What's the deal with Harvard students?

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abl
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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:11 pm

flockavelli wrote:Well there's obviously a survivorship bias - almost defintely the majority of H students could have gone to a solid law school for free, the ones that are there are those that didn't take those offers. If you're wondering what that selects on, it's probably a risk-seeking temperament. Gambling $300,000 for a greater chance of the outcomes that people actually want out of law school. TLS skews the other way, towards risk aversion, so the two groups are going to have differing opinions as to what the right decision is.

The expected value of a CCN degree with no debt is probably higher than H with hundos in debt, but not necessarily the expected utility. Realistically, a lot of students probably have utility curves which place disproportionate emphasis on relatively unlikely outcomes, and are willing to take risks to maximize expected utility while sacrificing expected value. H increases the odds of those disproportionately valuable outcomes over CCN. Those are the people that take H (higher than 50% yield, so not insubstantial). Expected value maximizers follow the money.


This.

Also, I agree with jdbagelboy -- this is hardly unique to Harvard. My sense is that there are probably more folks who are choosing between Columbia at full cost and somewhere like Northwestern with a close-to-full ride than there are folks choosing between H at full cost and Columbia at close-to-full ride.

Also, I do think that the majority of students at top law schools aren't dreaming about biglaw as a 0L (at my HYS virtually nobody at my admitted student weekend talked about wanting biglaw--but people did widely talk about other possible career options like clerkships and PI). This means that even though the majority of students at Harvard will end up in biglaw, that's not necessarily the goal motivating most admitted students' decisionmaking.

Finally, there's almost certainly a good amount of self-selection among the students admitted to Harvard: the majority of folks who get into HYS don't get there by maximizing their value at the cost of utility--these are all students who've done a pretty good job in nailing their credentials (often starting at a fairly young age). There are, of course, a number of Harvard admitted students who chose, say, U-Mass Amherst over Amherst College for undergrad, but the particulars of HYS admissions is such that the vast majority of admitted students made some version of the opposite choice (and likely credit that choice--reasonably or not--for putting them in their present enviable position). Even for those students who chose value for undergrad, most will have made other utility-maximizing choices down the road (accumulating credentials that don't directly contribute to any anticipated job outcomes). Therefore, the students choosing between Harvard and Columbia are already fairly self-selected to be the sort of students who will maximize utility (and choose Harvard) rather than value (and choose Columbia).

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby flockavelli » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:14 pm

^ Well really everyone is maximizing their utility, the meaningful distinction is the amount that individuals (imagine they) would get from the fringe outcomes that H increases the odds of attaining and the amount of disutility they ascribe to debt. People who weigh the onerous debt less than the value of the % increase in chance of fringe outcomes pick H, those that don't pick $$$, but everyone is maximizing their utility.

This is why the TLS trope of calling people paying full tuition stupid doesn't make any sense to me, it's all weighted by individual's different preferences. It makes sense to correct someone if you think they have weighted the probabilities they're using to make these calculations incorrectly, but it doesn't make any sense to berate someone just for having individual preferences. If fringe outcomes are unlikely, then for people (who know that) to pay $300,000 to increase their chances of getting them they must value those outcomes very highly - so the line of thinking that it's stupid to make them a primary concern because they are extremely unlikely is absurd. That is literally the nature of gambling. It would only make sense to say: "the value that you must place on those outcomes to pay $x that much to increase your chances y% is too high" - but I feel like that just comes back to our heterogeneous preferences. Seems silly brughs.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby Mack.Hambleton » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:33 pm

It's m-m-my preference

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby LetsGoMets » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:33 pm

lefthandofdarkness wrote:Did you get JS's email asking if those of us looking at merit scholarships from other schools wanted to be put in touch with more of those aggressive Harvard gunners who will tell us why Harvard is worth $180k more than Columbia?


Yup. They are relentless with their retention game. I think I had more than enough of the pitch at ASW, although it's helpful to know that the group I talked to was not exactly typical, and probably at least partially kids who aren't paying and/or those with substantial grants.

abl
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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:37 pm

flockavelli wrote:^ Well really everyone is maximizing their utility, the meaningful distinction is the amount that individuals (imagine they) would get from the fringe outcomes that H increases the odds of attaining and the amount of disutility they ascribe to debt. People who weigh the onerous debt less than the value of the % increase in chance of fringe outcomes pick H, those that don't pick $$$, but everyone is maximizing their utility.


Sure. Sorry for my sloppy language. I think what I was trying to say comes through, though: the folks who get into HLS put more weight on credentials that only marginally impact defined career tracks and less on immediate income/debt than the average person. The folks who put more weight on debt / income in the first place are much more likely to have chosen state school over elite private schools for undergrad, worked jobs in college rather than accumulate prestigious credentials, and chosen careers like finance and accounting out of undergrad rather than pursued a masters/PhD or a non-profit like TFA. And as much as such $-based value-maximization may be a defensible pre-law school position, it's not generally going to be as surefire a path to HYS.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby LetsGoMets » Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:49 pm

Adding some numbers on how many HLS students actually go into Biglaw, despite what they claim/hope as 0Ls, because I think it's an interesting discussion:

LST shows Harvard putting 52.3% of grads in 250+ lawyer firms in 2013. Of course a good number of the 20% doing clerkships are deferring Biglaw for a year, so assuming that's like 15%, that's about 2/3 of grads in Biglaw. Numbers are very similar in 2012. Assuming the goal is generic Biglaw (i.e. NY), that makes turning down CCN full rides for HLS a ridiculous decision. Harvard does appear to provide a small but not insignificant advantage for DC, at least based on the 2013 OCI data I've gotten -- but it seems really tough to say it's worth $180k, with DC as tough a market to crack as it is no matter where you're coming from.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:20 pm

flockavelli wrote:This is why the TLS trope of calling people paying full tuition stupid doesn't make any sense to me, it's all weighted by individual's different preferences. It makes sense to correct someone if you think they have weighted the probabilities they're using to make these calculations incorrectly, but it doesn't make any sense to berate someone just for having individual preferences. If fringe outcomes are unlikely, then for people (who know that) to pay $300,000 to increase their chances of getting them they must value those outcomes very highly - so the line of thinking that it's stupid to make them a primary concern because they are extremely unlikely is absurd. That is literally the nature of gambling. It would only make sense to say: "the value that you must place on those outcomes to pay $x that much to increase your chances y% is too high" - but I feel like that just comes back to our heterogeneous preferences. Seems silly brughs.


