Education / Schools, Law Schools, Media and Journalism, New York Times, Student Loans

A Notable Correction to the New York Times Article on Law School

It isn’t easy to wring a correction out of the New York Times. The Gray Lady is notoriously stingy when it comes to confessing error. [FN1]

But David Segal’s very interesting and widely read article about the perils of going to law school — which still sits at the top of the NYT’s list of most-emailed articles, several days after it first came online — now bears a notable correction…

Here’s how the corrected passage originally read (transcribed from my hard copy of the Times):

Jason Bohn is earning $33 an hour as a legal temp while strapped to more than $200,000 in loans, a sizable chunk of which he accumulated during his time at Columbia University, where he finished both a J.D. and a master’s degree.

“I grew up a ward of the state of New York, so I don’t have any parents to call for help,” Mr. Bohn says. “For my sanity, I have to think there is an end in sight.”

A Columbia J.D. earning $33 an hour? Wow. When I first read the article, the story of Jason Bohn jumped out at me. Even though it took up just two short paragraphs in a nearly 5,000-word piece, it was the anecdote that I cited when telling non-lawyers about the Times article. Graduates of lower-ranked schools were having problems even before the recession; when Columbia Law School grads are unemployed or underemployed, you know it’s bad out there.

But here’s the correction now appended to the NYT story, brought to our attention by a Columbia University spokesperson:

An earlier version of this article misstated the educational history of Jason Bohn, a recent law school graduate. While Mr. Bohn took classes at Columbia Law School, his law degree is from the University of Florida. And while nearly all of his student loan debt was accumulated at Columbia University, it was incurred while he was an undergraduate and while working on a master’s degree, and not at Columbia Law.

The correction makes some sense. While many graduates of top law schools like CLS have encountered difficulties in the legal job market — indeed, one of the law school scam blogs is called First Tier Toilet — it is fair to say that graduates of highly-ranked schools like Columbia have fared better in the hunt for employment than graduates of lower-ranked schools (like the University of Florida, Bohn’s alma mater). This might be due in part to the credentials obsession of the legal profession. Such elitism might be unfortunate, but it is a reality.

If you haven’t done so already, feel free to read our prior post for in-depth discussion of the NYT piece.

[FN1] When it comes to getting corrections out of the Times, trust me — I’ve tried. I did obtain two small corrections to this article (scroll down), but I was unable to get the NYT to fix various other issues with the piece.

UPDATE: As noted by a commenter, it appears that Jason Bohn may have posted a response over at Top Law Schools. It strikes me as legit, but please note that I haven’t confirmed it. To read it — it’s quite interesting — click here, then run a search on the page for “My name is Jason Bohn.”

Earlier: Now That the New York Times Acknowledges the Perils of Law School Debt, the Next Question Is How to Recover From the Ruin

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