Thursday, April 23, 2009

Get a "Gift Certificate"

My goodness! It is rating season already. This year the students at my School find that they are not at the tied-for-46th rated school but at the 51st. And since we are reducing the class size, next year's will likely find they are back in the 40s. In the meantime, the teaching is the same, the scholarship the same and, I suspect, job placement will not change. And no one seems to take seriously that wonderful graph (that was presented a couple of years ago by someone I'd like to mention but I've forgotten where I saw it) showing that the 30th school is separated from the 80th school by an eyelash. Just sneeze and you move up 10 places.

Somehow all of this reminds me of a joke I do not fully recall but the punch line was something like, "We've already determined what you are. We are just determining the price." And with Law Schools, is there a single one not tweaking the acceptance rate (Hey, is it true at one School gives itunes downloads to those who apply?), the employment figures, or mailing out forests of law porn? Of course not. So we know what Law Schools are. We are just determining how much they will pay for what they want. For those willing to go all the way, if you'll forgive my terminology, here are some ideas:

1. The 90% transfer student law school. Yes, admit a class of 10 with LSATs of 178 and GPAs of 4.0 (or even higher -- report 5.0 for the students who took advance placement college courses assuming they exist and, if they do not, just assume they do.) The rest of the students are transfers.

2. Get those acceptance percentages down. Potential applicants are selling cheap if they will settle for itune downloads. What about a $100 J.Crew gift certificate for applying? Cold cash is also perfectly acceptable. If each school will do this many good things happen. 1) My unemployed children can make a living by being professional applicants, 2) I will open an Expresso-like business and take a small percentage for submitting an application for my clients to every single law school in the country. There are any talented potential professional applicants in nursing homes, pre schools, and prison. I am pretty sure this is Pareto superior. The clients are happy, I am happy, and Law Schools will all have huge applicant pools and low acceptance percentages.

3. Pay the graduates of other schools not to work. Once you have hired every one of your own out-of-work graduates you hit 100% and that is as far as you can go. If you are serious about becoming a better law school (Opps, higher ranked school) pay the graduates of schools close to yours in the rankings to stay home. Yes, we are talking about a possible bidding war for law school graduates to do anything but work. (It's like a new occupation for which you are qualified only if you have a law degree.) Right now these unemployed grads think they have no leverage at all. Life to them, . . . well, sucks. In fact, they have tremendous leverage any time they threaten to become gainfully employed. They can auction off their right to take a job. This sounds more than faintly Coasian. After all, the law school placing the highest value on having the graduates of other law schools stay home wins and, winning by paying is efficient.

4. Be proactive about lowering the student-faculty ratio. Are there any maintenance workers, landscapers, or secretaries at your schools? Were you getting ready to say "yes." WRONG! They are now part of the faculty and, most likely, deservedly so. (I don't know, visiting-adjunct-lecturer sounds good). And those potential applicants at nursing homes, pre schools and prisons also make excellent faculty for distance learning. Your faculty swells and your ratio falls.

When you think about it, law schools are just scratching the surface of ways to improve.


Blogger Jim Chen said...

Jeff, I've consistently said that I don't send out law porn. But go to that page, or to my official blog, and you'll find ways to download Louisville's alumni magazine free of charge.

4/24/2009 12:00 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey Harrison said...

Thanks Jim. I had been looking for it in the mail. By the way, I had my mother and several of her bridge club friends apply to Louisville. And, those two applicants that have no last names -- my cats. Jeff

4/24/2009 8:17 AM  
Blogger Jeff Lipshaw said...

My graph here.

4/24/2009 8:21 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey Harrison said...

Thanks. Actually there was one graph that shows the total scores. Perhaps that was yours too.

4/24/2009 8:37 AM  
Blogger emfink said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/24/2009 10:21 AM  
Blogger emfink said...

[Argh, horrible formatting, let's try again]

this reminds me of a joke I do not fully recall but the punch line was something like, "We've already determined what you are. We are just determining the price."The way I've heard it, the quip is variously attributed to G.B. Shaw or Winston Churchill (as such things so frequently are), and the set-up entails the Acerbic-Witted Brit asking some Society Lady (Nancy Astor, perhaps?), "Would you sleep with me for 1 million pounds?", to which Society Lady replies, "Yes, I would". A-W B then asks "Would you sleep with me for 1 pound?", to which S L replies "No, of course not, what do you take me for?"

I think the parallel to legal education is quite apt.

4/24/2009 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Vadimir said...

Ah, Jeff, I've been waiting for this post. Of course, everything you say in it is entirely correct (nay, so blindlingly obvious). And yet, the gaming continues.


4/24/2009 12:25 PM  
Anonymous Apostille said...

Your post has good content..


5/06/2009 11:24 PM  

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