, but it is unclear how important out-of-state mobility is for those who intend to practice in large jurisdictions like California or New York.


**UPDATE 9/25/2017:  Professor Gordon Hylton writes:  

"I believe the number of jurisdictions open to allowing a graduate of a non-ABA accredited law school to take the bar examination under some circumstances is 32, not 31. . . . In 22 of the 32 jurisdictions a graduate of a non-ABA accredited law school can only take the bar examination if he or she has previously been admitted to the bar in an American jurisdiction and has practiced law in that jurisdiction for a specified number of years, usually ranging between 3 and 10 years. . . . In four states . . . graduates of non-approved law schools have the right to petition either the state supreme court or the board of bar examiners for permission to take the bar examination.  If their law schools are deemed to be of ABA quality, permission may be granted, but there is no requirement that permission be given. . . . Realistically, your unaccredited graduates would be limited to starting their practices in California, Alabama, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire."

Those pursuing law office study would have additional options such as Virginia, New York, Vermont, or Washington.

Posted by Michael Simkovic on September 25, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Student Advice, Weblogs | Permalink

September 22, 2017

Why law?

The video.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 22, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

September 20, 2017

USD Law Dean Stephen Ferruolo should either resign or issue a public apology...

...for his abject failure of leadership in one of his central duties as head of an academic institution:  to defend freedom of speech and inquiry by faculty and students on both scholarly matters and matters of public concern.  It is not his role to express his own opinions about positions defended by his faculty, either in their scholarship or in their contributions to public debate.  If he wants to express his own opinions, he should step down from the Deanship and rejoin the faculty.  But as Dean, his job is to defend freedom of speech and inquiry, even when it is unpopular.  He has failed.

USD Law professor Tom Smith has more, including a response from many of Larry Alexander's colleagues to the Dean's inappropriate public statement.

The op-ed by Larry and Penn law professor Amy Wax that has generated all the controversy was rather feeble, confusing correlation and causation in ways that were, by my lights, embarrassing and strange.  The piece has been subjected to sensible criticism from colleagues of Professor Wax.  I make my opinion known about the merits only so we can be clear that mine is an objection based on a crucial principle:  the job of academic administrators is to administer a university environment, which includes protecting the space for scholarly and political debate.  An administrator can only do that if he or she does not enter that space and take sides against members of the faculty or the student body.  Here is how the University of Chicago's 1967 Kalven Report (authored by famed First Amendment scholar Harry Kalven) puts it:

The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge.  Its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society.  A university faithful to its mission will provide enduring challenges to social values, policies, practices, and institutions.  By design and effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones.  In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.


The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student.  The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic.....To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry, and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures.  A university, if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community....


Since the university is a community only for these limited and distinctive purposes, it is a community which cannot take collective action on the issues o fthe day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness.


The Dean speaks for that community, and the way Dean Ferruolo has spoken has now endangered the community he was charged with shepherding.

Up until this point, I had thought Dean Ferruolo had done rather well by USD, but he has failed, and failed mightily, here.  His choices are clear:  apologize for his failure in this instance, or resign.

Readers may be interested in my discussion of these issues in a column last Spring at CHE.  

UPDATE:  See also the discussion of the op-ed by Penn's Jonah Gelbach.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 20, 2017 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

September 19, 2017

Northwestern's Dean, Dan Rodriguez, to step down at end of 2017-18...

...after a good six-year run.  A lot of good appointments made during his tenure, including Emily Kadens and Matt Spitzer from Texas, Deborah Tuerkheimer from DePaul, and David Schwartz from Chicago-Kent, among others.  (Longtime readers will recall that Rodriguez was a transformative  Dean at San Diego in the 1990s and early 2000s.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 19, 2017 in Faculty News | Permalink

Chicago Alumni & Fellows on the Teaching Market, 2017-18


This post is for schools who expect to be hiring this year.

In order to protect the privacy of our candidates, please e-mail me at bleiter@uchicago.edu to get a copy of the narrative profiles of our candidates, including hyperlinks to their homepages.  All these candidates will be in the first FAR distribution.

We have an excellent group of nine candidates this year (three JD alumni, one SJD alumna, four Bigelow Fellows, and one Dickerson Fellow), who cover many curricular areas, including labor law, employment law, ERISA, civil rights, property, family law, criminal law, immigration law, criminal procedure, civil procedure, professional responsibility, contracts, comparative law, administrative law, legislation, financial regulation, empirical legal studies, business associations, corporate law & securities regulation, corporate finance, antitrust, international law, human rights, alternative dispute resolution, international business transactions, and conflicts, among other areas.