Erroneous logic, bad paragraph.
(1) When comparing schools that provide nearly the same opportunities, the debt will serve as a greater constraint on career options than the difference in degrees. The inquiry over debt impacts both "outcomes" and "value:" to use your language, thee variables are correlated, not independent. You can do less with a JD burdened by debt so your outcomes aren't better, and your value is worse.
(2) 0Ls can at best guess what their preferences are, they don't "know." Sounds paternalistic, but one can't treat every 22 year old who wants to clerk for SCOTUS as a legitimate preference that should dictate some abstract value add calculus. Unless you have experience in a field and can articulate why you want it, this "preference" for narrow career outcome bullshit should not be credited or "weighted." In fact, there are significant socio-cultural pressures for liberal minded students to pay lip service to careers other than working at large corporate firms, so of course they will develop some more congenial "individual preference" narrative -- doesn't make it any more objectively credible.
Last edited by jbagelboy on Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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withoutapaddle
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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby withoutapaddle » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:23 pm

Dude go to CLS full ride and ball out when you get your first paycheck. You could live in a sick apartment, in a sick area in NYC on that salary and no debt. $255,000 of debt is no joke, especially when you're living in high cost city.

abl
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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:32 pm

LetsGoMets wrote:Adding some numbers on how many HLS students actually go into Biglaw, despite what they claim/hope as 0Ls, because I think it's an interesting discussion:

LST shows Harvard putting 52.3% of grads in 250+ lawyer firms in 2013. Of course a good number of the 20% doing clerkships are deferring Biglaw for a year, so assuming that's like 15%, that's about 2/3 of grads in Biglaw. Numbers are very similar in 2012. Assuming the goal is generic Biglaw (i.e. NY), that makes turning down CCN full rides for HLS a ridiculous decision. Harvard does appear to provide a small but not insignificant advantage for DC, at least based on the 2013 OCI data I've gotten -- but it seems really tough to say it's worth $180k, with DC as tough a market to crack as it is no matter where you're coming from.


Why assume the goal's generic biglaw? That's pretty much the worst realistic outcome from Harvard. Also, I wouldn't assume that a clerkship -> biglaw = law school -> biglaw. But all of this is besides the point: I doubt many (any?) on this thread would argue that Harvard is worth $180,000 more than Columbia for a student whose sole goal is biglaw. The harder call is for students who want to ultimately go into academia, clerkships, competitive PI positions, boutique firms, big gov, AUSA positions, etc (some of which will come after ~2 years of biglaw)--e.g., pretty much anything other than biglaw. (To be clear: I'm talking about people who plan from the outset on going straight into another position, or who plan on doing biglaw for 1-4 years as a stepping stone to some other goal--and not people who eventually leave biglaw for midlaw/in house after deciding they don't like biglaw.) I think we can safely assume a fair number of folks who you've categorized as biglaw fall into one of those other boxes.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:50 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
flockavelli wrote:This is why the TLS trope of calling people paying full tuition stupid doesn't make any sense to me, it's all weighted by individual's different preferences. It makes sense to correct someone if you think they have weighted the probabilities they're using to make these calculations incorrectly, but it doesn't make any sense to berate someone just for having individual preferences. If fringe outcomes are unlikely, then for people (who know that) to pay $300,000 to increase their chances of getting them they must value those outcomes very highly - so the line of thinking that it's stupid to make them a primary concern because they are extremely unlikely is absurd. That is literally the nature of gambling. It would only make sense to say: "the value that you must place on those outcomes to pay $x that much to increase your chances y% is too high" - but I feel like that just comes back to our heterogeneous preferences. Seems silly brughs.


Erroneous logic, bad paragraph.
(1) When comparing schools that provide nearly the same opportunities, the debt will serve as a greater constraint on career options than the difference in degrees. The inquiry over debt impacts both "outcomes" and "value:" to use your language, thee variables are correlated, not independent. You can do less with a JD burdened by debt so your outcomes aren't better, and your value is worse.
(2) 0Ls can at best guess what their preferences are, they don't "know." Sounds paternalistic, but one can't treat every 22 year old who wants to clerk for SCOTUS as a legitimate preference that should dictate some abstract value add calculus. Unless you have experience in a field and can articulate why you want it, this "preference" for narrow career outcome bullshit should not be credited or "weighted." In fact, there are significant socio-cultural pressures for liberal minded students to pay lip service to careers other than working at large corporate firms, so of course they will develop some more congenial "individual preference" narrative -- doesn't make it any more objectively credible.


(1) That'd only be true if legal jobs weren't (almost) only really high paying private sector or reasonably low paying public sector jobs, and if loan repayments didn't largely cover the public sector jobs. I'm not sure the debt at Harvard is much if any constraint on folks pursuing public interest jobs (and it is certainly less at Yale and Stanford, which have more generous loan repayment programs). If there were a lot of law folks who would be going into low-six figure jobs were it not for debt, your point would be very well taken, but my sense is that's really not the case.

