Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A "Torrent of Words" on the Value of Law School

Frank Pasquale

Professor Tamanaha (BT) complains that Simkovic and MacIntyre (SM) have unleashed a "torrent of words" in response to his criticism. So let's focus on their core points:

1) BT claimed that 16 years of data was insufficient for their study. SM have demonstrated that "We use better (and more) data than studies Tamanaha praised in his book."  BT appears to have a double standard: predictions of doom get a pass, but SM's work merited vituperative attacks immediately upon its release.

2) BT claimed that SM were "cherrypicking data."  The pair immediately gave scientific explanations for their data set.  They also suggest that BT is guilty of the very opportunistic use of data he accused them of.

3) BT has claimed that SM's research could mislead current applicants about the current value of legal education.  SM respond that "We would have to be off by 85% for our basic conclusion to be incorrect."  

SM have responded to a fusillade of criticism, much of it ill-informed.  BT is welcome to dismiss their work, but as he does so, he should also be more cautious about his own claims.  If the "law school reform" movement simply cannot acknowledge a piece of "good news" about legal education, it risks looking like the more dubious branches of "tort reform," driven by motives far afield from its stated aim of helping consumers.

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