[Andrew Morriss (guest-blogging), August 12, 2005 at 9:16pm] Trackbacks
Reputation and LSATs:

Our last important result concerned the reputation variables - one for academic reputation based on surveys of law faculty and one for lawyer/judge reputation based on a survey of lawyers and judges. U.S. News doesn't include much detail about the surveys (things like response rates would be nice), but I've filled out the academic one a few times and so know a little about it. Essentially each person who gets a survey is asked to rate all the law schools from 1-5.

We found that changes in academic reputation were associated with higher median LSAT scores for the top quartile but not for the other three quartiles.

An important question about the reputational variables is whether they are cause or effect. It seems implausible that very many law professors (or lawyers or judges) have even moderately well-informed views of the quality of more than a handful of law schools. Prof. Jeffrey Stake at Indiana, in a paper in the same symposium as ours, found evidence of an "echo" effect in reputation.

If you look at reputation across time, there is quite a bit of stability at the top and a lot of movement (especially in lawyer/judge reputation) at the bottom. (I have some nice graphs to post but haven't figured out how to do it yet. As soon as I do, I will.)

Jonathan M (mail):
How about some LSAT tips post facto?
8.13.2005 6:49pm
Guest (mail):
Jonathan M -- In one word, practice. The best practice books I found were the ones put out by the LSAT folks themselves. I practiced my butt off and scored in the 98th percentile. Good luck. In many ways, this is the most important test you will ever take.
8.13.2005 9:39pm
Trenchard Gordon:
I've suspected the answers re academic reputation tend to be based more on sloppy convention than on any direct acquaintance with most of the schools. This is probably increasingly true as one moves further down the rankings. It's tough to monitor the year-to-year scholarship of lesser-known schools.

So stronger applicants (as measured by LSAT scores) tend to respond to improved academic reputations among the top schools; but not to similar changes among those ranked lower. Is it too far-fetched to suppose that they have some inkling of the "echo effect," and therefore discount the scores for academic reputation among lesser schools?
8.13.2005 10:29pm
Flavio Rose (mail):
You write: "It seems implausible that very many law professors (or lawyers or judges) have even moderately well-informed views of the quality of more than a handful of law schools."

If you are an attorney at an AmLaw 200 firm and take part in recruiting, you will see how your colleagues judge candidates based on which law school they're from when deciding on callbacks and offers. On that basis, you will know the "clout" of the credential of graduating from each of the law schools that your firm regularly hires from. This is often more than a "handful."

I should add that hiring committee "clout" is the Holy Grail for the typical law school applicant, since the principal advantage of one law school over another is the advantage that the law school gives you in the job market. The rest of the variables in the rankings are either proxies for this "clout" variable or fluff. A possible exception is LSAT score: in choosing between schools with indistinguishable clout you probably want to go to the one with lower LSAT score, since that predicts that you will get higher grades.
8.14.2005 1:15am