Thursday, July 30, 2015

How Are Our Graduates Doing in the Job Market?

There is no single or simple answer to this important question.  NALP today released its "Selected Findings from the Employment Report and Salary Survey for the Class of 2014."  

The good news:

  • the employment rate for graduates rose over 2 percentage points compared to the class of 2013, the first increase since 2007
  • the percentage of employed gradutes in JD required or JD Advantage jobs also increased

The bad news:

  • the actual number of jobs obtained by the class of 2014 was actually smaller than that in 2013;  the smaller graduating class size accounted for the increased employment rate
  • because the ABA shifted the "as of" reporting date from Feb. 15 to March 15, these results may slightly overstate the success of graduates compared with 2013

The future:

  • with class sizes continuing to decline, the percentage of graduates finding employment should continue to rise, as long as there is not a setback in the slowly recovering job market

July 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Monroe Freedman on Atticus Finch

With the controversy surrounding Go Set a Watchman, I thought of my late colleague Monroe Freedman, who critiqued Atticus Finch long before the new Harper Lee book was published.  Monroe, who passed away this past year, was brilliant and quirky, and was extremely generous to me when I was a young professor.

July 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Flawed 2014 Bar Exam

Professor Deborah Merritt makes a compelling case that the low pass rates on the July 2014 bar exam were caused by ExamSoft problems.  

July 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Marks Moss[by Rick Bales]

Alexia Marks and Scott Moss, both at Colorado, have just posted on SSRN their study What Makes a Law Student Succeed or Fail? A Longitudinal Study Correlating Law Student Applicant Data and Law School Outcomes. Their findings are receiving much-deserved positive attention. Scott did a Skype presentation of their preliminary findings to our faculty last year that was extremely well-received; not only is the material intrinsically interesting and sometimes counter-intuitive, but Scott is an entertaining presenter -- with a quick -- and exceptionally dry -- wit.

Here's the abstract:

Despite the rise of "big data" empiricism, law school admission remains heavily impressionistic; admission decisions based on anecdotes about recent students, idiosyncratic preferences for certain majors or jobs, or mainly the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Yet no predictors are well-validated; studies of the LSAT or other factors fail to control for college quality, major, work experience, etc. The lack of evidence of what actually predicts law school success is especially surprising after the 2010s downturn left schools competing for fewer applicants and left potential students less sure of law school as a path to future success. We aim to fill this gap with a two-school, 1400-student, 2005-2012 longitudinal study. After coding non-digitized applicant data, we used multivariate regression analysis to predict law school grades ("LGPA") from many variables: LSAT; college grades ("UGPA"), quality, and major; UGPA trajectory; employment duration and type (legal, scientific, military, teaching, etc.); college leadership; prior graduate degree; criminal or discipline record; and variable interactions (e.g., high-LSAT/low-UGPA or vice-versa).

Our results include not only new findings about how to balance LSAT and UGPA, but the first findings that college quality, major, work experience, and other traits are significant predictors: (1) controlling for other variables, LSAT predicts more weakly, and UGPA more powerfully, than commonly assumed – and a high-LSAT/low-UGPA profile may predict worse than the opposite; (2) a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) or EAF (economics, accounting, finance) major is a significant plus, akin to 3½-4 extra LSAT points; (3) several years' work experience is a significant plus, with teaching especially positive and military the weakest; (4) a criminal or disciplinary record is a significant minus, akin to 7½ fewer LSAT points; and (5) long-noted gender disparities seem to have abated, but racial disparities persist. Some predictors were interestingly nonlinear: college quality has decreasing returns; UGPA has increasing returns; a rising UGPA is a plus only for law students right out of college; and 4-9 years of work is a "sweet spot," with neither 1-3 or 10 years' work experience significant. Some, such as those with military or science work, have high LGPA variance, indicating a mix of high and low performers requiring close scrutiny. Many traditionally valued traits had no predictive value: typical pre-law majors (political science, history, etc.); legal or public sector work; or college leadership.

These findings can help identify who can outperform overvalued predictors like the LSAT. A key caveat is that statistical models cannot capture certain difficult-to-code key traits: some who project to have weak grades retain appealing lawyering or leadership potential; and many will over- or under-perform any projection. Thus, admissions will always be both art and science – but perhaps with a bit more science.

Congratulations to Alexia and Scott on this terrific piece of work. They've been working on it for several years, and it has involved both intellectually rigorous theorizing and hypothesis-testing and a lot of coding gruntwork. It's great to see their hard work getting the positive attention it deserves.


July 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 13, 2015

LSU searching for interim dean

In the wake of Jack Weiss' departure, LSU will be appointing an interim dean.  Interestingly, the university is conducting a public search for the interim dean.  I'm not sure I've ever seen this before.

July 13, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Law School Organizational Models

Cog[by Rick Bales]

Over at PrawfsBlawg, Jeff Lipshaw has a great post typologizing law school organizational models in three ways: as machine, as democracy, and as team. Not surprisingly, Jeff's not a big fan of the machine, and neither, I would assume, are most faculty. Why, then, have some law schools become machines?

The ownership structure of for-profit law schools is not consistent with true faculty governance, as recent events at Charleston Law illustrate. The large size of some faculties may make a team-based structure unwieldy, though this would not necessarily preclude a democratic structure. A current or recent dean with an autocratic leadership style could contribute, at least for a time. Finally, and perhaps less visibly, many faculty are content to exercise faculty governance primarily through the veto, rather than through the much more time-consuming task of hands-on governance. 

Regardless of how the "why" question is answered, I believe organizations pay a high price for weak faculty governance. No dean is smarter than the collective wisdom of a faculty, and as my comment to Jeff's post illustrates, faculty are often in the best -- and sometimes the only -- position to call foul when others start playing loose with the rules.

July 8, 2015 in Games | Permalink | Comments (0)