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Pitt, rather unfortunate name, and rank

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Following Pitt's unceremonious drop in the US News rankings from 69 to 91, the dean did as most deans do, and put out a letter explaining why the school is still totes awesome. The dean's message is, as most deans' messages are, that the rankings really don't matter, and despite them not mattering the school is committed to improving their rank next time:

I will keep you all informed as to what our analysis of this year's ranking reveals. But rest assured that what it does not reveal is any diminishment in the quality or impact of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. We will address the rankings issue head-on, but we will not lose sight of what ultimately matters most: the quality of the education we provide and the well-being and success of our students, alumni, and community.

A reader tipped us off to this excellent, and rather obvious analysis of the dean's letter from a Pitt alumn:

The basic argument of your letter is that Pitt Law hasn't gotten worse in the past year, its ranking has, thus the ranking is flawed.  The basic argument of my letter is that Pitt Law hasn't changed in the past year, its ranking has gotten worse, and the ranking system is now (and was not then) accurate.  Thus, Pitt's ranking reflects how good Pitt Law actually has been, at least since my association with the school.

It's a bit like a first date with a girl you met through OKCupid, and you realize that her looks were greatly enhanced by some favorable lighting and angles. In truth, she hasn't gotten any worse looking. All that's changed is that you now know what she always looked like.

We'd like to add though that the Dean is actually wrong on the facts. Pitt's admissions criteria have slumped in the past year, with the 25/75 LSAT percentiles slipping from 157/161 to 155/160, and the GPA 25/75s going from 3.14/3.66 to 3.09/3.60. It's GPA drop is less than the national average, but the LSAT drop is more than double the national average.

Though maybe the Dean is correct, and really nothing has changed. After all, it could be that in past years they just lied about what their admissions data were.

We already figured out how to consummate it online...

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Yesterday, in the midst of a billion stories about the US News law school rankings (and we helped!), the ABA Journal ran a story about how more and more people are getting married on the internet. Trust us, there’s a connection.

It’s apparently becoming increasingly popular for foreign marriages. Marriage via the internet is sort of like a marriage by proxy. According to the ABAJ, some critics are concerned that this type of marriage will be used by human traffickers, who will use them to bring women into the country and then force the women into prostitution. And we all know the fierce stance the ABA is taking on human trafficking these days. (If you don’t know, it’s anti-trafficking.)

And it just wouldn’t be a legal issue without an inane opinion from a law professor. Here comes Michigan State University law professor Adam Candeub with some reservations:

Part of the reason for having the two people come and appear before a priest or a judge is to make sure it is a freely chosen. There are some problems with willy-nilly allowing anyone around the world to marry.

First, we’ve seen the Princess Bride, and there was absolutely no checking by the priest that Buttercup was marrying Humperdink because she “freely chose” it. Sure wuv, twoo wuv is nice, but when push comes to shove, we’re all too willing to jump to man-and-wife, plans to murder your partner in that dweam within a dweam notwithstanding.

Second, why don’t you tell us how you really feel, Adam? People shouldn’t be allowed to marry “willy-nilly”? If you haven’t noticed, the mood of the day, especially common among the educate elite, is towards marriage freedom. (And way to go Colorado!) Marriage is an agreement between two consenting adults, and that’s pretty much it. Not between two consenting adults who have courted for a suitable length of time and have the consent of both parties’ parents. Candeub would have done more to undermine the marriage between Jane and Bingley than Darcy ever did.

Here’s a question for you, Professor. If you’re so concerned about people making major decisions with life-long consequences willy-nilly, and worst of all online, why don’t you ask Michigan State’s admissions office to require students to come on campus to accept their admissions offer and pay their first semester’s tuition? You wouldn’t want people enrolling in law school willy-nilly, especially considering that they will be paying back their loans for much longer than the average marriage lasts, and have more debt than the typical divorce settlement value.

And law school is hardly the biggest thing you can commit to online or by proxy. People are getting their auto insurance online now, and their health insurance, and auto insurance. You can form a corporation by mail, a process so common that there’s a whole industry of registered agents to stand in for absentee owners. We have the whole ESIGN Act governing electronic agreements, and for good reason. It’s not just $7 Netflix payments and $9 Kindle book orders being made in abstentia. Corporations are largely governed by proxy votes, and billion dollar deals can be closed by fax. Whatever the agreement is, long ago we realized that what matters is the intent of the parties to be bound; the form of that agreement is irrelevant:

It makes no difference whether that operator writes the offer or the acceptance . . . with a steel pen an inch long attached to an ordinary penholder, or whether his pen be a copper wire a thousand miles long. In either case the thought is communicated to the paper by the use of the finger resting upon the pen; nor does it make any difference that in one case common record ink is used, while in the other case a more subtle fluid, known as electricity, performs the same office.

