So, on Monday night I was watching the Men’s 400 meter race and women’s uneven bars, playing Star Wars because Madden hadn’t dropped yet, and drinking. Near the end of the evening, I stopped by Facebook (supposedly on my way to read reviews of more goddamn pediatricians), and I had a new message.
It was a friend of mine who has another friend who is thinking of going to law school. Knowing my stance on such things, my friend asked me to pretend like the decision to go to law school was inevitable and focus on a different question: what can college seniors do to increase the chances of getting into a good law school in case their LSAT scores are low?
I’ve got an answer. And really, the sober answer isn’t all that different than the one I had hammered out at 2:00 a.m….
I’m still trying to figure out the appropriate way to “take credit” for the decline in the number of people taking the LSAT. Currently, I’m consulting with a red-haired chick on the procedure for calling me Lightbringer.
But my work is clearly not done. The big news today is that the new numbers released by LSAC show that the decline in LSAT takers disproportionately affects top performers on the LSAT. Basically, fewer high scorers are taking the LSAT, while the number of people who can’t even break 145 remains strong.
Doesn’t that really match our anecdotal beliefs that people applying to law school in 2012, with all the data and the publicity about the bad deal you get at an American law school, are just dumber than those who came before?
We believe in offering a wide range of perspectives here at Above the Law. That’s one thing that’s nice about having four full-time writer/editors — myself, Elie, Staci Zaretsky, Chris Danzig — and about a dozen outside columnists.
Today we bring you a different viewpoint on the Baylor law admissions data. Prominent lawyer and blogger Ted Frank, previously profiled in these pages for his work in the class-action area, uses the same data to argue against affirmative action.
Hot on the heels of the news that administrations of the LSAT are down 16% from last year, we now know that the number of students applying to law school has also declined. But just how bad are the numbers? Let’s just say that applicants and applications for this cycle have “dropped precipitously.”
It would seem that people have finally gotten the message that going to law school won’t necessarily guarantee financial success, much less a job as a lawyer. These days, prospective law students are more in tune with reality, and they obviously don’t like the pictures of law school doom and gloom that have been displayed prominently in the mainstream media.
But that doesn’t mean that people are going to stop applying to law school, or even that they should. So, for these prospective law students, does news of fewer applicants mean that tuition prices will drop, too?
I deduce that my application has posed an extraordinarily challenging decision for you. After all, I applied for admission in the fall of 1978, was placed on the wait list some time that winter, and am still awaiting your final decision. I certainly appreciate the effort that you have invested in considering my application during the intervening decades.
As you might imagine, this has not been an easy thirty years for me, either. Every day, through the changing seasons and changing seasons of my life, I have approached the mailbox with trepidation, thinking that I might finally experience the exhilaration of acceptance or the agony of rejection. But it was not to be; I never heard a word. I’ve decided it’s time to spare you the effort of further deliberation.
I’ve thought about you each fall and winter, as you’ve surely re-opened and dusted off my typewritten application and compared it to the new e-submissions that you probably receive today. How do my accomplishments from the late 1970s compare to the accomplishments of my current competitors? I’m certain, for example, that grade inflation has worked to my detriment, as my grades are stuck at the old levels and younger folks get higher grades with each passing year. It’s just not fair.
On Wednesday, we reported on Baylor Law School accidentally releasing personal academic information for its entire admitted class. It was a massive screw-up, and on Wednesday, we showed you the GPA and LSAT scores for Baylor’s admitted students (with the students’ names redacted, of course).
But there were other fields available in the accidentally released spreadsheet, including racial categorizations for each student and scholarship information. I didn’t include the race field earlier this week because, frankly, I didn’t want the entire news story (of the screw-up) to be overrun by a discussion about race and affirmative action.
But, look, I ain’t afraid of you people. Getting a complete racial breakdown of the class to go along with their grades and LSAT scores is a look inside the law school admissions process that we don’t often get to see.
So, let’s play our game. Looking at the Baylor numbers, you can see the affirmative action “bump” in LSAT scores, and to my eyes, it really shows how foolish the opponents of affirmative action really are….
There are data breaches, and then there are data dummies. The people at Baylor Law seem to be in the latter category.
Nobody was trying to steal the personal information of the admitted students at Baylor Law. But a screw-up by someone at the school resulted in all of the personal information of the admitted class getting transmitted to everybody else in the admitted class.
All of it. Names, addresses, grades, and LSAT scores. Pretty much everything besides social security numbers.
I think we should see more of this. I think we should see more professors, deans, and law school administrators outraged by the practices of some unscrupulous law school officials. I think we should see more legal educators who are disgusted by what other money-grubbing deans and officials do to fill up their classes. I think the bad people in legal education have an easy time of it because the good people won’t stand up.
Happily, you can mark down the Yale Law School Assistant Dean of Admissions on the list of good people willing to fight against the unfair practices of other law schools and call a scam a “scam” when she sees one.
Asha Rangappa isn’t just a winner of our law school deans hottie contest: she also writes a good blog about the admissions process. Her latest piece challenges other law schools to stop bullying students with misinformation about their scholarship offers…
I would read these horror stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post about how law firms were no longer guaranteeing jobs. But I always knew I was going to go to one of the top 14 law schools, where employment statistics have remained pretty strong. Most of the bad numbers are coming from the worse-ranked schools.
In the before times, in the long, long ago, everything about law school was hard. Getting in was hard. Completing the training was hard. Passing the bar was hard. Everything was hard and everything was stressful.
And legal educators and successful lawyers were proud that it was hard. The hardness is what made it mean something. I remember one of the reasons some people in my family told me to go to law school instead of business school was that law school was harder, and thus it intrinsically had more value.
But now, we don’t want law school to be hard. We don’t want thousands of students to break their dreams against high barriers to admission. We don’t want kids to be so stressed out that they spend their first year crying themselves to sleep at night like a new, fleshy prisoner in a penitentiary.
We want law schools to be like a goddamn camp — a goddamn hippie law learning camp where the professors are “down to earth,” and the administrators are there for “encouragement,” and there’s freaking ice cream in the student lounge. Look to your left, now look to your right: all three of you will be getting smiley faces on your transcripts!
This trend to make law schools the “aww shucks” destination for regular folks has made all the way down to Texas, the state that’s supposed to be the balls of this country….
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
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