(2) Would it therefore follow that 0Ls should, instead of weighing their own preferences, listen to you? To the general TLS wisdom? To other older attorneys? Obviously people's preferences change, and obviously it's difficult to form definite preferences about a career to which you have little exposure. Is it your argument then that 0Ls should discount their career preferences relative to debt/income, because of the inherent uncertainty associated with most pre-law career preferences? I'd argue that the same holds true with debt/income decisions: most 0Ls (and basically everyone who posts in TLS) haven't lived in the world as a working adult for long enough to have a great understanding of how debt and income impact one's life over the course of an entire career. $100,000 seems like an enormous amount of money for someone who has only made $75,000 over the course of their entire life--but it's less consequential to an attorney who has made two-to-three times this every year for the past thirty years. I'm not convinced that the inherent uncertainties and biases associated with 0L's career preferences merit a greater discount than the biases associated with being a relative young adult and a newcomer to the work force.

(2)(a) To the extent that 0Ls aren't really sure and can't really be sure what legal career they want to pursue, wouldn't this cut in favor of Harvard? Harvard is going to open up more doors and make available a wider range of legal careers than Columbia. Given the general consensus that biglaw is in most ways a sub-optimal career option, and given the strength of the biglaw pipeline, it seems wise to me for an uncertain 0L to weigh career flexibility and alternatives relatively more heavily. (And given that those alternatives are mostly going to fall into the biglaw-esque pay bracket or be LRAP-eligible, loan burden isn't going to have much of an impact on a law student's decision to go to biglaw or to do something better.) I think many if not most biglaw associates would take out a $180,000 loan if it allowed them to take a more rewarding job--I can't tell you how often I've heard 3Ls and new associates lament the lack of substantive legal work with reasonable hours (for pay between biglaw and PI).
Last edited by abl on Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:53 pm

abl wrote:
LetsGoMets wrote:Adding some numbers on how many HLS students actually go into Biglaw, despite what they claim/hope as 0Ls, because I think it's an interesting discussion:

LST shows Harvard putting 52.3% of grads in 250+ lawyer firms in 2013. Of course a good number of the 20% doing clerkships are deferring Biglaw for a year, so assuming that's like 15%, that's about 2/3 of grads in Biglaw. Numbers are very similar in 2012. Assuming the goal is generic Biglaw (i.e. NY), that makes turning down CCN full rides for HLS a ridiculous decision. Harvard does appear to provide a small but not insignificant advantage for DC, at least based on the 2013 OCI data I've gotten -- but it seems really tough to say it's worth $180k, with DC as tough a market to crack as it is no matter where you're coming from.


Why assume the goal's generic biglaw? That's pretty much the worst realistic outcome from Harvard. Also, I wouldn't assume that a clerkship -> biglaw = law school -> biglaw. But all of this is besides the point: I doubt many (any?) on this thread would argue that Harvard is worth $180,000 more than Columbia for a student whose sole goal is biglaw. The harder call is for students who want to ultimately go into academia, clerkships, competitive PI positions, boutique firms, big gov, AUSA positions, etc (some of which will come after ~2 years of biglaw)--e.g., pretty much anything other than biglaw. (To be clear: I'm talking about people who plan from the outset on going straight into another position, or who plan on doing biglaw for 1-4 years as a stepping stone to some other goal--and not people who eventually leave biglaw for midlaw/in house after deciding they don't like biglaw.) I think we can safely assume a fair number of folks who you've categorized as biglaw fall into one of those other boxes.


As we've debated before, the flawed inference you're asking people to draw is that there's a notable difference in exit options down the line from the same firm based on where you went to school within a couple points on a commercial magazine survey. If anything, these differences, to the extent they are significant enough to overwhelm other factors, would become less pronounced - if not negligible - after working at a job than during or immediately post-law school.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:03 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
abl wrote:
LetsGoMets wrote:Adding some numbers on how many HLS students actually go into Biglaw, despite what they claim/hope as 0Ls, because I think it's an interesting discussion:

LST shows Harvard putting 52.3% of grads in 250+ lawyer firms in 2013. Of course a good number of the 20% doing clerkships are deferring Biglaw for a year, so assuming that's like 15%, that's about 2/3 of grads in Biglaw. Numbers are very similar in 2012. Assuming the goal is generic Biglaw (i.e. NY), that makes turning down CCN full rides for HLS a ridiculous decision. Harvard does appear to provide a small but not insignificant advantage for DC, at least based on the 2013 OCI data I've gotten -- but it seems really tough to say it's worth $180k, with DC as tough a market to crack as it is no matter where you're coming from.


Why assume the goal's generic biglaw? That's pretty much the worst realistic outcome from Harvard. Also, I wouldn't assume that a clerkship -> biglaw = law school -> biglaw. But all of this is besides the point: I doubt many (any?) on this thread would argue that Harvard is worth $180,000 more than Columbia for a student whose sole goal is biglaw. The harder call is for students who want to ultimately go into academia, clerkships, competitive PI positions, boutique firms, big gov, AUSA positions, etc (some of which will come after ~2 years of biglaw)--e.g., pretty much anything other than biglaw. (To be clear: I'm talking about people who plan from the outset on going straight into another position, or who plan on doing biglaw for 1-4 years as a stepping stone to some other goal--and not people who eventually leave biglaw for midlaw/in house after deciding they don't like biglaw.) I think we can safely assume a fair number of folks who you've categorized as biglaw fall into one of those other boxes.


As we've debated before, the flawed inference you're asking people to draw is that there's a notable difference in exit options down the line from the same firm based on where you went to school within a couple points on a commercial magazine survey. If anything, these differences, to the extent they are significant enough to overwhelm other factors, would become less pronounced - if not negligible - after working at a job than during or immediately post-law school.


You're being unfair to my position. I think the importance of USNews is overstated. So, for example, I put little stock in the order of HYS each year--or, for that matter, the order of really any school. The primary differences that I think are important are HYS and T14. The order of schools within those brackets don't matter much, IMO (with the possible exception of CCN).