Our candidates include former federal appellate clerks; Law Review editors; JD/PhDs and LLM/SJDs; and accomplished practitioners as well as scholars.  All have publications and writing samples. 

If when you e-mail, you tell me a bit about your hiring needs, I can supply some more information about all these candidates, since we have vetted them all at some point in the recent past.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 19, 2017 in Faculty News | Permalink

September 18, 2017

Are law degrees as valuable to minorities? (Michael Simkovic)

Frank McIntyre & Michael Simkovic, Are law degrees as valuable to minorities? International Review of Law & Economics (forthcoming 2017) (ssrn download):

"Individuals who complete law school typically receive a large boost to their earnings compared to what they would likely have earned with a terminal bachelor’s degree.  (Simkovic & McIntyre, 2014)  The law earnings premium has exceeded the cost of law school by a wide margin, even toward the bottom of the earnings distribution, and even for graduates who enter the labor force during a recession or with an unusually large cohort of fellow law graduates. (McIntyre & Simkovic, 2017)


But is the value of a law degree predictably different depending on one’s race or ethnicity? Estimates by race or ethnicity could help prospective law students and law schools better predict variability in the potential financial benefits of law school, and could help inform outreach, admissions, academic support, and financial aid policies.


This article investigates differences in the law earnings premium by race and ethnicity.  Compared to bachelor’s degree holders, a higher proportion of law graduates are white.  


Studies of the returns to education at the college level or below have come to different conclusions about differences in benefits by race.  Several studies have found lower earnings among black and Hispanic law graduates compared to non-Hispanic whites.  The reasons for these differences are not fully understood and are hotly debated. . . .


Whatever the cause, among those with law degrees, there are differences in average earnings between different race or ethnic groups. However, the same pattern is present among bachelor’s degree holders. [Prior to this study it was] unknown whether there are similar differences in earnings premiums (i.e., the boost to earnings from the law degree), measured either on a percentage or dollar basis. . . .


[T]he National Longitudinal Bar Passage Study found that long-term bar passage rates were substantially lower for minorities than for whites.[1]  Thus a study of all law degree holders including those who did not pass a bar examination [such as this one using Census data] may find larger racial gaps in earnings [than previous studies that look only at bar-passers].  


We find evidence that white graduates have a somewhat higher percentage boost in earnings compared to minorities, but when translated into dollar terms the law earnings premium is substantially higher for white graduates than for minorities.  At the median and including law graduates who are not practicing law, the annual boost to earnings from a law degree is approximately $41,000 for whites, $34,000 for Asians, $33,000 for blacks, and $28,000 for Hispanics.  The law earnings premium is also higher for whites than for minorities at the 75th percentile, the 25th percentile and the mean, and for samples that are exclusively male or female. . . .  


Figure 4 for blog post


Figure 3 for blog post


It is likely that at the median and even 25th percentile, law students of all races typically derive greater financial benefits from their law degrees compared to a terminal bachelor’s than the costs of those law degrees. However, minority students’ predictably lower earnings premiums indicate that they are at greater risk than other students . . . 


Law earnings premiums for whites, blacks and Hispanics have trended upward and appear to be gradually converging. . .  Differences in the financial benefits of a law degree by race appear to have diminished in recent years, particularly as between whites on the one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other. . . .


Figure 6 for blog post


A higher proportion of blacks and Hispanics than whites graduated from the bottom quartile of law schools.  However, a higher proportion of Asians than whites graduated from the top half of law schools.  Since all three minority groups receive less benefit from their law degrees than whites, the reasons for racial differences in law earnings premiums are not [easy to explain exclusively in terms of differences in legal education prestige or quality]. . . . Some other possible reasons which are difficult to test empirically include differences in complementary social and family connections, different preferences for types of legal work or types of employers, racial discrimination by employers or clients, or differences in earnings ability and productivity.  . . .  "


[1] Long-term failure rates were 3.3 percent for whites, 8.1 percent for Asians, between 11 and 20 percent for different Hispanic groups, and 22.3 percent for blacks.  (Wightman, 1998, p. 32)"

Posted by Michael Simkovic on September 18, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Science | Permalink