A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

(Rankings, Profiles, Tuition, Student Life, . . . )
User avatar
Dick Whitman
Posts: 232
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:55 pm

A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Dick Whitman » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:08 pm

The conventional wisdom (both on here and elsewhere) is that aspiring law students should attend the best law school they can get into. The article discussed in the link below calls this into question.

http://volokh.com/2010/08/10/dont-go-to-that-law-school-its-too-high-ranked/#more-35323

The article points out that grades matter far more than the rank of the school. The first response to this would be along the lines that the 4.0 student at UVA has opportunities closed to the 4.0 student at Washington & Lee. This is true, but it's a high-risk strategy. It only applies to a bare handful of students -- how many UVA students have better opportunities than the #1 student at Wash & Lee (perhaps with an Law Review EIC on the resume to boot)?

Add in the scholarships available and the highly-regionalized nature of the legal industry, and the argument begins to tilt even further against the conventional wisdom.

pasteurizedmilk
Posts: 460
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:12 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby pasteurizedmilk » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:17 pm

If you accept their (unsupportable) position that students at lower ranked schools will perform worse at higher ranked schools than you may have a point.

I don't accept that premise though.

Kobe_Teeth
Posts: 964
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:40 am

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Kobe_Teeth » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:22 pm

pasteurizedmilk wrote:If you accept their (unsupportable) position that students at lower ranked schools will perform worse at higher ranked schools than you may have a point.

I don't accept that premise though.



Why?

User avatar
Dick Whitman
Posts: 232
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:55 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Dick Whitman » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:23 pm

pasteurizedmilk wrote:If you accept their (unsupportable) position that students at lower ranked schools will perform worse at higher ranked schools than you may have a point.

I don't accept that premise though.


If you mean unsupportable in that there is no way to tell how a specific individual will fare at one institution versus another, then yes, there is no point. In the aggregate, however, that is the basis of their report. Of course you're free to ignore empirical evidence as you see fit.

theantiscalia
Posts: 320
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:18 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby theantiscalia » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:27 pm

pasteurizedmilk wrote:If you accept their (unsupportable) position that students at lower ranked schools will perform worse at higher ranked schools than you may have a point.

I don't accept that premise though.


Let's take the average law school student (with, let's say, a 160 and 3.4 GPA) as an example. Do you really think that they wouldn't perform above average at Cooley but below average at Columbia? Because while there might be instances of somebody exceeding (or falling far below) expectations, and while those numbers don't have full predictive value, on average, I think they're going to do as well as expected... i.e. top of the class at Cooley and bottom at Columbia.

That's the entire point of the LSAT... it is correlated with law school success... even if not highly correlated.

Kobe_Teeth
Posts: 964
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:40 am

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Kobe_Teeth » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:29 pm

It really just encourages you to find the school that is the best fit for you. You don't necessarily need to be a rankings/prestige whore but he's definitely not encouraging anyone to sell themselves short either.

We think prospective law students should be cautious about translating these findings into practice. Certainly our advice is not to go to the worst school one gets into; these relative tradeoffs are most convincing among schools within, say, twenty or thirty places of one another in the US News rankings. However, applicants should be considering where they are likely to perform their best, and should be wary of attending a school where their credentials (LSAT scores and UGPA) will be below average.

Kobe_Teeth
Posts: 964
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:40 am

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Kobe_Teeth » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:38 pm

What I think is more interesting is that this was posted on ATL days ago, is on Volkh today and TLS has barely acknowledged it.

theantiscalia
Posts: 320
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:18 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby theantiscalia » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:44 pm

Kobe_Teeth wrote:What I think is more interesting is that this was posted on ATL days ago, is on Volkh today and TLS has barely acknowledged it.


While I think the study is flawed (potential sample bias, out-dated data, third variable problem), it is fascinating.

I'd say it hasn't been acknowledged by TLS for two reasons...

(1.) It is a long read and kind of wonkish.
(2.) It questions a pervasive viewpoint on this site (i.e. go to the highest ranked school you get into).

User avatar
romothesavior
Posts: 14772
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:29 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby romothesavior » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:51 pm

theantiscalia wrote:Let's take the average law school student (with, let's say, a 160 and 3.4 GPA) as an example. Do you really think that they wouldn't perform above average at Cooley but below average at Columbia? Because while there might be instances of somebody exceeding (or falling far below) expectations, and while those numbers don't have full predictive value, on average, I think they're going to do as well as expected... i.e. top of the class at Cooley and bottom at Columbia.