I don't think the inference I am suggesting is flawed at all--nor do I think it's particularly controversial. I think it's pretty accepted that there's a difference for, say, academia and clerkships--even after ~2 years of biglaw. We can all agree that the difference decreases for folks who actually make a stab at a biglaw career (and last 4+ years and/or make partner). The point at which I am articulating there still being a difference, however, is for those jobs that effectively require 1-3 years of experience (academia, some clerkships, some high profile PI fellowships/positions, etc). Applicants for those jobs are evaluated much like applicants straight out of law school or a clerkship: it is important that the applicant has experience, not that the applicant has any specific experiences. In other words, for those jobs, several years of work experience serves primarily as but one more credential (it gets muddier for things like AUSA positions where work experience can be a credential but can also be more). It is only for jobs in which the specific experience becomes relevant that law school attended becomes a relatively minor factor--jobs like lateral or in-house positions (which are expressly not the sort of jobs to which I am referring).
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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby LetsGoMets » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:06 pm

abl wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:
abl wrote:
LetsGoMets wrote:Adding some numbers on how many HLS students actually go into Biglaw, despite what they claim/hope as 0Ls, because I think it's an interesting discussion:

LST shows Harvard putting 52.3% of grads in 250+ lawyer firms in 2013. Of course a good number of the 20% doing clerkships are deferring Biglaw for a year, so assuming that's like 15%, that's about 2/3 of grads in Biglaw. Numbers are very similar in 2012. Assuming the goal is generic Biglaw (i.e. NY), that makes turning down CCN full rides for HLS a ridiculous decision. Harvard does appear to provide a small but not insignificant advantage for DC, at least based on the 2013 OCI data I've gotten -- but it seems really tough to say it's worth $180k, with DC as tough a market to crack as it is no matter where you're coming from.


Why assume the goal's generic biglaw? That's pretty much the worst realistic outcome from Harvard. Also, I wouldn't assume that a clerkship -> biglaw = law school -> biglaw. But all of this is besides the point: I doubt many (any?) on this thread would argue that Harvard is worth $180,000 more than Columbia for a student whose sole goal is biglaw. The harder call is for students who want to ultimately go into academia, clerkships, competitive PI positions, boutique firms, big gov, AUSA positions, etc (some of which will come after ~2 years of biglaw)--e.g., pretty much anything other than biglaw. (To be clear: I'm talking about people who plan from the outset on going straight into another position, or who plan on doing biglaw for 1-4 years as a stepping stone to some other goal--and not people who eventually leave biglaw for midlaw/in house after deciding they don't like biglaw.) I think we can safely assume a fair number of folks who you've categorized as biglaw fall into one of those other boxes.


As we've debated before, the flawed inference you're asking people to draw is that there's a notable difference in exit options down the line from the same firm based on where you went to school within a couple points on a commercial magazine survey. If anything, these differences, to the extent they are significant enough to overwhelm other factors, would become less pronounced - if not negligible - after working at a job than during or immediately post-law school.


I think it's pretty accepted that there's a notable difference for, say, academia and clerkships--even after ~2 years of biglaw. We can all agree that the difference decreases for folks who actually make a stab at a biglaw career (and last 4+ years and/or make partner). The point at which I am articulating there still being a difference, however, is for those jobs that effectively require 1-3 years of experience (academia, some clerkships, some high profile PI fellowships/positions, etc). Applicants for those jobs are evaluated much like applicants straight out of law school or a clerkship: it is as important that the applicant has experience, not that the applicant has any specific experiences. In other words, for those jobs, several years of work experience serves primarily as but one more credential (it gets muddier for things like AUSA positions where work experience can be a credential, but can also be more). It is only for jobs in which the specific experience becomes relevant that law school attended becomes a relatively minor factor--jobs like lateral or in-house positions (which are expressly not the sort of jobs to which I am referring).


What's your experience with legal hiring, just for my knowledge? Not asking as a flame, just curious what your source for this thinking is.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:07 pm

abl wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:
flockavelli wrote:This is why the TLS trope of calling people paying full tuition stupid doesn't make any sense to me, it's all weighted by individual's different preferences. It makes sense to correct someone if you think they have weighted the probabilities they're using to make these calculations incorrectly, but it doesn't make any sense to berate someone just for having individual preferences. If fringe outcomes are unlikely, then for people (who know that) to pay $300,000 to increase their chances of getting them they must value those outcomes very highly - so the line of thinking that it's stupid to make them a primary concern because they are extremely unlikely is absurd. That is literally the nature of gambling. It would only make sense to say: "the value that you must place on those outcomes to pay $x that much to increase your chances y% is too high" - but I feel like that just comes back to our heterogeneous preferences. Seems silly brughs.


Erroneous logic, bad paragraph.
(1) When comparing schools that provide nearly the same opportunities, the debt will serve as a greater constraint on career options than the difference in degrees. The inquiry over debt impacts both "outcomes" and "value:" to use your language, thee variables are correlated, not independent. You can do less with a JD burdened by debt so your outcomes aren't better, and your value is worse.
(2) 0Ls can at best guess what their preferences are, they don't "know." Sounds paternalistic, but one can't treat every 22 year old who wants to clerk for SCOTUS as a legitimate preference that should dictate some abstract value add calculus. Unless you have experience in a field and can articulate why you want it, this "preference" for narrow career outcome bullshit should not be credited or "weighted." In fact, there are significant socio-cultural pressures for liberal minded students to pay lip service to careers other than working at large corporate firms, so of course they will develop some more congenial "individual preference" narrative -- doesn't make it any more objectively credible.


(1) That'd only be true if legal jobs weren't (almost) only really high paying private sector or reasonably low paying public sector jobs, and if loan repayments didn't largely cover the public sector jobs. I'm not sure the debt at Harvard is much if any constraint on folks pursuing public interest jobs (and it is certainly less at Yale and Stanford, which have more generous loan repayment programs). If there were a lot of law folks who would be going into low-six figure jobs were it not for debt, your point would be very well taken, but my sense is that's really not the case.

