Category Archives: Legal Academia

New Article of general (non-poverty law) law school interest: “What Makes a Law Student Succeed or Fail? A Longitudinal Study Correlating Law Student Applicant Data and Law School Outcomes”

Of general (non-poverty law) law school interest: Alexia Brunet Marks & Scott Moss, What Makes a Law Student Succeed or Fail? A Longitudinal Study Correlating Law Student Applicant Data and Law School Outcomes, SSRN.  Abstract below:

Despite the rise of “big data” empiricism, law school admission remains heavily impressionistic; admission decisions based on anecdotes about recent students, idiosyncratic preferences for certain majors or jobs, or mainly the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Yet no predictors are well-validated; studies of the LSAT or other factors fail to control for college quality, major, work experience, etc. The lack of evidence of what actually predicts law school success is especially surprising after the 2010s downturn left schools competing for fewer applicants and left potential students less sure of law school as a path to future success. We aim to fill this gap with a two-school, 1400-student, 2005-2012 longitudinal study. After coding non-digitized applicant data, we used multivariate regression analysis to predict law school grades (“LGPA”) from many variables: LSAT; college grades (“UGPA”), quality, and major; UGPA trajectory; employment duration and type (legal, scientific, military, teaching, etc.); college leadership; prior graduate degree; criminal or discipline record; and variable interactions (e.g., high-LSAT/low-UGPA or vice-versa).

Our results include not only new findings about how to balance LSAT and UGPA, but the first findings that college quality, major, work experience, and other traits are significant predictors: (1) controlling for other variables, LSAT predicts more weakly, and UGPA more powerfully, than commonly assumed – and a high-LSAT/low-UGPA profile may predict worse than the opposite; (2) a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) or EAF (economics, accounting, finance) major is a significant plus, akin to 3½-4 extra LSAT points; (3) several years’ work experience is a significant plus, with teaching especially positive and military the weakest; (4) a criminal or disciplinary record is a significant minus, akin to 7½ fewer LSAT points; and (5) long-noted gender disparities seem to have abated, but racial disparities persist. Some predictors were interestingly nonlinear: college quality has decreasing returns; UGPA has increasing returns; a rising UGPA is a plus only for law students right out of college; and 4-9 years of work is a “sweet spot,” with neither 1-3 or 10 years’ work experience significant. Some, such as those with military or science work, have high LGPA variance, indicating a mix of high and low performers requiring close scrutiny. Many traditionally valued traits had no predictive value: typical pre-law majors (political science, history, etc.); legal or public sector work; or college leadership.

These findings can help identify who can outperform overvalued predictors like the LSAT. A key caveat is that statistical models cannot capture certain difficult-to-code key traits: some who project to have weak grades retain appealing lawyering or leadership potential; and many will over- or under-perform any projection. Thus, admissions will always be both art and science – but perhaps with a bit more science.

Yesterday was a good day.

King v. Burwell

Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.

Things to add to next year’s readings for Poverty Law. =)

New Report: “ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education Report”

New Report: “ABA Task Force on the Financing of Legal Education Report,” 2015.

New Article: “What Makes Lawyers Happy?: A DataDriven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success”

New Article: Lawrence S. Krieger with Kennon M. Sheldon, What Makes Lawyers Happy?: A DataDriven Prescription to Redefine Professional Success, 83 G.W. L. Rev. 554 (2015).

And the New York Times coverage article is here (the title shows the punchline of the law review article): Douglas Quenqua, Lawyers With Lowest Pay Report More Happiness, New York Times, May 12, 2015.

Op-Ed: How Poor Are the Poor? – NYTimes.com

How Poor Are the Poor? – NYTimes.com [which discusses the recent article by Jencks on the War on Poverty].

Op-Ed: A Political Crackdown at University of North Carolina – The New Yorker

Op-Ed: A Political Crackdown at University of North Carolina – The New Yorker.  [More on UNC from Jed Purdy.]

Op-Ed: Law schools are in a death spiral. Maybe now they’ll finally change. – The Washington Post

Law schools are in a death spiral. Maybe now they’ll finally change. – The Washington Post.

As an aside but connected with this op-ed, I think it is worth noting that choices made about quality education often can conflict with affordable education (and here, I am focusing on education, not scholarship).  I also think that given the real significance that rankings or at least relative position as understood by employers can have for students in a tough job market just as it is wrong to overly emphasize rankings, it is also wrong to under-emphasize or downplay them.  Student routinely don’t like the grading system because it fails to capture their full effort or understanding, yet the system is largely in place.  Similarly, though schools and some faculty, particularly at schools whose rankings have declined,  like to critique the rankings or treat them as insignificant; like them or not, they matter, esp. to current students and recent alums.  It is only from a position of relative security–such as tenure or senior administration–that a position that they should be ignored makes sense.

Possibly of interest to professors: “Substance Abuse & Mental Health Toolkit”

Possibly of interest to professors: ABA, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Toolkit (2015).

Update on the poverty center at UNC . . . It’s Final: UNC Board of Governors Votes To Close Academic Centers | WUNC

It’s Final: UNC Board of Governors Votes To Close Academic Centers | WUNC.

I do think this is a black mark on UNC.  For years the poverty center at UNC was one of very few such centers based at a law school and (at least in my mind) was a noteworthy strength of the school.

2015 Poverty Guidelines

Here: 2015 Poverty Guidelines.