That's the entire point of the LSAT... it is correlated with law school success... even if not highly correlated.


You're right to a certain point. A student with a 160 has a much better chance at success against a bunch of ~150s than a bunch of 170s. In that sense, someone with a 160 will likely do better at St. Louis University than at WUSTL.

But the higher up the rankings you go, the less this strategy holds true. This is largely because of the curve of the LSAT... a student with a 178 is only a handful of questions better than a 170, but a 160 is quite a bit better than a 152.

User avatar
romothesavior
Posts: 14772
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 4:29 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby romothesavior » Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:53 pm

theantiscalia wrote:
Kobe_Teeth wrote:What I think is more interesting is that this was posted on ATL days ago, is on Volkh today and TLS has barely acknowledged it.


While I think the study is flawed (potential sample bias, out-dated data, third variable problem), it is fascinating.

I'd say it hasn't been acknowledged by TLS for two reasons...

(1.) It is a long read and kind of wonkish.
(2.) It questions a pervasive viewpoint on this site (i.e. go to the highest ranked school you get into).


Also, this study is interesting, but it is hard to argue with the raw employment data. When big firms are digging into the top 50% at low T14s for SAs and only the top 20% at T30s, I still think your odds are better at the T14. But of course, there are other factors at play (like mitigating risk thru schollies, regional factors, etc.) that may influence a person's decision to take the lower ranked school and still have made the right call.

ToTransferOrNot
Posts: 1928
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:45 am

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:01 pm

The article has been thoroughly torn apart on other parts of the board. Transfer students torpedo its premise. The employment data is largely irrelevant because the sample stops at 2002, and simply doesn't reflect current market reality (a reality that probably isn't going to change any time soon) re: the fact that firms simply aren't interviewing at lower-ranked schools.

User avatar
skoobily doobily
Posts: 247
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:40 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby skoobily doobily » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:11 pm

The correlation between LSAT and GPA combined with first year grades is .4 per LSAC research. This leaves a LOT of wiggle room for other factors to determine your grades in law school.

There is a VERY good correlation between going to higher ranked schools and having better job prospects.

Given that noone can establish the innate ability to score well on law school exams, but we can establish how much our job opportunities will increase by moving up the rankings ladder, it would be a rather foolish decision go to a worse school in order to finish higher in your class.

User avatar
Dick Whitman
Posts: 232
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:55 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Dick Whitman » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:32 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:The article has been thoroughly torn apart on other parts of the board. Transfer students torpedo its premise. The employment data is largely irrelevant because the sample stops at 2002, and simply doesn't reflect current market reality (a reality that probably isn't going to change any time soon) re: the fact that firms simply aren't interviewing at lower-ranked schools.


How do transfer students torpedo the premise? I'm missing your logic here.

OCI cutbacks have been across the board. Firms are hiring fewer students from higher-ranked schools as well -- and thus hiring higher-ranked students.

Bumi
Posts: 947
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:57 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Bumi » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:34 pm

theantiscalia wrote:I'd say it hasn't been acknowledged by TLS for two reasons...

(1.) It is a long read and kind of wonkish.

Fortunately, the study and practice of law doesn't involve much reading.

ToTransferOrNot
Posts: 1928
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:45 am

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:48 pm

Dick Whitman wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:The article has been thoroughly torn apart on other parts of the board. Transfer students torpedo its premise. The employment data is largely irrelevant because the sample stops at 2002, and simply doesn't reflect current market reality (a reality that probably isn't going to change any time soon) re: the fact that firms simply aren't interviewing at lower-ranked schools.


How do transfer students torpedo the premise? I'm missing your logic here.

OCI cutbacks have been across the board. Firms are hiring fewer students from higher-ranked schools as well -- and thus hiring higher-ranked students.


Transfer students routinely do just as well -if not better - at their new school. Kills the ideA that you will necessarily get lower grades by going to a higher ranked school.

And there is a difference between cutting back oci hiring and simply not going to a school's o I. Your rank doesn't matter if firms simply are not going to your school anymore--which is the case at many schools. (Take a look at how many Chicago firms went to UWisconsin's OCI last year and this year, for example.)