(2) Would it therefore follow that 0Ls should, instead of weighing their own preferences, listen to you? To the general TLS wisdom? To other older attorneys? Obviously people's preferences change, and obviously it's difficult to form definite preferences about a career to which you have little exposure. Is it your argument then that 0Ls should discount their career preferences relative to debt/income, because of the inherent uncertainty associated with most pre-law career preferences? I'd argue that the same holds true with debt/income decisions: most 0Ls (and basically everyone who posts in TLS) haven't lived in the world as a working adult for long enough to have a great understanding of how debt and income impact one's life over the course of an entire career. $100,000 seems like an enormous amount of money for someone who has only made $75,000 over the course of their entire life--but it's less consequential to an attorney who has made two-to-three times this every year for the past thirty years. I'm not convinced that the inherent uncertainties and biases associated with 0L's career preferences merit a greater discount than the biases associated with being a relative young adult and a newcomer to the work force.

(2)(a) To the extent that 0Ls aren't really sure and can't really be sure what legal career they want to pursue, wouldn't this cut in favor of Harvard? Harvard is going to open up more doors and make available a wider range of legal careers than Columbia. Given the general consensus that biglaw is in most ways a sub-optimal career option, and given the strength of the biglaw pipeline, it seems wise to me for an uncertain 0L to weigh career flexibility and alternatives relatively more heavily. (And given that those alternatives are mostly going to fall into the biglaw-esque pay bracket or be LRAP-eligible, loan burden isn't going to have much of an impact on a law student's decision to go to biglaw or to do something better.) I think many if not most biglaw associates would take out a $180,000 loan if it allowed them to take a more rewarding job--I can't tell you how often I've heard 3Ls and new associates lament the lack of substantive legal work with reasonable hours (for pay between biglaw and PI).


(1) Most (and all disgruntled) large firm attorneys cite debt as the primary reason they have to stay in their current position. It's a huge motivating factor in why people stay in positions they wouldn't otherwise hold: this is a constraint, and it correlates debt to opportunity. Just ask practicing biglaw attorneys with large debt loads here. It's certainly a constraint. Your binary example of high income or low income/debt relieved does not cover the full range of legal employment - not even close. I'd refer you to discussions of LRAP in other threads.

(2) This is in the context of what we consider in providing objective advise, not what the 0L should or will think about or who they will take cues from. Hopefully they'll look at LST and see that most people going to the schools they are considering work at large firms and they aren't so unique. I'm not going to heavily adjust my advise because someone tells me they want to be a federal judge or a scotus clerk, unless they have the realistic background for the niche field they want to enter.

(2)(a) what? You think biglaw associates would take out MORE LOANS to change jobs? It's the exact opposite! They would trade spots on us news for LESS debt so they can actually take the alternative career paths in the first place! I would refer you back to (1) on this point. Also, the whole "opens doors" schpeel is rich but when you're reaching for that played out trope you know you're stretched a little thin. The whole argument I was critiquing was how to factor the added opportunity for a certain sliver over the class with added debt. Your argument can't be so tautologically neutered: the debt is worth it for this marginal chance for some students because of the marginal chance.

abl
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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:14 pm

LetsGoMets wrote:
What's your experience with legal hiring, just for my knowledge? Not asking as a flame, just curious what your source for this thinking is.


I've had a fair amount of experience. I'm several years out of HYS, a former fed clerk, and I currently work at what I think most here would describe as a "unicorn" job. In all of the positions I've had, I've had fairly real experience in hiring for highly desirable JD-required positions with over three different employers (and have been the guy in the back of the room for 1-2 others).

I've also seen several co-clerks and close law school friends go through the hiring process for different highly-desirable outcomes (and have often been in the room when they talked about the process with our judge/supervisor--and have therefore heard a ton of advice and opinions on a wide range of hiring from several folks who, because of their experiences, would be even more in the know than me).

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:28 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
(1) Most (and all disgruntled) large firm attorneys cite debt as the primary reason they have to stay in their current position. It's a huge motivating factor in why people stay in positions they wouldn't otherwise hold: this is a constraint, and it correlates debt to opportunity. Just ask practicing biglaw attorneys with large debt loads here. It's certainly a constraint. Your binary example of high income or low income/debt relieved does not cover the full range of legal employment - not even close. I'd refer you to discussions of LRAP in other threads.

(2) This is in the context of what we consider in providing objective advise, not what the 0L should or will think about or who they will take cues from. Hopefully they'll look at LST and see that most people going to the schools they are considering work at large firms and they aren't so unique. I'm not going to heavily adjust my advise because someone tells me they want to be a federal judge or a scotus clerk, unless they have the realistic background for the niche field they want to enter.

(2)(a) what? You think biglaw associates would take out MORE LOANS to change jobs? It's the exact opposite! They would trade spots on us news for LESS debt so they can actually take the alternative career paths in the first place! I would refer you back to (1) on this point. Also, the whole "opens doors" schpeel is rich but when you're reaching for that played out trope you know you're stretched a little thin. The whole argument I was critiquing was how to factor the added opportunity for a certain sliver over the class with added debt. Your argument can't be so tautologically neutered: the debt is worth it for this marginal chance for some students because of the marginal chance.


Once again, you're conflating two different career paths. One path leads folks to biglaw because they are interested in biglaw and, after discovering biglaw isn't that great, these folks look for other jobs but realize they are trapped by their debt. The other path leads folks to biglaw solely as a stepping stone for other jobs--academia, high-profile PI positions, AUSA spots, etc. I absolutely agree that for folks on this first path, debt is a real issue. I absolutely disagree, however, that just about anyone is dissuaded by their debt from taking the second path. The constraint to which I am referring is the (weak) constraint that prevents people from taking the second path. The constraint to which you are harping on is the (strong) constraint that restricts folks who have taken the first path from stepping down to midlaw or lower stress in-house positions.

