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Outgoing Law School Dean Tries To Slip In One Last Dumb Comment

You’d think that the “longest serving law school dean in America” would have had plenty of time to share all of the bad or misleading information with prospective students that he wanted to.

But apparently Rudy Hasl, the dean of Thomas Jefferson School of Law who is retiring at the end of the academic year, had a few more drops of confusion to share.

Hasl suggested that the media is underestimating the value of a law degree by focusing on pesky statistics like whether or not people are employed nine months after graduation.


In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education (gavel bang: ABA Journal), Hasl did the classic law school dean thing of talking about the value of a law degree without the support any facts, whatsoever:

There’s been a great deal of coverage in the national press that has underestimated the value of a law degree and caused potential applicants to question whether they should make the investment in a legal education.

I remind students that what law schools are providing is a set of skills that are valued in our society and that will ultimately lead to a meaningful employment opportunity. To try to measure that by what job you have on graduation, or even nine months later, doesn’t make sense.

I tell students you’re investing in something that provides you the ability to shape your career. That could be in business, in the political arena, or in traditional law-firm settings. I was a classics major, and there’s no market directly for someone in classics, but it’s a foundational training that hopefully makes one better at analyzing problems and articulating a position.

Just once, when one of these guys is waxing nostalgically about value of a legal education, just once I’d like for them to say, “As you can see IN THIS CHART I brought…” or, “BASED ON THIS GRAPH…” or, “Nate Silver projects the value of a law degree to be…”

I don’t know about you, but one of the lessons I took from this past election was that facts matter, and that Americans, it turns out, actually can process facts when you tell them the truth.

If law deans want to say that there is some other measure of employment success that we should be looking at, then they should show us. Put it in a spreadsheet. Remember, we focus on “employed at graduation” and “employed nine months after graduation” because those are the statistics we have. Those are the statistics that they self-report. If they want to tell us to focus on those employed a year or, whatever, 10 years after graduation, then they should tell us what the numbers are.

I’m so sick of this anecdotal, “I know a kid who went to our a school and now, he tells me that his TJSL degree really helps him in his career as a large-cap sheepherder.” That’s not evidence… that’s freaking hearsay. These are law professors; if they want to make a point, they should put forth convincing evidence of it.

Otherwise, shut the hell up. Honestly, get the heck out of here with these stories about how there are all these law graduates who are professionally sought after and economically secure thanks to their legal education. PICTURES OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Or at least a freaking spreadsheet.

Maybe instead of getting a classics major, TJSL should hire a new dean who has a degree in statistics.

America’s Longest-Serving Law Dean Defends the Value of a Law Degree [Chronicle of Higher Education]
Nine-Month Job Stats Don’t Measure Value of Law Degree, Retiring Dean Says [ABA Journal]

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