Law Schools, LSAT

The ‘Law School Scam’ Only Exists Because of Cognitive Bias

We here at Above the Law write day in and day out about the so-called law school scam that’s happening at educational institutions around the country. At this point, we’ve honestly got to wonder why people keep taking the LSAT and applying in droves to take on loads of non-dischargeable debt in the hopes of becoming a member of the 55 Percent.

Come on, you know who the 55 Percent are — they’re the law school graduates who have managed to obtain full-time, long-term jobs that require a law degree nine months after graduation. The thing is, you don’t see all of the other unemployed or underemployed law school graduates parading around like Occupy Wall Street folks and proclaiming themselves to be the 45 Percent. But why?

Because NOBODY wants to be seen as a disappointment. Because NOBODY wants to admit that they’ve failed. Because NOBODY wants to take a good look at themselves and only realize after years and dollars wasted that they were sold a virtually unattainable dream.

For those of you who weren’t psychology majors in college, this is something called cognitive bias. According to Wikipedia, a cognitive bias is “a replicable pattern in perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality.” Does this remind you of anyone? Perhaps even yourself?

Here’s some additional insight on the law school scam and cognitive bias from the Gene Expression blog of Discover Magazine:

A rational person will ask if an individual with a unimpressive LSAT and low G.P.A. and lack of genuine passion for law can be a great lawyer. Most people are quite rational…about other people. When it comes to oneself there’s a strong bias, perhaps for evolutionary reasons, to delude oneself about one’s intelligence, attractiveness, conscientiousness, etc. Despite the “market signal” of the collapse of vast swaths of the legal industry in the wake of 2008, and the real correction in the number of applicants an[d] students, these sort of data still imply that the supply of self-deluded suckers is large enough to saturate the market.

The author, Razib Khan, goes on to note that people “borrowing to invest in improving human capital which they didn’t start out with in the first place” are naturally drawn in to the law school scam, if only because of their own personal exceptionalism.

These are the people who thought that they’d be really successful, no matter where they went to law school. These are the people who thought that if they worked hard, they’d be able to get that job and make that money after graduation. These are the people who were… flat out wrong.

These are the people who are now suing their law schools because they’re unemployed. These are the people who feel like they were lied to — but in truth, maybe they were lying to themselves from the get go.

THEY will be different. THEY will be able to transfer out after 1L year. THEY will get a job, despite a dismal employment market. But as it turns out, THEY didn’t do so well. THEY are the special little snowflakes who now have no way out of this new disaster they call their lives.

So take heed, little 0Ls. Take a step back and look at yourselves before you become assimilated into THEY. Do you really want to take the risk of becoming a member of the 45 Percent? We didn’t think so.

The law school scam as a cognitive bias [Gene Expression / Discover Magazine]

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