Overpromising

Earlier this week, I wrote about the progress that law schools have made in reporting helpful employment statistics. The National Association for Law Placement (NALP), unfortunately, has not made that type of progress. On Wednesday, NALP issued a press release that will confuse most readers; mislead many; and ultimately hurt law schools, prospective students, and the profession. It’s the muddled, the false, and the damaging.

Equating, Scaling, and Civil Procedure

Still wondering about the February bar results? I continue that discussion here. As explained in my previous post, NCBE premiered its new Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) in February. That exam covers seven subjects, rather than the six tested on the MBE for more than four decades. Given the type of knowledge tested by the MBE, there is little doubt that the new exam is harder than the old one.

If you have any doubt about that fact, try this experiment: Tell any group of third-year students that the bar examiners have decided to offer them a choice. They may study for and take a version of the MBE covering the original six subjects, or they may choose a version that covers those subjects plus Civil Procedure. Which version do they choose?

Old Ways, New Ways

For the last two weeks, Michael Simkovic and I have been discussing the manner in which law schools used to publish employment and salary information. The discussion started here and continued on both that blog and this one. The debate, unfortunately, seems to have confused some readers because of its historical nature. Let’s clear up that confusion: We were discussing practices that, for the most part, ended four or five years ago.

Responding to both external criticism and internal reflection, today’s law schools publish a wealth of data about their employment outcomes; most of that information is both user-friendly and accurate. Here’s a brief tour of what data are available today and what the future might still hold.

The February 2015 Bar Exam

States have started to release results of the February 2015 bar exam, and Derek Muller has helpfully compiled the reports to date. Muller also uncovered the national mean scaled score for this February’s MBE, which was just 136.2. That’s a notable drop from last February’s mean of 138.0. It’s also lower than all but one of the means reported during the last decade; Muller has a nice graph of the scores.

The latest drop in MBE scores, unfortunately, was completely predictable–and not primarily because of a change in the test takers. I hope that Jerry Organ will provide further analysis of the latter possibility soon. Meanwhile, the expected drop in the February MBE scores can be summed up in five words: seven subjects instead of six. I don’t know how much the test-takers changed in February, but the test itself did.

Clueless About Salary Stats

Students and practitioners sometimes criticize law professors for knowing too little about the real world. Often, those criticisms are overstated. But then a professor like Michael Simkovic says something so clueless that you start to wonder if the critics are right.

Law School Statistics

Earlier this week, I noted that even smart academics are misled by the manner in which law schools traditionally reported employment statistics. Steven Solomon, a very smart professor at Berkeley’s law school, was misled by the “nesting” of statistics on NALP’s employment report for another law school.

Now Michael Simkovic, another smart law professor, has proved the point again. Simkovic rather indignantly complains that Kyle McEntee “suggests incorrectly that The New York Times reported Georgetown’s median private sector salary without providing information on what percentage of the class or of those employed were working in the private sector.” But it is Simkovic who is incorrect–and, once again, it seems to be because he was misled by the manner in which law schools report some of their employment and salary data.