Finally, I absolutely do believe that biglaw associates would gladly give up $$ for a better job. The relevant question here, though, isn't whether a Harvard grad in $180,000 debt would pay an additional $180,000 to escape biglaw--it's whether a Columbia grad with no debt would give up ~$180,000 in compensation over a 10-year period (or an amount equivalent to $180,000 in debt) for a real improved chance of immediately escaping biglaw. I think the answer to this latter question is, for many associates, yes. It's not a perfect indicator, but just look at how many Columbia grads speak with their feet and do move from biglaw to midlaw or in house at the first opportunity--a move that almost always comes with a greater pay cut than the effect of a $180,000 loan.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:36 pm

abl, I'm not trying to be unfair to your position and if you feel that I'm reducing what you perceive to be a more nuanced argument to the magazine survey, I apologize. You are asking for everyone here, myself included, to take your word that you have very compelling, extrinsic reasons - aside from LST, National Law Journal, US News, any other accessible metric, since you reject these as unrepresentative - for placing three particular schools above all the others. I don't think it's unfair to press you on this since it's logically unsound to make arguments about value premised so heavily on a certain assumption, but deny you're relying on more than your personal experience for that assumption so that I can't evaluate your underlying considerations - I think you're a smart dude and I'm not disputing, and have never disputed, that more Harvard students will access some opportunities and get hired for some jobs than at other schools. But you can't construct this narrative and say A because of A. What else makes you say these things about doors, windows, and other useful apertural metaphors if not, at its base, the magazine surveys and ABA info sheets? Why, then, is the CLS student so pitifully unable to escape his firm, or forced to midlaw, while the HLS grad walks on water to her next exclusive endeavor? You have to imagine how ludicrous this sounds to me and how I don't feel you're giving me much to work with.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby chuckbass » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:48 pm

The on-topics have been on fire recently

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:51 pm

jbagelboy wrote:abl, I'm not trying to be unfair to your position and if you feel that I'm reducing what you perceive to be a more nuanced argument to the magazine survey, I apologize. You are asking for everyone here, myself included, to take your word that you have very compelling, extrinsic reasons - aside from LST, National Law Journal, US News, any other accessible metric, since you reject these as unrepresentative - for placing three particular schools above all the others. I don't think it's unfair to press you on this since it's logically unsound to make arguments about value premised so heavily on a certain assumption, but deny you're relying on more than your personal experience for that assumption so that I can't evaluate your underlying considerations - I think you're a smart dude and I'm not disputing, and have never disputed, that more Harvard students will access some opportunities and get hired for some jobs than at other schools. But you can't construct this narrative and say A because of A. What else makes you say these things about doors, windows, and other useful apertural metaphors if not, at its base, the magazine surveys and ABA info sheets? Why, then, is the CLS student so pitifully unable to escape his firm, or forced to midlaw, while the HLS grad walks on water to her next exclusive endeavor? You have to imagine how ludicrous this sounds to me and how I don't feel you're giving me much to work with.


Ok, sure, the magazines are part of my basis for saying these things--but not because Harvard is #2 and Columbia is #4. It's more a combination of things (including the near-constant dominance of HYS at the top of USNews, the clerkship numbers, the NLJ numbers that show that Stanford and Yale in particular are not just feeding their grads into biglaw, etc). Also, I base my statements on my experience--which is on the high side for TLS (even though I would be the first to acknowledge that I am still very early in my career).

I am also a little confused about how hard you are pushing back on this. I have never found it to be a controversial point in the legal community that HYS open more doors than CCN. I think we both agree that this difference is probably at its slightest when you are comparing Harvard and Columbia. But I still think the accepted wisdom--which is supported by USNews's reputation surveys http://tippingthescales.com/2014/04/how-lawyers-rank-law-schools/2/; http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/03/2015-us-news-.html, clerkship numbers http://excessofdemocracy.com/blog/2014/5/law-school-microranking-federal-judicial-clerkship-placement-2011-2013, and numbers for things like Skaddens http://www.skaddenfellowships.org/statistics?year=&sort=school (which I think are the most relevant indicators of doors opening--but I'm open to the idea that there are other indicators)--is that Harvard nevertheless does open more doors than Columbia.
Last edited by abl on Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:56 pm

abl wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:abl, I'm not trying to be unfair to your position and if you feel that I'm reducing what you perceive to be a more nuanced argument to the magazine survey, I apologize. You are asking for everyone here, myself included, to take your word that you have very compelling, extrinsic reasons - aside from LST, National Law Journal, US News, any other accessible metric, since you reject these as unrepresentative - for placing three particular schools above all the others. I don't think it's unfair to press you on this since it's logically unsound to make arguments about value premised so heavily on a certain assumption, but deny you're relying on more than your personal experience for that assumption so that I can't evaluate your underlying considerations - I think you're a smart dude and I'm not disputing, and have never disputed, that more Harvard students will access some opportunities and get hired for some jobs than at other schools. But you can't construct this narrative and say A because of A. What else makes you say these things about doors, windows, and other useful apertural metaphors if not, at its base, the magazine surveys and ABA info sheets? Why, then, is the CLS student so pitifully unable to escape his firm, or forced to midlaw, while the HLS grad walks on water to her next exclusive endeavor? You have to imagine how ludicrous this sounds to me and how I don't feel you're giving me much to work with.


Ok, sure, the magazines are part of my basis for saying these things--but not because Harvard is #2 and Columbia is #4. It's more a combination of things (including the near-constant dominance of HYS at the top of USNews, the clerkship numbers, the NLJ numbers that show that Stanford and Yale in particular are not just feeding their grads into biglaw, etc). Also, I base my statements on my experience--which is on the high side for TLS (even though I would be the first to acknowledge that I am still very early in my career).

