Largeish fish, smaller pond?

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livitup11
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Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby livitup11 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:39 am

I'm considering making this a factor in choosing what law school to attend. Does it make sense to attend a school that is ranked lower with the idea that I would potentially be ranked higher in my class, have a better chance at law review, etc?

Don't get me wrong- I don't have any overblown conception of my own abilities or the difficulty of law school. I realize that wherever I go I'll be among really intelligent, hardworking people, and that any school I plan to attend is no small potatoes. That being said, if I decide to attend a T14 over a lower-ranked, but regionally strong tier 1 school, I might not be as competitive in my class.

Thoughts?

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:45 am

livitup11 wrote:I'm considering making this a factor in choosing what law school to attend. Does it make sense to attend a school that is ranked lower with the idea that I would potentially be ranked higher in my class, have a better chance at law review, etc?

Don't get me wrong- I don't have any overblown conception of my own abilities or the difficulty of law school. I realize that wherever I go I'll be among really intelligent, hardworking people, and that any school I plan to attend is no small potatoes. That being said, if I decide to attend a T14 over a lower-ranked, but regionally strong tier 1 school, I might not be as competitive in my class.

Thoughts?


All you need to know is that you could have a 4.33 undergrad gpa and a 180 Lsat and end up below the median of a tier 3/4 school.

I'm at Tulane and a lot of people here are dealing with psychological issues because they thought their high gpas and lsats would translate into being at the top (10%, 25%, 50%) of the class.

It's funny.

They didn't do poorly because they did not comprehend and master the material -

They did poorly because they did not realize that each professor likes a slightly different format for their exams.

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beesknees
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby beesknees » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:50 am

My friend actually did what you are proposing. She chose to go to her in-state T50 over UVA (I think for $ and family reasons). She said that a lot of people at her T50 are bright and, more importantly, work horses. I think there's even fiercer competition for the top at the lower ranked schools because those kids are fighting for their future livelihoods. Not to say that the competition at a T14 or T10 is not intense by any means, but I really do think that kids going to those lower ranked schools come in with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove (and not all of them totally failed their LSATs and GPA. Some, bright as they were, chose that lower ranked school, not were forced... you can't assume you're of a higher caliber just because the median LSAT and GPA is lower).

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livitup11
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby livitup11 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:59 am

Aberzombie1892 wrote:
livitup11 wrote:I'm considering making this a factor in choosing what law school to attend. Does it make sense to attend a school that is ranked lower with the idea that I would potentially be ranked higher in my class, have a better chance at law review, etc?

Don't get me wrong- I don't have any overblown conception of my own abilities or the difficulty of law school. I realize that wherever I go I'll be among really intelligent, hardworking people, and that any school I plan to attend is no small potatoes. That being said, if I decide to attend a T14 over a lower-ranked, but regionally strong tier 1 school, I might not be as competitive in my class.

Thoughts?


All you need to know is that you could have a 4.33 undergrad gpa and a 180 Lsat and end up below the median of a tier 3/4 school.

I'm at Tulane and a lot of people here are dealing with psychological issues because they thought their high gpas and lsats would translate into being at the top (10%, 25%, 50%) of the class.

It's funny.

They didn't do poorly because they did not comprehend and master the material -

They did poorly because they did not realize that each professor likes a slightly different format for their exams.


I'll be sure I don't make the mistake of underestimating anything going into my first semester. GPA and LSAT are by no means a perfect measure of law school success, as I'm sure we can all agree, but there should be some correlation or else they would throw them out as considerations for admissions, no? In other words, it's not a guarantee, but is there a statistically significant difference in how someone is likely to be ranked based on the ranking of the school they attend, and if so, is that difference worth considering as I decide what law school to attend?

For instance, I know being on law review opens up a lot of doors. If I attend one of my "safeties", my instinct is that my chances of getting on law review would be better, thus translating into improved job prospects. But I'm not sure if this is worth considering if the other option is to attend a T14.

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rbgrocio
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby rbgrocio » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:02 am

livitup11 wrote:I'm considering making this a factor in choosing what law school to attend. Does it make sense to attend a school that is ranked lower with the idea that I would potentially be ranked higher in my class, have a better chance at law review, etc?

Don't get me wrong- I don't have any overblown conception of my own abilities or the difficulty of law school. I realize that wherever I go I'll be among really intelligent, hardworking people, and that any school I plan to attend is no small potatoes. That being said, if I decide to attend a T14 over a lower-ranked, but regionally strong tier 1 school, I might not be as competitive in my class.