That’s from Howley v. Whipple, a case that went before the New Hampshire Supreme Court in 1869. It’s still good law. The cat is out of the bag, professor. What makes sense is not trying to get in the way of online marriages, but figure out how to make the system better. If you’re worried about coercion, require a judge to sign off on the marriage on both ends. If you’re worried about people getting married without really thinking through what that means, then learn to cope, because it’s 2013 and we’re allowed to make bad decisions with our lives. The number of people relying on US News to make law school enrollment decisions is proof of that.

Bob Morse "Explains" US News Rankings

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Here's the interview Bloomberg Law did with Bob Morse about the new US News law school rankings. The whole thing is pretty sad, and Bob comes across basically like a restaurant owner on Kitchen Nightmares. Not one of the really aggressive ones that yells at Gordon Ramsay, but one of the dopey ones who just assumes everything is awesome despite the impending collapse of the whole thing. Here, take a watch:

 

Here's what we learned:

Bob doesn't think rankings influence law school behavior, despite pretty much every law school admitting that their entire business model is designed around increasing their US News ranking. Hello merit-based scholarships!

The T14 is pretty much the same.

Bob thinks that jobs that require bar passage are just as desirable as jobs where a JD is only a helping hand on the application, despite schools with higher JDA job placement also having a higher percentage of students looking for a job other than the one they already have.

Bob won't say how other jobs are weighed. You'll just have to take his word for it that the methodology is sound, despite, like, you know, everyone saying that it's completely bogus without even knowing what's behind the curtain.

Finally, we learned that Bob is just this kid plus 60 years:

The Great Law School Brain Drain

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The new US News law school rankings are out, and like we saw last year, LSAT and GPA numbers are generally down. LSAT numbers are getting the worst of it, as is to be expected since the numbers are scaled and compare only prospective law students.

Data for All Schools

#1-50 Data

#51-100 Data

#101-144 Data

Ranks Not Published Data

Synopses follow. Check back throughout the day as we post data for the remaining schools.

 

Overall Synopsis

Number of schools with a gain in both LSAT 25 and 75: 14

Schools with a loss in both LSAT 25 and 75: 78

Number of schools with a gain in both GPA 25 and 75: 43

Schools with a loss in both GPA 25 and 75: 68

 

Average LSAT 25 change: -0.81

Average LSAT 75 change: -0.43

Average GPA 25 change: -0.023

Average GPA 75 change: -0.011

This is the second year in a row that all four numbers have dropped (and only our second year checking, so who knows when it started).

 

18 schools had no loss in any of the four statistics. 4 schools posted gains in each of the four (Stanford, Tulsa, St. Louis, and Chapman). 2 schools had no loss but also no gain (Barry, and Florida A&M).

By comparison, 32 schools posted a loss in each of the LSAT 25 and 75 and GPA 25 and 75.

Last year, only 1 school had an LSAT 25th percentile of 143. Now 5 do, and one, Phoenix, has an LSAT 25 of 142, the 18th percentile of LSAT test takers.

 

 

Synopsis of Schools Ranked 1-48 (52 schools, because of a 5-way tie at 48)

LSAT 25th and 75th Percentile Changes

Number of schools with a gain in both LSAT 25 and 75: 3

Number of schools with a gain in 1 of LSAT 25 and 75: 5

Number of schools with a gain in one and a loss in the other: 6

Number of schools with a loss of 1 of LSAT 25 and 75: 13

Number of schools with a loss of both LSAT 25 and 75: 18

Number of schools with no change: 7

Average 25th Percentile Move: -0.77

Average 75th Percentile Move: -0.037

 

GPA 25th and 75th Percentile Changes

Number of schools with a gain in both GPA 25 and 75: 14

Number of schools with a gain in 1 of GPA 25 and 75: 2

Number of schools with a gain in one and a loss in the other: 19

Number of schools with a loss of 1 of GPA 25 and 75: 2

Number of schools with a loss of both GPA 25 and 75: 13

Number of schools with no change: 2

Average 25th Percentile Move: -0.010

Average 75th Percentile Move: +0.002

 

The biggest loser among the top 50 was the University of Georgia, which dropped -4/-1 for its LSAT 25/75. It's LSAT 25 dropped from 162 to 158, and remember that since the LSAT is on a bell curve, the further you go, the more significant a single point change is. That change represents a drop from the 86th percentile to the 75th. Georgia at least compensated for this loss by shoring up its GPA stats, with a 0.03/0.06 gain.

The school posting biggest across the board losses was BYU. It had a loss of -2/-2 for LSAT scores, and -0.11/-0.06 for GPAs.

The biggest GPA loss was at George Washington, with a -0.13/-0.12, and with its LSATs remaining the same.