I am also a little confused about how hard you are pushing back on this. I have never found it to be a controversial point in the legal community that HYS open more doors than CCN. I think we both agree that this difference is probably at its slightest when you are comparing Harvard and Columbia. But I still think the accepted wisdom--which is supported by USNews's reputation surveys, clerkship numbers, and numbers for things like Skaddens (which I think are the most relevant indicators of doors opening--but I'm open to the idea that there are other indicators)--is that Harvard nevertheless does open more doors than Columbia.


Yes of course it does! Which is why at equal cost the answer is easy! But that's not the debate here and if you look back to the post I originally responded to you, you'll see why I'm pushing back, logically and intuitively, on how far you're taking this awful doors schtick.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Mar 17, 2015 6:59 pm

More concretely, we're saying by default, HLS is worth a premium over other top schools YS excluded (everyone agrees here). And when OP has a Hamilton or Rubenstein or Vanderbilt, we want to inquire, by how much? This means we have to look at why and where we think HLS offers more. You took offense that I suggested magazine surveys play a role here. I think that's one criteria people look to so its fair game.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby LetsGoMets » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:09 pm

abl wrote:Once again, you're conflating two different career paths. One path leads folks to biglaw because they are interested in biglaw and, after discovering biglaw isn't that great, these folks look for other jobs but realize they are trapped by their debt. The other path leads folks to biglaw solely as a stepping stone for other jobs--academia, high-profile PI positions, AUSA spots, etc. I absolutely agree that for folks on this first path, debt is a real issue. I absolutely disagree, however, that just about anyone is dissuaded by their debt from taking the second path. The constraint to which I am referring is the (weak) constraint that prevents people from taking the second path. The constraint to which you are harping on is the (strong) constraint that restricts folks who have taken the first path from stepping down to midlaw or lower stress in-house positions.


I want to ask specifically about this point. Do you think there are actually a lot of people who take your first path, i.e. target Biglaw as a career and then find out it's terrible and look for an out, never having thought about it before, but can't leave because of debt? From my admittedly limited 0L experience, reading threads here and talking to current students, I can't think of anyone (okay, maybe one or two) who didn't see Biglaw as a stepping stone to something else, whether that was private or public sector, which is how I might divide the pool if a split is really justified. I would think that $180k in debt is an issue for people in either category, LRAPs aside.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby abl » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:12 pm

jbagelboy wrote:
abl wrote:
jbagelboy wrote:abl, I'm not trying to be unfair to your position and if you feel that I'm reducing what you perceive to be a more nuanced argument to the magazine survey, I apologize. You are asking for everyone here, myself included, to take your word that you have very compelling, extrinsic reasons - aside from LST, National Law Journal, US News, any other accessible metric, since you reject these as unrepresentative - for placing three particular schools above all the others. I don't think it's unfair to press you on this since it's logically unsound to make arguments about value premised so heavily on a certain assumption, but deny you're relying on more than your personal experience for that assumption so that I can't evaluate your underlying considerations - I think you're a smart dude and I'm not disputing, and have never disputed, that more Harvard students will access some opportunities and get hired for some jobs than at other schools. But you can't construct this narrative and say A because of A. What else makes you say these things about doors, windows, and other useful apertural metaphors if not, at its base, the magazine surveys and ABA info sheets? Why, then, is the CLS student so pitifully unable to escape his firm, or forced to midlaw, while the HLS grad walks on water to her next exclusive endeavor? You have to imagine how ludicrous this sounds to me and how I don't feel you're giving me much to work with.


Ok, sure, the magazines are part of my basis for saying these things--but not because Harvard is #2 and Columbia is #4. It's more a combination of things (including the near-constant dominance of HYS at the top of USNews, the clerkship numbers, the NLJ numbers that show that Stanford and Yale in particular are not just feeding their grads into biglaw, etc). Also, I base my statements on my experience--which is on the high side for TLS (even though I would be the first to acknowledge that I am still very early in my career).

I am also a little confused about how hard you are pushing back on this. I have never found it to be a controversial point in the legal community that HYS open more doors than CCN. I think we both agree that this difference is probably at its slightest when you are comparing Harvard and Columbia. But I still think the accepted wisdom--which is supported by USNews's reputation surveys, clerkship numbers, and numbers for things like Skaddens (which I think are the most relevant indicators of doors opening--but I'm open to the idea that there are other indicators)--is that Harvard nevertheless does open more doors than Columbia.


Yes of course it does! Which is why at equal cost the answer is easy! But that's not the debate here and if you look back to the post I originally responded to you, you'll see why I'm pushing back, logically and intuitively, on how far you're taking this awful doors schtick.


I actually think your original post was a response to a different poster. I think our disagreement is with how significant we believe the marginal value added of Harvard is as compared with Columbia for a student who is leaning away from biglaw. The debate that we've been having (over several different threads now) is what levels of additional debt might justify this marginal additional value.

I think you and I agree that for a student who is purely outcome-drive and wants NYC biglaw, Harvard's value added does not justify an additional $180,000 in debt. I think we disagree about how to value Harvard's advantage when it comes to 0Ls who are not purely outcome-driven and/or who are looking for careers that either only use biglaw as a brief stopping point or avoid biglaw altogether. My sense is that I weigh the marginal cost of debt less than you do, while you weigh the marginal value of a Harvard education (and diploma) less than I do.

But the point raised by the OP here is actually slightly different: the OP was wondering why Harvard students were so confident that they made the correct choice. This calls for a descriptive response, whereas we've been largely making normative arguments. To that end, I'll fall back to what I originally stated: descriptively, I think that the reason why Harvard students so frequently feel confident about choosing a hard-to-value credential over easier-to-value debt is because that is a similar decision to what most of them have repeatedly had to make in order to get into Harvard in the first place. You and I may disagree now over whether normatively that is the correct decision, but my original point was meant to be purely descriptive.