Thoughts?



Some of the people who are now in the bottom of my class had the highest LSAT and UG gpa coming in.... Law school is a creature of its own, do not make decisions based on how good U THINK you are going to be compared to others cuz that can change in a heart beat.

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livitup11
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby livitup11 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:04 am

beesknees wrote:you can't assume you're of a higher caliber just because the median LSAT and GPA is lower).


I'm not hating on lower-ranked schools! I asked this question for precisely the reason that I didn't know whether or not the competition is fiercer in the T14 schools for law review, etc., not to imply that it is not fierce other places.

So, assuming what you say is true, all other things being equal, I should just go ahead and attend the T14?

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:08 am

livitup11 wrote:I'll be sure I don't make the mistake of underestimating anything going into my first semester. GPA and LSAT are by no means a perfect measure of law school success, as I'm sure we can all agree, but there should be some correlation or else they would throw them out as considerations for admissions, no? In other words, it's not a guarantee, but is there a statistically significant difference in how someone is likely to be ranked based on the ranking of the school they attend, and if so, is that difference worth considering as I decide what law school to attend?

For instance, I know being on law review opens up a lot of doors. If I attend one of my "safeties", my instinct is that my chances of getting on law review would be better, thus translating into improved job prospects. But I'm not sure if this is worth considering if the other option is to attend a T14.


It depends. Studies on the matter have dramatically different outcomes.

For example:
1. The Lsat correlates to first year performance
2. The Lsat correlates to first semester performance
3. The Lsat has a 50% chance of correlating to first semester performance
4. The Lsat has no correlation

Because of the wide array of outcomes, the Lsat is probably only still used because it's what they have always been using.

True the exam tests skills needed in law school - however testing them in the abstract on the lsat and then testing their application in law school are two different worlds.

My advice about what school to attend is go the the most prestigious one you can that offers you the most scholarship money (if it's private - all of the T50+ privates cost around $40,000 except BYU) or the most convenient (if it's public). This way you would at an equilibrium of debt and potential (basically I would suggest this because in these times, very few people are getting Big Law and if you talk to a few people on this site - you will realize that almost everyone is counting on it [even if they do not come out and say it].
Last edited by Aberzombie1892 on Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Aeon
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby Aeon » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:09 am

Different schools have different curves, and some of the T14 actually have surprisingly generous ones, with some lower-ranked ones setting their median grades quite low. There are certainly reasons why someone would want to attend a lower-ranked school, such as a scholarship or proximity to home or even a strong desire to work in that region, but wanting to be a "bigger fish in a smaller pond" isn't a very good justification.

A high GPA and LSAT score might be held to correlate to stronger law school performance (at the very least they provide an objective point of comparison for schools to differentiate between candidates), but there's no telling whether they correlate well for you. There are too many additional variables involved.

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livitup11
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby livitup11 » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:14 am

Aeon wrote:wanting to be a "bigger fish in a smaller pond" isn't a very good justification.


Just what I was looking for- thanks! I will strike it from the record.

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Aeroplane
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby Aeroplane » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:15 am

I assume, that since you're considering a regional school, that you want to work in a non-major market after graduation. If I'm wrong and you want NYC/DC/Chicago, ignore the rest of this post.

I live in a city with a regionally strong school, but as a T10 student, I don't even have to be above median to get a local biglaw job. I have no grades yet, but already have a 1L SA offer. This is due to the scarcity of "top law school" degrees in my region, not so much my personal awesomeness. The students from the "regionally strong" school won't get any SA offers without grades, only the top 40% or so (this is probably an over-generous estimate) will have a shot at local biglaw, and I'm guessing only about 20-30% will actually get it.

If you want to be a big fish in a small pond, go T14 and apply to firms back home, making it clear that you plan to come back there after graduation. If your home pond is "small" enough, then your job prospects should be* excellent, even with mediocre T14 grades.

*Of course YMMV since every location has its quirks. Check w/local sources to verify.

LurkerNoMore
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby LurkerNoMore » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:20 am

livitup11 wrote:For instance, I know being on law review opens up a lot of doors. If I attend one of my "safeties", my instinct is that my chances of getting on law review would be better, thus translating into improved job prospects. But I'm not sure if this is worth considering if the other option is to attend a T14.


Not without a huge amount of money and an understanding of what you are giving up.

