Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

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bigben
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby bigben » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:50 am

romothesavior wrote:Hey obs and jenesaislaw, I've got a question for you (and I'm sorry if I missed this in your paper or if its a stupid question)

I'm reading pages 41-43 (I think that's section 2e?) about salary distribution. You say that when NYLS reports a median salary of $160,000, it is only representing a small slice of the class. You note that even NYLS even admits that only 25% of their class of 2008 reported salary data. I understand that the upper-crust of the class is more likely to respond, and $160,000 is likely way off in terms of starting salary for that graduating class.

But what about when a school reports that they have 90%+ of students reporting, and they still have high salary numbers? (I'm talking more like $120,000 as the median). Do we have cause to be skeptical about these numbers? And if so, how is the school doctoring such information?


It all depends. There are endless ways to be weasel-ish with statistics like these. Do they have a high percentage of students reporting "employment information?" Because that doesn't mean they all reported salary information. Is the salary data divided into groups? How many reported salary data for any particular group? Do they tell you what percentage of grads make up each group? Now is that a percentage of those that reported employment information or is it a percentage of total grads? (You will see the percentages adding up to 100 even though not everyone reported). The ambiguities go on and on....

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:01 am

romothesavior wrote:Hey obs and jenesaislaw, I've got a question for you (and I'm sorry if I missed this in your paper or if its a stupid question)

I'm reading pages 41-43 (I think that's section 2e?) about salary distribution. You say that when NYLS reports a median salary of $160,000, it is only representing a small slice of the class. You note that even NYLS even admits that only 25% of their class of 2008 reported salary data. I understand that the upper-crust of the class is more likely to respond, and $160,000 is likely way off in terms of starting salary for that graduating class.

But what about when a school reports that they have 90%+ of students reporting, and they still have high salary numbers? (I'm talking more like $120,000 as the median). Do we have cause to be skeptical about these numbers? And if so, how is the school doctoring such information?


Not a stupid question at all. Happy to clarify. For those keeping score at home, this question refers to Part I.2.d.

There is a general problem that applies to all schools that place less than 100% of their graduates (not just employed graduates) in the private sector (every school). Whenever a school reports "X is the median", the first question you ask is "median of what?" And the answer is that it is the median of total graduates less unemployed graduates less non-private sector graduates less those who did not report. So even for schools that had 90%+ report a salary in the private sector, that represents a smaller fraction than you might think at first glance. For example, 95% employed, 50% in a firm and 10% in business, and then 60% reported. .95*(.50+.1)*.60 = 34.2% of the whole class.

Here are the schools that, according to U.S. News for the class of 2007, had over 90% of private-sector graduates reporting. These percentages represent the total proportion of the class represented by the salary figures.

53.8%
65.3%
69.0%
82.3%
77.4%
77.9%
67.5%
68.1%
69.8%
76.0%
80.5%
36.8%
46.9%

Source: --LinkRemoved--

These are the percentages you should be concerned with. But they aren't meaningful without a little more context. For example, the 36.8% refers to Yale. This is because a pretty small percentage actually goes the firm route. New Mexico, the last on the list (46.9%) may be a little more concerning because they place so many grads in non-federal clerkships, and had such a low employed at graduation rate. But both require taking an extra leap about the remaining part of the class. Perhaps Yale would be uncontroversial, but I suspect it's more controversial that I am saying we should be more skeptical of New Mexico even though the %'s are about the same as Yale, and the median salary for NM is actually much lower than Yale's.

Anyhow, the take home point is this. Even when the reporting percentage is high, it does not represent as much of the class as you think. How suspect the numbers are, then, depends on the other context and specific values versus legitimate expectations (location, general layers of prestige and not hard ordinal comparisons). So the problem is not with doctoring (and I will not go as far as to say schools are doctoring the available information now - just that stuff gets hidden) for the high percentage, just that it's not enough to only know that a high percentage reported.
Last edited by jenesaislaw on Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:06 am

OperaSoprano wrote:Observationalist sent me a copy, and I regret that I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing yet. I promise to do so ASAP. I do want to offer you and him my heartiest congratulations for putting together such an exhaustively researched paper, and for garnering such great publicity. You guys are absolutely amazing, and it really is pretty cool to see TLS posters quoted in a scholarly article. :mrgreen:


Thanks Opera :)

bigben
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby bigben » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:07 am

Your link seems to be broken.

papercranes
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby papercranes » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:09 am

very impressive. good work.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:11 am

bigben wrote:Your link seems to be broken.


Thanks, fixed it.

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General Tso
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby General Tso » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:19 am

jenesaislaw wrote:First story is up: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... 2448308203


you guys don't mind outing selves?

