Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

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270910
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Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby 270910 » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:05 pm

Saw this linked in another thread, it's a draft that was just posted Thursday: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/ ... kowitz.pdf

Here are some gems:

In the BPS survey of 1991 law school matriculants, 98% reported that they were at least “concerned” about getting good grades, and 81% were “very concerned.”


Thirty‐four percent of the beginning students predicted they would end up in the top tenth of their classes; 99% predicted they would end up in the top half. Data from the National Study of Law Student Performance shows similar patterns – the optimism of first‐year students was still largely intact after two months of law school, before their first set of exams


(Since the authors cited a TLS thread in the article, pre-emptive "Hello authors!" if they're still out there reading)

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billyez
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby billyez » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:24 pm

The consistent theme we find throughout this analysis is that performance in law school– as measured by law school grades – is the most important predictor of career success. It is decisively more important than law school “eliteness.” Socioeconomic factors play a critical role in shaping the pool from which law students are drawn, but little or no discernible role in shaping post‐graduate careers. Since the dominant conventional wisdom says that law school prestige is all‐important, and since students who “trade‐up” in school prestige generally take a hit to their school performance, we think prospective students are getting the wrong message.


Great, another reason to be anxious.

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MiamiUG
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby MiamiUG » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:27 pm

TLDR

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billyez
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby billyez » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:58 pm

Law school grades are a more determiniative factor on how successful your career is than any other factor - including how prestigious your alma mater is or socioeconomic factors, etc.

In a way, it's common knowledge and yet...it's still disheartening to know that beyond all the glitter of how prestigious a school is, beyond all that debt, there's not that much there. It makes me wonder if I would have done better going to Texas Weslayn for free...

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buckilaw
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby buckilaw » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:28 pm

As an illustrative hypothetical, imagine an average student (GPA 3.25‐3.5) at 47th ranked
University of Florida. Using the fifth column from Table 11 (AJD regressions on salary), we can
predict how her earnings would be affected under various counterfactuals. If she had attended
20th ranked George Washington University, her grades likely would have slipped to the 2.75‐3.0
range, and her salary would drop considerably (by 22%, all other factors held constant.) Even if
she had managed to get a spot at 7th ranked UC Berkeley, where the tier premiums are highest,
her grades likely would have fallen into the 2.5‐2.75 range, and her salary would be 7% lower.
On the other hand, if she had attended 80th ranked Rutgers, she probably could have improved
her grades to land in the 3.5‐3.75 range, and earned a 13% higher salary.


Perhaps taking a scholarship from a lower ranked school does not necessarily result in an opportunity cost?

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Unemployed
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby Unemployed » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:33 pm

Am I the only one who got to the first full paragraph in page 24, scratched my head and thought WTF?

"Motivation, organization, ambition, writing ability, and learning" indicated by high law school grades = "Motivation, organization, ambition, writing ability, and learning" to be indicated by pre-law credentials??

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Kohinoor
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:41 pm

buckilaw wrote:
As an illustrative hypothetical, imagine an average student (GPA 3.25‐3.5) at 47th ranked
University of Florida. Using the fifth column from Table 11 (AJD regressions on salary), we can
predict how her earnings would be affected under various counterfactuals. If she had attended
20th ranked George Washington University, her grades likely would have slipped to the 2.75‐3.0
range, and her salary would drop considerably (by 22%, all other factors held constant.) Even if
she had managed to get a spot at 7th ranked UC Berkeley, where the tier premiums are highest,
her grades likely would have fallen into the 2.5‐2.75 range, and her salary would be 7% lower.
On the other hand, if she had attended 80th ranked Rutgers, she probably could have improved
her grades to land in the 3.5‐3.75 range, and earned a 13% higher salary.


Perhaps taking a scholarship from a lower ranked school does not necessarily result in an opportunity cost?

I'm curious as to how he explains away thriving transfer students. By his logic, going from a T2 to a T14 should drop you from top of the class to bottom 1%.

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby Unemployed » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:49 pm

Kohinoor wrote:
buckilaw wrote:
As an illustrative hypothetical, imagine an average student (GPA 3.25‐3.5) at 47th ranked
University of Florida. Using the fifth column from Table 11 (AJD regressions on salary), we can
predict how her earnings would be affected under various counterfactuals. If she had attended
20th ranked George Washington University, her grades likely would have slipped to the 2.75‐3.0
range, and her salary would drop considerably (by 22%, all other factors held constant.) Even if
she had managed to get a spot at 7th ranked UC Berkeley, where the tier premiums are highest,
her grades likely would have fallen into the 2.5‐2.75 range, and her salary would be 7% lower.
On the other hand, if she had attended 80th ranked Rutgers, she probably could have improved
her grades to land in the 3.5‐3.75 range, and earned a 13% higher salary.