First, you will have to place much higher at one of your safeties than you would at a T14 school to have anywhere near the same job prospects coming out. It is not likely that it will be any easier to get where you need to be in your class by going to the lower ranked school. I'm guessing that it would actually be harder.

Second, the legal profession is extremely prestige oriented. While being in the top 5% of your class at a lower ranked school will open up doors for your first job out, class rank is a metric that drops out of consideration pretty fast. What that means is five years out, when your resume shows up in a pile of other resumes with similar work experience, but theirs has JD, T14, they get the leg up, even if they were at the bottom of their class. There are just too many attorneys on the market and resumes sound the same. School becomes an easy weeding tool -- so many employers will only go with "blue ribbon" credentials and won't look past the school line unless they absolutely have to. I'm not saying this is fair or that it winds up placing the best attorneys for the job, but it is a short cut that gets taken a lot.

Now, if you can go without debt, then that can make the trade-offs worth it. Likewise, if you know the market you want to work in and have connections or believe you will develop them (connections trump school), there is no sense in buying prestige you don't need.

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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby JohnBlaze » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:35 am

Go to the school that is the best fit for you and what you want to do. Worrying about class rank or scheming on how to game your chances of gaining employment after you graduate from a school in which you haven't even enrolled is ludicrous. You probably don't know what kind of law you will want to practice (even if you think you do). No matter where you go, you are going to have to hustle for everything you get. Semesters are long and can be brutal. You are much more likely to stay motivated and make it through with your sanity if you choose the school that is the best fit for you personally. Everyone has to make their own decision, but my only advice would be to forget about hypothetical class rank scenarios and worry about something else.

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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby gmichaelbluth » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:38 am

JohnBlaze wrote:Go to the school that is the best fit for you and what you want to do. Worrying about class rank or scheming on how to game your chances of gaining employment after you graduate from a school in which you haven't even enrolled is ludicrous. You probably don't know what kind of law you will want to practice (even if you think you do). No matter where you go, you are going to have to hustle for everything you get. Semesters are long and can be brutal. You are much more likely to stay motivated and make it through with your sanity if you choose the school that is the best fit for you personally. Everyone has to make their own decision, but my only advice would be to forget about hypothetical class rank scenarios and worry about something else.


This.

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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby utilitarianjac » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:03 pm

JohnBlaze wrote:Go to the school that is the best fit for you and what you want to do. Worrying about class rank or scheming on how to game your chances of gaining employment after you graduate from a school in which you haven't even enrolled is ludicrous. You probably don't know what kind of law you will want to practice (even if you think you do). No matter where you go, you are going to have to hustle for everything you get. Semesters are long and can be brutal. You are much more likely to stay motivated and make it through with your sanity if you choose the school that is the best fit for you personally. Everyone has to make their own decision, but my only advice would be to forget about hypothetical class rank scenarios and worry about something else.


I'm in agreement here. I chose to go Pepperdine when I had multiple T14 offers. People thought that I was crazy, but I made the choice because it was a good fit for me (and the money certainly didn't hurt).

Any thoughts I had of being a "big fish in a small pond" were banished after midterms in my first semester.

Law school grades are not really predictable. Raw intelligence will only get you so far. To be honest, a good work ethic will only get you so far. (No doubt, people with straight As would disagree. Theirs is a fantasy world.) In the end, your grade comes down to your performance on one day and whether your professor likes what you've written. There are ways to improve your chances, but nothing can be fixed with certainty.
Last edited by utilitarianjac on Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kittenmittons
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby kittenmittons » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:05 pm

1. find a rich dude
2. get pregnant
3. ?????
4. profit

hth

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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby nahgems » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:47 pm

I go to a T4. I picked it partly because I needed a local part-time program and they gave me an excellent scholarship. CALI/Witkin awards (top two spots in each class) were just announced for first semester. They were dominated by scholarship kids. While TLSers repeatedly state that you can't predict law school performance based on LSAT/GPA, the high LSAT/GPA students at my school seem to be high performers. These same students are the ones invited to the Dean's brunch with influential alumni. They are the ones the professors pick as research assistants. They are the ones getting the decent interviews on campus. They are the students invited to be on law review. Depending on your situation and goals you still may be better off picking a T14 instead of a lower ranked school with a big scholarship. And TLSers are right, a high GPA/LSAT doesn't guarentee that you will be a "big fish" in your TTT pond. But meta-analysis of the "GPA/LSAT to performance" studies show a correlation.