I think your work is great...If I had more free time I would offer to copy edit

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A'nold
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby A'nold » Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:40 am

Keep up the good work. You are doing a great service for (hopefully) the future of the profession.

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romothesavior
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby romothesavior » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:06 am

jenesaislaw wrote:
romothesavior wrote:Hey obs and jenesaislaw, I've got a question for you (and I'm sorry if I missed this in your paper or if its a stupid question)

I'm reading pages 41-43 (I think that's section 2e?) about salary distribution. You say that when NYLS reports a median salary of $160,000, it is only representing a small slice of the class. You note that even NYLS even admits that only 25% of their class of 2008 reported salary data. I understand that the upper-crust of the class is more likely to respond, and $160,000 is likely way off in terms of starting salary for that graduating class.

But what about when a school reports that they have 90%+ of students reporting, and they still have high salary numbers? (I'm talking more like $120,000 as the median). Do we have cause to be skeptical about these numbers? And if so, how is the school doctoring such information?


Not a stupid question at all. Happy to clarify. For those keeping score at home, this question refers to Part I.2.d.

There is a general problem that applies to all schools that place less than 100% of their graduates (not just employed graduates) in the private sector (every school). Whenever a school reports "X is the median", the first question you ask is "median of what?" And the answer is that it is the median of total graduates less unemployed graduates less non-private sector graduates less those who did not report. So even for schools that had 90%+ report a salary in the private sector, that represents a smaller fraction than you might think at first glance. For example, 95% employed, 50% in a firm and 10% in business, and then 60% reported. .95*(.50+.1)*.60 = 34.2% of the whole class.

Here are the schools that, according to U.S. News for the class of 2007, had over 90% of private-sector graduates reporting. These percentages represent the total proportion of the class represented by the salary figures.

53.8%
65.3%
69.0%
82.3%
77.4%
77.9%
67.5%
68.1%
69.8%
76.0%
80.5%
36.8%
46.9%

Source: --LinkRemoved--

These are the percentages you should be concerned with. But they aren't meaningful without a little more context. For example, the 36.8% refers to Yale. This is because a pretty small percentage actually goes the firm route. New Mexico, the last on the list (46.9%) may be a little more concerning because they place so many grads in non-federal clerkships, and had such a low employed at graduation rate. But both require taking an extra leap about the remaining part of the class. Perhaps Yale would be uncontroversial, but I suspect it's more controversial that I am saying we should be more skeptical of New Mexico even though the %'s are about the same as Yale, and the median salary for NM is actually much lower than Yale's.

Anyhow, the take home point is this. Even when the reporting percentage is high, it does not represent as much of the class as you think. How suspect the numbers are, then, depends on the other context and specific values versus legitimate expectations (location, general layers of prestige and not hard ordinal comparisons). So the problem is not with doctoring (and I will not go as far as to say schools are doctoring the available information now - just that stuff gets hidden) for the high percentage, just that it's not enough to only know that a high percentage reported.


Thanks for the helpful response. I might just have to call the CSO and do a little fact checking to see what exactly the numbers mean.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:56 am

No problem. Glad it was helpful. Which school are you trying to figure out? Based on your TLS profile I have an idea and a strategy to help you get it, but I'll wait until you let me know and then do it via PM.

Also, re: outing ourselves. Sometimes you just have to do it. Neither of us having anything to hide, but we gain from being able to use our goodwill on TLS and other law school forums.

Doodsmack
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby Doodsmack » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:51 am

Would someone mind sending me a PDF of the article if I PM you my email address? I can't seem to pull it down at work.

de5igual
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby de5igual » Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:14 am

jenesaislaw wrote:Wow that's pretty interesting. Did that bother you?


i do have to admit it was a little unnerving, but it was even better putting him on the spotlight in front of the 200-300+ in attendance that day

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observationalist
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby observationalist » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:45 pm

Doodsmack wrote:Would someone mind sending me a PDF of the article if I PM you my email address? I can't seem to pull it down at work.


I can swing that if nobody has yet. The main page to access is here: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/law_schools.jsp

Second story down currently.

And swheat, I think it actually helps our cause to be open about our involvement on TLS (even if some of our posts so errors in judgment from time to time). You can actually go back to my first posts and see how I used this website to ask questions about different law schools. Jenesaislaw was more active on lawschooldiscussion.org, but he has since moved over here since readership is much higher and the site is more userfriendly.

More press covering the initial press: http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdail ... stats.html

Also, the ABA Journal's upcoming May 3rd Podcast is slated to feature a discussion between Kyle McEntee from Vanderbilt/LST, Elie Mystal from ATL, Dean Van Zandt from Northwestern, and Dean Polden from Santa Clara (who's also Chair of the ABA's Accreditation Standards Review Committee).

