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Crucial Weaknesses

July 19th, 2013 / By

Clearly, Simkovic and McIntyre’s article has given new life to those who would defend the status quo. However, even assuming the statistical methodology is sound (which I do, as I have no reason to believe otherwise and no time to recreate it), the study suffers from a number of crucial weaknesses.

First, Part IV makes the assumption that current market challenges reflect no more than the historically cyclical nature of the legal market. If you do not agree with this assumption (and I do not–I think Susskind’s view on this issue is far more sound), then the entire study is fundamentally flawed. However, even if you buy this assumption, there remain further issues with the study.

The title itself, the “Million-Dollar Law Degree” is misleading at best. This million dollar figure reflects the mean value, where the mean is skewed significantly higher than the median. Thus, it overstates the value for significantly more than half of all JD grads. It also reflects “pre-tax” value, a point that the authors do not address until near the end of the article at Part V.C. There, the authors acknowledge that their calculated benefit must be divided between private “after-tax” earnings and public tax revenues. (more…)

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