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Cole S. Law
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby Cole S. Law » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:05 pm

Do not underestimate the students at lower ranked schools. It's a dirty secret that no one wants to admit, but the subjects at law school are not overly difficult. It does takes substantial time to grapple with them and internalize them, but this isn't advanced physics. Most students are able compensate for a lower brain-horsepower by working like a suicidal Japanese businessman. I chose a lower ranked school for its location in a market I intend to practice and the offer of full tuition. My LSAT is 9 points over the 75th, and I had to really REALLY hustle to make the top 20%. These kids are intensely dedicated.

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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby JohnBlaze » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:20 pm

nahgems wrote:I go to a T4. I picked it partly because I needed a local part-time program and they gave me an excellent scholarship. CALI/Witkin awards (top two spots in each class) were just announced for first semester. They were dominated by scholarship kids. While TLSers repeatedly state that you can't predict law school performance based on LSAT/GPA, the high LSAT/GPA students at my school seem to be high performers. These same students are the ones invited to the Dean's brunch with influential alumni. They are the ones the professors pick as research assistants. They are the ones getting the decent interviews on campus. They are the students invited to be on law review. Depending on your situation and goals you still may be better off picking a T14 instead of a lower ranked school with a big scholarship. And TLSers are right, a high GPA/LSAT doesn't guarentee that you will be a "big fish" in your TTT pond. But meta-analysis of the "GPA/LSAT to performance" studies show a correlation.


Correlation does not equal causation. Not even close. Probably around 30% of a law school class is on some sort of scholarship. Out of a class of 200, this is 60 students. Only 20 students overall will make top 10%. Only 2 (1%) qualify for these CALI/Witkin awards. I'm not betting 100k on those numbers. No way. My numbers are guess-timations, but you get the point. Correlations can predict a general trend that will hold up with a representative sample over time, but they can NEVER be used to reliably predict an individual instance.
Last edited by JohnBlaze on Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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najumobi
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby najumobi » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:22 pm

livitup11 wrote:I'll be sure I don't make the mistake of underestimating anything going into my first semester. GPA and LSAT are by no means a perfect measure of law school success, as I'm sure we can all agree, but there should be some correlation or else they would throw them out as considerations for admissions, no? In other words, it's not a guarantee, but is there a statistically significant difference in how someone is likely to be ranked based on the ranking of the school they attend, and if so, is that difference worth considering as I decide what law school to attend?

For instance, I know being on law review opens up a lot of doors. If I attend one of my "safeties", my instinct is that my chances of getting on law review would be better, thus translating into improved job prospects. But I'm not sure if this is worth considering if the other option is to attend a T14.

you're right, there is a correlation. it's a pretty strong correlation, but even then, it just shows that lsat and gpa account for only 24% of the variation in law school performance.

ConsideringLawSchool
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby ConsideringLawSchool » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:27 pm

A friend of mine who is extremely intelligent and hard working is currently attending a law school ranked 90-100 (she had an amazing GPA but did not study for the LSAT and blew it on test day). She has been getting some very cool opportunities by virtue of being at a school where she is among the most talented students (TA'ing for a prestigious professor, for example). Other top students at her school seem to be pretty much guaranteed to have some unique, hands-on experiences if that is what they wish to pursue... I think that being at the top of any school does have its perks for sure, and it's definitely easier to be at the top of a T2/T3 school than to be at the top of a T1 school.

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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:38 pm

This is not a good idea. I work with lawyers that have graduated from every level of LS. The competition is just as bad at a T1 as it is at a TTT. The factors that determine entry (arranging kids around a table based on the day of the week and color of the chair quickly and whether or not you hade a 3.8 or a 3.3 in 'hard' classes like intro to being a special snowflake at A-typical grade inflated American U-Grad), simply do not do a great job of creating a situation where the truly brightest students are at the top and drooling half-wits at the bottom. In my TTT (and in fact in my row of my first year contracts class) there was me (Top-25 U-grad with prior legal experience), a guy from harvard, girl from U-chicago, girl from a mini-ivy, an ex-CEO of a large financial company who wanted to do something different and a guy from BC with 12 years work/life experieince under his belt... Only go to a LS that you are happy being median at, because beyond that, anything can happen.

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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby JohnBlaze » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:50 pm

najumobi wrote:you're right, there is a correlation. it's a pretty strong correlation, but even then, it just shows that lsat and gpa account for only 24% of the variation in law school performance.