And ggocat, thanks again for your advice about submitting to journals. We are going to send additional letters this week to encourage them to take a closer look if they haven't closed up yet for the season. It would be nice to get this thing published.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:45 pm

It is great to hear you put them on the spot like that.

Story #2: Am Law Daily, http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdail ... stats.html

Edit: hah, obs beat me to the punch.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby OperaSoprano » Tue Apr 20, 2010 9:24 pm

You guys are both geniuses, but then we already knew that. Much deserved congratulations on the second article!

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observationalist
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby observationalist » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:13 pm

OperaSoprano wrote:You guys are both geniuses, but then we already knew that. Much deserved congratulations on the second article!


Thanks OS. G'luck with finals... it's a pretty great feeling once they are behind you.

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby OperaSoprano » Tue Apr 20, 2010 11:15 pm

observationalist wrote:
OperaSoprano wrote:You guys are both geniuses, but then we already knew that. Much deserved congratulations on the second article!


Thanks OS. G'luck with finals... it's a pretty great feeling once they are behind you.


The summer cannot come soon enough. I really am impressed, though. I hope this paper makes you and jenesaislaw famous. It should.

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observationalist
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby observationalist » Wed Apr 21, 2010 6:57 pm

OperaSoprano wrote:
observationalist wrote:
OperaSoprano wrote:You guys are both geniuses, but then we already knew that. Much deserved congratulations on the second article!


Thanks OS. G'luck with finals... it's a pretty great feeling once they are behind you.


The summer cannot come soon enough. I really am impressed, though. I hope this paper makes you and jenesaislaw famous. It should.


Thanks OS. More press!

Above the Law just posted a great story with some excellent commentary here: http://abovethelaw.com/2010/04/increasi ... o-be-done/ . Props to them and to all the legal bloggers who have carried the story over the last couple of days.

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General Tso
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby General Tso » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:08 pm

I really like the work you guys have done. Do you guys have a 1 page "executive summary" or something that I can take to my school's dean? It's nice to see that you have 3 schools on board, but how do we get our schools on board as well?

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:13 pm

swheat wrote:I really like the work you guys have done. Do you guys have a 1 page "executive summary" or something that I can take to my school's dean? It's nice to see that you have 3 schools on board, but how do we get our schools on board as well?


I am posting a summary of what the standard entails either tonight or tomorrow on LST. Is that the kind of thing you're looking for?

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General Tso
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby General Tso » Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:30 pm

jenesaislaw wrote:
swheat wrote:I really like the work you guys have done. Do you guys have a 1 page "executive summary" or something that I can take to my school's dean? It's nice to see that you have 3 schools on board, but how do we get our schools on board as well?


I am posting a summary of what the standard entails either tonight or tomorrow on LST. Is that the kind of thing you're looking for?


Sure...anything that will quickly let our deans know what the movement is, and why they should support it. I attend a lower T1 that seems to be pretty honest relative to most lower ranked schools, so I would not be surprised if they were willing to comply.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby Anonymous Loser » Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:29 am

Congrats on all the recent exposure!
Above the Law wrote:If the ABA had the courage of these two Vanderbilt guys, we could fix this problem tomorrow

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Borhas
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby Borhas » Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:58 am

excellent work, keep the thread updated

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legalese_retard
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby legalese_retard » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:44 pm

First off, major props to both of you guys for doing this. It is nice to see students at a high-caliber law school tackling an issue that doesn't affect their student body as much. If students from a 4th tier law school tried to do something similar, no one would really pay attention.

I'm still reading your paper, but I was going to suggest a comparative analysis section to provide better context to this issue. Most lawyers are already aware of this problem and either don't care or fear the consequences of change. It might help prospective students and non-lawyers understand and appreciate the problems with the current employment reporting system by law schools.

For example, the SEC is very strict about protecting investors and other stakeholders when it comes to corporations reporting their financial statements. Each company is required to disclose its numbers to its stockholders and must do so under specified accounting principles. Finance 101 here, but news and information is what drives investment decisions. An investor cannot make a reasonable business decision if they are relying on faulty information (no matter how much research they try to do). A company will be in serious trouble if it misinforms its stockholders or tries to manipulate results with clever accounting strategies.

Based on the current system, the vast majority of law schools would be shut down if the SEC was in control. Employment numbers are provided by each school, but there is no "standard" method of collecting or producing these employment numbers. While the USNews and the ABA claims that they have a criteria that all schools must follow, there is no oversight or check to see how schools are collecting data, how they analyze the data, and if the numbers reported actually resemble reality. I also think there is much more at stake when it comes to law students v. stockholders. Stockholders lose money, but they can start over. Student loans are not dischargeablee at bankruptcy. The fact that a law student was misinformed prior to enrolling will not relieve their debt.