Perhaps taking a scholarship from a lower ranked school does not necessarily result in an opportunity cost?

I'm curious as to how he explains away thriving transfer students. By his logic, going from a T2 to a T14 should drop you from top of the class to bottom 1%.


This goes directly to my bewilderment above.

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Kohinoor
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby Kohinoor » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:52 pm

Unemployed wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:
buckilaw wrote:
As an illustrative hypothetical, imagine an average student (GPA 3.25‐3.5) at 47th ranked
University of Florida. Using the fifth column from Table 11 (AJD regressions on salary), we can
predict how her earnings would be affected under various counterfactuals. If she had attended
20th ranked George Washington University, her grades likely would have slipped to the 2.75‐3.0
range, and her salary would drop considerably (by 22%, all other factors held constant.) Even if
she had managed to get a spot at 7th ranked UC Berkeley, where the tier premiums are highest,
her grades likely would have fallen into the 2.5‐2.75 range, and her salary would be 7% lower.
On the other hand, if she had attended 80th ranked Rutgers, she probably could have improved
her grades to land in the 3.5‐3.75 range, and earned a 13% higher salary.


Perhaps taking a scholarship from a lower ranked school does not necessarily result in an opportunity cost?

I'm curious as to how he explains away thriving transfer students. By his logic, going from a T2 to a T14 should drop you from top of the class to bottom 1%.


This goes directly to my bewilderment above.
The article says it's a draft that's not for circulation. I assume they plan to insert the research and valid conclusions later.

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skoobily doobily
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby skoobily doobily » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:48 pm

Kohinoor wrote:The article says it's a draft that's not for circulation. I assume they plan to insert the research and valid conclusions later.


Maybe i'm just old fashioned, but don't you usually do the research before you write the conclusions?

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby 270910 » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:17 am

skoobily doobily wrote:
Kohinoor wrote:The article says it's a draft that's not for circulation. I assume they plan to insert the research and valid conclusions later.


Maybe i'm just old fashioned, but don't you usually do the research before you write the conclusions?


*points and laughs at the old fashioned guy*

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Nom Sawyer
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby Nom Sawyer » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:34 am

Law school grades, we think, embody two different properties. In part, high grades are
shaped by individual characteristics that perhaps no other easily measured characteristic of
lawyers can capture: drive, energy, clarity of thought, and perhaps a facility for good legal
analysis that isn’t captured well by the LSAT. Part of the power of grades in our analyses simply
reflects the fact that nothing else in our equations is capturing these qualities. But we’ve also
documented that grades reflect one’s relative intellectual location in a law school’s incoming
student body, and how that location influences what one learns and with what level of analytic
mastery and confidence one emerges from law school. Our first‐choice/second‐choice analysis
shows that the tradeoffs between “tier” and “GPA” are real and large. Indeed, it seems that
this tradeoff dominates the relatively modest effects of law school tier we see in the models.


Interesting quote... seems kind of conflicting, and there isn't really any data to back up the parts where he talks about grades. wonder if it'll be in the final version tho..

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby Renzo » Sun Aug 01, 2010 12:49 am

I thought this study was interesting , but I think there's a flaw.

I tried to type a post explaining it, but I'm too sleepy to make sense. I'm posting here so that I'll remember to come back later and explain.

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:37 pm

Fail article fails, because it doesn't address the current (and probably future) market condition. When firms stop interviewing outside of the elite schools, your grades at non-elite schools don't mean a damned thing.

Edit: And I had to try really hard to keep myself from e-mailing them to say "hi, I (and all of the other transfer students like me) destroy your model, plz address kthx"

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billyez
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby billyez » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:08 pm

But the future market condition isn't at issue here - they were attempting to draw a hypothesis that connected law school success and career success from earlier data. Of course there's a dramatic shift in the marketplace, it might effect what they're saying or it might not. I don't think, in either case, that it means this article was inherently flawed.

And the quote regarding transfer students from the article uses an average student at that school to base its analysis. Most transfer students, if this forum is any indication, or those that do exceptionally well at their current schools already, so I'm not exactly sure that there's an implicit or explicit criticism of the ability of transfer students in this article as it is.
Last edited by billyez on Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

ToTransferOrNot
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:10 pm

billyez wrote:But the future market condition isn't at issue here - they were attempting to draw a hypothesis that connected law school success and career success from earlier data. Of course there's a dramatic shift in the marketplace, it might effect what they're saying or it might not. I don't think, in either case, that it means this article was inherently flawed.