 

 

Synopsis of Schools Ranked 53-98 (49 schools, because of a 4-way tie at 98)

LSAT 25th and 75th Percentile Changes

Number of schools with a gain in both LSAT 25 and 75: 5

Number of schools with a gain in 1 of LSAT 25 and 75: 6

Number of schools with a gain in one and a loss in the other: 4

Number of schools with a loss of 1 of LSAT 25 and 75: 15

Number of schools with a loss of both LSAT 25 and 75: 12

Number of schools with no change: 7

Average 25th Percentile Move: -0.35

Average 75th Percentile Move: -0.39

 

GPA 25th and 75th Percentile Changes

Number of schools with a gain in both GPA 25 and 75: 11

Number of schools with a gain in 1 of GPA 25 and 75: 4

Number of schools with a gain in one and a loss in the other: 10

Number of schools with a loss of 1 of GPA 25 and 75: 3

Number of schools with a loss of both GPA 25 and 75: 21

Number of schools with no change: 0

Average 25th Percentile Move: -0.0251

Average 75th Percentile Move: -0.0184

 

Biggest loser from this bunch is Missouri, with a -4/-2 LSAT, and -0.08/+0.04 GPA. The 2 point drop in Missouri's 75th LSAT of 161 to 159 represents a change from the 83rd to 77th percentile. The 25th LSAT drop from 156 to 152 is a change from the 67th to 52nd percentiles, a serious decline in admissions standards. You used to need to be in the top third to get in. Now you just need to be in the top half.

 

 

Synopsis of Schools Ranked 102-144 (47 schools, because of a 5-way tie at 144)

LSAT 25th and 75th Percentile Changes

Number of schools with a gain in both LSAT 25 and 75: 3

Number of schools with a gain in 1 of LSAT 25 and 75: 7

Number of schools with a gain in one and a loss in the other: 3

Number of schools with a loss of 1 of LSAT 25 and 75: 5

Number of schools with a loss of both LSAT 25 and 75: 28

Number of schools with no change: 3

Average 25th Percentile Move: -1.04

Average 75th Percentile Move: -0.55

 

GPA 25th and 75th Percentile Changes

Number of schools with a gain in both GPA 25 and 75: 9

Number of schools with a gain in 1 of GPA 25 and 75: 0

Number of schools with a gain in one and a loss in the other: 15

Number of schools with a loss of 1 of GPA 25 and 75: 7

Number of schools with a loss of both GPA 25 and 75: 16

Number of schools with no change: 0

Average 25th Percentile Move: -0.030

Average 75th Percentile Move: -0.017

 

The single worst LSAT 25 drop we've seen since UGA, Suffolk went from a 152 to 148, or 52nd percentile to 36th. You used to have to be in the top half, now you only need to be in the top third. Ouch!

Several other schools saw some nasty drops, but we're giving the biggest loser award for this group to Arkansas - Little Rock, with a -3/-1 LSAT drop, and a -0.13/-0.15 drop in GPA 25/75. Brutal, yet they jumped 6 points in the US News ranking. No accounting for taste.

 

 

Synopsis of Schools With Ranks Unpublished (46 schools)

LSAT 25th and 75th Percentile Changes

Number of schools with a gain in both LSAT 25 and 75: 3

Number of schools with a gain in 1 of LSAT 25 and 75: 5

Number of schools with a gain in one and a loss in the other: 3

Number of schools with a loss of 1 of LSAT 25 and 75: 12

Number of schools with a loss of both LSAT 25 and 75: 20

Number of schools with no change: 3

Average 25th Percentile Move: -1.35

Average 75th Percentile Move: -0.43

 

GPA 25th and 75th Percentile Changes

Number of schools with a gain in both GPA 25 and 75: 9

Number of schools with a gain in 1 of GPA 25 and 75: 5

Number of schools with a gain in one and a loss in the other: 11

Number of schools with a loss of 1 of GPA 25 and 75: 0

Number of schools with a loss of both GPA 25 and 75: 18

Number of schools with no change: 3

Average 25th Percentile Move: -0.029

Average 75th Percentile Move: -0.013

 

We've got two contenders for biggest loser among the unranked schools.

Western New England saw a -3/-4 LSAT 25/75 drop. The 25 score dropped from the 48th percentile to the 36th, and the 75th dropped from the 67th to 52nd. So, it used to be that to be in the top quarter of its class, you needed to be in the top third of applicants. Now you just need to be in the top half. But this awful LSAT plummet was at last not too terrible exacerbated by GPAs, which dropped a comparatively modest -0.01/-0.07.

Our other contender is Ohio Northern, with a -4/-2 GPA drop, sending its 25th rank from 149 to 145, from the 40th percentile to the 26th. Ouch! But just to add injury to injury, the GPAs here dropped an astonishing -0.22/-0.21. Someone get Ohio Northern some Quilted Northern!

Page 16 of 338

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