User avatar
thecilent
Posts: 2506
Joined: Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:55 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby thecilent » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:49 pm

Dick Whitman wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:The article has been thoroughly torn apart on other parts of the board. Transfer students torpedo its premise. The employment data is largely irrelevant because the sample stops at 2002, and simply doesn't reflect current market reality (a reality that probably isn't going to change any time soon) re: the fact that firms simply aren't interviewing at lower-ranked schools.


How do transfer students torpedo the premise? I'm missing your logic here.


They can perform just as highly at their new schools...

Edit- he beat me to it

User avatar
Dick Whitman
Posts: 232
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:55 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Dick Whitman » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:55 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:Transfer students routinely do just as well -if not better - at their new school. Kills the ideA that you will necessarily get lower grades by going to a higher ranked school.

And there is a difference between cutting back oci hiring and simply not going to a school's o I. Your rank doesn't matter if firms simply are not going to your school anymore--which is the case at many schools. (Take a look at how many Chicago firms went to UWisconsin's OCI last year and this year, for example.)


Evidence shows that higher grades are a better predictor of success than law school rank. Your argument supports my position, not yours.

Your rank still matters. You're assuming law firms don't hire outside of OCI. I would argue higher-ranked students at lower-ranked students have a better shot at firms that don't attend their OCI than lower-ranked students at higher-ranked students. Even at Harvard, the below-median students are struggling to find jobs.

09042014
Posts: 18282
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:47 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby 09042014 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 6:59 pm

I don't buy that someone who does horrible at Harvard, would do well at Michigan.

You can test this. Look at people who had Harvard level numbers who went to Michigan (Darrow winners mostly), and see how they do.

miamiman
Posts: 1486
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:55 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby miamiman » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:01 pm

I wonder if the drafters of this study (Sander et. al) would benefit from having a discussion with current top 5% students at T2s; I wonder if their agony would at all shed light on the relevance of this study ITE.

User avatar
Dick Whitman
Posts: 232
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:55 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Dick Whitman » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:23 pm

Desert Fox wrote:I don't buy that someone who does horrible at Harvard, would do well at Michigan.

You can test this. Look at people who had Harvard level numbers who went to Michigan (Darrow winners mostly), and see how they do.


That's the point. They did.

User avatar
JordynAsh
Posts: 370
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 3:20 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby JordynAsh » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:28 pm

theantiscalia wrote:
pasteurizedmilk wrote:If you accept their (unsupportable) position that students at lower ranked schools will perform worse at higher ranked schools than you may have a point.

I don't accept that premise though.


Let's take the average law school student (with, let's say, a 160 and 3.4 GPA) as an example. Do you really think that they wouldn't perform above average at Cooley but below average at Columbia? Because while there might be instances of somebody exceeding (or falling far below) expectations, and while those numbers don't have full predictive value, on average, I think they're going to do as well as expected... i.e. top of the class at Cooley and bottom at Columbia.

That's the entire point of the LSAT... it is correlated with law school success... even if not highly correlated.


That's why the usual 160/3.4 will not be admitted to Columbia. The (overly simplified) conventional wisdom that you should go to the highest ranked school you get into takes into consideration that if you did not stand a reasonably fair chance of placing well in the class, you wouldn't have been accepted in the first place.

Bumi
Posts: 947
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:57 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Bumi » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:42 pm

I reject the conclusions of this empirical study because they do not hold for extreme edge cases or anecdotal exceptions, and because they do not conform to my worldview.

User avatar
skoobily doobily
Posts: 247
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:40 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby skoobily doobily » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:48 pm

Bumi wrote:I reject the conclusions of this empirical study because they do not hold for extreme edge cases or anecdotal exceptions, and because they do not conform to my worldview it's a pretty crappy study with an agenda

Bumi
Posts: 947
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:57 pm

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Bumi » Wed Aug 11, 2010 7:56 pm

skoobily doobily wrote:it's a pretty crappy study

[citation needed]

Renzo
Posts: 4265
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:23 am

Re: A Challenge to the Conventional Wisdom to Chase Prestige

Postby Renzo » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:00 pm

This "study" only proves that law professors should be embarrassed to call themselves academics. It's a very important and persuasive op-ed piece, but research it is not.




Return to “Choosing a Law School”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 4 guests