No, I don't think the article's failure to take in to account current (and future) conditions makes the analysis flawed--I think it makes the analysis worthless.

The false assumption that grades go down as X person attends a higher ranked school is what makes the analysis flawed.

So the analysis is flawed and useless. Great article.

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billyez
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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby billyez » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:15 pm

I haave to disagree with that assessment in regards to it being worthless. Any kind of guess about the future condition of the market place would have been unfounded. The article actually does a decent job of noting changing dynamics in the marketplace in the past in order to bolster its conclusion.

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:20 pm

billyez wrote:I haave to disagree with that assessment in regards to it being worthless. Any kind of guess about the future condition of the market place would have been unfounded. The article actually does a decent job of noting changing dynamics in the marketplace in the past in order to bolster its conclusion.


Guesses about future market conditions would have been unfounded, I agree. Knowledge about current market conditions, however, would not have been unfounded. I know that it was outside of the scope of the article, but the reality on the ground is that firms aren't interviewing at School Y anymore--they're only interviewing at School Y + 20. Doesn't matter what grades you have at School Y if no one is going to interview you.

Re: The transfer student point: the analysis assumes that person X will receive lower grades at School Y + 20, than s/he would have at School Y. Transfer students throw a kink in that analysis, because they generally don't get lower grades at the new school. That data point can be extrapolated to other non-transfer students: there's no reason to assume that anyone would get inferior grades at School Y + 20. There's no evidence that if they would have been median at Y, they won't be median at Y + 20.

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby 270910 » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:21 pm

The point on school portability seemed extremely wrong, and if anybody feels like writing to them about how wrong it is it would probably be a good thing (since this is a draft and all). But it did have some interesting points; I especially liked the profiles of pre-law students I quoted above.

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby Unemployed » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:27 pm

disco_barred wrote:The point on school portability seemed extremely wrong, and if anybody feels like writing to them about how wrong it is it would probably be a good thing (since this is a draft and all). But it did have some interesting points; I especially liked the profiles of pre-law students I quoted above.


To complement your quote:

Their data includes the law school attended by each respondent and, (since the investigators had no direct access to the respondents' education records) self-reported law school class rank. This is a doubly imperfect measure of law school performance, first, because law graduates often do not know their actual class rank, and second, because self-reported performance measures are routinely inflated. Thus, some 20% of the Chicago respondents reported that their class rank placed in the top tenth of their class, and nearly 50% placed themselves in the top quarter.


Some things never change.

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby xyzbca » Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:04 pm

ToTransferOrNot wrote:Re: The transfer student point: the analysis assumes that person X will receive lower grades at School Y + 20, than s/he would have at School Y. Transfer students throw a kink in that analysis, because they generally don't get lower grades at the new school. That data point can be extrapolated to other non-transfer students: there's no reason to assume that anyone would get inferior grades at School Y + 20. There's no evidence that if they would have been median at Y, they won't be median at Y + 20.


Aren't transfer students typically taking courses that aren't as strictly curved as 1L courses?

One can also look to employers as a signal on this issue. Do employers view a transfer student as a Top 10% student at the new institution or is the transfer student treated more like a Top 25% to Top 50% student at OCI?

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Re: Interesting new article on law school, grades, careers, etc.

Postby ToTransferOrNot » Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:09 pm

xyzbca wrote:
ToTransferOrNot wrote:Re: The transfer student point: the analysis assumes that person X will receive lower grades at School Y + 20, than s/he would have at School Y. Transfer students throw a kink in that analysis, because they generally don't get lower grades at the new school. That data point can be extrapolated to other non-transfer students: there's no reason to assume that anyone would get inferior grades at School Y + 20. There's no evidence that if they would have been median at Y, they won't be median at Y + 20.


Aren't transfer students typically taking courses that aren't as strictly curved as 1L courses?

One can also look to employers as a signal on this issue. Do employers view a transfer student as a Top 10% student at the new institution or is the transfer student treated more like a Top 25% to Top 50% student at OCI?



Not at Chicago, at least. All non-seminars are on the 1L curve, and my worst grades came in non-curved classes anyway. The "professor gives everyone As" classes don't really exist in law school, with very few exceptions.

I'm not saying that the transfer student / grade issue is completely dispositive on this point of analysis, but it certainly calls it seriously in to question.

How employers view transfers is an absolute black-box before the transfers have grades from the new school. Once transfers have grades from the new school, though, we don't get "discounted" for only having 2L grades, heh.




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