At my school, for example, they reported a 6-figure average and medium salary for 2008 grads. What they neglect to mention is that only 40% had a salary to report and 75% of those reporting were in the top 25% of the class. In the same report, the school says its employment rate at graduation was 75% and at 98% 9 months out. Again, they don't mention the fact that the majority listed as employed were either temps or working at starbucks (but thos people are not included in the "salary stat" because they don't have a salary to report). In this case, the school is having its cake and eating it too; reporting a high emplooyment rate for the sake of reporting employment numbers, but excluding the unemployed without mentioning the disparity.

I think it is important to find out the class rank of the people who responded as well as the overall response rate. If a school is reporting employment numbers from only the top of the class but at the same time trying repot numbers that is supposedly defining the entire student body, I would like to know that in my law school decision.

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observationalist
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby observationalist » Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:07 pm

legalese_retard wrote:First off, major props to both of you guys for doing this. It is nice to see students at a high-caliber law school tackling an issue that doesn't affect their student body as much. If students from a 4th tier law school tried to do something similar, no one would really pay attention.

I'm still reading your paper, but I was going to suggest a comparative analysis section to provide better context to this issue. Most lawyers are already aware of this problem and either don't care or fear the consequences of change. It might help prospective students and non-lawyers understand and appreciate the problems with the current employment reporting system by law schools.

For example, the SEC is very strict about protecting investors and other stakeholders when it comes to corporations reporting their financial statements. Each company is required to disclose its numbers to its stockholders and must do so under specified accounting principles. Finance 101 here, but news and information is what drives investment decisions. An investor cannot make a reasonable business decision if they are relying on faulty information (no matter how much research they try to do). A company will be in serious trouble if it misinforms its stockholders or tries to manipulate results with clever accounting strategies.

Based on the current system, the vast majority of law schools would be shut down if the SEC was in control. Employment numbers are provided by each school, but there is no "standard" method of collecting or producing these employment numbers. While the USNews and the ABA claims that they have a criteria that all schools must follow, there is no oversight or check to see how schools are collecting data, how they analyze the data, and if the numbers reported actually resemble reality. I also think there is much more at stake when it comes to law students v. stockholders. Stockholders lose money, but they can start over. Student loans are not dischargeablee at bankruptcy. The fact that a law student was misinformed prior to enrolling will not relieve their debt.

At my school, for example, they reported a 6-figure average and medium salary for 2008 grads. What they neglect to mention is that only 40% had a salary to report and 75% of those reporting were in the top 25% of the class. In the same report, the school says its employment rate at graduation was 75% and at 98% 9 months out. Again, they don't mention the fact that the majority listed as employed were either temps or working at starbucks (but thos people are not included in the "salary stat" because they don't have a salary to report). In this case, the school is having its cake and eating it too; reporting a high emplooyment rate for the sake of reporting employment numbers, but excluding the unemployed without mentioning the disparity.

I think it is important to find out the class rank of the people who responded as well as the overall response rate. If a school is reporting employment numbers from only the top of the class but at the same time trying repot numbers that is supposedly defining the entire student body, I would like to know that in my law school decision.


I like it. We barely scratched the surface of a comparative analysis in the working draft, but maybe this is something we could expand upon (maybe starting with the references to Brandeis's "Other People's Money," which is a great read.)

I don't know if this is you or not, but someone else has made a similar suggestion yesterday in the ABA Journal comments section:

"Everything I’ve learned about corporate and securities law suggests that the laws are (in theory) designed to protect unsophisticated parties, requiring public disclosure of company financial health, major changes, etc., even though the fact of obligating disclosure may impact the company’s effectiveness and competitiveness. The laws demand this even though those investing in securities have a “choice” to invest in company X vs. company Y, and further to choose to invest in securties as opposed to gold, etc.

People who want to be lawyers don’t, in most cases, have a “choice” - you have to go to law school in order to obtain a license. Furthermore, practically everyone attending law school is an unsophisticated party vis a vis the market - they’re typically one-time players - set against law schools that have years of data, and lenders whose loans were (until recently) backed 97% by the government.

So what I don’t understand is this: since we’re clearly dealing with unsophisticated parties, and since the a social consensus vis a vis other large-scale financial transactions entered into entirely by choice seems to be that unsophisticated parties should be given access to information even if it hamstrings the overall operations of a company, why do we continue to let law schools get away with something that smacks of accounting fraud? Especially when, as now, the American taxpayer is going to end up bearing all of the risk from the transaction?

Anyone who opposed the bank bailout but supports the current law school financial model because you think students made a “choice” to attend: your views are totally inconsistent. "

edit: link to the above quote (in Post # 35 by "2L"): http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/ ... ent_stats/




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