A .24 correlation is pretty strong when dealing with so many variables, but it is a long way from a 1.0. Even if you are a smart cookie, and even if you manage to finish near the top of your class (I managed to), you will have to work your ass off (I defintiely did). And I don't mean pull-some-all-nighters-in-the-last-few-weeks-of-your-undergrad-semester work your ass off. Law school is a marathon. Your undergrad GPA/LSAT score will not carry you through it. Plan on being humbled (if you aren't already), even if you excel. No matter which law school you choose, you will probably discover that you are not nearly as large a fish as you might have thought.

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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby najumobi » Thu Jan 21, 2010 1:53 pm

JohnBlaze wrote:
najumobi wrote:you're right, there is a correlation. it's a pretty strong correlation, but even then, it just shows that lsat and gpa account for only 24% of the variation in law school performance.


A .24 correlation is pretty strong when dealing with so many variables, but it is a long way from a 1.0. Even if you are a smart cookie, and even if you manage to finish near the top of your class (I managed to), you will have to work your ass off (I defintiely did). And I don't mean pull-some-all-nighters-in-the-last-few-weeks-of-your-undergrad-semester work your ass off. Law school is a marathon. Your undergrad GPA/LSAT score will not carry you through it. Plan on being humbled (if you aren't already), even if you excel.
it's actually a .49 correlation = accounting for 24% of variation. i was just making the point that a 24% account of variation still leaves a lot of variation that isn't accounted for. so one shouldn't be so confident as to say they will likely outperform classmates at schools with lower medians.

JohnBlaze
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby JohnBlaze » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:16 pm

najumobi wrote:
JohnBlaze wrote:
najumobi wrote:you're right, there is a correlation. it's a pretty strong correlation, but even then, it just shows that lsat and gpa account for only 24% of the variation in law school performance.


A .24 correlation is pretty strong when dealing with so many variables, but it is a long way from a 1.0. Even if you are a smart cookie, and even if you manage to finish near the top of your class (I managed to), you will have to work your ass off (I defintiely did). And I don't mean pull-some-all-nighters-in-the-last-few-weeks-of-your-undergrad-semester work your ass off. Law school is a marathon. Your undergrad GPA/LSAT score will not carry you through it. Plan on being humbled (if you aren't already), even if you excel.
it's actually a .49 correlation = accounting for 24% of variation. i was just making the point that a 24% account of variation still leaves a lot of variation that isn't accounted for. so one shouldn't be so confident as to say they will likely outperform classmates at schools with lower medians.


You're right, and I was agreeing with you. It just didn't come across that way.

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nahgems
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Re: Largeish fish, smaller pond?

Postby nahgems » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:23 pm

JohnBlaze wrote:
nahgems wrote:I go to a T4. I picked it partly because I needed a local part-time program and they gave me an excellent scholarship. CALI/Witkin awards (top two spots in each class) were just announced for first semester. They were dominated by scholarship kids. While TLSers repeatedly state that you can't predict law school performance based on LSAT/GPA, the high LSAT/GPA students at my school seem to be high performers. These same students are the ones invited to the Dean's brunch with influential alumni. They are the ones the professors pick as research assistants. They are the ones getting the decent interviews on campus. They are the students invited to be on law review. Depending on your situation and goals you still may be better off picking a T14 instead of a lower ranked school with a big scholarship. And TLSers are right, a high GPA/LSAT doesn't guarentee that you will be a "big fish" in your TTT pond. But meta-analysis of the "GPA/LSAT to performance" studies show a correlation.


Correlation does not equal causation. Not even close. Probably around 30% of a law school class is on some sort of scholarship. Out of a class of 200, this is 60 students. Only 20 students overall will make top 10%. Only 2 (1%) qualify for these CALI/Witkin awards. I'm not betting 100k on those numbers. No way. My numbers are guess-timations, but you get the point. Correlations can predict a general trend that will hold up with a representative sample over time, but they can NEVER be used to reliably predict an individual instance.


Really? Correlation doesn't imply causation? There could be a totally unrelated factor (like underlying raw intelligence or work ethic) that caused both things? (/sarcasm).

I don't think anything I said implied that good LSAT scores cause good law school performance (that would be a fairly ridiculous statement). As a statistician, I hate when people inapproriately say "correlation does not equal causation" in an effort to make other people look bad.




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