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby ExBiglawAssociate » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:13 pm

Hikkomorist wrote:
rpupkin wrote:
runinthefront wrote:Alma mater Princeton University (A.B.)
University of Oxford (M.Phil.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)

45th United States Solicitor General

COA/SCOTUS Clerk


I mean shit I know I'm late with the commentary but bro is coming from like EMU or something...in a room at least half-full of law students...what an absurd question

Dude, Kagan was below median in her first semester at HLS. She got a B in crim and a B- in Torts. If TLS existed then, everyone would be telling her to drop out and open a Subway franchise.


Where did you get this information, and is it available for the rest of SCOTUS?

You're not going to become a SCOTUS justice, so why do you care?

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Re: What's the deal with Harvard students?

Postby flockavelli » Tue Mar 17, 2015 7:14 pm

Right I'm gonna walk this out point by point, it would be hard to digest if I responded in a block.
jbagelboy wrote:(1) When comparing schools that provide nearly the same opportunities, the debt will serve as a greater constraint on career options than the difference in degrees. The inquiry over debt impacts both "outcomes" and "value:" to use your language, thee variables are correlated, not independent. You can do less with a JD burdened by debt so your outcomes aren't better, and your value is worse.

Dude literally what I said.
flockavelli wrote:It makes sense to correct someone if you think they have weighted the probabilities they're using to make these calculations incorrectly

If you think someone doesn't understand this, then it's valid to correct them, but safe bet most of your audience on TLS reads TLS so they get that the "cost" is more complex than a number.

Back to the bolded
jbagelboy wrote:nearly the same opportunities

But not the same opportunities which is why I said
flockavelli wrote:for people (who know that) to pay $300,000 to increase their chances of getting them they must value those outcomes very highly

Just straight emergent valuation. You can say the added probability of success from H rather than C is as small as you want, it doesn't matter, it only implies that the value of success is proportionately high.
jbagelboy wrote:Sounds paternalistic, but one can't treat every 22 year old who wants to clerk for SCOTUS as a legitimate preference

Of course it's a legitimate preference. None (or at least a tiny number) of those 0Ls who are later granted an opportunity for a SCOTUS clerkship turn it down, right? You wouldn't argue that would you? If none of them would later chose any other opportunity over a SCOTUS clerkship, then it remains their preference. I bet almost all of those who do get SCOTUS clerkships were able to identify that as a goal as 0Ls - were their preferences illegitimate? At what point between being 0Ls and getting the clerkship did their preference become legitimate? Sure most participants forget about that goal, because most of them lose the tournament. The nature of risk while entering the tournament is that you might lose.

More than this, you aren’t actually advocating for your prefered path here - the agents in question are 22 whether they are gunning for SCOTUS or avoiding risk - you are advocating paralysis. 22 year olds have to make decisions whether you think you are smarter than them or not. If their preference for supreme court jobs can’t be legitimate because they lack experience, then neither can a preference for minimal debt. Either way they are only going off media (I’m including forums in my definition of “media”) they have consumed. Your argument doesn’t privilege your prefered path or the H path, it’s just an indictment of decision making among young people in general. So yeah, maybe it’s true that young people can’t make good decisions, maybe not, no matter what they still have to make them. If your point is that then, no matter what their decision, you could justly belittle it because you are older than them, then... oh, hey! This is why paternalism is bad. Cool beans!

jbagelboy wrote:Erroneous logic

You didn’t address my logic.

Look brochocinquo I get it, you think most people taking debt to go to Harvard are dumb because you guess that a.) they don’t have the information to adequately weight that decision, and so have weighed it wrongly and b.) they are going to lose the tournament. Both of those are safe bets, most participants will lose and most people do operate on inadequate information. My point is this - it is not wrong to choose the debt for the increased chance at fringe jobs. Individual decision making structures can absolutely justify it. Arguing with those structures is foolish because all they represent is individual preferences, and no preference can be better than any other.

TLS loves to talk about how miserable BigLaw attorneys are. Of course they are, they paid an enormous sum of money to enter a tournament and they lost. It sucks being a loser. Most tournament participants are losers. But that doesn’t invalidate the choice to spend the cash to play.

Take the hypothetical burnt out minor league ball player. Never made the bigs. He wasted his life, he’s miserable, and he thinks he made a mistake. Maybe he made a mistake, maybe he didn’t but we can’t tell that just because he lost the tournament and had to face the negative consequences. This is the nature of decision making given uncertainty. If it is certain that any minor league ballplayer is making a mistake, then we should advocate for abolishing Major League Baseball, since it would victimize every participant, but it’s obviously not a mistake for everyone, just ask Dustin Pedroia. Since we can’t criticize his decision making post-hoc, just because we know that he’s failed, then we can’t criticize his decision while he is making it either unless we think he doesn’t understand the utility of the various outcomes and the probability of each. The law school choices we are discussing are no different.

You can yell “DON’T DO IT, LOOK AT THE DOWNSIDE” till you are blue in the face and they can scream back “I HAVE TO DO IT, LOOK AT THE UPSIDE” and neither of those arguments is inherently stronger than the other. Decision making in uncertainty is fundamentally probabilistic, and so all of the possible outcomes are relevant. Choices in this environment cannot be made objectively, because the utility of different outcomes is personal and subjective, so unless you believe the information 0Ls are using to make their decisions, in terms of probability or value of specific outcomes, is wrong, it is unproductive to criticize those decisions. It is tantamount to saying “my preferences are better than yours,” which is really just saying “I choose my preferences over yours” which is a tautology. And silly.
Last edited by flockavelli on Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.




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